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苏菲的世界(英文版)连载7

2006-01-17 00:00

  "You could say that. The greatest monument to the enlightenment movement was characteristically enough a huge encyclopedia. I refer to the Encyclopedia in 28 volumes published during the years from 1751 to 1772. All the great philosophers and men of letters contributed to it. 'Everything is to be found here,' it was said, 'from the way needles are made to the way cannons are founded.' " "The next point is cultural optimism," Sophie said.

  "Would you oblige me by putting that card away while I am talking?"

  "Excuse me."

  "The Enlightenment philosophers thought that once reason and knowledge became widespread, humanity would make great progress. It could only be a question of time before irrationalism and ignorance would give way to an 'enlightened' humanity. This thought was dominant in Western Europe until the last couple of decades. Today we are no longer so convinced that all 'developments' are to the good.

  "But this criticism of 'civilization' was already being voiced by French Enlightenment philosophers."

  "Maybe we should have listened to them."

  "For some, the new catchphrase was back to nature. But 'nature' to the Enlightenment philosophers meant almost the same as 'reason/ since human reason was a gift of nature rather than of religion or of 'civilization.' It was observed that the so-called primitive peoples were frequently both healthier and happier than Europeans, and this, it was said, was because they had not been 'civilized.' Rousseau proposed the catchphrase, 'We should return to nature.' For nature is good, and man is 'by nature' good; it is civilization which ruins him. Rousseau also believed that the child should be allowed to remain in its 'naturally' innocent state as long as possible. It would not be wrong to say that the idea of the intrinsic value of childhood dates from the Enlightenment. Previously, childhood had been considered merely a preparation for adult life. But we are all human beings——and we live our life on this earth, even when we are children."

  "I should think so!"

  "Religion, they thought, had to be made natural."

  "What exactly did they mean by that?"

  "They meant that religion also had to be brought into harmony with 'natural' reason. There were many who fought for what one could call a natural religion, and that is the sixth point on the list. At the time there were a lot of confirmed materialists who did not believe in a God, and who professed to atheism. But most of the Enlightenment philosophers thought it was irrational to imagine a world without God. The world was far too rational for that. Newton held the same view, for example. It was also considered rational to believe in the immortality of the soul. Just as for Descartes, whether or not man has an immortal soul was held to be more a question of reason than of faith."

  "That I find very strange. To me, it's a typical case of what you believe, not of what you know."

  "That's because you don't live in the eighteenth century. According to the Enlightenment philosophers, what religion needed was to be stripped of all the irrational dogmas or doctrines that had got attached to the simple teachings of Jesus during the course of ecclesiastical history."

  "I see."

  "Many people consequently professed to what is known as Deism."

  "What is that?"

  "By Deism we mean a belief that God created the world ages and ages ago, but has not revealed himself to the world since. Thus God is reduced to the 'Supreme Being' who only reveals himself to mankind through nature and natural laws, never in any 'supernatural' way. We find a similar 'philosophical God' in the writings of Aristotle. For him, God was the 'formal cause' or 'first mover.' "

  "So now there's only one point left, human rights."

  "And yet this is perhaps the most important. On the whole, you could say that the French Enlihtenment was more practical than the English philosophy."

  "You mean they lived according to their philosophy?"

  "Yes, very much so. The French Enlightenment philosophers did not content themselves with theoretical views on man's place in society. They fought actively for what they called the 'natural rights' of the citizen. At first, this took the form of a campaign against censorship——for the freedom of the press. But also in matters of religion, morals, and politics, the individual's right to freedom of thought and utterance had to be secured. They also fought for the abolition of slavery and for a more humane treatment of criminals."

  "I think I agree with most of that."

  "The principle of the 'inviolability of the individual' culminated in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen adopted by the French National Assembly in 178V. This Declaration of Human Rights was the basis for our own Norwegian Constitution of 1814."

  "But a lot of people still have to fight for these rights."

  "Yes, unhappily. But the Enlightenment philosophers wanted to establish certain rights that everybody was entitled to simply by being born. That was what they meant by natural rights.

  "We still speak of a 'natural right' which can often be in conflict with the laws of the land. And we constantly find individuals, or even whole nations, that claim this 'natural right' when they rebel against anarchy, servitude, and oppression."

  "What about women's rights?"

  "The French Revolution in 1787 established a number of rights for all 'citizens.' But a citizen was nearly always considered to be a man. Yet it was the French Revolution that gave us the first inklings of feminism."

  "It was about time!"

  "As early as 1787 the Enlightenment philosopher Condorcet published a treatise on the rights of women. He held that women had the same 'natural rights' as men. During the Revolution of 1789, women were extremely active in the fight against the old feudal regime. For example, it was women who led the demonstrations that forced the king away from his palace at Versailles. Women's groups were formed in Paris. In addition to the demand for the same political rights as men, they also demanded changes in the marriage laws and in women's social conditions."

  "Did they get equal rights?"

  "No. Just as on so many subsequent occasions, the question of women's rights was exploited in the heat of the struggle, but as soon as things fell into place in a new regime, the old male-dominated society was re-introduced."

  "Typical!"

  "One of those who fought hardest for the rights of women during the French Revolution was Olympe de Gouges. In 1791——two years after the revolution——she published a declaration on the rights of women. The declaration on the rights of the citizen had not included any article on women's natural rights. Olympe de Gouges now demanded all the same rights for women as for men."

  "What happened?"

  "She was beheaded in 1793. And all political activity for women was banned."

  "How shameful!"

  "It was not until the nineteenth century that feminism really got under way, not only in France but also in the rest of Europe. Little by little this struggle began to bear fruit. But in Norway, for example, women did not get the right to vote until 1913. And women in many parts of the world still have a lot to fight for."

  "They can count on my support."

  Alberto sat looking across at the lake. After a minute or two he said:

  "That was more or less what I wanted to say about the Enlightenment."

  "What do you mean by more or less?"

  "I have the feeling there won't be any more."

  But as he said this, something began to happen in the middle of the lake. Something was bubbling up from the depths. A huge and hideous creature rose from the surface.

  "A sea serpent!" cried Sophie.

  The dark monster coiled itself back and forth a few times and then disappeared back into the depths. The water was as still as before.

  Alberto had turned away.

  "Now we'll go inside," he said.

  They went into the little hut.

  Sophie stood looking at the two pictures of Berkeley an Bjerkely. She pointed to the picture of Bjerkely and said:

  "I think Hilde lives somewhere inside that picture."

  An embroidered sampler now hung between the two pictures. It read: LIBERTY, EQUALITY AND FRATERNITY.

  Sophie turned to Alberto: "Did you hang that there?"

  He just shook his head with a disconsolate expression.

  Then Sophie discovered a small envelope on the mantelpiece. "To Hilde and Sophie," it said. Sophie knew at once who it was from, but it was a new turn of events that he had begun to count on her.

  She opened the letter and read aloud:

  Dear both of you, Sophie's philosophy teacher ought to have underlined the significance of the French Enlightenment for the ideals and principles the UN is founded on. Two hundred years ago, the slogan "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" helped unite the people of France. Today the same words should unite the whole world. It is more important now than ever before to be one big Family of Man. Our descendants are our own children and grandchildren. What kind of world are they inheriting from us?

  Hilde's mother was calling from downstairs that the mystery was starting in ten minutes and that she had put the pizza in the oven. Hilde was quite exhausted after all she had read. She had been up since six o'clock this morning.

  She decided to spend the rest of the evening celebrating her birthday with her mother. But first she had to look something up in her encyclopedia.

  Gouges …… no. De Gouges? No again. Olympe de Gouges? Still a blank. This encyclopedia had not written one single word about the woman who was beheaded for her political commitment. Wasn't that scandalous!

  She was surely not just someone her father had thought up?

  Hilde ran downstairs to get a bigger encyclopedia.

  "I just have to look something up," she said to her astounded mother.

  She took the FORV to GP volume of the big family encyclopedia and ran up to her room again.

  Gouges …… there she was!

  Gouges, Marie Olympe (1748-1793), Fr. author, played a prominent role during the French Revolution with numerous brochures on social questions and several plays. One of the few during the Revolution who campaigned for human rights to apply to women. In 1791 published "Declaration on the Rights of Women." Beheaded in 1793 for daring to defend Louis XVI and oppose Robespierre. (Lit: L. Lacour, "Les Origines du feminisme contem-porain," 1900)

  Kant

  ……the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me……

  It was close to midnight before Major Albert Knag called home to wish Hilde a happy birthday. Hilde's mother answered the telephone.

  "It's for you, Hilde."

  "Hello?"

  "It's Dad."

  "Are you crazy? It's nearly midnight!"

  "I just wanted to say Happy Birthday ……"

  "You've been doing that all day."

  "…… but I didn't want to call before the day was over."

  "Why?"

  "Didn't you get my present?"

  "Yes, I did. Thank you very much."

  "I can't wait to hear what you think of it."

  "It's terrific. I have hardly eaten all day, it's so exciting."

  "I have to know how far you've gotten."

  "They just went inside the major's cabin because you started teasing them with a sea serpent."

  "The Enlightenment."

  "And Olympe de Gouges."

  "So I didn't get it completely wrong."

  "Wrong in what way?"

  "I think there's one more birthday greeting to come. But that one is set to music."

  "I'd better read a little more before I go to sleep."

  "You haven't given up, then?"

  "I've learned more in this one day than ever before. I can hardly believe that it's less than twenty-four hours since Sophie got home from school and found the first envelope."

  "It's strange how little time it takes to read."

  "But I can't help feeling sorry for her."

  "For Mom?"

  "No, for Sophie, of course."

  "Why?"

  "The poor girl is totally confused."

  "But she's only ……"

  "You were going to say she's only made up."

  "Yes, something like that."

  "I think Sophie and Alberto really exist."

  "We'll talk more about it when I get home."

  "Okay."

  "Have a nice day."

  "What?"

  "I mean good night."

  "Good night."

  When Hilde went to bed half an hour later it was till so light that she could see the garden and the little bay. It never got really dark at this time of the year.

  She played with the idea that she was inside a picture hanging on the wall of the little cabin in the woods. She wondered if one could look out of the picture into what surrounded it.

  Before she fell asleep, she read a few more pages in the big ring binder.

  Sophie put the letter from Hilde's father back on the mantel.

  "What he says about the UN is not unimportant," said Alberto, "but I don't like him interfering in my presentation."

  "I don't think you should worry too much about that." "Nevertheless, from now on I intend to ignore all extraordinary phenomena such as sea serpents and the like. Let's sit here by the window while I tell you about Kant."

  Sophie noticed a pair of glasses lying on a small table between two armchairs. She also noticed that the lenses were red.

  Maybe they were strong sunglasses . . .

  "It's almost two o'clock," she said. "I have to be home before five. Mom has probably made plans for my birthday."

  "That gives us three hours."

  "Let's start."

  "Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 in the East Prussian town of Konigsberg, the son of a master saddler. He lived there practically all his life until he died at the age of eighty. His family was deeply pious, and his own religious conviction formed a significant background to his philosophy. Like Berkeley, he felt it was essential to preserve the foundations of Christian belief."

  "I've heard enough about Berkeley, thanks."

  "Kant was the first of the philosophers we have heard about so far to have taught philosophy at a university. He was a professor of philosophy."

  "Professor?"

  "There are two kinds of philosopher. One is a person who seeks his own answers to philosophical questions. The other is someone who is an expert on the history of philosophy but does not necessarily construct his own philosophy."

  "And Kant was that kind?"

  "Kant was both. If he had simply been a brilliant professor and an expert on the ideas of other philosophers, he would never have carved a place for himself in the history of philosophy. But it is important to note that Kant had a solid grounding in the philosophic tradition of the past. He was familiar both with the rationalism of Descartes and Spinoza and the empiricism of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume."

  "I asked you not to mention Berkeley again."

  "Remember that the rationalists believed that the basis for all human knowledge lay in the mind. And that the empiricists believed all knowledge of the world proceeded from the senses. Moreover, Hume had pointed out that there are clear limits regarding which conclusions we could reach through our sense perceptions."

  "And who did Kant agree with?"

  "He thought both views were partly right, but he thought both were partly wrong, too. The question everybody was concerned with was what we can know about the world. This philosophical project had been preoccupying all philosophers since Descartes.

  "Two main possibilities were drawn up: either the world is exactly as we perceive it, or it is the way it appears to our reason."

  "And what did Kant think?"

  "Kant thought that both 'sensing' and 'reason' come into play in our conception of the world. But he thought the rationalists went too far in their claims as to how much reason can contribute, and he also thought the empiricists placed too much emphasis on sensory experience."

  "If you don't give me an example soon, it will all be just a bunch of words."

  "In his point of departure Kant agrees with Hume and the empiricists that all our knowledge of the world comes from our sensations. But——and here Kant stretches his hand out to the rationalists——in our reason there are also decisive factors that determine how we perceive the world around us. In other words, there are certain conditions in the human mind that are contributive to our conception of the world."

  "You call that an example?"

  "Let us rather do a little experiment. Could you bring those glasses from the table over there? Thank you. Now, put them on."

  Sophe put the glasses on. Everything around her became red. The pale colors became pink and the dark colors became crimson.

  "What do you see?"

  "I see exactly the same as before, except that it's all red."

  "That's because the glasses limit the way you perceive reality. Everything you see is part of the world around you, but how you see it is determined by the glasses you are wearing. So you cannot say the world is red even though you conceive it as being so."

  "No, naturally."

  "If you now took a walk in the woods, or home to Captain's Bend, you would see everything the way you normally do. But whatever you saw, it would all be red."

  "As long as I didn't take the glasses off, yes."

  "And that, Sophie, is precisely what Kant meant when he said that there are certain conditions governing the mind's operation which influence the way we experience the world."

  "What kind of conditions?"

  "Whatever we see will first and foremost be perceived as phenomena in time and space. Kant called 'time' and 'space' our two 'forms of intuition.' And he emphasized that these two 'forms' in our own mind precede every experience. In other words, we can know before we experience things that we will perceive them as phenomena in time and space. For we are not able to take off the 'glasses' of reason."

  "So he thought that perceiving things in time and space was innate?"

  "Yes, in a way. What we see may depend on whether we are raised in India or Greenland, but wherever we are, we experience the world as a series of processes in time and space. This is something we can say beforehand."

  "But aren't time and space things that exist beyond ourselves?"

  "No. Kant's idea was that time and space belong to the human condition. Time and space are first and foremost modes of perception and not attributes or the physical world."

  "That was a whole new way of looking at things."

  "For the mind of man is not just 'passive wax' which simply receives sensations from outside. The mind leaves its imprint on the way we apprehend the world. You could compare it with what happens when you pour water into a glass pitcher. The water adapts itself to the pitcher's form. In the same way our perceptions adapt themselves to our 'forms of intuition.' "

  "I think I understand what you mean."

  "Kant claimed that it is not only mind which conforms to things. Things also conform to the mind. Kant called this the Copernican Revolution in the problem of human knowledge.

  "By that he meant that it was just as new and just as radically different from former thinking as when Copernicus claimed that the earth revolved around the sun and not vice versa."

  "I see now how he could think both the rationalists and the empiricists were right up to a point. The rationalists had almost forgotten the importance of experience, and the empiricists had shut their eyes to the way our own mind influences the way we see the world."

  "And even the law of causality——which Hume believed man could not experience——belongs to the mind, according to Kant."

  "Explain that, please."

  "You remember how Hume claimed that it was only force of habit that made us see a causal link behind all natural processes. According to Hume, we cannot per-ceive the black billiard ball as being the cause of the white ball's movement. Therefore, we cannot prove that the black billiard ball will always set the white one in motion."

  "Yes, I remember."

  "But that very thing which Hume says we cannot prove is what Kant makes into an attribute of human reason. The law of causality is eternal and absolute simply because human reason perceives everything that happens as a matter of cause and effect."

  "Again, I would have thought that the law of causality lay in the physical world itself, not in our minds."

  "Kant's philosophy states that it is inherent in us. He agreed with Hume that we cannot know with certainty what the world is like 'in itself.' We can only know what the world is like 'for me'——or for everybody. Kant's greatest contribution to philosophy is the dividing line he draws between things in themselves——das Ding n sich—— and things as they appear to us."

  "I'm not so good at German."

  "Kant made an important distinction between 'the thing in itself and 'the thing for me.' We can never have certain knowledge of things 'in themselves.' We can only know how things 'appear' to us. On the other hand, prior to any particular experience we can say something about how things will be perceived by the human mind."

  "We can?"

  "Before you go out in the morning, you cannot know what you will see or experience during the day. But you can know that what you see and experience will be perceived as happening in time and space. You can moreover be confident that the law of cause and effect will apply, simply because you carry it with you as part of your consciousness."

  "But you mean we could have been made differently?"

  "Yes, we could have had a different sensory apparatus. And we could have had a different sense or time and a different feeling about space. We could even have been created in such a way that we would not go around searching for the cause of things that happen around us."

  "How do you mean?"

  "Imagine there's a cat lying on the floor in the living room. A ball comes rolling into the room. What does the cat do?"

  "I've tried that lots of times. The cat will run after the ball."

  "All right. Now imagine that you were sitting in that same room. If you suddenly see a ball come rolling in, would you also start running after it?"

  "First, I would turn around to see where the ball came from."

  "Yes, because you are a human being, you will inevitably look for the cause of every event, because the law of causality is part of your makeup."

  "So Kant says."

  "Hume showed that we can neither perceive nor prove natural laws. That made Kant uneasy. But he believed he could prove their absolute validity by showing that in reality we are talking about the laws of human cognition."

  "Will a child also turn around to see where the ball came from?"

  "Maybe not. But Kant pointed out that a child's reason is not fully developed until it has had some sensory material to work with. It is altogether senseless to talk about an empty mind."

  "No, that would be a very strange mind."

  "So now let's sum up. According to Kant, there are two elements that contribute to man's knowledge of the world. One is the external conditions that we cannot know of before we have perceived them through the senses. We can call this the material of knowledge. The other is the internal conditions in man himself——such as the perception of events as happening in time and space and as processes conforming to an unbreakable law of causality. We can call this the form of knowledge."

  Alberto and Sophie remained seated for a while gazing out of the window. Suddenly Sophie saw a little girl between the trees on the opposite side of the lake.

  "Look!" said Sophie. "Who's that?"

  "I'm sure I don't know."

  The girl was only visible for a few seconds, then she was gone. Sophie noticed that she was wearing some kind of red hat.

  "We shall under no circumstances let ourselves be distracted."

  "Go on, then."

  "Kant believed that there are clear limits to what we can know. You could perhaps say that the mind's 'glasses' set these limits."

  "In what way?"

  "You remember that philosophers before Kant had discussed the really 'big' questions——for instance, whether man has an immortal soul, whether there is a God, whether nature consists of tiny indivisible particles, and whether the universe is finite or infinite."

  "Yes."

  "Kant believed there was no certain knowledge to be obtained on these questions. Not that he rejected this type of argument. On the contrary. If he had just brushed these questions aside, he could hardly have been called a philosopher."

  "What did he do?"

  "Be patient. In such great philosophical questions, Kant believed that reason operates beyond the limits of what we humans can comprehend. At the same time, there is in our nature a basic desire to pose these same questions. But when, for example, we ask whether the universe is finite or infinite, we are asking about a ttality of which we ourselves are a tiny part. We can therefore never completely know this totality."

  "Why not?"

  "When you put the red glasses on, we demonstrated that according to Kant there are two elements that contribute to our knowledge of the world."

  "Sensory perception and reason."

  "Yes, the material of our knowledge comes to us through the senses, but this material must conform to the attributes of reason. For example, one of the attributes of reason is to seek the cause of an event."

  "Like the ball rolling across the floor."

  "If you like. But when we wonder where the world came from——and then discuss possible answers——reason is in a sense 'on hold.' For it has no sensory material to process, no experience to make use of, because we have never experienced the whole of the great reality that we are a tiny part of."

  "We are——in a way——a tiny part of the ball that comes rolling across the floor. So we can't know where it came from."

  "But it will always be an attribute of human reason to ask where the ball comes from. That's why we ask and ask, we exert ourselves to the fullest to find answers to all the deepest questions. But we never get anything firm to bite on; we never get a satisfactory answer because reason is not locked on."

  "I know exactly how that feels, thank you very much."

  "In such weighty questions as to the nature of reality, Kant showed that there will always be two contrasting viewpoints that are equally likely or unlikely, depending on what our reason tells us."

  "Examples, please."

  "It is just as meaningful to say that the world must have had a beginning in time as to say that it had no such beginning. Reason cannot decide between them. We can allege that the world has always existed, but con anything always have existed if there was never any beginning? So now we are forced to adopt the opposite view.

  "We say that the world must have begun sometime—— and it must have begun from nothing, unless we want to talk about a change from one state to another. But can something come from nothing, Sophie?"

  "No, both possibilities are equally problematic. Yet it seems one of them must be right and the other wrong."

  "You probably remember that Democritus and the materialists said that nature must consist of minimal parts that everything is made up of. Others, like Descartes, believed that it must always be possible to divide extended reality into ever smaller parts. But which of them was right?"

  "Both. Neither."

  "Further, many philosophers named freedom as one of man's most important values. At the same time we saw philosophers like the Stoics, for example, and Spinoza, who said that everything happens through the necessity of natural law. This was another case of human reason being unable to make a certain judgment, according to Kant."

  "Both views are equally reasonable and unreasonable."

  "Finally, we are bound to fail if we attempt to prove the existence of God with the aid of reason. Here the rationalists, like Descartes, had tried to prove that there must be a God simply because we have the idea of a 'supreme being.' Others, like Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, decided that there must be a God because every-thing must have a first cause."

  "What did Kant think?"

  "He rejected both these proofs of the existence of God. Neither reason nor experience is any certain basis for claiming the existence of God. As far as reason goes, it is just as likely as it is unlikely that God exists."

  "But you started by saying that Kant wanted to preserve the basis for Christian faith."

  "Yes, he opened up a religious dimension. There, where both reason and experience fall short, there occurs a vacuum that can be filled by faith."

  "That's how he saved Christianity?"

  "If you will. Now, it might be worth noting that Kant was a Protestant. Since the days of the Reformation, Protestantism has been characterized by its emphasis on faith. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, has since the early Middle Ages believed more in reason as a pillar of faith.

  "But Kant went further than simply to establish that thes weighty questions should be left to the faith of the individual. He believed that it is essential for morality to presuppose that man has an immortal soul, that God exists, and that man has a free will."

  "So he does the same as Descartes. First he is very critical of everything we can understand. And then he smuggles God in by the back door."

  "But unlike Descartes, he emphasizes most particularly that it is not reason which brought him to this point but faith. He himself called faith in the immortal soul, in God's existence, and in man's free will practical postulates."

  "Which means?"

  "To 'postulate' something is to assume something that cannot be proved. By a 'practical postulate,' Kant meant something that had to be assumed for the sake of 'praxis,' or practice; that is to say, for man's morality. 'It is a moral necessity to assume the existence of God,' he said."

  Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Sophie got up, but as Alberto gave no sign of rising, she asked: "Shouldn't we see who it is?"

  Alberto shrugged and reluctantly got up. They opened the door, and a little girl stood there in a white summer dress and a red bonnet. It was the girl they had seen on the other side of the lake. Over one arm she carried a basket of food.

  "Hi," said Sophie. "Who are you?"

  "Can't you see I am Little Red Ridinghood?"

  Sophie looked at Alberto, and Alberto nodded.

  "You heard what she said."

  "I'm looking for my grandmother's house," said the girl. "She is old and sick, but I'm taking her some food."


  "It's not here," said Alberto, "so you'd better get on your way."

  He gestured in a way that reminded Sophie of the way you brush off a fly.

  "But I'm supposed to deliver a letter," continued the girl in the red bonnet.

  With that, she took out a small envelope and handed it to Sophie. Then she went skipping away.

  "Watch out for the wolf!" Sophie called after her.

  Alberto was already on his way back into the living room.

  "Just think! That was Little Red Ridinghood," said Sophie.

  "And it's no good warning her. She will go to her grandmother's house and be eaten by the wolf. She never learns. It will repeat itself to the end of time "

  "But I have never heard that she knocked on the door of another house before she went to her grandmother's."

  "A bagatelle, Sophie."

  Now Sophie looked at the envelope she had been given. It was addressed "To Hilde." She opened it and read aloud:

  Dear Hilde, If the human brain was simple enough for us to understand, we would still be so stupid that we couldn't understand it. Love, Dad.

  Alberto nodded. "True enough. I believe Kant said something to that effect. We cannot expect to understand what we are. Maybe we can comprehend a flower or an insect, but we can never comprehend ourselves. Even less can we expect to comprehend the universe."

  Sophie had to read the cryptic sentence in the note to Hilde several times before Alberto went on: "We are not going to be interrupted by sea serpents and the like. Before we stop for today, I'll tell you about Kant's ethics."

  "Please hurry. I have to go home soon."

  "Hume's skepticism with regard to what reason and the senses can tell us forced Kant to think through many of life's important questions again. Not least in the area of ethics."

  "Didn't Hume say that you can never prove what is right and what is wrong2 You can't draw conclusions from is - sentence? to ought-sentences."

  "For Hume it was neither our reason nor our experience that determined the difference between right and wrong. It was simply our sentiments. This was too tenuous a basis for Kant."

  "I can imagine."

  "Kant had always felt that the difference between right and wrong was a matter of reason, not sentiment. In this he agreed with the rationalists, who said the ability to distinguish between right and wrong is inherent in human reason. Everybody knows what is right or wrong, not because we have learned it but because it is born in the mind. According to Kant, everybody has 'practical reason,' that is, the intelligence that gives us the capacity to discern what is right or wrog in every case."

  "And that is innate?"

  "The ability to tell right from wrong is just as innate as all the other attributes of reason. Just as we are all intelligent beings, for example, perceiving everything as having a causal relation, we all have access to the same universal moral law.

  "This moral law has the same absolute validity as the physical laws. It is just as basic to our morality as the statements that everything has a cause, or that seven plus five is twelve, are basic to our intelligence."

  "And what does that moral law say?"

  "Since it precedes every experience, it is 'formal.' That is to say, it is not bound to any particular situation of moral choice. For it applies to all people in all societies at all times. So it does not say you shall do this or this if you find yourself in that or that situation. It says how you are to behave in all situations."

  "But what is the point of having a moral law implanted inside yourself if it doesn't tell you what to do in specific situations?"

  "Kant formulates the moral law as a categorical imperative. By this he means that the moral law is 'categorical,' or that it applies to all situations. It is, moreover, 'imperative,' which means it is commanding and therefore absolutely authoritative."

  "Kant formulates this 'categorical imperative' in several ways. First he says: Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a Universal Law of Nature."

  "So when I do something, I must make sure I want everybody else to do the same if they are in the same situation."

  "Exactly. Only then will you be acting in accordance with the moral law within you. Kant also formulates the 'categorical imperative' in this way: Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end."

  "So we must not exploit other people to our own advantage."

  "No, because every man is an end in himself. But that does not only apply to others, it also applies to you yourself. You must not exploit yourself as a mere means to achieving something, either."

  "It reminds me of the golden rule: Do unto others . . ."

  "Yes, that is also a 'formal' rule of conduct that basically covers all ethical choices. You could say that the golden rule says the same thing as Kant's universal law of morals."

  "But surely this is only an assertion. Hume was probably right in that we can't prove what is right or wrong by reason."

  "According to Kant, the law of morals is just as absolute and just as universal as the law of causality. That cannot be proved by reason either, but it is nevertheless absolute and unalterable. Nobody would deny that."

  "I get the feeling that what we are really talking about is conscience. Because everybody has a conscience, don't they?"

  "Yes. When Kant describes the law of morals, he is describing the human conscience. We cannot prove what our conscience tells us, but we know it, nevertheless."

  "Sometimes I might only be kind and helpful to others because I know it pays off. It could be a way of becoming popular."

  "But if you share with others only to be popular, you are not acting out of respect for moral law. You might be acting in accordance with moral law——and that could be fair enough——but if it is to be a moral action, you must have conquered yourself. Only when you do something purely out of duty can it be called a moral action. Kant's ethics is therefore sometimes called duty ethics."

  "I can feel it my duty to collect money for the Red Cross or the church bazaar."

  "Yes, and the important thing is that you do it because you know it is right. Even if the money you collect gets lost in the street, or is not sufficient to feed all the mouths it is intended to, you obeyed the moral law. You acted out of good will, and according to Kant, it is this good will which determines whether or not the action was morally right, not the consequences of the action. Kant's ethics is therefore also called a good will ethic."

  "Why was it so important to him to know exacly when one acts out of respect for moral law? Surely the most important thing is that what we do really helps other peo-pie."

  "Indeed it is and Kant would certainly not disagree. But only when we know in ourselves that we are acting out of respect for moral law are we acting freely."

  "We act freely only when we obey a law? Isn't that kind of peculiar?"

  "Not according to Kant. You perhaps remember that he had to 'assume'or 'postulate' that man has a free will. This is an important point, because Kant also said that everything obeys the law of causality. How, then, can we have a free will?"

  "Search me."

  "On this point Kant divides man into two parts in a way not dissimilar to the way Descartes claimed that man was a 'dual creature,' one with both a body and a mind. As material creatures, we are wholly and fully at the mercy of causality's unbreakable law, says Kant. We do not decide what we perceive——perception comes to us through necessity and influences us whether we like it or not. But we are not only material creatures——we are also creatures of reason.

  "As material beings we belong wholly to the natural world. We are therefore subject to causal relations. As such, we have no free will. But as rational beings we have a part in what Kant calls das Ding an sich——that is, the world as it exists in itself, independent of our sensory impressions. Only when we follow our 'practical reason'—— which enables us to make moral choices——do we exercise our free will, because when we conform to moral law, it is we who make the law we are conforming to."

  "Yes, that's true in a way. It is me, or something in me, which tells me not to be mean to others."

  "So when you choose not to be mean——even if it is against your own interests——you are then acting freely."

  "You're not especially free or independent if you just do whatever you want, in any case."

  "One can become a slave to all kinds of things. One can even become a slave to one's own egoism. Independence and freedom are exactly what are required to rise above one's desires and vices."

  "What about animals? I suppose they just follow their inclinations and needs. They don't have any freedom to follow moral law, do they?"

  "No, that's the difference between animals and humans."

  "I see that now."

  "And finally we could perhaps say that Kant succeeded in showing the way out of the impasse that philosophy had reached in the struggle between rationalism and empiricism. With Kant, an era in the history of philosophy is therefore at an end. He died in 1804, when the cultural epoch we call Romanticism was in the ascendant. One of his most quoted sayings is carved on his gravestone in Konigsberg: Two things fill my mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the reflection dwells on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.' "

  Alberto leaned back in his chair. "That's it," he said. "I think I have told you what's most important about Kant."

  "Anyway, it's a quarter past four."

  "But there is just one thing. Please give me a minute."

  "I never leave the classroom before the teacher is finished."

  "Did I say that Kant believed we had no freedom if we lived only as creatures of the senses?"

  "Yes, you said something like that."

  "But if we obey universal reason we are free and independent. Did I say that, too?"

  "Yes. Why are you saying it again now?"

  Alberto leaned toward Sophie, looked deep into her eyes, and whispered: "Don't believe everything you see, Sophie."

  "What do you mean by that?"

  "Just turn the other way, child."

  "Now, I don't understand what you mean at all."

  "People usually say, I'll believe that when I see it. But don't believe what you see, either."

  "You said something like that once before."

  "Yes, about Parmenides."

  "But I still don't know what you mean."

  "Well, we sat out there on the step, talking. Then that so-called sea serpent began to flap about in the water."

  "Wasn't it peculiar!"

  "Not at all. Then Little Red Ridinghood came to the door. 'I'm looking for my grandmother's house.' What a sillyerformance! It's just the major's tricks, Sophie. Like the banana message and that idiotic thunderstorm."

  "Do you think …… ?"

  "But I said I had a plan. As long as we stick to our reason, he can't trick us. Because in a way we are free. He can let us 'perceive' all kinds of things; nothing would surprise me. If he lets the sky go dark or elephants fly, I shall only smile. But seven plus five is twelve. That's a fact that survives all his comic-strip effects. Philosophy is the opposite of fairy tales."

  Sophie sat for a moment staring at him in amazement.

  "Off you go," he said finally. "I'll call you for a session on Romanticism. You also need to hear about Hegel and Kierkegaard. But there's only a week to go before the major arrives at Kjevik airport. Before then, we must manage to free ourselves from his gluey fantasies. I'll say no more, Sophie. Except that I want you to know I'm working on a wonderful plan for both of us."

  "I'll be off, then."

  "Wait——we may have forgotten the most important thing."

  "What's that?"

  "The birthday song, Sophie. Hilde is fifteen today."

  "So am I."

  "You are, too, yes. Let's sing then."

  They both stood up and sang:

  "Happy Birthday to You."

  It was half-past four. Sophie ran down to the water's edge and rowed over to the other side. She pulled the boat up into the rushes and began to hurry through the woods.

  When she reached the path, she suddenly noticed something moving between the trees. She wondered if it was Little Red Ridinghood wandering alone through the woods to her grandmother's, but the figure between the trees was much smaller.

  She went nearer. The figure was no bigger than a doll. It was brown and was wearing a red sweater.

  Sophie stopped dead in her tracks when she realized it was a teddy bear.

  That someone could have left a teddy bear in the forest was in itself no surprise. But this teddy bear was alive, and seemed intensely preoccupied.

  "Hi," said Sophie.

  "My name is Winnie-the-Pooh," said the teddy bear, "and I have unfortunately lost my way in the woods on this otherwise very fine day. I have certainly never seen you before."

  "Maybe I'm the one who has never been here before," said Sophie. "So for that matter you could still be back home in Hundred Acre Wood."

  "No, that sum is much too hard. Don't forget I'm only a small bear and I'm not very clever."

  "I have heard of you."

  "And I suppose you are Alice. Christopher Robin told us about you one day. I suppose that's how we met. You drank so much out of one bottle that you got smaller and smaller. But then you drank out of another bottle and started to grow again. You really have to be careful what you put in your mouth. I ate so much once that I got stuck in a rabbit hole."

  "I am not Alice."

  "It makes no difference who we are. The important thing is that we are. That's what Owl says, and he is very wise. Seven plus four is twelve, he once said on quite an ordinary sunny day. Both Eeyore and me felt very stupid, 'cos it's hard to do sums. It's much easier to figure out the weather."

  "My name is Sophie."

  "Nice to meet you, Sophie. As I said, I think you must be new around here. But now this little bear has to go 'cos I've got to find Piglet. We are going to a great big garden party for Rabbit and his friends."

  He waved with one paw. Sophie saw now that he was holding a little folded piece of paper in the other.

  "What is that you've got there?" she asked.

  Winnie-the-Pooh produced the paper and said: "This was what made me lose my way."

  "But it's only a piece of paper."

  "No it's not only a piece of paper. It's a letter to Hilde-through-the-Looking-Glass."

  "Oh——I can take that."

  "Are you the girl in the looking glass?"

  "No, but. . ."

  "A letter must always be delivered personally. Christopher Robin had to teach me that only yesterday."

  "But I know Hilde."

  "Makes no difference. Even if you know a person very well, you should never read their letters."

  "I mean, I can give it to Hilde."

  "That's quite a different thing. Here you are, Sophie. If I can get rid of this letter, I can probably find Piget as well. To find Hilde-through-the-Looking-Glassyou must first find a big looking glass. But that is no easy matter round here."

  And with that the little bear handed over the folded paper to Sophie and set off through the woods on his little feet. When he was out of sight, Sophie unfolded the piece of paper and read it:

  Dear Hilde, It's too bad that Alberto didn't also tell Sophie that Kant advocated the establishment of a "league of nations." In his treatise Perpetual Peace, he wrote that all countries should unite in a league of the nations, which would assure peaceful coexistence between nations. About 125 years after the appearance of this treatise in 1795, the League of Nations was founded, after the First World War. After the Second World War it was replaced by the United Nations. So you could say that Kant was the father of the UN idea. Kant's point was that man's "practical reason" requires the nations to emerge from their wild state of nature which creates wars, and contract to keep the peace. Although the road to the establishment of a league of nations is laborious, it is our duty to work for the "universal and lasting securing of peace." The establishment of such a league was for Kant a far-distant goal. You could almost say it was philosophy's ultimate goal. I am in Lebanon at the moment. Love, Dad.

  Sophie put the note in her pocket and continued on her way homeward. This was the kind of meeting in the woods Alberto had warned her about. But she couldn't have let the little teddy wander about in the woods on a never ending hunt for Hilde-through-the-Looking-Glass, could she?

  Romanticism

  …the path of mystery leads inwards…

  Hilde let the heavy ring binder slide into her lap. Then she let it slide further onto the floor.

  It was already lighter in the room than when she had gone to bed. She looked at the clock. It was almost three. She snuggled down under the covers and closed her eyes. As she was falling asleep she wondered why her father had begun to write about Little Red Ridinghood and Winnie-the-Pooh ……

  She slept until eleven o'clock the next morning. The tension in her body told her that she had dreamed intensely all night, but she could not remember what she had dreamed. It felt as if she had been in a totally different reality.

  She went downstairs and fixed breakfast. Her mother had put on her blue jumpsuit ready to go down to the boathouse and work on the motorboat. Even if it was not afloat, it had to be shipshape when Dad got back from Lebanon.

  "Do you want to come down and give me a hand?"

  "I have to read a little first. Should I come down with some tea and a mid-morning snack?"

  "What mid-morning?"

  When Hilde had eaten she went back up to her room, made her bed, and sat herself comfortably with the ring binder resting against her knees.

  *    *    *

  Sophie slipped through the hedge and stood in the big garden which she had once thought of as her own Garden of Eden . . .

  There were branches and leaves strewn everywhere after the storm the night before. It seemed to her that there was some connection between the storm and the fallen branches and her meeting with Little Red Ridinghood and Winnie-the-Pooh.

  She went into the house. Her mother had just gotten home and was putting some bottles of soda in the refrigerator. On the table was a delicious-looking chocolate cake.

  "Are you expecting visitors?" asked Sophie; she had almost forgotten it was her birthday.

  "We're having the real party next Saturday, but I thought we ought to have a little celebration today as well."

  "How?"

  "I have invited Joanna and her parents."

  "Fine with me."

  The visitors arrived shortly before half-past seven. The atmosphere was somewhat formal——Sophie's mother very seldom saw Joanna's parents socially.

  It was not long before Sophie and Joanna went upstairs to Sophie's room to write the garden party invitations. Since Alberto Knox was also to be invited, Sophie had the idea of inviting people to a "philosophical garden party." Joanna didn't object. It was Sophie's party after all, and theme parties wee "in" at the moment.

  Finally they had composed the invitation. It had taken two hours and they couldn't stop laughing.

  Dear. . .

  You are hereby invited to a philosophical garden party at 3 Clover Close on Saturday June 23 (Midsummer Eve) at 7 p.m. During the evening we shall hopefully solve the mystery of life. Please bring warm sweaters and bright ideas suitable for solving the riddles of philosophy. Because of the danger of woodland fires we unfortunately cannot have a bonfire, but everybody is free to let the flames of their imagination flicker unimpeded. There will be at least one genuine philosopher among the invited guests. For this reason the party is a strictly private arrangement. Members of the press will not be admitted. With regards,Joanna Ingebrigtsen (organizing committee)

  and Sophie Amundsen (hostess)

  The two girls went downstairs to their parents, who were now talking somewhat more freely. Sophie handed the draft invitation, written with a calligraphic pen, to her mother.

  "Could you make eighteen copies, please." It was not the first time she had asked her mother to make photocopies for her at work.

  Her mother read the invitation and then handed it to Joanna's father.

  "You see what I mean? She is going a little crazy."

  "But it looks really exciting," said Joanna's father, handing the sheet on to his wife. "I wouldn't mind coming to that party myself."

  Barbie read the invitation, then she said: "Well, I must say! Can we come too, Sophie?"

  "Let's say twenty copies, then," said Sophie, taking them at their word.

  "You must be nuts!" said Joanna.

  Before Sophie went to bed that night she stood for a long time gazing out of the window. She remembered how she had once seen the outline of Alberto's figure in the darkness. It was more than a month ago. Now it was again late at night, but this was a white summer night.

  Sophie heard nothing from Alberto until Tuesday morning. He called just after her mother had left for work.

  "Sophie Amundsen."

  "And Alberto Knox."

  "I thought so."

  "I'm sorry I didn't call before, but I've been working hard on our plan. I can only be alone and work undisturbed when the major is concentrating wholly and com-pletely on you."

  "That's weird."

  "Then I seize the opportunity to conceal myself, you see. The best surveillance system in the world has its limitations when it is only controlled by one single person …… I got your card."

  "You mean the invitation?"

  "Dare you risk it?"

  "Why not?"

  "Anything can happen at a party like that."

  "Are you coming?"

  "Of course I'm coming. But there is another thing. Did you remember that it's the day Hilde's father gets back from Lebanon?"

  "No, I didn't, actually."

  "It can't possibly be pure coincidence that he lets you arrange a philosophical garden party the same day as he gets home to Bjerkely."

  "I didn't think about it, as I said."

  "I'm sure he did. But all right, we'll talk about that later. Can you come to the major's cabin this morning?"

  "I'm supposed to weed the flower beds."

  "Let's say two o'clock, then. Can you make that?"

  "I'll be there."

  Alberto Knox was sitting on the step again when Sophie arrived.

  "Have a seat," he said, getting straight down to work.

  "Previously we spoke of the Renaissance, the Baroque period, and the Enlightenment. Today we are going to talk about Romanticism, which could be described as Europe's last great cultural epoch. We are approaching the end of a long story, my child."

  "Did Romanticism last that long?"

  "It began toward the end of the eighteenth century and lasted till the middle of the nineteenth. But after 1850 one can no longer speak of whole 'epochs' which comprise poetry, philosophy, art, science, and music."

  "Was Romanticism one of those epochs?"

  "It has been said that Romanticism was Europe's last common approach to life. It started in Germany, arising as a reaction to the Enlightenment's unequivocal emphasis on reason. After Kant and his cool intellectualism, it was as if German youth heaved a sigh of relief."

  "What did they replace it with?"

  "The new catchwords were'feeling,"imagination,"experience,' and 'yearning.' Some of the Enlightenment thinkers had drawn attention to the importance of feel-ing——not least Rousseau——but at that time it was a criticism of the bias toward reason. What had been an undercurrent now became the mainstream of German culture."

  "So Kant's popularity didn't last very long?"

  "Well, it did and it didn't. Many of the Romantics saw themselves as Kant's successors, since Kant had established that there was a limit to what we can know of 'das Ding an sich.' On the other hand, he had underlined the importance of the ego's contribution to knowledge, or cognition. The individual was now completely free to interpret life in his own way. The Romantics exploited this in an almost unrestrained 'ego-worship,' which led to the exaltation of artistic genius."

  "Were there a lot of these geniuses?"

  "Beethoven was one. His music expresses his own feelings and yearnings. Beethoven was in a sense a 'free' artist——unlike the Baroque masters such as Bach and Handel, who composed their works to the glory of God, mostly in strict musical forms."

  "I only know the Moonlight Sonata and the Fifth Symphony."

  "But you know how romantic the Moonlight Sonata is, and you can hear how dramatically Beethoven expresses himself in the Fifth Symphony."

  "You said the Renaissance humanists were individualists too."

  "Yes. There were many similarities between the Renaissance and Romanticism. A typical one was the importance of art to human cognition. Kant made a considerable contribution here as well. In his aesthetics he investigated what happens when we are overwhelmed by beauty——in a work of art, for instance. When we abandon ourselves to a work of art with no other intention than the aesthetic experience itself, we are brought closer to an experience of 'das Ding an sich.' "

  "So the artist can provide something philosophers can't express?"

  "That was the view of the Romantics. According to Kant, the artist plays freely on his faculty of cognition. The German poet Schiller developed Kant's thought further. He wrote that the activity of the artist is like playing, and man is only free when he plays, because then he makes up his own rules. The Romantics believed that only art could bring us closer to 'the inexpressible.' Some went as far as to compare the artist to God."

  "Because the artist creates his own reality the way God created the world."

  "It was said that the artist had a 'universe-creating imagination.' In his transports of artistic rapture he could sense the dissolving of the boundary between dream and reality.

  "Novalis, one of the young geniuses, said that 'the world becomes a dream, and the dream becomes reality.' He wrote a novel called Heinrich von Ofterdingen set in Medieval times. It was unfinished when he died in 1801, but it was nevertheless a very significant novel. It tells of the young Heinrich who is searching for the 'blue flower' that he once saw in a dream and has yearned for ever since. The English Romantic poet Coleridge expressed the same idea; saying something like this:

  What if you slept? And what if, in your sleep, you dreamed? And what if, in your dream, you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand? Ah, what then?"

  "How pretty!"

  "This yearning for something distant and unattainable was characteristic of the Romantics. They longed for bygone eras, such as the Middle Ages, which now became enthusiastically reappraised after the Enlightenment's negative evaluation. And they longed for distant cultures like the Orient with its mysticism. Or else they would feel drawn to Night, to Twilight, to old ruins and the supernatural. They were preoccupied with what we usually refer to as the dark side of life, or the murky, uncanny, and mystical."

  "It sounds to me like an exciting period. Who were these Romantics?"

  "Romanticism was in the main an urban phenomenon. In the first half of the last century there was, in fact, a flourishing metropolitan culture in many parts of Eurpe, not least in Germany. The typical Romantics were young men, often university students, although they did not always take their studies very seriously. They had a decidedly anti-middle class approach to life and could refer to the police or their landladies as philistines, for example, or simply as the enemy."

  "I would never have dared rent a room to a Romantic!"

  "The first generation of Romantics were young in about 1 800, and we could actually call the Romantic Movement Europe's first student uprising. The Romantics were not unlike the hippies a hundred and fifty years later."

  "You mean flower power and long hair, strumming their guitars and lying around?"

  "Yes. It was once said that 'idleness is the ideal of genius, and indolence the virtue of the Romantic.' It was the duty of the Romantic to experience life——or to dream himself away from it. Day-to-day business could be taken care of by the philistines."

  "Byron was a Romantic poet, wasn't he?"

  "Yes, both Byron and Shelley were Romantic poets of the so-called Satanic school. Byron, moreover, provided the Romantic Age with its idol, the Byronic hero——the alien, moody, rebellious spirit——in life as well as in art. Byron himself could be both willful and passionate, and being also handsome, he was besieged by women of fashion. Public gossip attributed the romantic adventures of his verses to his own life, but although he had numerous liaisons, true love remained as illusive and as unattainable for him as Novalis's blue flower. Novalis became engaged to a fourteen-year-old girl. She died four days after her fifteenth birthday, but Novalis remained devoted to her for the rest of his short life."

  "Did you say she died four days after her fifteenth birthday?"

  "Yes . . ."

  "I am fifteen years and four days old today."

  "So you are."

  "What was her name?"

  "Her name was Sophie."

  "What?"

  "Yes, it was. . ."

  "You scare me. Could it be a coincidence?"

  "I couldn't say, Sophie. But her name was Sophie."

  "Go on!"

  "Novalis himself died when he was only twenty-nine. He was one of the 'y°un9 dead.' Many of the Romantics died young, usually of tuberculosis. Some committed suicide . . ."

  "Ugh!"

  "Those who lived to be old usually stopped being Romantics at about the age of thirty. Some of them went on to become thoroughly middle-class and conservative."

  "They went over to the enemy, then."

  "Maybe. But we were talking about romantic love. The theme of unrequited love was introduced as early as 1774 by Goethe in his novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. The book ends with young Werther shooting himself when he can't have the woman he loves . . ."

  "Was it necessary to go that far?"

  "The suicide rate rose after the publication of the novel, and for a time the book was banned in Denmark and Norway. So being a Romantic was not without danger. Strong emotions were involved."

  "When you say 'Romantic/ I think of those great big landscape paintings, with dark forests and wild, rugged nature …… preferably in swirling mists."

  "Yes, one of the features of Romanticism was this yearning for nature and nature's mysteries. And as I said, it was not the kind of thing that arises in rural areas. You may recall Rousseau, who initiated the slogan 'back to nature.' The Romantics gave this slogan popular currency. Romanticism represents not least a reaction to the Enlightenment's mechanistic universe. It was said that Romanticism implied a renaissance of the old cosmic consciousness."

  "Explain that, please."

  "It means viewing nature as a whole; the Romantics were tracing their roots not only back to Spinoza, but also to Plotinus and Renaissance philosophers like Jakob Bohme and Giordano Bruno. What all these thinkers had in common was that they experienced a divine 'ego' in nature."

  "They were Pantheists then . . ."

  "Both Descartes and Hume had drawn a sharp line between the ego and 'extended' reality. Kant had also left behind him a sharp distinction between the cognitive 'I' and nature 'in itself.' Now it was said that nature is nothing but one big 'I.' The Romantics also used te expressions 'world soul' or 'world spirit.' "

  "I see."

  "The leading Romantic philosopher was Schelling, who lived from 1775 to 1854. He wanted to unite mind and matter. All of nature——both the human soul and physical reality——is the expression of one Absolute, or world spirit, he believed."

  "Yes, just like Spinoza."

  "Nature is visible spirit, spirit is invisible nature, said Schelling, since one senses a 'structuring spirit' everywhere in nature. He also said that matter is slumbering intelligence."

  "You'll have to explain that a bit more clearly."

  "Schelling saw a 'world spirit' in nature, but he saw the same 'world spirit' in the human mind. The natural and the spiritual are actually expressions of the same thing."

  "Yes, why not?"

  "World spirit can thus be sought both in nature and in one's own mind. Novalis could therefore say 'the path of mystery leads inwards.' He was saying that man bears the whole universe within himself and comes closest to the mystery of the world by stepping inside himself."

  "That's a very lovely thought."

  "For many Romantics, philosophy, nature study, and poetry formed a synthesis. Sitting in your attic dashing off inspired verses and investigating the life of plants or the composition of rocks were only two sides of the same coin because nature is not a dead mechanism, it is one living world spirit."

  "Another word and I think I'll become a Romantic."

  "The Norwegian-born naturalist Henrik Steffens——whom Wergeland called 'Norway's departed laurel leaf because he had settled in Germany——went to Copenhagen in 1801 to lecture on German Romanticism. He characterized the Romantic Movement by saying, 'Tired of the eternal efforts to fight our way through raw matter, we chose another way and sought to embrace the infinite. We went inside ourselves and created a new world …… ' "

  "How can you remember all that?"

  "A bagatelle, child."

  "Go on, then."

  "Schelling also saw a development in nature from earth and rock to the human mind. He drew attention to very gradual transitions from inanimate nature to more complicated life forms. It was characteristic of the Romantic view in general that nature was thought of as an organism, or in other words, a unity which is constantly developing its innate potentialities. Nature is like a flower unfolding its leaves and petals. Or like a poet unfolding his verses."

  "Doesn't that remind you of Aristotle?"

  "It does indeed. The Romantic natural philosophy had Aristotelian as well as Neoplatonic overtones. Aristotle had a more organic view of natural processes than the mechanical materialists . . ."

  "Yes, that's what I thought. . ."

  "We find similar ideas at work in the field of history. A man who came to have great significance for the Romantics was the historical philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder, who lived from 1744 to 1803. He believed that history is characterized by continuity, evolution, and design. We say he had a 'dynamic' view of history be-cause he saw it as a process. The Enlightenment philosophers had often had a 'static' view of history. To them, there was only one universal reason which there could be more or less of at various periods. Herder showed that each historical epoch had its own intrinsic value and each nation its own character or 'soul.' The question is whether we can identify with other cultures."

  "So, just as we have to identify with another person's Situation to understand them better, we have to identify with other cultures to understand them too."

  "That is taken for granted nowadays. But in the Romantic period it was a new idea. Romanticism helped strengthen the feeling of national identity. It is no coinci-dence that the Norwegian struggle for national independence flourished at that particular time——in 1814."

  "I see."

  "Because Romanticism involved new orientations in so many areas, it has been usual to distinguish between two forms of Romanticism. There is what we call Universal Romanticism, referring to the Romantics who were preoccupied with nature, world soul, and artistic genius. This form of Romanticis flourished first, especially around 1800, in Germany, in the town of Jena."

  "And the other?"

  "The other is the so-called National Romanticism, which became popular a little later, especially in the town of Heidelberg. The National Romantics were mainly interested in the history of 'the people,' the language of 'the people,' and the culture of 'the people' in general. And 'the people' were seen as an organism unfolding its innate potentiality——exactly like nature and history."

  "Tell me where you live, and I'll tell you who you are."

  "What united these two aspects of Romanticism was first and foremost the key word 'organism.' The Romantics considered both a plant and a nation to be a living organism. A poetic work was also a living organism. Language was an organism. The entire physical world, even, was considered one organism. There is therefore no sharp dividing line between National Romanticism and Universal Romanticism. The world spirit was just as much present in the people and in popular culture as in nature and art."

  "I see."

  "Herder had been the forerunner, collecting folk songs from many lands under the eloquent title Voices of the People. He even referred to folktales as 'the mother tongue of the people.' The Brothers Grimm and others began to collect folk songs and fairy tales in Heidelberg. You must know of Grimm's Fairy Tales."

  "Oh sure, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Rumpelstiltskin, The Frog Prince, Hansel and Gretel . . ."

  "And many more. In Norway we had Asbj0rnsen and Moe, who traveled around the country collecting 'folks' own tales.' It was like harvesting a juicy fruit that was suddenly discovered to be both good and nourishing. And it was urgent——the fruit had already begun to fall. Folk songs were collected; the Norwegian language began to be studied scientifically. The old myths and sagas from heathen times were rediscovered, and composers all over Europe began to incorporate folk melodies into their compositions in an attempt to bridge the gap between folk music and art music."

  "What's art music?"

  "Art music is music composed by a particular person, like Beethoven. Folk music was not written by any particular person, it came from the people. That's why we don't know exactly when the various folk melodies date from. We distinguish in the same way between folktales and art tales."

  "So art tales are …… ?"

  "They are tales written by an author, like Hans Christian Andersen. The fairy tale genre was passionately cultivated by the Romantics. One of the German masters of the genre was E.T.A, Hoffmann."

  "I've heard of The Tales of Hoffmann."

  "The fairy tale was the absolute literary ideal of the Romantics——in the same way that the absolute art form of the Baroque period was the theater. It gave the poet full scope to explore his own creativity."

  "He could play God to a fictional universe."

  "Precisely. And this is a good moment to sum up."

  "Go ahead."

  "The philosophers of Romanticism viewed the 'world soul' as an 'ego' which in a more or less dreamlike state created everything in the world. The philosopher Fichte said that nature stems from a higher, unconscious imagination. Scheliing said explicitly that the world is 'in God.' God is aware of some of it, he believed, but there are other aspects of nature which represent the unknown in God. For God also has a dark side."

  "The thought is fascinating and frightening. It reminds me of Berkeley."

  "The relationship between the artist and his work was seen in exactly the same light. The fairy tale gave the writer free rein to exploit his 'universe-creating imagination.' And even the creative act was not always completely conscious. The writer could experience that his story was being written by some innate force. He could practically be in a hypnotic trance while he wrote."

  "He could?"

  "Yes, but then he would suddenly destroy the illusion. He would intervene in the story and address ironic comments to the reader, so that the reader, at least momentarily, would be reminded that it was, after all, only a story."

  "I see."

  "At the same tim the writer could remind his reader that it was he who was manipulating the fictional universe. This form of disillusion is called 'romantic irony.' Henrik Ibsen, for example, lets one of the characters in Peer Gynt say: 'One cannot die in the middle of Act Five.' "

  "That's a very funny line, actually. What he's really saying is that he's only a fictional character."

  "The statement is so paradoxical that we can certainly emphasize it with a new section."

  "What did you mean by that?"

  "Oh, nothing, Sophie. But we did say that Novalis's fiancee was called Sophie, just like you, and that she died when she was only fifteen years and four days old ……"

  "You're scaring me, don't you know that?"

  Alberto sat staring, stony faced. Then he said: "But you needn't be worriedthat you will meet the same fate as Novalis's fiancee."

  "Why not?"

  "Because there are several more chapters."

  "What are you saying?"

  "I'm saying that anyone reading the story of Sophie and Alberto will know intuitively that there are many pages of the story still to come. We have only gotten as far as Romanticism."

  "You're making me dizzy."

  "It's really the major trying to make Hilde dizzy. It's not very nice or him, is it? New section!"

  *    *    *

  Alberto had hardly finished speaking when a boy came running out of the woods. He had a turban on his head, and he was carrying an oil lamp.

  Sophie grabbed Alberto's arm.

  "Who's that?" she asked.

  The boy answered for himself: "My name is Aladdin and I've come all the way from Lebanon."

  Alberto looked at him sternly:

  "And what do you have in your lamp?"

  The boy rubbed the lamp, and out of it rose a thick cloud which formed itself into the figure of a man. He had a black beard like Alberto's and a blue beret. Floating above the lamp, he said: "Can you hear me, Hilde? I suppose it's too late for any more birthday greetings. I just wanted to say that Bjerkely and the south country back home seem like fairyland to me here in Lebanon. I'll see you there in a few days."

  So saying, the figure became a cloud again and was sucked back into the lamp. The boy with the turban put the lamp under his arm, ran into the woods, and was gone.

  "I don't believe this," said Sophie.

  "A bagatelle, my dear."

  "The spirit of the lamp spoke exactly like Hilde's father."

  "That's because it was Hilde's father——in spirit."

  "But. . ."

  "Both you and I and everything around us are living deep in the major's mind. It is late at night on Saturday, April 28, and all the UN soldiers are asleep around the major, who, although still awake, is not far from sleep himself. But he must finish the book he is to give Hilde as a fifteenth birthday present. That's why he has to work, Sophie, that's why the poor man gets hardly any rest."

  "I give up."

  "New section!"

  Sophie and Alberto sat looking across the little lake. Alberto seemed to be in some sort of trance. After a while Sophie ventured to nudge his shoulder.

  "Were you dreaming?"

  "Yes, he was interfering directly there. The last few paragraphs were dictated by him to the letter. He should be ashamed of himself. But now he has given himself away and come out into the open. Now we know that we are living our lives in a book which Hilde's father will send home to Hilde as a birthday present. You heard what I said? Well, it wasn't 'me' saying it."

  "If what you say is true, I'm going to run away from the book and go my own way."

  "That's exactly what I am planning. But before that can happen, we must try and talk with Hilde. She reads every word we say. Once we succeed in getting away from here it will be much harder to contact her. That means we must grasp the opportunity now."

  "What do we say?"

  "I think the major is just about to fall asleep over his typewriter——although his fingers are still racing feverishly over the keys ……"

  "It's a creepy thought."

  "This is the moment when he may write something he will regret later. And he has no correction fluid. That's a vital part of my plan. May no one give the major a bottle of correction fluid!"

  "He won't get so much as a singlecoverup strip from me!"

  "I'm calling on that poor girl here and now to rebel against her own father. She should be ashamed to let herself be amused by his self-indulgent playing with shad-ows. If only we had him here, we'd give him a taste of our indignation!"

  "But he's not here."

  "He is here in spirit and soul, but he's also safely tucked away in Lebanon. Everything around us is the major's ego."

  "But he is more than what we can see here."

  "We are but shadows in the major's soul. And it is no easy matter for a shadow to turn on its master, Sophie. It requires both cunning and strategy. But we have an opportunity of influencing Hilde. Only an angel can rebel against God."

  "We could ask Hilde to give him a piece of her mind the moment he gets home. She could tell him he's a rogue. She could wreck his boat——or at least, smash the lantern."

  Alberto nodded. Then he said: "She could also run away from him That would be much easier for her than it is for us. She could leave the major's house and never return. Wouldn't that be fitting for a major who plays with his 'universe-creating imagination' at our expense?"

  "I can picture it. The major travels all over the world searching for Hilde. But Hilde has vanished into thin air because she can't stand living with a father who plays the fool at Alberto's and Sophie's expense."

  "Yes, that's it! Plays the fool! That's what I meant by his using us as birthday amusement. But he'd better watch out, Sophie. So had Hilde!"

  "How do you mean?"

  "Are you sitting tight?"

  "As long as there are no more genies from a lamp."

  "Try to imagine that everything that happens to us goes on in someone else's mind. We are that mind. That means we have no soul, we are someone else's soul. So far we are on familiar philosophical ground. Both Berkeley and Schelling would prick up their ears."

  "And?"

  "Now it is possible that this soul is Hilde M0ller Knag's father. He is over there in Lebanon writing a book on philosophy for his daughter's fifteenth birthday. When Hilde wakes up on June 15, she finds the book on her bedside table, and now she——and anyone else——can read about us. It has long been suggested that this 'present' could be shared with others."

  "Yes, I remember."

  "What I am saying to you now will be read by Hilde after her father in Lebanon once imagined that I was telling you he was in Lebanon …… imagining me telling you that he was in Lebanon."

  Sophie's head was swimming. She tried to remember what she had heard about Berkeley and the Romantics. Alberto Knox continued: "But they shouldn't feel so cocky because of that. They are the last people who should laugh,  because laughter can  easily get stuck  in  their throat."

  "Who are we talking about?"

  "Hilde and her father. Weren't we talking about them?"

  "But why shouldn't they feel so cocky?"

  "Because it is feasible that they, too, are nothing but mind."

  "How could they be?"

  "If it was possible for Berkeley and the Romantics, it must be possible for them. Maybe the major is also a shadow in a book about him and Hilde, which is also about us, since we are a part of their lives."

  "That would be even worse. That makes us only shadows of shadows."

  "But it is possible that a completely different author is somewhere writing a book about a UN Major Albert Knag, who is writing a book for his daughter Hilde. This book is about a certain Alberto Knox who suddenly begins to send humble philosophical lectures to Sophie Amundsen, 3 Clover Close."

  "Do you believe that?"

  "I'm just saying it's possible. To us, that author would be a 'hidden God.' Although everything we are and everything we say and do proceeds from him, because we are him we will never be able to know anything about him. We are in the innermost box."

  Alberto and Sophie now sat for a long time without saying anything. It was Sophie who finally broke the silence: "But if there really is an author who is writing a story about Hilde's father in Lebanon, just like he is writing a story about us . . ."

  "Yes?"

  "…… then it's possible that author shouldn't be cocky either." "What do you mean?"

  "He is sitting somewhere, hiding both Hilde and me deep inside his head. Isn't it just possible that he, too, is part of a higher mind?"

  Atberto nodded.

  "Of course it is, Sophie. That's also a possibility. And if that is the way it is, it means he has permitted us to have this philosophical conversation in order to present this possibility. He wishes to emphasize that he, too, is a helpless shadow, and that this book, in which Hilde and Sophie appear, is in reality a textbook on philosophy."

  "A textbook?"

  "Because all our conversations, all our dialogues ……"

  "Yes?"

  "…… are in reality one long monologue."

  "I get the feeling that everything is dissolving into mind and spirit. I'm glad there are still a few philosophers left. The philosophy that began so proudly with Thales, Em-pedocles, and Democritus can't be stranded here, surely?"

  "Of course not. I still have to tell you about Hegel. He was the first philosopher who tried to salvage philosophy when the Romantics had dissolved everything into spirit."

  "I'm very curious."

  "So as not to be interrupted by any further spirits or shadows, we shall go inside."

  "It's getting chilly out here anyway."

  "Next chapter!"

  Hegel

  …… the reasonable is that which is viable…

  Hilde let the big ring binder fall to the floor with a heavy thud. She lay on her bed staring up at the ceiling. Her thoughts were in a turmoil.

  Now her father really had made her head swim. The rascal! How could he?

  Sophie had tried to talk directly to her. She had asked her to rebel against her father. And she had really managed to plant an idea in Hilde's mind. A plan ……

  Sophie and Alberto could not so much as harm a hair on his head, but Hilde could. And through Hilde, Sophie could reach her father.

  She agreed with Sophie and Alberto that he was going too far in his game of shadows. Even if he had only made Alberto and Sophie up, there were limits to the show of power he ought to permit himself.

  Poor Sophie and Alberto! They were just as defenseless against the major's imagination as a movie screen is against the film projector.

  Hilde would certainly teach him a lesson when he got home! She could already see the outline of a really good plan.

  She got up and went to look out over the bay. It was almost two o'clock. She opened the window and called over toward the boathouse.

  "Mom!"

  Her mother came out.

  "I'll be down with some sandwiches in about an hour. Okay?" "Fine." "I just have to read a chapter on Hegel."

  Alberto and Sophie had seated themselves in the two chairs by the window facing the lake.

  "Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hege/was a legitimate child of Romanticism," began Alberto. "One could almost say he developed with the German spirit as it gradually evolved in Germany. He was born in Stuttgart in 1770, and began to study theology in Tubingen at the age of eighteen. Beginning in 1799, he worked with Schelling in Jena during the time when the Romantic Movement was experiencing its most explosive growth. After a period as assistant professor in Jena he became a professor in Heidelberg, the center of German National Romanticism. In 1818 he was appointed professor in Berlin, just at the time when the city was becoming the spiritual center of Europe. He died of cholera in 1831, but not before 'He-gelianism' had gained an enormous following at nearly all the universities in Germany."

  "So he covered a lot of ground."

  "Yes, and so did his philosophy. Hegel united and developed almost all the ideas that had surfaced in the Romantic period. But he was sharply critical of many of the Romantics, including Schelling."

  "What was it he criticized?"

  "Schelling as well as other Romantics had said that the deepest meaning of life lay in what they called the 'world spirit.' Hegel also uses the term 'world spirit,' but in a new sense. When Hegel talks of 'world spirit' or 'world reason,' he means the sum of human utterances, because only man has a 'spirit.'

  "In this sense, he can speak of the progress of world spirit throughout history. However, we must never forget that hes referring to human life, human thought, and human culture."

  "That makes this spirit much less spooky. It is not lying in wait anymore like a 'slumbering intelligence' in rocks and trees."

  "Now, you remember that Kant had talked about something he called 'das Ding an sich.' Although he denied that man could have any clear cognition of the in-nermost secrets of nature, he admitted that there exists a kind of unattainable 'truth.' Hegel said that 'truth is subjective/ thus rejecting the existence of any 'truth' above or beyond human reason. All knowledge is human knowledge, he said."

  "He had to get the philosophers down to earth again, right?"

  "Yes, perhaps you could say that. However, Hegel's philosophy was so all-embracing and diversified that for present purposes we shall content ourselves with highlighting some of the main aspects. It is actually doubtful whether one can say that Hegel had his own 'philosophy' at all. What is usually known as Hegel's philosophy is mainly a method for understanding the progress of history. Hegel's philosophy teaches us nothing about the inner nature of life, but it can teach us to think productively."

  "That's not unimportant."

  "All the philosophical systems before Hegel had had one thing in common, namely, the attempt to set up eternal criteria for what man can know about the world. This was true of Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, and Kant. Each and every one had tried to investigate the basis of human cognition. But they had all made pronouncements on the timeless factor of human knowledge of the world."

  "Isn't that a philosopher's job?"

  "Hegel did not believe it was possible. He believed that the basis of human cognition changed from one generation to the next. There were therefore no 'eternal truths/ no timeless reason. The only fixed point philosophy can hold on to is history itself."

  "I'm afraid you'll have to explain that. History is in a constant state of change, so how can it be a fixed point?"

  "A river is also in a constant state of change. That doesn't mean you can't talk about it. But you cannot say at which place in the valley the river is the 'truest' river."

  "No, because it's just as much river all the way through."

  "So to Hegel, history was like a running river. Every tiny movement in the water at a given spot in the river is determined by the falls and eddies in the water higher upstream. But these movements are determined, too, by the rocks and bends in the river at the point where you are observing it."

  "I get it…… I think."

  "And the history of thought——or of reason——is like this river. The thoughts that are washed along with the current of past tradition, as well as the material conditions prevailing at the time, help to determine how you think. You can therefore never claim that any particular thought is correct for ever and ever. But the thought can be correct from where you stand."

  "That's not the same as saying that everything is equally right or equally wrong, is it?"

  "Certainly not, but some things can be right or wrong in relation to a certain historical context. If you advocated slavery today, you would at best be thought foolish. But you wouldn't have been considered foolish 2,500 years ago, even though there were already progressive voices in favor of slavery's abolition. But we can take a more local example. Not more than 100 years ago it was not considered unreasonable to burn off large areas of forest in order to cultivate the land. But it is extremely unreasonable today. We have a completely different——and better——basis for such judgments."

  "Now I see."

  "Hegel pointed out that as regards philosophical reflection, also, reason is dynamic; it's a process, in fact. And the 'truth' is this same process, since there are no criteria beyond the historical process itself that can determine what is the most true or the most reasonable."

  "Examples, please."

  "You cannot single out particular thoughts from antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, or the Enlightenment and say they were right or wrong. By the same token, you cannot say that Platowas wrong and that Aristotle was right. Neither can you say that Hume was wrong but Kant and Schelling were right. That would be an antihistorical way of thinking."

  "No, it doesn't sound right."

  "In fact, you cannot detach any philosopher, or any thought at all, from that philosopher's or that thought's historical context. But——and here I come to another point——because something new is always being added, reason is 'progressive.' In other words, human knowledge is constantly expanding and progressing."

  "Does that mean that Kant's philosophy is nevertheless more right than Plato's?"

  "Yes. The world spirit has developed——and progressed——from Plato to Kant. And it's a good thing! If we return to the example of the river, we could say that there is now more water in it. It has been running for over a thousand years. Only Kant shouldn't think that his 'truths' will remain on the banks of the river like immovable rocks. Kant's ideas get processed too, and his 'reason' becomes the subject of future generations' criticism. Which is exactly what has happened."

  "But the river you talked about. . ."

  "Yes?"

  "Where does it go?"

  "Hegel claimed that the 'world spirit' is developing toward an ever-expanding knowledge of itself. It's the same with rivers——they become broader and broader as they get nearer to the sea. According to Hegel, history is the story of the 'world spirit' gradually coming to consciousness of itself. Although the world has always existed, human culture and human development have made the world spirit increasingly conscious of its intrinsic value."

  "How could he be so sure of that?"

  "He claimed it as a historical reality. It was not a prediction. Anybody who studies history will see that humanity has advanced toward ever-increasing 'self-knowledge' and 'self-development.' According to Hegel, the study of history shows that humanity is moving toward greater rationality and freedom. In spite of all its capers, historical development is progressive. We say that history is purposeful."

  "So it develops. That's clear enough."

  "Yes. History is one long chain of reflections. Hegel also indicated certain rules that apply for this chain of reflections. Anyone studying history in depth will observe that a thought is usually proposed on the basis of other, previously proposed thoughts. But as soon as one thought is proposed, it will be contradicted by another. A tension arises between these two opposite ways of thinking. But the tension is resolved by the proposal of a third thought which accommodates the best of both points of view. Hegel calls this a dialectic process."

  "Could you give an example?"

  "You remember that the pre-Socratics discussed the question of primeval substance and change?"

  "More or less."

  "Then the Eleatics claimed that change was in fact impossible. They were therefore forced to deny any change even though they could register the changes through their senses. The Eleatics had put forward a claim, and Hegel called a standpoint like that a thesis."

  "Yes?"

  "But whenever such an extreme claim is proposed, a contradictory claim will arise. Hegel called this a nega-tion. The negation of the Eleatic philosophy was Heracli-tus, who said that everything flows. There is now a tension between two diametrically opposed schools of thought. But this tension was resolved when Empedocles pointed out that both claims were partly right and partly wrong."

  "Yes, it all comes back to me now . . ."

  "The Eleatics were right in that nothing actually changes, but they were not right in holding that we cannot rely on our senses. Heraclitus had been right in that we can rely on our senses, but not right in holding that everything flows."

  "Because there was more than one substance. It was the combination that flowed, not the substance itself."

  "Right! Empedocles' standpoint——which provided the compromise between the two schools of thought——was what Hegel called the negation of the negation."

  "What a terrible term!"

  "He also called these three stages of knowledge thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. You could, fr example, say that Descartes's rationalism was a thesis——which was contradicted by Hume's empirical antithesis. But the contradiction, or the tension between two modes of thought, was resolved in Kant's synthesis. Kant agreed with the rationalists in some things and with the empiricists in others. But the story doesn't end with Kant. Kant's synthesis now becomes the point of departure for another chain of reflections, or 'triad.' Because a synthesis will also be contradicted by a new antithesis."

  "It's all very theoretical!"

  "Yes, it certainly is theoretical. But Hegel didn't see it as pressing history into any kind of framework. He believed that history itself revealed this dialectical pattern. He thus claimed he had uncovered certain laws for the development of reason——or for the progress of the 'world spirit' through history."

  "There it is again!"

  "But Hegel's dialectic is not only applicable to history. When we discuss something, we think dialectically. We try to find flaws in the argument. Hegel called that 'negative thinking.' But when we find flaws in an argument, we preserve the best of it."

  "Give me an example."

  "Well, when a socialist and a conservative sit down together to resolve a social problem, a tension will quickly be revealed between their conflicting modes of thought. But this does not mean that one is absolutely right and the other totally wrong. It is possible that they are both partly right and partly wrong. And as the argument evolves, the best of both arguments will often crystallize."

  "I hope."

  "But while we are in the throes of a discussion like that, it is not easy to decide which position is more rational. In a way, it's up to history to decide what's right and what's wrong. The reasonable is that which is viable."

  "Whatever survives is right."

  "Or vice versa: that which is right survives."

  "Don't you have a tiny example for me?"

  "One hundred and fifty years ago there were a lot of people fighting for women's rights. Many people also bitterly opposed giving women equal rights. When we read the arguments of both sides today, it is not difficult to see which side had the more 'reasonable' opinions. But we must not forget that we have the knowledge of hindsight.

  If 'proved to be the case' that those who fought for equality were right. A lot of people would no doubt cringe if they saw in print what their grandfathers had said on the matter."

  "I'm sure they would. What was Hegel's view?"

  "About equality of the sexes?"

  "Isn't that what we are talking about?"

  "Would you like to hear a quote?"

  "Very much."

  " 'The difference between man and woman is like that between animals and plants,' he said. 'Men correspond to animals, while women correspond to plants because their development is more placid and the principle that underlies it is the rather vague unity of feeling. When women hold the helm of government, the state is at once in jeopardy, because women regulate their actions not by the demands of universality but by arbitrary inclinations and opinions. Women are educated——who knows how?——as it were by breathing in ideas, by living rather than by acquiring knowledge. The status of manhood, on the other hand, is attained only by the stress of thought and much technical exertion.' "

  "Thank you, that will be quite enough. I'd rather not hear any more statements like that."

  "But it is a striking example of how people's views of what is rational change all the time. It shows that Hegel was also a child of his time. And so are we. Our 'obvious' views will not stand the test of time either."

  "What views, for example?"

  "I have no such examples."

  "Why not?"

  "Because I would be exemplifying things that are already undergoing a change. For instance, I could say it's stupid to drive a car because cars pollute the environment. Lots of people think this already. But history will prove that much of what we think is obvious will not hold up in the light of history."

  "I see."

  "We can also observe something else: The many men in Hegel's time who could reel off gross broadsides like that on on the inferiority of women hastened the development of feminism."

  "How so?"

  "They proposed a thesis. Why? Because women had already begun to rebel. There's no need to have an opinion on something everyone agrees on. And the more grossly they expressed themselves about women's inferiority, the stronger became the negation."

  "Yes, of course."

  "You might say that the very best that can happen is to have energetic opponents. The more extreme they become, the more powerful the reaction they will have to face. There's a saying about 'more grist to the mill.' "

  "My mill began to grind more energetically a minute ago!"

  "From the point of view of pure logic or philosophy, there will often be a dialectical tension between two concepts."

  "For example?"

  "If I reflect on the concept of 'being,' I will be obliged to introduce the opposite concept, that of 'nothing.' You can't reflect on your existence without immediately realizing that you won't always exist. The tension between 'being' and 'nothing' becomes resolved in the concept of 'becoming.' Because if something is in the process of becoming, it both is and is not."

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