Modern European and American Philosophy

Modern European and American Philosophy. 1

Essay on Modernity. 1

Preliminary remarks. 10

Rationalism: Dualism of Mind and Body. 12

Empiricism and the Limits of Knowledge. 14

Romanticism: Individuals Against Society. 26

Kant and the Limits of Knowledge to Math and Science. 27

Hegel and the Expansion of Knowledge to Moral Discourse, Art, and Religion. 38

Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Weaknesses within Modernism.. 69

Kierkegaard. 70

Nietzsche. 78

Marx and Rejection of Modernism.. 83

Personalism.. 92

Phenomenology. 94

Analytic Philosophy. 98

Wittgenstein. 104

Heidegger 117


Essay on Modernity

I cannot imagine anyone being a thoroughly modern person. No individual experiences a culture as a whole. Individuals experience the culture in which they live in pieces and fragments. The monolithic approach to any culture needs to die, so that we can appreciate the depth, variety, diversity, conflict, and tension that every culture generates.

The best way to discover modernism is through its classic texts. I will refer to this term several times, so I would like to explain what I mean by it. A classic text, event, image, ritual, symbol, or person discloses dimensions of reality beyond the scientific. It produces its meaning through intensification of its particularity while at the same time moving us toward its universal significance. We find something valuable or important, even if we find it difficult to put that importance into words. In fact, every attempt to put that importance into words falls short. This moment is one of recognition that surprises, provokes, challenges, shocks, and eventually transforms us. We need to enter into a conversation with the tradition, fundamentally trusting the classic expressions of the tradition. The tradition discloses reality, while at the same time needing self-reform, self-correction, and self-correction. Classic texts come to us as human texts and therefore imperfect and as part of history. Dogmatists and fundamentalists of every type do not want anyone to bother them with such ambiguities. Every classic text bears with it the history of its own conflicted history of reception. It also bears its own permanence and excess of meaning that causes us to return continually to them. Classic texts possess instability that we attempt to domesticate. We have an internal resistance to the challenge we receive from such texts. From my perspective, any approach to classic texts that alienates present readers from them by unmasking supposed oppression one finds in them has not struggled long enough with the classic text. I approach classic texts as reflections on what is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, and therefore the excellent in human life, as Paul encouraged in Philippians 4:8. Persons willing to converse with such texts open themselves to the possibility and risk that they could be wrong.

In terms of modern civilization, we think of classic texts related to Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Adam Smith, the constitution and the declaration of independence of the United States. Modern civilization has incorporated legitimate critiques from Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, Marx, and Heidegger, even while such authors would hate to think of themselves as incorporated into anything.

Many analysts of modernity assume that modernity, and with it modern culture, is in crisis. I find this proposition difficult to accept. The country most indebted to modernism, the United States, experiences great success in politics, military, economics, religion, civic life, and so on. If we understand modernity in the sense of providing philosophy of life grounded in science and technology and with little room for the uniqueness of individual life, I grant that modernity is in crisis. However, I would like to approach modernity from the perspective of the development of a social world where individuals find recognition of their worth and dignity, and thus of the great nobility of every individual.

Modernity is not in crisis from within itself. Modern culture does have opponents. Modern culture has participants who view it in a negative light, while at the same time finding it difficult to extract themselves from it. My own suspicion is this. People like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Marx, Heidegger, Derrida, and Foucault point out the faults of modernism academically, while never creating a positive vision of a social world in which people could actually live. Excluding Marx, I find modernism benefiting from such analysis. It has the internal strength to tolerate and learn from those participants in modern society who also see the weaknesses of modern society. I would suggest that any society so weak that it cannot tolerate words has an internal weakness that betrays its inhumane character. One way of saying this is that modern society does not take itself seriously in the sense that it understands itself as a penultimate activity. Future events can always introduce changes and modifications in a modern social world. Within the American experience, the fact that one can call the president another Hitler, or that America is the focus of evil in the world, and not experience torture, jail, and death, suggests the vitality of modern society.

The contrast to the modern vision of itself is that of Nazis, communists, military dictatorships, and Islamic fundamentalists. Those who create such social worlds take themselves seriously while at the same time refusing to take other individuals seriously. These types of social world cannot withstand humor and paradox directed at them because of the weakness of the social bonds that hold them together. Therefore, they need intimidation, force, aggression, torture, fear, and murder to maintain their cohesion as a nation.

The image I have is this. Several persons create attractive and flawed pictures. Others come behind and analyze the pictures of others. They never create their own picture. Critique is the easy path to avoid creating a positive vision or of constructing a home in which human beings might actually live. My suggestion is simple. The ancients sought to build a social world grounded in the nobility of the aristocracy and the submission of the masses as good and virtuous citizens. Modernity creates a civilization where individuals experience their nobility, respect, recognition, worth, and dignity through participation in the social world. Modernity balances individuality and community in a way that honors both the human need for self-actualization and the human need for community. Analysts who arise within modern culture think of themselves as transcending modernist culture while at the same time participating in that culture perform a valuable function for the members of modern society. They remind members that modern that modern civilization provides the context for our free pursuit of a basic plan of life, while not guaranteeing happiness as the result of that pursuit. They remind modern civilization that in spite of justified confidence that it provides the best possible human social world, it does not provide answers to the main questions of individual life. One may participate perfectly in the social roles provided by modernism and still be a rotten person, unhappy, depressed, alienated, and so on.

Some types of religion and ideology do not lend themselves well to existing within modern civilization. They seek the destruction of modern society, replacing it with a definite vision of an alternative culture. For example, communism is totalitarian in that it requires a dictatorship of the proletariat to guide society. Various brands of religious fundamentalism, such as Moslem fundamentalism and Jewish Orthodox religions, also require the imposition of religious law upon society. Any kind of totalitarian military dictatorship cannot co-exist within a modern civilization. Modern culture structures a situation where totalitarian power does not exist. At the same time, modern civilization makes a moral judgment concerning the value of its social world that it finds difficult to make. The values that modern civilization espouses within modern civilization are not values that work in relation to a competitive social world. In particular, a social world competitive to modern civilization desires the destruction of modernity. Let us examine this proposition briefly.

            I will grant that modern civilization has many alienating features. Modern civilization has fractured elements in it: Indian Wars, forcing other nations into war to gain territory, Vietnam, denial of rights to women, child labor, segregation, questionable involvements with corrupt foreign governments, and so on. Modern civilization, as a human civilization, falls short of its worthy of ideals.

            The direction that theological discourse has taken makes it difficult to stay focused upon theological matters. I am not one who thinks our theology is a good source for politics or economics. Here is my one direct political statement. I do not want to be in a church that promotes critique or alienation as the defining moment of the relationship between church and modern society. Although I can understand adopting this approach in communist, Islamic, societies dominated by Christian institutions that oppress the masses, and aggressively anti-Christian societies, I do not understand such a stance within a society that grants Christians the freedom to promote their faith and life. Critique has a philosophical purchase with its source in Marx, whose name I do not raise to scare people, but to point out the philosophical purchase of the argument. Liberation Theology framed this view as God having a preferential option for the poor, a view understandable in the Latin American context from which it came, but difficult to translate into a modern civilization in which most people are middle class and in which even the poor hardly face life-threatening situations. Others have extended such alienating critiques that result in endless division between races, economic groups, and genders. With some persons in a modern civilization who claim oppression and a longing for liberation, I wonder if the longing is actually love for the resentment they feel toward people who have adjusted to modern civilization. Still others have extended the critique to the economic relation between the United States as wealthy and powerful and the rest of the world as poor and weak. Critique cannot lead to genuine community and life together beyond and within the difference. For example, if the church defines society as racist or sexist, the only just response is to overthrow its oppressive institutions. However, critiques that result in alienating us from the very culture from which we receive benefits like religious freedom do not impress me as genuine arguments or arguments worth of discussion.

            Some critiques within the church go much further, creating an alienating critique of modern life that suggests it needs to be overthrown. They suggest that the sins of the past are too great and reform is not possible because of its indebtedness to wealth, racism, male hegemony, and so on. To the contrary, I suggest that the church that accepts such a critique, even when it pretends it follows the teaching of Jesus or Hebrew prophets, has fallen into serious error. It will justly die.

            Another alienating feature of the modern form of life is the abuse and misuse of the freedom individuals have to pursue what the best life they can lead. Churches often contribute to this sense alienation by declaring the end is near, the last days are upon us, and that the moral degeneration of society places bad people outside the church and good people inside the church.

The actions of modern persons speaks reflect their evaluation or critique of modern society. In summary, deeds speak far louder than words; words are easy, while deeds demonstrate commitment to what one says. Whenever we engage in work, civic society, building a family, vote and engage in public debate, we give support to modern civilization. Whenever the church participates in society, as well as the faith and hope that God is at work in the world, seems not to occur to such Christians. The church that cannot make a positive contribution to the human need for social connection justly dies. In that sense, the ideological critique of either the Left or Right has a false dimension to it. I respect the Amish in their life-style critique of modern civilization. Those who offer analysis of modern civilization in the style of ideology from the Left and moral degeneration from the Right have an empty and hollow sound to them. They could achieve fullness if they put action behind their words by abandoning modern civilization, living on a mountain somewhere and tilling their garden. Some people receive the benefits of modern civilization through their participation in its culture, economics, and politics, while claiming their alienation from it, do not have a life-style that reflects their words.

Modern civilization continually reforms itself, and it does so because of the felt need and alienation of its members. Reform assumes the basic validity of the culture, while revolution seeks its destruction and replacement with some other ideal. What I present in the following paragraphs is a way of viewing modernity that suggests its basic validity as a human enterprise.

Modernism develops a critical attitude toward tradition, valuing the improvement of the present and the possibility of a brighter future. The assumption is that people of the past, who formed the tradition in which modern people find themselves, may have gotten major elements of human life wrong. Medieval culture trended toward a repetition of the past in its intellectual ideas, philosophy, theology, and practical life. The extended family guided children into the occupation of father and grandfather. The church and society developed a rigid hierarchical structure in which one stayed in the station of life into which parents gave one birth. Domestic life of parents found repetition in the children. The primary purpose of the church trended toward preserving tradition in thought and institutional life. This perspective magnifies the origin and minimizes the present and future. Modernism questions the authority of tradition. The past may have small beginnings that prepare the ground for future greatness and nobility. At the same time, modernism develops its own traditions that future generations must overcome. The scientific community develops methods that it teaches to young scientists. The same is true of the academic community. The business community continually develops methods of organization and means toward success. Non-profit organizations also develop their own place within modern society, and modern society creates a place for them within civil society. While rejecting one type of tradition, modernism often fails to recognize its own traditions of rational discourse and freedom that it creates for its social world. Tradition serves the function of subtle influence, a type of background music to the culture, as over against direct authority.

People in a modern culture experience life in a progressive way. Modernism develops a positive view of the future. This view recognizes that although people tend to magnify their origins by magnifying the past and tradition, greatness and nobility lay in the future. The present generation has the responsibility for creating the conditions out of which the next generation will make advances in the improvement of the daily life of the masses. Moderns do not fear the future. Moderns have confidence that the human tendency to discover and develop the best plan of life on behalf of individual life will also result in the improvement of the culture. Each generation builds upon the previous generation. Yet, modern people expect that the next generation will do better with itself than the present generation. “Better” usually means the expansion of freedoms, scientific advances, technological advances, and general improvement of the daily life of the masses of people. This distinctive feature of modern life is evident when one visits other forms of culture. I invite you to visit Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, Jordan, Egypt, or any Middle Eastern culture. The dichotomy exists between the few who accept elements of modern life and the many who repeat previous cultural patterns. One could make the same observation in Hindu and Buddhist civilizations. Either a culture encourages repetition of the traditions of the past or it encourages building upon the past and movement toward a better future.

Modernism values the insights of science and mathematics. Science separates the working of nature from God, especially in terms of sustaining nature and in terms of intervention in nature. Humanity bears closer resemblance to higher order animals than the image of God. Yet, the mathematical regularity of nature provided the insight scientists needed to use nature as a way to improve the condition of the daily life of the masses. The certainty and clarity of science, math, and logic, however, often seduces modern people into thinking that they can have such clarity in all areas of life. Science needs diversity and freedom of inquiry, while at the same time moves toward the answers that logic, math, and experimentation will bring. However, the objective certainty that math and science brings led many moderns to think they could attain such objectivity in all areas of their lives. One might call this the cunning or seduction of reason. Such a position gives the impression that human beings can lift themselves out of the world and give an objective account. Human beings are not apart from the world they seek to understand. Rather, human beings already immerse themselves in their world, and in the process muddle through the rough and bumpy form of human life we commonly experience. No one can analyze the world from an objective standpoint. We do not operate from outside the system of biology and physics that constitute our bodies on the one hand and our social world on the other. The scientific model is only one use of reason. The arguments of science rest upon assumptions that others can challenge. Scientists cannot always quantify their results in way that makes conclusions mathematically obvious. Developing and accepting theories always rest upon factors similar to aesthetic judgment. Science is far from the only use of reason, and indeed may not be the most important. Common sense is yet another. The aesthetic experience is yet another. The use of gestures and signs suggests the multiple levels of communication in which human beings engage. Language is an important element of that communication, as human beings express and represent what is common to their experience and how each individual communicates the unique perspective he or she has. Human life is not as smooth as the mathematical model suggests. Individual and corporate human life is bumpy and uncertain. Moderns need to be careful that they not allow the rationality of math a totalitarian hold upon their lives. Emotions are full of thoughts. Insights, clues, and hints that we follow in certain directions, often down dark alleys and unproductive paths, become important uses of reason as well. In fact, human life is far more like a work of art than a scientific experiment. This suggests that trying to get a picture to look right or to get a piece of music to sound right, or to get a novel to a sense of wholeness, is something like the model of what human beings are like in shaping their basic plan of life. This suggests a multi-dimensional vision of reasoning in individual and corporate human life. It suggests that the scientific model of moving toward a single answer to a scientific problem does not apply in the realm of human affairs. We need variety in our appreciation of art, music, and styles of writing, so also we need variety in our philosophy, theology, and religion.

            Modern culture started with the insights of people like Galileo and Francis Bacon, and developing through Newton and Einstein. Modern people also live after Darwin and the theory of evolution. The modern culture has devotion to the clarity and certainty of logic, mathematics, and science.  The conclusion of much of this research defines the physical world in terms of interactions between atoms and cells. Nature operates with mathematical regularity, and therefore is not open to the erratic nature of the intervention of God. It not only disputed the idea of human creation in the image of God, but eventually brought humanity closer to the apes than to the divine. The genuine improvement of daily life that modern people experience is the result of scientific enquiry into these two areas of life. Medical technology has vastly improved physical health and longevity. Other advances have made our homes, transportation, communication, education and other areas of life increasingly comfortable.

            Modernism grants nobility to the ordinary life of the masses. It does so through granting freedom to individuals to involve themselves in social roles as they choose. One can even opt not to participate in the social roles available, namely, family, civic and economic life, and political life. It accepts the nobility of the individual. Modernism creates an environment within which individuals can pursue their basic plan of life freely. Although modern theorists often frame this pursuit in individualistic terms, they often fail to grasp the reliance of the masses upon the tradition into which parents gave them birth and the domestic, civic, religious, economic, and political community. Much of the efforts of science and technology have as their goal the improvement of ordinary life. Domestic life at its best extends recognition of the worth and dignity of each member, beyond simply what they can produce. Such unconditional love and regard is important to experience as a child. I want to provide a little background for this difficulty. The modern social world brought the breakdown of the extended family. The primary social welfare program was the extended family. Father taught son an occupation in which the son would remain throughout his life. When the parents were too old to work, the son took care of the parents. The parents provided a source of wisdom for the younger generation. They also helped keep everyone stable in their faith and jobs. Because of the emphasis upon liberty and individuality modern society brings, the extended family and its control over individual life ended. Individuals could create new traditions by creating new families. In modern society, men and women can join on equal terms to contribute to a common culture. Free men and free women must join in the shaping of a social world on an equal footing and in many arenas of life: art, science, business, politics, and so on. Modern society desires for women what it desires for everyone, with a fair field and no favors. I hope we have grateful attitudes toward the constructive alternatives open to women. This humanitarian vision is a vision in which the church can share. Respect for the dignity, worth, and value of the individual is one of the primary emphases of modern culture. Every individual longs for recognition from others for what we do. At the same time, we long for recognition for who we are. The natural place for this recognition of our unconditional worth and dignity is within the home. We nurture our children in the home, recognizing they would not survive without our love and support. We nurture each other through the various stages of life. Members of a family can experience mutual love, responsibility, respect, and fidelity. Husband and wife generally share responsibilities for parenting and for the social, economic, and religious focus of the family. The purpose of such combined efforts is to bring every member of the family toward the best life they can lead. The reward of intimate friendship and love in the context of marriage is one that most human beings consider an important element of their vision for their best human life. We desire the feeling of another person recognizing our worth, dignity, and value. The other genuinely loves us. We genuinely love the other. We do not give up ourselves in the process. In fact, the individuality of each partner finds fulfillment in the intimacy of this friendship. We freely enter into these relationships. We open ourselves to the risks that such relationships bring with them. The intimacy of love also brings the intimacy of pain.

Modernism grants nobility in ordinary life through the individual ownership of property. If government, church or the aristocracy is the only ones who legally own property, they consider the masses incompetent in making a positive contribution toward the development of the wealth in the country. The result is a clear distinction between master and slave. In modern society, everyone is a master to some degree in that everyone has the possibility of owning a portion of the wealth of the country and dispensing it as he or she chooses. Further, one has the responsibility of developing one’s plan of life in such a way that it includes considering the needs of others in such a way that one can earn a living. Such a plan may include discovering what an employer, employee, co-worker, or customer needs. Others recognize the worth and dignity of one’s achievements, an important element in the nobility of what one creates. The apparently restless and endless lack of satisfaction in modern life stimulates greater economic activity. Although some members of society may trend toward materialism, my suspicion is that most people recognize that their happiness does not consist in the abundance of possessions. If they do not, they discover it quickly enough, or some tragically commit suicide for the failure to discover this reality. Modern society builds itself upon the assumption that everyone pursues their basic plan of life directed toward what they perceive as their greatest happiness. The inequalities of such a system frustrate many within and outside modern civilization. The price system resulting from freely exchanging goods and services has consistently proven a better economic plan than economically planned and regulated societies. Such a system engages everyone in the economic plan of the nation. Every time someone produces a product or provides a service, and someone else pays for it, the economic plan unfolds. Such nobility of ownership emerges as far superior to the elitist approach that economic planners know what is best. The result is inequality of income distribution, one of the best aspects of freedom. The foundation of this inequality is that some people have the ability to please more people than others do. The upper level of income pays the majority of taxes and invests its funds in ways that benefit every economic level. The economic mobility of people in a free society is one of its important features. The goal of free trade would make world competition and cooperation at a global level trend toward the benefit of all producers, workers, and consumers. Such freedom results in the creative and destructive force of economic life, some occupations become outmoded and others move toward a new future. Such practical or experimental reason in which everyone in society engages to some degree decentralizes the economic plan of a nation to its smallest levels. Small changes at local levels can have large impact throughout the system. The division of labor and specialization throughout society strengthens bonds of friendship among those who share the same skill, increasing ethical reflection in the marketplace. The nation entrusts its economic plan to the multitude of producers, workers, and consumers of which economic life consists. Citizens develop bonds with each other through cooperation and competition and the subtle influence of civic life. Productivity requires faith in the future and the creative use of imagination. The role of chance and luck in the economic plan suggest the unpredictability of the future and the difficulty of managing from a central place. Modern society has a flexible economic plan. Giving is an important element of this society in that one must enter into the needs and wishes of others in order to engage in the economic activity modernism requires. Poverty remains a terrible reality within this culture. Economic mobility offers some hope. However, the resentment of the poor toward those who do well does not help them out of poverty. Rather, they need to learn the skills that can help them out of poverty. The mystery is not why poverty exists. It has existed throughout human civilization. The “mystery” one needs to understand is why the social world of modern civilization has created so much wealth. A way modernism bridges the gap between the many reasonably well off economically and the relatively poor economically is through compassionate involvement in the lives of the less fortunate. Everyone has the potential of becoming noble (and a noble) in their sphere of influence. Everyone gains recognition of his or her worth, dignity, and value.

            This modern enterprise requires freedom of intellectual enquiry. People like John Locke, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, G. W. F. Hegel, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, the British foundation documents to the parliamentary system, and the foundation documents to the American system, provided the intellectual articulation of this system. It includes a cluster of experiences like rational discourse, toleration, and openness to the possibility the difference that the other person represents may change me. Such modern people assume that violence and oppression are not options in resolving disputes. Whatever modest degree of truth at which human beings arrive comes through dialogue with others. This includes religious freedom, assuming that the beliefs of my neighbor need do no harm to me, even if I disagree with them. All argument assumes respect for the sincerity of the other and that the partners in the conversation are equal. It implies willingness to weigh all relevant evidence, including one’s own foundational arguments. We willingly abide by rules of validity, coherence, and possible contradictions between my theories and my actual performance.

Modernism grants nobility in ordinary life through freedom, pluralism, and tolerance. Rational discourse and rational decision by multitudes of people will result in the improvement of culture. Such confidence arises from the view that human beings trend toward thinking and acting in ways that lead toward the best human life they can lead. Individuals do this in a way that the ancients discussed as virtue. Communities trend this direction in ways that modernism considers in political discourse. People tolerate groups with which they disagree. People assume that the slender thread of recognition of the worth and dignity of others result in others recognizing one’s own worth and dignity. As citizens within a modern culture engage in dialogue, economic exchanges, voting, religious cooperation and competition, and so on, modernism has the confidence that people have the opportunity to discover their unique path to happiness. Modernism also has the confidence that people pursuing their basic plan of life will lead to the culture becoming the best it can be at this moment in history. However, the best always lies in the future.

Modernism grants nobility in ordinary life through constitutional and democratic institutions. The constitutional element is important. The tendency of the majority to deny freedom to the minority is strong. Respect for law and for minority opinions and behaviors becomes an important element of modern culture. However, within that restriction upon government to limit the freedom of minorities, democratic processes offers great nobility to the masses as they engage in political discourse that results in entering the voting booth and selecting political leaders. The push toward creating a perfect society, as over against a human society, will generate dissatisfaction with the present order. However, modern society structures a situation that limits the influence of human imperfection. When genuinely bad people occupy an elected office, it has a limited effect because of the distribution of power throughout levels of government, civic life, domestic life, and economic life. Human capability for instituting a smoothly and perfectly run society does not exist. Modern society organizes itself in such a decentralized and flexible way that it limits the influence of imperfection, granting nobility to the masses of decisions by individuals to pursue their best plan of life, which in turn results in the best overall plan for modern civilization. Modernism has great confidence in this plan, and I would suggest that history since the 1700’s trend toward recognition of its validity. Modernism recognizes the limits of what government can do to improve the condition of the masses, even though citizens disagree on where those limits are.

Modernism grants nobility in ordinary life through individuality and community. Individual human life arises out of community; communal life will not continue without the participation of individuals. Individual and corporate life does not have certainty or clarity built into them. Rather, individuals and communities learn historically. What they learn is always open to future verification or falsification. Each of us has only one body and life. Modernism dedicates itself to the proposition that no one has the right determine how each unique life uses his or her time, talent, and treasure. Each individual gains in stature and nobility through this decision by civilization through its political authorities. Modern society, when functioning at its best, respects individuals enough to hold them accountable for failures and for the consequences of criminal behavior. The roughness and indeterminacy of much of human life requires great struggle and energy. The actualization of the self or living authentically does not come naturally to human beings. The archeology of the self, given new direction by Freud, unmasks the dark, neurotic barriers to actualizing the teleology of the self. One discovers meaning, purpose, and direction in one’s life in highly individual ways. Yet, one engages in this quest within the context of community. Such communities may be family, religious, civic, political, academic, economic, and so on. Ethical life arises out of the form of life embedded in modern civilization. One encounters ethical life as soon as one determines how to treat another human being with whom one interacts. Human beings precede ethical life with basic matters like politeness and love. Beyond ethical reflection are the requirements of love, as one learns from Augustine, to love others and do as we please. Such ethical reflection requires some psychological health and willingness to contemplate the pattern of one’s life. Ethical reflection assumes the imperfection of the person reflecting on ethical life. I would suggest that human beings, through their ethical life, seek the discipline of feeling through courage and self-control. Human beings seek the discipline of the use of external goods through liberality and compassion, productive work, honor, and simplicity. Human beings seek the discipline of social life through responsibility, justice, tolerance, truthfulness, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, forgiveness, gratitude, gentleness, and faith. The result is a healing plan of life. It takes emotion seriously, suggesting that emotion is full of thought that one must yet discover. It also takes seriously the role of good and bad fortune, or luck, as one recognizes that much of the good and bad one experiences are beyond one’s control. The reasoning involved in this process is far more like the aesthetic process of creating a work of art. It involves making mistakes in order to discover the combination of elements that provides the satisfaction of knowing the beauty of what one has created. Such knowledge is not the same as that derived from science or math. Such knowledge is far more like the satisfaction one has in making a good meal, making a good painting, singing a song well, preaching a good sermon, telling a good story, and so on. Such individuality in shaping an authentic plan of life is a work of art. Such individuality tells a story with one’s life, as one interacts with the stories of others. Each of us is accountable for the story we tell with our lives to each other.

            This freedom includes the responsibility individuals have for the development of their plan of life. Nothing expresses the modern conception of nobility and greatness better than its recognition of the uniqueness and worth of every individual, which happily meets with the desire every individual has to have others recognize their uniqueness, worth, and dignity. This emphasis on individuality found expression in various psychological systems and theories that explore the form individual life takes. We discovered the often neurotic sources of our behavior, contrary to our conscious or stated reasons for behavior. The modern world has a modest view of truth. It does not rest on any one particular authority and rejects appeals to tradition without some verification of that tradition in science. The often hidden assumption is that the only truth at which we have arrived is that human beings will never grasp truth. Rather, human beings can only provide a human social context in which individuals and groups can pursue the best human life they can lead.

Modern society needs reminders that it is a pen-ultimate activity of human beings. Modern society creates the conditions within which individuals can purse the things that will bring the best human life to oneself. Modern society does not direct people toward a particular form of life. Genuine human happiness does not generate from social roles. Rather, such happiness and satisfaction from the course of one’s life is one that is intensely personal. The modern social world does not guarantee individual happiness. The modern social world can only provide the conditions within which one can pursue one’s best plan of life. The religious quest directs people beyond their social world, recognizing that perfect fulfillment of one’s social roles will not answer questions of meaning, purpose, and direction. Kierkegaard is one source of fruitful reflection on why this is the case within modern life.

            The hints and suggestions I have just provided of a modern form of life do not mention the alienating features of it. Modern civilization has fractured elements in it. The twists and turns, the hills and valleys, of modern civilization in its history reveal the profound imperfection of a human social world. The story includes slavery, Indian Wars, forcing other nations into war to gain territory, Vietnam, denial of rights to women, child labor, segregation, questionable involvements with corrupt foreign governments, and so on. What I propose, however, is that the pain of such failures arises precisely because modern civilization, as a human civilization, falls short of its worthy of ideals. Modern civilization has objective alienation as part of its life. In another sense, however, modern civilization cannot have objective alienation as part of its nature, for it is always open to reform of its institutional life. I grant that it takes a long time, and that it will never be perfect, as if one could expect perfection from human institutions. Modern civilization will always have blind spots in this generation that the next generation will see clearly and have the power to change. In one sense, the poor experience objective alienation within modern civilization. In another sense, the openness of others through their compassion and the economic freedom they have to move out of poverty suggest a dimension of personal responsibility as well. The objective alienation of races of people within modern civilization found expression in institutions like slavery and laws of segregation. Yet, the capacity of modern civilization to recognize its failure in extending to all persons recognition of their worth and dignity, and therefore fight a civil war and eliminate racist laws shows that objective alienation is a condition of a moment in history. Racist attitudes, even if they do not find institutional expression, remain a barrier to the needed reconciliation of races. The objective alienation of women from the institutions of society through the failure to grant them the right to vote as well as the cultural mindset of men providing for women and therefore keeping them dependent upon men has been part of the history of modern civilization. Yet, modern civilization has shown further capacity to recognize the worth and dignity of women through reform of both laws and attitudes, as imperfectly as that reform may be at any particular moment.

            My reference to objective alienation suggests that the alienation one experiences may primarily be within the imagination of the person experiencing it. Some people love their hatred and resentment, even while it destroys them. Most of us have nursed resentment toward another person, often a parent, at some point in our lives. However, I trust that we eventually realized the only person we hurt is ourselves. We need to take responsibility for the life we lead today, and chart a course of life that fulfills the hopes, dreams, and passions we have within us, regardless of the barriers within or exterior to us. Part of maturing in life is to accept that most of the limits in our lives are self-imposed. We have the gift of unique life at this time and space. Taking such responsibility creates new possibilities for the possibility of reconciliation on the other side of alienation.

            Ideology based upon Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, rooted in the unmasking of perceived hidden oppressive forces in the institutions of modern society, is now collapsing. The command economics of Marxist societies gives way to increasing freedom in the market. Although therapy and counseling continue to bring healing, the dependence of persons upon such measures lessens. Theology continues its concern with relating its message to today, although more persons appear concerned with some continuity with the classic texts of the tradition. Theological experimentation gives way to the desire for the church to take a stand and set some boundaries. A person who does not understand his or her boundaries in interpersonal relationships is a sick person. In the same, a church unable to establish its boundaries is a sick church. Nihilism and narcissism give way to a desire on the part of many to find meaning in life and a place of service.

            The direction that theological discourse has taken makes it difficult to stay focused upon theological matters. I am not one who thinks our theology is a good source for politics or economics. Here is my one direct political statement. I do not want to be in a church that promotes critique or alienation as the defining moment of the relationship between church and modern society. Although I can understand adopting this approach in communist, Islamic, societies dominated by Christian institutions that oppress the masses, and aggressively anti-Christian societies, I do not understand such a stance within a society that grants Christians the freedom to promote their faith and life. Critique has a philosophical purchase with its source in Marx, whose name I do not raise to scare people, but to point out the philosophical purchase of the argument. European thinkers generally acknowledge their indebtedness to Marx; American thinkers appear less inclined to do so, even when the structure of the argument is reasonably clear. Marx viewed modern society as decadent and in need of overthrow. He offers critique of liberal democratic institutions, private property, economic class structure, family structure, and so on. Liberation Theology framed this view as God having a preferential option for the poor, a view understandable in the Latin American context from which it came, but difficult to translate into a modern civilization in which most people are middle class and in which even the poor hardly face life-threatening situations. Others have extended such alienating critiques that result in endless division between races, economic groups, and genders. With some persons in a modern civilization who claim oppression and a longing for liberation, I wonder if the longing is actually love for the resentment they feel toward people who have adjusted to modern civilization. Still others have extended the critique to the economic relation between the United States as wealthy and powerful and the rest of the world as poor and weak. Critique cannot lead to genuine community and life together beyond and within the difference. For example, if the church defines society as racist or sexist, the only just response is to overthrow its oppressive institutions. However, critiques that result in alienating us from the very culture from which we receive benefits like religious freedom do not impress me as genuine arguments or arguments worth of discussion. Since the institutions of modern civilization have openness to reform, modern civilization is worth what it takes to defend it from those who would seek its destruction. I grant that many persons in third world countries resent the advances of modern civilization, suspecting they have done so on the backs of poor countries instead of recognizing the oppression that exists within their countries. I also suspect that more people in third world countries would like to receive the benefits of the freedom and material improvements that modern civilization provides than such political critiques might want to admit.

            Some critiques within the church go much further, creating an alienating critique of modern life that suggests it needs to be overthrown. They suggest that the sins of the past are too great and reform is not possible because of its indebtedness to wealth, racism, male hegemony, and so on. To the contrary, I suggest that the church that accepts such a critique, even when it pretends it follows the teaching of Jesus or Hebrew prophets, has fallen into serious error. It will justly die.

            Another alienating feature of the modern form of life is the abuse and misuse of the freedom individuals have to pursue what the best life they can lead. One only needs to read the newspaper to realize that people use their freedom to pursue pleasure, wealth, fame, and power in ways that bring self-destruction. The individual freedom people possess in modern civilization makes it feel as if it could destroy the human need for community. Our moral accountability as we face each other, in the ways our stories intersect with each other in families, civic life, co-workers, producers, consumers, and so on, often connects by apparently slender threads. Modernity for these persons is an overarching ideology characterized by autonomous individualism, secularization, naturalistic reductionism, and narcissistic hedonism. Modernism assumes that its experience has vast superiority in terms of discerning truth over the past. Churches often contribute to this sense alienation by declaring the end is near, the last days are upon us, and that the moral degeneration of society places bad people outside the church and good people inside the church.

            I would suggest that human beings are such social creatures that, except in major disruptions of social order, the human need for social connection prevail.

            The actions of modern persons speaks reflect their evaluation or critique of modern society. Whenever we engage in work, civic society, building a family, vote and engage in public debate, we give tacit support to modern civilization. Whenever the church participates in society, as well as the faith and hope that God is at work in the world, seems not to occur to such Christians. The church that cannot make a positive contribution to the human need for social connection justly dies. In that sense, the ideological critique of either the Left or Right has a false dimension to it. I respect the Amish in their life-style critique of modern civilization. Some people receive the benefits of modern civilization through their participation in its culture, economics, and politics, while claiming their alienation from it, do not have a life-style that reflects their words.


Preliminary remarks

Modernism represented a decisive break with the ancient way of thought and its medieval interpreters. Modern philosophy contains a form of individualism alien to the objective attitude of the ancients. We can make a replica of an ancient statue; we cannot replicate an ancient state of mind.  The same stimuli create a different set of reactions, given the background assumptions of the ancient and modern state of mind. A paradigm shift occurred in Europe in the 1600’s. The age of faith began to crumble and the age of reason began. The subjectivity attached to faith and belief discredited them as sources of knowledge.  The Renaissance, especially Galileo Galilei, rediscovered and consciously revived the rational tradition of the Greeks. The rationalist tradition, the tradition of critical discussion, represents the only practicable way of expanding our knowledge, conjectural or hypothetical knowledge. The nurturing of individual life has its roots in Christian teaching. The Christian Church and the Reformation nurtured the individual experiences of believers in respect to justification.  This change of standpoint is the work of Christianity in its pastoral aspect of shepherding the company of believers. 

The Enlightenment had confidence in human reason to remove obstacles to the point that it rejected any human authority or tradition, as well as hastiness in drawing conclusions from evidence.  As science analyzed the senses, so the philosopher analyzed tradition.  In rejecting all human authority, it made reason the guard against all errors.  The problem the Enlightenment had at this point was that tradition shapes us with pre-conceived notions that guide our thought and behavior in ways we often do not have direct knowledge or awareness. We do not have the capacity to isolate reason as a tool we use. Our rational capacity shapes who we are in both overt and subtle ways.  

Though the period of Enlightenment brought vast freedoms for science, the individual, economic development, as well as political freedom, we must admit that many people had a fear of chaos and anarchy.  Many philosophers, for example, opted for a preference of the absolute power of the state rather than risk anarchy: when the masses revolt, no good can come.  Therefore, even when the government is tyrannical and opposed to the freedom of its citizens, citizens must respond with obedience.  In the case of Kant and Hegel, they saw the results of the French Revolution.  The stories of the French king going to his death with dignity impressed thinkers and political leaders throughout Europe.  The bloody mess of that revolution persuaded many thinkers that revolution was never appropriate. 

The Enlightenment also brought a form of belief in God called deism. When we speak of God that it is a hidden God and who has not revealed anything of God’s self to us, we actually ascribe jealousy to God. A light from a candle loses nothing by another person having his or her path given light. If God is, but does not share anything with us, we can only say that God would become an empty name and motivated by jealousy to keep such knowledge within God. If God fears that we make contact with the infinite, then we indeed have a jealous God in the worst sense. In reality, such thinking about God is a neglect of what is higher and divine, and invites us to seek after our own petty interests.

The modern world shifted attention to the mathematical regularity of nature and the creation of a social and economic world that aimed toward freedom for individuals to pursue their best interest, as they understand it. I will analyze this shift through the thinkers of the early Enlightenment age. However, these thinkers did not create this world. They sought to understand a world that slowly came into existence in their lifetimes. They sought philosophical articulation of what they already observed happening in their world.

The growth of science and technology led to a demand that the only knowledge that is justifiable is that which we can test and prove in a scientific way. The absolute nature of this justification of knowledge has led to skepticism concerning all knowledge.  The advances in science created a new round of skepticism concerning the nature and certainty of knowledge. Everything becomes a matter of opinion.  We even doubt the veracity of our own personal experience, as well as the experience of the human race.  People searched for a method that would finally determine the truth. The method of doubt became universal. In particular, this meant the rejection of beliefs that we could not prove. The goal was an objective, specified content of knowledge. This skepticism becomes intense in matters of ideology, morality, economics, politics and religion.  Innocently, these thinkers thought they could be relieved of personal responsibility for their beliefs by objective criteria of validity. They failed to recognize that the criteria they developed were themselves part of a system of beliefs and assumptions that could one could legitimately question. On the one hand, the individual moral agent, freed from hierarchy and teleology, conceives of himself and is conceived of my moral philosophers as sovereign in his moral authority. On the other hand the inherited, if partially transformed rules of morality have to be found some new status, deprived as they have been of their older teleological character and their even more ancient categorical character as expressions of an ultimately divine law. Yet, in the process, modernism accomplished social and intellectual transformations. To have understood the polymorphous character of pleasure and happiness is of course to have rendered those concepts useless for utilitarian purposes. Can Aristotle’s ethics be vindicated? If a pre-modern view of morals and politics is to be vindicated against modernity, it will be in something like Aristotelian terms or not at all. There is no third alternative, contrary to the attention given to Hume, Kant, and Mill.

The first thing we must do is understand the fundamental transformation of the task of philosophy, which took place at the beginning of the modern age. Its rationalism soon overtakes natural science and creates for it the completely new idea of mathematical natural science, Galilean science. For Platonism, the real had a perfect methexis in the ideal. Through Galileo’s mathematization of nature, Galileo idealized nature itself under the guidance of the new mathematics; nature itself becomes a mathematical manifold. What is the meaning of this mathematization of nature? How do we reconstruct the train of thought that motivated it? In this mathematical praxis, we attain what empirical praxis denies us. What we gain is exactness: for there is the possibility of determining the ideal shapes in absolute identity, of recognizing them as substrates of identical and methodically, univocally determinable qualities. We must make clear to ourselves the strangeness of his basic conception in the situation of his time. Everything that manifests itself as real through the specific sense-qualities must have its mathematical index in events belonging to the sphere of shapes. There must arise from this the possibility of an indirect mathematization, in the fullest sense; it must be possible to construct ex datis, and thus to determine objectively, all events in the sphere of the plena.

We need to gain some clarity concerning the origin of the modern spirit and clarity concerning the origin of these sciences. We need clarity concerning the original motivation and movement of thought that led to the conceiving of their idea of nature, and from there to the movement of its realization in the actual development of natural science itself. Galileo abstracts from the subjects as persons leading a personal life. He abstracts from all that is in any way spiritual, from all cultural properties that are attached to things in human praxis. The result of this abstraction is the things purely as bodies. The idea of nature as a self-enclosed world of bodies first emerges with Galileo. A consequence of this, along with mathematiztion, is the idea of a self-enclosed natural causality in which every occurrence is determined unequivocally and in advance. Clearly, the way is thus prepared for dualism, which appears immediately afterward in Descartes. Thus, the world and philosophy take on a completely new appearance. The world must be a rational world, in the new sense of rationality taken from mathematics, or mathematized nature. Correspondingly, philosophy becomes a unified rational theory cast in geometric terms.

            Natural law philosophers were Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hobbes, Samuel Pufendorf, and John Locke. These writers held that there were no moral or political meanings in the nature of things. All meaning or value is constructed upon a natural world that is amoral and apolitical. According to most Protestant natural law thinkers, human reason could, unaided by revelation, derive from the character of human nature and the human position in the world a certain guidance in morals and politics, and this is what they called the laws of nature. The basic law of nature held that, since people were sociable and, indeed, had to be sociable in order to exist at all, various measures had to be taken. These measures were contained in derivative laws of nature that specified the creation of moral and political institutions ranging from marriage and property to civil government and the law of nations. Grotius and Hobbes suggest social and political forms are settlements negotiated between individuals with often conflicting claims and intentions or rights. Both forms of natural law theory subscribed to the view that individuals contractually construct the institutions of moral and political life. These ideas of personal autonomy, of individual rights, of the absence of mediating factors between God and humanity, and the consequent construction of morals and politics according to our own lights.

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) wrote his primary work Of the Rights of War and Peace in 1625 in the context of wars between Protestant and Roman Catholic, as well as cultural and intellectual upheaval during the Renaissance. A revival of interest in classical learning and journeys to the Far East and to the Americas brought a broadening of perspective. The rise of experimental method brought with it generalized doubts about claims to know the nature of things. They gave further rise to debate about the foundation of the moral distinctions we claim to make. Grotius drew attention to the moral issues of the day by noting the claims of the people of past and present who treated morality as if it were nothing but an empty name. He would have no basis for his book on “right” if there were no such thing. For him, moral skeptics argue that laws were instituted merely out of self-interest. Self-interest is the only motivation of human action. Therefore, there are no real moral distinctions, making all moral discourse foolish. He argues instead that there are four foundations for morality. These include the unique sociability of humanity, human reason, the covenants obliging individuals to society or to courses of action, and the free will of God. The social faculty serves as the most important foundation of morality by giving rise to those rules that operate in well-regulated communities. Humans have the ability to judge which things are pleasant or hurtful, and from this fact we follow the dictates of reason. Therefore, the skeptical claim that moral judgments are always self-interest is mistaken. The four foundations of morality give rise to social organizations to which distinctions between right and wrong or justice and injustice are found. He used a vocabulary of natural law while dropping much of the Thomistic theory previously carried by it. He continued the Aristotelian confidence in the power of reason and the rationality of humanity. He portrayed humans as sociable because we enjoy each other’s company. Yet, we are also self-interested and competitive. As a natural law philosopher, he was much closer the Stoics than to the scholastic tradition. He derived the postulates of natural law from principles of reason founded upon human intellect. Natural law provides the solution to the problem of how rational beings, constituted as we are, can live together. Natural law provided the theoretical foundation for certain overriding principles of order in the relations between states. It gave him faith in the rationality of humanity and in the human potential for developing a better society in accordance with the needs of social and international life. He wanted principles that could bind nations to a common standard of behavior. He found this principle in the respect for promises given and treaties signed. Each of us is naturally the possessor of certain rights. We may give up any or all of our rights, which provide the bargaining chips we hold when we consider entering or staying within a community. The basic law of nature is that no one’s rights may be violated. Violation of rights constitutes injustice, and only positive laws that avoid injustice are valid. God makes and enforces laws to protect our rights. However, the rights are prior to those laws and to the human societies we construct by giving some of them to those who rule and who are therefore to protect our enjoyment of those we have not ceded. We need protection because of the unsocial sociability of our nature. Competition and conflict are inevitable, even in the best ordered society. Morality sets the ground rules for that competition and for the actions of the ruler in keeping society going. He tried to invent a way of reasoning about moral and political issues that avoided skepticism. As with most natural law theorists, he sublimated certain political postulates into immutable principles of order. His theory of a social contract led him to emphasize the supremacy of the compact as the highest binding principle of law. The social contract preceded the constitution of each state, by means of which each people had chosen the form of government they considered most suitable for themselves. While each people had the right to choose their form of government, they forfeited the right to control or punish the ruler, no matter who bad the government became. He also dealt with the legality of war. Three types of just war were those conducted in self-defense, those aimed at the recovery of what is legally due, and those inflicting punishment for a wrong done. In matters of religion, he appealed only to beliefs shared by all reasonable people. Only observable facts determine the laws of nature. He never explained what sort of attribute a right is. He distinguished between advising or counseling someone that it would be good for him or her to do something from obligating the person to do the act. Yet, he offered no theory of obligation. His view that God sanctioned laws backing up independent rights seemed to relegate God to a secondary place in morality. Many later thinkers accepted his assumptions about the constraints a satisfactory theory of morality would have to observe.

Rationalism: Dualism of Mind and Body

                Rationalism was one response to the challenge of science. Rationalism generally tended to emphasize the part played by the intellect, as opposed to the part played by the senses. Real knowledge is that which the intellect provides. Only in reason can we find the certainty that knowledge requires. Only the disciplines and methods of reason can lead us to genuine knowledge. Rationalism cannot deal with perceptual life.  It lacks the contingency in the occasions of thought.  It fails to see that we need to be ignorant of that for which we are looking, or we would not be searching for it.  It separates perception and understanding on the one hand from reason on the other.  Objects gain our attention, we become conscious of them, and we then begin reasoning about them.  Consciousness discovers that attention is buried within it.  The world is part of the cradle of consciousness. 

With Descartes (1596-1650), there is a subject receiving experience.  He starts with himself.  The ancient world takes its stand upon the drama of the universe, the modern world upon the inward drama of the soul.  The objectivism of the medieval and the ancient worlds passed over into science.  Science conceived nature as for itself, with its own mutual reactions.  Philosophical knowledge is grounded knowledge. It must stand upon a foundation of immediate and apodictic knowledge whose self-evidence excludes all conceivable doubt. In spite of the radicalism of the presuppositionlessness he demands, he has, in advance, a goal in relation to which the breakthrough to this ego is supposed to be the means.

            Descartes takes it as his principle provisionally to doubt everything, a beginning that theologians opposed.  He considers everything to be false, which up to that time he had assumed to be true. The meaning is really only that one should not assume anything true in philosophy before one has known it in its context. Having doubted in this shallow manner everything that has come before his consciousness, he asks whether he is left with nothing at all that he could still doubt as well. Although he seemed now to have doubted everything, he still had something left, namely himself who doubted in this way. This is the famous Cogito ergo sum, I think, therefore I am. We can go back even further and even put the I think itself in doubt, at least in the sense it undoubtedly has Descartes. The I think is not something immediate. It only emerges through the reflection that directs itself at the thinking in me, this thinking. We cannot sustain the certainty that he attributes to the Cogito ergo sum even by thinking. If there is a certainty, then it is blind and devoid of thought.

The absolute opposition between mind and body is the dualism of Descartes. Matter was a true principle for him. It is not the principle of extension, but simply the extended thing. He invokes God as a true God of the machine and by trusting that God could not deceive us with the physical world as though with phantasm. He admittedly restored the physical world to the former state. The physical was now something real for him, but mind and body were now apart and God could bring them back together. The thing that thinks and the thing that is extended are, therefore, two things to him, which mutually exclude each other and have nothing in common. Two things that have absolutely nothing in common also cannot have effects on each other. He had the difficult task to explain the undeniable interaction that obviously takes place between the thinking and the extended being. His philosophy had its most general, but at the same time worst, influence by tearing apart matter and mind, which absolutely belonged together and mutually explained and presupposed each other. He thereby destroyed the great general organism of life, and relinquishing with the lower organism the higher organism to a dead, mechanical viewpoint, which has until recently remained the dominant one in all parts of human knowledge and even in religion. His greatness lies in the general thought that philosophy may consider nothing true that we do not know clearly and distinctly. Since such clarity and distinctness is not immediately possible then we should recognize everything in a necessary connection with that of which I am immediately and indubitably conscious.

The problem with Descartes is that his picture of the world leaves one wondering what reason we have to suppose that there is a reality external to one’s ideas. Further, even if there is such an external world, what reason would we have for thinking we have accurate information about it? Reinterpreted in linguistic terms, it gives rise to the notion of a wholly private language. Yet, no such conception of language is possible. For something to be a language, it must be rule governed. Rules must satisfy certain criteria. We can express any rule. It must be possible to follow or violate a rule. Rules are creatures of the will. Rules are standards of correctness or guides to action. Rules must be more or less transparent to participants in a rule-governed practice such as a language. The existence of rules presupposes their use in a human community. The meaning of the words in a rule-governed language is therefore independent of any particular person. The Cartesian model does not generate a sensible picture of the relationship of the human mind to the external world. One lives in a public world where one learns to use language in accordance with the prevailing social uses of words. These practices instruct us in how to use terms that apply not only to our own pains, feelings, and thoughts but also to the pains and feelings of others. Therefore, even if one’s pain is not accessible to others in the way it is to the person who has it, it does not follow that a public language cannon be used sensibly to refer to such pains or that another’s comprehension of what is being said about pains differs from one’s own. Inward phenomena stand in need of outward criteria.

The foundationalism of Descartes rests on the psychological principle of the cogito. One reflecting on the cogito can see clearly and distinctly that it is true. He does not recognize the non-psychological and non-propositional nature of foundationalism in a hum community where we learn to recognize certain persons, speak a language, and participate in a wide range of interactions, practices, practices, and institutions. The community provides a background whose existence cannot reject, revise, or seriously doubt.

The representational approach had behind it the power of a new conception of science, in which the model was that of a machine. The theory of the excellence of thought was a matter of coming to a reliable method, generating well-founded confidence. Certainty is something the mind has to generate for itself. It requires examining the foundations of opinions and beliefs one formerly trusted. The confidence of this program is that certainty is something we can generate for ourselves, by ordering our thoughts correctly, according to clear and distinct connections. The power of this conception is that the disengaged self is free and rational to the extent that the subject has distinguished self from the natural and social worlds. One’s identity does not derive from what is outside, but from what is inside.

Descartes gives an ontological argument for the existence of God. His syllogism is that the perfect being cannot exist only contingently; thus, the perfect being can only exist necessarily. God is the perfect being. Therefore, God can only exist necessarily, for this alone is inherent in the premises. However, Descartes instead concludes: therefore, God necessarily exists, and thereby apparently demonstrates the fact that God exists, and seems to have proved the existence of God. However, it is something completely different whether I say: God can only exist necessarily, or whether I say: God necessarily exists. What is it about this necessary existence of God? Therefore God exists necessarily we already state that the concept of God and the concept of the necessarily existing being are not simply identical concepts. The question arises as to how we might call God the being that is or exists necessarily. Here we come to the question of whether the concept of the necessarily existing being is identical with the concept of God. Nothing is more opposed to the nature of God than blind being. For the first thing about the concept of that which exists blindly is that it is devoid of freedom in relation to its being. It can neither negate, nor change, nor modify it. If God were the necessarily existing being, God could only be defined at the same time as that which was rigid, immovable, un-free, incapable of any free action, progression or going out of God’s self. God beginning with the absolute concept of reason, with the concept of what is, we are only led to the concept of the necessarily existing being, but not to the concept of God. We can only think of God as the necessarily existing being and this in a sense in which this necessary existence negates all free activity. What we call God independently of philosophy, and was unquestionably called this before philosophy, cannot be the necessary existence in this sense. We must think of God as free, in relation to God’s own being. Otherwise, God could not move God’s self. The question is only how we can overcome this antinomy. To show this is a matter for philosophy itself.

Empiricism and the Limits of Knowledge

                Bacon renews empiricism at the same time as Descartes renews rationalism. What they have in common is their breaking free from scholasticism. Both are at one in their opposition to scholasticism, in the common striving for a real philosophy. They only decisively part company in relation to the highest concept that Descartes wishes, by an a priori argument, to make independent of all experience, while Bacon still unquestionably wants the highest as something empirical. Bacon urged his followers to reject speculation and collect facts. It was also to suppose that the observer can confront a fact face-to-face without any theoretical interpretation interposing itself. Perceivers without concepts are blind. The empiricist concept of experience was a cultural invention of the late 17th and 18th centuries. It was intended as a device to close the gap between seems and is, between appearance and reality. By contrast the natural scientific concepts of observation and experiment were intended to enlarge the distance between seems and is. The Enlightenment is consequently the period in which most intellectuals lack self-knowledge. Humanity ceases to be a functional concept. The explanation of action is increasingly held to be a matter of laying bare the physiological and physical mechanisms that underlie action.

English empiricism reacts against this conviction, even though Descartes, leading to Hobbes, Locke (sensationalism: the sole indubitable ground of all knowledge is self-experience and its realm of immanent data.), Berkeley, and Hume, also influences it.

With Berkeley and Hume a paradoxical skepticism developed, one that was felt to be nonsense but was not properly understood as such. Objectivism moves upon the ground of the world that is pre-given, taken for granted through experience, seeks the objective truth of this world, seeks what, in this world, is unconditionally valid for every rational being, what it is in itself. The task of philosophy or knowledge is to carry this out universally. One eventually arrives at what is. Beyond this, no further questions have rational sense. Transcendentalism says that the ontic meaning of the pre-given life-world is a subjective structure, it is the achievement of experiencing, pre-scientific life. The world of science is a structure of a higher level, built on pre-scientific experiencing and thinking. Only a radical inquiry back into subjectivity can make objective truth comprehensible and arrive at the ultimate ontic meaning of the world. What is primary is subjectivity as that which naively pre-gives the being of the world and then rationalizes or objectifies it. The whole history of philosophy since the appearance of epistemology and the serious attempts at a transcendental philosophy is a history of tremendous tensions between objectivistic and transcendental philosophy. Analysis of the ultimate motives affords the first insight into the thoroughgoing meaningfulness that unifies the whole movement of philosophical history in the modern period.

Empiricists responded to science by stressing the limits of knowledge and enquiry.  They admitted that genuine knowledge has its origin in experience. The only knowledge we have is from the senses and our experience. Though such knowledge has no moral or metaphysical certainty to it, it is all that we have. Classical empiricism is nothing other than limiting the sources of intuition to one narrow source. The idea that knowledge comes entirely from outside the person is a quite abstract view of knowledge. Everything we know comes as a matter of education and habituation. Carried to its extreme, this is a doctrine of revelation, in which everything is given from outside.

We cannot accept empiricism in its limitation of perception to sense experience.  This view emptied sense experience of all mystery by making it nothing more than a quality.  The only result of this procedure is nominalism, meaning that people have their own private sphere of meaning.  It omits the cultural world, in which we spend most of our time and which affects our perception of the world deeply.  Perception becomes nothing more than interpretation of vague resemblance or a meaningless association by continuity.  It could not make internal connection between the object and the act that it triggers off.  It cannot see that we need to know what we are looking for.  If that were not the case, we would not be looking for it.  Their mistake was that perception is not just sense experience, but tacit knowledge that the world is connected. 

Most philosophers also discredited empiricist epistemology in its details.  We have no obvious reason to think we can relate the order of learning to epistemological priority.  Their claims seem contradicted by experience.  Thus, sense data may be the basis for our knowledge of physical objects, but we learn about sense data long after we engage in talk of physical objects.  The underlying epistemology, with its assumption of associationist psychology and its simple reductionist theory of meaning is no longer appealing to most philosophers. 

Empiricism began with John Locke (1632-1704).

Locke denied the existence of all concepts independent of experience. Our ideas have their origin in either sensation of external objects or the reflection of our minds through memory and contemplation.  These ideas give us genuine knowledge.  Intuition, reason, and sense are sources of knowledge. 

An idea is something that exists in a mind. It is something that exists in an understanding, which is the minds’ intellectual or cogitative part, as opposed to its volitional or appetitive part. Ideas are the objects of certain mental actions or operations, namely those of thinking or perceiving.

            An instance of thinking or perceiving is an instance of being conscious or aware of something. However, sometimes one’s thinking is also an instance of remembering, discerning, comparing, compounding, judging, and reasoning. Ideas exist nowhere by in minds, and nowise other than as the objects of perception or thought. Thinking or perceiving has an idea for its object. This suggests that all thinking is directed toward something. He makes divisions within the class of ideas between simple and complex, particular and general, concrete and abstract, adequate and inadequate, and so on. An idea is simple if no variation or division is perceived within it. Such ideas cannot be analyzed or understood as entailing other ideas. He wants to bolster his empiricism, the doctrine that all the materials of reason and knowledge are ultimately provided by experience. Every simple idea present in a mind has its source in experience (by sensation or reflection). Lock also knows that many of the ideas we receive through sensation and reflection are compounds consisting of two or more simple ideas joined together. It is such compounds that Locke calls complex ideas. His empiricism demands that the components of all ideas have come into the mind through sensation or reflection. In this process of creating new complex ideas, the mind is no longer merely passive. Instead, it actively exerts itself, operating upon the ideas it has to make the new ones. Furthermore, its action is voluntary. Substances are real beings existing outside the mind, where as relations and modes are creatures of the understanding, having no other reality, but what they have in the minds of people. Abstraction is an action in which the mind makes particular ideas and considers them as they are in the mind, separate from all other existences. Abstract ideas are general ideas. General ideas are the only entities that are general apart from the words used to signify them. Nature has no generalization. Yet, generality is fundamental to civilized human life. Generality is a human creation, playing the role in Locke that universals, forms, and essences in the theories of his predecessors. To be general means to be applicable to man distinct individual things. Concepts are general and abstract, whereas images are particular, in the sense of being particular in their own nature. Some ideas are concepts and some are images. His discussion of truth leads him to conclude that 1) all simple ideas are real, all are adequate, and all are true, 2) all ideas of mixed modes are real, adequate, and true, and 3) some ideas of substances are real and some imaginary, none are adequate, and some are true while others are false. His theory of representation includes both the external-causal and the mental-referential. Our perception of external objects, the causes of our ideas, is altogether natural, as natural as our perception of ideas. The fact that a mind is naturally moved in this way does not mean that it thereby has knowledge, or even a justified belief, that external objects exist. The fact that representation is a natural process does not mean that a person could not be misled on a matter of representation in particular cases.

            Locke developed a theory of the body. He accepted the corpuscularian hypothesis. First, the matter of all bodies is extended solid substance. Second, all bodies have one of two characteristics. Bodies could be individual atoms or corpuscles, which are physically indivisible and which have, in addition to extension and solidity, size, shape, location, motion or rest, and number. Bodies could also be collections of atoms, which in addition to the qualities already stated, have texture, the arrangement of their atoms resulting from their various sizes, shapes, relative situations, and relative motions. Third, changes of state of bodies are due to a change in texture. All changes in texture are the result of impact or contact action of one body upon another. All causation involving bodies is mechanical causation. Locke accepted this view and opposed the scholastic and Aristotelian doctrine of four elements, alchemy chemistry, and the Cartesian philosophy that merely identifies matter with extension. He is unique among the 17th century mechanist philosophy in emphasizing the severe limitations on our ability to actually to deliver mechanist explanations of natural phenomena. He had deep pessimism about our prospects of arriving at a genuinely explanatory natural science. We are ignorant of the detailed structure of particular bodies. We cannot even begin to conceive how the sensible secondary qualities of a body are causally connected with its primary quality constitution. The poverty of our ideas of body and of mind is the reason for this conceptual lack of ours. One of the more controversial claims of his essay is that for all we know, possible that suitably organized systems of matter may have the power of thought. The real essence of a thing is the causal basis of that thing’s powers and qualities. Substance supports the powers and qualities in being that is, the powers and qualities inhere in the substratum. Substance or substratum is the support to powers and qualities. Our idea of substance has nothing more in it than that it supports qualities, thus, we have no indeed of attributing to Locke the notion of bare particulars to Locke. He also subverts the notion of important place that Aristotle gave to substance and essence. He finds the notion of substance and accidents in Aristotle irredeemably obscure and confused, and of little use in philosophy. In this way, his view of substance is an important part of his commitment to corpuscularianism.

Locke developed a theory of mind. He held no views about causation that posed any special problem for the idea of causal interaction between the material and mental realms. He allows not only that minds act upon bodies, but also that bodies act upon minds. He expresses the view that mental does fall into two large categories, the intellectual and volitional. This view leaves out emotions and sensory states. For Locke, a proper understanding of mentality is based on belief and desire, which lead to action. His view of volition is a major document in compatibilism. He argues that the truth of determinism is consistent with everything we reasonably believe about ourselves. The crucial question is where we are free. An affirmative answer is compatible with determinism. A person is free if there is no impediment both doing what one wants or chooses to do all the motivating circumstances proceed from some uneasiness that the person tries to relieve. Desires cause this uneasiness. Unsatisfied desire is how they cause acts of the will and thus action. However, he could succeed in explaining how a mental representation of a future state of affairs can have effective power over a person’s behavior. To do so, he would have to start with the recent notion that beliefs are explainers of behaviors, and thus as collaborators with desires. He thinks it is hard to see how a thing’s thinking could be connected with its physical properties. Do mental facts depend upon physical ones? He appears to have a teleological answer. Mentality essentially involves teleology because the mind reaches out to possible futures that it leads people to do things so as to bring about various scenarios. Matter can have nothing goal-oriented about it. Therefore, no such physical movements could be a sufficient cause for mentality. Many thinkers today would agree with the teleology, but would disagree that matter is not goal-oriented. His view of person as a thinking intelligent being suggests that the unity and singleness of a person at a time as a primitive fact. Yet, an enduring person is an aggregate of person stages. The identity of a person through time depends upon some kind of unity of consciousness. He has no working notion of mental continuity that goes beyond the mere possibility of re-identification of single mind or soul or person at different times.

Locke developed a theory of language. In Book III of his essay, he wants to replace both Platonic and Aristotelian assumptions with a more accurate account of the meaning of names, especially general terms and the classificatory concepts they connote. He wants to undercut philosophical confusions arising from a false view of language, especially classificatory language. He also wants to show us that a true view of this use reveals inherent liabilities in the ideal of perfect communication through language, even if we have no other medium for communication. He attacks Aristotle in his underlying assumption that the qualities of objects that are most salient in our perceptual experience should also be most fundamental in scientific explanation. He also attacks Aristotle’s assumption that the classification of natural objects into kinds or species reflects the natural or objective existence of a determinate number of fixed or unchanging substantial forms. Rather, we group things into kinds, choosing from among the innumerably many similarities and differences that we find among the particular objects comprising nature those that will be central in our classificatory scheme. Only by recognizing the role that our own choices of defining criteria play in the constitution of species can we come to realize how often scientific and philosophical disputes arise from competing definitions of the species under discussion. This conventialist account of the relation between word and object, and account rooted in Aristotle, that the meanings of words must be constituted by known rather than unknown properties of objects in a state of imperfect scientific knowledge. While our systems of classification must always be based on what we actually know about objects, no matter how much we know we will never find anything that removes the burden of choice from us in constituting these classifications. He remains relentlessly anti-Aristotelian. He suggests that words have no natural meanings, but only such meanings as we speakers give them, then their meaning cannot lie in anything that is unknown to us, but must be drawn from our own stock of knowledge. The connection between words and objects is indirect, thus leaving room to skepticism. We can never be quite sure that another means exactly the same thing we do ourselves, which is the practical lesson Locke wishes that we learn from his theoretical inquiry. Language cannot give us direct access to the ideas of others. We can secure agreement with others through our own efforts, not through classification of language and objects. We must decide where to draw the boundaries that define our conceptual scheme. Nothing can relieve us of the burden of the voluntary imposition of sense upon the particularity of nature. Locke does not advocate that we use public words to make up private languages. We can avoid confusion in communication as we try to ascertain how others define the terms of our common language and to conform our own usage to theirs. In practice we should surrender our freedom in the interest of successful communication. He claims that the immediate signification of a speaker’s words is always only his own ideas and his claim that species are the workmanship of the understanding, combine to ground a cautionary view of language. The purpose of language is to expand the knowledge of each of us by allowing us to communicate our ideas, and especially our general ideas. We can have no guarantees that we will all use our language to say the same things about the same objects and thus that we will succeed in the communication of ideas at which we aim.

Locke developed a theory of knowledge. His interest has to do with the human place in the total scheme of things. He has a deep concern with how we should lead our lives here and now in this world, as creatures of God and in the light of some expectation of an after life in another world. Since we have been given the ability to reason and think, one aspect of this is how we stand as knowers and believers. He thinks skeptics are have a legitimate point. Some things we do not know, things about which we can only form beliefs and things about which we are ignorant. Some things we do know and our beliefs are often not foundationless. The things we do know and the things we justifiably believe, answer to our true needs and real interests. We are not in ignorance of our duties and obligations to each other and to God. We can know what we need to know for salvation. As to the practicalities of life in this world, we can learn enough for our everyday comfort. Not only have we no need to know much of what we do not know, we also are not suited to know it. God gives us our capacities and abilities. There is an immodest ungrateful egotism in attempting to know what we are not suited to know, and in complaining that our knowledge has bounds. We should patiently accept our limitations. What God gave us is the means to acquire the knowledge we need. We derive our ideas from experience. He insists that the use of reason is in involved in the acquisition of knowledge is one thing that shows the need for caution about the common characterization of Locke as an empiricist. No one dictates moral truths to us, but rather we come to them through reasoning with others. We have no intuitive or demonstrative knowledge, and thus all we have is judgment about probabilities in belief. He explores the extent to which our experience, the testimony of others and of written records, led to support to the probability of beliefs. His distinction between knowledge and belief parallels the distinction in Aristotle between scientific knowledge and opinion. For him, the source of moral and religious truth is one’s own reason and scripture. Reason has supremacy over revelation. Revelation is answerable to reason, making him an opponent to enthusiasts and a proponent of Deism.

He sought certainty, based upon the reflections of Isaac Newton, who considered absolute time and space as true; therefore, the universe operated with certainty, as well as existing infinitely in time and space.  Therefore, Locke sought certainty of human knowledge.  We could have this in the limited experience through intuition of ourselves, the use of reason to show that God is, and the use of senses that accepts the existence of external objects.  At the same time, he admitted that we give judgment or discernment, as well as assent or faith, in areas beyond which the evidence would lead us.  We must do this every day.  His conclusion that we do so, based upon experience, and with consistency of what we with certainty do know. 

His philosophy of religion is one of the great creative achievements in the history of philosophy of religion in the West. He articulated a philosophical way of thinking about religion that was gaining currency around the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century in northwest Europe. His philosophy of religion is an epistemology of religious knowledge and belief. He distinguished between natural religion and revealed religion, consistent with the traditional distinction between the preambles of faith and the articles of faith found in Aquinas. Before Locke, intellectuals thought of the body of texts bequeathed to them by pagans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, as presenting a highly articulated, unified, body of wisdom. People like St. Paul, Virgil, Aristotle, and Augustine, weave together. By 1650-1700, this view appeared implausible. No one supposed that Protestants and their varying sects fit together into some larger unity, let alone what Protestants and Roman Catholics said about each other. Even the pre-Reformation texts came to be viewed in their diversity rather than unity. Locke’s insistence on the inadequacies of tradition leave little doubt that he perceived himself as philosophizing in a situation of cultural and social crisis. He wanted to address the crisis. Religious considerations enter into all parts of his thought. His philosophy as a whole could be called a Christian philosophy. He made a distinction between knowledge and belief. Belief accompanies knowledge. He denied knowledge is a species of assent. Belief is taking some proposition to be true, whereas knowledge is seeing it to be true. What sorts of facts can we human beings be directly aware? His official answer was that we can have knowledge only of what we would call conceptual truths. Knowledge is awareness of some fact. Belief is taking something be a fact. He also held that knowledge is certain. Certainty is a gamut on a continuum whose other gamut, on the positive end of the continuum, is probability. What entities bear the property of having a particular degree of certainty or probability? The obvious suggestion is that the continuum is of believing. Knowledge outstrips insight. Some of what we remember constitute knowledge. He calls such knowledge habitual knowledge in the course of distinguishing it from actual knowledge that fits his official formula. We not only have immediate knowledge of facts, but also demonstrative knowledge that blends present and remember insight. At certain points we human beings have direct insight into the facts of reality and that all belief  that is not the direct accompaniment of such insight ought to be based on such points of insight. For the sake of human life, we take certain things to be true without seeing, or even being certain, that they are true. Yet, something must govern our beliefs, which consists in the merit in believing a proposition. What will one try to do if one tries one’s best. How ought one to conduct one’s understanding? These questions suggest a regulative epistemology. Doing one’s best with respect to some proposition that one does not know immediately requires proportioning the firmness of one’s assent to the proposition to the probability of that proposition on evidence. His principle of evidence is that one is not to believe something mediately until one has acquired evidence for it such that each item of evidence is something that one knows and such that the totality of one’s evidence is satisfactory. Locke thinks of collecting satisfactory evidence as often as imposing and daunting task, requiring considerable expenditure of time and energy. For most of the propositions that come our way, we neither can nor should try our best to bring it about that we believe them if and only if they are true. In fact, we are often obligated not to try our best, for we might neglect other weightier obligations. Trying one’s best requires determining the probability of the proposition in question on that evidence. Such an appraisal suggests one is not to believe some proposition mediately until, having satisfactory evidence, one has examined that evidence to determine its logical force and one has seen the probability of the proposition. After determining evidence, he suggests a principle of proportionality. Having determined the probability, one ought to adopt a level of confidence in it that is proportioned to its probability. Reason is to be our guide. Locke was a thoroughly religious person of latitudinarian Anglican conviction. God calls us to obedience. He was a Unitarian in the last 15 years of his life. Locke was an evidentialist, suggesting that we require satisfactory evidence that God exists. He took the proposition that God exists as eternal, powerful, and knowing rather obvious through demonstration. Faith is not a means of knowledge. Yet, faith and reason may accept the same proposition. In The Reasonableness of Christianity, he wanted to show that that a great deal of the content of the revelation in Christianity one could arrive at by reason. This concern arose out of his desire to reject enthusiasm, whom he charged with irresponsibility. One can believe in a revelation because it is in accord with reason. The only alternative, in his view, would be antinomianism in religious belief. He does not agree with the enthusiast that their religious experience supplies them with satisfactory evidence. He accepted the miracles of the New Testament as evidence of who Jesus was. He also rejected religious belief on the authority of others, or accepting their religious beliefs on the unexamined authority of the Bible, tradition, or church councils. The fractured and pluralized tradition handed down to one suggests one can no longer order one’s life and belief by the wisdom of unified tradition. However, to where does one turn? The answer that Locke articulated was that one is to appeal to reason and to those points of direct insight into the facts of reality.

Locke developed a theory of morality. Locke denied that morality has any innate aspect. Moral principles command little agreement, suggesting they are not innate. Humanity accepts virtue because it is useful to society. Conscience is one’s opinion of the rightness or wrongness of one’s own action. People frequently break basic moral rules with no inner sense of shame or guilt, showing that the rules are not innate. God has given us a faculty of reason sufficient to enable us to discover all the knowledge needed by beings such as we are. God wants us to think for ourselves. The science of ethics teaches us the rules that lead to happiness. Since the point is to improve practice, the rules must be effective guides to action. What moves us to action? Prospects of pleasure and pain motivate us. Pleasure and pain awaken desire. Our choice arises out of felt uneasiness, which then moves us to voluntary action. He rejected any discussion of the highest good. The greatest happiness is having what pleases and avoiding what pains. Further, our believes do not determine our will. Nothing in nature or law sets a moral limit to the will of God. This puts Locke within the voluntarist position, that the will of God alone makes right acts right. Locke could avoid this if he could show that God possesses unlimited goodness, so that the aim of God is to cause as much good or pleasure for humanity as possible. In reality, no demonstration of a moral principle could satisfy Locke’s standards of evidence. Locke’s political philosophy might have helped him. God could intend us to use those complex moral ideas that we need in order to live as the special features of our nature show us God meant us to live. In particular, God desires us to live sociably and with an increasing degree of prosperity brought about in part by our self-interested competitiveness that makes it difficult for us to live together. Justice and property would then have a place in the plan of God for us. Why did Christ have to come? Part of the answer is that reason alone could not have prevailed on most people sufficiently to teach them the existence of God, while the personal presence of Christ enabled the belief to spread. Another part is that the human race needed a clearer knowledge of morals than reason alone had been able to give it. His doubts about the ability of reason to discover and to teach effectively the laws of nature do not contradict his belief that those laws, once revealed, can be rationally demonstrated. They do require us to interpret with caution those passages in which Locke says that the law of nature is plain and intelligible to all rational creatures. This is no slip into a rationalist claim that the laws are self-evident. However, neither is it the claim that knowledge of the laws of nature is equally available to everyone alike. The laws are plain enough so that the day-laborer and the spinster can obey, once they have been instructed. However, they will not necessarily be able to see for themselves why the laws are binding on them. They will be obeying God by obeying other people. Skepticism and enthusiasm both work against the possibility of constructing a decent and stable society. An empiricist naturalism seemed to him the only response that could take care of both these dangers. Locke aimed to show morality to require God’s active participation while invoking only natural human knowledge. His view was the best way to naturalize moral knowledge would be to show that it is explicable in the way that ordinary empirical knowledge is. On the assumption that people perceive, enjoy, and reason about the world in basically the same ways, these moves, if successful, would effectively exclude the claims to special insight of the enthusiast and the nihilism of the relativist or skeptic. The problem that Locke’s readers had was that naturalism would force on us a misconstrual of our relations with God. He failed to produce a deductive ethic that he had promised, a significant failure. This failure drew attention to the moral consequences of empiricism. Locke was more interested in the epistemology of natural law than in working out a code. He aimed to account for all ideas by showing how they can be built up from atomic simples derived from experience. Experience shows us how things are and teaches us what we enjoy. It yields no inherently normative ideas. Norms come only from will, but the only ideas we have available for understanding the law-making operation of will are those of power and sanction. The empiricist epistemology cuts off any other source of normative force. The will of God can only be understood as arbitrary. He embraced reductionist empiricism about moral concepts as a way of excluding religious authoritarianism and enthusiasm. Then they would be forced into voluntarism. Locke’s voluntarism had a deeply religious motivation. However, one unintended consequence of his work was to make plain that if strong voluntarism is unacceptable because of its moral consequences, then so too is empiricism.

We can see the political genius of Locke when we compare his thought to that of Hobbes.  We can begin with his statement in his treatise that it is lawful for the people to resist their king. Locked believed that political theorizing was an exercise in practical reasoning. He took political actions to be guided by beliefs grounded upon probably evidence constrained by a few fundamental tenets of a theologically structured morality. He wanted to supply a solution to the intellectual problem of how to conceptualize property or offering a justification for the act of tyrannicide in the specific context of the resistance by Locke’s citizens to the actions of Charles II or James II. He wanted to illegitimate the authority of the king. Under what conditions should individuals engage in such resistance? Resistance is called for when the king becomes a tyrant. Tyranny occurs when only the will of the ruler becomes law. For Locke, all political power must be exercised for the good of the community, and no ruler can be supposed to have a distinct and separate interest from that of the ruler’s people. He rules out the political state that Hobbes constructed, who retains an interest distinct from subjects. He agreed with medieval political thought that political authority derived from God or from the people. He viewed it as axiomatic that political societies began from the voluntary agreement of people. The consent of the people as the source of political authority is the traditional view, according to Locke. He assumes that popularly enacted laws establish limits to a ruler’s exercise of power. When the ruler exceeds these limits, the ruler loses authority, which then returns to the people as the original source of all political authority. The excessive authority of the ruler turns the ruler from a public to a private person, thus the ruler has no right to use force against others, and thus the people have the right to defend themselves against the tyrant. Although based upon tradition, Locke focused on the right of every individual and equality regarding the exercise of those rights, something the tradition did not do. He could have argued in terms of the balancing political power distributed among king, lords, and commons, according to the ancient constitution of England. Instead, he notoriously relied upon an appeal to natural law and natural rights. He maintains that an elected legislative assembly is essential to the protection and security of the property rights of individuals. He argues that property ownership precedes the establishment of political society and therefore must be understood in terms of the moral principles pertaining to the rights and duties of individuals and the origins of political society. The purpose of all laws is to provide for the common good. The only formal restraint is that it be done with the consent of the people or their representatives. Political power is jto be used to secure the possession of property and to provide for the good of society as a whole. He sees no conflict between these two actions of government. Locke appeals to the state of nature, but God made people in that state of nature. All people have freedom to dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, and to promote the preservation of humanity. We have a divine obligation to preserve humanity and ourselves. Everyone has the right to punish people who transgress this law of nature. The crime against an individual implies a threat to the community. Since God did not bring a human being into the world to perish unjustly, he argues that every individual has a right to those things needed for subsistence. Needy neighbors have a claim on the surplus of others. Locke must explain how the transition from a stage of subsistence property and common right to one of individual and unequal property ownership occurs prior to the institution of political society, and why this transition is consonant with the precepts of natural law. Further, given the transition, he wants to show that the stability and prosperity of property ownership depends upon a constitutional form of government and that neither can be sustained under an absolute monarchy. Locke provides a moral justification for the origin of private property in that Adam represents every individual. He also offers a defense of constitutional government based upon his account of property. His defense of commerce becomes a political weapon against absolute monarchy and the normative and historical justification for the emergence of constitutional government. He links revolution and democracy through an activist interpretation of the concept of popular sovereignty. He assumes the moral equality, rationality, and independence of individuals, and their capacity to direct their actions to achieve the common good. He provided the intellectual foundation for the struggles in following centuries to achieve political independence and to extend the practices and institutions of democracy.

He said that the best way to make the supremacy of the state clear is to deny the right of the individual to determine good and evil or to define sin as against one’s own conscience.  In particular, the people must not have a right to their own property, or else the state will deteriorate.  Any division of power between branches of government will also cause the government to disintegrate. 

John Locke made it clear that we are born to freedom, equality, and the obligation to love. Of particular interest is that he defined freedom as the absence of restraint.  Desire creates uneasiness.  We control our passions only when fulfilling them would create even more uneasiness.  That is why we can hold people accountable for their actions.  He believed we are born with the freedom to order our own actions and dispose of our own possessions, without depending on the will of another. We are born free and rational, while at the same time born to subjection to parents and in need of instruction toward the development of our capacity to reason.  Our freedom is not the freedom to do whatever we want.  Nature places natural restrictions upon us.  We also must use our reason to order our life together. The nation is bound to preserve peace, preserve humanity, and refrain from hurting another.  To violate such principle is to put oneself at war with society and others.  Civil law, our need for justice, and the obligation to extend ourselves in charity toward others, is part of that rational ordering of society.  He places a strong emphasis upon property.  We own our person, work, land, and money.  The support of life on this earth and its enjoyment is the purpose of this property.  He believed God gave dominion over the earth to humanity in general.  However, humanity does not hold this property in common, that is, through ownership of government.  Rather, each of us must accept responsibility of that portion of the earth that we own, that we call our property.  Government has the purpose of organizing itself for the good of the people and to preserve these property rights.  Political power is nothing more than the right to make laws with penalties attached to them for regulating and preserving property.  It also employs the force of the community, in the execution of such laws.  It defends the nation against foreign aggression.  It does all of this only for the good of the public.  Government has branches of legislative, executive, and judicial so that no one part of government can gain power over others.  The judicial branch operates by established law.  The legislature passes laws for the good of the people, does not raise taxes without the consent of the people, and does not transfer the power of making laws to any other branch of government. The purpose of government is to preserve the life, freedom, and property of everyone.  The social contract is broken when political leaders seek absolute power, putting government at war with its own citizens.  Any government that would take away liberty would also take away everything else that belongs to the individual.  When the American Revolution began, such ideas filled the air.  When the nation was born, such ideas were the guiding principles of Washington and Jefferson and Madison.

David Hume (1711-1776) taught that ideas arise from the lively impressions of our sense experience.  Ideas are only weak impressions.  We can trust the experience of impressions, but we cannot trust the ideas that arise from them.  We connect ideas through their resemblance, their proximity in time and space, and cause and effect.  Such reasoning is nothing other than our experience.  The conclusions of cause and effect are not the function of our reason or understanding.  In reality, all arguments from experience are founded on the similarity that we discover among natural objects, and by which we are induced to expect effects similar to those that we have found to follow from such objects. We have custom and habit that we derive from our experience. 

            Hume agrees that the immediate objects of mind are always perceptions, but he does not take these to be, in one cardinal sense, representative of objects, neither impressions nor ideas resemble objects. Hume gave the way of ideas a kind of phenomenological turn. That is, his primary concern in Book of the Treatise is with our perceptions as the elements or objects of the mind and not as representations of external existences. Not one of these impressions can of itself be taken as an accurate representation of space or time, causal connection, an external object, or even our own mind. We simply do not have sensory impressions of space, causal connection, external existence, and so on. However, we do have ideas of space, causal connection, external existence, and so on and are nonetheless irredeemably committed to believing that there are real entities that correspond to each of these ideas. Hume’s greater goal is to show how, despite the success of skepticism, we are rescued from skepticism. Hume’s post-skeptical philosophy attempts to show us how to moderate our beliefs and attitudes. Those who practiced his principles would, Hume thought, learn how to avoid that combination of arrogance, pretension, and credulity that he found so distasteful and stifling, so dangerous in its typical manifestations, namely, religious dogmatism and the spirit of faction. He hoped that he could moderate individual belief and opinion, and, in consequence, actions and even institutions.

His skepticism is better understood as one about pretended supra-scientific metaphysical knowledge, rather than about scientific knowledge itself. An example of this more ambitious expectation is the common refusal of Leibniz and the Cartesians to admit that Newton had really explained anything. Hume thinks of explanation in a thoroughly scientific spirit. The true laws governing the mind can be discovered by science. In contrast, the claims of the metaphysician, based on a priori knowledge, are forever destined to remain mere speculation. The questions such a scientific account must answer are:

            How do we form our beliefs? Hume answers that they are the product of a non-rational faculty, called imagination, instinct, habit, or custom. This faculty has a propensity to form ideas and beliefs. This faculty is different from reason. Our most fundamental beliefs, such as existence of the external world, our own identity, and causal relations, are impervious to the influence of reason, which can neither ground nor destroy them. We are engaged in reasoning when we make a causal inference. The great importance of causal reasoning is that it is the only kind by which we can go beyond what is immediately present to the senses, or which can be traced beyond our senses, and informs us of existences and objects, which we do not see or feel. Therefore, Hume’s recommendation is to replace endless and fruitless cogitating, in an attempt to give a philosophical justification of our beliefs, with an attempt to find a scientific explanation of their origin. This recommendation bears a striking resemblance to the so-called naturalizing, programs common in recent philosophy of mind and epistemology. Philosophers of mind, too, interested in understanding reasoning, perception, memory, language, and a host of other mental phenomena, increasingly look to the new discipline called cognitive science, rather than to traditional methods of philosophical analysis and argument. First, since their subject is not the cognizer himself, we have to think of the states and processes involved as obtaining or taking place below the threshold of the cognizer’s consciousness and, hence, as somehow below the level of belief. As a result, the subject is not necessarily a reliable source of information about them. Second, the operations and processes involved are, found to be task-specific, doing their work largely in isolation from each other and from the cognitive states, we would attribute to the person taken as a whole.

            How do we move from one belief to another?

            What mechanisms and principles underlie and govern such processes?

            What kind of thing is my belief about when I believe that I am a self, a something that can be re-identified as the same thing at different times, and, what is the source of my belief that I am such a thing? The first belief standing in need of an analysis and a genetic account is the belief one has in one’s own identity. So, for an answer to the question that must be most basic, how do I come to think of myself as a self? I must turn inward, I must look to see what there is in my experienced to lead me to think of myself as the same person or mind over tie. That I do so is a datum, one Hume is seeking to explain within the new scientific framework he has adopted. The theory has two parts. An explication of what I think when I think of myself as a self and an explanation of how I can come to think that I am such a thing on the basis of my experience. On Hume’s alternative analysis, his famous bundle theory, a self is a collection of perceptions related to each other in certain ways so as to constitute a complex entity to which identity of one sort, though not of another, may be intelligibly and truly ascribed. The sort of identity that is appropriate to such an entity is what Hume calls imperfect identity, thus distinguishing it from perfect identity, a property only simple and unchanging entities possess. What unites the perceptions that collectively constitute a self is memory, and the natural relation of causation with which memory is inextricably bound up. The presence of memories among my perceptions is the ultimate source of the idea that I am a temporally extended being. What matters is that they are intentional, in the sense of referring to, being about, other things experienced at an earlier time. Forward-looking perceptions, anticipations, also play a role, as does the inertial tendency. An entity of the sort Hume takes the mind to be can be thought of as an active agent in the formation of our beliefs about everything. A generalization of this insight underlies virtually all of Hume’s analyses of the concepts we employ in thinking about the world and our relation to it. Most important, it drives all Hume’s hypotheses about how we come to believe what we believe, whatever the content and object of our belief. The simple steps and processes we seek to identify as underlying in some sense constituting, complex intelligent behavior are supposed to be themselves merely mechanical. Only thus will intelligent behavior, and thus the mind, be explainable in respectably physical terms, as subject to the same laws as the rest of nature. This picture of seeing intelligent behavior as the tip of an iceberg of unintelligent, mechanical, processes subserving it, has indeed proven to be most fruitful in the cognitive sciences, though it is certainly nor unchallenged. It has been a commonplace since Brentano to think of the mental as essentially intentional or representational. Mental states are about things other than themselves. When we posit processes that involve mental states of a creature that are said to represent things, we must remember that in do so we incur a philosophical debt. That debt must be redeemed in a way acceptable to physical processes. Such representation represents only to or for someone, each state that is said to represent must be thought of as having an interpreter. The alternative seems to be to posit a sub-personal interpreter. Hume’s bundle theory may be plausibly seen as designed precisely to find a middle way between these two equally unacceptable extremes. Hume’s real argument is that only a self constituted in the way he describes can be intelligibly said to do the things people are said to do. Only such a self can be made the subject of the predications peculiarly appropriate to intelligent creatures, and to persons in particular.

            Hume has a deep commitment to introspection as a way of finding epistemological bedrock. The need to find the right balance between the subjective, phenomenological, approach so central to that tradition, and the objective, third-person, experimental methods needed in scientific theory, is more pressing than for anyone before or since. The naturalization programs in recent epistemology and philosophy of mind bear striking resemblance to Hume’s project in some respects. The most important of these involves a somewhat similar shift from the justification of beliefs in the traditional sense to an explanation of their provenance through an examination of our cognitive endowments. The shift also includes, as it did for Hume, a skepticism about the usefulness, indeed, the coherence, of the traditional notion of justification and a re-assessment of the value of traditional epistemological projects. There are significant differences Hume’s continued adherence to the time-honored introspective method. Hume’s refusal to abandon those elements of the traditional framework that derive from common sense and our everyday practices, rather than from the rarefied and esoteric activities of philosophers or scientists. Hume has a much more complex task than the modern cognitive scientist, or even the modern naturalizing philosopher. He must try to fit together into a coherent whole a number of elements that do not easily go together: innocent scientific theorizing; self-conscious and self-reflective, even self-referring philosophical analysis; and an ultimate allegiance to common sense as the touchstone for both. Hume does not, one must say, fully succeed in weaving together the different strands in his thought that are responsive to these different demands. Take the thesis that our natural beliefs are irresistible. Such reflections can still lead us to question the epistemological status of our natural beliefs. He feels the pressure to find an accommodation between the scientific spirit of his era and the perennial ambitions of philosophy.

Hume directed his attacks almost exclusively against the objective validity of the law of causality. Experience admittedly cannot guarantee anything general. He assumed that all knowledge only came from the senses. Hume had no alternative but to explain the universality of the application of this law as just a subjective appearance, namely via a merely subjective habit. I would really to ask whether the great apparatus of the Kantian critique was actually necessary to refute the doubt of Hume. Hume explains the principle of causality by a habituation; but for every habituation, a certain amount of time is necessary. Hume must allow not only the individual but also the entire human race a certain amount of time during which it always has seen, following the particular phenomenon A, the other phenomenon B, and thus has finally got used to seeing this succession as necessary for this is inherent causality. Nevertheless, precisely this fact, which Hume tacitly presupposes, and thus thinks he is able to presuppose, we cannot presuppose. Experience itself proves that it is a real principle that compels us like universal gravity, just as this determines the body to move towards the center, so are we compelled to judge according to the law of cause and effect, as we are compelled to think according to the law of contradiction.

Hume argues that every idea is caused by an impression. Impressions are sensations, passions, and emotions, as they make their first appearance in the soul and ideas as the faint images of these in thinking and reasoning. We may understand ideas as the mental tokens with which we reason, and impressions as the immediate and unavoidable sensations or feelings that cause ideas. He shifts from the causal claim that ideas re the effects of impressions to the semantic claim that ideas refer to impressions. Since a term names an idea, the meaning of a term is ultimately given by a set of impressions that cause the idea it names, and terms without such a pedigree are meaningless noises. This theory of meaning constitutes a criterion of cognitive significance. He used it mainly to condemn a wide variety of concepts of traditional philosophical thought, such as substance, substantial form, mode, and essence. He thus rejected the central concepts of Aristotelian metaphysics. Hume sought a sensory pedigree for some of these concepts. He treated his claims about ideas, impressions, and his theory of meaning, as part of a contingent empirical theory.

            By grounding the causal relation in constant conjunctions, Hume made the problem of the nature of scientific laws, and their differences from merely accidentally true regularities, the central issue in the philosophy of science. The aim of science cannot be to reveal the intelligible character of the universe, but simply to catalogue the regularities that causal sequences reflect. He relegated causal connection to the mind. He insists that there is in fact no necessary connection among the objects. Rather, there is only contiguity and succession. This empiricist approach has not withstood the test of time. Most philosophers continue to search for some causally relevant difference in the objects themselves, and not just in our beliefs about them, a difference that provides an objective foundation for the distinction between law-governed and accidental sequences. Much 20th century thought about induction has focused on the notion of probability and on the nature of probabilistic inference.

            Hume seems to have anticipated a version of hypothetico-deductivism, the 20th century thesis that theories are developed to explain empirical regularities by subsuming them under more general hypotheses, which gain their credence through their relation to these lower level generalizations. This view sits uncomfortably with Hume’s phenomenalism and his theory of meaning. It generates for Hume the puzzle of accounting for the empirical scientist’s need of theoretical laws couched in unobservable notions that transcend experience. The epistemology of Hume is too narrow to permit post-Hume philosophers of science to borrow from him a cogent explanation for the theoretical character of science.

            Empiricist philosophers have always been embarrassed by the need to account for mathematical knowledge. Mathematical truths have a sort of certainty that experience can never convey. Hume’s view that of mathematics as a body of definitions and their consequences have now fallen out of philosophical favor. He has never been influential in his discussion of the nature of space and time.

            Hume ended with skepticism. He found no possibility of justifying even the most insignificant question of causality, to say nothing of any natural law and the affirmation of the unity of the laws of nature or, as he usually says, the uniformity of nature’s course. On the one side is the domain of the relations of ideas. On the other side is the domain of matters of fact. The denial of a causal relation and, correlatively, the denial of any natural law, no matter how certain, do not imply the slightest absurdity. In this whole domain, according to Hume, one can find nothing that is rationally justifiable. Every conceivable attempt to exhibit the sources of justification that confer a rational privilege on any such judgments, as opposed to their contraries, comes to nothing. The only thing one can do here is to explore the psychological origin of the relevant judgments and concepts. It is easy to see that this skepticism is involved in an evident contradiction. If judgments of experience admit of no justification, then likewise no psychological explanation is possible. If all the convictions of the sciences based on experienced are illusions, then psychology cannot provide us the satisfaction of exhibiting the source of these illusions or even of marking them as illusions. For psychology is certainly itself a science based on experience and rests on the very principles whose lack of validity it attempts to uncover.

            Hume recognized that his theories were not wholly satisfactory and he saw no way of escaping their paradoxical nature. He even considered the idea that perhaps the principles of probability could be adapted to the justification of our causal inferences and all our judgments of experience which extend beyond the immediately given. He rejected this idea. He believed he could show that judgments of probability spring from the same psychological principles of blind habit and association as judgments of causality and would thus bring us no further. Hume did not make clear to himself the essence of purely phenomenological analysis in opposition to the psychological and because he did not clarify the nature of the rational justification that is possible in the phenomenologically realizable domain of the relations between ideas. Reason consists in nothing other than the fact that here we can raise the laws of relation to an adequate consciousness of generality. Reason suggests that we can make clear to ourselves the sense of such a general self-evidence and can then further recognize that the objective validity of the laws themselves consists in the ideal possibility of such an adequate general consciousness. If we know that judgments of experience of this kind can have only the dignity of judgments of probability, we must then investigate whether the principles pertaining to objectivity are not here also to be apprehended through adequate generalization, therefore, if reason is not the same in the sphere of probability as in the sphere of the relations between ideas. With regard to a series of favorable chances, do we have the right to assert objectively a probability? It is from this that Hume ought to have started, from self-evidence. The fact that in circumstances U, a W appears, in and of itself already lends something like weight to the assertion, “In general, in circumstances U, W appears”; and this weight increases with the number of cases experienced. The assertion “In general, W appears after U” is a statement of probability justified by more or less weight.

Hume designed his moral psychology to accommodate the phenomena of our daily moral experience, rejecting only a rationalist interpretation of them. Hume has perceived the importance of the passions for all our choice and conduct. However, he has mistakenly felt obliged to deny their rationality in order to accommodate this fact. In this respect, he shares with the rationalists whose theories he contests a mistaken estimate of the passions. This mistake is one from which common sense is already free. Hume’s conception of a science of human nature reduces mental life to the interplay of impressions and ideas, and treats the mind itself as the theater wherein this interplay occurs, not as a participant in it. His system has no place for the suggestion that choices are the product of anything other than the series of passions and cognitions that lead to them. Hume has deep hostility to all systems that view persons as alien to the social world they inhabit. His negativity toward rationalism and its craving for autonomy is the result of its being a theoretical force that can only encourage self-distancing from the sources of emotional nourishment that make us what we are. Hume is a neo-Hellenistic thinker, one who follows the Stoics and Epicureans and Skeptics in maintaining that we should avoid anxiety by following nature. A philosopher must learn to accept his or her nature for what it is. This means recognizing that it is so programmed that our instincts furnish us with beliefs that we cannot survive without. We find the parallel insistence that we must recognize the dominance of the passions in our nature, and not risk misery by attempting to follow eccentric programs of choice that frustrate them in the supposed interests of reason or the mortifications of religion. We have to accept our nature, not violate it. However, Hume is incoherent to say this if we are unable to violate this nature. To combine the descriptive with the normative without incoherence, it is necessary to permit freedom of choice in a form for which Hume’s account of liberty allows no space. The price of using the study of human nature as a guide to choice is the price of recognizing that it is part of our nature to be able to choose. His system tells us that the polite society human beings by his day had developed in property-owning Western Europe, with all the protective artifices, meets the needs of human nature better than its alternatives.

            Hume argues that morality has a firm foundation in human nature. He rejects Hobbes’ view that every human motive is self-interested. We may well be predominantly self-interested. However, an accurate review of our behavior reveals instances in which private interest was separate from public. He also rejects Mandeville’s artifice theory as unsatisfactory. He rejected the efforts of rationalists and voluntarists to give morality a supernatural foundation. For Hume, human nature is a primitive element, behind which we cannot go. Further, this base in human nature is unalterable. Moral distinctions arise from distinctions in motive. Our moral framework is in response benevolence. He affirms an instrumental use of reason, in that reason alone cannot serve as the foundation of morality. Reason is unable to grasp moral differences. Such differences engender responses that we sense or feel. Reason is inert, unable to motivate agents to act. Reason serves the passions. Yet, reason is essential to morality. Desire gives us the goal; reason direct desires to their goals. Natural virtues are love of one’s children, beneficence, generosity, clemency, moderation, temperance, and frugality. Artificial virtues are justice, fidelity, and allegiance. They have developed on the base of human nature as humans interact with each other and their environment. Our concept of duty is the consequence of an experiential process that is structurally similar to the process that gives rise to the idea of necessary connection. Hume’s analysis of justice leads him to say that the origin of justice can be traced entirely to their general usefulness, and their existence depends upon the particular circumstances of humankind. Hume grants that human nature is marked by a strong tendency towards self-interest. Yet, the selfish theory cannot be correct because it cannot account for crucial aspects of our experience. The selfish theory cannot account for our competent use of moral language or the fact that we give our approbation to actions remote from us or clearly contrary to our interests. Utility pleases us because we are to some degree other-regarding beings, and utility contributes to the good of others.

            David Hume’s view of justice tells us that we can coherently imagine a full human life in which human beings lack justice and political institutions. Such a life might be full of danger and difficulty, but it would still be recognizably ours.

            Hume rejects superstition, disposed as it is to accept established forms and powers as inherent in the nature of things and to see society as a hierarchical structure with a monarchy as the unitary source of authority and sovereignty as a divine right. He rejects enthusiasm, disposed to assert the rights of the individual, often inclined to forceful remodeling of authority and generally see self-government as the only proper government, at least in principle. They favor contractualist accounts of such authority as they will accept and insist on the protection of individual civil liberties.

            Aristotle and scholastic theory suggest that social forms have their foundation in essences, in inherent structures found in nature itself. On such a theory, specific actions are only property-holding, contracting, or governing in so far as they are an attempt to actualize the inherent meaning or the essence signified by these words. Such relations are established with reference to something over and above the persons concerned, namely, an objective structure of reality and meaning on which individuals try to draw. Hume saw these ideas as the philosophical equivalent of the religious hocus-pocus of superstition. This philosophy supported the need for authoritative interpreters of the meanings supposedly inherent in life in society. It was the philosophy behind Catholicism, High Church Anglicanism, old-fashioned Toryism, absolutism, and divine-right monarchism.

            Hume’s individuals can expect neither inherent structures nor transcendent guidance. Hume gives a good deal more credit to the generous side of human nature. He also gives an account of the social relations between individuals that, while sharing the individualistic naturalism of Hobbes, is profoundly un-Hobbesian. The actions that spring from the natural virtues and vices are entirely natural, and have no dependence on the artifice and contrivance of humanity. Social life at large requires something else entirely, namely, a set of artificial virtues. An agent’s behavior can only have meaning and only be evaluated through its relation to some additional factor beyond both the agents and patients involved. It has meaning only within a framework that is in an important sense objective and distinct from individuals and their qualities. The relations between people who hold property to the exclusion of others, who contract for exchange of goods or services, and who owe allegiance or support of some sort. These relations can only be established because the people involved have something other than each other’s intentions to refer to something that can shape their intentions. Individual actions of this sort are not self-contained and complete. We cannot see their point and evaluate them without invoking the social practice to which they relate or on which they rely. Social institutions are no more than practices, artificial human creations. As a result, he saddled himself with a genetic problem of how to account for the origins of the social practices that constitute basic social institutions. What Hume tried to get across is that in a free constitution political differences could not be about the constitution; they had to be within the constitution.

            The precepts of morality and our practical obligations to observe them are independent of religious beliefs and religious sanctions. The second is that when religion does intrude into morality, it serves only to distort natural morality by the introduction of frivolous species of merit and the creation of artificial crimes. The sources of moral rules are thus located in the good of society and its members, and not in humanities relation to God or to some other non-worldly or spiritual entity. He offers an account of morality that does not refer to God or religious belief. He also holds that the input of religion into morality is positively mischievous in the sense that religion invents crimes that are not natural crimes that produce misery. It invents virtues that are not natural virtues and do not promote happiness in oneself or others. The rational basis of religion was so destroyed by Hume that Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard sought to make religion rely less on evidence and reason, and more upon feeling, subjective experience, and faith. Such fideistic reliance largely evades Hume’s rationalistic critique, but it does so at the risk of making religious belief arbitrary.

Romanticism: Individuals Against Society

Romanticism affirmed expressive individualism. It was also against Kant. It rebelled against the construction of neo-classical norms in art and literature. Romanticism opposed the stress on Enlightenment rationalism, tradition, and formal harmony. Romanticism affirmed rights of the individual, imagination, and feeling. Authors in this line of thought include Lamartine, Musset, Blake, Wordsworth, Herder, Goethe, Coleridge, A. W. Schlegel, and Schiller. Romanticism developed an early slide into pantheism, as early Schelling, Hegel, and Goethe. Romanticism stressed that our feeling about the world are important. Symbol yields matter and form. History yields primitive unity and conflictual division between reason and sensibility, which then yields to reconciliation of reason and freedom. It emphasized inexhaustible inner space. I will discuss the influence of Rousseau when I discuss the debate within modernism concerning political life. Bentham, Holbach, Helvetius, Condorcet, and Voltaire reacted against Enlightenment rationalism. They emphasized the role of suffering. It assumed the harmony of virtue and self-interest. One problem with this movement is that it lives off the moral insights of others.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) considered society the oppressor of the individual. The natural condition of humanity was one of liberty and equality.  He lamented the movement of humanity away from its primitive state, idealizing the closeness to nature that our ancestors enjoyed.  Such sentimental feeling for an idealized past is an important part of the philosophical foundations for liberal political thought today.  As for himself, Rousseau became the darling of the intellectual elite and the wealthy in French society.  He lived off the very wealth he criticized in his writings.  His thoughts formed the foundation for the French revolution and the “reign of terror” it created.  How did all this happen?  He viewed human society as corrupting the natural liberty and equality that we would experience if it were not for community.  Apparently, the fact that all of us would die without community, since we are born so weak, does not seem to have occurred to him.  However, he considered the accumulation of wealth and power by the few to be primary problem of human society.  In this, we can sympathize.  In his historical period, Europe had begun to throw off the despotism of kings.  He clearly saw the danger of concentrated wealth and power, and the effect upon “the people,” as he liked to the call the population.  However, from this good instinct, he went down the path of lamenting civilization, suggesting that the more discoveries we make about ourselves and our world, the further we go from our original condition of liberty and equality.  Society becomes a superficial add-on to the individual, instead of simply part of our communal nature as human beings.  “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”  Society created those chains.  He envisioned an idealized condition of the distant past, when everyone shared their possessions and discoveries freely with others, even as they had not yet discovered speech.  However, when the first person said, “This is mine,” our problems began.  Again, he did not realize that the protection of private property rights is the foundation of the spread of freedom and the widest distribution of wealth any nation has ever experienced.  We might forgive him, since he has not had the history of the past 250 years.  His modern followers do not have this excuse.  Let him speak in his own words:


The origin of society and law, which bound new fetters on the poor, and gave new powers to the rich; which irretrievably destroyed natural liberty, eternally fixed the law of property and inequality, converted clever usurpation into unalterable right, and, for the advantage of a few ambitious individuals, subjected all mankind to perpetual labour, slavery, and wretchedness.[1]


My suspicion is that many people today, encased in a politically liberal frame of mind, would agree with such statements.  He believed proper government followed the general will, it will establish virtue through social security and reducing inequality of wealth, and provide for public wants. 


It is therefore one of the most important functions of government to prevent extreme inequality of fortunes; not by taking away wealth from its possessors, but by depriving all men of means to accumulate it; not by building hospitals for the poor, but by securing the citizens from becoming poor.[2]


Every man has naturally a right to everything he needs; but the positive act which makes him proprietor of one thing excludes him from everything else.[3]


Which implies, on the part of the great, moderation in goods and position, and on eh side of the common sort, moderation in avarice and covetousness.  Such equality, we are told is an unpractical ideal that cannot actually exist.  But if its abuse is inevitable, does it follow that we should not at least make regulations concerning it?[4] 


He did not realize that, by depriving people of the means to accumulate wealth, government reduces the total wealth available in society.  Further, he did not think through that, to give any government this power, he destroys his vision of equality.  After all, for his vision to become reality, everyone may be equal, but some will need to be more equal than others.  Though he had confidence in the general will of “the people,” he recognized that they could have their problems as well:


It follows from what has gone before that the general will is always upright and always tends to the public advantage; but does not follow that the deliberations of the people always have the same rectitude.  Our will is always for our own good, but we do not always see what that is; the people is never corrupted, but it is often deceived, and on such occasions only does it seem to will what is bad.[5]


Kant and the Limits of Knowledge to Math and Science

                Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) recognized that we could be certain of the foundations of physical science because we ourselves impose at least the basic form of scientific laws upon the nature that our senses give to us. Yet, precisely because we ourselves impose the basic laws of science upon our world, we are also free to look at the world from a standpoint in which we are rational agents who have deterministic laws of biology, psychology, or sociology. His profound recognition of our legislative power in both science and morals, in both theoretical and practical reason always had to be reconciled with an equally deep sense of the contingency of our success in both theory and practice. After he wrote, no one could ever again think of either science or morality as a matter of the passive reception of entirely external truth or reality.

Kant tried to bridge the gap between the rationalism and empiricism by limiting reason to sense experience, and knowledge of the unity of space and time. Such matters were part of the “noumenal” world and therefore not accessible to the human mind. The noumenal world had a negative function, as it established the limit of reason. He limited truth and morality to “practical reason.” The problem with this position is that we cannot simply confine ourselves to describing the limits of knowledge. As Wittgenstein noted, “in order to draw a limit to thinking, we should have to think both sides of this limit.”  Kant himself had already to cross over the limit he perceived, in order to come back behind the limit.  In that case, however, is it really a limit? We understand such intellectual processes only after we have transcended them.

Before one can hope to have knowledge of objects, we must first examine whether we also have the capacity to know them. At first sight, this thought is extremely plausible. Looked at more closely, it is here a question of a knowing of knowing, and that this knowing of knowing itself is precisely a knowing. Accordingly, it would first require an investigation of the possibility of such a knowledge of knowing, and in this way one could keep on asking into infinity. Kant does not start with a general investigation of the nature of knowing, but instead goes straight on to the listing of the individual sources of knowledge or of the individual cognitive faculties, which he does not deduce scientifically. The three sources of reason are sensuousness, understanding and reason. The knowledge gained from sensuousness is called intuition, derived from space (external) and time (internal). Understanding gives rise to concepts that give rise to pure understanding categories.

            On the one hand, Kant aims to provide a general foundation for the laws of science. He claims to provide a metaphysics of experience that will generalize the approach taken to space and time alone by showing that there are also concepts of the understanding and principles of judgment. These concepts and principles include general forms of the laws of the conservation of matter, universal causation, and universal interaction, which he can show to be certain by their a priori origin in the structure of human thought itself. On the other hand, the very fact that the universal validity of the foundational principles of the scientific worldview, including that of universal causation, can be proved only for the appearances of things means that we could at least coherently consider, the possibility that these laws may not govern things as they are in themselves. Indeed, other laws may govern things in themselves. In particular, we can coherently consider that at the deepest level we ourselves are free agents bound only by the laws of morality and not by the deterministic laws of nature.

            The Transcendental Aesthetic portion of The Critique of Pure Reason is also a theory of sensibility. All of our particular experiences of objects, or empirical intuitions, necessarily come to us in spatiotemporal form. Further, we have a priori insight into the uniqueness and boundlessness of space and time, both of which Kant explains only on the supposition that space and time are the pure forms of our intuition of all objects originating in the structure of our own sensibility. Human beings do not derive anything from the independent properties of objects as they are in themselves. Kant supplements this with a specific argument that the propositions of mathematics, especially geometry, are non-tautologous and informative, or synthetic rather than analytic, yet we know them a priori, which we can explain only on the supposition that they describe the structure of subjective forms of intuition rather than independent properties of objects.

            Kant makes a number of claims about space of a phenomenological character that seem sound. That space is in some way prior to objects, in the sense that objects are experienced as in space, and in the sense that experience does not reveal objects, in some way not intrinsically spatial, that stand in relations from which the conception of space could be constructed seems evident. The same holds for the claim that space as experienced is unique and boundless. However, we cannot give such a generous judgment concerning his view of mathematics. Euclidean geometry is not a priori; given our present awareness of non-Euclidean geometry and its application in physics were the main reasons why most thinkers reject his theory of geometry and space. Yet, as long as we understand geometry as the science of space, Kant’s assertion that characteristic geometric truths are synthetic seems reasonable. It is no longer clear that geometry is synthetic, and most thinkers would reject his view that applied geometry is a priori. His view that space does not represent any property of things in themselves is controversial. Why should it be obvious that a priori intuition must reside within the subject? There could not be any causal basis for the conformity of objects to our a priori intuitions unless this basis is already there with the intuition itself. An intuition has something like direct reference to an object. An intuition involves phenomenological presence of an object. There cannot be direct reference to an object that is not there. Thus, we have legitimate puzzlement as to how anyone can sense an object prior to its existence. The object of intuition is presumably an empirical object. We have to examine more closely the meaning of the conclusion that things in themselves are not spatial or temporal. The modern idea of the relativity of knowledge, that we cannot know or even understand how the world would look from outside space and time, owes much to the inspiration of Kant. In his conception of forms of intuition, Kant claimed to identify aspects of the content of our knowledge that our own subjectivity conditions but are still knowledge of objects, reflected in the most objective physical science.

            In the transcendental analytic of the Critique of Pure Reason Kant offers two familiar tables of logical forms of judgment out of which he derives categories of knowledge.


Table I: Forms of Logical Judgment

Table II: Categories of Knowledge

Quantity of judgments




Of Quantity








Of Quality








Of Relation

Of inherence and substance

Of causality and dependence

Of community





Of Modality





This logical theory is plainly impoverished. It deals with only a small fragment of propositional logic. It also provides no explicit treatment of quantification, the implicit treatment being limited to categorical propositions. Most important, his logic does not allow for the representation of multi-place predicates or of the complex quantificational structures that are the engines of mathematical reasoning. His central contention is that there are fundamental structures of thought in judgment. Further, these structures provide unity to the pure synthesis of the manifold intuition. It is unclear whether developments in logical theory do anything more than simply alter our understanding of what those structures are. Curiously, he does not explain the idea or principle behind the first table, a fact that may arise because he had none to give. His point is presumably that judgments logic rightly treats not merely as components of a syllogism, but also in their own right. However, it is unclear just what it is to consider a judgment as “cognition in general,” and why singular judgments have to be distinguished from universal ones. A similar problem emerges in his explanation of why infinite judgments are included alongside affirmative and negative ones under the heading of quality. Another difficulty is that the correlation between the two tables is obscure. It is hard to see why Kant should think his central thesis that the logical functions of thought also constitute concepts that must be applicable to the things given in sensible intuition is accurate. He claims that things must possess categorical features as a condition of our having knowledge of them. Even if we suppose that there are such categorical features, it is hard to see why we should connect them in any way with the logical functions of judgment. Things may have to possess such features in order to be objects of knowledge for us. It does not follow that these features are identical with, or even correspond to, the logical functions of thought in judgment. Kant’s central contention seems quite implausible. Kant conceived this argument in an attempt to revise the dogmatic metaphysics of Leibniz. He did not carry his revisions as far as he should have done. Kant rightly concludes that metaphysics will be possible only as an inquiry into the nature of the synthesis that is required if those concepts are to make possible knowledge of the things we experience. There is no reason to suppose that the logical structure of judgment will provide a clue to the nature of the synthesis that will make knowledge possible. Kant’s continuing commitment to this line of thought that he received from Leibniz was a mistake. Fortunately, he largely ignores the argument as he continues in this work.

            In the transcendental deduction of the Critique of Pure Reason Kant’s argument in this section concludes with the following points. First, all possible representations belong to a single, numerically identical self. Second, this is a synthetic connection of representations. Third, this synthesis requires an a priori synthesis among tem. Fourth, the rules of this synthesis are none other than the categories of knowledge. Fifth, therefore necessary conditions for the representation of any objects by means of the representations that themselves belong to the numerically identical self. I must at least know that I have those representations, and thus those representations must already satisfy some minimal conditions for self-knowledge. However, Kant offers no defense of this claim, and it cannot stand up to scrutiny. I must begin with the belief that I have had certain manifold representations, but genuine knowledge that I have actually experienced all the representations in this manifold may have to await successful empirical interpretation of this initial impression. If that is so, then I do not in fact have a priori knowledge of my numerical identity throughout a given manifold of representations independently of any empirical synthesis of them. Further, the connection between the unity of self-knowledge and knowledge of objects remains unclear. Kant’s argument seems to prove only the conditional thesis that the categories are necessary if we are to experience objects as well as merely subjective representations, but not to show that we are actually justified in applying the categories to such objects. He has not shown that the categories actually have objective reality. Kant suggests that the conditions of the unity of self-knowledge alone suffice to constitute the concept of the transcendental object. However, this suggestion is profoundly problematic. It ignores the idea that there is an essential difference between the self and its representations on the one hand the objects they may represent on the other. His claim neither adequately explains why we must represent any objects distinct from the self nor how we can represent the mere self as contrasted to objects. In spite of all the effort Kant devoted to the transcendental deduction, he failed to establish a firm connection between the unity of self-knowledge and the categories. The continuing interest in this Critique lies elsewhere. Kant clearly perceived that there was some inescapable connection between self-knowledge and knowledge of objects. This perception undermined the Cartesian assumptions that we could have a determinate knowledge of our inner states without any knowledge of the external world at all and that we had to discover some means of inferring from the former to the latter. He saw clearly that both self-knowledge and knowledge of objects were intrinsically judgmental and necessarily involved logical structures as well as empirical inputs. This vision undermined both Lock and Hume in their projects of discovering the foundations of all knowledge and belief in the empirical input of sensation and reflection alone. In this sense, this portion of the Critique succeeded in relegating Cartesian rationalism and Lockean empiricism into mere history and setting new agendas for subsequent philosophical movements, such as German idealism, logical positivism, and linguistic philosophy.

            Kant reflected upon one of the major issues of his day, that of causal laws and natural science. The transcendental principles of the understanding are necessary and a priori. Empirical laws that somehow fall under these transcendental principles are necessary and a priori in a derivative sense. What has made the problem so difficult is that Kant leaves us quite in the dark concerning the precise nature of this grounding. The unfortunate fact is that Kant does very little explain this crucially important relationship between transcendental principles and empirical laws of nature in either. Kant appears to suggest that we are to think of empirical laws as framed or nested within a sequence of progressively more concrete and empirical realizations of the transcendental principles. That sequence consists of progressively more concrete and empirical natures or worlds. Although purely empirical data play a necessary and unavoidable role in this procedure, the framing or nesting of such data within the transcendental concept of a nature in general is to result in a unique and determinate description of the empirical world that thereby acquires a more than merely empirical status. Kant thinks that genuinely objective empirical judgments are simply impossible without a grounding in progressively more abstract laws of nature terminating in the transcendental principles themselves. The task of reflective judgment is to systematize the potentially infinite multiplicity of empirical laws under increasingly general empirical laws to approximate to the a priori necessity issuing from the understanding and from the understanding alone. The relationship between the transcendental principles of the understanding and the faculty of reflective judgment is as follows. The principles of pure natural science articulate the empirical concept of matter and ground the law of universal gravitation. Kant brings the highest concept of empirical classification and the most general empirical law into immediate contact with the principles of the understanding. Yet, the vast majority of empirical laws have received no transcendental grounding. The task of reflective judgment is to furnish methodological principles that guide the procedure of organizing lower level empirical concepts and laws into a classificatory system. Only when such a classificatory system is ideally completed, so that all empirical concepts and laws are brought into determinate relation with the highest concept of empirical classification will the totality of empirical laws receive a transcendental grounding. Although humanity will never attain such an ideal complete science, the principle of reflective judgment nonetheless demands that we continually strive to approach it as far as is possible.

            Kant attempted to provide the metaphysical foundation for Newtonian science in a manner that still leaves space for morality and religious belief. In the process, he develops general beliefs about the philosophy of science. He presents an account of the use of theoretical concepts in the development of scientific theories under the rubric of the regulative use of reason. This understanding of science is similar to the pragmatic understanding of scientific practice, which stresses the fallibility of particular scientific theories. He views the scientific enterprise in a more empirical and less aprioristic manner than many thinkers have thought. He stresses the crucial nature of non-empirical concepts in the practice of science. Reason uses ideas to provide a way of seeing ordinary knowledge as more unified than it would otherwise be. Our reason has a drive toward this unity of empirical knowledge. Kant’s claims about a transcendental grounding of scientific practice do not violate his general denial that reason is capable of providing a priori knowledge. Although he attributes transcendental knowledge to reason as the basis for scientific practice, such knowledge does not amount to an illegitimate extension of our a priori knowledge beyond its legitimate bounds. The regulative use of reason involves the adoption of three different principles. The principle of genera asserts that there must be enough unity among species concepts that we can unify them into a genus. Scientific inquirers should attempt to unify the concepts employed within their theories as much as possible. The a priori principle is that inner and outer nature has such regularity that the concepts that we use to describe them must be capable of unification into a highest genus. The use of ideas in scientific theorizing entails a rejection of an instrumentalist conception of science. Science requires the assumption that nature accord with the interest of reason in unity. However, we cannot specify a priori the way nature satisfies this demand. Although reason is able to supply the ideal of a completely adequate system of scientific knowledge, it cannot anticipate the manner in which empirical knowledge will achieve this systematic structure. This suggests a regulative use of reason as opposed to constitutive use of reason. The use of reason is not constitutive of empirical objects. The contribution of reason to the framework of knowledge does not involve the actual constitution of the objects that we know. The second principle of reason in its regulative use is that of specification, which states that it is always possible to differentiate a generic concept into two or more specific ones. The transcendental principle sets an infinite task for the understanding as that of producing more and more specific concepts for the generic ones in its scientific theories. Reason directs the understanding to look for specific sorts of unities in its experience. Specification directs the understanding to look in its experience for regularities that support specifications of its generic concepts. The third principle of regulative reason is affinity, which states that the differences among generic concepts will be such as to modify themselves gradually. Together, they constitute the idea of a completely adequate system of scientific knowledge. They delineate the systematic structure to which our knowledge of nature aspires. Kant suggests that science without experimentation is empty; experimentation without ideas is blind. Only by seeing science as involving the use of ideas as a means of guiding experimentation can we develop an adequate understanding of the nature of scientific practice. Could we have an experience of nature that was not systematic? Kant would answer negatively. Empirical knowledge presupposes a general framework within which specific one can situate empirical claims. The regulative use of reason provides the context within which specific scientific theories are located. Only on the supposition that science is seeking to develop theories that will result in the creation of such a system of empirical knowledge can one view science as a rational practice whose product is knowledge of the structure of the phenomenal world.

            In the transcendental dialectic of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant argues that traditional metaphysics fallaciously derive most of its doctrines by attempting to use concepts of the understanding without corresponding evidence from sensibility. These are fallacies into which we do not just happen to fall but to which we are pushed by reason’s natural inclination to discover a kind of completeness in thought that the indefinitely extendable bounds of space and time can never yield. The case is somewhat different with the metaphysical paradoxes that Kant describes under the title of antinomies of pure reason. Kant claims that no deduction is possible with the ideas of self, world, and God. Much of this section demonstrates the problems that arise when one thinks of these ideas as referring to objects and thus as the sorts of things about which one could have a priori knowledge. However, he thinks we can salvage these three transcendental ideas if they refer to a type of systematic unity among the knowledge that we do have. The errors of reason in metaphysics arise from the legitimate drive for systematic understanding of the external world and its own faculties. For Kant, metaphysics is not about objects, but rather about the structure of human cognition. He shows how any view of principles of reason as divinely inscribed axioms or rules of thought, that correspond to reality, leads to contradictions. He deems human reason incompetent for these illusory tasks. Through inflicting heavy damage on metaphysical systems that assume correspondence between reason and reality, he argues that reason does not conform to the real.

We make two demands of philosophy, first, to explain the genesis of nature, whether objectively or idealistically. The second demand made on philosophy is to elucidate to us the metaphysical world, the super-sensuous region in which God, soul, freedom, immortality belong. If there were a true metaphysics, then it would have to present God as the free creator of the world, it would have to present human moral freedom next to the iron causal nexus in nature, and present the immortality of the human essence. It is incomprehensible how Kant can call these a priori concepts as well. However, soul, world, God, these are themselves objects. His critique does not just refute and make impossible cognition of, but also all thinking of, the super-sensuous, namely by forbidding any application of the concepts of the understanding to it. Now after he has expelled God from theoretical philosophy he nevertheless brought God back via practical philosophy, by presenting at least the belief in the existence of God as required by the moral law. However, if this belief is not completely devoid of thought then people at least have the thought of God here. Now I should like to know how he can begin to think God without thinking God as substance, admittedly not as substance in Spinoza’s sense, as that which stands under things, but he undoubtedly thinks of God as the absolutely spiritual and moral personality. Now there is admittedly more in the concept of such a personality than in the concept of substance. God is not just substance, as we do not sufficiently character a person by saying that he or she is a substance. However, is God for this reason in no way substance? Just as little do I see what is left of the concept of God if I may not think of God as a cause. Kant has overshot his own mark by his critique. Not even Kant could stay within the limits that he set. He directed philosophy towards the subjective, a direction that it had completely lost since Spinoza. Yet, he opened the way to idealism. This step took place through Fichte, who proclaimed frankly, the I, namely the I of every single individual, is the only substance.

Kant saw the manner in which the speculative death of God entails the fracture of the I, the disappearance of rational theology and rational psychology. However, he did not pursue this initiative. Both God and the I underwent a practical resurrection. He directed his critique initially against the metaphysics accepted in the schools, but that from another side and, as it were, unintentionally, it again became a defense of this metaphysics.

If the thing in itself is not God, it is hard to know what it is. Kant thinks he has brought to an end all metaphysics that is directed towards knowledge of the super-sensuous. We cannot know the super-sensuous; we cannot even have a thought of it. He gets into a contradiction with himself by this. For he himself does not deny at least the existence of the super-sensuous, and himself presupposes it in his construction of experience. We must ask how that intelligible basis gets to the subject, how it affects it. We must ask how this material so willingly bows to the form of the understanding. We must ask whence the subject derives its power over the material. His critique does not answer these questions; indeed, he does not even ask them.

Kant later sought something better in the fact that these contradictory assertions only arise precisely in the cosmological ideas. This is not so at all. The supposed contradiction between the cosmological ideas spreads to theology and psychology.

The question is whether the world is infinite or finite, whether it began in time or is without a beginning, and whether this question influences theological ideas. The two assertions, that God is just a blindly working being, that is, only because of the inner necessity of God’s nature, and that God is free, bound to nothing and Lord of his activity; these two assertions are just as directly opposed as the other two. A great fault of this metaphysics is that it posited so-called formal logic outside itself and left it behind. This metaphysics split itself up into a succession of several individual sciences. The ontological argument can lead to the concept of absolute substance. The cosmological argument leads only to the concept of absolute cause.

Orthodox metaphysics gradually turned into a kind of formless, merely popular philosophy, and finally into complete anarchy. The period of so-called thinking for yourself began, for it goes without saying that everyone who thinks must think for himself, and nobody can have somebody else think for him, as little as one can have somebody else sleep or digest for one. However, the opinion was the following: that everyone was already sufficiently equipped with that general reason for them to have reasonable ideas about all possible objects of philosophy. All thinkers had to make their own system for themselves, a philosophy that claimed objective validity was only good for school, or to impress inexperienced youth; life and experience was everything. This pointing to experience did bring advantages to philosophy from another side, by giving reasons for the emergence and development of empirical psychology, which admittedly still lacks a real scientific foundation, but which did open up to the humanity a new region of itself, particularly that highly interesting region that lies in between the physical and the psychological.

            Kant also reflected on psychology and the soul. Kant denied that empirical psychology was of use in answering philosophical questions, bringing him into direct conflict with David Hume, Christian Wolff, and Moses Mendelssohn. Although some readers consider the whole of this Critique an exercise in transcendental psychology, Kant rightly called his work transcendental philosophy. Kant committed himself to the view that the representations of inner sense are subject to universal natural laws. He developed pessimism about the prospects of empirical psychology. He doubted that adherents could carry out experiments on the phenomena of inner sense, either on oneself or on others. His arguments are not compelling, for he fails to show why such experiments are not available. Neither his account of the shortcomings of empirical psychology nor his implied conception of the systematic structure of the science in terms of simple universal laws has proved lasting.

            In the transcendental method in the Critique of Pure Reason, we recognize that if this book is to live up to its title and its reputation, it must deal with skepticism with regard to reason. Kant addresses this fundamental topic persistently and with great subtlety. He offers an account of what it is to vindicate reason quite different from the foundationalist account that critics of the Enlightenment project target, and usually attributed to Kant. No metaphysical proof exists that we can integrate all aspects of our thinking and doing into a single systematic unity. Chaos threatens human knowledge is threatened, while knowledge and action are divided by a great gulf that provides the most profound challenge to the possibility of a complete and systematic philosophy. Complete unity is never anything more than endeavor that is neither guaranteed nor attainable. Reason strives for the greatest possible unity, aspiring to overcome the threatened hiatuses of thought and action. His three questions (what can I know, what may I do, and what may I hope?) do not presuppose integrated answers. They do not even assume that human knowledge can form a systematic whole. What can I know? The precepts of scientific enquiry guide us here. What can I do? The categorical imperative guides us here. What may I hope? The postulates of practical reason and maxims of seeking purpose in life provide bridges across the great gulf between knowable nature and free action. Is this striving for unity fundamental reason? Does this striving give reason the authority to regulate all thought and action? Kant understands that this striving of reason leads to contradictions, having their source in problems, and yet seeks unity in such a way that it may be capable of resolving the problems it generates. Contrary to postmodern persons, Kant says that we are in no position to live without reason. The striving of reason that leads us into tangled thought and action is already reasoning, even if it is unreliable reasoning. The question we must ask ourselves is, “Given that we try to reason, how can we mitigate the dangers of the principles on which we unavoidably rely?” Human beings are unavoidably committed to thinking and acting, and are thus rational beings. Yet, our peculiar fate is that our reasoning constantly falls into difficulty and contradiction. The disasters of metaphysics arise from an unrestricted use of quite common and daily ways of thinking and acting that we cannot give up. Neither foundationalism nor post-modern thought are genuine options. Our only feasible option is to ask, “What can we build with the materials and labor force available to us?” Kant might envision a kite, whose components are mutually supporting, although no part of the structure forms a foundation for the rest. We might envision a space station or satellite as such a structure. The construction of reason is a process rather than a product, as practices of connection and integration rather than as finally laying of foundations. Kant points a way between rationalism and skepticism, or we might say between foundationalism and post-modernism. We may be able to build an adequate account of reason out of available materials and capacities. The strategies of thought on which we have to rely provide the materials and the plan for constructing an account of some principles that have wholly general authority for thinking and acting. Kant rejects the rationalist notion that mathematical method provides a model for reasoning. He also rejects the skeptical suspicion that reason is no more than polemic or war. Kant prefers the image of reasoned exchange by citizens in free debate, for anyone who seeks an unrestricted audience must renounce polemic. Both are processes with a plurality of participants, whose coordination no ruler or other power can guarantee or impose. He rejects polemic because thoughts and action that depend on unvindicated authorities will hold only where this authority is accepted. It cannot produce general understanding or agreement or resolve all conflicts of belief and action. For Kant, we lack the materials or plan for the grand project of rationalism. Reason must discipline itself, and as such is a reflexive task. The principle is that of governing both thinking and doing by principles that others can adopt and follow. Thinking and acting must not violate the form of law. Theoretical reason seeks unity of knowledge. Practical reason requires a system of precautions and self-examination. The supreme principle of reason is the precept of staying within the confines of some possible plan, as a matter of lawfulness without a lawgiver. One must adopt a plan that posits neither unavailable resources nor resources one cannot share with others. We think and act reasonably provided we neither invoke illusory capacities or authorities, nor base our thinking or acting on principles that others could not reasonably share. Kant thinks it unreasonable to posit capacities, insights, and transcendent authorities that we lack, such as Platonists and traditional theists. Kant thinks it unreasonable to assume that thinking and acting is wholly arbitrary, as with skeptics and post-moderns. Kant thinks it unreasonable to assume some local authority, as with communitarianism. Note that Kant begins from the unsatisfying character of our daily attempts to reason. His reasoning is circular in that he deliberately identifies the vindication of reason with a reflexive process. If we become increasingly reasonable, we discipline available attempts at reasoning by available modes of reasoning. Thus, reason does have a history and can make progress. Kant vindicates reason through its open-ended nature, in that this self-discipline of reason by reason is a practice for regulating thinking and doing. Kant defines the task of reason in terms of a process of subjecting proposed thought and action to the discipline of reason. The task decidedly is not the discovery of foundations or the discovery of some secure final product. Is this vindication of reason so minimal that it can have no significant role? Our disappointment that reason cannot accomplish more is a symptom of undisciplined metaphysical passions. His vindication of reason is a modest affair, though far from empty.

In the thought of Kant and of others influenced by him, all genuinely moral considerations rest, ultimately and at a deep level, in the will of the agent. Kant presented the purest, deepest, and most thorough representation of morality. I cannot simply be required by my position in a social structure to act in a certain way, if that required is to be of the moral kind, and does not simply reflect a psychological compulsion or social and legal sanctions. To act morally is to act autonomously, not as the result of social pressure. He must abandon or convert into voluntary commitment every requirement. Such a demand is closely related to the processes of modernization. Obligation and duty look backwards, or at least sideways.

            Kant claims that normal adults are capable of being self-governing in moral matters. We need no authority external to ourselves to inform us of the demands of morality. Through such self-government, we can effectively control ourselves. The obligation we impose upon ourselves overrides all other calls for action, even our own desires. Others do not tell us what morality requires, whether neighbors, magistrates, or those who speak for God. Society needs a structure that allows a social space within which we may freely determine our own action, and all citizens deserve this social space. A society built around the virtues of benevolence and kindness is a society requiring inequality and servility. If nothing is properly mine except what someone graciously gives me, I am dependent on how the donor feels toward me. Such a society threatens my independence. Moral obligation replaces benevolent paternalism and the servility that goes with it. The moral obligation to develop one’s own plan of life limits religious and political control over our lives. Kant rejected the argument of natural law theorists, who said that citizens needed experts to interpret for them what morality required. He also rejected the virtue tradition as represented by Shaftesbury and Hutcheson. He rejected Christian Wolff as well; he argued that we could see for ourselves what the consequences of our actions will be, and can tell which action will bring about the greatest amount of perfection. Kant said that Wolff implied that morality became a means to an end. Rousseau convinced Kant that self-governing moral agents gives each person a special value or dignity. The problem Kant faced was to show how such shared moral obligation was possible. How can we impose a moral obligation upon ourselves? Are there any constraints on my action? Can I excuse myself from any obligations I alone impose? Eventually, Kant found an analogy in the Newtonian laws of the physical universe. Science describes the world as it is. Morality tells how it ought to be. Kant defined this ought as saying that whatever a holy will, or a perfectly rational will, necessarily would do is what we imperfect rational agents ought to do. Virtue is not a settled habit or disposition, for only beings who find morality difficult and who develop persistence in struggling against the temptations can become virtuous persons. This shared moral obligation or law is formal in that when we are fully rational, we act knowing our circumstances, in order to obtain a definite end, and aware that under some conditions we are prepared to alter our plans. Kant recommends a two-stage testing of maxims. First, test a maxim by the hypothetical imperative. Does the proposed act effectively bring about a desired end? If not, we must reject it. If it passes that test, then test it be the categorical imperative: act only according to that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. This requires some impartiality, but this does not mean complete impartiality, which we could never achieve. One flaw in his reasoning is that he came to conclusions about lying, suicide, and political revolution that we must always reject, and yet one could find legitimate arguments for the opposite position. It is also hard to determine the impact of the categorical imperative upon just two people, let alone a whole society. Respect provides the motive for practical reason that Hume said reason always lacks when it comes to morality. Since each of us desires others to respect us, we have a proper motive to comply in moral relations by respecting others. One difficulty into which Kant descends is that if I act from any motive other than respect, I am simply doing something I find myself wanting to do. The place where the perfectly rational agent and the categorical imperative meet is in the idea of freedom of will. Unfortunately, this argument assumes that we are free only when we act rationally, and thus implies that we are responsible for our behavior only when we act morally. He also argues that morality and happiness ought to have a link. Since they do not in this life, he thinks that a belief in immortality and a belief in future reward and punishment are important for morality, even if theoretical reason can never prove such matters. Atheism and the meaninglessness of history threaten to make morality pointless.

Kant’s view of moral obligation is a perfectly good theory in an ideal order of morality. It does not hold in the unpleasant realities of the actual world in which we live. He calls for freedom and makes it impossible. His every actualization of morality bears repressive features.  The real necessity involved in the kind of freedom praised by ultra-liberal ideology was an image designed to cover up the total social necessity that compels people to be rugged if they want to survive. Central to Kant’s moral philosophy are two deceptively simple theses. If the rules of morality are rational, they must be the same for all rational beings, in just the way that the rules of arithmetic are, and if the rules of morality are binding on all rational beings, then the contingent ability of such beings to carry them out must be unimportant. The same inherited morality marked both people. Kant rejects two conceptions of such a test that had been widely influential in the European traditions. On the one hand, Kant rejects the view that the test of a proposed maxim is whether obedience to it in the end would lead to the happiness of a rational being. The second traditional view that Kant repudiates is that according to which the test of a given maxim or precept is whether it is commanded by God. Where Kierkegaard had seen the basis of the ethical in choice, Kant sees it in reason. Practical reason, according to Kant, employs no criterion external to itself. Kant believed that his formulations of the categorical imperative in terms of universalizability were equivalent to a quite different formulation: Always act to treat humanity as an end, and not as a mean. What Kant enjoins is what a long line of moral philosophers have followed Plato in the Gorgias in enjoining. Kant gives us no good reason for holding this position. Kierkegaard and Kant agree in their conception of morality, but Kierkegaard inherits that conception together with an understanding that the project of giving a rational vindication of morality has failed. Kant’s failure provided Kierkegaard with his starting-point. We need to note that Diderot and Hume very largely share the view taken by Kierkegaard and Kant of the content of morality. Sympathy as used by Hume and Smith is the name of a philosophical fiction. Hume is compelled to the conclusion that morality is a work of the passions quite independently of and prior to his adducing of any positive arguments for that position. The influence of negative arguments is equally clear in both Kant and Kierkegaard.

            In the work of Kant on aesthetics, he suggests that the combination of subjective status of taste with the universality and necessity claim makes judgments of taste what they are. It is the feeling of pleasure alone that determines it. The most subjective and private of human capacities, that of feeling, the determining ground of the aesthetic judgment. That feeling also has a structure that can manifest itself as rational in the widest sense is the discovery Kant adds now. Those who have taste show by their preference that they value what is beautiful and abhor what is ugly. Having taste is the ability to respond with immediate pleasure and unclouded vision to beauty in nature and in art and to communicate this pleasure to others who are capable of sharing it. Communicable pleasure informs an attitude of wonder toward the world, and those who feel it do not selfishly seek to possess the objects of their pleasure. They appreciate and appraise these objects. Taste is the ability to estimate the beautiful, and the exercise of this ability is the judgment of taste.

            Kant also proposed some new directions for theology and church. Kant opposed religious ceremonies. He regarded creeds as unconscionable impositions on our inner freedom of thought, almost inevitably productive of a hypocritical frame of mind. Ceremonial praise of God was a despicable act of self-degradation. He saw no possible good in activities whose superstitious aim is to conjure up divine aid for our projects. His conception of God belongs squarely in the scholastic and rationalist tradition. God is the perfect being, extra-mundane, immutable, and timelessly eternal. God is also living, knowing, and wiling. God is omniscient, omnipotent, supremely holy, just, and beneficent. Kant maintains that we can be rationally justified in holding a proposition not only by theoretical evidence, but also by practical considerations. He tries to present such considerations in his moral argument for belief in God. Kant thinks I can act rationally in pursuit of an end only as long as I believe that the end is possible of attainment through the actions I take toward it. Morality does not rest on religion. Rather, morality establishes religious faith. The moral argument for belief in God shows how morality, which is independent of religious belief, nevertheless leads to religion. The moral argument should serve as a kind of substitute for the theoretical proofs rejected by theoretical reason. The moral argument justifies a warm and living religious faith, as distinct from dead, abstract theoretical knowledge. However, even if the moral arguments are successful, I am unclear how far they can fulfill this intention. What they show is that morally disposed people are involved in a practical irrationality unless they believe in a future life and a providential and gracious God. These arguments do not show that such a God and a future life actually exist, but that such beliefs are desirable for a moral agent to have. These practical arguments involve the tacit suggestion that they attain to something slightly weaker than belief. If we grant his premise, his practical arguments do show that we have rational need for such beliefs. However, his practical arguments cannot produce the belief whose indispensability they demonstrate. Kant rejects theoretical evidence. He does not wish to resort to non-rational factors. Yet, Kant never faced up the difficulty for moral faith posed by this dilemma. Occasionally, Kant weakens his conclusion in a different and more defensible way. He suggests that the moral arguments are minimally compatible with belief only in their possibility. He clearly wanted to encourage a tolerant attitude toward people with heterodox beliefs. We do not have a duty to hold any belief. This minimum of theology coincides with what Kant thinks he can justify theoretically. This minimum may also harmonize with what the moral arguments succeed in proving. If the existence of God is both necessary and sufficient for the actuality of the highest good, then belief in the possibility of the highest good would seem equivalent to the belief that God is possible. Devoted pursuit of one’s final moral end might be better served by a confidence that the highest good will at last be attained, but the bare minimum reason requires is belief that it is possible for attainment. Kant thinks morality is compatible with hopeful agnosticism about the existence of God, even though something stronger than this would be preferable.

            Religion requires that I have duties, I have a concept of God, and that I am capable of regarding my duties as something God wills me to do. However, why should we think of our duties as commanded by God? Now, our concept of morality and the will of God harmonize. Kant regards our pursuit of the highest good as a collective or social enterprise. Our moral vocation is a social one, which we pursue through membership in a community. This moral community aims at the moral improvement of its members through their voluntary participation. Morality is communal, rather than individual. Religion has a place in human life because the moral life is not a purely private matter. Each of us has the vocation of furthering the moral good of others, and each stands in need of the aid of others for our own moral progress. Each individual has a moral duty to join with others in such a community. The human race has this duty toward itself to fulfill its common vocation to progress as a species.

            Kant’s philosophy of religion is part of his social philosophy, and his philosophy of history. For example, the state can have practices that are the opposite of what Kant recommends in the science of right. The state can use coercive power. In ethical community, the people of God strive under non-coercive laws to perfect the moral disposition of the human race. The empirical form of the universal ethical community is religious communities. Churches have also fallen short of their task. In attempts to please God, they have often encouraged morally indifferent observances or degrading acts of praise and worship, whose aim is to win special divine favor through flattery or bribery. They have promoted cult and prayer, based on the superstitious belief in miracles, fanatical pretensions to supersensible experiences of the divine or fetishistic attempts to produce supernatural occurrences through ritual acts. Worst of all, they have subjected the conscience of individuals to a hierarchy of priests, enslaving the soul that it is their proper function to liberate. The historical function of the church is to begin the work of organizing a universal ethical community. The function of ecclesiastical faith is to serve as the vehicle for pure rational religion. Kant envisions a time when people will abolish the hierarchical constitution of churches because it puts humanity in spiritual tutelage to a class of priests who usurp the authority of individual over their beliefs and conscience. One should not regard acceptance of doctrines depending on revelation rather than reason as morally required for true religion, since true religion aspires to a universal ethical community embracing all humanity. Revealed faith cannot become such a religion. Even if revelation occurred, it would be impossible for anyone to authenticate any particular revelation.

            For Kant, we have a choice between types of religion. One is enlightened, seeking to reconcile religion with scientific reason. The other type mistrusts reason and sets religion against it because it prefers revealed tradition, mystical experience, or enthusiastic emotionalism. Kant has demonstrated the limits of reason. However, this does not mean any other authority or source of insight might overrule it. No true religion exists if it is not also a religion of reason. Kant also rejects the secularist view that treats religion with contempt. Organized religion is as essential to human destiny as organized political life, and the role of reason in both spheres is equally vital. Every religion begins in revealed authority, hierarchy, and superstition, but the only legitimate office of religion is to establish an ethical community according to universal laws of reason. The human vocation with regard to religion is the interpretation and development of tradition toward a universal religion of reason. A church that clings to religious experience, emotion, or revelation without regard to reason has no more legitimacy than a state whose coercive power is used without regard for human rights. On the other hand, the human race can no more expect to fulfill its collective moral vocation apart from organized religion than it can expect to achieve justice through anarchy.

Kant said there cannot even be an article contained in the political constitution that would make it possible for a power in the state, in case of the transgression of the constitutional laws by the supreme authority, to resist or even to restrict it in so doing. For, whoever would restrict the supreme power of the state must have more, or at least equal, power as compared with the power that is so restricted.  If competent to command the citizens to resist, such a one would also have to be able to protect them.  If we consider this power capable of judging what is right in every case, this power may also publicly order resistance. However, such a power would then be the supreme power. The supreme sovereign power, then, in proceeding by a minister who is at the same time the ruler of the state, consequently becomes despotic.  The expedient of giving the people to imagine that they act by their deputies by way of limiting the sovereign authority, cannot so mask and disguise the actual despotism of such a government that it will not appear in the measures and means adopted by the minister to carry out this function. The people, while represented by their deputies in parliament, under such conditions, may have in these guarantors of their freedom and rights, persons who are keenly interested on their own account and their families, and who look to such a minister for the benefit of his or her influence in the army, navy, and public offices. Hence, instead of offering resistance to the undue pretensions of the government they are rather always ready to play into the hands of the government. The so-called limited political constitution, as a constitution of the internal rights of the state, is an unreality.  Instead of being consistent with law, it is only a principle of expediency. Its aim is not so much to throw all possible obstacles in the way of a powerful violator of popular rights by his or her arbitrary influence upon the government, as rather to cloak it over under the illusion of a right of opposition conceded to the people.

  For Kant, resistance on the part of the people to the supreme legislative power of the state is in no case legitimate; for it is only by submission to the universal legislative will, that a condition of law and order is possible. Hence, there is no right of sedition, and still less of rebellion, belonging to the people. Least of all is there any justification for seizing the person or taking away the life of the head of state. The slightest attempt of this kind is high treason.  A traitor of this sort who aims at the overthrow of his or her country may be punished, as a political parricide, even with death. It is the duty of the people to bear any abuse of the supreme power, even when they consider it unbearable. The reason is that any resistance of the highest legislative authority can never but be contrary to the law, and must even be regarded as tending to destroy the whole legal constitution. In order to be entitled to offer such resistance, a public law would be required to permit it. Nevertheless, the supreme legislation would by such a law cease to be supreme, and the people as subjects would be made sovereign over that to which they are subject; which is a contradiction. The contradiction becomes more apparent when w put the question this way: "Who is to be the judge in a controversy between the people and the sovereign?"

For Kant, of all the abominations in the overthrow of a state by revolution, even the murder or assassination of the monarch is not the worst. That may be done by the people for fear that the king, if allowed to acquire again, could inflict punishment upon them. In that case, they would act of the instinct of self-preservation.  The formal execution of a monarch horrifies a soul filled with ideas of human law; and this feeling occurs repeatedly as of as the mind realizes the scenes that terminated the fate of Charles I or Louis XVI. Now how do we explain this feeling? It is not just an aesthetic feeling, arising from the working of the imagination, nor from sympathy, produced by fancying ourselves in the place of the sufferer. On the contrary, it is a moral feeling arising from the entire subversion of all our notions of law. Regicide is regarded as a crime that always remains such and can never be expiated.

            In Kant’s political theory, he revoked Machiavelli’s separation of morality and politics. Human beings live with others of their kind in space and time, enter into external relations with others, and influence the actions of others through their own actions. Thus, everyone is subject to the law of right that reason develops. This concerns only the external sphere of the freedom of action. Only the effects of actions on the freedom of others are of interest to a philosophy of right. A community of right is a community for self-protection among those who have the power to act. The principle of right makes every politically inequitable distribution of freedom recognizable as not right. Philosophy of right defines the domain that each may consider his or her own, occupy as he or she pleases, and defend against injuries to his or her boundaries. The universal law of right limits the freedom of action of everyone in accordance with the criterion of mutual compatibility and assigns to each person an equally large parcel of freedom in which he or she can do what he or she pleases. Kant identifies this as the permissive law of practical reason. It must possible for everyone to have a right of property in any object of the external world and thereby to possess the authority to exclude everyone else from the use of this thing. The right of reason grounded in freedom demands private property. The political and the public dimension is revealed in the need to create harmony between what is appropriated on the basis of the claim of property on the one hand and the necessity of making the natural private right positive and concrete through universal legislation on the other. Property forms the justification of the state, and the state forms the justification complement of property. The principle of equality implies equality before the law and equality of access to all social and political positions, but no economic egalitarianism. The principle of equality is indifferent to the economic structure of society. It does not make the advancement of social equality and economic justice a political goal. The Kantian state is limited to the functions of the realization of right and the protection of freedom. The social state is in the service of freedom, although we must not interpret this to re-instate a paternalistic vision of the state, which Kant clearly views as creating dependence upon the state and thus destroying the independence of individuals. This leads us to the third political principle, that of self-sufficiency. He becomes guilty of a serious here, in that he elevates an empirical and contingent experience, that of ownership of property, to an a priori principle. Kant concerns himself with the realization of the rational principles in history, and in this context becomes a philosophy of compromise and reform. He develops a pragmatic synthesis of Hobbes’s sense of political reality and Rousseau’s ideal of justice. This realization occurs only in a historical and human world. The politics of reform are an eternal compromise of transition. Compromise and reform belong together. Kant’s concept of republicanism unites experience, prudence, and hope. It gives the citizens the effects of a republic, leaves power to the autocratic rulers, and at the same time assumes that illegitimate domination that has arisen from force cannot resist the spirit of republicanism over the long run, and will some day freely give way to a proper republic. Since he rejects revolution, he can only recommend that citizens wait for better times. A state dominated by mass murderers does not deserve the title of a condition of right. Further, civil disobedience has a place in political opposition, compromise, and reform, even if Kant himself did not envision such a condition. The innate human right to freedom is the foundation of his idea of the peaceful confederation of republics. The condition that such a confederation consists of republics is important. Perpetual peace, the transformation of all states into constitutionally peace-loving republics, is an unrealizable idea, even if it is a worthy political idea.

Hegel and the Expansion of Knowledge to Moral Discourse, Art, and Religion

Hegel 1770-1831) was the last of the “logos” philosophers.  One of my many surprises with Hegel is that he did not view himself as involved in the dialectic that he so eloquently described. Rather, he reached a point in his philosophical reflection in which he stood above the dialectical process and contemplated its journey through history. He also thought he could see the direction of this dialectical process. I will do what I can to make his procedure clear. I have found that dealing seriously Hegel opens many fruitful paths of reflection as we seek to understand the social world of bourgeois culture. After Hegel, the Hegelian left had tendency optimism represented by the eschatological posture of dialectical materialism. The Hegelian right (German idealists) had an optimistic attitude and intellectual orientation rather than rooted in eschatology and historical process.

                Hegel is the inaugural thinker of the contemporary world. His entire work is penetrated and mobilized by the consciousness and by the feeling of having to make a decisive inflection in the course of the world, and consequently, in the course of philosophy. Sense no longer offers itself in the religious bond of a community, and knowledge is no longer organized into a meaningful totality. However, community gives way to society and knowledge is the knowledge is the knowledge of objects and procedures, not of which is an end in itself. This world perceives itself as the gray world of interests, oppositions, particularities, and instrumentalities. It therefore perceives itself as a world of separation and of pain, a world whose history is of one atrocity after another, and whose consciousness is the consciousness of a constitutive unhappiness. It is the world of exteriority from which life withdraws, giving way to an endless displacement from one term to the next that can neither be sustained nor gathered in an identity of meaning. This is a world of movement, of transformation, of displacement, and of restlessness, moving toward no end or result other than itself. Restlessness is itself already thought at work, or better, at stake. Hegel is the witness to the ordeal, misery, restlessness, and task of thought that world has become, where the only point is transformation.

                Hegelian thought does not begin with the assurance of a principle. It is simply identical to the restless, preoccupied, and non-presupposed return into itself of philosophy that exposes itself to what it already is. Absence of beginning and end, absence of foundation of completion, suggest that Hegel is far from the totalitarian thinker some take him to be. Transformation suggests the power of the negative and the infinite negativity of the present, the present is always negative, hollow, and gap, the difference of being that relates to itself through this difference. The infinite act of relating itself to itself is through difference. The Absolute is nothing other than reality, ruining all attempts at pre-given, self-evident presuppositions. Knowing is not representation but presentation. Consequently, knowing is the negation of every gift of presence. Everything is in the restlessness of becoming. However, becoming is not a process that leads to another thing. Becoming is the condition of everything. An infinite process is the instability of every finite determination, the bearing away of presence and of the given in the movement of presentation and the gift. 

                The element of spirit names the restlessness and awakening of the world, immanence always already tense, extended and distended within itself as well as outside itself.

                In coming late, philosophy comes itself as the end that comprehends itself as end. It sinks into a form of life by its own truth, but its passage and its opening toward an other. The present reveals itself as the restlessness opened between the twilight of a fulfillment and the imminence of an upsurge. Hegel viewed his time as instability, tearing, and passage. Hegel does not represent the Whole nor discover the foundation of it. He does have the task of opening for himself the totality of relation such as it opens itself in every thing, each time, here and now.

                Hegel’s desire is to preserve the unity of thought and reality, the abstract and the concrete, and the ideal and the actual. He had contempt for accounts of the world that are merely possible, or that are incomplete and arbitrary descriptions of parts of the world distorted by isolation. He insisted on a philosophical account that could claim to be more than arbitrary, exhaustively concrete, and absolute in its comprehensive interrelatedness.

                Hegel distinguishes between naïve and dispersed thinking versus unified thinking, between empirical science and philosophy. Morality, art, and religion can move human thought toward the whole or absolute better than can science. Hegel rejects empiricism because it takes each element of experience as it is and regards each element in isolation from the rest. An empiricist such as Hume must take human desires as he finds them and regard morality as a strategy for their satisfaction with the least frustration possible. In consequences, rules of behavior become matters of utility for the empiricist and must vary according to time, place, and circumstance.

                Kant argued that only those maxims of conduct are morally acceptable that can be acted on or willed without contradiction by all rational beings. Morality is not a contingent, localized, or a matter of degree. Hegel rejects Kant’s formula of universal legislation. The mere form of the moral law does not determine thought. One could adopt all sorts of wickedness and justify it on the ground that they are not self-contradictory. Anything specific can become a duty. In the human sphere, form and matter, reason and sensibility, one and many, are closely connected. Morality is a matter of outward deeds as well as internal intentions. Thus, the inner tears of remorse people feel do not satisfy moral requirement until the person is ready to face the avenger, either in the law or in morality. Peoples are real individuals living alongside each other, in relation to each other and in relative independence from each other.

                Empiricism separates unity from multiplicity, lacking all criterions for drawing the boundary between what in the chaos of the state of nature or in the abstraction of human thought must remain and what one must discard.

                With Kant, we must reject his approach because every specific matter is inherently particular rather than universal. The result of Kant’s maxim is that anything can become a moral law. The annihilation of the specific, through its adoption into universality is an immediate difficulty for Kant. “Help the poor,” elevated to universal legislation and actual following of the principle, would lead to everyone becoming poor or the eradication of the poor as a class, both scenarios denying the possible universality of the legislation.

A meditation on trembling follows. Thought must take the self out of itself. Thought is itself an extraction, along with the speech in which thinking takes itself out of itself and exposes itself. It inhabits it, works it over, and unsettles it in itself. The separation that is manifestation is each time a singular ordeal. It is pain. Pleasure and pain are both of the other and in the other. The subject is the act of going into movement as the movement of this being-affected and this passing into the other. We could register in Hegel a whole series of trembling moments, as in religious trembling or aesthetic trembling. It is always the trembling of the finite seized by the infinite. It is the sensibility of the infinite in the finite. The self trembles at being touched, awakened, and roused. The self trembles as much at the feeling of its fragility as in the desire for its freedom. The emotion of the self is its own, and its trembling is a trembling of itself because it is thus that it comes to itself. Trembling is like the unity of pain and joy. The self has its unity in trembling of itself. Thought does not tremble before what it has to think. Thought trembles in itself, at being in itself detachment from self, the awakening of the other, of its pain and its joy. I cannot stop trembling before the other. I cannot stop trembling at being myself the trembling that the other stirs up. Thought cannot sink into the thing without trembling.

By being in general, completely indeterminate being, which Hegel claims to begin with, one could only understand that which is neither essential nor objective being. To this one could reply: he admits this himself. He uses without thinking the form of the proposition, the copula, the is. He uses the concept nothing as one that needs no explanation, which is completely self-evident. The translation of the concept of process onto the dialectical movement, where no struggle is possible, but only a monotonous, almost soporific progression, therefore belongs to that misuse of words which in him is really a very great means of hiding the back of true life.

                We become conscious of ourselves when, for the first time, we say, “I.” the cognitive, contemplative, passive behavior of a being or a knowing subject, those who contemplate, are absorbed by what they contemplate. Knowing subjects lose themselves in the object that they know. Contemplation reveals the object, not the subject. Those who are absorbed by the object that they contemplate can be brought back to themselves only by a desire. In order for “I” to occur, we need more than contemplation; desire must be present.

                The self-conscious being implies and presupposes desire. Consequently, we can form and maintain the human reality only within a biological reality. If animal desire is the necessary condition of self-consciousness, it is not the sufficient condition.

                Being loses its sense of being. Self is what finds itself as nothingness. Self is what does not find itself. Self is negation of self. The move out of self is the appropriation of the other. This appropriation does not make the other my thing. It enters into the recognition of the other in love. This love does not correspond to its romantic representation. It finds in love all the precision, all the patience, and all the acujity that sinking into effective and active singularity demands. Love designates the recognition of desire by desire. Trembling from the trembling of the other, and with the other, the self comes into desire. Self-consciousness is essentially desire, because it is consciousness of self as and out of its consciosness of the toher. The self must come from the other, and it is in this coming, as this coming, that it has to be self, or it gains unity with itself. Desire is not so much the tension of a lack and the projection of a satisfaction that would annul it. Rather, desire is the tension of the coming of the other as the becoming of the self. The self is desire. The self becomes self in the other. The becoming of the self is of the other. Desire is therefore not merely unhappy relation to the otehr. In the unhappiness of lack, just as in the satisfaction of possession or of consummation, there is ut one isolated side to desire. The truth of desire itself is still other. It is precisely to be other.

                Desire is the freedom of the singular. The necessity of necessity is freedom. Freedom is the name for the necessity to be in itself and for itself detached from all fixity, all determination, from every given, and eveyr property. Freedom is the necessity to be detached as the movemenht of detachment right at the surface of every determinacy. Freedom consists in the necessity that form again dissolve itself of itself. Hegel is far from any inhuman mechanics of the Absolute. Freedom is the necessity that posits the self outside of itself. The Hegelian thought of freedom is the most difficult because it gather and knots together all the difficulties in establishing truth that intersect at the term freedom. Hegelian freedom expends much effort showing the way to freedom from these same confusions in establishing the truth of freedom. Deciding oneself, liberating oneself, and giving oneself, are the same. The self outside itself in the blossoming is the supreme manifestation of manifestation in general. The self grasps itself, knows itself, and affirms itself as the whole content of its decision. The self decides also decides itself for the infinite recognition of and in the other. The self does not know this, for this is not knowledge in its possession. The self cannot know itself as good, unless it relapses into a given idenitty, and to a moral imagination. Decision is the act of singularity, and the becoming of liberation. Decision is the knowing of restlessness, knowing without rest.

                Truth must itself be the manifestation, the desire, and the becoming of truth. Truth comes back to us. Truth finds or happens upon itself as us, and it is to us that it is entrussted. Knowing truth as for us is knowing that truth not merely for consciousness. When Hegel says that the Absolute wants to be near to us he means that the movement of the self would have no sense if it was not in proximity with us. The Absolute is between us. The Absolute is there in itself and for itself, and the self is between us as well. However, the self is unrest. Between us, nothing can be at rest, nothing is assured or presence or of being. We pass each after the others as much as each into the others. Each with the others, each near the others. The near of the Absolute is nothing other than our near each other.

                In order that the human reality come into being as “recognized” reality, both adversaries must remain alive after the fight. A fourth irreducible premise in phenomenology is that one must suppose that the fight ends in such a way that both adversaries remain alive.

                Self-consciousness is simple or undivided being-for-itself. The other-entity is also a self-consciousness. They are autonomous concrete-forms. They are consciousnesses that have not yet accomplished for each other the dialectical movement of absolute abstraction. These entities have not yet manifested themselves to each other as pure being-for-itself. Our subjective certainty of ourselves does not yet possess truth. We believe ourselves to be human beings, even while the value that we attribute to ourselves could be illusory. Others must recognize us. We must transform the natural and human world in which others do not recognize us into a world in which this recognition takes place. This transformation of the world that is hostile to a human project into a world in harmony with this project is called action. Truth is the revelation of a reality. Now, the human reality is created, is constituted, only in the fight for recognition and by the risk of life that it implies. For each must raise his subjective certainty of existing for self to the level of truth, both in the other and in ourselves. Through the risk of life, freedom becomes known. Only by the risk of life does it become known that self-consciousness is nothing but pure being-for-itself. We are human only to the extent that we want to impose ourselves on other selves and therefore have them recognize us. We must make ourselves recognized by the other; we must have in ourselves the certainty of being recognized by another. For that recognition to satisfy us, we have to know that the other is a human being. To know that this aspect reveals a human reality, we must see that the other also wants to be recognized, and that they, too, are ready to risk their animal life in a fight for the recognition of our human being-for-itself.

                We are never simply ourselves; we are either master or slave. If the opposition of thesis and antithesis is meaningful only in the context of that reconciliation by synthesis, if history necessarily has a final term, if we who become must culminate in people who have become, the interaction of master and slave must finally end in the dialectical overcoming of both of them. By being “recognized” by another, by many others, or by all others, a human being is really human, for themselves as well as for others.

                The consciousness is the slave who, in hiding themselves completely to their animal-life, is merely one with the natural world of things. By refusing to risk their lives in a fight for pure prestige, they do not rise above the level of animals. Hence, they consider themselves as animals, and the master considers slaves as such. Slaves, for their part, recognize masters in their human dignity and reality, and the behavior of slaves accordingly. The certainty of masters is not purely subjective and immediate, but objectivized and mediated by the recognition granted by slaves. Masters gain their recognition through the consciousness of another. For there to be authentic recognition there must also by the third constituent element, which consists in Masters doing with respect to themselves what they do with respect to the other, and in Slaves doing with respect to the other what they do with respect to themselves. The relation between Masters and Slaves is not recognition properly so-called. Masters have fought and risked their lives for a recognition without value for them. Masters will be satisfied only by recognition from one whom they recognize as worthy of recognizing them. Masters were on the wrong track. After the fight that made them Masters, they are not what they wanted to be in starting that fight, namely, a human being recognized by another person. If idle Mastery is an impasse, laborious Slavery is the source of all human, social, and historical, progress. We have seen only what Slavery is in its relation to Mastery. However, Slavery is also self-consciousness. First, it is the Master that is the essential reality for Slavery. The Slave is subordinated to the Master. Hence, Slaves esteem, recognizes, the value and the reality of autonomy, of human freedom. However, they do not find it realized in themselves; they find it only in the other. This is the advantage of the Master. Masters find themselves in an impasse. Slaves recognize others from the beginning. It suffices for Slaves to impose themselves on Masters and be recognized by them. To be sure, for this to take place, Slaves must cease to be Slaves. Slaves have every reason to cease to be Slaves.

                Wise people are those capable of answering in a comprehensible manner all questions that can be asked concerning their acts, and capable of answering in such fashion that the entirety of their answers forms a coherent discourse. Truly wise people can exist only within the context of a social world that respects individuality, worth, and dignity. They can exist only at the end of history. Philosophy must move beyond dialectic in order to observe such movements of human thought. To overcome dialectically means to overcome while preserving what is overcome; it is sublimated in and by that overcoming that preserves or that preservation that overcomes. We must overcome the adversary only insofar as the adversary is opposed to us and acts against us. In other words, we must enslave the other. Real and true people are the result of their inter-action with others; the I of the other and the idea they have of themselves are “mediated” by recognition obtained because of the action of the other.

I do not wish to say any more about the confusion of thought and concept that recurs here. Hegel already presupposed intuition with the first step of his Logic and could not take a single step without assuming it. In his Logic, he had nothing in mind but this ontology, which he wanted to elevate above the bad form that it had had in the Wolffian philosophy for example. He sought to bring about this elevation by applying a method that was invented for a completely different purpose, for real potentials, to mere concepts, into which he in vain sought to breathe a life, an inner compulsion to progression. In his Logic, one finds every concept that just happened to be accessible and available at his time taken up as a moment of the absolute Idea at a specific point. Concepts as such do in fact exist nowhere but in consciousness, they are, therefore, taken objectively, after nature, not before it; he took them from their natural position by putting them at the beginning of philosophy. There he places the most abstract concepts first, becoming, existence, etc. when he says philosophy begins by withdrawing completely into pure thinking, he has splendidly expressed the essence of the truly negative or purely rational philosophy. In him this withdrawal into pure thought is not meant or said of the whole of philosophy, he only wishes to win us over for his Logic. Withdrawing into thought only means deciding to think about thinking. But that at least one cannot call real thinking. Real thinking is where something that is opposed to thinking is overcome.

                The dialectic of the subject and object is meaningful only if one supposes the existence of an object external to and independent of the subject. One must give the object its full freedom. Hegel has just posited the absolute necessity of a realist metaphysics. Hegel briefly indicates the nature of this realist metaphysics. There is only a deduction in the Hegelian sense of the word, that is, an a posteriori deduction or a conceptual understanding of what is. He posits both of them. It is absurd to want to deduce realism. For if one could deduce the real from knowledge, idealism would be right, and there would be no reality independent of knowledge. Hegel identifies space and being in the Cartesian sense. However, the identification of time with the self or humanity is new. Hegel opposes the self or time to being or space. Humanity is “nicht-sein” or nonbeing, nothingness. To oppose time to being is to say that time is nothingness. There is no doubt that time must actually be understood as an annihilation of being or space. If humanity is time, humanity is nothingness or annihilation of spatial being. We know that for Hegel it is precisely in this annihilation of being that consists the negativity that is humanity, that action of fighting and work by which humanity preserves itself in spatial being while destroying it. That is, while transforming it by the creation of hitherto unknown new things into a genuine past. This nothingness is what makes humanity a passerby in the spatial world. Humanity is born and dies in it as humanity. Finally, humanity properly so-called is necessarily error and not truth. Realism in philosophy means nothing but historicism. To say that philosophy must be realist, is in the final analysis to say that it must take account and give an account of the fact of history. The real is what resists. The real resists action, and not thought. Consequently, there is true philosophical realism only where philosophy takes account and gives an account of action. This means that philosophy must account for history or time. Hegelian realism is not only ontological, but also metaphysical. Nature is independent of humanity. It is in it that humanity is born. Nature survives time. The end of human time or history means the cessation of action in the full sense of the term. Practically, this means the disappearance of wars and bloody revolutions, and therefore the disappearance of philosophy. Since humanity no longer changes essentially, there is no longer any reason to change the true principles that are the basis of the understanding that humanity has of the world and of itself. The American way of life was the type of life specific to the post-historical period, the actual presence of the United States in the world prefiguring the eternal present future of all of humanity. History narrates events. The Phenomenology explains them or makes them understandable, by revealing their human meaning and their necessity. It reconstructs the real historical evolution of humanity in its humanly essential traits. Being arises solely from the totality of human or historical existence. The temporal past of eternal being is human. If one wants to talk about God in Hegel, one must not forget that this “God’s” past is humanity: it is a humanity that has become God., and not a God who has become humanity. The Phenomenology ends with a radical denial of all transcendence.

What really gives rise to our interest is the system as a whole. Hegel’s Logic is something completely contingent. However, he threw himself into the methodological discussion in such a way that he thereby completely forgot the questions that lay outside it. Logic, in the metaphysical sense that he gives it, must be the real basis of all philosophy. Everything that is, is in the Idea or in the logical concept, and that consequently the Idea is the truth of everything, into which at the same time everything goes as into its beginning and into its end. Everything is in the logical Idea, and indeed in such a way that it could not be outside it, because what is senseless really cannot ever exist anywhere. The main intention of the Logic is that it should take on in its last result the meaning of speculative theology. It should be a real construction of the Idea of God, and that, accordingly, this Idea or the Absolute should not just be in presupposition of it, as it was in the immediately preceding system, but rather essentially a result. He must presuppose them, when he says, for example, “Pure being is nothing,” without in the least having proved anything about the meaning of this is.

                Hegel’s Logic is an ontology of being revealed correctly in and by thought or speech or logos. The true and the concept are something logical and real at the same time a realized concept or a conceived reality. The real dialectic of existing being is the revelation of the real and of being by speech or thought. Speech and thought themselves are dialectical only because they reveal or describe the dialectic of being and of the real. Philosophic thought has the goal of revealing, through the meaning of a coherent discourse, being as it is and exists in the totality of its objective reality. The attitude of the philosopher with respect to being and to the real is one of purely passive contemplation. The Hegelian method is contemplative and descriptive, or phenomenological in Husserl’s sense of the term. The Hegelian method is purely empirical or positivist. Hegel looks at the real and describes what he sees, everything that he sees, and nothing but what he sees. He has the experience of dialectical being and the real, and thus he makes their movement pass into his discourse that describes them. What we normally think of as scientific experience is an abstraction, to the extent that the scientist things his or object is the entirety of the object known by the subject. The isolated object is an abstraction. Therefore, it cannot serve as a basis for a truth, which by definition is universally and eternally valid. We might note that the Heisenberg principle of uncertainty has placed this observation of Hegel in mathematical form.

Hegel’s impulse was to recognize the merely logical nature and significance of the science that he found before him. He revealed the logical relationships that previous philosophy concealed in the real. Yet, one must yet admit that his philosophy has become a good deal more monstrous than the preceding philosophy ever was. In order to enter the movement, the concept in which the least can be known, which is as free as possible from any subjective determination, and as such is the most objective. Moreover, this concept is that of pure being. This first stage of objectivity is only the occasion of and the first step to the higher potentials of inwardness or spirituality, to which the subject raises itself to the extent to which it keeps on going over into the object in each of its forms. He also had to try to make an objective beginning if possible. What does not allow him to remain with that empty abstraction is only the fact that a more rich being is there that is fuller of content. His own philosophy shows how many sides of this real world he has not grasped: thus, one cannot exclude contingency from the progression; namely, what is contingent about the narrower or broader individual views of the world of the philosophizing subject. 1) By the thought being substituted for the concept, and 2) by pretending that the thought is driven forward only by a necessity that lies in itself, although it obviously has a goal that it is striving towards, and this goal, however much the person philosophizing seeks to hide consciousness thereof from himself.

                For Hegel, the most important concept of philosophy is Aufhebung, engaging the process of mediation. It designates both the action of suppression, of making cease, and that of gathering or retaining something. It suppresses that which it conserves. It conserves the thing in raising it to the idea. It is not a mysterioous power. The dialectic is an obscure machination of nature and history. Dialectic is an operation. Sublamation is only this strange autosuppressive category, to the extent that one isolates in analysis the formal or operative moment. However, for itself, mediation should not be isolated, nor can it be. To think mediation is to think the impossibility of keeping detrminancies isolated. Art and religion are different modes of truth giving itself existence. Philosophy is not representation of a higher order. Philosopher is the naked exposition of truth giving itself existence. Philosophy forms the sublation of the one and the other.

                Hegel was the first to abandon dialectic as a philosophic method. He was the first to do so voluntarily and with full knowledge of what he was doing. Plato used the dialectical method. It is nothing but the method of dialogue or discussion. The period of myth is a period of monologue. Those who discuss with their adversary in that by an act of freedom we can decide to want to convince the adversary by refuting the adversary and by demonstrating our point of view. To this end, we speak with our adversaries and participate in a dialogue with the adversary. We use the dialectical method. The person of myth or opinion becomes a person of philosophy through the dialectical method. If Plato has Socrates say that not the trees, but only the people in the city can teach him something, it is because he understood that on can attain philosophy only by way of discussion, dialogue, or dialectic. The collision of diverse and adverse opinions sparks truth. A thesis is opposed to an anti-thesis that the thesis itself provokes. They confront each other, correct each other mutually, but also combine and finally engender a synthetic truth. However, this synthesis is still just one opinion among many others. It becomes a new thesis that will find or arouse a new anti-thesis, on order to associate itself with it by negating it in a new synthesis, in which it will be different from what it was at the start. This process will continue until a synthesis will no longer be the thesis of a discussion. We come to the point of an indisputable truth that will no longer be a simple opinion or one of the possible opinions. This would be the single one that is not in opposition to an other because it is the whole. Aufgehoben is the German word Hegel uses, a word that suggests thesis and anti-thesis are overcome dialectically. They are overcome or annulled with respect to whatever is fragmentary, relative, partial, or one-sided in them. They are also preserved or safeguarded with respect to whatever is essential or universal in them. Then they are sublimated, that is, raised to a superior level of knowledge and of reality. The dialectical movement is a movement of human thought and discourse. However, the reality itself that one thinks and of which one talks is in no way dialectical. Dialectic is but a method of philosophic research and exposition. The method is dialectical only because it implies a negative or negating element. Namely, the anti-thesis that opposes the thesis in a verbal fight and calls for an effort of demonstration, an effort, moreover, indistinguishable from a refutation. There is truth only where there has been discussion or dialogue. In any case, the divine interlocutor is fictitious. It all happens in the soul of the philosopher. That is why Augustine had dialogues with his soul. When Hegel speaks of dialectic, he talks about something quite different from what is found in his predecessors. One can say that the eternal light of absolute Hegelian truth comes from the collision of all the philosophic opinions that preceded it. This ideal dialectic took place only because it is a reflection of the real dialectic of being. All philosophy that is true is also essentially false. It is false as far as it presents itself not as the reflection or description of a constituent element or a dialectical moment of the real, but as the revelation of the real in its totality. Nonetheless, even while being or becoming false, all philosophy remains true, for the total real implies and will always imply the aspect that philosophy revealed. Hegel is content to record it without having to do anything whatsoever without resorting to a specific mode of operation or a method of his own.


                History is what judges humanity, their actions and their opinions, and lastly their philosophical opinions as well. History is a long discussion between people. However, the real historical discussion is something quite different from a philosophic dialogue or discussion. The discussion is carried out not with verbal arguments, but with clubs and swords or cannon on the one hand, and with sickles and hammers or machines on the other. Hegel does not need God to reveal the truth to him. He does not need to hold dialogues with the people of the city, or even to have a discussion with himself or meditate. He can find it all alone, while sitting tranquilly in the shade of these trees that taught Socrates nothing, but which teach Hegel many things about themselves and about people. However, all this is possible only because there have been cities in which people had discussion against a background have been cities in which people had discussions against a background of fighting and work, while they worked and fought for and because of their opinions. Hegel no longer discusses because he benefits from the discussion of those who precede him. Having nothing more to do, he has no method of his own, because he profits from all the actions effected throughout history. His thought simply reflects the real. Through his written discourse, humanity succeeds in preserving error in the heart of reality. Only the errors committed by humanity endure indefinitely and are propagated at a distance, thanks to language. Humanity could be defined as an error that is preserved in existence that endures within reality. Now, since error means disagreement with the real, humanity that errs is a nothingness that nihilates in being, or an ideal that is present in the real.

                Philosophic experiment #1, look at your watch. Note that it is noon. Say it, and you will have enunciated a truth. Now write this truth on a piece of paper: it is now noon. At this point, it ceases to be true because of being formulated in writing. Look at your watch again and reread the sentence you have written. You will see that the truth has been transformed into error, for it is now five minutes past noon.

                Philosophic experiment #2, suppose that in the Middle Ages, a poet wrote in a poem: “at this moment a man is flying over the ocean.” This was an error, and it remained such for many centuries. However, if we now reread that sentence, we are most likely reading a truth, for it is almost certain that at this moment some aviator is over the Atlantic.

Hegel admittedly pretends at the beginning of his Logic to be asking for very little, which is, as it were, not worth mentioning, as devoid of content as being itself, so that one cannot, as it were, help allowing him it. But besides this general boast of not presupposing anything, this philosophy also claims to have surpassed the preceding system in the fact that for this system the Absolute is a mere presupposition; for it, on the other hand, it is a result, something produced, something founded. If the Logic is the science in which the divine Idea completes itself merely in thinking, then one would have to expect that philosophy would not be closed. What is first in question is: What is. That which is, is mobile, of which I just spoke, which is continually an other, which cannot be held onto for a moment, which is only really thought in the last moment. He wants the Absolute. This expression release, the Idea releases nature, is one of the strangest, most ambiguous and thus timid expressions behind which this philosophy retreats at different points. It is not exactly the way that he puts the fact that in the Last everything goes as into its ground. One ought rather to say: everything preceding grounded itself by the fact that it lowers itself to being the ground of what follows, that is, to that which is no longer itself being.

Hegel introduces as the antithesis of his assertion that the concept alone is real the opinion that truth rests on sensuous reality. However, this could be only if the concept were a super-sensuous, indeed the only super-sensuous, reality. Obviously, he assumes this. This assumption derives directly from the Kantian assumption, according to which God is only a concept of reason, an idea of reason.

Hegel often refers to the fact that people have always thought that philosophy primarily entails thinking or reflection. This is true, but it does not follow from it that the object of this thinking is again only thinking itself or the concept.

The only way to grasp life is to become inwardly aware of it, conscious of something alien.  We find the truth of self-consciousness in fighting to have the other recognize us.  Every position is drawn up into the reflective movement of consciousness.  He claims the fusion of present and history, which of course we cannot accept.  Science wants to remove historicity from experience and make it objective.  However, he notes the primarily negative or dialectical movement of experience.  It is skepticism in action.  It has the structure of a reversal of consciousness; something is not what it is supposed to be.  The new object contains the truth about the old.  It recognizes itself in what is alien to it.  Experience is self-knowledge.  However, contrary to Hegel, this knowledge cannot be absolute.  He was oddly inconsistent when he arraigned the individual consciousness as accidental and narrow.  The individual consciousness is usually the unhappy, and with good reason.  In his aversion to it, he refuses to face the very fact he underscores where it suits him: how much universality is inherent in that individuality.  His restitution of conceptual realism was reactionary.  Meanwhile, the course of history has justified his anti-nominalist intention.  Nominalism on its part has turned into ideology.  His categories include the following: 1) an indissoluble something; 2) Concept; 3) Synthesis; 4) Individuality; 5) Essence and Appearance; 6) Particularity and the Particular; 7) Subject and Object; 8) Materialism.  He refuses to begin with something instead of with Being.  The entire work is thus in a subjective sense idealistically prejudiced.  The I is the not-I.  Hegel argues against epistemology that one becomes a smith only by smithing.

                We can attain perfection only in and by work. For only in and by work do people finally become aware of the significance, the value, and the necessity of their experience of fearing absolute power. Only by work do we become the supernatural beings that we are of conscious of being. By working, we incarnate spiritedness, we are historical world, and we are objectivized history. Completed people who are satisfied by their completion, are hence necessarily not Masters, but Slaves. Masters are the catalyst of the historical, anthropogenetic process. They do not participate actively in this process. Without them, without their presence, the process would not be possible.

                Without work that transforms the real objective world, we cannot really transform ourselves. If we change, our change remains private, purely subjective, revealed to ourselves alone, mute, not communicated to others. This internal change puts us at variance with the world, that has not changed, and with the others, who are bound to the unchanged world. Only work, by finally putting the objective world into harmony with the subjective idea that at first goes beyond it, annuls the element of madness and crime that marks the attitude of every person who tries to go beyond the given world of which they are afraid, in which they feel terrified, and in which, consequently, they could not be satisfied.

                The elementary possibility of revelation of given being by speech and action that destroys given being, is two irreducible givens. These premises are not sufficient. Animal desire is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition of human and philosophical existence. The animal does not really transcend itself as given, that is, as a body. It does not rise above itself in order to come back toward itself. It has no distance with respect to itself in order to contemplate itself. Thus, phenomenology must accept a third irreducible premise: the existence of several desires that can desire each other mutually, each of which wants to negate, to assimilate, to make its own, or subjugate, the other.

                By acting to satisfy an instinct that is not my own, I am acting in relation to what is not an instinct for me. I am acting in relation to an idea, a non-biological end. This transformation of nature to a non-material idea is work in the proper sense of the word.

Hegel described the process of integration, where we meet the other as alien to us, and yet discover ourselves in the object of study, and then return to ourselves with the object of study.  This opens the possibility of genuine discovery of truth in a dialectical movement of opposition.  He found no good reason for believing in the purely negative function of the noumenal world. In fact, a positive force invited us to explore areas of the world and our experience into which we would normally not venture. Therefore, questions relating to the unity of the world, truth, morality, and God, were viable explorations for the human mind.  He accepted world history as the arena for the being and knowledge of truth.  He pointed out the importance of power and expression in history, with resistance to power being freedom itself.  History is the interplay of powers that produces continuity.  Universal history is a growing sum, whole but unfinished.  The dialectical movement that he describes is a false consideration of alternatives and opposition. Those who consider the dialectical nature of truth already have the result in view. They stand outside the dialectical process.


Schelling says that Hegel does not get beyond false movement. He proposes an abstract movement of concepts instead of a movement of the physis and the psyche. He substitutes the abstract relation of the particular to the concept in general for the true relation of the singular and the universal in the Idea. He thus remains in the reflected element of representation, within simple generality. He represents concepts instead of dramatizing ideas. He creates a false theater, a false drama, a false movement. We must see how he betrays and distorts the immediate in order to ground his dialectic in the incomprehension, and to introduce mediation in a movement that is no more than that of his own thought and its generalities. Something completely new begins with them. Contradiction appears to push difference to the limit, but this path is a dead end that brings it back to identity, making identity the sufficient condition for difference to exist and be thought. It is only in relation to the identical, as a function of the identical, that contradiction is the greatest difference. The intoxications and giddinesses are feigned, the obscure is already clarified from the outset. Nothing shows this more clearly than the insipid mono-centricity of the circles in the dialectic.

The philosophy of Hegel invites the general objection that by inevitably having concepts for its material it anticipates an idealistic decision.  Necessity compels philosophy to operate with concepts, but we must not turn this necessity into the virtue for their priority.  The insight that philosophy’s conceptual knowledge is not the absolute, this insight, for all its inescapability, is again due to the nature of the concept. We cannot understand the phantom of the absolute apart from theological categories. The concept is entwined with a non-conceptual whole. Absolute spirit was transparent, the dissolution of all that is alien and different.  We cannot understand the phantom of the absolute apart from theological categories.


                It is not sufficient to be afraid, or even to be afraid while realizing that one fears death. It is necessary to live in terms of terror. Now, to live in such a way is to serve someone whom one fears, someone who inspires or incarnates terror; it is to serve Masters, either the real human Master or the sublimated Master (God).

                People who have not experienced the fear of death do not know that the given natural world is hostile to them, that it tends to kill them, to destroy them, and that it is essentially unsuited to satisfy them really. This person remains fundamentally bound to the given world. At the most, they will want to reform it. Such people will act as skillful reformers, or better, a conformer, but never as a true revolutionary. It is not reform, but the dialectical, or revolutionary, overcoming of the world that can free them and satisfy them. Masters can never detach themselves from the world in which they live, and if this world perishes, they perish with it. Only Slaves can transcend the given world and not perish. In transforming the world by this work, Slaves transform themselves, too, and thus create the new objective conditions that permit them to take up once more the liberating fight for recognition that they refused in the beginning for fear of death. Thus, in the long run, all slavish work realizes not the will of Masters, but the will of Slaves who succeed where the Master necessarily fails.

                The being that is incapable of putting its life in danger in order to attain ends that are not immediately vital, as in the fight for recognition or prestige, is not a truly human being. Therefore, human, historical, self-conscious existence is possible only where there are or have been bloody fights.

                One cannot reproach Hegel with holding the opinion that God is just a concept: his opinion is rather: the true creator is the concept: with the concept one has the creator and needs no other outside this creator. What he primarily sought to avoid was precisely that God should be posited in the concept. For him God was not both just a concept and the concept God; for him the concept had the meaning that it was God. His opinion is: God is nothing but the concept that gradually becomes the self-conscious Idea, as self-conscious Idea releases itself into nature, and, returning from nature into itself, becomes absolute spirit.

                The real object of religious thought is humanity itself. Every theology is anthropology. The search for recognition of individuality, worth, and dignity that takes us beyond animal or biological life (Geist) is nothing but the negating or creative action realized by humanity in the given world. However, as long as we are religious people we are not aware of this. While in fact talking about ourselves, our hopes and dreams, we think we are talking about God. Theology is the reflection of the given historical social world in which the theologian lives, and the ideal that takes form in it. It is sufficient to say of humanity everything that the Christian says of God in order to move from Christian theology to Hegel’s absolute philosophy.

Hegel is so little inclined to recognize his philosophy as the merely negative philosophy that he asserts instead that it is the philosophy that leaves absolutely nothing outside itself; his philosophy attributes to itself the most objective meaning and, in particular, a wholly complete knowledge of God and of divine things. He supposedly achieves the knowledge that Kant denied to philosophy. Indeed, he even goes so far as to attribute knowledge of Christian dogmas to his philosophy. In this respect, his presentation of the doctrine of the Trinity is the most informative, which is briefly as follows. God the Father, before the creation, is the purely logical concept that loses its way in the pure categories of being. However, this God must reveal God’s self, because God’s essence consists in a necessary process. This revelation or externalization of God in the world, and God is the Son. However, God must also negate this externalization as well, which is a stepping outside of the merely logical. He so little recognized the merely logical character of the whole of this philosophy that he declared he was stepping outside it with the natural philosophy. God must also negate this externalization, this negation of the merely logical being of God as well, and return to God, which happens through the human spirit in art, in religion, and most completely in philosophy.

                Transcendental in Kant means that which makes experience possible. Kant says that the transcendental entity is before time, and thus eternal or a priori; it precedes the temporal taken as temporal. We can accomplish knowledge only in time, because the very identification of the diverse is time. We accomplish human thought in time, and it is a temporal phenomenon. As such, it is purely empirical; it is doxa. For Kant, the Concept is related to time taken as time. Only with Aristotle does time make its way into absolute knowledge.  Hegel identifies the concept and time. That is his great discovery and gives him a place among great philosophers. “Time is the empirically existing concept itself.” This sentence marks an important date in the history of philosophy. Philosophers who do not identify the concept and time cannot give an account of history, identified as the free and historical individual. Hegel wants to give an account of the fact of history. The time that he identifies with the concept is historical time, the time in which human history unfolds, or better still, the time that realizes itself as universal history. This time is characterized by the primacy of the future. In the time of which Hegel speaks, the movement is engendered in the future and goes toward the present by way of the past. To act in terms of the desire for a desire is to act in terms of what does not yet exist; that is, in terms of the future. The being that acts thus is in a time in which the future takes primacy. The future can really take primacy only if there is a being capable of acting thus. The desire that is directed toward another desire is necessarily the desire for recognition, which engenders history an moves it. Therefore, by realizing itself, the time in which the future takes primacy engenders history, which lasts as long as this time lasts; and this time lasts only as long as history lasts. That is, as long as human acts accomplished with a view to social recognition are carried out. If desire is the presence of an absence, it is not an empirical reality. It is like a gap or a hole in space, an emptiness, a nothingness. The presence of time in the real world is called desire. The real presence of time in the world is called humanity. Time is humanity, and humanity is time. The phrase of Hegel is: “Geist is time.” Time is humanity in empirical, spatial, integral reality. Humanity is the empirically existing concept, because humanity is the only speaking being in the work, humanity is logos or discourse incarnate, logos become flesh, and thus existing as an empirical reality in the natural world. Humanity is the Dasein of the Begriff. Human desire is realized by the action of the fight to the death for pure prestige. Work transforms the world in an essential manner by creating truly new realities. Human work is what temporalizes the spatial natural world. Work is what engenders the concept that exists in the natural world while being something other than this world. Work is what engenders humanity in this world; work is what transforms the purely natural world into a technical world inhabited by humanity, that is, into a historical world. If work is the very essence of humanity, it can also be said that the essence of humanity is the concept. Conceptual understanding is necessarily dialectical. Dialectical understanding is nothing other than the historical or temporal understanding of the real. Dialectical understanding applies only to historical reality, which is the reality created by work according to a project. Hegel’s logic is theology, that is, the logic, thought, or discourse of God. Hegel realized an immense philosophical progress by identifying the concept and time. By discovering dialectical knowledge he found the means of establishing a phenomenology, a metaphysics, and an ontology of history, that is, of humanity as we conceive of humanity today and as humanity is in reality. The concept is time. Time in the full sense of the term, a time in which there is a future also in the full sense, a future that will never become either present or past. Humanity is the empirical existence of the concept in the world. Therefore, humanity is the empirical existence in the world of a future that will never become present. Now, this future is the death of humanity, that future of humanity that will never become the present of humanity. The only reality or real presence of this future is the knowledge that humanity has in the present of the future death of humanity. Humanity is essential mortal. Humanity is concept, that is, absolute knowledge or wisdom incarnate, if humanity knows this. Logos becomes flesh on the condition of being willing and able to die. To deny that the concept is eternal, to say that the concept is time, is to deny that humanity is immortal or eternal.

                Only at the end of time can a wise person give up all dialectical method and limit himself or herself to describing the given. Only at that moment will humanity be fully satisfied by such a pure and simple description. As a philosophical method, dialectic is abandoned only at the moment when the real dialectic of the active transformation of the given definitively stops. One must therefore be sure that the real dialectic of history is truly completed. How can we know this? At first sight, the answer is easy. History stops when humanity no longer acts in the full sense of the term. If humanity is truly and fully satisfied by what is, it no longer desires anything real and therefore no longer changes reality, and thus humanity itself ceases to change. The only desire that humanity can still have, if the individual is a philosopher, is the desire to understand what is and what the philosopher is, and to reveal it through discourse. However, how can we know that humanity is fully satisfied by what is? To answer, Hegel had to anticipate the historical future for the State that was then only in the process of formation. That universal homogenous state is still not in empirical existence. Furthermore, how can one know that the satisfaction given in and by this State is truly a definitive satisfaction for humanity as such, and not merely for one of his possible desires? By what right can one assert that this State will not engender in humanity a new desire, other than the desire for recognition? One can make this assertion only by supposing that the desire for recognition exhausts all the human possibilities. The problem is to determine this end of history. Hegel believed he had found a criterion both for the absolute truth of his description of the real and for the end of the movement of this real. This means that Hegel’s discourse exhausts all the possibilities of thought. The Hegelian dialectic is entirely summed up by the dialectical overcoming contained in aufheben. For what is to be overcome is precisely the immediate, and the overcoming itself is meditation through negating action that creates the mediated, this later being nothing but the immediate taken, or posited, as dialectically overcome. Hegel’s philosophy has a dialectical character because it tries to give an account of the phenomenon of freedom or action. He gives an account of conscious and voluntary human action because Hegel wants to give an account of history. Hegel is dialectical because he wants to give an account of the fact of human existence in the world by revealing or describing humanity as humanity really is, in the irreducible specificity that is so different from nature. If freedom is something other than a dream or a subjective illusion, it must make its mark in objective reality, and it can do this only by realizing itself as action that operates in and on the real. However, if action is free, it must not be an automatic result of whatever the real given is. Therefore, it must be independent of this given, even while acting on the given and amalgamating with it to the extent that it realizes itself and thus itself becomes a given. The merit of Hegel is to have understood that this union is independence and this independence in union occur only where there is negation of the given. Freedom equates to action that equates to negativity. However, if action is independent of the given real because it negates it, it creates something essentially new in relation to this given. Freedom preserves itself in the real only by perpetually creating news things from the given. Truly creative evolution is called history. Thus, freedom equates to negativity that equates to action that equates to history. What truly characterizes humanity, in distinction from other animals, is precisely its historicity. This human dialectic is Hegel’s title to glory and ranks him among the great philosophers. To give an account of history is to give an account of humanity understood as a free and historical being. The concrete real is dialectical; abstractions are not. That is why Hegelian science describes the real dialectic. At this point, Hegel commits a grave error. Hegel, who discovered the dialectical ontological categories of negativity and totality by analyzing the human being, extended his anthropological dialectical ontology to nature. Such unity between human dialectic and nature resided only in the imagination of Hegel. We cannot justify this extension. If the final foundation of nature is identical given static being, one finds in it nothing comparable to the negating action, which is the basis of specifically human or historical existence. Hegel’s monistic error has two serious consequences. On the one hand, using his single dialectical ontology as a basis, he tries to elaborate a dialectical metaphysic and a dialectical phenomenology of nature, both clearly unacceptable, which should replace, according to him, vulgar science. On the other hand, by accepting the dialecticity of everything that exists, Hegel had to consider the circularity of knowledge as the only criterion for truth. Now we have seen that the circularity of knowledge relative to humanity is possible only at the end of history. However, if one accepts that the traditional identical ontology actually does apply to nature, a truth relative to nature, and hence a science of nature, are in principle possible at any moment of time. Since humanity is nothing but an active negation of nature, a science of humanity is also possible, to the extent that humanity belongs to the past and the present, with only the future given over to skepticism or faith and hope. An ontological dualism is indispensable to the explanation of the phenomenon of history. Kant made the first insufficient attempt at a dualistic metaphysic, and it is in this that his greatness resides. Since Kant, Heidegger seems to be the first to have posed the problem of a dual ontology. On the phenomenological level, negativity is nothing other than human freedom. If freedom is ontological negativity, it is because freedom can be and exist only as negation. In order to negate, there must be something to negate. That is why humanity can exist freely only while living as an animal in a given natural world. Humanity lives humanly only as it negates this natural or animal given. Negation is realized as accomplished action, and not as thought or simple desire. Only in and by active negation of the given real do we experience our freedom. Freedom does not consist in a choice between two givens. It is the negation of the given, both of the given that one is oneself and of the given that one is not. To negate the natural or social world dialectically, to negate it while preserving it, is to transform it. One must either change oneself to adapt to it, or perish. The freedom that is realized and manifested as dialectical or negating action is essentially a creation. What is involved is not replacing one given by another given, but overcoming the given in favor of what does not yet exist, thus realizing what was never given. This is to say that humanity does not change itself and transform the world for itself in order to realize a conformity to an ideal given to it, imposed by God or simply innate. Humanity creates and creates itself because humanity negates and negates itself without a preconceived idea. Humanity becomes other solely because humanity no longer wants to be the same. It is only because humanity no longer wants to be what humanity is that what humanity will be able to be is an ideal for it, justifying its negating or creative action by giving it a meaning. Negation, freedom, and action do not arise from thought, or from consciousness of self or of external things. On the contrary, thought and consciousness arise from negativity that realizes itself and reveals itself through thought in consciousness as effective free action. Dialectical anthropology is the philosophic science of humanity as humanity appears in the Judaeo-Christian conception. That is, of humanity who is supposed to be able to convert itself and thus become radically other. The steps of the dialectic described in the Phenomenology are nothing but a series of conversions that humanity carries out in the course of history and that are described by the philosopher who lives at the end of history.

Hegel aims to produce an entirely comprehensive and scientific system. His thought is at the same time psychological in a modern sense. He is both a product of the Enlightenment and its most subtle enemy. His dialectic, the questioning of every position and the transcendence of position and question by a more unified view that in turn is questioned, is the from taken by the logical, rational, progressive development of Spirit in the source of which at each stage what is separate and individual is later seen to be part of a larger more intelligible whole. This is ontology, it is about the nature of rational thought, and thereby about being in its profound philosophical sense, a complete account of everything. Doubts and alternatives must be overcome. This bold confident establishing of direction is an aspect of the necessity to which Hegel submits, or which he blithely chooses, on his way to a total explanation. For both Plato and Hegel the need and desire to understand presents a conception of what is real at a series of progressively higher levels. Hegel’s Geist is like Plato’s Forms. The Phenomenology is a tale of developing aspiring mind moving from the apparent to the real, and may be read as logic, or science, or an allegory of the nature eof thought, or human history, or the intellectual or spiritual pilgrimage of the individual person. It can be used in many ways. Hegel must count himself a Platonic thinker, and his image of progress must remind us of Plato’s Cave. However Hegel’s omnivorous dialectic is unlike Plato’s dialectic. The process seems not an increasingly widening, increasingly well-lighted all-embracing prospect, but rather an entry into some dark narrowing almost mechanical confinement. What is contingent, incompatible, mysterious, has been ground up by the machine; but great things, love, religion, happiness, even art demand, not logic, but freedom. Plato is not systematic in the Hegelian sense. His dialectic is the open-ended to-and-fro, sometimes inconclusive, movement of serious argument, wherein his art gives life to opposing positions.

                History will be completed when the synthesis of the Masters and Slaves is realized, that synthesis that is the whole individual, the citizen of the universal and homogenous State. The opposition of particularity and universality are important to Hegel. Slaves represent particularity and Masters represent universality. We are not content to recognize our own worth and dignity. We want others to offer that recognition of value, and ultimately, we desire universal recognition. We reach the end of history only when the value of individuality is recognized in a universal state. What others recognize universally is the product of one’s work. We find our particularity affirmed in family, as this parent, this spouse. Slaves without Masters, and Masters without Slaves, are the Bourgeois, the private property owner. The bourgeois world elaborates civil law. The Bourgeois’ problem seems insoluble. They must work for another and can work for themselves. We manage this problem by the bourgeois principle of private property. We transcend ourselves by projecting ourselves onto the idea of private property, of capital, which becomes independent of us and enslaves us just as Masters enslaved the Slave, even though the enslavement is now conscious and freely accepted by the worker. The Christian world gave value to this particularity. Christianity is first of all a particularistic, family, and slavish reaction against pagan universalism of the citizen masters. It also implies a synthesis of the particular and the universal. Christianity finds the solution to the pagan tragedy. Since the coming of Christ, there is no longer any true tragedy. The whole problem is to realize the Christian idea of individuality. The human ideal can be realized only if it is such that it can be realized by a mortal human being who knows he or she is such. The Christian synthesis must be effected not in the beyond, after death, but on earth, during our lives. The transcendent God, who recognizes the particular, must be replaced by a universal that is immanent in the world. This immanent universal can only be the state. The intellectual destroys Christian theology.

                Let us begin with Masters. Masters are people who went all the way in a fight for prestige, who risked their lives in order to be recognized in their absolute superiority by other people. Yet, the other people involved are Slaves. Masters prefer death to slavish recognition of the superiority of another. In short, Masters never succeed in realizing their end, the end for which they risk their lives. History must be completed, if absolute knowledge must be possible, it is only Slaves who can do it, by attaining satisfaction. The truth of Masters is Slaves. The human ideal, born in Masters, can be realized and revealed only in and by Slavery.

                Let us first see what Slaves are in the beginning, Slaves of their Master, Slaves not yet satisfied by the citizenship that realizes and reveals their freedom. People became Slaves because they feared death. Work will open the way to liberation. Masters realized their freedom by surmounting their instinct to live in the fight. Now, by working for another, Slaves surmount their instincts and succeed in dominating nature and their own nature. To be sure, in Slaves properly so-called this notion of freedom does not yet correspond to a true reality. Where there is work there is necessarily change, progress, and historical evolution. Historical evolution is as follows. Work forms and transforms the world, humanizing it by making it more adapted to humanity. It also transforms, forms, and educates humanity, humanizing humanity by bringing us into greater conformity with the idea that we have of ourselves, an idea that is at this time only ideal and abstract. The creative education of humanity by work creates history, that is, human time. Work is time, and that is why it necessarily exists in time. It requires time.

                The first of the ideologies of Slaves is stoicism. Slaves try to persuade themselves that they are actually free simply by knowing that they are free when they have the abstract idea of freedom. However, we abandon stoicism because we are bored with skepticism, nihilism, and solipsism. How and why is one to live when one denies the value and the being of the world and of other people? Thus, to take nihilism seriously is to commit suicide, to cease completely to act and consequently, to live. However, the radical skeptic does not interest Hegel because such people disappear by committing suicide. Only the nihilist who remains alive is interesting. Such people must eventually perceive the contradiction implied in their existence.

                The third and last Slave ideology is the Christian ideology. Freedom is real, real in the beyond. No need to fight to be recognized by the Master, since one is recognized by God. No need to fight to become free in this world, which is just as vain and stripped of value for the Christian as for the skeptic. Hence, one can maintain the Stoic attitude, but with good reason this time. Inequality becomes an illusion. Humanity through the centuries could believe themselves satisfied by this pious reward for their work. However, all this is too good, too simple, too easy, to be true. Christian slaves can affirm their equality with the Master only by accepting the existence of an other world, and a transcendent God. Christians free themselves from the human Master only to be enslaved to the divine Master. They do free themselves from the human Master, even though they do not cease to be slaves. If slaves accept their new divine Master, they do it for the same reason that they accepted the human Master, through fear of death. To overcome the insufficiency of the Christian ideology is possible only on the condition that one accept the idea of death and atheism. The whole evolution of the Christian world is nothing but a progress toward the atheistic awareness of the essential finiteness of human existence. Only by overcoming Christian theology will humanity definitively cease to be Slaves and realize this idea of freedom.

                Hegel accepts Aristotle’s description of the radical difference between Master and Slave. However, Hegel said the radical difference exists only at the beginning, and it can be overcome in the course of time. Mastery and Slavery are not given or innate characteristics. People are born neither slave nor slave, but create themselves as one or the other through free action. This risk of life, incurred in a fight for pure prestige, is the risk of the life in which the living being integrates the totality of the given, which is creative or free negating action, which realizes and shows negativity or freedom, and hence humanity. Humanity realizes or creates and shows its humanness or freedom by risking its life, or at least by being able to and willing to risk it, solely for the sake of glory, vanity, or duty. However, fighting and risk are not the only appearance of negativity or of freedom, which is humanity, in the natural world. Work is another way this appearance of negativity or freedom occurs. Slaves must change. However, since they are the ones who transformed the given world by working in it, the change that they seem to undergo in consequence is in fact a self-creation. Those who change themselves, who create themselves as other than was given to themselves. That is why work can raise Slaves up from slavery to freedom. Slaves work for themselves, in spite of appearance. Masters profit from the work of slaves. Masters evolve because they consume the products of the work of slaves. However, slaves supply masters with something more than and different from what masters desired and ordered, and hence masters consume this surplus by slaves, if they must do violence to their nature in order to consume what slaves offer them. Hence, masters undergo history, but do not create it. Humanity who fights and works, thus negating themselves as animal, are essentially historical being, and only humanity is such a one. Nature and animal have no history. For history to exist there must be not only a given reality, but also a negation of that reality and at the same time a sublimated preservation of what has been negated. There is no history without conscious, lived historical memory. To describe humanity as a dialectical entity is to describe humanity as a negating action that negates the given within which it is born, and as a product created by that very negation, on the basis of the given that was negated. On the phenomenological level, this means that human existence appears in the world as a continuous series of fights and works integrated by memory, that is, as history in the course of which humanity freely creates itself. We have examined two categories – freedom and historicity. A third category is that of individuality. Humanity is a historical free individual. Individuality is a synthesis of particular and universal. People are truly human, free, and historical to the extent that they are recognized as such by others, and preferably by all others, and that he or she recognizes the individuality of others. Social recognition is what distinguishes humanity from animals and everything that is merely nature. In and by the universal recognition of human particularity individuality realizes and shows itself. Every human being would like to be different from all others and the one of his or kind in the world. Yet, every human being would like to be recognized in this unique particularity as a positive value and would like this recognition to occur by the greatest number, and preferably by all. Humanity can be truly human only by living in society. Society and membership in a society are real in and by the actual interaction of its members, an interaction that shows itself in a political existence. Humanity is truly human only to the extent that it lives and acts as recognized citizen of a state. The state does not fully satisfy the human desire for recognition and hence does not perfectly realize humanity as individual. Humanity is always also an interchangeable representative of a sort of human species, of a family, a social class, a nation, or a race, and so on. Humanity is not truly individual, and that is why it is not fully satisfied by social and political existence. In fact, individuality can be fully realized in and by the universal and homogenous state. This recognition is truly universal, for, by definition, the state embraces the whole of the human race. By fully realizing individuality, the universal and homogenous state completes history, since humanity, satisfied in and by this state, will not be tempted to negate it and thus to create something new in its place. Humanity negates its death can only imagine itself immortal. It can only believe in its eternal life or resurrection, but it cannot really live this imaginary afterlife. However, this faith, whose counterpart and origin are the faculty of freely bringing about one’s death, so distinguishes humanity from animal. Humanity is not only the sole living being that knows that it must die and that can freely bring about its death. It is also the only one that can aspire to immortality and believe in it more or less firmly. Thus, to say that humanity’s death is dialectical is to say that humanity shows itself as beings that know they are mortal and aspire to immortality. They go beyond their death in and by its thought. To say that humanity is dialectical or mortal is to say that it can freely prepare its death, or go beyond its given existence, whatever it is, independently of the character belonging to that existence.

                Hegel reacted against Rousseau’s devaluing of culture at the expense of the isolated individual.  In doing so, he overacted by rejecting Locke’s view that government has duties toward the individual.  However, we can agree with Hegel that culture and the political state have a purpose to fulfill beyond that of protecting the security, property, and personal freedom of the individual.  We had no choice to become part of a political entity.  Not even the most democratic culture has a government that exists solely upon the arbitrary will of the individuals within it, and the erratically given consent of the people.  We must not ignore the legitimate needs of culture to have political organization.  The might of justice and ethics must drive the culture and the government, not brute force.  As a member of society, we have duties toward it.  We receive protection of our person and property.  We receive regard for our private welfare.  We receive opportunities for satisfying our deepest needs as members of society.  We are part of the whole.  Genuine patriotism is not just readiness for exceptional sacrifices and actions.  Rather, it recognizes the importance of the community in which we live to our own welfare and happiness. 

                Positive law is the law that force, accident, and particular deliberation have brought into existence in the various countries of the world. Natural law consists of fundamental rational principles of public behavior, the same everywhere and always, which ought and often do guide legislators in framing the laws of particular states. By the 1700’s, the doctrine of natural law had engendered the doctrine of natural rights, rights that the legislation of all countries ought to respect and maintain. The paradox of this essay is that Hegel rejects the whole idea that society is deliberately formed by the association of pre-existing individuals. He goes further than this and in effect holds that the positive law of each state is more rational and fundamental than any supposed law of nature held to be valid always and everywhere.

                Can I be reconciled to the modern social world? Hegel raises this philosophical question. The comparable question by Hume is: What is causation? The comparable question by Wittgenstein is: What is it to follow a rule? However, I will avoid the technical vocabulary of Hegel. I will minimize the use of metaphysics. My use of social world refers to society considered as a whole, not subcultures. The modern social world forms a system or totality. The wholeness, harmony and unity of the modern social world exist with difference, opposition, conflict and otherness. Such difference is essential to an articulation, unfolding, and development of the human spirit to which the modern social world gives expression. Any conception of unity that excludes or eliminates conflict and otherness is inadequate. Such difference exists as reconciled, that is, a higher unity that preserves and embraces division, conflict, and otherness. The wholeness of which I write is complicated, subtle, and open to otherness. My purpose in discussing reconciling with the modern social world is not to annul conflict, division, and otherness. We can coherently ask whether a given social world forms an interconnected whole and to coherently deny that a particular social world forms a system or totality.

                The fiction of the state of nature abandons the political state in favor of some desired outcome or harmonization of what, as chaos, is in conflict with the good or whatever goal one wants to reach. It leads to a formless entity it often calls society or state.

                Hegel’s concern to characterize the state as a substantial unity that is an unmoved end in itself. As a result, it is only in the trans-individual justification of the state that freedom enters into its highest right, the state as that space of social articulation in which freedom is most free. The state has priority over the individual, and therefore its right supersedes the individual’s own determined rights and freedoms. It is therefore inevitable that these rights would come into conflict. This opposition is only apparent. At the moment when the individual submits to the law the individual is most free. The moment when individuals surrender their rights and freedom they become most free. This moment is called war. Only in the humbling, lowering submission of the individual the individual is paradoxically elevated to the status of one possessing effective freedom.

                In mentioning the human spirit, I realize that I am immediately open to misinterpretation. Human spirit does not refer to immateriality or incorporeality. Nor does it refer to the internal or inward in contrast to the objective. I clearly do not mean spiritual in contrast to worldly. The element of spirit names the restlessness and awakening of the world, immanence always already tense, extended and distended within itself as well as outside itself. Social institutions and culture show human spirit. We cannot separate human spirit from embodied individuals. It expresses itself in external mediums like language, customs, and institutions. The embodiment of human spirit occurs through human activity. This activity occurs in the medium of space and time. Human self-understanding occurs attains objectivity in the social world. That social world consists of the economic market place and government, and thus shows human spirit or self-understanding. Every social world shows the principle, the set of ideas and values, that expresses the human spirit. The customs, laws, religion, system of justice, commerce, and political life of a people expresses their sense of human spirit. However, as various social worlds interact and collide, we see that human spirit is not simply a cultural phenomenon relative to a particular time and space, but rather expresses the universal desires and hopes of the human spirit. We can observe the human spirit articulated, developed, and actualized through world history. Human beings seek a social world that adequately reflects human spirit. Human spirit is both a principle and a force that activates a people toward shaping the social world.

                The human spirit gains self-knowledge by developing increasingly coherent interpretations accounting for an increasingly wide range of its activities. Social and cultural practices express human self-understandings. The human spirit has spatial seat in the activities of a people and their products. As human beings engage in the social, political, and cultural practices, they actualize human spirit. Human spirit takes shape in stages through the process of world history. At any particular moment in space-time, human spirit can be one-sided and inadequately expressed in the social world. The developmental process in space-time is the struggle to articulate human spirit. We will not grasp human spirit fully until the end of that developmental process. We can gain understanding of human spirit only in retrospect. Essence is not of a fixed and immutable nature, contrary to the ancients.

                Human beings are spiritual beings. As important as physics and biology are for forming the natural framework of human beings, they do not define human beings. We are the kind of beings who show ourselves through the social arrangements and culture for which we are responsible. The self-knowledge that we gain in this way arises because we are spiritual beings. Yet, the social world for which human beings are responsible also exerts its influence upon us and shapes us through the form of life a culture establishes. We are social and cultural beings. We become ourselves as human beings only as the result of being raised in and socialized within a human community and actively participate in that human community. We cannot have an understanding of ourselves apart from that cultural context. Culture shapes our deepest needs and goals. The social world into which our parents give us birth shapes our biological drives, desires, and needs. We are children of our time. Our needs and goals vary given particular culture and history. The constellation of knowledge and attitudes that exist in a particular country and religion determine what is right and acceptable. Historically and culturally determined moments define the human good. We show human spirit through the national communities of which we are a part. The collective spirit of a people is greater than the aggregate of individuals within the community. Such human communities reproduce themselves in individuals. Each culture raises its members to behave and understand themselves in such a way that will reproduce those social arrangements. National communities reproduce themselves through the individuals of which that culture consists. We can see this on a small scale within the family unit. As parents raise children with specific values, the family continues only as the children incorporate those values within themselves and carry them onward. Only as individuals find their social world expressive of their self-understanding can a culture reproduce itself. We become who we are through our social world.

                Although what I have said in the previous paragraph can appear threatening in a variety of ways, it amounts to saying that no human being can speak from nowhere. Everyone has a place from which we view the world. Human spirit is greater than any particular individual or culture. I could begin speaking of God here. We show in our dissatisfaction with what is and the restlessness of the human spirit that no social world is our home in this sense. God transcends each culture, and thus beckons the human spirit toward increasingly articulate expressions of the work of God. I view this as a hint or clue that points us toward the possibility of God. Philosophically, the question of God can only remain problematic. We reach one of the many limits of philosophy. Every culture partially expresses human spirit, suggesting that human spirit struggles to articulate itself beyond the historically and culturally conditioned moment. We gain partial understanding of that struggle of human spirit now, through reflection upon the social world. We cannot gain an authoritative view of that struggle until we catch a glimpse of the end or purpose of that struggle.

                What is, is not necessarily a rational expression of human spirit. Everything that is, is not rational. We can easily misunderstand the double dictum of Hegel: “What is rational is actual, and what is actual is rational.” Any existing social world can be an illusion in the sense that it distorts to a significant degree the articulation of the human spirit. The social world can fail to a significant degree to reflect the movement of human spirit. The underlying rational structure of the social world may fail to express itself in a way that most adequately articulates human spirit. We observe this distinction in ordinary speech when we speak of someone as a “real” poet, in contrast to poets who do not distinguish themselves. A “real” social world articulates the human spirit to the greatest possible degree. Plato had disdain for what exists, pointing beyond what is to the ideal world. Plato failed to understand that what is real must become external in space-time. The point of human community is to help bridge the gap between the “real” social world and the social world that actually exists. Much of our world is illusion and self-deception. Unmasking the social world is an important part of the human project. We can carry on this project of human community only by appealing to norms and ideals, to principles and practices, to which we have already committed ourselves and that are rooted in what is real. Rational ideals have a claim to satisfaction. Their non-fulfillment constitutes an objective wrong. Our imagination or fantasy can give us a sense of a claim for satisfaction of desires that are delusional. The norms of valid ideals have power to bring themselves into a real social world. The realization of valid norms has the rather modest potential of realization to a significant degree. Thus, the ideals of family, the market place, political life, religious community, will never realize their full potential. The tendency of the social world is to realize its valid norms. These norms are intelligible, reasonable, and good. The basic tendency of the social world is to become more rational. The arrangements of our social world reflect an increasingly more adequate conception of the human spirit. This transformation takes place through world history. World history shows a lessening gap between the real social world and the actual social world. The gap becomes increasingly smaller.

                My concern is with the social world as it actually exists, and not with some comprehension of an inner essence of things apart from their objective reality. We cannot ignore existing social arrangements. The rationality of the social world shows itself in existing institutions. We can grasp this rationality only by looking reasonably at the world.

The modern social world is a specific type of society. We could also write about other types of social worlds, such as Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Communist, Jewish, hunter and gatherer, agrarian, industrial, etc. I will now make what some will say is an arrogant and self-serving claim. The modern social world most clearly articulates the drives, desires, and dreams of human spirit. The modern social world realizes its norms to a far greater degree than the institutions of other social worlds. Further, I will suggest that only some version of utopian thinking would hope to transcend the modern social world. The modern social world represents a correct understanding of the human spirit. I hope the reader will wait until the end of this essay to determine whether I have adequately explained how this is the case.

The modern social world is, as it ought to be. We cannot say this about other social worlds. The institutions of the modern social world do not conform to their norms. In fact, they must fail to do so. The sphere of human action is arbitrary, contingent, and filled with error. Anything that is the result of human action exhibits defects, imperfections, and wickedness. Imperfections are necessary conditions of the social world being as it ought to be. The modern social world can be as it ought to be only in existing institutions. The price of realization in existing institutions is imperfection. Imperfection is the price of the modern social world being as it ought to be. Imperfection in existing institutions does not count against the claim that the modern social world is as it ought to be.

Criticism of the modern social world is not legitimate if it fails live up to purely personal ideals. Further, our tendency to judge the existing social world upon utopian schemes is not a legitimate basis for criticism. The only legitimate criticism is when the modern social world fails to live up to its own ideals. The only legitimate criticism is reformist in nature, aligning existing social arrangements closer to its norms. Feminist proposals for the elimination of the family and Marxist proposals for the elimination of private property and democratic institutions are external criticisms, deriving from different social worlds than that of the modern social world. They are not legitimate criticisms of the modern social world itself, however. The same is true of a Muslim critique of the modern social world, which has its own social world and is thus an external criticism of modernity.

Critique is of secondary importance. Of greater importance is grasping the underlying rational structure of the modern social world and how it shows itself in existing social arrangements. Philosophical reflection has its limits. It can rarely give guidance to what ought to be, but rather expends energy toward grasping what is.

                One might argue that we do not have attitudes toward the social world, but only toward parents, spouse and children, employer, community, and so on. However, we could ask questions such as this: What does it mean that I am a citizen of a country with a certain kind of political life? Once we ask that question, we can then see the legitimate nature of our relationship to the social world as a whole.

                The German is Versohnung. Where it differs from the English word is that it strongly suggests a process of transformation. The two estranged parties do not resume their old relationship, but rather change their behavior and attitudes in order to experience versohnt. Their getting along is the result of their being a new, transformed state. They are more flexible, complex, and stable than the unity that preceded it. The English word can mean submission or resignation. The German word cannot have that perspective: it uses abfinden for that experience. For the German language, if reconciliation is possible, resignation is not necessary. The process of reconciliation is a process of overcoming conflict, division, enmity, alienation, or estrangement, the result becoming the restoration of harmony, unity, peace, friendship, or love. It suggests a story: estrangement comes between friends, and they become friends again. This suggests the Christian doctrine of reconciliation between God and humanity through the gift of the Son of God. Humanity, through its sinfulness, became estranged from God. Christ overcomes the enmity of God by sacrificing his life on the cross, restoring the state of harmony between God and humanity. However, I want to focus upon the transforming aspect of reconciliation. The unity that exists after reconciliation is more flexible, complex, and stable than the unity that preceded it. We can experience genuine reconciliation with the modern social world while at the same time recognize the imperfections and evil in it and that specific aspects of modern institutional life have defects. In the midst of the problematic nature of the modern social world, we can experience reconciliation. Reconciliation involves freeing oneself from unreasonable expectations. Our unreasonable expectations do not constitute a real loss. The situation to which we become reconciled is genuinely good. Recognizing irrational expectations is an important feature of reconciliation. To experience reconciliation is to accept the present in its own right. One finds satisfaction in the present. This is different from consolation. In fact, Freud is the moved within the resignation and consolation circle in his book, Civilization and its Discontents. All we can do is resign ourselves to the discontent that results from the conflict between our instincts and the demands of society. Our consolation is in sublimation. For Freud, the split between the individual and the social world is of such a nature that reconciliation is impossible. Consolation is a response to disappointment and has an element of acceptance. A consolation prize provides a substitute for what one wanted; one is to receive comfort in it. Consolation can also represent compensation now; a stage along the way to something else. Consolation involves coming to terms with the failure of satisfaction of expectations that one still regards as reasonable. We cannot experience genuine reconciliation by putting on rose-colored glasses. We can look at the problematic nature of the world experience delight in the present. Reconciliation accepts the modern social world as a problematic world. The famous phrase of Hegel is to recognize “the rose in the cross of the present.” The delight that we can experience coexists with full appreciation of the obvious suffering in the world. Reconciliation has a melancholic dimension; it accepts the tragic nature of human life. Reconciliation includes an element of negativity. We can experience reconciliation with the present only with a sense of melancholy and a sense of the tragic as a response to the suffering, imperfection, and wickedness of the present. Such melancholy is compatible with full participation in our social world. Reconciliation involves the coexistence of acceptance, melancholy, and delight. Although reconciliation requires a rather difficult balancing act, reconciliation is a possible attitude toward the modern social world. What I must show is that modern social world is worthy of the attitude of reconciliation.

                In a well-ordered social world, parents will raise children to have separate and particular interests, some of which conflict with each other. The demands of the social world, such as family and work, may also conflict. A well-ordered social world is a world that generates conflicts. Reconciliation embraces these tensions. Such ongoing tensions between our separate and particular interests and the demands of the modern social world are a necessary by-product of our individuality. Conflict is the price of differentiation. Reconciliation incorporates conflict and antagonism. However, reconciliation suggests that conflict and antagonism are not final. The modern social world has its unity in that it encourages such individuality, particularity, and competing interests, thereby fostering the conflicts that many other social worlds seek to avoid. People in the modern social world can lead coherent and non-fragmented lives, free of painful personal and psychological division. Reconciliation involves preserving and overcoming conflict. The preservation of conflict recognizes that a desire for perfect harmony is both utopian dangerous. It is utopian because human beings could never make it real. It is dangerous because it dissolves individuality. Yet, we cannot stop at celebrating conflict in its own right. Nietzsche and Marx had this approach. I am suggesting a conflict-embracing conception of unity. I hope I have shown that even if humanity never attained such a unity, it is a reasonable object of intellectual enquiry.

                The fact that I raise the question of reconciliation suggests that we need to justify the ways of modern social world to our thoughtful reflection. This means that the modern social world is a human good that needs reflective justification, given the presence of the experience of alienation and the obvious social evil that exists. The problem of alienation exists primarily because we have not made the modern social world a home. The problem of social evil arises because of the problematic features of the modern social world, such as the breakdown of the family, moral confusion, poverty, crime, and the continued presence of war. How shall I relate to this imperfect social world? If I am successful in what I present, acceptance, support, and endorsement recommend themselves as ways of relating to it. If I am not successful, retreat, resistance, and revolution may recommend themselves as possible responses. Our attitudes contain beliefs about the social world that are informed by reasoned assessments of its institutions, as well as emotion and will. Philosophical reflection arises from the need to determine what general attitude is appropriate. From the positivist (such as Carnap) perspective, this work is meaningless. My attempt to provide orientation with respect to the social world is a special case of providing philosophical guidance concerning what is worthwhile, what one should do, and how one should live. In their view, normative and evaluative claims fall outside the realm of rational discourse and cannot be knowledge. Their attempt to limit rational discourse to the analytical and empirically verifiable is a claim that I cannot accept. Further, they maintain that attitudes fall outside the realm of rational discussion and evaluation. Attitudes are constellations of purely subjective feelings and states of will. Attitudes lack theoretical content. Unlike Hegel, however, let us not propose that such reflection necessarily leads to a systematic, comprehensive, and absolute philosophical form. Therefore, we can discuss our attitudes about the social world in a rational way. My intent is that this work will suggest a framework in which that discussion can take place.

                What I have said may seem wildly optimistic. A home can be dysfunctional: alien, bifurcating, hostile, and indifferent. What I hope to show is that reconciliation is possible, not because the modern social world is perfect, but because the basic features of the central institutions of the modern social world are acceptable and realized in everyday life to a significant degree. Postmodernism denies that wholeness, unity and harmony are worth ideals. Division, opposition, and conflict are expressions of otherness that we simply need to acknowledge, cultivate, and affirm. Therefore, my suggestion that overcoming such division and otherness is futile, inauthentic, and pernicious. My attempt is futile because we cannot overcome division. We are without a home. My attempt is inauthentic because I want to deny these facts of division. My attempt is pernicious because the attempt to establish wholeness, harmony, and unity results in disciplining, marginalizing, homogenizing, and devaluation of some other person or group.

                My use of the term reconciliation may suggest a form of resignation to the imperfections of the social world. This might suggest to some people a pessimistic and demoralizing response our social world. However, my objective is not resignation. My objective is rational affirmation of the modern social world. This does not mean that I endorse the status quo merely because it is in place. In fact, reform of the modern social world is of the essence of our society. Therefore, I am far from abandoning criticism and opposition. The modern social world is worthy of affirmation and standing in need of reform. The basic features of our social world are sufficiently rational to warrant reconciliation and sufficiently irrational to warrant reform.

                Much of what passes for criticism of our social world is superficial. It is easy to perceive the shortcomings of individuals, states, and the course of world affairs. One can then adopt a superior attitude toward one’s own society, without understanding the true nature of the modern social world. Critics think they have done their job when they have found something that they can justly criticize, while failing to affirm the central aspects of modern institutional life. To see only the bad side of everything and overlook the positive and valuable is a sign of being superficial in criticism. We are often dissatisfied. Maturity brings with it a proper understanding of the seriousness of life and look for the enduring value of our society. We do not need to encourage the intellectual class to engage in criticism. They are inclined toward that approach already. The imperfections of the modern social world do not undermine its basic goodness and rationality. We need to appreciate the basic goodness of the modern social world. We need to cultivate an outlook of basic confidence and trust by providing the philosophical framework that would make it possible to see the true nature of the social world.

                The historical transformations that made the modern social world also make the modern social world appear alien. Those transformations include the emergence of freedom in civil and political life. I recognize that profound alienation and evil occur, largely through the massive scale and complexity of the modern social world, along with the demand of masses of people for some rational insight into their social world. Some would suggest that the only way I could be successful in my proposal to reconcile us to the modern social world is to propose a false consciousness. Marx maintained that the only way to reconcile us to society is with a theory. Marx, with his utopian view, suggests that the only way for a society truly to be a home is to be so without a theory. The presence of poverty in the modern social world, and the fact that it is part of the normal functioning of a free enterprise economy, makes my project problematic. These conditions of modernity make social theory indispensable. I suggest that the historical situation that brought into existence the modern social world makes it a home. This is what keeps my proposal from being merely ideological and proposing a false consciousness. However, the risk of ideology in the Marxist sense is present. The presence of poverty makes this a profound risk. I must show that we can endorse the modern social world without accommodating evil. I must show that we can accept the presence of evil in our social world without endorsing or affirming it.

                The process of reconciliation is that of overcoming alienation from the social world. The state of reconciliation is that of being at home in the social world.

The modern social world is a home if it makes it possible for people to actualize themselves as individuals and as social members. The emphasis upon “modern” social world is intentional. I would not characterize other social worlds on this basis. This statement assumes that people are both individuals and members of society. A world in which one could not actualize oneself as an individual and as a social member would be a world of alienation. The modern social world provides such opportunities. Private property is essential for actualizing our individuality. The possession of property recognizes us as bearers of rights. The possession of property is a precondition of the development and pursuit of separate and particular interests. We have the right to marry and form families, allowing us to actualize inner aspects of our lives. This involves romance and freely choosing each other. In the family, individuals find love and acceptance as the particular persons that we are. The family is the only sphere of the social world in which one finds this kind of emotional acceptance of one’s particularity. We also have the right to freely associate others, thereby influencing the social standing we possess. We do this in pursuing our separate and particular interests. This pursuit can take place in various civic settings, as in philanthropy, ongoing education, and religious affiliation. This pursuit also takes place in economic settings; we influence the direction of career or occupation. Plato excluded individuality in the modern sense from the beginning in his Republic.

The modern social world must contain a framework of institutional spheres within which it is possible for people to actualize their individuality and have social membership.

The modern social world must be organized in such a way that people can actualize their individuality and social membership by participating in its central social institutions. A marginal form of association is not sufficient to consider the modern social world a home.

The modern social world must be organized in such a way that people are able to actualize themselves as individuals and social members in the m=normal course of things. Such participation must not require unusual talent, aptitude, or heroic endeavors.

The modern social world must promote the actualization of individuality and social membership. The modern social world will reward people actualize themselves as individuals, acquiring wealth and prestige in varying degrees. A well-ordered family rewards its members by providing them with love, intimacy, and understanding. A well-ordered state will reward its members with a form of life in which people can pursue the shared general end of the good of the community and have recognition as members of the political community.

The modern social world must make it possible for people to actualize their individuality through their social membership and to actualize their social membership through their individuality. As an aside, Friedrich Schiller, in The Aesthetic Education of Man, makes the opposite claim: the modern social world through its structures leads to the fragmentation of the human being. He resorted to a mythic conception of the ancient Greek world, contrasting that with “us moderns.” The conditions of modernity prevent us from actualizing ourselves as wholes by preventing them from fully actualizing their natural powers. The modern social world consists of lifeless fragments; the involvement of individuals in that social world turns them into fragmentary lives.

The framework of the modern social world makes it appear that individuals cannot reach these goals. That is why many people who live within the modern social world experience it as alien, hostile, or indifferent to their needs. The bureaucratic expansion of the modern political state and corporations appears to disrespect individuality. The family unit appears to dissolve individuality in favor of the family unit. Actualization of ourselves as individuals through social membership, and actualization of social membership, appears unlikely. Yet, beneath this appearance of failure in the modern social world is a coherent and intelligible system whose various components promote both individuality and social membership.

The modern social world is a home if it is not other than its members. Alienation is a form of being split from the social world. Being at home in the social world is a matter of not being split from that social world. Reconciliation is a process of overcoming such a split. The social world must reflect the desires and hopes of its members. The central social institutions of a social world must allow individuals to actualize themselves as individuals and social members. If the institutions make this actualization plausible, then the social world is not other than its members.

The modern social world is a home if it is good. The modern social world is as it ought to be. The rational structure of the modern social world is as it ought to be. This realization of the social world can occur relative to its stage in world history. It reflects the human spirit available at that time. For the modern social world, the human spirit shows itself as simultaneously individuality and social members. The essence of the modern social world partially shows itself in its institutions. The modern social world organizes itself around the ideal of making it possible for people to actualize themselves as individuals and as social members. The modern social world substantially realizes this ideal. The modern social world makes it possible for people to actualize themselves as individuals and social members.

The modern social world is a home of it constitutes a world of freedom. The central institutions of the modern social world promote the kind of freedom of individuals to pursue their own separate and particular interests and actualize their own freely chosen life plans, to act in accordance with their own consciences, and to assess their social roles and institutions from their own subjective standpoints. This freedom requires the absence of governmental interference as well as the presence of various institutional structures as well. The only threat to this freedom is to come face to face with something totally other than oneself. Otherness and difference do not constitute a limit to freedom; only that which is totally other or alien can do so. We experience this freedom as we recognize that nothing we face is ultimately other. To the extent that we lack psychological and personal unity and coherence, we contain fragments that are external and alien to ourselves, and hence experience the lack of freedom. An integrated self is a free self. Yet, the only way we can become with ourselves is to relate to something other than ourselves. We develop our potential as we actualize ourselves in the external world. Our dependence upon things other than ourselves leads to the lack of freedom. We attain freedom by coming to be with oneself in the other to whom we must relate. We find ourselves in the other. The other shares one’s own essence. The social world does not have to realize fully these conditions. To demand this would be to succumb to utopian thinking. All the social world can do is promote the possibility of such freedom through its social arrangements. The actualization of individuality and social membership is only possible; it cannot be the necessary outcome of social arrangements. The social world can only open the possibility of satisfaction through domestic, civil, and political life. We see here that freedom and reconciliation join. We experience the social world as a home only if that social world is a world of freedom, and the way in which we become free is by coming to be at home. Reconciliation is a process of reconciliation. If we describe a social world as a world of freedom, it must make it possible for people to actualize themselves as individuals and as social members.

The significance of what we have suggested thus far is that if the social world is a home, it makes it possible for people to actualize themselves as individuals and as members of society. Any social world that can do this is worthy of acceptance and affirmation, in spite of the inevitable imperfections, failures, and wickedness. My contention is that the modern social world satisfies the basic needs that modern people have to actualize themselves as individuals and social members. The modern social world is not fundamentally other than its members. We find ourselves in the central social arrangements of society. This social world shows the correct understanding of the human spirit. This showing occurs, not perfectly, but to a significant degree. We enjoy both subjective freedom and the freedom of being with others. Although this social is a good worthy of affirmation, it does not mean that everything becomes wonderful. We have already suggested the sobering thought that the modern social world is a home in the midst of unhappiness. Yet, happiness is a goal of the modern social world. Such a social world includes a social sphere, a civil society, in which people can pursue separate and particular projects and meet their material needs. Such a social world includes a system of public administration of the affairs of government. Such a world will encourage families in which people can find love, understanding, and support.

Such a social world cannot guarantee happiness. Careers still fail. Friends still leave. Illness still strikes. Children still die. Happiness has an individual quality that is particularly sensitive to luck. Happiness is up to us as individuals and how well we manage our lives. Since happiness has elements beyond the control of human action, we would be unreasonable to expect any social world to guarantee it. Unhappiness that results from our decisions, accidents, or chance does not reflect upon the social world. We may be dissatisfied with our lot; we have no right to be dissatisfied with the social world. No social world can guarantee the fulfillment of our wishes.

What is so great about a social world that cannot guarantee my happiness? It meets two vital human needs. One is the need to actualize oneself as an individual and a social member. The other is the need to be connected to the social world. We are political animals. What I have explained thus far in the previous few paragraphs updates this Aristotelian doctrine through the perspective Hegel. This explains why alienation is an evil that we must overcome. Alienation has been an important aspect of world history. Alienation in the modern social world plays a role in the normal development of individuals. From this perspective, as a moment in the development of the human spirit and of the individual, alienation is a good thing. Further, alienation may be a perfectly authentic response to a social world that is alien to the human spirit.

We experience alienation when our social world is not a home. We can distinguish three forms in which this alienation can take place.

                Objective alienation occurs when the social is not a home. We have a deep need to inhabit a social world that is a home. People suffer great evil when this need does not find satisfaction in the social world. Horkheimer, Adorno, and Habermas believe that under the circumstances of contemporary capitalism, people suffer pure, objective alienation. We do not subjectively feel this alienation. Capitalism makes it impossible for our social world to be a home. The ideology of capitalism blinds people to their alienation. We do not perceive our predicament. People in this situation do not need reconciliation; they need an ideology that provides the enlightenment necessary to begin the task of transforming their social arrangements. Heidegger, Sartre, and Camus take the view that objective alienation is part of the human condition. Alienation is a fixed, non-empirical fact that the social world is not our home. Authentic life is to grasp, accept and affirm this fact. The task is not to overcome the feeling of alienation by seeing the world as a home but to have the courage to live in the clear consciousness of the fact that it is not a home.

Subjective alienation occurs when the social world is a home, but we fail to grasp that it is a home. The difficulty here is that the social world can appear alien, despite the fact that it is a home. Reconciliation in the context of the modern social world involves grasping that this social world is a home, and accepting it, despite the fact that it is a subjectively alienating. Subjective alienation is a persistent feature of modern social life. Subjective alienation is a genuine form of alienation. Reconciliation does not involve showing people that they are not alienated. Alienation is not merely thinking or feeling alienated. If we are subjectively alienated, we are not home in the social world. Reconciliation in the sense that I have described it incorporates such conflict and antagonism.

Complete alienation occurs when people are subjectively and objectively alienated.

Freedom is the greatest good. Freedom and being at home in the social world are coextensive. People are free if they are at home in the social world. The social world can guarantee freedom. A social world guarantees the freedom of its members as it satisfies the condition of being a home. The greatest thing about a world that is a home is that it is a world of freedom. The greatest thing about a world of freedom is that it is a home.

The basic social arrangements of the modern social world make it a home. Therefore, we do not need fundamental social transformations. To accept its principle of freedom and its institutional life of family, civic life, and political participation, is to experience reconciliation. Yet, such reconciliation incorporates ongoing reform of institutional life so that they increasingly articulate the desires of the human spirit. People who reconcile themselves to the modern social world can engage in social and political reform. Doing so represents one authentic way of responding to the defects of the modern social world. Reconciliation is compatible with taking a more or less activist relation the modern social world. The experience of reconciliation with the modern social world does not require social activism; it does allow it. What I have suggested is not a form of quietism. However, it is incompatible with radical or revolutionary action, especially involving the violent overthrow of the institutions of the modern social world.

                The modern social world combines the principles of individuality and freedom with membership in a community. Reconciliation with the modern social world does not mean the loss of individuality. Some people appear to develop a myth about the past agricultural life or rural life, in which people identified themselves with the community so much that they lost their sense of individuality and uniqueness. They enjoyed the satisfactions of community without the pain of alienation. Hegel writes in this manner at times. However, once the modern world went the direction of freedom and individuality, we have no way to turn back. The form individuality and freedom take includes freely forming families and marriages, freely and responsibly developing morality and conscience, pursuit of our economic goals, freely associating with people of similar interests in society, and freely participating in the political order. In order for society to be the kind of home I propose, it must be a place where people can realize themselves as community members without abandoning or suppressing their individuality. If we reconcile ourselves to the modern social world, we do so only as we preserve our individuality and freedom as reconciled people.

                My project is therapeutic in this sense: I would like to help certain of my contemporaries to experience reconciliation with the modern social world. The idea that the modern social world is a home is not just a metaphor when it means that we have the possibility of actualizing ourselves as individuals and as members of society. I identify with Locke at this point, emphasizing the liberties of the moderns, such as freedom of thought and conscience, certain basic rights of the persona and of property, and the rule of law. This emphasizes the liberties of the ancients, the equal political liberties and the values of public life. This view unites the ancient concern for the values of public life and the concern of modernity for individual rights. I want to reconcile two conceptions of the political order.

                Whom do I hope will get reconciled with the modern social world? The intellectual is one type of person. I would like to establish an intelligible place from which to view the modern social world that helps us to make peace with it, in spite of its imperfections, failings, and wickedness. The political class is another type of person. Impatience with the imperfections, failings, and wickedness of the modern social world can lead to polities that will undermine it. The religious person is a second type of person. Many religious people view the modern social world as a threat because of secularism, humanism, and tolerance of immorality. These persons are born into the modern social world and are products of it. They are products of the nuclear family, freely associating civic and economic life, and atmosphere of intellectual and moral freedom, scientific methods, and a democratic political order. I would suggest that masses of people already are reconciled to the modern social world by virtue of their benign participation in it. This work will rise to a reflective level justification for that experience of reconciliation that many among the masses already have.

                The need for this project exists because of subjective alienation. I agree with Marx that alienation is the central problem of the modern social world. However, he thinks of that alienation as objective alienation. The modern social world cannot be a home because of the nuclear family, democratic institutions, and capitalism. The form of alienation is complete, both subjective and objective. Further, he believed that the masses had a felt experience of alienation. To the extent that it exists, it is among people who become reflective upon the social world and their participation in it. Although the masses of people experience some uneasiness with meaning and value, this is part of the general human condition. No social world can remove that unease. Most people accept their basic social arrangements and feel comfortable within them. This subjective alienation is not an illusion. It is real. I would like to be part of a process of removing it. In particular, reflective individuals often become those who shape public opinion through their writings, education of the young and political engagements. Since the modern social world is a home, these persons could destroy a home that many people take for granted. Further, as education has advanced, the capacity of masses of people to reflect upon their social world and their participation in it has expanded. Raising the reflective of the people means that the number of persons exposed to alienating reflections about the modern social world expands. If I can give good reason for reconciling ourselves to the modern social world, reflective individuals can become part of the healing that needs to take place in the experience of alienation. The avenue of criticism is easy. It is far more difficult to see the value of a culture of freedom when reflection leads us to focus upon the imperfections, failings, and evil of this world. In many ways, those who participate in the modern social world and experience it as a home do not understand it very well. We are not at home with freedom.

                What I hope to do is provide a place from which we can view the modern social world, recognizing that we are part of that world. My hope is that viewing the modern social world will help us to get to the attitude of reconciliation with a culture of freedom; that we will be at home with freedom. I do not pretend to suggest that philosophy will solve the matter of alienation. I do suggest that by engaging these matters we can get to a different place, a better place, from which to appreciate the modern social world. A theory will not remove the kind of alienation of which I speak. It will require a willingness to come to a different place, and view the landscape of the modern social world in a different way. People experience the subjective alienation of which I speak because they view this modern social world from that place. It is a place of chains and shackles, a place that divides them from the social world. What I am suggesting is that they need to come to different place, and understand themselves and the social world that has given birth to them in a new and I hope better way. It is a place of liberation and understanding, a place home in which they can experience satisfaction in social arrangements and participate in its reform. I would not suggest this approach in other social worlds. For example, I would not suggest a shift an attitude toward the social world created by Communism, Fascism, petty dictators, or Muslim fundamentalism. Such social worlds are not worthy of being reconciled to. I will grant that religious reconciliation, inner peace, is possible regardless of social arrangements. The experience of peace with God must not to reconcile us to evil objective conditions. The objective conditions do not exist in some social worlds for reconciliation. Marx wrongly accused Hegel of urging reconciliation through theory with any social arrangement. If the objective social world is alien to the movement of the human spirit toward freedom, then transformation of social institutions is a viable option. Such transformation may occur through passive resistance or revolution. In fact, the modern social world required revolution in order to exist; I refer to the American Revolution. I agree with Marx that major social transformations occur through revolutions that are often, though not always, violent. Where I disagree is that social revolution has already taken place, in the American Revolution, rather than some future revolution that will usher in the utopian classless society. Marx views the social world created by that revolution as one of alienation. His political project seeks to secure the objective conditions of reconciliation by transforming the central social institutions to make them worthy of reconciliation. He wants to change the modern social world to one that is worthy of reconciliation. He wants to make reconciliation possible through political change. However, the modern social world is worthy of us becoming reconciled to it. I do not assume that this is the case. My assumption is that the modern social world does not appear to be home for a significant number of people. However, if it is a home, maybe I can offer a new place from which reflective and alienated people might experience this social world as a home. The historical transformations that gave rise to the modern social world make reflection important. The conditions of modernity, including the scale and complexity of the economic, civic, and political order, make rational insight into the structure of this social world important, especially as the number of reflective individuals continues to expand. I hope that this essay will demonstrate the validity of the observation. Marx would say that this makes my project ideological. It promotes a false consciousness that helps people feel comfortable with the oppressive nature of the modern social world. For Marx, if the modern social world were a home, it would be transparent to all persons. Such a social world would not need philosophical justification. The fact that I engage this project suggests, for Marx, that the modern social world is not a home. However, the transparency Marx envisions may suit an angelic world. It does not suit a world human beings inhabit.

                Reflective individuals often view themselves only as isolated individuals. They have social roles, but typically regard these roles as fundamentally external to their identity. Isolated individualism is a pure abstraction from the context of life as we experience it. We can see the appeal of contract theory in political philosophy, such as developed by John Rawls, from this perspective. Such theories view the social world as an aggregate of individuals. In fact, we could view traditional contract theory as exemplified by Hobbes and Locke as the attempt to make the modern social world a home for isolated individuals. My project is of a different sort. However, such expressions of individualism are not the whole truth of the matter. Reflective individualists often closely identify at some level with community, whether with ideologically like-minded persons, family, country, or some other community. Further, the concern about alienation evident among many reflective individuals reveals a tacit desire to find a place in the social world and fit in with its arrangements. The subjective alienation they experience through its indifference or hostility is because they want to experience being at home not just as individuals but as social members. I am not interested in reconciling ourselves as isolated individuals to the modern social world. Rather, I am interested in changing our self-perception to that of individuality and social membership. The tension between individualism and social membership constitutes the primary tension of living the modern social world. Our experience of this social world as alien is because we have accepted the split between individuality and social membership. My project of closing the gap becomes increasingly complex. Individuality and social membership are compatible. It is possible to actualize ourselves as individuals through social membership; it is possible to actualize our social membership through our individuality. We will understand better who we are if we engage this process. This process is not just a matter of fitting into the arrangements of the modern social world. Rather, we come to view ourselves in a more true way. Reconciliation cannot occur without accepting a true conception of who we are.

                Is it not obvious that modern people are both individuals and social members? After all, we are distinct human beings who participate in the social world. What is the issue? This soft approach to individuality and social membership does not describe the modern experience. We are full-fledged individuals and full-fledged social members. Modern individuality and social membership are not only compatible but also intertwined. Through their social membership, modern people actualize themselves as individuals; through their individuality, modern people actualize themselves as social members. The human spirit articulates itself in this process of actualization.

                Individuality has the minimal sense of conceiving ourselves as distinct from other people in virtue of having particular traits and qualities that distinguish them from others. This is a necessary condition of being a human individual. It omits the idea of viewing oneself as having separate and particular interests. It says nothing about individual rights or conscience. It omits the possibility of standing back from social institutions and criticizing them. It does not engage the contrast between individual and society. A stronger conception of individuality shows that modern individuality is not so simple. Nietzsche holds that we are genuine individuals only if we undertake to creat our values and live a life that is radically original and radically non-conformist. See Thus Spake Zarathustra, 5 and Beyond Good and Evil, 41-63. Mill denies that genuine individuality requires originality or nonconformity; it does require determining for oneself which of the customs and traditions of one’s social world are suitable for oneself and choosing one’s own life plan, rather than simply doing what “one” does. See “On Liberty,” 53-71.

1) We are selves. To be a self is to conceive of oneself as independent of and distinct from one’s social roles. We think of ourselves as having the capacity to abstract ourselves from any given social role that we perform. We enter a reflective relationship with the social world. We wonder about how we relate to that social world. We question and evaluate the social role in which we participate. We wonder if we want to play the role. We wonder if we accept the values and norms that are present in the role. We wonder whether we ought to play it. This suggests that one might choose not play in the accepted social roles. Whether one refuses or not, we distinguish ourselves by the fact that we have stood back and evaluated it. The role is external to us, to our “self.” The social role does not define us. As selves, we grasp that we have this ability to step back from social roles.

2) We are bearers of separate and particular interests that are separate from the interests of other people and the interests of the group, community, or social world. They are particular in that they are interests one has as the particular person one is. This means that something may be good for one individual that would not be good for another individual or for the community. Such separate and particular interests can bring one into conflict with other individuals or with the community.

3) We are possessors of individual rights that do not derive from one’s status as the bearer of a particular social role or position in society. We have rights as persons in contrast to other individuals and in contrast to the community. These rights may conflict with other persons and with the community.

4) We are subjects of conscience as we become independent sources of moral assessment and evaluation. We have the capacity and right to assess courses of actions, social roles, and institutions based on our private, subjective judgment, even in defiance of accepted practice and custom. We make judgments about right and duty assert that we know what those are in given situations. Conscience can bring us into conflict with our community since it is always possible for the deliberation of our conscience to run counter to the demands of community.

Individuality understood in this way is a distinctive feature of the modern social world. Other cultures of the past and present have individuality in the minimal sense, but not all cultures have this strong sense of individuality.

                Morality and law belong in a community in which enough people think and act in such a way that they cannot imagine themselves wanting to survive apart from it. How are the individuals who belong to a people related to the whole of which they are the body? Each individual is a pulse of the whole. Each individual is the whole. We can understand the social relationships only in terms different from those of biology. The social whole is in the individuals who belong t it. This “in” is not spatial. In being educated, the individuals receive their knowledge and their aims and ideals form it, and they say what they say and do what they do because their country is what it is. Each reflects the whole, or is a perspective of it. The education, social functions, and aims of the individual are aspects of the whole as well as aspects of the individual. The virtues of individual people depend upon the ethical totality and ethical life that surrounds them. These virtues would not exist apart from the ethical totality, and only become actual in individual as they live the lives that the structure of their totality demands. The whole determine virtues and the types of action at work and play. Individuals become virtuous because law and state provide the paths and the direction. He rejected the idea that human history moves toward the happy establishment of agreements among the peoples that would provide the world with a cosmopolitan order.

The minimal sense of being a social member is to say that we are essentially social beings. We depend on society for the satisfaction of biological, social, and cultural needs. We depend on society for the realization of our distinctively human capacities, such as thought, language, and reason. We could not realize ourselves as human beings unless we were members of a society. This is one way to interpret Aristotle’s observation we are political animals. However, modern people are distinctively and specifically members of the modern social world. We are members of a society organized around social institutions like the nuclear family, civic and economic life, and political institutions. We are part of a unique set of social arrangements that shape us. We explicitly and tacitly participate in the central institutions of the modern social world. We are born into this social world. We are born into this framework of institutional life. We will likely die in it. We gain our perceptions of ourselves through participating this social framework. We can move to another type of social world. We cannot destroy the perception of self that we have gained living in this social world. How can these core have such central influence upon modern people? First, such central social roles constitute who we are as individuals. They shape the psychology of modern people. We have basic needs and desires. Our need and desire for intimacy find expression in family life. Though family life at times conflicts with our particular and separate interests, family life does not constitute external demands disconnected from our feeling, values, desires, and needs. They reflect norms that are part of our own basic values and desires. This congruence between self and role occurs through the institutional process by which we forms needs and values. The most central and fundamental needs and values that people have are formed through a process of socialization, acculturation, and education. This process occurs in family, civic and economic life, and political structures. These institutions channel and shape our needs and desires in such a way that modern people come to need and value the forms of lie that it provides. The social framework forms the will of modern people. The modern social world shapes and channels these biologically given needs, drive, and desires. The modern social world consists largely in a process of gaining determinate social and cultural shape to biological needs. The family molds the desire for sex and children into the specific desire for marital life and family. It makes these originally natural desires social in that it provides with a social institution through they can find satisfaction. The raw biological fact does not lead people to marry. The institutional framework of society provides that desire. It forms the will and thus has a strong role in shaping individual character and personality. The social framework shapes the core features of the psychological makeup of modern people. However, they do not exhaust personality and character. The central social institutions shape the fundamental needs and values of modern people. They do not fix them. This does not mean that we are mere particularizations of our roles. We have varied persons shown in the particularities, eccentricities, and idiosyncrasies. Civil and economic life and family provide a sphere for the realization of different aspects of our particularity. Modern people can express and develop their emotional and psychological needs within the family. We can express and develop our interests, talents, and skills within civil and economic life. Second, these core social roles provide the basic elements and constitute the basic framework of the lives of modern people. Choices involving family, career, and civic life, provide the basic elements of the life one leads. Modern people, in making such choices in relation to social roles, also choose the form of life they will lead. They represent the main arenas within which modern people exercise individual choice. Even if we do not marry or work, the social world that involves these institutions shape us. Third, the rejection the core social roles carry a high personal cost. To reject these roles (such as citizenship) in thought is to lead to an empty life. To reject these roles in practice, one’s life will become abstract and impoverished. To reject such core roles is to reject one’s own personality and character.

Certain historical circumstances may arise in which it is reasonable to withdraw from the social world. People will not always find meaning in the existing social roles. The social roles of the modern social world, however, are acceptable to reflection. What are the conditions that people must satisfy in order to realize themselves as the kind of beings that they are? We must participate in that form of life that expresses the correct understanding of human spirit. The modern social world is that form of social life. Through participating the social framework of the modern social world, we actualize human spirit. Beyond this, fully realizing oneself would take us toward art, religion, and reflection.

Our participation in social roles like family, civic and economic life, and political life, is often tacit. We behave in ways consist with being a member of a family, a worker, or a citizen, even when we do not explicitly conceive ourselves in that way. The cost of rejecting such roles is high, but we have the freedom to do so. We can bear the cost.

Modern people are individuals and social members in the strong sense. They are compatible. For a modern person to reject social membership simply means that he or she will not realize themselves to their fullest potential, for rejecting the role amounts to rejecting oneself. We can conceive of ourselves as individuals and social members because both individual and civic life affirms that we have separate and particular interests, that we possess individual rights, and that we have the right of moral choice. Civic life is the proper sphere where we find this affirmation of the self. Further, we can conceive of self and social membership together. We are independent of our social roles, while at the same time conceive ourselves in terms of them. We can intellectually abstract ourselves from social roles, as a moment of alienation. This separation need not be permanent. When we ask whether a role is suitable or whether we want to play a certain role, we can also respond with affirmation. We then intentionally identify at a reflective level with that role. The fact that we have a choice in this identification is a uniqueness of the modern social world. The alienation that reflection requires need not be final. Philosophers before Hegel recognized the ability to abstract from social roles. Hegel is the first to say that we can reflectively identify with them. It is one of his greatest insights.

Membership in the modern social world makes individuality in the strong sense possible. Civil society provides the proper sphere for the exercise of these self-understandings. In that sphere it is most appropriate to pursue one’s separate and particular interests and insist upon one’s individual rights. Civil society actually encourages such practices. Our participation in civil society invites us to think of ourselves as selves and as bearers of separate and particular interests. Political authority and the system of justice protect these interests. We freely enter into contracts and make use of the legal system. Civic life is the arena in which we encounter ethical formation. In that sphere, we cannot rely upon custom to determine what one ought to do. Participation in civic life forces us to appeal to private moral reflection. Through participating in civil society, through actualizing ourselves as members of civil society, we actualize ourselves in the strong sense. An important function of the family is to raise children capable of interacting in the modern social world. An important function of political authority is to provide the support framework for civil life to be that arena within which individuals can actualize themselves as individuals in the strong sense. In this way, the social roles support each other.

Generally in a tacit way, when we act as individual in the strong sense, we act as members of civil society. We need to live in a highly determinate kind of society, a social world that contains a civil society separate from family and from political dictation. The family and political authority are preconditions for strong individuality. We regularly make personal sacrifices for family. We experience ourselves as citizens, even to the point of willingness to die in times of war. We cannot understand individuality and the modern social world without facing this willingness to sacrifice. The shape that human spirit takes in a particular culture shapes the members of that society. Thus, even if one rejects certain features of the American way of life, one typically does so in a characteristically American way. The shape that the human spirit takes in a particular family also shapes the members of that family. Though one can reject certain features of their family, they cannot do so totally. Even though we share social roles with others, we maintain our individuality in the performance of them. We cannot understand this man apart from the social role he plays as father. The social role of fatherhood affects him subjectively in his feelings, sentiment, and self-conception. He will also be a unique father as he tailors the role to one’s own temperament and circumstances. Hegel makes the point that individuality (Einzelheit) consists in the unity of particularity (Besonderheit) and universality (Allgenmeinheit). A man’s universality consists, in part, in his role as a father. His particularity consists, in part, in the specific way in which he inhabits this role. We cannot understand who this man is in his universality unless we consider the fact that he occupies this universal role. Nor can we understand who he is in his particularity unless we consider how he occupies this role. Individuality exhibits the structure of the concept (Begriff), which is the basic structure of reason.

In order to actualize ourselves fully, we must intentionally identify with the roles of domestic, civil and economic life, and citizenship. Such a division might imply to some rigid boundaries. Thus, the homemaker and wage-earner must be separate. However, these three spheres of the modern social world form of life blur distinctions in ways that I hope will be clear in the following discussion. The modern social world is not so tidy as the outline may suggest. We absorb these roles into our subjectivity, actualizing our social membership through our individuality. We then actualize ourselves as individual social members.

                Whether we can reconcile ourselves to the modern social world depends upon place from which we view it. I want to invite you to join me on a journey to that place.  See if the form of life that I describe the modern social world in a way that makes it possible for us to experience reconciliation with it.

                The domestic sphere is that area of our lives that consists of affective personal relations within which people can express their psychological particularity and provide each other with emotional recognition. The family is nuclear, bourgeois, and a companionship of male and female. The basic unit is husband, wife, and children. Hegel described the family as patriarchic. People who live in the modern social world cannot nostalgically look upon the extended family as a better family system. The creation of a new family involves leaving behind the former family. The family is a unit of consumption. The family itself is not a unit of production, but of purchase and enjoyment of commodities. Civil and economic society depends upon consumption by families. It also depends upon the family for the production of new members of society. The family has the responsibility of raising those children to have the abilities, dispositions, and attitudes that they will need to participate in civil and economic society. The family is the place where we gain our primary emotional enrichment. With the emergence of civil society, the family focused less upon production and became a smaller, closer, and more private unity within which affective relationships were intense. We experience affective recognition of the psychological dimension of our particularity. This specialization of the family allows to meet the need for emotional recognition that we have. Civil society is far more effective at meeting productive needs than the extended family had been. This separation of the satisfaction of affective and material is something that deserves our affirmation. In terms of companionship, this recognizes the mutual need of husband and wife and the mutual satisfaction that we have come to anticipate. Women and men are free and equal beings, capable of participating in public life together. They are also free and equal within the family unit. The family holds property in common. Marriage is a contract that we need to take seriously. Man and woman bear individual rights that they bring into a marriage. Yet, in the marriage, they transcend the legal contract and agree to enter a relationship in which neither relates to the other as a bearer of rights. The internal life of the family is outside the realm of individual rights. We are not present in the family as individuals but as members of a family. The family is a good in itself and the proper object of our activity. Family roles determine the normative structure of the relations of family members, and not the concept of individual rights. My sister in need does not carry an obligation for me to help because she bears individual rights, but because she is my sister. If I treat a member of the family as a bearer of rights, I treat him or her as a member of civil society rather than as a family member. The businessperson may treat a customer that way, but it is not appropriate to treat a spouse, child, or sibling that way. Further, since no individual within the family has property, but only as a family do they have property, we cannot speak of individuals as bearers of rights. Marriage creates a single person as far as civil society is concerned. We cannot even speak of partnership, for we must look for a deeper and more thorough union in which we overcome the separation between the parties. The parties of the marriage surrender to each other. Individual projects have standing only as a part of the larger life they share. This communal view of marriage and family may go too far for many people today.

                Hegel viewed the family as patriarchic, the man providing administrative leadership and the woman providing child-rearing skills. His view of the division of labor within family is traditional. The man is the head of the household and the breadwinner; the wife is the homemaker and primary caretaker of the children. Men are powerful and active by nature, capable of conceptual thought. Women are feeling oriented and good at understanding the psychological aspects of personal relationships and responding to them in an emotionally appropriate way. They are passive and subjective. The man struggles in the external realm of society, but he has a peaceful place at home that the woman provides by her piety. Her feeling represents her ethical capacity. He would reject Susan Okin’s call for a genderless society. For Hegel, the social institutions reflect the differences between men and women; that is the only way it could be a home. That is why women, though subordinate to men, can still find a home in the modern social world. Since women cannot realize themselves in the social world, they cannot be individuals in the strong sense that we have discussed.

                The main way in which the family actualizes the individual is the free choice to marry a particular person. The modern social world provides the family as the contexts within which people can develop and find recognition of the psychological dimension of their emotional needs and traits. It is the setting where personal feelings count. One can reasonably expect that others will understand and care. We can hope to have others love us as the particular person we are. One can expect unconditional love in the family. No other place in the modern social world allows people to realize and find acceptance of the emotional aspects of their particularity. We will find emotional investment possible in other spheres of life. However, the family is the primary place for that emotional life to find satisfaction. The reconciliation the family provides is limited in that people feel themselves as individuals and social members, but it never raises to a reflective level; it cannot deal with individuals as bearers of rights; its scope is that of a specific group rather than the community. The family provides an important dimension of our reconciliation to the modern social world. It is not sufficient on its own to provide that reconciliation.

                The affective unity and love toward which family strives is contingent. Love becomes estranged. Divorce is the legal and public recognition of the dissolution of a marriage that has already occurred in the heart. No one guarantee the permanence of marriage. The affective attraction of marriage is the foundation of the fragile nature of marriage. The tragedy is not the legal separation of divorce, but the interpersonal estrangement that precedes it. The sadness and disappointment that we experience in divorce, however, does not need to lead us doubt the possibility of the fulfillment of the purpose of marriage.

                The private sphere is the arena of contractual and civil relations within which people can pursue their private and association ends. It provides an arena within which people provide one another with objective recognition of their individual talents, skills, and achievements, their determinate position in society, and their general status as members of society. The civil society is a separate, private realm of human activity that is distinct from the political sphere. This observation would appear to be a genuine innovation on the part of Hegel. However, one wonders how the social world can be a home when he excludes certain people from involvement in civil society: women and peasants. These two important groups cannot actualize themselves in the strong sense. He does not think that the modern social world must make it possible for everyone to actualize themselves as individuals in the strong sense. It must be possible for some of its members. One can lead a full human life without becoming individuals in the strong sense. Strong individuality is one important but restricted human possibility among others. No individual human life, even that of individuals in the strong sense is complete in itself. The heart of this activity is people pursuing their interests without participating in political affairs. The heart of this activity is the modern market economy. However, civil society has a distinctive social, cultural, and ethical character that we cannot understand in purely economic relations. Participants enjoy other forms of free association as well. Hegel’s view of civil society is richer than Marx, who limited it to economics. It is the realm of a network of associations: unions, professional associations, social movements, churches, neighborhoods, etc.

Labor, production, and exchange is a system of needs fulfilled through the market economy. People are concerned with their own separate and particular needs. However, in order to meet those needs, they must enter into economic relationships with others, thereby coming out of themselves and considering the interests of others. What begins as the satisfaction of separate and particular needs becomes a system of interdependence. Individuals inevitably satisfy the needs of each other. In furthering our own interests, we further the economic interests of society, which in turn furthers our own interests. Subjective selfishness becomes a contribution toward the satisfaction of the needs of others. Hegel breaks with Adam Smith and laisez-faire liberalism by maintaining that the market requires government regulation and that the normal operation of the market necessarily leads to the impoverishment of a large number of people. The market appears anarchic and incomprehensible and thus appears alienating. However, individuals within the system promote the common good within a structured system. This is no accident. A system of the formation of the formation needs leads to the division of labor, which leads to increasing interdependence. The many occupations provided by the modern social world allow for the unfolding of human particularity and fall into groupings that are natural and cohesive, such as agriculture, business, and public service. People can choose which natural grouping of which to be a part. In doing so, they also adopt a form of life suitable for them. This division of labor is coherent.

Other associations in which people freely choose to participate, such as trade unions, corporations, churches, become like a second family. However, far from surrendering one’s individual rights, as one does in family, this second family is an affirmation of individual rights. We freely associate with others who have shared interests and concerns. The form of social life they offer is friendship, collegiality, and solidarity. Others recognize us for our skills, abilities, and achievements. They share a common outlook and way of viewing themselves and the world. They have a common articulation of human spirit. As they assist their membership, they take on some of the characteristics of public systems of welfare. In fact, for Hegel, one is so much a part of such corporations that one does not vote directly for political leadership, but through the representatives of the association through which one has freely chosen to participate. Individual citizens play a limited role in the political sphere. A society that failed to exhibit concern its members would be an objectively alienating society.

Poverty is a terrible generated by the basic structure of civil society itself. It may not have a solution. As such, we can legitimately wonder if the modern social world is worthy of our being reconciled to it, given the reality of ongoing poverty. Poverty is material deprivation. Poverty is a condition of destitution, want, and need. These are evils. However, the worst aspect of poverty is that people lack the resources, income and skills required to participate meaningfully in civil and political life. Poverty is a circumstance of alienation. This insight of Marx is likely an accurate description of the situation of the poor. The poor cannot be at home in the modern social world. The inequality of income distribution within the modern social world is one of the best features of this society. As such, the particularity of each member of society asserts itself in unequal income distribution. We cannot define poverty by the contrast between rich and poor. People are not poor just because they have less than others do. Economic and social equality are not ideals worthy of striving for. Yet, society must guarantee the rights of all its citizens. The most disturbing aspect of the modern social world is that it leads to the creation of an underclass. They are part of a culture of poverty. They often exhibit indignation and rage against the rich, the government, and society and general. In addition to being poor, the underclass shares a common hostile outlook. This hostility accurately represents their circumstances. They have a right to meaningful participation, but they know they lack the means to do so. They believe that their condition is the result of the will of society. The modern social world accepts a form of social organization that excludes them from participating in it. On the other hand, they often think that society owes them a living. They lack the will to work and the self-respect that comes form supporting themselves through their own labor. They are often frivolous and lazy.

Poverty has no redeeming moments. The modern social world produces excess wealth; yet, poverty remains a problem that we need to solve. Poverty is not a right of any individual. Therefore, poverty is a matter of deep concern, even if it seems insoluble. Poverty is a serious flaw in the modern social world. However, the freedom contained in the modern social world makes it possible for most people to rise above poverty. Although we could resign ourselves to poverty, that would require focusing on the shortcomings of the world, something all too easy to do.

The political sphere is an arena of republican relations within which citizens can collectively determine and pursue their common good and recognize each other as members of a politically organized community. The political state is government. Hegel included the administration of justice and the bureaucracy in civil society. He viewed civil society as the promotion of the particular interests, and the state as the promotion of general interest. The government provides the institutional context within which civil society can take place. The modern political state enables its members to pursue their social sphere distinct from itself within which they can carry out these pursuits. The fact of civil society within the modern social world is what distinguishes it from antiquity. However, can we view the modern political state as in any way harmonizing these particular interests? Can we unify the citizen and the bourgeois? Can we reconcile the liberties of the ancients and the liberties of the modern? The answer is affirmative. The modern political state is not just a set of institutions. It represents the ideas of liberty, pluralism, and justice. Patriotism toward this kind of government is how we internalize the common good toward which the government strives. We participate in the public discussion of political affairs, pay taxes, and serve in the military. We identify with the common ends of the social world as embodied in the modern political state – in particular, its promotion of freedom. We carry out our everyday activity within the family and civil society with a certain frame of mind. Our private pursuits contribute to the politically organized community of which we are members and with which we share a form of life. In addition to fulfilling private desires, we can rise to the level of acting for the sake of the community in our private lives. We are citizens and bourgeois at the same time. Actualization of ourselves requires meaningful political participation and the exercise of political power. Without the exercise of power, participation is for show.

The modern political state requires dispersal of political power across several branches of government. The reason for this is that no single institution can gain absolute political power. The competition between the authorities (judicial, executive, and legislative) suggests fluctuation of the actual exercise of power at different times in history. The pendulum will swing between them. However, over time, the point is that clear, distinct, and absolute power within the state exists nowhere. Such checks and balances ensure the most full expression of civil society in the political order. The administration of justice provides the legal structure necessary for the regulation of the market economy. The focus of that system is the protection of private property and the contract. Hegel envisioned a constitutional monarchy in which the monarchy and executive branch had most of the power and the legislative branch offered political involvement to the ordinary citizen, but little power.

The system of government bureaucracy regulates and controls civil society: police, utilities and other public works, regulation of the market, public health, education, welfare, and prevention of unemployment. Public authorities must deal with crime, unemployment, and poverty that arise from the contingencies of the market system. The system of justice recognizes people as individuals in the strong sense by protecting their individual rights.

                The advent of the modern political state has brought the horrors of war on a massive scale. War is a normal feature of the modern political state, for it is a permanent part of human existence. The principle of pluralism and self-determination dismisses the idea that a world state could prevent the outbreak of war. Individual states and movements will always have the possibility of using their freedom to resolve disputes violently. The plurality of national peoples in whom the human spirit has actualized itself precludes the existence of a true world state. Individual states actualize themselves by distinguishing themselves from each other and attain recognition as to their independent status in relation to each other. Nations face each other as sovereign powers with no higher power between them capable of enforcing the peaceful settlement. The possibility of war arises out of the natural course of international relations. War is a failure of human social life. Each nation has its separate and particular interests that will conflict with those of other states. Contingencies will arise that lead to war. War has a way of uniting bourgeois involved in their private interests toward their common citizenship in a nation. Such external threats bring a people together as a people. The reality of their shared life becomes clear. It becomes something for which they will fight. The social bond of a people, often not perceived in time of peace, become clear when their nation is attacked. War appears necessary to maintain the internal life of the state. War is not good. It is not, however, an absolute evil. War is an evil with which we can and must live. The good of preserving family, civil life and freedom transcends the relative evil of war. We cannot preserve the benefits of freedom in any other way.

                The question of whether we can experience reconciliation with our social world is the question of whether the social world, can in any sense, be a home. The reason the question arises because of the felt experience of alienation. We feel alienated when we regard social arrangements as foreign, bifurcating, and indifferent or hostile to our needs. We feel split from our social world. We do not “fit in.” Contained within this feeling of alienation is a wish to be at home in the social world; we wish the social world could be a home. The social world is a home only if it makes it possible for its members to actualize themselves both as individuals and as members of society. Actualization as an individual and as a social member is rich, interesting, and attractive. Actualization oneself as an individual is a matter of pursuing separate and particular interests, exercising individual rights, and acting based on private conscience. Actualizing oneself as an individual in the strong sense requires participation in civil society, family, and the political life the state. The family provides development of intimacy and emotional recognition. Civil society provides social membership within which people can pursue their associations. The political state, even if the individual has limits to direct participation, can pursue the common good of their nation through their involvement and votes. In order to actualize ourselves, we do so through the roles of family member, participant in civil society (bourgeois), and involvement as a citizen. We experience alienation from the modern social world because we do not understand the core institutions that enable us to actualize ourselves as individuals and social members. Once understood, we can get to a different place, a place of making peace with the modern social world that we have made. Among the most profound aspirations of modern citizens is the wish to have a form of political participation that is both genuinely meaningful and compatible with the pursuit of one’s private life. The question of how we can combine meaningful political participation with the possibility of leading a private life is a real question of modern political life. We are not satisfied with a social world in which we devote energy toward domestic life and making a living, but none toward citizenship. Further, if we had to devote all our energies toward citizenship and political engagement, we would not be satisfied. The existence of massive political machinery and bureaucracy explains why the desire in terms of citizenship will always be difficult to actualize in our lives.

If the modern social world is to be a home, that world can officially exclude no class of persons from participating in the central arrangements of society. Can we be reconciled to the social world? I commend this project as an exercise of commending the ideal of a social world in which it is possible for all of to be at home.

Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Weaknesses within Modernism

I would like to approach Kierkegaard and Nietzsche in a way that pokes, prods, and points at the weaknesses of an absolute brand of modernism. They use aphorisms, parables, stories, drama, and so on, to point out weaknesses within modernism. Generally, they use paradox in theory and practice in a way that shows moderns they cannot legitimately approach their social world as if it were smooth, logical, mathematical, and machine-like in its operation. Rather, they challenge moderns to move deeper and move toward broader conceptions of individuality and human community. Among their greatest influences is their critique of Christian Europe as a culture. They aided in the separation of Christianity and culture. I would defend the debatable conclusion that this separation will prove an advance for both modern culture and for Christianity. At the same time, I would suggest that both men would not anyone to become their student, follower, or disciple. Such a person takes them too seriously, as they themselves would suggest. They do not construct an alternative vision. They participate in the very society they negatively analyze. I would suggest that if they became teachers and formed a new community that embodied a vision of human community, others would have to take them far more seriously. However, since they do not do so, they grant freedom to others to take them as annoyances that stimulate one toward growth.

Let us begin with an examination of the historical meaning of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.  People have tried to understand this epoch in economic, technological, historical-political, and sociological terms. The overemphasis upon these legitimate advances of modernism leads some philosophers to neglect the significance of individuals who must discover their way in life. Participants in modern society will not find happiness in their lives by fulfilling their social roles. Although these roles are important for discovering such happiness, such roles do not consume the passions and interests of the individual quest for meaning and purpose in life.  

Kierkegaard and Nietzsche have several similarities. They make something new of repetition itself: connect it with a test, with a selection or selective test; make it the supreme object of the will and of freedom. In consequence, they oppose repetition to the laws of Nietzsche. They oppose repetition to moral law, to the point where it becomes the suspension of ethics, a thought beyond good and evil. Repetition appears as the logos of the solitary and the singular, the logos of the private thinker. They oppose repetition not only to the generalities of habit but also to the particularities of memory. For habit manages to draw something new from a repetition contemplated from without. With habit, we act only on the condition that there is a little self within us that contemplates: this extracts the new or general from the pseudo-repetition of particular cases. Memory perhaps recovers the particulars dissolved in generality. These psychological movements are of little consequence: for both Nietzsche and Kierkegaard they fade in the face of repetition proposed as the double condemnation of habit and memory. In this way, repetition is the thought of the future: it is opposed to both the ancient category of reminiscence and the modern category of habit. The difference between them is knowing what it means to produce movement. For Kierkegaard, it is the leap, opposing spiritual movement to logical movement; for Nietzsche, it is the dance, for only Zarathustra’s ape leaps.

They grasped hold upon the transcendent.  For both, reflection is pre-eminently self-reflection.  They have a drive toward the basic and with a passionate love.  They were creative in language.  Music moved them both, and both warned of its seduction.  They created formulas of striking simplicity.  Both leaped toward transcendence, but to a form of transcendence where practically no one could follow.  Kierkegaard leaped to a Christianity that he conceived as an absurd paradox, as decision for utter world negation and martyrdom.  Nietzsche leaped to the eternal return and supermen. They did not want to be mistaken for someone else.  Their self-consciousness was that they witnessed the end of a mode of life that had hung together for centuries.  Kierkegaard moderates this well-grounded self-consciousness through the humility of his Christian attitude and, with both, the psychological knowledge of their failure tempers them.  Both were conscious of being exceptions. Both were terribly lonely.  Yet, their lives had meaning because of providence in the case of Kierkegaard and chance in the case of Nietzsche.  Both had a confusing polarity between the appearance of an absolute and definite demand and shyness, withdrawal, the appearance of not betting anything.  The seductive, the perhaps, the possible is the manner of their discourse. Their attitude betrayed unwillingness to lead. Kierkegaard attacked the Christianity of the church; Nietzsche attacked Christendom as such.  Both acted with sudden force and merciless resolution.  Both attacks were purely negative actions: deeds from truthfulness, not for the construction of a world.  Their common effect was to enchant and then disillusion, to seize and then leave one standing unsatisfied as though leaving one’s hands and hearts empty.  Such is only a clear expression of their own intention: that everything depends upon what their reader by his own inner action makes out of their communication, where there is no specific content as in the special sciences, works of art, philosophical systems, or some accepted prophecy.  They deny every satisfaction. 

The ancient philosophical problem, which appears in the relation of the rational to the non-rational, we must see in a new light through an appropriation of the tradition with our eyes upon Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.  We formulate this fundamental problem as that of reason and existence.  The abbreviated formula signifies no antithesis: rather a connection that at the same time points beyond itself.  The word reason has here its Kantian scope, clarity, and truth.

Philosophy after Kierkegaard and Nietzsche can no longer bring its thought into a single, complete system that philosophers then bring out as a presentation derived from its principles.  It is a question of letting those principles themselves become effective.  Kierkegaard and Nietzsche distinguish themselves from the other great philosophers in that both consciously subverted philosophy itself: one in favor of faith in absurd paradox and martyrdom as the only true life, the other in order to arrive at atheism.  Together they make clear what can befall philosophy because it is not the only possibility open to people.

Kierkegaard and Nietzsche become primary sources for Existentialism.

Existentialism remained in idealistic bonds.  The idealistic component is a political function.  The notion of absolute freedom of choice is an illusion. Existentialism takes the inevitable, namely, our existence, and makes into a choice. They have taken the non-academic pathos and established it academically.


                Because of his own ceaseless polemics against Hegel, it is all too easy not to notice his positive debts to Kant. In fact, Kant sets the philosophical scene for Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard is primarily a writer; the parallel in philosophy is with Plato. His pseudonymous writings parallel Plato’s dialogues, in that it is difficult to tell with which voice Plato speaks.

            Kierkegaard viewed comedy as more reflective than tragedy and thus a higher art form. Comedy is distinctively modern. It approaches the frontiers of the aesthetic. He linked the category of humor with the beginnings of the religious and Christian life. The borderline between the aesthetic and the religious is crossed when the comic dimension has, through reflection, evacuated the substantiality and externality of the tragic, and when the subject, in full consciousness of the objective meaninglessness of his situation, commits himself to that situation without reserve, a commitment that he named repentance. Art raises the question as to the limits of art and invites reflection on what lies beyond those limits. One perspective on what transcends the aesthetic is provided by psychology in its concern for personal responsibility and the awakening of freedom. In the theater the young person is presented with a manifold of personalities that serve as models with whom he is able to identify or as whom he is able to imagine himself to be. Here he can try on and cast off a succession of personae without the responsibility of actual relationships and orient himself toward a future that he will have chosen from the multiplicity of possibilities. The theater provides a means by which this play of possibilities can become visible. When the play ends we must leave the theater and face the real world, the child must put away childish things and confront the responsibilities of adult life. However, does this therefore mean that art has no meaning or value for the adult? This would not seem to be Kierkegaard’s intended meaning. Moreover, one form of art exists in which ethical maturity is essential: the novel. Novels confront us with a life-view. The structure of such a life-view is analogous to the structure of art itself since it is defined by the mutual interpenetration of ideal and real, inner and outer, in a manner that belongs to the immediacy of present experience more than to the reflection of philosophical investigation. The difference is that the achievement of a life-view must happen in life before art can reflect it. In the absence of such a life-view a novel will either be merely a platform for a theory or have a finite and incidental contact with the flesh and blood of the author. A doctrinaire novel seeks to propagate an idea in a manner that is untrue to the concreteness of the empirical manifold of character, plot, and circumstance. One moment of maturation in the development of the self decisive in determining the place of art is the transition to the freedom and responsibility of adult life or as the acquisition of a life-view. It is also the moment of anxiety. Anxiety marks the final frontier between the aesthetic and the religious, for in anxiety the immediacy that is integral to the world of the aesthetic evaporates before the demands of freedom.

            In The Concept of Anxiety itself, he characterizes that leap in terms of the Fall. Yet, he also made clear that anxiety might mark the dawn of freedom. Insofar as the aesthetic culminates in anxiety, then, it is not unequivocally wicked. The experience of art may lie in a positive and constructive way along the path to freedom. Kierkegaard’s own view of art is informed by a historical model of spirit’s journey from the immediacy of nature toward its final self-realization as spirit, a journey recapitulated in the individual’s development from the immediacy of childhood through adolescence to adult life. Yet the situation of the individual cannot be abstracted from society. To stay with the aesthetic is to refuse the religious. If art and religion are the two great resources that the modern world possesses by which to give meaning and value to life, this now means either art or religion. The aesthetic has become the inauthentic. Despite his strictures on the aesthetic and the implied critique of the world f art, his own writing has a powerful imaginative and poetic character, continually challenging the conventional boundaries between philosophy and poetry.

            Concluding Unscientific Postscript is a sustained satire against the idea that philosophy can be systematic science. Existence is a system, for God. It cannot be a system for any existing person. System and conclusiveness correspond to each other, but existence is the opposite. Existence must be annulled in the eternal before the system concludes itself. A word picture may help. A dancer leaping high brings admiration. If the dancer tried to fly, we would laugh. Leaping means belonging to the earth. The leap is momentary. Flying means being set free from the earth, something reserved for winged creatures or inhabitants of another planets. Perhaps those who think they have created a system will find their true readers there. This word picture suggests that Kierkegaard thinks Hegel has indeed leaped higher than other philosophers. Hegel is the greatest of the philosophers, and that his system is more comprehensive and more systematic than the great systems of Aristotle, Aquinas, Spinoza, or Kant. Yet, he soils his magnificent achievement by making an absurd claim about finality and completeness. Suddenly the great dancer looks ridiculous. The Concept of Irony is the most Hegelian work of Kierkegaard. With Judge William and his talk about marriage, the basis of the ethical life is socialization rather than science. Judge William is an Hegelian. For hegel is an Aristotelian who repudiates the Platonic, Thomistic, and Kantian models in favor of an ethics in which the self has no immediate relation to the good but only one mediated through the laws and customs of one’s people. Hegel identifies these as family, civil society, and state. Hegel also focuses on marriage. Judge William makes a typically Hegelian move when makes marriage the key to the ethical sphere. The conclusion of Either/Or is a sermon. The call of the infinite is the disturbing reminder that the laws and customs of the people are finite. Even when such laws and customs sincerely seek to embody the good, they are shot through with contingency and corruption. Both in their aspiration and in their achievement, they are at best approximations. This means that when I have done all that my society requires of me and am an honored role model within it, i have still not fulfilled the infinite requirement that the ethical purports to express. A religious way of putting this is to say that in relation to God i am always in the wrong. Our ethical life embodied in laws and customs, institutions and practices of my society, that are always in the wrong once God is on the scene. For God is the Infinite and Eternal, while we are finite and sinful. In Fear and Trembling, Hegel is a main target. The system is the abolition rather than perfection of Christian faith. Hegel uses the term Moralitat for the historically unmediated ethics of pure reason that we might call Platonic, Thomistic, or Kantian. Such theories abstract from moral experience too radically to be adequate it. Moral philosophy needs to orient itself to the ethical life, the embodied laws, customs, institutions, and practices of the people to whom the philosopher belongs. This conception of the ethical includes the religious within it. In this work, Abraham is lost unless the laws and customs of his people are only the penultimate norms of his life, ultimately subordinate to a higher law. Johannes de silentio calls this the teleological suspension of the ethical. He claims that to be seriously religious is to have a higher allegiance than to the socialization involved in ethical life. In Hegel, the universal has become the concrete social order. The polity and practices of the social order stand over against the particular individual. The believing soul never identifies the law of the land with the law of God. The teleological suspension of the ethical is the rejection of modernity’s ultimacy. In both Marx and Kierkegaard, Hegel is seen as the illegitimate legitimizer of an order hostile to genuinely human life. In Philosophical Fragments, speculation is a mode of objectivity in which the finitude of the subject is stripped away for the sake of an objective, universal, timeless apprehension of the truth. Hegelian speculation is not playing the same game as Christian faith. In Concluding Unscientific Postscript Climacus constantly taunts Hegel with he suggestion that the system is not finished, the incompleteness to which he points means that the whole is missing and with it the truth. Such an observation is troublesome for anti-foundationalist system like that of Hegel.

                        Kierkegaard conceives of irony as a way of life. Irony indicates a particular way of engaging in interpersonal activity in general. His interest is primarily in articulating the distinctive structure of this more general phenomenon. He examines what it is to speak ironically in order to determine what is it to live ironically. The conception of existential irony in The Concept of Irony contains an internal tension that renders the ironist’s way of life unstable, self-undermining. The account in Control Unscientific Postscript is modified to eliminate the tension in the earlier conception. In ordinary speech, I commit myself to what I say and leave myself open to criticism if what I say turns out to be false. In ironic speech, the speaker is free from such commitment. The more one speaks in riddles that are left up to the hearer to solve, the more one is an ironic speaker. To speak with irony is to say something that can be taken in a variety of ways, without intending the hearer to take it in any one of those ways. Irony consists in enjoying the freedom that comes from playing at conversation, tossing out statements that can be taken in a variety of ways, and letting the hearer who takes this to be a real conversation flounder among interpretative possibilities. The ironic speaker has the freedom that comes from not having the responsibility he or she would have had in making a single, clear-cut meaning. The ironic speaker has the freedom of disengagement. The ironic speaker has no commitment to fulfill the intention of what the speaker says. The ironic speaker does not take the situation seriously. The ironic speaker acts as if engaged in the conversation, even while refusing to engage in the objective of discourse – communication. The person who lives ironically takes part in social life, pays taxes, goes to work, and attends PTA meetings. Yet, all this is a game the ironic person does take seriously. The person acts as if participating in social life. The person living ironically plays along with social practices and leaves it to others to consider whether the person takes them seriously. As to the persons who do participate in the social world, the person who lives ironically refuses in personally invest in such relationships. Such a person takes seriously neither the social world nor the people in it. The person living ironically shows extreme opposition between outer behavior and inner state. The goods of the social world are beneath the person living ironically. To try to change the social world, inveigh against it, or withdraw from it, invests the outward world with more importance than this person desires. The play-acting at being in the social world is a radical repudiation of the social world. The ironist has no positive conception of a concrete form of life that would not reduce to immediacy. The person living ironically has a nihilistic attitude toward social life and those who participate in it. However, the person living ironically can achieve such a life only by arbitrarily privileging his or her own stance or disengaging from that stance. It has an inherent instability in that irony cannot realize itself. In Concluding Unscientific Postscript Climacus describes three existential spheres, the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious. Irony constitutes the transitional between the aesthetic and the ethical. The stance of humor constitutes the transitional element between the ethical and the religious. His comments on religiousness A in that the person devotes oneself to reflecting in such a way as to never have a life, never putting reflections into practice and preferring live by fantasizing about the lives of others.

            I would now like to discuss skepticism and realism in the context of Concluding Unscientific Postscript. In the arena of epistemology, Kierkegaard has the view that all contact with the external world involves faith or belief. The idea is that knowledge of the external world is never objectively certain. All such knowledge involves a risk, the possibility of error, and such a possibility must be annulled by the decision not to take the skeptical attitude. Knowledge of the external world requires one to reject the life-view of the skeptic. He seems committed to metaphysical realism. The objectivity and mind-independent character of existent objects makes knowledge of such objects uncertain in character. Historical knowledge is approximate in character, implying that our knowledge approximates to an ideal. Existing objects have an illusive character grounded in their independence of us, and therefore of our concepts and methods of knowing. This indicates both the limits of human knowledge and the realistic, independent character of what one knows. He rejects the foundationalist view of thinkers like Descartes or Husserl that contact with the external world must have a given and a method upon which one can rely to produce certain, objective knowledge. Yet, objective knowledge is a valid ideal. Further, he accepts that an independent reality exists that we attempt to know. The mind independent character of reality is what gives belief its risky character. Belief is the human attitude that takes this risk and takes what one apprehends as real. Certain beliefs are are natural in that life itself calls them forth. Skepticism is difficult in that one must work to be a skeptic. In what sense is truth subjectivity? He applies it to the truth of human existence, meaning moral and religious truth that reflects upon how one should live a human life. How can a person learn to live truly? What is it that makes the life of a person true? Whatever knowledge we gain about such matter we gain through having the right kind of subjectivity. God desires humans to live truly. God has arranged the world in such a matter that finding moral and religious truth is linked to the development of the right kind of subjectivity.

            Concluding Unscientific Postscript discusses existence, subjectivity, emotion, and virtue in ways that should remind us of Aristotle and Aquinas. Subjectivity and existence evoke the thought of character. His concern that his generation forgot what it means to exist and what inwardness is suggests that they have forgotten what it is to be a person of integrity and character. They are oblivious to the serious possibility of living a life of intense virtue, ethical or Christian. His writings are all about proper and improper emotions and action, and he stresses the role of choice in acquiring and exemplifying these. Genuine existence or subjectivity is proper pathos. The mature self is a proper synthesis of passion and reflection. Passion without reflection is immature, unformed, chaotic, and childish immediacy. Reflection without passion is personal emptiness. He identifies character with essential passion, in a manner similar to Aristotle’s identification of character with proper desire. The ideal individual is one whose passion is directed by reflection given to ethical religious substance by passion. Any concern can give rise to any of the whole range of emotions, depending on how the subject views the circumstances insofar as they impinge on the concern. One cannot expect much moral change from standard philosophizing. The kind of change needed involves emotional response. A change of emotion signals a change of concern. The problem of becoming a Christian is filled with pathos and dialectical, a matter of existence, developing a character befitting an actual individual human being. Getting one’s emotions right and getting one’s thoughts right are intimately connected. His Upbuilding Discourses repeatedly instruct the reader as to how to think so as to have or not have given emotion. As a dialectician of existence, Kierkegaard is an explorer of possibilities of human character, involving an exploration of possible patterns of emotional responsiveness. The person of philosophical wisdom has facility with the concepts in question, but this knowledge does not make much difference in one’s own life. Anyone can have mere thoughts. It is another thing to exist in these thoughts, for them to become the thoughts that shape one’s character. To exist in this way is for those thoughts to shape one’s emotional responses, and thus such responses, in turn, are a kind of immediate impression of the way things are the most natural metaphor for which is sense perception. Emotions are indicators of character, inwardness, subjectivity, and existential depth. The person is somehow actualized in a special way in emotion and action. In emotion and passionate action, the person is actually present in a way that he or she is not at other times. In the term existence, Kierkegaard captures the idea that people who lack essential passion and passionate action are not quite all there as persons. Such persons are without character. He is more aware than Aristotle that reflection may lose its connection with character and in this idling condition undermine it. Emotions can disconnect from the self and its character-constituting concerns. If one wants to know what stage a person exists in, the best indicator is the pattern of one’s emotions.

            If people know about Kierkegaard, they know his call for a leap of faith. He made it clear that this leap involves freedom and pathos rather than logic and dialectic. An inductive inference is a decision that p is true. The reorienting shift in perspective that occurs in such leaps of inference can be both qualitative and free. We can view all non-tautological conclusions as leaps broaden the notion of decision and willing involved in a leap. We might refer to a Gestalt shift. The well known duck/rabbit picture suggests that qualitative and free transitions can be accounted for without invoking a deliberate, self-reflective act of willpower. In a situation in which a Gestalt shift occurs, we initially see only one possibility. At some point, after concentrated attention or perhaps coaching, a different figure comes into focus for us. We can decide to look for the figure we are told is there and cannot yet see, but we cannot decide to see or recognize it. Recognizing the new and qualitatively different figure is not the direct result of willing or the necessary result of the effort to look for it. It represents a critical threshold change. A threshold concept refers to a state or condition that gradual change does not express. Water becomes hotter by degrees, even though it does not boil gradually. Explosive material becomes hotter, but it does not explode gradually. The qualitative change at a critical threshold is decisive since any increases after that threshold is superfluous, but such a change is a function of what precedes it. Although the change is not just cumulative, it relates closely to what goes before. Something registers during the process leading to the shift. Although the transition is a qualitative one, that which precedes it nevertheless anchors it. The category of critical threshold illustrates not only the directionality of change but also how a model of qualitative shift can incorporate and accommodate continuity. The transition is a function of what precedes it, without coming by degrees with increases of evidence or attentive effort. Kierkegaard himself connects the concept of the leap with the idea of such critical thresholds when he speaks of the leap by which water turns to ice. The question is whether such a model does justice to Climacus’s insistence on the risk involved in leaps to faith. The leaping requires letting go, which becomes a transition of pathos. The pathos in the religious quest consists in the way that the existing individual ventures everything in relation to an eternal happiness. The need for the risk of one’s thought in Christianity is that it asks one to believe against the understanding. Passion and emotion are an eager outreaching of the mind toward something. This active dimension of the passions and emotions suggests engagement or interested attention that interpretation constitutes. The leap becomes surrender of interestedness, of something grasping or decisively engaging the individual, accounting for both letting go and for passion. A paradoxical tension is involved in any inference or revisioning that is not logically necessary. I do not know if this account of the leap does justice to the radical nature of Kierkegaard’s leap between Socratic immanent religiousness (religiousness A) and the religion of revelation or Christian religiousness (religiousness B). The teacher embodies a paradoxical message. Embracing paradox need not entail a muscular willpower model of willing. We might understand willing more along the lines of approving affirmation than of brute creation out of nothing.

            What can we know?

            Whom should we love? Jesus died on the cross to demonstrate the kind of love we need.

            Are we meaningfully free? Arminian thought suggests that human beings can make no move toward God without the influence of grace. Kierkegaard and his pseudonyms offer a consistent Arminian account of grace and freedom. Such a commitment suggests universal access to the highest things that human life can attain, including salvation. Further, this position suggests commitment to equal responsibility before the highest things. The grace of God is indispensable and resistible, a necessary but not a sufficient condition, for human faith, hope, and love. Third, it suggests commitment to human freedom. Augustine focused virtue and vice in the will instead of the Socratic focus on intellect. Kierkegaard radicalizes inwardness by focusing on passion and will and emphasizing the poverty of reason. We apprehend essential truths through passion and will rather than abstract reflection. This religious romanticism considers emotion an indispensable means of arriving at existential truths about God and one self. No external power, such as the sin of Adam or the irresistible grace of God explain anything significant and do not complete moral choice, or decisively hurt or harm a hum being. Moral and religious choices arise from passionate commitment rather than rational assent. True freedom is voluntary consent to grace that takes the form of a passionate leap. True freedom is yes to gifted reality that looks paradoxical. One can focus emotion in the wrong direction and make mistakes with pathos-filled choice. Faith is above reason rather than against reason.

            Fear and Trembling is a critique of both the popular and cultured Christianity of his day and a reminder of the primitive challenge of Christian faith. He believed that the cultural triumph of Christian civilization effaced the primitive meaning of Christianity. As an antidote to spiritual lethargy, Johannes de silentio devises what amounts to a theological shock treatment. He may rely on Kant, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone for his portrayal of Abraham. He portrays Abraham, the knight of faith, in the full terror of his encounter with the divine command. The use of Abraham replaces the understanding of faith as acceptance of dogmatic truth. The book explores the psychology of faith. Faith is a lived commitment, but seeks to understand its precise mental content for the believer. Faith is quiet and difficult inner movements of the spirit. One movement of faith is relinquishing the desire of one’s heart. The knight of faith embodies the second movement. The knight renounces the love that is the substance of the life of the knight, experiencing reconciliation in pain. Nevertheless, the knight has faith that the knight will attain faith by virtue of the absurd fact that for God all things are possible. The capacity for such knighthood is available to every human being. He imagines a knight faith residing in the Copenhagen of his day. No outward signs reveal this person’s spiritual depth. In every way he resembles a bourgeois. Inwardly, he makes the movement of infinity, feeling the pain of renouncing everything. However, renouncing all claims to the finite is not renouncing all care for it. The knight is at home and delights in the finite because the knight cares, even while renouncing all ownership claim on the finite. The book also approaches ethics in its consideration of the norms that should guide the conduct of the committed Christian. He suggests that Abraham is a type for the loss and recovery represented by sin and forgiveness.

            Repetition has Constantin Constantinus wondering whether repetition is possible or whether one can restore a world or loved one now lost. He predicts that repetition will supplant or defeat the Hegelian reliance on mediation. Repetition is also superior to the Greek conception of recollection. Repetition is recollection forward. Repetition gives up the idea of self-sufficiency. Realizing that the outcome of our search for roots or love or world is not under our control may e a necessary condition of openness toward emerging roots or love or world, and hence the satisfaction of the need. Giving up on repetition as an explicit task is preparation for repetition as world-bestowal. He connects repetition with a host of other metaphysical concepts, such as freedom, consciousness, and so on. Repetition is a task for freedom. Approached from the side of a self becoming itself, a task for freedom is a task for self. The task of self is increasing its freedom, increasing its openness toward the possibility of repetition. One does not attain repetition by willpower alone. One labors to remain open, in the midst of devastating loss. Individuals are both performers and audience in the music of creation and self development. However, as one moves toward the religious, one becomes less an actor than an alert receptor. Here, the job of freedom is sustaining receptivity. A non-despairing self is ready at every instant both to resign the world and get it back again as gift. The world one gets is in part a function of the self one is. This self is tempered, alert, and open. The self one gets is in part a function of the world one has. Self and world become reciprocally articulate. Repetition signifies freedom’s possibilities bequeathed to otherwise despairing individuals. A non-despairing self depends on the resources of repetition to sustain its freedom, and the freedom of a self is expressed in terms of its receptivity to the bestowal of such resources. Repetition is also consciousness that can turn on itself. We can have worries, and worries about our worries. This capacity to reflect and to take up is the core of human freedom. I am bound in some respects. I am also free both to reflect on this fact from various perspectives and to take up one of those perspectives as the one that is mine. Repetition requires for identity that we step back from these common currents to a stance ready for individual evaluations and individual self-choice. We are seekers as singular, interested individuals. The problem with all metaphysics is that it provides a perfectly general theory that does not provide a special purchase for the needs of anyone in particular. Metaphysics attempts to escape the world and then discovering that this objectivity removes us from the very world we need to explain and inhabit. Our metaphysics meets with disaster. It cannot give me meaning if it remains bound to universality in a way that excludes my particularity and to objectivity in a way that excludes my passions. If forgiveness arrives it must come from a more than moral or transcendental source. Repetition becomes atonement or forgiveness from above, a transcendental gift of world renewal in which we resume our moral task. Repetition flows from eternity. Pursuit of repetition is pursuit of eternity, the answer to a metaphysical, personal, and existential interest. One gets the world back again, repeated, but now under the aegis of infinite value, limitless importance. When we desire the loss of something loved and lost, we desire repetition.

            The Concept of Anxiety  is a struggle to lead a good and true life is a struggle against or with anxiety. Haufniensis recognized the connection between anxiety and sin or evil. When we think about sin in any mood other than that of earnestness, we are not so much grappling with the idea of sin as we are expressing and ultimately intensifying our own sinfulness. For most of his nominally Christian readership, the story of the Fall is a myth like many other myths. Haufniensis invites us to shrug off our smug sense of superiority and take the Genesis account as though it were telling us the truth about ourselves: the truth that sin comes into being for each of us by our sinning. We cannot explain the fact that we are sinners, but Haufniensis explains the possibility of sin. Anxiety makes sin possible. He defines anxiety as the possibility of freedom. Though anxiety is the experience of the possibility of freedom, it is the disclosure of freedom actualized in a less than perfect form. In anxiety, we use our freedom to make ourselves feel powerless or unfree. However, in order for freedom to become entangled in itself, it must be actual. On the other hand, one could contend that though anxiety is the possibility of freedom, it is only with the renunciation of anxiety that freedom is actualized. Freedom exists as we free ourselves from the bondage of sin and free ourselves from the anxiety out of which sin leaps forth. We sin out of anxiety. We sin freely only after we experience anxiety. Anxiety is an affect with cognitive content. He distinguishes anxiety from fear in that fear has an object and anxiety does not. Anxiety is about the future and our impatience with it. In terms of the structure of the self, anxiety is a manifestation of the fact that we are free. Anxiety is a shining forth of our spiritual nature. It reflects our relationship to possibility and the future. Anxiety predisposes us to sin and is the consequence of sin. The stranger to anxiety is a spirit-less. The first sin is a product of weakness, rather than defiance. The feeling of being unable to rise above our desires is a trap door conjured up by the cunning of desire to give us leave to do what we desire. The powerlessness that leads to sin is self-intensified weakness. Many of the states that we feel we are suffering from are in fact states that we have either conjured up or amplified. Anxiety is something that we want to flee from and yet love. We love our freedom, just as we fear it, and loving it we can scarcely take our mind’s eye off it. People cling to their anxieties and other internal wounds. Anxiety emanates from us. The Christian knows that earthly life is rich in horrors, and yet has the courage to keep finite things in their proper perspective. To be anxious about freedom’s possibility is to be anxious about what one will do with one’s freedom. It is to be anxious about being in sin. What is a person to do when his worst nightmare has come true? Inasmuch as our worst nightmare refers to something external, something that does not come from us, the actualization of our personal apocalypse should not be nearly as anxiety provoking as the anxiety about being in sin. Just as fear of illness can produce illness, so anxiety about sin leads to sin. Anxiety about sin can lead to the sin of being dishonest with ourselves about our sinfulness.

            I would now like to pursue the view of despair in Kierkegaard in Either/Or and Anti-Climacus in The Sickness unto Death. Despair is suspecting that one is powerless to achieve some cherished goal, but continuing against the odds or all reason, to attempt to achieve it. From another direction, despair is to act in accordance with the facts, to give up the attempt because the goal is impossible. Despair is desire to rid oneself of one’s self that makes one unhappy being it, with all the defects and historically contingent situation in which one must live one’s life. Hegel said that consciousness is on course for knowledge of the truth about itself. On the way to such knowledge, consciousness makes a succession of progressively better stabs at what real knowledge is and what it is. This path of doubt or despair shows that every time consciousness recognizes itself in activity, it proves inadequate and becomes a loss of self. Despair is the realization that one is not the self one assumed. However, since one has not yet envisioned an alternative, the despair is total. In Hegel, despair is the necessary preliminary to a better standpoint for grasping one’s oneness with the world. The sense of hopelessness here is a sign that one has reached a point where one must re-conceive the goal of oneness in a way that offers new hope of grasping it. In Kierkegaard, the new standpoint is one that enables the one who despairs to comprehend suffering, in the sense of accepting it as an essential part of life rather than as an in-principle avoidable intrusion. For Kierkegaard, the journey toward selfhood becomes increasingly strenuous as the gap between life as given immediately and what fulfillment requires widens. Impatience with the eternal is the link we need to Anti-Climacus’s despair. This despair is not the idea of a propellant but of a retardant. It is not the loss of one self inadequately conceived, the losing of which then makes room constructively for another and more adequately conceived self. On the contrary, despair does not want to be a self otherwise conceived than the self one finds it more congenial to be. Despair does not want there to be any more adequate conception. Despair becomes unwillingness to live up to an expectation of selfhood, and thus he links the notion of self with that of a goal or telos that is the measure of what it means to become a self. Everyone has a weakness defined as addiction to the world, an analysis that suggests that finite properties do not exhaustively identify human beings. Despair as weakness is anything that counts as failure to adopt the position of one’s singularity. This might be because it has not yet occurred to one that is singular in this way. Although most people view despair as loss of earthly, for Anti-Climacus it is the loss of eternal, which amounts to wanting to rid oneself of oneself.  Being oneself is sustaining the synthesis of finite and infinite, bringing off the synthesis in ethical activity that one cannot ground intellectually. Becoming oneself would be successfully grounding oneself in God, going on doing that in one’s allotted time and place, not engaging in the struggle to be doing that. Negatively, one can understand the synthesis simply as a juxtaposition of opposites, the task being to get them together as opposites. One carries out the task only with the help of God.

The element of arbitrariness in our moral culture was first presented in Kierkegaard’s book, Either/Or. It has three central features.

The first is the connection between its mode of presentation and its central thesis. He presents a choice between the ethical and the aesthetic, which is not the choice between good and evil. Rather, it represents the choice whether to choose in terms of good and evil. At the heart of the aesthetic way of life is the attempt to lose the self in the immediacy of present experience. The paradigm of aesthetic expression is the romantic lover who immerses the self in passion. By contrast, the paradigm of the ethical is marriage, a state of commitment and obligation through time, in which the past and the future bind themselves to the present. Different concepts, incompatible attitudes, and rival premises inform each of the two ways of life. This idea destroys the whole tradition of a rational moral culture.

The second feature of the book is the deep internal inconsistency between its concept of radical choice and its concept of the ethical. It presents the ethical as that realm in which principles have authority over us independently of our attitudes, preferences and feelings. The contradiction in Kierkegaard’s doctrine is plain. This concept of authority as excluding reason is a modern concept, fashioned in a culture to which the notion of authority is alien and repugnant, so that appeals to authority appear irrational.

A third feature of the book is the conservative and traditional character of the ethical, in promise keeping, truth telling, and benevolence. He is providing a new practical and philosophical underpinning for an older and inherited way of life. This deeply incoherent combination of the novel and the inherited is the logical outcome and the Enlightenment’s project to provide a rational foundation for and justification of morality.

Kierkegaard looked upon the Christianity of his day as upon an enormous deception in which we think of God as a fool.  Such Christianity has nothing to do with that of the New Testament.  He identifies two ways. One way maintains the deception through tricks and conceals the real conditions of Christianity, and then everything comes to nothing. The other way honestly confesses the misery that in truth, today, not one single individual is born who can pass for a Christian in the sense of the New Testament.  Not one of us is a Christian, but rather we live in a pious softening of Christianity.  The confession will show if it leaves anything true in this honesty, if it has the approval of Providence.  If not, then everything must again be broken so that in the horror, individuals can arise again who can support the Christianity of the New Testament.

            One way to understand the Christian ethics of Works of Love is in the context of Kant’s Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. Kant accounts for the moral gap by arguing that there is radical evil in human nature. Each of us has a tendency toward evil that humanity brings upon itself. However, since humanity receives the moral command  that we ought to be better people, then humanity must be able to be better. Everyone must do as much as possible to become better people, and only then we can expect divine help. We are responsible for the shipwreck we make of our lives through sin. Having become sinful, we can at best narrow the moral gap by trying to make progress from bad to better. The ethics of Kierkegaard are at least demanding as Kant. He sets forth an ethics of love. How are we to love? Only if love of neighbor is a duty, Kierkegaard supposes, can it be rendered invulnerable to changes in the lover’s emotions, moods, and tastes in virtue of being motivated by a stable sense of duty. One who is in despair cleaves to a particular finite and temporal good with an infinite passion only properly directed to an eternal good. The command to love makes it a duty to love despite unhappiness, pain, and suffering. Of course, not giving up on love in such circumstances requires great courage, and it may seem impossible for humans to muster up such courage when pain and suffering are extreme. Three things threaten to destroy our loves: changes in our inclinations and feelings, in the objects we love, and the unhappiness, pain, and suffering that can lead to despair. Such things destroy erotic and friendship love, but do not destroy agape love. Eros and friendship rest on exclusive preferences. Agape involves self-denial, does not play favorites, and is all-inclusive. God assists us in loving the neighbor in the right way. Life is like actors on a stage. We play various roles in our lives. When the curtain falls, we are just human beings. Further, equality in life corresponds to equality in death. The dissimilarities on stage are just clothing for the scene. Christianity takes dissimilarities to be garments that hang loosely on people. If there is an inner glory in each of us, many will still be thrust back by the command to love the neighbor. Some will think it foolish even to look for the image of God in all those they encounter. Some will look but fail to see it. Others will write off ostensible discernments of inner glory as illusions fostered by religious sentimentality. The light of eternity shines at best dimly and fitfully in the lives of most people. All too often, we can see nothing of the image of God in our enemies and in those who lack the qualities we cherish in the beloved or the friend. We cannot expect to close the moral gap. We can only expect to bridge it occasionally with divine assistance. We can also anticipate continuing to sin by violating the love command hence continuing to need forgiveness. The moral life is at its best a progress from bad to better. Imitators of Christ must be prepared and willing to suffer. What is the difference between an admirer and an imitator? Admiration can undermine an adequate response to the moral demand that we imitate Christ. The admirer will make no sacrifices, renounce nothing, give up nothing, and will not transform his life. The admirer will not be what is admired and will not let his life express it. Imitators exasperate admirers. Anti-Climacus in Practice in Christianity widens the moral gap. It becomes inevitable to fall when he has set the standard for imitating Christ so high.

            One way to read Upbuilding Discourses is showing the path of religiousness A in Concluding Unscientific Postscripts. One cannot safeguard Christian truth by institutions. Christendom becomes an enemy of Christianity. He also rejected church participation in the civil political reforms. He fought against the false value placed on the social. Reform, societies, political participation quickly deteriorate into mere power games played for group interests, into a caricature of the community as a whole. A Christian social ethic requires individual persons and relations of personal trust. He suspected that social Christianity would always give priority to the collective over the individual. Kierkegaard protested the disappearance of human and religious individuality, against the leveling of the Christian teaching of reconciliation. He proclaimed the existential truth that salvation has become visible, believable, and ethically binding.




I would like to begin with the new philosophical spirit of which Nietzsche prophesied. Every profound spirit needs a mask.  Even more, around every profound spirit a mask is growing continually, owing to the constantly false, namely shallow, interpretation of every word, every step, ever sign of life he or she gives.  Are these coming philosophers new friends of truth?  That is probable enough, for all philosophers so far have loved their truths.  However, they will certainly not be dogmatists.  It must offend their pride if their truth is supposed to be for everyone.  This is the secret wish of dogmatic aspirations.  The philosopher of the future says, “My judgment is my judgment,” no one else is easily entitled to it.  One must shed the bad taste of wanting to agree with many.  If we have our own why of life, we shall get along with almost any how.  He mistrusts those who systematize. The will to a system is a lack of integrity. Socrates was a misunderstanding; the whole improvement-morality, including the Christian, was a misunderstanding.  Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.

Instead of some supposed total view of the actual and cultural situation, rather we philosophize in consciousness of a situation that again leads to the final limits and bases of the human reality.  Today, no one can develop completely and clearly the intellectual problem that grow out of such a situation.  We live in a seething cauldron of possibilities, continually threatened by confusion, but always ready in spite of everything to rise up again.  In philosophizing, we must always be ready, out of the present questioning, to elicit those ideas that bring forth what is real to us: that is, our humanity.  These ideas are possible when the horizon remains unlimited, the realities clear, and the real questions manifest. 

            He derives his models and metaphors from diverse sources, availing himself of the different ways of thinking variously associated with them, precisely in order to play them off against each other, and to avoid locking himself into any one or particular cluster of them. They afford him means of discovering and envisioning an expanding repertoire of perspectives upon the matters with which he is concerned, and so of developing and sharpening what he calls the many and different eyes needed to contribute to a growing and deepening comprehension. Connecting and integrating these models and metaphors requires both the agility and the ability to achieve the comprehensive look he asserts to be needful for the philosopher. It also requires the capacity and readiness to learn and the conceptual and interpretive creativity that set such philosophers apart from both dogmatists and all mere philosophical laborers. Essential also are uncompromising honesty and intellectual integrity. Perspective characterizes his strategy for teasing out aspects of the truth about the many matters that concern him. Truth has not yielded itself to philosophical dogmatists in the past. He would appear to be optimistic for this kind of philosopher and inquiry. He constantly advocates making attempts to position oneself for a view that will be more comprehensive, loess superficial and naïve, less skewed by all too human motivations, freer of the fashions and preoccupations typical of one’s own time, and more honest than those most people and philosophers are willing to settle for, or are unable to rise above. He frequently refers to viewing things from a height. It suggests the attainability of a perspective that he takes as privileged in relation to others. Even if we cannot do much more than comprehend things human and ourselves, this will at least be something. The game one plays is a much trickier and more delicate business, in which such assaults are doomed to failure, and a sensitive mix of more indirect approaches is much more likely to be successful, even though success in achieving the desire of one’s heart is never complete and final, and one can never be certain of its attainment. His first order of business is to make his point through a vivid figure of speech guaranteed to get our attention, rather than demonstrate logic or math. We must rid ourselves not only of dogmatic ways of thinking and proceeding but also of the many old superstitions. Human life is relational. Particular creatures and types of creatures come to exist and preserve themselves. The key to comprehending anything is to learn to appreciate the relationships involved. The only way to do this is by acquiring the eyes needed to discern these relationships in different cases. An appreciation of the ways in which all life involves the establishment of and operation within perspectives is a step toward getting these matters right.

We can make sense of Nietzsche as a product of the Enlightenment he purports to castigate. It was Nietzsche’s historic achievement to understand more clearly than any other philosopher not only that what purported to be appeals to objectivity were in fact expressions of subjective will, but also the nature of the problems that this posed for moral philosophy. He is the philosopher of the present age. Nietzsche’s moral philosophy is marched specifically against Aristotle’s by virtue of the historical role that each plays. Was it right to reject Aristotle? The power of Nietzsche’s position depends upon the truth of one central thesis. All rational vindications of morality manifestly fail and that therefore one explains belief in the tenets of morality in terms of a set of rationalizations that conceal the fundamentally non-rational phenomena of the will.

In apparent contradiction to Nietzsche’s own assertion that he does not write for the mob, his doctrines have been disseminated throughout the general public, and not the least among people who have never heard his name or read a page of his voluminous writings. We cannot understand Nietzsche without grasping his genius. We cannot appreciate the dangers of his political program if we do not perceive the validity of much of his diagnosis of Western society. His power arises from his unique combination of psychological profundity and literary subtlety.

An important element of his philosophical approach is his attack against the person, instead of addressing his attack to his or her thesis or argument. The problem with this attack on the person is that others are imperfect. One can always question motive. It reduces a possibly good thesis or argument to the faults and foibles of its promulgator, thus eliminating or eclipsing or search for the truth.  He also assumes moral superiority to others. In his view, morality has the motivation of insecurity, resentment, and revenge. By uncovering such devious motives and emotions in others, he cast suspicion on their ideas and values. His style caricaturizes, has a prophetic character, has a social critic perspective, and even has a gossip character. Humiliation is his style. He wants to shock us. He wants to disgust us. He wants us to see through the well-rationalized surface of traditional morality to the historical development and the actual human beings who lie behind it. He holds that one only truly understands a phenomenon when one understands its origins, its development and its overall place in consciousness. The problem is that at some point the writer lets the text go to the other. When that occurs, we must deal with the text, as it is, not with the motives and imperfections of the author. His ad hominem arguments parallel his argument from perspective. One always knows, perceives, or thinks about something from a particular perspective. One has a particular context of surrounding impressions, influences, and ideas, conceived of through one’s language and social upbringing and, ultimately, determined by virtually everything about oneself, one’s psychophysical make-up, and one’s history. There is no global viewpoint. One has only this particular perspective. He insists on morality in which the gifts and talents of each individual count primarily.

            Much of the appeal Nietzsche has to moderns is his attack upon the weakness of modernity. Belief in overcoming tradition because of progress in science, economics, technology, culture, and perhaps morality, characterizes modernity. On the contrary, it is tempting to contrast this social, progressive, optimistic understanding of modernity with another, much less positive though equally commonplace attitude toward it. In modernism, we find both the love of innovation and the rejection of the authority of tradition, but also a questioning of the value of progress, a critique of rationality, a sense that pre-modern civilization involved a wholeness and unity that modern civilization irreparably fragments. Can anything we do be of any value if all external or objective standards of value have become suspect? Though moderns may no longer consider the past a source of standards of value, one might well believe that the future can play that role. This faith springs from the idea that modernist progressivism is the secularization of the Christian doctrine of the millennium. Modernity is that era in which being modern becomes a value. Once moderns call into question the value of tradition into question, we cannot appeal to the fact that a practice belongs to a tradition as a reason for valuing it. The absence of a final goal to which the practice leads seems to deprive us of the only other rational grounds for valuation. Neither an appeal to origins nor an appeal to ends can supply the justification many of us may feel we need for our preferences and actions. The absence of origins and goals deprives all change of any direction, and without direction, the evaluation of change becomes at least problematic, if not impossible. If history is no longer available as a source of values, we might think that reason could play that role. He forecloses the possibility of such a demonstration based on rational principles. One cannot undertake a rational examination of reason because the intellect cannot criticize itself, simply because one cannot compare it with other species of intellect and because its capacity to know would be revealed only in the presence of true reality. Reason has revealed the inadequacy of tradition. The divine or authoritative origins of various institutions are not sufficient to justify them. The idea that one might provide such a justification by the existence of an inexorably progressive path toward final perfection is equally unacceptable: neither a single beginning nor a unitary end can provide a sense to the events that surround us. Nevertheless, in revealing the inadequacy of history, reason has also itself lost the ability to provide the means for the evaluation of also itself lost the ability to provide the means for the evaluation of our institutions because any such evaluation is bound to be circular. Nietzsche offers an acute, impassioned, and vicious critique of modern institutions, particularly of science and morality. He seems to know what modernity is, and to despise it. He wants to leave it behind or to place himself somewhere else. Goals exist insofar as individuals and cultures establish them. Goals, like values and processes, are not already there in the world, waiting for us to discover them. They are not in themselves; we are to make them. What basis can choice and preference be based? Does not the situation we described above deprive us of all ability to take sides and is not choice just such a taking of sides? The choice of a particular mode of behavior is like an artistic decision concerning the adoption of a particular style. The choice of a mode of behavior is itself an artistic decision, focusing only on the aesthetic features of the course of action in question. Artistic creativity is far less free and far more constrained by time and history than the Platonic and Romantic tradition has ever tempted us to suppose. Poetic achievement and diligent research are far from polar opposites. I still hear a demand for truth in Nietzsche. Taking artistic activity as our paradigm for understanding our interaction with the world and with one another does not at all imply that all our interactions involve falsification. The notion of falsification is not directly applicable to the arts in the first place. However, the artistic model does imply that we can no longer lay claim to a clear-cult distinction between what is perfectly real and what is purely fictional. It is true that artistic styles change and that no single style can claim to represent the world as it really is. However, as long as one employs a particular style one cannot distance oneself form it, and see the very respects in which that style is conventional. For to do this, one must have already developed another style the conventional elements of which will remain necessarily invisible and which will therefore supply the standards of naturalness, truthfulness, and accuracy in terms of which the previous style will have to be evaluated. There is no way around it: we must always take something for granted, and a conditional dogmatism, perfectly captured by Nietzsche’s aesthetic model. Alasdair MacIntyre characterizes the view that everything we know and believe is the product of a tradition, rather than some undistorted access to an independent reality, it is impossible to say that what we actually believe can be true. For, according to MacIntyre’s understanding of perspectivism, what we believe is supposed to be the product of one tradition to which there are always significant alternatives, with as great a claim to truth and accuracy, and which are therefore immune to criticism. MacIntyre then proceeds to criticize perspectivism:

It fails to recognize how integral the conception of truth is to tradition-constituted forms of enquiry. It is this which leads perspectivists to suppose that one could temporarily adopt the standpoint of a tradition and then exchange it for another, as one might wear first one costume and then another, or as one might act one part in one play and then a quite different part in a quite different play. But genuinely to adopt the standpoint of a tradition commits one to its view of what is true and false and prohibits one from adopting a rival standpoint.

The latter part of MacIntyre’s statement describes exactly Nietzsche’s view of how one is related to one’s perspective or tradition. MacIntyre identifies perspectivism with relativism. He refuses to attribute to Nietzsche the more sophisticated view he himself accepts and ignores Nietzsche’s warning against those historians of morality. MacIntyre tends at times to totalize the traditions with which he is concerned, to attribute too great a unity to them. Modernity is complex and divided, a complexity that it never has been willing to acknowledge of itself.

In the face of the spectacular scientific errors of the pre-modern tradition, and the collapse of the Christian religion and its political authority into sectarian warfare, we now needed some comprehensive reassurance about the new resolve to treat only the mathematizable properties of nature as substantial or real, the resolve to solve to begin political reflection with the natural individual. Many assume that modernity is in some sort of crisis. Just because some people, mostly intellectuals who have disdain for the ordinary life of modern people, are uncomfortable with the self-satisfaction of modernity does not mean that moderns themselves are uncomfortable. For Nietzsche, after the Enlightenment the Platonic and Christian humanism of the West became smug confidence, optimistic and self-satisfied. He referred to it as degeneration, exhaustion, decline, or twilight. Modernity thought it brought together the incompleteness of Plato and Christianity into a new wholeness. He thought that such modern ideas as respecting individual worth, attempting to think universally, putting oneself in the position of the other, merely betray an anxiety about possible domination by the strong, a fear of inevitable inequality, and so reflects a desire to have herd safely and anonymously absorb the individual. He thinks the nihilism of modernity arises because of its pursuit of its ideals. He regards any commitment to an ideal of some sort of inter-subjective acceptability for one’s evaluations as a sign of weakness, and a latent expression of fear of those who need no such support. It is a requirement that arises, that makes sense, only within a certain sort of social arrangement and historical experience. He contrasts such pitying concerns for the views of others with those who simply seized the right to create values out of pathos of distance. It is this basic, somewhat crude contrast between self-assertion and the weakness of social dependence that forms the core of all his claims about a great deal of the insufficiencies of modernity, modernity’s origins in the pre-modern, and the new, post-modern, distinctly self-assertive type for which he hopes.

What is wrong with resentment? Resentment undermines claims to authority because it is essentially pathetic. It is an expression of weakness and impotence. Nietzsche is against resentment because resentment is an ugly, bitter emotion that the strong and powerful do not and cannot feel. Resentment is an emotion that dwells on competitive strategy and thwarting others. It does not do what a virtue or a proper motive ought to do, for Nietzsche as for Aristotle, and that is to inspire excellence and self-confidence in both oneself and other. The universal rules of morality are themselves a strategy for inhibiting the best.

Nietzsche’s break with Schopenhauer goes under the name of the will to power or the Dionysian world. No doubt, an undifferentiated abyss replaces the I and the self, but this abyss is neither an impersonal nor an abstract universal beyond individuation. On the contrary, it is the I and the self which are the abstract universals. Individuation replaces the I and the self, in the direction of the individuating factors that consume them and which constitute the fluid world of Dionysus.

We now need to explore the political result of the teaching of Nietzsche. An appeal to the highest, most gifted human individuals to create a radically new society of artist-warriors he expressed with rhetorical power and a unique mixture of frankness and ambiguity in such a way as to allow the mediocre, the foolish, and the mad to regard themselves as the prototypes of the highest human being of the future. A radically new society requires as its presupposition the destruction of the existing society. Nietzsche succeeded in enlisting countless thousands in the ironical task of self-destruction, all in the name of a future utopia. The first step in the destruction of the West is not war, and not even armed insurrection, but the initiation of the process of transforming human values. We understand a people by the gods they worship. He intends to accelerate the process of self-destruction intrinsic to modern progress. The more persons he can convince that they are modern progressives or post-moderns, the quicker the explosion. Nietzsche is a radical right in his favoring of aristocratic culture and his anti-egalitarianism. He denounced socialism, which he saw as a direct consequence of the secularization of Christianity and modern progressive liberalism, with the resultant destruction of vitality and creativity. Socialism is in his eyes the younger brother of modern European despotism, which it desires to replace. Socialism seeks complete power for the state and strives to negate individuality. Yet, cultivated societies of the usual liberal sort are exactly what Nietzsche wished to destroy. Nietzsche opposes the state and hopes ultimately that it will wither away, replaced by a united Europe. He also requires states of savage aristocratic warriors in order to complete the destruction of decadent Europe and to revitalize the human race. A high culture will then evolve in spite of the savagery or repression of the states. The decadence to which he refers arose through modern scientific and technological progress is accelerating political and social democratization by a flattening of spiritual perception and a homogenizing of experience. The European is undergoing a steady decline in vitality and creativity, or the will to power. Europeans slip deeper into nihilism, or the condition that obtains when all standpoints they regard as being of equal vitality, with the consequent devaluation of each. We misunderstand this devaluation as a sign of progress in egalitarianism and fair play. In fact, progress becomes mediocrity or spiritual death. At the same time, the decadence of society accompanies a kind of loss of illusions, and this has a paradoxically favorable potentiality for the would-be revolutionary. He wants to dam up the decay of his time in such a way as to accelerate the instant of destruction. Immorality is a result of relativism brought on by scientific progress and historical sophistication. Immorality is the detachment from decadent values that is the necessary precondition for their destruction and the production of new values.

All politics is power politics. One can criticize the absence of power, but not its expression. His goal as stated in paragraph 203 of Beyond Good and Evil is the attempt to transform human nature. His attack on Christ is an attempt to replace Christ. Democracy is a form of the decay of politics and of humanity, making human beings mediocre and lowering the value of humanity. The only hope for human salvation lies in the destruction of the old and the creation of new values. Only new philosophers can do this. The teaching of Nietzsche produces these new philosophers. He attacks modern European society in order to free the higher human types from the decadence, stultification, and false sense of optimism engendered by nineteenth-century scientific liberalism. However, for what does he free them? This question has two different answers. His answer to the masses is an aristocratic rule and a society based upon rank. He also has an answer to those initiated to his teaching in the will to power. He empties human existence of intrinsic value, the same charge he made against Plato and Christianity. He viewed this step as necessary preliminary to genuine creation of value for human life, sustained by the will to power of the creator. The masses cannot handle the truth that everything is false and permitted. Life itself is an illusion, which is why art is worth more than the truth. The search for truth leads to nihilism and the death of the spirit. Metaphysics, theology, ontology, science, and scientific philosophy, because the lead to the negation of sense of the significance of human existence. The only consolation is art. We inhabit a lie, a truth we must forget or experience destruction. Nietzsche offers creativity and art to the masses, even though it is all illusion. Nietzsche views human existence as a dream in which occasionally certain individuals, by the strength of their will, determine the shape of the illusion.

He argues that the grounding of a society is politics and power relations, rather than philosophical and ethical arguments. His approach to perspective is an argument that who one is the result of claims to knowledge or action. What kind of knower does any particular claim to knowledge in such matters constitute? Bearing reality means acknowledging illusion, refusing to rely exclusively on the Apollonian, taking chaos upon oneself. I tend to think that he does not think politics can do this. What is the politics of writing in Nietzsche? A text that people have appropriated is a text that no longer troubles me, that leaves who I am quiet. It gives assurance. Such assurance must wrong, because it claims to be always right. Assurance is the basis of domination. It turns fatally into a moralization of morality, into a justification for action in terms that escape this one world. Political theory cannot appropriate Nietzsche. All that one can learn is to let uncertainty and ambiguity enter one’s world, to let go the need to have the last word, to let go the need that there be a last word.

Thus Spake Zarathustra affirms both the eternal return and the artist as the creator of new values. Zarathustra does not genuinely converse with independently existing disciples. These are his own creations or interpretations. They are like the characters in the Platonic dialogues with whom Socrates converses. So too Socrates is a figment of Plato’s imaginative reinterpretation of human existence. Plato is talking to himself, but in such a way as to benefit eavesdroppers. This is why Zarathustra is intentionally incomplete. Zarathustra has no genuine disciples because he still lives in a time of decadence. In order to produce genuine disciples, Zarathustra must first destroy his own time, but hence too himself. The destructive disciples cannot be the same as the creative disciples.

Every text has endlessly possible interpretations. How then can we arrive at a valid understanding of Nietzsche’s texts? No criterion identifies a profound interpretation of Nietzsche. He tells us that fair play, or seeing the other person’s point of view, necessarily weakens our commitment to our own point of view. We do not like to see that if everyone is right, no can be. The only exit from this dangerous dilemma is to understand that democracy is not vapid egalitarianism but itself an expression of nobility and hence of the difference between the noble and the base. Life is not mathematics, in which universal correctness is attainable. We cannot apply mathematical science uniformly, in an unlimited manner, to human existence, in the service of a political doctrine that dedicates itself to freedom, justice, and the distinction between the noble and the base. When we try to do so, we tend to define correctness quantitatively, in terms of formal validity, or as a function. The content becomes irrelevant. The radical sees this as a clearly as does the conservative. Both oppose the reification of the human spirit, but on quite different principles. The conservative wishes to preserve tradition as the reservoir of nobility. The radical expresses nobility in the act of creation. However, preservation as well as creation entails destruction.

I conclude this discussion of Nietzsche with his critique of Christianity. He points out how minimal and inadequate is traditional Christian morality, for it denies life, denies our best talents, our energies, and our ambitions. We need to see how pathetic and little it is just obeying such rules in the absence of any other virtues of character or excellence. How presumptuous it is for morality to give itself trump status at the expense of any number of other non-moral virtues such as heroism, wit, charm, and devotion. The fact that each of us has a perspective means there is no one scale of values and no single way of measuring people and their virtues. However, that does not mean there is no comparing perspectives or that one cannot see some perspectives as preferable to others. What we call morality is nothing other than the development of a special set of particularly pragmatic prejudices of an unusually downtrodden lot. He designs the twin appeal to history and social psychology to account for moral principles and moral phenomena. Who benefits from this procedure? Obviously, those who benefit are the worst off, the weak, and the mediocre. The system works above all to suppress the drives and the energies of the superior, the strong, those who would rather make something of themselves that morality does not allow or does not recognize. Universality is part of the strategy of the weak to deny the significance of the non-moral virtues and impose their own morality on others. Slave morality is all about passing judgment on others in moral categories that may not be their own.

We may understand his late attacks on Christianity as his desperate struggle against the most successful form of the morality of resentment, which he regarded as hostile to human life. His attacks became more sever the more he was convinced that most modern ideas, such as liberalism, socialism, and the politics of emancipation, were expressions of the Christian ideal. A Christian doctrine and practice that does not integrate his criticisms cannot survive under the conditions of modernity. However, his critique does not render all kinds of Christian doctrine and practice as impossible. He argued that historical method and criticism rendered invalid the mythical presuppositions without which religion in general and Christianity in particular could not survive. His polemical attacks intended to make people aware of the real meaning and consequences of the death of God. Historical criticism made Christianity outdated, but he thrived in his day because of the resentment characteristic to Christian morality. By resentment, he designated a psychological disposition motivated by weakness and the often self-deceptive lust for revenge. Resentment reacts. He argued that the strong should despise Christianity. Slave morality is the foundation of Christianity. Honor comes to the strong who overcome Christianity. The weak may need religion, preferably of a Buddhist variety. A genealogical analysis will make clear to all that resentment is the foundation of Christian morality. For him, knowledge has a power center. Individuals employ knowledge to manage their relations to other power centers. The value and importance of knowledge depends on the force and courage of the will to power involved. Human beings do not orient their thinking to the way things are, but attempt to increase their power. He viewed himself as a physician of culture who would break through this vicious circle in a revaluation of all values aimed at replacing all moralities of resentment with a master morality of self-expression. I would question his identification of Christianity with asceticism. I would also suggest that Christian love as compassion grows out of awareness of the evils of the world and motivates one to fight against them. The liberal expression of Christianity clearly runs the risk of abandoning the religious character of Christianity, replacing it with a political ideology or with morality. The fundamentalist, evangelical, and liturgical expressions of Christianity run the risk of escapism, accepting much of the modern world while maintaining ideas one cannot reconcile with this worldview. His hope that historical criticism would destroy Christianity has not materialized. His reductionist premise that all religion depends on morality has not proved true to life. His genealogical approach to Christianity suggested that as resentment, it was a reactive morality hostile to human life. This interpretation remains problematic. He rightly suggests that reactive responses like envy, hatred, and resentment threaten to poison all areas of human relations, including religious interactions. The religious area may have a tendency to the impact of resentment. In particular, religion may resent its lack of power on the world stage, and seek recognition on that stage through political and violent means. However, this does not mean that Judaeo-Christian tradition has been from its beginning nothing but an expression of resentment.

Marx and Rejection of Modernism

We must never forget the meaning of this great struggle against Communism.  We are fighting totalitarianism in behalf of freedom.  The enemy is neither Communism in itself nor Russian in herself, although today both are embodiments of totalitarianism and, as such, absolute enemies.  The fight is a struggle for freedom within free countries. 

In 1848, Karl Marx declared that the communist ideal could be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.  The ruling classes ought to tremble at a communist revolution.  Workers have nothing to lose but their chains.  He failed to perceive that both capitalism and democracy could reform themselves and remove the abuses of the capitalist system that he knew.  Further, he failed to see the brilliant economic plan of capitalism.  Capitalism has the vision of de-centralized economic planning.  Every producer, worker, and consumer becomes part of the economic plan.  Capitalism enlists everyone in the society as part of the plan.  The plan becomes flexible.  The division of labor and the expansion of machinery further specializes each worker, making the worker more valuable, rather than less so.  Specialization leads to the need for more workers.  On a personal level, this means that few people become talented enough in many things, so they take work they need done to others rather than do it themselves. 

Marx envisions a society without a false consciousness. Radical critics denounce a false consciousness that consists in not accepting their ideology. (Note: this is a critique of Freud as well).

            Marxism’s moral defects and failures arise from the extent to which it, like liberal individualism, embodies the ethos of the distinctively modern and modernizing world. Nothing less than a rejection of a large part of that ethos will provide us with a rationally and morally defensible standpoint from which to judge and to act. Further, it rejects an ethos that provides us a way to evaluate various rival and heterogeneous moral schemes that compete for our allegiance.

Karl Marx viewed capitalism as having the vision of producing as cheap as you can, and do away with the unnecessary forces of production.  Labor is a hired commodity.  The combination of machinery and the division of labor would eventually lead to the loss of labor.  This would lead to conflict-induced change produced by the opposing economic classes.  Later in life, as he lived in the parliamentary form of government in England, he believed that the revolution could occur peacefully, through the expansion of the right to vote.  Revolution occurs when the productive forces of the dominant class and the oppressed class cannot exist side by side.  The liberation of the working class will lead to a society without classes.  His vision, as one of his contemporaries said, is too beautiful for this earth.  He failed at so many points, it is difficult to know where to begin.  His rejection of Hegel’s notion of the dialectical movement of ideas and acceptance of the dialectical movement of the means of production has not proven helpful.  His view led him to focus far too much upon the economic forces that shape us.  His economic program included state ownership of banks and transportation.  Further, it tended discussion that might lead to the progress of truth.  If one was from a particular economic class, unless properly re-educated in light of the oppressed the class, he could dismiss your ideas.  If the ideas one has is from the underlying ideology, and that ideology is from the dominant class that must be overthrown, then one’s ideas can be negated.  His development of what we later called the hermeneutics of suspicion has far-reaching consequences.  For him, freedom, equity, and private property, are the driving forces of middle class society.  He would replace such ideas with communism and overcoming of the oppressor and oppressed society.  The extensive use of machinery and the division of labor has led to the loss of individuality of the worker.  The worker has lost charm.  The worker has become an appendage to the machine.  The process would lead to the same low wages everywhere.  

            Marx has an essentialist and metaphysical approach that interprets ideas and norms as the mere appearance of economic reality. The workers party cannot make mistakes of consequence. All government, including democracy, is a dictatorship of the ruling class over the ruled. Freedom defeats itself if it is unlimited. Unlimited freedom means that the strong is free to bully the weak and rob the latter of freedom. The state should limit freedom to a certain extent, so that law protects everyone’s freedom. Nobody should be at the mercy of others, but all should have a right to be protected by the state. Unlimited economic freedom can be just as self-defeating as unlimited physical freedom, and economic power may be nearly as dangerous as physical violence; for those who possess a surplus of food can force those who are starving into a freely accepted servitude, without using violence. We must construct social institutions for the protection of the economically weak from the economically strong. This means that the principle of non-intervention, of an unrestrained economic system, has to be given up. We must demand that unrestrained capitalism give way to an economic interventionism. Moreover, this is precisely what has happened. The economic system described and criticized by Marx has everywhere ceased to exist. However, even piecemeal intervention increases the power of the state. State power is always a dangerous but necessary evil.

            A problem for Marx is that to explain ideas as the result of class and economic interests destroy the basis of rational discussion and must lead to anti-rationalism and mysticism. Scientific objectivity is not a product of the individual scientist’s impartiality, but a product of the social or public character of scientific method. The individual scientist’s impartiality is not the source but rather the result of this socially or institutionally organized objectivity of science. Scientific results are relative; truth is not.

I would now like to offer a kind of running commentary on the vision of Marx from the Communist Manifesto and from Capital.

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.[6] The middle class arose out of feudal society.  We not have two classes, the entrepreneur class and the working class. The middle class has played an important historical part in revolution.  Free enterprise has a cosmopolitan character because of its need for constantly expanding markets.[7] Free enterprise destroys old industries and introduces new ones.[8] The produce of the nation once provided for the wants of the people.  In place of self-sufficiency and seclusion, we have interdependence of nations.[9] The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property.  National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.[10] The expansion of the means of production and the improvement of its instruments facilitated by communication, draws even the most barbarian nations into civilization.[11] The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down barriers.[12] It compels all nations to accept economic freedom.  It compels them to accept civilization into their midst.  That is, it forces nations to move toward bourgeois life themselves.  It creates a world after its own image.[13] It favors the urban over the rural, the civilized over the barbarian, the middle class over the peasant, and the West over the East.[14] It has agglomerated population, centralized means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands.  The necessary consequence was political centralization.[15] Feudal society generated the means of production and of exchange.  Competition entered, accompanied by political constitution adapted to it, and by the economical and political sway of the bourgeois class.[16] Now and then the workers are victorious.[17]

            The Communists are distinguished form the other working-class parties.  The immediate aim of the Communists is the formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, and conquest of political power by the proletariat.  The abolition of existing property relations is not at all a distinctive feature of Communism.  The theory of Communists is nothing less than the abolition of private property.  We can then affirm the social character of the property.  It loses its class character.  We must abolish individuality and freedom and independence.  Communism deprives no one of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive them of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriation. Your ideas are the outgrowth of your middle class production and middle class property.  Working people have no country.  What else does not history of ideas prove, than that the intellectual production changes its character in proportion as material production is changed?  The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class. 

  1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
  2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.
  4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the State.
  6. Centralization of the means of communication[18] and transport.
  7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State.
  8. Equal liability of all to labor.
  9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries.
  10. Free education for all children in public schools.  Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form.  Combination of education with industrial production. 

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.  Finally, they labor everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.  The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims.  They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.  Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution.  The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.  They have a world to win. Working people[19] of all countries, unite!

Our investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity.  A commodity is, an object outside us, a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort of another.  The utility of a thing makes it a use value.  Exchange value presents itself as a quantitative relation, as the proportion in which values in use of one sort are exchanged for those of another sort, a relation constantly changing with time and place.  Labor has this same two-fold nature.  In the use value of each commodity there is contained useful labor, productive activity of a definite kind and exercised with a definite aim.  So far therefore as labor is a creator of use-value, is useful labor, it is a necessary condition, independent of all forms of society for the existence of the human race; it is an eternal nature imposed necessity, without which there can be no material exchanges between humanity and nature, and therefore no life.  The use values, coat, linen, and so on, the bodies of commodities, are combinations of two elements, matter and labor.  If we take away the useful labor expended upon them, a material substratum is always left, which is furnished by nature without the help of humanity. The latter can work only as nature does, that is by changing the form of matter.  Nay more, in this work of changing the form natural forces constantly help him.  We see that labor is not the only source of material wealth, of use values produced by labor.  As William Petty puts it, labor is its father and the earth its mother. The simplest value relation is evidently that of one commodity to some one other commodity of a different kind.  Hence the relation between the values of two commodities supplies us with the simplest expression of the value of a single commodity.  The whole mystery of the form of value lies hidden in this elementary form.  Its analysis is or real difficulty. Human labor creates value, but is not itself value.[20]

      A commodity appears a very trivial thing.  Its analysis shows that it is a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.  The mystical character of commodities does not originate in their use value.  Just as little does it proceed from the nature of the determining factors of value. A commodity is a mysterious thing, simply because in it the social character of the labor of people appears to them as an objective character stamped upon the product of that labor.[21] As a general rule, articles of utility become commodities, only because they are products of the labor of private individuals or groups of individuals who carry on their work independently of each other.  The sum total of the labor of all these private individuals forms the aggregate labor of society.  Since the producers do not come into social contact with each other until they exchange their products, the specific social character of each producer’s labor does not show itself except in the act of exchange.  In other words, the labor of the individual asserts itself as a part of the labor of society only by means of the relations that the act of exchange establishes directly between the products, and indirectly, through them, between the producers.  It is only by being exchanged that the products of labor acquire, as values, one uniform social status, distinct from their varied forms of existence as objects of utility.  The categories of bourgeois economy consist of such like forms.  They are forms of thought expressing with social validity the conditions and relations of a definite, historically determined mode of production of commodities.  The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labor as long as they take the form of commodities, vanishes as soon as we come to other forms of production. The religious world is but the reflex of the real world.  For a society based upon the production of commodities, in which the producers in general enter into social relations with each other by treating their products as commodities and values, whereby they reduce their individual private labor to the standard of homogeneous human labor.  For such a society, Christianity with its cultus of abstract humanity, more especially in its bourgeois developments, Protestantism, Deism, and so on, is the most fitting form of religion. The religious reflex of the real world can only then finally vanish, when the practical relations of every day life offer to humanity none but perfectly intelligible and reasonable relations with regard to their fellow human beings and to nature.  The life-process of society does not strip off its mystical veil until it is treated as production by freely associated people, and is consciously regulated by them in accordance with a settled plan. 

The circulation of money as capital is an end in itself, for the expansion of value takes place within this constantly renewed movement.  This circulation of capital has therefore no limits.  The possessor of money becomes a capitalist.  The restless never-ending process of profit-making alone is what the capitalist aims at.  The boundless greed after riches, this passionate chase after exchange value, is common to the capitalist and the miser.[22]

                  The accumulation of capital presupposes surplus value.  Surplus value presupposes capitalistic production.  Capitalistic production presupposes the pre-existence of considerable masses of capital and of labor power in the hands of producers of commodities.  We had, historically, a transformation from feudal exploitation into capitalist exploitation.[23] Scattered private property becomes capitalist private property. 

                  No capitalist every voluntarily introduces a new method of production so long as it reduces the rate of profit.  Yet, every such new method of production cheapens the commodities.[24] Competition makes a fall in the rate of profit that is wholly independent of the will of the capitalist.[25] Three cardinal facts of capitalist production.  First, concentration of means of production.  Second, organization of labor into social labor.  Third, creation of the world market.  The capitalist mode of production will expand beyond the population.[26]

            If the worker is deprived of the means of production, he or she is also deprived of the means of subsistence.[27]


            Now, I would like to offer some comments concerning the political influence of Marx on the political left.

            Karl Marx is an embarrassment of the political Left continues to exert influence, especially in academic and intellectual circles. We now have a spectator class, a disgusted and mocking political Left that has given up the dream of a better America. It is a prominent and vocal element within modern political liberalism. They find the past sins and present imperfections unforgivable, and therefore no longer have a dream for the nation. The idea that democratic institutions might serve social justice is gone. It leads them to prefer their knowledge of the structural inadequacies of the nation to genuine hope for a better nation. They become content to theorize about liberal democracies and become spectators to history. Philosophical hopelessness has become fashionable on the political Left. This way of being on the political Left derives intellectual nourishment from Karl Marx and Foucault. It puts historical events in a theoretical context. It exaggerates the importance of philosophy for politics. It wastes its energy on sophisticated theoretical analyses of the significance of current events. Such theoretical sophistication regards the liberal humanist tradition as discredited. Such a distrust of liberal humanism retreats from practice and hides in theory; it represents a failure of courage to act in the present. One result of this fascination of the Left with Marx is generation of Americans who suspect that we could no longer achieve the ideals of America. The nation had done things for which it could never receive forgiveness. This suspicion lingers. As long as it does, and as long the America Left remains incapable of genuine pride in the institutions of America, America will not have a political Left that can have a genuine debate with the political Right about the best future for the nation.

            Marxism was a catastrophe for the countries in which Marxists took power.

            Marxism was also a disaster in liberal democracies, for the liberal, humanist, and reformist Left (Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, John Dewey, Walt Whitman, John Kennedy) lost its intellectual battle with the revolutionary Left. The appeal of the liberal humanist left was moral, appealing to the moral sensibilities of the powerful. Moral persuasion could work its way with all persons in society. The appeal of the revolutionary Left is to power, in which, by definition, those without power must lose. The Left would have been better off Marxists had closed up shop; liberalism would have been better off in the 20th century with its early demise. It would be a good thing if the next generation of the political Left found as little resonance in the names of Marx and Lenin as the political Right does with Spencer, Mussolini, and Hitler. If Kerensky managed to ship Lenin back to Zurich, the political Left would still honor Marx as a brilliant political economist who foresaw how the rich would use industrialization to devastate the poor. His philosophy of history would have become a nineteenth century curiosity. After all, the ideals of social democracy and economic justice pre-date Marx. With the downfall of Soviet communism, the Left needs to stop being sentimental about the Bolshevik Revolution. The political Left needs to repudiate links with Lenin and Marx. Marxism and its critique needs to stop being the story that the Left tells the world about who it is. The insinuation of that story is that capitalism must be overthrown, and that any liberal who does not accept that position is a wimp and a self-deceived bourgeois reformer. They could have adopted the liberal program of Dewey to prevent the devastation of the poor through pragmatic, experimental reforms.

            Marxism is like a religion in that it demands purity. If we look for people who made no mistakes, who were always on the right side, who never apologized for tyrants or unjust wars, we shall have few heroes and heroines. Marxism encouraged the political Left to look for such purity. Marxists suggested that only the revolutionary proletariat could embody virtue, that bourgeois reforms were reactionary, and that failure to take the scenario of Marx seriously was proof of complicity with the forces of darkness.

            The academic Left retains a conviction that solidified in the late 1960’s. They came to a Marxist critique of the American system through legitimate concerns about racism in this society and through the ill-advised (in my judgment) use of American power in Vietnam and in certain acts of the CIA. They came to believe that the American system needed change, and not just its laws. Reform was not good enough. By “system,” they mean capitalism, Cold War ideology, technocratic rationality, racist system, and phallogocentrism.

            Now, to subvert the practice of their legitimate concerns with American ways of thinking, they believe they must teach Americans to recognize otherness. I accept the observation that as America has become an increasingly multi-cultural nation, such awareness of diversity and otherness becomes increasingly important. The result is to teach women’s history, black history, gay studies, Hispanic-American studies, and migrant studies. The principle motive was to make America a better place for others, and we can admit that improvement has taken place. Unfortunately, cultural studies have come to mean victim studies. I would suggest that the problem with this approach is that it requires so much intellectual energy from the Left that it diverts attention from some of the common problems of all races: poverty, unemployment, retirement, health care, and so on.  

            The Marxist style critique of liberal democracy suggests that I have a false consciousness because I have not experienced the transformation I need through its ideological critique of liberal democracy. I do not realize the oppression that I have experienced, as a person who has little power. Nor do I not realize the oppression in which I have participated as a white male. Therefore, since I have not been converted to the view that liberal democracy has its foundation to the victory of the wealthy classes (class-consciousness), or that liberal democracy is a racist society (race consciousness), or that liberal democracy is a gender based society (gender consciousness), I have a false consciousness. If I am wealthy (I personally am not), white and male (both of which I am) I am not worthy of reasoning with unless I convert to the ideology. Further, they suggest the personality and character of the individual and the institutions of liberal democracy (business, family, and political institutions) are nothing but projections of the “sin of the day,” that is, that fact that one is wealthy, white, male, and so, that express the power deferential within society. They propose that dominant power resides in a class (the wealthy) a race (whites) or a gender (males). The result of such reasoning is alienation and resentment. Reconciliation becomes impossible. Such thinking closes rational discourse with each other. Further, such thinking can only suggest the destruction of the present liberal democratic social system while suggesting nothing with which to replace it except the failed system of Communism.

            Marxist style critiques fail to recognize the false consciousness in which they participate. Such critiques could not arise in any system other than liberal democracy. They can only survive within a society that already has life, vitality, and health. They live off the creative blood of liberal, bourgeois society. They depend upon the weakness of the political state to silence them in order for them to spread their views about their perceived dominating power. Far from having a perceptive critique of liberal democracy, they fail to perceive that the liberal democratic system assures its citizens that absolute power resides nowhere. Individuals, businesses, free associations within civil society (including religious institutions), political institutions, legal institutions, and so on, all have varying competitive and cooperative interests. Such critiques depend upon the freedom that liberal democracy extends to its citizens. They depend upon the unrealized ideals of liberal democracy to generate enough discontent to become the foundation of revolutionary change, as over against change through reform. The person in liberal democracy who does not have their individual worth and dignity respected for any reason has grown up within a social system that has placed before them the ideal of a culture that respects individual worth and dignity and therefore the liberty of the individual to pursue their basic plan of life. People who grow up in a culture in which they do not expect their worth and dignity to receive respect by political and other leaders of society do not typically have this desire. Therefore, the radical feminist critique could only arise within a culture that lifted up the hope for the dignity and worth of women to find respect. They would not have this desire (except in rare circumstances) if it were not for the fact that the liberal democratic system they despise expresses the human drive toward having individual worth and dignity. Therefore, the radical feminist critique suggests the destruction of a system without which it would not exist. The denial of this dependence upon liberal democracy and its continuance into the future is the perfect example of false consciousness. The anti-slavery movement arose precisely because individuals perceived the moral failure of slavery: it denied to a race of people their right to express their worth and dignity and develop their plan of life. Although many fought to preserve the union of the states, without the moral agitation generated in newspapers and churches, the war to end slavery would not have occurred. The radical African-American critique of liberal democracy as racist leads to alienation and resentment toward whites, thereby rejecting the common humanity white and black persons share. Further, the desire to express one’s worth and dignity arises because they have the privilege of growing up in a liberal democracy that values such an ideal. The poor as a class may feel alienation from wealthier classes, feeling as if freedom has not worked for them. Yet, their desire for more arises out of the culture within which they live that has stimulated that hope. If you do not believe that culture determines our desire this much, listen to women in Saudi Arabia who desire the genuine oppression in which they live. Listen to the poor in much of Haiti in that they have given up on any possibility of a different life. Listen to some races in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the former of Soviet Union, who do not desire any more rights than they have. Culture determines, far more than most of us recognize, that which we desire.

            Although I am far from being qualified to give advice, my observation is that the political Left needs to put a moratorium on theory and recover a sense of genuine pride in America in order to engage the public debate concerning the future of America. This love of country arises because of its promise of being a kinder and more generous nation than others. We can have a lover’s quarrel with our country and promote its best interest. Genuine love expands. True patriotism extends minds and hearts to an inclusive vision of we accomplish together as human beings who have the privilege of living in a social world that respects our worth and dignity and in which have the freedom to pursue our understanding of the best human life we can live. Factual and theoretical discussions do not inspire. The political Left will need to describe the country in terms of what it passionately hopes it will become. It will have to re-discover loyalty to a dream of the nation. Without such a dream, it will never become reality. However, the country of one’s dreams must be a country one can imagine actually forming, over the course of time, by human hands.  A political Left that still dreams that some redemptive force like “the people” will redeem the nation from “the system” will remain a spectator to history.

I will now provide my understanding of the radical critique of liberal, bourgeois, democratic society that one often finds in academic circles. This critique has far-reaching influence in various movements that call for the “transformation” of liberal democratic society.

Most social scientists postulate that each society is normal inasmuch as it functions. Therefore, we can define sickness only in terms of whether individuals adjust to the way of life in the society into which they are born.

I will now make what some will say is an arrogant and self-serving claim. We can distinguish between healthy societies and unhealthy societies. We construct satisfactory and unsatisfactory solutions to the problem of individuality, community, life together, in short, the struggle for the recognition of individual worth and dignity. I do not want people to adjust to a bad culture, just as I would not want them to adjust to slavery, or an abusive parent. The modern social world most clearly articulates the drives, desires, and dreams of the human quest to have individual worth and dignity respected. The modernist social world realizes its norms to a far greater degree than the institutions of other social worlds. Further, I will suggest that only some version of utopian thinking would hope to transcend the modern social world. Utopian thinkers are in a creative ethical dream. They are like children playing with building blocks. They build a house with their building blocks. Eventually, a parent must have them take down their blocks and go home. The child slowly learns the difference between play and reality. Utopian enthusiasts often have relatively harmless dreams. Someone needs to invite them to the human world. The modernist social world represents a correct understanding of the human drive toward the best human individual and communal life. I hope the reader will wait until the end of this essay to determine whether I have adequately explained how this is the case.


            Eric Fromm disagrees with me. He says: Modern people feel uneasy and increasingly bewildered. They are dimly aware of a sense of futility with regard to their activities. They are ignorant with regard to the most important and fundamental questions of human existence. What humanity is, how we ought to live, and how the tremendous energies within us can be released and used productively. The ideas of the Enlightenment taught humanity that it could trust its own reason as a guide to establishing valid ethical norms and that it could rely on itself. We now have growing doubt of human autonomy and reason, creating a state of moral confusion where we are left without the guidance of either revelation or reason.  Modern society, in spite of all the emphasis it puts upon happiness, individuality, and self-interest, has taught us to feel that our happiness is not the aim of life, but the fulfillment of our duty to work or to succeed. Money, prestige, and power have become our incentives and ends. We act under the illusion that our actions benefit our self-interest, though we actually serve everything else but the interests of our real self. Everything is important to us except our life and the art of living. We are for everything except ourselves. We observe the receptive, exploitative, hoarding, and marketing orientation, the latter representing free enterprise. Capitalists expand their enterprises not primarily because they want to, but because they have to because postponement of further expansion would mean regression. The needs were always greater than the sum total of the social product, and therefore a regulation had to be made on how to distribute it, how many and who should have the optimal satisfaction of their needs, and which classes had to be satisfied with less than they wanted. Freedom in a capitalist society is an illusion. Capitalism is based on the principle that is to be found in all class societies: the use of people by other people. One person serves another for purposes that are not his or her own, but those of the employer. The social character of the nineteenth century was essentially competitive, hoarding, exploitative, authoritarian, aggressive, and individualistic. In the twentieth-century capitalism, we find the receptive and marketing orientation. What kind of person does our society need? It needs people who cooperate smoothly in large groups, who want to consume more, and whose tastes are standardized and can be easily influenced and anticipated. It needs people who feel free and independent, not subject any authority, or principle, or conscience, to do what is expected, to fit into the social machine without friction. How can people be guided without force, led without leaders, be prompted without any aim, except the one to be on the move, to function, to go ahead. In contemporary Western culture, this polarity has given way to an almost exclusive reference to the abstract qualities of things and people, and to a neglect of relating oneself to their concreteness and uniqueness. The modern world has achieved freedom from without having achieved freedom to, to be ourselves, to be productive, to be fully awake. We tried to escape from freedom. Our achievement in mastery over nature opened up the avenues for our escape. In building the new industrial machine, we became so absorbed in the new task that it became the paramount goal of our lives. Our energies, which once were devoted to the search for God and salvation, were now directed toward the domination of nature and ever-increasing material comfort. We have become part of the machine, rather than its master. We experience ourselves as commodities, as an investment. As we became bureaucratic and managerial, individual initiative disappeared. The modern social world began with the vision of creating a culture that would fulfill our needs the aim of the efforts of modern society was to create a sane society. Modern society has increased aggression due to its exploitation of the individual as an economic tool. More specifically, this meant a society whose members have developed their reason to that point of objectivity that permits them to see themselves, others, nature, in their true reality, and not distorted by infantile omniscience or paranoid hate. It meant a society, whose members have developed to a point of independence when they know the difference between good and evil, where they make their own choices, where they have convictions rather than opinions, faith rather than superstitions of nebulous hopes. It meant a society whose members have developed the capacity to love their children, their neighbors, all people, themselves, all of nature. So far, we have failed.


The utopian vision of human nature and culture denies the tragedy of human existence.  The focus on self in philosophy and therapy has led to a culture focused upon the weak, insatiable needs of the isolated self.  The politics of victimization is a strategy for social gridlock. It encourages a society of resentful, competing, and self-interested individuals who have dressed their private annoyances in the clothing of victims.  We are dividing along lines of race, class, gender, defining ourselves by our status victims rather than individual worth.  The demand for sensitivity is a demand for feeling with the victim and the continual adjustment of one's relationship to the shifting and unpredictable demands of the victim.

Criticism of the modern social world is not legitimate unless the basis for the criticism is that it fails to live up to purely personal ideals. Further, our tendency to judge the existing social world upon utopian schemes is not a legitimate basis for criticism. Descriptions of utopias on earth conveniently omit the great positive evils that exist at present, with utterly inadequate regard to the goodness of what they retain.  They cannot take the human condition seriously.  Yet, we often base ethical decisions, as well as public policy, upon such unreal premises.

The only legitimate criticism is when the modern social world fails to live up to its own ideals. Therefore, when at a given time in history, the modern social world exercised its freedom to exclude people of homosexual orientation, women, and African-Americans, reform is the proper approach. Reform occurs, as it has with the continuing advances in the rights of women and African-American persons, as they connect their issues to larger human values. When we lose that connection, we become little more than isolated groups seeking power over another, rather seeking common moral and rational ground upon which to stand together. Such historical limitations do not define the modern social world. It is not a racist or sexist society, but a free society. It is not a society with a locus of power in class, race, or gender, but rather a society that has no dominant locus of power. If the society abuses that freedom in one historical period, people who participate as social members can help shape new attitudes that exercise freedom in new directions. The only legitimate criticism is reformist in nature, aligning existing social arrangements closer to its norms. Those norms include individualization and social membership.

The counter-culture critique focused upon the hypocrisy of American life.  It did so justly.  The racism and the inappropriate use of American forces on foreign soil placed American values in question.  The counter-culture critique believed that the American system, and in particular the military, big business, and the institutional church, had become the focus of evil in the world.  The counter culture critique failed to realize the capacity of American culture to renew itself. Reform movements have always been a part of the American experience.  Abolition in the mid 1800's, Prohibition and Women's suffrage in the latter 1800's and early 1900's, and Civil Rights in 1950’s and early 1960’s, are the obvious examples.  The capacity for renewal is further refutation of the counter cultural critique of the evil nature America.  Rather, the free enterprise system, democracy, and a system of values based on personal responsibility, has the capacity for positive, incremental change without the coercion of the federal government.

Feminist proposals for the elimination of the family and Marxist proposals for the elimination of private property and democratic institutions are external criticisms, deriving from different social worlds than that of the modern social world. They are not legitimate criticisms of the modern social world itself, however. The same is true of a Muslim critique of the modern social world, which has its own social world and is thus an external criticism of modernity.

Frankly, critique of liberal democracy is of secondary importance, even though those who engage in it think of themselves as offering something radical, profound, and fundamental. Critique has its roots in ideology. Ruling groups can become in their thinking so intensively interest-bound to a situation that they are simply no longer able to see certain facts that would undermine their sense of domination. In certain situations, the collective unconscious of certain groups obscures the real condition of society both to itself and to others and thereby stabilizes it. An ideology is an erroneous or false system that is no longer open to correction from personal or social experience. What distinguishes such an ideology in its essence from simple, open error is the voluntary element of closure by which the ideology understands itself as a total system. To this extent, ideology is a fundamental closure in face of the wholeness of reality. The conversion of a partial aspect of reality into an absolute takes place with a view of practical action, and usually takes the form of a basic determination of political activity. It will try to determine the norm for the whole of life of a society. Ideology is a falsely scientific interpretation of reality in the service of a practical and social orientation that it intends to make legitimate.

At the close of the twentieth century, and as we begin a new millennium, a constellation of ideas have come together that places our future as a free society at risk.  It combines a therapeutic approach to culture, an ideological approach to truth, a counter-culture critique of American culture, the value of the isolated individual, and the ideology of victimization.  These ideas lead to a political view that enhances the power of government and thereby reduce personal freedom. 

Of greater importance than critique is grasping the underlying rational structure of the modern social world. Then we must show how that rational structure of the modern social world shows itself in existing social arrangements. Philosophical reflection has its limits. It can rarely give guidance to what ought to be, but rather expends energy toward grasping what is.

            If you accept a radical critique of American society, what I am about to say may offend you. However, I hope you will read carefully. Much of what passes for criticism of our social world is superficial. It is easy to perceive the shortcomings of individuals, states, and the course of world affairs. One can then adopt a superior attitude toward one’s own society, without understanding the true nature of the modern social world. Critics can become overly demanding of society, even selfishly so. Critics think they have done their job when they have found something that they can justly criticize, while failing to affirm the central aspects of modern institutional life. Expressing outrage at cruelty, injustice, and inefficiency often ends in proposals that limit criticism, dissatisfaction, and disorderly forms of life; the winding road of freedom becomes uncomfortable. To see only the bad side of everything and overlook the positive and valuable is a sign of being superficial in criticism.


            The leaders of this movement within the 20th century were the following: Borden Parker Bowne (1847-1910), Albert C. Knudson (1873-1953), and Edgar S. Brightman (1884-1953). Some less typical forms of Personalism we find in John M. E. McTaggart, William Stern, Josiah Royce, Mary Whiton Calkins, F. H. Bradley, Charles B. Renouvier, and Bernard Bosanquet. What we might consider the typical form of Personalism emerging out of Bowne we find in Georgian Harkness, Martin Luther King Jr., L. Harold DeWolf, Walter G. Muelder, Paul Deates, Jr., J. Philip Wogaman, Peter A. Bertocci, and Richard M. Millard.

            From a metaphysical perspective, reality is a society of selves and persons with a God at its center and thus providing their unity. Person is the fundamental principle of explanation, capable of explaining all other principles, except that it cannot explain itself. The assumption is that mind, intelligence, or person in order to explain or to discourse at all. Such personal idealism maintains that person is the supreme philosophical principle. Ultimate causes or reasons are in mind or person.

            This philosophy has a source in Berkeley, in that he rejected the notion that ideas have their causes in inert, inactive matter. Since to be is to be perceived, God becomes all-embracing mind that perceives the world of phenomena. Personalism suggests that physical objects have phenomenal reality, and so are real. However, they do not have ontological reality. Personalism affirms that mind must exist behind the universe.

            This philosophy also has a source Kantian idealism, although it accepts Hegel’s criticism that one must not make such a sharp wall between things as they appear to us and things as they are in themselves. Theistic idealism suggests that mind penetrate to the realities of the phenomenal and ontological reality because both have their nature in mind. Reality is of the nature of thought and God as the supreme intelligence produces it. It affirms the emphasis of Kant on the will in ethics and his emphasis upon practical reason. Religious has its foundation in moral reflection.

            Personalism is surer of the experience of self than of anything else. In this emphasis, they are close to Augustine. The clue to what we can know about God, nature, or other selves is in the self and its experiences. The key to the solutions of basic problems of philosophy and life are in the self. It rejects the notion that one can have a picture of reality, a classic materialistic objective. So much of human life consists of interaction with material objects that we conclude that the real is that which we can see or picture. If we cannot see, touch, smell, or hear it, it must not exist. Yet, none of these things is true of love, hate, good, evil, faithfulness, deceit, justice, compassion, and many other qualities that are important to us. In this sense, the ontologically real is not something one can picture.

            Personalism assumes that person is central both metaphysically and ethically. Supreme reality is both personal and creator. The supreme person choose or wills to create persons, they are of infinite value to the creator, and they should be respected and treated like the intrinsically and infinitely valuable beings they are. To be is to act or be acted upon. Being and activity are inseparable. Neither being nor activity precede each other. Reality is mind and will. One can find in the human person clues to the meaning of objective reality. If God creates persons in the image of God, there must be in them clues about the nature of ultimate reality. We can know what we can about God because God created us in the image of God.

            Personalism is idealistic. Reality is of the nature of mind or spirit. The real is personal or an aspect or process of some self or person.

            Personalism is theistic and accepts a personal God.

            Personalism is creationist in that it views God as the first cause of the universe.

            Personalism emphasizes freedom. To be is to be free and to act or have the potential to do so. To be free is what it means to be a person. To be a person is to be free.

            Personalism is empirical in that it begins with self experience and as it reflects and reasons, it will return to the experiences of self.

            Personalism accepts coherence as the criterion of truth. Brightman suggested three groups of criteria. One is social criteria, such as custom consensus, tradition, and authority. Second is immediate perception, such as instinct, sense perception, intuition, and feeling. Third are rational criteria, such as correspondence, practical consequences, consistence, and coherence. The problem with pure correspondence is that it claims that ideas are true if they are pictures or copies of reality. The search for truth involves the coherent organization of many types of data and evidence.  Practical consequences the test of the pragmatist, suggesting that ideas are useful when we can use them to devise plans to get things accomplished in the world. Coherence is the chief test of truth because each of the other criteria lead to questions that it cannot answer. Coherence aims at a synoptic view, discovering how things stick together. It makes room for logical consistence and for learning from experience.

            Personalism seeks a view of the world involving both analysis and synthesis.

            Personalism is understands that the mind is active and creative, as well as receptive of sensations, and as such it is dualistic.

            Personalism conceives of reality as social, relational, or communal. The universe is a society of selves and persons who interact and are united by God.

            Personalism is profoundly ethical. Extra-ethical conceptions include the following. Personalism sets ethical considerations with the context of a conception of the origin and destiny of life. It has a profound sense of the sanctity of persons. It has a high estimate of non-human life.

            Personalism was never popular outside of its home at Boston University. People disagreed with the emphasis upon person as a metaphysical principle, in part because many philosophers grew distrust any metaphysics. Personalism also focused upon human beings, tending to leave aside environmental concerns. Other philosophies were popular, such as analytic philosophy, Wittgenstein, existentialism, and process philosophy. Further, the meaning of “person” became increasingly difficult to state.


Contrary to what phenomenology has tried to make us believe, contrary to what our desire cannot fail to be tempted into believing, the thing itself always escapes Husserl. Contrary to the assurance that he gives us, the look cannot abide. Although he says “to the things themselves,” the thing escapes us. Husserl repeatedly began and introduced phenomenology. He tried to find an adequate foundation for his philosophical reflections. The fact that he kept beginning suggests that he never found the appropriate beginning. I would suggest that this failure points us in the direction of Wittgenstein and his reflections on our form of life.

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) sought a phenomenological method for philosophy that he never completed to his own satisfaction. His inability to see reason at work in the world of his day led him to seek reason in transcendental reflection. He offers a theory of consciousness, world, and history. He seeks radical certitude. He tries to locate in experience the kind of necessity that mathematics has, but a necessity that is a function of our life in the world rather than of the postulations and definitions of an axiomatic method. Beyond necessity that is involved in the world, Husserl was searching for a certainty of roots, of conditions that underlie experience and make it possible. He insisted on the clarification of the grounds of philosophical inquiry, on making explicit philosophical method, and on illuminating the involvement of the thinker in philosophizing about the everyday world that he inhabits and whose demands embrace him. It is in the complex relationship between the philosopher and the mundane realm that the clue of certitude is to be found. The egological view sifts toward the foundation of one’s life. Certitude begins with mundane knowledge and belief. Husserl introduces new terms and uses old ones in novel ways. He wanted to have the right starting point for philosophy. He felt himself a wanderer. Phenomenology is a reflection on the meaning of philosophical activity, a search for its roots, and its connections with the various experiences of the world. To be a beginner is to concern oneself with the given in experience, with the career of consciousness in intimate relation to the given, and with the archeology of all phenomena. All philosophers must find their point of departure in philosophy, interrogating their own experience, and coming to terms with the claims and pronouncements of others. Philosophers must develop their own seeing. 1) Presuppositionless philosophy candidly admits, examines, and accounts for its assumptions. 2) Consciousness is the source and matrix of all phenomena. Every act of thinking implies and object of thought. All other acts of perception (remembering, imagining, and willing) have a directional force. Thus, we have the intentionality of consciousness. 3) Phenomena are meant, not simply acknowledged, in perception. 4) Phenomena may be appreciated as essences. 5) Believing in the world is the paradigm of normality which the philosopher seeks to understand and point out implications. The epoche is the attempt to suspend one’s own believing with regard to participating in experience, for without that suspension any analysis of the world will be prejudiced. 6) Phenomenology concerns itself with prepredicative experience. The natural attitude is the ordinary stance of humanity in the everyday world. 7) Phenomenology offers itself as the foundation of science by clarifying the meaning of all basic terms of discourse. 8) Phenomenology is a philosophy of the life world. Within the life world all projections of more specialized realms, such as law, government, the professions, takes place. The life world becomes the theme of philosophy. The search for self-knowledge coincides with the illumination of the mundane. 9) Phenomenology is a defense of reason, in which human action has a teleological perspective: human action directs itself toward its own completion within the larger network of the fulfillment of all consciousness in rational terms. 10) Phenomenology is a critique of philosophy. Husserl has curious ambivalence toward building systems of philosophy and the establishment of authority.

            We use practical reason as we examine the natural attitude toward the world. We experience daily life in naïve terms and take it for granted. We believe in the world; we have faith in the reality of the world; we have faith in the given quality of the world. We discover this world in the natural attitude immediately and intuitively; we can speak of an unmediated seeing. We accept the experience of inter-subjective and inter-cultural reality. We accept the given quality of an inter-subjective reality in which essentially the same world exists for all of us. In the natural attitude: 1) the fact-world, the mundane world of daily life, has no origin; it is simply there; 2) this fact-world is an inter-subjective reality which we tacitly accept as a shared world; 3) any doubt we experience is either piecemeal doubt or wholesale doubt concerning the world. However, such wholesale doubt is not possible in the purest sense of the term, for we cannot doubt everything. No matter what we doubt our how much we doubt, we stand somewhere firmly. We can point out features of the natural attitude, even while we cannot say that the daily life of people has such self-conscious awareness. Most people experience the structure of daily life in a naïve way. Thus, each of us has a body; we locate the bodies of others at some distance from our bodies. Each experience presents itself to us as a horizon of potentiality. The presented experience seizes us from some perspective, the range going from epistemological to cultural placement. The natural attitude both is a fundamental horizon and includes horizons. Perception as horizon has common sense implanted in it. Reality presents itself in aspects, profiles that reveal the unity of the object or event in gradual ways. Every experience presents itself in that some facet of the totality shows itself and at the same time reveals a further segment of the whole. All profiles point beyond themselves to the hidden frame of unity in which they participate in or disclose. Our consciousness has a past horizon and a future horizon; it has the capacity to retain and to anticipate. We extend the present as a living present, a multi-dimensional reality.

            As we shift to the phenomenological attitude, we do not leave the natural attitude behind. The reflection demanded by phenomenology is toward the presented experience common in the natural attitude. The phenomenological attitude must place in relief what common sense takes for granted, namely, the acceptance of the world as real; belief in the existence of what sensation and cognition report. Common sense closes itself to inspection of its beliefs. Phenomenology makes it possible for self-inspection of one’s procedures; it brings to light our consciousness of the world and its contents. 1) The bracketed world remains an inter-subjective achievement; 2) the bracketed world has its own history; 3) as the natural attitude accepted inter-subjectivity, the phenomenological attitude must also find the ground of the ego.

            The phenomenological method begins with reduction. We need an increasingly more profound conception of the ego, the I, than what Descartes gave. It refers to a shift in from factuality and particularity to essential and universal qualities, a movement from believing in the world to transcendental subjectivity. Phenomenology releases the I from the we that binds it; reduction moves from the I as a communally grounded reality to the ego as a source of what is ultimately the individual’s own. The objective of this reduction is when we as observers have concern with the world as the intentional correlate of transcendental subjectivity. We do not lose anything in this reduction; rather, consciousness reflects on its own movement. In fact, this is philosophy, not some limited technique. The I who performs this reduction is not the I of the natural attitude.

            The essence of consciousness is its directionality. We are attentive animals; we can give our attention to relatively faint stimuli. We can pick out sounds at a distance. All perceptual acts have one dominant characteristic in that they point toward or intend, some object. All thinking is thinking of something; all willing is willing of something; all imagining is imagining of something. Perception is not a state but a mobile activity. Perception projects itself toward its intended object, but we do not understand that object as a thing, but as the correlate of its accompanying act or acts. What remains is the object as meant in terms of its given quality. In phenomenology, the natural attitude recognizes the real thing and engages the actual perception. Only the phenomenological attitude examines the thing as meant[28] and the intentional act that presents the thing as meant.[29] Analysis arises out of our quarrel with the natural attitude. Phenomenology arises out of our quarrel with ourselves. The attention we give enables us to organize the field of experience in which we are going to act; we act and determine the environment. We go out and determine that to which we respond, and organize our world.

Phenomenology distinguishes facticity and particularity from essence; perception from intuition. Phenomenology seeks to identify, describe, and analyze the formal and constitutive elements of intentional consciousness. Phenomenology is the science of intentionality. It suggests a logic of the building of meaning by which we trace out the way in which any experience has form. Phenomenology concerns itself with the becoming of the world in transcendental subjectivity. When we think of origin, the natural attitude suggests causality. In phenomenology, origin is a source for direction, a locus from the movement of consciousness arises. Reality is multidimensional. We do not perceive the whole in any act of perception, although we recognize that the whole is there. We do not perceive the whole box at any one time. Nor do we perceive the whole event, the whole of the other, or the whole of our own self. We stand in one place; where we stand determines how we perceive every experience. Only God can perceive every dimension of reality at a particular moment.

            In daily life, we assume an actor-centered theory; the actions of another person are meaningful and that they signify something to the I who performs them. A phenomenological attitude is a style of thought, a way of attending to phenomena as they are initially entertained by the mind. It stresses the subjectivity understood as consciousness intending a world that is alive with meaning for others. We find ourselves in a world whose social nature is a given, something to be understood rather than created. The comprehension of the structure of that social nature is the task of social scientists who are willing to undertake philosophical labor. How does phenomenology constitute the meaning of daily life? We discern meaning in reflective pause of consciousness in which action recollects or imagines its fulfillment as act. Meaning indicates a peculiar attitude on the part of the ego toward the flow of its own duration. Phenomenology never leaves the world of daily life; it holds fast to daily life in the act of reflecting on it.

            The life-world comprises the sum of our involvement in everyday affairs. The naïve is so fundamental that we do not assume that every person will recognize the familiar when he or she sees it. Science has its grounding in the life-world. The only science worthy of the name clarifies its roots in the life-world. Phenomenology seeks an understanding of the world before the outlook determined by the sciences. The phenomenological reconstruction of the life-world begins with familiarity as the primary characteristic of everyday life. In our everydayness we find ourselves repeatedly in familiar surroundings, in relationship to people we know intimately or well, engaged in pursuits that are typical to our lives, and going through the patterned routines of waking life and of sleep. Living naïvely in the life-world, we accept the world as belong to us; we know in a tacit way the shared nature of reality. Yet, our perception of the world-horizon, the experience of the world as strange rather than familiar, opens us to another dimension of reality. To be human is to act in unusual ways at certain times. The examination of possible life-world environments helps us reflect upon what is essential and what is not. As we become aware of the familiarity of the life-world, we render it strange. The other becomes alien. The world that was home becomes an alien world. The scientific outlook assumes that the mathematical approach in nature is a model for the human sciences, all realms of being are accessible through the sciences of phenomena, and that all reality not accessible the sciences of phenomena are either irrelevant or illusions. Phenomenology opposes itself to the scientific outlook in this sense. Science can overcome its distance from the life-world only as it grounds itself in the life-world out of which it arose. Science must trace its concepts to their origin in the world of immediate experience, display the intentional constitution of all fundamental terms of discourse, and intuit in person the formative elements of the life-world.

            The specificity of the I requires philosophical comprehension. The natural attitude has passion; birth thrusts us into daily life, in the midst of activities, involved in work, enticed by real and illusory goals. It refuses to accept philosophical conclusions without direct knowledge of their human premises. We replace intellection with indirection. Philosophical indirection is a kind of Socratic ignorance in which the master is as troubled as the student; the ignorance is genuine. The guide insists on keeping us away from security and moves us inward. The relationship we have to what we know is the problem of knowledge. We are in movement or process. Our world conforms to the solitary creature that finds the self in a reality that we did not create yet for which we are responsible. The subjective thinker is one who forces his or her way toward the truth of his or her own life. We cannot have philosophy without the philosopher. The truth of the individual is in the way the person stands in relationship to the immediacy of daily life. Yet, this solitary individual, cut off from tradition and practice, finds his or her self as the source of all beliefs, attitudes, associations, and commitments related to his or her experience with others. The solitary individual has no resources other than his or her own primal possessions. The movement toward reconstruction is a lonely and difficult work, but it is a work, the employment of ego in recovering its own history. The naïve approach has presuppositions, a fact that, once discovered, disturbs us. Becoming in the world is not identical with chronological continuity. Phenomenology never loses touch with the reality of the life-world.

            We grasp the sense of the other through analogy or mirroring of our experience. Here is an ego that is not me, an ego whose possibilities are not my own, a lived body that I can never realize in my own sphere of life. The experience of inter-subjectivity has its foundation in association. We take our bearings from the pre-given nature of the world. Our regressive procedure begins with the world rather than consciousness. It results in a clarification of what takes place in natural living without the overly hasty abstract leap to consciousness. Phenomenology becomes an archeology in that it digs up by pieces the concealed structures that are part of the life-world. The question is whether phenomenology can become a science of the life-world, making everyday life a scientific theme. All phenomenology can do is describe different life-worlds; it cannot assign priority to any of them; it only asserts their plurality. The life-world becomes a territory, both as world-horizon and as earth-ground. The world-horizon is a field of fields; it points to another horizon, inner horizons, outer horizons, and even an all-encompassing universal horizon. The world-horizon is indeterminate and open. As earth-ground, the life-world is the place upon which we stand. This territory is our home-world and is a co-foundation with the alien-world we encounter.

            The life-world is the optimal experience given that particular culture or sub-culture. What is different or abnormal within a culture, an anomaly, may be nothing more than bringing optimal opportunities giving birth within the life-world. The optimal is teleological, with a tension between it and the norm. The normal is not the natural, just as we can gain optimal experience through improving the natural (glasses or contacts to correct what is natural). Our lived experience normally transcends norms as it moves toward optimal experience, thereby creating new norms. Normality is the process of creating norms, the ability to survive new norms, and the possibility of tolerating infractions of the habitual norm, instituting new norms in new situations. An action can be normative even if it is not according to a set norm. We can transcend previous norms because the teleological character of norms is not fixed and eternal. We can form new optimal norms. From one perspective, we order experiences according to the previous norm. From another perspective, we order experiences by surpassing it in such a way that the old order refers to the new as the norm. This results in a conflict of norms and orders. Our principle of selection is the tendency toward the optimum. Selection entails the exclusion of other possible optimal experiences that become latent possibilities.  Selection involves taking up and leaving out, as it were. Now, to return to the territory, we cannot understand it apart from its geographical and historical space. We cannot simply abandon it. It is the realm of the familiar.

            The typical is what familiar to me. The typically familiar I identify with the normal. The first normal life-world is my life-world; each of us has our own life-world. Other life-worlds are initially those that are familiar to others. Inter-subjective mediation of world-stories is peculiar to the abnormal and normal worlds. Our inter-subjectivity is the ground of the familiar and the non-familiar. A home-world comes into relief through encounters with the alien-world. The home-world is the first sphere of normality, rather than the Cartesian ego as the original sphere. The home-world consists of those with whom I live; yet, it includes those who lived in previous generations and whom I know indirectly, through their stories. It has links with the past and prepares for acceptance of the future. The home-world is not repetition of the past. Renewal of the home-world occurs through ethical demand that consists in the struggle toward a better humanity and a genuine human culture. At this point, phenomenology engages the ethical task of engaging the development of human culture. Repetition and habit do not create the binding character of norms in the home-world, but only as they are practical and reasonable possibilities of renewing our life. We do not sever ties with tradition, but we do slacken the threads of tradition; we maintain a distance from the tradition while standing within that tradition. We cannot assume the given and once for all character of the home-world. Critique involves evaluation of the internal contradictions of the home-world as well as its future becoming.  Ethical justice does not come from an analysis of the past deeds, but from the perspective of an ambiguous future emergence. A dead culture occurs when the home is no longer a home, when we no longer appropriate the home-world; when we no longer identify it as our world. Our experience of home-world and alien-world is not reducible to another foundation, nor incorporated into a higher unity. We can also encounter certain limit-situations that call into question our power to appropriate the home-world. This proposes a non-foundational view of the life-world. We can cross the boundaries of the life-world only because those boundaries remain. We know the alien-world through our experience in the home-world.

            Phenomenology protests against a false utopianism of science, a logic divested of its experiential roots in consciousness, blindness to human history, and unwillingness to push questions to their ultimate source. Although being without presuppositions is not possible, phenomenology does seek rejection of the naïve propositions from psychology, sociology, or science. Our integrity as a modern social world rests upon reason. Reason depends upon philosophy to uphold it. Phenomenology can heal the ills of the modern social world only as it restores reason to its proper place, thereby reanimating the human spirit. When we abandon reason or rationality, we open the door for the destruction of the modern social world. The sickness revealed in Colonialism, Nazism and Communism were rebellions against reason. We can see the sickness in religious systems that dominate civil society, such as some Roman Catholic countries, every Moslem culture, and Hindu and Buddhist cultures. The loss of philosophy is the primary origin of our sickness, for it is a loss of reason and the drive toward the universal. I do not mean a unitary philosophical system is the goal of knowledge. Rather, diversification is key to our understanding of the universal. The sickness of much of modern thought is arrogance, cutting the individual away from the philosophical dialogue with tradition and others. Reason needs no justification because it is the matrix of justification. The logic of the heart leads to the discipline of love and the search for grace, but not to a foundation for philosophical commitment. Reason does not need faith to believe in its mission. The power of faith is that it cannot serve as a ground for reason; its talent lies elsewhere. The philosopher becomes the delegate of reason and the advocate of the human spirit. We have three choices. We can settle for rationalism defined by science, accept the idea of progress, and redraft the old blueprints for a new age of discovery. We can repudiate both history and science in favor of an age of improvisation, a time of affective ingathering accompanied by nihilism. We can assume the obligations of a will to reason in the form of an infinite task of searching out of the constitution of our capacity to represent to ourselves what we may yet become, servants of humanity.

Analytic Philosophy

Analytic philosophy explores the meaning of certain concepts, such as knowledge, belief, truth, and justification. One cannot make a judicious assessment of any proposed theses until one understands it and its constituent concepts. Symbolic logic is an important development within 20th century philosophy. It served as a role model for many philosophers, who thought that its criteria of clarity, precision, and rigor should be ideals emulated in grappling with other philosophical issues. However, within the analytic school of though arose the later Wittgenstein, who argued that treating logic as an ideal logic superior to ordinary language led to paradox and incoherence.

Logical positivism arose out of the Vienna Circle. Schlick said that the task of philosophy as an analysis of the foundations of scientific knowledge. He proposed a conception of meaning as determined by the rules of a language for the use of a sign. He placed an emphasis on David Hilbert’s formalistic method of introducing concepts through postulates. He defended the correspondence theory of truth. He advanced the thesis that the distinction between the physical and mental is not a distinction in language rather than entities. He accepted a compatibilist view of the relationship between freedom of the will and determinism. It distinguished between analytic and synthetic propositions, as did Hume and the Tractatus. Synthetic is also factual, empirical, contingent, or a posteriori. Analytic is also necessary, tautological, or a priori. Theorems of symbolic logic and of arithmetic are analytic. Analytic propositions do not give us any information about the world, that is, that they be existential import. Only synthetic propositions can be informative about reality, and they are true when what they assert corresponds to the facts. This view dismisses the rationalist tradition. Observational data is not strong enough to produce certainty. We cannot have knowledge about the world that is also certain. The lack of certainty fits in with what scientists would say about the possibility of certitude. Scientism and the principle of verifiability were the main positivist grounds for rejecting traditional metaphysics, literature, theology, and the arts as capable of producing meaningful propositions. The point of the verifiability principle was that it must be possible to describe the observations that would allow one to determine whether the proposition is true or false. The reductive thesis is that all factual knowledge can be reduced to observable data. Observation is the heart of the scientific method.

Logical positivism had the attitude that science alone can provide significant information about reality did not convince or appeal to some philosophers.

Philosophical logic sought to prove that mathematics was a branch of logic and that mathematical logic was an ideal language that could capture the large variety of inference patterns and idioms found in ordinary discourse. Through translating ordinary language into logical notation, they showed how vague expressions could become precise. They also showed how sentences susceptible to double readings could become clear.

Frege’s (1848-1925) philosophical work is of an importance far more general than the area to which he principally applied it, the philosophy of mathematics: he initiated a revolution, in fact, as profound as that of René Descartes in the 17th century. Whereas Descartes had made epistemology the starting point for all philosophy, Frege gave this place to the theory of meaning or the philosophy of language. His work has been influential because he made the restricted part of philosophy in which he worked basic to all the rest. His system of second order logic and the theory of (relational) concepts that he developed is consistent. Its underlying comprehension principle for concepts ensures that the domain of concepts is very rich. Each concept has a negation, every pair of concepts has a conjunction, every pair of concepts has a disjunction, etc. Epistemological considerations motivated his work on the foundations of mathematics. Frege had the following goal, namely, to explain our knowledge of the basic laws of arithmetic by giving an answer to the question "How are numbers ‘given’ to us?" which makes no appeal to the faculty of intuition. If Frege could show that the basic laws of number theory are derivable from analytic truths of logic, then he could argue that we need only appeal to the faculty of understanding (as opposed to some faculty of intuition) to explain our knowledge of the truths of arithmetic. Frege’s goal then stands in contrast to the Kantian view of the exact mathematical sciences, according to which a faculty of intuition must supplement general principles of reasoning if we are to achieve mathematical knowledge. The Kantian model here is that of geometry; Kant thought that our intuitions of figures and constructions played an essential role in the demonstrations of geometrical theorems. (In Frege’s own time, the achievements of Frege’s contemporaries Pasch, Pieri and Hilbert showed that such intuitions were not essential.)

            A worse disaster than neglect, however, was in store for him. While volume 2 of the Grundgesetze was at the printer's, he received on June 16, 1902, a letter from one of the few contemporaries who had read and admired his works--Bertrand Russell. The latter pointed out, modestly but correctly, the possibility of deriving a contradiction in Frege's logical system--the celebrated Russell paradox. Russell wrote to Gottlob Frege with news of his paradox on June 16, 1902. The paradox was of significance to Frege’s logical work since, in effect, it showed that the axioms Frege was using to formalize his logic were inconsistent. Specifically, Frege’s Rule V, which states that two sets are equal if and only if their corresponding functions coincide in values for all possible arguments, requires that an expression such as f(x) may be considered to be both a function of the argument f and a function of the argument x. In effect, it was this ambiguity that allowed Russell to construct S in such a way that it could be a member of itself. We can see the significance of Russell’s paradox once we realize that, using classical logic, all sentences follow from a contradiction. (For example, assuming both P and ~P, we can prove any arbitrary Q as follows: from P we can obtain P  Q by the rule of Addition, and then from P  Q and ~P we can obtain Q by the rule of Disjunctive Syllogism.) In the eyes of many, it therefore appeared that no mathematical proof could be trusted if it was discovered that the logic and set theory apparently underlying all of mathematics was contradictory. This paradox caused him to question the truth of logicism, and few philosophers today believe that mathematics can be reduced to logic. Mathematics seems to require some non-logical notions (such set membership) and some non-logical axioms (such as the non-logical axioms of set theory). Despite the fact that a contradiction invalidated a part of his system, the intricate theoretical web of definitions and proofs developed in the Grundgesetze produced a conceptual framework for mathematical logic that was nothing short of revolutionary. There is no doubt that the logical system and maze of definitions developed by Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead in Principia Mathematica owe a huge debt to the work found in Frege’s Grundgesetze.

The basic problem for Frege’s strategy, however, is that for his logicist project to succeed, his system must include at some point (either as an axiom or theorem) statements that explicitly assert the existence of certain kinds of abstract entities and it is not obvious how to justify the claim that we know such explicit existential statements. Even when we replace the inconsistent Basic Law V with the powerful Hume’s Principle, Frege’s work still leaves two questions unanswered: (1) How do we know that numbers exist?, and (2) How do we precisely specify which objects they are? The first question arises because Hume’s Principle does not seem to be a purely analytic truth of logic; by what faculty do we come to know (the truth of) the existential claim that numbers exist if neither Hume’s Principle nor this existential claim is analytically true? The second question arises because Frege’s work offers no general condition under which we can identify an arbitrarily chosen object x with a given number such as the number of planets; how then can Frege claim to have precisely specified which objects the numbers are within the domain of all logical and non-logical objects? So questions about the very existence and identity of numbers still plague Frege’s work.

            These two questions arise because of a limitation in the logical form of these Fregean biconditional principles such as Hume’s Principle and Basic Law V. These contextual definitions attempt to do two jobs that modern logicians now typically accomplish with separate principles. A properly reformulated theory of ‘logical’ objects should have: (1) a separate non-logical comprehension principle that explicitly asserts the existence of logical objects, and (2) a separate identity principle that asserts the conditions under which logical objects are identical. The latter should specify identity conditions for logical objects in terms of their most salient characteristic, one that distinguishes them from other objects.

At the very end of Frege's life, he again started to work on the philosophy of mathematics, having arrived at the conclusion that one of the fundamental bases of his earlier work--the attempt to found arithmetic on logic--had been mistaken; but the work did not progress very far and was not published.

            Principia Mathmatica was first published in three volumes, in 1910, 1912 and 1913, by Whitehead and Russell. The philosophical implication of this work is that ordinary language and symbolic logic have close ties. It employed five axioms, which later H. M. Sheffer reduced to the proposition that p is incompatible with q, indentifying the Sheffer stroke p/q. Arithmetic became sub-branch of logic.

            Godel’s findings undermined deeply rooted preconceptions and demolished ancient hopes that were being freshly nourished by research on the foundations of mathematics. Godel’s first theorem demonstrated that the richness of a language would make it possible to construct a well-formed formula that one could prove true and also would not be a theorem of that language, if the language is a consistent system. His second theorem said that the consistency of a formal system adequate for number theory cannot be proved within the system. He also proved that no one can develop another system, having other axioms and rules, and sufficiently rich to derive Peano’s postulates, that would at the same time be complete. He developed a system of “Godel numbering” in which long linear arrangements of strings of symbols in any formal system are mirrored precisely by mathematical relationships among usually astronomically large whole numbers. Godel showed how we can translate a statement about any mathematical formal system into a mathematical statement inside number theory. We can import any meta-mathematical formal system into mathematics. His incompleteness theorem says that there are innumerable problems in elementary number theory that fall outside the scope of a fixed axiomatic method, and that such engines are incapable of answering. The prospect of finding for every deductive system an absolute proof of consistency that satisfies the finitistic requirements that Hilbert outlined is unlikely. The ideal that mathematic logicians entertained of providing a complete axiomatization of the whole, or even of a considerable part, of pure mathematics, had to be abandoned. Nevertheless, his paper was not altogether negative.  It introduced into the study of foundation questions a new technique of analysis comparable in its nature and fertility with the algebraic method that Rene Descartes introduced into geometry.  This technique suggested and initiated new problems for logical and mathematical investigation.  It provoked a reappraisal of widely held philosophies of mathematics, and of philosophies of knowledge in general.  Godel’s proof should not be construed as an invitation to despair or as an excuse for mystery-mongering.  The fact that there are arithmetical truths that cannot be demonstrated formally does not mean that there are truths that are forever incapable of becoming known or that a mystic intuition must replace cogent proof.  It does not mean that there are ineluctable limits to human reason.  His theorem does indicate that the structure and power of the human mind are far more complex and subtle than any non-living machine yet envisaged.  Godel’s own work is a remarkable example of such complexity and subtlety.  It is an occasion, not for dejection, but for a renewed appreciation of the powers of creative reason.

Russell developed a theory of descriptions that is a major achievement in logic and philosophy. He showed that an ideal language can not only articulate the ordinary sentences of natural languages, but also that it can reveal distinctions that such languages conceal. Further, one can distinguish between surface grammar from a deeper logical grammar that expresses the real meaning of such sentences. He also offered a theory about the nature and function of incomplete symbols. He showed that analyzing sentences is a general sentence and each is meaningful. Thus, a sentence whose subject term lacks a referent can be meaningful.

Russell developed a theory he called logical atomism. He described this approach as a scientific philosophy, grounded in mathematical logic. By scientific philosophy he meant an empiricist epistemology. He never deviated from his general position that philosophy should be grounded in logic and be scientific. The historical influence upon is from John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume. Their most important effect on Russell was a commitment to sense-data theory, a modern version of the Lockean and Humean theories that what we are directly aware of are impressions and the ideas arising from them. Even if we have some sort of access to the external world, it can never be direct and therefore can never give us certitude about what exists outside of our minds. The fundamental epistemological principle in the analysis of propositions containing descriptions is that every proposition that we can understand must be composed wholly of constituents with which we are acquainted. The idea is that all non-analytic knowledge derives from experience. He argues that particular things make up the composition of discrete facts. In this view, he specifically reacted against idealism and monistic versions of reality that suggested that reality consists of totality whose parts are internally and necessarily related to each other, and therefore we cannot separate them without distortion. He advanced his theory to make it clear that any thesis not consistent with the actual or potential findings of science is inconsistent. Science has a grater likelihood of being true than any philosophy has advanced. Science is the foundation of philosophy. The business of philosophy is logical analysis and synthesis. He developed a theory of the objective world of fact and our human capacity through language and thought to access the world of fact. Facts and particulars belong to the external objective world and are different from beliefs and linguistic units that allow us to think and talk about them. Russell adhered to the correspondence theory of truth. Atomic sentences are the key to his system of axioms and calculi in Principia Mathematica. Any molecular sentence can thus be reduced to a set of atomic sentences. It will mean nothing more than or less than the combination of its atomic sentences. He rejected Frege’s view that proper names have no meaning in an intensional sense. His logical atomism is a metaphysical view that claims that mathematical logic mirrors the structure of reality. His theory of descriptions is a key component of the theory. This view confuses what denoting with referring. It fails to distinguish meaning from referring. It fails to discriminate the grammatical forms of linguistic units from their referential, ascriptive, and statement-making uses on particular occasions. People use language in its various forms to refer or mention particular individuals, places, or things. It is misleading to think that words or sentences have these properties. Meaning is a property of linguistic expression. The meaning of a sentence is a function of the meaning of its lexical constituents. However, it can be used on different occasions by speakers to refer to or mention different individuals. What the individuals being referred to exist, that person was then making a statement that was either true or false. However, the words apart from context are neither true nor false. Further, if they were to be used when no such person existed, certain statement-making presuppositions would have been violated, and no statement would have been made. In such a case the locution would be neither true nor false.

            Fitting theories of representation, an example being Bertrand Russell, suggest that signs point in virtue of resembling other things and they point to what they resemble. Signs have semantic value in virtue of resemblance, similarity, or shared structure. Structural relationships among the elements of representations mirror or model structural relationships among the elements of what they represented. Signs are independent of the occurrence of what they represent. Something internal to the system of representation determines the semantic value of an expression. Fitting theories tend to suppose the properties that confer semantic value on signs are epistemically accessible in some privileged or special way to the one speaking. The problem with this theory is one of infinite regress, in that one can always consider possible ways of fitting signs onto the world and that to which they point. It leaves a gap between signs and that to which they point. Signs succeed in pointing beyond themselves only to the extent that they relationships set up within a sign or system of signs fit onto relationships existing external to the sign or system of signs. This leaves room for various possible ways of fitting, various possible mappings, and various possible interpretations. Any attempt to fill in the gaps refers to representations rather than what the signs represent.

What G. E. Moore believed that he had discovered by attending to the precise nature of these questions was threefold. First, that good is the name of a simple indefinable property. Secondly, Moore takes it that to call an action right is simply to say that of the available alternative actions it is the one that does or did in fact produce the most good. Thirdly, it turns out to be the case that personal affections and aesthetic enjoyments include all the greatest, and by far the greatest goods we can imagine.

G. E. Moore defended moral realism. The most famous classical exponent was Plato. Moral judgments can be either true or false. He developed a devastating argument against any form of reductionism in ethics, called the naturalistic fallacy. The fallacy consists in trying to give a definition of a moral concept, goodness, in non-moral terms, such as happiness, desire, pleasure, and so on. Every true naturalistic proposition about the nature of goodness will be synthetic. The argument demonstrates the goodness is a simple property and hence is indefinable. Therefore, no scientific account of goodness is possible. Ayer said that moral judgments are neither true nor false because they are not cognitively significant. They are utterances that evoke emotions and feelings, and speakers use them to elicit similar emotions from auditors. This emotive theory of ethics Moore wittily rejected by saying that he was inclined to accept the emotive theory of ethics, and also inclined to reject it, and do not know which way he was inclined most strongly.

A. J. Ayer concerned himself with the nature of philosophical, moral, and theological reasoning.  Truth, as philosophy traditionally speaks of it, is no problem.  Only science can provide the kind of verification necessary for true statements.  He suggested that all such statements, outside of simple definitions of words, were nonsense.  We have no reason to believe in the truth of any set of empirical propositions unless we can directly verify at least one of them.  For a proposition to be directly verifiable, it is necessary that we should determine the meaning of the sentence that expresses it by correlation with some observable state of affairs.  We test the genuineness of apparent statements of fact in the criterion of verifiability.  We say that a sentence is factually significant to any given person if he or she knows how to verify the proposition that it purports to express.  We must know what observations would lead us to accept the proposition as being true or reject it as being false.  Ayer also distinguishes between strong and weak verification, for if we accept only conclusive verifiability we seek to prove too much.  We accept the existence of other persons only because, based upon our experience, we observe that other people understand us, at least to some degree, when we speak to them. 

A. J. Ayer, along with the empirical movement within philosophy, limits human knowledge to what we experience.  He also recognizes the abuses of reason in the history of philosophy and theology.  We have spent far too much time speculating about ideas that we had no possibility of verifying in our experience.  The history of religion and philosophy not only has useless debates attached to it, but in some cases wars fought over differences in religion, and even denominations with religions.  However, Ayer went too far when he denied that philosophy, outside of simple definition of words, could yield any genuine knowledge.  Science and its methods determine the criterion for truth.  Contrary to the whole history of philosophy, truth is actually not a problem, for it is a simple matter of verification through scientific methodology. Truth is not a simple matter.  It is the tortuous realization of ideas in history, often having opposing ideas clashing, and then giving birth to new truth.  Unfortunately for Ayer and empiricism, brute, self-contained matters of fact, capable of being understood apart from the whole, simply do not exist.  Whenever we express ourselves concerning immediate experience, we find that understanding leads us beyond itself, to its relation to other objects in the universe.  The philosophical enterprise is our conscious self-correction of our excessive subjectivity. 

Gilbert Ryle rejected Descartes. Descartes held that every human being is both a mind and a body, which are ordinarily harnessed together, yet, after the body dies, the mind may continue to exist and function. Human bodies are in space and are subject to the mechanical laws of physics, chemistry, and biology. The body is a public object and can be inspected by external observers. However, minds are immaterial and are not in space, nor are their operations subject to mechanical laws. The mind is an entity, but an immaterial and invisible one that inhabits a mechanical body. This is why Ryle calls it the ghost in the machine. The Cartesian picture thus depends on the internal external distinction. This leads to the problem of how the mind influences bodily action. Descartes presupposes that one has privileged access to a private realm consisting of one’s own sensations, thoughts, and mental states and that such an access consists in the observation of one’s sensations and states. Descartes makes a category mistake, for it assumes that minds belong to the same category as bodies in the sense that deterministic laws rigidly govern both. Ryle’s alternative is a detailed description of how mental concepts are used in everyday life. He wanted to rectify the logical geography of the knowledge that we already possess, reminding us of how we employ these concepts when we are not doing philosophy. The concept of observation applies to the physical domain in a way it cannot apply to the mental.

John Austin built his philosophy upon two principles. The first was that everyday language has a long history. People have used it for a variety of purposes, including drawing various distinctions. The second principle is that of ontological applicability, which suggests that these distinctions pick out or discriminate actual features in the world. One key paper was “A Plea for Excuses.” In ethics we study the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, the obligatory and the forbidden, and tthis to a great extent connects with doing an action. The study of excuses can throw light on cases in which something has been done, but in which an aberrance or failure occurred. By analyzing excuses, one can thus obtain a more perspicuous view of the complexities involved in doing any action. The abnormal will throw light on the normal. By studying the deviant we cast light on the standard case. He examines cases in which people do something, but refuse to accept responsibility for it be pleading extenuating circumstances or proffering some other form of exculpation. The technique rests on the assumption that, but becoming clear abouit the reverse side of some concept or notion, we can become clearer about its obverse side. Free is the name we give to a dimension in which actions are assessed. If it were the name of a property of actions, we oculd give a positive account of what makes an action free. We cannot, because free is a word that acquires the meaning from the concepts it excludes. We provide excuses in the case of obsessions, compulsions, and accidents. We know what it is to constrain people; we do not know what it is to be free. Free action action include many cases. As he examines ordinary language in this way, he realizes that it is the first word, rather than the last word.

Austin proposes a speech act theory. A locutionary act is to speak about its meaning or sense. An illocutionary act consists of words used in their standard senses to urge, advise, or order others. The perlocutionary act describes the result of such urging or advising in persuading or inducing. He also distinguishes other acts: veridictives, exercitives, commissives, behabitives, and expositives. The traditional analysis of language has in interest only in whether it has the capacity for truth or falsity. This view arises out of the view of ordinary language as a calculus that one can translate into symbolic logic. Such analysts focused on propositions, statements, and assertions. He identified this analysis of language as the descriptive fallacy, relegating all sorts of utterances to the category of nonsense that do not belong there. Performatives are speech acts that are neither true nor false, while yet meaningful.

Austin’s approach may be introspective, in that assumes how he uses a word is how everyone uses a word. However, he showed the way for philosophy of language can be construed as a branch of the philosophy of action. Speech acts are types of actions, involving intentional human behavior. The philosophy of action becomes a subdomain of the philosophy of mind. Thus, the philosophy of language, which began with Frege and Russell, has through speech acts, become absorbed into the hiosophy of mind. This expansion of the philosophy of mind has been one of the most significant changes in analytic philosophy.

Rudolf Carnap viewed empiricism as the philosophy that best explicates the nature of science, and that science provides the best theory of the world. All knowledge derives from sense experience. Sense experience requires a philosophical reconstruction to explain the organized and coherent theories one finds in science. Such a reconstruction is also a justification. Science needs a justification because we can derive science from observation. The philosophical task is to reconstruct the steps that justify the derivation of science from its experiential basis. This is the prime function of an empirical philosophy. Such a reconstruction may work by providing a theory and trace its origin to sense-data, or it may start from sense experience and show by logical steps how theory is constructed from an evidential base. These steps are not observations. They are deductive and hence logical in character. They are analytic statements. Thus, to develop a reconstruction of the coherent body of theory called science, the philosopher must presuppose the distinction between the analytic and the synthetic. According to Carnap, the framework of a scientific theory derives from analyticity and a priori decision rather than a function of sense experience. Thus, an alternative framework, such as physicalistic or phenomenalistic language, that apply to the same set of observational data. Synthetic statements depend on sense experience and occur within the framework. The analytic-synthetic contrast is essential to empiricism, conceived as the philosophy of science. Further, this distinction is important for the Vienna Circle in its attack upon rationalism. The truths of reason are analytic and as such are tautologous. Unlike synthetic truths, none of them carries existential import. The distinction explores how non-tautologous knowledge derives from sense experience.

W. V. O. Quine wrote two biographies that one might describe as the confessions of a solipsist. He went through three phases where he focused on logic, then on semantics, and then on epistemology. His philosophy is scientistic, empiricist, and behaviorist. He rejects traditional metaphysics, the analytic and synthetic distinction, reductionism, modal logic, essentialism, and skepticism. He rejects Carnap’s view of empiricism as a reconstruction or justification of science by philosophy as neither needed or possible. Philosophy does not have a privileged position from which it can judge science. Empiricism is not a normative philosophy. He affirms enhanced common sense, naturalism, physicalism, holism, pragmatism, undetermination of theory, indeterminacy of translation, inscrutability of reference, and ontological relativity. His naturalized epistemology recognizes that science goes its own way in developing theory and pays no attention to philosophical reconstructions. The task of empirical philosophy is to describe what scientists do. He wants philosophers to stop theorizing and look at what scientists do. No justification beyond scientific practice itself is possible. His behaviorism is another way to disavow philosophical reconstruction. His holism suggests that the unit of empirical significance is now likened to a human fabric or field of force that covers sense experience. This field has a center occupied by the basic laws of physics and logic. These are the most certain pieces of knowledge humans possess. The difference between analytic and synthetic truths is a matter of degree. We can hold statement as true and no statement is immune from revision. How we treat such statements depends on the findings of future scientific inquiry. Statements differ only in the degree of tenacity with which we hold them. That tenacity depends upon the vaguely pragmatic inclination to adjust one strand of the fabric of science rather than another in accommodating some particular recalcitrant experience. This flexibility in revising the corporate body of theory is his version of pragmatism and an important part of his empiricism. He developed a system, unusual within the analytic tradition. His system offers a synoptic explanatory theory that encompasses a wide range of phenomena. However, if any of its features is untenable, the whole system is vulnerable to collapse.

Quine suggested that if all sentences and text lack determinate meaning, then how can he view his own utterances as anything more than mere noise? The familiar self-application problem encountered by all relativisms becomes total. Quine, in Word and Object, argued that if there is to be a science of human behavior whose key expressions characterize that behavior in terms precise enough to provide us with genuine laws, those expressions must be formulated in a vocabulary that omits all reference to intentions, purposes, and reasons for action. All these expressions refer to or presuppose reference to the beliefs of the agents in question. He denies meanings are internal psychological states or Platonic entities the exist outside the space-time order. All we need are observable data of human action. The third-person outlook gives science its objectivity. The issue for a scientific philosophy is how an observer can come to understand what a speaker means by the sounds he or she utters. He deals with the possibility of translation to suggest that linguistic meaning is a function of a particular system and not of its subunits. Term-by-term or even statement-by-statement translation is infeasible. He has dressed up his holism in linguistic terms. Quine’s conclusion is that therefore any genuine science of human behavior must eliminate such intentional expressions. It follows from Quine’s position that if it proved impossible to eliminate reference to such items as beliefs and enjoyments and fears from our understanding of human behavior, that understanding could not take the form which Quine considers the form of human science, namely embodiment in law-like generalizations.

Language learning is more complicated than Quine suggests. His holism suggests a brand of idealism that would contradict his basic philosophy. He is an armchair philosopher. His scientism leaves no room for philosophy. Yet, what he is doing is not experimental science and is a case of doing philosoohy in the sense he rejects. Quine’s behaviorism cannot handle the internal world of feelings, sensations, thoughts, intentions, and beliefs, since we cannot identify them with behavior. Even our response to what another says suggests we understand what the person means. Behavior presupposes these notions. Quine’s narrow range of writing limits his influence.


                Wittgenstein’s strength is that he did not opt for the positivism of the Vienna Circle.  He outlined in his investigation of language games a kind of legitimating not based on performativity.  That is what the postmodern world is all about.  Most people have lost the nostalgia for the lost narrative.  It in no way follows that they reduce themselves to barbarity.  Wittgenstein’s concerns in his work are ethical concerns. What appears to inspire his thought his moral and religious themes.

The first thing we must account for is his style: he does not report, he does not write up results. Wittgenstein chose confession and recast his dialogue. In confessing you do not explain or justify, but describe how it is with you. Nor is it the occasion for accusation, except of yourself, and by implication those who find themselves in you. There is exhortation not to belief, but to self-scrutiny. Such writing has its risks. I do not mean merely the familiar ones of inconsistency, lack of clarity, empirical falsehood, unwarranted generalization, but also of personal confusion, with its attendant dishonesties, and of the tyranny that subjects the world to one’s personal problems. In asking for more than belief, it invites discipleship, which runs its own risks of dishonesty and hostility. Because the breaking of such control is a constant purpose of the later Wittgenstein, his writing is deeply practical and negative, the way Freud’s is. Like Freud’s therapy, it wishes to prevent understanding that is unaccompanied by inner change. Both of them are intent upon unmasking the defeat of our real need in the face of self-impositions that we have not assessed, or fantasies that we cannot escape. In both, such misfortune is betrayed in the incongruence between what is said and what is meant or expressed; for both, the self is concealed in assertion and action and revealed in temptation and wish. Both thought of their negative soundings as revolutionary extensions of our knowledge, and both were obsessed by the idea, or fact, that they would be misunderstood, partly, doubtless, because they knew the taste of self-knowledge, that it is bitter. It will be time to blame them for taking misunderstanding by their disciples as personal betrayal when we know that the ignorance of oneself is a refusal to know.

One possible criticism, with which I disagree, is that the only houses of cards Wittgenstein clears up are those occupied by professional philosophers. He applies his therapy to a limited number of persons and alleviates certain hang-ups induced by their professional activities. Intelligent laypersons, non-philosophers, do not appear to learn anything from Wittgenstein. According to him, what they know or believe is in perfect order just as it stands. Therefore, they need no therapy. Wittgenstein has nothing to say to them. His views are thus of relevance only to tiny coterie of intellectuals. The great philosophers of the past spoke to the multitudes, often with the aim of making them better human beings. There is no reason ordinary folk should read him or expect to benefit from his thought.

In the first part of his Tractatus, he provides a picture theory of language, the thesis that the way language hooks up with reality is through propositions that are pictures of facts. The linguistic-world relationship is twofold. Propositions picture facts; names by their denotative connection to objects give rise to meaning. He conceives language as a kind of map that stands in an isomorphic relationship to reality. Such objects are related to each other, that hang together in the world and their interconnection is mirrored by the way names hangs together in a proposition. However, when he speaks of language, propositions, and names, he speaks of an ideal language. Ordinary language may misrepresent reality. To obtain an accurate picture of reality we must use a well-formed symbolic logic, such as that of Principia, that eliminates the defects found in everyday speech. Much of the last part of the book is as metaphysical as anything in philosophy has ever been. The notion of the mystical is tied to a central theme, that what is philosophically important about the problems of life can only be shown but not said. He holds that what we can show we cannot say. Since we can say all the propositions of science, he is suggesting that what is of ultimate philosophical significance is something that transcends the possibility of scientific investigation. If we answered all possible scientific questions, we have not touched the problems of life at all.

            The picture theory of the Tractatus suggests that a proposition can be meaningful, but false, because one can arrange the elements of propositions in ways that present possible, but not actual, arrangements of elements in the world for which the elements of propositions go proxy. By looking at a meaningful proposition, I can see how matters would be in the world if the proposition were true without knowing how in fact they are. Names track objects; propositions fit facts. Names have only meaning; propositions have only sense. Wittgenstein is both atomistic and holistic.

The simplicity of Schopenhauer’s picture attracted Wittgenstein in the Tractus. Since Wittgenstein cannot change this alien will his relation to it must be that of an attitude. Total denial of the will is best; a realistic stoicism may be next bet. Denial of the will, with the disappearance of the problem of life, is the mystical. Wittgenstein offers his denial as an accessible stoicism. Schopenhauer is more pessimistic, offering little hope of human happiness. One reaches the mystical stage by extreme asceticism. Wittgenstein entirely agrees with, and adopts, Schopenhauer’s rejection of Kant’s Categorical Imperative. Schopenhauer has quite a lot to say about morality whereas Wittgenstein suggests his views by his silence. He indicates by a silent nod. The revolution occasioned by Wittgenstein and Heidegger most famously removes the Cartesian starting point. We cannot make a foundation for certainty out of our momentary concentration upon our private self-experience. We cannot know in a solitary instant. Knowledge involves concepts, context, and surroundings. What is primary is an awareness already in the world. Heidegger pictures us as thrown into the world, our I is a being-there, our state is being in the world. Heidegger emphasizes our contingency. Wittgenstein in the Tractatus pictures a language user as a point without extension in the center of its world. The I is its world, Wittgenstein even suggests the removal of the concept of Ego or first person.

Wittgenstein wrote the Tractatus in a severe and compressed style, and organized it by means of a numbering system borrowed from Principia Mathematica. The book meant to show that traditional philosophy rests on a radical misunderstanding of the logic of our language. Following in the footsteps of Frege and Russel, Wittgenstein argued that every meaningful sentence must have a precise logical structure that the clothing of the grammatical appearance of the sentence generally hides. Either every meaningful sentence was a truth-functional composite of other simple sentences or an atomic sentence consisting of the linking together of simple names. The atomic sentence is a logical picture of a possible state of affairs that depicts it. The world must have a logical structure that the atomic sentence presents. The most important part of the book for Wittgenstein was the negative conclusions he reached at the end of the text. All sentences that are not atomic pictures of linking together of objects or truth-functional composites of such are strictly speaking meaningless. Among these he included all the propositions of ethics and aesthetics, all propositions dealing with the meaning of life, all propositions of logic, indeed all philosophical propositions, and finally all the propositions of the Tractatus itself. While these were strictly meaningless, he thought that they nevertheless aimed at saying something important, but that what they tried to express in words could really only be shown. Anyone who understood the Tractatus would discard its propositions as senseless; throw away the ladder after one had climbed up on it. One in that state would have no more temptation to utter philosophical propositions. One would see the world rightly and so would recognize that the only strictly meaningful propositions are those of natural science. Natural science could never touch what was important in human life, the mystical. One would have to contemplate in silence: For “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

For Wittgenstein, everything properly philosophical belongs to what we can show, to what is in common between a fact and its logical picture.  Every philosophical proposition is bad grammar.  The best we can hope to attain is to help people see that all philosophical discussion is a mistake.  The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts.  Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.  A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. 

The new philosophy will be a corrective to this orientation. It moves from philosophy as explanation to philosophy as description, meaning an accurate non-theoretical depiction of some situation or group of situations in which language is used an ordinary way, a form of life, the stream of life, or the language game. He appeals to everyday language. This new approach reminds the philosopher to change their orientation to recognize the mastery they have. In fact, they had it all along, but since language bewitched them, they ignore or simply do not recognize. Bringing words back from their metaphysical use to their ordinary use is an instance of such a reminder. He appeals to a gamut of cases and the contexts in which they occur, instead of looking for one key model that will probe beneath surface phenomena. By case, he means a description of an activity, phenomenon, object, or event in a particular context in ordinary life. The philosopher can compare and contrast a range of cases with each other. This procedure allows one to understand how one uses some key concept. One of its tasks is to provide an accurate account of reality. Any such account must be sensitive to the range of differing cases that we find in the language game, that is, in ordinary life. This lack of sensitivity is characteristic of traditional philosophy. He appeals to human practices.  The language game is a description of a slice of human everyday activity, including such practices as affirming, doubting, believing, following rules, and interacting with others in multifarious ways. Language games refer to those that are common to the whole community, and thus include institutions. The traditional philosopher needs to move from thinking toward looking and seeing what people actually do in the course of daily life. To urge philosophers to look is to ask them to expand their conceptual categories, to see how words function in the stream of life. The language game reminds the philosopher that he or she was a human being before becoming a philosopher.

Many philosophers do not appreciate Wittgenstein’s comparing what he calls his methods to therapies. For me part of what he means by this comparison is brought in thinking of the progress of psychoanalytic therapy. The more one learns the hang of oneself, and mounts one’s problems, the less one is able to say what one has learned. Not because you have forgotten what it was, but because nothing you said would seem like an answer or a solution. Words no longer match any question or problem you have.  You have reached conviction, but not about a proposition; and consistency, but not in a theory. You are different, what you recognize as problems are different, your world is different. This is the sense in which we cannot say what a work of art means. Believing it is seeing it.

            The predisposition of philosophers to view various uses of language in ways inappropriate to them leads to confusion. This is a tendency to view language from a skewed perspective. The proper task of philosophy is to induce us to abandon such improper perspectives. An incorrect way of viewing things can become deeply entrenched and difficult to dislodge. He does not want to replace other philosophical views with his own. He wants to convince us that we need no philosophical views.

It is significant that Wittgenstein thought of his methods as liberating. If, in the nonscientific or skeptical conflict with common belief, words are in some way deprived of their normal functioning, a conceptualization of this distortion will have to account for this pair of facts: that the philosophers must use their words in their normal way, otherwise they would not conflict with what people ordinarily mean in using them. Philosophers cannot use their words in quite their normal way; otherwise, the ordinary facts, examples, and considerations he adduces would not yield a general skeptical conclusion. It is such a pair of facts that Wittgenstein is responding to when he says of philosophical expressions that roughly philosophers use them apart from their normal language game, their grammar is misunderstood, that they flout the common criteria used in connection with these expressions. Wittgenstein is then, denying that in the apparent conflict between philosophy and the common beliefs of ordinary people, philosophy’s position is superior. This does not mean that he is defending common beliefs against philosophy. Nor is he saying that philosophy’s position is inferior to that of common people. For him philosophy fails not in denying what we all know to be true, but in its effort to escape those human forms of life that alone provide the coherence of our expression. He wishes an acknowledgement of human limitation that does not leave us chafed by our own skin, by a sense of powerlessness to penetrate beyond the human conditions of knowledge.

            Everyone becomes a philosopher. No wonder professors of philosophy are happier with themselves when they can rely in philosophizing on their technical accomplishments. Part of the discomfort, as well as part of the elation, in reading Wittgenstein is his refusal of this intellectual reliance, technical or institutional. The Investigations shows that the voices of melancholy and merriment or of metaphysics and the ordinary cause one another, and form an argument that we do not decide, but dismantle. We note these various characterizations of the voices we pair in philosophical argument. We intend them to cite the need for an investigation of the voices, even to mark the beginnings of such an investigation.

            Wittgenstein later focused on the informal language of everyday life and the fact that language is primarily a medium communication, and as such, it does not follow strictly prescribed rules.

            For a while, he thought he could explain the difference between private experience and the physical world in terms of the existence of two languages, a primary language of experience and a secondary language of physics. This dual-language view he later gave up in favor of the view that our grasp of inner phenomena is dependent on the existence of outer criteria. No one can reduce to logic any part of mathematics. Instead, mathematics is part of our natural history and consists of a number of diverse language-games. He viewed his project as quite different from the scientist.

            Philosophical Investigations begins with some words of someone else. Wittgenstein does not come to philosophical reflection from his own voice, but from another accosting him. The accosting is by someone he cares about and has to take seriously. One does not know, in advance, where philosophy might begin, when something stops one’s mind, to think. To open this book philosophically is to feel that a mind has paused here, which no doubt already suggests a certain kind of mind, or a mind in certain straits. One might think that Wittgenstein criticizes the passage from Augustine. He does not, and it is important that he does not. The avoidance of the obvious here suggests that it is not philosophically clear beforehand what is wrong with Augustine’s assertions and that Wittgenstein will not falsify his sense of finding words astray by resorting to an anxiously impatient explanation. He puts a response this way: “Augustine, we might say, does describe a system of communication, but not everything we call language is this system.” That is not a very clear remark, but it is clear enough. To know the source of appropriateness would be to know how we could have passed it by. We would know how the text disguises its remarkableness and motivation.

            A particular picture makes me recognize that the idea or picture is mine, a responsibility of mine to be responsive to a piece of my life that is not inevitable, a contingency of having something as constraining as a human life, a life constrained to make itself intelligible to itself, to find itself in words. Philosophy has no facts of its own. Its medium lies in demonstrating or showing the obvious. Then the question is unavoidable: how can the obvious not be obvious? What is the hardness of seeing the obvious? This must bear on what the hardness of philosophizing is. Other philosophers find that the technical is indispensable precisely for arriving at the obvious. Is this a conflict about what obvious means? It is a philosophical conflict, and therefore we cannot settle it by taking sides. Philosophy in Wittgenstein and Austin is the quintessential activity that has no language games of its own. It has no subject of its own. Is this metaphysics?

            What is a form of life? Speaking of language is part of an activity, or of a form of life. Forms of life consist of a plurality of language-games. A form of life does not need to be a kind of system exhibiting a certain structure. Rather, it resembles a medley-like mixture or garland of practices somehow supporting or complementing each other. Individual performers do not relate to forms of life, but require a community sharing practices, customs, uses, institutions. It is certainly not required that any one member be competent in all language-games performed by a community. The notion of a form of life alone does not explain anything. Rather, it describes the setting in which language-games are practiced. That is to say, the concept of a practice of a language-game has a link with the concept of a community. We can say similar things of “world-picture,” which is characterized by him as a kind of myth. A myth exhibits the views and the convictions of a cultural community or form f life. It may contain traditions, tales, or legends concerning the origin of the world, the world’s shape and processes as well as political structures, instructions of medical and or psychological treatment, and religious beliefs, in brief, all those matters that may be of interest in a community’s life. We do not need to present these views verbally as legends, but we can exhibit them in customs, usages, and rituals. A myth or a world-picture is not necessarily a theory of the world. To fulfill this task, not everything contained need be true, and performing some rituals may simply have the function of showing the community a decision. A world-picture serves as a basis, a foundation, a pint of departure, of the way a community looks at the world, though it contains both certainties and knowledge claims resting on them. A world-picture also resembles a medley-like mixture or garland of different practices or discursive language-games. It does not have to be a consistent system. It does not need to be worked out or well reasoned. The intuitive, practical rather than discursive sharing of views exhibited in customs or institutions somehow overlapping, supporting or supplementing each other. A world-picture is a view of things particular to a location, held by a particular group of individuals at a certain period; it does not need to be a sophisticated, philosophical or scientific system aiming at being finally true. The notion of a world-picture itself does not have any explanatory power; it rather labels a setting.

            The application of the game analogy proves to be useful here. We play games according to rules that limit possible and meaningful moves. Whether or not a move makes sense depends on the tactical, regulative, and constitutive rules of the game. Certainties are like the rules of games and belong to the constitutive rules of a discursive language-game. Certainties are neither true nor false; rather they define truth concerning the epistemological aspects of a language-game. Constitutive rules of games may tell us what we have to do in particular situations of a game, and they do restrict the range of possible moves. They are normative or prescriptive. His insistence on truth depending upon use in the language game is a rejection of the correspondence theory of truth. It depends on the rules, norms, or certainties of a language-game whether or not we can say a sentence is true or whether we can apply the calculus of truth functions to it. We do not see the consensus of a form of life or community as the criterion of truth or falsehood. Rather, the language-games practiced by a community carry out the determination of truth and falsehood. Such a language-game itself is not true or false, not correct or adequate or in accordance with reality. Language-games are not true or false. We play Language-games or not. Participants will only play discursive language-games if they very often agree on the truth-value of proposed sentences. They also have to agree, without doubt and under normal circumstances in their judgments. A community is therefore able to change its consensus when it gains new information. The constitution of a language-game or practice, to which the certainties as truth standards belong, is the frame of reference of judging particular sentences or theories to be true or false. The justification of judgments or knowledge claims therefore ends at the constitutive norms of a language-game. The move to make truth conditions depend on utterance conditions given in the rules and norms of a practice amounts to a kind of idealism. It is nevertheless idealistic, because the world along does not completely determine the norms and rules of a language-game.

Wittgenstein makes the statement in his later philosophy that words have meaning only in the stream of life. He emphasizes a new method. The method emphasizes the importance of accurately describing the complex ways in which people use language in the course of their daily activities. The elements of discourse acquire their meanings and purposes in the stream of life. He also calls such activities language games. This new method is therapeutic. He recognizes depth and insight in traditional philosophical approaches. He also recommends a positive non-therapeutic role for philosophy. He asks for use of propositions rather than their meaning. Words have meaning in the stream of life. Language is an essential feature of human action, a kind of doing, rather than a kind of picturing. His method rests upon two presuppositions, in 89 to 133 of Philosophical Investigations. First, he suggests that no final solution exists for a serious philosophical question, since they arise in complex tangles of assumptions, principles, and theses, usually united y a conceptual model. This network of concepts means that philosophical problems resist theoretical simplification, easy explanations, and generalized solutions. This approach resembles Plato in the early dialogues, where they end open-ended and do not conclude their argument. Yet, the exploration itself is of intense interest. The second presupposition of this new method is a new approach to traditional philosophy, which commits itself to the quest to uncover the hidden essences of things in order to make sense of the world. Yet, such philosophy does not so much discover patterns in reality as impose a conceptual model upon them. This imposition leads to misunderstanding, poor description, and paradox. A picture or conceptual model captures the philosopher. One in the grip of such picture sees deeply into things, making connections that ordinary people miss. Every powerful philosophical insight will issue in pictures or conceptual models of this sort. They have unremitting in their hold on the reflective person. These pictures force themselves upon us. They seem unavoidable and to be great intellectual discoveries. They help us make sense of our ambience by illuminating it like flashlights that cast spears of light into the dark. Yet, each such model inevitably issues in a paradox. The paradox is that it homogenizes diverse phenomena under one rubric. It does not provide an accurate picture of reality.  It provides a constricted and distorted picture of the world. We must distinguish between living things and artifacts. Any theory that blurs this distinction is profoundly misleading. The function of philosophy is to change one’s orientation to and understanding of reality. It calls attention to facts one has known all along, but are so obvious that one ignores or dismisses them as unimportant.

            He contrasts the crystalline purity of logic with the rough ground of what we actually say and do. A young man dreams of reducing the world to pure logic, a dream he succeeds in realizing in a world purged of imperfection and indeterminacy, like countless acres of gleaming ice. That world, perfect as it is, is uninhabitable. As an older man, he came to understand that roughness, ambiguity, and indeterminacy are not imperfections. They are what make things work. Why does the place of perfection and purity seem like home, rather than like an alluring, exotic locale? Why would an inability to stay on the rough ground manifest itself as an inability to feel at home there, rather than as esthetic dissatisfaction? What is Wittgenstein urging himself and us to return to when he urges us back to the rough ground, back to what we say and do, and why might such a return fail to still the urges that sent us off in search of the perfection of ice? Why does it seem to us that in turning away from the ice he means to deny something? Only against a background of shared practice and shared judgments does doubt become intelligible. The question of where one can stand to obtain a perspective on a set of practices that is simultaneously informed and critical is a deep and central question for political theory, and it arises with special urgency in the context of current disputes about multiculturalism. It is not only a philosopher’s taste for the crystalline purity of ice that might lead one to think that home was another sort of place than here. The rough ground lies beneath our feet. It may be problematic for quite other reasons. It is one thing to speak of bringing our words home from the non-existent places to which philosophers had tried to drag them when what we do and inclined to say, the practices that shape the sense of our words, are relatively uniform and unproblematic. We resist admitting our temptations toward the ice. Our sense that our relation to what we do is troubled prompts us toward the temptation to seek other homes for our words. He wanted us to see that the rules of the language-game are either adequate to our needs or revisable. We cannot seek for some idealized guidance beyond the language game. However, discovering the adequacy or revisable nature of the language-game is a resource unavailable to someone unwilling or unable to stand on the rough ground of life. Biographically, Wittgenstein was not able to stand there, by chance or choice becoming intellectually and socially marginal. Philosophy is both the disease and the cure. The philosophical demand for proof that the world is my world, that it makes sense to me, that I make sense in it, that I inhabit it with others who are intelligible to me and to whom I am intelligible leads words away from our uses of them. Philosophers do not engage in this enterprise capriciously, but because they see ordinary language uses as misleading, as not giving what we think we need of our words, be that definiteness of sense or assurance of reference. The illusion of philosophy is that we can get such definiteness, such assurance, by bringing words to what we take to be their true homes, whether that is in direct unmediated relation to ideas in each of our minds, or at the ends of scientifically respectable causal chains. The home to which Wittgenstein sought to bring words are precisely the messy places from which the philosophers thought they needed to be extricated. Philosophy brings words into exile, and we need to shepherd them home. In doing so, not only our words, but our lives, will have to return, that they and we are lost, and that the ordinariness of our words in the forms of our ordinary lives is neither immediately evident nor easily returned to. We can think of this as the journey of faith. Spiritually, perdition consists in journeying into a foreign land, in being out, that is never at home.

            How is it possible to understand other cultures? Is it possible to judge one world-picture to be better than another is? How is it possible that a world-picture changes? The common behavior of humanity is the system of reference by means of which we interpret an unknown language does not imply the belief that such a particular system must subsist or we can even finally identify. A rationalist will insist that at least some concepts that are involved in comparing two world-pictures can be culturally neutral, since human reason develops them or they belong to the uniform and culturally impendent biological human organism. Thus, comparison of world-pictures is always possible and consequently it will always be possible to judge one better than another. Changes may happen with regard to any of the components of language-game, either gradually or dramatically. It is rare a whole practice or world-picture changes. Some parts stay hardened for some time and people can use them as a common frame of reference, as a starting point of understanding one practice form the point of view of another. A world-picture therefore changes only partially. Some practices will stay longer than other ones, and the medley-like mixture of discursive language-games constituting a world-picture is a product of a heterogonous historical development.

            Skepticism becomes senseless or pointless. Someone denying the existence of his hands by stressing the possibility of permanent illusions as regards his sense perceptions can be relieved from this kind of skepticism by point out that he is deviating from his own ordinary practices, since he is then doubting what he usually takes for granted. We can say something similar if someone believes himself to be always dreaming.

            Tracking theories of representation suggest that signs point in virtue of tracking other things and they point to what they track. Signs have semantic value in virtue of a non-accidental connection between signs and what signs mean. The content of a sign is a matter of its convarying (going against a change) in a non-accidental or non-arbitrary way with something other than itself. That with which the sign covaries (changes with) determines the content. Signs point to what is there. The sign depends upon the occurrence of what it represents. Something external to the system of representation determines the semantic value of an expression. Tracking theories tend to suppose that the speaker does not have privileged access to the properties that confer semantic value on signs, but rather are part of public discourse. Tracking theories make content independent of our interpretation and control and objectively determinate. They make content objectively determinate by appeal to something external, to something that is not a matter of our interpretation. They promise both determinacy and independence of interpretation.

            How can signs point to what is not there? Fitting theories fail to explain how signs can point to what is. Tracking theories fail to explain how signs can point to what is not.

            He could not maintain the picture theory position in the Tractatus because there are no simple objects or necessary rules of thinking. Therefore, he could not maintain the radical distinction between names and propositions. In Philosophical Investigations, he concludes that in signs rules come to us. Rules are supposed to point to what we are to do if we follow the rule, in much the way that propositions are supposed to point to what the world would be like if the proposition were true. Just as any proposition may be false, so also we may fail to apply any rule correctly. Thus, the puzzles about representation recur as puzzles about rules. How can a rule direct our actions? How are mistakes in application possible?

Wittgenstein describes a form of non-psychological and non-propositional foundationalsim in a human community where we learn to recognize certain persons, speak a language, and eventually come to participate unself-consciously in a wide range of human interactions, practices, and institutions. He stressed our training in language learning and the absorption of communal life. The community provides a background whose existence one cannot reject, revise, or sensibly doubt. Yet, this is just what the skeptic is trying to do. Therefore, the linguistic form in which the skeptics issue their challenge must conform to a format so that another can understand it, presupposes the existence of the community and its linguistic practices. The doubts of the skeptic are self-defeating. They presuppose their existence of the very thing whose existence the skeptic wishes to question. Skepticism is thus a special form of self-annulling nonsense. Its challenge to the acquisition of knowledge and certainty by humans can be dismissed as such.

We know of the efforts of such philosophers as Frege and Husserl to undo the psychologizing of logic. The Philosophical Investigations attempts to undo the psychologizing of psychology, to show the necessity controlling our application of psychological and behavioral categories; even, one could say, show the necessities in human action and passion themselves. At the same time it seems to turn all of philosophy into psychology, matters of what we call things, how we treat them, what their role is in our lives. People account for their own feelings, and then, at best prove them to another, show them to whomever they want to know them, the best way they can, the most effective way. That is scarcely logic; and how can you deny that it is psychology? I have found the Investigations, more than any other work of this century, to be paradigmatic of philosophy for me, to be a dominating present of the history of philosophy for me. It is esoteric. Such works seek to split their audience into insiders and outsiders, hence the demand for their sincere reception the shock of conversion.

            In Philosophical Investigations he argues against referentialism. He argues against Augustine that naming does not provide an adequate model for all uses of language. This picture does not give an adequate account of naming itself. What philosophical difference does it make if a philosopher supposes that naming presents the fundamental paradigm of how words have meaning, and that the meaning of a proper name is just the object it stands for? The first concerns the perplexity that arises when we use proper names for things that no longer exist or never existed. Wittgenstein suggests that a loose set of descriptions governs our use of proper names. A proper name can be meaningful even if it lacks a bearer. He rejects Russell’s view of names as simple labels for objects of acquaintance. He begins with the idea that our sentences are logically interconnected representations that we made true or false by what is the case. He works out what this idea requires of language on the one side and the world on the other. He concludes by saying that what we can show we cannot say. The attempt to say what we show leads to nonsense, to what we on reflection as gibberish. The set of descriptions can form a loose, shifting cluster and thus lack a definite or determinate sense, thereby distinguishing him from Russell and Frege. Second concerns our talk about the mental. As long as the referential picture of language holds us captive, we will be unable to give a correct account of the way in which our talk about the mental functions. Until we correct the referential picture of language, the mysteries of the mental will remain. Humans naturally respond to injuries in largely common ways. They wince and cry out in a characteristic manner. These common responses provide the basis for training a child to use the word pain and related words. The key idea is that this training consists in shaping and articulating these primitive responses into a new form of pain behavior. Saying I am in pain expresses my pain, it does not describe it. He appears to commit himself to something like an expressivist account of first person mental utterances.

            It is reasonably apparent that both Wittgenstein and Heidegger incessantly philosophize by putting the language of philosophy under fire and equally apparent that these fires are not the same, the question is bound to arise whether both or neither of the fires will survive when we turn them upon one another. I am increasingly aware of a new phase in philosophy’s chronic distrust of the ordinary. There is, notably in that strain of radical thought called deconstruction, but widespread beyond that in modern radical sensibilities of other sorts something I think of as a horror of the common, expressed as a flight from the banal, typically from banal pleasures. It stretches from a horror of the human, to disgust with bourgeois life, to condescension toward the popular. Emerson also had aversion to conformity. It is with respect to their apparently opposite attitudes toward the ordinary that we might distinguish the philosophizing of Heidegger and that of Wittgenstein, the former seeking distinction from the ordinary conceived as averageness, the latter practicing transformation into it. A philosophical problem has the form: I do not know my way about. Another motive for stressing the primitive is to prepare the idea of our words as lived, of our language as containing forms of life. The preparation of my acquiring language is my possession of a structure of desires and a nameable world. When I have acquired my set of signs, I may then use them to insert those desires into that world. Then again, I may not. What determines whether I invest in the world and say yes to my existence? Taking an interest in the world, this is not so much a cure of skepticism as it is a sign of its mortality. Wordsworth said he wanted to make the incidents of common life interesting. Heidegger finds authenticity to demand departure from the everyday. Wittgenstein finds sense or sanity to demand return to it.

            What kind of language-game is mathematics? Mathematics is a nexus of language-games with its own special role. Mathematical terms are rules and thus are not mysterious. If we take them as assertions, they become mysteries. Its most important characteristic is that we cannot revise mathematical statements. This means non-revisable in the face of empirical fact, not in the face of mathematical considerations, such as discovering a contradiction in a system. No sensory impression or empirical fact can make a mathematical statement true or false. It does not mean we cannot revise our mathematics as our conceptions as change. Mathematical statements do not describe empirical facts, but provide a framework for describing them. Empirical facts cannot revise mathematics. Unlike an experiment, a proof or calculation and its result have an internal relation. A difference exists between a process having a result and being its own result. A difference in the result of experiment can have a variety of causes. A difference in a calculation is due to a mistake. Mathematical language, like the rest of our language, is part of a practice, and a practice rests on contingencies. A practice depends on their being regularity. If there is too much confusion then there can be no practice, and hence no sense. Confusion does not result in false mathematical propositions, but in nonsense. One special case of a lack of confusion involves agreement. Our mathematical practice requires agreement among mathematicians and agreement at different times in the same person. Both mathematical and non-mathematical statements rest on contingencies. This position suggests there is meaning and truth, but no guarantees. The position needs constant re-exploration.

            Wittgenstein argues against the logical perfectionism of language. While holding that language use us a rule-governed activity, he also held that these rules need to be clear, need not be complete, and need not even be consistent. Our language works satisfactorily without conforming to the demand of the logician for rigor because language use settles for family resemblance. The games of language form a family. Ordinary language is defective in this regard. We discover indeterminacy of meaning in such a way that we no longer look for determinate rules and definite sense. Our rules are incomplete in the sense of leaving gaps. A simply mistake is to think that our rules governing language must already cover all cases. The completeness of rules is not a regulative principle. We presume the opposite. We should have caution in supposing that the rules governing a concept possess greater completeness than the actual employment of that concept demands. Our error is to take the ideal of the logician seriously in terms of the actual use of language. Following a rule is as complicated as our form life.

            Why should not something like math be true of ethics? Mathematical propositions are not responsible to reality in the same sort of way ordinary experiential propositions are. Can we say anything similar about ethical propositions? Our language games are more complicated than we think they are, and in unforeseeable ways. The point is not the rightness or wrongness of ordinary classifications. We are properly interested in differences in use that can cut across other classifications. The kinds of similarities that underlie classification for non-philosophical purposes may lead us to suppose similarities in use, and may therefore stop us looking at use. By looking at use, we can make clear the grammatical kind to which something belongs. A main source of the failure of understanding is that the use is not open to view. Grammar lacks that sort of openness to view. In one view of Wittgenstein, there are botanical features of the world to which the propositions of botany are about. There are also moral features of the world to which the propositions of ethics are about. Another way to approach the matter of ethics in Wittgenstein is this. We need to look. What will happen if we have a language in which moral predicates had no use? Would people not care about the things about which we care? How much of our moral thought is actually dependent on such predicates? We can point to talk and writing that express moral thought and involves no moral words, or at least relatively little. Examples would be many plays, poems, and novels. The presence of moral thought may be reflected in language, not in the use of moral predicates, tied to our interest in moral properties, but in some of the ways we use language about all sorts of not specifically moral things. The idea that we tie moral discourse to moral predicates shows a false conception of what it is for our thought to be about something moral. Being about good and evil is a matter of use, not of subject matter. The insistence on the importance of moral predicates suggests a wish to draw analogies between moral discourse and factual discourse. Sometimes we decide how to act by bringing a moral rule or principle into contact with our situation. We think of the situation in terms that perhaps invite an application of the rule. Whole sentences, stories, images, the idea we have of a person, words, rules, all of the resources of ordinary language, we may bring into such a relation to our lives and actions and understanding of the world that we might speak of the thinking involved in that connection as moral. We can set no limit. We cannot say that these are the moral words for moral subject matter. If a sentence, image, or word has moral character, it arises through its use on particular occasions. The word or number becomes a linguistic instrument. Indirection in thought becomes important. If we want to see what moral thinking is, we need to be able to look away from the case of moral propositions, and to free ourselves from the idea that goes easily with exclusive focus on that case, of sentences as about moral subject matter through the presence in them of moral words. Ethics is not a sphere in which we mean some kind of fact by using signs with this or that specific meaning.

            We note the general fact of a difference between sounds or marks having a use or role in human activities and their having no such role. It is in this light that we are to understand Wittgenstein’s observation that a sentence or expression has life as part of the system of language and that understanding a sentence means understanding a language. Understanding a language, in turn, means to be master of a technique. The technique involved is the technique of acting and responding linguistically in appropriate ways, of being a human language speaker, and so being capable of the sorts of activities and reactions that language makes possible. Exhibiting mastery of a technique involves doing the thing correctly. The person utters or responds to the expression in the right way. Wittgenstein does not object to talk of following a rule. For someone’s performance to be the correct way to do something there must be some standard or pattern to which it conforms. The intentional character of thought, action, and language is indispensable to our understanding of them in the ways we do. If meaning is use, we need to include the description of the use of expressions an account of what human beings are doing in using them as they do and what point or role those activities have in the lives of those people. Conformity to the general practice in the community is what determines the correctness of a person’s employment of or response to expressions. It does not say what my or the community practices in question actually are. We try to describe the game or practice of admitting certain people into the community. He reminds us of the way in which the use in the community determines the meanings of expressions, and conformity to that practice determines the correctness of an understanding of an individual, stand opposed to any appearance to an inner or mental object or item as essential to understanding the facts of meaning, understanding, and thinking. When we see the richness, complexity, and intricate interrelations among the rules, techniques, and practices that determine the meanings of even some of the apparently simplest things we say and understand, there seems little or no hope of our gaining a single commanding view and describing those rules or practices perspicuously for the last time. There is no difficulty for us in using the expressions and following the rules as we do. The difficulty is to state clearly and fully what those uses or practices are. That is one use as an explanation of meaning. It is not just a matter of complexity. In giving descriptions of the practices in which people engage in we must employ and rely on the very concepts, practices, and capacities that we are trying to describe and understand. One reason it is difficult to describe them correctly is that we see right through them. They are too close to us to see them for what they are. This inability to command a clear view of our concepts, and the apparently natural tendency in philosophical reflection to assimilate wrongly the use of one kind of expression to that of another, is a continuous source of philosophical problems. The conclusion can be philosophically dissatisfying or disappointing in another, and deeper, way. In general, we can express facts of what expressions mean only in semantic or intentional statements that make use of the very concepts that they attribute to those they describe. They would seem not to be the kinds of facts that could ever explain how language or meaning in general is possible, or what facts or rules human beings rely on, as it were, to get into language in the first place, from outside it. That can seem to leave the phenomena of meaning, understanding, and thinking as philosophically mysterious as they would be on the hypothesis of an occult mental medium. Nothing could tell us how to speak, or how to understand what others are saying. Meaning or rules can be told or explained only to those who know how to speak and understand what is said. We get into language at all, not by following instructions or explanations of how to do it, but only because we share enough natural responses, interests, and inclinations with those who already speak. Nothing deeper or intellectually more satisfying is available. It would not help if we found it. 

            One unifying theme is the enduring hostility of Wittgenstein to the idea of an individuated, substantive self, in which he addresses his reasons for objecting to Descartes. He shows how Russell’s misconceived account of the unity of the proposition generates the need for a misguided conception of the self. Believing and saying involve representation relations. We must abandon as logically incoherent the idea that a Cartesian self can represent situations for itself. We cannot seek the unity of the proposition in the Cartesian subject that Russell had postulated. Further, we cannot conceive the subject in Cartesian terms as both simple and representing. The idea that a simple self could also be a representing self is absurd. That conclusion might lead one to postulate a complex, representing subject. No soul exists. I cannot be a constituent of the world at all. The word “I” can be a name neither for a simple object nor for a description of a complex. While there is no such thing as a worldly subject or self, there remains the phenomenon of subjectivity. A complete description of the world will not mention the “I,” but the world the Tractatus so described is still, the world as I found it. The Tractatus conceives the objective world as a world given to subjectivity and it is in this that the subject makes its appearance. We give “I” in a nonobjective way and not as an object in the world. We cannot account for this fundamental feature of subjectivity by postulating an objectively available subject within the world. The mental is not a sphere within the world nor is it an object outside the world. The metaphysical subject is the nonobjective condition of the possibility of the objective world. This fundamental feature of subjectivity cannot be accounted for my postulating an objectively available subject within the world. The mental is not a sphere within the world nor is it an object outside the world. The metaphysical subject is the nonobjective condition of the possibility of the objective world.

            In the Tractatus he assumed that language constitutes a formal unity. In Investigations, he made up a number of distinct language-games. In the Tractatus he assumed that our sentences are meant to mirror the logical structure of the world. In the Investigations, language may serve very different needs, a system of communication, rather than merely representation. In the Tractatus he accepted referentialism. In the Investigations, he recognizes that an object does not co-exist with the sign. The life of the sign is its use.

            In Investigations 309, he asks himself what his aim in philosophy is. He wants to show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle. The aphorism means to alert us to two sentences in the preceding remark. He has said of the philosophical problems surrounding mental processes, mental states, and behaviorism that the first step is the one that altogether escapes notice and that, as a result, we have made the decisive movement in the conjuring trick, and it was the very one that we thought quite innocent. The aphorism tells us that behaviorism is a dead end. Wittgenstein tries to extract us from the fly-bottle. He wants to help us escape from our philosophical problems concerning the nature of the mental, but he is aware that the way we pursue them is driving us into behaviorism. He wants to liberate us from behaviorism. When I say I am in pain, I am not describing anything. I am expressing pain. The problem with behaviorism is that it has correctly diagnosed the existence of connections between pain and the expression of pain, but it has misinterpreted this fact by arguing that pain utterances are descriptions of behavior.

            In his private language argument, he shows that the inner objects that are here presupposed can play no role in our language. It is an argument against the Cartesian conception of mind, and thus against this form of objectivism and against the Cartesian subject. His point is not behaviorism. In fact, his point is against both Descartes and Behaviorism in the assumption that the subject is an object and that any meaningful noun or pronoun in our language must be a name or description of an object. In the Tractatus he speaks of a link between the way we see ourselves and the problem of the meaning of life. The solution of the problem of life in space and time lies outside space and time (6.4312). The problem of life does not have the kind of solution that problems concerning things in space and time have. It has no scientific or theoretical solution. The problems of the nature of the self are not resolved by advancing a theory. The I is not an object and the word “I” is not a name of description of anything. Just like the problem of life, the problem of the nature of the self finds its solution in the disappearance of the problem. It is resolved only when we no longer concern ourselves with the I and have learned to face the world without being bothered over the question of its nature. He offers no positive account of the nature of the self. Cartesian definition of self as an object in the world led to an ethics of self-fulfillment. With Wittgenstein, we can think of neither of ourselves nor of others in fully objective terms. Practical and moral attitudes are inherent in the way we understand others and ourselves. His refusal to address the philosophical issues arising from the process of self-formation is a limit in his thinking about the self that restricted his reflections on moral issues.

One misses the drive of Wittgenstein if one is not sufficiently open to the threat of skepticism. Other philosophers have taken the knowledge of everyday language, since it is obviously knowledge of everyday language, since it is obviously knowledge of matters of fact, to be straightforwardly empirical, requiring the observations and verifications that philosophers say that any empirical judgment requires. Such philosophers find the appeal to what we should ordinarily say and mean, when scientific collection of our utterances does not back this appeal. Wittgenstein is asking something that one can answer by remembering what one says and what one means, or by trying out his own response to an imagined situation. It is a knowledge of what Wittgenstein means by grammar, the knowledge Kant calls transcendental. For Wittgenstein it would be an illusion not only that we do know things in themselves, but equally an illusion that we do not. There is not a philosophical method, though there are indeed methods, like different therapies. What is that for which he asks? If one accepts that a language is what the native speakers of a language speak, and that speaking a language is a matter of practical mastery is a request for the person to say something about himself, describe what he does. Therefore, the different methods are methods for acquiring self-knowledge. Perhaps more shocking and certainly more important, than any of Freud’s or Wittgenstein’s particular conclusions is their discovery that knowing oneself is something for which there are methods. How do I know at all that others speak as I do? Then the answer is, I do not. One human being can be a complete enigma to another. We learn this when we come into a strange country with entirely strange traditions; and, what is more, even given a mastery of the country’s language. We do not understand people, not because of not knowing what they are saying to themselves. We cannot find our feet with them. We cannot find ourselves in them. We, who can speak for each other, find that we cannot speak for them. If the little I have said makes plausible the idea that the question, “How do we know what we say?” is one aspect of the general question, “What is the nature of self-knowledge?” then we will realize that Wittgenstein has not first accepted or adopted a method and then accepted its results. The reason for this is that the nature of self-knowledge, and therewith the nature of the self, is one of the great subjects of the Investigations as a whole. So astonishingly little exploring of the nature of self-knowledge has been attempted in philosophical writing since Bacon and Locke and Descartes prepared the habitation of the new science. The measures that soak up knowledge of the world leave us dryly ignorant of ourselves. Our problem is not that we lack adequate methods for acquiring knowledge of nature, but that we are unable to prevent our best ideas from ideological formation. Wittgenstein’s investigations of self-knowledge and of the knowledge of others depend upon his concept of criteria. Because Wittgenstein does fuller justice to the role of feeling in speech and conduct than any other philosopher within the Anglo-American academic tradition, it is disheartening to find his thought so out of reach. Suffer the traditional penalty of the sentimentalist, that one stops taking his feelings seriously. The implication is not that I cannot know myself, but that knowing oneself, though radically different from the way we know others, is not a matter of cognizing mental acts and particular sensations.

Wittgenstein makes grammar the starting point of his philosophical reflections. I would like to suggest some of the positive results of such a beginning.

The key to the Tractatus is that language is a mirror of reality, and that logic is the essence of language. Reality must have the same form or structure as logical form. The conception of philosophy as based on grammar is a generalization of the conception of philosophy as based on logic. Logic consists of rules for language-games that involve pictures of facts. It is an important part of the grammar of the language-game of predications or truth-claims. Making predications is only one particular family of language-games. Philosophy is concerned not only with other uses of language but also with other dimensions of predications than the logical dimension. The point is that the rigor of formal logic is relevant only within certain language-games, and that the identification of those language-games and their differentiation from others is a matter of a wider discipline than logic itself.

Linguists aim to give an accurate description of how the language is actually used. He sees that no external fact or reality could provide a standard for what the vocabulary or syntax of a language ought to be. Both Saussure and Wittgenstein insist on the arbitrariness of language, by which they mean simply that there is no external standard for judging the appropriateness or adequacy of the vocabulary or syntax of a language. His grammar has to do with uses of language (discourse conditions and discourse continuation) rather than with forms and their combinations (morphology and syntax). He does not aim at a systematic description of language use, but only at as much as is required for philosophical perspicuity. His grammar contrasts with linguistics and with the speech-act theory of Austin and Searle. For him, philosophy is nothing like science. Whereas science seeks to establish generalizations, philosophy seeks to break down generalizations as superficial grammatical ones. Whereas science proceeds by means of hypothesis and deductive explanation, philosophy works through the perspicuous presentation of imaginary examples and intermediate cases. Conceiving philosophy as grammar means that it is sometimes like pedagogy and sometimes like therapy, never like science. He also integrates language with activity and the consequent necessity for agreement in practical judgment. Saussurean linguistics assumes the possibility of a strict segregation between linguistic and non-linguistic phenomena within the universe of human activity. For Wittgenstein, words embed themselves in a form of life. His hypothetical language-games inextricably integrate themselves into purposeful human activities of some kind, as in the archetypical case of the builder and his assistant. There is considerable plausibility in his treatment of philosophy as a variation of this old familiar language-game rather than either a brand new game or a variation on the language-game of knowing and doubting.

Metaphysics becomes a confusion of two language-games. No language-game provides a context for such metaphysical statements, and without such a context, metaphysical claims have no meaning. Like other facts of natural history, grammar lies right in front of our eyes, in the form of instruction in regular uses of language. We discover two immediate metaphysical consequences of identifying philosophy with a natural phenomenon that cannot be a primitive language-game. One is that it rules out radical skepticism, for many very general facts about humans and their world are presupposed, including those that Moore discussed. The other consequence is that metaphysics must give up any pretension to provide a foundation, moral guide, or oracle. It cannot be foundationalist in the sense of Descartes or Russell. It can only describe and not explain, and it already presupposes truths of natural history. It cannot be moralistic, in the manner of Kant, Mill, or Murdoch. Nor can metaphysics be oracular, as Plato and Heidegger would have it. In his insistence on the contingency of the natural world, philosophers often rightly compare Wittgenstein to Hume. Essence, necessity, and impossibility are modal features of the human experience. It is a firm and unwavering part of Wittgenstein’s metaphysical posture that they belong not to the world as we encounter and enter it. Our various conceptions of the world tightly bind, in varying patterns, these modal features.

Kant took Euclidean geometry, Aristotelian logic, and Newtonian physics for granted in this way. When he asked how knowledge and judgment were possible, he had in mind knowledge and judgment in these fields, which seemed wholly reliable, well confirmed, and far more unshakable than they seem from our perspective today. He provided a complicated account of their success. Wittgenstein therefore had to look elsewhere for his starting point. He found it in grammar, or the language-game of making grammatical remarks, where the focus of the grammar is on uses of language rather than on phonology or morphology or syntax. What Wittgenstein takes for granted is human beings, the human form of life, and the language-games and characteristic activities that contribute to it. This is a Kantian starting point, in that it assumes something non-philosophical. It differs from Kant in that it has nothing to do with knowledge, and therefore makes a more radical break than Kant did with the tradition of philosophy as epistemology that Descartes inaugurated. Wittgenstein’s starting point has several advantages over Kant. The most obvious is that it is not vulnerable to advances in the special sciences, since it avoids altogether commitment to any scientific or explanatory theory. A second advantage is the clarity with which this starting point leads to normative criticism. Grammar is a universal language-game. A third advantage is the relative ease with which one can appreciate the transition from what one assumes to critical philosophical criteria. The fourth advantage is that it is both obvious and unproblematic that we teach and learn how to teach and learn language. That is, that grammar is self-referential is as unproblematic as that there is a spelling for the word “spelling.” He fulfilled the Kantian project of a genuinely critical philosophy. Philosophy is possible only because of its limits, and philosophers become confused and fraudulent when they deliberately or even inadvertently cross over those limits. His philosophy does not help us to improve the world or to act well in the world, but only to think in a certain way about life and the world, to see things as they really are and in proper perspective.

What are we to make of the fact that Wittgenstein constantly compares moments of speech with moves in a game? 1) Where the comparison of language with games turns on their both observing rules, Wittgenstein invokes and invents games not as contexts in which it is just clear what observing rules amounts to, but contexts in which one can investigate that phenomenon. A) The rules do not everywhere circumscribe activity. Does this mean that the rules are incomplete? It tells us something about what rule-governed behavior is like. B) Following a rule is an activity we learn against the background of, and in the course of, learning innumerable other activities. The concept of a rule does not exhaust the concepts of correctness or justification, right and wrong, and indeed the former concept would have no meaning unless these latter concepts already had. One can always misinterpret a rule in the course, or in the name, of following it. C) There is a more radical sense in which rules do not determine what a game is. One cannot explain what playing a game is by listing rules. 2) For Wittgenstein, following a rule is just as much a practice as playing a game is. It is a matter of what Wittgenstein, in the Blue Book, refers to as conventions and in the Investigations describes as forms of life. That is always the ultimate appeal for Wittgenstein not rules, and not decisions.

            The correspondence of a word or a number is in relation to our having a use for it. Reality corresponds to a rule. A rule becomes important by all sorts of facts, about the world and about us. We can speak of the rule as corresponding to reality in that there are such facts, making it a rule we shall want. For there to be a reality corresponding to a word is for there to be things about the world and us that make it useful to have the word as part of our means of description. What makes a sentence a proverb is its use. People bring it into contact with, expect it to shed light on, or change our way of seeing, particular situations. That is its application. Learning the use of proverbs is learning to bring them to bear on different situations usefully, interestingly, and wittily. Making up proverbs is itself a language-game.

The only genuine propositions are pictures of possible states of affairs. These are capable of being true, but also capable of being false, and hence cannot be necessarily true. Convention can establish rules, and thus establish norms of representation. We confer normative or empirical status on certain expressions by using them in a particular way on a given occasion. People abandon grammatical rules; people cannot falsify them in the way they can falsify empirical propositions. Grammatical rules are constitutive of the meaning of its constituent expressions. Grammar determines the network of representation, our way of seeing things. Kuhn’s paradigms are systems norms of representations. A collection of beliefs can only be woven into a web if certain propositions are not merely abandoned with greater reluctance, but play a different role, namely that of establishing logical connections between different beliefs. Norms of representation do just that. They have a normative, prescriptive function, as opposed to a descriptive function, and guide our transactions with periphery. There are pragmatic limits to the possibility of abandoning necessary truths. Given certain facts about our world and us, they can be impractical or even inapplicable.

            We note the general fact of a difference between sounds or marks having a use or role in human activities and their having no such role. It is in this light that we are to understand Wittgenstein’s observation that a sentence or expression has life as part of the system of language and that understanding a sentence means understanding a language. Understanding a language, in turn, means to be master of a technique. The technique involved is the technique of acting and responding linguistically in appropriate ways, of being a human language speaker, and so being capable of the sorts of activities and reactions that language makes possible. Exhibiting mastery of a technique involves doing the thing correctly. The person utters or responds to the expression in the right way. Wittgenstein does not object to talk of following a rule. For someone’s performance to be the correct way to do something there must be some standard or pattern to which it conforms. The intentional character of thought, action, and language is indispensable to our understanding of them in the ways we do. If meaning is use, we need to include the description of the use of expressions an account of what human beings are doing in using them as they do and what point or role those activities have in the lives of those people. Conformity to the general practice in the community is what determines the correctness of a person’s employment of or response to expressions. It does not say what my or the community practices in question actually are. We try to describe the game or practice of admitting certain people into the community. He reminds us of the way in which the use in the community determines the meanings of expressions, and conformity to that practice determines the correctness of an understanding of an individual, stand opposed to any appearance to an inner or mental object or item as essential to understanding the facts of meaning, understanding, and thinking. When we see the richness, complexity, and intricate interrelations among the rules, techniques, and practices that determine the meanings of even some of the apparently simplest things we say and understand, there seems little or no hope of our gaining a single commanding view and describing those rules or practices perspicuously for the last time. There is no difficulty for us in using the expressions and following the rules as we do. The difficulty is to state clearly and fully what those uses or practices are. That is one use as an explanation of meaning. It is not just a matter of complexity. In giving descriptions of the practices in which people engage in we must employ and rely on the very concepts, practices, and capacities that we are trying to describe and understand. One reason it is difficult to describe them correctly is that we see right through them. They are too close to us to see them for what they are. This inability to command a clear view of our concepts, and the apparently natural tendency in philosophical reflection to assimilate wrongly the use of one kind of expression to that of another, is a continuous source of philosophical problems. The conclusion can be philosophically dissatisfying or disappointing in another, and deeper, way. In general, we can express facts of what expressions mean only in semantic or intentional statements that make use of the very concepts that they attribute to those they describe. They would seem not to be the kinds of facts that could ever explain how language or meaning in general is possible, or what facts or rules human beings rely on, as it were, to get into language in the first place, from outside it. That can seem to leave the phenomena of meaning, understanding, and thinking as philosophically mysterious as they would be on the hypothesis of an occult mental medium. Nothing could tell us how to speak, or how to understand what others are saying. Meaning or rules can be told or explained only to those who know how to speak and understand what is said. We get into language at all, not by following instructions or explanations of how to do it, but only because we share enough natural responses, interests, and inclinations with those who already speak. Nothing deeper or intellectually more satisfying is available. It would not help if we found it. 

            Linguistic practices create some truths or realities. The contrast is with cases where language transmits or reflects an independent reality. Wittgenstein endorsed an idealist account of rules, rights, promises, games, rituals, etiquette, and ceremonial proceedings. Human linguistic practices create these characteristic features. Thus, we have rights because, collectively, the community accords these rights to us, and the community creates them by according them. A game is something people create by playing it; there is no reality to the game other than the playing of it, a move is a move in the game. The idealist character of games assumes a striking significance. Rule following provides an especially important feature of language-games. We cannot levitate at will. We can choose to break the rules of a game. Linguistic idealism breaks down the distinction between the subject and the object of knowledge. The attention is not toward the individual psyche, but on history, traditions, cultures, and states. Discourse and the object of discourse merge into each other. We refer to rights, but our rights reside in those acts of reference. Yet, this does not dissolve the physical nature of the people and things having these statuses or performing a role in these institutions. Wittgenstein’s convention or rule is akin to Hume’s custom, a taken-for-granted regularity in the way we coordinate ourselves. We make an appeal to an independent reality that is just other people’s readiness to make a similar appeal and act accordingly. The whole process is a circulation of self-referring acts. It is not a logical defect, but a property of the system. In one example after another, Wittgenstein showed how patterns of interaction mediate the connection between words and things. He attacked the object and designation model at the point where it cannot deal with an object that has no existence at all outside the talk about it and the references to it. Performative utterances are perfect, miniature cases of linguistic idealism in action, a truth and a reality created and constituted by a linguistic practice. Linguistic idealism may be nothing more than the operation of convention. Social processes have taken over the role played by mental and spiritual processes in the older forms of idealism.



                The topics Heidegger analyzes in his look are among those that cannot but provoke our deepest interest, for who is not concerned about authentic existence, guilt, death, truth, and dread. “Sein” means “to be.” “Dasein” means “to be here.” “Das Seiende” means “being” or “entity.” Heidegger wants to make the distinction between these two terms the foundation of his entire philosophy. Pre-Heideggerian ontology concerned itself with what kinds of things exist. Given any notion or idea, what we want to know is does such a thing actually exist? Does God exist? Does freedom exist? Do we possess an independent entity called mind, and another independent entity called body? What justification do we have for believing in such external entities as rocks and trees? How can we justify the existence of the external world, even? All such questions we ask as if we already knew what existence means. Heidegger argues there is an even more fundamental question that can be asked: What does it mean to exist at all? Is the question of the meaning of Being legitimate at all? To ask what it means to be is to engage in the most fundamental kind of questioning possible. Why would such a question be fundamental? The question is not abstract, for I do exist. If I turn my attention to the question of what it means to exist, I am not abstracting from anything. For example, I can ask, “What is a jail?” I can answer according to the physical structure of a jail and apply my answer to the entity of a jail. I can also ask, “What does it mean to be in jail?” I then might refer to the punishment and crime related to jail. I can ask a traditional metaphysical question, “What is the mind?” I can also ask, “Do I have a mind that is anything more than the physical brain?” I could also ask, “What does it mean to think?” When I ask this question, I avoid the metaphysical question of where something exists or what kind of thing it is. Yet, the question probes just as deeply into what I want to know. We can rephrase many traditional philosophical questions. “Is there a body?” becomes, “What does it mean to take up space and to feel things?” “Is there a God?” becomes, “What does it mean to worship that which is magnificent and yet ineffable? “Is there an external world,” becomes, “What does it mean to be in the world?” Heidegger asks the question, “What does it mean to be at all?” We must develop an approach to the question, for it is not answerable in the same way we pose and answer a question in math, science, or logic. Because I can ask, “What does it mean to be a body?” I am already responding to the question, “What does it mean to be at all?” in carrying out an inquiry into what it means to be a body I am already making sense of what it means to be in a particular way or mode. When we ask, “What does it mean to be in the world” or “what does it mean to have possibilities?” we reveal important ways in which we can be said to be. He begins by actually carry out an inquiry into the various ways or modes of existing and then discerns the underlying meaning shared by all of these ways.

            We can understand any philosophical inquiry in terms of the primary danger or fear that the thinker seeks to avoid at all costs. Descartes wanted to overcome at all costs epistemological skepticism, which led him to a foundation of knowledge and certainty in the awareness that he thinks. Skepticism thus is a formidable threat as a hatred of reasoning which, if not confronted will destroy the importance and value of philosophy altogether. Such skepticism is an absolutist critique in that it undermines the entire edifice of reasoned inquiry by rendering it impotent.

            In the ethics of Kant, we find he wants to avoid moral relativism at all costs, which led him to the categorical imperative that would undermine multiple moral opinions. Moral relativism is another form of the hatred of reasoning, declaring that all moral reasoning is nothing more than varying opinion. Such relativism is another absolutist critique that undermines the edifice of reasoned inquiry by rendering it impotent.

            To understand Heidegger, we need to understand that the supreme evil he wants to avoid is nihilism, understood as the denial that human existence is meaningful. This could be the most sinister threat to reasoning yet contrived. The nihilist admits that we have knowledge rather than just opinion. So What? In the last analysis, a world that is revealed by cognitive principles and a world governed by discernible moral laws are simply no more or no less meaningful than a world lacking such laws and principles. Though we may have knowledge and may even know what we ought to do, it does not matter. Nothing matters. Heidegger begins with the argument that Being matters, and does so by analyzing the meaning of Being rather than the knowability of Being or the advantage of moral conduct. Heidegger overcomes the sharp distinctions between fact and value and between subject and object. Heidegger shows that the fundamental disciple, the study of what it means to be, is already a study of the meaningfulness of existence. He shows that I not only exist, but that I exist meaningfully. Philosophers have approached the fundamental questions by distinguishing the knower from the world it knows. The world is out there, and the task of the thinker is somehow to accommodate what is in us, or in our minds, with what is outside us; we are subjects, and the world is our object. For Heidegger, I am already in the world. To be a subject and to be an object presupposes that we are already in the world. The world cannot be my representation, for I am a part of the world. Being in the world is thus a characteristic of my existence. The world is not outside of me; rather I am in the world. However, to be in the world is a priori to care about certain things, to concern myself with others, to recognize the ways in which I matter, not only to myself but also to others. To be at all is to be as meaningful, to matter, to care. The fact that we carry out an inquiry into the meaning of Being refutes the possibility of nihilism.

            Division One: Existential Analytic, an analysis of existence. Heidegger means preparatory analysis of our ways of Being. This preparatory analysis is not a mere random listing of the many ways in which we can say that human beings are. The analysis reveals that we can find a kind of common meaning in all of these various manifestations of human existence. The submerged question is: can we ask, not “What does it mean to be in such and such a way? But rather, What does it mean to be at all? What does it mean for us to be in a world? What does it mean to be one’s self? What does it mean to be such that one understand? World, self, fear, and understanding are ways in which one exists. Such modes of existence are existentials. They are a priori in that they make experience possible. When one realizes that one is aware of one’s own existence, one must ask for the modes of awareness that make possible such confrontation of one’s meaning. This portion of his work provides an analysis of the a priori conditions under which one’s existence is made meaningful. Yet, this entire investigation of the existential analytic is done from an everyday or inauthentic perspective.

            Division Two: Dasein and Temporality, is a higher ontological level that examines those characteristics of the human species that are peculiarly reflective of the person’s awareness of oneself, such as death and guilt. He analyzes them under the influence of temporality.

            Heidegger calls his work a fundamental ontology. He rejects the Neo-Kantian position that the purpose of philosophy is to examine the possibilities and language of science. He considers this position an embarrassment because it leaves unconsidered all the rich and demanding questions of human concern, such as the meaning of life, virtue, morality, freedom, and death. After all, such problems were the original impetus to philosophy, and to discard these problems as either secondary in importance or meaningless is to do violence to the whole reasoning behind why people philosophize at all. Even logic presupposes the disposition of the logician to attend to the purely formal relations of concepts or propositions. Therefore, the analysis of how one is capable of such a disposition must be primordial. We must reflect upon the totality of the ways in which we exist. The principles that are to dictate the procedures for the various branches of philosophical investigation must originate from this transcendental examination of the existence: this is the fundamental discipline. What does it mean to be? Only humanity can reflect upon what it means to be. Therefore, we can realize or analyze “to be” through the self-reflective consciousness of human existence. Therefore, the existential analysis is itself a part of ontology. Heidegger will not separate the study of Being from the study of humanity. No analysis of humanity is possible without a consideration of how humanity relates to the possibilities of its own existence. The reading of Being and Time should reveal a great deal about what we really are. Such a person is aware of his or her own possibilities, for whom the responsibility of his or her authenticity falls directly on his or her own shoulders. We can stifle our sense of meaning by inauthenticity, by the emasculation by machines, and by the failure to achieve a proper understanding of finitude.

            Untitled page has a quote from Plato’s Sophist, suggesting that he recognizes the traditional nature of his investigation.

            First introduction, sections 1-4. Is it meaningful to ask the question of what it means to be? His question suggests that we need to make explicit that vague awaress of our own existence. The greatest barrier to finding a significant answer to this question is the natural tendency of mind immediately to render the self as an object. The question we ask is one of the activity of existing. We ask what it means to be at all. We need to distinguish between ontic and ontological inquiry, between entity and what it means to be. We can make a distinction between philosophical and scientific inquiry in the same way.

Being and entity as the object of inquiry

Ontological and ontic as the type of inquiry

Existentials and categories as the terms of inquiry

Factical and factual as the status of occurrence in inquiry

Existential and existentiell as the type of self-awareness in inquiry.

For science, questions concerning the meaning of Being become trivial. However, to ask the question of the meaning of Being appears to presuppose that Being has a meaning. I do know something vague about the object of my inquiry, but my inquiry is an attempt to make more explicit what I vaguely feel. If I attend to it, I will recognize that I am aware of my own existence, but I do not fully grasp what that existence means. I also recognize that my existence does have a meaning, since I am aware of it. What is known, even vaguely, has meaning. In the asking of any question there is something to be asked about, something interrogated, and something gained by asking. In this case, what we ask about is Being. What we interrogate is the human being. What we gain is the meaning of Being. Dasein is that entity that is capable of inquiring into its own Being. It can wonder about itself as existing. Scientific or ontic knowledge cannot in principle examine such a question. Neo-Kantian and positivist contemporaries questioned the possibility of such an inquiry. Heidegger begins with the obvious and immediate human condition that one’s life and existence can be questioned as to its meaning. Poets, artists, and even the humblest of people recognize this to be a genuine question. This fact provides Heidegger with his starting point. Such a study has no object, but the process of our life and existence. Such a question is fundamental because of scientific inquiry presupposes an understanding of Being. Ethics and values presuppose an ontological inquiry. Human beings have a concern for their existence. People understand what it means to be. Such an understanding is self-reflective. The occasional feeling of meaninglessness of life is proof that one is questioning what it means to be at all. He makes such areas of concerns as death, guilt, and conscience as sources from which he derives the fundamental disciple of philosophy. He inquires as to the ways in which one faces death and listens to the calls of conscience as insights into the very structure of what it means for us to be, and from this structure to build the entire edifice of philosophical investigation. His analysis is not anthropology, but that aspect of humanity that is concerned with the awareness of their existence.

            Second introduction, section 5-8. The existential analytic begins from an account of the uncritical mode of daily life, even though we must transcend it. This uncritical mode of daily life sees itself as in the world, as in time, and as finite. Phenomenology means that analysis by which the meaning of the various ways in which we exist can be translated form the vague language of everyday existence into the understandable and explicit language of ontology without destroying the way in which these meanings manifest themselves to us in our everyday lives. Is it possible to speak universally about human existence? If the meaning of existence is private, what is the philosophical value of examining it? We do not limit reason to science and logic. Kant showed that reason reflects upon itself, achieving through this reflection the roots of its freedom, but also respect and awe that it must have for itself, thereby yielding principles of ethical judgment. The purpose of Being and Time is to show that reason, through hermeneutical analysis, renders an understanding of the meaning of Being. Such a methodology does not reveal what is merely private to one individual. Rather, such a methodology reveals those insights and principles that are true for every individual who reflects upon his or her own existence. Poems and novels are quite particular in their narrative, yet become significant because the insights of the authors are universal. Is it possible for reason to inform me of the meaning of my existence? Am I left to those resources of my understanding that are private, particular, and ultimately non-communicable? Heidegger thinks it possible philosophically to analyze what it means to be.

            Existential analytic: Division One is preparatory and Existential. Sections 9-27 focus on the world. Heidegger emphasizes the peculiar characteristics of human life as an object of inquiry. The meaning of a human life is one who reflects on one’s existence. I cannot think of human life apart from possible ways of existing. Existence has an etymology in Latin as “standing out.” Existence refers to a human being having awareness that he or she is. Among the significant ways we can inquire into human existence is through analyzing dread, anxiety, and boredom. Our ability to examine rationally these functions is one of our most amazing functions of reason. Such moods occur in people, and therefore we can analyze them for what they tell us about human existence. Such analysis is personal and subjective in a way that I can discover, through reason, universal principles applicable to all persons. Such analysis leads to examination of the mode of existence in which one is aware of one’s own self (authentic), and the mode in which one the awareness of self is only as others see it, and thus not as one’s own life (inauthentic). He wants to make sense of our existence. He wants to make this distinction applicable to every mode of human existing. If we can speak authentically, we can discover in our speaking something about what it means to exist. If we speak inauthentically, we keep ourselves from such a discovery. We can think about the ways exist, and we will see such ways as either authentic or inauthentic. We can only examine our own existence. Yet, such an examination is not unique to us or autobiographical. The ways and dimensions of my existence are of interest to me. Even boredom reveals that I am bored. The fact that we do reflect upon and wonder about our existence suggests the philosophical importance of the question. Existentials are the necessary ways in which the mind sees itself. The undeniability of my existence assures me that I can know something for certain. I am aware a thing that is aware of my being a thing. What does it mean to know that I am?

            The first a priori existential is our awareness to be in the world. World is the most general of concepts about existence. It describes the place in which one is. To be in the world makes possible the feeling of familiarity we have with the world that makes it our home. To be a human being is to have a world I call home. We have the ability to have things to which we relate, care about, and with which we concern ourselves. Even if alienated or feeling like a stranger in one place, we have awareness of another place where one is at home. My surroundings are not simply there. They affect me and I affect them. We dwell in our surroundings, and our surroundings dwell within us. I need an a priori explanation of how I can be at home or alienated. Every distinction between subject and object presupposes an already admitted basis of relationship. The distinction presupposes the subject has a world in which the object can occur. Knowledge does not occur in isolation from one’s world of concern and environment. Our initial relationship with the world is to use it in that the world is available to us (ready-at-hand, zuhanden). Science builds upon this relationship to the world. Although this view is not a mistaken relationship to the world, it becomes such if it becomes the only way we relate to the world, for then we view ourselves as nothing more than another object in a world of objects. The scientific attitude of objectivity is still only an attitude. This attitude is one of circumspection. I can also look at the world of other human beings with considerateness. I can also look at myself with transparency.

            Descartes suggested that the relationship of the mind to the world is one of the mind generating concepts that interpret the data of the world. Heidegger argues that our relation to the world is one of care. The various ways to be in the world are different ways of caring.

            Our relationship to space is one of seeing things as close or far away. Such awareness of space presupposes a subject already in the world. The human awareness of space accounts for the objects in the world being available to us. Space is a mode of our existence in the world.

            What is the difference between the inauthentic they-self and the authentic self? One way to approach the significance of any question is to ask what difference it makes that it occurs. Reflect on what difference a legal order makes. Reflect on the difference that health or wealth makes. What would it be like not to be? The question awakens the disturbing realization that our existence is not a necessary thing. Our existence is in jeopardy. I cannot know what it is like not to exist. I can know that it is possible that I cease to exist. The realization of the possibility of not being is significant. Does it make any difference whether I am aware of the fact that I could cease to exist or not? For us not to be aware of the possibility of nonexistence covers up the significance of existence. I may also exist and not be aware of what it means to exist. We can lose or cover up the meaning of existence. In contrast, the authentic self recognizes the possibility of non-existence. To be aware of possibilities is to provide the ground both of freedom and of truth. The possibility that we can be other than we actually are raises the question of why we are this particular life. To be in the world is to be in a world in which other persons are as well. The self is a self within the world and with other people. Yet, one can achieve a view of the self that is one’s own (authentic). We must distinguish between the authentic self, part of whose nature is to be with other people, and the inauthentic self dominated by others. Any view of the self in isolation from world and others is an abstraction. The inauthentic mode of existence loses sight of the self. The authentic mode of existence is aware of others as well as self. To be in the world and with others means we cannot be a self unless we are within our possibilities to relate in a unique way to others. We can lose our sense of self in the babble of the crowd. This analysis of our everyday existence suggests that inauthentic mode of existence has its foundation in the actual. Every sensitive person is aware of the loss of independence brought about by unreflective living. The prime philosophical text is to know oneself. The authentic mode has its character in awareness of self that has its foundation in the possible.

            Existential analytic continues in an analysis of understanding in sections 25-38. How do we become aware of our actual inauthentic existence and our possible authentic existence? How is my actuality meaningful to me? How is my having possibilities meaningful to me? Care is the existential behind both inauthentic actual existence and authentic possible existence. Possibility is more significant than actuality because the question with which we deal is the meaning of Being, and not just a neutral description of it. Through this principle, he explains how a philosophy of existence does not depend upon a dreary repetition of actually experience occasions. The principle shows how history becomes possible. Possibility is the means by which we transcend the limits of the actual. Possibility provides the perspective of the self we need to explain philosophical activity. The phenomenon of inauthenticity as an expression of alienation from the world is a specific manner of human life that is open to inquiry. When we lose awareness of self as the inauthentic life suggests, we become open to achieving authenticity. However, none of us escapes the mode of life called inauthentic. While not moralizing, Heidegger wants to show how inauthentic moments reveal the structure of how one avoids confrontation with the question of what it means for us to be.

            One’s state of mind is the mode of the actual. Here are three characteristics of this existential. 1) What is in our lives does matter, even if we simply find ourselves in the conditions of life. Conditions and circumstances beyond our control determine what it means for us to be. 2) What it means to be in the world the state of mind reveals as a whole. 3) What we encounter in the world matters to us. The state of mind discloses the fact of our life in the world, but not why or for what purpose. Therefore, something unknown is part of our actual condition in the world. People experience both good fortune and bad fortune and may wonder in both cases, “Why me?” We experience both a sense of fate and a degree of freedom. We fit into the world comfortably or uncomfortably. What it means to be is to experience lack of control or influence upon the world. Fate and freedom are a priori. In order to make sense of who we are, we note both how we find ourselves already in the world and how we project possibilities. We make sense of what it means to be in the world through language, in which case we recognize the significance of our projecting onto the world. State of mind, projection, and talk are modes of my sense of what it means for me to be. As such, they are my own or not my own, authentic or inauthentic. State of mind is equally important with cognition and reason. State of mind discloses the submissive quality of our lives. Authentic living does not eradicate the state of mind, but it does allow one to go beyond. State of mind discloses my concern for the world.

            Fear is one of the modes in which in which we allow the actuality of the world to become significant for us. We cannot feel threatened unless we have an intimate connection with the world. Fearing is possible because my concern for what is determines my existence.

            Understanding is the mode of existing that discloses possibility. Understanding is an existential and a priori. My own existence is a possibility stretching out before me, about which I concern myself, and over which I have some control. Understanding discloses itself as projection. The world presents itself to me as my project. The world is always a yet to be realized, future world. Understanding operates by projecting before us our possibilities. I consider possibilities because I am free. Understanding is like a searchlight, illuminating what lay before us. Yet, that which understanding illuminates and projects before us is nothing other than our own life in the world. What I am right now makes sense to me only in terms of my looking ahead. Possibilities become available through the structure of our existence as inquirers. To be able to think of what can be, one must be able to be. I think of possibilities because I have possibilities and because I find myself to be a nest of possibilities. Heidegger includes the possibility of thought, cognition, or reason in his account of existence. Understanding is prior to the cognitive. He brings together what we conceive and life experience. No matter how free I am, I still experience fate, the inevitable, and the unchangeable. No matter how oppressed I am by the given quality of life, I cannot avoid my freedom and the genuine reality of possibilities.

            Our manner of existing as having possibilities becomes manifest as meaningful assertions in interpretation. Interpretation is a function of the understanding that makes explicit what we already are because we do exist. Interpretation works out the possibilities projected by the understanding. The chief function of interpretation is to make explicit what is already within the range of human awareness. Interpretation makes explicit the purpose or usability of things. The ground of interpretation is, first, our total involvement in our lived context, a prior awareness as to the function and purpose of the parts of life. Second, we gain insight into problem areas of life when something no longer fulfills its usefulness, it breaks down, and we must turn our attention to it. Third, as we turn our attention to a problem area of life, we already have some prior conception that helps us interpret the failure. When one understands the meaning of an act, one understands it in terms of its purpose or use. The focal point of meaning is in us. The meaning of words or propositions has a derivative meaning in terms of what it means for us to be in the world. We have constant and unreflected use of the elements and parts of the world. Our familiarity with the world discloses itself to me in the fact that I can focus upon the ways in which I make use of the world. I make explicit through interpretation the specific manner in which that part of the world becomes available to me. The way in which I make use of the world is meaningful to me through that interpretation. Meaning is a mode of what it means for me to be in the world. Meaning is a priori, allowing such interpretation in words to take place. Meaning is prior to putting that meaning in words. Our lives can be meaningless or meaningful, but never absurd, which would mean outside the realm of possible meaning. Something is meaningful in terms of its service to human life. We interpret what we already know. The inquiry makes explicit that of which I have a vague awareness. Meaning is a matter of existence. Truth has its ground existence. Therefore, listing true propositions or judgments is neither meaningful nor revelatory of truth. Judgments do have meaning, but not simply in propositions. The existential significance comes first. Assertion points out what is of use to me, predicates by pointing out characteristics meaningful to me, and communicates to another my relation to what I assert. Abstract theoretical activity is important for science, but it arises out of this existential foundation.

            In Being and Time, Heidegger proposes phenomenological hermeneutics. Phenomenology becomes the means by which human beings let things become manifest as what they are, without forcing our categories on them. Things show themselves to us. It implies that interpretation is not grounded in human consciousness and human categories but in the manifestations of the thing encountered. Reality comes to us. People can interrogate Being by an analysis of how appearing occurs. Ontology must become phenomenology. Ontology must turn to the processes of understanding and interpretation through which things appear. It must lay open the mood and direction of human existence. It must render visible the invisible structure of being in the world. Ontology becomes a hermeneutic of existence. It lays open what had been hidden. It constitutes the primary act of interpretation that first brings a thing from concealment. Hermeneutics becomes an ontology of understanding and interpretation. Understanding is the power to grasp one’s own possibilities for being, within the context of the lifeworld in which one exists. Understanding is a mode of being in the world. It is the structure in being which makes possible the actual exercise of understanding on an empirical level. Understanding is the basis for all interpretation. It is co-original with one’s existing and is present in every act of interpretation. Understanding is ontologically fundamental and prior to every act of existing. Understanding also relates to the future in its projective character. Understanding also relates to one’s situation. The essence of understanding lies in the disclosure of potentialities for being within the horizon of one’s placement in the world (existentiality Existenzialitat). Understanding always operates within a set of already interpreted relationships or a relational whole.

            World is the whole in which the human being always finds himself or herself already immersed, surrounded by the manifestations of the world as revealed through an always pre-grasping, encompassing understanding. World is prior to any separation of self and world. World is prior to all objectivity and conceptualization. World is also prior to subjectivity. Enumerating entities in the world does not describe the world. People sense world alongside the entities in the world. Yet, understanding must be through the world. An example is that a broken hammer shows what a hammer is.  The being of something discloses itself in the moment in which it suddenly emerges from hiddenness in the full functional context of world. We best grasp the character of understanding when it breaks down, comes up against a wall, and when something is missing.

            Meaningfulness is the ontological ground for the intelligibility of the fabric of relationships. Meaningfulness provides the ontological possibility that words can have meaningful signification. Meaningfulness is the basis for language. Meaningfulness is something deeper than the logical system of language. Meaningfulness is prior to language and embedded in world as a relational whole. Words shape meaning. They also point beyond their own system to a meaningfulness already resident in the relational whole of world. Meaningfulness is what an object gives to humanity through supplying the ontological possibility fo words and language. What people encounter arises as already in particular relationships, providing the context for interpretation. Understanding and meaningfulness together are the basis for language and interpretation. Being is linguistic.

            No interpretation is without presuppositions. Things come into view through meaning, understanding, and interpretation. This simply means that human beings cannot speak from nowhere. We are always somewhere in a relational world.

            Assertions are derivative. Interpreting the hammer as an entity in the world is apophantic, while referring to the hammer disappearing into its function is the existential and hermeneutical reference. The assertions of logic and math have an instrumental use of language. The hermeneutical function of language is to bring something to light. Language is a situation coming to its explicit character in words. Even poetry is a sharing of being in the world.

            In the later writings of Heidegger, he remains concerned with the hermeneutical process by which people bring being to light. In Descartes, truth is the subject’s rational certainity of the conformity between the knower and the known. Human subjectivity becomes the anchor for the status of the world. Philosophy becomes subject-centered and consciousness-centered. Science dominates because it serves the human will to master the world. The status of things reduces to their usefulness to humanity. Values supply the meaning lost to things in the world through science. The thirst for power expresses itself in the frenzy for technological mastery. Thinking becomes the restless human way to master the world. Thinking becomes manipulative and inventive of ideas and concepts.

            The thirst for correctness limits one to what already knows instead of bridging the gap between the hidden and that which one brings to light. In that sense, language becomes nothing more than applying a system of signs to objects one already knows. Hermeneutics brings out a hidden meaning, of bringing what is unknown to light. Hermeneutics becomes revelation and disclosure. The finished and final text is not the sole object of interpretation. Rather, the inner violence and struggle that were at work in the creation of the text becomes important for interpretation. We must keep our interpretations creatively open to what remains unsaid in the text. When we see the work of art as a disclosure of being, a window to the sacred realm, then our encounter is a receiving of a gift. Interpretation is a repetition and retrieval of the original event of disclosure. Interpretation is also a new event of disclosure. Every interpretation must do violence to the explicit formulations in the text. To refuse to go beyond the explicitness of the text is a form of idolatry and historical naïveté.

            Human beings bridge the gap between concealment and disclosure of being. People interpret being through speaking. True thinking is disclosing what was hidden. Yet, the text spoken by a great writer or poet still conceals and has unspoken elements. People require devotional passivity before the text in order for being to disclose itself. People do not invent language. Rather, language arises out of human response to being in the world. Language responds to the call of being. To understand is to remain open, learning how to wait and how to find a place out of which the being of the text will show itself. Heidegger has such a broad view of hermeneutics that it requires an ontological apparatus in order to understand a text. This hermeneutics reaffirms the need to transcend the text and re-ask the question with which the text deals. A great work of art speaks, simultaneously revealing and concealing truth. Art is not just artisanship, but disclosure. A work of art opens up a world. To interpret a work of art moves into the open space that the work has brought to stand. The truth of art brings the earth into the open in such a way that one can see it.

            Talk is existentially significant. Talk is the existential basis of language. Talk is a characteristic of human beings relating with each other, intrigued by the commerce of things in the world and the many subtle relations with other people. Any formal analysis of language is not adequate. The locus of truth shifts from propositions to the existential basis of such propositions. Sentences are the formal expression of the existential manner through which we relate to the world. Hearing and keeping silent belong to the description of talk, since talk involves the give and take of human communication. We hear a message rather than words. Language makes explicit our talking. Even when we read, we contribute our own talking to what we read. We involve ourselves with the other as a fellow human being for whom spoken words excite existential response in talk. Truth does not reside in purely formal or logical characteristics of propositions.

            We lose awareness of what it means for us to be. We lose awareness of ourselves through absorption in the inauthenticity of the other-dominated self. This inauthentic talk is immediately available to us. The analysis of this lack of awareness reveals the authentic self from which we have fallen. We can see this in idle talk. So often, we do not even talk to each other. This awareness awakens longing for genuine conversation. The mask of idle talk discloses the possibility of another manner of conversation – discourse. We articulate our curiosity about the people and things in the world through idle talk. The expression of curiosity betrays indifferent observations about the world and our relationship to it. We then hide ourselves behind idle talk and curiosity, never genuinely disclosing ourselves to others.

            The completion of the preparatory analysis of existential analytic brings Heidegger to consider care, reality, and truth in sections 39-44. Care unifies all existentials into a single structure. He uses dread to reveal the unifying function of this existential. Without the unification that care gives to all existentials, Heidegger would have a random sampling of existential moments and have no way to relate our lives to temporality. Heidegger uses dread to reveal care because dread turns away from and confronts the self. Turning away from the self also reveals that from which we turn away. Most reflective persons have the experience in which our familiar world loses its normal significance. Dread allows us to reflect on the stark and terrifying nature of human life, thereby compelling us to reflect upon what it means to be. Fear has a definite object that we fear. However, we do not dread a single object. Our reflection upon our possibilities makes us aware that we will die. The strangeness of this experience is that other forms of experience stretch along a continuum of time. Death is the awareness of the meaninglessness of existence, the nothing that is our possibility, the awareness that we will cease to be. Such awareness has existential significance, even without metaphysical reference. Dread makes us aware of the possibility of our ceasing to be. Dread is a state of mind that forces us to confront our fate. The experience of dread is genuine enough in that we see the difference between the world and the self.

            What it means to be is to care. We can interpret everything we do as revealing some dimension of caring. My own existence reveals itself more clearly in moments of increased caring. When I care deeply, as in love or terror, guilt or courage, my own unique existence seems amplified. To care is to be ahead of oneself already involved with entities within the world. Care is both caring about things in the world and caring for persons in the world. Heidegger does not view reality as objects, but as care. The fact that people try to prove the existence of the external world belies our acceptance of an isolated subject. To prove the existence of an external world is to overlook the a priori nature of what it means for us to be in the world.

            When we think of truth as correspondence, coherence, or pragmatic, the point is the criteria one uses in assessing a true or false proposition. Correspondence suggests that a judgment or proposition corresponds to facts. Coherence suggests a proposition is true when consistent within an extensive system of knowledge. Pragmatists suggest true is what is practical and useful in relation to human life. Such analysis does not reveal what it means to be true. Heidegger examines what happens in an event in which truth occurs. The meaning of the event is revealed to us. Truth is shown. How something shows itself is more important than criterion like correspondence, coherence, and pragmatic truth. To be true means to be uncovered. Truth refers to human being. Truth is a characteristic of human beings themselves. We are the ones who uncover and disclose. We avoid those areas that will expose and reveal our inmost self. A shrewd observer can recognize just where our real selves are hidden by noting what it is we avoid. Truth is an existential of human existence. We cannot separate truth from human life. The interpretation of the existential self is the foundation of truth.

            Division two begins the discussion of ontology, beginning with death in sections 45-53. Division One has been an important part of ontology, even if preparatory. The uniqueness of death makes it an invaluable object for inquiry. The perspective of death helps us to interpret life, in such phrases as “If I were to die today,” or “Before I die…” However, the love of life or the tranquility of self-deception may keep us from realizing what it means to be something that one day we will cease to be. Our awareness that we will cease to be influences what it means to be. Each of us dies our own death. It is not so obvious that we live our own life. When we are aware that we will die alone, we confront our authentic, genuine, true self. One’s awareness of death can focus one’s attention on the self as it belongs to the individual authentic self. Authentic existence is an explicit awareness of what it means to be. Inauthentic existence is that mode of existence in which one has hidden what it means to be, clouded by ambiguity, idle talk, and curiosity. The awareness of death shakes off this veil or cloud by focusing our attention on the question of what it means for us to be. Our self as it absorbs into others clouds our awareness of death. Further, death is that perspective from which one sees the whole or totality of human existence. What can impending death mean to the fullness of our lives? Can we grasp death? As long as death is out of our grasp, we do not have the ability to see the totality of human existence. How can we realize death as an existential? We can do so as we grasp the non-yet element involved in our existence. How do we interpret this not-yet element? My awareness that I am going to die is sufficient to give me the perspective of totality and to grasp human existence as a whole. I do not have to die to see my end. The existential awareness of the possibility of ceasing to be, of my moving toward death, has ontological meaning. The awareness of my death focuses attention upon what it means for me to be. Therefore, it shows my death is my own. I cannot share it with anyone. My projection of the possibility of death represents death to me as something that I cannot avoid. My awareness of death is due to a state of mind or mood, something forced upon us, something part of my fate as a human being. I try to avoid confrontation with the meaning of death for my life through living inauthentically in my other-dominated self. This avoidance usually takes the form of treating death as an actuality and never as my possibility. I fear death as an object, and in doing so avoid fully realizing that the self can cease to be. The awareness of death also has its foundation in care. Dread is full awareness of my own possible dying. The truth the authentic awareness of death could reveal suggests that the truth is still there, within my life, even if hidden. He distinguishes two ways in which we can move toward some future possibility. One is to expect (Erwarten) it, to look forward to an actual coming event. The other is to anticipate (Vorlaufen) it, to look forward to a thing as a possible way to be. I am free to be or not to be. I am capable of being and not being. Authentic existence is to be fully aware of my ability to be. By looking forward to possible existence and nonexistence, I am aware of the ontological question. He has shifted the focus of attention from inquiring into what humanity is, to the question of the possibilities of humanity. The authentic view of death is an exciting and courageous awareness of our finitude. Death focuses specifically on the question of what it means to be. Death also shows that possibility means more than merely a future actuality. As a human being, I live in the realm of possibilities. We realize authentic existence in the realm of possibilities. Death is a meaningful possibility not exhausted by its future realization. Death is meaningful authentically only as a possibility. He can now treat freedom and authenticity as ontologically significant terms.

            The task of chapter two is to locate the authentic self, and Heidegger does this in sections 54-60. He does this in contrast to the view of the self as the self that thinks and the view of the self as the empirical self. Avoiding choices is the trap of inauthenticity. What he wants to find is the basis from which such we can make such choices. How is it that we can reveal the authentic self? How can we expose the nerve of freedom? The source of authenticity is not in some special or mystical experience. The source of authenticity lies in the range of that which we already understand, and therefore in everyday life. We discover source in conscience and guilt, both existentials that expose authentic self-hood and the basis of freedom. The self who experiences guilt shows one as capable of having others hold that self responsible. I am guilty, and in that awareness I have a new decision to make. I can deny my guilt to myself. I can point to external causes that determined my action. I can even deny that any action is free, and therefore no one is ever guilty. Such decisions toward guilt lead me to inauthentic living. I avoid awareness of self. I can also decide to admit my guilt, recognize my responsibility for the action and that I deserve the censure that goes with it. If I seek a life free of the possibility of guilt, I have fled to my other-dominated self. When I confront my guilt, I am an authentic or true self. The authentic self is one willing to be open to the calls of conscience. Conscience and guilt moves us toward respect for the dignity and worth of others. To alleviate guilt too quickly betrays a loss of that respect and dignity. Ethics and morality emerge from an understanding of guilt. Guilt is the existential that provides the foundation for morality. Conscience and guilt reveal that one is capable of having others hold me responsible, guilty, or justified. Morality and ethics could not arise without this existential. The essential character of conscience is that of calling. The mode of authentic existence is keeping silence in order to hear the call of conscience. The self does the calling in dread, the self calls its other dominated self, the self calls about its mode of existence as authentic or inauthentic, and the self calls itself to its own authentic self. This calling occurs in dread. I am responsible for what I ma because I am that kind of being free to accept or reject my possibilities. The loudness of the crowd no longer protects me when I experience guilt. Dread is the state of mind that discloses conscience. Keeping silence is the discourse that discloses conscience. For me to live authentically, I live freely and with resolution, decision, resolve, and I make up my mind. I need to assert my own existence, freely grounded in responsibility and guilt. The authentic self is with others and in the world, yet authentic living suggests a clear awareness of the self as a self and I accept responsibility for this unique life I lead, avoiding slavery to the other dominated self. To exist in anticipatory resoluteness is to be aware of what it means to be.

            The distinction between authenticity and inauthenticity carries prescriptive weight. One either wins oneself or loses oneself. Authentic life is anticipatory resoluteness and life-affirming honesty. Fundamental ontology may be a fundamental ethics, even though it has nothing to do with ethics and morality as traditionally understood. Authenticity appears to reject the moral limits of Kant’s moral imperative and the suspension of the ethical of the knight of faith in Kierkegaard. Anxiety arises from the experience of the absence of any absolutes orienting one’s existence. Authenticity opens one up to the absence of any universal, non-historical directive governing who one ought to be. However, we should be suspicious of any analysis of human existence that relegates the moral domain as a whole to the level of inauthenticity, interprets self-responsibility as a process independent of the claims of moral responsibility, and fails to account for the prior determination of the individual’s freedom within a range of moral considerations to which one finds oneself obligated.

            Inauthentic life loses itself by becoming absorbed in the anonymity of everyday life. One who dwells authentically stands open to the structure of existence and takes hold of one’s situation in light of the constraints of history, embodiment, and mortality. The modern pursuit of truth in the natural science is unethical in that it denies a sense of being at home in a larger natural order. When we conceive ourselves essentially in terms of our power to think objectively, we feel homeless, displaced, and only contingently related to others and things. This uprootedness of modern humanity has a philosophical source in Descartes and the split of subject and object. He shows the limited and derivative place of theoretical knowledge within the meaningful field of our everyday care, our concern with things and with solitude toward others.

            How does the way I care for my own Being bear on my caring for the Being of others? Some suggest that Heidegger is morally nihilistic because it fails to do justice to the social dimension of human life. It cannot explain how the very existence of other persons imposes restraints on how one may rightfully exercise one’s freedom, and so it cannot ground even the most basic of all taboos: the prohibition against murder.

            Heidegger presented the view that the morally conscientious individual leads an inauthentic life. People individually understand themselves from the things and others with which we are involved in a practical situation into which we have been thrown. The world is thrown beforehand as the a priori of Being in the world: as the place where human life finds itself participating on the swim of things. Human life does not distinguish itself from the others. It is immersed in average possibilities prescribed by prevailing social practices, norms, and modes of interpretation. The tendency to lose oneself in public living is falling. Average everydayness is an existentiale, a necessary dimension of human life. One never exists in a state of isolated purity apart from the anonymous others. The possibilities one can make one’s own come from somewhere. The fact of the dominion of anonymous others is an ontological element of human life. The description of everyday life by Heidegger has moralistic overtones. In everyday life, discourse is idle talk and gossip, sight is curiosity marked by distraction, and its mode of interpretation is ambiguity, or noncommittal superficiality. Individuals must lose themselves in the anonymous other or win themselves by laying hold of their own possibilities. People tend to avoid the anxiety of living up to their possibilities through losing themselves in anonymous others. Antagonism resulting from losing self in the other underlies all relationships.

            The moral life is part of the losing ourselves in the anonymous other, guilt and conscience arising from inauthentic life. The morally good individual is essentially without conscience. Moral conscience does not open one up to existence as a whole. Kantian autonomy is inauthentic as a moral agent. The orientation to specific injunctions closes one off to the issue of existence. The authentic call of conscience is not a call to specific injunctions, but to face one’s life and possibilities. The call is toward leading one’s life apart from fixed moral standards. One thinks through to the end, not for fixed standards, but to find one’s deepest aspirations given the preciousness of time. Since no one has the perspective of God, only I can take responsibility for my life in this time and place. The moral is partial because it does not disclose existence as a whole, evasive because it is motivated by a flight from anxiety, and derivative because the capacity for moral obligation presupposes that one is guilty in one’s very Being. Morality loses its fundamental place in human existence because it is an escape into the universal.

            Such an analysis leaves a dimension of morality unexplored. Authentic life may well arise from the morally conscientious individuality. This moral posture would provide corrective for inauthentic selfhood and losing oneself in the anonymous other. Morally conscientious individuals lift themselves above the prevailing expectations of the group in order to do justice to other person in light of a higher standard than what anonymous others find respectable. Morally conscientious individuals do not drift along impelled by the social tides. They subject their prejudices and public opinion alike to critical scrutiny. Authentic life may open up the possibility of authentic co-existence. Authentic individuality opens one up to others in a new way and makes liberating solicitude possible. A relation of authentic care in which one is able to help others become transparent to themselves in their care and to become free for it. Moral conscience separates one from anonymous others. It also enables the individual to treat others as ends in themselves beyond the horizon of their public roles and situations.  Authentic life, understood in this way, does not isolate the individual from others. Crucial to genuine moral conscience is the refusal to lose oneself in the dictates of the anonymous other. It involves willingness to take one’s stand against what is fashionable, to criticize public opinion for the sake of the community, to judge what is right beyond the horizon of the taken for granted. That one thinks for oneself does not guarantee wisdom. However, the habit of critical reflection puts an obstacle in the way of banal evil. The presence of moral conscience attests to authentic individuation and freedom.

            Authenticity only modifies inauthenticity. People are self-determining by virtue of their freedom unto death. The basic liability is to the guilt constitutive of one’s being in the world, and not to a moral law. The silent call of conscience claims one as an existing individual capable of authenticity or inauthenticity, of either explicitly choosing oneself or losing oneself in already decided upon possibilities.

            Heidegger suggests that facticity and transcendence, throwness and projection, are equally irreducible. Life has cast people into the particular time and place above which no one can rise. One can never master from the ground up the heritage and community to which one already belongs. History is not something over against a subject but is the lived context from out of which one’s limited possibilities emerge. The individual is always already social and historical, yet free to respond thoughtfully to her heritage or to lose herself in it. Not to have lost oneself means that one has found one’s own way from within one’s heritage, not that one stands outside its influence. Authentic Being unto death leads to the appreciation of one’s finite freedom. It leads to recognition of the compelling situation of the actual historical world and to urgent commitment to what is unique about one’s way of being here. Only as a member of a community with a shared heritage does one seek to own up to one’s fate in relation to a wider destiny we all face. I may be able to imagine, but I cannot live the world through the perspective of an ancient Athenian landowner, a medieval astrologer, or even a contemporary Sudanese nomad. The possibilities real for me her and now mediate my effort to imagine how the horizon of their possibilities opens up for them. The account of historicality shifts the locus of authority onto the inherited and shared past. The heritage or tradition in which one’s possibilities are always rooted is historicality. The process of re-appropriating a heritage to which one has been appropriated means handing down to oneself and thinking through for oneself the possibilities that have been handed down to one. However, this precludes unquestioning conformity with the authority of the past. This critical re-appropriation is repetition in the sense of a recovery of what is worth preserving and nourishing. This occurs by way of a conversation with what tradition or heritage gives us as well as the limitations it imposes. One confronts these limits from within the tensions and multiple meanings that any tradition embodies, not from a position radically outside the tradition. One moves toward the future in a visionary way not be leaping over the past but by understanding it better, so that one appreciates what is being left behind when one criticizes it for the sake of a better future. The authentic affirmation of mortality makes possibilities previously implicit in the historical situation explicit, and this means humanity has the possibility of dying not blindly but fatefully through understanding its commitment to what is urgent and compelling in the situation. One needs to choose one’s fate through the critical repetition of one’s heritage. A resolute human life discloses or opens up possibilities harbored within one’s heritage. Without resoluteness, circumstances that seem entirely fortuitous and external to one’s subjectivity toss one about. Only resolute individuals can seize upon possibilities that life sends their way. In the moment of vision, one sees what is to be done in light of the basic structure human existence and the particular historical situation in which one finds oneself. The past one appropriates is always a shared inheritance, our past, and the future toward which one projects oneself is a communal possibility, our future. Therefore, one never speaks for oneself when one articulates a moment of vision. One speaks for us. The community only has an authentic destiny when it is not just a collection of atomized fates but re-appropriates its past through an ongoing conversation among its members. The sense one’s life can make is deeply constrained by the communal narrative in which one’s own story is embedded. This communal narrative is tied to the specific memories and legends through which one’s community retells its story to define and reinforce its own ideals and distinguish itself from other groups. The fate of the individual is conditioned by the destiny in which he or she stands, for destiny is not a collection of atomized fates but guides fate in advance. Decision is not a matter of conforming to abstract rules but of insight into what is demanded by the historical situation when one has looked death in the eye. The visionary individual does not impose a destiny on his or her community but articulates their sense of what is best in their past and persuades them to carry it forward. The authentic creator or leader wants autonomous respondents, not an obsequious or coerced herd. The demand authenticity of a person is to demand that he or she make what others have established their own and that they let others make what they have proposed their own. This precludes any unquestioning obedience or totalitarian ruling. This account of historicity is resistant to dictatorial, racist, and collectivist ideas. However, fundamental ontology remains vulnerable to the charge that its image of authentic existence is not sufficiently resistant to evil because it makes the very distinction between good and evil seem to be the by-product, rather than the precondition, of freedom. Only if one’s moral liability to other persons is on an ontological par with one’s responsibility to oneself do we have an ontological basis for speaking on behalf of the victims of murder.

            This account of historicality casts doubt upon the assertion that there are enduring, trans-historical meanings that unify history in a single, coherent whole, or an appropriate way of interpreting the past, or a single past that we have to interpret, or a single “w” in the position of interpreting “the” past. The past provides an ever-changing context within which the projection of goals takes place. The lesson of our historicality is that the search for a pure origin that would provide a single overarching goal weaving history into a single, coherent whole is futile. Though the manner in which we as members of a heritage stretch along from past to future gives our lives a connections, this connection is not forged by imitating a transcendent measure, but must be perpetually re-established in light of their uniqueness of the present situation. Does this imply that fundamental ontology is another version of historicism? It appears that all acts of self-making are historically situated except the act of recognizing one’s historicality. The ontological insight that we stretch along between past and future and so are subject to both compulsion and freedom does not provide us with any directive as to how to appropriate the past.

            Heidegger fails to support his insistence that authentic historicality requires a critical re-appropriation of one’s heritage with an account of how such criticism is possible. Nothing follows as to what the content of history ought to be. How do I know what is worth repeating in what heritage or tradition hands down to me?

            As members of a community with a shared past, we seek to own up to our fate in relation to a destiny we all face. However, who is this we? Being always exceeds the particular cultural horizon in which beings are framed for us. This insight should render any particular repetition of the past precarious and open one to other possible lifeworlds and ways of encountering beings. Authenticity would seem to encourage a self-critical skepticism. It recognizes that since no resolution is absolutely warranted, one’s own assertions should remain tentative and open to objections.

            What does Heidegger mean when he says that to be is time? He discusses this in sections 61-71. The meaning of our existence lies within our existence rather than outside of t. to find the meaning of existence one must analyze what one is. One must do violence to the everyday perspective of existence or else we will return to its meaninglessness.

            Kant left the self as another thing in the universe that one encounters in one’s affairs. Kant left the self an isolated subject.

            We come to a proper ontological characterization of the self in terms of what it means to be in the world. This self is an I who cares. Authentic existence exposes the self and inauthentic existence covers up the self.

            For Kant, time is the form of the inner sense, and that time characterizes the empirical self. Also, Kant has a philosophy of imagination which as characteristics of both time and rationality.

            Heidegger derives the temporal analysis of human existence from the characterization of authentic existence as anticipatory resoluteness. Anticipatory resoluteness arises because there is a future now. Time is what it means for the human being to be. Anticipatory resolutness shows itself as being toward one’s possibilities. We can be “toward” anything because there is a fture. The future is meaningful to one because one goes toward the future, and therefore the future is meaningful. Awareness and consciousness presuppose the basic attitudes of living toward a future or from a past. The past is meaningful because I am its result, and the future is meaningful because coming toward it. The present is meaningful because the present is the place in which something occurs and in which I carry out an action. The present is making present and carrying out an action makes the present significant. Care is aware of its possibilities, it is already in the world, and it is alongside the entities it discovers in friendship with others and concern for things in the world. Such an understanding of care is possible because of its grounding in time. Authentic life anticipates the future and moves toward it as its own possibility while inauthentic life waits or expects the future to come toward it. Authentic life in the present has a moment of vision to make use of the moment and situation by a free action while inauthentic life makes present as a natural activity. Authentic life toward the past is repetition and inauthentic life is forgetting. Some form of transcendence is necessary if philosophy is to be possible at all. To transcend means to go beyond. However, we must have some place to go. Transcendence is possible because there are ekstases. However, ekstases do not step out to nowhere, so they must have horizons. The horizons are temporal in character. Therefore, to transcend is possible because we are temporal. Since we are finite, we are capable of transcending the entities of the world and our use of them. Our finitude provides us with transcendence. I have a significant past, present, and future. The way in which I exist is such that I have a past, present, and future. I can do a kind of stepping out, in which I am capable of reflecting upon the structure of my existence. Transcendence has its foundation in temporality. We could have no transcendence without temporal ekstases with horizons. The meaning of human existence has its foundation upon the temporality of humanity.

            Heidegger discusses history as the stretch between birth and death. History becomes a story of an existence. The story shows the meaning of existence. Fate, heritage, and destiny make our historical nature possible, but the story makes it meaningful. The basis of history is present human life that also has a fate and a destiny that can then understand people artifacts, situations, and events that no longer exist. What it means for us to be in the world is what the historical is. History is about the worlds of those who stretch along between their respective births and deaths. Heritage is our awareness of our tradition as it has shaped us. Fate is the awareness of our limited possibilities and the ensuing significance of our choices and decisions made in the flux of these possibilities. Destiny has its foundation in our life with others and refers to people and nations. Authentic actualization of our historical nature focuses on the future, as we project into the future our possibilities in terms of heritage and fate. History is a characteristic of living human beings rather than the dead past. Repetition of possibilities leads to realization of our historical nature as a sharing in the decisiveness and guilt that made the situations of the past significant. To speak of a living past is to take hold of the future in such a way that the future is indeed one’s own. Authentic living means to be one’s own self. Only fatefully and from a heritage can one grasp genuinely significant possibilities. Without a heritage, the possibilities we would grasp would not be our own. We are part of a world that already has significance, and thus the world does not consist of simply facts and subjects. History listing facts is inauthentic. We speak of world as the entire universe; we speak of world as a world of opera or finance. To be in the world is to both dwell in a world or realm close to you, as well as the universe that contains several worlds. I cannot seriously maintain that I cannot understand a prior epoch because it is so different, for then I would have to know what the prior epoch believed and maintain, which is precisely what this version of relativism denies. The fact that I know the values of a past epoch differ from mine suggest that the historical relativist must be wrong. We can appreciate the vast differences between epochs because we all belong to the same world. If history were not existentially significant, we would not concern ourselves with it.

            After Being and Time, Heidegger developed his view of language. If language is the house of Being, then all the different ways of Being, all the ways of existence, become intelligible and recognizable only under the roof of language. Language is the protective enclosure that gives a place for existence and Being to occur. We cannot isolate language as merely another event or as an entity alongside other entities. He describes language as the bridge between beings and what it means to be. Language is an aesthetic or artistic phenomenon. Language is showing. Propositional language tells or communicates. However, to speak as showing is to let language reveal meanings.

            Heidegger has placed truth rather than knowledge at the center of philosophical inquiry. Truth is the ground of knowledge. Truth is the jewel in the crown of thought. We now can think again, and not merely calculate.



[1] The Origin of Inequality, second part.

[2] A Discourse on Political Economy.

[3] The Social Contract, Book I, Chapter 9.

[4] Ibid., Book II, Chapter 11.

[5] Ibid., Book II, Chapter 3

[6] Note that World War II was racial. 

[7] I agree.  This is a good thing, for it makes people of various cultures work together for their mutual benefit, rather than go to war or become concerned about race.

[8] How can this be a bad thing?  The process of creative destruction is an important, as it allows for novelty and efficiency. 

[9] Again, the text suggests that this is a bad thing. 

[10] It is true that free enterprise, and those who engage in it, develop a global perspective.  I question whether this is a bad thing.  The removal of national narrow-mindedness would appear to be a good thing.

[11] We observe the truth of this statement in the Soviet Union.  China may become the next to fall.  The Islamic religion is the most resistant to the advances of free enterprise.  However,

[12] How terrible, of course, that capitalists offer products at cheap prices. 

[13] The concept of compulsion here is interesting.  If it is proves to be a more appealing way to live, people adopt it.  It persuades the hearts and minds of people. 

[14] Urbanization has allowed for the division of labor to take place, which has allowed for more leisure time and the weaker members of society to have a meaningful place.

[15] Providing a structure of laws within which free enterprise was important.  The realities of wealth distribution must be re-considered.  When the lower 20% of the economic ladder possess their own homes, cars, heating, air conditioning, and have reasonable access to health care, this is not “poverty” in the traditional sense.  Wealth has become distributed to increasingly more people.

[16] The text laments the formation of America and its constitution, as well as competition.

[17] The text fails at every point to recognize the middle class, white collar person as a worker.  It seems that if one is not on the assembly line, one is not a worker.  What frustrates me is this: what gives that person more virtue than others in society?  His answer, of course, is that the fact of being oppressed clothes the “worker” with virtue.  I dispute that workers have ever been victims of oppression.  If they were, it would not give them any virtue.

[18] This is to control the flow of information so that it favors the State.

[19] The proletariat that I know like their smoking, beer, and spending their checks on the weekend.  I am being sarcastic, but I wonder what gives them such special virtue as a class?  Marx divides the world into good and evil,  much as any fundamentalist in religion would do.  The oppressed are good while the oppressor is evil.  This allows Marx and his followers to resort in any lies to gain power, as well as lies and force to remain in power.  Dividing political opponents into good and evil is another way to end genuine political discourse. All that matters is power.

[20] This appears to me to be the statement of an idiot.  Anyone who has lost a valuable employee knows how important it is to have the right person at the right job at the right time.

[21] I agree.  See the dynamic of interaction to make a commodity. 

[22] We live in a nation where over half of the population is invested in the stock market in some way.  How greedy we are, to desire more funds.

[23] Once again, freedom of movement by the worker negates the analogy with feudalism.  It also forces businesses to have some consideration to the worker as they must compete in a limited labor market. 

[24] This process makes the commodities cheaper for the “worker” to purchase.

[25] Is that a bad thing?  The profit is, to some degree, independent of the owner of the business, because of competition, which brings down the price of products.  Marx appears to think that is a bad process.  What am I missing?  Is just an idiot?

[26] I understand that finding new markets for one’s products is bad thing in the Marxist system.  If it is done through imperialism, I grant the point.  However, if it is done through the expansion of free people engaging in commerce and the expansion of wealth so that more people can purchase more things, how is this a bad thing?

[27] One who owns the means of production owns the vision and direction of a business.  What is the value of that?  Not everyone has that ability or desire.  Further, if the government owns the means of production, then the people are truly slaves and servants of the state.  Citizens cannot sue the State.  Nor can they leave it as employer for another employer.  The feared enslavement of the “worker” occurs, not under capitalism, but under Communism. 

[28] (noema).

[29] (noesis).