A Forgotten Stream in German Spiritual Life


24-01-2018 1 comments Print!
Quote from: Rudolf Steiner, The Riddle Of Man, GA 20.

'Thus, in Immanuel Hermann Fichte, the son of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, there appears a thinker who tries to penetrate more deeply into the spiritual than his father, Schelling, or Hegel. Whoever dares to make such an attempt will not only hear from outside the opposition of all those who are fearful about questions of world views; if he is a careful thinker, he will clearly perceive this opposition coming also from his own soul. Is there then actually a possibility of delivering the human soul of cognitive powers that lead into regions of which the senses give no view? What can guarantee the reality of such regions; what can determine the difference between such reality and the creations of fantasy and daydreaming? Whoever does not always have the spirit of this opposition at his side, so to speak, as the true companion of his prudence will easily blunder in his spiritual-scientific attempts; whoever has this spirit will recognize in it something extremely valuable for life.

'Whoever enters into the arguments of Immanuel Hermann Fichte will find that a certain spiritual demeanor has passed over to him from his great predecessors that both strengthens his steps into the spiritual region and endows him with prudence in the sense just indicated.

'The standpoint of the Hegelian world view, which takes as its basic conviction the spiritual nature of the world of ideas, was also able to be the point of departure for Immanuel Hermann Fichte in the development of his thoughts. Nevertheless, he felt it to be a weakness in Hegel's world view that, from its supersensible vantage point, it still looks only at what is revealed in the sense world. Whoever lives into Immanuel Hermann Fichte's views can feel something like the following as its basic undertone. The soul experiences itself in a supersensible way when it lifts itself above sense perception to a weaving in the realm of ideas. Through this, the soul has not only enabled itself to see the sense world differently than the senses see it — which would correspond to the Hegelian world view — ; but also, the soul has an experience of itself through this that it cannot have through anything to be found within the sense world. From now on the soul knows of something that itself is supersensible about the soul. This “something” cannot be merely the idea of the soul's sense-perceptible body. Rather, this something must be a living, essential beingness that underlies the sense-perceptible body in such a way that this body is formed according to the idea of this something. Thus Immanuel Hermann Fichte is led up above and beyond the sense-perceptible body to a supersensible body, which, out of its life, forms the first body. Hegel advances from sense observation to thinking about sense observation. Fichte seeks in man the being that can experience thinking as something supersensible. Hegel, if he wants to see in thinking something supersensible, would have to ascribe to this thinking itself the ability to think. Fichte cannot go along with this. He has to say to himself: If one is not to regard the sense-perceptible body itself as the creator of thoughts, then one is compelled to assume that there is something supersensible above and beyond this body. Moved by this kind of a view, Fichte regards the human sense-perceptible body in a natural-scientific way (physiologically), and finds that such a study, if only it is unbiased enough, is compelled to take a supersensible body as the basis of the sense-perceptible one. In paragraphs 118 and 119 of his Anthropology (second edition 1860), he says about this: “Within the material elements, therefore, one cannot find what is truly enduring, that unifying form principle of the body which proves to be operative our whole life long.” “Thus we are directed toward a second, essentially different cause within the body.” “Insofar as this [unifying form principle] contains what is actually enduring in metabolism, it is the true, inner body-invisible, yet present in all visible materiality. That other entity, the outer manifestation of this form principle, shaped by continuous metabolism: let us call it ‘corporality’ from now on; it is truly not enduring and not whole; it is the mere effect or copy of that inner bodily nature that throws it into the changing world of matter in somewhat the same way a magnetic force puts together, out of metal filing dust, a seemingly dense body that is then blown away in all directions when the uniting force is withdrawn.” This opens for Fichte the perspective of getting outside the sense world, in which man works between birth and death, into a supersensible world with which he is connected through his invisible body in the same way he is connected with the sense world through his visible body. His knowledge of this invisible body brings him to the view he expresses in these words: “For one hardly need ask here how the human being, in and for himself, conducts himself in this process of death. Man, in and for himself — even after the last, to us invisible, act of his life processes — remains, in his essential being, completely the same one he was before with respect to his spirit and power of organization. His integrity is preserved; for he has lost absolutely nothing of what was his and belonged to his substance during his visible life. He only returns in death into the invisible world; or rather, since he has never left the invisible world, since the invisible world is what actually endures within everything visible, he has only stripped off a particular form of visibility. ‘To be dead’ simply means to remain no longer perceptible to ordinary sense apprehension, in exactly the same way that what is actually real, the ultimate foundations of bodily phenomena, are also imperceptible to the senses.” And with such a thought Fichte feels himself to be standing so surely in the supersensible world that he can say: “With this concept of the continued existence of the soul, therefore, we not only transcend outer experience and reach into an unknown region of merely illusory existences; we also find ourselves, with this concept, right in the midst of the graspable reality accessible to thinking. To assert the opposite, that the soul ceases to exist, would be against nature, would contradict all analogy to outer experience. The soul that has ‘died,’ i.e., has become invisible to the senses, continues to exist no less than before, and is unremoved from its original life conditions. ... Another means of incarnation need only present itself to the soul's power of organization for the soul to stand there again in new bodily activity ...” (Paragraphs 133 Anthropology)

'Starting from such views there opens up for Immanuel Hermann Fichte the possibility of a self-knowledge that man attains when he observes himself from the point of view he gains through his experiences in his own supersensible entity. Man's sense-perceptible entity brings him to the point of thinking. But in thinking, after all, he grasps himself as a supersensible being, If he lifts mere thinking up into an inner experiencing — through which it is no longer mere thinking but rather a supersensible beholding — he then gains a way of knowing through which he no longer looks only upon what is sense-perceptible, but also upon what is supersensible. If anthropology is the science of the human being by which he studies the part of himself to be found in the sense world, then, through his view of the supersensible, another science makes it appearance, about which Immanuel Hermann Fichte expresses himself in this way (paragraph 270): “... anthropology ends up with the conclusion, established from the most varied sides, that man, in accordance with the true nature of his being, as though in the actual source of his consciousness, belongs to a supersensible world. Man's sense consciousness, on the other hand, and the phenomenal world (world of appearances) arising at the point of his eye, along with the whole life of the senses, including human senses: all this has no significance other than merely being the place in which that supersensible life of the human spirit occurs through the fact that the human spirit, by its own, free, conscious activity, leads the spiritual content of ideas from the beyond into the sense world ...” This fundamental apprehension of man's being now lifts “anthropology” in its final conclusions up to “anthroposophy” .‘

Mieke Mosmuller
Immanuel Hermann Fichte

Give your comment please

Please send me notifications per e-mail incase of new comments
  • From Michiel Suurmond @
    Onderstaand citaat, uit G.K. Chestertons St. Thomas Aquinas (hoofdstuk :'The permanent philosophy'), sluit, je zou kunnen zeggen: eerst naar beneden afbuigend, mooi op deze blogtekst aan:

    'It is a pity that the word Anthropology has been degraded to the study of Anthropoids. It is now incurably associated with squabbles between prehistoric professors (in more senses than one) about whether a chip of stone is the tooth of a man or an ape; sometimes settled as in that famous case, when it was found to be the tooth of a pig. It is very right that there should be a purely physical science of such things; but the name commonly used might well, by analogy, have been dedicated to things not only wider and deeper, but rather more relevant. Just as, in America, the new Humanists have pointed out to the old Humanitarians that their humanitarianism has been largely concentrated on things that are not specially human, such as physical conditions, appetites, economic needs, environment and so on-- so in practice those who are called Anthropologists have to narrow their minds to the materialistic things that are not notably anthropic. They have to hunt through history and pre-history something which emphatically is not Homo Sapiens, but is always in fact regarded as Simius Insipiens. Homo Sapiens can only be considered in relation to Sapientia and only a book like that of St. Thomas is really devoted to the intrinsic idea of Sapientia. In short, there ought to be a real study called Anthropology corresponding to Theology. In this sense St. Thomas Aquinas, perhaps more than he is anything else, is a great anthropologist.'