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A Chapter in the Philosophy of Value

reflection upon industry, but industry itself, consists, so to
speak, in a real abstraction from the surrounding actuality of
the appraising processes is not so wonderful as it at first
appears when we once make clear to ourselves how extensively
human practice, cognition included, reckons with abstractions.
The energies, relationships, qualities of things -- to which in
so far our own proper essence also belongs_constitute objectively
a unified interrelationship, which is divided into a multiplicity
of independent series or motives only after the interposition of
our interests, and in order to be manipulated by us. Accordingly,
each science investigates phenomena which possess an exclusive
unity, and clean-cut lines of division from the problems of other
sciences, only from the point of view which the special science
proposes as its own. Reality, on the other hand, has no regard to
these boundary lines, but every section of the world presents a
conglomeration of tasks for the most numerous sciences. Likewise
our practice dissects from the external or internal complexity of
things one-sided series. Notice, for example, into how many
systems a forest is divided. These in turn become objects of
special interest to a hunter, a proprietor, a poet, a painter, a
civic official, a botanist, and a tourist. The forest is
objectively always the same. It is a real, indivisible unity of
all the determinations and relationships out of which the
interested parties select each a certain group, and make it into
a picture of the forest. The same is the case with the great
systems of interest of which a civilization is composed. We
distinguish, for instance, interests and relationships as the
ethical, the egoistic, the economic, the domestic, etc. The
reciprocal weaving together of these constitutes actual life.
Certain of these, however, dissociated from this concrete
reality, constitute the content of the civic structure. The state
is an abstraction of energies and reciprocal actions which, in
the concrete, exist only within a unity that is not separable
into its parts. Again, in like manner, pedagogy abstracts from
the web of cosmic contents into the totality of which the pupil
is subsequently to enter certain ones, and forms them into a
world which is completely abstract, in comparison with reality.
In this world the pupil is to live. To what extent all art runs a
'division line of its own through the conditions of things, in
addition to those that are traced out in the real structure of
the objective world, needs no elaboration. In opposition to that
naturalism which wanted to lead art away from the selective
abstraction, and to open to it the whole breadth and unity of
reality, in which all elements have equally rights, in so far as
they are actual-precisely in opposition to this has criticism
shown the complete impracticability of the tendency,. and that
even the extremest purpose, to be satisfied in art only with
undifferentiated completeness of the object, must at last end in
an abstraction. It will merely be the product of another
selective. principle. Accordingly,. this is one of the formulas
in which we may express the relation of man to the world, viz.,
from the unity and the interpenetration of things in which each
bears the other and all have equal rights our practice not less
than our theory constantly abstracts isolated elements, and forms
them into unities relatively complete in themselves. Except in
quite general feelings, we have no relationship to the totality
of being. Only when in obedience to the necessities of our
thought and action we derive perpetual abstractions from
phenomena, and endow these with the relative independence of a
merely subjective coherence to which the continuity of the
world-movement as objective gives no room, do we reach a
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