Science, spirit, superstition / Constantin Brunner: p. 474-483.
All things think, because motion goes through all of them; the essence of thinghood is thought. Hence we, too, think. No thinking would be possible in man, if there were no thinking also in all things of nature. The idea of pneumatology can thus be presented in the form of a logical conclusion: there is nothing but things, differing from each other. My own thing, my body, I know to be thinking. Now, since all the different things are in motion, becoming different from each other only thereby that they interfuse, even as my own thing has become and is what it is only thereby that other things interfused and interfuse with it, while it, on its part, equally interfuses with and submerges in other things different from it, therefore I conclude: all things think, and they think differently in accordance with their difference. Is not this conclusion more cogent than that other one on which the common assumption is founded and according to which non-thinking things pass over into thinking ones? I cannot be more grossly misunderstood than when a vitalistic conception of nature is foisted upon me and one believes that, like Fechner, I would end up by letting even the inorganic be organic and by regarding the earth and in general everything in the universe as so many organisms-a pedantic, narrow-minded opinion.
My conception of nature, even of that which is vital in nature, is entirely mechanistic, with that reservation, however, that I know of no mechanism in the sense of the crude materialistic conception, not even in the inorganic. It seems barbaric to attempt to deprive nature of its soul, only because it is unlike our soul. Barbaric seems to me a materialism according to which a purely external mechanicality, an outwardness devoid of an inwardness runs through nature. Barbaric was the science that preaches such materialism, that is why philosophy perished in it, in its incapacity for thinking. I know of thingliness in motion with the inwardness of its thinking-itself being its essence. The animate with the inwardness of its peculiar consciousness is only one gradation in the graduated scale of things and their various thinking. I emphasize, then, the difference of the motional degrees but also the unity of all that is thingly and the interconnection between the motional degrees, hence also between the animate and the inanimate. Chemical experience, in fact, furnishes proof that no component exists in the organisms that could not also be found in inorganic nature. It is only from this our ultimate truth of the theory of motion, namely of motion as the relative oneness, that also is derived my opposition to that antithesis of the theory of motion, viz. the adherence to a fixed prototype and a morphological origin for organisms. I believe that all is veritably One, that in this One the animate is so firmly wedded to the inanimate that everything lifeless will also at some time be alive-and I repudiate the notion of a primordial animal from which all animals have evolved. The primordial animal is nature as, everywhere under certain conditions, i.e. in transition from one degree of motion to another, she organizes the inorganic. All things think. To us, from our thinking of things, no other expression is possible. We call everything thing and we speak of the thinking in all things-if, however, one imagines this to mean our kind of thinking then I say: none of the other things think. The contents of their thinking is different from ours by an entire world. Their world is out of this world although it is the same world that to us is the world of things. It is thus that we achieve a truly unitary conception of nature.
To us the animal-genera are pointers and a source of instruction in the truth of the concept of relativity with infinite degrees of thinking, a truth that protects us firstly from the danger of mistaking the systematic conceptual order, inseparable from our human organization and sense perception, for the superstition of the doctrine of evolution with its ascending scale of 'mental capacities' culminating in our own, and secondly from the superstitious belief in the unbridgeable gulf between the genera of being-without, for that reason, precipitating us into the third form of superstition, to allow human-like thinking anywhere else than in our own human nature alone. It is the grandeur of this formidably grand scientific phantasy of the attributes that it allows no anthropomorphizing, not even in man himself with regard to his arrogant opinion of his own significance.
With the above exposition I believe to have pin-pointed and thrown light on Spinoza's thought on the attributes, which is inseparable from his Omnia animata-the thought of philosophical truth finding expression in the loftiest philosophic-scientific phantasy-which, however, does not then remain phantasy and would be inadequate if it did.1
We remain within our thinking of our things, the large ones and the small ones. Large and small is human-in reality nothing is either large or small. We may hold before our eyes glasses that will make our things appear larger or smaller, or coloured-nothing else. But to hold the senses and the nervous system of another animal like glasses before our eyes, in order thereby to achieve a kind of viewing and a thinking of things different from the human-that is unfeasible. Even less feasible is it to push out of our thinking this world in its-to us-thingly form and yet to think it, to pass beyond our barrier and to think another world in non-thingly terms. Thither no phantasy will carry us. Only in the thought of the attributes as the heterogeneous conceptions of the substance-as (quite literally) different worlds-lies true infinity of imagination, eclipsing all other human imagination as if, so to speak, it were not our imagination at all, as if it were imagination of a different nature. For all our imagining is done with the representational images of the things within our attribute; this other imagining, however, is a comparing the representation of our attribute with other attributes for which we entirely lack any manner of representation. A representation is as little valid for other attributes, after all, as for the substance. Hence this comparing is no actual comparing and therefore this imagination is no actual imagination of how but only of that-fairy tales that cannot be told-which nevertheless now occupies, as phantasy, a place in our consciousness. It is a phantasy which, with far more power than any other, sets our thinking into a peerless swing of motion, a phantasy that passes beyond itself, beyond imagination itself, to a thinking knowledge that surpasses all our knowledge, to a kind of knowledge that can only come about through phantasy and which, without being, or even being capable of ever becoming, a knowledge of How, yet is a knowledge and a certainty of That, transformed from phantasy into concept and into that thought which is greater than all phantasy, into our thought, surged about by the billows of all thoughts. The inexhaustibility of this ultimate thinking can be reached by us only as mirrored in adorned phantasies which become progressively less adorned and ever more pale and finally lose themselves in the deep shadows of shuddering premonition (Erahenens) or-to put it, after all, in the language of pneumatology-in progressively fading memories.
Wherewith now the thought of infinity has become a concept, after all. 'Infinite' has hitherto always been a mere word and an abyss-abysses all around. Now imagination inhabits the abysses and from imagination life flows into the concept. That which generally is understood by the word infinite-infinity of the world, for instance-is in fact nothing less than a concept. It contradicts the concept of our world which, most fittingly, is called the temporal, passing and finite world. It is not truly thinkable, does therefore not exist (infinitum actu non datur) and refers only to our one world, to the world of our representation, our human conception of the absolute. The word 'infinite' is to state that this our world is not measurable by our representations of finiteness or size, that it has no end or term as have our usual magnitudes, that, without limit of magnitude, it is infinitely large in space, in time, in effect. But the purely negative of the unending of the infinitum of our one world as the indefinable, the indeterminable, immeasurable, relationless now becomes the positive of a concept as we break the bounds of our one world and relate it to the infinity of the infinite worlds. Now the accent no longer rests on the contradiction of finite and infinite, nor on the impossibility of a positive representation of the infinite (how indeed could the world be thinkable as either infinite or finite, since it is the relative-the relative conception of the absolute can be no real thought, only the absolute can be so), but on the fact of relativity and on getting a concept which is no more unthinkable and no more fantastic than any other concept. We have here a clearly comprehensible reality-value for our thought supported by an analogical conclusion as cogent as that which arrives at the different thinking of the other animals and at the very similar thinking of our fellow human beings. We are here again confronted with the eminent significance, to all our relative thinking, of the conclusion by analogy from the known to the co-ordinate unknown. We produce the relative ideatum of our world of things-the directly imaged ideatum of our own thingliness, including our inwardness, thought in all three specificates of feeling, knowing, willing-and the directly imaged ideatum of the other things, to the beings similar ourselves (men and animals) we ascribe, in pursuance of more or less perfect analogy to our own inwardness, an inwardness more or less like our own. In the inanimate things we assume-in accordance with the proposition Omnia animata-a fundamentally different inner thinking of relativity, which thinking we can compare, however, only on the whole and to the whole of our consciousness, and through this comparison alone still keep some imagery of it for us. In this manner, on the basis of analogy, image thinking still reaches through all relativities of ideated existence which is not truly. Only the Absolute Thought must be truly thought because it is within us the actual primordial experience of our selves, of real Being and is not produced by us. The Absolute Thought alone must be thought, but cannot be thought in images. It can neither be directly imaged nor through analogy based upon our imagery-for it is not co-ordinate to our relative thinking of ideated existence. The sole veritable Absolute Thought always exists only in all the relative conceptions which are not veritable, and it constitutes thought without ideatum or thought without us, i.e. without our relative ego, without theriomorphism. Let this be enough now for what is here our concern: our relativity and the innumerable other relativities of which we said that phantasy leads us to them.
We discover more and more what the significance of this phantasy is which, verily, is not just another phantasy or hypothesis but which, as soon as the way has been cleared for the psychological process of thinking, offers itself as theory and concept on the basis of inescapable analogy. From analogy we derive the imagery necessary to the concept and thus arm the concept from the armour of our relative Practical Understanding. Completed is the concept of relative infinites, and we can now line up and compare the infinity of our world with the innumerable infinites of the other worlds (innumerable as numbers)-we have the all of infinities.
And because the thought of infinity is comprehensible only in this way and is in reality the thought of truth-relative infinity as the relative of absolute eternity, this is truth-therefore I believe that, in this way, it has been Spinoza's thought. It is, seen from the highest bird's eye view of thought, the totality of all the many relative truths, that thought of infinity which the one eternal truth of the absolute requires to be confronted with-a land-survey, as it were, a topography of all relative truths, of all worlds, none omitted; every possible world a real one. This is the truth of earthly-unearthly philosophical thought, the only one that fills up the concept of relativity and entirely remoulds the heart. Only with the phantasy of countless worlds according to the relative mode of appearance is our aim achieved and is, also scientifically, our position soundly planted in the full comprehension of the relative mode of appearance of this our world of things as of our relative conception of the absolute essence; the spiritual recollection of which is only then possible when the world is not regarded according to our conception, or rather when our conception is regarded as entirely relative. Things as apparent to us or yet things in themselves as reality-in other words, things according to our sense illusion or things according to some other sense illusion which is admittedly not representable with our own senses-this is our relative conception from which it is difficult to struggle loose; popular thinking is enmeshed in it or at least reverts constantly to it. The negative criticism of this conception, or of anthropomorphism, now appears not only completed but also complemented and sustained by the concept of innumerable relativities; and therewith philosophizing has been essentially advanced. For to philosophize means to reach beyond anthropomorphism and thereby to modify oneself. Freedom from anthropomorphism must, however, be found already in the concept of relativity, in the attributes and genera and must not be something new to be transferred only directly to the absolute. This thinking filled with all the relativities, which makes of my anthropomorphic thinking a particular instance of thinking, does precisely thereby free me from my being naive and callous in anthropomorphic egoism, from the rabid conceit and from the fear, in my relativity's egoism, of the relativities of the other species. Divesting myself of thingliness and breaking the circle of human limitation, I really receive the truth of the All-one as opposed to the delusion of our own. I cannot truly bethink myself spiritually with only my world and the One. In order that I may truly bethink myself, all worlds are required; for all worlds belong to me, even as this my human world, even as this my thinking of what at present is being thought in my human individuality. This ideatum (of feeling, knowing, willing) is welded to my individuality, but not so Thought-and that which has thought me as a human animal will think me also in all the other metamorphoses; all worlds taken together are the relativity of my absolute nature. All worlds engulfed by the One, this is the depth of recollection, speaking into my soul. My soul strains to pass through the all into the One, through relative infinity towards absolute eternity. However, relatively I am not in the all, but I am the all-and just so am I, absolutely, the One. I am relatively the all: in accordance with the basic law of motion variably accentuated (and yet never fixed) in beings of every kind, in all attributes, and thinking, therefore, in accordance with the thoughts of all attributes. The world of things is the world of thingly motion-this means nothing else than: I am what was, is and will be, endlessly past and endlessly future! This is the concept, this is how I am reached in relativity-and therefore I must realize: my human relativity is but a specimen of my countless relativities. And, absolutely, I am the One. By submerging my relativity, the ideatum of my human world, in the concept of relativities, pluralizing myself into the now to me transparent, infinity of relativities, of ideata which yet are in no manner thinkable, and by recognizing-thinking through to the end-in them the oneness of the absolute, of Absolute Thought, as the solely thinkable real Being underlying relative practical existence-by doing this I have found and seize upon my very own absolute nature. Infinity and eternity. I become all-infinity does not end in my life-and I am the One; for there is nothing but the One.