The Science of Rights/Part 1/Book 2

The Science of Rights by Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Book Second
Deduction of the Applicability of the Conception of Rights

§ 5.Edit



ACCORDING to our previous result, the rational being posits itself as a rational individual, or, as we shall say hereafter, as a person, only by ascribing exclusively to itself a sphere for its freedom. It says: I am the person which has exclusive freedom within this sphere, and I am no other possible person; and no other person is myself, that is, no other person has freedom within this sphere ascribed to me. This constitutes its individual character; through this determination the person is this or that person, bearing this or that name, and is no other one.

All we have to do is to analyze this act; to see what takes place when it does take place.

A. The Subject ascribes this sphere to itself; determines itself through this sphere. Hence it opposits the sphere to itself. Itself is the logical subject, (in any possible proposition,) and the sphere is the predicate; but subject and predicate are always opposed to each other.

The first question is: Which is the true subject? Evidently that which is active purely in and upon itself; that which determines itself to think an object or to will an end; the Spiritual, the pure Egohood. To this is opposed a limited, but exclusively its own sphere of its possible free acts. By ascribing this sphere to itself, it limits itself, and changes from the absolute formal to a determined material Ego or to a person; and I hope that these two distinct conceptions will not be mixed up with each other by the reader.

The sphere is opposed to the subject signifies: it is excluded from the subject, posited outside of it, separated from it. Thinking this still more definitely, it signifies: the sphere is posited as not existing through the in itself returning activity; and the latter is posited as not existing through the sphere; both are mutually independent of and accidental for each other. But that, which is thus related to the Ego, as independent of it, belongs—according to our previous deductions—to the World.

This sphere is therefore posited as a part of the World.

B. This sphere is posited through an original and necessary activity of the Ego, that is, it is contemplated, and thus becomes a Real or an actual somewhat.

As certain results of the Science of Knowledge can not be supposed to be known to all readers of this work, I here append such as relate to this paragraph: Those persons have not the least conception of the Science of Knowledge and of KANT'S system who believe that in contemplating, there is, besides the contemplating subject and the contemplation, moreover, a thing, a somewhat, upon which the contemplation is directed, as common sense generally holds in regard to bodily seeing. On the contrary, through the contemplating and only through it does the contemplated arise. The Ego returns into itself, and this act furnishes contemplation and contemplated object together. In contemplation, reason (or the Ego) is by no means passive, but absolutely active. In contemplation, reason is the productive power of imagination. Through the seeing, or contemplating, something is thrown out from the Ego, as it were, somewhat in the manner that the painter throws out from his eye the completed forms upon the canvas, (looks them, so to speak, upon the canvas,) before the slower hand can draw their outlines. In the same manner the sphere is here posited, or contemplated.

Again: The Ego in contemplating itself as activity contemplates its own activity as a line-drawing. This is the original scheme of activity in general, as every one will discover who wishes to excite in himself that highest contemplation. This original line is the pure extension, the common characteristic of Time and Space, out of which Time and Space arise only by distinction and further determination. This line does not presuppose space, but space presupposes it; and the lines in space, that is, the limits of the extended things in space, are something utterly different.

In the same manner the sphere is here produced in the form of lines, and thus becomes an Extended Somewhat.

C. This sphere is determined; hence the producing has its limits, and the product is taken hold of in the understanding as a completed whole, and thus first becomes truly posited, that is, fixed.

This product determines the person; the person is the same person only in so far as the product is the same, and ceases to be the same when the product ceases to be the same. But, according to our previous results, the person must posit himself continuing, as sure as he posits himself free. Hence he also posits that product as continuing the same; as permanent, fixed, and unchangeable; as a whole, completed at once. But a fixed and forever determined extension is extension in space. Hence that sphere is necessarily posited, as a limited body extended in space and filling up its space; and it is necessarily found as such body in the analysis, the consciousness whereof alone is possible to us; since the synthesis, now described, or the production of that sphere is presupposed only for the possibility of the analysis, and thus for the possibility of consciousness.

D. The deduced material body is posited as the sphere of all possible free acts of the person, and as nothing else. Therein alone does its essence consist.

That a person is free, signifies, according to our former results: through his generating a conception of an End he at once becomes the clause of an object exactly corresponding to that conception; or in other words, only and merely through his will does a person become a cause; for, to trace out a conception of an end is, to will. Now, the described body is to contain the free acts of such a person; hence it is in that body that the person is cause in the manner stated. Immediately through his will, and without any other means, the will is realized in the body; as the person wills, so is the will accomplished in the body.

Again: Since the described body is nothing but the sphere of free acts, the conception of the body must exhaust the conception of that free sphere, and vice versa. The person can not be absolutely free cause, that is, can not have a causality resulting immediately from the will—outside of his body.[1] If a determined will is given, a corresponding determined change in the body is the necessary result. On the other hand, no change can occur in the body except through the will of the person; and hence you can with equal certainty conclude from a given change in the body, as to a determined conception of the person, corresponding to the change. This last result will attain its proper determinateness and full significance only in the future.

E. But how and in what manner can the changes in a material body be made to express a conception? Matter, in its essence, is imperishable; it can not be annihilated, nor can new matter be produced. The conception of a change in the body can not apply to matter in this sense. Again: The posited body is to continue uninterruptedly; hence the same parts of the matter are to remain together and to continue to constitute the body. It seems, therefore, as if the conception of a change could also not be applied to the body in this sense.

The body is matter. Matter is infinitely divisible. Now, the material parts of the body would remain, and yet would also undergo change, if they changed their relation to each other. The relation of the manyfold to each other is called the form. Hence the parts, in so far as they constitute the form, are to remain; but the form itself is to be changed. (I say in so far as they constitute the form; and hence these parts may constantly separate themselves from the body—provided they are replaced in the same undivided moment by other parts—without thereby destroying the required permanency and sameness of the body.) Our result is, therefore, that the change produced in the body through the conception is in the form of motion of the parts of the body, and is, therefore, a change of the form.

F. In the described body the conceptions of the person are expressed through a change in the relation of the parts to each other. These conceptions, or the will of the person, may be infinitely different; and the body, which is to contain the sphere of freedom of such person, must be able to express this infinite difference. Hence, each part must be able to change its position in relation to the other parts, that is, must be able to move while all the others are at rest; to each infinite part of the body must be assigned a mobility of its own. The body must be so constituted, that it will always be a matter of freedom to think a part larger or smaller, more complicated or more simple; and likewise to think each multiplicity of parts as a whole, and then again as a part in relation to the more extended whole, etc. It is altogether for thinking to determine every time what is to constitute a part. Again: When thinking thus determines what is to be a part for the time, a peculiar motion of such part must be the immediate result.

Something, which is thought as a part in such a relation to a whole, is called a member. Each member of the body contains, therefore, members within itself; and these again contain members; and so on ad infinitum. Whatsoever is to be regarded for the moment as a member depends altogether upon the causality-conception. The member moves when it is regarded as such; and that, which is the whole in relation to it, is then at rest; and again, that which is a part in relation to this member, rests also; that is, it has no motion of its own, only the motion in common with the member. This is called Articulation. The deduced body is necessarily articulated, and must be posited as such.

Such a body, to the continuance and identity whereof we attach the continuance and identity of our personality, and which we posit as a complete articulated whole, and in which we posit ourselves as having causality immediately through our will, is what we call our body. We have thus proved what was to be proved.

§ 6.Edit



A. We have shown that the person can not posit himself at all with consciousness, unless he posits an influence as having occurred upon him. The positing of such an influence was the exclusive condition of all consciousness, and was the first point to which the whole consciousness was attached. This influence is posited as having occurred upon the determined person, the individual, as such; for we have shown that the rational being can not posit itself as a rational being generally, but can posit itself only as an individual; hence an influence posited by the person upon himself is necessarily an influence upon himself as such individual, because he is nothing for himself and can be nothing else for himself than an individual.

We have also shown, that the proposition: an influence occurs upon a rational being, signifies the same as: its free activity has been canceled in part and in a certain respect. Only through this canceling of its activity does an object become for the Intelligence, and does the Intelligence conclude that there is something which exists not through it.

An influence has been directed upon the rational being, as individual, signifies, therefore: an activity, which belongs to it, as an individual, has been canceled. Now the whole sphere of his activity, as an individual, is his body. Hence the causality of the individual in this body, or his power to be cause in it, through his mere will, must be canceled; in other words, the influence must have been directed upon the body of the person.

If we, therefore, assume that one of the acts which lie within the sphere of the possible acts of a person has been canceled, or rendered impossible for the moment, we have explained the required influence.

But the person is to refer this influence to himself, that is to say, the person is to posit that momentarily canceled activity as one of his possible activities, as contained in the sphere of the utterances of his freedom. Hence, the person must posit that canceled activity in order to be able to posit it as canceled; or, that activity must really exist, and must not be canceled. The same determined activity of the person must, therefore, in the same undivided moment, be canceled, and also be not canceled, if a consciousness is to be possible. Let us examine how this can be.

B. All activity of the person is a certain determination of the articulated body; that an activity of the person is checked, signifies, therefore, that a certain determination of the articulated body is impossible.

Now the person can not posit at all that his activity is checked, or that in his articulated body a certain determination is impossible, without positing at the same time such a determination as possible; for only on the condition that a determination in the body through mere will is possible, does he posit something as his body. Hence, the person must posit the very determination, which is to be impossible, as possible; and since the person can posit nothing, unless it is, (for the person,) it follows that the person must actually produce this determination. And yet this activity, although it is thus actually produced, must always remain checked and canceled; for the person only produces it in order to be able to posit it as canceled. It thus appears that the same determination of the articulation is both actually produced through the causality of the will and canceled through an external influence. Again: The person is to find himself in this moment as free in his sphere, is to ascribe the whole of his body to himself. It is, therefore, necessary that even in the sense in which he posits a certain determination of his articulation as canceled, the person should retain the power through his mere will to remove that canceling influence; for else the person would not ascribe the body at all to himself, in this sense, and would thus not posit an external influence as having occurred upon it. In short, the fact that the canceling remains, must depend upon the free-will of the person; and the person must posit it as possible to remove that canceling.

How can he posit this possibility? Clearly not in consequence of a previous experience, for we have here the beginning of all experience. Hence, in positing, that the production of that determination, in the manner in which it actually is produced, would certainly remove the canceling, did not the person restrain his will to thus remove it.

In positing this, there is evidently discovered and posited a double manner of determining the articulation, which may be also called a double articulation, or a double organ; and the relation of this duplicity is this: The first mode of determining the articulation—wherein the person produces the canceled movement, and which we shall call the higher organ—may be modified through the will without the other—which we shall call the lower organ—being thereby modified. Higher and lower organs are in so far distinguished. But again: If the modification of the higher organ is not at the same time to modify the lower one, then the person must restrain the will to have the lower organ thus modified. Hence, higher and lower organ are also unitable through the will, and are in so far one and the same organ.

The perception of the required influence upon the person requires, therefore, the following: The person must give himself up to the influence, must not cancel the modification produced thereby in his organ. He has the power of thus canceling that influence through his mere will, and must restrict the freedom of his will if he does not want that influence canceled. But furthermore: The person must internally reproduce that modification of his organ, caused by the external influence upon it.

We have said a possible manifestation of the freedom of the person is canceled by that influence. This does not mean that the activity of the person has been made impossible in a certain direction and for a certain purpose, but merely that something has been produced in the person which the person might himself have produced, but which has been produced in the person in such a manner that the person must ascribe it, not to his own, but to the causality of a being outside of himself. Indeed, nothing occurs within the perception of a rational being, which it does not believe itself capable of producing itself, or the production whereof it may not ascribe to iteslf; for any thing else the rational being has no sense. What has thus been produced within its organ, the rational being reproduces with freedom through its higher organ, but in such a manner that the reproduction does not influence the lower organ; for if it did—although it would result in precisely the same determination of the articulated body—it would now no longer be a perceived determination, but a determination produced by the person himself. It would no longer be the product of a foreign and external object, but of the own causality of the subject. You can not see, for instance, unless you first give yourself up to an influence, and then internally reproduce the form of the object and actively trace out within you its outlines. You can not hear, unless you internally imitate the tones through the same organ through which, in speaking, the same tones were produced. If, however, this internal causality should extend to the external organ, you would no longer hear, but speak.

In so far as the relation is as we have described it, the articulated body of man is Sense. But it is sense only, as every one must see, in relation to an influence upon it on the part of a causality, which might be its own, but which, in such a case, is not its own, but is the causality of an external cause.

The person under this sort of an influence remains perfectly and completely free. That which the external cause has produced in the person may be immediately removed by the person; and the person posits expressly this power of removing it, and hence posits, that the existence of the influence depends upon himself. Again, if such an influence is to occur, the person must with freedom imitate it, and must thus expressly realize his freedom in order to be but able to perceive. (We have here, by the by, described and extensively determined the absolute freedom of reflection.)

And thus the articulated body of the person has indeed been further determined. For it has also been posited as Sense; and to enable it to be posited as such, higher and lower organs have been ascribed to the body; of which the lower organ, (sense) through which it is related to external objects and to rational beings, can be placed under a foreign influence, but the higher organ (reflection) never.

C. The described influence upon the subject is to be such that only a rational being outside of the subject can be posited as its cause; namely, under the assumption that the purpose of that outside rational being was thus to influence the subject. But it has been shown that no influence can occur upon the subject, unless that subject through its own freedom causes the impression made upon it to halt, and does then reproduce it internally. The subject itself must act with a fixed end in view; that is to say, it must limit the sum of its freedom, which might cancel that impression, to the attainment of the proposed end of the cognition, which self-limitation is indeed the exclusive criterion of Reason. Hence, the subject must complete through itself the attainment of the end of the other outside being; and thus the outside rational being must have calculated upon this completion of its purpose through the subject, if it really had an end in view. It must, therefore, be considered as a rational being, in so far as it has limited its own freedom to the manner of the given impression, through this presupposition of the freedom of the subject.

But it always remains possible that the manner of acting on the part of that outside being was the result of chance or of necessity. There is, as yet, no ground to assume self-limitation on the part of that outside being, unless it can be shown that it might have acted differently; that the fullness of its power, if exercised, would have resulted in quite a different mode of acting; and that that fullness of power must, therefore, have been restricted, to have resulted in the manner it did.

It must, therefore, be possible for that outside being to influence or treat the subject also in an opposite manner.

What is this opposite manner? The character of the first kind of causality was such that it depended altogether upon the freedom of my will, whether an influence should be exerted upon me or not; for that influence could not occur unless I passively submitted to it and then reproduced it as having occurred. The character of an opposite causality would, therefore, be that it no longer depended upon my freedom, whether I chose to observe the influence or not; its character implying that I must observe it. How is such an influence possible?

The first kind of influence was dependent upon my freedom, because through that mere freedom of will I could destroy the produced form of my articulated body if I chose; under the second kind of influence this must, therefore, be impossible. The produced form of my body must be firm, indestructible—at least, not destructible through the higher organ—my body must be tied to this form, and be utterly checked in its movements. From such a complete check the reflection upon this check would also result necessarily; not in its form, as the result of the check, but in its content, as following and directing itself upon the check. For a free being finds itself only as free. As sure, therefore, as it reflects, it imitates, internally, an influence produced upon it, under the presupposition that it has the power to break off this influence at any moment. It restricts its own freedom. But if that influence can no longer be broken off by the mere causality of the will, then such a self-limitation is also unnecessary. Something is wanting which belongs in the reflection of a free being, as such, and thus the compulsion is felt. Reflection is always accompanied by the feeling of compulsion; for in the articulated body every thing is connected, and each part influences all others, in virtue of the conception of articulation.

This checking of the free movement in my body I must necessarily posit as possible; and thus my body is further determined. As its condition I must posit outside of me a tough, compact matter, capable of resisting the free movement of my body; and thus through the further determination of my body, the sensuous world has also been further determined.[2]

That tough, compact matter can check only a part of my free movements, but not all; for in the latter case the freedom of person would be utterly annihilated. Hence, I must be able, through the free movement of the other part of my body, to remove the check from the limited part, and hence to exercise a causality upon the tough matter. The body must have physical power to resist the impression of that matter, if not immediately, through the will, at least mediately, through Art, that is, through application of the will by means of the free parts of the body. But in that case the organ of this causality itself must be composed of such a tough substance; and the superiority of a rational being over matter arises only from the freedom to work out conceptions. Matter works only by mechanical laws, and has thus only one mode of working, whereas the free being has many modes.

If my body consists of tough, hard matter, and has the power to modify all matter of the sensuous world, and to form it after my conception, then the body of the person outside of me consists of the same matter and has the same power. Now, my body itself being matter, it is, as such, an object of the physical influence of the other person; a possible object, whose free movements he can check altogether. If he had considered and treated me as such mere matter, in the presupposed case, he would have treated me thus. But he has not done so; hence he has not conceived me to be mere matter, but to be a rational being, by the conception whereof he has restricted his own freedom; and from this his treatment I am now authorized to draw the conclusion, that the influence exercised upon me was the influence of a rational being.

We have thus established the criterion of the reciprocal influence of rational beings upon each other. That influence always presupposes, that the object of the influence has sensuousness, and is not, like mere matter, to be modified by physical power.

D. In the described influence, the organ of the Subject has been actually modified through an external person. This has been done neither through the immediate bodily touch of that other person nor through some firm matter; for the latter would not involve the conception of the influence of a person. How then?

The organ is, at all events, something material, the whole body being material; and the organ must therefore have been modified, brought into and retained in a certain form, and likewise through some external matter. The mere will of the subject would cancel this form; and he must restrain his will, not to destroy it. The matter through which this form has been produced is, therefore, no tough, firm matter, the parts whereof could be separated by the mere will, but a finer, more subtle matter. Such a subtle matter must be necessarily posited as condition of the required influence upon the sensuous world.

The modification of the organ for the influence through freedom is not to affect at all the organ for the influence through compulsion, but is to leave it utterly free. Hence, the finer matter must influence only the former and not in any way the latter organ; it must be a matter, the component parts whereof have no connection perceptible to the lower organ, that is, to the organ under compulsion.

In the described condition I assume the power to react upon this subtle matter through the mere will, by means of an affection of the higher through the lower organ; for it has been expressly stated, that I must hold back such a movement of the lower organ, in order not to destroy the determination produced in the higher organ; hence, I must also hold back the power, to give another determination to that more subtle matter. The subtle matter is therefore for me modifiable through the mere will.

To meet in advance any possible misapprehension, I add a few words. A double organ has been posited; a higher and a lower organ. The higher organ is that which is modified through the subtle matter; the lower organ is that which can be checked by the tough and hard matter.

Two cases are possible:

Either the person is influenced as a free being. In that case the higher organ is modified through a certain form of the more subtle matter; and if the person is to perceive this influence, he must restrain the movement of the lower organ in so far as it is related to that part of the higher organ, but must at the same time—only internally, however—imitate the particular movement which he would have to make, in order to produce himself that particular given modification of the higher organ. For instance, if you perceive an object in Space through Sight, you internally—but with the quickness of lightning, and hence imperceptibly—imitate the feeling of the object, that is, imitate the pressure which would be needed to produce that object through plastic; and the impression in the eye is retained, as the scheme of this imitation. This explains why uneducated people, people who have not yet attained facility in executing the functions of mankind, when they wish to look carefully at an elevated body, or even at a painting, engraving, book, etc., always want to touch what they see. Again: A person, who hears, can not possibly at the same time speak; for he must, in hearing, imitate the tones which he hears, through his organ of speech, by reproducing them. This explains why some people often ask you to repeat what you have said. They heard it well enough, but did not become conscious of it, because they did not reproduce your words internally. Frequently such people must repeat your words loudly to themselves before they can understand them. In this case, therefore, the body serves as organ, as sense, and as higher sense.

Or, the second case, a modification is produced in the higher organ through the mere will of the person, accompanied by the will that the lower organ shall be correspondingly moved by this will. In that case, if the lower organ is not checked, the intended movement results, and through that movement the intended modification of the subtle or tough matter also results. Thus, for instance, you form in the eye, as an active organ, the figures you intend to sketch or the words you intend to write, and throw them outside of you, long before the hand, which obeys your eye, can draw or write them. In this case the body serves as tool.

If the intended movement of the lower organ does not result—the movement of the higher organ always results so long as the person is alive—then the lower organ is checked; and in that case, the body serves as sense, but as lower sense.

When one rational being affects another rational being as mere matter, then the lower sense of that being is also affected, it is true, and is so affected necessarily and altogether independently of the freedom of that being, (as the lower sense is indeed always affected;) but it is not to be assumed that this affection was in the intention of the person who produced it. His intention was merely to attain his purpose, to express his conception in matter, and he never took into consideration whether that matter would feel it or not. Hence, the reciprocal influence of rational beings upon each other, as such, always occurs by means of the higher sense; for only the higher sense is one which can not be affected without having been presupposed. Our criterion of this reciprocal influence remains, therefore, correct.

E. As condition of self-consciousness an external influence has been posited, and by virtue thereof a certain nature of the body has been posited, and as a result of this nature of the body a certain condition of the sensuous world has been posited. Our argument was: If consciousness is to be possible, then the sensuous world must be constituted in that manner and must have that relation to our body which has been specified.

We have also shown up, as condition of self-consciousness, a community of free individuals, and from this necessary condition we have deduced the further determination of the body, and, by its means, of the sensuous world. The argument here was: Because there is to be in the sensuous world a community of free beings, therefore the world must be thus or thus constituted. But such a community of free beings is only in so far as it is posited through these beings—on no account with freedom on their part, but with absolute necessity; and whatsoever is thus posited has reality for us.

F. I ascribe to myself a higher and lower organ, related to each other as stated above; and in consequence thereof assume in the sensuous world outside of me a coarser and a finer matter, related to my organs as stated above. Such a positing is, as we have shown, a necessary condition of self-consciousness, and hence is involved in the conception of a person. If I posit, therefore, a person outside of me, I must necessarily assume that that person posits the same, or, in other words, I must ascribe to that person also, as I did to myself, the possession and use of two such distinct organs, and must assume for that person also, as I assumed for myself, the real existence of such a determined sensuous world.

This transferring my necessary thinking to another person, is also involved in the conception of a person. Hence, I must also assume of the other person, that in the same manner he assumes of me what I assume of him, and that he also assumes that I assume the same of him. In other words, the conceptions of the determined articulation of rational beings and of the sensuous world outside of them, are necessarily exchangeable conceptions; conceptions concerning which all rational beings agree beforehand, without any previous understanding, and thus agree necessarily, because the personality of each involves the same manner of contemplating. Each one can justly assume of the other and claim that that other must have the same conceptions on these matters, as sure as the other pretends to be a rational being.

G. But a new objection arises, which must be answered before the body of a rational being can be completely determined. It has been asserted that I can not attain self-consciousness except through the influence of a rational being outside of me. Now, although it depends solely upon my freedom whether I choose to surrender myself to that influence or not, and although the manner of my reacting upon that influence is altogether within my free will, still, the possibility of my thus giving utterance to my freedom is conditioned by the occurrence of the influence from without no such external influence, no possibility for me to manifest my freedom. Hence, so far as actuality is concerned, I am made a rational being. True, so far as the power of freedom is concerned, I am free before; but in actuality I can not become a free or rational being unless that external influence is directed upon me. Hence, my rationality depends upon the arbitrariness or the good-will of another—upon chance; and all rationality depends upon chance.

But this can not be; for if it were, I could not be independent as a person; I could only be the accidence of another person, who again would be the accidence of a third, and so on ad infinitum.

This contradiction can not be solved otherwise than by the presupposition that the other has already been compelled, in that original influence upon me, to treat me as a rational being, (compelled, of course, as a rational being, that is to say, he has felt himself consistently bound,) and that he has been compelled to treat me thus by me; that, therefore, in that first original influence upon me, which made me dependent upon him, he was also, at the same time, dependent upon me; that, therefore, that very first and original relation between us was already a relation of reciprocal causality.

But this seems impossible. For previous to that influence I am not at all I; have not posited myself; since the positing of myself is possible only on condition of that external influence upon me. How then can I have causality upon the other person before I have posited myself? I am to have causality without having it; to influence the other person without being active. How is this thinkable?

1. To influence without influencing signifies to have a mere power to influence. This mere power is to influence, is to have causality. But a power is only an ideal conception, and it would be an empty thought to ascribe to such a power the exclusive predicate of reality, namely, causality, without assuming that power as realized.

Now, the whole power of the person is assuredly realized in the sensuous world, in the conception of his body, which body is as sure as the person is, and continues as long as the person continues, and which body, moreover, is a completed Whole of material parts, and has, therefore, a determined original form.

It is, therefore, required that my body should have causality, should be active, and yet that I should not be active in that activity.

2. But my body is my body only in so far as it is placed in motion by my will, and otherwise it is only a mass of matter; my body is active as my body only in so far as I am active through it. Now, in the present case I am not to be active, am not even to be I. Hence, my body can not be active. It must, therefore, be thus: Through its mere existence in space, and through its form, my body must exercise an influence of such a nature that every rational being will be bound to consider me as a being gifted with reason, and hence to treat me as such.

3. The first and most difficult question is, now, How can any thing exercise an influence through its mere existence in space, without any motion?

The influence is to be exercised upon a rational being, as such; hence, it must occur, not through an immediate touching and checking of its lower organ, but must be brought to bear upon its higher organ, hence by means of the more subtle matter. Now, it is true that, in our above description, we have assumed this subtle matter to be a means whereby rational beings influence each other, in modifying it through their higher organ. This is not, however, to be the case here. In our case, the human body is to produce an influence in its state of repose, without any activity; and accordingly the more subtle matter must be posited in our case as modifiable by the mere form of the body in its state of repose, and as modifying the higher organ of another rational being through this its modification. In so far, moreover, as the human body is here regarded merely as form, the same must be the case in respect to every other form.

(It has not been proved, that the here deduced more subtle matter, by means of which the mere reposing form in space is to exercise an influence, is specifically different from the previously deduced more subtle matter, but simply that the more subtle matter must have these two predicates. For if we had wished to prove the former, we should have had to show that the subtle matter, whereby the reposing form is to exercise an influence, could not be possibly placed in motion by the movement of the higher organ, and hence must be specifically distinct. Now, although this proof is not exactly necessary here, I will append it, as follows:

The form of the person outside of me must continue to be the same, as we have shown. Now, if we reciprocally influence each other only by means of a subtle matter, which can be placed in motion, (Air,)—that is to say, only by speaking with each other—then that matter, A, would continually change, and if it received the impression of our forms, would continually change those forms, and hence those persons. But as those persons must remain the same, it is requisite that the matter in which our forms are impressed must remain immovable amidst all the motion of the other matter. A must, therefore, be not modifiable through our organ, and in so far distinct from A. Let us call it B, or Light. (The appearances in light can, therefore, be modified by us only indirectly, namely, in so far as we can modify that appearance itself, or the form of our body.)

4. My body must be visible to the person outside of me, must appear and have appeared to that person through the medium of the light, as sure as that other person exercises an influence upon me. Thus our first question is answered.

But now comes the second question. For, according to our necessary presupposition, this appearance is to be of such a nature that it absolutely can not be understood and comprehended except by assuming it to be the appearance (form) of a rational being. My form must be of such a character that I can say to each other person: As soon as you see this (my) form, you are necessitated to consider it as the representative of a rational being in the sensuous world, if you are yourself a rational being. How is this possible?

First of all, what does this signify, to understand or comprehend? It signifies to fix, to determine, to limit. I have comprehended an appearance, when I have received through it a perfect whole of a knowledge, which, in all its parts, is grounded in itself; whereof each part is explained and grounded through all others, and vice versa. (So long as I am still explaining, still floating and undetermined in my belief, still driven from one part of my knowledge to other parts, I have not yet comprehended. I have not comprehended A as an accidental until I have ascertained its cause; and as A is a determined accidental, its determined cause.)

To say, therefore, I can not understand an appearance except in a certain manner, signifies: each separate part of the appearance impels me onward to a certain point, and only when I have arrived at this point can I place the several parts in order and gather them all into a whole of knowledge.

To say, therefore, I can not comprehend the appearance of a human body except by assuming it to be the body of a rational being, signifies: in gathering together its several parts, I can not stop until I have arrived at the point which forces me to consider it the body of a thinking being.

I shall proceed to the strict genetical proof of this result; sketching, however, only its chief features; for, as a whole in its completeness, it forms a science of its own, the science of Anthropology.

I. It must be necessary to think the human body as a Whole, and impossible to think its parts separately as we can think coarse matter, sand earth, etc. What must thus be thought as a Whole, in order to be thought at all, is called an organized product of nature. The human body must, therefore, be firstly such an organized product of nature. The distinction of such an organized product of nature from a product of art, which also can only be thought as a Whole, lies in this: In both products each part exists only for the sake of the others, and hence for the sake of the whole; and our judgment in considering either product is forced to proceed from one part to the other, till all have been gathered together. But in the product of nature the Whole also exists for the sake of the parts, and has, as a Whole, no other purpose than to produce these determined parts; whereas, in the product of art, the Whole does not thus refer back to the parts, but refers to an external purpose. The product of nature exists for its own sake; the product of art for the sake of a purpose, or as a tool. Again: In the product of nature each single part produces itself by its inner power; but in the product of art, before even it can become such, this inner power of self-development is killed off, and in the composition of its parts this inner power is not at all taken into calculation. It is composed simply according to mechanical laws; and hence it refers to an external originator, whereas the product of nature produces and maintains itself.

II. An appearance has been completely comprehended by the presupposition that it is a product of nature, if all that occurs in it refers back to organization and can be completely explained by the end and aim of this determined organization. For instance, the highest and last manifestation of the organizing power in plants is the seed. Now, this seed is completely explainable from the organization as its end, that is, as the means of propagating the plant; and through this seed the power of organization returns into itself and recommences its career. The act of organization thus never closes, but always rushes along in an endless circle.

But that an appearance has not been completely comprehended by that presupposition, signifies, that the highest and final product of the power of organization can not be referred back as means to that power, but rather points to quite another purpose. True, you continue the explanation according to the laws of organization for some time, (whereas, in the product of art you can not apply this law at all,) but after a while you discover that you can no longer use it to explain; that is, its final product can not be again related to it. Hence, the circle is not closed, and the comprehension not completed; that is to say, nothing has been comprehended, the appearance has not been understood. (It is true, man also completes the circle of organization by the propagation of his species. He is a perfect plant, but he is also something more.)

Now, such a final product of the power of organization, which can not be referred back again to it, is Articulation. Articulation is both visible and a product of organization; but articulation does not again produce organization, and rather refers to another end; that is to say, it can only be gathered together completely in another conception. This other conception can be the conception of free movement, and in so far man is an animal.

III. But this presupposition of free movement also must be insufficient for the comprehension of the human body. Its articulation, therefore, must be incomprehensible in any determined conception. It must not refer to a definite, determined sphere of arbitrary motion, as in the case of the animal, but to all infinitely thinkable motions. There must be, not a determinedness of articulation, but an infinite determinability of articulation; not development, but developability. In short, all animals are perfect and complete; man, however, is merely suggested. A rational observer of the human body can unite its parts in no conception, except in the conception of a rational being like himself, or in the conception of freedom as given to him in his self-consciousness. He must subsume the conception of his own Ego to his contemplation of that other human body, because that body expresses no conception of its own, and can only be explained by that conception of his own Ego. Every animal is what it is; man alone is originally nothing at all. What man is to be, he must become; and as he is to be a being for himself, must become through himself. Nature completed all her works; only from man did she withdraw her hands, and precisely thereby gave him over to himself. Cultivability, as such, is the character of mankind. The impossibility of subsuming to the human form any Dther conception than that of his own Ego, is it, which forces every man inwardly to consider every other man as his equal.


I. It is a vexatious question, which, so far as I know, Philosophy has never yet solved: How do we come to transfer to some object of the sensuous world the conception of rationality and not to oth'ers; or what is the characteristic distinction of both classes?

KANT says: "Act so that the principle of thy will can be the principle of a universal legislation." But who shall belong to the empire which is governed by this legislation, and who shall enjoy its protection? I am required to treat certain beings in such a manner that I can desire them to treat me according to the same principle. But I act every day upon animals and lifeless objects without ever seriously entertaining that rule. I am told: Of course, the rule applies only to beings who are capable of being conscious of laws, hence of rational beings. But who is to tell me what specific objects in nature are rational beings; whether, perhaps, only the white European or also the black negro, whether only the full-grown man or also the child, can claim the protection of that legislation; or whether, perhaps, the faithful house-dog may not likewise claim it? Until this question has been answered, KANT'S rule has neither applicability nor reality, however excellent it may be.

Nature has decided this question long ago. There is probably no man who, at the first glimpse of another man, will take to flight, as at the view of a wild animal, or prepare to kill and eat him like a piece of game; or who would not, on the contrary, endeavor to enter into mutual communication with him. This is so, not through habit and education, but through nature and reason, and we have just shown up the law by virtue of which it is so.

Let no one believe, however, that man must first go through that long and tiresome process of reasoning, which we have just gone through, in order to arrive at the comprehension that a certain external body is his equal. That recognition either does not take place at all, or it occurs at once without consciousness of the ground thereof. It is only the philosopher's business to discover these grounds.

II. Every animal, a few hours after its birth, moves to seek nourishment at the breasts of its mother, guided by the animal instinct, or the law of certain free motions, which is likewise the ground of the so-called art-instinct of animals. Man also has instinct, but not animal instinct in the above significance; he has only plant-instinct. He needs the free help of men, and without it would die a few hours after his birth. As soon as he leaves the womb of his mother, nature withdraws her hands from him and casts him aside, as it were. PLINIUS and others have been very bitter against man's creator on that account. This may be rhetorical, but it is not philosophical. For the very abandonment of man proves that he is not, and is not to be, the pupil of nature. If man is an animal, then he is a very imperfect animal; and for that very reason is he no animal. It has often been considered, as if the free spirit existed in man to take care of the animal. Such is not the case. On the contrary, the animal exists to bear the free spirit into the sensuous world, and to connect him with it.

This utter helplessness throws mankind back upon itself, maintains and unites the species. As the tree keeps up its species by casting off its fruits, so man, by taking care of and educating the helpless new-born child, maintains himself as species. Thus reason produces itself, and only thus is the progress of reason toward perfection possible. In this manner are the links connected with each other, and each future one contains the spiritual results of all previous links.

III. Man is born naked; the animals are born covered. In creating animals, nature has completed her work and impressed upon it the seal of completion, by protecting the finer organization, through a coarser covering, against the influence of the coarser matter. But in man, the very first and most important organ, that of touch, which is spread over his whole skin, has been left utterly exposed to the influence of the coarser matter, not through any neglect on the part of nature, but because of her respect for us. That organ was destined by nature to touch matter immediately, in order to make it most proper to our purpose; but nature left us perfectly free to determine in what particular part of our body to locate that power of moulding matter, and what part of our body we might choose to consider as mere matter. We have located that power in the tips of our fingers, from a reason which will soon appear. It is there because we so willed it. We might have given to each part of our body the same delicate touch, if we had so willed it. This is proven by those men who write and sew with their toes, who speak with their bellies, etc.

IV. Each animal has, as we remarked before, inborn powers of motion; for example, the beaver, the bee, etc. But man has nothing of the kind, and even the new-born child's position on the back is given to it in order to prepare it for the future walk. The question has been asked: Was man intended walk upright or on four feet? I believe he was not intended to do either. It was left to man as species, to choose its mode of motion. A human body can run on four feet; and men grown up amongst animals have so run with incredible swiftness. I hold that the species has, by its own choice, freely lifted itself up from the earth, and thus acquired for itself the power of looking around in every direction and of surveying one half of the universe in the skies, whilst the animal is, by its position, chained to the soil which brings forth its nourishment. By thus lifting himself up from the ground, man has won from nature two tools of freedom; the two arms, which, no longer required to do animal functions, now hang down, awaiting merely the command of the will, and cultivated solely with a view to carry out those commands. Through his daring gait, which is an everlasting expression of his boldness and expertness, man continually keeps his free-will and reason in practice, always remains a becoming, and expresses this, his character. This gait of his lifts up his life into the region of light; by its means he touches the earth with the least possible part of his body. Animals use the earth as their bed and table; man lifts his bed and table above the earth.

V. What characterizes the cultivated man above all is the spiritual eye and the mouth, which betrays the most secret feelings of the heart in its movements. I mention the eye, not because it is moved about by the muscles wherein it is fixed, and can cast its glances hither and thither; a mobility, which the erect walk of man serves to heighten, it is true, but which, in itself, is mechanical. I speak of it, because the eye is to the man not merely a dead, passive mirror, like the plane of a sheet of water, or like an artificially prepared looking-glass, or like the eye of an animal, but rather a mighty organ, which self-actively sketches and reproduces the forms in space; which self-actively creates, looks out of itself, the figures, which are to be hewn out of the marble or painted upon the canvas before chisel or brush has been touched; which self-actively creates a picture for the arbitrarily sketched spiritual conception. Through this infinite living and moving of the parts amongst each other, that what they have of earthly substance in them is, as it were, stripped off, and the eye, clearing itself into light, becomes a visible soul. Hence, the more spiritual self-activity there is in a man, the more spiritual does his eye become; and the less spiritual activity, the more does the eye remain a dark, fog-covered mirror.

The mouth, which nature formed for the lowest and most selfish occupation, nourishment, becomes, through self-culture, the expression of all social sentiments, as it is also the organ of communication. As the individual or the race is more animal and selfish, does the mouth protrude more; as the race grows nobler, the mouth recedes behind the arch of the thinking forehead.

All this, the whole expressive face, is nothing, as we come out of the hands of nature; is merely a soft, impressible substance, wherein you can, at the utmost, discover what is to become of it by transferring the picture of your own culture upon it; and this very lack of completion makes man capable of culture.

All this—and not in the separate parts, wherein the philosopher represents it, but seized in its surprising connection as a whole, as which it appears to the senses—is it, which forces every one, who bears a human face, to respect and recognize every one who bears a human face, whether it be merely suggested in dim outlines or already elevated to a certain degree of completion. The human form is necessarily sacred to man.

§ 7.Edit


A. Persons, as such, are to be absolutely free, and dependent only upon their will. Again: as sure as they are persons they are to be reciprocally influenced by each other, and hence not to be dependent solely upon their will. How both these requirements may be possible, it is the task of the Science of Rights to determine; and its problem is, therefore, How may a community of free beings, as stick, be possible?

We have shown the external conditions of_ this possibility. We have explained how, under this presupposition, persons, who mutually influence each other, and how the sphere of this their reciprocal influence, the sensuous world, must be constituted. The proof of our results rests altogether on the presupposition of such a community, and that presupposition is again based on the possibility of self-consciousness. Hence, all our previous results have been deduced by mediated conclusions from the postulate, I am I, and are, therefore, as certain as that postulate is. Our systematic procedure leads us now to develop the internal conditions of such a reciprocal influence.

The last point which we reached, and from which we now proceed further, was this: All arbitrary reciprocal causality of free beings has for its basis or ground an original and necessary reciprocal causality of those beings, which is, that each free being, by its mere presence in the sensuous world, compels all other free beings to recognize it as a person. It furnishes the fixed appearance; the other free being furnishes the fixed conception. Both are necessarily united, and there is not the smallest play-room for freedom. Through this there arises a common recognition, but nothing further. Both internally recognize each other, but they remain isolated as before.

Each has this conception of the other: that the other is a free being, and must not be treated as a mere thing. Now, if this conception did in both determine all their other conceptions, and, since their will belongs to their conceptions, did determine also their will, and through it all their actions; in other words, if they could not think and will otherwise than under this conception, then it would be impossible for them even to will to influence each other arbitrarily, or as things; they could not ascribe to themselves the power of influencing each other as things, and hence could neither have that power.

This evidently is not the case. For each has also posited the body of the other as matter, as modifiable matter, and each has ascribed to himself the power to modify matter. Each can, therefore, clearly subsume the body of the other, in so far as that body is matter, to that general conception of modifiable matter; can think himself modifying the body of the other through physical power; and hence—since his will can be limited only through his thinking can also will thus to modify the other's body.

But for that very same reason, that is, because he is free, can every one restrict the exercise of his power, can he give a law to that exercise, and hence can he give to it the law, never to treat the other's body as a mere thing. The validity of that law depends, therefore, upon the fact whether a man is consistent or not. But consistency in this case depends upon the freedom of the will; and there is no more reason why a man should be consistent, unless he is compelled to be so, than there is why he should not be consistent. The law must, therefore, be applied to this freedom; and thus we have here the boundary-line between necessity and freedom for the Science of Rights.

B. We have said that no absolute ground can be shown why the rational being should be consistent, and hence why it should adopt that law for its freedom. Perhaps, however, an hypothetical ground might be discovered.

It certainly can be shown that, if an absolute community is to be established between persons, as such, each member thereof must assume the above law; for only by constantly treating each other as free beings can they remain free beings or persons. Moreover, since it is possible for each member to treat the other as not a free being, but as a mere thing, it is also conceivable that each member may form the resolve, never to treat the others as mere things, but always as free beings; and since for such a resolve no other ground is discoverable than that such a community of free beings ought to exist, it is also conceivable that each member should have formed that resolve from this ground and upon this presupposition.

If it could, therefore, be moreover shown that each rational being must necessarily desire such a community, then the necessity of the postulated consequence would also appear, namely, that each individual must form that resolve, and must be consistent. But that desire can not be proved from our previous premises. True, it has been shown that, if a rational being is to attain self-consciousness, and is, therefore, to become a rational being, another rational being must necessarily have affected it as a rational being. In fact, these are exchangeable, identical conceptions; no such affection or influence, no rational being.

But it does not follow that, after self-consciousness has been posited, rational beings must always rationally influence each other; nor can this be deduced from the former without using the result, which is to be proved, as proof.

The postulate, that a community of free beings is to remain permanent, appears, therefore, to be an arbitrary postulate; or a postulate which each person may adopt for himself, if he so wills. If he adopts it, he is, of course, also bound to submit himself to the above law, that is, always to treat all other persons as free beings.

We are here, therefore, as before remarked, on the boundary-line between necessity and freedom, the line which separates the Science of Morality from the Science of Rights. The proposition which forms the line is: The rational being is not absolutely bound by its character of rationality, to desire the freedom of all other rational beings.

The Science of Morality shows that every rational being is absolutely bound to desire the freedom of all other rational beings. The Science of Rights does not show this, but says: Each rational being has the freedom to desire it or not to desire it; and then shows the result of either act.

C. Let us suppose that I have resolved with full freedom to enter into a community with free beings, say with the free being C. What is the result of this resolve? Let us analyze it.

I intend to enter into a community of mutual rational treatment with C. But a community involves many. Hence I add, in thinking, the person C to my resolve, and assume, in my conception of C, that he has the same resolve; and since I framed that resolve with freedom, I also assume C to have framed his voluntarily. I therefore posit necessarily our community as dependent equally upon the free resolve of C; hence as accidental, as the result of a mutual willing.

I desire nothing further than to be in this community of rational intercourse with C; we both to treat each other alike; he me, I him. Hence, in case he should not treat me thus, I have posited nothing. For I have posited in that resolve only that we are mutually to treat each other as free beings; but have posited nothing for the case, that he may treat me otherwise. I have neither posited that I shall treat him as a rational being, if he does not treat me as such, nor that in such case I shall treat him not as a rational being. In short, I have posited nothing for such a case. As soon as his treatment no longer corresponds to my conception of him as a rational being, that conception falls to the ground, and the law, which I formed in consequence of that conception, also falls to the ground. I am no longer bound by that law, and again am dependent solely upon my free-will.

D. Our present result is, therefore, as follows: It is impossible to show an absolute ground why any one should make the fundamental principle of the Science of Rights, "Limit thy freedom in such a manner that others can also be free," the law of his will and of his actions. It can be shown, however, that a community of free beings, as such, can not exist, unless every member is subjected to this law; and that, therefore, each person who desires such a community must also desire this law. That law has, therefore, only hypothetical validity; namely, if a community of free beings is to be possible, then the principle of Rights must be valid.

But even the condition, the community of free beings, is again conditioned by a common desire. No one can, by his own mere will, realize such a community with another unless the other has the same will, and by virtue thereof subjects himself to the principle of law conditioned thereby. If the other one has not this will, as is most clearly proved when he treats the other person contrary to that principle of law, then the first person is absolved by the law itself from the law. For the law had validity only under condition of the lawful behavior of the other; and this condition not being given, the law, by its own conception, is not applicable to the case, and the first person—unless there is another law; but this the Science of Rights does not presuppose—is now no longer bound by the law; he can act toward the other as he chooses; he has a right against the other.

The difficulty, which previous treatments of the Science of Rights generally have left unsolved, is this: How can a law command by not commanding, or how can law have causality by utterly ceasing to exist; or, how can it comprise a sphere by not comprising it? The answer is, it must result thus necessarily as soon as the law prescribes to itself a definite sphere and carries with it the quantity of its validity. As soon as it utters the sphere whereof it speaks, it determines thereby also the sphere whereof it does not speak, and confesses expressly that it does not prescribe for that other sphere.

For instance, the law commands that the other person shall treat me as a rational being. He does not do so; and the law now absolves me from all obligation to treat him as a rational being. But by that very absolving it makes itself valid. For the law, in saying that it depends now altogether upon my free-will how I desire to treat the other, or that I have a compulsory right against him, says, virtually, that the other person can not prevent my compulsion; that is, can not prevent it through the mere principle of law, though he may prevent it through physical strength, or through an appeal to morality, (may induce me to forego my compelling him, or prevent me from compelling him by superior strength.)


The applicability of the Conception of Rights is now completely secured, and its limits have been definitely fixed.

A sure criterion has been established, to which of the sensuous beings the Conception of Rights applies, and to which it does not apply. Each being, which has human form, is internally compelled to recognize every other being which has the same form as a rational being, and thus as a possible subject for the Conception of Rights. But whatsoever has not that form is to be excluded from the sphere of rights, and can not be said to have rights.

The possibility of a reciprocal causality of free and rational beings, which causality the Conception of Rights must determine, has also been proved. It has been shown that such beings can have causality upon each other and still remain free.

The fundamental principle of law, as law generally, has been determined. It has been shown to be, not a mechanical law of nature, but a law for freedom; the ground being this, that it is quite as possible for rational beings to treat each other without mutual respect for each other's freedom, and simply as things of nature, as it is for them to re strict their freedom by the conception of Rights. It has also been shown that, if this fundamental principle of law is to be valid and realized, this can only be done if every free being constantly and freely makes it the law (or rule) of all its actions.

The quantity of the applicability of this law has also been definitely ascertained. It is valid only on condition and in case that a community of reciprocal intercourse between free beings, as such, is to be established. But since the purpose of this community is itself conditioned by the behavior of those with whom some one intends to enter into a community, its validity for each such some one is again conditioned by the fact, whether the others subject themselves to that law or not; and if they do not thus subject themselves, then the law obtains validity through its very invalidity, since it authorizes that some one to treat these others, who nave not subjected themselves to the Conception of Rights, as he may choose to treat them.


  1. How this result is apparently contradicted by the phenomena of Mesmerism, and yet only apparently, this is not the place to explain.—TRANSLATOR.
  2. A deduction of such an empirical determination signifies as follows: The philosopher shows a priori, that, if one person is to influence the other, and each one to know and treat the other as rational being, then such persons must have a common sphere of action, a sort of independent body, and outside of this body must be, amongst other powers, one power to check its free movement. He then looks around in the sensuous world, points to tough matter, and says, Here we have found what reason required. It was sure to be found, but I could not tell a priori what it was; could merely say it must be somewhere and of some character; and now a posteriori I can tell you, it is tough matter.—TRANSLATOR'S REMARK.