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Published by Alfred Kroner, Stuttgart, 1969 (4th Edition)

Translated from the German by Albert E. Blumberg

ISBN-13: 978-94-010-3377-0 e-ISBN-13: 978-94-010-3375-6

DOl: 10.1007/978-94-010-3375-6

© 1969. D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, by print, photo print, microfilm,
or any other means, without written permission from the publisher

In view of his great influence on philosophical thought in the English-

speaking countries, there has been added to the English edition of this
book a rather long chapter on Ludwig Wittgenstein. This chapter differs
from those that precede it in that it contains a more concentrated and
more thorough presentation, one that makes heavier demands on the
reader than the sections devoted to the other philosophers. The more
difficult presentation is unavoidable; for a vague characterization of
Wittgenstein's views would almost certainly give rise to false impressions
in the mind of the reader.
Since the later philosophy of Wittgenstein differs in essential respects
from the earlier, the chapter has been divided into two parts: by 'Philo-
sophy I' is meant the philosophy of the Tractatus, and by 'Philosophy II'
the later philosophy contained chiefly in Philosophical Investigations and
Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics.
An attempt has been made, in the second part of the account of
Wittgenstein's Philosophy II, to give a reconstruction of his ideas about
pain. Some readers may feel that this subsection might better have been
published as a separate paper rather than as part of a survey of Wittgen-
stein's philosophy. My only excuse is that I saw no way, other than through
this concrete example, of elucidating briefly yet not inaccurately some im-
portant concepts of his later philosophy.
In describing Wittgenstein's philosophy of logic and mathematics, it
became necessary to differentiate his position both from classical and
from constructivist conceptions. I took advantage of this occasion to
insert a short sketch of the basic ideas ofthe new foundation proposed by
Paul Lorenzen for intuitionistic logic ('The Theory of Dialogue Games').
This section therefore may also be regarded as a supplement to that por-
tion of Chapter VIII concerned with the philosophy of mathematics.
The mode of presentation chosen for the chapter (IX) on Wittgenstein
involves a much greater use of quoted passages than elsewhere in the
book. This will, I hope, give the reader a more vivid impression of

Wittgenstein's train of thought. In Chapter IX, as in Chapter VIII, it seemed

best to forego adding to the exposition any evaluation of my own. There
are several reasons for this. First, a critique of various ideas from the
Tractatus is contained implicitly in the account given of Wittgenstein's
later philosophy. Second, the exposition of Philosophy 11 itself assumes
in places the character either of a critical discussion or - as in the case of
the theory of internal experience mentioned above - of a tentative recon-
struction ofWittgenstein's thought. Finally, certain of the ideas expound-
ed in Philosophy 11, Sections 2 and 3, seem to me to be problematic. Yet
I do not regard the objections thus far made to them as sound. I must
acknowledge that at present I simply do not know what I should say about
these ideas of Wittgenstein. For the moment, we must confine ourselves
to the effort to penetrate more deeply into his thought.
In describing Wittgenstein's earlier philosophy, I was greatly assisted
by Erik Stenius' Wittgenstein's 'Tractatus'. This book seems to me to have
clarified definitively many of Wittgenstein's conceptions, particularly
those related to his ontological foundation and to his concept of picture.
As for Wittgenstein's Philosophy 11, I have thus far found only three
works that, in my opinion, get at the heart of the matter: Norman Mal-
colm's discussion of Wittgenstein's views on the relationship between
language and internal experience (Philosophical Review 63 (1954) 530-59);
Michael Dummett's examination of Wittgenstein's philosophy of math-
ematics (Philosophical Review 68 (1959) 324-48); and the very recent book
by George Pitcher, The Philosophy of Wittgenstein (Englewood Cliffs,
N.J., 1964), the second part of which presents an excellent overall account
of the later philosophy ofWittgenstein (although omitting the philosophy
of logic and mathematics).
In this edition, several typographical errors have been corrected and
a few stylistic changes made.
There has been newly added a brief exposition of the philosophically
relevant portions of Noam Chomsky's influential theory of language to-
gether with his modern version of the Doctrine of Innate Ideas.


Lochham, January 27, 1969





A. Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary Philosophy 1

1. Kant and Contemporary Philosophy 2
2. Philosophy, Science and Culture 4
3. Modern Irrationalism 10
B. The Process of Differentiation in Philosophy 11
C. A Look Ahead 15
1. Metaphysics and Ontology 15
2. Logic and the Theory of Knowledge 18
3. Ethics 21



A. Mental Phenomena and Knowledge 25

1. Mental Phenomena and the Locus of Truth 25
2. The Change in the Concept of Truth 28
3. Kinds of Judgments 32
4. Consciousness and the W orId 35
B. The Theory of Being 37
1. The Uniform Character of the Concept of Being 37
2. The Problem of Universals and the Meanings of the Word
'Being' (Seiend) 39
3. The Problem of Categories 40

C. The Theory of Moral Knowledge 44

D. Knowledge of God 46
1. Arguments for the Existence of God 46
2. The Theodicy 50
E. Evaluation 51



A. The Absolute Character of Truth 63

1. The Empiricist Consequences of Psychologism 64
2. Psychologism as Skeptical Relativism 65
3. The Prejudices and Preconceptions of Psychologism 66
B. The Problem of Universals 68
C. Intentionality, Judgment and Knowledge (The Phenomenology
of Consciousness) 72
1. The Sensory Level in Consciousness 72
2. The Structure of the Intentional Act 74
3. The Phenomenology of Knowledge 76
4. Sensuous and Categorial Knowledge 78
D. The Phenomenological Intuiting of Essences (Die phiinomenolo-
gische Wesensschau) 80
E. Phenomenology and Transcendental Philosophy 84
F. Evaluation 89


A. Gnoseology and Phenomenology 104

B. The Theory of Sympathy 109
C. Value and Person 112
1. The Problem of Value 112
2. The Essence of the Person 116
D. Religious Philosophy and Theology 118
E. Man's Place in the Stratified Structure of the World 124
F. Evaluation 128


A. The Philosophy of Existence in General and its Historical
Relationship to Western Thought 133
B. The Ontology of Finite Dasein 153
1. The Problem of Being and Being-in-the-World 153
2. The 'They' (Das Man) 155
3. State-of-Mind and Understanding 156
4. Dread and the Care-Structure of Dasein 158
5. Reality and Truth 159
6. Being-toward-Death 160
7. Conscience, Being-Guilty, and Authentic Existence 161
8. Temporality 162
9. Historicality and Repetition 164
C. Evaluation 166


A. Philosophical World-Orientation, Illumination of Existence,
and Metaphysics 181
1. World-Orientation 182
2. The Illumination of Existence 186
3. Metaphysics 192
B. The Being of the Encompassing, and Truth 194
1. The Modes of the Encompassing 194
2. The Forms of Truth 202
C. Evaluation 209


A. The Metaphysics of Knowledge 221
B. The Structure of Being 229
1. The Basic General Questions of Ontology 229
2. The Problem of Modalities of Being 233
3. The Problem of Principles of Being 236
4. Problems of Special Categorial Analysis (Philosophy of
Nature) 240

C. The Philosophy of Spirit 241

D. The Philosophy of Value 246
1. Ethics 246
2. Aesthetics 248
E. Evaluation 251



A. Reasons for the Rise of Modern Empiricism 260

B. Immanence Positivism (Mach, Avenarius) and the Epistemology
of Moritz Schlick 268
C. Definitions and Explications of Concepts 273
1. Nominal Definitions, Definitions in Use and the Elimination
of Ideal Objects 273
2. The Elucidation and Explication of Concepts 277
3. The Axiomatic Method and Implicit Definitions. Proper
and Improper Concepts. Coordinating Definitions 279
D. Statements and the Meaning of Statements 282
1. First Formulation of the Empiricist's Criterion of Meaning 282
2. The Meaninglessness of Metaphysics 284
E. The Structure of Empirical Knowledge 288
1. The System of Construction (Constitution) of Empirical
Concepts: Carnap's Logischer Aufbau der Welt 288
2. Physicalism and the Unity of Science: the Theories ofCarnap
and Neurath 292
3. Popper's Falsification Theory 296
4. The Confirmability and Testability of Empirical Sentences.
Carnap's New Version of the Empiricist Criterion of
Meaning 299
F. Semantics and Logical Syntax 307
1. Logic, the Theory of Science, and Language Construction 307
2. The Basic Concepts of Semantics 310
3. L-Semantics 312
4. Formal Systems and their Interpretation 313
G. Evaluation 314



A. Research in the Foundations of Logic and Mathematics 321

1. Mathematical Logic 321
2. The Foundations of Mathematics - Logicism, Intuitionism,
and Proof Theory 325
B. The Theory of Empirical Scientific Knowledge 333
1. The Basis Problem (Schlick, Neurath, Popper, Pap, Carnap) 333
2. The Logical Analysis of the Concept of Scientific Explanation
(the Theory of Hempe1 and Oppenheim) 336
3. The Methodological Character of Theoretical Concepts
(Carnap's Theory) 345
4. Inductive Logic and Probability (Carnap's Theory) 350
5. The Problem of Natural Laws (Nelson Goodman's Theory) 360
C. Problems of Reality 365
1. The Problem of Being and the Problem of Universals (the
Theories of W.V. Quine) 365
2. Inquiries into the Structure of the World of Appearance
(Goodman's Theory) 370
3. The Mind-Body Problem (the Theory of Herbert Feigl) 373
D. Ethics 378
1. C. D. Broad's Classification of Ethical Problems 378
2. Emotivist or Non-Cognitivist Ethical Theories (the Theories
of Charles L. Stevenson and Richard M. Hare) 383


A. Philosophy I 394
1. The Ontological Framework 396
2. The Isomorphism Theory of Sentence Meaning and of
Knowledge 405
3. The Sense of Compound Sentences 415
4. Transcendental Philosophical Outlook 417
B. Philosophy II 423
1. The Abandonment of the Presuppositions of the
T-Philosophy 425

2. Word Meaning, Word Use, and Language Games 429

a. Critique of the Theory of Word Meanings 429
b. Sentence Radical and Sentence Mood 432
c. Word Use and Language Games 434
3. Philosophical Riddles, the Philosophy of Essence, False
Pictures, and Being Misled by Language 452
4. Language and Mind 472
5. Inner Experience and Other Minds 487
6. The Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics 508






Revising a work on philosophy often causes the author more pains than
the preparation of an entirely new manuscript. The reason, of course, is
that one's intellectual standpoint generally changes over the years; and the
more time that has elapsed since the first edition, the more difficult it be-
comes to effect that compromise between one's past and present views
which is simply unavoidable if one is to be able to speak meaningfully
of a second edition.
In philosophy, the difficulties that attend such a compromise are perhaps
greater than in any other field. For a change in philosophical outlook
involves not only the substitution of new hypotheses for old, not only the
abandonment of supposed in sights in favor of other judgments, but
something more radical - a change in one's whole attitude toward the
so-called problems of philosophy. One becomes aware that questions
have new, hitherto unnoticed dimensions. What was thought to be clear
suddenly appears obscure and problematical. The question of just what
in general is and is not philosophically discussable is given a different
answer. All meaning and value accents shift, and with them the concept
of what philosophy itself is.
In the present case, the first edition had in essence been completed when
I was just 24 years old. Since then my philosophical interests and my
philosophical views have both undergone considerable change. As a
consequence, much in the earlier exposition now seems to me unsatisfac-
tory and incomplete. On the other hand, my thinking and style have, I
hope, become somewhat more precise, if also more pedantic and less
intuitive. And I no longer possess the same facuIty I once had for sym-
pathetically understanding modes of thought that are far from mine. I
therefore came to the conclusion that it would not be practical to write
the whole book over again; to do so would have meant losing a great
deal in intuitiveness and immediacy. It has been necessary, however, to
make numerous additions and revisions.
Thus, there have been added to the first edition the following: a chapter

on foundation studies and analytical philosophy; a rather long section

on Von der Wahrheit, the second major work of Karl Jaspers; sections
on the philosophy of nature, the aesthetics, and the philosophy of mind
of Nicolai Hartmann; some remarks on Brentano's logic; a section on
transcendental idealism in the later philosophy of Husserl; a more detail-
ed treatment of the problem of universals in the context of the exposition
and evaluation of the philosophies of Brentano and Husserl; an examina-
tion of Martin Heidegger's book on Kant; and a subsection in the intro-
duction dealing with the process of differentiation in contemporary
philosophy. Furthermore, all of the evaluations that appeared in the first
edition have been replaced by new ones. Elsewhere in the text, many
smaller substantive changes and stylistic improvements have been made.
Finally, the bibliography has been significantly enlarged.
Despite the numerous additions, the book has not been very much
lengthened. This is because Chapter IX (VII here) has been completely
redone. Even though this entailed shortening it by about 60 pages, I do
not think the chapter has suffered in respect to its main content. Basically,
what have been eliminated are the technical details which the reader of
an introductory work would as a rule skip anyway. I trust that the presen-
tation in this chapter has gained in vividness and intelligibility as com-
pared with the first edition. Measured against the earlier edition, nearly
two-thirds of the book is new text. In order to assure a clearer view of the
whole, a more detailed structure has been provided, and a much greater
use made of italics.
Today as before I consider that an introduction to ten philosophical
tendencies is indeed the maximum that a book of this size can furnish.
At any rate, this is true assuming that what the reader desires is something
more than an ability to associate philosophers' names with certain tags or
phrases, so that he may exhibit his erudition on occasions suitable and
For this edition as well, the choice of philosophers to be included has
been governed by the idea of treating in more detail typical and well-
known representatives of specific philosophical tendencies. Only in the
last chapter has it been necessary to violate this principle. For analytic
philosophy and foundation studies are not centered in particular indi-
viduals; as in the special sciences, such studies have assumed the form of
continuous inquiry and discussion among numerous scholars.

I am, of course, quite aware of the fact that the philosophers who are
now most influential and most widely recognized are not necessarily the
ones who have made the most valuable contributions to philosophy. Here
again a compromise had to be made between what seemed significant to
me and what in fact exercises a great influence, although I myself may not
be as convinced of its worth as others appear to be. I shall be content if
my skepticism regarding certain tendencies in philosophy has not resulted
in a lack of objectivity in presenting them.
The specific thinkers to be dealt with have been selected in accordance
with the following principles: I have omitted all philosophical currents
that strive to continue or renew older doctrines or that have their origins
in the even more remote past (for example, Neo-Kantianism, Neo-Thom-
ism, Lebensphilosophie). Further, I have not considered those philoso-
phers whose teachings do not reflect anything original, but merely attempt
a synthesis of the conceptual themes of as many different philosophical
tendencies as possible. Finally, with the exception of research in the
foundations of logic and mathematics, which is becoming increasingly
important for philosophy as a whole, I have not included efforts to supply
philosophical foundations for the special disciplines (e.g., political phi-
losophy and social philosophy).
At various places - mostly in the assessments - I have made reference
to my other works. This was not done to publicize them, but, wherever
limitations of space prevented a fuller discussion of a particular ques-
tion, to let the reader know how he might obtain more information either
about the substance of the matter or about my views on the particular
question. In contrast with the first edition, I have generally held myself
in the evaluations to a discussion of basic questions. I have purposely
omitted a remark that appears in the foreword to the first edition to the
effect that I would confine myself throughout to an immanent critique.
Today this remark appears to me somewhat incautious; a number of the
critical observations can hardly be subsumed under the heading of im-
manent criticism.
I should like to conclude this foreword with a few observations on what
I do not claim for the book, what I hope for it, and what I fear for it.
I do not claim to have given a complete and adequate picture of all the
philosophical doctrines discussed. Even though the book is limited to ten
movements in philosophy, there are of necessity simplifications and omis-

sions throughout the presentation. An introduction to various philosophi-

cal systems can never take the place of specialized studies of the individual
doctrines. Furthermore, I have deliberately refrained from developing,
over and above the exposition, any hypotheses about the historical inter-
connections among philosophical tendencies. Also, apart from the intro-
duction, I have avoided as much as possible commenting on the relations
between present-day philosophy and the contemporary intellectual scene.
Whoever wishes to orient himself with respect to present-day philosophy
must, above all, first set about assimilating the contents of the separate
doctrines; only then can he attempt to discover relations of dependency
or to subject the doctrines to philosophico-historical scrutiny. To be sure,
I have my own ideas about such interconnections; but I do not want to
impose them upon the reader lest the bad example mislead him into im-
itating me. Finally, I add the rather obvious remark that I do not want
to deprive the reader of his opportunity to think for himself. Anyone who
at times experiences difficulty with the presentation should therefore bear
in mind that a certain price must be paid to gain admission to a system of
thought - even if, as in the case of the present introduction, no more is
intended than to convey a first impression. Also, the assessments that
follow the expositions are designed especially to stimulate the reader to
further thought.
What I hope for the book is two-fold: first, that it will give the interested
layman some insight into the most important philosophies of the present;
second, that it will help the student acquaint himself in a preliminary way
with contemporary philosophy. This latter seems to me extremely impor-
tant. Time and again students of philosophy commit themselves prema-
turely to whichever philosophical tendency they first happen upon or
which is presented to them by one of its advocates in a particularly force-
ful way, without informing themselves sufficiently, if at all, about other
ways of thinking. Yet one can scarcely insist that the philosophy student,
before formulating his own viewpoint, master all the significant philoso-
phies of even the present century. In view of the confusing abundance of
novel philosophical programs, methods and doctrines produced since
1900, this task alone would far exceed his capacity.
What I fear above all is that, regardless of what has been said here about
the reasons for the selections, some over-zealous readers will send me a
list of all the things that are not to be found in this book - a list that in any

event could be enlarged at will. I should also mention, in this connection,

that the title chosen for the first edition was not altogether to my liking.
However, the present volume, despite the many changes and additions,
is still a revision of the same book; hence in my opinion, the adoption of
a new title would have misled the reader, the more so since the new
edition is being issued by a different publisher.
For help with the proofs, I should like to express my sincere thanks to
my wife Dr. Mila StegmiiIIer, as well as to Dr. M. Kasbauer and Dr.
W. Hoering.

Munich, May 11, 1960



The problems of philosophy are usually regarded as constant, while in

the sciences change and progress affect not only the theories but the very
problems themselves. Today, in the natural and social sciences as well as
in the mathematical disciplines, formulations of questions differ in many
respects from what they were not too long ago. For one thing, the
problems have received a much more precise definition. For another,
questions are being considered that could not even have been asked until
the requisite theoretical level had been reached.
The basic questions of philosophy, on the other hand, seem to be the
same as the ones which 2500 years ago occupied those Greek thinkers
who created a new rational tradition. According to this tradition, the
explanation of the mysteries of the universe was no longer to be left to
myth and religious faith. It was to be obtained, instead, through purely
intellectual reflection, through intuitive knowledge and logical argumen-
tation. These basic questions include the problems of metaphysics, which
concern the ultimate properties and laws of the universe; questions in the
philosophy of religion about a divine world principle and about the
meaning and purpose of finite existence; the ethical questions of the
existence of absolutely valid norms that bind all men as subjects of
action; and the problems of logic and the theory of knowledge, which refer
to the range, degree of certainty, and kinds of human knowledge.
Over against the constant problems, what appears as the element
varying with time are the attempts to build philosophical systems. The fact
that such attempts have been repeatedly undertaken for thousands of
years attests to man's persistence and indefatigability in dealing with
'ultimate questions'. But this same fact seems to lead as well to the
melancholy conclusion that millenia-Iong efforts have failed to produce
a definitive answer to even a single one of these questions. Thus the

picture emerges of philosophy as an endless, well-intentioned endeavor

that always proves to be unavailing - unavailing because finite man for-
ever raises more questions than his feeble intellectual powers allow him
to resolve.
The idea that philosophical problems remain constant while the so-
lutions continually change is not altogether incorrect. As a matter of fact,
many contemporary philosophical systems are concerned with the same
problems found, say, in Descartes and Leibniz, or, still earlier, in Plato
and Aristotle. Yet to absolutize this aspect would give a distorted image
of contemporary philosophy. For, as with the sciences, changes have
taken place in present-day philosophy that stamp it too as unique. What
is responsible for this is not only the novel and, in part, radical nature of
the notions advocated, which are unlike anything found in the past, but
also the fundamental alterations in the way questions are posed. Many
of the 'age-old problems' have been discarded altogether, some as super-
fluous, some as wrongly formulated, some on the ground that they are
entirely devoid of meaning. Others are still with us, but only as a sort
of imperceptible background for explicit formulations from which they
differ essentially. We shall mention briefly a few of the most important
factors that have given contemporary philosophy its special character.
1. Kant and Contemporary Philosophy
Among the many historical threads that connect the philosophy of the
present with that of the past, the relationship to Kantian philosophy
stands out as especially significant. Kant's interpretation of our knowledge
of reality and his critique of rationalist metaphysics constitute a decisive
turning-point in the history of epistemology and metaphysics. There are
few philosophies today that are not characterized, among other things,
by some particular judgment to which they have come regarding the
philosophy of Kant. This does not mean that the greater part of today's
philosophical literature can be taken as a positive continuation of Kant's
conceptions. Far from it. Polemical attitudes greatly outnumber the
revivals and elaborations of Kant's intellectual legacy. But even doctrines
that adopt a critical view of his philosophy have taken over certain of
his formulations and built upon his ideas.
Kant thought he could demonstrate that all empirical knowledge is
grounded in a priori knowledge of reality. This latter knowledge is made

up of true synthetic judgments a priori, that is, judgments whose truth

we are able to perceive even though they neither admit of purely logical
proof nor require any observational data to support them. Kant's
problem lay in the question: How can this mysterious phenomenon of
true synthetic judgments a priori be explained? On what does the validity
of these judgments rest? His solution to the problem was the theory of
transcendental idealism, the significance of which he likened metaphori-
cally to that of the 'Copernican revolution': knowledge of reality does
not consist in the reflection in our consciousness of properties of a world
that transcends consciousness; instead, the so-called real world - i.e. the
only empirically real world with which we are acquainted and of which
we may speak meaningfully - is, in its fundamental features, the product
of our own (spatio-temporal) faculty of intuition and of our understand-
ing. According to Kant, our ability to make assertions about the universe
that are correct yet independent of experience can be understood on only
one basis, namely, that the universe does not transcend consciousness but
is a reality constituted by the transcendental subject.
Recent philosophy has reacted to Kant's theory in three different
The first affirms the basic Kantian position. With some, this takes the
form of accepting Kant's point of departure in its entirety and trying to
rid his system of 'metaphysical' or 'pre-critical' residues. Others, beginning
with considerations quite different from those of Kant, still end up by
placing in the center the concept of a transcendental subject to which all
being is relative and with respect to which all reality must be regarded
as immanent. We find this view, for example, in the later Husserl. Although
his method ofphenomenological reduction as such is a totally un-Kantian
procedure, it leads nonetheless to a 'transcendentally purified conscious-
ness' as the subjective pole of all reality. After the world as concept has
been annihilated, this consciousness remains as a non-eliminable residue
and what is left of the world appears as its intentional product.
The second reaction is a polemical one. It consists in the attempt to
find a new and different kind of solution for the same problem. Thus
Brentano in his theory of self-evidence offers a divergent interpretation of
synthetic judgments a priori. Nicolai Hartmann, within the framework of
his particular ontology, seeks an objectivist explanation of knowledge by
assuming that the fundamental laws of thought (the categories of know-

ledge) exhibit at least a partial agreement with the principles of the world
(the categories of being).
The third reaction is likewise polemical, but essentially more radical.
It is manifested in the attitude taken toward Kant's problem by modern
empiricism and analytic philosophy. Up to this point, the Kantians and
their opponents have disagreed only over how to interpret synthetic a
priori knowledge; now the opposition seeks to deny meaning to the
discussion by rejecting the assumption on which the entire controversy
rests: the existence of synthetic judgments a priori. Kant, as well as
metaphysicians of a realist bent, tried by means of various hypotheses to
explain the phenomenon of synthetic judgments a priori. But are there
in fact any such judgments? Schlick, Carnap and the other members of
the Vienna Circle dispute this, as do nearly all the representatives of
analytical philosophy. Sometimes the existence of synthetic a priori
statements is simply denied; but often the rejection takes an essentially
sharper form, the contention being that it is impossible even to give any
clear definition of the concept originated by Kant of synthetic a priori
knowledge of reality.
The importance of this problem of synthetic judgments a priori cannot
be overestimated. For if the negative viewpoint is correct, then there are
no specifically philosophical statements about reality. All synthetic state-
ments are empirical judgments, and their examination must be left to the
empirical sciences. It is no longer possible for philosophy, in competition
with the sciences, to make well-founded, confirmable statements of its
own about reality. Instead, philosophy must withdraw to the domains of
logic, the theory of science, and foundational research.
These few remarks should suffice to indicate how important and pressing
Kant's basic problem is for contemporary philosophy.

2. Philosophy, Science and Culture

Kant denied the possibility of a science of metaphysics in the traditional
sense - a denial which followed as a necessary consequence of his theory
of knowledge. His anti-metaphysical, critical viewpoint still exercises a
strong influence today. But there are other grounds as well for the wide-
spread mistrust now displayed in philosophy and the special sciences
toward all kinds of metaphysics.
Modern man has in general a more skeptical outlook than the man of

antiquity or of the Middle Ages. He lacks that attitude of naive belief

that forms the base of all religions, and hence of metaphysics, too. For
almost every metaphysical system either has an immediate religious foun-
dation, or derives historically from some belief that is not susceptible of
further rational justification. It is therefore not surprising that with the
growth of the immanentist attitude, which looks on transcendent objects
with the greatest suspicion, a decline has set in both in the interest in
metaphysical discussions and in the confidence that metaphysically formu-
lated problems can be successfully solved.
This change in outlook, however, has not by itself been decisive. In the
domain of scientific philosophy, the skeptical attitude has been very much
heightened by two factors. One is the increased scientific rigor of the
individual mathematical and empirical disciplines. This is reflected in the
more stringent requirements set with regard to the precision of the
conceptual apparatus, the exactness of the logical and mathematical proof
procedures, and the confirmability of synthetic scientific statements.
Metaphysical propositions, at least in the form handed down to us, do
not satisfy such requirements. The second factor has been the awareness
that philosophical viewpoints are relative - that the 2500-year history of
philosophy reveals a continual change of philosophical systems without
any clearly defined line of progress.
These two factors have gained in importance with the passage of time,
so that of necessity they have their greatest impact upon the present.
And yet they have not brought about the death of metaphysics. There are,
of course, numerous anti-metaphysical currents in contemporary philoso-
phy, in particular a number that go far beyond the Kantian thesis that
transcendent reality is unknowable. But we also find today attempts at
a new foundation for metaphysics. Obviously, if these metaphysical
undertakings are to be treated seriously, they must have a different
character from those of the past; for they will already have been exposed,
even in their experimental stage, to a sharpened opposition. Intellectual
projects of this sort will receive consideration only if they have first with-
stood the baptism of fire of the Critical Philosophy and of skepticism.
The development of the individual sciences has had consequences other
than the negative one of an increasingly critical judgment on philo-
sophical systems. The achievement of independence by the various sciences
has also been a source offruitful stimulation for philosophy. Once regarded

merely as component parts of a single all-embracing discipline, the exact

sciences have in recent times become disengaged from philosophy, and
have been put on a strictly scientific empirical footing. A priori laws about
essences have been replaced by laws conceived as hypotheses whose correct-
ness is to be tested by observation and experiment. This empirical approach
has been crowned with practical success. At the same time, philosophy
has been handed the problem of investigating the logical procedures and
cognitive structure of the empirical sciences. The analysis of empirical
knowledge is at the center of all recent epistemological discussions. In-
deed, the ideal of a rigorous natural science, exemplified in Newtonian
physics, served even for Kant as the point of departure in epistemological
Two groups of problems in particular have emerged. The first relates
to whether there is any such thing at all as a pure empirical science, or
whether in the end all empirical sciences have a non-empirical foundation.
Kant took the latter view. He not only held that synthetic judgments
a priori exist along with and independent of the various sciences; he also
maintained that such judgments are necessarily presupposed by empirical
science, and even by pre-scientific experience, as 'conditions of their
existence'. For Kant, of course, there is no metaphysics of supersensible
objects. But the metaphysics of experience ('pure natural science'), as the
embodiment of (non-mathematical) synthetic a priori knowledge, forms
the basis of all the exact sciences. Thus the question of whether or not
there are synthetic judgments a priori is not merely an internal concern
of philosophy but affects the foundation of all the individual sciences.
But even if the question of the a priori is answered in the negative, the
logical character and claim to validity of pure, empirical scientific state-
ments still constitute a major problem. This is especially true of law-like
generalizations, which are not susceptible of complete confirmation
(verification). The problem here is whether one can establish, besides the
procedure of deduction, a procedure of induction which, although unable
to ensure the validity of hypotheses, can still render them more or less
The whole cluster of problems related to testing empirical statements
and ensuring their validity has been aggravated by the increasingly abstract
and non-intuitive character of the physical conception of the world. Nothing
of this was suspected in Kant's day, although notions about a non-

intuitive reality extend far back into the past. An illustration is the
doctrine of primary and secondary sense-qualities which, prominent in
British empiricism, was already present in the Greek philosopher
Democritus. According to this doctrine, physical objects possess only
spatio-temporal properties; the secondary qualities, such as colors, sounds,
odors and the like, are purely subjective, being conditioned by the nature
of the perceiver. On this theory, the objectively real world and the
phenomenal world as given to us no longer fully coincide. The two have
become distinct, and spatial and temporal features alone form the
intuitive bond which ties the world of the given to the real world.
From the standpoint of epistemology, the modern physical conception
of the world is characterized above all by the fact that it has broken this
final bond which linked the physically real world to the phenomenal world
of intuition: intuitive space and intuitive time have also succumbed to the
process of subjectivization. Non-intuitive systems of geometry have turned
out, in the theory of relativity, to be better suited than the Euclidean space
of intuition for interpreting physical space, and the relativization of the
concept of simultaneity has deprived physical time of a property that in
classical physics seemed absolutely beyond question. The idea has thus
arisen of a four-dimensional curved world-continuum, which has no
counterpart in the phenomenal world and which admits only of a purely
analytical treatment by means of a complicated mathematical symbolism.
The tendency toward the non-intuitive has been appreciably strengthen-
ed by quantum physics. In the matrix mechanics of Heisenberg, e.g., the
state of a physical system is represented by a vector in a probability space
of infinitely many dimensions, and the changes in that system are repre-
sented by movements of the vector. The only connection with the world
of experience is that the quantities characterizing the state of the system
(the individual state-variables such as energy, momentum and the like)
are associated with certain matrices; and these matrices, in the probability
space, determine coordinate systems whose axes correspond to particular
values of the state-variables. The decompositions (with respect to the
coordinate system) of the vector describing the state of the system indicate
the probabilities that a measurement carried out on the system will yield
one of these particular values.
In view of this situation, the question of how one can acquire any
knowledge at all of a reality entirely removed from intuition assumes an

unsuspected urgency. For it is only within the intuitive world of the given
that one can gather the empirical data needed to confirm a theory.
These few remarks will perhaps convey a general idea of the wealth of
problems which the development of modern science presents to philosophy
for its consideration. In any case, it appears that the growth of the
empirical sciences has freed epistemology from the narrow choice between
'absolute knowledge' and 'skepticism', which served as a constraint upon
ancient and medieval thought and which often prevailed even into modern
times. Whoever chose not to be a skeptic had to believe in self-evident
essences and eternal truths. The notion of hypothetical-empirical state-
ments, however, introduced something new. Those who denied absolute
metaphysical knowledge were no longer compelled, by that same token,
to deny all knowledge; they could now fall back on the empiricist position
which, denying the existence of absolute knowledge, does accept state-
ments that are confirmed by experience. And conversely, those who
rejected relativism and skepticism were not forced thereby to embrace
The discussion thus far has been concerned only with the empirical
sciences. But the development of modern mathematics has also produced
an extensive array of epistemological problems, and has led to the demand
for a special philosophy of mathematics. This development, moreover,
has brought about revisions in the basic notions of logic. Particularly
important in this connection have been the rise ofaxiomatics, the at-
tempts to lay a logical foundation for mathematics, the discovery of
logical antinomies and the demand that mathematical operations be
limited to those of a constructivist character. All of these matters will be
discussed in more detail later.
Thus we see that the separate sciences, which in the first flush of
independence sought to draw farther and farther away from philosophy,
have themselves been compelled on internal grounds to engage in philo-
sophical reflections. And in doing so they have at the same time given a
fresh impetus to philosophical research. This is not to say that the
polemics of the sciences against 'unscientific metaphysics' have ceased.
To this day, empirical scientists as well as mathematicians still regard
with deep mistrust all philosophical activity other than logical investi-
gations and the essential inquiry into foundations. Yet it must be counted
a distinct gain that, as a consequence of the problems with respect to

foundations, the friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) conflict between

the sciences and philosophy has led, in some border areas at least, to a
new rapprochement.
Philosophy, however, is at present not only most intimately involved
in the problems of the sciences; it has also been drawn into the vortex
of the crisis in our culture. In the first place, every crisis of this kind is
primarily one with regard to hitherto accepted values. In the second
place, the philosophical enterprise consists in large measure either in
searching for absolute, ultimate values, or in questioning their existence
altogether. Hence philosophical underpinning is demanded not only for
the sciences, but for other spheres of culture as well: religion, morality,
art, society. Of course, a philosophical foundation is never to be thought
of as a substitute for a cultural sphere - the philosophy of religion is not
lived religion, nor is theoretical ethics lived morality. Such a foundation
fills a need when the springs of feeling that nourish these cultural domains
have begun to run dry. And even a doctrine like the philosophy of
Existence, which does not believe that a philosophical underpinning for
social and intellectual life is possible, still aims to provide man with a
'world-orientation', a pathway through a spiritual world oppressed with
doubt and threatened with destruction - to show him or lead him to that
absolute which he can no longer find in the objective, tangible products
of culture.
Lastly, I should like to stress an aspect of contemporary philosophy
that unites it with the older philosophical tradition of the West, namely,
the search for a rock-bottom foundation for science and philosophy as a
whole. Throughout the ages one of the chief aims of philosophy has been
to secure an absolute and unquestionable basis for scientific statements.
This remains a widespread aspiration; the only difference is that today
the search for such a basis is as varied as the array of philosophical view-
points that share the aspiration. Thus, transcendental philosophy attempts
to anchor the a priori element of the specific sciences in a transcendental
subject; phenomenology seeks to open a way to a rigorous inquiry into
essences by means of its method of reduction and bracketing; Heidegger
advances the notion of a fundamental ontology, which is to serve as the
premise for specific ontological inquiries; the older positivism insists that
all scientific statements be reducible to statements about the 'given'.
Indeed, even analytic philosophy should be added to the list; for its effort

to replace ordinary language with a precise scientific language satisfying

all requirements for exactness is nothing more than the old ideal of the
absolute expressed in a typically modern form. Instead of absolute know-
ledge, there is now absolute exactness.

3. Modern Irrationalism
Although, as noted above, interest in metaphysics today has declined,
this holds only for the kind of metaphysics that is formulated in state-
ments and that lays claim to being scientific. In fact, the 'need to engage
in metaphysics', which is the source of questions about the meaning of
the world and of human existence, is particularly strong at present. This
is true whether the questions are posed explicitly or whether, as is more
often the case, they are felt simply as a weight or burden that attends the
ordinary course of life. A tendency is manifested here which runs counter
to the growing immanentist attitude toward existence and which, perhaps,
has arisen from that attitude in the manner of a dialectical 'sudden
Metaphysics and religious faith have ceased to be accepted as matters
of course by contemporary man. Nor is the world itself any longer some-
thing that he takes for granted. At no time in history has awareness of the
mysterious and problematic character of the world been so pervasive as
today; never before, perhaps, has man been so urgently summoned to
take a clear stand regarding the economic, political, social and cultural
problems of his society. Faith and knowledge no longer provide for our
existential needs. One of the great schisms in contemporary intellectual
life is due to the conflict between a basic skepticism and a felt need for
metaphysics; a second results from the contradiction between the uncertain-
ties of life on the one hand, and the necessity for clear practical decisions
on the other.
This latter problem constitutes the setting for modern irrationalism,
which appears under the name of the philosophy of Existence. Not that
this philosophy either could or would eliminate the schism and replace
it with a harmonious conception of the world; the whole tendency is
much too heavily tinged with pessimism and tragedy, as it depicts the
problems of existence with unprecedented sharpness. Nevertheless, the
philosophy of Existence does seek to show men a road that leads to an
absolute, a way to grasp the ultimate meaning of existence, without being

forced to take refuge in religious dogmas or to rely on a metaphysical

system of purely hypothetical and hence extremely dubious values.


Given the abundance of divergent philosophical doctrines, there seems

to be no prospect of finding any common content to distinguish present-
day philosophy from that of the past. It is possible, however, to cite two
formal characteristics with respect to which the current situation in phi-
losophy differs from all previous ones.
The first may be called the process of the functional differentiation of
philosophy. Originally, philosophy embraced quite diverse tasks. From
its inception it was regarded primarily as science, which aims at conceptual
knowledge of reality. But this was by no means its only function. At the
same time, it fulfilled a task similar to that of religion - either by under-
taking to provide, independently of historical revelation, a knowledge of
ultimates which gave comfort and security to those engaged in philoso-
phizing; or, like scholastic philosophy, by seeking a rational underpinning
to supplement religious belief; or by trying to supply a substitute religion
for men who had lost their faith. The ethical function of philosophy as
the theory of the good life was also frequently the focus of interest. Then,
as the sciences evolved into separate branches of learning, philosophy in
its role of a purely theoretical discipline was faced with the further task
of analyzing the foundations of the sciences and bringing the results of
scientific research into harmony with its own findings.
The older philosophical systems generally combined all of these aspects,
the weight assigned a given aspect varying from system to system. The
20th century, however, has seen these heterogeneous functions become
more and more autonomous. Today philosophical writings, for the most
part, confine themselves to just one aspect in more or less pure form.
To begin with, there are the Weltanschauung philosophies which are
intended to take the place of religion, to satisfy man's need for meta-
physics, and to furnish a source of support to those who no longer find
it in religion. This aspect stands out especially in certain works representa-
tive of the philosophy of Existence.
Next are philosophies which, while they contain advice on mastering the
problems of life, do not serve as a substitute for religion. The criterion for

distinguishing between these two types of philosophies is the fact that

only the members of the first group (philosophy as a substitute for re-
ligion) seek a 'philosophical road to salvation' - an analogue to religious
faith and thus a confirmation of the absolute comparable to the religionist's
experience of God (such an analogue, for example, is the experience of
transcendence in Jaspers). On the other hand, those philosophies of
Existence that contain some admixture of atheism are to be counted in
the second group; their predominant concern is to answer the question
of how man can live in an absurd and godless world.
Third are the philosophies whose goal is theoretical knowledge, but of
a kind that is independent of or transcends the knowledge obtained by the
various sciences. One such philosophy is that of Brentano which, notwith-
standing its empiricist conceptual base, arrives at a philosophical theory
of God and value. Another is the phenomenology of Husserl: the new
method announced by him is said to surmount the naivete of scientific
procedures and to yield a purely philosophical knowledge of essences that
is neutral as between different world outlooks. l
Fourth, there are those philosophical systems which, although likewise
striving only for theoretical knowledge, repudiate as unsound any phi-
losophizing independent of the sciences. Here philosophy takes on the
character more of a summary or synthesis of the findings of the individual
sciences. To this group belong all attempts at an 'inductive metaphysics',
and in particular, as far as the philosophies set forth in this volume are
concerned, Nicolai Hartmann's philosophy of nature and his philosophy
of mind, as well as various writings of Scheler (e.g., his Die Stellung des
Menschen im Kosmos).
There is a fifth philosophical current which, like the two last-mentioned,
aims at theoretical knowledge rather than practical wisdom or a substi-
tute for religion. This current, however, not only abandons any notion
of an a priori knowledge of reality; it also disclaims any attempt at a
philosophical interpretation of the results of the sciences. According to it,
the task of philosophY is not to generalize and sum up the findings of
scientific research (such generalization, unless undertaken by the scientist
himself, is in this view bound to be scientifically untenable), but to investi-
gate the foundations of the individual science. Philosophy thus becomes
the study of foundations. Usually the investigation is extended to cover
the pre-scientific conceptual world and language as well. The members

of the Vienna Circle are to be counted in this group, likewise the repre-
sentatives of contemporary analytic philosophy.
Paralleling this differentiation is a second characteristic process, that
of the mutual estrangement and increasing loss of communication among the
philosophers of the various schools. It is absolutely imperative that this
circumstance be kept clearly in mind, for what it signifies is nothing less
than that the word 'philosophy' has come to have several meanings. A
student of foundations and a Weltanschauung philosopher differ alto-
gether in what they understand by a philosophical work; the same thing
is true of an exponent of an a priori metaphysics of Being and a thinker
who starts from an analysis of phenomena. This process of reciprocal
estrangement may be said to exhibit four phases:
(1) Phase (1) involves scholarly differences of opinion. Here the views
advocated diverge because the individual participants in the discussion
question the validity of the opposing arguments or the correctness of the
opposing statements. In this phase the context of discussion is conserved
despite all the differences. There is still hope for a final agreement, and
the conflict of opinion, as in scientific research generally, is in fact a spur
to progress. It is an incentive to make the concepts more precise, the
statements more correct, and the arguments more cogent.
(2) The situation deteriorates when the points of departure and the
accepted modes of reasoning are different toto genere. A point may then
be reached where no discussion is possible any more. The most that
defenders of opposing views can achieve is a gentlemen's agreement
acknowledging that their arguments and counter-arguments fail to make
contact and that their differing conceptions can no longer be reduced to
a common denominator. At this level, although scholarly analysis or
discussion is of necessity out of the question, a context of communication
is still preserved. Spokesmen for different views can present their positions
to each other and in so doing come to an understanding about the
meaning of their assertions; but they are unable to reach an accord on
how to prove them.
(3) The difficulty is further intensified when two philosophers enjoy no
context of communication because one is unable to attach any meaning to
what the other says. Nonetheless, even here a bond, however loose, may
continue to exist between the thinkers, a bond which may be called a
context of intention. Although one philosopher does not know what the

other really means, at least he knows that the other, too, is striving for
knowledge and truth.
(4) The gulf between two persons engaged in philosophizing is greatest
when not even a context of intention exists. At this point, not only are the
statements and proofs of the one unintelligible to the other, but the very
concerns and preoccupations of each become a mystery to his fellow. Not
only does the one not know what the other means; he cannot even tell
what sort of activity it is that the other engages in and designates by the
name 'philosophy'. A state is reached here of total absence of communi-
Phase (1) characterizes what might be called the normal situation
in scholarship. Earlier controversies between individual philosophical
schools - empiricists and rationalists, or Kantians and Aristotelians -
generally remained within this framework. Of course, the present century
too offers examples of philosophical disagreements that belong to the
category of scholarly or scientific conflicts of opinion. The difference in
views, say, between a disciple of Brentano and a follower of Husserl, or
between a phenomenologist and Nicolai Hartmann, is of this kind. More
and more, however, antitheses have come to the fore which can be de-
scribed only in terms of the second, third or fourth phases. Instances of
all three can be cited among the philosophies treated in this book. Thus,
the conflict between the conceptions of Nicolai Hartmann and Heidegger
can be characterized only by phase (2). Even though we may assume that
the latter, in principle, understands what the former meant, a context of
discussion for them is no longer conceivable. A situation of the same sort
can occur even in the modern study of foundations, as is shown by an
example taken from the philosophy of mathematics. Many mathema-
ticians concede (indeed boast) that they do not understand the arguments
advanced by mathematical intuitionism against the traditional forms of
reasoning in mathematics, notwithstanding the fact that it is perfectly
clear just which of these traditional forms intuitionism accepts and which
it rules out.
An encounter between Carnap and someone like Nicolai Hartmann
would illustrate phase (3). And phase (4) serves to characterize the re-
lationship between analytic philosophy and modern empiricism on the
one hand and the philosophies of Jaspers and Heidegger on the other.
It may perhaps sound pessimistic to say that this process of differenti-

ation can no longer be reversed, but it is likely to prove true. The ambiguity
of the term 'philosophy' could be reduced only if entire philosophical
currents were to 'die out' altogether (of which there are no signs), or if
we should simply decide to stop referring to all of the varied things listed
above as 'philosophy' and instead reserve the term for a more or less
sharply defined activity. This latter would be most desirable. Until that
point is reached, however, an introduction to contemporary philosophy
must of necessity be an introduction to a field that is still quite hetero-

Some indication will now be given of the problems considered by the

philosophers dealt with in this volume, and of their positions with regard
to these problems.

1. Metaphysics and Ontology

The term 'metaphysics' is sometimes used to refer to all sorts of factual
(i.e. non-logical and non-mathematical) statements that are somehow
'provable', yet do not belong to the domain of any empirical science. If
the term is construed thus broadly, then ontology as the science of the
most pervasive features of being comes under metaphysics. According to
a narrower concept of metaphysics, only those statements are included
which relate to insensible ('transcendent') objects. It will simplify matters
if in this survey the expression 'metaphysics' is employed in its widest
There are two radically opposed points of view concerning the possi-
bility of metaphysics: the first recognizes metaphysics as a philosophically
significant diScipline, one that either is basic to all other disciplines or, at
any rate, exists on the same plane with the various sciences; the second
rejects metaphysics as allegedly devoid of scientific value or, indeed, as
meaningless. Again, among the philosophers who take a positive attitude
towards metaphysics, we may distinguish three groups: those who adopt
an empirical point of departure or for whom there is at least a close tie
between metaphysical and scientific statements; those who hold that
metaphysical investigations must be carried out in a strictly a priori
manner, hence independently of empirical research; finally, those for
whom metaphysics cannot be an inter-subjectively confirmable body

of knowledge, but only a kind of non-scientific, philosophical activity.

That there is no necessary contradiction between empiricism and meta-
physics is shown especially by the philosophy of Brentano. Although he
maintains that all concepts are empirical in origin, he nonetheless believes
that there are a priori judgments about reality. Consequently, despite his
empirical conceptual basis, he attains to a scientific metaphysics. In con-
trast to Kant, he does not hold that a priori knowledge presupposes a
priori concepts. In addition, he views as totally erroneous the transcen-
dental-idealist interpretation of Kant's concept of knowledge.
In Husserl we find an interesting combination of ontological and
transcendental idealist approaches. According to him, ontology is an a
priori science and is divided into two parts: formal ontology, which has
as its subject-matter those characteristics which are common to all being;
and the material ontologies, which consider such features of particular
areas of knowledge as can be determined a priori and thus assigned in
advance to particular sciences. However, for Husserl these are not the
ultimate, foundational sciences. They are merely inserted between the
individual sciences and transcendental philosophy - the truly basic philo-
sophical discipline whose subject-matter is the 'pure consciousness' to
which all being, real and ideal, is relative.
It is customary to regard Heidegger's notion of afundamental ontology
(which is to precede both formal ontology and the material ontologies)
as an extension of Husserl's ideas. The task of fundamental ontology is
to explicate the concept of being; unless this task is fulfilled, Heidegger
believes, the laws of essence and the categorial relations obtained in the
course of ontological studies are left hanging in the air. The relationship
to transcendental philosophy, in his case, comes as a result of the fact that
the question of being can be broached only by starting from man's every-
day comprehension of existence. Hence, the required fundamental onto-
logical inquiry does not begin, as one might expect, with what is most
abstract and general but with what is most concrete and immediate: the
everyday being of man. Fundamental ontology becomes the transcen-
dental analytic of finite human existence.
Heidegger's thought also exhibits an interweaving of the philosophy of
being and the philosophy of man which characterizes many present-day
writings in metaphysics. Thus Scheler, even more than Heidegger, treats
the question 'What is man?' as the problem of metaphysics. Such anthro-

pocentrism, by contrast, is entirely absent from the ontology and cate-

gorial analysis of Nicolai Hartmann. Here any transcendental philo-
sophical 'feed-back' of the ontological problem to a pure consciousness
or to the everyday comprehension of being is abandoned altogether. At
the same time, Hartmann makes no claim to an a priori knowledge of
being. On the contrary, his concern is with an 'open' system, whose results
are gained by feeling one's way forward cautiously, by constantly ana-
lyzing phenomena and taking into account the findings of the various
sciences. In Hartmann's view, a critical ontology runs the risk of slipping
into one or the other of two main errors: the first is an a priorism of
reason, a speCUlative ontology which proceeds 'from the top down' as
contrasted with an ontology based on the analysis of phenomena 'from
the bottom up'; the second is a mystical irrationalism, a category under
which he includes the entire philosophy of existence.
The philosophies of Brentano and Hartmann belong to the first sub-
type noted above (association of metaphysics with the empirical). On the
other hand, the notion of ontology found in Husserl and Heidegger
should be counted rather as of the second type, although in the actual
working out of their conception they too accord an important role to
empirical components.
In Jaspers, we encounter the third sub-variety of philosophies that
adopt a positive attitude toward metaphysics. He holds that metaphysics
is an important component of all philosophizing, despite the fact that for
him scientific metaphysics today has become impossible and prophetic
metaphysics can no longer be believed. What remains is an 'appropriative'
metaphysics (Aneignende Metaphysik: a metaphysics that 'converts to
one's own use'), whose function is to animate or inspire human reason
and existence.
Modern empiricism takes a purely negative view of metaphysics. Its
attacks are sharper than any previous criticism directed against the possi-
bility of metaphysical knowledge. Whereas skeptics, agnostics and Kant
as well had doubted or disputed only the correctness of metaphysical
propositions, the modern empiricists deny that meaningful metaphysical
statements exist at all. The supposed metaphysical propositions cannot
stand against a rigorous meaning criterion for statements. They are
meaningless combinations of words which are held to be meaningful
merely because of the emotive significance attached to them. Metaphy-

sicians continually strive to express in language what cannot be said. But

this is an impossible undertaking; for as Wittgenstein points out in the
concluding sentence ofthe Tractatus, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof
must one be silent."
That this point of view, however, is not empiricism's final word on the
subject is shown by the recent development of analytic philosophy, a
movement that has grown out of empiricist soil. Here old problems
suddenly turn up in new garb, problems which previously had been classed
as metaphysical or ontological and as such had been pronounced dead.
These include especially the problem of universals, which has also assumed
central importance in contemporary inquiries into the foundations of
mathematics, and the mind-body problem, which has taken on new life
as a result of the interesting analyses made by Herbert Feigl.

2. Logic and the Theory of Knowledge

Studies in logic and epistemology encountered in present-day philosophy
may be classified according to quite varied points of view. One such
classification, e.g., would be based on whether the study in question aims
to expound the principles of logic and to describe the phenomenon of
knowledge in the most comprehensive way possible; or whether its
objective is to provide an ultimate foundation for the laws of logical
thinking and for human knowledge. Another would depend on whether
what is sought is a foundation for a specifically philosophical kind of
knowledge (e.g., metaphysical knowledge); or a basis for knowledge as
such; or an analysis, critique and improvement of the logical operations
and methods of acquiring knowledge used in the individual sciences.
Brentano, strictly speaking, recognized no theory of knowledge. Yet
his investigations of knowledge may be described as an effort to lay a
deeper foundation than had been done by the earlier epistemologies. For
Brentano, the concept of a true judgment is more fundamental than the
concept of knowledge. In the traditional doctrines, Aristotle's adequation
theory of truth is usually taken as the basis. According to Brentano,
however, this concept of truth leads to insurmountable difficulties. He
therefore proceeds to reduce the concept of a true judgment to the concept
of (self-)evidence, which thus becomes the pivot on which his whole
system turns. At the same time, an empirical starting-point is preserved,
since (self-)evidence is an empirically confirmable phenomenon. Through

his concept of apodictic evidence Brentano arrives at a priori knowledge.

The latter, however, is interpreted not as knowledge of essences in the
fashion of Husserl, but as negative existential statements ratified by inner
Husserl sought a new foundation for science and philosophy as a whole.
Logic was to be freed from all psychologistic preconceptions, which
necessarily end up in relativism and skepticism. Logic does not deal with
the accidental phenomena of mental acts but with the conceptual content
oflinguistic expressions; logical analysis is meaning analysis and not the
psychological analysis of mental acts. Unlike Brentano, Husserl believed
that we must assume the existence of general essences and that conse-
quently all a priori knowledge is to be explained as knowledge of essences.
His method of phenomenological bracketing was intended to describe the
precise path that leads us to that knowledge. Closely tied to the method
of bracketing is Husserl's transcendental idealism, to which he came in the
course of his investigations. For once the 'conceptual annihilation of the
world' to which his method leads is completed, there remains only the
sphere of the 'transcendentally purified consciousness', which also consti-
tutes the one absolute to which everything else is referred.
Other phenomenologists, Scheler in particular, did not make the turn
to idealism with Husserl. According to Scheler, the phenomenon of
knowledge must be considered from the aspect of ontology: Knowledge
is to be interpreted as an existential relation between two beings; under
no circumstances may the existing world be downgraded to a mere
intentional object of a 'pure consciousness'.
Hartmann, too, emphasizes this ontological aspect of knowledge. At
the same time, he warns against overestimating the phenomenological
method in epistemology. Analyses of phenomena form only the starting-
point. These analyses, as such, lead neither to theoretical statements of
problems nor to serviceable theories. To the phenomenology of knowledge
one must add aporetics which does lead to the formulation ofthe problems
and, in a further step, to an actual theory of knowing. The mystery of
how one can know objects that transcend consciousness, Hartmann seeks
to solve through the hypothesis of a correspondence between the categories
of thought and the categories of being. He differs from both Brentano and
the phenomenologists above all in rejecting the concept of (self-)evidence.
One cannot, of course, speak of epistemology in connection with the

philosophy of Heidegger. Still, various of his expositions contain im-

portant views on the problems of truth and knowledge. The ontological
aspect again dominates, but with certain transcendental philosophical
modifications. The phenomenon of 'being-in-the-world', analyzed by
Heidegger, is said to render epistemology (which starts from an artificial
splitting of subject and object) pointless, and to make the question of the
reality of the external world meaningless. Heidegger attempts to shift the
concept of truth from the sphere of judgment back to the existential
domain: it is only because man himself is 'in the truth' (but also 'in the
untruth') that true and false judgments about the world are possible. The
process of understanding (Verstehen) is likewise to be anchored in
essence structures of human existence, which are determinable a priori.
The philosophy of Jaspers, with respect to epistemology as well, stands
apart from all these theoretical inquiries. It does not try to establish the
possibility of objective philosophical knowledge. On the contrary, it
accepts along with the intersubjectively valid statements of science those
statements of philosophy which do not claim to supply objective know-
ledge, but seek to appeal to the potential existence (mogliche Existenz) in
man and to make contact with the divine transcendence (gottliche Trans-
zendenz). The problem of truth assumes central importance in the phi-
losophy of the 'encompasser' (des Umgreifenden). A unique form of truth
corresponds to each of the objectively not comprehensible modes of the
'encompasser'. Scientific truth, as the truth of 'consciousness in general',
represents only a very limited aspect of the phenomenon of truth.
Modern foundational studies and analytic philosophy place prime
emphasis upon problems of logic and epistemology. The concern of
modern logic is to set up for the first time a complete and exact system of
logical rules which, in contrast with traditional logic, is also in a position
to cover the most difficult mathematical derivations. In the semantics of
Alfred Tarski there is an attempt, among other things, to introduce the
Aristotelian concept of truth in a novel manner so as to overcome
objections raised against previous definitions of this concept. This new
approach has turned out to be extraordinarily fruitful, especially for
research in the foundations of mathematics. earnap has sought, also with
semantical tools, to delimit sharply the domain of the purely logical (with
its two basic concepts of logical truth and logical consequence). A more
precise rendering is thereby obtained of the old Leibnitian idea that

logical truths are just those true statements that hold in 'every possible
Most representatives of modern empiricism and analytic philosophy
deny any synthetic a priori knowledge of reality. In their view, the class
of meaningful statements breaks down into analytic truths on the one
hand and synthetic empirical statements on the other. Thus, in addition
to marking off the domain of the purely logical, the task of the epistemo-
logist consists above all in treating the problems involved in empirical
knowledge of reality. Among these, in particular, is the problem of in-
duction, which Carnap seeks to solve through his system of inductive
logic. Another is the problem of concepts. This problem, indeed, has
recently gained in urgency" since a number of studies have shown that
it is impossible to reduce the more complex concepts of theoretical
empirical science (e.g. theoretical physics) to simpler concepts referring
only to observables.
One curious point should be noted. Modern empiricism and analytic
philosophy are sometimes called 'logical positivism'. The expression
'positivism' goes back to the older immanence-positivism of Ernst Mach
and his followers, according to which the task of science is to obtain the
most exact description possible of the immediately given. Most contempo-
rary empiricists regard the concept of the given as so unclear or so
burdened with unsolved aporias that they discard it as useless. Conse-
quently, the term 'positivism' can no longer be applied significantly to
this tendency. The only philosophical current in which the concept of the
given is still central is phenomenology. It would therefore follow that the
phenomenologists are the only present-day 'positivists'. However, since this
use of the expression would of course be quite misleading, it is best not
to employ it at all.

3. Ethics
In the field of ethics the influence of Kant is likewise unmistakable. Pre-
Kantian ethics either bore traits of eudaimonism, or was an ethics of
goods or ends. According to Scheler, Kant's great service lay in reducing
to an absurdity all such attempts to found an ethics, by revealing the
relativistic consequences to which they necessarily lead. Yet Kant's own
ethics was open to serious objections because of its formal character and
construction. The task thus arose of building an ethics free of these

deficiencies, without at the same time falling back on conceptions which

Kant had surmounted.
Scheler tried to show that Kant's alternatives - either an ethics of
goods and ends or a formal ethics - are not jointly exhaustive. There is
an additional possibility, namely, a material yet absolute ethics of value,
which on the one hand is clearly divorced from any relativistic ethics of
ends, and on the other, by acknowledging values that are determined as
to content as well as to objective hierarchical relations, seeks to overcome
the content-less character of the Kantian ethics. These ideas of Scheler's
were taken up by Hartmann, who built further on them by analyzing
concrete individual values.
Brentano followed an entirely different path. Also holding the Kantian
ethics to be in error, he believed he had located the basis of ethics in an
experience which, although analogous to that of theoretical (self-)
evidence, is itself emotional in origin. This experience he called "das als
richtig charakterisierte Lieben und Hassen" ('loving and hating when
these are seen to be correct'). In this fashion he would avoid recourse to
'values-in-themselves', which he looked upon as nothing more than
linguistic inventions.
As far as the philosophy of existence is concerned, the entire problem
of ethics has shifted. The issue is no longer one of objective good, absolute
value, or hierarchy of value scales. A continuous gradation of goods, with
absolute evil at one end and perfect good at the other, is replaced by an
alternative that admits of no gradation: Man can only exist either as an
unauthentic self or as an authentic self. And the question then is: How
can man, who for the most part exists unauthentically, spending himself
in mere 'being-there in the world', be made aware of the possibility for
authentic existence which delivers him from his isolation and raises him
to true selfhood. Here the uncompromising religious radicalism of
Kierkegaard, even after secularization at the hands of the philosophy of
existence, has retained its original sharpness.
The analytic trend in philosophy also has, in the last few years, devoted
increasing attention to ethical questions. Fundamentally new in all this
is the application of the method of linguistic analysis to ethical statements.
In the course of these studies, language functions have been encountered
that differ essentially from the function of exposition as performed by
declarative sentences. According to the analytic philosophers, many of

the mistakes of earlier ethical theories are due to the fact that ethical
statements have been wrongly interpreted as declarative sentences.
Actually, the statements of ethics do not have the job of communicating
opinions; they have other functions, such as influencing the conduct of
others, and are thus similar to imperative sentences. Hence, the demand
is made that inquiry into the descriptive meanings of expressions be
supplemented by a study of their emotive significance (i.e., their dispo-
sition to evoke emotional reactions). This is coupled with the further
demand for a logic of imperatives, which differs in a number of respects
from the logic based on declarative sentences.

1 Max Scheler, on the other hand, is not a 'pure case'. Many of his writings belong
at least as much to the first group as they do to the third or fourth.



Brentano never presented his philosophy in completed form. Most of his

doctrines are known to us from writings published after his death, and
these do not contain any rounded out statement of his views. Brentano
was not among those who in a moment of intuition sketch the archi-
tectonics of a system, leaving the relevant details to be fitted into it later.
His research, always problem-oriented, began with individual questions,
then went on to seek an absolutely certain, or if this could not be
obtained, at least a probable, solution for the difficulties encountered
along the way. Nor did he hesitate to revise his previous conceptions
on the basis of advances in knowledge. The 'will to truth' checked the
growth of a 'will to construct', and prevented the congealing of earlier
Brentano's significance for contemporary philosophy is still singularly
underestimated. There is a striking disparity between the very great effect
he has had on present-day philosophy and the relatively meager attention
paid his teachings in current philosophical instruction and research. For
Brentano is a center from which threads extend in the most varied di-
rections. In the first place, the entire philosophy of phenomenology would
be inconceivable without him. He was the teacher of Husserl (on whom
he had an influence that should not be underestimated) and was thus the
spiritual grandfather, so to speak, of Max Scheler and Martin Heidegger.
Secondly, his work in ontology and metaphysics, notably his analysis of
categories and his penetrating studies of Aristotle, decisively influenced
the contemporary philosophies of Being (even if very indirectly in part).
Finally, his method - especially in the study of the logic of language,
which he considers the starting-point in philosophy - bears a remarkable
resemblance in many respects to the procedure of present-day empiricism,
and particularly to that of analytic philosophy in Britain and the U.S.A.
It is difficult to say how much the investigations conducted in these
countries owe to his stimulating ideas.
Since it is impossible in a brief space to reproduce the whole develop-

ment of Brentano's philosophy, we must limit ourselves to its final results.

And of these we can select only the most important.


1. Mental Phenomena and the Locus of Truth

The sciences, and all philosophies that claim to be scientific, strive for
knowledge; or, what comes to the same thing, for truth. Hence an inquiry
into knowledge must first seek out the locus of truth - the domain in
which the sort of thing called truth or untruth is to be found. It is at once
obvious that the predicates 'true' or 'untrue' may not be applied to
physical substances and processes. A stone or a thunderstorm cannot be
true or false, only real or unreal. Counterposed to the totality of physical
phenomena is the totality of mental phenomena or conscious experiences.
Hence the problem of determining the locus of truth reduces to the
problem of locating those sub-domains of the world of consciousness in
which phenomena can emerge that are true or false. This necessitates an
inquiry into the entire realm of the mental.
There are two ways of studying mental phenomena. First, one may
analyze them in order to discover the ultimate elements out of which
consciousness as a whole is built. In the course of such analysis, like
things are grouped together and thus a classification of all mental phe-
nomena is obtained. This is the task of descriptive psychology or psycho-
gnostics. The task that falls to genetic psychology is entirely different: to
search out the laws that regulate the appearance and disappearance of
the phenomena of consciousness. Clearly, the task of description must be
taken up first; before one can look for the laws governing the change
over time of conscious experiences, one has to know what these experiences
consist in and how they are ordered. Hence, in systematically pursuing
its own task, descriptive psychology must at the same time assume the
responsibility of characterizing those phenomena which are relevant to
the problem of truth and knowledge.
Whenever we group particulars of the same kind under a single generic
concept, we are obliged to specify a criterion for the genus, that is, some
characteristic which all these particulars possess in the same way. Hence,
if mental phenomena are to be united in a single class, a distinguishing
feature must be specified. Brentano finds such a feature in intentionality

- the reference or relation of consciousness to something. It is not enough

to say simply 'I feel', 'I imagine', 'I judge', 'I am glad (about)', 'I love
or hate'. If my utterances are to have any meaning at all, I must indicate
what it is that I am related to in the experiences in question. Accordingly,
I must say: 'I feel something', 'I imagine something', 'I judge something',
'I am glad about something', 'I love or hate something (or someone)'.
Every awareness is eo ipso an awareness of an object.
Brentano makes the important further statement that what we are
related to in consciousness need not be something that exists (as when, e.g.,
I imagine a unicorn). Thus, according to Brentano, when we speak of the
consciousness relation we should not conceive of it as if it were merely a
relation between two existing relata, an act of awareness and an object
of awareness.
Intentionality has no analogue in the domain of the physical. A boulder
is an entity that simply exists in itself; as such it does not refer to or point
toward something. By contrast, there is no such thing as an unconnected,
encapsulated psychical phenomenon; a psychical phenomenon is always a
consciousness 'of something'.
With this emphasis on intentionality as the characterizing mark of
consciousness, Brentano brought about a decisive change in the con-
ception of 'contents of consciousness'. The traditional psychology of
associationism had regarded the contents of consciousness as if they were
eternally real, insentient things, like physical objects. It had viewed the
'stream of consciousness' as made up of such processes as the appearance,
disappearance, combination and mutual inhibition of these real bits of
experience, which processes obey specific natural laws in quite the same
fashion as the mechanical processes of external nature.
From the entire range of intentional experiences, the following three
classes may be singled out:
(1) Ideas or representations (Vorstellungen);
(2) Judgments (Urteile);
(3) Emotional phenomena (emotionelle Phiinomene).
This classification differs from the usual one in two respects. First,
volitions and feelings are not listed separately, but are included under the
concept of emotional phenomena. The reason for this is that, in Brentano's
opinion, all of these phenomena are uniquely characterized by the
presence of approval or disapproval (love or hate, in the widest sense).

Second, what is commonly called 'thought' is divided into ideas (represen-

tations, images) and judgments.
Many philosophers and psychologists, from time immemorial, have
tried to find the essence of judgment in a connection or linkage of ideas.
Their aim was to reduce judgments to ideas and thereby deny to the
former the character of a special psychical mode of experience. This view,
however, is untenable on a number of grounds. For one thing, judgments
do not come about merely through a connection of ideas; if! combine, say,
the ideas of 'green' and 'man' to form the idea of 'green man', this is by
no means the same as asserting the existence of a green man. For another,
I am able to make judgments, in particular so-called existential judgments,
in cases where I am not in fact joining any ideas, as, e.g., when I say 'God is'
(the word 'is' being taken in the sense of 'exists'). Any claim that there
is a linkage of ideas in this case - specifically that the concept 'God' is
joined to that of existence - would result in an absurdity. One need only
recall the example of the 'green man' above to see that a connection of
representations does not require belief in the existence of what is being
represented. Hence if, on examining the judgment 'God is' we find it to
be nothing more than a connection of the concepts 'God' and 'exists', we
would then be faced with the following contradiction: On the one hand
(as in the case of any mere connection of ideas) we would not have to
believe that God exists; on the other hand, the concept of existence is
precisely what would be joined to the concept of God.
This is enough to prove that judgments form a special class of experi-
ences. At the same time, a feature has emerged that distinguishes judgments
from mere ideas: all judgments affirm (acknowledge, assent to) or deny
(reject, negate, gainsay) something. When I assert that there is no devil,
I am not only representing a devil to myself, I am rejecting him, denying
him. Likewise when I say 'It is raining', I add something new to the mere
idea of rain, namely, an affirmative belief in the rain. Only when an
attitude of affirmation accompanies the bare representation does it make
sense to speak of truth or falsity. An idea may be ever so absurd; so long
as I do not claim that what is represented exists in reality, it is meaning-
less to call the idea 'false'.
At this point our conclusion may be summed up as follows: The
predicates 'true' and 'false' can be applied only to mental acts in which
something is assented to or rejected. The question that is now decisive

is: What is the difference between these two properties of judgments?

2. The Change in the Concept of Truth

Philosophers from the earliest times have been actively concerned with
the question of what is truth. In the view of Aristotle, truth is present
only when we unite in thought what is also united in reality and separate
in thought what is separated in reality. But later reflection on existential
judgments, in which nothing at all is joined or separated, made men
aware of the shortcomings of this definition. It was then amended to read
that truth consists in the adaequatio intellectus ad rem, that is in the
agreement between the judgment and reality; and most of the absolute
theories of truth, in order to protect themselves against slipping into
relativism and skepticism, have retained this definition.
Brentano, however, believes that there are cogent grounds for abandon-
ing the definition:
(1) There are sciences, such as geometry, which do not treat of existing
objects, yet in which indubitably true judgments are made. But if no real
things are involved, then it is meaningless to say that the truth of these
judgments consists in their agreement with reality. The alternative - that
there might be ideal objects that are to be looked upon as existing -
Brentano considers impossible. For according to his theory, as we shall
see, ideal objects are pure fictions.
(2) Whenever we properly reject or deny something, the real being with
which the judgment is supposed to agree is absent, as when, e.g., we judge
that there are no dragons. One attempt to answer this objection assumes
that judgments as such refer not to existing objects but to states of affairs.
Thus, in the judgment 'Men exist', the judged state of affairs is said to be
the being of men, and in the judgment 'Dragons do not exist', the non-
being of dragons. Now it is strange enough to call the non-being of
something a state of affairs. But this attempt at a solution, according to
which a state of affairs itself has existence, proves altogether unacceptable.
For there must then be an existence of the existence (or non-existence),
an existence of the existence of the existence, and so on ad iJifinitum.
Moreover, being and non-being are conceived of as genera; but genera
divide into species, these species in turn subdivide and so on, until finally
concrete individuals are reached. Thus the non-existence of red dragons
would have to be, as well as that of blue ones. To these specifications we

could add arbitrarily many others, until we finally reach those that serve
as the means of individuation. In this fashion we could generate all sorts
of non-existing individuals at particular places and at particular times:
a non-existing fire-spitting dragon in Vienna, a non-existing green dragon
in London, and so forth. Such, in Brentano's view, are the absurdities to
which we are inevitably led if we assume that truth consists in the agree-
ment of a judgment with reality.
(3) According to Brentano, the view that the criterion of truth lies in
the agreement of a judgment with a corresponding real entity can be
disproved by showing that such a view entails an infinite regress. For if
we are to be able to check whether there is agreement between a judgment
and an actual state of affairs, we must first make judgments about both
the original judgment and the corresponding state of affairs with which
it is being compared. But in order to guarantee these judgments and their
correspondence, we should have to make judgments of comparison be-
tween the original judgment and the one that referred to it, between the
second judgment about the state of affairs and the state of affairs itself,
and between the two judgments that occurred in the first state of the
checking process, and this would continue ad infinitum. The same argu-
ment can be put more simply as follows: In order to prove in even a single
case that a judgment is true, it would be necessary to have already had a
judgment, certified as true, about the state of affairs. In other words, we
should have to assume exactly what we were seeking to prove.
This rejection of the doctrine of adaequatio intellectus ad rem, especially
the last argument, is reminiscent of the Kantian solution to the problem
of knowledge. Indeed, Kant's starting-point was precisely the problem of
how a subject can make judgments which, despite this SUbjectivity in their
execution, possess objective and transcendent validity, that is, are valid
for a reality existing in itself beyond the limits of consciousness. Let us
therefore review the Kantian conception of the nature of knowledge and
Brentano's position with respect to it. In so doing, we must make sure
that we describe Kant's theory as Brentano interprets it.
Kant's point of departure was the synthetic judgment a priori. This is
a judgment which (1) does not result merely from an analysis of concepts
and hence is not purely analytic (as is, e.g., the judgment 'All circles are
round'), but rather extends our knowledge and is thus synthetic in
character; yet (2) is universally valid and necessary and is, in short,

'a priori'. This kind of judgment was exemplified, in Kant's opinion, by

the propositions of arithmetic (e.g., 7 + 5 = 12), the propositions of geo-
metry ('A straight line is the shortest distance between two points'), the
most general principles of natural science (the causal principle: 'Every-
thing that happens has its cause'), together with the judgments of meta-
physics ('There exists an infinitely perfect Being', 'The human soul is
Since these judgments cannot be obtained through an analysis of
concepts, the question arises whence do we derive the right to make them,
or, in Kantian terms, where are we to seek the conditions for the possi-
bility of such judgments. The answer to this question should at the same
time enable us to decide how much trust we can put in these judgments,
and especially whether or not they possess validity in the domain of
Kant's own answer was that the knowledge embodied in synthetic
judgments a priori can not come from experience, from the domain of
sensible objects. For then such judgments would have had to be obtained
inductively and would therefore possess merely a probability value, which
is not the case. But if the basis of synthetic a priori judgments does not lie
in the object, then it can lie only in the subject itself. The universal validity
and necessity of synthetic judgments a priori therefore rest on the fact
that the knowing subject builds or constructs the objects of knowledge in
accordance with its own inherent forms of intuition and thought (space
and time together with the twelve categories of the understanding, which
do not originate from experience). This construction is possible, however,
only where the understanding is furnished, through the senses, with some
matter or content. Since in the case of transcendent objects (God, the
universe, a metaphysical mind-substance) there is nothing sensuously
given, the forms of intuition and thought are not applicable to these
objects, and consequently a scientific metaphysics is impossible. All of
this is conveyed by the expression 'Kant's Copernican revolution in
philosophy': the understanding does not apprehend nature in accordance
with laws that govern the latter and are independent of thought; rather,
the understanding prescribes to nature the regulating laws thanks to
which the latter first becomes a possible object of knowledge for the
Brentano will have nothing to do with this attempted solution. He

regards it - and indeed even the formulation of problems on which it

rests - as absurd in the extreme and beset with many contradictions. He
sees in Kant's doctrine the end of scientific philosophy and the beginning
of a mystical phase characterized by the manipulation of arbitrary
products of the imagination.
Kant himself states that we do not directly perceive the truth of syn-
thetic judgments a priori. He then asks to what extent can we place our
trust in such judgments. And finally, he tries to show that thesejudgments,
when applied to the province of metaphysics, lead to internal contra-
dictions. Now, according to Brentano, all of this suffices to prove that
in the case of synthetic judgments a priori we have to do not with knowledge
but with blind prejudgments. Knowledge consists of judgments made with
insight, and these are immediately seen to be true. Hence they cannot lead
to contradiction, and the question of how far we may rely on them is
devoid of meaning, since obviously we trust self-evident judgments to the
full, that is, with respect to everything to which they refer. But instead
of eliminating judgments that lack this quality of self-evidence, Kant
extols them as the foundation of all science, and thus does serious harm
to any inquiry that aims at insight. There are, in addition, a number of
other inconsistencies. For example, the world of phenomena is said to be
the product of the interaction of things-in-themselves and the knowing
subject; yet the causal relationship, as a mere form of the understanding,
is supposed not to be applicable to the domain of things-in-themselves.
Again, if knowing is to be a kind of generating or creating, then how can
we distinguish between imagining and knowing? Other inconsistencies
include the unfounded assertion that forms of the intuition and of thought
exist that do not stem from experience, the erroneous assumption that
the propositions of arithmetic are synthetic, and the like.
For these and many other reasons Brentano finds the Kantian solution
unacceptable. At the same time, he deems it impossible to retain the
theory of adaequatio. The only course that remains is to clarify the concept
of truth in an empirical way. According to Brentano, there is no reason
whatsoever not to assume that all concepts are derived from experience.
But if this is so, then the main object in clarifying a concept is to exhibit
the experiential source from which the concept is derived. What experi-
ence, then, lies at the base of the concept of truth? Brentano answers:
the experience of self-evidence. Self-evidence is not further definable; one

can only experience it in the course of executing immediately obvious

judgments. Anyone who judges on the basis of self-evidence is certain of
the truth of the judgment, and it is impossible for anyone else, with the
same self-evidence, to arrive at an opposite result. Universal validity is a
corollary of self-evidence. Even God Almighty cannot destroy the truth
of self-evident judgments. Self-evidence, since it guarantees the absolute
and objective character of judgments, does not admit of gradation; by
the same token, if the feeling of conviction is capable of being intensified,
then what is present is not self-evidence or insight.
It is just at this point that a difficulty arises. The class of judgments
made with insight and the class of true judgments do not have the same
extension; the latter class is wider than the former, since a judgment made
blindly may still by chance be true. But when is a blindly made judgment
true? Only when someone who judges on the basis of self-evidence would
make the very same judgment in the given case as the person who judges
blindly. Hence a judgment is true if made by someone who either himself
judges on the basis of self-evidence or, if he judges blindly, comes to the
same judgment that would be made in that particular case by a person
who is judging on the basis of self-evidence.

3. Kinds of Judgments
In discussing the problem of truth, we have had occasion to divide
judgments into self-evident and blind; and in considering the classifica-
tion of mental phenomena, we have spoken of judgments as affirmative
or negative. We may also divide judgments with respect to their objects,
as follows:
(1) Perceptual judgments, which in turn may be subdivided into (a)
judgments of inner perception and (b) judgments of external perception;
(2) Memory judgments;
(3) Axioms.
Only axioms and judgments of inner perception are self-evident. These
two sorts of judgments, however, are completely different in nature.
Following Leibniz, who distinguished between truths of reason and truths
of fact, Brentano assumes two sources of knowledge: axioms, or apo-
dictic truths that are evident from concepts (Brentano also calls them
a priori judgments, since they need no further corroboration from experi-
ence), and the immediate self-evidence of inner perception.

As far as the axioms are concerned, four aspects of Brentano's con-

ception should be especially stressed. First, he effects a synthesis of two
philosophical outlooks that have repeatedly come into conflict with one
another throughout the history of philosophy. One of them, empiricism,
claims that all concepts stem from experience and that therefore all
knowledge requires an empirical confirmation. The other, rationalism,
defends the thesis that we have at our disposal innate concepts, and that
these alone make it intelligible that we possess a priori knowledge (inde-
pendent of experience) concerning necessity and possibility. Brentano
agrees with empiricism regarding the origin of our concepts. Yet he also
believes that the empiricists were too hasty in concluding that all know-
ledge is empirical in nature, just as the rationalists were mistaken when
they inferred that since there is a priori knowledge, there must therefore
be non-empirical concepts. All concepts are indeed derived from experi-
ence, but these empirically acquired concepts can give rise to self-evident,
apodictic judgments and thus to a priori knowledge. For instance, the
proposition 'There is no judgment without a representation' is apodictic,
whereas the concepts 'judgment' and 'representation' are obtained from
inner experience.
A second aspect relates to the negative character of axioms. Brentano's
point is that axioms never in any way presuppose the existence of some-
thing; on the contrary, they assert only that something is impossible.
Universal affirmative judgments are thus in reality apodictic negative
judgments. If I say, e.g., 'The sum of the angles of a triangle is equal to
two right angles', this is only a judgment that it is impossible for a triangle
to have angles whose sum is not equal to two right angles. Whether or
not a triangle actually exists anywhere is left entirely open. This whole
matter is quite important as preparation for the discussion of the problem
of universals. Philosophers who believe in the existence of abstract or
general objects usually point out that without this assumption science
would be impossible. For example, the proof that the sum of the angles
of a triangle equals two right angles is supposed to hold not only for a
triangle drawn on the blackboard or on a piece of paper, but for 'triangle-
in-general', the 'idea of triangle', the 'triangle-as-such'. Even Aristotle,
who in other respects opposed the Platonic Theory of Ideas, did not
dispute this argument of Plato's, but merely indicated that it did not
justify the autonomy and substantialization of concepts in the Platonic

sense. According to Brentano's theory, however, the argument is alto-

gether wrong, since it proceeds from the mistaken assumption that the
propositions of mathematics and other axioms involve affirmative judg-
ments, whereas in reality their function is to deny something apodictically.
The third aspect concerns the object of these judgments. In Brentano's
opinion, the object is not the axiom but the person judging axiomatically,
inasmuch as 'laws', 'eternal truths', and 'propositions in themselves' are
nothing real and therefore are nothing at alP Thus a person who makes
a judgment, say, about the law of contradiction, imagines someone
correctly making a contradictory judgment and rejects him apodictically.
The law of contradiction itself, in one of Brentano's various formulations,
runs as follows: 'It is impossible for someone correctly to deny anything
that another person correctly acknowledges, as well as for someone
correctly to acknowledge anything that another person correctly denies,
provided that both of them judge with the same mode of representation
and the same mode of judging.'
The fourth and last aspect is Brentano's view that all axioms are special
cases of the application of the law of contradiction.
In contrast to axioms, or apodictic judgments that express impossi-
bilities, judgments of inner perception are affirmative in character, specifi-
cally assertoric (i.e., they refer to facts). Despite the self-evidence that
characterizes inner perception, these judgments can be confused (un-
clear), and this will be the case whenever we are unable to distinguish
the details, as, e.g., in apprehending complicated groups of tones.
In his theory of judgment Brentano sets about a task - the critique of
language - that in his opinion is inseparable from any genuine philoso-
phizing. It has long been emphasized in philosophy that there is no com-
plete parallel between thought and speech, that the words with which we
designate concepts and the sentences in which we express our judgments
are often inadequate, ambiguous and susceptible of being misunderstood.
Yet again and again our scientific and philosophical thought falls into
certain linguistic forms, and we then suppose that something correspond-
ing to these forms must of necessity exist in the domain of ideas. For
example, logic distinguishes three types of judgments: the categorical
CA is B), the hypothetical (If A is, then B is), and the disjunctive (Either
A is or B is). For Brentano, the first of these contains a double judgment
- an existential one and, based on it, a second one, which is predicative.

Thus when I say 'The tree is green', this contains on the one hand the
recognition that the tree exists and on the other the attribution (to it) of
the property green. In contrast, the other two kinds of judgments are
simply linguistic forms. 'If A is, so is B' signifies that the case of A and
not-B is denied (A and not-B, taken together, being the content or matter
of this judgment). The disjunctive judgment 'Either A is or B is' says that
one of the two terms A, B is (the matter of the judgment is difficult to put
into words; it goes something like this: 'A and B, one of them'). We also
note that Brentano worked on a modification of the Aristotelian syllo-
gistic forms, which we shall return to in the evaluation.

4. Consciousness and the World

The totality of phenomena divides into two large classes, the physical and
the mental. Examples of the latter are representations (in the sense not
of what is represented, but of the act of representing), sensations, acts of
judgment, seeing, hearing, emotions, and so on; examples of the former
are colors, sounds, imagined entities, and the like. We have already
called attention to the difference between these two classes of phenomena,
but we have not yet considered Brentano's more exact account of the
One distinguishing characteristic of mental phenomena, intentionality,
has been mentioned earlier. Another is that such phenomena alone are
the objects of inner and thus of self-evident perceptions. Further, only
mental phenomena may be said to have actual existence. Now the as-
sumption that the objects of the external world are colored, produce
sounds, etc., may not be inherently absurd. Yet as various observations,
sensory illusions, and above all the laws of physics show us, external
objects do not possess these qualities, their place being occupied by air
vibrations and the like. But the qualities of col or and sound do not exist
within the psychical subject either. They could exist within the subject
only if we resorted to the curious expedient of constructing the existence
of something utterly non-existent. For in reality there is nothing but the
corresponding act or, more exactly, the bearer of that act. It is not colors
and sounds that exist, but only the seeing of colors and the hearing of sounds.
Thus, as has already been pointed out, intentionality should not be con-
ceived of as involving a relation between two existing things. Rather, only
one term need exist, namely, the psychically active thing. For this reason,

Brentano avoids the term 'relation' and speaks only of 'the relative' in
the sense of that-which-behaves-with-respect-to-something. 2 The possi-
bility of a term being suppressed or absent is not peculiar to intentionality;
as Brentano indicates, this can happen whenever we speak of relations in
the usual way. When I make the judgment 'Hans is taller than Peter',
I am not required to acknowledge both Hans and Peter, but only Hans;
with respect to Peter the mere representation suffices, so that the predicate
would still hold good even if Peter were to die.
An additional feature of mental phenomena consists in the fact that
for all their diversity they exhibit themselves as a unity, which is not true
of physical phenomena. But unity, Brentano points out, is not the same
thing as simplicity; consequently, from the unity of consciousness we
cannot draw the immediate conclusion that there exists an underlying,
indestructible soul-substance.
Finally, Brentano believes he can prove that all mental phenomena are
either themselves acts of representation or rest upon such acts. Judging,
willing, abhorring, loving and the like are impossible without a represen-
tation as a basis.
In contrast, the property of extension, which Descartes stressed and
which is supposed to belong to all and only physical things, isin Brentano's
view not definitively established as the distinctive feature of the physical.
For although mental phenomena, of course, are not extended, it is not
equally certain that everything physical is extended.
How a perceiving, knowing, willing subject can have knowledge of his own
mental acts is an old epistemological problem. If we assume that know-
ledge of one's own mental acts requires in turn a mental act, then in order
to ascertain this second act there would have to be a third which addresses
itself to the second, and we would thus be involved in an infinite regress.
According to Brentano, the error here is that in describing the represen-
tations we start from the number and variety of the objects and with each
ofthe objects we associate its own act of representation, e.g., one act with
a sound and another with the hearing of that sound. But the intimate
interweaving of the object of a representation with the representation
itself suggests that what is involved is but a single mental act. The repre-
sentation of a sound and the representation of the representing of the
sound constitute just a single mental phenomenon; and it is only because
of the reference to two objects - a physical one (sound) and a mental one

(hearing) - that we divide the phenomenon conceptually into two repre-

sentations. Accordingly, Brentano distinguishes between a primary aware-
ness (sound) and a secondary awareness (hearing). Each mental act, in its
intentional reference, is always secondarily self-referential. Temporally
the two references occur together. As regards subject-matter, however,
the primary comes first in the sense that a representation of sound is
conceivable without one of hearing, but not a representation of hearing
without one of sound. Thus the assumption of a single mental act with a
two-fold object removes the difficulty.
If self-evidence attaches only to judgments of inner perception, how then
do we arrive at the assumption that a world exists outside of ourselves?
We do so not on the basis of self-evident judgments but as the result of an
inborn, blind urge, which indeed turns out to be most advantageous in
connection with the practical concerns of life. From the epistemological
standpoint, all judgments of external perception are blind. Solipsism, which
denies the existence of an external world, is not internally inconsistent as
a philosophical doctrine. As a matter of fact, the case for the existence
of an external world rests solely on grounds of probability (e.g., the
uniformities revealed in perception) which, to be sure, are of an extremely
high order.

1. The Uniform Character of the Concept of Being

Aristotle in his Metaphysics had conceived the possibility of a science that
would concern itself not with this or that particular being but with being
as such and its most pervasive traits. He pointed out, however, that the
concept of 'a being' (' das Seiende') is not to be looked upon as the generic
concept of all being. For him, there is no such thing as a single highest
genus. Rather, the highest genera of being are the categories - substance,
quality, quantity, relation, and so forth. And the concept of being (Seins-
begriff) is not applied with the same meaning in each of these categories.
Two considerations in particular induced Aristotle to take this position.
One was the view that a crossing of species is impossible, that is, that one
and the same individual cannot belong simultaneously to two different
species of one genus. Yet it is precisely this possibility that must be as-
sumed if we regard 'a being' (' Seiendes') as the highest genus. For since
each thing is marked out by essential or substantial characteristics (man,

e.g., by rationality), as well as by non-essential or accidental properties

(a certain color, say), it would follow that things were being subsumed
under several species (e.g., substance and quality) of the one concept
'a being'.
A second reason for rejecting the notion of a single highest genus was
the doctrine of the whole and its parts. Aristotle held that in so far as a
whole is actual, its parts exist only potentially; but as soon as the parts
attain actuality, the whole recedes to mere potentiality. This would mean
that a thinking substance, once it ceases to think, is transformed into some
other thing. But this is contradicted by experience. According to Aristotle,
the difficulty can be met only if substance alone is taken to have real
being, in which event thinking substance is regarded as substance ex-
tended or enlarged by something that has merely accidental being, namely,
During the Middle Ages, these Aristotelian conceptions were broadened
into the doctrine of 'analogia entis', which referred primarily to the re-
lationship between a transcendental God and an earthly world. At the
same time, in so far as logical reasons prevailed rather than irrational
motivations such as the fear of pantheism or the determination to force
the Absolute back to the very farthest reaches, philosophers continued
to base themselves on Aristotle's arguments.
Brentano, however, regards the entire proof as unsound. In his view
it is quite possible to cross species of the same genus. Thus if judgments
are divided first into true and false and then into self-evident and blind,
the possible combinations that result will include self-evident true judg-
ments and blind true ones. There is just as little evidence that a whole
cannot consist of real parts. Indeed, under such an assumption a conti-
nuum would be impossible, and this would give rise to the absurd conse-
quence that an immense, undivided thing extending, say, millions of cubic
kilo meters would suffer an alteration of substance if even the smallest bit
were removed from one of its extremities.
Brentano thus concludes that we do have at our disposal a highest general
concept, which we can apply univocally to God and the world, to the
physical and to the mental, to substance and to accident, and which we
can designate with the synonymous expressions 'a being' (' Seiendes'), 'the
real' ('Reales'), 'thing', 'something'. True, there is some question as to
whether we do not often use the word 'being' where there is no essential

justification for doing so, or where it fails to perform any meaning

function of its own. It might also be objected that 'being' (' Sein ') should
be viewed as the most general concept rather than 'a being' ('Seiendes').
For is not being that which identically recurs in the manifold of beings?
This question, which concerns the problem of universals, will occupy us
in the next section.

2. The Problem of Universals and the Meanings of

the Word 'Being' (,Seiend')
According to Brentano, we can think of or imagine not only things that
exist but also things that do not exist - a flying crocodile, a devil, and so
forth. But if the thing thought of does exist, it must be a concrete thing.
Universal essences in the Platonic sense, such as redness, triangularity,
rationality and the like, as well as being, possibility, actuality, necessity,
do not exist. Expressions that appear to designate such essences are
linguistic fictions. To support this contention, Brentano offers the follow-
ing arguments:
(1) The word 'representation' has a uniform meaning and always
signifies 'to represent something'. Hence 'something' must also have
a uniform meaning. Since, however, there is no common generic con-
cept for both a thing and a non-thing, it follows that 'something' can
not mean a thing on one occasion and a non-thing (e.g., necessity) on
(2) If the claim is made that what exists is not only a thing but also
the being (Sein) of the thing, one must then admit the being of this
being, and so on ad infinitum. This argument is further strengthened by
the fact that Brentano regards the supposition of an actual infinite as
(3) How are we to acquire knowledge of the being of a thing? The
assumption that the being of a thing is directly intuited is, in Brentano's
opinion, too paradoxical to be taken seriously. Only one possibility re-
mains, that the knowledge is inferred; but the premises for such an
inference cannot be specified.
(4) If, as supposed, we possess not only a representation of a thing,
but also a representation of the being of the thing, then this latter repre-
sentation must either be a priori, or else have been obtained from in-
tuitions or perceptions. The first is not the case, since all of our concepts

originate in experience. The second likewise is impossible, because in that

event the being of a thing would be just a more general concept of the
thing, whereas, by assumption, being must be something different from
the thing.
One might conclude from all this that Brentano is a nominalist. Yet this
would not be accurate in the traditional sense of the word 'nominalism'.
General concepts do exist for Brentano, but they occur only by virtue of
the fact that we think of individual things as undetermined (that is, as
not perfectly determined). For example, from the perception of a particu-
lar red thing I form the ascending series of concepts 'red', 'colored',
'something', and I do this by leaving aside more and more characteristics
of the thing.
Accordingly, when we use the expression 'a being' in its proper sense,
we can mean by it only a thing (or a part of a thing), more specifically
either a physical or a mental thing. But when we convert a concrete thing
into an abstraction - the term a being (Seiendes) into the word 'being'
(Sein), body into 'corporeality', spirit into 'spirituality', knower into 'know-
ledge', lover into 'love' - we obtain nothing but linguistic fictions (which of
course may turn out to be of very great practical use in abbreviating
discourse). It is also a figurative use of language when I talk of what is
as if it meant what is true - e.g., when I reaffirm a statement by saying
'It is so'. What is or exists in this last case, strictly speaking, is myself as
the one who judges that what has been said is correct. It is likewise a
fiction that anything exists as 'something thought' ('als Gedachtes'); for
what exists in fact is the thinker of the thought. Temporal modes can also
give rise to error, e.g., if someone were to say 'Der gewesene Alexander
ist' instead of 'Alexander ist gewesen'. As these examples show, each
individual case must be checked for the presence of an abstraction, which
is not entitled to the designation 'being'. Space and time, e.g., are pure
abstractions; only the temporal and the spatial have being. In what sense,
then, can we speak of the fundamental traits of being, and what do these

3. The Problem of Categories

The possibility of making self-evidently true judgments about being (das
Seiende) as such is fully accounted for once we discover the source of the
truth concept and establish the absolute character of self-evidence. Any

formulation of epistemological problems that goes beyond this or beyond

the descriptive study of the phenomena of consciousness is, in Brentano's
opinion, unnecessary and leads to absurdities at best. Whether something
is accessible to our knowledge or transcends it can be settled only by a
special investigation of the object itself.
As with all ontological questions, Brentano, in discussing categories,
takes Aristotle as the fundamental point of departure. We have already
emphasized that the latter understood by categories the highest genera of
reality. When, e.g., I seek to apprehend a certain body under the various
aspects of quality, quantity, form, place, position in time, these concepts,
according to Aristotle, serve in each case to characterize the body from
a different angle. I can then descend further and further from these con-
cepts until I reach the lowest species (red, quadrilateral, two meters long,
and the like). If, however, I proceed to bring together all of these lowest
determinations, I still do not obtain a concrete thing; for these determi-
nations fix only the features of a thing, never the thing itself. The ultimate
subject to which the determinations belong is substance. It is the first and
most important of the categories; the others, such as quality, quantity,
etc., are merely accidental categories. As in the case of the accidents, so
too with respect to substance - it is necessary to descend from the general
concept to the ultimate determinations of substance, those which admit
of no further differentiation and which of course are not perceptible to
the senses.
This theory Brentano subjects to a critical examination. To begin with,
he regards an accident not as an abstract feature of a thing, e.g., a certain
col or (according to his doctrine, abstract components of this sort simply
do not exist), but as the given whole which includes the substance within
itself. This whole he calls 'an accidental relative', or 'a thing that modally
occupies something' (,Modalbefassendes'). Neither the concept of sub-
stance nor that of accident is a priori in character; both are derived from
internal and external perception. As against Aristotle, Brentano main-
tains that every accident in turn can itself possess an accident; the only
requirement is the presence of an ultimate subject. Thus, e.g., the knower
includes the judger as subject, the judger includes the representer as
subject - or, expressed otherwise, the representer is modally occupied by
the judger and the latter by the knower.
The categories are the different ways in which a subject inheres in an

accidental whole. Determinations of substance are those that cannot

change without the partially separable subject altering its individuality
('partially separable' because a subject can exist without accidents, but
not accidents without a subject). Each separated substance falls of neces-
sity under at least two series of concepts; for whatever is real is temporal
and must therefore exhibit an absolute time-specification. This, however,
does not suffice, since all beings possess the same time determination 3 and
yet are individually distinct from one another. Aristotle, because he held
it impossible to cross species of the same genus, was obliged to reject the
idea that one and the same thing has many substantial determinations;
he was thus led to postulate the existence of a special individuating princi-
ple, matter, which however is beset with numerous inconsistencies. 4 The
introduction of such a principle is superfluous if one accepts the above-
mentioned idea of a multiplicity of substantial determinations.
Now according to Brentano, neither in inner nor in external perception
do we grasp ultimate differences of substance. This conclusion follows at
once from the fact that we do not have at our disposal any absolute
intuition of time. In addition, the unity of consciousness is in itself not
conclusive evidence for a psychical or mental soul-substance; on the
contrary, such unity would be perfectly compatible with a soul-substance
physical in nature. But if we do not even know, directly, whether the ulti-
mate subject of what is given in inner perception is physical or mental,
then this given also cannot be given to us as individual but solely as uni-
versal. Since, as will be shown presently, external perception too offers
us only what is universal, the question is then posed: How do we come to
know that only the individual thing exists?
The concept of an individual thing is the concept of something with
respect to which any further differentiation is foreclosed. Thus, if a
universal thing existed, this would signify that we were thinking of some-
thing in full conformity with all of its determinations, and at the same
time of something exactly like it in all these respects yet supposed to be
another thing. But this is contradictory; for where all the various deter-
minations are the same, the things are the same.
External perception shows us a qualititative something, temporally and
spatially determined, whose existence, as such, is not beyond question and
therefore can be made plausible only through induction. What specifically
determines a body with respect to substance is the position-continuum,

which is the part modally occupied by and separable from the qualitative
thing. e.g., something colored. Hence it is not self-contradictory to assume
the existence of empty places; indeed, quality is only an accidental ex-
tension of place. We are not given absolute specifications of place any
more than absolute specifications of time. We perceive only the relative
differences of distance and direction between physical things. It follows
that in external perception, too, only that which is universal is given.
Kant's assertion that the understanding apprehends the universal, where-
as the senses perceive the particular is therefore disputed by Brentano.
Even with the senses, we grasp in principle only what is general.
Significance also attaches to Brentano's investigations into the various
kinds of relatives. The most important are intentional relatives (con-
sciousness of something), causal relatives (whatever is caused is caused by
something), relatives in which a whole includes something as part (in
particular, collectives, continua and the modally occupying), and finally
the continuum again, in so far as its parts are relatives distant from each
other. In this connection, we must be very careful in each case to note
where a genuine name is present and where not. For example, 'whole' is
a genuine concept, but 'part' is not; that which is called 'part' can cease
to be a part without itself changing, whereas a whole cannot cease to be
a whole without really changing itself into a part. Likewise, 'that which
is caused' is a concept but not 'that which is causing' (this is why the
causal concept is identified with result (Wirken) and not with ground or
origin (Ursache)). For whether or not one thing causes another by no
means depends on the first thing alone; hence that it causes something
else is not peculiar to that which causes, whereas being caused by some-
thing else is essential to that which is caused.
In concluding this section, we emphasize again that Brentano, in con-
trast, say, to Hume, believes that we are able to point to experiences from
which we abstract the concept of cause. One example relates to the way a
conclusion results from the premisses of an argument, another to the way
the willing of an end brings about the willing of the means. To be sure,
these experiences do not yet contain the general principle of causality,
according to which every coming into being is a bringing into being.
With these few remarks we must close our account of Brentano's most
interesting inquiries into the problem of categories, inquiries which gener-
ally have received much too little attention.


From ancient times, the problem of knowing what ought to be has been
just as much a preoccupation of the great thinkers as the question of
what is. Brentano's theory of moral knowledge represents in many respects
a clear analogy to his doctrine of truth and can be understood only in
connection with it. Here again he engages in a simultaneous struggle on
two fronts. On the one hand, he opposes the subjectivistic and relativistic
flight from the moral, found mostly among philosophers who try to derive
the process of moral valuation from such psychological uniformities as
the fear of authority, the carry-over of feelings from ends to means 5,
training, the contagious spread of emotion from person to person, and
the like. On the other hand, he rejects any attempt to preserve the absolute
character of morality through recourse to conceptual fictions, such as
Kant's categorical imperative.
A striking kinship exists between the behavior of judging and emotive
behavior in that each exhibits a bipolarity. In judging, there is an oppo-
sition between affirming and denying (acknowledging and rejecting); in
emotive behavior, between loving and hating (approving and disapproving).
This leads us to ask whether or not there is anything in the emotive
domain that corresponds to the fact of self-evident judgments, that is,
judgments with the characteristic of being correct in themselves. As a
matter of fact, Brentano believes that it is possible to identify acts of loving
and hating which are characterized by being right in themselves. And since
love and hate are nothing but general names for positive and negative
evaluations, we thus have the source of our justified value judgments.
All judgments must be either true or false. Similarly, our valuations are
either warranted or unwarranted. From the experience of pain, e.g., we
obtain the concept 'pain', and this concept can motivate in us a rejection
(,hate' in the widest sense of the word) that has the characteristic of being
right. It is from attitudes of this kind, which reveal their own justification,
that we gain our knowledge of values. Such knowledge involves value
judgments of apodictic self-evidence. We said above that, in Brentano's
conception, apodictic judgments are actually negative propositions. So
too here. The judgment 'Pain is a non-value' simply says that it is impossi-
ble for anyone experiencing pain ever to love the pain with a justified love.
As to whether pain and the experience of pain exist at all, the judgment

says nothing, just as the proposition about the sum of the angles of a
triangle does not say anything about the existence of triangles. Here again
it is true that whereas the concepts (e.g., pain) always stem from experi-
ence, the value judgments (value axioms) resting on them are immediately
evident and thus are a priori in character.
From what has been said it also follows that 'good' ('valuable') and
'bad' are not real predicates of any things and are in this respect analogous
to the concepts 'being' and 'not-being'. The statement 'Knowledge is a
good' (or a 'value') means the same as 'No one who loves to know (or,
reformulated, " ... who loves knowledge") loves incorrectly'.
In the case of evaluating, however, we encounter one phenomenon that
has no correlate in the domain of judgments. True and false are contra-
dictory opposites and no transition between them is possible - it does not
make sense to speak of a 'truer' or 'falser' judgment. But in the domain
of value it is perfectly meaningful to talk of 'better' and 'worse'. Indeed,
only when we take into account value-differences of this sort do we enter
the domain of morality in the narrower sense; for there are many kinds
of goods 6 and the real question is which of them ought we to choose in
the given case, that is, which of them is the better?
Just as the concepts 'good' and 'bad' are derived from acts of love and
hate, so the concepts 'better' and 'worse' originate in special acts of
preference, or acts of love involving comparison. These acts correspond to
predicative judgments in the domain of logic 7, whereas acts of simple
love represent an analogue to existential judgments. Acts of preference,
like theoretical judgments and simple acts of love, can be characterized
as either blind or correct. They arise from the comparison of concepts
acquired from experience. For example, it is the comparison between a
blind and a self-evident judgment that constitutes the basis for favoring
the latter over the former with a preference characterized as being right.
Thus the simple axioms of value are associated with axioms of prefer-
ence. The fundamental reason why the latter have no theoretical counter-
part is that while there are degrees of good, there are no degrees of being.
An additional peCUliarity of the domain of value is the presence of value-
neutral situations, which implies that in such cases (e.g., the processes of
inorganic nature) no evaluating attitude is possible.
Only a few of the most general axioms of preference can actually be
set up. Three cases are immediately secured beyond question: we prefer

something acknowledged as good to something acknowledged as bad;

we prefer the existence of something acknowledged as good to its non-
existence (or prefer the non-existence of something acknowledged as bad
to its existence); and finally we prefer one good to another because the
latter is in every respect equal to a part of the former.
A being that has the power (freedom) 8 to bring into existence what is
loved or preferred may be called a practical being. For such a being, the
supreme practical principle is that the good ought to be furthered to the
fullest possible extent. This deontological maxim will be fulfilled only if
everyone makes decisions in such a way that he always chooses whatever
is determined, on the basis of the acts of preference, as being the best that
is attainable.
These ethical findings are all independent of any philosophy of life or
metaphysics. Nevertheless, they do represent specific attitudes toward the
world - the affirmation of life and its denial, the joy of activity and
resignation. Which of these attitudes is justified is a question that ethics
cannot answer, since to do so requires first a solution to the problem of
whether the world in general has any meaning. This solution can be found
only in metaphysics, which concerns itself with the problem of the existence
of a supreme being.


1. Arguments for the Existence of God

Whether the world in its course is to be viewed as a blind play of chance
or as the product of an infinitely wise and good Being, who desires to
realize in it an eternal order and harmony, is a question of great practical
significance. To answer this question we must first ask what justification
there is for supposing that such a Being exists. Brentano holds that there
are four possible arguments for the existence of God: the teleological
argument, the argument from motion, the argument from contingency,
and finally the argument from the spiritual nature of the human soul.
He approaches the problems from the most diverse aspects and refutes
various possible objections. Unfortunately, we are compelled to reduce
his extensive expositions to the indispensable minimum and to present
only the most essential content of his ideas.
The familiar formulation of the first argument, which infers God's

existence from the evidence of design in the world, is false. There are no
such things as 'ends-in-themselves'; we can speak meaningfully of an end
only where a will for that end (ein Zweckwille) exists. Consequently, once
the presence of design or purpose in the world is ascertained, it is then
also established that a will exists directed toward the realization of that
purpose. What must be proved is that the design or fitness found in the
world is not merely an illusion. The proof falls into three parts: first, the
indication that there is in fact the appearance of design; second, the proof
that this appearance can be explained satisfactorily only on the assumption
that an infinite intelligence exists; third, that the ordering activity of this
intelligence must be thought of as a process of creation out of nothing.
The first point is readily verified in the realm of the organic by pointing
to the mutual suitability of cells and organs, to their service in main-
taining the life of the individual and the species, to instinctive capabilities,
and the like. But it is also demonstrated in the inorganic realm if we
consider the identity of substances and the laws regulating the relations
between them.
Attempts to explain this appearance of teleology involve two hypo-
theses: the hypothesis of an intelligence and the hypothesis of chance. The
initial probability of the first hypothesis has the value 1/2 (for there is as
much in favor of it as against it). Also, its explanatory value is finite (for
it is not infinitely probable that this intelligence produces something).
The product of these two values is therefore finite. The explanatory value
of the hypothesis of chance is 1, that is, absolute certainty (for once we
are given the original constellation out of which the world evolved, then
everything else follows necessarily). Its initial probability, however, is
infinitely small, because even a chance collision of bodies in space is
infinitely improbable, not to speak of the chance formation of that
marvelous structure, the organism. Hence the total probability is also
infinitely small. But if the hypothesis that teleology is not a mere illusion
must be regarded as infinitely more probable than the hypothesis of
chance, and if only one of the two can be true, then the former follows
with physical certainty, since a case of infinite improbability can not
occur in actual reality.
The third point follows from the fact that the teleological nature of the
world could not have been the result of an intelligence shaping some
arbitrary pre-existing material. For the elements of the material would

already have had to exhibit certain traits of order if they were to admit
of being shaped. Therefore the assumption of a mere world-shaper who
imposes order on previously existing material is not satisfactory. To be
able to explain the appearance of teleology in the world, we must pre-
suppose a Creator-God.
The second argument proceeds from the impossibility of motion without
a beginning to the existence of a prime mover. The impossibility of motion
without a beginning may be established as follows: Let a body be in a
uniform rectilinear motion that has no beginning. Since the body moves
with a certain velocity, it will, after traversing a line without a beginning,
be at a certain point N. Had it moved with one-half the velocity, it would
have gone only as far as the earlier point M. Now since with twice the
velocity the body covers twice the distance in the same time, the segment
MN thus corresponds to half the path and would therefore be equal in
length to the beginningless line that extends to M. There would then be
a line between the points M and N equal to a line of infinite length; in
other words, a finite line with a beginning and an end would be equal to
an infinite line that had no beginning. This is self-contradictory. Hence
the assumption of motion without a beginning must be absurd, since
from a permissible assumption nothing absurd may follow.
The contingency argument starts from the impossibility of absolute
chance. An absolutely fortuitous coming into being and ceasing to be is
impossible. For otherwise at each moment an abrupt shift from being to
not-being would be just as likely as a continuation of being or not-being.
The probability of such a shift would be at least 1/2. At the same time,
however, the abrupt alternation would be infinitely less frequent than the
case of the continuation of being or not-being, since alternation takes
place at a certain point in time, and two points in time cannot follow one
another immediately but must be separated by a time interval. It is a
contradiction, however, to suppose that at each point in time the proba-
bility of a shift between being and not-being is 1/2, and yet that of the
total number of time points infinitely more turn up without an abrupt
change than with one. Thus the assumption of a chance coming to be
and ceasing to be leads to a contradiction. The same holds good for the
possibility of a world process that is without a beginning and yet is as a
whole fortuitous.
In our world of experience nothing is immediately necessary. First of

all, physical bodies cannot be necessary, since localization is essential to

any material body. Now each point of potentially infinite space might
with equal probability be physically occupied or not. At the same time,
however, infinitely many positions in the possible, boundless space would
have to be unoccupied, because the supposition of an infinity of things is,
according to Brentano, absurd. A similar consideration holds true for
such mental substances as may exist. Mental acts either are experienced
as caused (an act of choice, e.g., is caused by motives) or can be shown
to be caused (as in the case of seeing, hearing, and the like). Thus our
entire world of experience is neither absolutely fortuitous on the one
hand, nor immediately necessary on the other. Rather, it is only mediately
necessary, or contingent. That everything in the world might be no more
than mediately necessary, even unto infinity, is likewise impossible; for
then the whole series of the mediately necessary would in itself be for-
tuitous, and what was said above against absolute chance would be
applicable. Consequently, something must exist that is absolutely necessary,
and this something must be transcendent with respect to the world of
From what has gone before, it also follows that this immediately neces-
sary Being must have produced the world out of nothing, and in addition
that this Being possesses intelligence since it was obliged to select one out
of all the possible spaces. It must be unique because plurality presupposes
difference 9, and diversified thinking and willing with respect to ultimate
principles would result in mutual disturbance. It must possess perfect
knowledge, since it has immediate insight into itself and comprehends the
mediately necessary as arising out of itself. Infinite knowledge implies
infinite love. If the Being is all-knowing, then it possesses infinite know-
ledge of good and evil; and the only motive for its action can be the
knowledge of what is to be preferred, since counter-motives based on
emotional states and the like might exist for a finite being but could not
for an infinite one. This infinite, creative Intelligence, moreover, is all-
powerful; for anything that is logically possible, is possible for it. Finally,
in consequence of all these essential aspects, the Absolute Principle exists
in a state of infinite happiness; for joy is love combined with the knowledge
of the reality of the loved one, and the Absolute is aware of its own
existence as well as of the existence of that which it has created, and it
encompasses everything with its love. A peculiarity ofBrentano's doctrine,

as compared with the usual theology, is that it accepts a continual change

even in the immediately necessary Being. For if the Being knows now
that in 100 years something will exist, then after 100 years it knows that
something does exist and after 200 years that something did exist. Corre-
sponding to these changes in knowledge there is an analogous change of
will on the part of the Absolute.
The fourth and final argument requires first that the spirituality of the
soul be demonstrated. In opposition to Descartes, Brentano believes that
from the unity of consciousness one cannot simply infer the existence of
a metaphysical soul-substance. It is possible, however, to offer some
empirical arguments in support of this conclusion. Only the cerebrum
could be taken into consideration as the bearer or subject of our thinking.
Neither of its two hemispheres can be claimed to be more the subject of
the processes of consciousness than the other. Therefore the same thinking
would have to take place in both, and either part could be missing without
the continuity of thought being disturbed. This, however, contradicts the
findings of science. The distribution of functions in the brain is thus a
proof that the various portions of the brain are not themselves the subject
of thought; they only help condition thought in an immaterial subject.
Since the spiritual subject transcends our immediate experience and can
be known only by inference, we also can know nothing about its more
detailed properties. It might be called a zero-dimensional substance. This
extensionless soul-substance can not have originated from parent organ-
isms by procreation. And the supposition of pre-existence is contradicted
by the fact that, although later experiences as a rule are always influenced
by earlier ones, we possess no empirical proof of any such pre-existence.
The one assumption that remains is that the soul-substance has been
consciously brought into being by some creative principle.

2. The Theodicy
Brentano also addresses himself to the familiar question of how to recon-
cile the evil in the world with the infinite perfection and goodness of its
creator. This question, he believes, can be given an optimistic answer.
Of course, much is obscure, but this is to be expected; in relation to the
Infinite Intelligence our finite understanding must be infinitely inferior.
Nevertheless a positive start may be made toward a solution to the

First, it should be noted that something may be immediately valuable

in itself, and at the same time be mediately valuable because it is useful
for something else. Hence there can be a great deal of evil in the world,
which because of its usefulness in the context of the world as a whole -
a context that our finite understanding can never succeed in apprehending
fully - is perfectly justified. That suffering exists alongside of happiness
may be explained teleologically by the fact that suffering serves as a
driving force for the further development of the world. Since the world
is to be regarded as the best possible (because it is the product of an
infinitely perfect Being), it must be thought of as existing in a state of
unending progress. Therefore, it must not be considered only in its
present condition, which lags infinitely behind what God's will has in
view for the world. What is true of the macrocosm is also true of the
world in the small, of mankind especially. Virtue and perfection must
first be earned, and on that account they are not present from the very
Thus Brentano offers proofs of the existence of an infinitely creative
world principle, together with the assumption of an unlimited process of
advance that must extend not to the world of our experience alone but,
after death, can find its continuation in another, higher world. He believes
that in this way he has created the metaphysical foundation for an affirma-
tive, optimistic attitude toward life.


That Brentano's theories are the intellectual products of an unusually

comprehensive and logically incisive thinker surely needs no further
demonstration even for those who may have first made his acquaintance
through this brief account of his philosophy. His investigations are
invariably conducted with the greatest thoroughness, his reasoning is
clear and perspicuous, couched in straightforward language of unam-
biguous precision - qualities, especially the last, that one would not be
inclined to say are present generally in modern philosophy.
Brentano was extraordinarily concerned about the formulations of the
questions belonging to ontology. He was at least as much an ontologist
as he was psychologist and epistemologist. Nonetheless, he never became
infected with that strange malady, current among many contemporary

ontologists, which one might call the 'being-plague' and which induces
philosophers time after time to talk primarily about the 'being of a being'
(Sein des Seiendes). Every young philosopher interested in ontological
questions should be urged first to study Brentano's historical writings on
Aristotle - in particular, his inquiries into the many meanings of being
found in Aristotle - and second, to concern himself with Brentano's
theory of categories, especially his arguments against the assumption that
there is any such thing as the being of a being. After such a study, much
of what is now taken for granted in contemporary writings in philosophy
will perhaps seem questionable.
Of the many elements of the Brentano theory of being that could be
taken as the starting-point for a discussion, we shall single out the
problem of universals. 10 On this question, Brentano took a sharp and
unequivocal anti-Platonist position. Any theory that admits the existence
of abstract objects is, according to him, a false doctrine.
Today the problem of universals is again very much in the foreground.
Above all, a great many specialists in the foundations of mathematics are
taking an active part in the discussion of this question because of the
urgency it has assumed in that area. In the framework of this discussion
- and this speaks well for Brentano - it has turned out to be impossible
to refute the non-Platonist principle on purely logical grounds. All the
arguments of the Platonists - in particular, those of Hussed, who on this
question took a position diametrically opposed to that of Brentano - are
unsound at some point or other. Contrariwise, most of Brentano's mis-
givings about Platonism disappear if that doctrine is taken not in the
comprehensive sense that Brentano had in mind, but in a narrower, say,
a mathematical sense. In the opinion of these 'moderate Platonists', while
there is indeed no 'being', there do exist abstract collections of objects
known as sets or classes. On Brentano's view, the concept of set or class
would also have to be rejected in so far as it does not admit of being
reinterpreted into the concept of a concrete whole. The question is, how-
ever, whether it is possible to do without such a concept. It is at this point
that we encounter a difficulty not yet solved by the non-Platonists.
We use abstract expressions both in ordinary life and in science.
According to Brentano, these serve only to abbreviate speech. For ex-
ample, when we speak of something that possesses an extension (extension
being seemingly an abstract Platonic essence), in reality we are speaking

of something extended (that is, of a concrete thing). Brentano supplied

illustrations of how sentences that ostensibly refer to abstract entities can
be translated into sentences that no longer contain this apparent reference.
It is not enough, however, to offer examples of this. A general proofneeds
to be adduced to the effect that all meaningful scientific statements can be
translated into statements clearly recognizable as non-Platonic. Thus far
such a proof has not been forthcoming, nor do we have any idea of how
one could be obtained.
The difficulty here is that not only are there singular abstract expressions
such as 'beauty', 'redness', etc., but that we are obliged at times to use the
expressions 'all' and 'there are' to refer to abstract objects as well as to
concrete ones. We use these two expressions not to designate specific
individual objects but to refer indeterminately to members of some
specified domain of objects. And if in this connection 'all' and 'there are'
involve a domain of non-concrete objects, then it is not in general possible
to reformulate the sentence in which these expressions occur in such a
way that it has only something concrete as its object.l1 In other words,
we can, by means of a suitable translation, eliminate individual abstract
objects from the context as 'fictive objects'. But we cannot without
further ado eliminate the presupposition, entailed by the use of 'all' and
'there are', of a whole domain of abstract objects.
An example may help to clarify the problem. In trying to define the
concept of natural number, Gottlob Frege, the outstanding logician of
the past century, encountered the difficulty of fixing more precisely the
meaning of the expression 'etcetera'. When we say that the sequence of
natural numbers runs 1,2, 3, etc., we must give 'etc.' an exact sense. Let
us assume that the concept of the number 1 and of the successor of a
number are already defined. Then, according to Frege, the expression
'x is a natural number' can be replaced by 'x belongs to every set con-
taining the number 1 and such that if it contains y, it also contains the
successor of y', which latter expression is identical in meaning to the first
and may therefore be regarded as a definition of the concept of natural
number. It is not at all evident how we can avoid this reference to sets
in general- a reference contained in the expression 'every set' or, which
is the same, 'all sets'.
Indeed, as we know today, operating unrestrictedly with the concept
of class or set leads to certain difficulties, the so-called paradoxes of set

theory.12 Pupils of Brentano have seen in these developments an indirect

confirmation of the Brentano conception; for the contradictions come
about because fictive objects are here accepted as existing.IS For this
reason the concept of class or set should be rejected. But then the wholly
unsolvable problem arises: What is mathematics to do if it renounces this
concept? All important mathematical disciplines today rest on set theory,
and a repudiation of the concept of set would result in the total collapse of
mathematical science.
What has been said already suggests the shift in focus that has occurred
in the present-day discussion of the question of universals. We can no
longer be satisfied with advancing a priori arguments for or against one
or another view. There is a further question that we must consider above
all: whether a given viewpoint on this matter is compatible with the
preservation of the overall content of contemporary science, and does not
destroy it in whole or in part. The fact that the anti-Platonist viewpoint
cannot be refuted does not suffice to establish its acceptability - at least,
not if we grant the requirement that a solution to the problem of universals,
however constituted, must not lead to such an impoverishment of our system
of concepts and judgments that basic sciences are perforce not merely
reformulated but abandoned.
This, in substance, is the open problem, which Brentano did not solve.
We may note in his defense that thus far no one has solved it. Perhaps
it is unsolvable, and we shall have to acknowledge some form ofPlatonism.
For example, the alternative sought today in research into the foundations
of mathematics in connection with the paradoxes of set theory - and no
other solution is known - consists in surrendering the Platonism of
beings-in-themselves associated with classical mathematics, for which
sets are structures that exist in themselves, and in being satisfied instead
with what may be called a constructive Platonism. According to the latter,
sets do indeed exist - not as structures independent of thought, but as
constructions produced by the human mind. These latter must satisfy
certain precisely defined principles of construction, and if we follow the
principles we avoid the danger of paradoxes. So far as the present state
of science is concerned, however, a total abandonment of the abstract con-
cept of set seems altogether excluded. (Cf. also Chapter VIII, Section C.l.)
Let us now pass on to another point. As we mentioned above, among
the most important of Brentano's contributions are his studies in the

philosophy of language and his recognition that philosophical investi-

gations must go hand in hand with an analysis of language. Curiously,
Brentano seems to have been almost the only metaphysician of the last
100 years who adopted this point-of-view. This is most unfortunate.
True, at the present time linguistic analysis is being practiced with extra-
ordinary intensity, but virtually without exception by the pure empiricists
in philosophy, who reject any kind of metaphysics. As for the ontologists
and metaphysicians, they have thoughtlessly and uncritically taken over
ordinary language, saturated as it is with vagueness, misleading gram-
matical peculiarities, and logical faults, and have even burdened it ad-
ditionally by introducing a number of strange neologisms. The necessary
consequence has been that anti-metaphysical sentiment has constantly
gained ground among the more conscientious and thorough thinkers
simply because they cannot ignore the anti-metaphysical arguments of mod-
ern empiricism, which are based on linguistic considerations. Brentano's
philosophy may serve to indicate that it was not inevitable that the
entire development should have taken this form.
Today, especially in the English language community, the method of
linguistic analysis is carried on to an essentially greater degree than was
the case with Brentano. It has turned out that certain logical and episte-
mological problems can be solved only if we forsake ordinary language
altogether and substitute for it language systems artificially constructed
in accordance with certain principles 14 (see also Chapter VII). What is of
primary importance in the present context is that sometimes difficulties
that appear within the framework of an earlier philosophical doctrine
automatically disappear if we are able to formulate the theory in a more
precise fashion. An important example is the adequacy theory of truth.
The arguments advanced by Brentano against the older versions of this
theory, which we described above, are in fact valid. These arguments,
however, presuppose a description of the theory in purely pictorial or
metaphorical phrases, such as that truth consists in "the agreement of
the judgment with the corresponding state of affairs", and the like.
However, the Polish logician Alfred Tarskj15 has shown that with
regard to formalized language systems equipped with precise rules of
interpretation (the so-called semantical systems), as opposed to ordinary
language, we can introduce the concept of truth of the adequacy theory
in a perfectly exact way so that the concept is no longer subject to the

misgivings previously voiced against it. For when the concept of truth is
introduced in this manner, such expressions as 'agreement', 'state of
affairs' and 'reality' do not appear at all.
Tarski's investigations are of singular philosophical significance for
another reason as well. Within the framework of semantics, which he
founded and which Carnap later developed further, it becomes possible
for the first time to introduce the notion of an analytic judgment (or an
analytic statement) in a form that is both sufficiently general and of the
utmost precision. This notion also plays an exceptionally important role
in Brentano's philosophy, especially in his studies in formal logic.
A few additional remarks should be made about these studies. Bren-
tano's concern was to reform and above all to simplify the Aristote-
lian theory of inference. The simplification rested on a new interpre-
tation, indicated above, of the Aristotelian forms of judgment. For ex-
ample, the proposition 'All A are B' is interpreted as 'There is no A that
is not-B'. On this basis, Brentano succeeds in reducing all the inference
forms of Aristotelian logic to two fundamental forms. The technical
details cannot be set down here 16 ; but some comments should be made
on the conclusions that Brentano drew. Brentano thought that with this
reduction he had proved that the whole of formal logic follows from the
law of contradiction alone; and this viewpoint has been adopted by
various of his followers.
Such a conception, however, is without doubt erroneous. In the first
place, it is incorrect even for the theory of the syllogism; for as a matter
of fact Brentano employed a whole series of additional logical principles
not reducible to the law of contradiction. One such is the law of the ex-
cluded middle - the fact that it is not reducible is shown by the systems
of intuitionistic logic, in which, while the law of contradiction is valid,
the law of the excluded middle is not. Others include the so-called rule
for the elimination of conjunction (by which we may infer' A' alone from
'A and B'), and a further principle analogous to this rule. Besides,
Brentano made use of two forms of inference that are not, as he sup-
posed, reducible to the law of the excluded middle. Finally, he was forced
to apply certain principles of substitution, which generate one valid con-
clusion from another.
Second, as we know today, the theory of the syllogism comprises only
a very small portion of logic. For example, syllogistic logic does not allow

us to infer from the premiss 'All horses are animals' the conclusion 'All
heads of horses are heads of animals'. Such a deduction requires a theory
of relational inferences, and this is lacking in the syllogistic. We become
aware of the deficiencies of Aristotelian logic when we attempt a logical
analysis of mathematical proofs. We are obliged to conclude that most
of the steps in such proofs cannot possibly be justified on the basis of
the syllogistic (cf. Chapter VIII, Section A.l).
Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that Brentano's revision of
Aristotelian logic remains an important contribution of lasting value. It
is regrettable that Brentano never came into contact with Frege, who was
the first to have had a comprehensive conception of an exact and com-
plete system of 10gic.I ? In any event, it is now known that the law of
contradiction does not in the least suffice for the construction of formal
A further word on mathematical knowledge. In contrast to Kant,
Brentano believed that the propositions of mathematics, in particular
those of arithmetic, are analytic in character. An equality between
numbers, for example 4 = 2 +2, can be derived purely logically by substi-
tuting the definitions of the numerals. Thus '2' means the same as '1 + 1',
'3' the same as '2+1', and '4' the same as '3+1'. With these definitions,
we obtain the same value on both sides of the equation.
Here, however, the same mistake is made that Frege criticized in
Leibniz. If I make the appropriate substitutions for '4' in the above
equation, I obtain (2+ 1) + 1. If, on the right-hand side of the equation,
I substitute for the second '2' its defined equivalent '1 + 1', I obtain
2 + (l + 1). In order then to be able to prove that (2+ 1)+ 1 =2+(1 + 1),
we need the so-called associative law for addition, according to which
(a+b)+ c=a+(b+c). Either this law must be postulated as an axiom
- in which event the claimed reduction of arithmetical truths to those of
logic is, of course, abandoned - or it must itself be given a logical basis.
The latter course has been taken by the doctrine known as logicism,
which likewise traces its history back to Frege. In this theory, however,
the Platonist concept of set, which Brentano rejects, must again be em- Thus with respect to a foundation for arithmetic, our only
choice is either to accept some kind of PIa ton ism or to acknowledge the
synthetic character of arithmetic. Both alternatives stand in contradiction
to portions of Brentano's teachings.

In view of Brentano's vigorous polemic against Kant, some additional

comment seems desirable. Brentano may not have been altogether fair to
Kant's philosophy. He maintains that Kant's synthetic a priori knowledge
consists of blind prejudices. This is not accurate. If we wish to under-
stand Kant correctly here, we must distinguish between terminological
inaccuracies and substantive errors, and again, in the latter case, between
eliminable and non-eliminable defects. Kant does in fact speak of syn-
thetic knowledge even where, as in the case of rational metaphysics, what
is involved are in his view false judgments. Such a terminology is indeed
inapt. But it can be quickly corrected if we reflect that in such passages
Kant is simply using the word 'knowledge' in the sense of 'judgment'.
As a matter of fact, in dividing judgments into a priori and a posteriori
on the one hand, and into analytic and synthetic on the other, Kant has
in mind a two-fold classification of all judgments (and not only true ones).
The sense of this classification is, briefly, as follows: Judgments are ana-
lytic just in case the resources of formal logic suffice to establish their
truth; otherwise, they are synthetic. And judgments are a posteriori if
perceptions or observations are required in order to establish their truth
value, or to confirm them at least inductively. If, on the contrary, obser-
vations are not needed for this purpose, then the judgments in question
are a priori. Hence synthetic judgments a priori are judgments whose truth
value can be determined definitively even though for this purpose the re-
sources offormallogic are not sufficient and observations are not necessary.
It is important to note that what is referred to here is truth value and not
truth. Consequently, this class of judgments includes both the true and
the false.
One of Kant's most significant contributions was that in introducing
the concept of synthetic judgments a priori he gave a classic formulation
to the problem of the scientific status of metaphysics. The question con-
cerning the possibility of metaphysics as a science reduces to the question
of whether or not there are synthetic judgments a priori. If the Brentano
notion of self-evidence is brought in here, what results (again according
to Kant, of course) is the following: the propositions of classical meta-
physics are either false or at least unprovable synthetic judgments a
priori, hence in fact 'blind prejudices'. The other synthetic judgments
a priori, however, those in mathematics and in 'pure natural science', are
true statements. In part, they possess an immediate self-evidence as, say,

elementary arithmetical and geometrical statements (which Kant, too,

explicitly asserted to be immediately evident). In part, they possess only
a mediate self-evidence, that is, they can be derived from self-evident
principles by means of valid logical inferences as, e.g., complicated mathe-
matical theorems or the metaphysical presuppositions of experience (e.g.,
the principle of causality), for which latter Kant supplied a very compli-
cated proof.
Thus Kant's formulation of problems in his theoretical philosophy
cannot be charged with the absurdity that Brentano sees in it. Rather,
the task Kant sets for himself is that of distinguishing, within the class of
synthetic judgments a priori, between the valid and the invalid; or, as it
may also be put, of drawing the boundary between those judgments that
constitute knowledge and those that do not (but are mistakenly held to
do so). Formulating the problem this way is not only meaningful but
extremely important from the standpoint of the theory of knowledge.
Whether we should accept the Kantian solution is, of course, a separate
and very difficult question, which we cannot take up here.
Whoever aims at metaphysical knowledge must believe in true synthetic
judgments a priori. This is true even for Brentano himself. On the one
hand, his metaphysical findings (e.g., judgments about God) are supposed
to be factual knowledge and hence cannot be analytic judgments; the
latter furnish us knowledge about conceptual relations, never about real-
ity. On the other hand, these findings are supposed to be not merely
hypotheses resting on observations, such as the hypothetical laws of the
natural scientist, but knowledge a priori. Thus the propositions that
make up the essence of Brentano's metaphysics consist of synthetic
judgments a priori. Therefore the decisive epistemological difference be-
tween Kant and Brentano is not that the former recognizes synthetic
judgments a priori while the latter rejects them, but that the boundary be-
tween valid and invalid synthetic judgments a priori is drawn differently by
each. Brentano holds that synthetic a priori knowledge is possible in in-
stances where Kant would exclude it (e.g., knowledge of God).
A more exhaustive discussion of Brentano's philosophy would necessi-
tate an inquiry into what is indeed its most important concept, that of
self-evidence. We cannot, within the present limits, go into this extra-
ordinarily difficult problem. We shall have to be content with giving two
brief indications, which should provide on the one hand a preview of what

is to follow and on the other hand some possible starting-points for a

critical examination.
Hussed's doctrine of the intuiting of essences (Wesensschau), which
will be described a little later, is presumed to have resulted in part from
dissatisfaction with Brentano's notion of apodictic self-evidence. In
judgments made with apodictic self-evidence, says Brentano, something
is rejected as impossible. But how can something be 'obvious from con-
cepts'? What is the source of knowledge in this case? Must it not consist
in something positive, which the one who is thinking brings into his own
awareness? For example, when I judge with self-evidence that whatever
is colored is extended, this means, according to Brentano, that I reject
as self-evidently impossible the supposition that anything colored exists
that is not extended. But how can I have the sort of insight that includes
even future instances, which have not yet been observed? Hussed, and
indeed many others too, could make this intelligible to themselves only by
basing such an insight upon a relationship between the essences of color
and extension: the primary thing is that the situation with respect to the
essences be itself intuitively given, and compared with that the apodictic
self-evident judgment becomes secondary. Brentano would never have
admitted such an interpretation of apodictic self-evidence, for it implies
the existence of general essences, which he most firmly denied. Yet the
fact is that, due to difficulties only touched on here, this portion of his
theory of self-evidence probably supplied one reason (although not the
only one) for Hussed's first arriving at a Platonism, and second em-
bracing the intuiting of essences as a special kind of philosophical insight.
Here only a particular interpretation of the concept of self-evidence
was at issue. In the following period, many other thinkers were induced
to reject the notion of self-evidence altogether because of the difficulties
it contains. That these difficulties were felt quite generally is readily
shown by the fact that this rejection is found among authors whose
philosophical standpoints in other matters diverge from one another
entirely (e.g., the ontologist N. Hartmann, and almost all the empiricist
philosophers of today).
Self-evidence is supposed to differ from mere subjective certainty.
Certainty may exist in connection with the grossest of errors, but not self-
evidence. Certainty admits of differences of degree, whereas self-evidence
does not. Yet the question arises: Can there really exist for us (as finite

creatures) anything more than certainty? Even when a person believes

that something is perfectly self-evident, is it not merely certainty that is
present? How often does it happen that a person maintains that some-
thing is obvious, which later turns out to be false! The English philosopher
Bertrand Russell, reviewing all that had been asserted to be self-evident
in the course of the history of philosophy, concluded ironically that self-
evident principles have the great advantage of being almost without ex-
ception false. In point of fact, if something is asserted to be self-evident
and it later turns out to be false, the explanation must be that what was
present was not self-evidence but only subjective certainty, which can
be associated with falsity. This raises the question: Is there a criterion
that allows us to distinguish mere subjective certainty from genuine self-
evidence? If there is not, we can never actually rely on self-evidence; for
then we do not know whether or not the self-evidence is merely apparent
(subjective certainty combined with error). If, however, we assume that
there is such a criterion, this seems to lead us into an infinite regress: the
presence, in an alleged instance of certainty, of the characteristics called
for by the criterion must itself be established not merely with subjective
certainty but with self-evidence.
In saying this, we have done no more than suggest the problem. At
this point, we must refrain from taking any position on it. We add simply
that various contemporary philosophers, especially among empiricists
and linguistic analysts, not only believe that the self-evidence claimed by
Brentano does not exist, but also hold that the expression 'self-evidence'
is devoid of meaning, because it is impossible to indicate in an inter-
subjectively intelligible manner just what is intended by it. As against this,
one might wish to point out that the difference between certainty and self-
evidence is already manifested in a purely linguistic way; the phrase 'I am
certain that. . .' is an expression of subjective certainty, whereas 'I know
that ... ' is to be counted, at least in intention, as an expression of self-
evidence. The rejoinder would be that this observation rests on a con-
fusion regarding the linguistic function of the expression 'know' .19


1 On the fictive nature of the unreal, see the discussion in the next section concerning
Brentano's theory of being.
2 Brentano also rejects the scholastic doctrine of objects immanent in consciousness.

3 In Brentano's theory, what has being is only the strictly momentary, hence only the
simultaneously existing.
4 One such inconsistency is the following: Either matter is numerically one, in which
case it is impossible to understand how the addition of determinations that do not
individuate can give rise to numerical multiplicity. Or, from the outset, matter is
numerically many, in which case the problem is merely shifted to another level. For
the question then arises as to what splits matter into this multiplicity.
5 An example is the performance of services for the purpose of receiving some return.
Habit is said to foster a desire to serve even where there is no question at all of compen-
6 It should be noted that we often make use here of abbreviating modes of expression
(in Brentano's sense) which must then be translated back into what was actually meant
- the latter being much more complicated in its linguistic expression.
7 Because here too it is a matter of a relation between two concepts.
8 This freedom has nothing in common with an indeterministic freedom of the will.
Brentano himself was a determinist.
9 In accordance with the Leibnizian principle of the identity of indiscernibles.
10 For a more detailed discussion, see W. Stegmiiller, 'Das Universalienproblem einst
and jetzt', Archiv fur Philosophie 6 (1956) 192-225, esp. pp. 196ff.; 7 (1957) 45-81.
These two articles are republished in the series 'Libelli' by Wissenschaftliche Buch-
gesellschaft, Darmstadt, Vol. XCIV, Nr. 3322.
11 Modem logicians call expressions like 'all' and 'there are' quantifiers. The domain
mentioned above is the domain of values of the variables bound by the quantifiers.
The conflict between the Platonists and the non-Platonists thus rages over the question
of whether it is sufficient for science to take only domains of concrete objects as the
domains of values of bound variables.
12 Cf. Chapter VIII, Section A.2.
13 See, e.g., B. A. Kastil, Die Philosophie Franz Brentanos, Salzburg 1951, p. 110.
14 For an account ofthe most important of these logical and epistemological questions,
see my Das Wahrheitsproblem und die Idee der Semantik, Vienna 1957.
15 Tarski is also one of the leading workers in the field of the foundations of mathe-
16 A brief and quite readable account of this theory of Brentano may be found in
A. Kastil, op. cit., pp. 201-205.
17 Kastil, in the book cited in note 13, calls the endeavors of modem logic "abstruse
or even fruitless attempts to force logical operations into the schema of mathematical
operations", and defends the Brentano logic against these attempts (pp. 207ff., p. 330).
The only effect of such a standpoint, which isolates itself from any scientific understand-
ing, is that Brentano - even among logicians - fails to receive the recognition due to him.
18 Even within a logicist foundation for arithmetic, great difficulties are encountered
in proving the assertion that arithmetic is an analytic science. For such a foundation
requires the so-called axiom of infinity, which postulates the existence of infinitely many
objects. This axiom, however, cannot simply be accepted, without further consideration,
as a logically valid principle.
19 See W. Stegmiiller, 'Glauben, Wissen und Erkennen', Zeitschrift fur philosophische
Forschung 10 (1956) 505-549. The various opinions on the problem of self-evidence
have been treated in more detail in my book, Metaphysik, Wissenschaft, Skepsis, Vienna
1954. The viewpoint I developed in the book has since been superseded by the paper
mentioned above.


Husserl was a student of Brentano's. From the latter he took over the
conception of philosophy as an exact science, and in the process he too
made the turn from object to mental act. The ideas of his teacher form
the starting-point for many of Husserl's individual studies, although the
influence of Kant's idealism becomes increasingly evident later on.
The differences between Husserl and Brentano center primarily around
four points. First, Husserl seeks to eliminate the psychologism which he
believes is present in Brentano. Second, he thinks he can prove that
general concepts, which Brentano held to be linguistic fictions, really do
exist and that therefore one must accept the notion of a logical or ideal
existence. Third, he undertakes to perfect, through more subtle differenti-
ations, what he regards as the rough and ambiguous results of Brentano's
analyses of (mental) acts. Finally, he endeavors to provide philosophy
with a productive basis for inquiry in the shape of a new method, the
Wesensschau (the intuiting of essences). We shall begin our account with
Husserl's struggle against psychologism and empiricism in logic, since
everything else is built upon it.


The point of departure for Husserl's struggle against psychologism is his

elaboration of the notion of pure logic as a purely theoretical discipline.
By psychologism he means the view that logic is the art of thinking, that
the laws of logic are empirical laws of thought obtained by psychological
analysis, and that truth is what corresponds to these laws. Were these laws
of a different character - and in theory they might be - the concept of
truth would also be quite different.
Husserl begins by showing that all practical disciplines (Kunstlehre)
must be classed as normative. For in order to determine what is required
to reach a certain goal, say correct thinking, we must first set up the basic
norms by which the goals are to be judged. To illustrate, only after we

establish the principle that to obtain and augment pleasure is the good
(and hence the norm) can we inquire into the conditions under which we
may derive the greatest possible pleasure from objects. The normative
sciences, in turn, are grounded in theoretical sciences, which make asser-
tions not about what ought to be but about what is. The relationship
between a norm and what it measures is the same as that between a
condition and what it conditions. Thus the normative proposition 'A
ought to be B' presupposes the theoretical proposition 'Only an A that
is B has the property C. Conversely, if a proposition of the latter form
is true and if C is given a positive value, the result is the normative
proposition 'only an A that is B is good', which is identical with the
proposition above 'A ought to be B'. Consider, e.g., the theoretical
proposition 'Knowledge consists exclusively of judgments made with
insight'. Since knowledge appears as logical value, there is immediately
generated the normative proposition 'Judgments ought to be made with
insight (i.e., ought to be self-evident),. Only after this are we in a position
to look into the psychological conditions that must be satisfied if self-
evident judgments are to be possible.
The same thing holds true for logic in general. There must first be a
theoretical discipline through which we obtain the a priori propositions
grounded in the concepts of truth, judgment, definition and the like.
From these propositions we can then derive normative logical principles,
and in due course the appropriate practical rules. The overall system of
theoretical a priori propositions Husserl calls 'pure logic'.
Psychologism, on the other hand, believes there is no reason to acknow-
ledge a normative discipline of this sort. Instead it makes appeal, in its
many variants, to the fact that thinking and knowing are mental activities,
and concludes from this that logic is therefore concerned with psychological
Husserl presents a three-fold refutation of psychologism: first, he
indicates some of the inconsistencies to which it gives rise; second, he
shows how it ends up in radical skepticism; third, he exposes certain of
its prejudices and preconceptions.

1. The Empiricist Consequences of Psychologism

Psychology is a factual science. Laws established by factual sciences can
express nothing more than approximate uniformities; they can never lay

claim to infallibility. But the principles of logic, the rules of deduction,

the laws of the theory of probability and the like, have an absolute pre-
cision that cannot be attained along empirical lines. Anyone who wishes
to maintain that the laws of logic are natural laws of thinking must
therefore meet the objection that laws of nature are obtainable only
empirically through induction and not by direct insight. Hence they are
to be characterized as merely conjectures or presumptions.
It follows that if the basic principles of logic are interpreted as laws of
nature, then they too will have to be regarded as conjectures. The law of
contradiction will then read: it is to be presumed that of two contra-
dictory judgments one is true and the other is false. The syllogistic mood
barbara will state: if the propositions 'All A are B' and 'All Bare C' are
true, then it is to be presumed that 'All A are C. This, of course, is all
nonsense, since what we are dealing with here are matters of apodictic
self-evidence. Finally, if the laws of logic stemmed from psychological
facts, they would necessarily be laws relating to these facts and would
include the existence of the mental in what they assert. This, however,
is not the case; no law of logic refers to or is based upon facts about
mental life.

2. Psychologism as Skeptical Relativism

The harshest criticism that can be brought against a theory is the accu-
sation of skepticism. A theory open to this charge rejects the obvious
conditions that make theories possible at all, and thus denies in its content
what must be presupposed for its own validity. A special form of skepti-
cism is relativism, which, in the words of Protagoras, maintains that man
is the measure of all thi ngs - man being understood as the individual
man, or the species man, or indeed any intelligent being.
Psychologism is a particular variety of species-relativism or anthropo-
logism. In characterizing the laws of logic as natural laws, it asserts the
possibility in principle of a different kind of thinking with a different set
of laws. This species-relativism is contrary to reason on several grounds.
For one thing, suppose we do assume that for each species of thinking
being, the truth is that which counts as true under its own laws of thought.
Then the very same judgment that is true for one species may be false for
another. But it is obviously impossible for a given judgment with a given
content to take the predicate 'true' and the predicate 'false' at the same

time. The judgment 'God exists' cannot be true for one species while the
judgment 'God does not exist' is true for another. It makes no sense to
join the preposition 'for' to the concept of truth: what is true is true
absolutely and 'in itself'.
Furthermore, the character of a particular species is a matter of fact
and is thus individually and temporally determined. Hence if truth itself
depends on the character of the species, it too will be a matter of fact,
temporally determined. Truths will then be causes and effects. But while
the act of judgment I perform when I utter the judgment '8 + 6 = 14' is
indeed something that has been caused or brought into being, this is not
the case with regard to the content of the judgment, which expresses a
timelessly valid, ideal relation.
Also, if truth is made to depend on the nature of the human being, then
without this being there is no such thing as truth. But the proposition
'There is no truth' turns out to be self-contradictory, since it is identical
with the proposition 'The truth is that there is no truth'. Consequently,
this assumption that truth is rooted in the specific nature of man is like-
wise self-contradictory.
Finally, a contradiction results from the fact that if truth is relative,
so is the existence of the world. One cannot relativize truth and still
represent its object as existing absolutely. Even the proposition 'I exist'
could be false, namely, if I were so constituted as to be compelled to deny it.
Thus if truth is relative, the nature of the world depends on the nature
of the judgment-making creature. Yet the constitution of the thinking
being is in turn supposed to be a product of world evolution. The result is
the paradox that the world develops out of man while man develops out
of the world, that man creates God and God creates man.
The initially plausible notion - that knowledge, by virtue of the
uniquely human nature of thought, is relative to the species man - is thus
seen to be meaningless. But this idea, whose absurdity becomes evident
as soon as one considers its consequences, is accepted in whole or in part
as one of the presuppositions of psychologism. Hence psychologism itself
is revealed as an obviously inconsistent doctrine.

3. The Prejudices and Preconceptions of Psychologism

The first of the psychologistic prejudices is that all rules for thinking must
be established psychologically. Here at the outset there is already a false

presupposition in the form ofthe assumption, rejected above, that all laws
of logic are normative. But the proposition 'If every object that has
property A also has property B and if, furthermore, any particular object
has property A, then that object has property B' makes no normative
assertion whatsoever about thinking. The laws of logic refer neither in a
normative way nor in any other way to real events (thought processes); on
the contrary, they refer only to 'ideal contents'. Logic starts from the objec-
tive content of a science, abstracts from the specific nature of that content,
and searches out what belongs to the universal essence of truth in general,
of proof-relationships in general, of propositions as such, and the like.
The objects dealt with by pure logic are not individual, temporal processes
but universal, timelessly ideal relationships of essences.
A second prejudice insists that in logic we are concerned exclusively
with ideas, judgments, inferences and the like, all of which are unquestion-
ably mental phenomena. That this notion cannot possibly be correct is
readily seen when we compare logic and mathematics. Sums, products,
integrals, etc., are clearly the results of specific mental activities-adding,
multiplying, integrating and so forth. But no one would on that account
subsume mathematics under psychology. Why? Because psychology as a
factual science has to do with mental acts taking place in time (including
the act of adding, among others), whereas mathematics concerns itself
with ideal entities. Arithmetic, e.g., considers the numbers 1, 2, 3, etc.,
and the ideal laws and relations based on them, which continue to exist
even if no acts of thought are directed toward them. The same thing is
true of pure logic. When in this discipline reference is made to ideas,
concepts, judgments, and the like, what is intended are not the mental
acts but the contents - contents freed of their accidental, empirical com-
ponents. An inference form, e.g., says nothing about either the laws
governing the course of thought processes or the concrete relations be-
tween individual thought contents, but instead represents an ideal law
expressing a universal, formal relation between possible thought contents.
Similarly, judgments are regarded in logic as ideal units of meaning. A
sharp distinction must accordingly be made between real sciences and
ideal sciences. The objects dealt with by the former are individual, tempo-
rally determined facts (as in biology, history, political economy); those
dealt with by the latter are ideal species or forms (as in logic and mathe-
ma tics). In addition, one must take care, in scientific knowledge, to dis-

tinguish between the interconnection of the cognitive experiences, the

interconnection of the things known, and the logical interconnection,
which alone gives a science its character as a totality of interrelated proofs
of true propositions.
A third prejudice derives from the circumstance that the truth residing
in a judgment becomes known only in the presence of self-evidence. The
claim then is that since self-evidence is a special inner feeling of certainty,
logic is simply the psychology of self-evidence. As a matter of fact, how-
ever, logical principles must be reformulated before they can attain any
relation to self-evidence. The law of the excluded middle states that of
two contradictorily opposed situations one and only one can be the case.
But not until this law is reformulated do we obtain the principle that self-
evidence can appear in connection with only one of two contradictory
judgments. Here self-evidence is not merely one feeling among many; it
is that particular experience in which the one who is judging becomes
aware of the truth of his judgment. The truth itself is the idea which in
a self-evident judgment becomes an actual experience. In the case of self-
evidence, the thing meant is itself present; hence, self-evidence is nothing
other than knowledge of the agreement between that which is meant and
that which itself is present. It is therefore impossible for any other insight
to come into contradiction with our own; for what is experienced as true,
is true, and what is true cannot at the same time be false.
On a number of occasions we have referred to ideal species. When
such entities are assumed, the question necessarily arises whether we have
any right at all to speak of an ideal mode of being. Husserl seeks to de-
monstrate that this mode of being does in fact exist.


Before we enter into a discussion of Husserl's point of view on the

problem of universals, it will be useful to outline in schematic form the
various possible answers to this question. Where feasible, we shall cite
as representatives of each view some typical figure from history together
with one or another philosopher treated in this book.
(1) Realism (the assumption that in addition to individual things there
is objective general being, independent of subjective conceptual thought):
(a) Universals ante res - Alongside of the real spatio-temporal world,

there exists a second sphere of being, that of ideal being (Plato, Nicolai
(b) Universals in rebus - There are general ideas, but their being is not
independent of the real world; rather, they are interwoven with concrete
facts and processes, and are manifested 'in' them (Aristotle, Scheler).
(2) Conceptualism (the assertion that general concepts exist without
existential correlates in actuality and hence that 'universalia in mente'
exist) :
(a) Universals as general objects of thought - In the real world only
individual objects exist. To designate these objects, however, we have at
our disposal not only proper names such as 'London' or 'the North Star',
which refer to individuals, but also common or general names, such as
'triangle' or 'tree'. We use these general names to refer to objects with
common characteristics. This requires that we abstract or single out
particular characteristics from the complex in which they originally oc-
curred and attach them to various words as the general signification of
these words. Thus, with a little effort we can construct the concept of a
triangle-in-general- one which is neither right-angled nor oblique-angled,
neither equilateral nor scalene, etc., but all of these and none of these at
the same time (Locke).
(b) Universals as abstract concepts - We are able to mean or intend
not only what is particular, but also what is general. However, this latter
process cannot be reduced, as Locke thought, to the abstracting of indi-
vidual characteristics. On the contrary, it portends a fundamentally new
way of looking at things (Husserl!).
(3) Intermediate position between conceptualism and nominalism: While
we do form general concepts, these come into being only through our
thinking of individual concrete things, in a more or less indeterminate
way. At the apex of the conceptual pyramid stands the concept of a
'being' (' Seiendes') or 'thing'. But names that refer to something abstract
are not concepts, as Husserl assumes; they are merely linguistic fictions
(4) Nominalism (the view that there are no general concepts, simply
verbal signs applied generally, that these latter create the illusion of
general concepts, but that in reality we have at our disposal only indi-
vidual ideas or images):
(a) General meanings as the products of selective acts of attention -

By means of attention we single out some feature of a perceptual object,

say 'red', which we connect to a verbal sign. Thanks to the association
thus set up, we use the same sign whenever the same feature appears. In
this way we create general meanings for words (John Stuart Mill).
(b) Generality as the individual idea functioning as representative - An
individual idea can be used to represent all other individual ideas of the
same kind. For instance, when a geometer proves a theorem with the aid
of a triangle drawn on the blackboard, the proof is a general one because
the particular triangle represents all triangles. Therefore, generality is not
a special or distinct concept, but simply the relation of a particular to a
totality of like particulars (Berkeley).
(c) Generality as Similarity groupings - Even individual things do not
really possess features (color, form and the like). When we imagine a
specific thing, other similar things come to mind, the imagined thing takes
its place within certain similarity groupings, and only these groupings
actually exist. Because of its place in such similarity circles, an individual
idea can serve as a general representative (Hume).
Hussed charges all nominalist and near-nominalist theories with com-
mitting a grave methodological error. Instead of beginning with a descrip-
tive analysis of the conscious phenomena present when we think of what is
general, they enter at once into a psychological consideration of the
process of abstraction. But the point is first to describe the various modes
of consciousness themselves. These, according to Hussed, are fourfold in
character. To begin with, given an individual phenomenon A, I may
perform an act of individual intending or meaning directed toward A;
second, the same appearance of A may supply the basis for an act of
species-apprehension - an act which no longer intends or means this
particular A but 'A as such' (e.g., not the red aspect of the red ball in
front of me, but red as such); third, the intention may be directed to the
entire class, as when we say 'all A' (e.g. 'all men'); finally, I may indeter-
minately designate 'an A' of the class (e.g., 'a man').
Nominalism ignores all of these descriptive differences. In particular,
it disregards the differences in meaning between those names that mean
individuals and those that mean species. When I say 'Caesar', I mean a
unique individual; but when I pronounce the sentence 'Four is an even
number', I make a judgment not about one or another particular col-
lection of four objects, but about the species 'four' in general. Both

singular and universal judgments may therefore relate either to individuals

or to species. Of the two singular judgments 'Socrates is a man' and
'Three is greater than two', the first has an individual as its object, the
second has species. The situation is similar with respect to the two uni-
versal judgments 'All men are mortal' and 'All triangles have angles
that sum up to 180°'.
Locke's theory is beyond doubt contradictory. Obviously a triangle
cannot be both right-angled and obtuse-angled at the same time. The
error, according to Husserl, lies in confusing the general meaning of the
name 'triangle' with the intuitive individual idea of a particular triangle.
Locke failed to see that a triangle is something possessing triangularity,
but that the general idea of triangle, that is, the triangularity possessed
by every triangle, is not itself the idea of a triangle.
As against the conception of Mill and Brentan0 2, Husserl argues in
effect that in disregarding individuating de terminations we do not annul the
individuality of what is thought. When I think of my friend Hans, I call
to mind something individual without at the same time thinking of the
position he occupies in time and place at any given moment. If the name
'Hans' referred to all the individuating determinations, it would neces-
sarily change its meaning with every step taken by Hans. A particular
thing, however indeterminately we may think of it, or a particular at-
tribute that we single out by attending to it, remains something particular;
it is not thereby transformed into a general concept.
Berkeley's representation theory is taxed with confusing two very
different things. One is a verbal sign (or a particular idea) taken as repre-
senting all the particulars that belong to the extension of a given concept.
The other is the general meaning of that concept, e.g., 'all A'. In this
latter case, we cannot speak of any substitution or proxy, since here the
particular, instead of pointing to other particulars, forms the basis for
a new kind of act in which what is being thought is 'all A'.
Lastly, Hume's theory of similarity groupings, in addition to other
errors, leads to an infinite regress. For if the abstract contents (e.g., red)
are nothing themselves, then a relation-content such as 'similarity' can
surely not be anything that comes within our perception. But the problem
remains of how to account for the seeming presence of contents, and this
problem must in principle be solved the same way everywhere. Hence if
the solution involves recourse to similarity, then in order to solve the

problem posed by the presence of this similarity, we must invoke the

presence of a similarity of the similarity, and so forth ad infinitum.
Along with his refutations of nominalist theories, Hussed offers certain
positive considerations. For example, nominalism speaks of like things,
like characteristics and so forth. But what does likeness mean? We cannot
talk about a resemblance between two things unless we specify in what
respect they are alike. This respect, however, is nothing other than the
fact that the two things being compared belong to an identical species or
kind. Were we to view the respect itself as a thing that is in turn merely
like something else, an infinite regress would result. There is no way of
defining likeness except in terms of identity of species. It is therefore
absurd for nominalism on the one hand to speak of likeness and on the
other to deny the existence of species.
Finally, the presence of self-evident truths referring to ideal objects is
proof that such objects exist. If I perceive with self-evidence that the
predicate of being an odd number belongs to the ideal object seven, then
this object cannot be a pure fiction.
This demonstrates that general concepts must exist and that the as-
sumption of their existence in no way leads to a contradiction. Indeed,
it is the opposing opinion that has such a consequence. In order, however,
to clarify the nature of general meanings and their function within the
totality of intentional experiences, a thoroughgoing analysis of con-
sciousness is required - a problem which Husserl repeatedly sought to



1. The Sensory Level in Consciousness

In consonance with Brentano's theory of intentionality, Hussed first seeks
to obtain clarity regarding the phenomena of expression and meaning. The
concept of expression is narrower than that of sign. Every sign contains
a relation or reference to something that it designates; yet, unlike ex-
pressions, not every sign expresses a 'sense'. Expressions as 'significant'
signs must be distinguished from those signs that merely indicate (e.g.,
fossil remains as signs of the existence of antediluvian animals). Common
to all signs is the intention to set down expressly one or another thought.

We perceive meaningless words and sentences as mere complexes of

sounds, whereas in meaningful speech the articulated complex of sounds
becomes intelligible. As a result of the sense-imparting acts connected
with it, the complex becomes an expression; it now expresses an inten-
tional experience in which an object is in some fashion supposed or
thought. Expression and meaning are thus correlative concepts, since a
material sign becomes an expression only through sense-imparting acts
which confer a meaning upon it. Hence we can distinguish two aspects
in every expression: the physical sign and the sense-endowing acts.
Expressions exhibit two sorts of sense-endowing acts. The first are
those that are essential to an expression if it is to be stamped as an ex-
pression at all. These Husserl calls 'meaning-bestowing acts' (Bedeutungs-
verleihende Akte) or 'meaning-intentions' (Bedeutungsintentionen). The
second are acts which, though not essential to the expression, have the
important function of filling the meaning-intentions with more or less of
an intuitive content. Acts of this second kind are called 'meaning-fulfill-
ments' (Bedeutungserfilllungen). These latter acts are responsible for the
fact that when we hear a meaningful word, e.g., we do not simply experi-
ence the representation of the word, we realize its sense. In other words,
we turn outward, so to speak, and direct our entire attention to the object
that is the target of the meaning-intention exhibited in the expression.
Expressed meanings belong to the domain of ideal entities spoken of
in the preceding section. When I say 'The three altitudes of a triangle
intersect', my statement rests on a judgment-experience of my own. But
the meaning of the proposition is not the judgment-experience that it
announces, but whatever the proposition itself states. The meaning is
identically the same no matter when and by whom the proposition is
uttered. The meaning contains nothing of the judger or the judgment.
Meaning is ideal in character even when the object meant is a temporally
individuated one, as in the proposition 'Napoleon the First was the loser
at Waterloo'. Moreover, this same proposition can be uttered by any
person at any time without altering its meaning, proof once again that
meaning is timelessly ideal in character.
This last example shows that it is necessary to distinguish meaning from
object. For an expression not only says something, it also says something
about something. Not only does it have a meaning, but through this
meaning it refers to an object. The distinction between meaning and

object is especially apparent in the case of names that differ in meaning

(and hence have different senses 3) yet name the same object - e.g., 'equi-
lateral triangle', and 'equiangular triangle'. When in this connection we
speak, as we commonly do, of an expressed content, a three-fold equi-
vocation attaches to the term 'content'. It may mean the sense intended
(der intendierende Sinn or die Bedeutungsintention) 4, or the sense fulfilled
(der erfiillende Sinn or die Bedeutungserfiillung) or, finally, the intentional

2. The Structure of the Intentional Act

Husserl distinguishes three meanings of 'consciousness'. The first is the
interweaving, encountered empirically, ofpsychical experiences into a single
stream of experience; the second is the inner perception of one's own ex-
periences; the third is based on the use of the term as an overall desig-
nation for all mental acts or intentional experiences. It is to the third of
these exclusively that Husserl devotes his studies. For him, as for
Brentano, the essence of intentionality lies in the fact that the intentional
experience 'means' or 'is directed toward' an object without the object
or anything corresponding to it being discoverable in consciousness
itself. 5 What is experientially present is nothing but the intentional act
itself. Here too is the ground for the difference mentioned above between
meaning and object: acts are meaning-experiences, and thus meaning lies
precisely in the act-experience, whereas the intentional object is tran-
scendent with respect to the experience. The object may be absent without
anything being changed in the act and thereby in the meaning-aspect of
the act.
There is one essential point that distinguishes Husserl's concept of
intentionality from Brentano's - the assumption that there are real sen-
sations, free of intentionality, which are apprehended, given life as it
were, by means of an intentional act directed toward an object. Accord-
ingly, what constitutes an intentional representation in relation to an
object is, in relation to a sensation, objective apprehension, interpretation
or apperception. Sensations are experienced, but they do not appear as
objects, that is, they are not perceived. When I look at a red pencil, I do
indeed experience a sensation of red. What I see, however, is not my
sensation, but the red thing out there.
Bound together in multifarious ways into whole acts (to some of which

we respond preferentially, while others run their course as 'incidentals'),

intentional experiences as contrasted with intentional objects exhibit three
abstract aspects - intentional matter, intentional quality and intentional
essence. Intentional matter signifies not the object that is intended but the
object as it is intended. Differences in matter, where the intentional object
remains the same, result in such differences in meaning as those cited
earlier in the instance of equilateral and equiangular triangles. Differences
in the kind of act yield the qualitative differences that characterize an act
as representing or judging or feeling or the like. With the quality re-
maining the same, the material of an act may vary (e.g., judgments with
different content); with no change in the material, the quality may vary
(e.g., a representing, jUdging or desiring intention directed to the same
object). Quality and material, both of which are partial, dependent aspects
of an act, together produce its intentional essence. Since the material is
that feature of an act which first gives it a definite relation to an object,
it may also be designated as the comprehension-sense (Auffassungssinn) ,
on which the quality is founded. The intentional essence of acts that are
capable of endowing expressions with meaning Husserl calls the meaning-
like essence.
In addition, acts may be directed toward an object in either a 'single-
rayed' or a 'many-rayed' (synthetic) manner. The former is exemplified
in plain perceptions or images, the latter in predications. Synthetic acts
may be transformed by modifications into a single-rayed thesis. Thus, if
I say 'Karl is passing by', this is a synthetic act; for several represen-
tations, apart from the quality of the judgment, are placed in relation to
one another. But if I say 'Karl who is passing by is just coming from
church', then the expression 'Karl who is passing by' is a simple name,
the understanding of which is achieved not in a synthetic consciousness
but in a simple act of the subject.
An essential difference thus exists between sentences (such as the one
above) that serve as names for states of affairs (nominalizing acts) and
statements about the same states of affairs (propositional acts). Since the
quality here remains the same, the difference lies exclusively with the
material. The quality itself, however, may also vary. In the sentence just
cited - 'Karl is passing by' - an existential meaning was conveyed; this
meaning was preserved in the modified expression 'Karl who is passing
by', since here again what was meant was Karl as an existing being. Such

positing of existence (belief) can be overcome or 'neutralized' in the case

both of nominal acts ('representations') and of propositional acts ('propo-
sitions'); then acts of positing (i.e. acts that convey an existential meaning)
become mere non-positing 'representations', where we no longer believe
in the existence of what is represented or where this existence remains
uncertain. To bring order into all these possible variations, Husserl selects
as the designation for the overall genus the expression 'objectivating acts'.
These divide as follows:
(1) on the basis of differentiation in quality, into acts that articulate
a belief in existence (positing acts) and those with respect to which the
existential meaning is suspended (non-positing acts).
(2) on the basis of differentiation in material, into nominal (one-
rayed) acts and propositional (many-rayed, synthetic) acts.
This eliminates the equivocations that affect the terms 'representation'
and 'judgment', the former at times being used for non-positing acts and
at times for nominal acts, the latter sometimes for positing acts and at
other times for propositional acts.

3. The Phenomenology of Knowledge

The most diverse acts (perceptions, wishes, commands and the like) can
be expressed in words. But the expression of these acts can be effected
only on a special level of expressing acts that are not identical with the
acts expressed. When someone says 'I wish that. . .', I understand the
expression without myself entertaining the wish. When I express a per-
ception by saying 'There goes my friend Hans down the street', the person
who hears this sentence understands it without actually having the per-
ception himself. The expression is made understandable not by the acts
expressed (these need not be performed at all), but by the meaning-
intentions referred to above. For instance, in the case of a perception, the
meaning-intention assumes the form of a special act of 'meaning-this',
independent of the perception. This act, of course, is first provided with
intuitive concreteness by the actual perception itself, through which the
meaning-endowing, purely 'signitive' act (i.e., the meaning-intention
without intuitive content) is fused with the sense-fulfilling intuition into
a static covering or coincidence. The covering may also take place dy-
namically, as when an expression that at the outset functions only sym-
bolically is later joined by the corresponding intuition. As experience

shows, this process results in a special consciousness of fulfillment: the

original (intuitively) empty intention has reached its goal, so to speak.
Corresponding to the experience offulfil/ment in respect to the act is the
experience of identity in respect to the object, the consciousness that the
object thought and the object intuited are identical. Thus the identity of
the object thought and the object intuited is the objective element ap-
pearing in the act of fulfillment.
Perception and empty intuition, along with imaginings or 'represen-
tation-images' (which come close to the intuitive), may as partial in-
tentions be merged into a total intention. For example, when I look at a
colored object, its face is given to me perceptually, its sides imaginatively
and other aspects only 'signitively'. If I turn the object around, the
imaginative and 'signitive' intentions change into intuitions, while what
was formerly given intuitively sinks back into a non-intuitive state of
being-meant. The gains and losses in intuition thus balance one another.
The counterpart to fulfillment is the experience of conflict, of 'dis-
appointment', of negative fulfillment. Total conflict is impossible, since
in that event the meaning-intention and the fulfillment would intend or
mean two different objects which could have nothing at all to do with
each other. Hence disappointment is possible only if there is at the same
time a partial coinciding or covering. Should I assert 'A is blue', and A
afterwards turns out to be red, the intuition of red would stand in conflict
with the original intention of blue; with respect to A itself, however,
intention and intuition would coincide.
The distinction between meaning-intention and meaning-fulfillment,
which applies to all objectivating acts, concerns the material of an act
exclusively, not its quality. For example, the character of an existential
meaning is not altered if what was at first supposed non-intuitively to
exist later attains the position of intuitive self-givenness. Empty intention
and fulfillment, however, are not equivalent modifications of the material
of an act; rather, the act of filling out produces an advantage in that it
moves the intention closer to the heart of the matter. The limit to this
process of approximation is given by the ideal of absolute knowledge, in
which the synthesis of fulfillment brings about the full and adequate self-
presentation of the cognitive object. The path may lead through a series
of stages of relative fulfillment. An illustration is provided when, say,
we break down the concept (5 3)4 into 53.5 3. 53. 53, then 53 into 5'5·5,

then, successively, 5 into 4 + 1, 4 into 3 + 1, and so on until we reach

2 = 1 + 1 - and thereupon proceed step by step to reconstruct the complex
concept (5 3)4 from the original (and by itself fully adequate) term 2 = 1 + 1.
On the basis of these analyses, Husserl distinguishes four concepts of
truth. (It should be noted as a preliminary that by the cognitive essence
of an act is meant its intentional essence as determined by the character
of the intention - significative, imaginative, intuitive.) First, we may
understand truth to be the objective state of affairs corresponding to a
fulfillment synthesis, namely, the full agreement, which is experienced as
self-evident, between what is meant and what is given. Second, truth as
ideal essence is sometimes identified with the notion of absolute adequacy
which is realized in the case of the ideal relationship of covering between
cognitive essences of coinciding acts. Third, the given object itself may be
called truth in so far as that object bestows intuitive concreteness on the
meaning and hence is experienced as an object that makes the intention
true. Last, the concept truth may express the correctness of the intention,
the intention being correct when in it things are intended as they really are.

4. Sensuous and Categorial Knowledge

It is commonly held that we can intuit only that which is individual or
particular. But if fully adequate intuition is to serve as the ideal of
knowledge, how is it possible to have self-evident knowledge of what is
general? Clearly it will not do to rest general concepts somehow on the
intuiting of a particular; for since it is of something individual, such an
intuition cannot in principle furnish the generality it is supposed to
furnish. The intuiting of particulars can make it evident that two things
lying before me plus a third thing result in three things, but never that
2+ 1 = 3. The question thus leads over into the problem of categorial
Now in a case of genuine knowledge, all meanings that enter into a
statement of that knowledge find intuitive fulfillment. These meanings,
however, include not only those that designate a concrete thing or a
characteristic of such a thing, but also existence, which is expressed by
the copula 'is', as well as the meanings of the form-words 'and', 'a', 'not'
and the like. Suppose, e.g., that I see a red pencil and that I express these
perceptions by saying 'red pencil'. The meaning of 'red' here coincides
only partially with the given color-aspect of the thing, since by 'red' is

meant the same as 'being-red'. Consequently there is a surplus of meaning

that finds no confirmation in the thing-appearance. For the total state-
ment to be fulfilled, there must first be a special act founded on per-
ception, in which that fulfillment takes place. Accordingly, it is not the
perceptions themselves but the acts founded upon them that fill out the
meaning-intention. This surplus of meaning, projecting beyond what is
individually and intuitively given, stands out even more clearly in the
case of general statements. Here what is meant or intended is not the
individual thing; rather, the individual thing serves merely as an example
of the general for which alone it is intended.
Thus in such propositions as 'A is B', 'E and F exist', 'All S are P',
only the meanings indicated by the letter symbols 'A', 'B', and the like
have their corresponding fulfillments in perception. Elements of this sort
in a statement Husserl calls the stuff or matter of signifying; the other
meaning-intentions, which cannot be fulfilled in intuition, he calls its
form. The category difference between form and matter is absolute;
there is no mediating transition.
If categorial concepts are to be endowed with cognitive content,
nothing remains therefore but to assume the existence of categorial per-
ception (or non-sensuous intuition) side by side with sensuous perception.
Moreover, the assumption is justified, since we do in fact possess self-
evident knowledge of general matters, relationships and so forth. Thus
perception in the narrower sense, in which a sensuous or real object is
apprehended, must be distinguished from perception in a wider sense,
which also embraces categorial or ideal objects. For example, in a genuine
act of abstraction, that which is general is itself given to us; we do not
think of it in a purely significative way, we achieve an intuition of it. Of
course, this categorial intuiting, which alone makes it possible for know-
ledge defined as covering-unity to include the domain of the general, is
not some free-floating, totally independent thing. On the contrary, it is
founded on acts of real sensuous perception or representation.
These ideas suggest a historical kinship with Kant's distinction between
'sensibility' (Sinnlichkeit) and 'understanding' (Verstand). However, for
Kant all concepts, and especially the chief 'root-concepts' of pure reason,
are empty forms without intuitive content; only sensibility, which is
addressed to the particular, has command over intuitiveness. According
to Husserl, on the other hand, there can be empty, merely significative

meaning and also meaning-fulfilling intuition with respect both to par-

ticulars and to universals.



The results of RusserI's investigations of sensuous and categorial intuiting

furnish a transition to the phenomenological method, in terms of which
his reflections on intentionality, meaning, knowledge and other basic
concepts obtain their further methodological vindication.
That there are essences and that we have knowledge of them is already
established, likewise that such knowledge is not conveyed in unfulfilled,
empty intentions directed to essence in general. Only what is immediately
given in intentional acts can be included in philosophy if it is to be
scientific philosophy. The question then becomes: what path is to be
followed in order to arrive at in sights about essences. Russerl is persuaded
that he has discovered this path in the method of phenomenological re-
Insights into essences take place in 'founded' acts. Any perceptions,
representations and the like, referring to something individual or real,
may function as intentional experiences to provide foundations for acts.
It makes no difference whether the given in such acts is meant as existing
or not. For example, I can acquire knowledge of the essence 'red' either
on the basis of a concrete, live perception or, just as well, through a
fantasy-image corresponding to it. Therefore it is not necessary that the
given be taken as real in performing this ideation. This suggests to
Russerl the thought that in order to gain access to the domain of pure
essence, the entire natural world must be excluded and its existence left
in abeyance.
Accordingly, the ordinary world - which I am aware of as spread out
endlessly in space and time, and of which there is intuitively present to
me only a tiny part surrounded by a vague horizon of undetermined
reality - is to be 'bracketed' (eingeklammert). This does not signify, as
in Descartes' procedure, that the reality of the whole world is to be
doubted. On the contrary, the point is that we are to make no use of the
natural belief in the existence of the world; this thesis is simply set aside.
This method of bracketing - Russerl also calls it phenomenological

epoche or abstention from belief-has several distinguishable components.

The first is historical bracketing. This means the putting aside of every-
thing we have received in the way of theories and opinions, whether from
everyday life, from science or from the realm of religious faith. Only the
thing immediately given may speak. A second component is existential
bracketing, the abstaining from all existential judgments, even from those
for which there is absolute self-evidence, such as that one's own self
exists. In the first component, the drive for absolute freedom from pre-
conceptions is given effect; the second is grounded in the fact that philo-
sophical knowledge should be knowledge of essences, that for this, how-
ever, the real existence of the objects considered is unnecessary and is
therefore to be excluded. But these first two components do not suffice.
Even jointly they do not orient our vision toward essences, since the
given particulars, despite the fact that they are no longer meant as exist-
ing, still confront us as particulars.
Hence two further components of bracketing must be added. Indeed,
it is on these two that Husserllays chief stress in the phenomenological
method. Corresponding to the distinction between 'fact' (Faktum) and
'essence' (Eidos) is what Husserl calls eidetic reduction, through which
the factual is converted intellectually into essence; e.g., this particular red
is converted into the essence red, an individual man here and now into
the essence man. A second distinction cuts across the first, namely, that
between 'real' and 'non-real', and to this distinction there corresponds
transcendental reduction, through which the data in naive consciousness
become transcendental phenomena in 'pure consciousness'.
These last two reductions may be carried out in any desired order and
their composition will yield the same results. But at times they may also
be performed separately. If the eidetic reduction alone is undertaken, we
then arrive at the transcendental eidos, which forms the subject-matter of
ontology. Performing just the transcendental reduction leads in turn to
the transcendental fact, which constitutes the subject-matter of meta-
physics. The distinction between ontology and metaphysics for Husserl
thus rests on the fact that these two are coordinated with different com-
ponents of phenomenological reduction.
While in eidetic reduction we can still glimpse the continuation and
deepening of ideas already contained in the Logische Untersuchungen,
transcendental reduction represents something fundamentally new in the

philosophy of Husserl. In the earlier work, he had, like his teacher

Brentano, taken a completely negative attitude toward Kant; now he
makes a turn toward Kant's transcendental idealism. Husserl's transcen-
dental reduction brings about the conceptual 'obliteration of the world'
and what remains is the absolute sphere of the pure Ego and of pure
consciousness. The pure Ego requires nothing real for its existence; it
must, in particular, not be confused with the empirical Ego given in inner
perception. The domain, reached in this manner, of being that is imma-
nent-in-consciousness, is absolute in the sense that it requires nothing for
its existence (nulla res indiget ad existendum).
At this point, Husserl faces the task of providing a pure phenome-
nology of the essences of those experiences discoverable in the Absolute
Sphere. Hence in his Ideen zu einer reinen Phiinomenologie und phiinome-
nologischen Philosophie (Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenome-
nology), he once again sets about developing a phenomenology of acts.
What distinguishes this new investigation of the intentional domain of
consciousness is the broader framework in which it is carried out, the
inclusion of a number of kinds of acts hitherto left unconsidered (e.g.,
memory), the taking into account of the experience of time, and the
fitting of theoretical acts into the world of emotional experience (feeling
and volition). Here too are to be found the beginnings of an analysis of
value-experience later extended by Scheler into a special philosophy of
value. With respect to terminology, it should be noted that Husserl calls
the factor that animates the real non-intentional components of experi-
ence or matter (hyle) the 'noetic act' (Aktnoese), and the aspect of the
object produced by the noetic act its 'noetic content' (Aktnoema). Where-
as matter and noesis represent real parts of the conscious experience, this
is not the case with respect to the noema, even though the noema apper-
tains to the experience. For example, the noematic content of the per-
ception of a tree, the 'tree-perceived', is no more a real component of the
perceiving of a tree than is the tree as a thing independent, self-subsistent
and transcendent with respect to consciousness. At the same time, the
noema is not identical with this transcendent object. On the contrary, as
the product of the noetic act it always remains relative to the conscious-
ness that performs the act. The real tree may burn up while at the same
time the noema, i.e., the tree perceived, may in consequence, say, of a
hallucination, remain unaltered.

If experiences are constantly analyzed in this manner with regard to

their sense (or what is supposed in them) and if this possible sense in its
totality is nothing other than the entire world, the sum of all being, then
the task emerges of demarcating in respect to objects various regions of
being. Each of these regions (e.g., nature, man, history) is the subject-
matter of a special science of essences or material ontology dealing with
that region. Material ontologies are strictly a priori sciences and must
form the foundation everywhere for the empirical sciences devoted to the
same range of objects. The task of these ontologies is to describe the
immediately evident essential structures of the particular region, to sub-
sume them under the highest ontic genera or categories (e.g., thinghood,
spatiality, causality and so forth), and to deduce the self-evident principles
grounded in them (the regional axioms). Above the regional ontologies
stands an even more fundamental science, formal ontology, which elabo-
rates all of the formal categories grounded in the essence 'object as such',
together with the general self-evident axioms that it contains (the uni-
versal axioms). The formal categories are to be looked on not as the
highest genera but simply as empty logical forms capable of being filled
out with concrete content. We must accordingly distinguish between
generalization (or its converse, specialization) - the ascent from individuals
to genera; and formalization (or its converse, deformalization) - the
filling out of empty logical and mathematical forms. A number, e.g., is
not a genus of being, but just such an empty form.
From another point of view, the totality of essential forms divides into
substrate categories and syntactical categories. The former are grounded
directly in ultimate substrates and fall under two main headings: 'factual
ultimate essence' (Sachhaltiges letztes Wesen) and 'this-here' (Dies da).
The latter are the existential correlates of mental functions (granting,
denying, relating, counting and so forth), such as relation, property,
number, order, and always refer back to ultimate, irreducible substrates.
Yet another differentiation is that between dependent objects, whose
essences may be termed abstracta, and independent objects, whose essences
are concreta. For example, syntactical categories all come under the
abstracta, since they are essentially related to substrates. An individual
is any 'this-here' whose essence is a concretum. In connection with all of
these classifications, one must always keep in mind the earlier distinction
between meanings (concepts) and intentional objects, in the present

instance essences. This last observation applies both to categorial concepts

and to the objects corresponding to them, the categorial essences.
In order to provide an overall view of these rather complicated relation-
ships, a brief schema is presented in Table I.

Classification of eidetic sciences (ontologies)

A. According to categorial B. According to categorial

ro'''p'' ~ / obfr'" r,n",=)

I. Formal ontology

.. .......}. Formal ontologica\ categories in general"}

FormalIzatIOn..........··· ? Particular formal categories I

~ 1~ Derivation of th: universal axioms

Syntactic~l ~ ~ H. Materialont%gies
categones ~ 1
1. Various highest genera of being ---- Abstracta b
\ V ( Concreta b
Derivation of the regional axioms }
Differentiations dtwn to the lowest

a 'Formal ontological categories in general' is the highest genus of formal onto-

logical categories. Since these latter are not genera of being, their highest genus is also
not a genus of being.
b The concepts 'abstracturn' and 'concretum' apply, of course, above all to the
objects of the material ontologies; they themselves, however, are formal categorial


We noted above that with his method of reduction, Hussed makes the
turn to transcendental idealism. Phenomenological bracketing leaves as

a residue only pure consciousness, which is 'absolute' in the sense that

no real thing is needed for its existence. But this property of ontic inde-
pendence possessed by the transcendental Ego is only the negative side,
so to speak, of the transcendental idealist view which Husserl reaches here.
The positive side lies in the fact that, conversely, all being is relative to
pure consciousness. This pure consciousness, although non-real, is some-
thing necessary in principle and constitutes a peculiar transcendence with-
in the immanence of the stream of consciousness; further, it is this pure
consciousness that first constitutes being in general, and the 'transcendent'
world in the sense of empirical consciousness in particular.
This transcendental idealist relativizing of all being to pure conscious-
ness appears in the first instance to stand in contradiction to the notion
of a philosophical ontology (formal ontology and material ontology).
'Ontologism' and transcendental philosophy are mutually exclusive ac-
cording both to the way of thinking of the ontologists and to the view
of the Criticists who follow in Kant's footsteps. No such incompatibility
exists for Husserl, however. For from the very beginning he did not con-
ceive of these ontologies as ultimate basic disciplines. One need only
recall that to obtain the objects of the ontologies, what is required is not
the entire reduction but only its eidetic component. The eidos is a tran-
scendent object for ontology, just as real facts constitute transcendent
objects for the individual sciences. Consequently, in Husserl's opinion both
ontological research and research in the sciences remain, philosophically
speaking, in a naive state, wedded to the simple, natural view of the world.
The ontologies assume priority over the individual sciences only in so far
as it is the task of the ontologies to work out the formal and regional
a priori principles of these latter disciplines. Ontologies are termed 'philo-
sophical' because their concern is to obtain insights into essences, on
which the special sciences must rely; they aim neither at erecting a system
of deductively obtained theorems (as in mathematics) nor at formulating
empirically testable hypotheses (as in the natural and social sciences).
An authentic and absolutely basic philosophical investigation can be-
gin, however, only when in addition to the eidetic reduction we carry out
the transcendental reduction, through which the naive character of the
'natural' point of view is neutralized. The phenomenological analysis of
the 'transcendentally purified consciousness' thus constitutes the basic
task of philosophy. In the domain of pure consciousness, too, intention-

ality is the fundamental structure. The second volume of the Logische

Untersuchungen contains the view of sUbjective experiences that is correla-
tive to the analysis, in Volume I, of ideal logical structures - the analysis
of ideal being, in short, passes over into the intentional analysis of the
givenness of this ideal being. This transition has often been regarded as a
reversion on Husserl's part to the psychologism which he originally com-
batted. However, as far as Husserl himself is concerned, this 'turn to the
subject' makes its appearance only after the phenomenological method
has been elaborated in its true philosophical significance. While the im-
pression might have arisen earlier that what was involved was the em-
pirical subject, it now becomes clear that the intentional analysis relates
not to empirical consciousness but to pure consciousness.
Two important examples may serve to illustrate Husserl's transcen-
dental philosophical attitude. Consider first the concept of transcendent
thing. In order to understand Husserl's position on this problem, it is best
that we contrast it with the viewpoint of what is called critical realism.
Now naive realism identifies the real things of the world with perceivable
objects, and these just as they are perceived (hence with all their sensible
qualities: colors, sounds and the like). The critical realist, on the other
hand, sees himself obliged to insert between the perceiving, knowing
subject and the real world a third entity: a world of contents of conscious-
ness, or phenomena. This latter world, although brought into being by
real objects acting as sensory stimuli, nevertheless has no similarity to the
objects that cause it. Long ago Locke offered various arguments to show
that the secondary qualities are not properties of the things themselves;
and later epistemologists pointed out that arguments analogous to those
used by Locke to prove the subjectivity of colors, sounds and the like,
are also applicable to spatial and temporal realities. The result was the
representational theory of knowledge, according to which the data given
in perception are merely images of facts that lie beyond consciousness.
Strictly, such a theory has no right to talk about a reflecting of the real
world in consciousness, since we may speak of an image or picture only
where there is a resemblance to what is being pictured. The so-called
perceptual images need have no similarity at all to their causes situated
beyond consciousness; they are nothing more than signs which, in our
consciousness, symbolize the transcendent causes.
In this way, a distinction came to be made between a world of the given

(the phenomenal world), which is intuitive yet immanent in consciousness,

and a world of transcendent things (the real world), which is not repre-
sentable intuitively. These transcendent things, in principle, can never be
given, because we can obtain no knowledge of them except through their
effects on us. As for the contents of consciousness thus generated, our
own subjectivity participates just as much in their creation as do the
transcendent causes.
For Husserl, any such notion of an absolutely transcendent object is
untenable. Indeed, the basic principle of transcendental idealism is that all
objects - in particular all objects of which one can speak meaningfully in
science and philosophy - are universally and in principle accessible to con-
sciousness. Accordingly, if objects are to be spoken of as transcendent,
such transcendence must identify itself within the world of phenomena.
In actual fact, what is given us is never given only in one way, but always
from new sides and in new perspectives. One and the same color appears
in the course of time in ever new gradations of tint, one and the same
figure in ever new variations of contour. This holds true of things in
particular: by the real being of things we can mean nothing other than
manifolds of appearances (i.e. of perspective variations) connected in a
certain regular way. That a tree which I see is a real thing and not merely
a subjective content of consciousness does not signify that there exists
an X (by hypothesis unrepresentable) which is outside of my conscious-
ness and also independent of the consciousness of every other observer,
and which causes this content of consciousness. What it does signify is
that this momentary content of consciousness is embedded, in a manner
governed by law, in a potentially boundless horizon of ever new appear-
ances and perspective variations of precisely this same 'real thing'.
What is illustrated in the example of a single thing holds for the world
as a whole, which is in fact nothing more than the aggregate of all mani-
folds of appearances and perspective variations. In this way, one avoids
both a relapse into naive realism, and the hapless doubling of the world
characteristic of critical realism and the representational theory of know-
ledge. At the same time, harmony is achieved with the basic principle of
transcendental idealism: since the concept of perspective variation or
modification is necessarily relative to a consciousness for which this
modification exists and in which things are projected as perspectively
modified, the world as the total system of these manifolds of projections

of things is necessarily relative to a consciousness. And this consciousness

is not the empirically real one but the transcendental consciousness which
remains after the process of phenomenological bracketing has been
carried out.
The second example is represented by logical structures and other ideal
essences. Husserl, in his Ideen zu einer reinen Phiinomenologie, had already
worked out in detail how the concept of real thing is relative to the tran-
scendental consciousness. However, it was not until his last great work,
Formale und transzendentale Logik, that the principle of transcendental
idealism emerged in a fully universal and radical form. Husserl's earlier
works may well have given rise to the impression that he held a 'realistic'
view of ideal essences and hence of logical structures, that is, that he
treated these structures as things having absolute being. Now, however,
he conceived of these ideal entities as issuing from acts of consciousness,
and as being relative to these acts. Thus transcendental consciousness is
constitutive not only of the real world but also of the totality of ideal being.
Any kind of objectivity, whether real or ideal in character, can be under-
stood and clarified in its essences only if we proceed from the intentional
act that generates it.
Despite this evident turn to Kantian idealism, the philosophy of
Husserl remains clearly marked off from the Criticists of the neo-Kantian
schools. Indeed, his phenomenology has been subjected to vigorous attack
by the neo-Kantians, especially those of the Rickert school. The main
charge has been that of intuitionism, supposed to be evidenced in the
theory of categorial intuition and the intuiting of essences. Against this
the neo-Kantians point out, as Kant had already stressed, that there are
two irreducible faculties both of which must participate in every cognitive
act: sensibility, which supplies intuitions, and the understanding, which
performs the actual work of thought. Husserl, however, by defining the
concept of genuine knowledge as 'self-evident self-giving' or 'self-giving
intuition', appears to wipe out this distinction between sensibility and
understanding, and to discard any constructional role for thought in favor
of the intuitively given. Yet the situation is further complicated (and the
objection therefore not completely justified) because in the first place the
method of reduction rests on a sequence of thought operations, and
secondly spontaneity of thought, according to Husserl, must be an es-
sential participant in the Wesensschau itself. We do not simply 'see' the

eidos as soon as a being is brought to direct givenness; rather, we must

run through in thought the possible variations of this being, and the essence
is recognizable as that which remains invariant under these possible
Husserl's concept of consciousness differs from Brentano's just as
clearly as from that of the neo-Kantians. Brentano uses the expression
'consciousness' to designate something empirically real, whereas Husserl's
'pure consciousness', which remains after carrying out the method of
reduction, is transcendental and non-real. The latter's concept of con-
sciousness is thus essentially more formal and abstract than Brentano's.
Yet this 'transcendental Ego', for Husserl too, is still characterized by its
intentional structure and is therefore something with a defined content,
which can be made accessible to analysis. For the neo-Kantians, on the
other hand, the 'transcendental subject' or 'consciousness as such' is a
pure form without content. According to their conception, since all con-
tent is ranged on the object side and the object is there only for the sake
of the transcendental subject, the subject itself must be thought of as
possessing no content at all.


Husserl's investigations have exercised a great influence on philosophy.

Those authors who agree fundamentally with his ideas and apply the
phenomenological method in their research have found a broad, limitless,
new field opening up before them. Philosophers of the opposite camp, in
turn, have been obliged to elaborate their own positions more clearly and
sharply, and to adapt the cogency of their reasoning to the high scientific
level of Husserl's doctrines. Thus Husserl, like all great minds, has stimu-
lated both friend and foe to productive activity. Important philosophies
have arisen from the conflict between his views and those of his opponents;
e.g. Nicolai Hartmann's metaphysics of knowledge and the ontology de-
rived from it have grown out of, among other things, the clash between
neo-Kantianism and phenomenology.
The arguments Husserl advances against psychologism in logic are
penetrating and persuasive, as is his proof that psychologism eventuates
in relativism and skepticism. It is true, though, that in speaking of the
logical absurdity of skepticism, Husserl claims more than can be demon-

strated by means of logic alone. For it is not possible to have a purely

logical refutation of most theses of skepticism, even in their most radical
versions, although the contrary is asserted time and again. 6
Husserl's services in defending logic against incorrect tendencies are
beyond dispute. The situation is quite different, however, when we ask
what positive contribution his studies have made to the construction and
development of logic. The unfortunate fact is that this contribution has
been extraordinarily slight. Of course, partisans of Husserl have defended
repeatedly, emphatically and at great length the thesis that he was the
first to supply logic with a positive foundation, one which is incomparably
deeper not only than any sought previously but also than any to be en-
countered in modern logic. But in logic, as in mathematics, quality is to
be judged by performance; and the performance must include the setting
up of a system of rules as precise as possible, which permit us to dis-
tinguish between valid and invalid arguments in simple reasoning as well
as in more complicated mathematical deductions. No system of this sort,
however, has been erected either by Husserl or by any of his followers. To
this day there is no work in logic on a Husserlian basis capable of com-
peting with the standard works of modern logic. Husserl's own delibe-
rations were wholly taken up with supplying prolegomena for the con-
struction of a logic, with working out plans for a possible but never
realized system of logic. These deliberations contain important and fruit-
ful ideas; but in their sum they are still much too slight to serve as the
basis for a new system of logic of the precision and scope envisioned by
It was another thinker, Gottlob Frege, who was responsible for the
actual realization of Leibniz' program. Long before Husserl, Frege had
attacked psychologism in logic with remarkably acute arguments. More-
over he had gone on, in a work of immeasurable value, to outline a
comprehensive system of logic. This system not only eliminated the
lacunae and inadequacies of traditional logic, but offered a new kind of
conceptual analysis which, by reducing all the concepts of logic and
mathematics to a few basic logical concepts, made it possible to include
the entire realm of mathematics within logic. That it took so long for
these ideas to make their way can be explained - apart from the novelty
and difficulty of the material, and certain historical circumstances -
principally by the fact that Frege was not able to formulate his logic in

a perspicuous language. This was left for later developers of his ideas,
especially Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead. In any case,
what logic specialists teach today clearly bears the birthmarks of Fregean
doctrine, whereas Husserl has remained almost without influence on
contemporary logical theory.
Husserl's conception of logic was oriented toward ideal logical
structures. Modern logic, on the other hand, is oriented primarily toward
language, since it is only through the logical penetration and sharpening
of the language of science that we can obtain the complete system of
precise rules that must be demanded of a fruitful theory of logic. On
closer examination, it turns out that Husserl's reflections are based much
more on grammatical insights than he himself could have guessed. And
for this reason he actually anticipated, if only in a rudimentary way,
certain features of modern epistemology.
This may be illustrated by an example taken from the Logische Unter-
suchungen, which was recently analyzed in more detail by Yehoshua Bar-
Hillel. 7 In Chapter 11 of the second volume Husserl takes up the question
of why certain sequences of words in a language make sense while others
do not. The answer, he claims, lies in a priori laws of meaning connections,
which are manifested more or less clearly in the rules for grammatical
compatibility and incompatibility in a language. According to Husserl,
we apprehend with apodictic self-evidence that certain (combinatorially
possible) connections of meaning are excluded by virtue of the laws
relating to essences. Thus he reduces grammatical incompatibilities to
incompatibilities in the domain of meanings. At the same time, he makes
use here of the notion that the form of a sentence plays a decisive role.
The sentence 'This tree is green' is meaningful, and so is any other
sentence that is obtained from it by substituting for the words 'tree' and
'green', which are equipped with independent meaning, words whose
meanings belong to the same meaning categories respectively as the
meanings of 'tree' and 'green'. In other words, the meaningfulness of the
first sentence carries over to all sentences of the same form. But if we
substitute expressions that belong to other meaning categories, the results
are meaningless, as in 'This frivolous is green'; here it is the lack of
meaning that carries over to all expressions of the same form.
The question we have to ask is: what exactly does Husserl understand
here by meaning categories? Surprisingly, it turns out that these are

nothing other than the objective counterparts of the grammatical cate-

gories regarded in that time as standard for the [ndo-Germanic languages.
For example, Husserl states explicitly (p. 319) that where a nominal or
substantival matter stands, any arbitrary nominal matter could stand, but
not an adjectival, a relational or a propositional matter. Therefore, in
order to decide which word may replace another in a given context, the
only thing required is to determine the grammatical category of the word.
The entire digression into the realm of meanings is thus superfluous, and
the apodictic self-evidence on which Husserl relies is nothing but gram-
matical intuition. And this kind of intuition, as Bar-Hillel emphasizes, is
highly suspect. In the first place, it is not correct that a nominal matter
may never be replaced in a significant sentence by an adjectival matter
so as to obtain another significant sentence. The sentence 'This raven is
black' is significant even though it can be obtained from the sentence
'This raven is a bird' by a substitution that Husserl forbids. In the second
place, a grammatical substitution declared to be permissible in a signifi-
cant text may lead to something that most people will not regard as
significant, as is the case when we pass from 'This tree is green' to 'This
real number is green'. Indeed, it was the fact that the parts of speech of
natural languages are not suited to the needs of logic, and represent only
a rough approximation to serviceable categories, that led to the demand
that the syntax of ordinary language be replaced by the syntax of a
scientific language constructed in accordance with precise rules.
Closely related to the concept of meaning categories is the Husserlian
distinction between nonsense (Unsinn) and countersense (Widersinn), and
the corresponding distinction between laws designed to avoid the former
and those that serve to avoid the latter. For example, 'x is a round square'
is countersense, since we know on purely logical grounds that no x can
fulfill this condition; 'x is a round or', however, is nonsense, a meaning-
less combination of words. The laws for avoiding nonsense are looked
upon as more fundamental than the laws for avoiding a contradiction.
By making a distinction between the two kinds of laws, Husserl antici-
pated the two kinds of rules later defined by Rudolf Carnap: formation
rules, which allow us to decide which sequences of symbols are admissible
for the purpose of forming expressions, especially sentences; and transfor-
mation rules, which lay down the relations of deducibility between
sentences. Where the two authors differ is that Carnap makes the dis-

tinction much more sharply and clearly than Husserl, and that the latter
again takes the unnecessary detour through the realm of meanings. The
priority, referred to above, of the first set of rules over the second reduces
today to the almost obvious point that the defining of a consequence
relation for sentences (which is the chief object of the transformation
rules) necessarily rests on a previous definition of sentences (which is the
chief object of the formation rules).
It should be further noted that the demand raised by Husserl for a
pure (a priori) and universal grammar was first satisfied, approximately,
by Carnap's studies. An a priori statement to the effect that all languages
must contain a certain feature (e.g., sentences, expressions that form
compounds, or the like) can be established only if this insight follows
from the very definition of language. Otherwise on principle none but
empirical investigations can determine whether, for instance, all languages
contain nouns, negation signs and so forth. Thus the notion of a pure
grammar cannot be realized unless the ideal grammatical framework
called for by Husserl is derivable from the definition of language itself.
This is precisely the case with Carnap's pure syntax; within it, a priori
statements about language can be obtained that owe their a priori charac-
ter to the fact that they are logical consequences of the definition of the
concept of language.
Husserl's point of view on the problem of universals is of fundamental
importance for his entire philosophy. His position on this question is
diametrically opposed to that of Brentano. The latter used to say on
occasion that Husserl (just as the philosopher Meinong) wears his
(Brentano's) discarded clothing; for at the time when Hussed attended
his lectures, Brentano still believed in the existence of 'entia rationis',
whereas he later came to the conclusion that abstract objects, such as
states of affairs, classes, qualities and the like, represent fictions.
In order to form a judgment on this issue, we must recall what was
said above in the evaluation of Brentano. Husserl too believed, erroneous-
ly, that the problem of universals could be settled in an a priori manner;
but, in contrast to Brentano, he thought that the answer would have to
take a Platonist form. In his critique of the various theories of abstraction,
Husserl had of course revealed many of their errors and unclarities; but
he failed to perceive that this kind of examination can not lead to a
definitive resolution of the question, since the question itself is not one

that can be decided a priori. 8 No more than Brentano did Husserl recog-
nize that bound variables and these alone - customarily represented in
ordinary language by pronouns - are decisive for the problem of Plato-
nism. His error, to be sure, was much more serious than Brentano's. The
latter had simply overlooked the fact that the non-Platonist too has to
translate all those statements in which the expressions 'all' and 'there are'
refer to a domain of abstract objects into a form acceptable to him, and
that this procedure can run into insurmountable difficulties. Husserl, on
the other hand, thought he could prove definitely, by the example of
general predicates, that nominalism is untenable. But to do this he had
to assume an interpretation of language that the nominalist does not
accept, namely, that all linguistic expressions stand for something and
therefore are to be conceived of as names of what they stand for. On this
assumption, when asked what object a predicate such as 'green' or 'horse'
designates, we can only answer that it is not a concrete object but an
abstract or ideal one - the quality green or the essence horse (the Platonic
'horse-ness'). The nominalist, however, rejects this whole assumption. For
him, expressions can be significant even though they do not name, and
predicates, on the nominalist view, are among such expressions. To under-
stand the meaning of the predicate 'green' we need simply know in which
situation the phrase 'is green' may be used and in which not; such
an understanding, however, does not presuppose the performance of
intentional acts directed to a 'general essence green' rather than to an
individual thing. The fault in Platonism, according to the nominalist,
is precisely that predicates are interpreted on the analogy of proper
This is the reason for the collapse of the logical arguments Husserl
advances in support of his position, in particular his contention that the
likeness of two things means an identity of kind or species (see p. 72).
The Platonist may of course say that the likeness with respect to color
between a red piece of paper and a red flower consists in the fact that
the color quality is identical in the two cases; but he may make this claim
only in so far as he already assumes the correctness of his thesis - that
we may speak of general things the same way we do of concrete, individual
objects. This reasoning, however, as an argument against nominalism, is
a petitio principii. For the nominalist denies that we may speak of 'the
color-quality' as if it were an object and in this manner reduce likeness of

color between concrete things to the fact that the same color belongs to
Once we concede that the arguments securing the existence of ideal
essences are not tenable, the presupposition on the basis of which we can
speak at all of an intuiting of essences comes into question. We are
supposedly able to intuit objects of a certain kind; yet the assumption
that these objects exist rests on logically faulty arguments. Obviously, the
Wesensschau itself cannot be offered in turn as the support for the existen-
tial assumption. It would be a patently circular procedure were we to
establish by means of an application of the Wesensschau the existence of
what we must presuppose if we are to speak meaningfully of a Wesens-
Outside of a rather narrow circle of phenomenologists, there is no
longer any talk of Husserl's epoche in the modern theory of knowledge
and of science. The reason presumably is that Hussed's phenomenological
method is regarded by the critical-minded epistemologist as a two-fold
path into mysticism, or at least into a new kind o/metaphysics, in harmony
neither with the demands of scientific method nor especially with Hussed's
own claim as to the scientific character of his philosophy.
One path proceeds by way of the eidetic reduction. In philosophy, as in
logic, however, the value of a new method must be shown by its fruits,
and these fruits must consist in the fact that the method leads to new
findings in a way that has universal force. But since Husserl's time, what
all has not been proclaimed as knowledge of essences on the basis of his
method! And how much that he himself would never have permitted to
be called by such a high-sounding name! As everyone knows, Husserl
took an extremely critical - and nearly always negative - attitude toward
those who appealed to his phenomenological method. This was the case
especially with regard to Scheler and Heidegger. But does not all of this
indicate that the method lacks just the feature to make it scientific - inter-
subjective testability, the confirmability beyond question of whatever is
asserted on the basis of this method? In any event, the phenomenologists
to this day still owe us proof that their method satisfies this overriding
and indispensable requirement for a scientific method.
The second path into mysticism proceeds via the transcendental re-
duction. Hussed speaks of a 'pure l' or 'pure consciousness' or 'pure
subject' or 'transcendental Ego', which does not depend on anything real

and represents what is left after the world is 'obliterated'. In so doing,

he makes use of such expressions as '1', 'consciousness', and 'subject',
taken from the language of ordinary life and science; at the same time
he applies them in an entirely new way that can be described only by
means of metaphorical allusions. This trait the above expressions share
with the specifically metaphysical expressions. Representatives of modern
empiricism would therefore not so much question the correctness of the
Husserlian ideas associated with the transcendental reduction, as they
would dispute the meaningfulness of all these statements and would point
out that the expressions 'pure 1', 'pure consciousness' and the like involve
The fundamental misgivings discussed here are quite consistent with
the conviction that many of the individual analyses offered by Husserl
in his phenomenology are valuable and instructive. For instance, his
version of the concept of a transcendental thing is very close to certain
ideas found in modern epistemology. In particular, his views possess a
great similarity to the doctrine known as phenomenalism, which is en-
countered in the camp of empiricism and which must not be confused
with phenomenology. Phenomenalism too rejects the notion of a thing
that transcends consciousness: all statements about things must be trans-
latable into statements about phenomena ('sense-data'). To be sure,
phenomenalism does run into insuperable difficulties in the strict exe-
cution of its program. 9 One of these rests on the circumstance that a thing
has an unlimited number of partial aspects and that consequently a state-
ment about a physical thing, e.g., cannot be replaced by a strictly limited,
finite number of statements about phenomena. In principle, Husserl must
have seen the difficulty that attaches to such a form of phenomenalism
when he spoke of the potentially unlimited horizon of ever new appear-
ances, whose regular connections constitute the presence of a thing. Yet
never, even by suggestion, did he give a solution to the problems rooted
here, e.g., how to frame the laws by which a manifold of appearances is
transformed into appearances of one and the same thing.
More than one philosopher has voiced the opinion that Husserl, in his
descriptions, often goes beyond the given and proffers logical con-
structions as if they were plain accounts of what can actually be exhibited.
Thus Otto Janssen has subjected Husserl's theory of intentionality to
especially sharp criticism. Oddly enough, the considerations raised by

Janssen have been almost completely ignored. His own philosophy, which
he counterposes to that of Hussed, deserves to be presented here, if only
in outline. Janssen holds that there is no such thing as real sensory elements
'animated' by intentional acts - through which 'animating acts' the world
of objects we encounter in perception is first supposed to be constituted.
Consequently, the Husserlian notion of an "adumbration of things in the
stream of experience" rests on a fiction. When I behold a red surface,
what is given is only the red surface out there, and not additionally some
adumbration of experience.
To avoid any misinterpretation of that which can be exhibited or
pointed to, Janssen prefers to discard the term 'consciousness', which is
burdened with such a variety of associations and misleading constructions,
and to substitute the expression 'being-there' (Dasein). The 'field of
being-there' (Daseinsfeld) is provided with numerous contents and the
being-there of these contents must be granted to be self-evident, prior to
any characterization in terms of judgment. In the center of this field there
is an'!, which at the outset cannot be more closely determined and which,
in respect to the self-evidence of its being-there, enjoys no privileged
status vis~a-vis the other contents of the field of being-there. The book
in front of me, the pen with which I write, the rose in the garden - all
are just as self-evidently there as I am myself. Thus in Janssen's con-
ception 'being-there' is equivalent to what, in the theory of consciousness,
is the 'givenness of a thing for me', after the intentions related to it are
disregarded. The existence of such intentions outside of the areas of
volition and feeling and a few other special cases Janssen denies. Thereby
not only does he attack individual insights of Husserl, but he calls into
question the entire foundation of the Brentano-Husserl doctrine of in-
tentionality. The assumption that every consciousness is a 'consciousness
of something' has its sole origin, according to Janssen, in vague analogies
with spatial events: the process ofperception is conceived of almost as if the
self reached out invisible arms in order to grasp some object and hold it fast.
Actually, however, as in the case of perceiving a red surface, all that can
be established is that this red surface in front of me is 'there', that is, that
it stands in the determinateness of being-there. An additional 'conscious-
ness of this surface' simply cannot be substantiated.
The givenness of the'!, confronts the theory of intentionality with a
difficult problem, and one which has continually given rise to constructions

of a very odd sort. For it seems not altogether consistent that the '1', as
the subject of all apprehensions, should be given, in turn, to itself. On
Janssen's view, however, the problem has a simple solution: the 'I' itself
simply has the character of being-there, and always as the subject of
assertions, volitional processes and the like; but this 'I' is not given once
again in the sense of a consciousness' of' it 'for' itself.
According to Janssen, within the field of being-there - which is different
for each person - numerous 'ideal' relations appear pointing beyond the
solitariness of the field. Here we can speak of intentions; but in Janssen's
view, we must observe that these emanate not from the'/' but from what
the intentionality theory would regard as the 'object of consciousness'. For
example, when I recall something, this does not mean that a ray, as it
were, goes out from the 'I' back into the past; rather it is the image
hovering before me that causes its pastness to be there as memory. The
past thing is not another something over and above the hovering image;
on the contrary, it is in that image and is self-evidently there, although
not as something intuitive and not with that degree of temporal definition
with which it was present in the past.
If something is represented (imagined) simply as being-there without
actually being there (e.g. the smell of a flower that I am no longer able
to 'reproduce'), then what we have is a self-evident not-being-there. This
leads to conceptual apprehensions, which go beyond the field of being-
there (a simple case is when I 'imagine' the rear or the interior of a house
I am looking at). True, such conceptual apprehensions come about
through voluntary 'staging' on the part of the 'I'; but according to
Janssen, it is incorrect to conceive of them as 'rays of intentionality'
issuing from the 'I'. Rather, this 'swarm' of conceptual understandings
continually ascends from the field of being-there as a whole.
Where in terms of the consciousness theory a 'consciousness of some-
thing' is totally lacking, Janssen speaks of a theoretical not-being-there.
This is the situation when, say, a sound is now neither self-evidently there
(thus I do not 'hear' this sound) nor self-evidently not there (1 also am
not 'thinking' of it in any way). Only later am 1 able to establish the not-
having-been-there, and it is precisely through establishing this that the
not-having-been-there becomes self-evident.
Janssen derives from his theory a number of consequences that stand
in contradiction to various of Hussed's theses. For example, he rejects

the Husserlian distinction between meanings and objects meant, and like-
wise the notions of ideal contents of judgments, categorial intuition and
so on. We cannot go into these matters here. It is to be hoped, however,
that lanssen's work will one day receive more attention, if only because
it makes clear, as does scarcely any other German philosophical work of
the last decades, how very often we believe ourselves to be giving plain
descriptions when in reality intuitive metaphors (frequently intuitive
spatial images) have insinuated themselves into our descriptive reports.
Be that as it may, lanssen's observations, whatever details one may wish
to criticize, do serve to remove the aura of obvious truth from the theory
of intentionality, one of the essential ingredients ofHusserlian philosophy.
Husserl's great aspiration was to place philosophy for the first time on
a strictly scientific and absolutely secure foundation. Keeping this goal
in mind, we gain from his later works the impression of an ever-widening
gap between the realization of his program and its first formulation. In
a passage in one of his last works, Cartesianische Meditationen, Husserl
speaks of the Heraclitian world of consciousness. But how totally un-
suited is the image of a Heraclitian flux for indicating what is supposed to
provide an absolutely supportive foundation for philosophy! Today more
than ever we are inclined to regard as a phantom this striving for an
unshakable 'rock bottom' on which all science and philosophy would be
erected. Husserl thought he could approach philosophy without any pre-
suppositions whatsoever. In order to discover just how full of presuppo-
sitions his thought really is, we must do more than pay attention to critical
opinions on concrete individual questions, such as those mentioned above.
We must go over to an entirely different philosophical camp, one with
altogether different intellectual assumptions. One such camp is that of
the philosopher who might be called the English antipodes of HusserI, and
who undoubtedly has influenced contemporary English philosophy in the
same measure that HusserI has influenced German philosophy - the later
Wittgenstein. The sentence 'I possess consciousness' is, according to
Wittgenstein, completely devoid of meaning. Husserl would have con-
sidered such a thesis a monstrosity; but for Wittgenstein, it is a truth
which the philosopher must grasp if he is not to base his ideas on a primi-
tive and erroneous picture of ordinary language.
The claim that Husserl's philosophy has in fact led to a new and
positive foundation for philosophy is sometimes defended by citing in-

direct empirical evidence: the indisputable successes of other thinkers

achieved through the specialized phenomenological research he intro-
duced. This sort of evidence, however, is not a proof of truth. The decisive
element in these successes of Husserlian philosophy may well have been
the fact that Husserl removed from philosophical research what was dis-
couraging many thinkers, that he eliminated the anxiety about relativism
and skepticism and thus imbued the younger generation of philosophers
with the spirit to solve specific problems. And it was a fortunate turn of
history that Husserl's inspiring influence and his faith in a future for
philosophy should have been communicated to a series of extraordinary
philosophical talents.


1 Hussed termed his own doctrine conceptualism. Nevertheless, many passages in his
writings may be construed also in the sense of 1 (b).
2 Hussed attacks only Mill explicitly; but the same argument is valid also against
Brentano's theory.
3 Husserl treats meaning (Bedellfllng) and sense (Sinn) as synonyms.
4 Pure meaning-intensions, without any fulfillment, are found in the case of wholly
non-perceptual thought.
5 In the Logische Untersllchungen, Husser! criticizes Brentano's interpretation of
intentionality as the 'mental in-existing' of an object. Brentano, however, had already
abandoned this doctrine, which goes back to the Scholastics.
6 See W. Stegmiiller, Mefaphysik, Wissenschaff, Skepsis, Ch. IV.
7 Y. Bar-Hillel, 'Husser!'s Conception of a purely Logical Grammar', Philosophy and
Phenomenological Research 17 (1956-57) 362-369.
8 Strangely, Husserl never entered into a critical examination of Brentano's later
9 On this, see W. Stegmiiller, 'Der Phiinomenalismus und seine Schwierigkeiten',
Archiv fur Philosophie 8 (1958), No. 1-2, 36-100.


Max Scheler was the first to put into actual practice the new method of
philosophical inquiry proclaimed by Husserl. What the latter had secured
as the result of long years of philosophical endeavor Scheler utilized as a
stepping-stone for concrete studies and a technique for creative work. His
tremendous versatility embraced the most varied fields - from biology and
psychology to epistemology, ethics and sociology, and on to the most
exalted realms of the philosophy of religion and the most abstract regions
of metaphysics. Gifted with profound insight, he was able in every area
to reveal what was new or to unite divergent lines of historical research
into magnificent syntheses. He has thus left to posterity an extraordinarily
rich philosophical legacy.
Scheler devoted himself to the age-old complex of metaphysical and
religious problems with the same intensity of spiritual commitment that
characterized his constant interest in the living course of events and in the
historical processes leading to the contemporary intellectual situation.
The philosophical development of the epistemologist and metaphysician
of the past generally took the form of an intellectual grappling with
problems. However, for Scheler, as for the great life-philosophers (Lebens-
philosophen), to philosophize meant to exert the whole of one's spiritual
substance, and problems became philosophical as they took full pos-
session existentially of the person who solved them. Scheler's philo-
sophical evolution was at the same time and in the profoundest sense a
spiritual struggle for existence.
It is not possible to trace in detail the development of Scheler's thought
from his pre-phenomenological phase, through his Catholic period, to the
stage of pantheism. We must therefore make a selection from the rich
materials comprising his philosophy and limit ourselves to his ideas on
knowledge, his theory of value and of the person, his phenomenological
investigations of the feeling of sympathy, his philosophy of religion and
his theory of the stratified structure of life. First, however, we shall briefly
characterize his philosophy as a whole.

Although Scheler adopted the method of the Wesensschau from Husserl,

he found inspiration for his positive views elsewhere. Scheler's thought
was largely determined by three poles: life-philosophy (Lebensphilosophie),
German idealism and Christianity. The first of these is responsible for the
central place he accords to the emotional side. It is not spiritual being that
is the truly real aspect of life, but the irrational level of drives and feelings.
This level is the source of the creative forces which drive forward the
course of history and the world, and determine the content of life. But
even in the cognitive domain, and especially at the highest peaks of philo-
sophical intuition, the emotional side - in its spiritualized form, of course
- stilI keeps the upper hand. The true process of philosophical knowledge
is not carried out through conscious intellectual operations; rather, the
philosophical approach that obtains primal knowledge is the loving par-
ticipation of a person's innermost core in the essential reality of things.
These concessions to the world view of life-philosophy, however, ex-
tend only to the point where the spiritual level of being breaks through
into the real world. Scheler utterly repudiates Henri Bergson's efforts to
derive mind from life, and, beyond these, the attempts of Friedrich
Nietzsche and Ludwig Klages to explicate mind as a degenerate form of
life and thus as the adversary of life. At the same time, he rejects the
idealistic constructions according to which the world process of becoming
is the exclusive expression of a universal mind-principle and the uniquely
individual is merely a dependent, abstract, partial aspect of the flowing
stream of the universal mind. Instead, he favors a metaphysical indi-
vidualism, which emphasizes the independence and value as such of the
concrete and existential and denies its derivation from the spiritual-ideal.
Yet the spiritual, for Scheler, is stilI a perfectly autonomous original sphere
oJ being. It is the truly Divine in the world; it alone makes possible a
relation to the Absolute, a grasping of essential natures, the intuiting of
values and thereby an endowing with meaning. Since all true being is
individual, and the more markedly individual it is the higher the rank it
occupies in the being of the world, the spiritual too must therefore be
regarded as individual.
In this way Scheler arrives at the Christian concept of the individual
spirit-person (Geistperson) who acquires meaning in acting lovingly to-
gether with the world-love displayed by God's infinite person, and thus
not in 'love of God' but in 'love in God'. ScheIer's version of the concept

of a person, however, is also determined in part by life-philosophy; for

he eliminates from person the substantial character attributed to it by the
Scholastics and defines it as pure actuality which lives fully and wholly
in each of its acts. The danger here of tending to deify man, along with
the consequent danger of degrading the Absolute into the finite, the
transcendent into immanence, was one of the reasons for the tragic view
of the world that characterized Scheler's later philosophy. According to
this view, two opposed principles collide in man, mind (Geist) and instinct
(Trieb) - principles that can never be joined into a non-problematic unity.
Given Scheler's metaphysical tendency, this conflict had to assume the
form of a struggle between two ultimate, irreducible, original principles.
But there was one specific element of Christian thought that Scheler never
relinquished - the idea of a universal community of love comprising all
individual spirit-persons, and of their shared guilt and mutual respon-
From this conception of the emotional and the spiritual Scheler drew
a number of important consequences. For one thing, the domain of
knowledge was extended far beyond logical or intellectual processes, and
a cognitive function was ascribed to a series of emotive phenomena -
imaginative empathy, love and hate, the feeling of unity, the display of
interest. In particular, knowledge of ethical, aesthetic and religious values
was held to be possible only through emotive acts. The corresponding
task of working out a phenomenology offeelings became especially urgent
for Scheler, since, as a person extremely sensitive to the finest nuances of
emotional life, he found the superficial and undiscriminating distinctions
of traditional psychology altogether inadequate. At the same time, in his
hands the concept of phenomenology underwent a shift, and reduction
ceased to be the purely theoretical affair it was for Russer!' Scheler was
greatly concerned with the problem of relativism both in his epistemo-
logical treatises and in his ethical studies; for although he conceded that
the pragmatism of life-philosophy was in many respects sound, he was
not willing under any circumstances to surrender the absoluteness of the
knowledge of things and values.
Scheler constantly sought to effectuate a synthesis of opposites - relati-
vism and the absolutist viewpoint; theoretical knowledge, which accepts
passively, and knowledge as the active loving apprehension of objects;
individualism and the intuition of unity; the emotional sphere and the

rational; the concord of being and the disunion in the world. We shall
begin our survey with Scheler's reflections on the theory of knowledge.


The a priori element of all philosophical research, Scheler agrees, is the

immediate intuiting of essences and essential relationships. It is phenome-
nology that makes such intuiting possible, by bringing a new realm of
facts to givenness. Phenomenology, as distinguished from induction or
deduction, is not a method in the sense of a procedure for reasoning
about things. Rather, it is a unique way of focussing spiritual intuition,
one which apprehends pure or absolute facts prior to any possibility of
applying a procedure of observation or investigation. Such facts differ
both from those of the naive or natural outlook and from those of
Natural facts originate in the information supplied by sensory know-
ledge about the concrete things of the world, as in the case of the ordinary
approach. A scientific fact differs from natural facts in being more ab-
stract and non-intuitive; the sciences construct processes and things in a
purely conceptual manner so as to be able to derive from them certain
sets of facts. While scientific thinking finally ends up as an operation
with empty, constructed thought-symbols, philosophical consideration
moves away from the world of natural facts in exactly the opposite di-
rection, in that it accepts only that which offers itself as pure, empirically
unclouded fact. By means of such non-symbolic intuiting, philosophy
honors the symbolic 'bills of exchange' which the sciences draw on reality
without ever being able themselves to redeem them, that is, to fulfill them
directly. Thus a phenomenological or pure fact differs from the other two
kinds in several respects. First, all elements of sensation are eliminated
from it and it is not affected by variations in the sensory functions through
which it is actually given. Second, sensory facts have their foundation in
the pure fact and vary as it changes. Finally, the pure fact is entirely
independent of symbols and signs.
Relationships of essences are grounded in pure facts, and either are
purely logical in character (in so far as they involve facts about the essence
in general of an object) or are not purely logical (in so far as the relation-
ships of essences are restricted to particular domains of objects). For

instance, the principle of contradiction, which rests on the incompatibility

of the being and non-being of an object, belongs to the first group; the
self-evident connection between col or and extension belongs to the second.
Intuited pure facts, along with the essential structures they contain, lie
outside the distinction between the general and the particular, which is
introduced by abstractive thinking.
According to Scheler, performance of the phenomenological reduction
requires more than bracketing the posit of existence implicitly made by
the natural outlook on life. Husserl's procedure must be extended to the
emotive sphere and the effort must be made to "suspend as much as
possible all appetitive, instinctive activity". Scheler holds that the know-
ledge about reality or existence contained in the natural picture of the
world is furnished not through sensory or intellectual cognition, but
through volitional functions. In any encounter with the world, an experi-
ence of resistance occurs, and this experience is the source of the reality
concept. Accordingly, to be real is not to be an object, but to be resistance.
The bracketing of reality therefore can be accomplished only by suppressing
all functions of will, striving and attention.
Husserl's epoch€? undergoes transformation in yet another respect.
Scheler maintains that what takes place in epoche is not simply an ex-
clusion but also a liberation - a liberation of the spiritual intuition from
the prejudices of everyday life, which conceal knowledge and block access to
it. Hence whatever obstructs the spirit is to be eliminated so that pure
spiritual apprehension can attain its full effect. Here the method itself
gives advance notice of the boundary line between spirit (or mind) and
life, which plays such an extraordinary role in Scheler's philosophy.
Whereas the instinctual level of life imprisons man as well as animal in
a certain environment (all the constituents of which exist, or are-there,
relative to such a level of instinct), mind is the fundamentally new being
that releases us from the bonds of the environment and makes things known
to us in their pure being-so. Consequently, the philosophical Wesensschau
must endeavor, by overcoming the life-tendencies that obstruct and
disturb a plain view, to induce the mind to flow out to the ideal rela-
tionships of essences. Thus for Scheler, submission to the world is in the
foreground from the very beginning; Husserl, on the other hand, has
consciousness retreating into its own realm - a withdrawal which to
Scheler represents a remnant of that unloving hostility toward the world

which he finds characteristic of the philosophies of Descartes and Kant.

The two opposites - natural or scientific fact, and essence (or pure fact)
- are associated as respective sources of knowledge with the domains of
'life' and 'mind'. Since the empirical sciences deal with the facts of the
real world, hence with facts that contain the voluntaristically based aspect
of reality, the objects they treat are in their essence existentially relative
to the living physical organism. In pursuing this notion, Scheler adopts
a pragmatist position toward the world picture of natural science; in his
view, the only significance of this world picture is that it facilitates the
most comprehensive possible control and direction of nature. It follows
that the cognitive content of the natural sciences, although not relative
to man, is still quite generally relative to a living creature that strives for
effective control over nature. Hence Scheler refers to empirical knowledge
as knowledge for mastery or power.
The pure spiritual intuiting of essences is further distinguished for
Scheler by the fact that here too the emotive element comes into play.
Objectively knowing intuition provides a logical and phenomenological
knowledge of essences; it is free of all non-intellectual functions, but for
just that reason is not the highest degree of knowledge. True enough,
things are given here in their very essence, and the only valid criterion is
the one stated in Spinoza's profound words - "Truth is the criterion for
itself and for what is false". However, insight into the absolute is made
possible only by love as a personal act of the whole man.
It is here that the ontic significance of knowledge finds its most im-
mediate expression as an ultimate, irreducible existential relationship be-
tween two beings, as a direct participation of the knower in the known.
Scheler defines metaphysical knowledge as the love-determined act of par-
ticipation, by the core of a finite human person, in the absolute basis of the
essence of things. Since this spiritual process is the foundation for any
attempt to know absolute essences and since the infinite, real center-of-
acts, as the correlate of all essences, is identical with the idea of God,
then we must at the same time see in this spiritual act the tendency of
man to transcend his natural being and to become like God. Moreover,
since acts cannot be objects!, man's participation in the absolute center-
of-acts, which is achieved in this transcending, can consist only in a joint
performance of the Divine act. And since what is involved is a center of
love, it can consist only in a joint performance of the infinite act of love.

Knowledge of the absolute, which is brought about in this way, Scheler

calls knowledge for salvation or for redemption.
Thus to the three cognitive functions there correspond three kinds of
knowledge: knowledge for mastery, knowledge of essences, knowledge
for salvation.
For the philosophy of the absolute, Scheler outlined a schema of in-
sights arranged in the order of the immediacy of their self-evidence. The
first and most certain insight is that it is not the case that nothing exists,
or, put positively, that something does exist. The eminent certainty of this
proposition is realized only by a person who has, with his spiritual eye,
"looked into the abyss of absolute nothing". The second insight effects
a partition of being by distinguishing between absolute being, or being
that bears its own being within itself without holding it in fee from any-
thing else, and a relative being, one that depends unilaterally on another
being. Knowledge of absolute being is not obtained first and foremost by
means of an inference, such as a proof of God's existence; rather, such
knowledge represents the self-evident insight that if there is anything at
all, there must be an absolute being. The third insight, in the order of
self-evidence, is that all being necessarily possesses a being-so or whatness
(essentia) and a being-there or thatness (existentia). This distinction is
likewise valid within the realm of the real, since there is also an essence
of the real. Therefore reality (RealWit) and being-there (Dasein) are not
With his theory of active commitment, Scheler stands opposed to all
rational metaphysics which, eliminating the dimension of depth from the
abundance and inexhaustible riches of the world, reduces that world to
mere surface and converts the solution of philosophical problems into a
simple exercise in calculation. In his opinion, it is naive beyond measure
to think that being a philosopher requires only the ability to make correct
judgments and inferences about things in general, and that in particular
one can accomplish anything in metaphysics through purely logical oper-
ations without first undergoing a most profound inner upheaval, followed
by a loving active stand taken by the total spiritual core of the person.
Because of Scheler's persistent concern for the rooting of reason in a
deeper ground of being, we are justified in looking on him as a precursor
of the modern philosophy of existence.
At the same time, through his theory of Wissen (knowledge) and

Erkenntnis (cognition), he endeavors to avoid the danger of slipping into

relativism. This is evident in his attempt to provide an ontological clarifi-
cation of the cognitive relation, in the course of which he introduces a
distinction between' Wissen' and' Erkenntnis'. Wissen, viewed ontologic-
ally, is a "relationship of participation by a being A in the being-so of
another being B, where the relation is such that its holding does not
determine any change in B". Thus one essential feature of Wissen is that
in it a being partakes of the being-so of another without this participation
allowing that being to influence the being-so of the other. A second is that
this relationship of participation can extend only to the being-so, not to
the real being-there. For this reason, the real being-there cannot be given
in such a relationship of knowing participation, but only in the experience
of resistance against volitional acts. Erkenntnis is more than Wissen:
Wissen refers in a simple manner to something; Erkenntnis, on the other
hand, is always Wissen about something as something. This means that
in cognition there must always be present two kinds of knowledge. One
is intellectual, the other intuitive; and only if they merge into a unity of
congruence, only if the intuitive 'fills out' the mere thought, is there
knowledge about something as something, that is, cognition. This static
concept of cognition is supplemented by a dynamic one: the former
represents a static unity of congruence between the intuitive and the
intellectual, the latter an active striving of the spirit toward this congru-
ence. If the congruence is attained, the being-so of the known is itself
given, and not merely pictured, as was the case before the attainment of
actual knowledge. Thus cognition is never a picturing. On the contrary,
only in the case of an illusion does a picture or image push in ahead of
the real content of the cognized object, a picture, moreover, that exhibits
features deviating from this content.
Scheler also tries to differentiate his theory of knowledge ontologically
from those of both realism and idealism. Here the decisive thought is
based on a distinction between being-there (Dasein) and being-so
(Sosein). These two aspects of being, in Scheler's view, are not only
distinguishable conceptually; they also differ - and indeed this is their
epistemological relevance - with respect to whether they can be immanent
in consciousness. Being-so can not only exist extra mente; it can also be
immanent in consciousness, and thus exist in mente - in immediate given-
ness and not merely through some symbolic representation. Thatness,

however, can never exist in mente; it is and remains transcendent to

Now according to Scheler the error of idealist and realist epistemolo-
gies is that they fail to recognize the separability of being-there and
being-so, and instead hold these two to be inseparable. Hence both episte-
mologies are wrong. Idealism rightly holds that the being-so of an object
is itself immanent in consciousness and is not represented by pictorial
surrogates. But since idealism regards being-so as inseparable from being-
there, it concludes that the latter too must be immanent in consciousness
and that consequently there is no reality that transcends consciousness.
In turn, realism correctly asserts that all being-there is transcendent with
respect to consciousness. Yet since it also looks on being-there and being-
so as inseparable, it concludes that all being-so transcends consciousness
and hence can be given consciously only in symbols or images. Thus
idealism necessarily ends up in subjectivism and relativism, since it must
make the nature of the known depend on how the knowing subject hap-
pens to be organized. And realism inevitably results in skepticism, since,
if the essence of knowing is picturing, we can compare pictures only with
other pictures, never with the originals, and therefore cannot possess any
criterion of truth. In Scheler's view, these shattering consequences can be
avoided only through the above-mentioned ontological distinction, which
yields an epistemology "this side of realism and idealism".


Scheler's richest works are those devoted to the study of emotional phe-
nomena. In these writings he traces out in a most sensitive way essential
distinctions in the area offeeling, instinct and volition. His analyses are of
special importance methodologically, for they represent the first appli-
cation of the phenomenological method to purely empirical material. As
such they have furnished fruitful examples to Jaspers, Lersch and other
Not content with the artificial and distinction-effacing division of
feelings into desire and aversion, Scheler seeks by the analysis of essences
to reveal the kinds of feeling-relations that occur in human intercourse.
In so doing, he distinguishes: imitative feeling (Nachfiihlen), feeling-with-
one-another (Miteinanderfiihlen), empathy (Mitgefiihl), feeling-as-one

(Einsfiihlung), contagious spread of feeling (psychischer Ansteckung),

and love and hate.
An imitative feeling is an act in which we grasp or understand the
mental state of another. Hence this act conditions all forms of sympathy.
In order to have compassion (Mitleid) for someone, we must first be
aware of his or her suffering. This suffering does not itself come to
givenness in our act of compassion; on the contrary, it must already have
been given for the act of compassion to be directed toward it. It is there-
fore impossible to avoid assuming a prior act of feeling on which know-
ledge of the other person's suffering is grounded. Although the quality
of the other person's feeling is given in the act of imitative feeling, this
does not mean that in the process his feeling passes over into our own
self. Therefore, we can feel-for a person without having genuine sympathy
for him. On the other hand, what is involved in this situation is not
merely a theoretical argument by analogy from the physical to the mental
based on experience; rather, because of the unity of mind and body we
are able to comprehend the body of the other person as the field of direct
expression of his experiences. Thus we directly perceive joy in a smile,
shame in a blush, sorrow in a tear.
A feeling-with-one-another is a like-directed feeling on the part of
several persons, in which the feeling of the others is taken up into one's
own feeling but without having assumed the character of an object.
Scheler cites the example of a father and mother who, standing before
the body of a beloved child, feel with each other a common sorrow. This
'with-one-another-ness' is something ultimate and irreducible, which can-
not be resolved into the separate feeling of each plus a mutual awareness
by each of the other's feeling. Only in the higher domains of the spirit
is this form of sympathy encountered: there is no such thing as a 'common
lust' or a 'common pain'.
In the case of empathy or feeling-with, however, the suffering of the
other person has become an object, and this fact presupposes an act of
imitative feeling as a foundation. An act of empathy is intentionally
directed toward the other's suffering; it intends or means that suffering
as the suffering of another, and is therefore not a mere repetition of it
which occurs in its presence. If that were all, then Nietzsche would have
been right in rejecting compassion as a phenomenon of decadence. Ac-
cording to Scheler, however, Nietzsche failed to see the difference between

a contagious spread of feeling (in the present case, a mere repetition of

the suffering) and compassion with the suffering of another person, in
which the original suffering differs altogether in quality from the act of
compassion directed toward it.
In contrast to imitative feeling and empathy, a contagious spread of
feeling lacks intentional character; in contrast to feeling-with-one-another
it lacks, in addition, the element of sharing in the experience of others.
What is involved here is a transfer to one's own self of the feeling-states
of others, which does not presuppose any knowledge at all of their ex-
perience. An example is the way the gaiety or sadness of a group spreads
to a newcomer. When such feelings spread, a mutual intensification of
them may take place, as in the case of mass agitation or even, for that
matter, the formation of public opinion.
At the highest point of contagion, the boundary between one's own
self and that of others becomes blurred, and a feeling-as-one results, in
which one mental being identifies itself with another. Here the main
emphasis may be either on the other self ('living in another') or on one's
own self ('absorption of the other'). The phenomenon of feeling-as-one
is found under a variety of circumstances - in primitive thought and
feeling, in religious mystery cults, in hypnosis, in the sexual act, in the
spiritual ties of mother and child. Without exception, the various forms
of this feeling occur automatically. They appear only when both the
lowest level of man (the physical realms of sensation and feeling) and his
highest (the noetic level of mind and reason) are blotted out. Thus in
Einsfiihlung one is obliged heroically to lift himself above concern for his
own body and at the same time to forget his spiritual individuality. Hence
every tendency to extremes (e.g., war) is at once a process of heroizing
and stupefying the individual. The experience of fusion, in feeling-as-one,
is evidence of a unified universal-life (All-Leben) that encompasses indi-
viduals. This universal-life, however, is valid only for the vital sphere.
It cannot be taken as the basis for a general pantheistic view, since in the
other forms of sympathy, and particularly in love and hate, we experience
an absolute distance between individual persons. 2 Hence empathy does
not signify that single persons are simply modes of a supra-personal
spirit; on the contrary, empathy is an indicator of the sheer difference in
essence of persons.
Finally, love and hate are two completely unique, spontaneous acts,

which represent a radiance that is invariant with respect to changes in

reciprocal mood and feeling. Love causes the authentic value of the loved
object to fulgurate and, in love for a person, exposes the personal spiritual
core of the loved one while at the same time revealing the impassable
boundary of the other's area of absolute privacy. Contrary to the familiar
saying, love is the act that really makes us see. It causes persons as well
as things to shine forth in the light of their full value, so that the more
capable we are of love the more meaningful does the world become for
us. Acts of love and hate differ in the greatest degree from feeling-as-one,
and are therefore least indicative of an encompassing universal spirit.
Yet it is in these acts that the other person attains his authentic reality
as another - appearing in an individuality, that differs (in its being-so)
from one's own self, and with an inherent value as the self of another who
finds in love a warm and complete affirmation.
That man is a community being does not therefore mean that he must
be thought of as a constituent part of some 'whole'. Rather, it signifies
that there is anchored in him an infinite multiplicity of social acts that
await fulfillment in the person nearest to him. In these acts, the other
person himself is directly given. It is not true that the existence solely of
one's own self is absolutely certain, and that the existence of another's
self can be determined only in a roundabout way. On the contrary, in
inner perception (which Scheler sharply distinguishes from self-perception
directed to the 'I'), the being ofanother is given with immediate self-evidence.
Indeed, Scheler ultimately goes so far as to put the self-evidence of 'Thou'
above the certainty given in self-perception. For like Hobbes, he regards
self-awareness as signifying the perception of one's own self but in such
fashion that the 'I' is perceived as if it were another person.


1. The Problem of Value

In his ethics, Scheler seeks to demonstrate that the objectivity of morals

can be established only if we assume the existence of a realm of values
independent of human value judgments. In opposition to the formal
ethics of Kant, which attempts to derive the absolute validity of moral
imperatives from a formal (i.e., content-less) moral law, Scheler advances

an ethics of non-formal or material values, which proceeds from values

defined in terms of content.
Like Brentano, Scheler ties the grounding of moral knowledge to the
emotions, but he is repelled by Brentano's analogy between acts of
preference and theoretical judgments. According to Scheler, the true
situation is just the opposite of that described by Brentano: an object is
called valuable not because the love directed to it is seen to be correct;
rather, love can be seen to be correct only because a value shines forth
from its intentional object. We acquire the concepts of 'good' and 'evil'
not by reflecting on these acts of love and hate but through their fulfill-
ment, in which the goodness or badness of something is directly given.
In addition, Brentano is unable to explain the diversity of qualities, such
as 'noble', 'distinguished', 'pure', 'kindly', 'righteous', and the like.
Scheler's real struggle, however, is waged against Kant's ethics, which
he regards as the mortal foe. Kant begins with the thesis that an ethics of
ends, goods or values inevitably leads to relativism; for such an ethics
bases its moral valuation on whatever is seen as an end or good, and this
depends on notions of pleasure and aversion that vary from individual
to individual and from people to people. The absolute character and
universal validity of morality can be guaranteed only by a formal princi-
ple, a principle free from content, which tells us that we ought to do what
every rational person in the same situation must will if world order is to
be maintained.
Of the many objections made by Scheler to Kant's ethical theory, we
select four of the most important for discussion:
(1) Critique offormalism: Scheler concedes that Kant is correct as far
as an ethics of goods or ends is concerned. But not so with respect to an
ethics of non-formal or material values, which Kant conflates with an
ethics of goods or ends. Value qualities, such as 'lovely', 'charming', 'beauti-
ful' and the like, can be ascertained directly in things. These qualities are
completely independent of our opinions or judgments, and are located in
a world of values with its own laws of dependency and rank. Just as we can
be aware of color qualities as such, without apprehending them as
covering physical surfaces, so too we can be aware of values as objects.
This is not to say that values can be derived from any other fixed traits
of things. Values are not the product of a process of abstraction. A single
action or a single person suffices for us to perceive in it or in him the

essence of a value or a disvalue ('brave', 'distinguished', 'common'). Nor

is knowledge of values grounded in value-free cognition: we do not first
apprehend pure things and later associate some value idea with them.
On the contrary, value-free apprehension of things is always an artificial
product of abstraction, as may be seen in the approach of the natural
scientist. Indeed, as a rule, knowledge of values precedes the more exact
factual knowledge. Thus we perceive a picture as beautiful even though
we do not know in which of its characteristics beauty resides; we find a
person disagreeable without being able to associate this evaluation with
specific qualities of the person. In the final analysis, the primacy of
knowledge of values over purely theoretical comprehension rests ultimately
on the fact that acts of love and of displaying interest are the bearers of
all other acts (representation, judgment, perception, memory).
It is therefore incorrect to claim that only a formal law can be inde-
pendent of arbitrary subjective choice. Phenomenological analysis reveals
the existence of a self-subsistent, thoroughly objective realm of values.
We may classify these values from the most varied points of view: person-
values may be distinguished from thing-values; the values of the selJfrom
the values of other selves; values of acts (of knowledge, love, will) from
values of reactions (e.g., sympathy); values of reflection from those of
conduct or of consequences; intentional values from values of states (values
of mere experiences); foundation values from values of relation (e.g., the
values of a person as differentiated from the values of the community
relation established by him); individual values from collective values (the
values of individuals as members of a collective, e.g., a profession); in-
trinsic values from instrumental values (the value of a tool, say).
Person-values are the highest. They cannot be realized by deliberately
striving for them. Anyone who makes such an attempt is a Pharisee, and
hence renders impossible any attainment of values. Scheler expresses this
thought in the following words: moral values lie not in the goal but behind
the intending act. Thus a person who behaves lovingly toward another
actualizes the value of being loving not because he tries to do so - for
in that case he would simply be aspiring to see himself decked out with
the predicate 'loving' - but because he is wholly devoted to the other
person and is accordingly directed toward quite different values (e.g., the
happiness and joy of the person closest to him).
(2) Critique of subjectivism: As a phenomenologist, Scheler naturally

cannot share Kant's doctrine that the a priori is a product of subjectivity,

which generates the laws of nature in the theoretical realm and itself lays
down the law in the practical realm. Rather the a priori, in Scheler's view,
comprises all the facts about essences that as such are intuitively given,
quite independently of the particular nature and make up of the thinking
subject. Kant's theory of the ordering activity of theoretical and practical
reason has as its presupposition an erroneous, mechanistic view of man.
Only if man is assumed to be a Humean 'bundle of perceptions' in the
realm of theory and an Hobbesian 'bundle of instincts' in the realm of
practice does an ordering factor like reason appear necessary. But what
distinguishes every truly great moral personality is precisely the fact that
he does not need any forcible intervention of moral will in instinctual life.
Such a personality is already so in tune with the objective order of values
that the operation of instinct, as conditioned by the situation, automatic-
ally corresponds to the hierarchy of values.
(3) Critique of rationalism: Scheler reproves Kant for the further error
of excluding the entire sphere of the emotions from ethical knowledge.
In Scheler's view, values are accessible only to acts of experiencing value,
and the ranking of values is given in special acts ofpreference. These latter,
however, are definitely acts of knowledge, not merely acts of choice. A
purely logical, rational being would not know what 'value' means. More-
over, since the apprehension of values carries with it all other appre-
hension, it follows once more that all knowledge in the end is grounded
in the emotions. And it is love that reveals the world most profoundly;
for the highest values of the person are accessible only to love.
A special problem for ethics is the arrangement of values in the order
of rank. Every situation in which we are required to make a decision
involves reaching out for the higher value. Scheler believes that there are
five general criteria that serve to distinguish higher values from lower
ones. Values are higher (i) the more lasting they are 3; (ii) the less they
need to be divided up for enjoyment of them to be shared (e.g., the value
of a work of art as contrasted with the value of means of subsistence) 4;
(iii) the less they are based on other values; (iv) the more deeply they
satisfy; and (v) the less relative they are to a type of feeling dependent
upon the specific way in which nature is organized (e.g., the values of the
religious man as opposed to values in the sense of the humanly useful).
(4) The critique of absolutism and rigorism: Kant thought it obvious

that the absoluteness of morality and its universal validity are identical.
This Scheler challenges categorically. In a given situation, it is entirely
possible for me to do something that is good just for me, but not for
anyone else in the same position. Scheler coins the phrase 'the good-in-
itself-for-me' to describe such a situation. This formula contains neither
a concealed relativism nor a logical contradiction. What it means is that
the relation to particular real individuals is already included in the objec-
tive ordering of values by rank. Hence the absolute character of values
and the irreplaceable, peculiar significance of individual persons do not
cancel each other out; the good-in-itself embraces the unique 'demand of
the moment'. What is true of individual persons holds likewise for com-
munities, especially peoples. They too are obliged, at the point in history
that they occupy, to fulfill their own special task.
The thoughts here expressed in reference to ethics are intended to bring
relativism into harmony with the viewpoint of absolutism. Scheler carries
the same ideas over into the domain of theoretical knowledge by means
of the notion of individually valid world outlooks.

2. The Essence of the Person

The concept of Person, which we have already encountered several times,
is one of the most fundamental categories of Scheler's philosophy. Here
he opposes both the medieval scholastic conception of substance and the
Kantian doctrine. According to the latter, a Person may be thought of
only as the undetermined X of some sort of rational activity. The correct
kernel of this view, in Scheler's opinion, is the insight that Person signifies
neither a thing nor a substance; the mistake, however, is the recourse
again to an empty, formal, universally valid schema and the identification
of Person with it.
Scheler holds that the starting-point for a positive solution lies in the
theory of acts. In phenomenological contemplation we can investigate the
essences of the various acts (judgment, representation, love, and so forth).
The question then arises: Since the natural organization of a given bearer
of acts (a human being, say) must be excluded if essences are to be ob-
tained at all, what is it then which, quite independent of this organization,
binds the essences of the acts into a unity? That factor of unity is the
Person, which Scheler defines as the "concrete, essential ontic unity of acts
of essentially different kinds". It is of central importance that the acts be

heterogeneous in nature; for where individuals perform acts of the same

kind, no problem of Person would exist. Hence the Aristotelian God as
thinking-that-thinks-itselfis also not a Person. A Person is the foundation
for the essences of acts in so far as he represents the precondition for their
becoming concrete, for their conversion into being. Because he has the
character of a foundation, a Person cannot be defined merely as a re-
lationship of acts. At the same time, however, he is not an ever present,
substantial thing which each individual takes with himself wherever he
goes. Indeed, a Person is not something above or behind acts; rather, he
exists and experiences himself only in the performance of acts. The Person
always remains whole in each concrete act without dissolving into the act.
Accordingly, from act to act there is a constant variation, a genuine
'becoming-different' of the total Person. By means of this notion of the
Person forever becoming something else, Scheler seeks to avoid the two
extremes of the rationalist's construct of substance and the life-philo-
sopher's dissolution of being into pure becoming.
It is of the essence of an act that it is given only in its performance and
in the reflection that accompanies it but does not objectivize it. 5 Hence
acts do not admit of being objects. Even less is a Person a possible object
of cognitive acts. Consequently, a Person is something quite different
from the 'I' which can always be apprehended as an object of inner per-
ception. Because all Persons transcend objectivization, other Persons,
including the absolute Person God, can be knowingly apprehended only
inperjorming their acts with them. For this reason, it is impossible to have
a science of Persons; they elude the grasp of psychological research.
According to Scheler, the being of Persons can in no way be regarded as
something mental, since the mental can always be objectivized. On the
contrary, Persons are psychophysically neutral. They themselves do not
live in time, even though they perform their acts in phenomenal time.
What distinguishes Persons from one another is their mere being-so,
which cannot be further generalized. Here Scheler reaches Plato's notion
that essences are eo ipso general. The idea of an individual, e.g., Goethe,
is by its nature individual, and hence bars any possibility of repetition.
The idea of absolutely unique Persons, differing in essence and being-so,
contains at the same time a principle of value. This principle asserts that
a being ranks higher the more individual, unrepeatable and personal it is -
not, as organismic and universalistic philosophies contend, the more it

belongs to some higher whole. Nevertheless, Persons are essentially social;

they are directed toward other Persons. But the social sphere confronts
an ultimate sphere of intimacy or inwardness in the Person, which is in-
accessible even to the purest and deepest love.
The principle of solidarity, derived from the experience of total co-
responsibility of each Person for all other Persons, gives rise to the
concept of the Total Person (a church, a nation). Together with com-
munity and society, this concept represents a unique form of unity of
spiritual individuals. Since each Total Person itself can in turn be, rela-
tively, a single Person, the notion emerges of a hierarchy of Persons, a
pyramid whose apex must necessarily be the absolute Person who cannot
be a member of any higher Total Person, namely, God.
Scheler obtains the concept of God also from another aspect of his
theory of Persons. Acts are correlated with intentional objects, the unity
of acts with the unity of objects. The former unity is called 'Person', the
latter 'world'.6 Now the unity of all possible objects, that is, the total
world order, is never given to a finite spiritual being. The existence of
this totality therefore requires - by reason of the mutual correspondence
of act and object - the existence of a correlated Person, and this can be
none other than God.
In an effort to bring the theory of Persons into relationship with the
theory of value, Scheler outlines an ideal system of pure types of Persons-
of-value. These types are ranked as follows: (i) saint, (ii) genius, (iii) hero,
(iv) guiding spirit and (v) artist. In addition, for each Person as a spiritual
being God has created and roughly sketched out an individual value
portrait. By gazing at this picture, a Person grasps his essential value for
which there is no surrogate and which contains the 'ought' that is indi-
vidually valid for him in all of life's activities.


Scheler seeks to resolve the problem of metaphysical knowledge of God

and its relation to religious knowledge by invoking certain conceptual
distinctions as to the various ways of knowing the absolute. He finds that
there are three different kinds of knowledge of God: the rational meta-
physical, the natural and the positive.
Rational metaphysical knowledge of God does not rely on instances of

specifically religious knowledge. Consequently, it is restricted to a few

fundamentals. The knowledge that is rationally obtainable within the
confines of a so-called natural theology is much less according to Scheler
than according to the traditional scholastic doctrine. Basically, what is
rationally knowable is simply that all being divides into relative being and
absolute being (ens a se). The latter first becomes visible by virtue of the
fact that in our relative being we also discern our relative non-being, and
through this we intuit both the absolute and the grounding of all that is
relative in the absolute. Thus the absolute becomes the first cause of all
other being, the supreme cause of the world, while the world itself pre-
serves its character of contingent being, of ens ab aUo. This, however, is
as far as cogent metaphysical knowledge reaches; it either remains hypo-
thetical or already presupposes the two other specifically religious kinds
of knowledge of God. All determinations of the content of the absolute
fall outside the limits of rational metaphysics, in particular the under-
standing that the absolute is to be conceived of as a personal God and
hence as the highest good or summum bonum.
Both the natural and the positive knowledge of God can be achieved
only through a religious act. Such an act has a thoroughly unique, spiritual
quality that can neither be reduced to any other mental phenomena nor
be described in any other way than by specifying the kind of objects given
in the act. These objects are Divine in character, and the Divine is always
given as absolutely existing and holy.
The first of these two characteristics may be grasped, at least in part,
by reason. The meaning of 'holy', however, can not be elucidated at all
on a purely rational plane without the performance of a religious act.
Characteristics like mind, reason, will, love and the like may afterwards
be transferred by analogy to the Divine Being as apprehended in a re-
ligious act. According to scholastic doctrine, it is possible to obtain know-
ledge of these qualities of God in rational metaphysics through the exer-
cise of pure reason. But for Scheler, such knowledge is based ultimately
on religious acts; not until the Divine Being is given as absolute and holy
through the medium of a religious act can we, by analogy, apply these
characterizations. From the standpoint of the individual who performs
the religious act, however, these characterizations do not signify any
enrichment of content, since they only emphasize aspects the significance
of which is already grasped in the religious act.

Nevertheless, if founded on a religious knowledge of God, the analogy

theory may be pursued as rational science in the sense of a discipline that
sets itself the goal of so conceiving the essence of the Divine that the
world becomes the revelation of this essence. What is involved here is a
'quasi-inference' from the essential features of the world to God. It is a
quasi-inference in that it does not proceed from the world back to its
'cause', but is grounded in the symbolic reflection of God in the essential
structure of the world. On this basis, we may by analogy infer many of
God's characteristics, especially those related to the dimensions of
number, time, space and magnitude, which govern the world: absolute
uniqueness, eternity or supratemporality (as distinct from sempiternity in
the sense of duration throughout all time), ubiquity and immeasurability.
Finally, God's immanence in the world (,Immanentio Dei in Mundo'),
the existence of God 'in' all other existents, is likewise part of the essence
of Divinity. It is only because of this immanence, this presence of God
in all beings - which must be sharply separated from its converse, a pan-
theistic immanence of the world in God - that God can also be omniscient
and all-powerful.
Two features in particular differentiate authentic religious knowledge
of God from the knowledge proffered by rational metaphysics. First,
religious knowledge is always grounded in revelation; second, in it alone
and not in rational metaphysics is God given as a Person. There is no
such thing as rational knowledge of God as a Person, according to
Scheler. Indeed, it can be seen rationally why this is so: while all other
beings do nothing either to help or to hinder their becoming known,
knowledge of a Person depends also on the object of that knowledge,
hence on the Person himself. Now finite Persons can conceal their essence
and appear as other than they are. But since they are tied to bodies, they
cannot hide their being-there. But this is something that the divine absolute
Person can do. He can not only suppress his words, like finite beings;
be can also suppress or conceal his existence. Hence it is a voluntary,
spiritual act on the part of God when he bends down to the level of finite
creatures and allows himself to be known as a Person. Religious cog-
nition of God is therefore always knowledge through God, in the sense
that this knowledge comes about by virtue of the activity not of the
knower alone, but of the known object, in this instance God Himself.
Yet a religious act, for Scheler, is not something that a man may

perform or not. The truth is that every human being, whether he wishes
to acknowledge it or not, performs such acts; for their performance is
essentially bound up with the being of all finite spirits as such. This does
not mean, however, that a belief in God is present in every spiritual
creature. The fact is that the higher the type of the spiritual act, the greater
are the dangers of delusion that lie in it. Such dangers are greatest in the
case of religious acts. Here the delusion consists in the circumstance that
some finite good (monetary value, love, knowledge or the like) comes to
be 'deified'. Atheism thus has its ground not in a faulty knowledge of
God stemming from failure to perform a religious act, but in a persistent
delusion as to the object of the religious act. We may therefore lay down
the following universal law of essences: every finite spirit believes either
in God or in an idol.
These are the features that distinguish metaphysical from religious
knowledge of God. In turn the latter, founded on religious acts and on
revelation, divides into the natural and the positive. Natural knowledge
of God is completely non-historical; any finite object or process may form
the point of departure for a natural revelation of God. On the other hand,
positive knowledge of God is always historical; it is tied to the existence of
certain individuals who appear throughout the history of mankind, the
'homines religiosi' or 'saints'. A mere teacher of salvation provides no
more than the theoretical content of a doctrine; in the case of the saint,
on the contrary, it is the Person himself who is decisive. Thus revelation
is anchored also in a peculiar ontic relationship between human beings
and the saintly Person - in having faith in the saint and in following him.
This conceptual characterization of positive knowledge of God is valid
quite independently of whether, where and when such a revelation is
actually realized historically. Natural knowledge of God is completed and
perfected by means of positive knowledge of God; but the acquisition of
natural knowledge does not presuppose positive knowledge. Thus natural
knowledge stands between the rational metaphysical and the positive: it
goes further than the rational metaphysical in that it grasps more of the
essence of God than can be rationally comprehended; but it does not
go so far as to become a positive, historically transmitted religion of
Scheler calls his theory of the relationship between metaphysics and
religion a system of conformity. This expression is intended to emphasize

that the two domains, despite their autonomy and dissimilarity, are bound
together in a higher unity. They differ in regard to object, act and values
known: the religious object cannot be characterized with respect to other
finite objects before it is grasped; the religious act cannot be reduced to
other mental or spiritual activities (representation, judgment, feeling,
volition and the like); the religious value of a saint is fundamentally
different from all merely ethical values. Metaphysical knowledge is a more
spontaneous activity of reason, religious knowledge more a passive re-
ception. Metaphysical knowledge is linked only to a specifically philo-
sophical 'thrust'; religious knowledge is bound up, in addition, with cer-
tain personal and moral conditions (anyone who 'lives by his belly' cannot
attain religious knowledge). Metaphysical knowledge can be presented in
clear concepts and formulated in clear propositions; religious thought is
confined to symbol and metaphor (else it could be translated into the
metaphysical, which, however, is impossible because the two are so
different). As to degree of certainty, metaphysics contains only two propo-
sitions that are absolutely certain - that there is an ens a se and that it is
the prima causa of the world. All other metaphysical findings, however,
remain hypothetical, whereas religious knowledge is self-evident at all
points - there is no 'hypothetical belief' analogous to hypothetical
rational knowledge.
A difference also exists with respect to the final goal. Metaphysics is
primarily an inquiry into ultimately real, or absolute, being. Religious
knowledge, on the other hand, is directed toward the summum bonum,
since the religious way is above all a way of salvation and not a way of
knowledge. Accordingly, there is also a difference in the subjective aspect
of God: the God of religion is a living God, presented through the anthro-
pomorphic traits of anger, love, forgiveness and so forth; the God of
metaphysics is a rigid, supratemporal being, none of whose properties can
be established on the analogy of temporal acts and processes. A final
difference is in the type of Person who provides knowledge of God. The
metaphysician is an investigator; he transmits knowledge by doctrine and
instruction, and the sociological form in which this transmittal takes
place is the school. The corresponding type of Person in the domain of
religion is the saint; the transmittal of knowledge is accomplished through
example and imitation, and the appropriate sociological form is the

These differences do not prevent the conformity and in the end the
unity of metaphysics and religion. Such unity is based on insight into the
unity of the human spirit according to which religious and metaphysical
knowledge cannot contradict one another, and further on insight into the
existential identity of the intentional objects of religion and metaphysics.
For it must be taken as a priori true that the salvation or damnation of
all things, man included, depends on the absolutely real, and that, on the
other hand, the absolutely holy is at the same time the absolutely real.
This identity of intentional objects exists along with the dissimilarity of
the paths by which religion and metaphysics arrive at the object. Religion
proceeds from the absolutely holy, which is subsequently shown to be the
absolutely real; metaphysics starts with the absolutely real, and then
shows it to be that which leads man to salvation.
Metaphysics and religion are thus intended to be complementary. To
be sure, even the two together give an inadequate picture of the Divine.
Yet this picture is more complete than would result from a one-sided
absolutization of either of these two forms in which the Divine is
given. The true God is not as empty and rigid as the God of meta-
physics; but He is also not as intimate and alive as the God of simple
It is Scheler's thought that in this system of conformity metaphysics
and religion should reach out their hands freely, with neither domain
spiritually violating the other. Religion is not just a first step toward true
metaphysical knowledge of God, a mere 'metaphysics of the people' (as
German idealism would have it); nor is metaphysics a preliminary stage
to religion. Scheler rejects even that 'partial identity' assumed in Thomistic
Catholic doctrine, which accords metaphysics and religion a common
foundation. He understands 'conformity' in the sense indicated and not
in that of identity, albeit partial.
Later these theories about God were largely abandoned. Scheler's
metaphysical ens a se absorbed the religious one; the absolute was stripped
of its character as a Personality, and was seen to reveal a tragic, primal
cleavage between a powerful but blind principle of drive or urge (Drang)
and an ordering but impotent spirit. The source of the split was the
conflict-laden world, itself now interpreted as the process of becoming
or realizing God, a process whose difficulties and problems are concen-
trated above all in the 'heart of man'.



In his final work, Scheler sought to sketch a cosmological anthropology

which would define man's special position in the universe by means of
a richer schema of life levels, a schema deviating from the usual arrange-
ment in its radical separation of 'nature' and 'mind'. His aim also was
to overcome the contradiction between the scientific concept of man as
but a small facet of the animal kingdom distinguished solely by a greater
complexity, and the essence-concept of man, which marks him off sharply
from all animal-like creatures. Scheler's views, which refer to all real
being above the level of inorganic nature, rest on the presupposition that
the domain of the living coincides with that of the mental, that whatever
is alive therefore possesses a being-for-itself or inward being (Innesein),
and that any living thing that partakes of a higher essential form likewise
bears within itself the lower forms.
The first essential form is the non-conscious feeling-urge (Gefiihlsdrang)
characteristic of plants. This urge is an undifferentiated unity of drive and
feeling, and lacks any element of sensation or idea. All that is factually
present here are movements 'toward' or 'away from', objectless desire or
objectless pain. The feeling-urge is the sole principle in plants; but even
at the highest peaks of intellectual activity, it still remains the fuel, the
emotional force, which sustains and drives forward all creative work. 7
The absence of sensations in plants is explained by the fact that the
former are needed only by living things that are self-moving. In Scheler's
behavioristic definition, sensations involve a specific feed-back, to some
center, of information about a living being's state of motion and organic
state at a given moment for the purpose of modifying the movements
that follow in the next moment. Plants get along quite well without
sensations to function as an 'outside guard'. Likewise, plants lack 'memo-
ry' in any sense other than that the present state of the organism depends
on its entire past history; by the same token, they also lack that capacity
to learn possessed by even the most primitive of animals. Of all the life-
drives of animals, plants display only the urges for nourishment, growth
and propagation, all of which, however, are held in suspension in the
vague unity of the feeling-urge.
That plants do not spontaneously search for food, nor actively choose

sex partners (but are fertilized through wind and animals) is taken as
proof that, contrary to Nietzsche, the will to power is not the essence of
The feeling-urge in plants is entirely outer-directed, or 'ecstatic', and
there is no reflective turning back of life upon itself. Yet we do encounter
some very primitive forms of expression, that is, certain patterns of in-
ternal states such as being fresh, exhausted, vigorous, poor and the like.
On the other hand, the function of communication is altogether missing.
Like the principle of power, the principle of utility also breaks down.
Indeed, the tremendous multiplicity of colors and shapes points rather to
the presence in the obscure roots of life of a principle that is full offantasy
and play and is only aesthetically regulative. Because of the undifferen-
tiated nature of their vital functions and because they are directly em-
bedded in the whole stream of life, plants, of all living creatures, are least
like machines. But as the organism becomes increasingly hierarchical in
structure and is composed more and more of organic parts and their
functions, the higher types of life begin to approach the structure of a
The second essential form, which occupies the next level above feeling-
urge, is instinct. By this is meant behavior that is objectively significant
and thus serves the purposes of the individual bearer of life or of other
living beings, that proceeds rhythmically, that is inflexibly fitted to generic
types of situations, that is inborn and inheritable, and hence is not modi-
fiable by trials or experiments but is already perfected in advance. When
it is confronted by new or unusual kinds of situations, however, instinct
fails altogether.
As separate sensations, ideas and drives gradually emerge from the
total complex of rigorously ordered behavior, as the individual is liberated
from the bonds of species, instinct begins to disintegrate. Practical in-
telligence and associative memory develop simultaneously, the former
converting the rigidity of instinct into more mobile and individual-related
forms, the latter mechanizing the automatic process of instinct and trans-
forming it so as to admit of greater, sense-free (Le., non purpose-serving)
possibilities of combination.
Associative memory denotes a slow and steadily more significant shaping
of be havi or where the result is strictly dependent on the number of trials.
It is a necessary precondition that there be a propensity to repeat com-

bined with something that is lacking in plants, namely, a feed-back of the

outcome to the life center. Through this feed-back principle, it becomes
possible for a living thing to adapt to situations encountered that are not
generic in type, that is, to individual types of situations.
Practical intelligence, the fourth essential form of life, represents be-
havior which, with respect to entirely new situations (i.e., neither generic
nor individual in type), is abrupt, independent of the number of test trials
and significant. Such behavior occurs, e.g., in the case of anthropoid apes.
This raises the question: Is man simply a more developed animal or,
in his case, does a principle emerge that is quite different from the pre-
ceding essential forms, one that cannot be derived from them? Were man
a mere tool-maker (homo faber), there would be no ground to assume
such a new principle. The difference between an inventor like Edison 8
and an anthropoid ape would then be one only of degree, not of essence.
Regarding mere tool-making mankind, Scheler goes so far even as to
accept Nietzsche's formula that man is a 'sick animal'. For, a creature
that takes pride in its work of fashioning tools must indeed appear highly
ridiculous, since it is simply labelling as an advantage the very deficiencies
and unfittedness to the environment that render tool-making necessary in
the first place.
As a matter of fact, Scheler believes he can establish the special position
of man in the world on the basis of an ontic level of a new kind, the level
of spirit. In his theory of Persons, Scheler had referred to the psycho-
physically neutral Person as a spiritual being; now he undertakes to
provide an essential demarcation between spirit and mere life. Animals,
even the most intelligent of them, remain fixed in a particular environ-
mental structure in which nothing is given them as offering resistance to
their cravings and aversions except that which is relevant to instinct.
Spirit, on the other hand, liberates itself from this pressure of the organic
and bursts out of the narrow surrounding shell. Bondage to the environ-
ment is replaced by freedom from it - 'Weltoffenheit'. Now things can be
comprehended in their being-there and being-so, independent of the
instinctual state of the beholder. For the first time, a living being gains
entry into the realm of ideal essences, which constitute, as it were, a window
into the absolute; he recognizes the necessary as against the merely con-
tingent. Self-consciousness, the capacity for an active, conscious turning
back upon one's self, develops as a correlate to the consciousness of

objects. However, Scheler still insists that spiritual beings as such are
pure actuality, incapable of being objects.
Here a thought comes into play that is important for the transfor-
mation of Scheler's outlook. In his psychological and especially in his
sociological studies, the idea becomes more and more crystallized that
the spiritual itself is absolutely impotent and helpless, and can exercise
nothing more than a negative, circumscribing, inhibiting and disinhibiting
function with respect to the authentically positive but blind forces of the
level of life. This lower level is the strong one, the lofty and sense-endow-
ing level is the weak one; an absolute spirit would at the same time be a
principle of absolute weakness. Consequently, the stream of world forces
runs from below upward, and not the other way around. Applied to
mankind, this signifies that a specifically spiritual activity, an apprehension
of the essence of beings, is possible only by inhibiting and suppressing the
instincts. It is solely as an 'ascetic in living' that man can attain his peculiar
place in the world.
On this view of the concept of spirit, the assumption of a personal,
transcendent, spiritual yet all-powerful God is no longer tenable. If the
world is dominated by the struggle between instinct and spirit, if the
instinctual is the truly creative factor and the spirit exercises nothing but
a passive, ordering function, then the absolute itself cannot be regarded
as something complete or finished. Instead, we must suppose a split to
exist within absolute being between a blind, primal urge and spirit. These
two in their opposition react upon one another and produce world
history as the outcome of their struggle. In man, spirit is detached from
urge, and primal being finds its way back to itself. Thus, to become man
is at the same time to become God.
In Scheler's final metaphysical phase, we may choose to see either a
fall from the heights of his Christian faith, or a sobering disenchantment
with and liberation from the ideas of religion. Scheler himself, in any
event, did not perceive in this pantheism-of-becoming the dismal pessi-
mism that others found in it. And his ardent affirmation of being could
not be destroyed even by the ultimate tragedy rooted in the circumstance
that God needs man in order that He may come to self-consciousness.
In the struggle for spirit, Scheler saw the supreme fulfillment of meaning,
which can be attained only through active personal commitment, not
through theoretical certainty. To those, however, who are not able to

endure a God in the process of becoming, Scheler's only reply is that

metaphysics is not an insurance society for feeble souls in need of pro-

Ifwe begin by observing that Scheler applied Husserl's phenomenological

method to various groups of philosophical problems, our statement must
be used with caution. An essential difference exists between Husserl and
Scheler in their interpretation of the phenomenological method. Husserl,
ever since he conceived phenomenology, had stood close to Kant; and
with the passage of time he moved steadily closer to the latter's philoso-
phical position. On the other hand, Scheler was constantly engaged in a
strong polemic against Kantian philosophy. Thus, for Husserl the phe-
nomenological method is necessarily connected to the fundamental idea
of transcendental philosophy that all objects are in principle accessible
to consciousness, whereas for Scheler the phenomenological method not
only has nothing to do with transcendental idealism, but can be viewed
correctly only in the light of an ontological interpretation of knowledge.
Good features dwell side by side with dangers in Scheler's philosophy.
Doubtless, his thought contains an extraordinarily large number of fruit-
ful insights. Yet the impression cannot be avoided that at times Scheler
was so driven by the abundance of these insights as to be overwhelmed
by them, and that he never found the time required to systematize his
intuitions and to establish a sufficient foundation for his assertions. There
is missing in Scheler the methodological rigor observable in Brentano and
This is detrimental in four respects.
First, many of Scheler's discussions remain at the level of metaphorical
descriptions; they do not develop to the point of conceptual clarity. His
philosophy furnishes much to substantiate one of the claims of modern
empiricism, namely, that the basic error of traditional metaphysical
systems is their propensity to think in terms of pictures instead of precise
Second, Scheler often exhibits a tendency to synthesize heterogeneous
philosophical themes that are hardly compatible. The result is that many
of his theses assume the character of constructs that are not conceptually
intelligible. Consider two examples. In his analysis of sympathy feelings,

Scheler emphasizes that feeling-as-one (Einsfiihlung) indicates the ex-

istence of a Universal-Life that embraces all individuals. Yet at the same
time he says that spiritual Persons are to be thought of as essentially
different from one another and strictly individual, hence not as com-
ponent parts of a supra-personal spirit. But even assuming that this notion
of Universal Life can be sufficiently clarified, what are we to understand
by this 'partial pantheism' advocated by Scheler - a pantheism supposed
to hold good only for one level of real being-there, namely, that of life,
but not for any other level of being? We seem indeed to have here a vain
attempt to unite the life-philosopher's conception of a universal life with
the Christian idea of the individual Spirit-Person. It may be surmised that
in this partial pantheism lies the seed of Scheler's later transition to
complete pantheism. A second example is Scheler's theory of Persons.
Persons are said not to be mental, at the same time to exist fully in each
of their temporal acts, and yet not to be in time! Once again we have
transgressed the boundary of the comprehensible. This is scarcely a
practicable way to overcome the contradiction between a metaphysics of
substance and a pure philosophy of becoming. 9
Third, Scheler almost always confiates a priori philosophical knowledge
with empirical statements and hypotheses. The two are so closely inter-
woven that we can scarcely ever tell where one leaves off and the other
begins. If it were simply a matter of introducing conclusive unquestion-
able empirical findings into our philosophical deliberations, this could in
principle be accepted. However, there can be no definitive empirical
knowledge in the form of general statements. Empirical universal state-
ments are not verifiable; they hold only with greater or lesser probability
(see Chapters VII and VIII). By the same token, philosophical conse-
quences drawn from such hypothetical findings also become problematic
and remain dependent on the given state of knowledge in the various
sciences. The question then is posed: How are we to distinguish such
problematic philosophical statements from scientific hypotheses with a
relatively high degree of probability? The scientist from whose domain
the hypotheses in question have been taken is likely to maintain that the
philosophical generalizations begin precisely at the point where scientific
testability ceases, where pure speculation sets in. But a conclusion of this
sort would in practice be equivalent to a destructive critique of such
philosophical hypotheses. Anyone who believes that there is philosophical

knowledge of reality can obviate this objection only by disengaging his

reflections from empirical hypothetical assumptions and limiting himself
to that which is provable a priori.
This last remark applies especially to Scheler's final work on the place
of man in the cosmos. His statements about animal instinct, associative
memory, practical intelligence, and so forth, which serve him as a point
of departure, are empirical and hence hypothetical in nature. Moreover,
the statements about drives and their relationship to the 'force-less spirit'
rest on generalizations of observations. Such hypothetical generalizations
hardly afford a basis for obtaining a metaphysical insight into the nature
of the first cause of the world.
Fourth, the lack of methodological rigor is evident above all where
what is at issue is the ultimate foundation of a philosophical thesis. Scheler
was not a foundational thinker. Excellent as are his individual analyses,
just so poorly does he fare, for the most part, when it comes to proving
a philosophically fundamental proposition. An example is the way in
which he seeks to found a material ethics of values. At this point it like-
wise becomes clear how perilous it is to suppose that we need only follow
the call 'To the things themselves', and that we may therefore dispense
with an analysis and critique oflanguage. Under these circumstances, the
ostensible analysis of things often is burdened with a particular con-
ception of language - one which, upon closer examination, turns out to
be very much open to question.
In other words, Scheler likens value judgments to declarative sentences,
those linguistic utterances in which we make assertions of fact. Here the
governing view of language is that we formulate sentences only in order
to speak about something. If we proceed on this assumption, then the
Scheler version of the concept of value appears quite plausible. For in
that case we must regard value judgments ('A is good', 'A is beautiful',
and the like) as statements that ascribe properties to objects. And since
these properties cannot be traits of things perceptible to the senses, value
qualities must therefore be ideal structures not occurring in the empirical
world. Seemingly, the only way we can escape from ethical naturalism
and relativism is to associate with ethics values that exist in themselves,
and to incorporate these into a Platonic heaven.
Such reasoning, however, starts from a one-sided view of our language.
It is simply not true that language is used solely 'to talk about things'.

It has many additional functions. And value judgments are to be counted

among the linguistic utterances that have functions other than 'talking
about something'. Today, many students of ethics are endeavoring to
work out the peculiar features of value judgments as contrasted with
sentences that make statements. Their results indicate that a philosophical
interpretation of ethical judgments does not entail recourse to a realm of
self-subsistent values (see Chapter VIII, Section D). Actually, Scheler
himself stood at the threshold of this insight when in his account of
ethical knowledge he went beyond the rational and drew into consider-
ation the whole sphere of the emotive. But the only way he could inter-
pret this was to assert that these non-rational acts of knowing apprehend
something that exists in itself, the result being reported in declarative
sentences. What he did not see was that the part played by the emotive
in the domain of ethics is that it leads to difference and agreement in
attitude, and that this kind of agreement and disagreement, which is
essentially different from agreement and disagreement in belief, finds its
expression in value judgments.
Finally, there is one further comment on the relationship between
Scheler and Kant. Space limitations forbid a full treatment of Scheler's
numerous criticisms of Kant. But we must grant that in one point at
least Kant is right: principles valid for human conduct must be require-
ments as to what human beings ought to do. Such requirements have the
character of universal imperatives, from which we may derive the specific
imperatives applicable to concrete situations. For example, from 'Always
tell the truth' there follows 'Tell Mr. N. the truth now'. For Scheler,
however, the foundations of ethics consist not of principles of 'ought'
or obligation, but of objective statements about values and their relative
rank. Hence all ethical imperatives must be derived from such statements.
Yet, as a study of the 'logic of imperatives' shows (see Chapter VIII,
Section D.2), such a derivation is out of the question. It is impossible to
derive an imperativist conclusion from a set of premisses that does not
contain at least one imperative. What this signifies is that an ethical
theory which, like material ethics, includes no universal imperatives among
its basic propositions, cannot serve as a foundation for the principles regu-
lating what human beings ought to do.
Among other things, Scheler has written about the phenomenon of the
tragic. In it he perceived an unsolvable conflict of values between bearers

of different value ideals each of whom 'does his duty' in accordance with
his ideal. But the idea of ultimate tragedy in the sense of an inner disunion
and absurdity of the world was foreign to him, even though his un-
questioning optimism could scarcely find objective justification in the
content of his final doctrines. The philosophy of existence and existential
ontology both seek to gain this glimpse into the undisguised tragedy in
existing. In doing so, they seek to penetrate a deeper level of man's being,
which lies beneath the conflict between life and spirit, without employing
the resultant new aspects to erect a general world metaphysics reaching
beyond human existence.


1 Cf. the later section on Scheler's theory of the person.

2 Although Scheler himself later adopted a view similar to that of pantheism, he still
retained an absolute separation, with respect both to being-so and being-there, of the
individual spirit-persons.
3 What is meant is not the temporal duration of a 'good' (or valued thing), which of
course is a contingent matter, but the fact that certain values are given phenomenally
as 'lasting'. For example, love implies duration; it makes no sense to say 'I love you
now', whereas it does make sense to wish that 1 had an apple to eat now.
4 It follows that inter-personal and international conflicts of interest have their roots
exclusively in the sphere of lower values; for in the case of indivisible, higher values,
there can be no dispute about portions.
5 The term 'reflection' is used here approximately in the sense of Brentano's 'secondary
consciousness' .
6 The antithesis 'Person-world' is expressly counterposed to two others: 'body-
environment' and 'I-external world'.
7 The influence of Freud's theory of drives is clearly in evidence at this point.
S That is, so far as his contribution solely as an inventor is concerned.
9 It may be noted in addition that Scheler's theory of Persons and their acts already
contains in nuce the Heidegger view, which we shall describe later, of the relationship
between man's being and his essence. For Scheler, too, the being-so of a Person
consists fundamentally in his way of being.




Just as Husserl's doctrines mark a turning-point in the history of philoso-

phy with regard to method, so does Heidegger's philosophy with respect
to content or substance. The Heidegger ontology involves a most unusual
mode of thought, and one that is exceedingly difficult to grasp. To facil-
itate understanding, we shall present some general characterizations and
historical remarks before going on to an account of the doctrine itself.
Also since many of the basic motivations in Heidegger and Jaspers are
closely akin, we shall often be required to anticipate the consideration
of the latter's philosophy. At the same time, since the two thinkers C"ffer
fundamentally about the final aim of philosophical discussion, a sep: rate
detailed treatment has seemed necessary.
In considering Heidegger's philosophy, we need to pay special attention
to the following aspects:
(1) We noted above, in reviewing Scheler's thought, that both the
philosophy of Existence and existential ontology attempt to overcome
the contradiction between spirit and drive by pushing on to a deeper level
of Being. This comment, however, should not be taken to mean that they
seek some unified, creative fountain-head - in Being or in man - from
which all life and spiritual activity pour forth. On the contrary, what these
philosophies understand by 'Existence' is separated by a veritable abyss
from Scheler's concepts of Person and of life. While the Scheler concepts
give expression to something rich, overflowing and full of content, what
the others are concerned with is an empty, content-less, yet ultimate and
unconditioned center of Being in man.
Access to this center of Being is possible only if we put ourselves in the
basic mood characteristic of the philosophy of Existence. This frame of
mind contrasts sharply with the experience of being secure in a familiar
world - of being immersed in an overall cosmic life that flows throughout

the universe (Life-Philosophy) or of being placed in the hands of an

encompassing world-spirit (Hegelian idealism), or of the two together
(Scheler). Instead, it is the feeling of insecurity, of the uncanny, alien and
enigmatic character of the world, and at the same time of the absolutely
finite and bounded nature of one's own Being, of having been cast into
an unintelligible, absurd reality, of having been consigned to death, guilt
and that fundamental frame of mind that serves as background to all
surface feelings and moods - dread ( Angst). In this experience of bound-
less loneliness and of having been forsaken by any sustaining and sense-
endowing world order all that remains to man is either despair or a with-
drawal into the innermost pole of his own Being: Existence (Existenz).
Here what the term 'Existence' refers to is not merely the simple fact
that man is - this bare, passive reality is designated by the expression
'Dasein' ('human Being', 'a man's Being'). Rather, Existence is something
ultimate and unconditioned, and a proper instance of it can appear when
all values, all gratification of life and spirit, all knowledge about Dasein's
being ordered and rooted in an absolute become questionable, superficial
and relative, and prove, if one is completely honest, to be pure illusion.
As all contentual relations to the world crumble, as everything moves off
into the distance (even one's own self, in so far as it still possesses any
abundance, richness or substance), man is gripped by the experience of
the pure 'that' of Being. And it is this experience, this sudden invasion of
the feeling 'that I am and have to be', that serves to announce Existence,
which man may then grasp or fail to grasp.
Existence, therefore, is not a definite, fixed entity, which is always
there and into which man may withdraw whenever his spiritual life is
endangered. It is, on the contrary, a possibility that he can realize only
by the most active, most concentrated self-commitment. Moreover, as
contrasted with the notions of Life-Philosophy, pantheistic metaphysics
of spirit or personalism, it is something wholly undefinable, simple, and
lying beyond anything that can be the subject of contentual statements.
It also follows that there is no continuous transition to existential Being,
as there is between a more moral life and a more immoral one, a richer
and a poorer, one more joyful and one more sorrowful. Man reaches
existential Being only by a leap. The transition between the antithetic
dimensions of 'mere human Being' or Dasein and 'Existence' (Jaspers) or,
in Heidegger's terminology, between 'in authentic' (uneigentliches) and

'authentic Existence' is thus an abrupt one, and for that very reason has
nothing to do with differences in ethical valuation. Always at the outset,
and for the most part to the end, man lives in the mode of inauthentic
Existence, or of mere human Being, even when he may justly be assigned
the value predicate 'good'. Authentic Existence demands not a mere
enhancement of the value or the vital quality of life, but a complete
turning away from it, the calling back of one's self from the 'forfeiture'
or 'fallen-ness' (Verfallenheit) characteristic of everyday life.
If what becomes manifest in the basic existential mood is to be ex-
pressed in philosophical terms, we must either alter our entire conceptual
apparatus, or else renounce scientific knowledge altogether, and simply
'appeal' to man to consummate the experience of Existence and avail
himself of the possibility it reveals for authentic self-Being. The first
alternative occurs in the philosophy of Heidegger, the second in that of
(2) The development of a fundamentally new theme requires an extra-
ordinary method. In Heidegger's case, this need is met by phenomenology,
which, however, must now assume a more radical form corresponding to
the new task. Phenomenology for Husserl consisted in 'bracketing out'
everything contingent by abstaining from existential judgments; Scheler
added a demand for the exclusion of all emotive Being so that a pure
outpouring of spirit might result. Now in Heidegger's hands phenome-
nology becomes a counter-move to the everyday way of thinking as such.
That is to say, this latter mode of thought is nothing more than an ex-
pression of inauthentic, 'forfeiting' human Being, an expression that con-
ceals what really matters. Hence a philosophical knowledge of essences is
necessarily dependent on our tearing ourselves loose from this everyday
attitude. To grasp the truth is to fetch or snatch out of hiding the know-
ledge of Being that is suppressed by the vulgar explanation of the world.
Thus in Heidegger's view, the course of ontological investigation is an
incessant struggle against the 'natural angle of vision', to which those who
philosophize repeatedly succumb. This entails not just the simple elimi-
nation of this attitude, as in Husserl, but a continuing spiritual exertion
constantly menaced by the danger of failure.
(3) In addition to the access by way of mood or frame of mind, there
is also a logical path that leads to the concept of Existence. Scholastic
philosophy drew a distinction between existentia (Dasein) and essentia

(Sosein). The latter aspect focussed on what a thing is, the former on the
fact that something of this nature really occurs. Here the actuality of
Being remained the contingent element of 'hic et nunc', which is not
involved in the analysis of essences. Husserl, too, clearly held that in
bringing essences into the light we must leave the fact of human Being
(das faktische Dasein) out of consideration as non-essential. But ac-
cording to Heidegger such a bracketing out of human Being is impossible,
and for the precise reason that human Being contains what really matters.
'Existentia' means the same as 'on-hand-ness' ('Vorhandenheit'). It can
therefore be properly ascribed only to an entity that can be treated as a
thing on hand alongside of other things. Man, however, is not this sort
of entity, but a being concerned about his own Being. This 'being con-
cerned about ... ' contains the relationship to himself that precedes all
theoretical reflection. It is in this concern that Existence manifests itself.
As stated above, Existence cannot be fixed by contentual definitions; we
can try to get at it only in terms of its 'how'. But the 'how' of Being is
simply its Being-so (Sosein). It is consequently a fundamental error to
disengage Dasein from Sosein, for the latter is nothing other than the way
in which a being distinguished by Existence is. The traits of Sosein - the
contentual determinations of Being - are potentialities which he who
exists has either made use of or missed. The 'whatness' of man is made up
not of extant properties of an extant thing, but of possible ways to be. It is
not that Socrates is, and moreover 'possesses' certain properties; rather,
he availed himself of certain possibilities, and it was this availing himself
of them that imprinted on him his character, what he was. Hence if
Sosein expresses the 'how' of Being, that is, if Sosein 'flows' to a certain
extent out of Being, then Heidegger can state what from the standpoint
of traditional ontology is the unintelligible proposition: "The essence of
Dasein lies in its Existence". In this context, as always with Heidegger,
'Dasein' is to be understood as 'human Being'. An elucidation of the
essence of man therefore cannot ignore (much less deliberately exclude)
as contingent and non-essential the fact that man is; for the entire em-
phasis of the analysis rests precisely on the 'that' of Being. To illuminate
essences is at the same time and above all to illuminate human Being.
(4) Since the Being of man cannot be got at with the conceptual schema
of traditional ontology, and since it is precisely through that schema that
Being as such is supposed to attain conceptual definition, the concept in

general of Being becomes problematic for Heidegger. And it is just here

that his own formulation of the whole problem begins. That is, the basic
question Heidegger poses at the opening of his inquiry is whether we
understand at all what we mean when we use the term 'being' ('seiend').
In point of fact, we do understand something by it when we utter such
sentences as 'The weather is beautiful', 'I am sick', 'Everyone for himself
(i.e., Everyone safeguard his own Being)'. But when we come to define it
conceptually, are we not perhaps made fools of by a tendency, rooted
in our very Being, toward misinterpretation? The example of man
seems to confirm this. Accordingly, Heidegger concludes that while we
always understand something by 'Being', we lack a genuine concept of
(5) For Heidegger, this poses an even more fundamental and compre-
hensive task than the one Husserl sought to master with the notion of
material and formal ontology. Husserl's materialontologies, inasmuch as
they were to work out the essential structures of the areas dealt with by
the individual sciences, were ranked ahead of these disciplines. His formal
ontology had the even more central task, which he regarded as of maxi-
mum generality and conclusiveness, of comprehending what is valid for
all domains of Being. Now, in Heidegger's view a third step forward is
needed, one that broaches the "question of the meaning of Being" ("die
Frage nach dem Sinn von Sein")l, and this constitutes the theme of funda-
mental ontology. According to Heidegger, mere categorial analysis, even
when it produces a complete table of categories and an axiomatic theory
grounded in the table, remains blind. Instead of leaving us open to the
basic question of metaphysics, such analysis prematurely seals us off from
it. Moreover, Heidegger does not take it to be obvious (as a simple ex-
tension of the Husserlian schema might lead us to suppose) that with this
question we step over into a domain in which we speak only of the 'most
general of generalities'. Indeed, it is precisely the fundamental way in
which the problem is posed that can necessitate a turning toward that
which is most concrete.
(6) This becomes evident as soon as we ask: where are we to begin the
attack on the problem of Being? Heidegger sees no other possible starting-
point than the above-mentioned fact of the human comprehension of Being,
which already contains some sort of knowledge of Being without having
come to a clear concept. In order to place the inquiry on the broadest

possible base as well as to work out the contradiction between the pre-
scientific human understanding of Being and the philosophical idea of
Being, the analysis ought to begin exactly at the place where an authentic
comprehension of Being is suppressed; that is, with everyday human
Dasein. Here Heidegger finds the meeting-point of (1) the Aristotelian
problematic (the question of Being), (2) the phenomenological method
(according to which all purely conceptual discussions are invalid unless
a direct showing is made of something given, in this case an instance of
the being 'man'), and (3) the aspect of man stressed by the philosophy of
existence - that he lives for the most part in a state of inauthentic, isolated
and impersonal Dasein. We can also now understand why the explicit
opening up of the question of Being leads to something concrete. For one
thing, the starting-point is to be sought in man; for another, and this is
most important, the illuminating of man's essential structure cannot be
achieved by bracketing out the fact of his Dasein but, as indicated earlier,
must begin precisely with this Dasein. Thus the set of problems posed by
Being is put within the 'here and now'. The greatest question that man
can possibly ask, one that cannot be exceeded in generality, flows directly
into what is most immediate and most concrete.
(7) As already noted, Heidegger calls his investigation 'fundamental
ontology' because it is intended to work out the question of Being and
thus secure the foundation for both material and formal ontologies.
'Philosophical anthropology' might seem an equally or even more ap-
propriate designation, since the inquiry starts with man and, if we leave
aside the governing statement of the problem, does not proceed beyond
man's orbit. But it would be a mistake to disregard this guiding statement;
for the formulation of the problem determines the entire course of the
investigation. Therefore, the subject of the inquiry is not man as man,
as in the case of anthropology2; rather, it is man as a channel through
which to pass to an adequate concept of Being - a process in which,
corresponding to the basic attitude of the philosophy of Existence, the
finitude of man stands in the foreground. The analysis of human Dasein
is thus kept under constant tension by the problem: Is there a road that
leads out of finitude to Being? In the case of Heidegger the theoretical
approach to this matter dominates; for Jaspers, on the other hand, the
question assumes an eminently practical significance with regard to the
actual carrying on of life - something that Heidegger deliberately leaves

aside as an 'ontic affair 'of the particular Dasein, not to be treated scien-
(8) The procedure in analyzing everyday human Dasein is related
historically to Henri Bergson's notion of 'homo faber'. Man in his
ordinary 'in-the-first-instance' and 'for-the-most-part' is not a self-suf-
ficient entity vis-a-vis the world. Nor is he a disinterested subject who
takes in sense impressions and so mirrors the external world in his mind.
On the contrary, active and concerned, he is absorbed in the world with
and around him, where he encounters not things on hand (vorhandene
Dinge) or a stock of things, but 'stuff at hand' ("zuhandenes Zeug").
Thus, purely formally and not dependent on what Existence philosophy
sees as the hostile character of the world, the relation of man to the world
holds a special importance. To be sure, as already pointed out, Existence
must be thought of as devoid of any contentual determination. At the
same time, it is not just some indeterminate thing, which is the constant
companion of Dasein. In existential ontology, there is a much sharper
line drawn between the concepts of Existence and substance than, say,
in Scheler; but since for Heidegger man does not possess the character
of a thing, the concept of Being still becomes generally questionable.
Hence Existence cannot possibly be analyzed by laying down its substan-
tive properties as if it were some 'thing on hand', but by examining the
'how' of its Being, that is, the mode and manner of its relation to the world.
Now this demand for something other than and standing opposite
Existence, which fits Existence into a relationship pointing beyond itself
and which helps condition Existence itself, this necessity for a correlate
to Existence and hence for the inclusion of the world in the analysis of
Existence, becomes so strong in Heidegger that the problem of a self-
subsistent external world loses all force and meaning. The world is every
bit as immediately 'there' as Dasein itself. No longer is man obliged to
break through the bounds of his consciousness or through his '1' in order
to get out in the world; in all that he does, his caring, his knowing, even
his forgetting, he is already, or still, in the world 'outside'. This state of
affairs, which Heidegger calls 'being-in-the-world', is at the same time a
more basic form of the concept of intentionality, and thus establishes a
relation to Brentano and Husserl. In addition, from the standpoint of
epistemology it signifies an interesting attempt to find for the cognitive
relation a point of departure lying beyond the foundation customarily

provided by the subject-object relationship. We also have here one ex-

ample of the many detailed respects in which Heidegger clearly differ-
entiates himself from Jaspers; for in the latter's view, the subject-object
relationship constitutes a basic cleavage, rationally insoluble and quite
analogous to what we find in Schopenhauer's well-known dictum: 'No
object without a subject, no subject without an object'.
(9) When relatedness is singled out as the basic character of Existence,
what is meant is not solely relatedness to the world. Existence is at the
same time relation to itself. The only way Kierkegaard could elucidate this
curious state of affairs was by paradoxically defining mind or spirit as a
relationship that has a certain relation to itself. In Heidegger, however,
the idea has developed to a point of ontological clarity, and man is
characterized in an initial step (still formally undetermined) as that being
who in his Being is concerned about this Being itself (" dasjenige Seiende
dem es in seinem Sein um dieses Sein selbst geht"). This statement of man's
Being exhibits a notable feature of the Heidegger philosophy: its extra-
ordinary ability, without doing violence to the actual phenomena, to coin
ontological concepts for apparently irrational states of affairs that the
ontology and metaphysics of the past had ignored altogether, and that
Life-Philosophy and Kierkegaard had been able to express only in formu-
lations so paradoxical as to result in their being rejected as 'unscientific'.
Striving not to neglect any positive contributions of Western philosophy,
Heidegger at the same time necessarily looked on both rationalism and
its opposition as one-sided philosophical approaches. Rationalism he
pronounced 'impotent', and mysticism 'aimless'. But it would be wrong
to conclude from this that his own philosophy may be regarded as a
'rationalized mysticism' or a 'mystical rationalism'; rather, here again his
concern is to push toward a deeper level from which vantage point these
modes of philosophizing seem one-sided. This is what permits Heidegger
to make the striking statement: "When irrationalism, as the counterplay
of rationalism, talks about the things to which rationalism is blind, it does
so only with a squint" (" Der Irrationalismus - als das Gegenspiel des
Rationalismus - redet nur schielend von dem, wogegen dieser blind ist").3
The characterization of man as a being concerned about his own Being
will be denoted later by the term 'care' ('Sorge'). Unless we achieve
clarity about this concept at the very outset by fully disengaging ourselves
from all accepted traditional starting-points, we shall not be able to

understand Heidegger's further analysis. Obviously a violent revolution

is needed to obtain the definitions of existential ontology from the usual
modes of thought. To anyone who cannot execute such a 'sharp turn'
himself, this whole new world will remain foreign or even appear to be
empty talk. Scheler has stressed that the phenomenologist can only lead
the perceiver to the set of facts and then, at the crucial moment, point
and say: 'Look, there it is.' If the other person is unable to see, then a
controversy is engendered that cannot be settled and any further effort
to come to an understanding is as futile as trying to 'explain' colors to a
blind man. This observation applies all the more in Heidegger's case,
since he is seeking to make a turn that brings into question the original
point of departure of all Western metaphysics. Hence if we protest that
we cannot follow the ideas contained in Heidegger's philosophy, its
defenders can presumably reply: because traditional modes of thought
are so deeply entrenched we should not be surprised if only a few indi-
viduals are able to achieve the new way of seeing things; the depth of the
insight, however, always carries with it its own criterion.
(10) This account of man as concerned with his own Being might lead
to the complaint that Heidegger limits the starting-point of his analysis
to egocentric man. But such an objection is not justified so long as that
which 'belongs' to this Being is left undetermined. In other words, since
the relation to the world is essential for existential Being, man is able to
include as much else as he pleases in this relationship of 'for his own sake'
('Umwillen seiner selbst'). As to other men, Heidegger, through a formal
treatment of some of Scheler's ideas, elaborates the basic notion of 'Being-
with' (' Mitsein'), which helps constitute the existential Being of the indi-
vidual man. It surrounds the 'for his own sake' and holds the fundamental
possibility that Being-one's-self is gained only through surrender to others.
(11) There is another feature common to Scheler and the philosophy
of Existence in general, namely, the thought that as we go 'higher up' the
graduated structure of the real world, the beings become more unique,
individual, temporal and historical. Of course, the two philosophies differ
very greatly in the way they carry out this thought. In Scheler we have
the Person filled with a wealth of spiritual acts and embedded in a cosmic
context of Being; we have the basic optimistic mood of being sustained
by a Universal Life that flows throughout the world, and of participating
in the process whereby the spirit orders this Life. In the philosophy of

Existence, there is the 'naked that' of existing, Existence stripped of all

richness of content, the openly hostile limiting of Existence by a reality
that crowds it threateningly, the basic tragic feeling of being cast into an
unintelligible world.
(12) The German sociologist Max Weber developed a special procedure
for comprehending the socio-historical world - the use of 'ideal types'.
The method consists in creating various schemas of human behavior in
order to hold them up against reality and measure the latter by them.
The fuller significance of this procedure is that a deeper comprehension
of historical processes requires more than a mere description of what is
in fact present and the uncovering of individual causal connections. For
a human action is seen in a clear light only if the many other possible
ways of behaving are also perceived. A proper understanding of historical
phenomena therefore demands that what is actual at any moment in the
human domain be considered within the full scope of human possibilities in
general. The penetration of the possible into the actual, which in Weber
remains simply a theoretical matter for the scholar, acquires metaphysical
importance in Heidegger's hands: man always understands his own selfin
terms of possibilities, because his Being is not yet finally fixed. The sole
'plenitude' allowed man by the idea of Existence is that of 'standing-in-
the-midst-of-a-plenitude-of-possibilities'. Man does not 'possess' these
possibilities as if they were some perceptible attributes; he lives in them,
they form the innermost core of his Being. Hence for Heidegger it is
possibility or potentiality, not actuality, that is the highest and most
positive modal principle. Of course, here too inauthenticity at the outset
continually usurps power since man, instead of drawing the possibilities
out of his innate self, loses his way among randomly appearing possi-
bilities or permits these possibilities to come forward out of the 'public
we-world' (' offentliche Wir- Welt').
Since the concept of possibility is basic, it must necessarily enter into the
concept of Existence. We have seen that Existence is a relationship to
itself, a Being 'for the sake of itself'. Now the 'for-what' (Wozu) of this
'bearing-a-relation-to' is ascertained as 'Being-possible' (Moglichsein) or,
as Heidegger also puts it, 'potentiality-for-Being' (' Seinkonnen'). This is
why he says later that man is a being who is concerned about his own
potentiality-for-Being or whose Being is to be conceived of as Being-
toward-the-potentiality-for-Being (Sein zum Seinkonnen). The expression

'Being-toward-the-potentiality-for-Being' now takes on a clear meaning:

the 'toward' ('zu') in this phrase is designed to express the fact of Being-
related-to-itself, which is the same as what was intended in the preliminary
characterization of man as a being concerned about his own Being, or a
being that is for the sake of itself. The 'potentiality-for-Being' is directed
to the other aspect - the Being-possible. We must guard against the notion
that in the case of man, i.e., the being that has a certain relation to him-
self, what is involved is a thing on hand, and not something that exists
exclusively as the possibility of being one way or another. Also, we must
constantly keep before us this characterization of man as Being-toward-
the-potentiality-for-Being, for it serves to anchor the Heidegger concept
of the 'future' and hence of 'time', neither of which can be understood
without it.
As a bar to any reification or to any conception of man as a (con-
tingent) sample of a species, Heidegger emphasizes one further aspect of
the concept of Existence - that the Being of this being is in each case mine
(je meines). All additional determinations of Existence must be viewed
in the light of this 'mine-ness'.
(13) The notion, often encountered in Life-Philosophy, that life signi-
fies a going beyond itself (in Georg Simmel's phrase, "Living is living-
beyond") is also found in the philosophy of Existence. In part, it is
already contained in the nature of possibility mentioned above. If the
Being of man is a Being-possible, then he himself is never at the end, but
lives as an everlasting 'not yet'. He must constantly surmount or transcend
the present state; this going beyond is an essential law of Existence.
In Heidegger, to be sure, this notion is bound up with a further idea
stemming partly from Kantian philosophy and partly from Wilhelm
DiIthey. For Kant, knowledge is possible only with the help of the cate-
gories, hence only by virtue of the fact that the knower dwells, as it were,
'in' the categories. Similarly, in Heidegger, man must live in a medium
of understanding (Heidegger calls it 'world') if he is to be able to con-
ceive of a being as determined in one fashion or another. Thus any indi-
vidual being must have 'risen above' this horizon of understanding in order
to be accessible at all. For instance, a relationship of things on hand can
be encountered only within the horizon of 'on-hand-ness', a 'tool' only
within the horizon of the everyday world, and so forth. Later we shall
discuss the 'ultimate surmounting' or the transcending of all beings

toward nothingness. But first some comments are needed on the role
played by moods in the philosophy of Existence.
(14) The first to call attention to the phenomenon of mood in its
philosophical significance was the Danish thinker Kierkegaard, so that
on the whole he is to be looked on as the spiritual father of Existence
philosophy. There was in his case, of course, an extremely close con-
nection with religious matters.4
To the 'abstract thinkers', of whom Hegel in his view was typical,
Kierkegaard counterposed the 'living thinkers'. By the former he meant
those who rely on abstract logical thinking alone, to the exclusion of
their entire personal existence - those who (metaphorically speaking)
build castles in their thoughts but do not themselves reside in them, so
that nothing happens to them if the castle burns down. The living
thinkers, on the other hand, consider knowledge to be neither disinter-
ested contemplation, nor a world-spurning end in itself, nor some aesthetic
amusement running on alongside of life. Instead, their philosophizing
springs from the inmost necessity of their Existence; they place thinking
at the service of living; they enter personally and passionately into the
questions that assail them. Hence for them there is no such thing as a
complete system. They are open without limit to the actual world with
its impenetrable riddles, and this prohibits them from ignoring reality in
the name of some intellectual edifice supposed to solve all problems.
The basic mood of Existence philosophy already comes into play here.
The world in which we live is utterly unintelligible, absurd. How then is
it possible for a life to be authentic and to look the uncanniness (Unheim-
lichkeit) of the world squarely in the eye, instead of denying it away?
Man's insecurity is revealed above all in his moods. Of these, dread
occupies a central position. As distinguished from fear, which is always
directed toward something definite (the danger of being hurt, of failing
in some task, of being punished), dread lacks a specific object of which
to be afraid. Dread is groundless, yet at the same time of an unbroken
totality. For it is not just that one aspect of man or some particular
relationship to the world is threatened; it is that the entire Being of man
together with all of his relations to the world is placed fundamentally in
question. Man loses all hold; all rational knowledge and belief collapse;
the familiar and the intimate are pushed into inconceivable distance. All
that remains is the self in absolute loneliness and despair.

But it is precisely in this situation that man is compelled to decide

whether he will dare endure dread and thus become capable of reaching
the authenticity of his Existence, or whether, having failed to do so, he
will flee to the noisy bustle of the world in order to drown out the sound
of dread. It is for this reason that Kierkegaard calls dread the 'whirlpool
of freedom'. Boredom operates along the same line, if less basically, for
it too causes everything to subside into complete indifference. When man,
as a result of his failure in the face of dread and boredom, takes refuge
in distraction, but then learns from experience that such flight is indeed
hopeless, he is overcome with melancholy. The private awareness that he
cannot authentically be himself rests on him like a heavy burden. When
dread, till then suppressed, suddenly breaks through, melancholy grows
into desperation. In this latter state, however, authentic Existence attains
realization, for anyone who has wholly abandoned himself to desperation
has gained his authentic self.
Finitude, however, cannot provide an ultimate solution to the existen-
tial set of problems. Even the most authentically existing man cannot get
along without an absolute. And thus nothing is left for Kierkegaard at
the end but a leap into Christianity - not a Christianity that leads gradu-
ally to belief by way of rational proofs and the like, but a blind leap into
Divinity. This does not eliminate the questionable and incomprehensible
character of reality, since Christianity itself remains as "the absurd clung
to with infinite passion".
(I5) In the case of Heidegger, on the other hand, the path to an abso-
lute, extra-mundane center is blocked by his acceptance of a basic idea
due to Dilthey, another philosopher who plays a central role in Heidegger's
thought. From Dilthey, Heidegger took over the notion of man as an
historical creature, and with it the method of the hermeneutic, or the
immanent exegesis of the meaning of the world without transcendent
assumptions. Dilthey sought to understand man in his own terms. What
made such understanding possible, he believed, was the conception of
man as a member of the historico-social world, embedded in the historical
contexts of becoming and acting - combined with the notion of the
historical relativity of world views. Aided by a sympathetic appreciation
of past human possibilities, man should be able to free himself from
the narrowness of his own particular horizon and learn to understand
himself in his historicality (Geschichtlichkeit). But the severity of the basic

mood and problematic of Existence philosophy was unknown to Dilthey;

his was a gentler, more intuitive nature, which found aesthetic satis-
faction, perhaps even a substitute for religion, in historical analysis. 5 The
assimilation of his conception into Heidegger's existential ontology, how-
ever, of necessity intensifies the problems posed - it now appears that for
finite human Being there is absolutely no way out.
(16) This development in turn creates a tie with certain aspects of the
work of Rainer Maria Rilke. With unrelenting acuity, this poet-philoso-
pher puts into words the experience of the unbounded strangeness and
incomprehensibility of the world, of the total insecurity of human Dasein,
as well as the absorption of man into a mass Dasein without color and
without Existence. For Rilke, it is death that guides man to the greatest
enhancement of life and first makes it meaningful - not the 'little death'
which is mass-produced in the cities, the death which 'they' die, but the
'great death' achieved and perfected by man in his non-replaceable indi-
viduality as an accomplishment that is most uniquely his own and that
cannot be taken away from him. In Rilke's later writings the fact that
man is constantly menaced by death assumes an increasingly central
significance. But while Rilke allows metaphysical explanations to enter
as well, Heidegger, in accordance with the idea of immanence, interprets
death strictly in its function in life itself (hence in its role with regard to
the consciousness of the human Dasein, aware of death and thinking
about it). Death serves, on the one hand, as the basis for obtaining the
concept of authentic Existence, and on the other to work out the existen-
tial-ontological concept of finitude.
The finitude of human Existence is entirely different from that of a
thing. A thing is finite because it is surrounded by other things and there-
fore is bounded in relation to them. Thus it 'has' boundaries and these
determine its finitude. Existence, on the contrary, is its boundary; the
Being of the boundary runs through the very fabric of Existence, and does
not first appear at its ascertainable terminations. Death is not a boundary
of life in the way that a path has its boundary at the place where it ends.
Death stands within Dasein: explicitly or not, Dasein is continuously
coming to an understanding with death. Dasein is a constant having-a-
relation to death - a 'Being-toward-death' ('Se in zum Tode'), as Heidegger
puts it - and thus death shares in determining Dasein's attitude toward
Existence, whether this attitude is authentic or inauthentic. Hence the

consciousness of death is constitutive of the consciousness of finitude; for

nothing so much as death hurls a person out of his everydayness and
forces upon him the consciousness of his limitation, yet at the same time
intensifies his awareness of the necessity for existential commitment.
Anyone who wants to arrive at a more intuitive understanding may
construct an imaginary model in which men do not die. Doubtless, things
would not simply remain as of old, with life continuing the same as
before except that the final end would be missing. All of life would take
on a different character - proof of the fact that even in life death is a
moulding force. Nay, more. According to Heidegger, without death there
would be no authentic Existence, since only in enduring the indeterminate
possibility of death is Existence present. The chief stress here is on inde-
terminacy. For this precludes any notion that an authentic relation to
death can take the form of man conceiving a fine plan, carrying it out
and then at the end saying: 'I have done my duty, the meaning of my life
has been fulfilled, now let death come.' Death, in fact, can break in upon
man at any moment and make it impossible for him to execute his long-
term design. Therefore, the only way for authentic Existence to behave
toward death is to consider it in its character as an indeterminate possibility.
(17) Closely connected to death is another fundamental feature of the
Being of human Existence, which for Heidegger ultimately plays the most
important role of all - temporality Zeitlichkeit. The concept of death
necessarily raises the question of how we are to reconcile the nature of
time with the fact that death already plays a role in the present. As an
actual event, death occurs only in the future. Consequently, the essence
of time itself must contain a reference from the future back to the present.
By the same token, any discussion of the historical nature of man im-
mediately raises the question of the inclusion of the past in the present.
In opposition to the notion of a continuously flowing, measurable,
objective world-time, Life-Philosophy emphasized 'subjective' or actually
experienced time which, depending on the type of experience, sometimes
creeps slowly along and sometimes seems to fly. But this subjective fact
was regarded only as an aspect of an underlying objective time. In Ex-
istence philosophy, on the other hand, subjective time is accorded a
central position as a medium without which it is impossible to under-
stand man. Heidegger even derives objective time, which he calls 'within-
time-ness' ('Innerzeitigkeit'), from SUbjective time.

Here there is a clear relationship to the most profound interpretation

of subjective time in Western philosophy, that of Augustine. The latter
chose to conceive the mysterious essence of time as that which is momen-
tary or instantaneous, and thus as having the character of something made
or created, in contrast to a motionless and constant eternity. He was
aware that in accepting this conception we run into a series of paradoxes.
Assume that time at any given instant consists of an indivisible moment.
Then since such a moment or point is a nullity, we should have to assume
that all beings run their course in a nullity. Moreover, we could not speak
of longer or shorter times, or know anything of a past or a future. If,
however, we take as our starting-point an extended moment, then this
breaks down immediately into past, present and future; and we must
further assume that this extended moment, moving on in time, contains
simultaneously both past and future. Or, we again fall back into the
consequences first listed. Augustine finds the solution in the 'expansion
of the soul' (distentio animi): the soul unites within itself past, present
and future. In the present moment, it still holds on to what is hurrying
back into the past and already looks forward in eager anticipation to what
is coming. This is what makes it possible to apprehend duration and to
measure time.
In existential ontology, the 'three-dimensionality' of time serves to
characterize the essence of human Dasein. The momentary Being of Ex-
istence is this extendedness in the three temporal directions. Thus time is
again connected in thought to the concepts of death and finitude, since
it is temporality (which, for Heidegger, makes up the innermost core of
man) that determines finitude as finite. In contrast to the Life-Philoso-
pher's picture of an effervescent time-flux of reality, the decisive element
here is once again the inexorable severity of the basic existential mood:
the present is characterized as that which, closing threateningly around
Existence, either compels it to make a decision or causes it to fall short
of attainable heights and sink back forlornly into the inauthenticity of
mass Dasein; the past, instead of being a supportive foundation, is that
which forces man into the present situation and thus narrows his possi-
bilities of Being; the future consists in possibilities yet to be grasped, for
which a continuous background is supplied by the extreme and most
indeterminate possibility of death. If Existence is confronted by the op-
posed directions, 'authenticity-inauthenticity' (an antithesis that is dis-

continuous and to be bridged only by a leap), then the resultant tension

must have effect on time. The temporality of Existence is quite different
from that of Dasein, which conceals from itself the feeling of uncanniness
and is driven along passively by the course of the world. Existence is open,
tense yet composed, and thus 'of the moment'. It attains its supreme
authenticity and most concentrated form in what Heidegger calls 'anti-
cipatory resoluteness' ('vorlauJende Entschlossenheit'). By this is meant
the courageous delivery of oneself over to death as the non-replaceable,
indeterminate and final possibility of Dasein - a delivery that impels one
to activity and makes one keenly aware for the first time of the positive
possibilities of one's own Existence and of the Existences of others.
(18) The characteristic features cited thus far have no doubt already
made clear that there is often a relation between the conceptions of
Existence philosophy and the ideas of religion and theology. For example,
Heidegger describes man as a being who is concerned about his own
Being; this suggests care about one's own salvation - a suggestion that
is all the more striking because the same term 'care' ('Sorge') is bestowed
by Heidegger on that formal structure of the constitution of Existence
expressed in his description of man. The relation shows up even more
clearly in the analysis of guilt and conscience. What is decisive, however,
is that all these concepts are severed from their original metaphysical
roots and receive (in Dilthey's sense) a purely immanent exegesis. Care
about the salvation of the soul becomes care as a comprehensive charac-
terization of the essence of human Existence. Guilt (or original sin) as a
unique historical event gives rise to Being-guilty as an existential a priori
feature of man. Conscience as a summons from God turns into a call from
Existence to itself. Thus one might be inclined (at least in a certain respect)
to view Heidegger as a 'recreant Christian theologian'.
(19) We are now able to summarize the most important basic determi-
nations of man, as presented in Heidegger's existential ontology.6 The
constitution of Existence (ExistenzverJassung) , which is formally deter-
mined by the initial characterization of man as a being who is concerned
about his own Being, is intended to set off man as against the realm of
things-on-hand. 'Mine-ness' (Jemeinigkeit) signifies the shutting out of
all forms of cosmic unity that cancel the loneliness of man. Situation
marks that by which Existence is essentially imprisoned, from which
Existence can never free itself and which - although itself a stranger to

Existence - constantly menaces it and presses it to a decision. Since

Existence itself is devoid of content, we must reckon among the elements
of the situation that surround Existence and constitute its Other not only
the external configuration of life's circumstances but also one's own Ego
with its dispositions, character and inclinations. 'Thrown-ness' (Geworfen-
heit) means that without my being asked and without my willing it I have
been put into this body, this character, this historical spot, and this place
in the universe, and left to myself. The term 'world' is intended to empha-
size that Existence can realize itself only through a relation to an Other,
even though the latter be experienced as an unintelligible and restrictive
power. Transcendence expresses the incomplete, unfinished character of
Existence, which can be only by constantly going beyond itself (but com-
pare the concept of transcendence in Jaspers, which is altogether different
and which will be dealt with later). Falling-down (Verfallen) points to the
fact that for the most part man is not truly himself but exists in the
mode of inauthenticity; the authenticity possible for him is attainable not
by a gradual transition but by a radical reversal, a leap. The world is not
first opened to human understanding through theoretical comprehension
but through mood. Here dread (Angst) occupies a central position be-
cause it makes manifest the true character of the world, its uncanniness
(Unheimlichkeit) in the face of which everyday familiarity (Vertrautheit)
amounts to no more than a glossing over of the world's real countenance.
It is in death and guilt (Schuld) that the finitude of Existence, as a being
interwoven with its own boundary, breaks through; and it is in the call
of conscience (Gewissensruf) that the inauthenticity of normal, everyday
Dasein, aJ well as the task of authentically being oneself, reaches man's
consciousness. Temporality (Zeitlichkeit) is both a comprehensive charac-
terization of Existence and an emphasis on the openness of Existence
simultaneously to past happenings, present encounters and future possi-
bilities. Historicality (Geschichtlichkeit) exposes man to view as a reca-
pitulating creature (wiederholendes Wesen) who can attain the possibilities
of his Existence only by a deepening assimilation of the historical heritage.
By singling out these partial aspects in the structure of Existence, we
at the same time delimit existential ontology with respect to philosophical
tendencies that at first appear closely akin. We have already called at-
tention to the difference as regards Scheler's personalism. This becomes
even clearer when we contrast the two conceptions of the essence of

spirit. In Scheler, spirit is that essential form of mental life which frees us
from bondage to the organic environment, which opens the way for a
candid look at the world as one not relative to the instincts of the per-
ceiving organism, and which makes access possible to the realm of
essences. Heidegger, on the other hand, holds that the specific dis-
tinguishing marks of the spirit are the mood of dread (as distinct from
mere fear, which is also present among the lower organisms), the experi-
ence of guilt, the hearing of the call of conscience, the potentiality-for-
gaining-or-losing-oneself, dying (as opposed to mere living-out-one's-life-
to-the-end), the appropriation of what history has handed down.
The philosophy of Heidegger also differs from Life-Philosophy. The
latter is dominated by the notion, reminiscent of pantheism, that human
Dasein is embedded in the context of the world; that individuality is ab-
sorbed into something impersonal (e.g., in Nietzsche's 'amor fati'); that
our sharply defined concepts are inadequate to deal with the continuous
flux of life; but that in spite of everything it is possible to gain an approxi-
mate grasp of reality and of the creatively developing life-power. In
contrast, Existence philosophy centers around the insecurity and loneli-
ness of the self, the indissolubility of individuality, the absolute unintelli-
gibility of the world, the lack of all that is creative or progressive - for
in the momentary tension of Existence the thought of progress becomes
Existential ontology is likewise sharply delimited from nihilism, as
exemplified in Schopenhauer. Nothingness is not a place of last refuge
which frees life from a meaningless world through the gradual extinction
of the will to be (des Willens zum Dasein). Rather, it is what thrusts man
back into the world and impels him to the most active commitment.
Hence there is no connection here with any romantic conceptions of
By the same token, Existence philosophy has nothing in common with
that form of mysticism dominated by the notions of passively sinking
back into one's own inner state, uniting one's soul with God and thus
enjoying - in direct opposition to the basic mood of Existence philosophy
- a feeling of absolute peace.
This is not to deny, of course, that the most varied relations do exist
with all of these currents of thought; indeed, the preceding remarks were
meant to indicate the manifold connections between Heidegger's existen-

tial ontology and the works of the Western mind that history has handed
down to us.
(20) We conclude with a further comment on Heidegger's concept of
'nothingness' ('Nichts'), as a preliminary to an overall exposition of his
existential ontology. We may get at this concept by way of Spinoza's
principle that "omnis determinatio est negatio". In order to conceive of
something as being determined in a certain way, we must be in a position
to contrast it with something else. We can grasp the col or 'red' in its
individuality only because we are also acquainted with other colors. If
from birth we had seen everything as red, we would not know what it
means to call something 'red'. This being so, how then do we arrive at the
concept of a being at all? What is the Other from which we mark off
Being? Nothing seems to be left except nothingness. But the latter does
not admit of being thought, since thinking always needs an object to
which it refers. Thus nothingness must be given to us in some other way.
This other way, Heidegger says, is the mood of dread, in which there is
consummated that emptying out of Being which he calls 'annihilation'
('Nichtung'). When we say, after the dread passes, 'It was really nothing',
this is to be taken literally. In dread, man's Being is manifested to him
as a Being-maintained in nothingness (ein Hineingehaltensein in das
Nichts). This is why Heidegger says: "In the Being of a being there takes
place the annihilation of nothingness." In order to comprehend Being as
a positive fulfillment in the sentence 'Something is', it is thus not enough
for Heidegger, as it is for Scheler, simply to have gazed into absolute
nothingness. On the contrary, for the question of Being to become
meaningful, nothingness must have been experienced in dread as a happen-
ing touching the whole of Existence.
These references to the many intellectual motivations of existential
ontology may incline some to believe that a philosophy that effects a
synthesis of Aristotle's problematic of Being, Kierkegaard's idea of Ex-
istence, Rilke's concept of death, the Kantian notion of transcendence,
the phenomenology of Hussed, a concept of understanding that stems
from Dilthey, the Augustinian conception of time, and the like, can only
result in an extremely artificial eclecticism. The following summary ac-
count of Heidegger's philosophy is intended to demonstrate the contrary.
We shall not be able, however, to satisfy the need for a fully rounded
elaboration of the ideas; for while Heidegger is a systematic thinker, he

is not a system thinker, and in his own philosophizing he himself fulfills

the law that finite Existence can lay hands only on what is fragmentary,
remains always en route, and never arrives at its goal.


1. The Problem of Being and Being-in-the-World

We start with the Aristotelian question: What do we really mean when
we use the word 'being' (,seiend')? This is the question of the 'meaning
of Being' (' Sinn von Sein'). The only basis available, to begin with, is the
vague understanding of Being that governs us all and is present in each
use of the little word 'is'. Consequently, an investigation into fundamental
ontology must begin by analyzing this human Dasein which understands
Being, and it must analyze it in just that mode in which an authentic
understanding is suppressed: the mode of everyday-ness. Thus man is to
function as the exemplary being who will be interrogated about his Being.
All the essential traits that crop up in this process are to be viewed in the
light of the idea of Existence. That is to say, man is not to be regarded
as an instance of a species of things appearing along with other things,
but as the kind of being who is concerned about his own Being. The
Being of this being is in each case mine; his Being-what is to be under-
stood as a possible way for him to be (namely, to be one way or another)
and not as a sum of properties with which he is endowed. Essence, there-
fore, is to be interpreted on the basis of Existence. That this can be so
rests on the fact that the Being of the being 'man' is to be comprehended
as Being-possible, and that man who is concerned about his own Being
is thus related to his own Being as to a possibility.8 Dasein is the possi-
bility of either being or not being oneself; in the first instance, it is
authentic, in the second it is inauthentic. Man is not a thing-on-hand;
hence the determinations of the Being of a thing-on-hand, namely, the
categories, are not applicable in his case. In contradistinction to the
categories, Heidegger calls Dasein's characters of Being 'Existenzialien'.
The basic a priori constitutive state of Dasein, which already governs
the analysis of everyday-ness, is Being-in-the-world (In-der- Welt-sein).
This structural aspect is counterposed to methodological solipsism,
customary since Descartes, which assumes as the immediately given a
consciousness without a world and certain only of its own Being. 'Being-

in' or 'in-Being' does not signify the Being-on-hand of one thing in

another (as a book, e.g., is 'in' the drawer); instead, it means the familiar
residing in something, 'staying at'. Man dwells in the world familiar to
him; he is, as a straightforward and unbiased analysis of the phenomena
shows, directly in the 'outside' world and does not have to cross some
kind of border of a fictitiously established 'consciousness' in order to get
there. The various forms of Being-in are not perceptions or cognitions.
They are such modes of behavior as having to do with something, pro-
ducing something, using something, undertaking, accomplishing and so
on, for which the comprehensive term 'to-be-concerned-with' ('Besorgen')
is introduced. The aim is to work out a natural concept of the world,
which the ontology transmitted to us has ignored. While for traditional
ontology the world consists of a cosmos of natural things on hand, for
Heidegger it is evident at the outset that what is given is not something-
on-hand but something-at-hand-for-use, not things but stuff (Zeug). The
traditional starting-point is, of course, understandable. For being-con-
cerned-with includes a special kind of looking into the world: circum-
spection (Umsicht). When concerned handling or manipulation ceases,
this kind of sight is lost; what remains is a mere lingering in the world,
and in this placid lingering, a being is revealed as a pure something-on-
hand. 9 But every theoretical approach rests precisely on the assumption
that concerned absorption in the world has faded into mere contem-
plation; this leads the theorist to believe mistakenly that what is primary
consists of things on hand.
With this point in mind, we can also understand Heidegger's critique
of Western metaphysics, which latter takes it for granted that by a being
is meant something on hand. According to Heidegger, however, it is only
the kind of vision acquired from an artificial theoretical approach that
sees the world as a complex of things. Viewed in this fashion, man ap-
pears as one of the many things on hand in the world and is therefore
classified as part of this complex of things. And what makes the existen-
tial-ontological starting-point so difficult to understand is the fact that it
seeks to obtain a correct insight into the Being of man by completely
eliminating just this theoretical way of considering matters.
The stuff or equipment that Dasein handles is at the outset incon-
spicuous, and environment, which consists of such stuff, remains obscure
in its character as world. This character is uncovered not through theo-

retical cognition but in the course of being-concerned-with and specifi-

cally in this manner: that needed equipment is lacking (say, a hammer for
fastening something down), in certain cases even disturbs the concern,
and attracts attention by its not being at hand. Now for the first time
the world shines forth as the 'in-order-to' connection to the totality of
stuff, a connection anchored in an ultimate 'for-the-sake-of' - in ration-
alist terms, 'purpose' - grounded in man himself. The hammer, e.g., is
for or toward hitting nails, the nails for fastening something down, this
something for protection against bad weather - this last, however, only
on account of man since, in the Heidegger language, it is "for the sake
of a possibility of human Being". This shows, for one thing, that all
being-concerned-with maintains itself within the medium of under-
standing that has to do with the in-order-to connection, a medium which
Heidegger calls 'world'. It also shows that all interconnections of stuff or
equipment spring from the Being of Dasein or, more exactly, from a
possibility of this Being. The Heidegger definition of the world we are
forced to omit, since the explanation would hold us up too long.
Being in the world, besides a Being alongside of stuff that is the object
of concern, is at the same time a Being with other men. Being-with is
part of human Being. The others (men) are neither (things) on-hand nor
(stuff) at-hand; they are there also and with. The world of man is a with-
world (Mitwelt), his Being is a Being-with (Mitsein), the Being-in-them-
selves (Ansichsein) of others is a Dasein-with (Mitdasein). The others are
not objects of concern, as equipment would be, but are objects of solici-
tude (Fiirsorge) - a term to be taken without any socio-ethical flavor and
intended only to characterize in general the Being-alongside (Beisammen-
sein) of human, existential Being as contrasted to the occurring-together
of things. Being-against-one-another, passing-one-another-by, and the
like are also to be included. The particular kind of vision (Sichtart)
governing here is identified as either considerateness (Riicksicht) or for-
bearance (Nachsicht), both of which may range through the modes of
indifference up to inconsiderateness.

2. The 'They' (Das Man)

In the domain of the with-world, the question arises as to the subject of
existing, the who of Dasein. Here Heidegger does not hesitate to deny the
seemingly obvious fact that the subject is 'I'. He maintains, instead, that

the subject is 'They' ('Man'), that is to say, the inauthentic self whose
concern is to keep a distance from others, who suppresses every significant
exception and reduces to a single level all possibilities of Being, who
obscures any primordial access to matters, furtively evades any decision,
removes responsibility from Dasein and thus relieves it of its burden.
Up to this point, we have discussed the correlate that corresponds
generally to Existence in its relation to the Other. The task now is to get
at the Being of Existence itself. It is the essence of Dasein not simply to be,
in general, but to be 'there'. This 'there' is meant to express that man's
own Being is not entirely inaccessible to him, but is originally disclosed
(erschlossen) to him. When we speak of a lumen naturale, we refer meta-
phorically to the fact that to Dasein belongs its own Being-cleared
(Gelichtetsein) or Being-lighted-up, together with - since Dasein is only
as Being-in-the-world - the lighting-up of the world, or what is usually
designated by the rather obfuscating term 'consciousness'.

3. State-oJ-Mind and Understanding

The two forms of disclosedness in Heidegger are state-oJ-mind (Befind-
lichkeit) and understanding (Verstehen). By the former is meant mood.
In mood, there is disclosed to Dasein the fact that it is. However, the 'that'
appearing here is not an undifferentiated one, but a 'that it is and has to
be', which is laden with existential weight. What becomes manifest in
mood is the character of Being as a burden. Here Dasein experiences the
uncanniness of having been delivered over to itself without knowing
whence it came, whither it is going and for-what it is. This experience does
not merely appear from time to time; it takes place constantly because
man is always in some kind of mood. Even the idle lack of mood is a
thoroughly positive form of having a mood, in which man is satiated with
himself. Man's having been delivered to himself, which mood discloses,
is designated by Heidegger as 'thrown-ness' {'Geworfenheit'). Dasein for-
ever tries to become master of its moods; but this is possible only with the
aid of a counter-mood. Thus mood closes off as primordially as it dis-
closes. The burdensome character of Being is revealed to Dasein in the
form of an evasive withdrawal, that is, Dasein always attempts to flee the
burden. Mood, here, is not to be conceived of as a subjective state of
feeling which is then 'projected' onto the external world. This would pre-
suppose that the world is already 'there' independent of mood. For

Heidegger, the world is first discovered in mood (as opposed to Scheler,

for whom the experience of resistance affords knowledge of the external
world). In mood, Dasein first experiences itself as something located in
the midst of beings and surrendered to the world, by which means alone
it can be approached by beings that come from the world. The resonance
that man's mood finds in world processes is therefore the deepest and
most primordial communication between the individual man and other
beings. At the same time, mood is the basic stratum which sustains all
rational knowledge and understanding.
The second aspect constituting the disclosedness of Dasein is under-
standing. In contrast to the passivity of mood, this aspect brings to the
fore the more active element. 'Understanding' is used here in the original
sense of 'being able to cope with something' or 'being able to do some-
thing'. This being-able-to suggests that Dasein's existential state of Being
is Being-possible. Possibility, in human Dasein, does not mean something
not yet actual; rather, it represents the most positive mode of Being.
Existential Dasein does not signify to be on hand, but to live in and by
means of possibilities. The Being of Dasein is therefore potentiality-for-
Being (Seink(jnnen). This potentiality-for-Being, however, is always at-
tuned, that is to say, the two-fold disclosedness of Dasein expresses itself
in the fact that Dasein experiences itself as 'thrown possibility'. While for
the most part Dasein exists inauthentically and allows the possibilities to
be presented to it from the 'They', yet precisely on account of its character
as a possibility it is a Being-free for its very own potentiality-for-Being.
That the Dasein of a being discloses itself in this way, that it penetrates
the conditions of its own possibility, is grounded in the fact that it pos-
sesses 'projection' (Entwurf). What is meant by this is the structure-of-
Being of the range of possibilities. If man, as long as he lives, is thrown
into the necessity of projecting, this does not signify that he behaves only
rationally in accordance with thought-out plans. Rather, it signifies that
in the projection he understands himself solely in terms of possibilities,
to be sure without thematically grasping these possibilities as such. The
sentence 'Become who you are', which at first glance seems to say some-
thing nonsensical, receives a meaning in the existential interpretation.
If we think of man as something on hand, then, on the basis of the
structure of projection, we should have to say that he is more than in
fact he is. But in the existential sense, he is never more than he actually

is because the potentiality-for-Being, the not-yet, is part of his Existence.

All scientific expositions are grounded in this primordial understanding,
as are everyday explanations. To want to understand something as some-
thing presupposes that in a certain respect we have set our sights upon
this something, which is possible only if it is already available in pre-
thematic understanding. Thus all understanding has a circular structure.
Any questioning is possible only if that which is being asked about is
already somehow understood; otherwise, we could not ask the question
at all. This also holds for the basic question of fundamental ontology:
the meaning of Being can be posed as a problem only because we have
at our disposal a non-thematic understanding of Being, though it is not
developed to the point of conceptual clarity.
Talk or discourse (Rede) is likewise rooted in the disclosedness of
Dasein. Dasein expresses itself in discourse as understanding-state-of-
mind. The meanings that can be grasped in the disc10sedness of the world
are put into words; what appears is that words accrue to meanings, not
that arbitrary meanings are supplied to artificially devised word-things.
In the mode of inauthenticity, understanding presents itself as idle talk,
curiosity and ambiguity. The first of these is a baseless telling and retelling,
which rests on the loss of any real relation to whatever is being talked
about, and through which the original disclosure of something is con-
verted into the most stubborn sort of closing-off. Because this bars the
way to genuine appropriation and hinders a deeper involvement in the
matter, such inauthentic understanding then assumes the additional
character of not staying at any place and of always hunting for what is
new - curiosity. Ambiguity points to the uncanny fact that we have no
criterion at our disposal enabling us to distinguish between what is
genuine in the world and what is not. These three aspects taken together
characterize man's falling-down into or being continually and incessantly
whirled into the inauthenticity and groundlessness of the 'They'.

4. Dread and the Care-Structure of Dasein

In our exposition thus far, we have discussed Dasein solely as something
neutral or even explicitly as inauthentic. What is still missing is access to
the authentic self. Such access is provided by dread or anxiety. Dread
alone can fetch man back from the falling-down upon world and public-
ness, liberate him from the dictatorship of the 'They' and, through total

upheaval, render him accessible as 'solus ipse'. Because dread is not

directed toward anything definite but causes the familiar environment
and 'with-world' as a whole to sink back into absolute meaninglessness 10,
it reveals to Dasein the uncanniness of its individualization. That, in the
face of which man dreads, is the same as that about which he dreads:
he is anxious in the face of Being in the world and at the same time about
(his) Being-in-the-world. The term 'uncanniness' is intended to express
the coinciding, in the case of dread, of in-the-face-of-which and about-
which. What also becomes evident here is how mood discloses Dasein in
the manner of an evasive turning away. By busy absorption in everyday-
ness, man tries to flee the feeling, made manifest in dread, of 'not being
at home'. The familiar and intimate are supposed to conceal the basic
mood of dread, which, however, stilI pursues Dasein in all forms of
being concerned. It is not the familiar world that is the primordial ele-
ment, breached at times by the mood of dread; rather, what is original
is uncanniness, and familiarity is a derived, inauthentic mood of it. Thus
it is apparent that while dread can bring men to the point where freedom
for authentic Being-one's-self may be seized, yet man at first and for the
most part fails in this task.
The unity of these existential structures Heidegger calls 'care'. Actually
the aspect of care was already present in the formal determination of man
as a being who is for the sake of himself, in other words, in man's for-the-
sake-of relationship to his own Being. Now the care aspect is displayed
in the structures of thrownness, of understanding projection 11, of falling,
and of the basic mood of dread. Under this aspect, Dasein always appears
as an absolutely individualized creature, concerned about its own Being
and threatened simultaneously from two sides: from within by the deep
stratum of fundamental moods, and from without by the mass which
swallows up the individual. In addition, the three-fold direction of time is
already hinted at in existential care: the future, in Being-ahead-of-itself;
the present, in Being-fallen; and the past, in thrown-ness.

5. Reality and Truth

The existential analysis of Dasein has important consequences for the
problems of reality and truth. For Heidegger, the question of the reality
of the external world is without meaning. It arises only because, instead of
analyzing and exhibiting the actual phenomenon of Being-in-the-world,

we split asunder the real unity and construct a world-less subject, which
we then seek in vain to glue back together with the other fragments (the
external world).
The problem of truth is carried to a deeper level by the analysis of dis-
closedness. Knowledge is possible only because Dasein, as Being that is
of understanding-state-of-mind and that is in-the-world, is able to un-
cover being in Dasein itself. The sole criterion of truth consists in the fact
that the being, which was referred to by a judgment, exhibits or identifies
its own self, and this confirms the fact that the judgment was actually an
uncovering. The judgment having been uttered, the uncovering appears
and along with it the relation, as embodied in it, to the uncovered being.
In the case of the theoretical approach, which causes everything to fade
into mere on-handness, assertions themselves become things on hand,
and truth becomes a relation between two things: an assertion and the
asserted being. This is the origin of the theory of adequatio rei et intellectus.
But the truth of a judgment in the sense of uncovering is possible only
because Dasein, and with it the world, is disclosed (lighted up) - that is,
because Dasein is 'in the truth'. Here Heidegger is speaking of ontic truth.
This includes disclosedness (or 'awareness', in the usual terminology),
thrownness (in which Dasein reveals itself as my Dasein in the midst of
other beings), understanding projection, and falling. This last aspect,
however, already expresses the fact that man always exists at the same
time 'in untruth', and this inauthentic way of Being makes possible closing
off, illusion, and error. Hence a deeper analysis shows that the proposition
'The locus of truth is the judgment' becomes its reverse, 'The locus of the
judgment is truth', that is, ontic truth, in which the maker of the judgment
must already stand at all times in order to be able to judge. It follows
further that there can be truth only so long as there is Dasein, which is to
say, so long as men exist; otherwise, beings cannot be uncovered. Also,
from this point of view the necessity to presuppose truth loses its obvious-
ness; for we are required to make this presupposition only because we
must 'presuppose' (i.e., accept simply as being-there) our own selves. But
this 'presupposition' is not 'necessary' so long as we are not asked whether
we wish at all to be or not to be.

6. Being-toward-Death
We obtain the totality of Dasein, which thus far has been broken down

into various kinds of separate structures, by including the phenomenon

of death. According to the ontology of on-handness, death is a Being-at-
an-end of Dasein in the sense that a substantial '1' passes through a
temporal interval and with death such passage ceases. Actually, however,
death as a boundary is permanently interwoven with existing Dasein, for
the latter knows about death and is constantly trying to come to terms
with it. This continuous, if for the most part 'unconscious', relationship
to death Heidegger calls 'Being-toward-death'. Death is that possibility
of human Being most his own, since it cannot be taken over from him by
any proxy. Death is non-relational, since it abolishes all relations to the
world and throws Dasein back into its loneliness. It cannot be outstripped
because it signifies the last possibility of living existence. Moreover, it is
certain, yet indeterminate with respect to its occurrence in fact. Because
Dasein for the most part exists falling, man thus behaves inauthentically
at first to this ownmost, non-relational, not-to-be-outstripped, certain but
indeterminate possibility. He trivializes death by putting it aside as some-
thing occurring in the future which does not yet affect him. In this manner,
he conceals from himself the fact that death is possible at any moment.
Hence authentic Being-toward-death can consist only in the fact that
death is not evaded but endured, and indeed precisely in its character as
an indeterminate possibility. Such enduring is for Heidegger the ultimate
ideal of Existence; he calls it 'anticipation of death' (' Vorlaufen in den
Tod'). Here Dasein first reaches its supreme authenticity in that it is freed
from the nullity of everydayness and is called upon to exert the greatest
of effort. Any resting on past 'victories' is henceforth impossible, and now
for the first time man's eyes are opened to the magnitude of other

7. Conscience, Being-Guilty, and Authentic Existence

The ideal of an authentic Existence expresses most distinctively the im-
manent character of Heidegger's philosophy - its renunciation of any
attempt to define the authenticity of man with the aid of such transcendent
entities as God or absolute values. In the very nature of the case, such an
ideal could not be secured through a simple analysis of the phenomena.
In order to regain firm phenomenal ground, we must look for a factually
discoverable aspect of Dasein that is a summons to authentic Being. This
phenomenon is conscience. In it Dasein calls to its own self, and it does

so in the uncanny mode of keeping silent. What is being called to is not

something defined as to content; rather, Dasein is summoned or aroused
to be its very own self. No wonder the voice of the summons seems
strange; for nothing could be more strange to a Dasein that exists in the
mode of Being of the 'They' than the self absolutely individualized to
itself. Likewise, the uncanny certainty with which the summoner makes
contact with the summoned can rest solely on the fact that the two are
identical. The call, of course, is not consciously planned; it comes from
me, yet from beyond me.
What makes the call of conscience manifest is Dasein's Being-guilty.
By this Heidegger means not a factual incurring of guilt, but the essential
nullity of Dasein, which consists above all in the contradictory character
of Being-a-man. On the one hand, man himself has to lay the ground-
work of his Being (since he, as Being-possible, must first decide about his
own self); on the other hand, he finds himself already set down in the fact
of his Being, thus has not of himself established this Being and so can
never become fully master of his self. Dasein is first fully disclosed in its
Being-guilty when it comprehends itself as guilty up to its end. But this
is possible only if it itself anticipates the end, that is, death. Thus the
notion of authentic Existence anticipating death is brought into harmony
with the phenomenon of conscience. The tensed attitude that springs from
authentically hearing the call of conscience and in which Dasein first
arrives at its existential truth, Heidegger designates by the name' resolute-
ness' {'Entschlossenheit'). The final formula for the ideal of Existence
then is: 'the silent, prepared-for-dread, self-projection upon one's own-
most Being-guilty'.

8. Temporality
The existential and anthropological problematic governing these last
several analyses gains further ontological importance when the meaning-
of-Being of care is set forth as temporality. By meaning here is meant
nothing other than that as which the unity of the care structure can be
understood. It may seem at first that the unity of human Dasein has
become even more questionable as a result of Dasein's being enlarged by
the addition of the phenomena of death, guilt and conscience. Yet, as a
matter of fact, the existential concept of death will now provide the initial
step in expounding the structure of time.

When authentic man anticipates death as a possibility of his own, the

paradoxical element here seems to lie in the fact that man, to whom as
an entity existing in the form of possibilities also belongs the final possi-
bility of death, comes toward his own self (auf sich selbst zukommt).
Now Heidegger sees in this coming-toward-oneself the primordial phe-
nomenon of the future (Zukunft). In this sense, the future has nothing
to do with a later, uniquely occurring point 'now', but simply character-
izes that medium in which Being-ahead-of-oneself is possible. Man is, as
such, 'futural' (zukiinftig), and he is so 'at every moment'. On the other
hand, when the call of conscience impels man to take over or accept his
nullity and thrownness, this means that he is to take over himself as that
which he already always was. Thrownness thus contains the' character of
having-been' (' Gewesenheit'). Because anticipatory resoluteness and the
taking over of Being-guilty bring about a cleared hearing for what is
encountered, there is then called forth an openness to the present. The
unity of the future, the having-been and the present is seen to be the
meaning that makes care possible, and this unity Heidegger calls 'tempo-
rality'. We thus reach the ultimate stratum of Being in man and at the
same time bring man's finitude under a unified formula.
Authenticity and inauthenticity now turn out to be modes of bringing
about temporality. In inauthentic Being-in-the-world - where Dasein
allows itself to be driven along, and skips from one distraction to another
- the arc spanning past and future is compressed to a minimum. The non-
resolute yet bustling absorption in the momentary that rules here,
Heidegger labels 'making present' ('Gegenwartigen'); and the setting of
sights on what are still objects of concern, that prevails at the same time,
he designates 'awaiting' ('Gewartigen'). Since in the mode of inauthen-
ticity, Dasein has closed itself off from taking over thrownness (i.e., Being-
guilty), its having-been has passed into having-forgotten. Thus the unity
of inauthentic Dasein's temporality is an awaiting that forgets and makes
present (das vergessend-gegenwartigende Gewartigen).
In authentic Existence, on the other hand, the three-dimensionality of
time achieves its full due. For what results here is a resolute turning to the
future (death), which is simultaneously a return to nullity (having-been),
and which lets the existential moment (of vision) spring forth in a concen-
trated burst of power.12 Dasein's openness to the world comes about in
conformity with the three dimensions of time: through this openness

alone can beings be encountered in the present, future possibilities grasped

as such, and the past understood as the past. Such openness is possible
only because Dasein itself is nothing but Being-opened temporally. There-
fore Heidegger speaks of the three 'ekstases' of temporality. The essential
point is that this primordial time is qualitative and finite (bounded by
birth and death), and not quantitative and infinite. Infinite or so-called
objective time has its origin in finite time. Within the concerned inter-
course of the world, a chronology arises based on the original time data
expressed by Dasein in such words as 'now', 'then', 'in those days'. This
chronology acquires a public character, and treats time as if it were some-
thing itself encountered in the world. Finally, because the theoretical atti-
tude causes everything to fade into mere things on hand, time too is
levelled off and becomes an uninterrupted, undifferentiated sequence of
qualitatively neutral 'now-points' on hand.

9. Historicality and Repetition

Temporality also serves as the foundation for historicality. Man is tem-
poral not because he stands in the flux of time, but because temporality
constitutes his innermost essential core. Similarly, man is not historical
in character because he is part of the 'objective' course of world history;
rather, something like objective world history is possible only because
Dasein as such is constituted by historicality. In this instance, too, the
objective element is reduced to a structural aspect of subjectivity.
Heidegger ties the problem of historicality to the question of whence
authentically existing man takes the possibilities of which he is to avail
himself. While man gains his resoluteness by looking unconcealed death
in the face, yet he cannot obtain the possibilities themselves from death,
since death itself exerts the powerful pressure that throws Dasein back
into moment-to-moment decision. Rather, the possibilities stem from the
heritage that Dasein hands down to itself. While inauthentic Dasein
snatches up the random flow of ambiguous opportunities offered it by
publicness, authentic Existence goes back explicitly to the have-been
possibilities of Existence which it makes its own. The less ambiguously
Dasein projects itself onto its ownmost possibility of death, the more un-
ambiguous is the choice of a hero, made here, and the more certain the
discovery of the Existence-possibilities that are to be appropriated. Thus
in historicality, too, the future is the primary mode of bringing Dasein

to maturity. The more 'futural' Dasein is, the more open it is to the have-
been possibilities of Being. Hence man, and specifically authentically
existing man, is a repeating creature. Repetition is not an empty bringing
back of the past, nor merely a tying back of the present to what has been
outstripped; it is a rejoinder to what has-been-there, which comes out of
the depths of Existence, but which, as a decision of the moment, is at the
same time a decisive disavowal of the mere working out of the past in
the present. Human activity acquires historical meaning not because it is
part of a presumably known, objective, historical context of meaning, but
because it bends back to the individual uniqueness of what has been, and
answering this, pushes forward into the still uncertain obscurity of the
But only the acceptance of thrownness, not the deliverance from it, can
bring about historicality. This boundary cannot be infringed by finite
Existence. All of these aspects are summarized by Heidegger in a sentence
that illustrates both the extraordinary difficulty of his language and its
powerful dynamics: "Only an entity which, in its Being, is essentially
futural so that it is free for its death and can let itself be thrown back upon
its factical 'there' by shattering itself against death - that is to say, only
an entity which, as futural, is equiprimordially in the process of having-
been, can, by handing down to itself the possibility it has inherited, take
over its own thrownness and be in the moment of vision for 'its time'.
Only authentic temporality which is at the same time finite, makes possible
something like ... authentic historicality." 13
Thus, in the overall view of existential ontology, man is pictured as a
nugatory creature thrown unasked into the world, finite, wedged between
the dark poles of birth and death, placed in situations that cannot be
lighted up, filled with dread to the depths of his being - a creature who
comports himself with concern for the world around him, solicitude for
his fellow-men, and care for himself, who for the most part exists lost
in the 'They', and is called upon by conscience to take over Being-guilty
by enduring his own death, and to make use of his historicality by a
repeating or recapitulating appropriation of what has been. But the inner-
most core of man, which for the first time allows all of these structural
aspects to be seen in unity, is temporality. It is the medium, the horizon,
within which a genuine understanding of the Being of human Dasein is
to be obtained.

The original inquiry, however, was addressed not to man but to the
meaning of Being in general. Man's finite Existence was to constitute
only the transit point toward this goal. Time has been shown to be the
horizon of understanding of human Being. But the question still is
whether time forms the medium for the understanding of Being in general.
This question, which suggests the further one as to whether we can push
on through finitude to Being itself, marks the close of the first part of
Sein und Zeit. 14

Heidegger's philosophy is one of those undertakings designed to effect a

turn in the development of philosophy, but which at the same time carry
with them the danger of making all that has gone before look antiquated.
The inevitable result is a certain lack of inner restraint in thinking.
Such a philosophy, with its fundamentally new method of approach,
contains the potential for a two-fold reaction. If we do not make the
turn even experimentally with Heidegger, but judge his philosophy
from some rigidly assumed standpoint, then the whole thing is bound
to seem an incomprehensible word-picture, or at best a vain attempt at
a rationalized irrationalism. If, on the contrary, we do succeed in exe-
cuting the turn, we make the acquaintance of a fundamentally new way
of looking at questions, which can so strongly dominate and take pos-
session of us that all previous achievements in philosophy appear out-
moded. These two viewpoints are equally one-sided, yet they are the
usual ones. It is the inner tragedy of Heidegger's philosophy that neither
friends nor foes have paid attention to the positive metaphysical points
in his 'system'. In the case of foes, this is not surprising; what always
distinguishes blanket rejections is the willful failure to perceive new
knowledge, along with the errors that are sought. But even the approval
accorded Heidegger has often done his philosophy more harm than good.
For the very fact that he has presented a metaphysical interpretation of
the fundamental mood of modern man (whether that mood is consciously
experienced or resonates as an unconscious undertone) has inevitably
called forth all kinds of uncontrolled fancies and improvisations. These
stand in odd contrast to a philosophy that made the critical rigor of
Husserl its chief methodological principle.
We have deliberately refrained from giving an account of the various

writings published by Heidegger since the appearance of his main work.

These studies are not systematically connected to one another; moreover
in each of them only a quite special problem is considered. Hence they
would all require individual exposition and evaluation, for which space
is not available in this book. We deem it more important to afford the
reader a closer view of the range of ideas in Heidegger's chief work, for
only an understanding of this work opens the door to his other writings.
We shall, however, make one exception, and insert a brief discussion of
Heidegger's book on Kant. Our intent is not only to illustrate once more
what is peculiar to Heidegger's kind of thinking, using as an example his
critique of an earlier philosophical doctrine, but also to exhibit with the
aid of the Kant book some of the dangers that lie hidden in Heidegger's
thought. Since in this instance our exposition is directly followed by a
critical assessment, we have included this section in the evaluation of
Heidegger's philosophy.
Heidegger emphatically denies that Kant's aim in the Critique of Pure
Reason (hereafter abbreviated as CPR) was wholly or even in part to
provide an epistemology so as to base on it a metaphysics. A proper
understanding of Kant, says Heidegger, is impossible unless indeed we
first start from what metaphysics essentially is, namely, a theory of Being
or ontology. But we obtain access to the problem of Being only by way
of man's understanding of Being; therefore the question of Being as such
must be preceded by the question of human Being. This latter question
forms the exclusive subject-matter of the metaphysics of human Dasein or
fundamental ontology, without which no further metaphysics is possible.
Thus the ultimate starting-point of fundamental ontology is not some
problem posed abstractly, but the concrete question: 'What is man?' It
was precisely this question, according to Heidegger, that moved Kant so
deeply and determined the direction of all of his investigations of meta-
physics. And when Kant, in his theoretical philosophy, analyzed the
human capacity for knowledge, that analysis was not an end in itself. On
the contrary, insight into human knowledge was to be the means of
gaining insight into the essence of human Dasein. Kant's goal was to
"reveal the finitude in man", which was to show itself in the finitude of
human knowledge. The latter expresses itself in the fact that all human
knowledge is referred to intuition. That is to say, all intuiting is in its
essence 'receptive', and consists in a primal 'acceptance'. This is not

contradicted by Kant's later emphasis on the "spontaneity of the under-

standing". For all thinking must travel a roundabout way through general
concepts in order to be able to represent what is particular. But this
'roundaboutness' or discursiveness of the understanding is the keenest
index of its finitude. Even human reason remains imprisoned by finitude;
it cannot rise above experience and is therefore a "pure, sensuous reason".
Kant's three-fold division of human knowledge into sensibility, under-
standing and reason is therefore, in Heidegger's view, merely preliminary
in character. These three 'faculties', it turns out, are originally united in
a single 'root-faculty'. Heidegger believes he can prove that this pri-
mordial faculty is Kant's transcendental imagination. 15 By discovering this
basic faculty, Kant was able to grasp the problem of finitude in all of its
acuteness. At this juncture, however, according to Heidegger, something
quite essential occurred which he regards as the really important develop-
ment in the Kantian critique of reason: Kant took fright at this "dis-
closure of the subjectivity of the subject" and pulled back from his own
discovery. The transcendental imagination was, for him, the disturbing
unknown; in the second edition of the CPR, he thrust it aside and substi-
tuted the understanding in its place.
There is no doubt that Heidegger's interpretation of Kant, sketched
here only in rough outline, contains many other interesting and instructive
detailed analyses. Nevertheless, an interpretation of this sort cannot but
appear extremely questionable. The very attempt to understand Kant's
critique of reason from the standpoint of the question of Being already
does violence to it. For this involves operating with a concept of meta-
physics - namely, metaphysics as the theory of Being - that is repugnant
to the Kantian spirit. The Heidegger concept of metaphysics contains a
characterization of the subject-matter of this discipline, a characterization
based on what it is that metaphysics (primarily or exclusively) concerns
itself with. Kant raised many objections to this way of conceiving meta-
physics (see CPR, B, pp. 870 if.). In his view, the only possible characteri-
zation of metaphysics is a formal one, that is, one couched in terms of the
essential features of metaphysical statements. Such a characterization is
made feasible by Kant's ingenious classification of judgments into empiri-
cal and a priori, on the one hand, and analytic and synthetic, on the other.
Metaphysical statements are synthetic a priori statements, more exactly,
non-mathematical synthetic a priori statements (i.e., those that do not rest

on constructions in the intuition). We have already briefly described such

statements in a previous passage as propositions whose truth-values we
can establish, even though this determination requires no observations
and cannot be obtained solely with the means of formal logic.
Kant's critique of reason, when looked at from the standpoint of
synthetic a priori statements, falls into two parts, one constructive, the
other destructive, In the latter part, the 'bad' metaphysical statements
(that is, those that do not stand up under a rigorous critique) are rejected;
these are the propositions of rational metaphysics, which make claims
about God, the soul, and the universe as a whole. The constructive part
contains, besides an analysis of mathematical knowledge, the exposition
and proof of 'good' metaphysical statements. These comprise all such
synthetic a priori statements as are presupposed by the general validity
of the propositions of the natural sciences, and even of those of pre-
scientific experience. In a certain respect it is therefore correct to say that
Kant was concerned primarily not with epistemology but with the es-
tablishment of a metaphysics. The latter, however, was neither a rational
metaphysics nor one in the Heidegger sense (which is governed by the
question of Being), but a metaphysics of experience. The kernel of it, in
CPR, is Kant's 'Analytic of Principles' - which, by the way, Heidegger
completely neglects. It was there that Kant undertook systematically to
assemble the synthetic a priori presuppositions of empirical knowledge.
According to Kant, all empirical sciences rest on metaphysical pre-
suppositions. The reverse side of the coin, however, is that a scientifically
tenable metaphysics necessarily completes its task once it has formulated
these presuppositions of empirical knowledge. It cannot provide anything
more than these presuppositions; in particular, it cannot become a science
of reality that goes beyond empirical data, as 'bad' rational metaphysics
claims to do.
Suppose we now make the following Gedankenexperiment: Instead of
interpreting the Kantian critique from the standpoint of Heidegger's con-
ception of the problem of Being, let us turn the question around and ask
how we are to characterize Heidegger's philosophy ifwe take as our basis
the problematic and results of Kant's CPR. The answer is quite plain.
Viewed from the Kantian standpoint, Heidegger's existential ontology
comes under 'bad' metaphysics, more exactly, under rational psychology.
Here, of course, 'rational psychology' is not to be taken in the special

historical form in which it was passed on to Kant. Heidegger's philosophy

contains no proof either of the substantiality of the soul or of its im-
mortality. However, it is also true that the Kantian critique is not directed
solely against these special theses of the Wolffian rational psychology, but
against the very possibility of an a priori science of man. Yet this is
precisely the claim that Heidegger makes for his analysis of the essence
of man. For, since the Heidegger results neither follow from mere con-
ceptual analysis nor rest on observations, they represent, in Kant's termi-
nology, non-mathematical synthetic a priori statements and hence are
metaphysical. Yet they are certainly not statements in which the pre-
suppositions of empirical scientific knowledge are formulated (as with
'good' metaphysics). On the contrary, they are statements that supposedly
contain essential insights into some domain of reality (as in the case of
scientifically untenable metaphysics). It is true that Heidegger includes in
the title of his studies the Kantian predicate 'transcendental', and that his
pursuit of human Dasein is not an end in itself but the pathway to a
metaphysics of Being. These circumstances, however, should not deceive
us as to the fact that Heidegger here is aiming at the kind of knowledge
that Kant held to be impossible.
This conclusion is in no way intended to 'play off' Kant against
Heidegger. We are not assuming that the Kantian position is correct; we
have formulated only the conditional assertion: if the Kantian standpoint
is accepted in principle, then Heidegger's philosophy is vulnerable to
Kant's destructive critique. For the sake of historical accuracy and justice,
it is absolutely necessary that we see this point clearly.
We can agree fully that interpreting the constructive part of Kant's
philosophy as a metaphysics of experience is not the only way of viewing
it. Kant's thought operates on many levels and thus offers many possi-
bilities of interpretation. For example, we may place the main emphasis
on the foundation laid by Kant for transcendental idealism; or we may
look upon his theoretical philosophy as a constituting of the concept of
the real world; or, finally, we may even interpret his endeavors from the
standpoint of the formulation of particular problems, say, the theory of
an objective temporal order (the topology of time). But no matter how
we interpret Kant, Heidegger's chosen starting-point - the formulation
of questions in the terms of fundamental ontology - is the one least suited
to gaining real access to Kant's concerns. Hence one can only be dis-

tressed when Heidegger states flatly and aggressively that by means of his
analysis of Kant he has 'refuted conclusively' all interpretations that con-
nect Kant's formulations of problems to questions of epistemology. In
support of Heidegger's account, the point may be made that the "problem
of finitude in man" does touch a very important concern of Kant's. This
we can concede. But we ought not to overlook the fact that in Kant's view
there also exist concepts of reason, which are all rooted in the idea of the
unconditioned, and that man as a moral being - that is to say, as a freely
deciding creature - does not remain imprisoned by temporality and fini-
tude, but belongs to the intelligible world. On the basis of his ethics, and
within the framework of his philosophy of religion, Kant was stilI able
to arrive in the end at a metaphysics of the supersensible, although the
latter could not be proved theoretically.
We may regard as the main point of this metaphysics the proposition
that a man lacking revelation - that is, a man who in religious matters
does not rely on revelation - is entitled (but not obliged) to believe in God
and the immortality of the soul. This proposition is demonstrated by
starting from the interests of practical reason: A moral personality has
an interest in belonging to a world that affords it the prospect of un-
limited ethical perfection and, in addition, the prospect of a happiness
corresponding to its ethical value. According to Kant, through a principle
of inference not logically demonstrable, we may, basing ourselves on the
interests of practical reason, move on to a belief in the existence of that
which satisfies these interests - that is, a moral world - from which in
turn we can easily derive the existence of God and the immortality of the
This aspect of the Kantian philosophy has been given so much promi-
nence because it serves to make clear the great contrast to Heidegger's
thinking. Heidegger is a philosophical 'monist' in the sense that for him
there is nothing beyond the domain of temporal human Dasein, with all
the existential-ontological traits cited above. When he attempts to reduce
the three Kantian cognitive faculties to the transcendental imagination,
he imposes a monism upon Kant, too; for there is left standing, for the
whole interpretation of Kant, only one plane of reference of temporal
human Dasein. But Kant was not a monist, he was a dualist - man as a
moral creature belongs not to the phenomenal world to which our theo-
retical knowledge is restricted, but to the noumenal or intelligible world.

Man, as the intelligible T, is not subject to the temporality andfinitude of

Dasein. In the domain of theoretical knowledge, the tendency of reason
is to try to go beyond sense experience, without being able in fact to leave
the plane of experience. With respect to practice, however, reason does
succeed in breaking out of the world of the senses and obtaining a view
of the supra-temporal. Consequently, when Heidegger construes the
Kantian reason as "pure sensuous reason", this in the Kantian sense is
like saying 'wooden iron'. For in Kant's view, reason is precisely that
'faculty' which presses on to the supersensible and the supra-temporal.
In a critical review of Heidegger's book on Kant, Ernst Cassirer, one of
the finest Kant scholars, has accordingly remarked that Heidegger speaks
not as a 'commentator' on Kant but as a "usurper who, as it were, pushes
his way into the Kantian system by force of arms in order to subjugate it
and make it serve his own problematic".16
This brings us to the heart of the matter. When Heidegger says that
Kant's concern is the problem of finitude, what must be added is that
Kant's concept offinitude is entirely different from Heidegger's. Kant has
in mind the limitation of the human cognitive faculty. For Heidegger, the
finitude of human Dasein is characterized by dread, death, Being-guilty,
and falling; finite Dasein is a Being-maintained in nothingness. There is
a spiritual atmosphere behind this characterization, a feeling about life and
the world, essentially different from that of Kant. Yet it is only by in-
admissibly projecting this basic Kierkegaardian mood of Existence philo-
sophy onto Kant, that Heidegger arrives at his unwarranted 'dramati-
zation' of 'what really happened' in Kant's critique of reason - that Kant
had looked into the abyss of finite human Dasein and had drawn back
in alarm at what he saw, only to cover it up in the second edition of his
On the other hand, if we start with Kant's concept of finitude, we see
that the only thing he could have drawn back from in fright was the re-
nunciation of any rational metaphysics of supersensible objects. But in
his Critical phase Kant never retreated from this consequence of his
theory; the abandonment of rational metaphysics held no hidden terrors
for him. Furthermore, it can be said that Heidegger, in his interpretation,
has introduced here an hypothesis that historically is extremely improba-
ble. For we know the external circumstance that moved Kant to revise
his CP R: it was a review that contained a psychologistic interpretation

of his doctrine. Kant's efforts were aimed at recasting those portions of

the critique of reason that were liable to such misinterpretation. What is
more, the parts of the CPR in which the transcendental imagination plays
a leading role Kant did not change at all.
We said above that the whole mood in Kant differs completely in kind
from the basic mood of Existence philosophy, and that consequently the
image of a Kant gazing into an 'abyss' is false. There is no better de-
scription of Kant's attitude than the words of Cassirer: "Kant is and
remains a thinker of the Enlightenment, in the noblest and most beautiful
sense of the term; he strives for light and clarity even when he meditates
on the deepest and most hidden grounds of being. "17
Just what the danger is in Heidegger's philosophy for the interpretation
of historically transmitted doctrines should by now be clear. Briefly, it
consists in superimposing the basic mood of Existence philosophy upon
thinkers with an entirely different attitude toward life and in giving their
formulations of problems and their results an interpretation not only
remote from these thinkers but also impossible to obtain regardless of
how intensively one tries to 'think further about' or 'think through' their
doctrines - always provided, of course, one does not force this foreign
atmosphere upon them by erecting as an absolute the feeling toward life
characteristic of Existence philosophy. One would have expected of a
philosophy like Heidegger's especially, which puts so much stress on the
historicality of man, that it allow historical accuracy to govern in the
intellectual mastering of past philosophy.
Another reason for discussing the example of Kant in such detail is
that it serves to illustrate one of the chief differences between the philo-
sophies of Jaspers and Heidegger. Of the two, Jaspers is essentially closer
to Kant, above all to the Kant who is cognizant of concepts of reason,
and of the idea of the unconditioned: who in his practical philosophy con-
ceives of man as a creature who is a freely deciding personality and hence
at bottom only what he makes of himself; and who finally in his philoso-
phy of religion points out a "philosophical road to salvation". In Jaspers,
of course, we also find the very different basic mood of Existence phi-
losophy, which is essentially foreign to Kant, as well as an emphasis on
the unique in contradistinction to Kant's underscoring of the universally
binding (particularly, with respect to moral decisions). Nonetheless, the
concept of 'possible Existence' in Jaspers bears a much closer resemblance

to the intelligible'!' of Kant than it does, say, to the concept of authentic

Existence in Heidegger. This rests ultimately on the fact that Jaspers, like
Kant, is a dualist. As a matter of fact, Jaspers' dualism results from a
thoroughgoing acceptance of Kant's epistemological position: man as
possible Existence belongs, like Divinity, not to the domain of what can
be comprehended by the understanding but to that of the 'things-in-
themselves'. In his book on Kant, Heidegger, through the notion of
'sensuous reason', basically negates the Kantian concept of reason by
drawing this concept down to the plane of temporal Dasein. Conversely,
Jaspers tries to widen the Kantian concept of reason and endow it with
an additional dynamic and greater existential importance as the opposite
pole to the concept of Existence.
As to the systematic part of the Heidegger philosophy, we wish to
confine ourselves in the main to a brief discussion of a single point, the
problem of Being, which Heidegger selects as the place to begin his studies.
In his view, the point of departure in dealing with this problem must be
the pre-scientific understanding of Being, present when in everyday life
we use the auxiliary verb 'to be' ('sein') as in such statements as 'The sky
is blue' or 'Hans is blond'. We can and must concede Heidegger his point
of departure. But we should expect him then to do something altogether
different from what he actually does - we should expect him to analyze
more closely the ordinary meanings of or the various ways of using the
auxiliary verb 'to be'. True enough, he does emphasize at the very be-
ginning that man in the 'mode of everydayness' actually 'suppresses' an
'authentic' understanding of Being. But whatever may be the case in that
respect, the very first thing to be examined is whether the expression 'to be'
is not in general used ambiguously, whether it does not, so to speak,
accidentally unite in one 'person' different functions or usages (just as,
e.g., the roles of bank director, chairman of a board, and horse-breeder
may by chance be combined in the person of one man).
A closer examination shows that there are in fact entirely different uses
of the verb 'to be'. Some of these indeed were already known to Aristotle.
For example, in the statement 'Schiller is the author of Wallenstein' the
verb 'to be' is intended to be taken in the sense of identity; in the state-
ment 'Schiller is a poet' the verb serves to express the thing-property
relation (or, in extensional terms, the class-membership relation, since the
statement is equivalent to the assertion that Schiller is a member of the

class of poets). The statement 'God is' expresses an existential assertion

(namely, 'God exists' or 'There is a God'). With respect to the use of 'to
be', the example 'The sky is blue' is on a par with 'Schiller is a poet'.
On the other hand, the statement 'The lion is a wild animal' exhibits a
quite different use of 'to be', and it would therefore be entirely wrong to
interpret this use as being the same as in 'The sky is blue'. The misleading
similarity between these last two cases rests on the fact that the definite
article is employed in both. But whereas the expression 'the sky' serves
to designate a definite object, the expression 'the lion' does not. Rather,
the statement about lions means the same as 'Lions are wild animals'.
Thus what it refers to is not a relation between an object and a property,
as in the other two instances, but a relation between a property and another
property that embraces it (in extensional terms, between a sub-class and
a class which includes that subclass). That the thing-property relation (or
the class-membership relation) can be employed even when the 'thing' in
question is itself a class or property is shown by the example 'The apostles
are twelve (in number)'. Here 'twelve' is affirmed of the property of being
an apostle (or of the class of apostles) and not of the individual apostles
(otherwise we should have the absurd consequence that each individual
apostle is twelve; whereas from the statement 'The apostles are pious',
we can in fact infer that each apostle is pious).
In addition, there are uses of 'to be' in modal contexts, such as 'It is
possible that it will rain tomorrow' or 'It is necessary that man dies'; and
still other uses are found in, say, 'This is so-so', or in expressions of agree-
ment, such as 'Yes, that is right!,18
The vagueness of the 'everyday understanding of Being' is manifested
above all in the fact that one and the same word is employed for all the
quite different functions cited here. We do away with this vagueness (that
is, we eliminate the equivocations on 'to be') as soon as we decide to
choose distinct signs and to associate with each of them one and only one
of the uses of 'to be' indicated above. (This, in fact, is done in a logically
precise language, such as that of mathematics, where the three different
symbols' = " 'E' and 'c' are used for identity, class membership, and
class inclusion respectively.)
Accordingly, an indispensable preliminary task for any ontology must
be to sort out the various verbal meanings of 'to be'. Now the objection
might be offered that Heidegger assumes this (apparently) 'trivial' task

to have already been achieved. But this is contradicted by the fact that the
examples he gives are quite heterogeneous in character: at times he ap-
pears to take 'Being' (' Sein') in the sense of Existence, but then he intro-
duces 'to be' ('sein') as a copula, as in 'The sky is blue'. More serious,
perhaps, than the failure to distinguish among these various meanings is
the tacitly assumed Platonism involved in employing 'to be' ('sein') as a
substantive, specifically in the expression 'the Being' (' das Sein'). All the
difficulties cited by Brentano arise here. The expression 'the Being' is
supposed to characterize an object (in the wider sense of the term, in
which we call 'object' anything to which we can refer by means of a name
or a description), and thus this object must itself have a Being. Hence
if it is permissible to speak of the Being, we must also grant that this
Being itself has a Being, thus that there is a Being of the Being, and so
forth ad infinitum.
What has been said about Being applies analogously to all predicate
expressions. Let us call such predicates concrete general terms, since they
can be applied to concrete objects; and let us call the names of objects
singular terms. The question that then arises is whether, in addition to
concrete singular terms (names of individuals), there are also abstract
singular terms, which designate non-concrete objects, such as colors or
other qualities, relations and the like. The transition to Platonism consists
in interpreting concrete general terms as being at the same time abstract
singular terms. For instance, the general predicate 'red', predicable of
concrete objects, is conceived of as the name of an object, namely, redness.
Non-Platonists, such as Brentano, would reject this account and ac-
cordingly would recognize the Heidegger expressions 'historicality',
'temporality', 'resoluteness' merely as 'synsemantic'.
These remarks are not intended as a polemic against the Platonism of
Heidegger. We merely want to call attention to the following difficulty.
Undoubtedly, the problem of universals is an ontological problem, and
one that is neutral with respect to interpreting the de terminations of
Being either as 'Existenzialien' or as categories. Now we should expect
that an investigation in fundamental ontology, which is supposed to
precede all special ontologies, would use only such formulations as are
independent of any particular standpoint on the question of universals,
or else that it would raise this problem and proceed toward a solution.
Such an investigation, however, dare not assume that this problem is

solved, in particular solved in the Platonist sense. Yet this is precisely

what Heidegger does.
As concerns the problem of Being, it is simply not so that this whole
problem comes to nothing unless we believe in Being (das Sein). We can
by all means raise the Aristotelian question about being as being (nach
dem Seienden als Seiendem); but we are not permitted to go on - at least,
not without a thorough inquiry and demonstration - to reinterpret this
question in a Platonist fashion as one about the Being of all being (nach
dem Sein des Seienden).
The misgivings raised here against Being are strengthened when
Heidegger talks of nothingness (das Nichts). He does not do so in his
chief work, but in his Was 1st Metaphysik?, where nothingness is the
main topic discussed. Since the expression 'nothing' ('nichts') stems from
everyday language, we should, prior to any further reflections, consider
what function this word fulfills. At first glance, the word seems to possess
the function of a grammatical subject; for in 'nothing is both round and
square', the expression 'nothing' ('nichts') occupies exactly the same place
as the word 'Brazil' in 'Brazil is large and thinly populated'. This gram-
matical resemblance is the basic reason why philosophers, Heidegger in
particular, time and again conceive the expression 'nothing' as designating
a subject and hence use it substantively, supplying it with the definite
article. According to this conception, there must then be an object to
which we refer by means of the designation 'nothingness' ('das Nichts').
That such a view is untenable is shown by the fact, among others, that
within a statement with a compound predicate we can shift an object-
designation over the 'and', thereby obtaining a compound statement
equivalent to the original simple one. In the case of 'nothing', however,
this does not work. For instance, the statement 'Brazil is large and thinly
populated' is logically equivalent to the statement 'Brazil is large and
Brazil is thinly populated'; but 'nothing is round and square' is obviously
not equivalent to 'nothing is round and nothing is square'. For the latter
is false, while the statement from which it is derived is true.
As a matter of fact, the word 'nothing' serves to deny a general assertion
of existence. It is only by historical accident that the two symbols 'not'
('nicht') and 'there is' ('es gibt') in this sequence have fused into the
single word 'nothing' (,nichts'). For example, our original statement,
formulated more exactly, says 'It is not the case that there is something

that is both round and square'. Hence in a language freed from the
vaguenesses and especially from the misleading grammar of ordinary
language, the word 'nothing' or an equivalent cannot occur at all, and
therefore a disposition to speak of 'nothingness' can no longer arise.
Perhaps the objection might be made that Heidegger uses the expression
'nothing' in a sense entirely different from that of ordinary language when
he says that nothingness manifests itself in dread and this experience
reveals the fact that Dasein is a Being-maintained in nothingness. But
even apart from the fact that it would still be extremely misleading to
take an expression used both in ordinary life and in science in a quite
definite way and suddenly provide it with an entirely new meaning, this
objection does not hold. Heidegger undertakes his analysis more for the
purpose of investigating the essence of negation. As soon as he comes to
the task of metaphysics, he says: "Metaphysics occupies itself with being
and nothing else (sonst nichts)." And in the very next sentence he asks:
"How do matters stand with this nothingness (dieses Nichts)?" In the
first of the two sentences, the word 'nothing' is used in quite the custom-
ary sense; for this statement is equivalent to 'It is not the case that meta-
physics occupies itself with something other than being'. In the second
sentence the expression 'nothing(ness)' suddenly functions as the desig-
nation for an object, as it does in the various other questions that
Heidegger throws out, such as 'How do we know nothingness?', 'How
do we find nothingness?' and the like. With this, the grammatical sleight-
of-hand is accomplished, and all further speculations rely on it.
We must now bring the discussion of Heidegger to a close. In our view,
the two thinkers to whom Heidegger stands nearest are Dilthey and
Kierkegaard. From the former he has taken over the radical immanentist
standpoint, explaining human Dasein 'in its own terms' without intro-
ducing transcendent entities. The spiritual atmosphere in which Heidegger
thinks and the attitude toward life which nourishes his philosophy are
those of Kierkegaard. We should perhaps add Augustine, whose philo-
sophical reflections about time were fitted into the Heidegger system in
a rather naive form. In addition, Heidegger himself explicitly stresses his
positive relation to Aristotle, one of the greatest logicians of all times,
and to Kant, one of the greatest epistemologists of all times. Neverthe-
less, in the light of the brief discussion above of Heidegger's book on
Kant and of the role that 'Being' and 'nothingness' play within the frame-

work of the ontological problematic, we cannot help but ask whether

Heidegger's fondness for Aristotle and Kant is not an instance of mis-
placed affection.
We do not want to leave the philosophy of Heidegger without expressly
pointing out that his work offers a virtually inexhaustible abundance of
new philosophical insights. Their full significance will be disclosed only
in the course of time - perhaps when the spiritual atmosphere and atti-
tude toward life have altered, and people recognize that Heidegger does
not speak to man only in the "need or urgency of his Being".


• The English equivalents used here for Heidegger's unique philosophical vocabulary
are, for the most part, those introduced by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson
in their translation of Heidegger's Sein und Zeit, entitled Being and Time, New York
1962. These include in particular 'Being' for 'Sein' and 'being' for 'seiend' (but here
also for 'Seiendes'). In addition, two brief passages from Sein und Zeit have been
quoted from the translation. ffranslator's note.]
1 Heidegger understands here by 'meaning' not what comes to mind when we speak
of the 'meaning of the world' or the 'meaning of existence' ('Sinn des Seins'), but
simply the ordinary verbal sense of 'Being'. Nicolai Hartmann's objection that this is
too little for the formulation of metaphysical problems does not hold in the case of
Heidegger. For reasons stated above, Heidegger's question is whether, in understanding
the word 'Being', we have not already fallen victim to a misinterpretation.
2 The word 'anthropology' here is taken in the widest sense conceivable so as to
embrace philosophical studies of man; it is not confined, as is often the custom today,
to the narrower circle of medical and biological problems.
3 M. Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, 1927, 1960, p. 136 (translated into English by John
Macquarrie and Edward Robinson as Being and Time, 1962, p. 175).
4 Kierkegaard referred to himself not as a philosopher but as a religious writer.
5 Cf. F. Heinemann, Neue Wege der Philosophie, 1929, pp. 186ff.
6 Cf. the exceptionally clear account by O. Bollnow, 'Existenz-philosophie', in Syste-
matische philosophie (ed. by N. Hartmann), 1942.
7 It should be recalled that here and in the sequel, in accordance with the Heidegger
terminology, by 'Dasein' is to be understood 'human Dasein'.
8 Cf. the introductory comments in the preceding section (point 12).
9 We should note the connection with ScheIer's concept of spirit. But what in Scheler
is made possible by the introduction of a new principle, is here derived from a changed
attitude toward the world.
10 The same suspension of all world meaning takes place in true boredom. As Heidegger
says in Was 1st Metaphysik?, (1929, 1943): "Deep boredom, moving to and fro in the
abysses of Dasein like a silent mist, draws together all things, men and even oneself
with them, into a strange indifference" (p. 14).
11 Because Dasein as Being-possible includes the not-yet, i.e., because Dasein is Being-
toward-the-potentiaIity-of-Being, Heidegger also speaks of 'Being-ahead-of-oneself'.

Since the 'not-yet realized' possibilities of man belong to his existential Being, man
always is already ahead of himself. If we designate thrownness by 'Being-already'
(-in-the-world) and falling by 'Being-alongside' (-of-the-world), we obtain Heidegger's
not very graceful expression for care: "being-ahead-of-itself - in-being-already-in ... -
as Being-alongside' ('Sich-vorweg-sein - im-schon-sein-in ... - als Sein-bei'). See M.
Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, op. cit., p. 196.
12 We must omit the temporal interpretations of the individual Existenzialien (under-
standing, state-of-mind and the like), as well as of world transcendence.
13 Sein und Zeit, op. cit., p. 385 (English tr., op. cit., p. 437).
14 The second part has not appeared, although more than 40 years have passed since
publication of Part One.
15 In elucidating this expression, we must limit ourselves to noting that Kant called
transcendental or pure those acts of consciousness that constitute the source of a priori
cognitions. The expression 'imagination' (,Einbildungskraft') is introduced because,
according to Kant, it is through the imagination that "the manifold of intuition is
brought into a single image". The pure imagination divides into pure apprehension
(the a priori component in the combining of simultaneously given contents of the
intuition) and pure reproduction (the a priori component in the combining of present
contents of consciousness with recollections of the past). In Kant's view, such non-
empirical or 'pure' faculties must exist, otherwise the synthetic unity of the contents
of our intuition would be inexplicable. For any such synthetic unity also contains a
synthesis of space and time; but both of these latter are, for Kant, a priori intuitions
and therefore cannot be combined into unities by empirical 'faculties'.
16 Kant-Studien 36 (1931) 17.
17 Op. cit., p. 24.
18 For a more detailed analysis of all these cases, see W. Stegmiiller, 'Sprache und
Logik', Studium Generate 9 (1956) #2, esp. pp. 57-65,74--77.





Heidegger, we have seen, goes beyond the domain of Existence philoso-

phy in his formulation of the problem of ontology. He strives, by means
of new forms of conceptual thought, to open up a more fundamental
access to the Being of man and thereby to all Being; and having thus set
himself a scientific goal, he rejects the name "Existence philosophy" for
his investigations.
Jaspers, on the other hand, explicitly renounces any scientific inquiry
into Being-human (Menschsein) , and in so doing is the first to give
definitive expression to the characteristic element in Existence philosophy.
All of his philosophizing is governed by the practical problem of how
man can manage to live in an impossible world, of which there is no
conclusive knowledge and which does not manifest itself in its true
character to any belief. All theoretical explanations in the end serve only
this practical aim. Although Jaspers' entire thought revolves continuously
around man, yet he holds that no final knowledge of man can be reached.
Existence philosophy, it is said, would cancel itself out if it claimed to know
what man is. The absurdity and unintelligibility of the real world extends
also to man himself and renders him incomprehensible to his own self.
In the world, nevertheless, man is obliged to arrive at meaningful
decision and significant action. In this situation, philosophy must serve
to provide man with a self-certainty that neither conjures up for him some
illusory world of fantasy nor delivers him over to skepticism and despair
after liberating him from all illusions, but leads the positive core of his
essence to supreme personal commitment. Since objective knowledge of
the Being of human Existence is not possible, philosophical self-certainty
cannot be attained simply as a by-product of generally valid knowledge.
Instead, special methods of philosophizing must be devised that have
nothing in common with the procedures of reasoning used in science.

First, since man at the outset is dominated by the belief that the totality
of beings can be understood scientifically, he has to be led to the boundary
of the objectively knowable where he can then be made aware that all
generally valid cognition is relative and of no use for grasping what
really matters. Second, this negative phase of eliminating all alleged
knowledge is followed by the positive philosophical stage. Here man is
summoned to be truly his own self without being offered knowledge of
his own Being and without being relieved of responsibility for his own
Dasein through being presented with universally applicable maxims of
conduct. Yet man himself, no matter how honest he may be or how
intensively he may exert his personality, is not able to find any ultimate
meaning in himself alone. Therefore philosophizing, in a third and final
step, presses on beyond even the inner world of man in order to assure
itself of the absolute, and this in an undogmatic manner that does not
imply definitive rational knowledge. In conformity with these three tasks,
Jaspers divides his first great philosophical work, Philosophie (1932), into
three parts: world-orientation (Weltorientierung), the illumination of
Existence (Existenzerhellung) and metaphysics.

1. World-Orientation
By world-orienting thought, Jaspers means the totality of those processes
of consciousness that are directed toward achieving universally valid
knowledge. It is exclusively through such processes that scientific world-
orientation operates. Philosophical world-orientation, on the other hand,
tries to make us see that thinking in categories suited to objects does not
capture true Being, that what is knowable for us is not Being in itself.
This basic idea coincides with that of Kant's theoretical philosophy. In
carrying it out, however, Jaspers takes other paths than does Kant;
Jaspers, likewise, has a different purpose in bringing man up to the limits
of cognition. Whereas Kant attempted by rational argumentation to
demonstrate his notion of the inapplicability of generally valid knowledge
to the world of things in themselves, Jaspers already moves beyond the
rational in the method he employs. For in his case, as opposed to Kant,
we cannot even know wherein the unknowability of the actual world
consists, since awareness of the basis for this unknowability of beings-in-
themselves would itself constitute cogent knowledge of Being. In place of
a logical demonstration, Jaspers picks out a number of examples from the

most varied fields of learning and uses these to exhibit the actual limits
of knowledge. As a rule, he applies a dialectical procedure: he starts with
a particular concept, analyzes it and shows at what point it necessarily
requires supplementation. When the supplement is forthcoming, he then
shows that it has not captured the decisive element, and indeed that this
element lies beyond what can be grasped in these concepts. When I
inquire into Being, e.g., I find that there are many kinds of Being: dead
and living, thing-like and personal, ideal and real, and so forth. All of
these together constitute an object for me, and thus fall under the heading
of Being-an-object. But this Being-an-object does not by any means
exhaust all Being; for whenever I confront an object I do so as that which
is not an object. Even when I attempt to lay hold of myself, I am there
as the 'I' to whom I become an object. The necessary correlate to Being-
an-object is Being-I, or Being-a-subject. Neither of these, however,
captures Being itself. When I try to grasp Being in itself, then, to the
extent that I apprehend it, I convert it into an object for myself and
thereby reduce it to Being-an-object. Thus the three ways of Being inter-
penetrate, although I am not able to set down anyone of them absolutely:
Being-in-itself, which is comprehensible only as a boundary concept;
relative Being-an-object; and Being-I, which is not an object.
This is simply one of many examples from world-orientation. It is
intended to show how Jaspers begins by attempting to introduce us to
that intellectual vortex from which rational knowledge provides no exit.
Here he displays an extraordinary ability to evoke, from continually new
vantage points, an awareness of (impenetrable) boundaries. But his goal
is not, as in the case of Kant, to resolve fundamental problems in the
theory of knowledge; instead, it is to expose the disunion, disharmony
and problematic character of the world - a world in which the lonely
thinker finds himself placed in situations impossible to elucidate, unable
to gain peace in universally valid knowledge. What really matters, namely,
the non-replaceable individual in his personal uniqueness, is suppressed
and eliminated by scientific cognition. The latter is directed not to the
individual as such but to the replaceable I, that is, to that stratum in man's
understanding which he has in common with other men and with regard
to which, therefore, all men are interchangeable. Thus it is only the surface
aspect of man and not his non-replaceable core that can find peace in the
results of the sciences.

If objective knowledge of the world's Being is not attainable, then no

closed philosophical system can furnish ultimate satisfaction. Jaspers
cites two types of such 'closed world-orientations' - the positivist and the
idealist. By the former he understands theories of Being that in some
fashion equate Being-in-itself with Being-an-object, that conceive every-
thing as coming under the category of causality, that admit no unknow-
abIes and regard it as ideal that everything be easily producible. The
idealists in their turn equate all Being with the Being of spirit and give the
subject precedence over the object; they attribute true reality to the Being
of the idea alone, ascribing such reality to all else solely on the basis of
participation in the idea, and in the end see everything as a perfect whole.
Common to both types of world outlook is the view that only the uni-
versal and the whole count as true Being, while the particular and the
individual are interpreted as mere constellations of universal forces or as
dependent members of one comprehensive totality. Both confuse the self-
willed hence nugatory individual with the existential core, and believe
that in principle everything can be known. Under the illusion that they
possess truth, they prevent a candid look into the mystery and dreadful-
ness of an open-ended reality, and put universal laws in place of Existence's
responsible decision-making in historically unique situations. Jaspers'
rejection of these two intellectual orientations to the world makes evident
the manner in which Existence philosophy revolutionizes the evaluation
of reality. True Being is not the universal, the eternal, the law-like, the
stable; what really counts is that which is historically unique, situation-
determined, and which achieves its break-through in irrational, inde-
pendent decision. To gain an unhampered view of what alone is the
positive element of Existence in its unrepeatable individuality, we must
first shatter the illusion that the Being of the world is whole and complete.
To a man who truly is, in whom existential reality has laid hold of itself,
there is no universally comprehensible world, no absolutely valid analysis
of Being, no objective hierarchy of values, no arrangement of society and
the state that is the best that ingenious reason can devise. What is dis-
cordant in the world must be grasped without illusion if the dissatisfaction
with it is to produce a leap into Existence.
Philosophy is thus differentiated from all science. The latter aims at
cogent knowledge, the former transcends all that is generally knowable.
Science directs itself exclusively to the interchangeable understanding,

philosophy makes appeal to the non-replaceable individual. Whereas the

underlying reason for his efforts is itself not comprehensible to the
scientist, the person who philosophizes tries to ascertain precisely the
ultimate basis for all his actions. In science there is only impersonal
conflict over issues; in philosophy the other person is to be helped,
through the medium of what is universal, to obtain an inner stimulus or
impetus. Scientific inquiry is a continuous process carried out over gener-
ations; philosophy always begins afresh and presses on to a definitive
conclusion even in the single instance. Science aims at knowledge
as a possession at its disposal; radical philosophical inquiry shatters
any supposed possession and throws the inquirer back into total insecu-
Philosophy is likewise separated by a gulf from the other two forms of
spirit that also contend for Being - art and religion. Art indeed affords
an immediate fulfillment, which philosophy can never provide. But it is
able to do so only in another world far from the actual one to which
man returns all the more disconsolate and forlorn the deeper was his
aesthetic enjoyment; for in the real world, beauty leaves him stranded
and life abandons him to himself. In place of a realization so remote from
life, philosophy proposes not to construct a second world but to convert
thought into genuine decision.
Similarly, philosophy must be in conflict with religion, and can at most
view it as an equally justified but altogether different mode of authentic
Being-human. Religion appeals to historical revelation, requires entrance
into the community of the church and also obedience, sustains a real
relation to Divinity in prayer and worship, and claims exclusive absolute
title to valid objectivity. The philosopher, on the other hand, accords no
historical event an unequivocally privileged status, since in his view any-
thing may serve as the language of the one absolute. Moreover, he recog-
nizes no binding community, but pictures himself in the independent
status of Being-his-self with another Existence, with whom he enters into
loving communication. He sees no possibility of arbitrarily reproducible
relations to some hidden Divinity; in his limitless questioning, he ac-
knowledges no such thing as conclusive objectivity. He rejects any sub-
mergence in an ulterior Being that does not take the form of active com-
mitment in this world, any love for God that is not actualized as love for
individual men.

2. The Illumination of Existence

Once philosophical world-orientation has marked philosophy off from
other forms of spiritual Being and has conducted us to the boundaries of
the knowable, the illumination of Existence attempts to serve the individual
directly as an awakener. This does not mean that scientific thought is
invalidated and put aside once and for all as inessential. Rather, the
process of illuminating Existence must time and again proceed via world-
orientation. An unlimited desire for knowledge is an immanent principle
of all philosophizing and cannot be passed over. The philosopher has to
try again and again to grasp cognitively the one whole, so that in the
foundering of this attempt he may execute the leap into Existence.
What does Jaspers understand by 'Existence' ('Existenz')? In one
passage he says that 'Existence', in philosophical language, means pre-
cisely what 'soul' does in the language of myth. But a proper definition
is nowhere to be found, and indeed, according to Jaspers, cannot be
given since Existence is not to be spoken of as an object. Actually, we
are not permitted to talk about 'the' Existence (i.e., Existences) because
there is no generic concept 'Existence' of which the various Existences that
occur are (contingent) instances. Existence is only for another Existence
in historical encounter, not for a scientific consciousness. Nevertheless,
for the purpose of clarification we shall try to give a rough definition of
the concept. This runs: Existence is the unconditioned and absolute core
in man which cannot be comprehended in rational concepts and hence as
such cannot be communicated, but accompanies mere living as a possibility
of which man mayor may not avail himself. Existence is the authentic
Being-one's-self of man which is to be realized only through free and un-
conditioned decision.
The chief emphasis is on unconditionality and possibility. Of these two
aspects, the first signifies that Existence is realized in man only in that
moment when he possesses the absolutely satisfying certitude: "This is
what I myself actually will, this is done for eternity, here something
absolute has been decided." In Jaspers this first aspect is especially under-
scored by the further circumstance that Existence is only with reference
to transcendence (i.e., Divinity), from which, as he knows, man receives
himself as Existence. The second aspect points to the fact that existential
Being is not given with man's factual Dasein, but still has to be realized.

For that reason Jaspers says that Dasein as such is not Existence; man
in Dasein is possible Existence. Here again we encounter the notion of
possibility, which plays such a central role in Heidegger's philosophy.
From Heidegger's novel ontological angle of vision, however, man appears
as such in the light of the constitution of Existence and thus as essentially
characterized by Being-possible. Jaspers, on the other hand, in considering
man scientifically, retains the categorial way of thinking and simply sets
out what Heidegger calls 'authentic Existence' as a possibility in contrast
to objectively comprehensible Dasein. In this respect too, therefore, his
philosophy has a more pronounced irrational flavor than that of
Heidegger. The latter is still able to get a grip on Existence itself by
transforming a conceptual comprehension based on categories (which
define the Being of things-on-hand) into one based on Existenzialien.
Jaspers, on the contrary, renounces any objective comprehension of
Existence and thus for him the question of transforming categories into
Existenzialien does not arise.
If we cannot grasp Existence as such, how then can we speak of it
philosophically at all, and what purpose does such talk serve? Existence-
illumination is not intended to make universally binding statements about
beings (as is done in the world-orienting thinking of the sciences) but to
appeal to the possible Existence in men. Thinking that illuminates Exist-
ence or appeals does not refer to what can be perceived by everyone and
must therefore devise new methods of reflection. This raises a knotty
problem, which Kierkegaard and Nietzsche in their day strove in vain to
master: the problem of communicating Existence. The fulfilled certainty
of authentic Existence does not admit of expression in categories appli-
cable to objects. But we can speak to others only in universal linguistic
symbols and concepts. Hence the spiritual process directed to other men
must fully alter its usual sense. Existence-illuminating thought requires,
so to speak, two wings to fly: one wing is universal comprehensibility,
which belongs to thinking as thinking; the other is the existential con-
sciousness of Being which vibrates in resonance with that thinking. It is
essential that these two aspects coincide; this alone differentiates Exist-
ence-illumination from all kinds of psychology, including the Verstehen-
psychology of the cultural sciences. 1 To express Existence itself is impos-
sible, since realized Existence as such is mute. From the existential stand-
point, talking merely in universal categories is untrue because it fails to

make perceptible possible Existence as such; instead such talk slides off
into a scientific-psychological mode of comprehension directed not to the
other person in his uniqueness but to the stratum of understanding com-
mon to men, to 'consciousness-as-such', as Jaspers puts it (adopting the
terminology of Kant). This is the reason why Jaspers sets so much store
by linguistic expression. For it is through the type of formulation, the
manner of posing questions and the choice of ideas that the spark of
Being-his-self is to be kindled in man. To this end Jaspers has devised
for his philosophizing a striking language of his own; much easier to
understand than Heidegger's, it possesses an impressive transparency in
saying the inexpressible that becomes manifest only after one has steeped
himself in Jaspers' works.
There are three methods by which we may try, through universal
thinking, to arrive at Existence-illuminating statements. The first re-
sembles that of philosophical world orientation; it consists in moving up
to the boundaries of knowledge, where there is nothing except the absolute
void. It is here that the appeal begins, which is to reach the target of
possible Existence. The second involves speaking in the object-applicable
concepts of psychology, logic and metaphysics, in the course of which the
danger of remaining the captive of universal categories is counteracted
by means of circles, contradictions and paradoxical formulations. The
third consists in employing existential signs, such as 'Existence', 'Being-
one's-self', 'Freedom' and the like. These, however, are not simply to be
accepted as such; for in the sense of universal knowledge there is no such
thing as Existence or freedom or historicality, but only my Existence, my
freedom, my historicality. In order to guard against slipping into the
universal therefore, Jaspers in his Existence-illumination always speaks
in the first person. Nonetheless, the danger of being misunderstood is
naturally much greater in the case of Existence-illuminating statements
than in that of scientific knowledge. In the latter case a misunderstanding
occurs only if concepts are taken in a signification other than the one
defined; in the former it is already present whenever the existential Being
does not attain resonance with the Other.
In the actual carrying out of Existence-illumination, Jaspers differs from
Heidegger in four respects especially. First, Jaspers is not chiefly concerned
with handling a particular metaphysical problem. He proceeds from a much
broader base, introducing the whole gamut of psychical factors in order

to make them comprehensible to us as distorted versions of true existential

Being or to suggest the path that leads them into the Being of possible
Existence. Second, as opposed to Heidegger, who has a predilection for
the unfathomable in man, Jaspers places in the foreground the luminous
aspects of Existence, such as freedom, (productive) imagination, and love.
A third difference has to do with the relationship to community. For
Heidegger, although Being-with others is indeed a basic Existenzial of
man, authentic Existence is realized only through anticipatory resolute-
ness in absolute solitude. For Jaspers, on the other hand, man can reach
his authentic self only in spiritual communication with another Existence.
From a scientific viewpoint this results in the paradox that the 'two'
Existences were not there prior to their Being-for-and-through-one-
another, yet their realization through communication cannot be con-
ceived of as an outcome of mere beings that are there without Existence.
In existential communication, one's own Being-one's-self stands in 'loving
strife' with the other Being-its-self; each of the Existences contends with
the other for absolute openness. In this strife, which knows no victor,
there takes place the miracle of Existence becoming manifest and realizing
itself. Only in this community, only through the other Existence and at
the same time with it, can Existence come to its own self. In nearly all
inter-personal relations, even in those of master and servant, as well as in
political association, what is initially an external relationship may deepen
into existential communication. As far as philosophizing is concerned,
communication is indispensable; it is impossible to philosophize in soli-
tude. But the loving strife of men-being-themselves does not fail to note
that all Being, for us, is Being-broken, and hence does not lead to con-
clusive, knowable truth. Existential communication, within philosophy,
is therefore at the same time an expression of the incompletability of
truth in (the Being-there of) time.
The fourth and perhaps most crucial difference between Jaspers and
Heidegger is that Existence illumination, even from the viewpoint of
Existence philosophy, cannot provide the last word. According to Jaspers,
not even the unconditioned core of man is able to realize an ultimate
meaning. Hence once again and more fundamentally than in Existence
illumination, philosophizing for him presses on beyond the Being of the
world in order to be assured of the Absolute, which in religious thought
is called 'God' and which Jaspers calls 'transcendence'.2

To move beyond thinking in terms of objects and to transform such

thinking into the appeal directed to possible Existence requires a tran-
sition from the realm of what is causally determined to the realm of
freedom. Here man comes to know himself only in a paradoxical manner
as a Baron Miinchhausen who lifts himself by his own boot-straps out of
the swamp of nothingness into Dasein, from empirical consciousness to
absolute consciousness (love, faith, imagination), from goal-conditioned to
unconditioned activities (e.g., suicide, religion, philosophy), and from
world historical situations into ultimate situations (Grenzsituationen). It
is above all these ultimate situations that play the decisive role with
Jaspers, for in them the basic mood of Existence philosophy comes to be
most forcibly felt. By ultimate situations Jaspers understands those of
death, suffering, strife, guilt and the like, in which all of a sudden the
whole problematic nature of Dasein breaks through and against which
our understanding seems to collide as if against ultimate, impenetrable
walls - situations in which the whole of our supposed knowledge of God,
objective values, the meaning of the world, our duties, basically collapses
and we find ourselves faced with the fact of absolute solitude and the
necessity of making our own decision. These situations also exhibit a
danger for anyone who brings with him a will to authentic Being-one's-self.
In the beginning there is mere living, or Dasein. Dasein's pure will,
absorbed in satisfaction and enjoyment, does not reach its goal. Know-
ledge of this, combined with the uncanniness of the ultimate situations
that set in, causes man to become conscious that this mode of his Being
is a betrayal of the deeper-lying possible Existence. Having once accepted
responsibility for the claims of Existence, anyone who presses beyond the
level of the mere will to live is immediately threatened by the alternatives
of ending up in a shell or else falling into nihilistic despair. Metaphysical
anxiety causes us to look for a secure foothold, and, together with the
ultimate situations, impels whoever wants to be his own self to construct
out of objective rules of conduct, proofs of God's existence and the like,
a rational shell into which he can creep at any time and thus survive the
raging floods of the ultimate situations. Should the dishonesty of this
procedure become apparent and one's openness shatter all closed world
pictures, then a second threat would arise - skepticism, a relativism with-
out obligation or a world-denying nihilism. Both dangers are betrayals of
existential Being, in which man becomes conscious that his decision is

not a matter of indifference, that it does depend on him, although he

cannot be assured in a rationally cogent form of the necessity and mean-
ing of his actions. It is at this point that the existential problematic of
Being-human becomes particularly evident: man, entirely dependent on
himself, must at each moment come to a decision. The very fact that he
does not take his own life but continues to live is a primal decision about
his own Being that is constantly repeated. The unequivocal character of
this decision would demand that a man be completely clear about the
situation in which he is, that he know exactly what to make of himself
and the world. But it is precisely this that he never knows. Here is the
paradox of human life - to be conditioned upon something that is never
realized. No wonder man falls into one of the two alternatives mentioned
above, or sinks back into a mere unquestioning will to live. The man who
authentically is, however, seizes hold of something unconditioned despite
having experienced the absurdity of the world. He knows that he is abso-
lutely responsible for his actions and his character, although he did not
shape the latter himself and was not asked whether he wished to be in the
world. He accepts the danger of making decisions in the face of the uni-
versal irrationality and unintelligibility of the world. He is certain that
everything depends on his attitude and behavior, even though he is the
farthest removed from his own self. He knows that it is essential that he
become his own self, but that the more firmly he turns his gaze upon
himself, the more that self evades him.
Furthermore, the existential impetus is not something attained once and
for all; it must forever be achieved anew in continuous struggle. Man
cannot gain his authentic Being-his-self for all time, but only for the
moment, and accordingly finds himself in constant danger of slipping off
and delivering himself up to Existence-less Dasein. Here we must mention
another basic feature of Existence philosophy as represented by Jaspers,
namely, the historical character of Existence. This seems to rest on the
simple fact that on the one hand all Dasein is temporal, while on the other
Existence remains tied to Dasein so that a Dasein-Iess Existence is im-
possible. But Existence, although tied to Dasein, is still always infinitely
more than Dasein. Historicality, in the case of Dasein as such, signifies
no more than that Dasein is temporal: it comes into Being, grows and
disappears. Sharply distinguished from the historical character of Dasein
- as well as from the historicality of the spirit, which becomes conscious

of its own self in its having-come-into-Being - is existential historicality.

The latter is, in the Being-there of time, more than the Being-there of
time: it is fulfilled time, or completion through the everlasting presence
of Being within the moment. Existential historicality therefore can not be
described other than through the paradoxical notion of the unity of
temporality and eternity.
Mere inner effort and readiness alone, however, are not enough to
attain authentic Being-one's-self. One can become one's self only by way
of the other man with whom Existence comes into inner communication.
Thus Existence in the final analysis is at the same time a being-presented-
with, realized only by participation in an absolute without which the
whole world would be a nullity of no concern. Jaspers says: "Existence
is only with respect to transcendence." What this means is that within the
realm of immanence - a realm which includes not only the open-ended
world, but also possible Existence standing in contrast to it - an ultimate
realization of meaning is impossible, unless a ray coming from the
transcendent and absolute penetrates the sphere of immanence. (See,
however, the different way of delimiting the immanent presented later in
the section on the philosophy of the Encompassing.)

3. Metaphysics
Just as the philosophical science of the mind must be replaced by Exist-
ence-illumination, so philosophical theology, with its claims to universal
validity, must give way to a philosophical metaphysics which describes
how Existence can rise to the transcendent One, the origin of all Being.
This ascent to the Absolute may be effected in a three-fold manner: by
transcending the contents of the world as grasped in categories of thought;
by the taking in of existential relations to transcendence; and by reading
the ciphers of the Absolute. These types of relations to Divinity, however,
are all so constituted that they can settle nothing conclusively, no final
knowledge is attainable through them, the search for authentic Being can
find no ultimate rest. The struggle for Existence never ends; likewise the
rise to transcendence must always be accomplished anew, since transcen-
dence itself is to be apprehended only as it vanishes. Jaspers rejects both
prophetic metaphysics, in which a single individual believes himself sum-
moned, and scientific metaphysics, which through rational demonstration
would guide us to a Divinity conceived of as underlying all Being. The

former supposes incorrectly that it can convert the consciousness of God

obtained in the existential moment into a generally intelligible language
and teach it as objectively valid truth. The latter would offer to man, as
a replaceable rational being ('consciousness-as-such') that which only the
freedom of Being-one's-self can apprehend. According to Jaspers, how-
ever, all that is possible is an appropriative metaphysics (aneignende Meta-
physik), which gives life to historically transmitted metaphysics by hearing
selectively within it the voice of transcendence. The person who philoso-
phizes honestly today is not so naive as to engage in a renewed excogi-
tation of metaphysical systems, such as was still possible a century ago.
Thus outside of the historical assimilation of past metaphysics, there are
simply the three kinds of metaphysical approach mentioned just above.
Transcendence of the world displays a similarity to what is called negative
theology. Here categories that in reality are applicable only to specific
immanent Being are carried over to the Absolute. But the error thus
committed is cancelled out by revoking these categories or by the simul-
taneous application of opposing categories (e.g., conceiving transcendence
as being absolutely contingent and absolutely necessary at the same time).
Thus it is through logical contradiction, circularity and revocation -
through acts of thought that founder - that the Absolute is to be illumi-
nated indirectly and to become present for the moment. Because the
Absolute can never be comprehended in complete form, the relations of
possible Existence to transcendence can likewise never be unambiguous:
defiance, submission, and godforsakenness are dialectically alternating
approaches to transcendence. Yet Divinity does not come out of its
concealment for any existential relation. None of these relations can
liberate us from the straining toward transcendence and from the in-
trinsic disunion of the world. By reading the ciphers (Chiffren) oftranscen-
dence, Jaspers means perceiving the cryptic language of the Absolute. This
can take place for any arbitrary content of the world, since all things can
become transparent and point toward such a concealed transcendent entity.
Man is obliged on the one hand to decide about himself in solitude
and selfhood. On the other, he must press beyond all that has hitherto
been known and believed. The tension thus generated Jaspers terms the
tension between reason and Existence. As opposed to understanding,
which is content with rational knowledge, reason questions everything,
pushes on beyond every boundary of knowledge, and in eternal restless-

ness strives for unity and the Absolute. There is, however, a reciprocal
relation between reason and Existence. Reason without the existential
basis would become mere aesthetic play, an empty and irresponsible
movement of the intellect; Existence without reason would mean stub-
bornly barricading oneself against all openness. (See the more detailed
exposition in the following section.)
The path into Being is not a straight line, and leads to no definitive
result. At the end there is always annihilation and the senseless destruction
of what was authentic, positive and of existential magnitude. The remark-
able thing about Jaspers' metaphysics is that the absolute questionability
of the world, which becomes manifest infoundering, itself acts as a cipher
or symbol of transcendence. His view that foundering must be ultimate
rests on the fact that from the existential standpoint duration, continuance
and validity appear as inauthentic and indifferent. The steadfast has no
true height; height may be attributed only to the momentary upswing or
impetus. In order to preserve the point-like character of the height every-
thing essential must disappear at once, that is, move toward foundering.
But because it is in this movement that authentic Being finds its voice,
foundering is at the same time the language of the Absolute. In Heidegger,
the concept of foundering is absent because time itself seems reduced to
the moment. On the other hand Jaspers, who still applies categorial
thinking to the world, understands by time a continuous sequence. If
Existence philosophy's concept of moment is looked at through the
medium of the category 'continuous sequence', then it appears as an
ascent that arises in time and immediately perishes in time, in other words,
as foundering. This is why Jaspers' Metaphysik (the third volume of his
Philosophie) closes with these words: "It is not by luxuriating in perfection
but along the road of suffering, with our gaze fixed on the inexorable
countenance of world-Dasein and in the unconditionality of our Being-
ourselves in communication, that possible Existence can attain that which
is not to be planned and which would become absurd if desired - in
foundering, to experience Being."


1. The M odes of the Encompassing

In Jaspers' second great philosophical work, Von der Wahrheit, three

features stand out especially. The first is a new concept, that of the
Encompassing (das Umgreifende), which actually becomes the center of
his philosophizing. The second is the significance assigned to reason as
the counter-concept and supplement to the concept of Existence. The
third is the tendency to view all essential formulations of philosophical
problems in the light of the problem of truth and to subordinate them to
this problem.
The idea of the Encompassing has its origin in the experience of the
circumscribed character of knowledge. We experience and come to know
certain objects, but these are not Being itself. We recognize connections
among objects of our world, yet these too are only appearances of Being
and point beyond themselves. We apprehend objects as parts of that
whole in which, as in a horizon of our knowledge, they are enclosed, but
we are forced again and again to break through these supposed wholes
(horizons) because Being itself remains unenclosed for us and extends in
all directions into the unbounded. When we seek Being itself, we learn
from experience that everything that is given us and known by us as an
object is encompassed by something else. This Encompassing is neither
object nor horizon, but that toward which all objects and horizons point
and which makes itself known only in them.
We can, as a first approximation, try to visualize with the aid of Kant's
theory of space and time what Jaspers means by the Encompassing. In
Kant's view, space and time are not perceptual objects; but whatever is
perceivable appears in them. Similarly, for Jaspers the Encompassing is
not an object either of perception or of thought; but all objects present
themselves in it. According to Jaspers, when we philosophize we seek the
Encompassing. But we cannot search for it by disregarding both the
apprehensible and the horizons; for then we would simply fall prey to
empty enthusiasms. We must remain on the clear ground of our know-
ledge. In so far as we philosophize, however, all of the things we know
as objects must become 'transparent' when viewed from the standpoint
of the Encompassing, and must as objects finally disappear, for only in
this way do we become aware of Being. When in philosophizing we think
something non-objective in the objective, we are breaking through the
knowable order to the actual meaningful order. The sense of what is
known as an object is thereby transformed and our own Being and
thinking gain depth.

As soon as we attempt to illuminate the content of the Encompassing,

we find that it breaks down into seven modes. Of these, the Being that
we ourselves are, as Encompassing, divides into four modes: Dasein,
consciousness-as-such, spirit and Existence. The Encompassing that is
Being itself embraces two more: world and transcendence. The final mode
is reason which, while 'in us', also forms the bond of all the Encom-
passings. According to a different arrangement, Being that is immanent
(that is, Dasein, consciousness-as-such, spirit, world) is counterposed to
being that is to be reached only through a 'transcending leap' (namely,
Existence and transcendence). Here again reason represents the em-
bracing bond. These modes are for us ultimate sources or causes, spaces
of Being, as it were, with their own irreducible structures. Everything that
appears in anyone of these modes points beyond itself to the particular
Encompassing to which it belongs; and in turn each of these Encom-
pas sings itself points beyond itself to the other Encompassings.
Dasein is human living in the world, with all of life's physical happen-
ings and conscious processes. It comes to be and ceases to be, presses for
gratification and happiness, is driven by the will to be there and the will
to power and as such threatens other Dasein, only at the same time to
live in constant dread of being threatened. Dasein is always realized as
something unique and individual. It is encompassing, since for us as men
everything must appear in this Dasein, whether through physical contact
or through apprehension by perception, feeling or thought, in order to
exist for us at all. We can get nowhere if we bypass Dasein. In contrast to
animal Dasein, human Dasein is conscious of itself and hence can become
an object of scientific inquiry. Whatever has Dasein lives at first on the
basis of taking everything for granted and without question. But it also
learns from experience that in itself it has no final goal and no fulfillment.
It is transitory, it staggers on without rest and never arrives at a realizable
happiness or a permanent state. As Dasein, it cannot fulfill its meaning.
Dasein's dissatisfaction with its own self points to some other origin
beyond mere Dasein.
Consciousness-as-such (Bewusstsein uberhaupt), in contradistinction to
the individual consciousness of individual men, is that identical conscious-
ness present in all particular processes of consciousness. Through it all
beings become apprehensible for us and through it our theoretical know-
ledge, as well as our non-theoretical (e.g., ethical or aesthetic knowledge),

achieves general validity. Consciousness-as-such is boundless in that it

embraces whatever can be meant as an object at all. The sense of truth
peculiar to consciousness-as-such is universally binding, cogent truth.
Hence with consciousness-as-such we reach as far as universally valid
knowledge can extend. But this consciousness also points beyond itself
to that of which we can no longer speak in a universally binding manner:
the unknowable, on which the sense of truth specific to consciousness-as-
such founders.
Spirit (Geist) is that Encompassing through which man, in his own
inwardness but also in the world, seeks to realize 'wholeness'. Spirit is
guided by ideas. Unlike consciousness-as-such, it is not timelessly and
universally valid; rather, it is historical and is always in motion in reali-
zation and understanding appropriation. In contrast to Dasein, it is not
actuated by obscure, unconscious drives and propensities; it perfects itself
in the "inwardness of understanding its own self" . We encounter the
works ofthe spirit, e.g., in art, in achievements ofthe intellect, in govern-
ment institutions and laws, in morals. Spirit is active not only in creatively
producing all of these but also in attaining that sympathetic sharing of
them that we call 'spiritual understanding'.
Over against the immanent Being that we ourselves are (Dasein, con-
sciousness-as-such, spirit) stands the world as absolutely the Other and
yet as immanent Being. It is not possible to give a more exact characteri-
zation of this very difficult concept of Jaspers', and we shall have to
content ourselves with a few indications. What we first encounter is not
a world but a multiplicity of worlds that differ in accordance with the
multiplicity of individuals and the diversity of life. From the environ-
mental world of animals we pass by way of the environmental world of
man to the specifically human worlds, such as the technical, the economic,
the political, the historical. All these special worlds are embraced by the
one world which constitutes the object of scientific cognition. This one
world is the objective correlate to consciousness-as-such; it is the Encom-
passing of Being itself in so far as Being can be known in universally valid
cognition. The world itself, however, cannot be grasped as an individual
object, as can anything that appears in the world. Here we can draw the
clearest analogy to the Kantian representation of space and time. The
world is an a priori presupposition, although not itself an object, and the
framework within which individual objects can be given us. It is "that from

which there emerge all the phenomena through which the Being oftheworld
becomes accessible to us". But all efforts to conceive the Being of the
world in its totality are bound to fail: we never encounter anything but
relations and complexes of objects in the world. The world as such is
infinite, whereas only the finite can be the object of human cognition.
The world as Encompassing remains an idea in the Kantian sense. We
become entangled in logical contradictions (the Kantian antinomies) as
soon as we try to transform this idea into a cognitive object.
This insight into the incompletability of our knowledge of the world
is, according to Jaspers, of great positive significance. For, the fact that
we constantly break through every fixed point in supposedly conclusive
knowledge, and thereby place 'in the balance' all knowledge of the world,
generates in us a consciousness of Being that makes us aware of our
freedom. We become free for the world and for ourselves in the world in
that we are no longer engulfed in the finite and the expedient. Above all,
it is in relation to transcendence that we become free for ourselves. For if
I do not absolutize the world, then for me whatever is cognized as an
object becomes transparent for something else that is not the world; and
it is only through this placing-in-the-balance of the world that the basis
of my own Existence shines forth as that which remains certain within
this relativization.
Existence and transcendence are introduced in a manner analogous to
that in Jaspers' first philosophical work. Both can be attained only by a
transcending leap. In fact, in the philosophical representation of Dasein,
consciousness-as-such, spirit and world, there also takes place a trans-
cending, that is, a passing beyond the particular objectivity to an aware-
ness of these Encompassings. Yet even here the objectively knowable still
constitutes the point of departure. Existence and transcendence, however,
exhibit a transcendent Being in a more basic sense than the other modes
of the Encompassing. We do not become aware of them through a gradual
transcending of individual comprehensible objects; rather, we reach them,
if at all, only by leaving entirely behind us all immanent Being, to which
the other modes of the Encompassing belong. These two new realities,
Existence and transcendence, although they sustain everything else, cannot
be grasped as objects at all. In his indirect characterization of the two,
Jaspers strives for a clarity beyond what was said in his three-volume work
Philosophy by counterposing them to the other modes of the Encom-

passing. Thus he contrasts them with the other modes, and also discusses
the relations among all modes of the Encompassing. In the course of this
discussion, the relationship between Existence and transcendence again
becomes the central point in his philosophizing.
Existence still designates man's authentic Being-his-self and is realized
only through free decision. Thus Existence basically is not Being but a
potentiality-for-Being. Dasein belongs to man; but it is man as Existence
that first animates Dasein, by taking hold of the Dasein given him with its
properties and transforming it. Here we face an ultimate and inexplicable
mystery: something that is more than Dasein bears a relationship to
Dasein and makes a decision whose origin does not lie in Dasein. Being-
one's-self, as Existence, makes itself known in "man's urge to reach
beyond Dasein to the eternal". This urge must have "some other than
immanent ground". While fortunate hereditary factors and favorable
circumstances may produce a successful man, it would be a fatal de-
ception for him to be proud of his Being-so. For this would mean con-
fusing freedom with what was given to him as Dasein.
Existence stands out in clear contrast not only to Dasein but equally
to consciousness-as-such. The latter is the site of universally valid know-
ledge, and as a knower I am arbitrarily replaceable by others. Existence,
on the other hand, is always the "non-replaceable historicality of the
uniquely occurring origin". The difference between these two Encom-
passings is further clarified by the difference in character of their opposite
poles: the opposite pole to consciousness-as-such is objective Being in the
world; for Existence, the counterposed Other is transcendence, which
exhibits itself only to Existence. The relation between Existence and
transcendence is not one of external counterposition, as in the case of
consciousness-as-such and the world, but is an especially intimate one.
Without Being as Existence there would be no transcendence for men,
and conversely without transcendence there would be no Being-one's-
self as Existence. For part of Being-myself is the knowledge that
transcendence is the power through which alone I am authentically
Existence is also clearly distinguished from spirit. As a spiritual creature,
man belongs to a transparent and closed totality, and in his behavior
tends to be determined by ideas and universally valid norms. As Existence,
he pierces through any closedness by making exclusionary decisions.

Spirit, on the other hand, makes no decisions. It "shines as bright in the

service of the devil as in that of God".
If we were asked to specify a characteristic that unites Dasein, con-
sciousness-as-such and spirit, and clearly differentiates them from Exist-
ence, we would cite replaceability. What takes place in Dasein, conscious-
ness-as-such and spirit is a process that is replaceable in all of its indivi-
dualizations, "a performance with roles and costumes in which no one
performs". It is Existence which, itself unique and not otherwise repre-
sentable, sustains and acts these roles. Nonetheless and despite these
antitheses, Existence is inseparable from consciousness-as-such and
spirit; it has need of both as the "medium of its becoming illumina-
ted" .
Transcendence, once again, is for Jaspers the absolute Other, which
can be heard only by Existence. In contrast to the remaining modes of
the Encompassing, transcendence can be doubted since, unlike Dasein,
spirit, world and the like, it does not possess "a corporeal presence of its
own" but speaks to us only through the other modes of the Encompassing.
True, the world was also characterized as an 'absolutely Other' ('schlecht-
hin Anderes') that stands counterposed to us. However, as opposed to
transcendence, the world is a 'fundamentally Other' Cradikal Anderes').
For it is not 'of itself', or causa sui, to use mythical language; it is created
Being. Transcendence, on the contrary, is Being grounded in itself, in
which all other Being is grounded. As compared with what might be
called the specific transcendence of the individual Encompassings, it is
the transcendence of all transcendences. Jaspers also calls it the Encom-
passing of all Encompassings.
In Jaspers, the relationship between Existence and transcendence has
a strongly religious accent (at least in the broader sense of religion). In
the first place, it is through transcendence that I as Being-myself first
become free. The tie between the existential concept of freedom and
transcendence is not a logically compelling one. Indeed, one of the
rationally unsolvable paradoxes in Jaspers' philosophy is that I can be
free only through something Other than what I myself am (whereas in
the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre, e.g., man's freedom does not
require any such transcendent Being). In the second place, Existence
find its ultimate footing in transcendence; it is to transcendence alone
that Existence can surrender itself completely. If in Jaspers, nevertheless,

the word 'transcendence' cannot be replaced in all contexts by the word

'God', this is because the latter term serves to emphasize only one par-
ticular relationship of Existence to transcendence. That is to say, in so
far as we refer to transcendence in abstract transcending thought, it is
the one immutable Being. In so far as transcendence speaks to us in our
life as something that challenges and governs us, we call it Divinity. In
so far as we are personally touched by it and acquire a person-to-person
relationship to it, we call it God.
The bond that connects all the modes of the Encompassing is reason.
It is the faculty in us that brings about unity and seeks to bind everything
together. At the beginning, there is no unity for us. Everything divides
and breaks down into incalculable multiplicities - first into the particular
modes of the Encompassing, and then, within these modes, into indi-
vidual phenomena (e.g., the innumerable individualizations of Dasein and
spirit, the abundance of the world's contents and aspects, the hetero-
geneous historical appearances of transcendence for individual Existences
and so forth). Reason is expressed, in relation to each Encompassing, as
the tendency to combine into a whole that which belongs to that particu-
lar Encompassing. In the domain of consciousness-as-such, for instance,
it is expressed as the idea of the unity of all the sciences. But reason is
not content with any such pursuit of isolated modes of the Encompassing,
and especially not with the demand for universal validity on the part of
consciousness-as-such. Reason pushes beyond to an all-embracing union
and aims at the unity of all the Encompassings. The fundamental posture
of reason is a limitless Being-open, an "omnipresent listening to that
which speaks and to that which it itself first makes speak", an unbounded
ability to perceive whatever is. This attitude is one of justness toward all
that "is from the origin", so as to allow it full recognition. Reason does
not halt at any firm knowledge attained by the understanding; it is thus
a motive force that promotes uneasiness and demands "dissociation from
all that has become finite and determined" and that finds rest only when
the one Being discloses itself to it.
From these characterizations it follows that of all the modes of the
Encompassing, reason stands closest to philosophy as activity: it is the
vehicle of philosophizing. Reason, for Jaspers, forms the subject-matter
of philosophical logic. Just as Existence-illumination, as philosophical
activity, is associated with Existence and formal logic with the under-

standing, so philosophical logic is associated with reason as reason's

With respect to men, reason and Existence are the two Encompassings
that we ourselves really are. Hence they stand to one another in a neces-
sary and peculiar relation of polarity, in which each mutually conditions
the other. "Existence is the stimulus of reason, reason is the awakener of
Existence" .
There is the danger that once again the individual modes of the En-
compassing will themselves be conceived as so many objects which stand
in a certain relation to one another. Such a view, however, would be
erroneous. Basically, what is meant each time is the one transcendent
Being, to which we find no other access than through the modes of the
Encompassing that lie nearer to us. Each of these modes is, in a certain
sense, everything; but in each of them the Encompassing is at the same
time so modified that we are not able to derive anyone mode from the
others. Hence if we speak of relations among the Encompassings, these
relations themselves are something Encompassing. As soon as we seek to
make ourselves conscious of these relations, we inevitably think of them
in categories. These categories, however, may only be applied in a tran-
scending fashion; otherwise, in dealing philosophically with the En-
compassing, everything would again be reduced to the plane of conscious-
ness-as-such, with its claim to universal validity. But then in every such
'knowable simplicity', Being itself has disappeared. The Encompassings
and their modes become accessible not to man the theorizing subject, but
to living man as Being-his-self, and to him only as an intricate web which
cannot be grasped in its entirety. Only by joining in weaving this web may
we hope "to be able to touch in a historical way the basis of everything
in the One".
Jaspers understands the doctrine of the Encompassing as laying the
logical foundation for Existence philosophy. The philosophy of the En-
compassing will teach us "in thinking, to be ourselves; in thinking, to
allow Being to unfold itself".

2. The Forms of Truth

Philosophical reflection about truth grows out of the philosophy of the
Encompassing. To the individual modes of the Encompassing there corre-
spond different orders, and in turn to each of these orders there corre-

spond its own truth and its own errors in thought. Hence the word 'truth',
as employed by Jaspers, has a much wider signification than in ordinary
logical and epistemological usage, where what is meant is simply the truth
of a judgment or a statement, or, in Jaspers' terminology, the truth of con-
sciousness-as-such. Everything that has a positive value is subsumed under
the concept of truth, up to and including Being itself - that Being "which
comes to be only through its becoming manifest", i.e., human Existence and
absolute Being in its state of having become manifest for us as Existence.
That truth is one is obvious and immune to any doubt. But the One
itself is never given to us. It breaks down into the modes of the En-
compassing; hence for us the forms of truth grow out of the modes of
the Encompassing. To each of these modes corresponds a unique and dis-
tinctive meaning of truth. According to the correspondence theory of
truth, the essential mark of truth consists in the agreement or corre-
spondence of thought and reality (judgment and state of affairs). For
Jaspers, too, agreement is the factor that characterizes all forms of truth,
a factor which, according to Jaspers, changes slightly depending on the
particular form of truth under consideration. In the domain of conscious-
ness-as-such, truth consists in the agreement between belief and situation
(or, with regard to objective ethical principles, which Jaspers likewise
places in the domain of consciousness-as-such, the agreement between
what one wants to do and what one ought to do). In the domain of Dasein,
truth is the agreement between belief and what is useful for living. On the
other hand, in the domain of spirit and Existence truth cannot be inter-
preted as a relation between two entities comprehended as objects. Of
course, we may say that for the domain of the spirit, e.g., truth consists
in the correspondence between the actual state of affairs and an idea (as
when we speak of a 'true polity', a 'true marriage', a 'true friend'). The
idea itself, however, should never be taken as an object, but only as the
stimulus experienced through participation in that idea. Still less in the
case of Existence can we conceive truth as a relation admitting of objective
characterization; rather, truth here consists in the "agreement between
my realization and my possible Existence", that is, between what I actually
realize in myself and what I as authentic Being-myself can realize in my-
self. In respect to the world, truth consists in the agreement between thing
and archetype. Applied to transcendence, truth lies "in the agreement
between the symbols which have become objects and Being itself". This

last sense of truth presupposes that the symbols for existential experience
have become appearances of transcendence. When, however, we speak
of the truth of transcendence itself (as, say, in the proposition 'God is
truth'), such truth cannot be captured by the notion of agreement. In this
instance, the notion of agreement becomes an empty idea, for there is
nothing here that has the character of an object.
The notion that there is a universally valid realm of truth has, for
Jaspers, only a relative justification. This thought applies solely in the
domain of the scientific truth of consciousness-as-such. But, as the account
of the various forms of truth has shown, the truth of consciousness-as-such
(conclusive certainty) does not by any means embrace all truth. For us, of
course, all truth becomes clear only in the medium of consciousness-as-
such, which is "the all-encompassing space of all Being-true for us". The
other forms of truth come into contact with conclusive certainty in one
or another fashion, whether by being repelled by this sort of truth or by
assimilating, as a condition, the truth of consciousness-as-such.
Untruth is the reverse side of truth. In every form that is accessible to
us, truth turns out to be fragile; moreover, by reason of our finite and
limited capacity to realize truth, untruth is a constitutive element of
Being-true itself. Philosophical truth in the broad sense embraces all that
is positive in value. Similarly, for Jaspers, untruth includes all that is
negative in value, in particular evil in all of its forms, all kinds of false-
hood, lies, fraud, hypocrisy, and the like.
While the various kinds of truth must be distinguished in accordance
with the modes of the Encompassing, there is the opposing tendency for
the various senses of truth to be reunited in a unity of truth. Just as the
Encompassings do not stand in isolation from one another, but are inter-
related in many ways (even if these ways cannot be grasped as objects),
so too the forms of truth are pointed toward one another, interpenetrate
and supplement each other. And just as the ultimate source of all modes
of the Encompassing and of their relations is the transcendent One, so
in the province of truth the basic certainty for us is that "all particular
truth becomes truth only through the One", although no definitive and
cogent knowledge can be acquired as to whether or not a One exists at all.
But there is an "indicator pointed toward unity" - the fact, especially,
that each mode of truth pushes toward the others and bursts through its
own meaning of truth.

For man, however, the fundamental situation remains the torn or

broken character of Being. And the basic philosophical decision has to
do with how, in this situation, man seizes hold of unity. Man presses
incessantly toward such unity, but he can never gain it in conclusive and
fixed form. Consequently, he must in turn break through every unity he
has grasped; truth for him exists only as "truth in break-through". Man
is thus led to the threshold of two possible existential decisions. He can
attempt to reach the unity of truth by professing faith in a fixed historical
unity and submitting himself to the authority of this unity (called 'catho-
licity', by Jaspers). Or, if there seems to be no adequate ground for be-
lieving in the universal validity of such a historical unity, he may decide
in favor of the "boundless, revealing and soaring movement of reason",
which leads to no establishable result and in which he becomes aware of
the transcendent One only in isolated sublime moments.
Truth can manifest itself to man only if he dares to question everything
and so risks the danger of being shattered. It is only by way of such daring
that man (as Existence and by means of reason) can arrive at a perfection
of Being-true. We may speak of such a perfection only when there is the
greatest proximity to the one truth that is Being in general becoming
manifest. This one truth is "the Being in the certainty of which man finds
rest". In Jaspers' view, the crowning achievement of philosophical logic
is that it exhibits the forms of this perfecting movement of reason. The
first step, in the basic situation of Being-human, is to make one's own the
great metaphysical questions and the answers given to them by the various
religions and philosophies. These questions and answers, however, may
be included in existential experience only as possibilities of truth. We must
reject every attempt to freeze these answers by some illusory claim to
rational comprehension. Man must maintain a tension that cannot be
eliminated rationally. By "taking these questions into his soul", man can
make his own those possibilities of thought by which alone the "move-
ment of Being-human" is evoked in him and through which he experi-
ences a strengthening of his own consciousness of Being. But if these
possibilities of thought are taken as assertions to be understood literally,
they fall of their own weight - as false theology or as false doctrine about
the relationship between God and the world.
Secondly, Being-true can be completed or perfected in temporality, but
in a manner that cannot be formulated rationally except as a paradox, to

wit, as existential historicality. This concept is paradoxical because it con-

tains the notion that in a genuine decision not only is the past realized but
also the eternal is present in the moment. And it is precisely through this
that time becomes qualitatively filled out time. Man is genuinely a being
only "in his Being-given-as-a-gift" by transcendence. In this way, ex-
istentially realized presence can become assured in man as eternal present
Third, the perfection of truth also takes place by way of primal in tu-
itions in religion, art and poetry. These intuitions constitute a special
'language of truth', which historically precedes systematic philosophizing.
Philosophizing itself, whether it appropriates or combats these primal
spiritual intuitions, is inseparable from them. They first mark off the area
for philosophizing, and thus become its organon. Their substance can
never be wholly translated into the language of concepts; the intuited
content extends beyond what can be interpreted philosophically. This is
especially true of tragical knowledge, which finds its intuitive, artistic
expression in tragedy. Knowledge of this sort is of extraordinary im-
portance for Jaspers. According to him, when man arrives at tragical
knowledge, it is "like a rent in the fabric of history"; for with this know-
ledge "a historical movement begins that takes place not only in external
events but in the depths of Being-human itself". Nevertheless, we may
still ask what the tragic has to do with the problem of Being-true. The
answer must then be: tragedy is not the presence of an unsolvable conflict,
neither does it consist in the antithesis of truth and untruth, of the positive
and negative in value, nor is even very great misery a tragedy. Genuine
tragedy exists only where each of the powers in conflict is true in itself;
"the split character of truth is the basic finding reported by tragical
knowledge". Tragedy may be seen, among other ways, in the fact that
the hero defeated in Dasein really is the victor - man's victory is in
foundering. Bound up with tragical intuition is a transcending knowledge
in which human need is seen in a metaphysical mooring. Without this
transcending knowledge, there would be no tragedy, only misery, mis-
fortune and failure. Along with transcending, however, what also takes
place in tragical intuition is a liberation - either a redemption in the tragic
(if the tragic still remains, but man endures it and therein transforms
himself), or a deliverance from the tragic (where the tragedy, as it were,
dissolves and ceases to be). Only the contact with the transcendent justifies

us in characterizing tragical intuition as a way of completing Being-true

in intuition.
It is sometimes said that Existence philosophy itself views Dasein as
such under a tragic aspect. This is not true at all of Jaspers. He explicitly
rejects a 'Pan-tragicism' or "metaphysics of universal tragedy" (as ex-
emplified, say, in the philosophy of Friedrich Hebbel). Such a philosophy
would be merely another example of a false, absolutizing metaphysics.
Jaspers holds that it is absurd to say that the ground of Being is tragical.
Tragedy lies in phenomena; in transcendent knowledge of the tragic, an
Other that is not tragical always shines through.
The fourth and final way cited by Jaspers is the perfection of truth in
philosophizing. For anyone truly engaged in philosophizing, the main
thing is not to relinquish the basic position that "truth within time is
always on the way" and that "even in its most wondrous crystallizations,
truth is not definitive". Here three things need to be touched on again:
reason, love and the objectivity of the simile (cipher). The movement of
reason cannot take place in isolated individuals, but only in the course
of communication between individuals. The total will to communicate is
part of the essence of reason; for reason includes the perfect openness
of man to all forms of truth. Thus on the one hand, the truth attainable
by man is never universally valid; each man, as Existence, must arrive
at his truth by "relativizing without limit whatever has the character of
an object". On the other hand, the 'loving communication' of reason
includes acknowledging the equally justified truth in the other man. It is
precisely this, of course, that leads to insight into the incompletability of
the truth we aim at through communication. But when thought, having
experienced the incompletability of every communication, does grasp
transcendence, then that thought is almost like a proof of God's ex-
istence: "under the assumption that truth must be", it has come upon
The question now arises whether with this notion we have not passed
beyond communication. Jaspers leaves this possibility open. The ne-
cessity for communication is in the last analysis a deficiency. In "isolated
and fleeting sublime moments" we experience a full harmony in becoming
one with Being over and above what can be communicated in language.
In our boundless will to communicate, which belongs to reason and
Existence, are we not already living on the ground of Being itself, which

has no need to communicate? This question, according to Jaspers, is

unanswerable: either it is propounded in a vacuum, or it is an unquestion-
able certainty, which, falsely stated, would only destroy itself by paralyzing
the unconditional readiness to communicate that impels one to ask it.
For Jaspers, love also is required for the completion of Being-true in
philosophizing. There is a two-fold reason for this: my Being obtains
fulfillment only through love, and love opens the way for that which is.
As to the first of these, love coincides with authentic Being-myself, with
truthfulness of Existence - 'Being-one's-self and love are identical'. But
this Being-one's-self as love is not gained through planning or the ex-
ertion of will; on the contrary, I am given to myself as a gift in love. As
to the second, love is most intimately connected with reason. If reason is
to be able to represent Being becoming manifest, there must already exist
that inner relationship to Being which makes it possible for Being to be
revealed at all. This inner relationship exists only in love. Real truth is
not accessible to the understanding (consciousness-as-such); "truth is dis-
closed to love, it grows out of the resolve gained in love". Love's openness
to Being, which enables us to see what really is by "disclosing the essence
of a being in all of its forms", furnishes reason its positive content. Where
reason and love operate without restriction, they merge. It is only "know-
ledge that is love and love that is knowledge that bring Being-true to
perfection" .
Reason in its movement finds stability in the objectivity of the cipher.
This objectivity is not a knowable object, but "something objective that
exceeds all knowledge"; it is lodged in what may be called 'ciphers' or
'symbols' or 'similes'. Any being may be a cipher for us if it becomes
'transparent' and within it the one unconditioned Being becomes per-
ceptible in its 'self-presence'. Ciphers are "mediators between the phe-
nomenon and transcendence". In Jaspers' view, it is the business of
philosophy to locate this symbolism and to assimilate it as profoundly
and comprehensively as possible. If the person engaged in philosophizing
reads the cipher-script of Being, he himself then generates a new cipher-
script of ideas - "the thought itself becomes a symbol". For example, the
philosophical idea that God speaks only in ciphers is itself an image, or
cipher; the idea that I participate in Being through ciphers is likewise an
image. The perfection of man, the rise to the one God, according to
Jaspers, is possible only through 'mediation'. The one path to God, for

us, is that the world contents we meet become ciphers. It is of course

tempting to believe that we can conceive or experience God (e.g., as in
a mystical union). But "even if there were a direct experience of God,
it could not be communicated", and in turn could be confirmed only by
phenomena in this world. If we wish to conceive or experience God him-
self, we still only reach other ciphers of God. Yet "God is not a cipher,
but reality itself".
We can, according to Jaspers, speak of a "philosophical road to sal-
vation". This road, however, does not lead to deliverance in the religious
sense, but only to an "analogue of deliverance"; for it supplies no
'embodiment' and offers no guaranty. There is no binding instance in the
world for the person who philosophizes; he "cannot thank any histori-
cally given revelation for his salvation". Hence the philosophical road to
salvation leads not through philosophy as the totality of received works
and doctrines, but through a philosophizing that is irreplaceably different
in each individual and that is subject to the responsibility and conscience
of the individual- philosophizing for which the works and doctrines can
provide no more than illumination and stimulus. Philosophy is "the way,
the truth and the life", but only in so far as a man who finds himself on
this road may earn the Eternal by thinking, without any hope, however,
of objective finality. Consequently, even philosophy itself provides no
stable footing; "the only firm support is the One, Transcendence, God".
That there is a stable footing, however, and what it is, can become
manifest in philosophizing, although only in a unique and irreplaceable
fashion for each Being-one's-self. "This stable footing exhibits itself
through reason, the joy in the clarity of all-embracing openness; through
love, which brings the joy of fulfillment; through ciphers, whose language
shows the real Being" (Von der Wahrheit, p. 966).


Jaspers' work is to be classed with those philosophies which do not address

themselves to man as a rational being but rather depend for their effect
upon the extent to which man, through assimilating them, is inwardly
moved and transformed. A comparison of his philosophy to that of
Heidegger shows how far apart these two thinkers are; and the distance
has increased with the appearance of Von der Wahrheit.

In Heidegger, we encounter the stubborn incisiveness of an analyst,

mixed with a rare form of rustic primitivism with all of its lights and
shadows. Jaspers stands before us as a philosopher who, by virtue of his
enormously wide horizon, draws into his thinking the entire content of
the philosophy, art and religion of the West, and even beyond; who
makes us see this content in the light of man's existential problematic;
and who at the same time seeks, with unflinching honesty, to awaken our
conscience to the innumerable dangers of slipping into systems of rational
metaphysics, into spurious irrationalisms or fixed beliefs and dogmas.
Jaspers' description of reason may be regarded as an implicit avowal on
his part of a philosophy of 'all-embracing openness'. Heidegger's ultimate
goal is theoretical in tendency, that of Jaspers is not. According to the
latter, for anyone who truly engages in it, philosophy should occupy the
place that religion holds for the person who is not orientated toward
philosophy. For this reason, Jaspers' expositions carry a kind of religious
passion that is lacking in Heidegger. 3
One thing should be expressly noted before we venture some critical
remarks. It is much more difficult, in a brief compass, to give even a
partially adequate account of Jaspers' philosophy than it would be for
any other philosopher considered here. Jaspers' statements about com-
munication, belief, guilt and the like always rely on painstaking psycho-
logical and phenomenological analyses, and it has not been possible to
include these in our presentation. The exposition has had therefore to
remain in many respects a meager schema, which can be filled out only by
reading the relevant passages in Jaspers. For example, in calling attention
to the important role Jaspers assigns to love, we should have added that
he does not merely speak of love in general but distinguishes its many
forms, which taken together constitute a hierarchy; that he characterizes
all these forms in detail- sexual, intellectual, spiritual, metaphysical, and
so forth; that he compares them with other aspects of the human psyche,
discusses their biological, psychological and metaphysical interpreta-
tions, exhibits the one-sided features present in both metaphysical or
objectivizing knowledge of love, and psychological or subjectivizing
knowledge of love, and considers the various possible perversions and
aberrations of love; finally, that he includes all these reflections in his
philosophy of the Encompassing and of truth. Many of the analyses pre-
sented by Jaspers - the analysis oflove is but one example - do not depend

upon the ultimate intent of his philosophy and can serve as a most valu-
able stimulus to thinkers who are not prepared to accept the fundamental
approach of Existence philosophy. A particularly outstanding example
is the treatment of the tragic (Von der Wahrheit, pp. 915ff.), with its
analysis of the Oedipus tragedy and of Hamlet, which probably ranks
among the best discussions of these matters ever offered. In addition,
Jaspers' critical observations on culture and the times contain many
important conclusions that are largely independent of his philosophical
A critical appraisal of the actual content of Jaspers' philosophy is
possible only to a very limited extent. Fundamentally, a scientific and
philosophical critique can be addressed only to statements that claim to
express objective knowledge. But Jaspers does not make this claim for
his philosophical statements, at any rate not for those that he deems
crucial. The criterion of truth for such statements is not theoretical in-
sight, but what man may become by understandingly appropriating them.
In other words, the criterion is whether these statements touch man as
possible Existence and open his ears to the language of transcendence.
No theoretically grounded assertions can be made, however, concerning
the ability of Jaspers' philosophy to accomplish this; for such an effect
takes place invisibly and cannot be objectively apprehended.
Nevertheless, we shall try to show that a critique is possible regarding,
first, the presuppositions on which Jaspers' philosophy rests; second, the
substance of his philosophy in so far as this is accessible to rational
scrutiny; and third, the consequences of his philosophy.
The presuppositions include above all the acceptance, in very large part,
of Kant's epistemological position, not only his starting-point but also
the final results of his theory of knowledge - in particular, transcendental
idealism and the doctrine of the unknowability of the things-in-them-
selves. There is even some question as to whether Jaspers did not also
tacitly accept some of the theses of neo-Kantianism. He himself explicitly
stressed his dependence on Kant. This is also evident externally in the
adoption of certain expressions and concepts that are peculiar to
Kantianism. One example is the expression 'consciousness-as-such',
which for Jaspers designates one of the modes of the Encompassing.
Other instances are Jaspers' conception of the world as the objective
correlate of consciousness-as-such, and his version of the concept of

universally valid knowledge and its coordination with consciousness-as-

such. His portrayal of reason also follows Kant closely.
Here a fundamental problem arises: Kanfs theoretical philosophy and
the epistemologies of the neo-Kantians claim to be scientific in character,
that is, they involve rationally discussable views which, in the scientific
sense of truth, must be either true or false. On the other hand, Jaspers'
philosophy, although not an irrationalism in the radical sense that it dis-
cards scientific truth, is nonetheless irrationalistic in that it goes beyond
scientifically attainable truth, attempts from a 'higher' vantage-point
to relativize all that is scientifically knowable, and locates the deepest
accessible truth in the existential experience of the individual which itself
cannot be communicated. Should we not expect a philosophy of this kind
to be independent of all theoretical or scientific philosophy, whether
Kantian or any other? But it is impossible to foretell how much of
Jaspers' philosophy would go by the board or at least be essentially
modified if the correctness of Kanfs philosophy were to be challenged.
Now in point of fact, these results are contested by many present-day
thinkers. This holds not only for philosophers of a 'positivistic' bent but
also for those who are concerned with a philosophical approach to beings
as they are 'in themselves', that is, with serious ontology. Thus anyone
who has occupied himself with recent philosophy of nature must surely
find it a bit strange when Jaspers, in support of his thesis that knowledge
of the world as a whole is impossible, cites Kanfs doctrine of the anti-
nomies and endorses the claim that we can rationally prove both that the
world is finite and that it is infinite (Von der Wahrheit, p. 97). Since Kanfs
day, as we know, the situation in this area of cosmology has changed
completely. In the first place, the contemporary natural philosopher
would no longer even try to prove on a priori grounds any assertion about
the spatial or temporal extent of the world. This, of course, does not
exclude setting up meaningful hypotheses based on empirically tested
physical and astronomical uniformities. In the second place, today we
are aware that the Kantian construction of the so-called mathematical
antinomies rests on conceptual confusions, such as the failure to dis-
tinguish between space as unbounded and space as infinite, and the
erroneous inference from the former to the latter. As against this, relativ-
istic cosmology assumes a world space that is both unbounded and finite
(as, say, the surface of a sphere is unbounded yet finite).

This example merely illustrates to what extent a presumably incorrect

(at least highly problematical) although rationally discussable theoretical
view helps at times to determine Jaspers' philosophical point-of-departure.
But it is not these details that are of interest to us. It is the general problem
of whether we do not have here a truly paradoxical situation, namely, that
in his procedure, Jaspers presupposes not only the problematic but also the
end results of a scientific philosophy that according to his own philosophy
cannot exist at all.
In the middle portion of Von der Wahrheit, Jaspers addresses himself,
among other things, to epistemology and formal logic in the customary
sense. We purposely did not consider this section of his work in the
exposition above. To have done so would have detracted from the overall
picture, since this is by far the weakest part of Jaspers' philosophy. When
he discusses logical and epistemological questions, Jaspers enters a
province in which he is not really at home. This is a judgment with which
not only philosophers in the fields of modern logic and analytic theory
of knowledge but also Kantians and phenomenologists would agree.
We shall cite just one obscurity by way of illustration. The expression
'cogent or compelling knowledge' ('zwingendes Wissen') , which Jaspers
employs to characterize scientific knowledge, is in many respects vague
as well as misleading. It suggests that in the domain of science we always
obtain definitive results and also that these results can be 'extracted'
('erzwungen') without constant creative activity. But in the first place, all
theories in the realm of natural science remain merely hypotheses, and
for this reason it is better to avoid using the expression '(settled) know-
ledge' (' Wissen') for them; even those hypotheses of natural science that
are best confirmed inductively may be upset at any time by new obser-
vations. Second, even in mathematics, indeed even in formal logic, theo-
rems cannot simply be 'extracted' but require the creative imagination of
the theorist. Today we know (and in a mathematically exact sense) that
in most mathematical disciplines as well as in formal logic generally, there
is no mathematically compelling decision procedure for the validity of
propositions. 4 Moreover, this use of the expression 'cogent knowledge'
fails to make clear whether such knowledge is to include only the findings
of the various sciences, or perhaps also philosophical assertions about
reality. In the first volume of his Philosophie of 1932 (Philosophische
Weltorientierung, pp. 89ft'.), Jaspers counts the intuiting of essences and

categorial analyses as cogent knowledge. Yet it is not evident from what

he says how far knowledge of this sort can extend. Furthermore, it is
doubtful whether this conception is compatible with his entire philo-
sophical view as well as with the Kantian position from which he starts.
Thus far we have talked only about epistemological presuppositions.
As already mentioned, Jaspers is thoroughly aware of his dependence on
Kant. The question is whether he is not also dependent - and this time
without being altogether aware of it - upon an implicitly assumed on-
tology, as when he considers everything once again under "the aspect of
Being". Is the verb 'to be' ('sein'), when used substantivally in the ex-
pression 'Being' ('das Sein') and decked out with a definite article, an
adequate linguistic means to express what Jaspers wants to say? Some
ontologists, among them Heidegger and Nicolai Hartmann, defend the
view that while this usage is justified, we do have to distinguish between
'Being' ('Sein') and 'beings' or 'a being' (,Seiende') and that Jaspers
frequently employs the expression 'Being' where he ought to speak of
'a being' (e.g., when he uses the expression to refer to the transcendent
One). Other metaphysicians, such as Brentano, reject the expression
'Being' when used as a name for something. And when Jaspers goes so
far as to speak of the 'Being of Being' (Von der Wahrheit, p. 117), we note
that the infinite regress indicated therein is one of the reasons why
Brentano denied that there is any such thing as a concept of Being differ-
ent from the concept of a being. But whether Brentano was right or not,
the expression employed here by Jaspers still seems to need further
conceptual clarification.
As far as the substance of Jaspers' philosophy is concerned, there are
a number of points from which to initiate a critique. We might, e.g.,
question whether we should extend the concept of truth as widely as
Jaspers does, or whether it would not be better, instead of speaking of
the 'forms or guises of truth', to speak of the various meanings of the
ambiguous expression 'true'. This expression is already ambiguous in
everyday life where we not only apply it to statements but also use it in
the phrases cited by Jaspers himself - 'true friend', 'true democracy' and
the like. We might then conclude that 'true' is made considerably more
ambiguous by Jaspers when under it he subsumes existential truthfulness
together with everything that has a positive value, including finally even
what he calls the 'truth of transcendence'. We shall, however, disregard

this question which is partly but not wholly terminological. Instead, we

shall point out a problem that concerns what for Jaspers is the most
important relationship, that between Existence and transcendence.
When Jaspers says that man as Being-his-self or Existence experiences
transcendence, then the simple and, again, epistemological question arises:
Does this experience guarantee that the transcendent One is in fact a
reality that has being in itself and is not merely a subjective phenomenon,
which psychological inquiry would reveal to be a delusion?
There appear to be only two alternatives here. On the one hand, we
may grant that the experiencing of some particular content of the world
(a Beethoven symphony, perhaps) as a cipher cannot, as experience, give
such a guarantee. In that event, the reality of transcendence is only in-
ferred from the experience and the question remains whether or not the
assumption contained in the conclusion is correct. The problem of truth
then comes up again in its original form, that is, injust that form in which
Jaspers recognizes it only for the sphere of consciousness-as-such and not
for the other domains, in particular not for the "becoming manifest of
transcendence". Thus the experience of transcendence is not a pure ex-
perience but an apprehension in the sense of knowing about something,
and it does make a difference whether this knowledge is factual or merely
imaginary. Further, what is involved is not merely the question of know-
ing about the Being-real of something that cannot be characterized more
closely, as if all that is to be ascertained is that transcendence is an
actuality and not a delusion. On the contrary, transcendence must in some
way be given as content, if we are to be able to say that it is one rather
than many, and that it provides a stablefooting for human Existence. For
such statements presuppose that both theoretical categories and value
predicates may properly be applied to transcendence. Thus anyone who
elects this first alternative must interpret the experience of transcendence
as a cognitive process and must withdraw the thesis that theoretical truth
(the 'truth of consciousness-as-such') is to be relativized and can not be
applied to the phenomenon of transcendence becoming manifest to
On the other hand, we may take our stand with experience as such and
deny that any theoretical interpretation or inference is also involved here.
We thus maintain that the one Being is itself present in the experience of
transcendence, and that the seeming epistemological problematic arises

only because we are unable to provide any contentual representation for

this coming into contact of Existence and transcendence. If this is the case,
then what Jaspers says here is no longer distinguishable from the teachings
of those mystics who speak of the soul becoming completely one with
God. Jaspers himself has always been concerned to draw a line between
his philosophy and the doctrines of the mystics, and to accord these
doctrines recognition as partial truths only to the extent that he does the
same for the great systems of religion and the conceptual edifices of the
metaphysicians. In fact, it has often been pointed out that the 'world-
fleeing' attitude of the mystic is fundamentally different from the notion
in Existence philosophy that man realizes his authentic Being-his-self only
through active decision in the world. It is not true, however, that all
mystical doctrines preach a flight from the world in this sense; moreover,
the point at issue in the present context is not how the mystic views the
relations of man to the world, but what he has to say about the relation of
man to God. In this respect, there seems to be no essential difference be-
tween a unio mystica, or perfect union of man and God, and the Jaspers
experience of transcendence. Thus the Jaspers metaphysics moves into
closest proximity - if the second of our two alternatives is adopted - to
the outstanding mystics of the past, and less to the Christian mystics than
to Plotinus. But for anyone who stands outside the mystical experience
of unity, not only must the claim that there is such an experience remain
problematical, not only must the possibility of something of this sort be
incomprehensible to him; the whole notion must be unintelligible in the
basic sense that he cannot even understand what is actually meant here. 5
It would seem, therefore, that philosophical statements about Existence
and transcendence present us with the following choice: Either we assign
to theoretical truth a far wider domain of application than Jaspers allows,
and thereby acknowledge that all rationally discussable epistemological
problems are situated in a place where, according to Jaspers, 'conscious-
ness-as-such' is supposed not to reach - namely, in the "reading of the
cipher-script" and in other forms of the transcendence-experience; or we
look upon these statements as propositions of an otherwise unintelligible
With regard to the consequences of Jaspers' philosophy, two things
should be pointed out. The first concerns the problem of the genuine
propagation of his philosophy, that is, a propagation that rests on the

inner assimilation of this philosophy and not merely on a superficial

acquaintance with it. This point is best discussed on the basis of the con-
clusion already reached, that Jaspers' Existence philosophy is conceived
of in a certain respect as a 'substitute for religion'. But to serve such a
purpose, should not this philosophy then have been expounded in a
simpler form and with fewer presuppositions as to both verbal formu-
lations and conceptual apparatus? Jaspers' assertions are couched in an
original, metaphorical and often moving language; but for the most part
they are very difficult to grasp. The average reader of his works will not
understand many of his allusions, which assume an extensive acquaint-
ance with individual philosophical disciplines, the history of philosophy
and other realms of the spirit. To this the reply may be that very few men
can be expected to attain authentic Being-one's-self. This answer, how-
ever, would not be satisfactory; for in principle every man is supposed to
be a possible Existence, and the realization of this possibility ought not to
be tied to a particular intellectual level. Provisionally, at any rate, this
philosophy is addressed not to all men but only to a small circle of those
who possess the appropriate intellectual prerequisites. Hence we ask:
must not the influence it seeks be withheld so long as Existence philosophy
fails to arrive at the plain and simple language of religion?
The second point is closely connected with the experience of transcen-
dence. According to Jaspers, one's own activity does not suffice to ac-
complish the leap from mere Dasein to existential Being. There must in
addition be communication, the transcendence-experience, and the Being-
presented-with-oneselJ through the medium of transcendence. This last
aspect is nothing other than Existence philosophy's interpretation of the
religious concept of mercy, which also may be absent. The transcendence-
experience likewise does not depend on one's own will alone. Further-
more, only those may share this experience to whom the capacity for it
is given. According to Jaspers, however, a possible meaning can be ex-
tracted from life only by arriving at one's own unconditionality and with
it the assurance of transcendence. Hence for anyone who fails, the end
must be the utter meaninglessness of the world and his own despair. The
question then is: may not an appeal directed to the 'possible Existence'
of the individual destroy more than it builds? Where positive fulfillment
is absent in the individual man, Existence philosophy necessarily takes
on the aspect of a rigid nihilism.

Jaspers himself saw the danger that Existence philosophy might give
rise to a hysterical type of philosophizing. What at one time appeared as
a danger has in recent years become a reality. The external circumstances
of life may have been a contributing factor. But does this not indicate in
practice that one cannot rest with this kind of philosophizing? Actually
the call to go further is found in the substance of Existence philosophy
itself. For if man is a creature who presses on beyond himself, who can
find ultimate meaning only in his ownmost Being-his-self and who must
be on guard against every dogmatic rigidity, then we must concede the
possibility of some other kind of philosophizing - under pain of Existence
philosophy itself hardening into dogmatism. Nietzsche's principle of
'don't follow me, follow yourself', the meaning of which Existence phi-
losophy seeks to deepen, must in all consistency be applied also to the
substance of Existence philosophy.
While Existence philosophy leads beyond itself, going beyond it ought
not to be confused with falling behind it. The person who honestly engages
in philosophy today will of course seek to assimilate historically such
systems as those of Spinoza or Leibniz or Fichte or ScheIIing. But he is
no longer so naive as to be able to believe in their validity. It is not honest
to operate with outmoded forms of philosophical thought - once real
enough - as if they were philosophies advocated today, when in fact they
represent no more than pallid schemas and empty dogmatisms. Jaspers'
philosophy is suited, as is scarcely any other, for keeping a critical-
existential conscience on guard against any such manoeuvering.


1 Only interconnections of motives can be understood. Therefore understanding

(Verstehen) is bound up with causality and lack of freedom. Hence to understand is
also always to forgive, since to understand is to grasp the necessary reasons. On the
other hand, Existence illumination endeavors to charge man with the consciousness
of responsibility for his Being.
2 The term 'transcendence' is meant to designate Divinity as the absolute Other
vis-a-vis both the Being of the world and Existence. It signalizes the strongly theistic
touch in Jaspers' metaphysics. We must add, of course, that Jaspers himself presumably
would not accept the expression 'theism', except as a characterization in mythical
language of his philosophy.
3 Jaspers seems thus far to have exerted a factually greater influence on Protestant
theology than on contemporary philosophy. Catholic theologians, on the other hand,
generally take Heidegger more seriously, presumably because of his ontological

approach which, despite the differences in point of departure and execution, brings
him into formal proximity to the philosophy of the Middle Ages.
4 A short proof of this assertion for logic will be found in W. Stegmiiller, Unvoll-
stiindigkeit und Unentscheidbarkeit, Vienna (1959), pp. 44-57.
5 On this problem, see the searching discussion by J. Thyssen, Archiv fur Philosophie
5 (1954) 211ff.


With the philosophy of Nicolai Hartmann we once again enter a world

of sober, objective and impartial inquiry, which presses beyond man's
self and seeks to grasp the universe of being so far as it is revealed to our
limited capacity to know. The basic mood of Existence philosophy, as
might be expected, is altogether missing from this universal way of
viewing matters. Hartmann looks on Kierkegaard, the spiritual creator
of Existence philosophy, as the most unhappy and most exquisitely self-
tormented man in history. Dread and death are denied metaphysical
meaning, although within the compass of emotional phenomena their
role is recognized in connection with the experience of reality. Only an
egocentric, self-important man sees something alarming and terrifying
in dread and death. But from a cosmic point of view, the death of an
individual appears as an insignificant episode in the total stream of world
events. It is the unnatural bent for prolonged self-examination that is
responsible for the artificially induced dread of death, which thereafter
seems to take on metaphysical importance.
This attitude of Hartmann's toward the phenomena stressed by Ex-
istence philosophy may be used to characterize provisionally the general
cosmic mood that dominates his thought. The true concern of his phi-
losophy is to discover the structural laws of the real world, of the world
of being, not of some 'world of mere appearances' set out in front of the
real world. Traditional philosophy, according to Hartmann, has sinned
a great deal in this connection and in a double manner. First, it has always
believed that it faced two basic alternatives - to accept an absolute
knowledge of being, or else to assume the total unknowability of the
'things in themselves'. The latter course means rejecting the possibility
altogether of objective knowledge of being, the former results in closed
metaphysical systems that dismiss the irrational aspects of being and
hold that the whole of being may in principle be grasped rationally. What
has been overlooked is the middle possibility, namely, that being may be

partially comprehensible conceptually despite the irrationality of the infi-

nite portion that remains.
The second error of traditional philosophy is the propensity, stemming
from the monistic need for unity, to transfer the categories or principles
of one province to another that differs from it in kind. Illustrations are
the application of mechanistic principles to the sphere of the organic, of
organic relationships to social and political life, and, conversely, of mental
and spiritual structures to the inanimate world. This infringement of cate-
gorial boundaries, as Hartmann calls the theoretical encroachment of one
province of being upon another, must be eliminated by rigorous critical
analysis; yet the categories must preserve their relative validity for the
domain from which they were taken originally. From the standpoint of
a critical ontology, the totality of beings then turns out to be a far more
complicated structure than finds expression in the traditional metaphysical
formulas of unity.
Knowledge belongs to the highest stratum with which we are ac-
quainted, that of spirit or culture. Consequently only an ontology of
spiritual being (geistiges Sein) can comprehend the essence of knowledge.
At the same time, however, the problem of cognition must already have
obtained at least a partial solution if ontological inquiry is to be admissi-
ble at all. For to begin with we do not even know whether there is any
such thing as objective knowledge of being or a transcendent object inde-
pendent of the subject of cognition. This fact necessarily places episte-
mology in a dual position. On the one hand, it must create the foundation
for all ontological inquiry; but at the same time it can reach its goal only
within the framework of an ontology of spiritual being. Hartmann at-
tempts to do justice to this two-fold aspect of knowledge by prefacing his
works in ethics and ontology with an investigation of knowledge, by
including in this investigation the ontological viewpoint, and by dis-
cussing in his ontology the consequences of his findings for the phenome-
non of cognition. We shall begin with the metaphysics of knowledge.


Hartmann's philosophical origins are in Neo-Kantianism. Later, how-

ever, he took over many of the themes of phenomenology, and on the
basis of an exhaustive study of the history of Western philosophy sought

to revive, albeit in an essentially modified form, such fruitful methods as

the aporetics of Aristotle and the dialectics of Hegel. By the time
Hartmann turned to the metaphysics of cognition, the relationship to
Neo-Kantianism had already become a negative one, a call to battle.
Neo-Kantian doctrine denies the existence of any being that transcends
consciousness and is independent of the subject; knowledge is thus a
generating of the object by the subject. Hartmann, on the other hand, is
concerned to show that the essence of cognition is to be seen not in the
generating but in the grasping of a being - a being that exists in its own
right independently of and prior to cognition itself.
The path taken here by Hartmann is determined in part by phenome-
nology. As the foundation for his inquiries, he selects not a lone self-evident
proposition, such as the sum cogitans of Descartes, but the broadest possi-
ble array ofphenomena. In his opinion, a one-sided philosophical approach
is always due to a one-sided choice of point of departure. The very multi-
plicity of the phenomena that are taken as a basis furnishes a reciprocal
criterion by which to guard against deviations from the correct path. The
first step in the investigation must therefore consist in a phenomenology
of knowledge. Hartmann by no means supposes that this will take care
of everything. On the contrary, he criticizes most vehemently the views
of those phenomenologists who believe that with their method they can
resolve problems. Their method is not even suited to stating problems,
let alone resolving them. Phenomenology can do no more than describe
the pure phenomena, and in a manner that stops short of any philo-
sophical standpoint. A philosophical doctrine, however, is obliged to
struggle through to a definite position, one that depends on the way in
which problems are resolved. This means that first the problems them-
selves must be formulated, a task that phenomenology cannot accomplish.
At this point, therefore, Hartmann reaches back to the Aristotelian method
of aporetics, as a means of carrying out the second step in his investigation
of the problem of cognition. Problems demand solutions, and these are
sought by epistemology, which represents the third and final step in the
metaphysics of knowledge. In this process there is no prior guarantee that
appropriate solutions to the problems can always be found. To assume
this would be a rationalistic prejudice. Hence, in his epistemological as
well as in his later ontological inquiries, Hartmann stresses the simple
handling of problems as against the slogan 'problem-solving at any cost'.

At the same time, he attempts to work out what he calls the irrational
residue or 'metaphysical' element in cognition.
The manner in which he carries out the analysis of phenomena already
contains the later ontological idea that cognition is a relation of Being
between two beings, a knower and a known. According to Hartmann, one-
sided attention to the subject, which is characteristic of psychologism and
in principle also of phenomenology, is just as unsuited to solving the
problem of knowledge as is the mere logical analysis of the object. Both
suppress the problem of transcendence - the problem of the relationship
of the subject of knowledge to something that transcends it. Certainly the
advance into the realm of transcendence can succeed only if, methodo-
logically, it starts from consciousness; for the latter is, to begin with, the
one indubitable given, whereas a transcendent being represents something
that is open to question.
The initial phenomenon is that of grasping or comprehending: in every
cognition a knowing subject faces a known object. The object, however,
does not, by becoming known, gain admission to the domain of the
subject (the sphere of consciousness); it remains transcendent to it. There-
fore the subject must leave (transcend) its own domain in order to 'take
hold of' the object. Yet it must return to its own sphere in order to be
conscious of the object. Hence the grasping of the object can be ac-
complished only by means of an image of it in consciousness. But the
image itself is, at the outset, not known, since cognition is directed wholly
toward the being. What breaks through the immanence of phenomena is
the fact that knowledge, as a phenomenon that breaks through the imma-
nence, is itself among the 'immanent' phenomena of consciousness. For
example, when I think of Mount X, I have a mental image of it in my
consciousness; what I am thinking of, however, is not this image but the
existing Mount X. Hartmann expresses this relation by saying that the
intentional object lives "by the grace of the act (of knowing)", whereas
the existing object is there independently of it. The subject, because of
its total surrender to the thing that has being, is at first not aware that
its representations have the character of images. Such knowledge arises
only when errors or illusions are discovered; here the subject learns from
experience that the being in question is not directly at its disposal.
Two kinds of knowledge may be distinguished at the phenomenal level:
a posteriori knowledge, which proceeds from individual cases, and a

priori knowledge, which is independent of all actual individual instances.

In both cases the object is meant as something that is in its own right
and that exists independently of the degree to which it is known by the
subject. This already shows that a being is something more than can be
grasped of it by a subject. Hartmann calls the part of the being that is not
exposed to the subject the trans-objective, and the boundary between it
and the known part the boundary to becoming-an-object (Objektions-
grenze). Once the subject begins to be aware of this boundary, there arises
the 'knowledge of not-knowing' - a problem is posed that may be defined
as cognition anticipating the unknown. Its consequence is an attempt by
the subject to grasp a larger portion of the object, to push back the
boundary to becoming-an-object. This striving, however, may in the long
run encounter an insuperable boundary, that of knowability or of capa-
bility of becoming an object. Beyond this boundary lies the trans-intelligible
or irrational.
One may speak of true knowledge only if the determinateness of image
and the determinateness of being achieve coincidence. When it is known
that the two do not coincide, a tendency arises to correct the cognitive
image - a striving for truth. Just as the thing that has being is not ex-
hausted by its being an object (of knowledge) but occupies a place in the
real world order, so too the subject is more than a mere subject of know-
ledge. It is a creature that has being, and that wills and feels. As such it
is itself embedded in the context of being. Here Hartmann's solution of
the problem already suggests itself: the subject as a being is a member
of the same world as the object, and there may thus exist between them
diverse relations of being; this is why it is possible to know something
transcendent to consciousness. One world, or, more generally, one sphere
of being, spans both subject and object. Thus in the analysis of the phe-
nomena, the factor of being already makes its appearance at four points:
in the subject, in the object, in the relation of being between these two,
and in the irrational features that may be detected everywhere. 1
The analysis of phenomena provides the basis for constructing the
aporetics of cognition. Hartmann generally states the problems in the
sharpened form of antinomies. We shall restrict ourselves to setting them
down as questions. The fundamental aporia of cognition is expressed in
the question: How is a knowing consciousness possible? In so far as it
is knowing, it must reach beyond itself; but in so far as it is consciousness,

it cannot go beyond itself, since knowledge is possible only within the

sphere of consciousness. The aporia of perception (or generally of know-
ledge a posteriori) is then simply a special case. It reads: How can a
transcendent being be given to a subject? To the extent that the being
is transcendent, givenness vanishes; while to the degree that givenness is
present, transcendence must be annulled. In knowledge a priori the
problem becomes heightened into a paradox; for in this case, conscious-
ness is supposed to be able to determine something about the object inde-
pendently of all experience - which means by shutting one's eyes to the
object instead of looking at it. A further problem is that of a criterion
of truth. If this is located within consciousness, then it cannot serve to
indicate a correspondence with an object transcending consciousness; on
the other hand, if the criterion lies outside of consciousness, then to
comprehend it would in turn require a criterion of its own and so forth ad
infinitum. The aporia of the problem formulation goes: How is it possible
to know about not-knowing, to give the status of an object to what is
trans-o bjective? Bound up with this aporia is the problem of the progress
of knowledge: How can positive knowledge of a thing originate from a
knowledge of not-knowing?
The solutions to these difficulties are in brief as follows: The possi-
bility of an objective knowledge of being can rest only on the fact that
the principles of the existing object recur, at least in part, in cognition.
For instance, the principle of causality, which governs the lower strata
of the real world, recurs in the (immanent) contents of knowledge in
which those real processes are thought. Thus, according to Hartmann,
both Kant and Husserl are mistaken in their approaches to the problem
of the 'remarkable correspondence' between the laws of the understanding
and the laws of the real world. Husserl believed he could show that the
very statement of the problem was absurd; but he failed to see the tran-
scendence gap between subject and object. Kant, on the other hand,
recognized the problem quite clearly, but saw the possibility only of a
constructional solution, with the subject imposing its laws on the object.
In Hartmann's view, the Kantian assumption is inconsistent with the
phenomenon of the irrational and with the natural belief of the subject,
which means or intends the object as something that exists in its own
right. But above all it is contradicted by the fact that the attempted
solution has to assume an existing (seiendes) subject with existing (seien-

de) principles of knowledge, in consequence of which the entire solution

comes into contradiction with the presupposition on which it is based.
Nothing remains but the assumption of a parallelism of the principles of
thought and the principles of being. This parallelism, however, need not be
a total one; for there is not the least reason to suppose that the principles
of knowledge, by virtue of some preestablished harmony, are completely
coordinated with those of being. It is on this basis that the problem of
the metaphysical, irrational residue and of the antinomies finds its so-
lution. Wherever we come up against incomprehensible processes or facts
or even unsolvable logical contradictions (e.g., Kant's antinomies), it is
because either there are no categories of thought for grasping the par-
ticular domain of being, or the categories deviate from the principles of
Categorial parallelism takes on an added complication as a result of
the fact that the sphere of ideal Being is interposed between knowledge
and the real world. An illustration is the acquisition of knowledge of
nature in mathematical natural science via the ideal-mathematical do-
main. Here, in place of the simple relationship of categorial coincidence,
there is a two-fold relationship - on the one hand between knowledge and
the realm of ideas, on the other between ideal actuality and real actuality.
In both cases the principles may in part fail to coincide. An example of
the first would be irrational relationships in mathematics; an example of
the second, the fact that a priori mathematical probability can be realized
in the real world only to within a certain rather low degree of probability,
and beyond that point exists only as an ideal mathematical possibility
which, realiter, is impossible.
From an overall ontological standpoint, categorial parallelism turns
out to be but a special case of the general law of being of categorial re-
currence. What Hartmann means is that certain principles of one stratum
of being reappear in other strata, either in the same or in modified form.
Thus principles of inorganic nature recur in the organic. The peculiarity
of knowledge is that while it belongs to the highest stratum of the real
and as such is of quite real efficacy - it intervenes decisively in the circum-
stances affecting the lives of individuals and of peoples, and plays its part
in the historical development of cultural life - yet due to its function of
comprehending being, it absorbs into its content principles from all
provinces of being. It now becomes evident that it is inaccurate to counter-

pose categories of Being and principles of knowledge; for the principles

of knowledge turn out themselves to be principles of being, that is,
principles of spiritual or cultural being.
This solution is valid for a priori knowledge especially. But in empirical
knowledge, as contrasted to the timeless relationship of category corre-
spondence, a temporally real relationship of transformation is present.
Here the mediating instances are sensations. These do not, of course,
exhibit any similarity of content with the true properties of the real world;
thus there is no physical correlate to the fact that red and yellow have a
greater a priori similarity than red and green. Yet sensations do offer a
fixed symbolic relationship, by means of which features of the world's
content come to be represented in a qualitatively different way. Their
cognitive aspect is present first of all with respect to existence (Dasein);
the occurrence of a sensation gives notice of a real transcendent process.
It is also in evidence with respect to constellation; thus, corresponding to
the complex of properties of the object there is a structurally analogous
complex of sense-qualities.
Knowledge a posteriori, which is mediated by sensation and perception,
is directed exclusively toward the real. Whence then do we obtain the
concept of reality and the knowledge of a really existing external world?
Hartmann upholds the view that we have at our disposal a number of
sources that bring the real to givenness for us. The first evidence of reality
is knowledge itself, which, as the analysis of phenomena has shown, is
always directed toward a being that is in its own right. But this is not
decisive. For knowledge, when viewed from the standpoint of reality, is
itself only an artificially isolated aspect of a complicated network of
transcendent acts, in which the reality of the world often makes itself
known in a much more importunate manner. It is above all in transcendent
emotional acts that we have the experience of being touched by the real.
Hartmann classifies these acts in three groups: receptive emotional acts,
such as experiencing, undergoing, suffering, in which we become conscious
of the pressure of reality rushing in on us; spontaneous emotional acts, in
which our activity expresses itself while at the same time it experiences
the resistance of the world, e.g., the resistance of a stone that we try to
turn over, or the defense put up by an opponent with whom we are
contending; and prospective emotional acts, which, pointed to a future
event that approaches irresistibly, are therefore accompanied by the con-

sciousness that we cannot escape from or make our way out of the stream
of events.
Hartmann's position on the problem of truth diverges in its entirety
from the views of Brentano and Hussed. To be sure, truth for him is also
something absolute; it is present only where the belief or opinion of the
knower is valid. But the consciousness of truth is never absolute; it may
be present even in the case of the grossest errors and illusions. The appeal
to self-evidence, in Hartmann's view, offers no way out. The term 'self-
evidence' is ambiguous: sometimes it means objective self-evidence, i.e.,
a consciousness of certainty that offers a sufficient guarantee for the truth
of an insight; at other times it means subjective self-evidence, i.e., an
absolute conviction on the part of the subject in the truth of his insight
which nevertheless lacks any real guarantee of truth. Subjective self-
evidence is indeed a given, but it may also accompany the crassest super-
stitions and hence does not constitute an objective criterion of truth.
Objective self-evidence would embody such a criterion, but it is not given;
the self-evidence with which we are acquainted is merely a modality of
consciousness and is therefore subjective. Considerations such as these
lead Hartmann to resign himself to the conclusion that we possess only
relative criteria of truth, not absolute ones. These relative criteria consist
in the mutual correspondence of two or more instances of knowledge that
achieve comprehension of one and the same being along two different
paths. In the exact sciences, this process rests on the agreement between
a priori and a posteriori knowledge (e.g., the confirmation of hypotheses
by experience); in the ideal sciences, mathematics in particular, it is based
on an accord between 'stigmatic' knowledge (i.e., knowledge directed at
intuiting specific contents) and 'conspective' knowledge (Le., the intuiting
of more comprehensive interconnections).
Answers may now be found for the problem of formulating problems
and the problem of the progress of knowledge. First, knowledge feels its
way along the relationships of being that hold between the known and the
unknown domain of beings, and thus pushes back the boundary of be-
coming-an-object. The same is true regarding the boundary of know-
ability; here likewise the most diverse relations play across the boundary
and provide us with a concept of the irrational. The boundary of the-
capability-of-becoming-an-object is not to be conceived of as an abrupt
one. What occurs, rather, is a gradual fading away of the rational and a

continuous transition to the infinite realm of the trans-intelligible (the

irrational). A second aspect involved in these two problems - only in the
domain of real knowledge, of course - is the discrepancy, at any given
stage, between a priori and a posteriori knowledge. For example, a hypo-
thesis (or a priori sketch) embraces more facts than could have been em-
pirically gathered at the time to confirm it (knowledge a posteriori). The
result is an effort to assemble supplementary empirical material. Facts
may then come to light that contradict the hypothesis, thus making a new
hypothesis necessary, which in turn needs empirical confirmation, and so
forth. The constant piling of one instance of knowledge upon another
keeps research forever on the move, and does not allow the cognitive
process ever to come to a conclusion.
Thus the overall picture is the following: knowledge is possible because
the knower and the known both are beings, and as such are members of
the same world. This is why the subject can be determined by the object,
and this is why the laws that govern the course of the real world reappear
in the contents of thought. But the transcendence of the known object
with respect to the knowing consciousness is not thereby suppressed; it
exists even in the case of the most exact knowledge. Hence there is no
absolute criterion of truth; for self-evidence concerns only the content
of consciousness. At the same time, however, different contents of con-
sciousness that refer to the same being but in different ways can, by virtue
of their mutual relationship of coinciding or not coinciding, constitute a
relative criterion of truth which, since it is merely relative, does not of
course bar error absolutely. In this reciprocal relationship of contents of
consciousness that originate in diverse instances of knowledge, we may
also find the spur that impels inquiry, and therewith the basis for problem
formulation and the progress of knowledge.


1. The Basic General Questions of Ontology

Hartmann's ontology can be understood only in its role as mediator be-
tween the metaphysics of ancient and medieval times and the modern
critical philosophy. Traditional metaphysics had outlined a teleological
picture of the world, magnificent in its all-inclusiveness. The entire course
of the world was thought of as pointed toward the realization of purpose.

The general principles of purpose (formae substantiales) were anchored

in God's understanding. They could be grasped through concepts, which
in turn were made exact by means of definitions. The main object was to
secure definitions of the essences of things, since these contained the key
to the understanding of world processes. The originally empirical pro-
cedure used to obtain concepts in time came to be abandoned; the under-
standing was subordinated to the tribunal of intuition, which was sup-
posed to be capable of directly grasping the supreme formal principles.
From these principles, the lower principles were then derived deductively.
The consequence was a total neglect of empirical knowledge. The teleo-
logical conceptual schema, the deductive procedure, and the faith in the
capacity of intuition to grasp whatever is fundamental were all destroyed
by the Kantian critique of reason. This critique, however, overshot the
mark when it declared that knowledge of the world-in-itself is altogether
impossible. Still Kant's criticisms, according to Hartmann, contain so
much that must be accepted that a return to the old metaphysics is out
of the question. The imagined direct apprehension of first principles must
be replaced by an inspection of the given phenomena, deduction must
give way to a critical and analytical procedure. The monistic need for
unity, which causes us to seek at any cost a teleological formula for the
whole of being, must be abjured. Hartmann therefore advocates, in a
scientific respect, an agnosticism vis-a-vis the ultimate metaphysical
questions, even though at various points, both in his ontology and in his
ethics, his basically atheistic attitude breaks through.
He also holds that the circle of problems has widened essentially beyond
the three-fold complex of world, man, and God. The problem of God
falls by the wayside because it cannot be treated scientifically. Instead,
many new problems come into view, such as the question of the mode of
being of the organic, of objective spirit or culture, of history, of value.
Many basic problems remain the same, e.g., the problem of being. Here
Aristotle's formulation, which Hartmann terms classical, is adopted: it is
the question of being qua being (nach dem Seienden als Seiendem). The
inquiry is not about this or that being but about all beings in common,
that is, Being (Sein). The traditional theories of being made the mistake
of identifying being with a particular category - substance, unity, the
whole or, conversely, a structural unit (the atom), existence or essence.
The power of thought was not sufficient in any of these attempts to grasp

Being in strict generality. Being was pulled down from its lofty eminence
and equated to one of its particularizations. The positive lesson to be
gained from these various doctrines is the identity of Being in all that is,
the neutrality of Being with respect to substance and accident, perma-
nence and becoming, unity and multiplicity, and the like.
Although Being does not break down into particularizations, it can
nevertheless be grasped only if we start with the most primordial of
particularizations. And while an irrational residue of Being still remains,
yet a certain approximation to knowledge of Being does result. The primal
particularization of Being, according to Hartmann, occurs in the form of
two pairs of opposites: 'existence (Dasein) - essence (Sosein)" and 'ideal
Being - real Being'. Heidegger criticized the ancient doctrine of existentia
and essentia on the ground that it interprets the concept of existence as
presence or being-on-hand; Hartmann's objection to it is that in the
relationship between the concepts existentia and essentia, these two pairs
of opposites are intermingled in a confused way. Existentia (Dasein) is
identified with reality, essentia (Sosein) with ideal Being. This is incorrect.
For one thing, ideal Being itself - assuming that we have the right to speak
of such a thing - embraces the antithesis of existence and essence. Thus
the existence of aO is a different aspect of this number than the fact that
it is equal to one. The 'that it is' concerns Dasein; but what this being is,
to which existence belongs, concerns Sosein. 2 At the same time, the Sosein
of a real is not something ideal, but a thoroughly real Sosein. For example,
the green color, as the Sosein of a tree, is just as real as the tree itself.
Thus far it would seem that the relationship between existence and
essence has no connection with that between ideal and real Being. The
fact is, however, that there is such a connection. Specifically, Sosein is
neutral with respect to ideality and reality. The roundness of a sphere is
not affected by whether the sphere in question is a material or an ideal
geometrical one. We may therefore speak of a' Sosein as such' or a 'neutral
Sosein'. It follows that the ontic weight of the antithesis between ideal
and real Being must lie entirely on the side of Dasein: there is no neutral
Dasein; it is always either real or ideal.
The relationship between Dasein and Sosein is one of conjunction.
There is no being that possesses only Dasein and exhibits no traits of
Sosein; conversely, every Sosein is bound up with something that exists.
What obtains here is always a 'both-and'. Ideal and real Being, on the

other hand, form a sharp 'either-or': all beings are either real or ideal.
The relationship between the types of Being is one of disjunction. Thus
we have gained a first determination of 'being qua being'. Being is charac-
terized by two relationships that penetrate it while intersecting with each
other: one is the conjunctive relationship of the two aspects of Being, Dasein
and Sosein; the other is the disjunctive relationship of the two types of
Being, ideal and real. The latter divides being into two spheres of Being,
the former cuts across this division. Hartmann refers to this interweaving
of conjunction and disjunction as the ontic schema in the construction of
the world.
The antithesis between Dasein and Sosein is ontologically relative, not
absolute. For example, the Sosein of a red ball is the Dasein in it of red-
ness. Conversely, any Dasein of something is the Sosein of something else.
Thus the Dasein of a branch is a Sosein of a tree, the Dasein of a tree a
Sosein of a forest, and so forth. Only when a single being is considered
artificially in isolation do Dasein and Sosein fall away from each other. A
universal view, on the other hand, yields the indicated relativity. Not until
we consider the world as a whole does this relativity come to an end: the
Dasein of the world is not the Sosein of a whole that encompasses it.
The two types of Being - ideal and real- are not as easy to define as the
aspects of Being. To begin with, we can say only that the real is that which
is individual, unique, temporal, subject to the process of becoming, where-
as the ideal is that which is universal, timeless, eternal, untouched by
change. The ideal is by no means confined to the subjective and the logical;
it possesses a genuine ontic weight. In proving the existence of ideal Being,
Hartmann first proceeds, as Husserl did, by noting that we mean the
universal as something universal and at the same time quite positively as
something that has being. The decisive argument for him, however, lies
in the relationship between the ideal and the real. It turns out that the real
world is threaded with ideal law-governed regularities, as inorganic nature,
e.g., is permeated by mathematical relationships. Hence the ideal cannot
consist merely in an intellectual creation.
A more precise determination of the distinction between ideal and real
is provided by the analysis of modes of Being. Hartmann's view is that
the two spheres of Being are differentiated from one another by the differ-
ent kinds of relationships that hold in them among possibility, actuality
and necessity.

2. The Problem of Modalities of Being

Hartmann seeks to characterize the modes of Being and the regularities
that obtain among them, while at the same time stripping away any taint
of metaphysics. The following concepts are the result. The essentially
necessary is that which belongs to a thing on the basis of its ideal structure.
This involves a relational category, which governs only the intercon-
nections, not the first terms; first principles and axioms remain, rather,
ideally contingent. Real necessity, by contrast, is a mode of dependence
of temporal processes; it is more comprehensive than causal connection
since non-causal real determinations also exist. Here too there is a re-
lational structure, for it is always the case that the real is necessary only
'on the basis of something'. First causes are really contingent. Possibility
appears initially in two forms: as mere being-possible, the possibility both
of being or of not-being, hence called disjunctive possibility; and as in-
different possibility, which, unlike the first form, is not cancelled out by
a transition to actuality but is contained in the actual as its presuppo-
sition. Essential or ideal possibility rests on freedom from contradiction;
we cannot at first tell from looking at it whether it is indifferent or dis-
junctive. On the other hand, real possibility presupposes, in addition to
freedom from contradiction, the fulfillment of all conditions to the very
last one. For example, a perfect geometrical sphere is as such free from
contradiction, and hence is ideally possible; but it by no means follows
that it is possible realiter. By actuality of essence is meant existence in the
ideal sphere in general. Real actuality is the mode of Being that is com-
municated to us most directly, but which is extremely difficult to describe
conceptually. Here we can only point to the harshness of events, to fate,
to the things that happen to a person.
Actuality and non-actuality are absolute modes, that is, they are severed
from all contexts in contrast to all other modes, which display a relational
character. Here the preeminent basic modal law is that of the relativity of
relational modes to absolute ones. For example, to say that A is possible
is to say that A can 'be'; to say that A is necessary is to say that A must
'be'; and so forth, where by 'be', however, is always meant being-actual.
In addition, something is possible, impossible or necessary always 'on the
basis' of something else, which in turn must itself be actual.
Relationships between modes (Intermodalverhiiltnisse) may be of three

sorts: two modes may exclude each other (necessity and impossibility);
one may imply the other (necessity and possibility); or they may be neutral
with respect to each other. All intermodal relationships in the sphere of
the real follow from the so-called law of cleavage of real possibility, ac-
cording to which, in the real, the possibility of being and of not-being
mutually exclude one another. If anything is really possible, its not-being
is really not possible; anything whose not-being is really possible is not
really possible. The proof is as follows: real actuality presupposes real
possibility, and real non-actuality presupposes the real possibility of not-
being. Here, to be presupposed signifies to be contained in. But the actual
can contain only the possibility of being, not that of not-being; otherwise,
what is actual could later be made non-actual. An analogous conclusion
holds for non-actuality. Hence, if the really actual contains only the possi-
bility of being, then the possibility of being must exclude the possibility
of not-being, and vice versa.
Hartmann sums up the resulting intermodal relationships of the real
in three basic principles:
(I) No real mode is neutral with respect to any other. All three of the
possible forms of neutrality are absent here - that of actuality with respect
to necessity and contingency, of possibility with respect to actuality and
non-actuality, and of non-actuality with respect to possibility and im-
(2) All positive modes of the real(possibility, actuality, necessity) exclude
all negative ones (impossibility, non-actuality, contingency). This principle
gives rise to various 'paradoxical exclusion laws', e.g., that the Being of
what is non-actual is not possible. In this connection, it must be constantly
borne in mind that real possibility is always only a here-and-now possi-
(3) All positive modes of the real mutually imply each other. From this
follow such 'paradoxical implication laws' as that the really possible is
also really actual and really necessary. When we say that something is
possible, e.g., that the decaying tree we observe might topple over, our
statement is true only in the sense of ideal possibility; for if we had precise
knowledge of all the circumstances, then we would know for certain that
at this moment the tree cannot fall. In order for it to fall, a set of con-
ditions would have to be fulfilled (including, say, a violent burst of wind);
but then the tree does in fact fall, and the event is a really necessary one.

Thus the real is a sphere ofpervasive dependency. It holds no contingent

actuality; something is actual only by reason of a total chain of conditions.
Actuality is the strongest mode of Being, since it is given to us directly
and indubitably. The modes of possibility and necessity, however, are
covered over by actuality. That is to say, we mental and spiritual creatures
lack any direct consciousness of reality with respect to possibility and
necessity. Nonetheless, the latter modes do condition the Being of
Relationships are different in the realm of ideal Being. Here the absolute
modes of actuality and non-actuality recede, and the relational modes of
possibility and necessity dominate the field, with inter-connections, relation-
ships and regularities occupying the foreground. Because of the recession
of the absolute modes, the ideal appears to us as a rarefied realm, as a
light and ethereal kind of Being. But rigor and clarity rule here just as
much as in the real. The regularities are not subject to the caprice of our
thinking; on the contrary, the latter must conform to these regularities
if it is not to become untrue. The suppression of the absolute modes by
the relational does not signify the disappearance of the former. Thus, the
theorem on the sum of the angles of a triangle expresses a simple 'it is
so' and means thereby the ideal actuality. That this actuality, however,
plays the subordinate role of merely accompanying the modal aspect is
shown, e.g., by mathematical proofs, which always start from ideal possi-
bility and necessity. Ideal actuality then follows of itself. Thus the princi-
ple that possibility implies actuality is also valid in the ideal sphere. The
only difference is that here, unlike in the real sphere, the law is not para-
doxical but immediately self-evident.
Intermodal relationships are far more complicated in the ideal sphere
than in the real. While the real runs its entire course on the one plane of
the individual and the temporal, the ideal, by contrast, exhibits differences
of level ranging from the greatest generality down to the infima species
above the real. Accordingly, there are two kinds of possibilities here. At
one and the same level possibility implies actuality; hence, as in the real,
there is no disjunctive possibility. But the latter does exist in the relation-
ship of genus to species. As far as the genus triangle is concerned, the
species right-angled, obtuse-angled and acute-angled are 'equally possi-
ble'. Thus Hartmann, in common with Leibniz, distinguishes disjunctive
possibility from compossibility. What is possible side by side disjunctively

- namely, the species existing side by side in the genus - is never com-
possible. The infinitely many possible worlds of Leibniz, e.g., are ideal
possibilities existing side by side, of which only one can be actualized;
they are not compossible. Hence what rules in the ideal sphere is the law
of the parallel possibility of the non-compossible. With this, contingency
also finds the entry forbidden to it in the real sphere. For only in so far
as species bear the traits of the genus are they governed by essential
necessity. Any additional determinations (specific differences) are essen-
tially contingent.
In conclusion, we should note that besides the two spheres of Being,
Hartmann likewise analyzes the two so-called secondary spheres, those
of logic and cognition, with respect to their modal relationships. His
analysis yields numerous second order intermodal relationships among
the four spheres.

3. The Problem of Principles of Being

Categories, according to Hartmann, are general principles of Being. Under
no circumstances are they to be identified, as often happens, with con-
cepts. It is true that we grasp a being only by means of concepts; but being
known and grasped is completely external to a being and its principles.
Once this is recognized, there is, as Hartmann sees it, the further danger
of identifying the principles of Being with ideal Being, that is, with ideal
entities or essences. Now the fact is that both principles and ideal entities,
in addition to having the character of existing in their own right, bear
the aspect of the universal, the timeless, the eternal, of that which exists
independently of real instances. Nonetheless they differ in three respects.
First, the ideal consists of nothing but regularities, relations and forms;
categories, on the other hand, contain in addition the aspect of a substratum.
A system of categories must indeed satisfy the world in the sense that it
much touch everything that is basic to Being (e.g., materiality, also). But
were we to equate this system with the ideal sphere, the whole world would
be volatilized into a mere system of relations. Second, ideal Being is itself
subject to categorial principles, which therefore cannot be identical with it.
For instance, the natural numbers are ideal structures, not categories.
An example of a category is continuity, which governs the sequence of
real numbers. The third and most important difference consists in the
antithesis between real and ideal categories, as it has already appeared in

the analysis of modes. For instance, if real possibility were something

ideal, it would coincide with possibility of essence; but this proves to be
incorrect since the latter is given already by freedom from internal contra-
diction, whereas for the former a whole chain of conditions is required.
In categorial monism, Hartmann discerns another prejudice located
deep in the human mind and hence ineradicable. By it he means the fact
that previous inquiries into principles nearly always proceeded from the
assumption that a system of principles must culminate in some supreme
principle, in God, say, or in the absolute, or in a center of Being character-
ized in some other fashion. Due to his phenomenological starting-point,
rational proofs of God's existence are impossible for him; hence at most
the question is whether convincing evidence for such a point of unity is
to be found in categorial analysis itself. Closer inquiry into the problem
of categories shows, however, that such evidence is completely lacking.
What is forthcoming instead is a complex system of many principles with
manifold relations among them. Primal categories alone - that is, princi-
ples of Being valid for all spheres of Being and levels of Being - come to
no less than twenty-four:
principle - concretum unity - multiplicity
structure - mode unanimity - conflict
form - matter antithesis - dimension
inner - outer discreteness - continuity
determination - dependence substrate - relation
quality - quantity element - system
Of the manifold relations among these paired opposite principles
studied by Hartmann, the one to be singled out especially is categorial
coherence. In it is expressed the fact that each of the categories listed
above presupposes not only its opposite member but all the other twenty-
two principles. Hence by analyzing a single principle we can reach all the
other categories. This, in Hartmann's view, is the deeper significance of
the Hegelian dialectic. In truth there are no single categories, only a cate-
gorial continuum as a primordial unity. Finite human thought, incapable
of a direct overall view, snips pieces out of this continuum with the aid
of artificial conceptual caesuras, and these fragments then appear to it
as independent principles. The error involved in this excision - in con-
ceptual thinking - makes itself perceptible in the fact that every category,

as Hegel says, "bears a contradiction within itself", that is, points beyond
itself and implies other categories.
The categories enumerated above do not by any means exhaust the
system of principles of Being. There are, in addition, specific categories
for the various levels of Being (inorganic, organic, mental, spiritual).
Between these categories there exist law-governed regularities, and these
may be designated as principles ofprinciples. Hartmann summarizes them
in four laws, each of which in turn may be subdivided into four aspects:
(1) The law of validity. This law breaks down into the law of the
principle, which asserts that the Being of categories consists in nothing
but their being principles; the law of the validity of levels, according to
which the determination effected by a category is inviolably fixed for
every concrete entity belonging to the given level of Being; the law of
belonging to a level, which emphasizes the fact that outside of the level
the validity of the category either ceases altogether or continues in a
limited, modified form; and the law of the determination of levels, which
is intended to express the fact that everything basic in the concrete entities
of a level is determined completely as well as inviolably.
(2) The law of categorial coherence (discussed above).
(3) The hierarchical structure of the real world, extending from the
organic to the spiritual, is not the concern of the two laws just mentioned.
The first one presupposes this structure, the second one does not refer
to it at all but to the fact that principles of the same level (e.g., the various
principles of the inorganic realm) are interwoven with one another hori-
zontally. The remaining two laws seek to supply this want. The next law
is that of categorial stratification. Its first sub-law is that of categorial re-
currence, which states that the lower categories recur in the higher levels
as partial aspects of the complex of categories. The organic, e.g., includes
the laws of the inorganic. A limitation on this state of affairs is expressed
in the law of inflection. According to this law, when categorial elements
recur in higher strata, they are modified in many ways. This is due to the
fact that they are incorporated into a new kind of categorial complex
whose peculiar nature colors the individual components. The law of the
novum develops this thought further; the higher complex of categories is
not just a new combination of the lower categorial elements that recur
in it (e.g., the categorial ordering of the principles of the organic is not
merely a new kind of constellation of inorganic laws), it also contains,

besides the recurring special aspects, a specific novum, consisting of one

or more categorial elements that appear here for the first time. Finally,
the law of level distance states that recurrence and modification take place
not continuously but in leaps; this at times produces an interval between
levels that cannot be bridged by any continuity.
(4) The laws of categorial dependency deal with the nature and strict-
ness of the dependence of the higher levels on the lower, and vice versa.
Its first partial aspect is the law of strength (also found in Scheler's phi-
losophy) in which Hartmann expresses a view counter to that of German
idealism. The latter philosophy conceives of the uppermost (the spirit) as
presupposed in the lower, and the entire development of the world as a
realization of the absolute spirit. Hartmann's law, however, asserts just
the opposite: the higher categories presuppose as a basis many of the
principles of the lower levels of Being but are not themselves presupposed
by them. Ifwe designate the property of being-a-basis as strength, we may
then say that the lower categories are the stronger while the higher are
the weaker. An absolute spirit would, of course, be a principle of absolute
height of Being, but by the same token it would be of absolute weakness.
This point is sharpened through the law of indifference: the lower strata
are not consumed in being the foundation for the higher; they also exist
without the higher. Nevertheless, higher principles can be formed on top
of the lower ones. This fact is said to be expressed by the law of matter.
A counterweight to the law of strength is the law of freedom, which says
that the higher categories are free with respect to the lower, that is, they
are subject to laws of Being of their own, independent of the lower com-
plex of categories. For instance, the law of gravitation holds also for organ-
ic systems; but if the latter were wholly subject to this law and possessed
no margin of freedom with respect to it, organic processes could never
have taken form since these often work counter to the law of gravitation.
For Hartmann, these laws reflect the character of world unity as it can
be grasped within the bounds of rationality. Such a unity diverges to a
large degree from that found in the usual metaphysical systems, which
have all fallen victim to the monistic requirement of unity. In Hartmann's
view too, of course, the cosmic whole of being displays unity and order,
but this unity is not that of a principle, an absolute spirit, say, or a divine
creator; instead, it is a unity of order that achieves expression in the cate-
gorial laws, especially those of stratification, recurrence and coherence.

Only uncritical anthropomorphic analogies, Hartmann maintains, lead us

to assume a substantial principle of Being, be it world immanent or world
transcendent, or a primal subject conceived of as a spiritual person. The
type of unity found in the world is to be seen not in a supreme principle,
a primal ground or a final goal, but in a unity, itself complex, of categorial
relations, beyond which it is meaningless to inquire.

4. Problems of Special Categorial Analysis

(Philosophy of Nature)
In his philosophy of nature, Hartmann attempts to outline a special
doctrine of categories. We cannot enter into the details, but must confine
ourselves to a few comments on the topics he deals with. Studies of specific
categories, in even greater measure than a general theory of categories,
must rest on the analysis of the phenomena. Such studies are therefore
tied to the given state of scientific research; for all knowledge of categories
must be gained from individual domains of objects.
The most pressing task of the philosophy of nature is the inquiry into
the dimensional categories of space and time. In contrast to space, time
extends into the world of spirit. Time is not only a category of the in-
tuition, but also a real category of consciousness: time in consciousness
is matched by consciousness in time. Real time, to which all world pro-
cesses are subject, is to be strictly distinguished from intuitive time in
which the contents of our consciousness appear. Every subject is bound
to the now by real time; but in intuitive time it can move about freely.
With regard to space, we need to distinguish between the ideal spaces of
mathematics, the real space in which all physical processes run their
course, and intuitive space as a category of content of consciousness.
A further task is the analysis of the cosmological categories which
govern inorganic being. Among these are substance, causality, conformity
to law, and interaction. Here Hartmann discusses the riddle of the mathe-
matical structure of natural laws, as well as the problem of psycho-
physical causality, the existence of which, according to him, is confirmed
by an overwhelming mass of factual material.
A final important task is the investigation of the organo-logical cate-
gories, which control organic being. Here Hartmann distinguishes no less
than nineteen categories, divided into four groups. It might seem at first
that we human beings lack adequate categories for this domain, since the

organic is given us in two ways each of which lures us into a one-sided

view. On the one hand, we experience our own organic life; basing our-
selves on this subjective reality, we tend to view the organic in terms of
spiritual categories. Here are the roots of vitalism. On the other hand,
through our senses we receive external information about other organisms
as physical structures. This objective reality misleads us into viewing the
organic in terms of physical categories - the path to mechanism. The
grosser error, according to Hartmann, lies in the teleological approach.
Goal-directed activity exists only where there is a goal-setting conscious-
ness, absent in this case. More specifically, the process of life is not a
principle that stands behind the organic sub-processes and regulates them
(an entelechy); rather, an organic individual is a system of a unique sort,
whose life consists in the meshing of subordinate organic processes.
Death is nothing other than the breakdown of this system of interlocking
functions. Hartmann provides a detailed analysis of the following: the
organic process as one of the development of form; further, the inter-
locking of the morphogenetic processes; the relationship between systems
of forms and systems of processes, which constitutes the stability of the
organism; and self-regulation. The philosophy of the organic, however,
is not devoted solely to a consideration of the organic individual; it must
also encompass supra-individual life, the life of the genus. This latter is
not an organism of a higher order, but is itself a system of organisms.
Nevertheless, it possesses a reality of its own. At this point, the entire
complex of questions about phylogenesis - comprehended in the cate-
gories of descent, variation, selection and mutation - becomes relevant.
Residual metaphysical problems make their appearance especially in
connection with the question of organic determination. We are as yet un-
able to grasp the total system of individual organic functions. Only single
aspects of these functions are made intelligible by morphogenetic theories.
Inquiry into the factor determining the reproduction of individuals leads
us - beginning with the system of hereditary dispositions - to the as-
sumption of a central organic determination, which effects a selection from
among the causes that must enter into the organic process.


The spiritual or cultural level represents the highest level of Being of the

real. A critical, philosophical study of this area must proceed from the
broadest possible basis in empirical phenomena if it is to avoid the danger
of slipping into metaphysical speculations. The temptation to such specu-
lations is particularly strong here. The idea of an independent spirit hov-
ering over all earthly things is one of the oldest notions entertained by man.
This idea has misled man into assuming either that the spirit is a realm
of timelessly universal ideal entities, or else that, although real, it is the
only real since fundamentally the entire world is spiritual. Arguing against
this, Hartmann maintains that we come upon spirit only within the limits
of our field of experience. And in that context, it turns out first that spirit
is temporally determined and individual, like all other beings in the three
lower levels of the real; and second, that it by no means constitutes the
all-embracing or even sustaining level of Being, but rather rests and
depends on the other levels. Hence every non-speculative analysis of spirit
must have as its background the basic law of stratification according to
which the higher levels of the real world possess freedom with respect to
the lower, yet are the weaker since they are sustained by the lower.
The designation of the spiritual as a distinctive level of the real Iikewise
expresses the fact that this level is not reducible to the world of conscious-
ness. The processes of consciousness are always tied to single individuals,
spiritual contents are not. Even in a simple idea, the thought-act is con-
fined to the private consciousness of the subject who performs the act;
but the thought-content is the spiritual import, which is separable from
the subject and can be transmitted. Consciousness separates men; spirit
unites them.
The essence and structure of spirit can be clarified only by means of
individual, descriptive, cautiously probing analyses. We encounter spirit
in three forms of Being: personal, objective and objectivized. These three
forms do not represent a continuation of the stratified structure of the
world. They are not formed one upon the other (as the organic upon the
inorganic); nor are they built one over the other (as the spiritual over
consciousness). They stand in a mutual relationship of supporting and
being supported; they occupy the same fundamental position in the world
and thus constitute a unified plane of being.
It is personal spirit that presents itself most directly from the naive
point of view. The spiritual units in this case are individual persons. The
chief trait of this form of spirit is eccentricity: the freedom from being

tied, animal-like, to instinctual drives and the environment. Here objec-

tivity first appears, for things become objects only by virtue of an eccentric
consciousness that has liberated itself from those drives. In Hegel's words,
that which is being in itself becomes, for the eccentric spirit, Being-for-it.
The intuiting of values is also eccentric in so far as such intuiting no longer
makes man the center of the world. The personal spirit, however, is not
only a spirit that reflects the real and ideal world. It is involved in the
actuality of life, especially via the transcendent emotional acts mentioned
above. Thus human individuals are persons to the extent that they are
bound together with other individual spiritual beings in acting, speaking,
willing and suffering. The unity and wholeness of a person are not that
of a substance. The identity of the personal spirit in the flux of time does
not accrue to it automatically, but must be achieved time and again
through its own efforts. Hence breach of faith, e.g., or betrayal of the
love and friendship of others signifies not only the loss of an object but
a self-alteration and self-surrender of the person. The individual person
is further characterized by the fact that he gets into ever new situations
and is constrained to make free decisions (the constraint lies in the 'that'
of the decisions and the freedom in the 'how'). Further, the essence of
this spirit includes self-consciousness - not the empty self-consciousness
of direct self-contemplation, but the contentual self-consciousness which
man gains only over the course of time, when as agent he has lost himself
to the world and then sees himself in retrospect in the mirror of his own
Objective spirit (the supra-individual, public spirit) is a living, historical
reality, which is most directly revealed to the historical mode of thought.
From the historical standpoint, the individual person recedes into the
background and attention is focussed instead on the relationships which
individuals enter into; large-scale events and changes move into the
observer's field of vision. It is the objective spirit that is meant when we
speak of the spirit of Hellenism, of the Renaissance, or generally of the
spirit of a people. Objective spirit is something concrete, and can be
experienced prior to any conceptual comprehension, as anyone learns who
comes to a foreign land and gets to know the spirit of the foreign people.
Hegel, in Hartmann's view, is the Columbus of objective spirit: he dis-
covered, in this spirit, a new continent without suspecting what it was
that he had discovered. Genuine intuition, in the case of HegeJ, was

interwoven with speculative constructions and dialectical fictions. Now

the task is to disengage the actual insights from the idealistic metaphysics
and to replace speculative interpretations with precise descriptions. Pro-
ceeding along these lines, Hartmann arrives at twelve counter-theses to
Hegel's conception of spirit. These include the following propositions in
particular: that spirit is ontically secondary and rests on spirit-less Being;
that objective spirit as a being of higher order is by no means the actual
bearer of the historical process, but that a mutual relation of supporting
and being supported holds between personal spirit and objective spirit;
that the behavior of objective spirit is not guided by purposes (neither
objective spirit itself nor, behind it, some invisible goal-conscious wire-
puller directs the destiny of the world); that it is not part of the essence
of history for history to be progress; and that least tenable of all is the
optimistic notion of world history as world judgment. For generally the
grosser element turns out historically to be the more stable.
Objective spirit is superimposed on the sphere of the merely vital
Dasein. Its life takes place in such provinces as language, existing customs,
prevailing morality, established law, the state of science, traditional forms
of education and training, tendencies in art, dominant world outlooks.
Corresponding to each of these spiritual areas, there is for the individual
man a unique mode of experience - of growing into, taking over and
making one's own. A unique kind of relationship holds between objective
spirit and individual spirits, that of superexistence. Objective spirit is
borne by individual spirits and lives only in them; but it in turn embraces
and takes shape above them even as it gains power over them. Three
things especially must be kept in mind in analyzing the relationships be-
tween these two forms of spirit. First, objective spirit is not inherited but
handed down (tradiert), that is, an individual does not receive at birth
the spiritual content acquired in the past, but must in the course of living
consciously seek to make it his own. Second, objective spirit does not have
consciousness nor, third, does it have personality, although as in the in-
stance of the spirit of a people it possesses individuality vis-a-vis the
spirits of other peoples. The fact that objective spirit is not a subject
with consciousness has important consequences. Objective spirit finds a
consciousness-like representation only in single individuals. But this is
very imperfect; for none of the provinces of objective spirit can be even
approximately represented in a single consciousness. No one man is

capable of embracing all the science of a period, nor all the artistic contri-
butions, and so forth. In the domain of social life and politics, what results
is a plainly catastrophic situation: the community must be governed, public
business must be disposed of at each moment, disputes must be ironed
out and distress alleviated, and all of this requires continual decisions and
actions. But these can be supplied only by a consciousness. Since the
public spirit lacks consciousness, the individual consciousness must step
into the breach as a surrogate. Individual man, however, can never be
a substitute for the missing collective consciousness. He is fundamentally
unable to cope with the demands of objective spirit; no human under-
standing can encompass the total political situation, as it does the private
situations in personal life. Likewise, in devoting himself to the state or
to public office, no man can lay aside completely his private interests and
Hartmann deems it one of HegeI's basic errors that the latter regards
as true and essential in spiritual life only that which at the time possesses
universal validity. Hegel thereby fails to recognize that aberrations of
objective spirit may also occur. The analysis of the spurious in the life of
spirit ought therefore to form an important component of the philosophy
of spiritual being. Here again it is to be noted that the public spirit
possesses no consciousness, and therefore also has no conscience with
respect to distortions. The role of conscience must be assumed by indi-
vidual men, who may then find themselves in the position of having to
take a stand against objective spirit. The spurious may be found in all
domains of spiritual life - Kitsch (in the arts), mass suggestion (in the
formation of public opinion), the sham morality of the 'good name'
associated with habitual self-deception, superstition (in religion), and the
like. The sole realm of the purely genuine is science. Error, to be sure, does
exist; but there is no such thing as spurious knowledge, since this would
involve the contradictory notion of knowledge that recognizes error and
still holds fast to it. The question naturally arises, whether science might
not function as conscience within objective spirit. On this point, Hartmann
is rather pessimistic; nonetheless he looks to the newly developing sciences
of social and political life to gain an increasing mastery of the situation -
a mastery which may in the future be put to use successfully.
Objectivized spirit, as the third form of Being, comprises the objectivi-
zations 'put out' by spirit from itself: codified law, scientific knowledge

as fixed in word and writing, works of art and the like. Whereas personal
and objective spirit are living spirit, objectivized spirit is not anything
living. Its basis in reality (the printed page, the stone that has been
worked on) is material rather than spiritual. The spiritual consists in a
non-real stratum of meaning, first brought to life by personal spirit
through the medium of an understanding contemplation and recognition.
Finally, the relationship between the real foreground and the non-real
background is examined more closely using the work of art in aesthetics
as an illustration.
All spirit is historical. The past can tacitly extend into the present, as
is the case with old customs, linguistic forms, moral tendencies, and so
forth, which live on in us without our realizing that they are part of the
past. But what is past may also extend perceptibly into the present, name-
ly, when living spirit knows that it is past. In judging the behavior of
spirit we must pay attention above all to the restraint which objective
spirit exerts upon living spirit. The latter is tied up in these objectivizations,
and they in time become a hindrance to its own life. The result is a con-
stant revolutionary thrust on the part of living spirit directed against
objectivizations that stem from the past. Confronted with so many petri-
fied products of spirit of dubious character, spirit often adopts a certain
light attitude, simply abandoning them; for no living spirit can carefully
sift and weigh all that has been handed down, before it ventures to move
on its own.

1. Ethics
In his treatment of ethics, Hartmann takes as his starting-point Scheler's
ethics of material, or non-formal, values. What Scheler had projected,
Hartmann proceeds to carry through - a searching analysis of the various
values and of the axiological and ontological regularities that hold among
them. The equating of values with Platonic ideas becomes explicit in
Hartmann. Mediation between the real sphere of being and the ideal
sphere of values takes place through the person. It is the essence of the
human person that he be a citizen of two worlds: the real world, which
is bound by an absolute ontological law, and the world of values, to
whose imperatives he is keenly attuned. Values can be realized only
through the commitment of the person.

This realization, however, is not a moral act unless it takes place freely.
We would not apply the predicate 'moral' to an automaton even if it
realized the highest moral value in every situation. 3 Consequently, only
that conduct is morally good which, first, has its origin in freedom, and
second, is guided by the objective rank ordering of values, that is, chooses
the higher value over the lower. Freedom itself, for Hartmann, cannot be
a merely 'negative freedom', or freedom from causation, as it is in the
case of Kant. For one thing, freedom must exist not only with respect to
ontic regularities but also with respect to value claims. (The Kantian
formula of 'freedom under law' is therefore inadequate; there must be
freedom vis-a-vis moral law as well as vis-a-vis natural law.) Thus freedom
cannot have only the negative significance of a freedom from all deter-
minations; it must be something eminently positive, an additional deter-
mination which, in the case of moral freedom, is the self-determination
of the person. This latter freedom, Hartmann concedes, cannot be con-
clusively demonstrated. Yet the arguments against it can be refuted.
Moreover, we can exhibit phenomena pointing in that direction. One of
the most important of these is man's consciousness of freedom.
Considerable importance attaches to the five antinomies involving reli-
gion and ethics, elaborated by Hartmann. The first refers to the contrast
between an orientation to this world and an orientation to the hereafter.
From a pronouncedly religious viewpoint, the ordinary world as such has
no values of its own, but serves merely as preparation for the hereafter;
aspirations that go no farther than the values of this world are evil. This
depreciation of the real world must, from the ethical standpoint, be
rejected completely; ethics is wholly oriented to this world. In the eyes
of ethics, the inclination toward the hereafter is just as subversive of
values as this-worldly desires are from the viewpoint of religion. If it
happens that neither of the two tendencies is advocated outright, this is
only a proof of man's inconsistency.
The second antinomy concerns the relationship between man and God.
While for a religious person God is most important and is the highest
value, man in comparison being of second rank, for ethics man is supreme
and alone important. It is immoral and a betrayal of man that anything
- even God Himself - should surpass man.
The third antinomy relates to the source of morality. According to
religious thought, all moral demands are anchored in God's command-

ments. Moral values thereby become heteronomous, since they have their
origin in a decree. But for any genuine ethics, moral values are autono-
mous, that is, they are valuable not for the sake of something else but for
their own sake. Accordingly, values are realized not because they are
commanded but because they are evident in themselves.
Still stronger is the antinomy of providence: divine Providence, which
is affirmed by religion, contradicts the freedom of man, which is in turn
the basic presupposition of morality.
The final antinomy is that of salvation. According to religion, man's
sins can be absolved; he can be delivered from them. From the ethical
viewpoint, however, no one can be absolved of guilt for an evil deed; for
since guilt is inseparable from the person, absolution would mean denying
him the capacity to be guilty at all, as in the case of a child or a mentally
ill individual. Hence absolution from guilt, viewed ethically, is worse than
bearing guilt; for in the latter case, man is at least evaluated as a moral
personality, whereas in the former he is not.
The antinomies cannot be resolved. Therefore one of the orientations
- either the ethical or the religious - must be illusionary in character. The
absoluteness of the moral is, for Hartmann, beyond doubt; hence illusion
can lie only on the side of religion. What results, although Hartmann did
not make this explicit, is a postulational atheism, directly opposed to the
course taken by Kant who inferred the existence of God from the existence
of the moral law. The logical consequence of Hartmann's antinomies is
the claim that God does not exist: if there is an absolute morality - and
indeed there is - then there can be no God, since his existence would
destroy the ethical freedom and worth of the human person.

2. Aesthetics
An analysis of beauty must deal with two factors: the aesthetic object, its
structure and types of being; and the act of apprehending or enjoying it.
Since all beauty is sensuous in character, aesthetics begins with the analysis
of perception. A perception does not consist simply in experiencing some-
thing sensuous; the essential thing about any perception is that much
more is meant or intended in it than is given directly. In perceiving, some-
thing unperceived is also present (e.g., the rear and interior of a house).
The sensuously given is merely an accidental aspect, an Abschattung
('projection') in Hussed's sense. Now this relationship of being-present,

characteristic already of extra-aesthetic perception, becomes dominant in

aesthetic perception. In its essence beauty is a presence-relationship; spe-
cifically, it is the non-real background showing itself in the sensuously given
foreground. Corresponding to this characterization of beauty from the
standpoint of the object, there is an analogous one from the standpoint
of the act. In addition to sensuous intuition, there exists a 'supersensuous
intuition', an intuition of a higher order, which reveals something still
hidden from a merely sensuous intuition (e.g., the mood of a landscape).
What is present in the aesthetic object is not just a simple, non-real
background but one that is composed of a sequence of levels. In order for
the inner strata to appear, the outward levels must be filled. The minimum
is two levels, standing to one another in a presence-relationship. The
greatness of a work of art depends primarily on how far the sequence of
levels extends. Not every spectator has to be in a position to grasp all the
strata of a work of art. In a drama, e.g., six inner levels can be distinguished:
the living performance, the words spoken, the mental processes and
characters, the stratum of destiny; and in addition, two levels with ideal
content, namely, the personality idea and its ethos, and the human uni-
versal. In music, outer and inner may also be clearly distinguished; and it
is the deeper internal strata that stir man to his depths. Hartmann differ-
entiates three background levels in music: one to which the listener reso-
nates directly, one in which the composition penetrates and inwardly
moves him, and finally the metaphysical level, the level of ultimates.
Thus beauty is neither the pleasing sensuous foreground, nor is it the
background as something intended in a cognitive act. It is precisely the
relationship of the one being present in the other. And this relationship is
repeated for each stratum with respect to the next deeper one until the
last inner stratum is reached. The spectator is aware of the non-reality of
what is expressed; he is therefore not deceived by an illusion. This is true
even in the case of nature in so far as the latter is approached not theo-
retically or practically but simply as something beautiful. This model of
levels also allows us to exhibit the relationship of artist and spectator: the
artist progresses from the inner level outward and lets each successive
interior level determine the form of the next outward level; the spectator,
on the other hand, must proceed from the sensuously given foreground
and allow himself to be guided by the form imposed by the artist on the
given outer level if he is to push onward to the next inner level.

The three sub-varieties of beauty - the sublime, the graceful and the
comical - are likewise accounted for by the relationship of levels. In the
case of the sublime, the inner levels preponderate. A non-sensuous back-
ground appears in a sensuously real foreground. This appearance meets
man's need for greatness; here the resistances usually encountered are
easily overcome. At the same time, the presence of the sublime at the
sensuous outer levels is no more than partial; that is why the sublime is
connected with the obscure and the mysterious, the undisclosed depth and
the abyss. In the graceful, on the other hand, the outer levels prevail.
Finally, the comical is characterized by a deception of transparence: the
observer is offered something grand and important, apparently belonging
to a deep inner level, a something which then abruptly dissolves into
insignificance. For Hartmann, as for Kant, comicality consists in the
cancelling out of the deception through this 'dissolution into nothingness'.
Hartmann also discusses the problem of how aesthetic values are given
and how they differ from other values. Aesthetic values, like all others,
are accessible only to a value-feeling (Wertfiihlen). Whereas ethical values
are always founded on the values of goods, aesthetic values need not be
based on any other kinds of values. The value feeling specific to aesthetic
values is aesthetic pleasure. Hartmann, like Kant, characterizes this as dis-
interested satisfaction. What this means is that the extra-aesthetic value
feelings cannot play a role even when other values are presented by the
arts; the extra-aesthetic value feelings are overlaid by the aesthetic. Thus
a doubly high requirement is placed upon the beholder of beauty: he must
have made himself inwardly free from desire for the practical (or other
non-aesthetic) value of the object, and equally free from the value of the
particular state of the subject himself.
At various points aesthetics encounters questions that lead beyond its
bounds. This occurs even in the analysis of artistic creation. The relation-
ship to the theory of spiritual being is established by the fact that the
work of art in its very nature is part of objectivized spirit; for in the work
of art a spiritual content is embedded in objectivity. Furthermore, works
of art also raise a question of truth, which Hartmann answers by differ-
entiating between life's truth (Lebenswahrheit) and essential truth or life's
wisdom (Lebensweisheit). Aesthetics leads into the domain of metaphysics
as well. According to Hartmann, the metaphysicians have continually
made the mistake of endowing the world with a general meaning. But

such a general meaning is not to be found in individual values, and in

particular not in the various aesthetic values. An aesthetic endowing-with-
meaning is possible only if the situation is exactly the reverse of what the
metaphysician takes it to be: to a creature like man, the only meaningful
world is a meaningless world; for in a world already filled with meaning
he, with all his ability to endow with meaning, would be superfluous.


It is not possible to present any overall evaluation of Hartmann's phi-

losophy. There is no unifying metaphysical idea that dominates his
thought; his findings rest on individual analyses which are independent
of each other. Consequently, a critical examination can address itself only
to his position on various specific problems.
If we were to give a brief picture of the difference between Hartmann's
method in the analysis of phenomena and the methods of Husserl and
Heidegger, it would run as follows: Husserl is concerned, through a
microscopic analysis, to bring us closer to scarcely perceptible states of
affairs and nuances; Heidegger attempts to direct our gaze toward some-
thing that usually is not seen at all; and Hartmann strives, especially in
his ontology and philosophy of spirit, for a macroscopic, total view. This
explains why Hartmann was active in all areas of philosophy. At the same
time, however, such activity necessarily made evident the limits that today
are set to the capacity ofthe philosopher and scholar. Not everything that
Hartmann wrote is of the same value. We find, by turns, very interesting
individual analyses, which rely on exact and many-sided observations;
illustrative historical allusions, which testify to an uncommon erudition;
purely metaphorical expositions, lacking adequate conceptual analysis of
the material; occasional revivals of obsolete modes of thought (e.g., in
his account of substance and interaction); and even at times a slipping
into the speculative metaphysics of rationalism. In his philosophy of
nature, e.g., a distinct qualitative difference appears between his philoso-
phy of the organic and the other portions of this work. His explanations
of the organic rest on extensive special knowledge and are governed by a
cautiously critical restraint. But his remarks on dimension, causality, sub-
stance, interaction, and space and time (e.g., in connection with the theory
of relativity) can scarcely be reconciled with the present state of research.

Those who support the principle of Ockham's razor would enter a

general objection to Hartmann's procedure - that basically he tries to
eliminate difficulties by continually introducing new distinctions (aspects of
being, spheres of being, modes of being, strata of being, and so forth),
difficulties that in fact can be resolved without constantly bringing in new
ideal entities. This objection, however, would be obviated if it could be
shown first, that there is a real need for these innovations, and second,
that the concepts applied always have the necessary precision. But even
if we grant the first point, the second must in many instances appear open
to question. Hartmann's great talent for expressing his ideas in a plastic,
intuitive language often obscures the fact that many of his basic concepts
are introduced only in a metaphorical way, without first having been given
the requisite exactness. To illustrate his conceptual distinctions, Hartmann
often has recourse to examples that at times result in blunders. As one
instance, he illustrates the need to distinguish between Dasein and Sosein
in the sphere of ideal being by citing the difference between the fact that
there is a number aO and the fact that this number is equal to 1. This
example is an unfortunate choice, since 'There is a number aa' expresses
not an ontological fact but merely a stipulation on the part of mathe-
Metaphorical intuitive descriptions are especially prominent in
Hartmann's metaphysics of knowledge. The very characterization of
knowing as a grasping is, initially, nothing other than an intuitive spatial
metaphor. This metaphor exploits an analogy with the sense of touch,
just as the associated characterization of knowing as generating also rests
on an analogical image. The danger that lies in this image is revealed in
the further course of the analysis. The cognitive process is likened to the
perceptual process and to intuition, as is already apparent in the counter-
posing of knowing subject and known object. But such a two-termed
relation may only be spoken of with regard to intuition or perception.
The expression 'knowing', on the other hand, designates a three-termed
relation. 'The subject S knows an object A' is an incomplete sentence,
whereas'S perceives A' is a complete sentence. A complete expression
containing the word 'know' must run: 's knows A as C'. We cannot
simply know something, we can only know something as something.
Important consequences follow from this which we cannot go into here. 4
In elaborating his theory of knowledge, Hartmann seems not to be

able to extricate himself from a difficulty always raised against realism

by its opponents, namely, the duplication of the world. Since the real world
is absolutely transcendent to consciousness, it can, according to Hartmann,
be reflected in consciousness only in the form of an image or a sign. We
must therefore distinguish the phenomenal world, which alone is given,
from the real world which exists behind it, is not given, but exists in itself.
Here familiar questions arise. How is it possible to know anything about
such a real world? Indeed, how is it possible for us even to comprehend
the idea of such a world? The modern empiricists go further and ask:
since by definition the objects belonging to such a world cannot be ob-
served, where are we to find the scientifically testable meaning of state-
ments about such a world? But even a philosopher who is not an empiri-
cist in orientation will insist that the apparent paradox be removed from
this construal of the concept of transcendent object - the paradox of
forming in consciousness a concept of something absolutely beyond con-
sciousness. As a matter of fact, the difficulties in construing this concept
have time and again caused certain thinkers, such as Husserl, to return
to transcendental idealism.
The inadequate clarification of basic concepts is especially noticeable in
the analysis of categories. Categories are said to be principles of being.
But what exactly does this signify? The linguistic expressions, such as
'structure', 'quality', 'substance', 'causality', used by Hartmann to refer
to categories, are substantives, not sentences or propositions. But princi-
ples, obviously, can be formulated only by means of propositions. Con-
sider the case of causality. According to Hartmann, the causal category
is a principle of being. Let us try to make this notion more precise. 'Causal'
is a predicate that denotes a complex of traits of certain natural laws. One
such trait is that of being deterministic. Let us assume for the moment
that the concept of a deterministic (as contrasted to a statistical) law is
sufficiently explicated, and furthermore that we are concerned only with
this trait. 5 We may now define causal laws roughly by saying that they
must be deterministic. Concerning such 'propositions' as 'All laws of
nature are causal laws' or 'All events can be subsumed under causal laws',
we can then say that their content consists of principles of being, always
provided that these propositions are true. 6 The second proposition, e.g.,
might be adopted as a formulation of the principle of causality. Thus two
things become clear: first, we may speak of principles of being only when

we have erected certain general law-like assertions; second, every such

assertion, because of its generality, contains a hypothetical component.
Now the fact is that Hartmann is obliged to use propositions when he
seeks to formulate principles of being (see, e.g., the laws mentioned in
Section B.3 above). This simply reveals the further difficulty that such
general principles are valid only as hypothetical assumptions. Yet
Hartmann seems to believe, at least sometimes, that the truth of such
laws can be known definitively. Thereby he slips into what he otherwise
expressly rejects, an a priori rational metaphysics characterized by the
belief, on the part of its advocates, that one can discern the truth of
certain natural laws by pure reason. An example from Hartmann's phi-
losophy is the law of division of real possibility (see Section B.2 above).
A closer analysis would show that this law contains a hidden formulation
of the causal principle in the form of a principle of universal determinism.
In any event, it is a factual truth. Yet Hartmann believes that he can
prove this purely logically. This is precisely what rationalism sought to
do - to reduce factual truths to logical truths. There are few philosophers
today who would consider this feasible.
The harm done by neglecting the logical analysis of language may be
seen in the modal analysis, among other places. A brief comment will
have to suffice. 7 It may seriously be doubted whether such expressions as
'possible' and 'necessary' can bear any ontological weight at all. Take e.g.
the expression 'necessary', in the sense of logical necessity. Is it necessary,
say, that the number 2 be smaller than the number 4? Our first inclination
is to say 'yes'. If I define the number 2 by 'x is the smallest prime', then
this answer is correct; but if I characterize 2 by the condition 'x is the
number of ears of a normally constituted man', then the answer must be
in the negative, since it is not logically necessary that a normal man have
two ears. Hence 'necessarily less than 4' does not designate a trait of
numbers: whether a number is necessarily smaller than 4 depends not on
the ontological status of the number but on how we characterize it linguisti-
cally. Again, in the case of the concepts of real possibility and real ne-
cessity, the situation is that we must constantly refer to a particular theory
which is assumed to be valid. Consider the question: 'Is a velocity greater
than that of light really possible?' The answer in the sense of classical
mechanics is 'yes', in that of relativistic mechanics, 'no'. Thus the ex-
pression 'really possible' amounts to 'possible with respect to the (em-

pirical and hypothetical) theory T'. This concept may then be made
precise, so that the modal concepts of the 'real' become superfluous; to
say that something is possible in the sense of classical mechanics signifies
no more than that it is logically compatible with the theory of classical
mechanics, and to say that something is impossible in the sense of this
theory signifies that it is logically incompatible with it.
With these few references to possible criticisms of certain of Hartmann's
conceptions, we shall conclude our account of his philosophy. There is
much in his thought that points in the direction of modern analytic phi-
losophy: his emphasis on a descriptive, empirical point of departure; his
antipathy to all kinds of rationalistic and speculative tendencies; his
attentiveness to phenomena, which made him the opponent of any arti-
ficial commitment to a particular principle or '-ism'; his conviction that
fruitful philosophical analyses can not come out of nowhere but are
obtainable only on the basis of living contact with research in the special
sciences. On the other hand, much points back into the past: to Plato's
theory of forms, Aristotle's ethics and the medieval doctrine of being.
The future will show whether all these philosophical aspirations are
compatible. For some time it has seemed as if they were not. Modern
empiricism and analytic philosophy, at their inception, engaged in po-
lemics not merely with specific speculative tendencies in traditional phi-
losophy but with the whole of it. Recently old philosophical questions
have suddenly emerged even within the camp of the philosophical ana-
lysts and empiricists (see Chapter VIII), albeit for the most part in a very
much modified form. Should this development continue, as is probable,
the future will confirm one of Hartmann's central beliefs - that a rigorous
logical and analytical method is not incompatible with concern for the
philosophical tradition, but that the two must be seen as interdependent
by any future philosophy that "will be able to come forth as a science".


1 The irrational plays a central role in Hartmann's treatment of the problem of

knowledge. It serves as the basis for the decisive argument against Kantianism. For if
cognition consists in generating, the object then would of necessity be perfectly compre-
hensible rationally, since it would be the product of the subject of knowledge. The
irrational features in the object are the resistance which the knower encounters, and
hence they are a guarantee that the object not only is meant as something that goes

beyond its being an object, but in fact does go beyond it, i.e., exists independently of
its being known.
2 In order to have an unambiguous terminology, Hartmann calls existence and essence
'aspects of Being' (,Seinsmomente'); ideal and real Being he calls 'types of Being'
(' Seinsweisen').
3 Hence according to Hartmann, a God whose essence includes goodness cannot be
spoken of as a moral person.
4 See W. Stegmiiller, 'Glauben, Wissen und Erkennen', Zeitschrift fur philosophische
Forschung 10 (1956) 509-549.
5 This is, of course, a gross oversimplification; laws usually referred to as causal must,
in addition to being deterministic, fulfill many other conditions.
6 Hartmann probably would not regard these two propositions as true; but this would
not aft'ect the question of conceptual clarification at issue here.
7 For a more extended treatment, see W. Stegmiiller, 'Sprache und Logik', Studium
Generale 9 (1956) 74ft'., and Metaphysik, Wissenschaft, Skepsis, op. cif., pp. 73ft'.


Empiricist currents occupy a special position in present-day philosophy.

The bond that unites them is not some particular body of doctrine, but
the disavowal of any and all kinds of metaphysics. The term 'metaphysics'
is to be understood here in a very wide sense as denoting not only a theory
of supernatural objects but any philosophy that professes to obtain
factual statements or normative assertions along a priori paths. If we were
to express the fundamental conviction common to empiricists in a brief
formula, it would run something like this: it is impossible to gain infor-
mation about the nature of the real world and its laws through pure thought
and without empirical examination by means of observations. The scien-
tific knowledge we possess belongs either to the formal sciences of logic
and mathematics or to the empirical sciences. And there is no room for
a philosophy that would compete with or go beyond the knowledge
acquired by the individual sciences.
If, then, there is no such thing as a philosophical science of reality,
philosophical inquiry must limit itself to logic, epistemology (or the theory
of science) and foundational studies. Philosophy can no longer claim to
be the queen of the sciences; instead she becomes their servant. The
objects of philosophical investigation are no longer the things and events
of the real (or of an ideal) world; what the philosopher now studies are
the concepts and assertions of the sciences. In the theory of science, the
primary task of research is to clarify the basic concepts and methods of
reasoning of the individual sciences. The aim is to place at the disposal
of the sciences logical and linguistic instruments suitable for the con-
struction of theories; and the principal danger to be avoided is that of
posing pseudo-problems which deflect the intellectual energies of scien-
tists into false and unprofitable channels.
Of the various philosophers we have discussed, only Brentano gave
major attention to the critique of language. In contemporary empiricist
and analytic philosophy, however, the logical analysis of language is very
much in the foreground. In some cases, as with Wittgenstein and his

followers, the chief stress is on the analysis of ordinary language; with

others, especially Carnap, the main tendency is to abandon ordinary
language because of its many logical deficiencies and to replace it by
artificial language systems constructed in accordance with certain precise
Our evaluations of the philosophers considered above have already
provided examples to show that the analysis of linguistic expressions and
their meanings is indeed of singular importance for philosophy, and must
be carried on irrespective of the philosophical position taken on other
matters. There is no denying that philosophical theses often rest on super-
ficial analyses of the functions of certain linguistic expressions: the failure
to attend to the different meanings ofthe word 'is', the grammatical mis-
construction of the word 'nothing', the interpretation of imperatives and
value judgments on the analogy of declarative sentences. The fact that
studies in the logic oflanguage have been carried on chiefly by empiricists
has unfortunately led to the quite erroneous notion that the very use of
the methods of linguistic analysis implies an anti-metaphysical viewpoint.
Ordinary language is the tool that we all must use if we are to express
our thoughts. Efforts to obtain a better knowledge of it and its functions,
and (because of its defects as a tool) to replace it for certain scientific
purposes with artificial languages, are endeavors which in themselves are
entirely independent of one's basic philosophical convictions.
Modern logic, which in the last few decades has undergone an extreme-
ly rapid development, plays an important role in present-day empiricism.
This is particularly true where attention is focussed on the construction
of artificial language systems. Here again a totally incorrect view has
cropped up, especially in Central Europe, to the effect that the pursuit of
modern logic implies a 'positivistic' bias in philosophy. Now it is certainly
true that empiricists, as a rule, make greater use of modern logic than do
representatives of other tendencies. Yet a great many of those who con-
tributed to the development of logic were mathematicians whose philo-
sophical standpoint was quite independent of their research (Hilbert,
Kleene, Rosser); others, in so far as they also concerned themselves with
philosophical questions, were and are in large part advocates of a
Platonist point of view (Frege, Russell, Whitehead, Scholz, GOdel,
Church). Today philosophers of the most diverse tendencies - e.g., the
Thomists - exhibit a growing interest in modern logic.

It is a distinguishing mark of modern empiricists that they claim the

same rigorous character for their researches as do scientists. They propose
to guarantee this rigor by the requirement (in contrast to the position of
'metaphysical' and 'speculative' philosophies) that all philosophical state-
ments be intersubjectively testable. By setting up precise criteria of testa-
bility also for the assertions made by philosophers, the empiricists hope
to make possible a strict scientific discussion of all philosophical questions.
Where such criteria cannot be established, the questions under consider-
ation would then be excluded from the class of meaningful philosophical
problems. Questions that do not admit of intersubjectively testable
answers would be rejected as philosophical pseudo-problems.
One of the most influential empiricist groups of the present century
was the Vienna Circle. Due to political circumstances (the 'Anschluss'
forced on Austria by Germany in 1938), the Circle was dissolved and
most of its members were compelled to emigrate.! These exiles became
a decisive influence in English and American philosophy. Analytic phi-
losophy, the trend that now dominates philosophy in those two countries,
has resulted in large part from the further development of ideas first con-
ceived in the Vienna Circle. The most gifted and original member of the
Circle, Rudolf Carnap, is today recognized as one of the most important
philosophers in the U.S.A.
The Vienna Circle displayed originally a very strongly polemical atti-
tude toward other philosophical tendencies. The often aggressive charac-
ter of these polemics unfortunately helped spread the notion that to
concern oneself with questions of logic and the philosophy of science -
the chief preoccupation of the Vienna Circle - was tantamount to accepting
a radical 'positivistic' philosophy. Later the Circle's attitude moderated
substantially, giving way to a more tolerant view of the problems of
philosophy as traditionally formulated. And as we shall show in the next
chapter, once the radical phase of this movement had receded, the old
'metaphysical' questions reemerged in new garb within modern empiri-
cism itself.
With its rigorously scientific approach to problems, the Vienna Circle
did not give birth to a unified philosophical system on which general
agreement might have prevailed among the individual members. Such
accord existed in relation only to their basic philosophical posture; apart
from this there was no shared philosophical 'dogma'. This is why repre-

sentatives of modern empiricism emphasize time and again that their

philosophical discussions are entirely different in nature from those we
observe among other philosophers. For the modern empiricist, philosophy
is not a matter of belief against belief, of one unprovable philosophical
conviction arrayed against another; rather, it is a collaboration by many
investigators based on mutual stimulation and criticism which produces, for
the first time in the history of philosophy, clearly visible advances in
knowledge analogous to those made by the individual sciences.
The Vienna Circle and modern empiricism generally are characterized
by an active discussion, constantly in flux, of various complexes of
problems. It will therefore not be possible in this chapter to confine our-
selves to the system of a single thinker. Yet since it was Carnap who
systematically elaborated so many essential features of the modern theory
of science and logic, we are entitled, in dealing with individual problems,
to place the main emphasis on his ideas - while mentioning from time to
time the divergent views on particular questions of other Circle spokes-
men, or of those close to them.
The arrangement of the material in this and the following chapter
presents a certain technical difficulty. Carnap wrote most of his works in
America, at a time when the Vienna Circle, to all intents and purposes,
had ceased to exist. In order to achieve a more compact exposition, we
shall include in this chapter all those writings of Carnap that can be
regarded as a continuation of his early thought. However, we shall post-
pone to the following chapter a report on two of his fields of research,
theoretical concepts and the problem of induction. Carnap's studies have
long been aimed principally at creating a system of inductive logic; hence
we shall not be discussing his true life-work until the next chapter.


Modern empiricists seek to found their position on logical arguments.

Yet there is no doubt that other factors - in part historical, in part psycho-
logical- have also fostered this viewpoint, and in the case of some thinkers,
perhaps, have even been the determining reason for their adherence to it.
First of all there is the contrast between the progress of the individual
sciences and the course of affairs in philosophy. Originally philosophy was
the sole science of reality. As time passed, the various sciences developed

out of philosophy and became detached from it. As additional domains

of reality were subjected to study through the methods of the special
sciences, the question inevitably arose as to whether anything remained
for a philosophical theory of reality. Doubts are reinforced when we
compare the advances of the sciences with the evolution of philosophy.
No one can deny the extraordinary difference that exists between the
mathematics of today and that of two centuries ago; new mathematical
disciplines have come into being and old ones have undergone enormous
expansion. In this respect the situation is similar in the empirical sciences.
It is beyond dispute that a deepening and broadening of knowledge is
constantly taking place not only in the natural sciences (e.g., physics and
chemistry, whose growth is expressed visibly in the progress oftechnology)
but also in history and the humanities.
On the other hand, in the fields of metaphysics, ontology and value
theory one can question fundamentally whether any progress has oc-
curred at all. Although philosophy has a much older record than the
individual sciences in formulating problems and striving for solutions,
it has thus far not been able to reach agreement on the essential problems
in its area. Indeed, the division into contending philosophical currents
seems to have increased steadily and to have assumed more and more the
character of a controversy that cannot be settled.
Why is there such a striking contrast between the sciences and phi-
losophy? One obvious answer is that the statements of mathematics and
the empirical sciences admit of scientific control, whereas the statements
of philosophy do not. In the province of mathematics, checking consists
in the application of logical procedures. Of course the insight and inge-
nuity of the mathematician can never be replaced by mechanical methods;
but the proofs he supplies for the theorems he has discovered can, in
principle, be verified by anyone. If a logical error is found in a proof, then
the proof must be discarded; no power on earth can change this. Mathe-
matics thus has at its disposal a definitive criterion for what is tenable and
what is not. In the empirical sciences, the control consists in the obser-
vations made and the experiments performed. It is true that observations
alone, no matter how many, do not uniquely determine a specific theory
- the creative imagination of the theorist must be brought into play. But
once a theory has been devised, it becomes subject to the strict criticism
of experience. If predictions made with the aid of the theory do not agree

with subsequent observations, then we know that we must either give up

the theory entirely or so change it that it can be used for making correct
In the case of philosophical assertions, neither of these two kinds of
control is possible. On the one hand, the criteria of formal logic do not
suffice to establish the truth or falsity of such statements; on the other
hand, we cannot derive predictions about the future from philosophical
propositions about reality, so that empirical criteria also fail. Thus the
philosopher, if he is to support his assertions, is obliged to lay claim to
special forms of insight, allegedly superior to the kinds of understanding
employed in the sciences. Yet as experience shows - experience in the
form of the inconclusive struggle waged among the different philosophical
systems - scholars have not been able to reach agreement with respect to
the existence or non-existence of those special forms of insight. It is there-
fore natural to conclude that in philosophy it is impossible to distinguish
between the products of fancy and genuine knowledge. For such a differ-
entiation can be made only where there are intersubjective criteria and
where as a consequence we may demand, for well-founded assertions,
universal and strict acceptance.
This view of philosophy, or something similar, has long been champi-
oned by skeptics, relativists and agnostics. They have regarded philo-
sophical labors as futile and the solution of philosophical problems as
impossible, if not in principle then at least in so far as the human under-
standing is concerned. In one respect, however, modern empiricism is
more radical than previous anti-metaphysical trends. Not only does it
deny that metaphysical statements admit of objective control; it criticizes
even the concepts of metaphysics. More exactly, it subjects to criticism
the terms and predicates used by the metaphysician, and denies that these
expressions have a specifiable meaning on which an intersubjective under-
standing can be reached. In the empirical sciences, when we introduce a
new expression (say 'electric charge', 'volume', or 'free market economy'),
we must always be able to state precisely what observationally determin-
able conditions must be fulfilled in order for the expression to be appli-
cable. In other words, we must specify empirical criteria for the concepts
that constitute the sense of these expressions. Metaphysical terms such
as 'world-substance', 'principle of being', 'soul', and the like do not meet
this requirement.

The empiricist philosopher thus arrives at a basic viewpoint on scien-

tific knowledge that may be characterized roughly as follows:
(1) The concepts applied in the sciences, except for the formal concepts
of logic and mathematics, must be empirical in character. That is, they
must be concepts whose applicability can be decided in each concrete
instance only with the aid of observations. Concepts that do not satisfy
this condition are pseudo-concepts, and hence are to be eliminated from
(2) All statements acceptable to the scientist must either be provable
on logical grounds alone, or have been confirmed by experience. These
statements need not be simply reports of observations, nor need they be
logically derivable from such observation statements. In short, it is not
required that they be empirically verifiable. 2 On the contrary, they may
be hypotheses, which are not susceptible of conclusive verification through
observation. As scientific assumptions, however, hypotheses also differ
from speculative pseudo-theses in that they must in principle be empiri-
cally testable, even if only in a negative way. That is, it must be possible
in principle to describe such observations as would refute a given hypo-
thesis. If a statement is neither logically provable nor empirically refutable,
if it can be established only by an appeal to some higher form of insight,
then it must be discarded as unscientific, even if it satisfies condition (1)
above and contains only concepts that can be shown to be empirically
If we adopt Kant's terminology and bear in mind that he called logical
truths analytic, and that observation statements and empirically testable
statements comprise exactly the ones he termed synthetic a posteriori,
we can then characterize the empiricist viewpoint as follows: a statement
to be scientifically acceptable must be either analytic or else synthetic a
posteriori, that is, it must be either analytic or empirical.
To this thesis there is an obvious objection. As we know, Kant also
rejected traditional metaphysics, since scientific knowledge of non-empi-
rical objects seemed to him impossible. He did, however, maintain that
in addition to the two classes of statements recognized by empiricism
there was a third class of allowable statements, namely, the synthetic
a priori. These are statements whose truth we are able to establish defini-
tively even though (a) the means of formal logic do not suffice for this
purpose, and (b) observations are not necessary to achieve it. Among

such statements, according to Kant, are in the first place the metaphysical
presuppositions of the empirical sciences, which he termed the principles
of 'pure natural science'. These in their totality constituted for him the
only scientifically tenable metaphysics. Further, he believed that these
synthetic a priori statements form a precondition for the validity of ob-
jective empirical statements. Thus the whole of empirical science rests on
a synthetic a priori foundation.
Now although we may not agree with this conception, we can still
criticize empiricism for failing even to consider the possibility of such
synthetic a priori knowledge. And this objection can be raised even by
those who do not believe in the existence of a priori concepts, but who
hold that empirical criteria must be present for all concepts used in
philosophy or the sciences (with the exception of logical concepts). For,
contrary to Kant's view, the assumption that there is synthetic a priori
knowledge is not dependent on the assumption that there are a priori
Whatever our opinion of Kant's theory as a whole, one thing we cannot
deny. Kant formulated the problem of the scientific character of meta-
physics in a classic manner which has never been surpassed: Is there
synthetic a priori knowledge? If there is, on what does its validity rest?
The first of these questions, according to Kant, must be answered un-
equivocally in the affirmative. But that there was such a thing as synthetic
a priori knowledge was for him a fact that demanded explanation. There
is indeed nothing surprising about the existence of either synthetic
judgments a posteriori - empirically confirmed judgments with factual
content - or analytic a priori statements devoid of factual content. The
astonishing thing, however, is that it should be possible to make state-
ments about the real world and to grasp their truth without recourse to
experience. It was this strange fact that governed the theory by means of
which Kant sought to answer the second question; and the transcendental
idealist interpretation of knowledge he presented is plainly traceable to
the circumstance that he saw no other way of explaining the phenomenon
of synthetic judgments a priori. For if our knowledge is to refer to a world
independent of consciousness, it would then be incomprehensible how we
could obtain any knowledge free of experience. A priori knowledge of
reality is intelligible only if there are laws of the thinking faculties -laws
through which a world is constituted in the first place. But this reality

is then no longer an 'independent' one; its creation is shared in by mind

and the laws immanent in mind.
Kant's opponents have often attempted to replace his interpretation of
knowledge by one capable of explaining the same phenomenon of syn-
thetic a priori knowledge in a different way, without undertaking Kant's
'Copernican revolution' in the concept of knowledge. We became ac-
quainted with such endeavors in the doctrines of Brentano, Scheler and
Nicolai Hartmann. All of these philosophers, however, share Kant's
initial premise: the acceptance of synthetic a priori propositions. They
depart from his theory only in the epistemological or metaphysical ac-
count they give of such propositions.
The empiricists, on the other hand, do not simply dispute the correct-
ness of the Kantian theory. They reject the premise on which it makes
sense to offer the theory at all, namely, that there is synthetic a priori
knowledge. According to them, this kind of knowledge is found neither
in mathematics nor in the natural sciences; Kant's examples, without
exception, are false. Mathematical knowledge relies on no principles
beyond those of formal logic. If Kant reached a different conclusion, it
was because on the one hand he very much underestimated the range of
logical thought (as the logician Frege pointed out long ago); and on the
other hand, he fell victim to a misinterpretation of the proof procedures
of mathematics. As for the empirical sciences, Kant's assumption that
these stand in need of a synthetic a priori foundation was based on error;
neither the elucidation of concept formation in the empirical sciences nor
the problem of the testability of empirical theories obliges us to fall back
on a priori presuppositions of the sort assumed by Kant.
Thus the Kantian attempt to save metaphysics in the limited sense of
a system of metaphysical presuppositions of the empirical sciences is also
unequivocally rejected by modern empiricism. Kant's investigations rested
on the proposition that there is synthetic a priori knowledge. It is the
supposition of the existence of such knowledge that empiricism denies.
Consequently, we may sum up the empiricist point of view toward Kant's
formulation of the problem as follows: since there are no synthetic a
priori statements, the central question of the Kantian critique of reason -
why such statements exist and on what their validity is based - becomes
meaningless; in particular, it no longer makes sense to frame a theory on
the Kantian model that tries to answer the question of validity.

This criticism of Kant's initial premise and of the formulation of the

problem in his theoretical philosophy was not the result of an empiricist
bias concerning scientific knowledge. Rather, it was the outcome of 'pre-
supposition-free' philosophical studies in the foundations of logic and
mathematics, and logical investigations of the structure of knowledge in
the factual sciences. The conclusion that appeared to follow from these
analyses was that the Kantian attempt to base the individual sciences on
a synthetic a priori system of concepts and judgments had to be regarded
as a failure. This actual or supposed insight into the failure of Kant's
attempt to lay a foundation for the sciences may then be said to constitute
a further reason for an empiricist attitude in philosophy.
We said above that modern empiricism differs from other anti-meta-
physical currents in being more radical. Not only does it question the
existence of the 'higher forms of insight' that must be assumed in order
to establish metaphysical statements; it goes further and denies that any
meaning attaches to metaphysical expressions. Behind this second,
stronger thesis there lies concealed a very old problem raised long ago
by the Greek sophists and skeptics, e.g., Gorgias. It is known as the
problem of communication: So long as everyone thinks his private thoughts
about something, there is no such thing as science; science begins only
when these thoughts become communicable so that they can be actively
discussed with other people. Thus science must be intersubjective not
only in the sense that there must exist generally agreed upon methods
of testing scientific statements, but also in the sense that the expressions
used in science must be intersubjectively understandable. Science exists
only where discussion is possible, and a discussion can take place between
myself and someone else only if I am in a position to explain to the other
person with sufficient exactness the meaning of the expressions I use, just
as he must be able to explain to me the meaning of the words he employs.
Now it seems that the meaning of linguistic symbols can be communi-
cated only when what are involved are either logical and mathematical
signs, or expressions that have as their content empirical concepts (that
is, concepts whose applicability cannot be ascertained without the aid of
observation). With regard to metaphysical expressions, however, abso-
lutely no inter-personal agreement is possible. Therefore, in the opinion of
the modern empiricists, metaphysical philosophy founders in the first
instance not because metaphysical statements lack objective testability, but

because the problem of communication is unsolvable for metaphysical

concepts. The two questions are of course closely interrelated, as will be
shown. In any event, we may at this point regard these reflections on the
communication problem as an additional reason for the rise of empiricism.
At times champions of metaphysics emphasize that the expressions of
metaphysics must not be considered in isolation, that their meaning pro-
ceeds from their location in the entire system. For example, this is the
way to understand the meaning of the expression 'absolute spirit' in
Hegelian philosophy. To this the empiricists respond somewhat as follows:
just as a hundred inebriates do not add up to one sober person, so a mean-
ingless expression does not become meaningful by being incorporated in
a system of expressions most of which are every bit as meaningless as it is.
The problem of communication affects both the scientific and the pre-
scientific language in which we present our thoughts and convey them to
others. The preoccupation with language has left a very strong imprint on
the character of modern empiricism. Some investigators have concen-
trated on the analysis of ordinary language. Their results have given
further sustenance to the view that the traditional problems of philosophy
pose meaningless questions. Wittgenstein and his followers stress in parti-
cular that these problems arise in the first place from the primitive notion
we have of the function of language. Once we understand how language
operates, then the philosophical problems, according to Wittgenstein,
disappear of themselves. Other representatives of empiricism - Carnap
above all - are concerned with replacing ordinary language with formal-
ized language systems. In their view, ordinary language is so hopelessly
permeated with non-trivial vagueness and ambigui ty that investigations
in logic and the theory of science can be based only on formalized
languages. We shall report on this more fully later. Our point for the
moment is that the results of studies in the logic of language have sub-
stantially strengthened empiricism's belief that its basic philosophical
position is sound. It is chiefly because it aims at the elimination of meta-
physics through the logical analysis of language that this movement was
originally called logical positivism. Today most of its advocates reject the
name. For the term 'positivist' is ordinarily reserved for those philoso-
phies that start with an analysis of the given (such as the philosophy of
Ernst Mach which proceeds from an analysis of sensations), whereas
nearly all empiricists now regard the concept of the given as highly

problematical. 3 In place of 'logical positivism', such expressions as

'scientific empiricism', 'logical empiricism', 'analytic philosophy', or
simply 'scientific philosophy' are employed to characterize the movement.
The term 'foundational studies' also occurs often, since the principal
questions discussed by the empiricists have grown out of problems in the
foundations of the various sciences.
The pursuit of foundational problems in mathematics and the natural
sciences has no doubt served further to reinforce the basic standpoint of
modern empiricism. For here it is a question of giving exact and ex-
haustive answers to problems that can be formulated in the precise
language of a particular science, whether the issue is solving the problem
of the so-called antinomies in mathematics, or clarifying the epistemo-
logical foundations of contemporary physics. The concepts and methods
of traditional philosophy seem entirely unsuited to such complexes of
questions; no wonder modern foundational research has moved com-
pletely away from this sort of philosophy.
A final point should be mentioned. In conformity with their strictly
scientific approach, empiricists stress the necessity of a clear separation
between science on the one hand and art and religion on the other. They
believe that philosophy until now has failed to make this separation in
a sufficiently radical manner. In their view, the usual metaphysical
treatises at best contain ideas that are only in part scientifically defensible.
Such writings are half-poetic and half-religious. Hence they forfeit any
theoretical import and become merely an expression of feeling (not of
knowledge), and one, moreover, which is fundamentally defective. Due
to their ostensibly conceptual mode of presentation and their seemingly
logical demonstrations, these treatises actually make impossible any
adequate expression of the irrational aspect of life. The empiricists insist
that in philosophy a very strict line be drawn between feeling and knowing.
The philosopher who takes this demand seriously will cease trying to
compose or paint or pray with concepts - as is the practice, according to
the empiricists, in metaphysics.



'Immanence positivism' is an expression used by Schlick, the founder of


the Vienna Circle, in an effort to characterize the older positivism of

Mach and Avenarius. These latter had demanded that science confine
itself to the most exact and most economical description possible of that
which is immediately given. What is given, however, consists solely of
qualitative elements, such as colors, sounds, smells and the like, which
are called sensations. What we call substances are nothing more than
relatively constant complexes of these elements; our own bodies are
complexes of this kind, and even the self is merely a conglomeration of
elements - sensations, images, memories, feelings - tethered to a specific
body. The task of science is to obtain the simplest possible description of
the mutual dependencies among these elements and complexes of elements.
Physics describes the dependencies among elements that belong to the
complexes called 'bodies', while psychology describes the dependencies
among elements that belong to the complex called 'I'. Once the task of
the factual sciences is reduced to that of description, such problems as
the reality of the external world or the existence of things outside of
consciousness vanish. Nothing exists except the given elements and the
dependencies among them.
Schlick held that this viewpoint could not be maintained. He himself
advocated an epistemological realism. According to him, if we are to
obtain any scientific knowledge at all, we must also accept as real some
things that are not given; otherwise empirical science would come to an
end. In particular, there would no longer be any scientific laws, since the
given never exhibits an unbroken continuity and therefore laws can be
set up only if we fill out the gaps in the given with that which is not given.
It would do no good to enlarge the standpoint of immanence positivism
by assuming that non-given complexes of sensations exist as well as those
that are given. For if real objects are nothing but complexes of elements,
the question would then arise: With which complex of elements are we
at a particular moment to identify a particular real object? When I look
at a table, e.g., is it not true that the resulting complex of sense data will
vary depending on the distance, direction and lighting? I cannot identify
the object with the totality of these complexes, since the different sets of
sensations possess mutually contradictory properties. And to single out
a specific complex for this purpose would be quite arbitrary.
Hence in Schlick's view we must assume the existence of things and
processes that are not given. In this sense, but in this sense alone, we may

speak of 'things-in-themselves'. The position taken by Schlick in his

theory of knowledge represents an interesting phenomenon of transition
between his earlier epistemological realism and the empiricist philosophy
of the subsequent period. His primary concern is to draw a sharp line
between the concept of knowledge and the concept of experiencing or
intuiting. The failure to take this distinction into account has, in his
opinion, led to the grossest errors in philosophy. In experience and
intuition, the subject is face to face with an object that is being experienced
or intuited. The process of cognition, on the other hand, involves an
essentially more complicated relation; for it makes no sense to say merely
that one knows an object (as one intuits an object), but only that one
knows an object as something. Knowledge is not a two-termed relation
between a knowing subject and a known object. It is a three-termed
relation among subject, object and that as which the object is known. The
mistake made by those philosophical tendencies called 'intuitionism' by
Schlick is that they interpret knowing, on the analogy ofintuiting, as a two-
termed relation between a knowing subject and a known object, and hence
do not distinguish between experience and knowledge. This was the error
especially of Husserl and the whole phenomenological school. As Schlick
seeks to show, it is not at all necessary that the known be at the same
time something with which we are directly acquainted.
What does it mean, more exactly, to say that we know something as
something? In ordinary life, we have knowledge when we find anew
certain specific characteristics in something that is given. For example,
to know a creature to be a man means to find in an individual those
features that must be present in all objects of the class we designate as
men. Scientific knowledge also has to do, in principle, with just such a
finding-anew. The physicist, e.g., obtains knowledge of the processes of
heat by rediscovering in them the characteristics of molecular motion.
A more precise account of scientific knowledge, however, requires that
we first clarify the function of scientific concepts.
Scientific concepts differ from the vague mental images of everyday life
in that they are sharper and more precise. But this does not mean that
they too are mental images, only much clearer and more exact; indeed
there are no such things as sharply defined general mental images. Rather,
scientific concepts owe their preciseness to the fact that it is always possi-
ble, on the basis of exact definitions, to determine unequivocally whether

or not a particular object comes under a given concept. An illustration

is the difference, say, between the vague pre-scientific concept of gold as
a yellow metal, and the scientific concept of gold as fixed by a series of
physical and chemical properties the presence or absence of which can
always be ascertained by means of experiments. Hence, for Schlick,
scientific concepts are in essence unambiguous signs for kinds of objects.
And the images we associate with a term whose content is a general con-
cept constitute a psychological fact, of no interest to the epistemologist.
The cognitive function of the concept is exhausted in its being an un-
ambiguous sign.
Just as concepts are signs for kinds of objects, so judgments are un-
ambiguous signs for facts, that is, for the existence of relations between
objects. The concept of truth is then reduced to the concept of unique
coordination: judgments are true just in case they are uniquely coordinated
with facts; otherwise they are false. 'The moon is rectangular' is a false
proposition because the word 'rectangular' in this occurrence is ambigu-
ous; on the one hand, it is supposed to designate a geometrical property
of the moon; at the same time, however, it serves to designate an entirely
different geometrical property.
But a system of true statements still does not constitute scientific
knowledge. Truth is a necessary condition for knowledge; it is not a
sufficient one, however. If we were to attach unique symbols to all the facts
of the world in their endless multiplicity, the result would indeed be a
true system of propositions. But it would not be knowledge; it would be
simply a symbolic reiteration of the world. If we are to obtain know-
ledge, a further requirement must be satisfied, namely, that the number
of concepts employed be minimal. Now the only way to fulfill this require-
ment is to attempt to rediscover a given thing in something else. Thereby
we achieve contact with the ordinary concept of knowledge. The supreme
goal of scientific knowledge necessarily consists in obtaining a unique
designation of all the facts of the world with a minimum set of concepts.
Thus the function of scientific concepts and judgments is to designate
objects and facts unambiguously. This explains why, in order to have
scientific knowledge, the thing known need not at the same time be
something with which we are directly acquainted. Schlick's point of view
emerges with particular clarity in connection with his critique of Kantian
epistemology. According to Schlick, the problem of whether our knowledge

is confined to the phenomenal world or whether we can also gain knowledge

of the world of things-in-themselves is a pseudo-problem. He takes this
position not because, like the radical empiricists, he rejects the concept of
thing-in-itself as meaningless, but because in his view there is no differ-
ence between these two modes of knowledge. That is, there is no differ-
ence provided we assume that an isomorphism, or one-to-one corre-
spondence, exists between the phenomenal world and the world of
Kantian things-in-themselves such that the things-in-themselves are uni-
quely coordinated with the things of the phenomenal world. Hence, if we
unambiguously designate the things and facts of the phenomenal world
with the aid of concepts and judgments, then by virtue of the corre-
spondence we likewise designate unambiguously the things and facts of
the world that exists in itself. And for knowledge we need demand nothing
more. That Kant adopted a position of epistemological pessimism re-
garding knowledge of things-in-themselves is due, according to Schlick,
to the fact that Kant himself linked the concept of knowledge in an
improper way with the concept of the intuitively given. Schlick, on the
other hand, maintains that knowledge of the phenomenal world supplies eo
ipse knowledge of Kant's world of things-in-themselves, despite the fact that
only the objects of the phenomenal world can be given us intuitively, that
things-in-themselves are never given and that consequently we cannot form
any mental image of them. Thus knowledge and direct acquaintance need
not go hand in hand. Conceivably, that with which we are best ac-
quainted - the self and its conscious processes - may be least known;
conversely, that with which we are least acquainted - the physical uni-
verse - may be best known.
A characteristic feature of Schlick's theory of knowledge, as sketched
here, is that it is couched in what Carnap calls the material mode of
speech. The theory talks about things, facts and the real world. In this
respect it resembles traditional philosophical doctrines, however much it
may deviate from them in particular ideas. Carnap believes that this sort
of epistemology, expressed in the material language, should be replaced
by a logic of science formulated entirely in the formal mode or language.
In the latter, one talks solely about expressions and sentences together
with their meanings, about definitional relationships among expressions
and deducibility relationships among sentences, about the testability,
verifiability and falsifiability of statements, and the like. The claim is that

when epistemological statements in the material mode are translated into

the language of the formal theory of science, the metaphysical problems
of the theory of knowledge - problems such as those of the reality of the
external world, of the existence of things-in-themselves transcending
consciousness, and the like - are made to disappear. This we shall discuss
more fully in the sequel.


The clarification of concepts is a prerequisite to any serious scientific

endeavor. One of the most important ways of introducing concepts in a
scientific system is through the medium of so-called definitions. According
to traditional logic, we must distinguish between nominal definitions and
real definitions. The former are simply a matter of linguistic stipulation;
the latter involve statements concerning the essence of objects. The early
views about definitions have undergone profound revision at the hands
of the modern theory of science. In addition to Carnap, the philosopher
Carl G. Hempel has made especially significant contributions to this

1. Nominal Definitions, Definitions in Use and the Elimination

of Ideal Objects
A 'nominal definition' is a stipulation concerning the replacement of a
longer linguistic expression (called the definiens) by a shorter expression
(called the definiendum). The definiendum may be either an expression
that is already in use (e.g., the word 'bachelor', which is definable as
'unmarried man') or an expression that a scientist newly introduces.
The definition provides that the definiens is to have the same meaning as,
or to be synonymous with, the definiendum. The sole purpose of nominal
definitions is to abbreviate discourse.
According to traditional doctrine, the nominal definition of an expres-
sion must consist in specifying two other expressions one of which gives
the so-called genus proximum (the next higher genus) while the other
contains the differentia specifica (the distinguishing characteristic of the
species). For example, if we wish to define the expression 'youth', then
the expression 'person' gives the genus proximum and 'less than 18 years
old' the differentia specifica. But this rule for definition does not possess

universal validity. In the first place, it is often not suitable for concepts
of properties; for we can define a Scandinavian as some one who is
either a Swede, a Dane, a Norwegian or an Icelander. This definition is
perfectly correct even though it does not specify either the next higher
genus or the characteristic difference of the species. In the second place,
the rule is not applicable at all to concepts of relations and functions.
Since the quantitative concepts of the natural sciences, such as 'length',
'mass', 'volume', and so forth, are concepts of just this sort, the principle
of definition of the traditional theory of concepts cannot be valid for
scientific concepts. Hence this principle of traditional logic must be
An important variety of nominal definitions are the so-called definitions
in use. They are employed to define not isolated expressions but expres-
sions as components of whole sentences. A major consequence of this is
that such components may be conceived of as incomplete linguistic
symbols, which do not possess independent meaning but are significant
only within a larger context. The definition consists of a general rule of
translation which specifies how statements in which the expression in
question occurs can be translated into statements that do not contain
this expression. These definitions help us avoid recourse to such metaphys-
ical inventions as types of being or spheres of being, and in particular
to the assumption of ideal objects.
For example, suppose we wish to define an expression 'prime number',
which seemingly refers to an ideal object, here the class of prime numbers,
certainly not a concrete object. The apparent reference to the ideal object
may be avoided by conceiving of the expression 'prime number' not as a
designation for the class of prime numbers but as an incomplete linguistic
symbol, which has meaning only within whole sentences. The definition
must then specify how these sentences can be translated into sentences
that do not contain the expression. Manifestly it is not enough to formu-
late a translation rule for the occurrence of the term 'prime number'
within a specific sentence, such as '7 is a prime number'. A procedure of
this sort would leave undetermined what 'prime number' is to mean in
other sentences. In order to be able to state the translation rule as a
general rule, we must start from statement forms, that is, from expressions
that are like sentences but contain a variable in place of the subject term.
An example is 'x is a prime number'. The translation rule must be formu-

lated for a statement form of this kind; generality is secured by the fact
that specific designations of objects may be substituted for the variable
'x'. In the case of our example these would be the individual numerals.
We thus obtain all the elementary statements in which the expression
being defined occurs. The definition of the concept of prime number would
run somewhat as follows: 'x is a prime number =Df x is a number that
has only x and 1 as divisors'. The sign' = Dr' is the symbol for definition
and should be read 'is to mean the same as'.
The term 'definition in use' or 'contextual definition' is employed here
because the definiendum is defined only as it is used in sentences. The
question whether the object designated by the definiendum exists does not
arise. This question has meaning only if we assume that the definiendum
is an independent name which designates something. But when an expres-
sion is introduced in the fashion described, this assumption is discarded;
the expression is understood as merely an incomplete symbol and hence
not as a name denoting something. In this way, we can avoid having to
populate our ontology with Platonic essences and instead can hold firm
to the principle of Ockham's razor - entia non sunt multiplicanda sine
Characteristic examples of definitions in use are the semantical
definitions of logical connectives by means of truth tables. What are
involved are expressions such as 'and', 'or', 'if... then .. .', ' .. .if and
only if... '. These expressions, together with the quantifiers 'for all x' and
'there is at least one x such that', are termed logical expressions (also
logical particles or form words), and are distinguished from descriptive
expressions, that is, names and predicates. Logical expressions can not be
conceived either as names or as predicates. Even from a Platonist
standpoint it does not make sense to ask what the word 'and' designates.
Although these expressions have no designating function, they play an
extraordinarily important role in logic. The entire structure of formal
logic - the rules for correct proof and for correct logical derivations -
rests on them. Without these logical particles we cannot define the
concept of formal logical truth and mark it off from the concept of
factual truth.
Since logical expressions are not names, they can be introduced in a
precise way into the language of science only by means of definitions
in use. As to the logical connective signs, their role consists in laying

down the truth value of the compound sentence (constructed with their
help) as a function of the truth values of the component sentences.
Statements that contain no logical connective signs are called atomic
sentences; statements that are formed from atomic sentences by the
application of logical connective signs are referred to as molecular
sentences. To each connective sign there corresponds a particular type of
molecular sentence - conjunctions ('and' -sentences), disjunctions ('or'-
sentences), negations and the like. The meaning of a connective sign is
uniquely determined once we specify which truth value the corresponding
molecular sentence takes for each possible assignment of truth values
to its component atomic sentences. In the case of a binary connective,
there are four possible distributions of truth values to the sentence
components. For each sign of this sort, we can therefore set up what is
called a truth-table, in which, for the sake of generality, we replace the
specific atomic sentences with sentence variables, say 'p' and 'q'. For the
non-exclusive 'or', the truth-table is as follows:
P q pvq

Here 'T' stands for 'true' and 'F' for 'false'; 'p v q' is to mean the same
as 'p or q'. The first two columns give the four possible assignments of the
truth values 'true' and 'false' to the two component sentences 'p' and 'q'.
(For example, the second row assigns the value 'true' to 'p' and 'false' to
'q'.) The third column shows for which of these four possible assignments
of truth values to the two components the compound 'or'-sentence is true
and for which false. The definition in use of 'or' provided by the truth-
table may be expressed in words as follows: a sentence constructed by
means of a non-exclusive 'or' is false if and only if both of its component
sentences are false; in all other cases it is true. The truth-table for a con-
junction (an 'and'-sentence) differs from the above table in that the last
column contains 'T' only in the first row, and 'F' in the others; for a
conjunction is true if and only if both of its component sentences are true.
The truth-table method of defining logical connectives was discovered
independently by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and the

American logician Emil L. Post. Other studies have shown that all the
signs required to form molecular sentences may be stated in terms of a
single one. Russell and Whitehead, building on the important work of
Frege, have endeavored by means of chains of definitions in use to reduce
all logical and mathematical concepts to a few primitive concepts. Since
then this method has been considerably refined and simplified. Thus the
system of W. V. Quine utilizes, in addition to a single type of variable,
only three primitive logical concepts, by means of which all other
logical and mathematical concepts can be defined. In his constitution
system (which we shall describe shortly), Carnap has attempted to apply
these ideas to empirical concepts, and through chains of definitions in
use to reduce the conceptual apparatus of science to a minimum basis.

2. The Elucidation and Explication of Concepts

We started with the point that traditional logic, besides nominal defini-
tions, also recognized real definitions in which statements are made
about the essence of objects. For example, 'man' means 'rational animal',
because rationality belongs to the essence of man. But the expression
'essence' is much too vague to be serviceable in a scientific analysis. Carl
Hempel has pointed out that what are called real definitions actually
embrace three different kinds of cases. The first includes analyses of
meaning, in which concepts that are already familiar are broken down into
their components. Such analyses, as contrasted with nominal definitions
(which are merely stipulations), may be correct or incorrect. The second
comprises instances where real definitions are understood as empirical
analyses. These give the necessary and sufficient conditions for the appli-
cation of a concept, the conditions being obtained, however, not through
a mere analysis of meanings but on the basis of empirically testable laws.
The third and most important kind of case is that which Carnap terms
explication of concepts. Here the point is to render more precise a vague
and ambiguous expression belonging to ordinary language. The expres-
sion (or its vague meaning) that is to be made more precise is called the
explicandum; the exact expression that is to replace it is referred to as the
explicans. As a preliminary to the explication of a concept the various
meanings of the explicandum are distinguished and the meaning that is
to be explicated is specified. This preliminary undertaking, which may be
termed the elucidation of a concept, is best carried out by means of

examples. We cite certain examples that contain the meaning to be expli-

cated, as well as further examples, deviating from these, in which other
meanings of the expression are given. For instance, if a logician desires
to explicate the predicate 'true', he must first point out that his concern
is to make more precise the meaning of this word not as it occurs in such
phrases as 'true friend', 'true love', or 'true democracy', but as it occurs in
such phrases as 'true assertion' or 'true report'. Only then can the serious
business of explication begin. This consists in incorporating the concept
in question into a whole system of exact scientific concepts so that its
application will be governed by precise rules.
An explication of a concept cannot be true or false, but only more or
less adequate. Carnap has laid down criteria by which to judge the
adequacy of an explication. First, the explicans must be similar to the
explicandum, otherwise we would not be able to speak of explicating this
particular explicandum. Second, the explicans must fulfil the requirement
of exactness. Since it is impossible to erect a single concept by itself as an
exact concept, this requirement can be met only by incorporating the
concept in question into an entire system of scientific concepts. The re-
quirement of exactness, then, is satisfiable only if fulfilled simultaneously
for the whole system of concepts. A third important requirement is that
of fruitfulness. This means that the concept under consideration should
permit the establishment of the largest possible number of laws. In
doubtful cases, this last condition takes precedence over the demand for
exactness. For instance, the zoological concept of fish, which embraces
cold-blooded creatures that live only in water and breathe through gills,
diverges considerably from the pre-scientific meaning of the word 'fish'.
The latter expression denotes all animals that live in water, including in
particular whales and dolphins. This marked deviation is justified by the
fact that the zoologist thus obtains a much greater number of law-like
assertions than if he continued to operate with a concept of fish similar
to the pre-scientific one. The final requirement is that of simplicity, and
this in a two-fold sense: simplicity in the definition of the concept, as well
as simplicity of the laws formed with the aid of the concept. We should
note, however, that these requirements by no means uniquely determine
the explication, so that every explication of a concept contains a con-
ventional element, that is, some sort of stipulation.
Explicated concepts may appear in three forms. The simplest type are

classificatory concepts. They serve to divide things into two or more

classes, e.g., the division of plants or of chemical substances. Comparative
concepts, also known as ordering or topological concepts, represent a more
complicated type. Such concepts are often expressed in ordinary language
by means of the comparative form of an adjective, e.g., 'warmer',
'harder', 'larger'. With the help of these concepts we can formulate more
exact comparisons than we can with the classificatory concepts. But the
most precise conceptual instruments at the disposal of the scientist are the
quantitative or metrical concepts. Here properties or relations are charac-
terized with the help of numerical values. Almost all the concepts of natural
science, such as length or temperature, are of this type; quantitative con-
cepts are also frequently applied in the social sciences and the humanities,
as in the case of price indices, population growth rates and the like.
These three types of concepts play an especially important role in
Carnap's theory of induction, since the fundamental idea of his theory
- the notion of inductive confirmation of statements - may occur in all
three of these forms. On this point we shall report later in more detail.

3. The Axiomatic Method and Implicit Definitions. Proper and

Improper Concepts. Coordinating Definitions
Every systematic science has the task of arranging its concepts and state-
ments in some kind of order. In the case of concepts, this consists in
choosing certain of them as undefined or primitive, and then reducing the
remaining concepts to the primitive ones by means of chains of definitions.
Statements are ordered by selecting certain of them as primitive proposi-
tions or axioms, and then obtaining all the other statements from these
axioms by purely logical deduction.
The earliest known axiomatic construction of a science is Euclid's
axiomatization of geometry. In modern times, the axiomatic method has
undergone a reinterpretation. For more than 2000 years axioms had been
regarded as obviously true principles, hence as self-evident judgments.
Accordingly, the theorems obtained from the axioms by logical deduction
were also immediately evident. Originally it was supposed that every
science could be constructed in axiomatic fashion; later this claim was
limited to mathematical knowledge. However, it was precisely within the
field of mathematical axiomatics that a change of meaning took place.
If our contention is that we proceed from self-evident principles, then we

must assume that the concepts employed in formulating the primitive

propositions are antecedently available to us. But since such concepts
must in the long run be taken from intuition and pre-scientific knowledge,
the vagueness that attaches to everyday concepts gains entry into mathe-
matics. In addition, there have been long and fruitless discussions about
whether the axioms used really do always possess the property of self-
evidence. These and other drawbacks are avoided by the modern axio-
matics of the mathematician David Hilbert, who built on the preliminary
studies of Moritz Pasch, Giuseppe Peano, and others. Modern axiomatics
does not treat primitive propositions as true statements about concepts
already at hand; rather, the concepts are first introduced by the axioms
that mention them. These concepts - also called the characteristic con-
cepts of the theory - are then said to be implicitly defined by the set of
axioms. For example, when the terms 'point', 'straight line', and 'plane'
occur in an axiom system for geometry, it is not assumed that they
already have a meaning independent of the system and that in order to
understand the system we must already have made this meaning clear to
ourselves with the aid of our spatial intuition. On the contrary, the only
requirement is that the concepts employed possess the properties expressly
stated in the axiom system.
The external factor that gives rise to axiomatic definition of concepts
was probably the so-called principle of duality in mathematics: the fact
that certain concepts occurring in the body of mathematical theorems
may be substituted for one another without producing any change in
that body. In projective geometry, e.g., the expressions 'point' and 'straight
line' may be exchanged, and the truth of the statements will not be
affected. This makes it plausible to hold that the intuitive content of
concepts should not play any role in the formulation of theorems, for
obviously with respect to content the terms 'point' and 'straight line'
differ altogether in meaning. But then it must also be possible to define
these concepts in a way entirely free of intuition, and this is exactly what
has taken place in modern axiomatics.
Concepts defined implicitly by means of an axiom system are deter-
mined only as regards certain formal properties. It follows that such
axiom systems admit of various interpretations. An interpretation of a
formal system that leads to true assertions is called a model satisfying this
system. For example, let us take Peano's axiom system for arithmetic as a

basis. Then any infinite sequence of objects, without repetitions, that has
a first element but no last one, and within which every term can be reached
in a finite number of steps beginning with the first term, constitutes a
model of that system; for all sequences of this kind have just the same
structure as the number sequence.
Carnap calls concepts that are defined axiomatically improper concepts.
They differ from proper concepts in one essential respect. In the case of a
proper concept, it must be possible in principle to decide whether or not
an object falls under it, provided the concept has been defined with the
necessary sharpness and the object in question can be investigated with
sufficient exactness. In the case of improper concepts, on the other hand,
it is absolutely impossible to decide this question with respect to individual
objects. For example, it is by no means a priori nonsensical to regard a cer-
tain point on the edge of a table as a natural number. Indeed, one can
in theory select a sequence of points on this edge in such a way that they
constitute a model for the Peano axioms and hence for the number
sequence as axiomatically defined. All that is required is that the sequence
of points have the formal properties mentioned above. But whether we
then have a model of the axiom system for arithmetic can be determined
only for the sequence of points as a whole, not for an individual point.
That an implicitly defined concept is improper is expressed in the fact that
it is impossible to decide for objects considered in isolation whether or
not they come under this concept.
Since concepts that are introduced axiomatically do not have a fixed
meaning, they must be conceived of as variables. Hence the axioms cease
to be propositions; they become mere statement-forms. As such they are
neither true nor false, but are like the statement-form 'x is a man', to
which no specific truth value can be assigned until the variable 'x' is
replaced by some name. This feature carries over to mathematical
theorems, which are also merely statement-forms. What then are the
assertions of mathematics? Clearly they are not categorically formulated
theorems, but compound statements of a conditional or if-then form.
The antecedent of the if-then statement is the whole system of axioms and
the consequent is the particular theorem. Strictly speaking, even the
conditional itself is not a statement but a statement-form, which becomes
a genuine statement only when all the variables that occur in it are uni-
versally quantified. With this the problem of validity in mathematics

ceases to exist. For the mathematician does not make assertions of the
form 'This is valid'; rather, he limits himself to the logical proof of
conditional propositions ofthe form - 'If such and such axioms hold good,
then this or that theorem also holds good'.
The process ofaxiomatization described here is the first step on the
road toward the complete transformation of a theory into a calculus.
In a calculus all interpretive content is eliminated, whereas in an axiom
system only the characteristic concepts are taken in a strictly formal sense,
such as the concepts 'point', 'straight line' and 'plane' in an axiom
system for geometry, or the concepts 'number' and 'successor' in one
for arithmetic. The remaining expressions, however, are understood in
accordance with their usual content. Examples are the expressions 'two'
and 'there are' in the geometrical axiom 'There are at least two points on
any straight line'. These axiom systems are sometimes referred to as semi-
calculi. We shall say something more about pure calculi later.
Models of formal axiomatic systems may consist either of logico-
mathematical structures or of real objects. In the first case, we speak of
formal models, in the second, of real models. In both cases, the construc-
tion of the model must always take place in such a way that the improper
concepts of the axiom system are replaced by proper concepts. This
procedure of replacement (better, of coordination) has been given the
name 'coordinating definition' ('Zuordnungsdejinition') by Hans Reichen-
bach. We have an instance of a coordinating definition when, in applying
a geometrical axiom system to the world of the physicist, we associate the
concept of straight line with light rays and thus decide to regard these
latter as straight lines. A more exact account of the procedure of coordina-
tion requires the concepts, outlined below, of pure semantics and syntax;
for it is through coordinating definitions that calculi and semi-calculi are
provided with semantical interpretations.


1. First Formulation of the Empiricist's Criterion of Meaning

All scientific knowledge necessarily makes use of concepts. The latter,
however, serve only as auxiliaries. The main object is to formulate true,
or at least well-confirmed, statements. Many logicians, students of the
foundations of the sciences, and analysts of language hold the view that,

strictly speaking, only statements have meaning, that all other expressions
lack any independent signification. These other expressions are, so to
speak, 'unsaturated signs', to which meanings can be assigned only
derivatively, that is, only to the extent that they contribute to the for-
mation of sentences with independent meaning. Even a predicate such as
'man' is not viewed as an expression with an independent meaning but
as a statement-form, i.e., as the open sentence 'x is a man'. Brentano, we
recall, made a sharp separation between autosemantic expressions (those
with independent meaning) and synsemantic expressions (those without
independent meaning). But according to Carnap linguistic expressions
differ only in degree as regards independence of meaning. The following
expressions are arranged in the order of increasing independence of
meaning: parenthesis signs '(' and 'r; logical signs such as 'or' and
symbols for mathematical operations such as '+'; predicates; proper
names; sentences. This series can, in principle, be extended further, since
a greater independence of meaning can be ascribed to the context in
which a sentence is embedded than to the sentence itself.
The basic outlook of empiricism manifests itself with respect to predi-
cates as well as to statements. We can, of course, reduce some predicates
to others by means of definitions. But the meaning of those predicates that
are not further definable must rest on experience. The only way I can make
another person understand what I mean by a certain word is by giving
an empirical criterion for those objects that are to come under the concept
signified by the word. In the case of the undefined basic expressions, this
can be done only directly, namely, by pointing to something in experience.
In the case of definable expressions, the criterion is specified by means
of a definition; but here too the ultimate source of the meaning is some-
thing that can be exhibited in experience. All definitions lead back eventu-
ally to the undefined basic expressions.
As for propositions, in order that we may regard them as meaningful
it must be possible for us to state under what conditions they are true and
under what conditions false. Initially the formulation of truth conditions
for propositions was identified with the specifying of a method of verifi-
cation. Wittgenstein was supposed to have expressed this thought when
he said: the meaning of a proposition consists in the way in which it is
verified. If we want to know what someone means by a certain statement,
there is generally no use asking him what he means. If the original state-

ment was unclear, the answer to this question will very likely be just as
unclear. What we should ask instead is how does he verify his statement.
Only if he is in a position to answer this question can we regard his state-
ment as meaningful.
We thus arrive at the first and original wording of the empiricist cri-
terion of meaning: verifiability constitutes a necessary and sufficient con-
ditionfor viewing a statement as empirically meaningful. Now, as Carnap
has shown, this criterion may also be fulfilled by propositions that contain
expressions which refer neither directly not indirectly to what can be
exhibited in experience. Thus the criterion of meaning for propositions
already involves a relaxation of the condition mentioned above for the
significance of words. Suppose we grant that the expression 'Jupiter' does
not refer to any object that can be exhibited in experience and also that
it cannot be defined with the aid of expressions that do have experiential
content. Strictly speaking, the expression would then have to be discarded
as meaningless. Nevertheless, a person can use this expression meaning-
fully in certain propositions if he is able to formulate truth conditions for
these propositions. For example, a proposition of the form 'Jupiter
grumbles at time t at place x' is meaningful if we specify that this propo-
sition shall be true if and only if thunder sounds at place x at time t. A
proposition of this form is supplied with a precise meaning when we give
this method of verification, even though the word 'Jupiter' itself has not
been defined. On the other hand, the proposition 'Jupiter is situated in
this cloud' must be judged meaningless if no observationally determinable
truth conditions are given for this proposition.
Thus only propositions for which we can specify a possibility of verifi-
cation can be accepted as meaningful; all other proposition-like structures
are to be eliminated as pseudo-propositions, even though they have the
outward form of meaningful propositions. The possibility of verification
is to be understood in a logical sense, not an empirical one. If the verifi-
cation of a statement is logically conceivable but impossible on technical
grounds - as in the case, say, of the proposition that higher forms of life
exist on another planet - then in accordance with the criterion of meaning
the statement must be accepted as meaningful.

2. The Meaninglessness of Metaphysics

Metaphysical statements fail to meet the empiricist's criterion of meaning,

and are therefore to be designated as meaningless. Carnap distinguishes

two classes of meaningless statements. The first comprises statements that
are syntactically well-formed but contain meaningless words, that is, words
for which no empirical criterion can be given. (It is assumed as a corolla-
ry that no conditions of verification can be specified for propositions
containing such words.) Instances of meaningless expressions are 'the
Absolute', 'the unconditioned', 'the truly existent', 'God', 'nothingness',
'the cause of the world'. Carnap used the following example to illustrate
his explanation of the meaninglessness of such expressions: Suppose some-
one employs the expression 'babical' and affirms that we must divide all
things into those that are babical and those that are not. When asked
under what conditions he calls a thing babical, he replies that he cannot
say, since babicality is a metaphysical property and hence no empirical
criterion can be given for it. In such a case, we would say that propo-
sitions about babicality are meaningless. Everyone would agree that the
word 'babical' ought not to be allowed in scientific statements.
According to Carnap, matters are no different with respect to the word
'God'. Indeed, here the situation is even worse, since many metaphysicians
cannot even indicate the syntactical status of the word 'God', whether,
e.g., it is a name or a predicate. Now suppose we regard the word as a
predicate. We can then construct the statement-form 'x is God'; and to
give the meaning of this expression is to specify the empirical character-
istics that a thing must have if it is to be called 'God'. Within the frame-
work of a mythical conception of the world, in which the gods inhabit
specific regions and manifest themselves in empirically ascertainable ways
(by hurling thunderbolts, whipping up a storm at sea, and the like), the
word 'god' would still be meaningful. In metaphysics, however, where
this term is supposed to signify a non-empirical, transcendental object,
it ceases to be meaningful. Carnap's conception, it should be noted, does
not establish a case for atheism. The latter doctrine consists in denying
the truth of the statement 'God exists'. But according to the empiricist
criterion of meaning, what is being denied in this instance is not the
truth of some proposition but that we have a proposition here at all.
Hence in Carnap's view atheism is theoretically just as meaningless a
doctrine as theism.
The second class of meaningless utterances is made up of expressions
which, although meaningful in themselves, are combined in ways that violate

the rules of syntax. An example is 'Caesar is a prime number'. Of course

it is not these simple cases of meaningless combinations of words that one
encounters in metaphysics. But there also exist more complicated cases
that are not so obvious, and many examples of these can be cited from
the history of philosophy. Usually what is involved is a wrong interpre-
tation of some logical expression, as when the expression 'nothing' is
taken to designate an object (see Chapter IV, Section C). A properly con-
structed language would, by its syntactical rules, bar the formation of
such absurdities.
Carnap cited a number of examples to show that on the basis of the
criterion of meaning various questions that commonly pass as problems
of epistemology could be unmasked as pseudo-problems. One of these is
the problem of the reality of the external world. Suppose we have two
geographers, one a realist and one a solipsist. For the realist, physical
things are not only contents of perception; they also exist beyond per-
ception 'in themselves'. For the solipsist, only his own perceptions exist
and he denies the 'real' existence of an external world. Now suppose
further that the two geographers undertake to find out whether there is
a certain lake in central Brazil. As empirical investigators they first of all
seek to answer the question with the help of the criteria available to them,
perhaps by mounting an expedition into the region in question. In the
course of their study they will arrive at a finding that both can agree upon;
there will also be no disagreement with respect to the various individual
empirical questions - the geographical location and size of the lake, its
height above sea level, and the like. If, however, after exhausting all
available empirical criteria, one of them then asserts that the lake is not
only there and possesses the empirically determined properties, but in
addition has a reality outside of consciousness, whereas the other denies
such a reality, they will no longer be speaking as empirical scientists but
as metaphysicians. Since by assumption all the empirical criteria have
been exhausted in questions referring to the lake, there is no further
procedure by which to settle this difference of opinion. Hence neither the
thesis of realism nor that of solipsism can be accepted as meaningful.
If the propositions of metaphysics are meaningless, how does it come
about that time after time metaphysical systems are erected and become
the object of ostensibly scientific controversies? Carnap's answer is as
follows: Man's intellectual and spiritual activity is not confined to science

alone; it also encompasses art and religion. Metaphysical systems are

vague mixtures of these three domains. Metaphysicians have a strong
need to express their attitude toward life, yet do not possess the capacity
to do so in an adequate way through the creation of works of art. At the
same time they also have a predilection for working with concepts and
frequently seek a kind of religious edification as well. They thus resort
to the language of science in which they express improperly their experi-
ence of the world. They make no contribution at all to science - and only
an inadequate one, as compared with the great works of art, to the feeling
about life. Metaphysics is the inadequate expression of an attitude toward
life; metaphysicians are musicians without musical talent, poets without
poetic abilities.
But what about the great problems, the 'eternal riddles', which from
time immemorial have aroused the metaphysician's concern? The answer
is: As scientific problems, these 'riddles' simply do not exist. For a
problem is constituted by the fact that a proposition is formulated and
the task then set of determining whether that proposition is true or false.
But if the proposition is devoid of meaning, then the problem bound up
with it is a pseudo-problem. The reason most philosophers do not grasp
this point is because theoretical problems are conflated with the practical
problems of life. We should not suppose that in answering theoretical
questions we have also solved the problems of life. Just as a EucIidean
plane is unboundedly infinite and yet does not by far make up the whole
of EucIidean space, so too science is capable of being extended without
limit and yet does not make up the whole of life. Even if all meaningful
questions were answered, we would thereby have contributed very little
to the mastery of life. The problems of life must be overcome in life itself
outside of science. For example, there is no such thing as a philosophical
'problem of death'. What scientific statements there are about death be-
long to the science of biology and not to philosophy. If beyond this there
is talk of an 'existential' problem of death, what is referred to is not a
theoretical question but the fact, say, that I am deeply affected by the
death of my fellow-man and the certainty of my own death. Coping with
this problem is a practical matter; no scientific theory, regardless of how
it is constructed, can contribute anything here.
The version of the empiricist criterion of meaning described above soon
proved to be too narrow. A reformulation which led to a fundamental

broadening of the class of significant propositions may be found in

Carnap's studies of the confirmability and testability of empirical propo-
sitions (see Section E.4 below). A further essential relaxation of the cri-
terion was later offered by Carnap in his analysis of theoretical concepts
(see Chapter VIII, Section B.3).5


I. The System of Construction (Constitution) of Empirical

Concepts: Carnap's 'Logischer Aufbau der Welt'
Every science contains concepts and statements. These must be brought
into a systematic relationship. A systematic connection of statements is
effected once the science in question is axiomatically constructed. A
systematic connection of concepts is achieved once all concepts have
been reduced to a few basic concepts. Specialists have studied chiefly the
first problem; in general they have been concerned only secondarily with
the question of the relationship of concepts. Carnap, in his first great
work, sought to remedy this deficiency.
Following Frege, the problem of the relationship of logical and mathe-
matical concepts and of their reducibility to a few basic concepts had been
thoroughly treated above all by Russell and Whitehead in Principia
Mathematica and in the later systems of logicism (see Chapter VIII,
Section A.2). In his Logischer Aufbau der Welt, Carnap turned to the
much more difficult and comprehensive task of doing something of the
same sort for empirical concepts. He did not limit himself to systema-
tizing the concepts of a particular science, but sought to bring the entire
range of empirical concepts into a system of relationships of derivation.
As Carnap himself emphasized, however, what he undertook to present
was more a sketch than a definitive system.
In accordance with the fundamental principle of empiricism, the basis
of the system must be so chosen that the undefined primitive concepts
refer to what can be immediately pointed to, thus to what is given in
experience. Only what one experiences oneself, not another person's
experience, may be regarded as immediately given. Carnap therefore
selects one's own experience as a basis (eine 'eigenpsychische' Basis),
which includes only the conscious experiences of a subject. This procedure
he has called 'methodological solipsism'. Under no circumstances, how-

ever, is this expression to be taken in a metaphysical sense; it does not

signify that only a subject and his experiences are assumed to exist. On
the contrary, what is meant is nothing more than that all empirical con-
cepts are to be reduced to what is experienced or given. Moreover, the
description of the basis as eigenpsychisch is a statement that in the first
place cannot be made at all within the system. It represents a character-
ization of the system introduced from without. For the given as such is
subject-less; the concepts of the self and of other subjects are not consti-
tuted until a much later stage in the construction is reached.
The exact determination of the basis involves two things: the choice
of the primitive elements and the choice of the primitive relations. The
primitive elements of the system are not, as in the case of Mach, discrete
sensory elements; rather, they are elementary experiences (Elementar-
erlebnisse), that is, momentary total experiences. In this way Carnap
avoids the charge of psychological atomism levelled against Machian
positivism. The sole primitive relation is that of remembrance of similarity
(Ahnlichkeitserinnerung), that is, the relation of similarity between one
elementary experience (one particular point in the total stream of experi-
ence) and another (a different point in this stream of experience). This
relation is the only undefined or primitive concept introduced in the con-
struction of the system, the class of elementary experiences being defin-
able as the domain of this relation.
The important function performed by the primitive relation becomes
evident when we reflect that the elementary experiences have been taken
as indivisible units so that any real analysis ofthese experiences is logically
impossible. The only thing we can say about them is that they are similar
to other elementary experiences. Thus ranges of similar elementary ex-
periences can be formed and these can count as substitutes for qualities,
which can not be isolated or separated from these experiences. This synthe-
sizing procedure, which achieves practically the same thing as an actual
analysis, is called quasi-analysis.
Carnap terms his system a constitution-system of empirical concepts.
In it all empirical concepts are to be constituted out of the fundamental
concepts. To constitute a concept C out of other concepts is to set up a rule
whereby all statements in which the concept C occurs can be translated into
statements in which only those other concepts occur. A translation rule of
this sort is known as a constitutional definition. These brief remarks

should serve to make clear that Carnap had undertaken a really extra-
ordinary project: to constitute all empirical concepts, and to do this on
the sole basis of the above-mentioned similarity relation, thus reducing
all empirical concepts to the one concept of remembrance of similarity.
This meant that all scientific statements - regardless of the domain of
objects to which they referred - had to be transformable ultimately into
statements that contain, besides logical expressions, just one single de-
scriptive constant. Although this constitution-system later turned out to
be faulty in many respects - the most telling arguments to this effect, as
in the case of most of the revisions required by his works, came from
Carnap himself - it nevertheless represented an enormous intellectual
achievement which brought about great clarity on many points. This was
particularly true with respect to the fundamental question of the possi-
bilities and difficulties of defining empirical concepts, and the problem of
concrete relations of dependency between various concepts. Ever since the
days of Locke and H ume, empiricist philosophers have repeatedly assured
us that it must be possible to reduce all the concepts of the empirical
sciences to that which is given directly in internal and external perception.
But there the matter rested; the assurances remained an unrealized
program until Carnap set out to convert this program into a reality.
W. V. Quine, one of the most important contemporary American lo-
gicians, has remarked that Carnap has succeeded, in his system, in de-
fining numerous concepts that no one ever dreamed could be defined on
such a slender initial basis. 6
In carrying out his program, Carnap was obliged to make extensive
use of modem logic, especially of the theory of relations. In addition, he
had to employ the calculus of classes, since the method of quasi-analysis
consists in combining into classes elementary experiences, or, more exact-
ly, the similarity ranges mentioned above. With respect to form, the
definitions utilized are definitions in use, which obviate the introduction
of fictitious (e.g. ideal) objects.
It is not possible here to describe the contents of the various levels of
constitution. The following indications will have to suffice. 7 In conformity
with the method of quasi-analysis, Carnap first constitutes quality-classes,
which represent qualities of sensation or feeling. From certain similarity
orderings of the quality-classes he obtains sense-classes (classes of qualities
of one and the same sensory domain). A particular sensory domain may

then be singled out purely formally by means of the dimension number

belonging to it. The sense of sight, e.g., differs from the other sensory
domains in that it is a five-dimensional structure: colors have three di-
mensions (color-tone, saturation and brightness), while the visual field
possesses in addition a two-dimensional spatial ordering. Lastly, Carnap
is able to construct the components of qualities in the individual sensory
domains. After the points of the visual field are derived, he is in a position
to constitute a first spatial ordering of the visual field, and then, on the
basis of remembrance, a preliminary temporal ordering for elementary
The method of quasi-analysis thus leads not from the concrete and the
individual (e.g., sensations) to the general, but conversely from the more
general to the more specific. Sensations are the last to be constituted; a
sensation is defined as an ordered pair consisting of an elementary experi-
ence and a quality class.
After the construction of the phenomenal (eigenpsychische) objects
comes the constituting of the concepts that belong to the higher levels -
the perceptual world, then the physical world, thereafter the world of other
minds, and finally the world of spiritual or cultural objects. The capstone
is the concept of empirical reality. Yet all of these concepts, by reason of
the choice of the initial basis, represent in the end nothing more than
relations between elementary experiences. In particular, the experiences of
other persons are constituted out of the quasi-components of one's own
Already at the time he first set down his theory of constitution, Carnap
emphasized that there is considerable freedom in the choice of initial basis.
Thus instead of the eigenpsychische basis, one might choose a materialistic
basis, in which all psychical objects are reduced to physical objects. The
realization of the one system does not exclude that of the other: 'solip-
sism' and 'materialism' represent merely different types of constitution
systems. It is only when they are elevated into metaphysical theses about
the essence of objects ("All objects in their essence are psychical", "All
objects in their essence are physical") that a contradiction arises. But
since the concept of essence is a philosophical pseudo-concept, the two
standpoints when formulated in this manner are metaphysical pseudo-
Carnap himself later raised two fundamental objections to his system

of constitution. First, he showed that it was impossible to reduce all of

the more complex empirical concepts to other concepts by means of
definitions. Among the concepts that cannot be defined are the dispo-
sitional concepts (,soluble', 'brittle'), and the theoretical concepts of
natural science ('electron', 'gravitational potential'). Just how Carnap
does propose to introduce such concepts into science we shall consider
below. Second, Carnap subsequently came to believe that the eigenpsy-
chische basis must be abandoned in favor of a physicalistic one, because
only the latter gives any sure guarantee of being a language suited to the
intersubjective discourse of science. We turn now to an account of this

2. Physicalism and the Unity of Science: the Theories of

Carnap and Neurath
Philosophers have frequently demanded that the individual sciences be
united into a single system. The realization of this demand, however,
always met with failure because the various scientific disciplines, as
traditionally conceived, differ in their objects, their sources of knowledge,
and their methods.
There are cogent practical and theoretical grounds for the demand for
the unification of scientific knowledge. Among the practical grounds is the
fact that almost every scientist is at times obliged to go beyond the domain
of his own science and to draw on the results of other branches of science.
The explanation of such a complex process as perception, e.g., is not
possible on a purely psychological basis. For perceptual experiences rest
on physiological processes and these in turn are evoked by physical
stimuli, so that here the findings of psychology, physiology and physics
must be applied. But this is possible only if the concepts and laws of these
three domains of science can be related to one another. Of the theoretical
grounds, there is an important one that follows from the procedure of
testing general laws of nature. Suppose that a physicist has tentatively
proposed a new law. The correctness of his hypothesis must be tested by
observation or experiment. Theoretically this is done by using this law
to derive a prediction of some observable process and then determining
whether the prediction is borne out in fact. But the theorist who has
advanced the hypothesis and the observer who tests it seem to employ
quite different languages. The observer speaks about perceptual data and

thus makes use only of such concepts as have perceivable properties and
relations as their content. The theorist, on the other hand, utilizes a
language with a system of abstract concepts (,electron', 'SchrOdinger
tfJ-function' and the like), a language that refers to the quality-less and
supersensible world of the theoretical physicist, which is altogether
different from the world of perception. But this difference between the two
systems of concepts and languages must be no more than apparent; for
otherwise it would be logically impossible for the statements of the
observer either to support or to upset the statements of the theorist.
Statements of two languages that operate with entirely different conceptual
systems and hence are not inter-translatable cannot sustain any logical
relations, such as that of deducibility or of contradiction. Yet the over-
throw of a theory on the basis of observations can take place only by
reason of the fact that assertions logically deduced from the theory
contradict the statements of the observer.
The Vienna Circle therefore championed with particular vigor the
idea of the unity of science and demanded that a unified language of science
be specified in which every scientific assertion could be expressed. Such
a language would have to satisfy two conditions. First, it must be inter-
subjective, that is, it must be accessible to everyone and its symbols must
possess the same meaning for all. Second, it must be a universal language,
in which any and all facts can be expressed. In the beginning, Neurath
and Carnap defended the view that only the language of physics fulfills
these two requirements, whence the term 'physica/ism'. The physicalistic
language, however, is a purely quantitative one; its statements employ
none but metrical concepts. For this reason, Carnap later on weakened
the physicalist thesis so that it called merely for a 'thing-language' or
language for speaking about the world of things - a language which,
besides quantitative concepts, might also contain qualitative concepts,
provided that these refer to observable properties of things and observable
relations between things. It is this weakened thesis that we shall mean
when we speak of physicalism in what follows. In any event, it should be
noted that physicalism, in both of its forms, asserts no more than that
physical predicates must be the basic predicates of the language of unified
science. It definitely does not combine with this assertion the further de-
mand that all law-like regularities must be reduced to physical laws.
That the thing-language satisfies the condition of intersubjectivity

needs no more detailed elucidation. Carnap points out that what is in-
volved here is not a logical necessity but simply a fortunate empirical
circumstance. In principle, differences of opinion between various
persons concerning temperatures, lengths, frequencies and the like can,
within the attainable limits of exactitude, be eliminated; the same is true
for non-quantitative statements couched in the thing-language. It is
always possible in principle to obtain agreement between different persons
concerning the states and processes that comprise the physical world.
Indeed, the intersubjectivity of the world of things (or of the statements
referring to that world) is expressed in precisely this fact. In contrast, a
proposition about subjective experiences has meaning only for the person
that utters it and for no one else. Moreover, physical concepts are not
only intersubjective, they are inter-sensuous. The confirmation of any
physical statement may be undertaken within the province of a single
sense. It is possible for physical measuring instruments to be so con-
structed that all pointer readings are obtained visually or, alternately,
with the aid of acoustical or tactual characters alone. An example is the
construction of matching visual, photo, auditory and tactual spectro-
scopes. Thus a person who is completely blind and deaf can set up all the
varied physical observations needed to test physical hypotheses.
It is much more difficult to prove the universality of the physicalistic
language (or of the thing-language). What has to be shown is that the
statements of psychology and of the cultural sciences can all be represented
in that language. This indeed was Carnap's contention. He stressed that
statements about other minds could be translated into statements about
the behavior of other persons, in particular about their dispositions to
react in certain ways to certain stimuli (and, once physiology reaches a
more advanced stage, into statements about processes in their central
nervous systems). The thesis that psychological statements are translatable
into sentences about bodily events presupposes that we have at the outset
two different classes of statements, one psychological and the other
physical, and that the psychological statements originally refer to con-
scious occurrences and only subsequently are translated into the physi-
calistic language. This thesis has for some time been advanced in a more
radical form, namely, that the statements of psychology possess no
meaning except as statements about the bodily processes of the individual
concerned. This point of view resulted from the combination of the radical

demand for verifiability and the thesis that only statements about bodily
processes are intersubjectively intelligible and testable. The logical import
of a statement about the psychical must then consist of the testable
consequences derivable from that statement and, by virtue of what was
said above, these consequences can consist only of sentences about bodily
properties, relations and processes. The logical import of psychological
statements must of course be strictly separated from the images that
accompany these statements and that relate to the mental experiences of
the other person. Such images are superfluous and form no part of the
content of these statements. The claim that human beings, in addition
to their observable physical processes, also have mental experiences
cannot even be formulated in an intersubjective language of science and
hence represents a meaningless pseudo-proposition. Behaviorism is not
merely one possible way of doing psychology; it is the only logically
possible form of that science.
Similar considerations were adduced to show that all statements in the
social sciences and the humanities can be conceived of as intersubjectively
testable sentences of the thing-language. Even the statements of a person
X concerning his own experience are to be interpreted in this manner;
for X's statements have meaning for another person Y only in so far as
they can be tested. But for Y nothing in X's statements about his own
experiences is testable except that which concerns X's body.
Physicalism seems to be an unavoidable consequence of holding
inflexibly to the demand that all statements of science be intersubjectively
testable. At the same time, the thesis of physicalism, even in its weakened
form, has turned out not to be tenable without repeated, decisive modi-
fications. The chief difficulty lies in the impossibility of achieving a
purely behavioristic definition of the basic concepts of psychology.
Specifically, it is not possible to replace an elementary psychological
sentence (e.g., 'Mr. X is angry now') with a finite conjunction of state-
ments about exactly specifiable physical reactions and other modes of
behavior.8 To form a judgment today concerning physicalism, it would
be necessary especially to take into account Carnap's characterization of
theoretical concepts. Within the recent past, Herbert Feigl has under-
taken a basic study of the various possible ways of formulating psycho-
logical statements and their inter-relationships (see Chapter VIII,
Sections B.3 and C.3).

3. Popper's Falsification Theory

In analyzing the procedure used to test scientific hypotheses and theories,
Karl Popper has sought to establish three things. The first is that the
radical requirement of empirical verifiability would not only eliminate
metaphysical statements; it would also do away with all scientific
knowledge, since most of the sentences of natural science are not (strictly)
verifiable. The second is that we cannot even speak of an inductive
confirmation of the theories of natural science, and that the concept of the
probability of an hypothesis does not provide a means of judging hypo-
theses since no meaningful definition of this concept is possible. The third
is that the procedure applied in testing hypotheses of natural science
must therefore be analyzed without using the concept of verifiability and
also without employing the concepts of induction and of the probability
of an hypothesis.
Natural laws are not verifiable because they have the form of unrestricted
universal sentences (Allsiitze), and thus embrace an unlimited number of
instances. But we are able to undertake only a finite number of observa-
tions for the purpose of testing. The sentence 'Copper conducts electricity',
e.g., cannot be verified, since its verification would presuppose that we
could test all the copper in the universe for the property in question,
which of course is impossible. The 'finitists' among modern epistemo-
logists have tried to save the verifiability requirement by not admitting
into natural science sentences of unrestricted generality. On this view,
seemingly unrestricted universal sentences, such as the one just mentioned,
would have to be conceived of as summary reports of the results of pre-
vious observations - in our example, somewhat in the sense of 'All copper
thus far tested conducts electricity'. This interpretation, however, contra-
venes the fact that one of the most important functions of natural laws
is to make feasible prognoses of the future. But if we interpret natural
laws in accordance with the finitist method, they take on the character
of summary historical reports of past observations and hence could never
be utilized to make predictions about the future.
It must therefore be conceded that universal sentences cannot be
verified by finitely many observations. Here the usual remedy is to main-
tain that these sentences may be justified by means of an inductive
inference and thus hold with at least a greater or lesser probability.

Accordingly, although there is of course no deductive inference from

finitely many observations of individual pieces of copper to the sentence
that all copper conducts electricity, there is nevertheless an inductive
inference. Similarly, there is an inductive inference from the observation
of individual white swans to the assertion that all swans are white. It is
no objection to this method of inductive inference to point out that in
the case of swans, say, the discovery of black swans in Australia proves
the inferred generalization to be false. For inductively inferred laws are
not supposed to hold with absolute certainty, but only with a certain
probability. And even assertions with high probability may later turn
out to be false; the sentence about the col or of swans - so it can be argued
- is an illustration of this, since before the discovery of black swans it
represented a hypothesis that held with a high probability.
Popper, however, rejects the notion of inductive inference. He contends
that inductive inferences could exist only if there were a principle of
induction, a general rule in accordance with which these inferences would
have to be drawn. We ought then to find it possible to formulate this
principle in a general proposition. But what kind of proposition could this
be? Not an analytic proposition, because in that case the inference would
in reality be deductive, not inductive. On the other hand, if it were a
synthetic proposition, then in conformity with the basic principle of
empiricism it would have to rest on experience. Furthermore, since the
statement involved would be a general one, support for it could not take
the form of verification. Consequently, the principle would have had to
be inferred inductively. But this brings us to an infinite regress: the ques-
tion of vindicating the principle of induction is precisely the question of
accepting general hypotheses, that is, the very question that led to the
introduction of this principle in the first place. Thus in order to establish
the first principle of induction, we would have to assume a higher order
principle of induction, which in turn would have to be established
empirically, and so forth ad infinitum. This shows that such an induction
principle and the inductive inferences based upon it cannot possibly exist.
The expression 'probability of an hypothesis' also has no clear meaning,
according to Popper. For suppose we base this notion on the concept
of the probability of an event, that is, the relative frequency of a series of
events within some reference sequence. For example, the probability of
throwing a 6 with a die is given by the ratio of the number of occurrences

of a 6 to the total number of throws. The probability of a statement

would then be understood as the relative frequency of the truth of that
statement within a sequence of statements. But every attempt to obtain
in this fashion a serviceable concept of the probability of an hypothesis
comes to nothing. For if we conceive of a general hypothesis as itself a
sequence of sentences, that is, as the infinite sequence of the singular
sentences deducible from it, then the relative frequency of the truth of
these singular sentences would have to serve as the means of judging the
probability of the hypothesis. This would entail the altogether absurd
consequence that an hypothesis would have to be assigned a probability
of 1/2 if on the average every alternate sentence contradicted it. Similar
absurdities, as Popper's incisive analyses have shown, arise in connection
with all other attempts to reduce the concept of the probability of an
hypothesis to that of the relative frequency of truth.
The result is the elimination not only of the verifiability of natural laws
but also of their inductive inferability and of any attempt to judge them
as more or less probable. Popper replaces the inductive method with a
deductive method of testing empirical theories. This entails a strict separa-
tion of two questions: 'How do we arrive at hypotheses or theories?' and
'How do we test theories?' The first question is psychological in character,
and is not part of the logic of science. Theories are discoveries, sudden
inspirations; there is no rational path that leads to them from the 0 bserva-
tions we have made. Only after an hypothesis has been proposed does
the question of its testability arise. Testing, according to Popper, consists
in seeking to falsify (i.e., to refute) the hypothesis. It is possible to falsify
general hypotheses because they are universal sentences, which can be
restated as sentences of the form 'There are no objects such that .. .'. The
sentence 'All swans are white' is logically equivalent to 'There are no
non-white swans'. If a non-white swan is then observed somewhere, this
finding can be recorded in a singular 'there-is' sentence of the form 'At
such and such a space-time location there is a non-white swan'. These
singular assertions of existence, which refer to observable and hence
intersubjectively testable properties or processes, Popper calls basis
sentences; they form the basis for judging (falsifying) general hypotheses.
Thus from the above-mentioned basis sentence, we can derive the general
existential sentence 'There are non-white swans' and this sentence is the
logical contradictory of the sentence 'There are no non-white swans',

which in turn is the equivalent of the original hypothesis, 'All swans are
The empiricist's demand that hypotheses must be testable by experience
should therefore be taken to mean, according to Popper, that such state-
ments must be falsifiable - the term 'falsifiable', of course, to be under-
stood in the above sense of the logical possibility of falsification. It is their
falsifiability, not their verifiability or their inductive inferability, that
distinguishes empirical statements from the propositions of metaphysics.
But what then constitutes the positive proof of an empirical theory?
Only the fact, says Popper, that the theory has withstood all previous
attempts to falsify it. Thus when we say that a theory is well confirmed
empirically, this means at bottom simply that we ourselves have failed in
all attempts thus far to prove by experience that this theory is a failure. If,
however, a theory contradicts accepted basis sentences, then it is falsified
and must be replaced with another theory. At this point a certain
complication appears in Popper's conception. He regards the contradic-
tion between a theory and the accepted basis sentences as being only a
necessary but not a sufficient condition for the falsification of the theory.
For a theory can be viewed as refuted only if it is contradicted by a
repeatable effect.
Popper has also sought to determine the degree of empirical testability
(Le., the degree of falsifiability) of hypotheses by means of certain rules.
Ifwe designate the totality of the logically possible basis sentences that can
falsify a statement as the class of falsification possibilities of this state-
ment, then one such rule would run, e.g., as follows: a sentence A
possesses greater testability (is falsifiable to a higher degree) than a
sentence B if the class of falsification possibilities of B is contained in the
class of falsification possibilities of A.
We note that in spite of Popper's arguments, Carnap later did con-
struct a theory of inductive inference, to be described further on.

4. The Confirmability and Testability of Empirical Sentences.

Carnap's New Version of the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning
Popper's studies have served as an extraordinary stimulus to further
research in the logic of science. Thus Carnap has tried to obtain sharper
and more general formulations so as to arrive at a better understanding
of the structure of empirical knowledge. At the same time, he has sought

to provide a new version of the empiricist criterion of meaning, one that

is essentially more tolerant than the original requirement of verifiability
and which also goes far beyond Popper's principle of falsification.
It is easy to show that Popper's method of drawing a line between
empirical and metaphysical statements is not satisfactory. According to
him, only falsifiable statements may be accepted as empirically meaning-
ful. It follows that all pure existential hypotheses (e.g., the hypothesis of
the existence of a new planet not hitherto observed through a telescope)
would be banned from empirical scientific knowledge. For a general
'there-is' ('Es-gibt') sentence is not falsifiable, and this on exactly the
same ground that a universal sentence is not verifiable: To falsify an
existential sentence, one must look through the entire universe and at
the end of the inquiry be assured that no object with the specified property
exists. We are all the more obliged, if we adopt Popper's procedure, to
rule out any statement which contains one or more occurrences of
'there are' together with one or more occurrences of 'all'. Manifestly, a
statement of this type is neither verifiable nor falsifiable. Yet in the
natural sciences we often find it necessary to advance hypotheses with this
more complex structure. For that matter, it is even possible to specify
empirically meaningful properties ofindividual things where the properties
are such that sentences ascribing them to individual things are neither
verifiable nor falsifiable. Let 0 be an observable individual object. Let us
define the property M so that M belongs to object 0 if and only if there
is a (concrete) object that is farther from 0 than are all other objects.
Since the relational property employed here - 'z is farther from x than
y is' - clearly has an observable content, we must recognize M as an
observable property. But the assertion that 0 has this property can
neither be proved nor refuted by means of a finite number of observations.
It cannot be verified because of the occurrence of 'all' in the defining
sentence for M, and it cannot be falsified because of the occurrence in the
definition of 'there is'.
Carnap proposes to replace the concept of the verifiability and falsi-
fiability of statements with the two more general concepts of confirmability
and testability.
The Carnapian definitions of these two latter concepts are extremely
complicated. The principal reason is that he takes as a basis a language
system constructed in accordance with precise rules and in addition

operates with sequences of finite and infinite classes of sentences in order

to obtain the desired generality. Here we must limit ourselves to a few
remarks, in which we make use of a simplified procedure.
Carnap divides his analysis of the confirmation and testing of state-
ments into two parts. In the first, he studies the reducibility of the con-
firmation of a sentence to that of other sentences. These considerations
belong to pure logic. There the sole concept with which he operates is
that of logical consequence, which can be constructed either as a syntac-
tical or as a semantical concept (see the next section). It is not until the
second part that he introduces the concepts of the confirmability and
testability of sentences. This part of the inquiry belongs to empirical
methodology, since in addition to purely logical concepts it entails the
use of two fundamental non-logical concepts.
As for the reducibility of the confirmation of one statement to that
of other statements, our starting-point is that we never have available as
the basis for confirmation anything more than a finite class C of state-
ments. In practice, the basis will consist of finitely many observation-
sentences; but for the present we may disregard the question of what
kind of sentences C contains, observation-sentences or any other. We
shall say of all statements that follow logically from the sentences of
class C that their confirmation is completely reducible to that of the class
of sentences C. This expression is justified as follows: If we can assume
that the statements belonging to C are empirically confirmed to a certain
degree, then manifestly all of the statements that can be obtained from
them by purely logical deduction are confirmed at least to the same
degree. Thus the confirmation of the latter group of sentences has been
reduced completely to the confirmation of the former.
In order to grasp the more complicated cases of reducibility of confir-
mation, we use the auxiliary concept of an all-generalization. Assume that
we have determined with respect to r things, bl , b z, ... , b" of a certain
kind that they possess the property P. This result may be expressed in r
singular sentences ('b l has the property P', abbreviated as 'Pbt'; likewise
'Pb z ', etc.). We then say that the sentence to the effect that all objects of
the given kind have the property P has been obtained from these r sen-
tences by means of all-generalization (the resulting sentence is abbreviated
symbolically as '(x)Px', which is read, 'For all x, x has the property P').
Here we cannot assert that the 'all' -sentence is confirmed to the same

degree as the indicated singular sentences, for the 'all' -sentence has infi-
nitely many instances and therefore goes far beyond the content of the
singular sentences. Nonetheless, the 'all'-sentence is confirmed to some
degree by the singular sentences, although as a rule not to the same
degree that the singular sentences themselves are confirmed. In such a
case, we may speak of the incomplete confirmation of an 'all-sentence
by certain singular sentences - or, more exactly, of the direct, incom-
plete confirmation by those sentences, since no intermediate sentences
are used.
Returning to the finite class C of sentences, we shall say that the confir-
mation of any sentence obtained by all-generalization from some or all
of the statements of C is directly incompletely reducible to that of C.
We shall speak of direct reducibility of confirmation when we have
either complete or directly incomplete reducibility of confi