II, 8



“In the beginning the world was nothing but the Atman, in the form of a man. It looked around and saw nothing different to itself. Then it cried out once, ‘It is I.’ That is how the word ‘I’ came to be. That is why even at the present day, if any one is called, he answers, ‘It is I,’ and then recalls his other name, the one he bears.” —(Brihadâranyata-Upanishad.)

MANY disputations about principles in psychology arise from individual characterological differences in the disputants. Thus, in the mode that I have already suggested, characterology might play an important part. When one person thinks to have discovered this, the other that, by introspection, characterology would have to show why the results in the one case should differ from those in the other, or, at least, to point out in what other respects the persons in question were unlike. I see no other possible way of clearing up the disputed points of psychology. Psychology is a science of experiences, and, therefore, it must proceed from the individual to the general, and not, as in the supra-individualistic laws of logic and ethics, proceed from the universal to the individual case. There is no such thing as an empirical general psychology; and it would be a mistake to approach such without having fully reckoned with differential psychology.


It is a great pity that psychology has been placed between philosophy and the analysis of perceptions. From whichever side psychologists approached the subject, they have always been assured of the general validity of their results. {164} Perhaps even so fundamental a question as to whether or no perception itself implies an actual and spontaneous act of consciousness cannot be solved without a consideration of characterological differences.


The purpose of this work is to apply characterology to the solution of a few of these doubtful matters, with special reference to the distinctions between the sexes. The different conceptions of the I-problem, however, depend not so much on differences of sex as on differences in giftedness. The dispute between Hume and Kant receives its characterological explanation much in the same way as if I were to distinguish two men in so far as the one held in the highest esteem the works of Makart and Gounod, the other those of Rembrandt and Beethoven. I would simply distinguish the two by their giftedness. So also the judgments about the “I” must be very different in the cases of differently gifted men. There have been no truly great men who were not persuaded of the existence of the “I”; a man who denies it cannot be a great man.


In the course of the following pages this proposition will be taken as absolutely binding, and will be used really as a means of valuing genius.


There has been no famous man who, at least some time in the course of his life, and generally earlier in proportion to his greatness, has not had a moment in which he was absolutely convinced of the possession of an ego in the highest sense.


Let us compare the following utterances of three very great geniuses.


Jean Paul relates in his autobiographical sketch, Truths from my own Life:


I can never forget a circumstance which, so far, has been related by no one the birth of my own self-consciousness, the time and place of which I can tell. One morning I was standing, as a very young child, at the front door, and looking towards the wood-shed I suddenly saw, all at once my inner likeness. ‘I’ am ‘I’ flashed like lightning from the skies across me, and since then has remained. I saw {165} myself then for the first time and for ever. This cannot be explained as a confusion of memory, for no alien narrative could have blended itself with this sacred event, preserved permanently in my memory by its vividness and novelty.


Novalis, in his Miscellaneous Fragments, refers to an identical experience:


This factor every one must experience for himself. It is a factor of the higher order, and reveals itself only to higher men; but men should strive to induce it in themselves. Philosophy is the exercise of this factor, it is a true self-revelation, the stimulation of the real ego by the ideal ego. It is the foundation of all other revelations; the resolution to philosophise is a challenge to the actual ego, to become conscious of itself, to grow and to become a soul.


Schelling discusses the same phenomenon in his Philosophical Letters upon Dogmatism and Criticism, a little known early work, in which occur the following beautiful words:


In all of us there dwells a secret marvellous power of freeing ourselves from the changes of time, of withdrawing to our secret selves away from external things, and of so discovering to ourselves the eternal in us in the form of unchangeability. This presentation of ourselves to ourselves is the most truly personal experience upon which depends everything that we know of the supra-sensual world. This presentation shows us for the first time what real existence is, whilst all else only appears to be. It differs from every presentation of the sense in its perfect freedom, whilst all other presentations are bound, being overweighted by the burden of the object. Still there exists for those who have not this perfect freedom of the inner sense some approach to it, experiences approaching it from which they may gain some faint idea of it. . . . This intellectual presentation occurs when we cease to be our own object, when, withdrawing into ourselves, the perceiving self merges in the self-perceived. At that moment we annihilate time and duration of time; we are no longer in time, but time, or {166} rather eternity itself, is in us. The external world is no longer an object for us, but is lost in us.


The positivist will perhaps only laugh at the self-deceived deceiver, the philosopher who asserts that he has had such experiences. Well, it is not easy to prevent it. It is also unnecessary. But I am by no means of the opinion that this “factor of a higher order” plays the same part in all men of genius of a mystical identity of subject and object as Schelling describes it.


Whether there are undivided experiences in which the dualism of actual life is overcome, as is indicated by Plotin and the Indian Mahatmas, or whether this is only the highest intensification of experience, but in principle similar to all others—does not signify here, the coincidence of subject and object, of time and eternity, the representing of God through living men, will neither be demonstrated as possible nor denied as impossible. The experiencing of one's own “I” is not to be begun by theoretical knowledge, and no one has ever, so far, tried to put it in the position of a systematic philosophy. I shall, therefore, not call this factor of a higher order, which manifests itself in some men in one way and in other men in another way, an essential manifestation of the true ego, but only a phase of it.


Every great man knows this phase of the ego. He may become conscious of it first through the love of a woman, for the great man loves more intensely than the ordinary man; or it may be from the contrast given by a sense of guilt or the knowledge of having failed; these, too, the great man feels more intensely than smaller-minded people. It may lead him to a sense of unity with the all, to the seeing of all things in God, or, and this is more likely, it may reveal to him the frightful dualism of nature and spirit in the universe, and produce in him the need, the craving, for a solution of it, for the secret inner wonder. But always it leads the great man to the beginning of a presentation of the world for himself and by himself, without the help of the thought of others.


This intuitive vision of the world is not a great synthesis {167} elaborated at his writing-table in his library from all the books that have been written; it is something that has been experienced, and as a whole it is clear and intelligible, although details may still be obscure and contradictory. The excitation of the ego is the only source of this intuitive vision of the world as a whole in the case of the artist as in that of the philosopher. And, however different they may be, if they are really intuitive visions of the cosmos, they have this in common, something that comes only from the excitation of the ego, the faith that every great man possesses, the conviction of his possession of an I or soul, which is solitary in the universe, which faces the universe and comprehends it.


From the time of this first excitation of his ego, the great man, in spite of lapses due to the most terrible feeling, the feeling of mortality, will live in and by his soul.


And it is for this reason, as well as from the sense of his creative powers, that the great man has so intense a self- consciousness. Nothing can be more unintelligent than to talk of the modesty of great men, of their inability to recognise what is within them. There is no great man who does not well know how far he differs from others (except during these periodical fits of depression to which I have already alluded). Every great man feels himself to be great as soon as he has created something; his vanity and ambition are, in fact, always so great that he over-estimates himself. Schopenhauer believed himself to be greater than Kant. Nietzsche declared that Thus spake Zarathustra was the greatest book in the world.


There is, however, a side of truth in the assertion that great men are modest. They are never arrogant. Arrogance and self-realisation are contradictories, and should never be confused although this is often done. A man has just as much arrogance as he lacks of self-realisation, and uses it to increase his own self-consciousness by artificially lowering his estimation of others. Of course the foregoing holds true only of what may be called physiological, unconscious arrogance; the great man must occasionally {168} comport himself with what seems rudeness to contemptible persons.


All great men, then, have a conviction, really independent of external proof, that they have a soul. The absurd fear must be laid aside that the soul is a hyperempirical reality and that belief in it leads us to the position of the theologists. Belief in a soul is anything rather than a superstition and is no mere handmaid of religious systems. Artists speak of their souls although they have not studied philosophy or theology; atheists like Shelley use the expression and know very well what they mean by it.


Others have suggested that the “soul” is only a beautiful empty word, which people ascribe to others without having felt its need for themselves. This is like saying that great artists use symbols to express the highest form of reality without being assured as to the existence of that reality. The mere empiricist and the pure physiologist no doubt will consider that all this is nonsense, and that Lucretius is the only great poet. No doubt there has been much misuse of the word, but if great artists speak of their soul they know what they are about. Artists, like philosophers, know well when they approach the greatest possible reality, but Hume had no sense of this.


The scientific man ranks, as I have already said, and as I shall presently prove, below the artist and the philosopher. The two latter may earn the title of genius which must always be denied to the scientific man. Without any good reason having been assigned for it, it has usually been the case that the voice of genius on any particular problem is listened to before the voice of science. Is there justice in this preference? Can the genius explain things as to which the man of science, as such, can say nothing? Can he peer into depths where the man of science is blind?


The conception genius concludes universality. If there were an absolute genius (a convenient fiction) there would be nothing to which he could not have a vivid, intimate, and complete relation. Genius, as I have already shown, would have universal comprehension, and through its {169} perfect memory would be independent of time. To comprehend anything one must have within one something similar. A man notices, understands, and comprehends only those things with which he has some kinship. The genius is the man with the most intense, most vivid, most conscious, most continuous, and most individual ego. The ego is the central point, the unit of comprehension, the synthesis of all manifoldness.


The ego of the genius accordingly is simply itself universal comprehension, the centre of infinite space; the great man contains the whole universe within himself; genius is the living microcosm. He is not an intricate mosaic, a chemical combination of an infinite number of elements; the argument in chap. iv. as to his relation to other men and things must not be taken in that sense; he is everything. In him and through him all psychical manifestations cohere and are real experiences, not an elaborate piece-work, a whole put together from parts in the fashion of science. For the genius the ego is the all, lives as the all; the genius sees nature and all existences as whole; the relations of things flash on him intuitively; he has not to build bridges of stones between them. And so the genius cannot be an empirical psychologist slowly collecting details and linking them by associations; he cannot be a physicist, envisaging the world as a compound of atoms and molecules.


It is absolutely from his vision of the whole, in which the genius always lives, that he gets his sense of the parts. He values everything within him or without him by the standard of this vision, a vision that for him is no function of time, but a part of eternity. And so the man of genius is the profound man, and profound only in proportion to his genius. That is why his views are more valuable than those of all others. He constructs from everything his ego that holds the universe, whilst others never reach a full consciousness of this inner self, and so, for him, all things have significance, all things are symbolical. For him breathing is something more than the coming and going of gases through the walls of the capillaries; the blue of the sky is {170} more than the partial polarisation of diffused and reflected light; snakes are not merely reptiles that have lost limbs. If it were possible for one single man to have achieved all the scientific discoveries that have ever been made, if everything that has been done by the following: Archimedes and Lagrange, Johannes Müller and Karl Ernst von Baer, Newton and Laplace, Konrad Sprengel and Cuvier, Thucydides and Niebuhr, Friedrich August Wolf and Franz Bopp, and by many more famous men of science, could have been achieved by one man in the short span of human life, he would still not be entitled to the denomination of genius, for none of these have pierced the depths. The scientist takes phenomena for what they obviously are; the great man or genius for what they signify. Sea and mountain, light and darkness, spring and autumn, cypress and palm, dove and swan are symbols to him, he not only thinks that there is, but he recognises in them something deeper. The ride of the Valkyrie is not produced by atmospheric pressure and the magic fire is not the outcome of a process of oxidation.


And all this is possible for him because the outer world is as full and strongly connected as the inner in him, the external world in fact seems to be only a special aspect of his inner life; the universe and the ego have become one in him, and he is not obliged to set his experience together piece by piece according to rule. The greatest poly-historian, on the contrary, does nothing but add branch to branch and yet creates no completed structure. That is another reason why the great scientist is lower that the great artist, the great philosopher. The infinity of the universe is responded to in the genius by a true sense of infinity in his own breast; he holds chaos and cosmos, all details and all totality, all plurality, and all singularity in himself. Although these remarks apply more to genius than to the nature of the productions of genius, although the occurrence of artistic ecstasy, philosophic conceptions, religious fervour remain as puzzling as ever, if merely the conditions, not the actual process of a really great achievement has {171} been made clearer, yet this is nevertheless to be the final definition of genius:


A man may be called a genius when he lives in conscious connection with the whole universe. It is only then that the genius becomes the really divine spark in mankind.


The great idea of the soul of man as the microcosm, the most important discovery of the philosophy of the Renaissance—although traces of the idea are to be found in. Plato and Aristotle—appears to be quite disregarded by modern thinkers since the death of Leibnitz. It has hitherto been held as only holding good for genius, as the prerogative of those masters of men.


But the incongruity is only apparent. All mankind have some of the quality of genius, and no man has it entirely. Genius is a condition to which one man draws close whilst another is further away, which is attained by some in early days, but with others only at the end of life.


The man to whom we have accorded the possession of genius, is only he who has begun to see, and to open the eyes of others. That they can see with their own eyes proves that they were only standing before the door.


Even the ordinary man, even as such, can stand in an indirect relationship to everything: his idea of the “whole” is only a glimpse, he does not succeed in identifying himself with it. But he is not without the possibility of following this identification in another, and so attaining a composite image. Through some vision of the world he can bind himself to the universal, and by diligent cultivation he can make each detail a part of himself. Nothing is quite strange to him, and in all a band of sympathy exists between him and the things of the world. It is not so with plants or animals. They are limited, they do not know the whole but only one element; they do not populate the whole earth, and where they are widely dispersed it is in the service of man, who has allotted to them everywhere the same task. They may have a relation to the sun or to the moon, but they certainly are wanting in respect of the “starry vault” and “the moral law”. For the latter {172} originates in the soul of man, in which is hidden all totality, which can see everything because it is universal itself : the starry heavens and the moral law are fundamentally one and the same. The universalism of the categorical imperative is the universalism of the universe.


The infinity of the universe is only the “thought-picture” of the infinity of the moral volition.


This was taught, the microcosm in man, by Empedocles that mighty magician.


Γαιη μεν γαρ γαιαν σπωπαμεν, υδατι δ'υδωρ,
ΑιΘερι δ'αιΘερα υιον, αταρ πυρι πυρ αιδηλον
Στοργη δε στοργην, νειχος δε τε νειχει λυγρω


And Plotinus;


Ου γαρ αν πωποτε ειδεν
δφΘαλμος ηλιον ηλιοειδης μη γεγενημενος.


which Goethe imitated in the famous verse:


Wär' nicht das Auge sonnenhaft,
Die Sonne könnt' es nie erblicken;
Läg' nicht in uns des Gottes eig'ne Kraft,
Wie könnt' uns Göttliches entzücken?


Man is the only creature, he is the creature in Nature, that has in himself a relation to every thing.


He to whom this relationship brings understanding and the most complete consciousness, not to many things or to few things, but to all things, the man who of his own individuality has thought out everything, is called a genius. He in whom the possibility of this is present, in whom an interest in everything could be aroused, yet who only, of his own accord, concerns himself with a few, we call merely a man.


The theory of Leibnitz, which is seldom rightly understood, that the lower monads are a mirror of the world without being conscious of this capacity of theirs, expresses the same idea. The man of genius lives in a state of complete understanding, an understanding of the whole; the whole world {173} is also in ordinary men, but not in a condition that can become creative. The one lives in conscious active relation with the whole, the other in an unconscious relation; the man of genius is the actual, the common man the potential, microcosm. The genius is the complete man; the manhood that is latent in all men is in him fully developed.


Man himself is the All, and so unlike a mere part, dependent on other parts; he is not assigned a definite place in a system of natural laws, but he himself is the meaning of the law and is therefore free, just as the world whole being itself, the All does not condition itself but is unconditioned. The man of genius is he who forgets nothing because he does not forget himself, and because forgetting, being a functional subjection to time, is neither free nor ethical. He is not brought forward on the wave of a historical movement as its child, to be swallowed up by the next wave, because all, all the past and all the future is contained in his inward vision. He it is whose consciousness of immortality is most strong because the fear of death has no terror for him. He it is who lives in the most sympathetic relation to symbols and values because he weighs and interprets by these all that is within him and all that is outside him. He is the freest and the wisest and the most moral of men, and for these reasons he suffers most of all from what is still unconscious, what is chaos, what is fatality within him.


How does the morality of great men reveal itself in their relations to other men? This, according to the popular view, is the only form which morality can assume, apart from contraventions of the penal code. And certainly in this respect, great men have displayed the most dubious qualities. Have they not laid themselves open to accusations of base ingratitude, extreme harshness, and much worse faults?


It is certainly true that the greater an artist or philosopher may be, the more ruthless he will be in keeping faith with himself, in this very way often disappointing the expectations of those with whom he comes in contact in every day life; {174} these cannot follow his higher flights and so try to bind the eagle to earth (Goethe and Lavater) and in this way many great men have been branded as immoral.


Goethe, fortunately for himself, preserved a silence about himself so complete that modern people who think that they understand him completely as the light-living Olympian, only know a few specks of him taken from his marvellous delineation in Faust; we may be certain, none the less, that he judged himself severely, and suffered in full measure for the guilt he found in himself. And when an envious Nörgler, who never grasped Schopenhauer's doctrine of detachment and the meaning of his Nirwana, throws the reproach at the latter that he got the last value out of his property, such a mean yelping requires no answer.


The statement that a great man is most moral towards himself stands on sure ground; he will not allow alien views to be imposed on him, so obscuring the judgment of his own ego; he will not passively accept the interpretation of another, of an alien ego, quite different from his own, and if ever he has allowed himself to be influenced, the thought will always be painful to him. A conscious lie that he has told will harass him throughout his life, and he will be unable to shake off the memory in Dionysian fashion. But men of genius will suffer most when they become aware afterwards that they have unconsciously helped to spread a lie in their talk or conduct with others. Other men, who do not possess this organic thirst for truth, are always deeply involved in lies and errors, and so do not understand the bitter revolt of great men against the “lies of life.”


The great man, he who stands high, he in whom the ego, unconditioned by time, is dominant, seeks to maintain his own value in the presence of his intelligible ego by his intellectual and moral conscience. His pride is towards himself; there is the desire in him to impress his own self by his thoughts, actions, and creations. This pride is the pride peculiar to genius, possessing its own standard of value, and it is independent of the judgment of others, since it possesses in itself a higher tribunal. Soft and {175} ascetic natures (Pascal is an example) sometimes suffer from this self-pride, and yet try in vain to shake it off. This self-pride will always be associated with pride before others, but the two forms are really in perpetual conflict.


Can it be said that this strong adaption to duty towards oneself prejudices the sense of duty towards one's neighbours? Do not the two stand as alternatives, so that he who always keeps faith with himself must break it with others? By no means. As there is only one truth, so there can be only one desire for truth—what Carlyle called sincerity—that a man has or has not with regard both to himself and to the world; it is never one of two, a view of the world differing from a view of oneself, a self- study without a world-study; there is only one duty and only one morality. Man acts either morally or immorally, and if he is moral towards himself he is moral towards others.


There are few regions of thought, however, so full of false ideas, as the conception of moral duty towards one's neighbours and how it is to be fulfilled. Leaving out of consideration, for the moment, the theoretical systems of morality which are based on the maintenance of human society, and which attach less importance to the concrete feelings and motives at the moment of action than to the effect on the general system of morality, we come at once to the popular idea which defines the morality of a man by his “goodness,” the degree to which his compassionate disposition is developed. From the philosophical point of view, Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith saw in sympathy the nature and source of all ethical conduct, and this view received a very strong support from Schopenhauer's sympathetic morality. Schopenhauer's Essay on the Foundations of Morality shows in its motto “It is easy to preach morality, difficult to find a basis for it,” the fundamental error of the sympathetic ethics which always fails to recognise that the science of ethics is not merely an explanation and description of conduct, but a search for a guide to it. Whoever will be at the pains diligently to listen to the inner voice of man, in order to establish {176} what he ought to do, will certainly reject every system of ethics, the aim of which is to be a doctrine of the requirements which man has invented for himself and others instead of being a relation of what he actually does in furthering these requirements or in stifling them. The object of all moral science is not what is happening but what ought to happen.


All attempts to explain ethics by psychology overlook the fact that every psychic event in man is appraised by man himself, and the appraiser of the psychic event cannot be a psychic event. This standard can only be an idea, or a value which is never fully realised, and which cannot be altered by any experience because it remains constant even if all experience is in opposition to it. Moral conduct can be only conduct controlled by an idea. And so we can choose only from systems of morality which set up some idea or maxim for the regulation of conduct, and there are only two to choose from, the ethical socialism or social ethics, founded by Bentham and Mill, but imported to the Continent and diligently propagated in Germany and Norway, and ethical individualism such as is taught by Christianity and German idealism.


The second failure of all the systems of ethics founded on sympathy is that they attempt to find a foundation for morality, to explain morality, whilst the very conception of morality is that it should be the ultimate standard of human conduct, and so must be inexplicable and non-derivative, must be its own purpose, and cannot be brought into relation of cause and effect with anything outside itself. This attempted derivation of morality is simply another aspect of the purely descriptive, and therefore necessarily, relative, ethics, and is untenable from the fact that however diligently the search be made, it is impossible to find in the sphere of causes and effects a high aim that would be applicable to every moral action. The inspiring motive of an action cannot come from any nexus of cause and effect; it is much more in the nature of things for cause and effect to be linked with an inspiring {177} moral aim. Outside the domain of first causes there lies a domain of moral aims, and this latter domain is the inheritance of mankind. The complete science of existence is a linking together of first causes until the first cause of all is reached, and a complete science of “oughts” leads to a union of all in one great aim, the culminating moral imperative.


He who rates sympathy as a positive moral factor has treated as moral something that is a feeling, not an act. Sympathy may be an ethical phenomenon, the expression of something ethical, but it is no more an ethical act than are the senses of shame and pride; we must clearly distinguish between an ethical act and an ethical phenomenon. Nothing must be considered an ethical act that is not a confirmation of the ethical idea by action; ethical phenomena are unpremeditated, involuntary signs of a permanent tendency of the disposition towards the moral idea. It is in the struggle between motives that the idea presses in and seeks to make the decision; the empirical mixture of ethical and unethical feelings, sympathy and malice, self-confidence and presumption, gives no help towards a conclusion. Sympathy is, perhaps, the surest sign of a disposition, but it is not the moral purpose inspiring an action. Morality must imply conscious knowledge of the moral purpose and of value as opposed to worthlessness. Socrates was right in this, and Kant is the only modern philosopher who has followed him. Sympathy is a non-logical sensation, and has no claim to respect.


The question now before us is to consider how far a man can act morally with regard to his fellow men.


It is certainly not by unsolicited help which obtrudes itself on the solitude of another and pierces the limits that he has set for himself; not by compassion but rather by respect. This respect we owe only to man, as Kant showed; for man is the only creature in the universe who is a purpose to himself.


But how can I show a man my contempt, and how {178} prove to him my respect? The first by ignoring him, the second by being friendly with him.


How can I use him as a means to an end, and how can I honour him by regarding him himself as an end? In the first case, by looking upon him as a link in the chain of circumstances with which I have to deal; in the second, by endeavouring to understand him. It is only by interesting oneself in a man, without exactly telling him so, by thinking of him, by grasping his work, by sympathising with his fate, and by seeking to understand him, that one can respect one's neighbour. Only he who, through his own afflictions, has become unselfish, who forgets small wranglings with his fellow man, who can repress his impatience, and who endeavours to understand him, is really disinterested with regard to his neighbour; and he behaves morally because he triumphs over the strongest enemy to his understanding of his neighbour—selfishness.


How does the famous man stand in this respect? He who understands the most men, because he is most universal in disposition, and who lives in the closest relation to the universe at large, who most earnestly desires to understand its purpose, will be most likely to act well towards his neighbour.


As a matter of fact, no one thinks so much or so intently as he about other people (even although he has only seen them for a moment), and no one tries so hard to understand them if he does not feel that he already has them within him in all their significance. Inasmuch as he has a continuous past, a complete ego of his own, he can create the past which he did not know for others. He follows the strongest bent of his inner being if he thinks about them, for he seeks only to come to the truth about them by understanding them. He sees that human beings are all members of an intelligible world, and which there is no narrow egoism or altruism. This is the only explanation of how it is that great men stand in vital, understanding relationship, not only with those round about them, but with all the personalities of history who have preceded them; {179} this is the only reason why great artists have grasped historical personalities so much better and more intensively than scientific historians. There has been no great man who has not stood in a personal relationship to Napoleon, Plato, or Mahomet. It is in this way that he shows his respect and true reverence for those who have lived before him. When many of those who have been intimate with artists feel aggrieved when later on they recognise themselves in their works; when writers are reproached for treating everything as copy, it is easy enough to understand the feeling. But the artist or author who does not heed the littlenesses of mankind has committed no crime, he has simply employed his creative act of understanding with regard to them, by a single-minded representation and reproduction of the world around him, and there can be no higher relation between men than this. The following words of Pascal, which have already been mentioned, are specially applicable here: A mesure qu'on a plus d'esprit, on trouve qu'il y a plus d'hommes originaux. Les gens du commun ne trouvent pas de différence entre les hommes. It follows from the foregoing that the greater a man is the greater efforts he will make to understand things that are most strange to him, whilst the ordinary man readily thinks that he understands a thing, although it may be something he does not at all understand, so that he fails to perceive the unfamiliar spirit which is appealing to him from some object of art or from a philosophy, and at most attains a superficial relation to the subject, but does not rise to the inspiration of its creator. The great man who attains to the highest rungs of consciousness does not easily identify himself and his opinion with anything he reads, whilst those with a lesser clarity of mind adopt, and imagine that they absorb, things that in reality are very different. The man of genius is he whose ego has acquired consciousness. He is enabled by it to distinguish the fact that others are different, to perceive the “ego” of other men, even when it is not pronounced enough for them to be conscious of it themselves. But it is only he who feels that every other man is also an {180} ego, a monad, an individual centre of the universe, with specific manner of feeling and thinking and a distinct past, he alone is in a position to avoid making use of his neighbours as means to an end, he, according to the ethics of Kant, will trace, anticipate, and therefore respect the personality in his companion (as part of the intelligible universe), and will not merely be scandalised by him. The psychological condition of all practical altruism, therefore is theoretical individualism.


Here lies the bridge between moral conduct towards oneself and moral conduct towards one's neighbour, the apparent want of which in the Kantian philosophy Schopenhauer unjustly regarded as a fault, and asserted to arise necessarily out of Kant's first principles.


It is easy to give proofs. Only brutalised criminals and insane persons take absolutely no interest in their fellow men; they live as if they were alone in the world, and the presence of strangers has no effect on them. But for him who possesses a self there is a self in his neighbour, and only the man who has lost the logical and ethical centre of his being behaves to a second man as if the latter were not a man and had no personality of his own. “I” and “thou” are complementary terms. A man soonest gains consciousness of himself when he is with other men. This is why a man is prouder in the presence of other men than when he is alone, whilst it is in his hours of solitude that his self-confidence is damped. Lastly, he who destroys himself destroys at the same time the whole universe, and he who murders another commits the greatest crime because he murders himself in his victim. Absolute selfishness is, in practice, a horror, which should rather be called nihilism; if there is no “thou,” there is certainly no “I”, and that would mean there is nothing.


There is in the psychological disposition of the man of genius that which makes it impossible to use other men as a means to an end. And this is it: he who feels his own personality, feels it also in others. For him the Tat-tvam-asi is no beautiful hypothesis, but a reality. The highest indivi-{181}dualism is the highest universalism. Ernest Mach is in great error when he denies the subject, and thinks it is only after the renunciation of the individual “I” that an ethical relation, which excludes neglect of the strange “I” and overestimation of the individual “I,” may be expected. It has already been seen where the want of one's own I leads in relation to one's neighbour. The I is the fundamental ground of all social morality. I should never be able to place myself, as an actual psychological being, in an ethical relation to a mere bundle of elements. It is possible to imagine such a relationship; but it is entirely opposed to practical conduct; because it eliminates the psychological condition necessary for making the moral idea an actual reality.


We are preparing for a real ethical relation to our fellow men when we make them conscious that each of them possesses a higher self, a soul, and that they must realise the souls in others.


This relation is, however, manifested in the most curious manner in the man of genius. No one suffers so much as he with the people, and, therefore, for the people, with whom he lives. For, in a certain sense, it is certainly only “by suffering” that a man knows. If compassion is not itself clear, abstractly conceivable or visibly symbolic knowledge, it is, at any rate, the strongest impulse for the acquisition of knowledge. It is only by suffering that the genius understands men. And the genius suffers most because he suffers with and in each and all; but he suffers most through his understanding.


Although I tried to show in an earlier chapter that genius is the factor which primarily elevates man above the animals, and in connection with that fact that it is man alone who has a history (this being explained by the presence in all men of some degree of the quality of genius). I must return to that earlier side of my argument. Genius involves the living actuality of the intelligible subject. History manifests itself only as a social thing, as the “objective spirit,” the individuals as such playing no part in it, {182} being, in fact, non-historical. Here we see the threads of our argument converging. If it be the case, and I do not think that I am wrong, that the timeless, human personality is the necessary condition of every real ethical relation to our fellow men, and if individuality is the necessary preliminary to the collective spirit, then it is clear why the “metaphysical animal” and the “political animal,” the possessor of genius and the maker of history, are one and the same, are humanity. And the old controversy is settled; which comes first, the individual or the community? Both must be equal and simultaneous.


I think that I have proved at every point that genius is simply the higher morality. The great man is not only the truest to himself, the most unforgetful, the one to whom errors and lies are most hateful and intolerable; he is also the most social, at the same time the most self-contained, and the most open man. The genius is altogether a higher form, not merely intellectually, but also morally. In his own person, the genius reveals the idea of mankind. He represents what man is; he is the subject whose object is the whole universe which he makes endure for all time.


Let there be no mistake. Consciousness and consciousness alone is in itself moral; all unconsciousness is immoral, and all immorality is unconscious. The “immoral genius,” the “great wicked man,” is, therefore, a mythical animal, invented by great men in certain moments of their lives as a possibility, in order (very much against the will of the Creator) to serve as a bogey for nervous and timid natures, with which they frighten themselves and other children. No criminal who prided himself in his deed would speak like Hagen in the “Götterdammerung” over Siegfried's dead body: “Ha, ha, I have slain him; I, Hagen, gave him his death blow.”


Napoleon and Bacon, who are given as counter-instances, were intellectually much over-rated or wrongly represented. And Nietzsche is the least reliable in these matters, when he begins to discuss the Borgia type. The conception of the {183} diabolical, of the anti-Christ, of Ahriman, of the “radical evil in human nature,” is exceedingly powerful, yet it concerns genius only inasmuch as it is the opposite of it. It is a fiction, created in the hours in which great men have struggled against the evil in themselves.


Universal comprehension, full consciousness, and perfect timelessness are an ideal condition, ideal even for gifted men; genius is an innate imperative, which never becomes a fully accomplished fact in human beings. Hence it is that a man of genius will be the last man to feel himself in the position to say of himself: “I am a genius.” Genius is, in its essence, nothing but the full completion of the idea of a man, and, therefore, every man ought to have some quality of it, and it should be regarded as a possible principle for every one.


Genius is the highest morality, and, therefore, it is every one's duty. Genius is to be attained by a supreme act of the will, in which the whole universe is affirmed in the individual. Genius is something which “men of genius” take upon themselves; it is the greatest exertion and the greatest pride, the greatest misery and the greatest ecstasy to a man. A man may become a genius if he wishes to.


But at once it will certainly be said: “Very many men would like very much to be ‘original geniuses,’” and their wish has no effect. But if these men who “would like very much” had a livelier sense of what is signified by their wish, if they were aware that genius is identical with universal responsibility—and until that is grasped it will only be a wish and not a determination—it is highly probable that a very large number of these men would cease to wish to become geniuses.


The reason why madness overtakes so many men of genius—fools believe it comes from the influence of Venus, or the spinal degeneration of neurasthenics—is that for many the burden becomes too heavy, the task of bearing the whole world on the shoulders, like Atlas, intolerable for the smaller, but never for the really mighty minds. But the higher a man mounts, the greater may be his {184} fall; all genius is a conquering of chaos, mystery, and darkness, and if it degenerates and goes to pieces, the ruin is greater in proportion to the success. The genius which runs to madness is no longer genius; it has chosen happiness instead of morality. All madness is the outcome of the insupportability of suffering attached to all consciousness. Sophocles derived his idea that a man might wish to become mad for this reason, and lets Aias, whose mind finally gives way, give utterance to these words:


εν τω φρονειν γαρ μηδεν ηδιστος βιος.


I shall conclude this chapter with the solemn words, similar to the best moments of Kant's style, of Johann Pico von Mirandola, to whom I may bring some measure of recognition. In his address “on the dignity of man” the Supreme Being addresses the following words to man:


Nec certam sedem, nee propriam faciem, nee munus ullum peculiare tibi dedimus, o Adam: ut quarn sedem, quam faciem, quae mimera tute optaveris, ea pro voto, pro tua sententia, habeas ei possideas. Definita caeteris natura intra praescriptas a nobis leges coercetur; tu nullis angustiis coercitus, pro tuo arbitrio, in cuius manu te posui, tibi illam praefinies. Medium te mundi posui, ut circumspiceres inde commodius quicquid est in mundo. Nee te caelestem, neque terrenum, neque mortalem, neque immortalem fedmus, ut tui ipsius quasi arbitrarius honorariusque plastes et fictor in quam malueris tute forrnam effingas. Poteris in inferiora quae sunt bruta degeneraie, poteris in superiora quae sunt divina, ex tui animi sententia regenerari.

Translation 498

O summam Dei Patris liberalitatem, suimnam et admirandam hominis felicitatem: cui datum id habere quod optat, id esse quod velit. Bruta sirnul atque nascuntur id secum affenint e bulga matris, quod possessura suiit. Supremi Spiritus aut ab initio aut paulo mox id fuerunt, quod sunt futuri in perpetuas aeternitates. Nascenti homini omniferaria semina et omnigenae vitae germina indidit Pater; quae quisque excoluerit, illa adolescent et fructus suos {185} ferent in illo: si vegetalia, planta fiet, si sensualia, obbrutescet, si rationalia, caeleste evadet animal, si intellectualia, angelus erit et Dei filius. Et si nulla creaturarum sorte contentus in unitatis centrum suae se receperit, unus cum Deo Spiritus factus, in solitaria Patris caligine qui est super omnia constitutus omnibus antestabit.