5. Revelation and History

5. Revelation and History

The indispensability and significance of revelation appear in history in an even higher and richer measure than in nature. But so soon as we set foot on this domain, our attention is immediately attracted by an interesting controversy which for several years has been waged by historians among themselves.

When the natural sciences in the last century attained all manner of brilliant results through the application of the inductive method, the wish arose in many breasts that history might be studied after the same method, and thus reach equally certain results. There was ultimately only one science, that of nature; whatever was reckoned to the so-called intellectual sciences must be reduced to and embodied in natural science if it were to retain its claim to the name of science. Thus historical investigation could be considered a true science only if its object—historical occurrences—were conceived as a mechanical process, dominated from the beginning to the end by the same laws as nature. But in the attempt to make of history an empirical, positive science there were developed from the very beginning different tendencies. All were at one in the conviction that the events of history were just as inevitable as the phenomena of nature, and that they should be observed and fixed just as unprejudicedly and objectively as the latter. But a great difference of opinion arose upon the question how these facts were to be understood and from what causes they were to be explained.

There are some who, like Buckle, de Greef, Mongeolle, seek the ultimate and principal causes of historic events in the physical environment of climate, soil, and food, and base history on anthropogeography. There are others who, like Taine, and especially Gobineau and H. St. Chamberlain, consider the race the principal factor in history and ask of ethnology the solution of historical problems. Men like Le Bon, Tarde, René Worms, Ratzenhofer, and Sighele try to find the explanation of historical facts in psychology and social circumstances; whilst many scholars like Hobbes, Rousseau, Comte, Spencer, von Hellwald, Shäffle, Durkheim, and others, cherish the idea that society itself is to be looked upon as an organism of a higher order, which, like all living things, stands under the dominion of biological laws, and is gradually developed and perfected in the struggle for existence by natural selection and heredity. The Socialists, Marx, Engels, Kautsky, and their fellows, look at everything from the viewpoint of the conflict between the classes, and defend the materialistic or economic view of history, according to which the consciousness of man does not determine his being, but reversely his social being his consciousness. And finally, in these last years, Karl Lamprecht has appeared as a defender of the culture-historical method, which discovers the deepest ground of historical events in the folk-soul, and therefore seeks after a social-psychological solution of the problem.127
This endeavor to bring in these different ways, surety and certainty into the science of history, is easy to understand. For history differs from physics in this respect, that it does not have the object of its investigation immediately at hand so as to be able to experiment upon it, but can know it only by means of a testimony which others, either intentionally or unintentionally, directly or indirectly, have given. Even though this testimony is not accepted unconditionally, but is first subjected to a severe criticism, there must enter into the study of history, through the interposition of tradition, a certain personal element of trust which is not found, or at least not in such a degree, in the investigation of natural phenomena. This personal element in historical research is considerably augmented by the fact that we are unable to assume as objective and dispassionate an attitude to the persons and testimonies with which history brings us into contact as to natural phenomena. In history we are not disinterested observers, but live the lives of other men, are attracted or repelled by them, feel sympathy or antipathy towards them. And especially in the case of important persons or great events, such as, for instance, the, origin of Christianity, the Reformation, the Revolution, etc., our convictions, our heart, and our emotions play an important part. From the very start personal interest makes itself felt in our criticism of the witnesses, and it continues to exercise its influence in the pragmatic description and judgment of events. A believer in and a denier of the divinity of Christ cannot judge the books and contents of the Old and New Testaments in the same way; and we cannot expect the same history of the Reformation from a Roman Catholic and from a Protestant.128 In historical research the personality of the student is felt much more strongly, therefore, than in natural science; the science of history splits into tendencies and thus seems to lose its claim to the name of science. We can therefore perfectly understand the effort which is made to rescue history, as a science, from this subjectivity, and to make it just as objective and exact as the science of nature, which seems the same to all men, without distinction of religious convictions.

To this was added in the last century that the field of history was expanded in an extraordinary way, in no less degree indeed than that of natural science. What in the fifteenth century the travels of Vasco de Gama, Columbus, Magellan, Cook, etc., had been for our knowledge of the earth, the discoveries of Champollion, Rawlinson, Grotefend, Layard, W. Jones, Burnouf, and others, became for our knowledge of history. Whilst historical knowledge was formerly confined to a few countries and peoples, it has now widely extended itself to all sorts of peoples, and reaches back into the past to times far earlier than Moses. This extraordinary extension of the domain of investigation has, naturally, increased the material inconceivably, and made it necessary, in order to create order in this chaos, to conceive the events in their mutual relations and to discover the process and the law which is hidden in them. It was inevitable that the ideological view of history presented by Hegel and the Tübingen school should give place under the inspiration of natural science to a positive and homological treatment of history. It was no longer permissible to construe the facts in accordance with a preconceived idea; but, inversely, from the facts the laws must be learned which controlled them in their development.

Apparently this positive treatment of history goes to work in an utterly unprejudiced manner, purely empirically and inductively. But actually it is just as much dominated by a preconceived idea as the ideological treatment of Hegel, and this idea is in both cases that of evolution, conceived in a mechanical or in a dynamic sense. It is silently presupposed that, in the last analysis, one and the same causality originates all events and causes them to succeed each other according to the law of progressive development, in a straight, upward line. Monism and evolution are the principia of the modern view of history, just as in the last lecture they proved to be such in the investigation of nature. But it deserves attention at the outset that the conception of evolution, when applied in history to a family or a tribe, to a people or to humanity, has an entirely different sense from that which it bears in individual organisms. In a remarkable study of the idea of development and its application to history Mr Galloway says perfectly correctly that the idea of development is an idolum fori, “a stock phrase in the scientific market-place.”129 We can conceive what must be understood by development in an organism. The germ, the egg, the embryo expands itself, through the working of the power of assimilation, and becomes bigger and stronger; the child grows up into a youth and a man. But when development is spoken of in a people or in humanity, we fall immediately into difficulty with the question of what is here the subject, the germ or the embryo of the development, and in what this development consists. We can no doubt speak of a unity in the case of a people or of humanity; but this unity is necessarily of a different kind from that of an individual organism. The comparison not only,—for this has to a certain extent the right of existence,—but the identification of society and of a people with an organism, led Spencer, Schäffle, and others, into all kinds of error and artificiality, which no one would now be willing to take responsibility for. Society is not a biological organism, but an organization, which no doubt is not exclusively established by the will of man, but certainly not without it. Before we can investigate the origin and the development of such an organization as a family, society, or people, other factors than merely biological ones must come into consideration; just as in an organism forces are at work which are not found in a machine. Monism overlooks the difference between a biological, a psychical, and an ethical organism, just as it does that between an organism and a mechanism; but nevertheless this differentation continues to exist in reality without any abatement.130
We might speak of evolution in families, nations, or humanity if men successively increased in height, in size and weight, in strength or length of life, or even in intellectual, moral, or religious capacity, in “capability of culture.” But this is by no means the case. Years ago Buckle said that the child born in a civilized country probably does not excel that of barbarians; and when this remark is understood strictly as referring to the capacity and not to the milieu of the child, it is rather strengthened than weakened by ethnological investigation.131 The capacities and gifts of the culture-people of to-day are, on the average, no greater than those of the Greeks and Romans, Babylonians or Assyrians; the seventy or eighty years of which the Scriptures speak are still the limitation of the life of the strong; the religious sensibility, moral capacity, adaptation to art, etc., by no means advance with the years; “every-where,” as Professor de Vries says, “the characteristics of individuals librate about an average, and everywhere they do it according to the same law.”132 We might cherish the hope of progress, however slow it might be, if it were established that characteristics, once attained, are transmitted by heredity. But on this there exists the greatest possible difference of opinion. Experience teaches us that numberless characteristics, both intellectual and moral, are not transmitted from parent to child. Learned men not rarely have stupid children; pious parents frequently bring up godless children; the gifts of grace prove to be no heirloom. Newly acquired variations do not always continue, but disappear after one or more generations. Every variety displays a tendency to return again to the original type, and nowhere, among plants, animals, or men, do we find an inclination to continue to vary in any one given direction. And yet, on the other hand, we see organisms appreciably modify themselves under the influence of climate, soil, food, and other circumstances, and transmit their variations to their descendants. Races and national types, the nose of the Bourbons and the lip of the Hapsburgs, the varieties among the descendants of the horse and the dog, prove this conclusively. But a straight line of development is nowhere indicated. Heredity is a dark region. We can do no more for the present than with Delage state the fact that modifications acquired under the influence of environment generally are not, but sometimes are, hereditary.133
Thus we can predicate with certainty only this of the idea of evolution in humanity, that later generations are more favorably situated than the earlier ones, by reason of the inheritance which has come to them, in money and goods, in science and art, in civilization and culture. But this inheritance can hardly be denominated by the name of evolution; for these several possessions of culture have not organically developed from a germ and have not evolved themselves, but are the product of the thought and will of man. The discovery of America, the discovery and application of steam power, the knowledge and use of electricity, did not come spontaneously, nor are they the necessary product of economic or social factors, but they presuppose thirst for knowledge and intense intellectual labor in man. It is true man is here subject to the influence of his environment, and is perhaps as much indebted to it as it is to him. But the influence certainly does not come exclusively from one side; discoveries and inventions frequently are due to extraordinary personalities, whose origin and existence remain a mystery, despite all biographical investigation. A genius like Goethe is far from explained when we know that he inherited his “stature” from his father and his “cheerful disposition” from his mother. Evolution is a great word, but it turns its back on difficulties and sums up a rich and complicated reality under a vague formula.134
This appears all the more clearly when we consider that the advantages of culture, handed down by progenitors, cannot be taken up, conserved, and increased by their descendants without some action on their part. Although every man is born from the community, and is formed by it, he has to begin again for himself at the very beginning. He has to begin with the exercise of his bodily members and senses, with learning to read and write and cipher. From his birth on he must strive to make the inheritance of the past his own; he must “labor for it in order to possess it.” And there is the possibility and danger that he may squander, dissipate, and turn to his own destruction the treasures which fall in his lap at his birth. Individuals, but also families, tribes, and peoples, are exposed to this danger. Culture may be a blessing, but it can also be a curse; it does not always advance, it may degenerate and come to nothing; it can be augmented, but it can also be destroyed and annihilated through the decadence of nations, through calamities and wars. And in the strifes between peoples it is not always the cultured peoples which are victorious, but as the history of the Babylonians and Assyrians, of the Greeks and Romans, of the Franks and Germans teaches us, very frequently those peoples who are poor in culture and well-nigh devoid of civilization.135 When they take over the culture of the conquered peoples afterwards, this does not happen on their part, except in the course of a long lapse of time and by the eflorts of their own intellectual strength.

All these considerations show that history presents a character far too involved and complicated to be reduced to one common formula or to be explained from one cause. Monism, no doubt, endeavors to do this with history as well as with nature. But all efforts to comprehend historical personages and occurences exclusively from mechanical, physical, biological, psychological, social, or economic factors, have only succeeded in making evident the richness of life and the complication of conditions.

Lamprecht, for instance, goes back to the folk-soul, and finds in it the ultimate cause of history. But questions multiply themselves as soon as we try to give to ourselves a somewhat clear account of this folk-soul. What are we to understand by it, and where is it to be found? How did it originate, and what factors influenced its formation? And if it exists, what is its dominant element? For no more than the soul of a man can it be a simple phenomenon. If the folk-soul is really a soul, what plays the chief role in it? Intelligence, the emotions, or the will; concepts or feelings, hunger or love? And further, what is the connection between the folk-soul and the folk-body, and between it and all nature, climate and soil and nourishment? As many questions, so many enigmas.136 Instead of attaining unity, we come to an infinite diversity. For the folk-soul is no unity; it lacks the unity of self-consciousness, which in man is expressed in his soul.137 ] And it is a matter of great wonderment that, at a time in which psychology is endeavoring to dissolve the individual soul into a complex of experiences, historical science wishes to believe in the unity of the folk-soul. In point of fact, it thus walks in the same path which is followed by natural science when it just abstracts in thought the forces of nature, and then personifies them through the imagination. The conception of a folk-soul is just as useless for history as that of an organism. There may be analogy, there is no identity. In a much higher degree than is the case in nature, we stand in history before a complex of causes and operations which are utterly unknown to us in their essence and interrelations, and cannot be, comprehended in one single word. “There is just as little such a final and simple word of history, which can express its true sense, as nature has such a word to offer.”138
The same difficulty which erects itself against the monistic doctrine of causality returns when the attempt is made to distinguish in history an aseendin series of periods, and to express each of those periods in a single name. Of course, we are compelled to speak of periods in history, and to characterize them by some trait or other. If that could not be done, it would be quite impossible to bring order into the chaos of events. We speak, therefore, without hesitation, of ancient, mediaeval, and modern history; of the age of the Reformation and of the “Enlightenment.” But we must not forget that we do not comprehend the totality of such a period, by any means, in such a formula. The age of the Reformation, for instance, was also that of the Renascence, of the revival of philosophy and of natural science, of the origin of world-communication and world-commerce. The eighteenth century was the golden period of the “Enlightenment,” but it also witnessed the activity of Pietism, Moravianism, and Methodism; it also gave being to Winckelmann and Lessing, Goethe and Schiller, Rousseau and Kant. And when the children of the nineteenth century felt the need of characterizing their own age, they called it the age of historic sense and of the natural sciences, of commerce and communication, of steam and electricity, of autonomy and anarchy, of democracy and popular power, of reason and of mysticism, of cosmopolitanism and of the national consciousness; and all felt that no one of these names answers to the fulness of the reality.139
And we must further keep in view that all division of the world’s history, however unprejudicedly it be studied, quietly assumes the unity of the race and a monistic-evolutionary conception of its history. The consequence is that only a narrow strip of peoples is taken into account and is abstracted from all other peoples. And at the same time events and conditions are deliberately placed in succession to one another which in reality occurred side by side. A distinction is made between the stone, bronze, and iron ages; between the chase, the pastoral life, agriculture, manufacture, and commerce; between an Asiatic-despotic, mediaeval-feudal, and civil- capitalistic society; between a natural-, money-, and credit- system of commerce, a home-, city-, and national- organization, a form of economy based on the principle of need, and one based on the principle of acquisition; between symbolism, typism, conventionalism, individualism, and subjectivism in the history of the German people; between savagery, barbarism, and civilization; between matriarchy, patriarchy, polygamy, and monogamy; between fetichism, polytheism, and monotheism; between theological, metaphysical, and positivistic phases, etc. But in all these distinctions it is forgotten that the relations and conditions which are thus placed in a series one after another exist throughout the ages side by side in different peoples, and even within the same people in different strata of society. The excavations in Assyria and Babylon, in Egypt and Greece, have informed us that a high civilization existed even in antiquity; industry and technic, science and art, commerce and society had even then reached a high degree of development.

It is therefore futile to attempt to divide the history of humanity into sharply defined periods, in accordance with the evolutionary hypothesis. Ranke saw better when he said that not every succeeding period stands above the preceding. A period precedent in time does not serve exclusively, as the system of Hegel demanded, to prepare for a succeeding one: it also occupies an individual, independent position, and represents an independent value. Even if a period is older in history, it is very possible that it may have something which it alone possesses and by which it excels all others. The classical period, the middle ages, and also every one of the succeeding ages, have each something peculiar to itself, a special gift and calling, and they add, each in its own way, to the capital of humanity. The same is true of the nations. They do not simply stand in regular order, the one after the other; but, whether isolated or in communion, they live on together. And all these periods and peoples have not only a horizontal significance for what succeeds, but each period and each people has also vertically its own significance for God, who created and guided it. “Each period stands immediately related to God, and its value does not at all depend on what proceeds from it, but on its very existence, on its very self.”140
In the division into period’s the monistic-evolutionary view of history comes into still greater difficulties. It may at best point out that the history of a people here or there has followed a certain course. It can never furnish the proof that this course is really necessarily and universally prescribed to all peoples. True, it makes this the starting-point of its monistic law of causality, and this is inevitable. But this starting-point is arbitrarily chosen and is contradicted by facts. Who dares to contend that every people has passed through or must pass through the periods of stone and copper and iron; of the chase, agriculture, and industry; of theology, metaphysics, and positivism, and the like? Even more than in nature, in history laws, if they exist at all, must bear an empirical character. They cannot be determined beforehand, but have to be derived from the facts. But this exposes us to the greatest difficulties. It is true, it is thoroughly justifiable to search in history also for the reign of law, for a connection between cause and effect, for an order and a plan. In the chaotic, in the arbitrary, in the accidental, we find no resting place, either for our intelligence or for our heart. But it is equally certain that this reign of law has not yet been found in history, and presumably never will be.

If we do not know, in one way or another, and to a certain extent from elsewhere, it is impossible to determine in a purely empirical way from the facts, what course history takes and must take, and to what end it is advancing. We feel the need of this knowledge; in our innermost soul we all believe in such a course and such an aim in history. For if history is to be truly history, something must be accomplished by it. It is the very sense and value and meaning of history that in it and by it something shall be realized which makes it worth while for history to exist, with all its misery and pain. But the positivistic method does not enable us to find this order and this aim of history. In nature we scarcely know as yet what laws really are; but, as is seen and acknowledged more and more, in history we have as yet got no farther than that we perceive a certain rhythm in its events.141
And accordingly opinions about the meaning and aim of history are widely divergent. There is difference of opinion as regards the place which should be assigned to the great men in history, and to each man and people in particular. Are the individual men only thoroughfares for the idea, phenomena of the Universal Being, expressions of the folk-soul, waves of the ocean; or have they each a significance for eternity? There is difference as regards the method by which a rule of judgment may be found. We stand over against the persons and the events not only as onlookers, but also as judges; we cannot assume a neutral attitude with respect to them as we may do in the case of nature. But where is the standard which we have to apply to be found, and how is it to he applied? And in the closest connection with this there is a great difference about the true contents, the moving-forces and the aim of history. Are these to be found in the development of the understanding and in the advance of science as Buckle thought; or in the idea of liberty as Kant and Hegel imagined; in the establishment of an order of government as Breysig thinks; or in production as Marx supposes? Are they to be found in mind or in matter, in man or in culture, in the state or in society? The history which is studied in an exclusively empirical way gives no answer. And since every one seeks an answer and cannot live without such an answer, the science of history raises itself to philosophy of history; for the cause and aim, the essence and development of history cannot be understood without metaphysics.

In recent years this conviction has reasserted itself in the minds of many. A strong reaction has arisen against the monistic-evolutionary view of history. In 1883 Dilthey already declared the need of a “criticism of the historical reason;” in 1894 Windelband pronounced an oration on “History and Natural Science,” in which he laid stress on the independence of the former; Heinrich Rickert followed him in 1899, with an essay on “The Science of Culture and the Science of Nature,” and published in 1902 an important logical introduction to the historical sciences, entitled, “The Limits of the Application of Conceptions framed by Natural Science.” Since then the scientific discussion of the character of the science of history has been unbrokenly prosecuted, and flows out in a long series of orations and treatises, which apparently increases day by day.142 And still further there is also a difference among those who antagonize the nomological science of history. According to Windelband and Rickert the sciences of nature and history are alike empirical and positive; but they are distinct in the aim with which they are studied. The natural sciences take their start, like the mathematical sciences, from general propositions, axioms, and postulates; or else search, like the empirical sciences, in the natural phenomena for the universal, the idea, the law; they are therefore nomothetic in character. On the other hand the historical sciences do not search out the universal, but the particular, das Einmalige (“the singular”), and they have their strength in the realizing power of conception; they have an ideographic character. But this is not all. For historical science by no means takes up everything which is particular and has occurred at some time or other, but it makes selection and treats only that which in a definite sense is important and possesses a real value. Just as the individual man retains in his memory only that which has been of importance for his life; so the history of a people or of humanity retains the memory of those persons and occurrences only which were significant for the universal progress, for the development of the whole. To accomplish this sifting of the material the historian must therefore be “a man of judgment.” He must proceed from the belief that there are “universal values” and must derive these from ethics. Ethics is therefore the “epistemology of the historical sciences.” According to the system of “values” which this science offers, the facts of history are sifted, ordered, estimated. History, in a word, is not a science of nature, but a science of culture.

Others, such as Dilthey, Wundt, Sigwart, go back one step farther still. They seek the difference between natural and historical science, not only logically in the aim with which they are cultivated, but also in the contents of each group. The character of the historical sciences is not sufficiently expressed by the name “sciences of culture,” but receives full justice only when they are indicated as mental sciences over against the natural sciences. The historical sciences occupy themselves with their own distinct object; they come into touch with other factors than the natural sciences. They concern themselves with man, with his psychic faculties and functions, and therefore they follow a different method and have a different name from the natural sciences.143
This reaction against monism in the science of history is already remarkable, because it does not stand alone, but is connected with the entire movement which manifested itself toward the close of the last century, in many different countries and in various spheres, and which has in a previous lecture been characterized as a revolt of the will against the reason, of the heart against the understanding, of liberty against necessity, of man against nature.144 But it is also remarkable on its own account, because it has once more clearly enunciated the difference in aim and contents between the natural and historical sciences and has demanded for the latter independence and liberty of movement. History is something else and something more than a process of nature which develops itself after a dialectic method, is independent of the consciousness, the will, and the aim of man, and is the necessary product of a power which works, as a whole, without consciousness and will.145 But we cannot halt even at the conception of history as science of culture or mental science. For if history, in distinction from natural science, were to teach us really, in a definite sense, only the particular das Einmalige (“the singular”), it would cease to be science and would become art.

Rickert has the courage to draw this conclusion, and refuses to acknowledge any laws in this domain. The so-called “laws” in history are nothing but Wertformeln, formulas of valuation.146 Now we admit that das Einmalige (“the singular”) has great significance in history.147 But when this is postulated, in contradistinction to and to the exclusion of the “particular” in nature, this position cannot be assumed without criticism. For if the natural sciences generalize and search for laws which apply to a multiplicity of cases, this does not permit us to conclude that these particular cases are without value and have only served as illustrations of the universal laws; we must hold, rather, that they all have an historical significance in the process of the world, a place and task of their own.148 Moreover it is not true that natural science, in its entirety, directs itself only to the discovery of the universal; it is easy to say this, as is explained by Professor Heymans, so long as one thinks only of the abstract natural sciences, like physics and chemistry; but it can by no means be applied when the concrete natural sciences, like geology and astronomy, are taken into consideration. For the student of geology the physical and chemical laws are not ends, but means, the means to account for the appearance of definite phenomena in the earth-crust, which, as they appear and are to be explained, mostly occur only once and no more.149
On the other hand historical science cannot avoid all abstraction and generalization. It is true, history does not, like nature, make us acquainted with laws, although even here more and more doubt arises whether, in any sphere, we have really attained to the knowledge of the laws of elementary phenomena.150 But this does not in the least hinder us from concluding that the historian by no means fixes his attention on das Einmalige (”,the singular”) alone, but connects every person and every event with the past, searches out the connection of facts, and thus carries on his investigations under the guidance of an idea,, a plan, a course in history. He who would deny this would make history itself an impossibility and reduce it to the viewpoint of a chronicle. From this point of view the historian would see trees but no forest; would retain facts but no history; would have bricks but no building; would have details but no living, organic whole. It cannot be denied that historical investigation has at times lost itself in such details, and in that way has called into existence the danger of historicism and relativism. And Nietzsche was fully justified when he broke out in wrath against such a treatment of history, for the overwhelming flood of details does not elevate us, but crushes us down; it robs us of our independence and freedom; it denies the, superiority of mind over matter.151 Troeltsch remarks, therefore, that “All history uses the study of details rather as a means and never views it as a.final aim. And in truth it is the means of understanding the great closed cycles of human civilization, of the leading nations, of the important circles of culture, of the great branches of culture.”152 Without undervaluing the significance of details, history aims at the knowledge of the idea, of the sense of history. Bare facts do not satisfy us; we want to see behind the facts the idea which combines and governs them.153
The newer view of history so far recognizes this that it makes the essence of history to lie in the realization of values. If this is so, the historian must be “somewhat of a man of judgment,” and must possess a standard by which he can judge of the values in history. The danger is here far from imaginary that the historian, in determining these values, will permit.his own interest to intrude itself and will test all facts by his own limited insight and his own selfish advantage. Rickert sees this danger, and discriminates therefore between practical and theoretical, personal (individual) and general valuations, demanding that the historian shall lay the former aside and thus be wholly objective.

But granting the practicability of this certainly very difficult discrimination proposed by Rickert, the question will nevertheless remain whence we must derive the standard of the general valuations. It is not to be supposed that history itself will furnish it. It would seem, no doubt, that Troeltsch is of this opinion when he says that history, notwithstanding that everything in it is relative, yet sets forth and maintains “norms, ideals of life, contents of life,” which may be compared with one another by the historian. He therefore proposes wholly to lay aside the old historico-apologetic and speculative method, to replace it by that of the history of religions, and in this way to prove the (relative) truth and value of Christianity.154 But if history, as Troeltsch says elsewhere, makes everything relative, occupies itself only with das Einmalige (“the singular”) and the individual, and cannot “find a standard of universal application,” it must be impossible for it to furnish us with the norms and ideals by which we may estimate facts and persons. In a fact, by itself, there is of course no qualitative difference ; the crime “happens” just as well as the noblest act of self-sacrifice; to a purely objective view sin and virtue are in the same sense products as vitriol and sugar.155 The expectation that history is to realize ideals of life and norms proceeds from the assumption that history is not a “play of endless variants,” but forms a whole which is animated by a governing idea, by the providence of God.156 A comparison of persons and facts in history is possible only, then, when the historian is from the start a “man of judgment” and brings to his task a standard of judgment acquired elsewhere. And the question remains, whence we must derive the standard for measuring “universally valid values.”

The outcome and the result, the use and the profit,—culture, in a word,—can scarcely serve the purpose of such a standard, although Rickert sometimes seems to incline to this idea. For the standard would then be wholly utilitarian, even if it be social-eudaemonistic in character; and all truth and virtue would become subordinated to utility. But, apart from this, such a standard would be no standard at all, i.e. it would be no norm or rule, which is fixed in itself, and therefore can serve for impartial and fair judgment of phenomena and facts. If their culture-value is to determine the truth and goodness of things, this value itself ought to be fixed for all. But this is so little the case that the greatest possible difference exists about the contents and the value of the products of culture. And this entirely without considering the other question how we who have our place in its midst can take the final issue of history for a standard. The question, therefore, continues to clamor for an answer, where the standard is to be found which can be used in judging historical facts and personages. History itself does not present it; immanently, within the circle of historical phenomena, it cannot be found. If history is to be truly history, if it is to realize values, universally valid values, we cannot know this from the facts in themselves, but we borrow this conviction from philosophy, from our view of life and of the world,—that is to say, from our faith. Just as there is no physics without metaphysics, there is no history without philosophy, without religion and ethics.

Very certainly there is no history without religion, without faith in a divine wisdom and power. For suppose that philosophy, especially ethics, could offer us an absolute standard, by which historical values may be judged—a possibility which is by no means unconditionally determined—still the final and most important question is not answered: What is the ground for the belief that such an absolute value has an objective existence and must be realized in history, notwithstanding all opposition? What right have we to expect that the good will ultimately be victorious? Rickert is of the opinion that the existence of such an absolute, transcendent value can be accepted and maintained without postulating a transcendent reality. But he himself does not entirely escape this postulate. For he has to assume that the idea of value, which, in accordance with the German idealism, he considers as the highest, namely, “development unto freedom,” is “itself in some way inherent in the nature of the world.”157 This idea, then, has an objective reality, perhaps not in a personal, transcendent God, but immanently in the nature of the world. It is difficult, however, to attach a clear conception to these words. The ideas of freedom, of truth, of goodness, of beauty, have no existence in themselves, but are abstractions, which we have formed by our thinking. They are no transcendent powers or forces which realize themselves and can break down all opposition, but they are conceptions which we have derived from reality and have disassociated from it by our thinking. When later on we hypostatize these abstractions, and when we clothe them with divine wisdom and power, then we do in reality nothing but what natural science frequently does with its force and laws, and what the Roman of old did when he elevated justice and truth and peace and all sorts of possible and impossible abstractions to the rank of divinities. It is therefore in vain when we say that this idea is grounded in the nature of the world. For it passes comprehension how the idea of freedom, if it is no more than an idea, can be grounded in the nature of the world and can realize itself. And if it is indeed capable of so doing, then it must be more than an idea, and we cannot conceive of it in any other way than as an attribute and power of a personal God. In point of fact, goodness, justice, wisdom, etc., have no existence in this world but as personal attributes. And therefore not only the theology of all the ages, but also philosophy in a good number of its interpreters, has postulated the existence of a personal God. In the newer philosophy Kant here set the example, and at the present time he is followed in this respect by Eucken, Howison, and many others.158 If history is to remain what it is and must be, it presupposes the existence and activity of an all-wise and omnipotent God, who works out his own counsels in the course of the world. The more we penetrate in our thinking to the essence of history, as to that of nature, the more we grasp its idea and maintain it, the more it will manifest itself as rooted in revelation and as upborne by revelation; the more it will lift itself up to and approach that view of history which Christianity has presented and wherewith Christianity in its turn confirms and supports revelation in nature and in history.

Historians, it is true, to the detriment of their own science, sometimes assume an inimical or indifferent attitude towards Christianity. Rickert, for instance, will have none of it. He is of the opinion that the philosophy of history has done wholly away with it, that the image of the world has been totally changed, and that the idea of “a closed, explorable, (übersehbar) cosmos” is utterly destroyed. The doctrine of Giordano Bruno about the infinitude of the world has caused shipwreck to all world-history in the strict sense.159 Indirectly, however, this declaration is a confirmation of the importance of Christianity for history; for it is indeed the special revelation in the Scriptures which has made a world-history possible and without which it is threatened with destruction. The significance of Christianity for history is therefore universally acknowledged.160
In the first place the confession of the unity of God is the foundation of the true view of nature and also of history. If this be denied, we must either abide by the multiplicity of reality, by a pluralism of monads and souls, spirits or “selves,” demons or Gods; or because man can never find satisfaction in such a multiplicity, we have to search in the world itself for a false unity, as is done by monism in its various forms, and then all differentiation is sacrificed to this false unity. The souls of men then become parts and phenomena of the one world-soul, and all created things become modi of the one substance. Only, then, when the unity of all creation is not sought in the things themselves, but transcendently (not in a spacial but in a qualitative, essential sense) in a divine being, in his wisdom and power, in his will and counsel, can the world as a whole, and in it every creature, fully attain its rights. A person alone can be the root of unity in difference, of difference in unity. He alone can combine in a system a multiplicity of ideas into unity, and he alone can realize them by his will ad extra. Theism is the only true monism.

But to the Unity of God the unity of humanity stands very closely related, and this also is of fundamental importance for history. The evolutionary hypothesis usually accepts this unity, although the right to do so from its own standpoint may well be doubted, and it considers man as the highest creature, as the crown of all creation. Thus Heinrich Schurtz, for instance, says that, whilst the question cannot be scientifically decided whether humanity originates from one couple or more, yet all investigation of the races must proceed from the fact that “humanity forms one great unity.”161 And not only this, but human nature also is considered one and unchangeable. The same historian of culture says elsewhere, that changes of bodily structure still proceed with animals, but that man, having attained the height at which he now stands, no longer reacts on his environment by unconscious bodily changes, but by weapons and instruments, by science and art. The development of the mind has put a stop to changes in bodily structure. And this mind itself is stationary in its structure. Years ago Virchow declared this; Ammon has proved it; and Hugo de Vries assents to it: “Man is a stationary type” (Dauertypus); he continues at the same height, as concerns his hereditary attributes, i.e., the average attainment and the degree of development of the race.162
However thankful we may be that the evolutionists usually accept this unity of humanity and human nature, and thereby show that life is stronger than doctrine, we must bear in mind that this unity does not rest on scientific grounds, but is derived from revelation. And yet it is an indispensable presupposition for history. For thereby only is a history in the true sense made possible,—a history of the world and a history of humanity, in which all men, all peoples, nay, all creatures, are embraced, and are held together by one leading thought, by one counsel of God. And this unity is important for history in still another sense. Eucken says with perfect truth: “A type of human nature ever stands between the historian and his sources.”163 Knowledge of history is possible, then, only when the men who act on its stage, whenever and wherever they may have lived, have been of like passions with us. For when the historian wishes to give an account to himself of their conceptions and emotions, of their words and deeds, he can do so only by transporting himself in his imagination into the characters and circumstances of the persons he desires to depict. He must endeavor to reproduce within himself their inner life, and thus to form a plausible conception of the way in which they came to act as they did.164 He finds the key to explain the thinking and willing, the feeling and acting of his historical personages, in his own spiritual life. The unity of human nature and of the human race is the presupposition of all history, and this has been made known to us only by Christianity.

But this unity in its contents is entirely different from that after which monism is striving. Monism always understands by unity a universal principle, which is abstracted from all that is particular, and which is then, as a universal origin, made the ground of all that is particular. The psyche of man, for instance, is, according to monism, a unity only when all psychic phenomena can be deduced from one principle, whether from conception or from feeling. The organisms are a unity when they have successively originated from one original cell. The world is a unity when all existence has developed itself from one matter and from one force. Monism knows no other unity than a genetic one, and can therefore never do full justice to the differentiation of the world, the difference between the inorganic, and organic, between irrational and rational creatures, the dependence and liberty of man,—the difference between the true and the false, good and evil. The unity of monism is a dead, stark, uniform unity, without life and its fulness. This is plainly shown in the judgment which it passes upon the heroes of history, who are sacrificed to the idea, to the mechanical interaction of matter, to the one power which necessarily produces all. Against this view pragmatism continually raises protest, just as one-sidedly seeing in the great men the makers of history, and resolving the historic content in their personality, and ultimately arriving at the apotheosis and adoration of genius.

The unity which revelation makes known to us is of another kind and of a higher order. It is the unity of harmony, which includes riches, multiformity, differentiation. Just as soul and body in man are not genetically one and have not originated from each other, and yet form in the “ego” of man an inner organic unity; just as the members of an organism are neither exclusively producent nor exclusively product of the organism, but stand in reciprocal relations with it and thus form a unity ; so the matter stands with every man and every people in history, and also with all humanity. Therefore history is so rich, its life so full, and therefore so many factors are at work in it. But therefore it is also that the monistic attempt to explain the entire process of history from specific biological, psychological, or economic factors is so mistaken. Life resists this view, the personality of man perishes in it. Over against it the Scriptures teach us that the unity of humanity does not exclude, but rather includes, the differentiation of man in race, in character, in attainment, in calling, and in many other things. Every man lives in his own time, comes into being and passes away, appears and disappears; he seems only a part of the whole, a moment of the process. But every man also bears the ages in his heart; in his spirit-life he stands above and outside of history. He lives in the past and the past lives in him, for, as Nietzsehe says, man cannot forget. He also lives in the future and the future lives in him, for he bears hope imperishably in his bosom. Thus he can discover something of the connection between the past, the present, and the future; thus he is at the same time maker and knower of history. He belongs himself to history, yet he stands above it; he is a child of time and yet has part in eternity; he becomes and he is at the same time; he passes away and yet he abides.

All this Christianity has made us understand. But it does more than that. The special revelation which comes to us in Christ not only gives us the confirmation of certain suppositions, from which history proceeds and must proceed, but itself gives us history, the kernel and the true content of all history. Christianity is itself history; it makes history, is one of the principal factors of history, and is itself precisely what lifts history high above nature and natural processes. And that it says and proves by its own act; Christ came to this earth for a crisis; the content of history lies in a mighty struggle. Monism knows nothing about this; it schematizes everything with its before and after. It has only one model—earlier and later, lower and higher, less and more, not yet and already past. It knows no pro and contra, but thus it does despite to life, to the experience of every man, to the terribly tragic seriousness of history. Revelation is a confirmation and explanation of life when it says the essence of history lies in a mighty conflict between darkness and light, sin and grace, heaven and hell. The history of the world is not the judgment of the world; and yet it is one of the judgments of the world.

Furthermore revelation gives us a division of history.165 There is no history without division of time, without periods, without progress and development. But now take Christ away. The thing is impossible, for he has lived and died, has risen from the dead, and lives to all eternity; and these facts cannot be eliminated,—they belong to history, they are the heart of history. But think Christ away for a moment, with all he has spoken and done and wrought. Immediately history falls to pieces. It has lost its heart, its kernel, its centre, its distribution. It loses itself in a history of races and nations, of nature- and culture-peoples. It becomes a chaos, without a centre, and therefore without a circumference ; without distribution and therefore without beginning or end; without principle and goal; a stream rolling down from the mountains, nothing more.166 But revelation teaches that God is the Lord of the ages and that Christ is the turning point of these ages. And thus it brings into history unity and plan, progress and aim.167 This aim is not this or that special idea, not the idea of freedom, or of humanity, or of material well-being. But it is the fulness of the Kingdom of God, the all-sided, all-containing dominion of God, which embraces heaven and earth, angels and men, mind and matter, cultus and culture, the specific and the generic; in a word, all in all.

127On these various tendencies the reader may consult: R. Flint, History of the Philosophy of History in France and Germany, I, 1893. Rocholl, Die Philosophie der Geschichte, 1878, 1893. M. Giesswein, Determin. und metaph. Geschichtsauffassung. Wien, 1905. Fr. Oppenheimer, Neue Geschichtsphilosophie, Die Zukunft, Nov., 1905. Fr. Eulenburg, Neuere Geschichtsphilosophie, Archiv. f. Sozialwiss. und Sozialpolitik, 1907, pp.283-337. Colenbrander, Hedendaagsehe Geschiedschrijvers, Gids, May, 1907 pp.319, 341. P. Schweizer, Die religiose Auflassung der Weltgeschichte. Zurich, 1908.
128The appointment of Prof. M. Spahn at Strassburg in 1901 furnished a striking proof of this.
129Mind, Oct., 1907 pp.506-534.
130H. Pesch, Liberalismus, Sozialismus und christl. Gesellschaftsordnung, II, 1901, pp.283 ff. L. Stein, Die soziale Frage im Lichte der Philos. Stuttgart, 1903, p.47. H. Elsler, Soziologie, Leipzig, 1903, pp.40-45.
131L. Stein, An der Wende des Jahrh., p.50, enters a protest.
132Hugo de Vries, Afstammings- en Mutatieleer, Baarn, 1907, p.35.
133In Nieuwhuis, Twee vragen des tijds, p.77.
134Lexis, Das Wesen der Kultur, in Die Kultur der Gegenwart, I, pp.13-19.
135Dr. E. R. Lankester, Natur und Mensch, Mit einer Vorrede von Dr. K. Guenther, Leipzig, pp.xi ff, 28.
136Lamprecht, Die Kulturhist. Methode, Berlin, 1900. Id., Moderne Geschichtswiss., 1905. Compare on him the above mentioned articles of Eulenburg and Colenbrander; also E. Pesch, Lehrbueh der Nationaloekonomic, I, 1905, pp.95 ff.
137Dilthey, Einl. in die Geisteswiss., pp.39, 51.
138Dilthey, ibid., p.115.
139Theob. Ziegler, Die geistigen und sozialen Strömungen des 19 Jahrh., Berlin, 1901, pp.1 ff. H. St. Chamberlain, Die Grundlagen des 19 Jahrh., 1903, I, pp.26 ff.
140Ranke, Ueber die Epochen der neueren Geschichte, 1888, quoted by de la Saussaye, Geestel. Stroomingen, pp.301 ff. Comp. also H. Pesch, Der Gang der wirtschaftsgesch. Entwicklung, Stimmen aus Maria Laach, Jan., 1903, pp.1-16, and Lehrbuch der Nationaloekonomie, I, pp.107 ff.
141The following writers deal with the subject of laws of history. L. Stein, Die soziale Frage, pp.35-42. Elsler, Soziologie, p.12. Rümelin, Reden unel Aufsätze, 1875. Tiele, Inleiding tot de godsdienstwetenschap, I, pp.193 ff.. H. Pesch, Lehrbuch, I, pp.443 ff. Dilthey, Einl. in die Geisteswiss., I,1883. Gumplovicz, Grundriss der Sozologie. Wien, 1905, pp.361 ff.
142Dilthey, op. cit., p. 45. Windelband, Geschichte und Naturwissenchaft. Strassburg, 1900. Rickert, Kulturwiss. und Naturw., Tübingen, 1899. Id., Die Grenzen der naturw. Begriffsbildung, Tübingen, 1902 (cf. Troeltsch, Theol. Rundschau, 1903). Id., Geschichtsphilosophie, in: Die Philosophie im Beginn des 20 Jahrh., II, pp.51-135. Eucken, Philosophic der Geschichte, pp.247-280 of System. Philos. in Die Kultur der Gegenwart. Lindner, Geschichtsphilos., Stuttgart, 1901. Richter, Die Vergleichbarkeit naturwissenseliaftlicher und geschichtlicher Forschungsereignisse, Deutsche Rundschau, April, 1904, pp.114-129. G. Heymans, De geschiedenis als wetenschap, Versl. en Meded. der Kon. Ak. v. Wet. Afd. Lett. 1906, pp.173-202. Van der Wijck, Natuur en Geschiedenis, Onze Eeuw, March, 1907, pp. 419-445.
143Frischeisen-Köhler, Moderne Philos., pp.385 ff.
144Eucken, Philos. der Gesch., loc. cit., pp.261 ff.
145Marx in Woltmann, Der histor. Materialismus, p.183, comp. Engels, ibid. p.241.
146Rickert, Geschichtsphilos., loc. cit., p.104.
147Dilthey, Einleitung, pp.114-116, 129.
148Frischeisen-Köhler, Moderne Philos., p.385.
149Heymans, De geschiedenis als wetenschap, loc. cit., p. 185.
150Heymans, ibid. p.182.
151In Frischeisen-Köhler, op. cit., p.202.
152Troeltsch, Die Absolutheit des Christ., pp.50 ff.
153Buckle in Giesswein, Determ. und metaph. Gesch., p.6.
154Troeltsch, op. cit., pp.23 ff. Id., Theol. Randschau, VI. pp. 1-3.
155Rickert, Geschichtsphilos., I. c. p. 82.
156Troeltsch, op. cit., Comp. Reischle, Hist. u. dogm. Methode der Theologie, Theol. Rundschau, 1901. Traub, Die religionsgesch. Methode und die syst. Theol., Zeits. Für Theol. u. Kirche, 1901.
157Rickert, Geschichtsphilos., I. c. p.131.
158Eucken, Philos d. Gesch., I. c. p.271. In this class must be reckoned in general all advocates of so-called Personal Idealism. Comp. Personal Idealism, ed. by H. C. Sturt, Oxford, 1902.
159Rickert, loc. cit., p.121.
160Dilthey, Einl. in die Geisteswiss., pp.123, 135 ff. Eucken, Geistige Strömungen der Gegenwart., Leipzig, 1904, pp.190 ff. Hipler, Die christliche Geschichtsauffassung, Köln, 1884. Harnack, Das Christentum und die Geschichte, 1904. Sellin, Die alttest. Religion, pp.34 ff. Fairbairn, The Philos. of the Christian Religion, pp.169-185. H. H. Kuyper, Het Geref. beginsel en de Kerkgeschiedenis, Leiden, 1900.
161H. Schurtz, Vö1kerkunde, Leipzig und Wien, 1900, p.5. Steinmetz, De Studie der Volkenkunde, p.46
162Hugo de Vries, Afstammings- en Mutatieleer, pp.35, 36. Schurtz, Urgesch. der Kultur, 1900, Vorwort. Wundt, Vö1ker-psychologie, II, 1, pp. 16, 587 ff., 589, II, 2, pp.168. Steinthal, Zu Bibel und Religionsphilosophie, Berlin, 1890, p.128. R. C. Boer, Gids, Jan., 1907, p. 83. Stanley Hall, Adolescence, I, preface, p. vii.
163Eucken, Geschichtsphilos., loc. cit., p. 40.
164Heymans, De geschiedenis als wetenschap, loc. cit., p.191, 194. Comp. also Emerson’s Essay on History.
165Eucken, Geistige Strömungen, p. 190.
166H. H. Kuyper, op. it., p.19.
167Dilthey, Einleitung, p.41.

Powered by ProofFactor - Social Proof Notifications