THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE UNCONSCIOUS : Volume II - Eduard von HARTMANN
The Masterpiece that first inspired Freud's delvings into the Unconscious. The author's original prefaces, an interview, introduction, bibliography and notes are all included in the first volume. Volume II - the present one - is concerned with the 'Metaphysics of the Unconscious'. He takes us on a journey to the birth of consciousness, as well as considering in some considerable depth the origins of life itself.
"So that he longed to burst in Nature's portals / That barred the secret from the Eyes of Mortals." Lucretius
About Volume II: In the present volume Hartmann's focus is not essentially upon the Physics of the Unconscious, as it was in the first (where he explored many physical and mental aspects of numerous species) but rather upon the Metaphysics of the Unconscious in Plants, Animals and Human Beings. Here the author takes us on a journey to the origins of Consciousness, even of Life itself. - Topics of great interest in this volume are: The Unconscious Psychical Activity of Plants, Matter as Will and Idea, The Conception of Individuality, the Resuscitation of Life in seemingly "dead" animals (of particular interest to students of Cryogenics). However, amid the plethora of biological observations and early "biogenetic considerations", through his discussions of suspended animation and spontaneous generation, von Hartmann does not lose track of his philosophical polemic, which progresses slowly but surely toward his final conclusions in this volume concerning God, the Universe and the Unconscious. In fact, he goes so far as to identify "God" with his own conception of the "Unconscious", and this is crucial to his argument in the final section of the book, entitled "The Supreme Wisdom of the Unconscious and the Perfection of the World", where he relates his views to those of Leibniz, concluding, in his own way, that this is the best of all "possible worlds", though we will need to progress to Volume III so as to see where the argument leads.
Alteration from previous Editions: A change from the original Coupland edition is the point at which Volume I and II are divided from each other. Instead of breaking off Volume I with the two sections of 'The Unconscious in the Human Mind ' still outstanding, and placing these at the start of Volume TII, these two sections have now been incorporated into Volume One as they fit there best. Thus Volume II is entirely devoted to the 'Metaphysics of the Unconscious ', which is straightforward.
An Extract from this Volume: "Chapter XII. THE SUPREME WISDOM OF THE UNCONSCIOUS AND THE PERFECTION OF THE WORLD. - At all times, and among all peoples, the wisdom of the Creator, World-orderer, or World-governor has been the theme of admiration and of praise. None of all the peoples who in the course of history have attained even a moderate degree of civilisation, whatever may have been their other opinions in religion and philosophy, has been so barbarous as not to have attained this perception, and to have given it more or less rapturous expression. Although this expression must, in part, be laid to the ac-count of a flattery of the gods with self-interested objects, yet at all events the greater part of it remains the announcement of a genuine conviction. This conviction thrusts itself already on the mind of the child as soon as it begins to comprehend the remarkable combination of means and ends in Nature. He only who denies natural ends can close his mind against this conviction; such a view can, however, only be evolved from systematically ordered philosophical abstractions, since it runs counter to the first natural apprehension of the phenomena of Nature. Before men form abstractions, they are most strongly moved by the power of the concrete case, and the deeper heads of a childlike nation may be lost in astonishment and reverence at the perception of a striking natural purpose even in a single case".
Eduard von Hartmann's book is one of the most exciting in the history of philosophy and it is one that has a great impact when read as a whole work - admittedly quite a task for a 1000-page plus philosophy book!