It is not my intention to be either influenced or to contradict what has been written by my predecessors; the subject has forced itself upon me objectively, and has of itself become inseparable from my consideration of the world. Moreover, I shall expect least approval from those people who are for the moment enchained by this passion, and in consequence try to express their exuberant feelings in the most sublime and ethereal images.
My view will seem to them too physical, too material, however metaphysical, nay, transcendent it is fundamentally. First of all let them take into consideration that the creature whom they are idealising to-day in madrigals and sonnets would have been ignored almost entirely by them if she had been born eighteen years previously. Every kind of love, however ethereal it may seem to be, springs entirely from the instinct of sex; indeed, it is absolutely this instinct, only in a more definite, specialised, and perhaps, strictly speaking, more individualised form.
Why all this crowding, blustering, anguish, and want?
Why should such a trifle play so important a part and create disturbance and confusion in the well-regulated life of mankind? The ultimate aim of all love-affairs, whether they be of a tragic or comic nature, is really more important than all other aims in human life, and therefore is perfectly deserving of that profound seriousness with which it is pursued. As a matter of fact, love determines nothing less than the establishment of the next generation.
The existence and nature of the dramatis personae who come on to the scene when we have made our exit have been determined by some frivolous love-affair. As the being, the existentia of these future people is conditioned by our instinct of sex in general, so is the nature, the essentia, of these same people conditioned by the selection that the individual makes for his satisfaction, that is to say, by love, and is thereby in every respect irrevocably established.
This is the key of the problem.
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In applying it, we shall understand it more fully if we analyse the various degrees of love, from the most fleeting sensation to the most ardent passion; we shall then see that the difference arises from the degree of individualisation of the choice. All the loveaffairs of the present generation taken altogether are accordingly the meditatio compositionis generationis futurae, e qua iterum pendent innumerae generationes of mankind.
Love is of such high import, because it has nothing to do with the weal or woe of the present individual, as every other matter has; it has to secure the existence and special nature of the human race in future times; hence the will of the individual appears in a higher aspect as the will of the species; and this it is that gives a pathetic and sublime import to love-affairs, and makes their raptures and troubles transcendent, emotions which poets for centuries have not tired of depicting in a variety of ways.
There is no subject that can rouse the same interest as love, since it concerns both the weal and woe of the species, and is related to every other which only concerns the welfare of the individual as body to surface. This is why it is so difficult to make a drama interesting if it possesses no love motive; on the other hand, the subject is never exhausted, although it is constantly being utilised. What manifests itself in the individual consciousness as instinct of sex in general, without being concentrated on any particular individual, is very plainly in itself, in its generalised form, the will to live.
On the other hand, that which appears as instinct of sex directed to a certain individual, is in itself the will to live as a definitely determined individual. In this case the instinct of sex very cleverly wears the mask of objective admiration, although in itself it is a subjective necessity, and is, thereby, deceptive. Nature needs these stratagems in order to accomplish her ends. The purpose of every man in love, however objective and sublime his admiration may appear to be, is to beget a being of a definite nature, and that this is so, is verified by the fact that it is not mutual love but possession that is the essential.
Without possession it is no consolation to a man to know that his love is requited. In fact, many a man has shot himself on finding himself in such a position. On the other hand, take a man who is very much in love; if he cannot have his love returned he is content simply with possession. Compulsory marriages and cases of seduction corroborate this, for a man whose love is not returned frequently finds consolation in giving handsome presents to a woman, in spite of her dislike, or making other sacrifices, so that he may buy her favour.
However much those of lofty sentiments, and especially of those in love, may refute the gross realism of my argument, they are nevertheless in the wrong. For is not the aim of definitely determining the individualities of the next generation a much higher and nobler aim than that other, with its exuberant sensations and transcendental soap-bubbles?
Among all earthly aims is there one that is either more important or greater? It alone is in keeping with that deep-rooted feeling inseparable from passionate love, with that earnestness with which it appears, and the importance which it attaches to the trifles that come within its sphere.
It is only in so far as we regard this end as the real one that the difficulties encountered, the endless troubles and vexations endured, in order to attain the object we love, appear to be in keeping with the matter.
For it is the future generation in its entire individual determination which forces itself into existence through the medium of all this strife and trouble. Indeed, the future generation itself is already stirring in the careful, definite, and apparently capricious selection for the satisfaction of the instinct of sex which we call love. That growing affection of two lovers for each other is in reality the Will to live of the new being, of which they shall become the parents; indeed, in the meeting of their yearning glances the life of a new being is kindled, and manifests itself as a well-organised individuality of the future.
The lovers have a longing to be really united and made one being, and to live as such for the rest of their lives; and this longing is fulfilled in the children born to them, in whom the qualities inherited from both, but combined and united in one being, are perpetuated. Contrarily, if a man and woman mutually, persistently, and decidedly dislike each other, it indicates that they could only bring into the world a badly Organised, discordant, and unhappy being.
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Finally, it is the will to live presenting itself in the whole species, which so forcibly and exclusively attracts two individuals of different sex towards each other. This will anticipates in the being, of which they shall become the parents, an objectivation of its nature corresponding to its aims. As a rule, however, an individual takes more after the father in shape and the mother in stature, corresponding to the law which applies to the offspring of animals It is impossible to explain the individuality of each man, which is quite exceptional and peculiar to him alone; and it is just as impossible to explain the passion of two people for each other, for it is equally individual and uncommon in character; indeed, fundamentally both are one and the same.
The former is explicite what the latter was implicite. We must consider as the origin of a new individual and true punctum saliens of its life the moment When the parents begin to love each other—to fancy each other, as the English appropriately express it. And, as has been said, in the meeting of their longing glances originates the first germ of a new being, which, indeed, like all germs, is generally crushed out.
This new individual is to a certain extent a new Platonic Idea; now, as all Ideas strive with the greatest vehemence to enter the phenomenal sphere, and To do this, ardently seize upon the matter which the law of causality distributes among them all, so this particular Idea of a human individuality struggles with the greatest eagerness and vehemence for its realisation in the phenomenal.
It is precisely this vehement desire which is the passion of the future parents For one another. Love has countless degrees, and its two extremes may be indicated as [Greek: Aphroditae Pandaemos] and [Greek: ourania]; nevertheless, in essentials it is the same everywhere.
If we investigate further we shall understand More clearly what this involves. All amorous feeling immediately and essentially concentrates itself on health, strength, and beauty, and consequently on youth; because the will above all wishes to exhibit the specific character of the human species as the basis of all individuality. The same applies pretty well to everyday courtship [Greek: Aphroditae pandaemos]. With this are bound up more special requirements, which we will consider individually later on, and with which, if there is any prospect of gratification, there is an increase of passion.
This, then, is the soul of a really great passion. The more perfectly two individuals are fitted for each other in the various respects Which we shall consider further on, the stronger will be their passion for each other. As there are not two individuals exactly alike, a particular kind of woman must perfectly correspond with a particular kind of man—always in view of the child that is to be born.
Real, passionate love is as rare as the meeting of two People exactly fitted for each other.
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By the way, it is because there is a possibility of real passionate love in us all that we understand why poets have depicted it in their works. Because the kernel of passionate love turns on the anticipation of the child to be born and its nature, it is quite possible for friendship, without any admixture of sexual love, to exist between two young, goodlooking people of different sex, if there is perfect fitness of temperament and intellectual capacity. In fact, a certain aversion for each other may exist also. The reason of this is that a child begotten by them would physically or mentally have discordant qualities.
In an opposite case, where there is no fitness of disposition, character, and mental capacity, whereby aversion, nay, even enmity for each other exists, it is possible for love to spring up.
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Love of this kind makes them blind to everything; and if it leads to marriage it is a very unhappy one. And now let us more thoroughly investigate the matter. Egoism is a quality so deeply rooted in every personality that it is on egotistical ends only that one may safely rely in order to rouse the individual to activity.
To be sure, the species has a prior, nearer, and greater claim on the individual than the transient individuality itself; and yet even when the individual makes some sort of conscious sacrifice for the perpetuation and future of the species, the importance of the matter will not be made sufficiently comprehensible to his intellect, which is mainly constituted to regard individual ends. Therefore Nature attains her ends by implanting in the individual a certain illusion by which something which is in reality advantageous to the species alone seems to be advantageous to himself; consequently he serves the latter while he imagines he is serving himself.
In this process he is carried away by a mere Chimera, which floats before him and vanishes again immediately, and as a motive takes the place of reality. This illusion is instinct. In most instances instinct may be regarded as the sense of the species which presents to the will whatever is of service to the species.
But because the will has here become individual it must be deceived in such a manner for it to discern by the sense of the individual what the sense of the species has presented to it; in other words, imagine it is pursuing ends concerning the individual, when in reality it is pursuing merely general ends using the word general in its strictest sense. Outward manifestation of instinct can be best observed in animals, where the part it plays is most significant; but it is in ourselves alone that we can get to know its internal process, as of everything internal.
But as a matter of fact man has a very decided, clear, and yet complicated instinct—namely, for the selection, both earnest and capricious, of another individual, to Satisfy his instinct of sex. The beauty or ugliness of the other individual has nothing whatever to do with this satisfaction in itself, that is in so far as it is a matter of pleasure based upon a pressing desire of the individual. The regard, however, for this satisfaction, which is so zealously pursued, as well as the careful Selection it entails, has obviously nothing to do with the chooser himself, although he fancies that it has.
Its real aim is the child to be born, in whom the type of the species is to be preserved in as pure and perfect a form as possible. For instance, different phases of degeneration of the human form are the consequences of a thousand physical accidents and moral delinquencies; and yet the genuine type of the human form is, in all its parts, always restored; further, this is accomplished under the guidance of the sense of beauty, which universally directs the instinct of sex, and without which the satisfaction of the latter would deteriorate to a repulsive necessity.
Accordingly, every one in the first place will infinitely prefer and ardently desire those who are most beautiful—in other words, those in whom the character of the species is most purely defined; and in the second, every one will desire in the other individual those perfections which he himself lacks, and he will consider imperfections, which are the reverse of his own, beautiful.
This is why little men prefer big women, and fair people like dark, and so on. The ecstasy with which a man is filled at the sight of a beautiful woman, making him imagine that union with her will be the greatest happiness, is simply the sense of the species. The preservation of the type of the species rests on this distinct preference for beauty, and this is why beauty has such power. We will later on more fully state the considerations which this involves. It is really instinct aiming at what is best in the species which induces a man to choose a beautiful woman, although the man himself imagines that by so doing he is only seeking to increase his own pleasure.
As a matter of fact, we have here an instructive solution of the secret nature of all instinct which almost always, as in this case, prompts the individual to look after the welfare of the species. The care with which an insect selects a certain flower or fruit, or piece of flesh, or the way in which the ichneumon seeks the larva of a strange insect so that it may lay its eggs in that particular place only, and to secure which it fears neither labour nor danger, is obviously very analogous to the care with which a man chooses a woman of a definite nature individually suited to him.
He strives for her with such ardour that he frequently, in order to attain his object, will sacrifice his happiness in life, in spite of all reason, by a foolish marriage, by some love-affair which costs him his fortune, honour, and life, even by committing crimes. And all this in accordance with the will of nature which is everywhere sovereign, so that he may serve the species in the most efficient manner, although he does so at the expense of the individual. Instinct everywhere works as with the conception of an end, and yet it is entirely without one.
Nature implants instinct where the acting individual is not capable of understanding the end, or would be unwilling to pursue it. Consequently, as a rule, it is only given prominently to animals, and in particular to those of the lowest order, which have the least intelligence. But it is only in such a case as the one we are at present considering that it is also given to man, who naturally is capable of understanding the end, but would not pursue it with the necessary zeal—that is to say, he would not pursue it at the cost of his individual welfare.