On the World Soul (Extract)


The reader, provided only that he has sufficient desire or curiosity, will become acquainted with what the goal of this treatise might be, and why it bears this inscription at its head.

The author first finds it necessary to explain himself on two points, so that no prejudices are assumed with regard to this inquiry.

The first is that no artificial unity of principles is sought or intended in this work. Consideration of the universal metamorphoses of nature as well as the state and progress of the organic world certainly conducts the natural scientist to a common principle in which, fluctuating between inorganic and organic nature, is contained the first cause of all change in the former and the final ground of all activity in the latter. Because this principle is everywhere present, it is nowhere; and because it is everything, it cannot be anything determinate or particular; language has no appropriate term for it, and the earliest philosophies (to which, after having completed its cycle, ours is gradually returning) have handed down to us an idea of it only in a figurative guise…