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The Bhagavad Gita


Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

Force and matter

by Ludwig Büchner


The following pages pretend neither to establish a system nor to be exhaustive. They are merely scattered, though necessarily connected, thoughts and observations, which, on account of the difficulty of mastering all the facts of empirical and natural science, may perhaps meet with some indulgence on the part of the scientific critic. If we may, at the outset, claim any credit, it is for our determination to speak the truth, regardless of the unavoidable consequences of our mode of viewing nature. Things cannot be represented different from what they are; and nothing appears to us more perverse than the efforts of respectable naturalists to introduce orthodoxy in the natural sciences. We do not boast of having produced anything new. Similar ideas have been promulgated at all times, partly by old Greek and Indian philosophers; but the necessary empirical ba^isjarnishsd-by.modern, science was then wanting. Hence the present views are, in respect to their clearness, a conquest of modern empirical science. The scholastic phi

* Written at Tubingen in the year 1855.


losophy, still riding upon its high, though terribly emaciated horse, conceives that it has long ago done with such theories, and has consigned them, ticketed " materialism", " sensualism", " determinism", to the scientific lumber-room, or, as the phrase goes, has assigned them their "historical value". But this philosophy sinks daily in the estimation of the public, and loses its ground opposed to natural science, which gradually establishes the fact that macrocosmic and microcosmic existence obeys in its origin, life, and decay, mechanical laws inherenjLin. the things themselves.

Proceeding from the fixed relation between matter and force as an indestructible basis, empirical philosophy must arrive at results which discard every kind of supranaturalism and idealism in the explanation of natural events, considering the latter as perfectly independent of any external power. The final victory of this kind of philosophical cognition cannot be doubted. The strength of its proofs lies in fads, not in unintelligible and empty phrases. There is, in the end, no fighting against facts; it is like kicking against the pricks.

It is needless to observe that our expositions have nought in common with the conceptions of the old "natural-philosophical" school. The singular attempts to construe nature out of thought instead of from observation have failed, and brought the adherents to that school into such discredit, that the name " natural-philosopher" has become a byword and a nickname. It is clear that the reproach does only attach to a certain school, not to the philosophy of nature. Nature and observation is the watchword of our time. The failure of the attempts of the old school, clearly proves that the world is not the realisation of an individual creative intelligence, but a complex of things and facts, which we must examine as it is, not as our fancy imagines it. " We must take things as they really are," says Virchow, " not as we imagine them to be." "We shall endeavour to support our views by plain facts, and avoid as much as possible that philosophical technical language which has brought theoretical philosophy, especially the German, into bad repute. It lies in the nature of philosophy that it should be common property. Expositions which are not intelligible to an educated man, are scarcely worth the ink they are printed with. Whatever is clearly conceived can be clearly expressed. The philosophical mists which envelope the writings of scholars, appear intended more to conceal than to exhibit their thoughts.

The times of scholastic bombast, of philosophical charlatanism, or, as Cotta says, of intellectual jugglery, are passing away. May our German philosophy soon perceive that words are not facts, and that, to be understood, we must use intelligible language.

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