Blog motto:  The news today is what I think about what I said yesterday.--Richard Swartzbaugh

We talk here of "who," not of "what"--if "what" is social systems.  This is the real albeit unconscious issue of philosophy and social science worldwide.   Pundits talk of social institutions, they mean human beings.  Such a discussion evokes in the end a conception of who the human being is who creates these systems.  In this sense social science drifts in the direction of a sort of elitism.  This is an inevitable tendency and one that was already evident in Platonism.  We are saying that social systems, and what to do about them, is a topic that is irrelevant to Force Theory.  Systems are not what concern us.  What does concern us--as the most important topic worldwide--is a conception of man.  FT focuses not on system as such, but who--what human beings--sustain these systems.  In fact, "who" rather than "what" is the unconscious topic of the discussions that there are within universities and by newsmedia.  This is what we are saying.   When ideologues argue, their dicussions are not about social systems, finally--because the great systems of civilization that there are are more or less impervious to major human intervention.   They argue rather about their respective conceptions of Man.  They are debating who they are apart from their social institutions.  Throughout history humans have thought of themselves as part of institutions; there comes a point when they cannot distinguish themselves from these institutions--with serious practical consequences.    Debates then are not about what humans can do--what changes they can make in their lives--but who they are as humans in the first place.   We make a statement to this effect about the major philosophical arguments and propose to defend it.   The great sprawling civilization of which we all are a part seems to run on forever of its own accord; humans themselves apparently have little to say about this.  Social theory is largely an attempt, not to characterize a society so much as to distinguish human beings, as such, from this society.  Then certain suggestions may be made regarding human's relation to one another.    There are of course exceptional moments when, here and there, men can build small enclaves of so-called charity and humanity according to their own notions.  These is what we are talking about in this blog, not on accound of the feasibily or morality of these groups but because of their conceptions of Man.    These small descretionary entities--humanitarian causes and agencies--have some premise, that of what a human being finally is,  behind them which can be scrutinized.  As humanitarian entities they are based on some conception or other of Humanity.  What is being presented in this blog is just such a concern--with Humanity--but not to propound a doctrine so much as to raise a question.  That question is:  what or who is Man in the first place?  The small groups of which we speak all begin with a conception of Man.   There is a Communist Man, we iare saying,  a Christian Man and a Democratic Man.  But these are doctrines of Man, not the question of Man.  They are uncritical "moral imperatives," not facts of science.   Into this discussion comes--uninvited--Philosophical Anthropology.   We call Philosophical Anthropology the "Question of Man." 

This is nothing unique; every major philosophy, we are suggesting, is directly or indirectly a philosophy of Man.  Man is the measure of all things, as Protagorus said; but man is also both the most central and most problematic of all things;  and therefore  he is the proper object of philosophy.     Before a human being determines the role of the self or human essence in knowing, he must know what that self is.   Self-awareness is the first task of philosophy.  I will later say that knowing the self is basic to many human practical--that is technological--tasks:  to separate the self as the goal of action from technics as the means of action.  This will come later.  For now we may say simply that the word philosophical Anthropology is redundant:  all philosophy is PA.   The main point to be raised here is not that Philosophical Anthropology is a new vision of Man; rather that it enters a discussion that was widely considered already ended.  I made the point earlier but it bears repeating:  the main role of Philosophical Anthropology is to raise the question of Man.  The glib and complacent use of the word Man, in the American Declaration of Independence and the Communist Manifesto, among other sacred and patriotic documents, suggest that the topic of Man never has been raised.  Whether the idea of Man comes from science or simple observation has not been an issue; Man, so called, is stated simply as an apriori fact that bears no discussion.   The matter of Man is considered simply settled ohne weiteres and the social institutions based on the concept of Man are securely in place.  The intrusion of PA with its "critical" and enquiring vantagepoint has not been welcomed.  As I began my college caeer I was not shown Philosophical Anthropology, I had to look for it.  When I found it it was stagnating in the dark corners and dusty libraries of a few German universities. 

1.b  We are assuming that the human being is, and has always been, a problem to himself; that his vision of himself is clouded but that he wants to break through this cloud.  Animals, by contrast, do not have this problematic viewpoint regarding their selves.  The being of an animal consists of a subject and an object, a means and an end, established through evolution and tested through time.   We assume animals have "selves," indeed; but there is something about human beings that causes their personal being to become part of their mental slant on life.  Humans have made their lives materially secure through technics; at the same time they have confused the issue regarding what these lives were.  For the animal the end of striving is the animal itself; the animal knows this.  For human being the issue of ends and means must be found through an analysis of technics, first, and then through a certain "vision quest" that humans are forced to undertake.  The Crow youth must go to a mountain to have a great dream; but all humans are the same in this.  At this time here it woud be presumptuous to state that philosophy in general is, at root, a sort of "identity quest" of human beings, something like a Crow vision quest or a search of an Aboriginal for his totem animal; later however an attempt will be made to support this notion. This perhaps is what all theology and philosophy is; even a search for God, we are saying, has buried within it a certain quest for human identity.  Presently, however, it suffices to say that Philosophical Anthropology is a modern intellectual  event.   It is born out of a new (for several hundred years) respect for science and empirical truth that is unique to modern times.  Later I will call PA a "critical" philosophy of Man, bringing as it does science to bear on earlier philosophical speculation.      1.c  Yet at heart PA is more philosophy than science.  We may observe that in a chain of premises leading to a conclusion, if all premises are scientific except for one, that one being philosophical, the whole chain is philosophical rather than scientific.   

1.c  Philosophical Anthropology is however not a blend of science and philosophy.  PA starts with science; but it ends with philosophy.  Between the science of PA and its pure philosophical and non-empirical speculation is a clear boundary.  A simple example will suffice to make this point.  We will say, as was the case, a tooth is found in East Africa.  This is a fossilized tooth too large to be that of a modern human; yet in shape, with a crown specialized for chewing rather than stabbing and tearing, the tooth is humanoid.  We conclude that the tooth's owner would fight and subdue prey by means other than biting.  To surmise that the tooth was used for chewing rather than fighting would be in the realm of hard science; were we to go on to speculate that the being made and used tools, we would be going beyond what is directly observable.  Yet, the speculation regarding tools would be, while not based on direct observation (which would be impossible), responsibly "scientific."  This would be in the domain of academic anthropology.      1.e But there is more.  Philosophical Anthropology begins to speculate--with even less "hard" evidence--regarding a certain human "nature" or human "essence."  In its objectives, we are saying, PA is a not too distant cousin of religion which, as a core concept, proposes a certain vision of the human being.      1.f  This religious spirit extends to political ideology.  The concept of Man is basic to all religions, we are saying, with the single qualification that in the eras of rising scientific awareness there has been increasing respect, always, paid by social philosophers to the hard results of science.  Religion passes into "modern" ideologies, such as Communism and Democracy, which claim in their concept of Man to be grounded in "science."   This is mostly a symbolic gesture.  Philosophical Anthropology arrogantly proposes, on the other hand, to once more raise an issue--that of Man--that was considered by religious and academic social philosophers as already settled.

2.2.a  Our version of Philosophical Anthropology, which will prove to be a mix of Arnold Gehlen and Friedrich Engels, begins with a theory of Man that to some will seem radical.  I would say that any time we talk about  who or what a human being essentially is we run a risk of contradicting someone's religious and philosophical faith.   Man, so-called, is at the center of that faith.  Also, no one has thought to call attention to PA, which has remained  buried and obscure in several German universities.  I attended such a class in Tuebingen under Otto Bullnow.     2.b In any case, Philosophical Anthropology aspires to what Max Scheler, who may be credited with the term PA, calls a Wesensbegriff des Menschen (concept of the essence of man).   What this essence is said to be has been described in other sections of our blog.  Where we are focused here, however, is on the issue of technology.  We look first at the human being, or protohuman being, as maker and user of tools; and as one, importantly, who became dependent on tools and whose survival was based upon them.   Both Gehlen and Engels state that the issue of Man begins with the human being as a technological being.  In  Ben Franklin's words, Man is a tool making animal.  But we are going much farther than Gehlen, Engels or Franklin.     2.c  We are proposing that human ideologies and religions, while human social organization itself has been through or around technics, are precisely a reaction to, and an attempt by the human to separate himself from, the technics of his life.  The concept of Man in these ideologies is a sort of "identity quest" like the Plains Indian vision quest which attempts to define the human being, or separate him in thought, from his own group identity that is through and around his technics.  As I said before, ideology--and certain institutions such as charitable and socialistic institutions that derive from ideology--separates the human as an end or goal from the human as agent of technology as means to live.    In eveyday life, these ends and means are confused.    Ideologies result from the human being's thinking about himself.  Clearly, then, this consideration--that man's view of himself is the basis of his institutions--puts Philosophical Anthropology in a central and critical position in relation to institutions, positioned, finally, for seditious action.     

2.2.d  The thesis proposed here is that the human being, in using a tool, is forced to raise, simultaneously, the issue of his own identity.  In technics, we are saying, which is the manner and mode of human life, means and ends are indistinguishable as such from one another.  Also in technics subject and object are confused.  "Being" itself, in and through technics, is a reality without beginning, end or middle.    In animals by contrast these are organized and separate from one anaother.  We can put this various ways.  For the animal there is the predator, which the animal is, and the prey which is something else.  These things are clear.  But for the human being, alone of all animals, technics raises  the possibility that what, at the outset of life--when life separated itself from matter, when motivated existence became distinct from inert existence--again merges; life is lost in matter.   

3.3.a . The word Man appears in the sacred documents of our time, from the Declaration of Independence to the Communist Manifesto; it appears as the focal point and goal or aspiration of a proposed program or agenda. Man is the aspired-to end of his own striving.  In the Declaration or Manifesto, either one, Man is seen as something not yet achieved but, through the proposed system, will appear finally as an outcome.  We may assume even that Man does not yet exist--since there is failure and mistaken ideas in the present--but has yet to appear.  There is a ring in these pronouncements of religion, although the coming is not of Christ but of Man himself.  Whole religions--called patriotic events--resound with this proclamation.    We may conclude that Man is the objective of striving.  Also, we may conclude that without the word Man in these documents they would have no meaning at all.  I said above that I believe that God is only a word for Man; that the search for God is really a search by Man for himself.  Of course modern notions have replaced the word God, largely, with the word Man; secularization of documents would give these documents the appearance of  "scientific respectability."  Nothing could be further from the truth:  the idea of  Man is essentially a religious idea.  But the religious instinct itself is born out of a primal fact of human life.  That fact is, that human identity is obscured in the fact of human technology.  3.b  Man is a religious idea--the assumption of something that does not exist--but has, nevertheless, a certain "pragmatic" truth.  That pragmatic truth of Man is the idea that the human being, lacking other or instinctive relations with other men, orient themselves around the idea of Man.  Man is a point of reference in institutions and lawmaking.    Arnold Gehlen might make this point.  Gehlen has been a central figure in the Philosophical Anthropological movement.  His main point--that the human being is a Mangelwesen, or creature of deficiencies--has led Gehlen to the  conclusion that the human being is forced by these deficiencies to complete himself.  The human being is forced to create around himself an artificial world.  This conclusion has been a major part of Philosophical Anthropology.  Gehlen, though, although he pointed to human institutions as artificial and ritualistic, nevertheless also propounded the necessity of these institutions.  Finally, at the center of these institutions is a concept of Man.  Man has a ritualistic truth; and, as such, provides a program wherein humans can interact with one another in a predictable way.   Gehlen was the ideological Conservative of the Philosophical Anthropological movement.  Yet Gehlen, too, emphasized the role of the human being, or Man, in shaping his own destiny.  Force Theory--which in the viewpoint of the present writer will in fact supplant Philosophical Anthropology--has the radical viewpoint that, in the human being's absolute idea of himself as so-called Man, he, the human being, puts himself in flat contradiction to the course of nature, or speciation, or racial "becoming."  But this thesis remains for later.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-07-30 14:26:40)


4.4a Gehlen's thesis is that Man is a Mangelwesen (creature of deficiency).  Gehlen had predecessors:  L. Bolk spoke of retardierung, referring to the human being as a "retarded" animal.  This is an animal that has not gone through full development.  We may say that this animal, as "retarded," would be at a great disadvantage in competition with other, fully developed animals.   The theme of deficiency and retardation appears throughout the literature of  Philosophical Anthropology through the 1960s when I was a student at Tubingen.  The idea is quite simple.  What the animal has by way of defenses and methods of survival the animal was born with:   teeth and claws, but many other organs and instincts.  The animal in the context of its world or environment is "complete."   The human being, individual and collective, is different.  In the context of his own world, by contrast, the human being is lacking the means of survival; he must provide these means--tools--for himself.  A tool is an object which, found rather than inherited, is "used" for some purpose.   The very fact of human subjectivity is lost in the tool  Gehlen talks about the human's puny arms; we will focus here on these arms and what these arms are subjectively.  The human being in extending his arm by a tool gives to this tool the tool's motive force; but the human also imparts to the tool his own subjectivity.  The subjectivity of the human passes into the tool--and away.   Conversely, the objectivity that is the mark of the tool is passed to its human user.   This is the objectification of the human being so decried by the critics (mostly Germans) of technological civilization.  We are setting the stage here, in other words, for an "identity crisis"--one that the tool-less animal never has--of vast proportions.  Human intellectual effort through countless ages has been simply to separate his identity from his technology.   This he does through intelligence and conscious effort. 

We can simplify our thesis if we take simply one organ, the arm, as an example.  Gehlen would say that the arm as it is genetically transmitted is "incomplete"; it is a rather weak arm with a generalized hand.  The tool, then, "completes" or "extends" the arm.   Of course the arm "extends" the body.  Is every extension of the body the body itself?  This is the question we must ask ourselves.  This may be the question of all ages (!).  It may not too much to suppose that this is the question we ask, finally, when we ask the question of God. :rolleyes:   Objective observation would tell us that the arm is one thing and the tool is another thing.  That is true.  But we do not know that the tool user knows the differences.  There is no particular reason that he should make the distinction.  As an individual being the arm has nerve endings; the tool does not.  The arm is "subjectively" known; the tool is not.  But the issue does not end here.   The human may not be regarding his arm and tool-extension from an individual standpoint but rather from a point of view that is mediated through the group.  As a collective being, we are saying, the man may not be able to distinguish his arm from the tool.   Finally, over a period of time the human is precisely the opposite of "alienated";  his identity is submerged in the group which in turn is submerged in technological "extensions."   Alenation in these terms would be the hoped for (under Force Theory) outcome of civilization and the point of transition, ultimately, to a nature- and race-based group existence.    4.b Gehlen's thesis, while not  original, takes us to the point that Philosophical Anthropology had arrived at the time I studied in Tubingen under Otto Bulnow.  There have been subsequent Philosophical Anthropologists; but they have not gone beyond what Gehlen and Plessner accomplished.  I do not mean to overly belabor a very simple point.  Where we are left, I say, is with a man without any means of self defense or attack, who, wandering alone in a dangerous place, confronted with a dangerous animal, picks up a stick to defend himself--and survives.    I want to dwell upon this very basic situation and bring it into perspective with the conclusions of PA.   Our modus operandi is to ask increasingly difficult questions, ones that PA has not yet asked.  We affirm that the man now has a stick.  Who now is this man?   Are the biological man and the stick two parts of the same man?  Does "being human" include an arm and then a stick?    Gehlen never seriously asks this question; we must ask it now.  We are moving on, then, to new territory.   We are asking whether the "being" of the human being includes some tool, if only a stick, along with the body's organs.  Gehlen could mean by "essential Man" the man who first is without a stick, and then has a stick but is still a Man without the stick; or "essential Man" may be a creature who, not yet a Man, becomes a Man when holding the stick.  These are fundamental questions and ones which must be faced if we are to justify our existence as philosophers and not merely shallow academics. 

Where we are going to launch a (friendly) critique of Gehlen is at the point where he passes from a Paleolithic setting to a modern setting;  where the man he is talking about  transitions to a being collectively engaged in the technics of his life.  The position of Force Theory (as a variant of PA) is that human engagement with tools began in simple situations--a man picks up a stick and swings it at an animal or anther human--wherein the human was already "committed" to technics inescapably; at which time not only did the tool "extend" the human being, as an extension ( ergaenzung --Gehlen), but the man could reasonably think of his tool AS an arm.    The beginning of an identity problem began at this early time.  That problem was, as I say, the thought that not only did the tool extend the arm, but that the tool was the arm.    Gehlen, who lacks this precise formulation of the issue, simply has not asked enough questions.  Gehlen never questions the idea that the man could always distinguish his arm from his tool.  Of course, early on the man could make this distinction.  But his culture, and above all the collective group of fellow technicians, could not make the distinction.   Gehlen was a prolific writer on the subject of the modern age, raising the issues also raised in Engels' Socialism: that of "alienation" of the human being in the modern technological age.  We are set on a course, under the word Force Theory, to form a new concepet around the term "alienation."  The "alienated Man," in Engels and Heidegger's sense, is the person who regards the industrial system as alien to him; he feels no belonging to the system.  Force Theory, on the other hand, regards this alienation not as a crisis so much as a necessary milestone of history:  when the human being, that is, realizes that he IS not the system and the system IS not him.  For Engels such alienation is a response to the simple fact of ownership:  the person is not "owner" of the system.  Our problem is far deeper:  the individual person, whether or not he is a legal "owner," cannot, through the entire course of human history, distinguish himself from his own technics.  This is a "spiritual" question rather than an economic one.  The fact is that the system owns the person, insofar as he cannot distinguish himself from that system.   Alienation under such conditions would be a desirable final state of awareness.   The human being, as aware of himself as an alienated being, would place himself firmly in the context of "nature" and "race."  We affirm the value of this subject matter.  We also point to the central focus of Philosophical Anthropology which is "human identity."  What we are saying here--calling our direction Force Theory--is that the "being" of the human being changes, not in kind but in degree,  in passing from the primitive technics of the stoneage to modern civilization; from "individual tools" to modern collective technology.  The issue of the identity of a human being is far simpler in a Paleolithic setting than it is in a modern, highly collective and social setting.  In the simple setting there is a man and a tool; the man can distinguish himself from his tool.  In the setting of modern industry and organized group cooperation, there is a collective being that is vaguely human and a technical being that is vaguely but not perfectly nonhuman.  The identity issue that there is reaches its most troubling phase in the era of collective work.  The individual identity quest is complicated insofar as the person thinks of himself not just in direct relation to the tools of his life, but in a relation to the tools of his life through his group association.  There is the further point, which sometime has to be raised, that the individual of whom we speak is already an artificial, abstract entity; and this abstraction has meaning only in reference to an abstract collectivity, which we have identified as Man.  The real identity confusion is one of a collective being in relation to a collectively produced technical entity.     

This point is not as difficult as it initially sounds.  If I pick up a hammer, I know that hammer is not my arm; and my arm is not the hammer.  I can distinguish myself from the hammer.  For one thing, the hammer can be replaced by another tool.  It is precisely in becoming collective or social, I am saying, that the issue of identity becomes confused. A collective man is under entirely different constraints when attempting to replace one technical system for another; he is so much a part of the old one.  He has lived through and around it; he has raised his family in its shadow.  Even where technical progress is inevitable--but this progress is not what we are talking about--there is always going to be, in general, a confusion about Man; and whether, in other words, this individual can see himself as anything other than such a Man that has appeared as an apriori "goal" of his culture.   I can say, and thus make a distinction, that this is my arm and this other thing is my hammer.  Here my personal identity is more or less clear.  Where my identity becomes less clear--and where I am likely to think of myself as my tool and my tooll as myself--is in some prolonged relation with this tool where there may be actually a "bonding" with a mere object.  In the Paleolithic and even after men were buried with their weapons and tools.  The identity of the person passed from being an individual identity to one wherein the person was associated, in his own mind and in the minds of his friends, with the objects and tools and possessions of his life.   Finally we pass to the modern age.  The issue of identity, as I said above, is one of many people together in complex relations in, around and through objects.   A man can always distinguish himself from a stick that he has picked up to use as a tool; but that same man, viewing himself as a member of a group, cannot readily distinguish that group from the tools--and all the aggreements and rules that bring him into the group--from the physical objects that that group works around and through.  Here he has a serious question of his own identity.  I am saying that the collective relation of a man to tools is, or becomes by degrees, an entirely different issue than his simple or primal or individual relation to objects as tools.  Finally, the individual person is admonished--by the collective entity itself--to seem himself through and in terms of the collective entity.  Religion is essentially the admonishon to abandon the self altogether and submerge it in group identity.  In dissolving the individual in the group, however, the group itself--as a living thing composed of living beings--also dissolves itself in the impersonal, or non-living technics through which humans survive.  Death by dissolution into inert matter becomes, in the case of human beings, death by dissolution into technological matter.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-07-19 15:07:20)


We may talk about the words separation and alienation together. This is to contrast the two great modern theories of human life:  Darwinism and Hegelianism.   Religion, as religion appeared primally in human life, is based on the idea of separation.  The word religion is derived from Latin, religare--to re-link.  Implied here is that there has been a separation between things or beings that were originally joined.  We are implying also that  humans desire that those things that have become separated be once more joined together.  This could be a separation between man and nature, between humans as members of a group or, finally, within the human body itself.     Religion enters at this point to rejoin or "relink" the separated entities.  This notion--that symbols and ritual acts can rejoin what has become dangerously disconnected--was present as a core of human culture from the earliest times.  We put this original period of religion at the point, as per our earlier statements regarding the premises of Force Theory, at the time of technology.  This topic--that man was already "thinking" through and around his first technics, even before this man had formal language--was talked about in an earlier blog.  We emphasize the point that religion--and the premise of religion, that of "dangerous" separation--has forever been at the center of human thinking.  Examples of separation are not hard to find.  The human being appears first in a natural setting (Umwelt) in which he is "naturally" connected.  He has his tools and artifacts; but nature herself is also abundant.  This is a good life.  Then comes a draught where the animals and plants vanish; the human is left without food.  Such a disasterous event constitutes a "separation."  That is what we will talk about  now.   The first impulse of the human being in the face of a separation is to rejoin himself with what he has been separated from, so long as that a union with that thing is necessary to his being.  So, in other words, what would rejoin our distressed man would be to cause rain to fall; to bring back, in other words, the original conditions under which the person was united with his familiar world.  But the rain will not fall by itself.  The easiest thing to do, upon consultation with the community's magician, is to ritually and symbolically call for the rain to fall.  He invokes magic and religion.   We assume that the rain still does not fall.  At that point the human undertakes more drastic--and more difficult--strategies to survive.  The human may simply move his campsite.  Also at that time, under such stress, the person becomes imaginative and creative in pursuing--technologically and, what is the same, strategically--new sources of food.   The scenario I have outlined, which is by no means hypothetical but must have happened millions of times upon the African savannah, is a virtual cliche of anthropology.  The man in the event of a separation has a need .  He calls upon religion to "relink" him with the world he had known.  Finally, creativity sets in and the human advances to a new level of technological and strategic adaptation.  This scenario is "darwinistic" in its conception.  But we are only at the most basic level of philosophical analysis.  We have not put this darwinistic example in the context of more general philosophical speculation where we have moved--or have attempted to move--throughout this blog.  Is this "reunion" with nature anything like the "dialectic" proposed by Hegel and the neo-Hegelians?.  To confront as humans commonly do a pathological separation.  We are asking, in other words, if the response of the human being, and/or the successful conclusion of this response, is in some general sense a "synthesis" in Hegelian terms.  We're asking if whether the human relationship of separation is also a relationship of opposition or contradiction.  We are asking whether this separation and reunion is in any sense a "formal" event that could be characterized within the Hegelian system.  The great ponderous cosmic principles laid down by Hegel under the theory of alienation is what we now must deal with; it seems at first sight that the gap between simple darwinism and Hegelianism is unbreachable, that, in other words, the Hegelian principle remains just that--a pure principle or theory unrelated, by any convincing argument, to the events of an everyday world.

We are suggesting that Hegelianism, and the ideas of dialectic and alienation, are refinements of the notion inherent in the word religion.  Synthesis corresponds to the religious notion of separation.  It is not too much to suggest that Hegelianism is an attempt, successful or not, to secularize the notion of a "relinking" that is the core idea of religion.  Hegel would not merely rejoin entities once separated, such as man and nature, but would aver that any relinking constitutes, virtually, a progress or movement to a higher level of being.  This comment on the relation of Hegel to all religion has not been made before; but is made now under auspices of Force Theory.  But it is another matter to prove or give credence to Hegel's advancement in religion and philosophy.  Our "razor" suggests that the simplest depiction is the best. Darwinism as propounded by academicians would be the more satisfying secular or scientific solution to the issue of human separation.   But I want to comment further.  The muddle which German philosophy has long been in regarding such words as "contradiction" and "alienation" and "synthesis" may simply be the result of imprecise definitions.  That is where Force Theory enters along with Duhring's call for good and scientifically precise definitions.  If we add to our original Darwinistic statement the idea that, in the case of the human being, such separation between a human and his umwelt (surrounding world) is inevitable--that there is something in the fact of human separation that is in itself unique and apart from any separation that an animal may experience--then we may move on to conclude that the human effort to overcome the alienation (aufheben wollen) does itself move "forward" according to principles that require more than the attention given to them by academic anthropologists. Here we raise the issue of a "natural" (genetic) nakedness.  Such a condition of defenselessness is the premise of an absolute or categorical philosophy which generally is Hegelian.   Within the technical/strategic act itself, we are saying, that preceded formal language and modern human symbolic behavior, was built in a certain "logic" of alienation (separation) and re-union or synthesis.  The separation of the human being was "essentially," according to our notions, an absolute or categorical separation, not the partial separation that befell the animal who was dislocated or disabled in its world.  The animal adapts to its world genetically; the animal body "assumes" a certain world.  If this world changes, the animal still "assumes" it is living in its old world.  [This statement needs work.] 

In Force Theory we first imagine a human being who is "naked to the world."  This is a purely hypothetical man, inasmuch as the first humans were not actually naked but would be forced, obviously, to survive with physical strength or tools, either one, every day of their year.  The human would have to be physically strong or technologically/strategically able, either one.  There must have been a period--very brief--when the human, literally grasping for some kind of control of his world--picked up a stick; but this act was preceded by some physical attempt to take charge of a situation.  He may have been battling some animal with teeth and arms; but then he picked up a stick.  The stick sealed his fate, not for that fight but for three million years of human culture.  The logic we are talking about is not in the human brain so much as in the human stick or artifact.  There is a logic of tool use--with the assumption that the tool user is himself essentially "naked" and defenseless--that, by formal stages, brings about human culture.  Again the logic of tool use appears against a back ground of, and upon the assumption of, a human being who is "naturally" separated from his world as a kind of "naked ape" (cite Desmond Morris).  But the nakedness is not merely in his lack of body hair but in his overall lack of protection against the world.  Again I emphasize that this is a hypothetical being; but such nakedness is also the basis of the logic of culture.  The separation of man as a being otherwise defenseless against from that nature is the categorical premise of the dialectic of technological/strategic culture.

Separation is not alienation.  Our hypothetical "naked ape" is separated from nature, not alienated from it.  The issue is a very simple one.  The hypothetical naked ape is without the means, biological or otherwise, to live in nature and therefore he must perish.  Between the hypothetical naked ape and nature there is no contradiction, only incompatibility.  But the human must be compatible with nature in order to survive.   The contradiction that there is comes rather between the naked ape as a biological organism and, on the other hand, the pure will of this being to survive.  The naked ape wills to live but is not afforded arms and teeth and claws to live; he must resort to something else in order to live.  Thus the contradiction we search for, as a Hegelian motive for forward movement to a new level of adaptation, is between the deficient organism--never meant to survive--and the motive power of life itself.  We could talk about the fear of death.  I have mentioned earlier [cite] that the program of Force Theory, as a branch (we'll say) of Philosophical Anthropology, does not commit itself to pure Hegelianism or any formal or categorical system.  Although, however, we are not Hegelian purists we do, like our mentor Engels, aspire in that direction.  As someone said (maybe Guston the artist) there is no such thing as pure art; all art is "corrupted" by reality; we say the same of philosophy.  All facts in some way or other "corrupt" a philosophical system.  Thus, in short, we attempt to approximate Hegel's grand vision.  Darwinism is without any sense of human culture and, as such,  falls short of any real understanding of the human- as opposed to the animal condition.  Darwinism with its focus entirely on the biological organism as such, a creature of teeth and claws, has left us with no good way to resolve the separation of the human from his desired world; and therefore no way of understanding, as it turns out, the passing of man as a naked ape to man as culture. Admittedly the issue--how culture mediates between man and nature--is a difficult one.  Hegel and the neo-Hegelians understood this issue but tried to solve it in terms that have proved too formal.  Here we are "soft" Hegelians.  What is being proposed at present that the human being acts, as humans do, to overcome a separation, that between himself and nature; but the contradiction that compels the human to act is that between his own incapactiy to act and his will to act anyway.  I make these points at the risk of appearing to restate what has already been stated by Gehlen.  But there is more.  The contradiction that there is is an ongoing one, that raises itself in every technical act.  Technology is inherently an ersatz solution to a problem but a solution, too, that negates itself at every step and passes, as it must, to new orders of technology, strategy and culture.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-07-23 14:51:39)


Alienation, as I say, while it starts with a separation is much more than separation.  As the idea--with Darwinism, one of the two or three most influential ideas of our civilization--has come down to us, subject to a number of interpretation, it means this:  The human being as the special being that he is creates around himself an extension (ergaenzung, cf. Gehlen)  of himself.   This extension passes from what the man is to what the man is not--the "other."  This other is foreign to its own creator and, as a foreign entity, opposes the creator.  It attempts not so much to abandon its creator as to defeat its creator, so that it, the "other," cannot be left alone but must be confronted.    We are faced with an inescapable conclusion.  The opposition between the original creator and the "other" demands resolution.  In the resolution of the contradiction (Widerspruch) between creator and creation there come to be new contradictions and new resolutions.  Thus history passes from "lower" states to "higher" states of being.    Again I mention that alienation is an important concept, yet one used in many and diverse contexts; there may never be clarity of this word.  Fichte apparently first used the word; it was picked up by Hegel and given its most voluminous and ponderous formulation; at it was passed on to the neo-Hegelians, among them Engels (Engels' colleague Karl Marx seems not to have embraced the word at all).  Force Theory in these terms is simply the effort of one writer, Swartzbaugh, to introduce dialectic and the idea of alienation into Philosophical Anthropology.  Arnold Gehlen defines culture as an extension of man that completes man in his deficiencies; Force Theory attempts to show that this aforesaid extension of man is the Hegelian "alienated other."  Force Theory proposes first that the alienatied essence, which we know as technology and techno-strategies, advances in form to higher states and stages by virtue of its alienation and self-alienation.  In this passing the intelligence that there is, first in living nature and then in man, passes also from con-sequential thinking to categorical thinking.  Earlier [cite] I talked about categorical thinking.  Finally, however, this "other" passess into a flat (categorical) contradiction with nature, and as the mode of nature's becoming, race.   We might say a word here about the history of the word alienation.  We see the word in so-called Existentialism of Heidegger and Kierkegaard, but also in the expatriate or Frankfurt school of social theory notably of Marcuse, Ardono, Popper, Horkheimer and others.  In short, the word alienation is much used and probably abused.  In the world of philosophy it suffers under a burden, like many words, of overuse and popularization.  I have stated above what I believe to be a "classic" or Hegelian formulation of the idea of alienation.   But a question remains:  we have only defined the context of alienation, but we have not precisely defined the word.  Of course, consistent with our progam of Philosophical Anthropology--which is to keep words to a minimum and define them as precisely as possible and within the most understandable context (which I take to be the everyday lives of early human beings)--we cannot be content with the idea of alienation as Hegel left it, in a mass of Germanic mumbo jumbo.   We have not finished with our notion of alienation, we have only just started.  I begin with the etymological approach and suggest that the key to understanding alienation is in the word itself, with the suggestion, in other words, that alienation is (as I said earlier) not a separation but a sense of a kind of "strangeness" of the human being toward his own creation.  We find this hint also in German, Ent-fremdung, or becoming-strange-to.  It is precisely in the lack of familiarity that the human has towards his original "extension" that should concern us here.

Thus, to alienate someone is to become strange to that person.   We are saying that alienation means becoming alien. Earlier I talked about alienation as an idea at the core of religion--separation from someone or something necessary to someone.  Religion  has traditionally dealt with separations between man and nature, and between man and man.  Hegelian dialectic goes beyond this to specify the separation between the human being and what he himself has created for himself, as an "ersatz Natur".

We are assuming a human being who is disconnected from what he must finally be connected with, that is, with "nature."  We assume this first simply for purposes of argument and speak entirely in abstract terms of so-called man, the so-called animal and so-called nature.    Connection is vital; disconnection is fatal.  Solitude and isolation from one's family and friends and social relations in general is sad; final separation from nature is unthinkable.  Into this context of connection and disconnection, culture appears as a mediating agent.   We have previously talked about a void between our hypothetical man and hypothetical nature, a void that does not exist between an animal and nature.  At the risk of seeming to repeat myself I may say that the animal has nature, as biology, as the part of itself that ties this being in with nature.   Teeth and claws in a sense are nature.   There is no such gap or void between the animal and nature.   With the human being, lacking as he does these (hypothetical) teeth and claws, it is otherwise; nature has "disconnected" him.  What is in him that connects the human to nature has disappeared from his own nature or constitution.   The genetics connecting him with his surroundings have dropped out of his gene pool.  But there is more.   Into this situation of separation and alienation comes culture, which is a thing of the human's own creation.   Technics and culture in general can be described as a bridge;  this bridge would span the void between, on the one hand, the human lacking a biological or natural connection to nature and, on the other hand, (our hypothetical) nature on the other hand.   For purposes of argumentation we are dealing presently with abstract and hypothetical beings and things.   We are raising the question as to whether culture can, truthfully, be called a bridge.  Elsewhere [cite] I have called culture a mediating agent; culture stands between man and nature and between man and man.   But there is more to be said.  So far, in the preceding paragraph we have not advanced our argument.   A new point is now made and one that is central to advanced Force Theory and Philosophical Anthropology.  That is:  the human being does not construe culture as a bridge or mediator, necessarily, but as--and this is a radical departure--as a new world in itself.  This world is isolated, finally, from the nature out of which the human being originally appeared.  What began as a bridge has become an island. 

Examples may be dangerous to a formal argument constructed around hypothetical truths.  We may consider language.  Language is a connection between one human being and another.  But there is still another possibility.  Such a connection exists only when these humans speak the same language.  In a context where formal language is required--which now includes just about everything in human life--there is, lacking a common language, a nearly total sense of isolation and solitude among these same humans.   Here language can be understood as a barrier rather than a connector.  But this is true of other formal human institutions.  Where they bind some people, they separate and isolate others.  Examples of such isolation abound throughout the world, where men expecting to understand one another--because they have in common a capacity for language in a human sense--actually lack all understanding, even that understanding, we are saying, that binds animals in many situations.  Human beings are isolated from one another by precisely the thing, culture, that they had expected to bring them together.  We may mention that ideas to unite the world, say in communist ideology, optimistically point to the human capacity for formal language as a uniting fact, when, indeed, these same languages and whole cultures are a dividing force.  Even animals have a community, we are saying, in their diverse species and forms that humans do not have.  And it is precisely because of the mediating fuction of universal technics and formal culture that this isolation exists.  This is the paradox of human culture.  But there is more.   We have spoken so far of the relationship of one human being and another, as, in other words, connected--and divided--through culture.  It is part of human ingenuity that they can, sometimes and perhaps only partially, work around these cultural differences.   This has been the constant subject--if only unconsciously--of sociology and political science.  To cover the same ground as sociology is not what we have in mind for Philosophical Anthropology and Force Theory.  We are giving only a side glance, now, to the relations of man to man; we are focused, rather, on the relation of man to nature.  There has been a constant theme of philosophy, especially in Germany, of the "abstracting" effect of technology and science.  To reduce (something the Germans call) "pure nature" to the terms of science somehow "kills" this nature that is around us and within us.  This is not nonsense, we are saying, but a pertinent idea--badly formulated.  Science, and the whole culture of technics, does not abstract nature so much as, as a slowly encroaching tendency, isolate the human from nature, to create, in other words, a certain "safe" environment that replaces the original savanahs of the earliest hunters.  Again, however, such isolation raises the egregious reality that the human being, isolated from nature, comes into flat opposition and contradiction to nature.  Yet nature is the overwhelmingly superior force.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-07-30 14:06:13)


We understand that culture and technics are meant to be lived through, as a bridge is meant to be crossed over.  Culture and technics bridge the void that opened when humans lost their biological connection--which we are simplifying with the words teeth and claws-- with nature.  Instead, humans make and use tools.  We have said enough about this connection already.  What is left, it seems, is to determine if culture and technics are meant to be lived in.  Of course we must still deal with the highly problematic phrase "meant to be."   A hammer is "meant" to pound a nail; that is the human intention.  All we are saying in the phrase "meant to be" is that the function that culture has taken on as an escape from nature, as opposed to a method of dealing with nature, was not the original function of culture.   The original purpose of culture was to fill in the void between man and nature; culture came to be, on the other hand, an obviation of the whole need to live in nature.  Nature itself became obsolete.  Humans through culture became mere escapists, almost as it were hypernating from the word outside culture.   Was culture now a sort of sealed, sequestered-off reality into which humans can escape, ceasing, that is, to live in their old world of nature?  Here we may again, in presenting these ideas, refer to Philosophical Anthropology as a position orienting us in our pursuit of a true understanding of what Scheler called die Stellung des Menschen im Cosmos.  We look to the simplest--that is the earliest--situations humans faced as they emerged as one species among others on the African plains.    It is one thing, we are saying, to use a stick or stone or hammer or saw with which to interesect with nature, bringing physical nature closer to humans and more compatible with their interests.  We may picture a hunter on the plains of Africa, alone there with simply a stick to serve him; he is chasing some animal for food.  It would be a pointless argument to say that, if this hunter lacks the speed and strengh and (of course) teeth and claws to grasp this prey, he does not understand, through his senses and instincts, precisely where he is.  This world of the African plains is still, even for the human "creature of deficiency" (Gehlen), some sort of familiar environment and one in which he feels comfortable.  But there is more.  This very tool, itself part nature, and also part human intention and plan, constitutes a sort of safe haven.  The tool, even so simple a tool as a stick, constitutes in itself a sort of "safe haven" of defense.  The tool is also a provider and in that sense replaces the spontaneous abundance of nature.  Our picture of Africa three million years ago, the time of human appearance, is one of dwindling forests and lowering temperatures; in that sense Africa did appear to be a void.  But the change was not abrupt; looking as he did at the African vistas he did not feel cast out of nature, but still felt a part of it.  These same sticks that served as tools gradually, over time and with rising human ingenuity, became houses and protective shelters.  The stick became also not merely the means to food but the source of food.  The stick was not simply a mediator between man and nature, but tended to become, eventually, a hermetically sealed reality in itself with no comprehension of what was around it.   Abstract intelligence was simply a way of "dealing with" this outside world.  Here we are taking a position regarding German romantic philosophy (Spengler, Klages and many others):  intelligence does not so much "kill" nature as such intelligence allows humans to stay in a relation with nature even after, retreating as they do to a world of culture, separate themselves from nature.  Intelligence in these terms is not so much a connection between a nature-alienated man and nature, as it is a resolution to the opposition that sets in between culture, on the one hand, as an escape from nature; and on the other hand, nature itself.   Intelligence is an afterthought.

Where culture becomes not just a bridge to nature, but an escape from nature, a new opposition or contradiction arises.  Culture can be connected within itself, and the human being through culture is connected to himself; but culture is not necessarily connected to nature.  Culture as an "escapist" reality exists in a void; this void still must be overcome.  Culture must connect itself, or reconnect itself, with nature; otherwise culture will perish.  This is a point which I may postpone proving inasmuch as the point is self-evident.  We begin talking at some point about the connection--the resolution of the opposition of culture and nature--between these two great realities.  The Germans were right in decrying a "contradiction" (Widerspruch) between culture and nature.  They were also on the right path to understanding this opposition in beginning, as they did--interrupted by a geat war--the path of Philosophical Anthropology.  What we have done here in this essay under the title Force Theory is to advance this understanding one further step:  having separated man from nature, having then reconnected man to nature through mediation of culture, having further separated culture from nature--we must, then, rejoin culture to nature.  That is done through abstract intelligence.  The life of an animal is perilous; in the short term, at least,  humans have reduced danger in their own lives.  There remains for us to see the danger that culture faces when, constituted within itself by ties irrelevant to nature in general, this same culture confronts nature in a relationship mediated entirely through abstract ideas of science and mathematics.  And finally, the human being comes into collision with his own inner being as that being is constituted through biology and race.  Culture on the one hand and race on the other, as biological "becoming," are positioned in an oppositional relation to one another for which there is no forseeable resolution.


The tool, as  inert matter, is "of nature."   Thus when we say that the human's "deficiencies"--his lack, say, of claws that clutch--separate him from nature, we must qualify that statement.    Simply in taking a tool in his hand the human has already made direct physical and sensational contact with nature.  Technics at some point always involve a real contact between man and tool or man and machine.  The point of contact may be simply a button that is pushed or a lever that is pulled.  So long as even a finger extends to the surface of a physical object the connection has been made.  But there is more.   A whole dimension of the tool--the side of technology which we call "intellect"-- remains to be discussed.   The artifact (tool) cannot be thought of apart from the intellect that controls the tool.  I have already said that this intellect could be inherent in the tool itself and would not have to be said to be from an external source.  The intellect, originating with the human, is intertwined in the tool.  But this is the same human analyzing, dissecting intellect that is so castigated by German romantic philosophy as "nature-killing."  It is tempting at this point to make fun of this point of view, asking whether, perhaps, the earliest hunter using a  spear or bow to get food would think of himself as "part" of nature or "apart" from nature.   Early man worked to get food and avoid preditors the same as modern day man; these workaday types are motivated the same and would not understand arcane Germanic distinctions between them.   It would interest the early hunter not at all to know that he is "connected" or eingegliedert as a living part of nature.   He would definitely want to live as civilized man; and would have no interest, either, in Philosophical Anthropology--neither does his civilized counterpart.  Nevertheless it remains true, as we have said all along, that the tool is "contrary" to nature.  What this means may be stated simply.

The tool consists of certain tool-elements; these are not found "in nature."  The elements are not found in human beings, nor are they found in inert matter.   We may speak of a line of action whereupon "force" is transmitted from the hand to an object, causing that object to move in a certain way.  No inert object moves in this way, this way being aptly called "anti-gravitational."  There are other expressions that would fit.  The motion of living things is in this sense anti-gravitational, moving unlike any object confined to inert motion.   In order to achieve this line of force, the "matter" that stands between the human being and his intended objective must be re-arranged.  The material must be dissected intellectually and then physically; its parts must be re-arranged in an order wherein the force originating with humans is transmitted to this said objective.  To create a bow and arrow, say, a branch from a tree must be cut into discrete bits and then these bits must be arranged in a certain way, with the addition of cord and other parts.  The tree branch must be seen as separate parts.  This dissection is an act accomplished by intellect and is basic to all technological action.   No thing of man or in nature, either one, is capable of such breaking-down into discrete parts and, correspondingly, being re-arranged.  The tool is not con-sequential.  There is no absolute bond or direection within the tool; with a "natural" thing it is otherwise.  Laws of gravity and so forth create a stable world; when humans came into that world, the connections within themselves were con-sequential.  The tool--and all of human culture--stands outside this natural order, subject as tools are to composition and decomposition; consisting of parts that have no logical or "natural" (gravitational and so forth) relationship.  Thus when a man puts his hands on a tool, he touches a part of the tool in a "connected" way--through physical touch and sensation--but the sequence of elements, strung together after having been dissected from other matter, is no direct connection.  The human connects with nature only in a mediated (vermittelt) manner or mode that can be called, in the context of the present essay, "alienated."  That is to say, the connection between two natural beings--man on the one hand and matter on the other--is itself not natura, it is, on the contrary, unnatural.  We use the terms natural and unnatural, as I already said, hypothetically.

We are talking about the connection between biology and culture.  A theoretical middle term, we can say, of this issue, if not a fact of this issue, is that of mind.  A mental problem--that the human entertained ideas that are mutually contradictory--arose in the first instance of tool use.  We have already said this in earlier sections of this blog.   That is, was the acquired (brought to the person after the fact of his birth) tool the person himself?  Or was the tool a fact of nature?  This confusion set in with primal man, who was often buried with his artifacts.  But the confusion grew.  We have stated that being "fixed" the human biololgy does not allow re-arrangement.  There are various minor possibilities to re-arrange the human anatomy, in the case of sickness, say; but these are rare instances.  The human being will resist any such intrusion to re-compose a body that is composed "by nature."  But there is more.  He will resist any attempt on the part of other persons to re-arrange his personality; and also he will fight even efforts to re-arrange his thinking, insofar as his thinking is a direct outcome of his inherited personality.  Where the rearrangement of ideas and thinking is possible is in certain outer limits of thought, where the subject of that thought is purely objective, that is, is some physical order or sequence that is problematic and debatable.  Even there, where his opinion is a matter of personal pride, there is resistance.  But the issue is more complicated than this.  If the human is resistant to personal change, he is open to change in his social relations--depending on what these relations are.  In an earlier book (available as Utopia of the Instincts) I pointed to the mother-child relation as a relation which is "of nature" and as such inviolable.  Fourier proscribed this relation in his utopian society; he was simply wrong.  No social plan has ever successfully challenged this relationship; and any society violating it has gone to ruin.  We may therefore set the point, where nature asserts itself against culture in precisely this relation between mother and child.  I have not changed my opinion since writing Utopia of the Instincts.   The human being may think that in creating culture, he has simply "disposed" of nature. ......

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-08-09 14:10:54)


The German romantic thesis, in its most straightforward and radical expression, is that of Ludwig Klages of Munich.  His major work Geist als Widersacher der Seele is a book that I own;  although, in my opinion, it is simply unreadable.  On the one hand the opus might be regarded, charitably, as an early work in environmentalism.  Otherwise it is a rambling castigation of all achievements of mankind.   Lamenting of the decimation of animal and plant species,  Klages lists possibly all the species there are to list:  the bear, the beaver, the stork....and so forth.  The book largely comprises of lists of species that have suffered at the hands of human Geist, rambling on for one thousand pages.  Human intellect came into the world, Klages says, not to create anything but merely to destroy.  He presents an ideosyncratic view of human mind and thereby undertakes what jurists call the burden of proof.   This is the way Klages could reasonably be perceived, assuming that one does not look deeply at his basic message.  This message could be mythological.   

In Klages view what we commonly call human intelligence is not human, precisely--though common observation would say otherwise--so much as "alien."   An image appears of hostile beings in spaceships and with laser-type rayguns.  We are tempted to make light of this thesis by comparing intelligence to a sort of world-destroying poisonous ray directed at earth from the proverbial creations--of little green men from other planets--of lunitics and paranoids.  This image the "green space aliens" is indeed not far from Klages' actual viewpont.  Again let me suggests that Klages mode of discussion is mytho-poetic.  That is, by "alien" Klages means intrusive or entfremdet.  He says that intelligence in its analytic, dissecting capacity divides life within itself, not simply the life of humans but the life of all nature, and--because to divide is to destroy--"kills" all that is living.  We are almost at a loss as to what to make of this opus of pining and complaining.  Klage bears a heavy burden of proof.  No person would ordinarily reject human intelligence as such; it is greatly sought after, to have as a trait of one's own personality and to acquire, indirectly, from other persons.  Civilizations are admired, not castigated, on account of their intellectual achievements.   We are saying only that  this view goes against common sense and against what is readily observable.

I love Klages for his romanticism.  This blog is saturated with his romanticism, in case that fact has not been observed by the reader.  Again I say this argument bears a heavy burden of proof--but we are not saying finally that we will not bear that burden here.  There is much more to say.  In the meantime we may impartially underscore Klages' main points. We think of reason as appearing with the first humans who, relative to animals, and as an enhancement of tools and technology, was simply a practical requirement of the times.  Humans that existed then were without resources other than their own native intelligence, which was higher than that of animals.  Intelligent work was simply an alternative to starvation and there was hardly any good choice that men had other than to use it.   Intelligence was as useful in the same way that arms and legs were useful.  But there is more.  Earlier in my life, when I studied at Tuebingen, 40 years ago, I was attracted to Klages.  It was a romantic, schwaermerish phase of my life.  Then I hated academicians as "idea killers."  It was only much later that I was drawn to the professor's favorite F. Engels on account of Engels' cool and pragmatic way of reasoning and his good sense, above all, to accept and use well that--intelligence--that is our only heritage.  My first impressions were that Engels was serious and did not violate common sense, while Klages was simply silly.  Klages has suffered rejection on grounds that he was a National Socialist, which to Engels and the "Marxists" would be repellant.  I do not want the ideological issue to intrude into Force Theory at this time.  But we may opine that to bring together Engel's mode of reasoning and the final conclusions of Klages seems to be out of the question.  Or is it?  In fact, any thoughtful examination of the premises of environmental theory today would reveal a certain (at least) ambivalence  regarding the human intellect and the intellect's great--because they are great--accomplishments.  We enter into the age of spaceships and magical rays with a palpable sadness, reading, as we do in newspapers of earth-killing at the hands precisely of human beings in a great act of self-contradiction and self-destruction.  human technology relentlessly expansions to kill its own source in life.

In short:  for Klages, intellect "kills" life.  Is this so?  Force Theory, led by the economist Duhring, with his common sense and practical view of society, has attempted to expunge romanticism and hyper-vitalism from social theory.  But there is a side of romantic philosophy, and especially of Klage's views, which compels us to look deeper into the issues he raises.  This is what I am saying:  what we should say of human rational intelligence is not that it "kills" nature; rather, intellect "de-composes" nature.  Composition and its opposite, decomposition, are key words in our ex-position.  To posit means to put; to com-posite would logically mean to "put 'in common.'" In the total purview of nature things--and beings--resist decomposition.  Simply stated, these things and beings are com-posed.  They are put together somehow.  If they become de-composed they cease to exist.  The issues are really not that complicated.   We are inclined to say of culture, and the intelligence which supports, that culture "re-arranges" objects.  We look at an object:  nature has com-posed the object.  As a composed thing, the object has parts, elements, sections and so forth.  The object also has, when processed through thought, a beginning, a middle and an end.  It has a top side and an underside, these dimensions also only through intelligent dissection.  But the dissection here is only mental, not yet practical or actual.  At the risk of falling now into pure metaphysical speculation, we may also say--as we must say--that human intelligence discerns the object's natural divisions.  Intellect may also as we say discern unnatural divisions, those of "middle, end" and so forth, which are abstract separations that do not inhere in the object an sich.  This is where we stand in the present phase of our argument.  We may go on to say that this object, as naturally com-posed, is not suitable or amenable to human life.  The stone as a nature-fact (as anthropologists call it) may not be very useful to humans; but it can be modified.  But this modification entails de-composition, which the stone--which has some inward mode of cohesion--resists.  The stone resists human intrusion as a de-composing force.  Here is where we might now meet Klages and his "intellect as killing force" thesis.  We might meet him here at least half way. 

Life, of course, in contradistinction to inert matter, actively resists decomposition.  Simply stated, that is what life is:  resistance against decomposition.  If intellect does in fact decompose life, then life has lost the battle and intellect has won.  That is tantamount to saying that intellect kills life.  But human culture (we are moving ahead rapidly now) does indeed de-compose nature. Humans have in mind a "natur" with which they are compatible; if nature does not at first appear compatible with humans, it, nature, is simply re-arranged.  Before however nature can be re-composed or re-arranged, nature must be de-composed.  We say this in clear understanding that things of nature, as the things they are--inherently composed--may need no rearrangement within themselves; but in relation to other things, this relation is, through human intellectual intervention, rearranged.   It does this in order that it, culture, may re-compose or re-arrange nature to make nature compatible with himself.  He cannot easily grasp what is rough and harsh and sour so he makes it smooth and sweet.   And so forth.  But in making the thing smooth and obtainable and graspable, he "de-composes" that object.  With living beings, whether human or animal or even plant, composition is not so easy.  That is because in order to recompose something it must first be decomposed; and living beings are not to be decomposed without virtually a physical fight.  First there is the matter of de-composition of a being whose primary quality is that it resists decomposition.  If such a being cannot easily be de-composed, it also cannot be re-composed.  Thus alterations of objects are easier to accomplish, and what we call "progress" is more rapid, in the realm of non-living things.  Culture moves rapidly where technics and science are engaged with inert matter.  However--and here an interlude seems in order--to point out that, where Engels' concept of history has humans living together in happy harmony, Force Theory ends with a concept of race as the principle wherein life resolves its own inner contradictions.  Racism while banned from society because it contradicts society, is, on the other hand, the point or juncture wherein what is merely rational becomes real.  This point of self-contradiction is reached in human society as a structure wherein the only human ties are rational ones. 

The family is an issue:  the family, as Engels himself showed, is dissolved by the terms of technology and human rational intervention in general.  This is historically true and brings us to the point of industrial civilization.  The issues are clear.  There is the matter, quite different, of animals and humans living THROUGH inert matter which, by human intelligent agency, are brought together (composed) and also necessarily separated.  We are speaking of society, as I have defined the word earlier, which is inert matter and therefore not precisely human decomposition-resistant life, either one.   Biology and culture, and the connection between them, has been the major theme of this blog.  This has been a large, and failure prone, undertaking.  A most serious risk is that we let the words we use proliferate uncontrolably, as Hegel did.  Ours would be a great victory if only we compressed Hegelian theory in just several words.  We must however rely on words that have already been used and misused in a vast scientific and popular literature.  How is biology connected to culture and vice versa?  We understand biology to be something fixed and resistant to human intrusion.  An individual person inherits genes; these determines his body and his personality and so forth.  On the other hand, this same person receives stimulation from the outside world that does change him personally somewhat. There are individual experiences which shape the person as an individual.  But other persons too, all of whom have corresponding influences--although these influences are also individual ones--influence this same person.  So, wherever mind altering and behavior altering experience come from, humans affect one another and these  It is in this area of the individual, wherein he is open to change, that culture intrudes.  The human mind is individually is affected by culture; but these same influences are patterned throughout whole populations which an integral  complex of traits and habits.  These habits are what we call culture.  Such considerations have come out of academic anthropology.  Philosophical Anthropology has appeared, or at any rate has come into prominence, only after World War II in a country, Germany, that had to concede its philosophical dominance that it had enjoyed before the War.  Philosophical Anthropology, I suggest, is what was left of a war-torn German philosophy.  This way of thinking has not spread to the United States.  There are reasons for this.  I suggest that Philosophical Anthropology is a sort of quest for identity, not as individuals but as human beings in general.  Most people think of this quest as pointless.  I have trouble interesting anyone in my own philosophical pondering.  There is, we may say, built into all of us in the moment we are born an understanding of some sort as to what it means to be a human being.  Germans would call this a Selbstverstaendlichkeit, or self-evidency.  Psychologists would call it a self-image saying, at least most recently, that this image is simply born into us as part of our genes.  That one searches for his or her own identity is regarded as a personality disorder, one that affects, most commonly, actors--who always are playing another person.  A prominent actor recently consulted with a Hindu guru, asking "Who am I?" [cite]  Philosophical Anthropology is such an identity quest and one that, like the individual search, flies in the face of the fact that such knowledge--of identity--is simply part of the genetic heritage of the human species.  Humans do not ask what it means to be human because they already know this, from birth, through some genetic self-image.  But there is more.  We may assume the ancient hunter "knew" what it meant to be human and be the person he was.  That is a safe conclusion. 

But with growing populations, technological inventions and innovations, and above all an expanding sense of "society," the person acquired--in addition to his instinctive self-image and self-knowlege--the concepts of "human" from the people around him.  Not just one additional concept of "human" appeared but a multiplicity of them.  This colllective idea of self has come into collision with the older, instinctive idea. Whether it is a blessing or curse, most people are simply oblivious to this more general disorder, believing as they do that they "know" what it means to be themselves and to be human.  The average person never thinks about these things.  Who we are and where we come from and where we are headed generally never enters their minds.  But society in general, I suggest, is moving in a chaotic direction.   There are of course political issues.   Into this confusion Philosophical Anthropology has come, as I say uninvited.  There is a power struggle, not simply between the individual and society as political forces, but between concepts of "man."  It appears that this philosophical and ideological battle will be played out among a very small number of persons.

Last edited by richard_swartzbaugh (2010-08-25 18:58:59)


Hegel begins with a grand cosmic world-dialectic.  We begin with a barefoot man carrying a stick.   Somewhere, however, dialectic and Philosophical Anthropology must meet.   My point is that the dialectical story of human existence began in this first event, wherein the human, carrying a stick, began his dependency on the stick and culture.   But this dependency was ambivalent.   The stick was both served its owner and opposed its owner.  The precise relation between the man and the stick must be characterized as both supportive and "oppositional."   The stick extended its owner but also became an opposed "other" (anderssein).   Not surprising is the fact that humans were opposed by their own creation;  yet the actual history of culture and society has been the attempts by humans to resolve the contradictions that occured in sequence.   We look to find the precise point where culture turned against its owner.  Obviously, the stick was necessary for survival as humans confronted adversaries, animal and human alike, who otherwise would have been unsurmountable.    The "dialectic of the stick" began, we are saying, when the human turned the stick against members of his own familial group, perhaps simply his female mate.   Simply stated, when the man hurt his female mate or his child, he hurt himself.  The organic or instinctive unity of the familial group was in this case disrupted by use of the stick.  The man "enslaved" his own family.  Rather to abandon the stick, on the other hand, and restore the purely instinctive relation with his family the person adopted the "rule of thumb" and marriage.  The rule of thumb comes to us through common law and, before that, oral tradition.  There came to be a "logic" of, first, tool use and then institutional accomodation of tool use; and this, we are saying, is the logic of cultural "progress."   Culture evolves, we are saying, dialectically.  In saying this we put ourselves in a clearly "German" or Hegelian mode of thinking in opposition to that of English and Americans, for instance Herbert Spencer or Leslie White.  The dialectic of culture is the iron law of Force Theory.   The only real issue remaining is to find the dialectical code within the complex comings and goings that make up world history, with its wars and artistic expressions and mechanical inventions.  This is too big a topic to explore right now.  Suffice it to say that every mechanical innovation requires a social and institutional accomodation.  This is an idea that is not new to sociology.  Engels had anticipated, already, the major findings of social science.  We are suggesting here, then, only that more precise discriminations are possible as regards to anticipating future culture.  This is our contribution to "science."   
I have spoken of the "negative dialectic of the good."   The tool originally and always has been an intrusion into human life as anderssein.  In the organism there is a natural unity in that every part is "in" every other part.  This principle could be stated as the genetic code in every cell that outlines the form of the organism as a whole.  We repeat:  the organism is a whole.   In the tool, on the other hand, not only is the tool "other than" the tool user;  within the tool itself the one end is other than the other end.   Also the middle is other than the two ends.  If the tool is an axe, the head of the axe is other than the handle.  But the final point is most telling.  The thing that unites the tool within itself--which is only an idea--is itself not a real part of the tool.  The idea that connects the parts of the tool must be connected to the tool by another idea.  Thus disunity in effect begets disunity.  The idea that unites the tool, or for that matter unites culture as a whole, is itself "other" than the whole that it unites; otherwise it could not be the generality that unites the tool.  The idea itself has parts which are other than one another.   As a reflex of the primal or original tool, the idea of the whole is to be characterized as simply "other than" that same whole.  Finally, any requirement--and this requirement may be built into the idea itself--that the idea actually plays a part of the working of the whole is itself opposed to this idea.  In other words the idea of the whole, in demanding of itself that it play a role in the particular elements, contradicts itself.  Here we be ascending to the level of Parmenides of Plato; this is bound to be a confusion section.   Suffice it to say that the issues we face are real and practical issues of culture.


The tool, we said, proved to be socially divisive.  The insitutions which humans implemented were not precisely technological so much as pertained only to social relationships.  What the tool divided, institutions unite.  In saying this we are following the Young Hegelian line of thinking, especially of Engels.