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Title: Sex & Character

Author: Otto Weininger

Release date: April 1, 2020 [eBook #61729]

Language: English

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Please see the Transcriber’s Notes at the end of this text.

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Die Umschau.—“Dr. Otto Weininger’s book is destined to place the relation of the sexes in a new light. He traces the contrast between man and woman to a single principle, and makes an attempt to reduce the spiritual differences of the sexes to a system.”

Allgemeine Wiener Medizinische Zeitung.—“An extraordinary book, that called forth the learned criticism of two faculties, and had appeared in a third edition a few months after its publication, before the scientific world had been able to pronounce upon it seriously, not to say finally.... A book that will henceforth be in the hands of every doctor who has occasion to study the antithetical character of the two sexes.”

Der Volkserzieher.—“There is no aspect of modern thought which he (Weininger) has not touched upon in the course of his investigations, no recess of the labyrinthine modern soul into which he does not invite us to glance with him, no question on which he has not touched, or to which he has not, indeed, offered a solution in accordance with his own philosophy.”

Allgemeine Zeitung.—“This book ... is a sensational work, both by reason of its contents and of the tragic fate of its author. Weininger, as is commonly known, shot himself in the autumn of 1903 at the early age of twenty-three, in the house in Vienna where Beethoven had died.... But it is the book itself, even more than its author’s individuality, which is abnormal. It is nothing less than an attempt to construct a system of sexual characterology on the broadest scientific basis, with all the resources of the most modern philosophy.”

Münchener Neueste Nachrichten.—“‘Sex and Character,’ by Dr. Weininger, has none of the character of a youthful work. The learning revealed in this book, and indeed its whole conception, are such that we might take it for the strenuous achievement of a lifetime.”

Neues Wiener Tageblatt.—“A great philosophical, biological, and social question is here treated by a gifted and learned author with perfect freedom and breadth, yet with a seriousness, a wealth of scientific knowledge, that would ensure the book a place in the front rank, even were the style less excellent, vivacious, and individual than it is.”

Die Wage.—“The author is a brilliant stylist. On every page I find aphorisms, in which the form fits the thought like a veil of silver. And these thoughts are no ordinary ones. The writer goes his own way, he knows secret paths which no man has yet trodden, and he shrinks from no obstacles. He lets himself down cautiously into the abyss, for he has determined to sound the deepest depths; from time to time, however, he looks up from the pit and rejoices in the light of the eternal stars, even though they lie hid from his mortal vision. He carries his arguments to their ultimate conclusion. We rebel against these conclusions, but we admire the uncompromising logic of the thinker.”






All rights reserved
Copyright, London: William Heinemann, 1906
Copyright, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1906



On October 4, 1903, Otto Weininger died by his own hand, at the age of twenty-three and a half years. There is perhaps in all history no other instance of a man who had produced a work so mature in its scientific character, and so original in its philosophical aspect as “Sex and Character” when he was no more than twenty-one years old. We will not attempt to decide whether this was the case of a genius, who, instead of developing his intellectual powers gradually in the course of a lifetime, concentrated them in one mighty achievement, and then cast off the worn-out husk of the flesh, or of an unhappy youth, who could no longer bear the burden of his own ghastly knowledge.

“Sex and Character” is undoubtedly one of those rare books that will be studied long after its own times, and whose influence will not pass away, but will penetrate deeper and deeper, compelling amazement and inviting reflection in steadily expanding circles. It may be noted with satisfaction that the book is by no means in harmony with contemporary thought. The discussions, so much in favour nowadays, concerning the emancipation of women, sexuality, the relation of women to culture, and so forth, are deprived of their data by this publication; for here, laid down with all the penetrating acumen of the trained logician, is a characterisation of sexual types, “M” (the ideal man), and “W” (the ideal woman), which traces all the much discussed psychological phenomena back to a final source, and actually gives a definitive solution to the feminine problem, a solution altogether alien to the field of inquiry wherein the answer has hitherto[vi] been sought. In the science of characterology, here formulated for the first time, we have a strenuous scientific achievement of the first importance. All former psychologies have been the psychology of the male, written by men, and more or less consciously applicable only to man as distinguished from humanity. “Woman does not betray her secret,” said Kant, and this has been true till now. But now she has revealed it—by the voice of a man. The things women say about themselves have been suggested by men; they repeat the discoveries, more or less real, which men have made about them. By a highly original method of analysis, a man has succeeded for the first time in giving scientific and abstract utterance to that which only some few great artists have suggested by concrete images hitherto. Weininger, working out an original system of characterology (psychological typology) rich in prospective possibilities, undertook the construction of a universal psychology of woman which penetrates to the nethermost depths, and is based not only on a vast systematic mastery of scientific knowledge, but on what can only be described as an appalling comprehension of the feminine soul in its most secret recesses. This newly created method embraces the whole domain of human consciousness; research must be carried out on the lines laid down by Nature—in three stages, and from three distinct points of view: the biologico-physiological, the psychologically descriptive, and the philosophically appreciative. I will not dwell here on the equipment essential for such a task, the necessary combination of a comprehensive knowledge of natural history with a minute and exhaustive mastery of psychological and philosophical science—a combination destined, perhaps, to prove unique.

The general characterisation of the ideal woman, “W,” is followed by the construction of individual types, which are finally resolved into two elemental figures (Platonic conceptions to some extent), the Courtesan and the Mother. These are differentiated by their pre-occupation with the[vii] sexual act (the main, and in the ultimate sense, sole interest of “W”), in the first case, as an end in itself, in the second as the process which results in the possession of a child. The abnormal type, the hysterical woman, leads up to a masterly psychological (not physiological) theory of hysteria, which is acutely and convincingly defined as “the organic mendacity of woman.”

Weininger himself attached the highest importance to the ethico-philosophical chapters that conclude his work, in which he passes from the special problem of sexuality to the problems of individual talent, genius, æsthetics, memory, the ego, the Jewish race, and many others, rising finally to the ultimate logical and moral principles of judgment. From his most universal standpoint he succeeds in estimating woman as a part of humanity, and, above all, subjectively. Here he deliberately comes into sharp conflict with the fashionable tendencies towards an unscientific monism and its accompanying phenomena, pan-sexuality and the ethics of species, and characterises very aptly the customary superficialities of the many non-philosophical modern apostles, of whom Wilhelm Bölsche and Ellen Key are perhaps the most representative types. Weininger, in defiance of all reigning fashions, represents a consolidated dualism, closely related to the eternal systems of Plato, of Christianity, and of Kant, which finds an original issue in a bitterly tragic conception of the universe. Richard Wagner (whom Weininger calls the greatest of human beings after Jesus) gives artistic expression in his Parsifal to the conception Weininger sets forth scientifically. It is, in fact, the old doctrine of the divine life and of redemption to which the whole book, with its array of detail, is consecrated. In Kundry, Weininger recognises the most profound conception of woman in all literature. In her redemption by the spotless Parsifal, the young philosopher sees the way of mankind marked out; he contrasts with this the programme of the modern feminist movement, with its superficialities and its lies; and so, in conclusion, the book returns to the problem, which, in spite of all its wealth of thought,[viii] remains its governing idea: the problem of the sexes and the possibility of a moral relation between them—a moral relation fundamentally different from what is commonly understood by the term, of course. In the two chapters: “The Nature of Woman and her significance in the Universe,” and “Woman and Mankind,” we drink from a fountain of the ripest wisdom. A tragic and most unhappy mind reveals itself here, and no thoughtful man will lay down this book without deep emotion and admiration; many, indeed, will close it with almost religious reverence.



This book is an attempt to place the relations of Sex in a new and decisive light. It is an attempt not to collect the greatest possible number of distinguishing characters, or to arrange into a system all the results of scientific measuring and experiment, but to refer to a single principle the whole contrast between man and woman. In this respect the book differs from all other works on the same subject. It does not linger over this or that detail, but presses on to its ultimate goal; it does not heap investigation on investigation, but combines the psychical differences between the sexes into a system; it deals not with women, but with woman. It sets out, indeed, from the most common and obvious facts, but intends to reach a single, concrete principle. This is not “inductive metaphysics”; it is a gradual approach to the heart of psychology.

The investigation is not of details, but of principles; it does not despise the laboratory, although the help of the laboratory, with regard to the deeper problems, is limited as compared with the results of introspective analysis. An artist who wishes to represent the female form can construct a type without actually giving formal proof by a series of measurements. The artist does not despise experimental results; on the contrary, he regards it as a duty to gain experience; but for him the collection of experimental knowledge is merely a starting-point for self-exploration, and in art self-exploration is exploration of the world.

The psychology used in this exposition is purely philosophical, although its characteristic method, justified by the subject, is to set out from the most trivial details of experience. The task of the philosopher differs from that of[x] the artist in one important respect. The one deals in symbols, the other in ideas. Art and philosophy stand to one another as expression and meaning. The artist has breathed in the world to breathe it out again; the philosopher has the world outside him and he has to absorb it.

There is always something pretentious in theory; and the real meaning—which in a work of art is Nature herself and in a philosophical system is a much condensed generalisation, a thesis going to the root of the matter and proving itself—appears to strike against us harshly, almost offensively. Where my exposition is anti-feminine, and that is nearly everywhere, men themselves will receive it with little heartiness or conviction; their sexual egoism makes them prefer to see woman as they would like to have her, as they would like her to be.

I need not say that I am prepared for the answer women will have to the judgment I have passed on their sex. My investigation, indeed, turns against man in the end, and although in a deeper sense than the advocates of women’s rights could anticipate, assigns to man the heaviest and most real blame. But this will help me little and is of such a nature that it cannot in the smallest way rehabilitate me in the minds of women.

The analysis, however, goes further than the assignment of blame; it rises beyond simple and superficial phenomena to heights from which there opens not only a view into the nature of woman and its meaning in the universe, but also the relation to mankind and to the ultimate and most lofty problems. A definite relation to the problem of Culture is attained, and we reach the part to be played by woman in the sphere of ideal aims. There, also, where the problems of Culture and of Mankind coincide, I try not merely to explain but to assign values, for, indeed, in that region explanation and valuation are identical.

To such a wide outlook my investigation was as it were driven, not deliberately steered, from the outset. The inadequacy of all empirical psychological philosophy follows directly from empirical psychology itself. The respect for[xi] empirical knowledge will not be injured, but rather will the meaning of such knowledge be deepened, if man recognises in phenomena, and it is from phenomena that he sets out, any elements assuring him that there is something behind phenomena, if he espies the signs that prove the existence of something higher than phenomena, something that supports phenomena. We may be assured of such a first principle, although no living man can reach it. Towards such a principle this book presses and will not flag.

Within the narrow limits to which as yet the problem of woman and of woman’s rights has been confined, there has been no place for the venture to reach so high a goal. None the less the problem is bound intimately with the deepest riddles of existence. It can be solved, practically or theoretically, morally or metaphysically, only in relation to an interpretation of the cosmos.

Comprehension of the universe, or what passes for such, stands in no opposition to knowledge of details; on the other hand all special knowledge acquires a deeper meaning because of it. Comprehension of the universe is self-creative; it cannot arise, although the empirical knowledge of every age expects it, as a synthesis of however great a sum of empirical knowledge.

In this book there lie only the germs of a world-scheme, and these are allied most closely with the conceptions of Plato, Kant and Christianity. I have been compelled for the most part to fashion for myself the scientific, psychological, philosophical, logical, ethical groundwork. I think that at the least I have laid the foundations of many things into which I could not go fully. I call special attention to the defects of this part of my work because I attach more importance to appreciation of what I have tried to say about the deepest and most general problems than to the interest which will certainly be aroused by my special investigation of the problem of woman.

The philosophical reader may take it amiss to find a treatment of the loftiest and ultimate problems coinciding with the investigation of a special problem of no great[xii] dignity; I share with him this distaste. I may say, however, that I have treated throughout the contrast between the sexes as the starting-point rather than the goal of my research. The investigation has yielded a harvest rich in its bearing on the fundamental problems of logic and their relations to the axioms of thought, on the theory of æsthetics, of love, and of the beautiful and the good, and on problems such as individuality and morality and their relations, on the phenomena of genius, the craving for immortality and Hebraism. Naturally these comprehensive interrelations aid the special problem, for, as it is considered from so many points of view, its scope enlarges. And if in this wider sense it be proved that culture can give only the smallest hope for the nature of woman, if the final results are a depreciation, even a negation of womanhood, there will be no attempt in this to destroy what exists, to humble what has a value of its own. Horror of my own deed would overtake me were I here only destructive and had I left only a clean sheet. Perhaps the affirmations in my book are less articulate, but he that has ears to hear will hear them.

The treatise falls into two parts, the first biological-psychological, the second logical-philosophical. It may be objected that I should have done better to make two books, the one treating of purely physical science, the other introspective. It was necessary to be done with biology before turning to psychology. The second part treats of certain psychical problems in a fashion totally different from the method of any contemporary naturalist, and for that reason I think that the removal of the first part of the book would have been at some risk to many readers. Moreover, the first part of the book challenges an attention and criticism from natural science possible in a few places only in the second part, which is chiefly introspective. Because the second part starts from a conception of the universe that is anti-positivistic, many will think it unscientific (although there is given a strong proof against Positivism). For the present I must be content with the conviction that I have rendered its due to Biology, and that I have established[xiii] an enduring position for non-biological, non-physiological psychology.

My investigation may be objected to as in certain points not being supported by enough proof, but I see little force in such an objection. For in these matters what can “proof” mean? I am not dealing with mathematics or with the theory of cognition (except with the latter in two cases); I am dealing with empirical knowledge, and in that one can do no more than point to what exists; in this region proof means no more than the agreement of new experience with old experience, and it is much the same whether the new phenomena have been produced experimentally by men, or have come straight from the creative hand of nature. Of such latter proofs my book contains many.

Finally, I should like to say that my book, if I may be allowed to judge it, is for the most part not of a quality to be understood and absorbed at the first glance. I point out this myself, to guide and protect the reader.

The less I found myself able in both parts of the book (and especially in the second) to confirm what now passes for knowledge, the more anxious I have been to point out coincidences where I found myself in agreement with what has already been known and said.

I have to thank Professor Dr. Laurenz Müllner for the great assistance he has given me, and Professor Dr. Friedrich Jodl for the kindly interest he has taken in my work from the beginning. I am specially indebted to the kind friends who have helped me with correction of the proofs.



Author’s Preface to the First German Edition ix
Introduction 1
  On the development of general conceptions — Male and female — Contradictions — Transitional forms — Anatomy and natural endowment — Uncertainty of anatomy
Males and Females 5
  Embryonic neutral condition — Rudiments in the adult — Degrees of “gonochorism” — Principle of intermediate forms — Male and female — Need for typical conceptions — Resumé — Early anticipations
Male and Female Plasmas 11
  Position of sexuality — Steenstrup’s view adopted — Sexual characters — Internal secretions — Idioplasm — Arrhenoplasm — Thelyplasm — Variations — Proofs from the effects of castration — Transplantation and transfusion — Organotherapy — Individual differences between cells — Origin of intermediate sexual conditions — Brain — Excess of male births — Determination of sex — Comparative pathology
The Laws of Sexual Attraction 26
  Sexual preference — Probability of these being controlled by a law — First formula — First interpretation — Proofs — Heterostylism — Interpretation of heterostylism — Animal kingdom — Further laws — Second formula — Chemotaxis — Resemblances and differences — Goethe, “elective affinities” — Marriage and free love — Effects on progeny
Homo-sexuality and Pederasty 45
  Homo-sexuals as intermediate forms — Inborn or acquired, healthy or diseased? — A special instance of the law of attraction — All men have the rudiments of homo-sexuality — Friendship and sexuality — Animals — Failure of medical treatment — Homo-sexuality, punishment and ethics — Distinction between homo-sexuality and pederasty
The Science of Character and the Science of Form 53
  Principle of sexually intermediate forms as fundamental principle of the psychology of individuals — Simultaneity or periodicity? — Methods of psychological investigation — Examples — Individualised education — Conventionalising — Parallelism between morphology and characterology — Physiognomy and the principles of psycho-physics — Method of the doctrine of variation — A new way of stating the problem — Deductive morphology — Correlation — Outlook
Emancipated Women 64
  The woman question — Claim for emancipation and maleness — Emancipation and homo-sexuality — Sexual preferences of emancipated women — Physiognomy of emancipated women — Other celebrated women — Femaleness and emancipation — Practical rules[xvii] — Genius essentially male — Movements of women in historical times — Periodicity — Biology and the conception of history — Outlook of the woman movement — Its fundamental error
Man and Woman 79
  Bisexuality and unisexuality — Man or woman, male or female — Fundamental difficulty in characterology — Experiment, analysis of sensation and psychology — Dilthey — Conception of empirical character — What is and what is not the object of psychology — Character and individuality — Problem of characterology and the problem of the sexes
Male and Female Sexuality 85
  The problem of a female psychology — Man as the interpreter of female psychology — Differences in the sexual impulse — The absorbing and liberating factors — Intensity and activity — Sexual irritability of women — Larger field of the sexual life in woman — Local differences in the perception of sexuality — Local and periodical cessation of male sexuality — Differences in the degrees of consciousness of sexuality
Male and Female Consciousness 93
  Sensation and feeling — Avenarius’ division into “element” and “character” — These inseparable at the earliest stage — Process of “clarification” — Presentiments — Grades of understanding — Forgetting — Paths and organisation — Conception of “henids” — The henid as the simplest, psychical datum — Sexual [xviii]differences in the organisation of the contents of the mind — Sensibility — Certainty of judgment — Developed consciousness as a male character
Talent and Genius 103
  Genius and talent — Genius and giftedness — Methods — Comprehension of many men — What is meant by comprehending men — Great complexity of genius — Periods in psychic life — No disparagement of famous men — Understanding and noticing — Universal consciousness of genius — Greatest distance from the henid stage — A higher grade of maleness — Genius always universal — The female devoid of genius or of hero-worship — Giftedness and sex
Talent and Memory 114
  Organisation and the power of reproducing thoughts — Memory of experiences a sign of genius — Remarks and conclusions — Remembrance and apperception — Capacity for comparison and acquisition — Reasons for the masculinity of music, drawing and painting — Degrees of genius — Relation of genius to ordinary men — Autobiography — Fixed ideas — Remembrance of personal creations — Continuous and discontinuance memory — Continuity and piety — Past and present — Past and future — Desire for immortality — Existing psychological explanations — True origin — Inner development of man until death — Ontogenetic psychology or theoretical biography — Woman lacking in the desire for immortality — Further extension of relation of memory to genius — Memory and time — Postulate of timelessness — Value as a timeless quality — First law of the theory of value — Proofs — Individuation and duration constituents of value — Desire for immortality a special case — Desire for immortality in genius connected with timelessness, by his universal memory and the duration of his creations — Genius and history — Genius and nations — Genius and language — Men of action and men of science, not to be called men of genius — Philosophers, founders of religion and artists have genius
Memory, Logic and Ethics 142
  Psychology and “psychologismus” — Value of memory — Theory of memory — Doctrines of practice and of association — Confusion with recognition — Memory peculiar to man — Moral significance — Lies — Transition to logic — Memory and the principle of identity — Memory and the syllogism — Woman non-logical and non-ethical — Intellectual and moral knowledge — The intelligible ego
Logic, Ethics and the Ego 153
  Critics of the conception of the Ego — Hume: Lichtenberg, Mach — The ego of Mach and biology — Individuation and individuality — Logic and ethics as witnesses for the existence of the ego — Logic — Laws of identity and of contraries — Their use and significance — Logical axioms as the laws of essence — Kant and Fichte — Freedom of thought and freedom of the will — Ethics — Relation to logic — The psychology of the Kantian ethics — Kant and Nietzsche
The “I” Problem and Genius 163
  Characterology and the belief in the “I” — Awakening of the ego — Jean Paul, Novalis, Schelling — The awakening of the ego and the view of the world — Self-consciousness and arrogance — The view of the genius to be more highly valued than that of other men — Final statements as to the idea of genius — The personality of the genius as the perfectly-conscious microcosm — The naturally-synthetic activity of genius — Significant and symbolical — Definition of the genius in relation to ordinary men — Universality as freedom — Morality or immorality of genius? — Duties towards self and others — What duty to another is — Criticism of moral sympathy and social ethics — Understanding of other men as the one requirement[xx] of morality and knowledge — I and thou — Individualism and universalism — Morality only in monads — The man of greatest genius as the most moral man — Why man is ζωον πολιτικον — Consciousness and morality — The great criminal — Genius as duty and submission — Genius and crime — Genius and insanity — Man as his own creator
Male and Female Psychology 186
  Soullessness of woman — History of this knowledge — Woman devoid of genius — No masculine women in the true sense — The unconnectedness of woman’s nature due to her want of an ego — Revision of the henid-theory — Female “thought” — Idea and object — Freedom of the object — Idea and judgment — Nature of judgment — Woman and truth as a criterion of thought — Woman and logic — Woman non-moral, not immoral — Woman and solitude — Womanly sympathy and modesty — The ego of women — Female vanity — Lack of true self-appreciation — Memory for compliments — Introspection and repentance — Justice and jealousy — Name and individuality — Radical difference between male and female mental life — Psychology with and without soul — Is psychology a science? — Soul and psychology — Problem of the influence of the psychical sexual characters of the male or the female
Motherhood and Prostitution 214
  Special characterology of woman — Mother and prostitute — Relation of two types to the child — Woman polygamous — Analogies between motherhood and sexuality — Motherhood and the race — Maternal love ethically indifferent — The prostitute careless of the race — The prostitute, the criminal and the conqueror — Emperor and prostitute — Motive of the prostitute — Coitus an end in itself — Coquetry — The sensations of the woman in coitus in relation to the rest of her life — The prostitute as the enemy — The friend of life and its enemy — No prostitution amongst animals — Its origin a mystery
Erotics and Æsthetics 236
  Women, and the hatred of women — Erotics and sexuality — Platonic love — The idea of love — Beauty of women — Relation to sexual impulse — Love and beauty — Difference between æsthetics, logic and ethics — Modes of love — Projection phenomena — Beauty and morality — Nature and ethics — Natural and artistic beauty — Sexual love as guilt — Hate, love and morality — Creation of the devil — Love and sympathy — Love and shyness — Love and vanity — Love of woman as a means to an end — Relation between the child and love, the child and sexuality — Love and murder — Madonna-worship — Madonna, a male idea, without basis in womanhood — Woman sexual, not erotic — Sense of beauty in women — How man acts on woman — The fate of the woman — Why man loves woman
The Nature of Woman and Her Significance in the Universe 252
  Meaning of womanhood — Instinct for pairing or matchmaking — Man, and matchmaking — High valuation of coitus — Individual sexual impulse, a special case — Womanhood as pairing or universal sexuality — Organic falseness of woman — Hysteria — Difference between man and beast, woman and man — The higher and lower life — Birth and death — Freedom and happiness — Happiness and man — Happiness and woman — Woman and the problem of existence — Non-existence of woman — Male and female friendship — Pairing identical with womanhood — Why women must be regarded as human — Contrast between subject — Object, matter, form, man, woman — Meaning of henids — Formation of woman by man — Significance of woman in the universe — Man as something, woman as nothing — Psychological problem of the fear of woman — Womanhood and crime — Creation of woman by man’s crime — Woman as his own sexuality accepted by man — Woman as the guilt of man — What man’s love of woman is, in its deepest significance
Judaism 301
  Differences amongst men — Intermediate forms and racial anthropology — Comparison of Judaism and femaleness — Judaism as an idea — Antisemitism — Richard Wagner — Similarities between Jews and women — Judaism in science — The Jew not a monad — The Jew and the Englishman — Nature of humour — Humour and satire — The Jewess — Deepest significance of Judaism — Want of faith — The Jew not non-mystical, yet impious — Want of earnestness, and pride — The Jew as opposed to the hero — Judaism and Christianity — Origin of Christianity — Problem of the founders of religion — Christ as the conqueror of the Judaism in Himself — The founders of religions as the greatest of men — Conquest of inherent Judaism necessary for all founders of religion — Judaism and the present time — Judaism, femaleness, culture and humanity
Woman and Mankind 331
  The idea of humanity, and woman as the match-maker — Goethe-worship — Womanising of man — Virginity and purity — Male origin of these ideas — Failure of woman to understand the erotic — Woman’s relation to sexuality — Coitus and love — Woman as the enemy of her own emancipation — Asceticism immoral — Sexual impulse as a want of respect — Problem of the Jew — Problem of the woman — Problem of slavery — Moral relation to women — Man as the opponent of emancipation — Ethical postulates — Two possibilities — The problem of women as the problem of humanity — Subjection of women — Persistence or disappearance of the human race — True ground of the immorality of the sexual impulse — Earthly paternity — Inclusion of women in the conception of humanity — The mother and the education of the human race — Last questions
Index 351




All thought begins with conceptions to a certain extent generalised, and thence is developed in two directions. On the one hand, generalisations become wider and wider, binding together by common properties a larger and larger number of phenomena, and so embracing a wider field of the world of facts. On the other hand, thought approaches more closely the meeting-point of all conceptions, the individual, the concrete complex unit towards which we approach only by thinking in an ever-narrowing circle, and by continually being able to add new specific and differentiating attributes to the general idea, “thing,” or “something.” It was known that fishes formed a class of the animal kingdom distinct from mammals, birds, or invertebrates, long before it was recognised on the one hand that fishes might be bony or cartilaginous, or on the other that fishes, birds and mammals composed a group differing from the invertebrates by many common characters.

The self-assertion of the mind over the world of facts in all its complexity of innumerable resemblances and differences has been compared with the rule of the struggle for existence among living beings. Our conceptions stand between us and reality. It is only step by step that we can control them. As in the case of a madman, we may first have to throw a net over the whole body so that some limit may be set to his struggles; and only after the whole has been thus secured, is it possible to attend to the proper restraint of each limb.

Two general conceptions have come down to us from primitive mankind, and from the earliest times have held our mental processes in their leash. Many a time these[2] conceptions have undergone trivial corrections; they have been sent to the workshop and patched in head and limbs; they have been lopped and added to, expanded here, contracted there, as when new needs pierce through and through an old law of suffrage, bursting bond after bond. None the less, in spite of all amendment and alteration, we have still to reckon with the primitive conceptions, male and female.

It is true that among those we call women are some who are meagre, narrow-hipped, angular, muscular, energetic, highly mentalised; there are “women” with short hair and deep voices, just as there are “men” who are beardless and gossiping. We know, in fact, that there are unwomanly women, man-like women, and unmanly, womanish, woman-like men. We assign sex to human beings from their birth on one character only, and so come to add contradictory ideas to our conceptions. Such a course is illogical.

In private conversation or in society, in scientific or general meetings, we have all taken part in frothy discussions on “Man and Woman,” or on the “Emancipation of Women.” There is a pitiful monotony in the fashion according to which, on such occasions, “men” and “women” have been treated as if, like red and white balls, they were alike in all respects save colour. In no case has the discussion been confined to an individual case, and as every one had different individuals in their mind, a real agreement was impossible. As people meant different things by the same words, there was a complete disharmony between language and ideas. Is it really the case that all women and men are marked off sharply from each other, the women, on the one hand, alike in all points, the men on the other? It is certainly the case that all previous treatment of the sexual differences, perhaps unconsciously, has implied this view. And yet nowhere else in nature is there such a yawning discontinuity. There are transitional forms between the metals and non-metals, between chemical combinations and mixtures, between animals and plants, between phanerogams and cryptogams, and between mammals and[3] birds. It is only in obedience to the most general, practical demand for a superficial view that we classify, make sharp divisions, pick out a single tune from the continuous melody of nature. But the old conceptions of the mind, like the customs of primitive commerce, become foolish in a new age. From the analogies I have given, the improbability may henceforward be taken for granted of finding in nature a sharp cleavage between all that is masculine on the one side and all that is feminine on the other; or that a living being is so simple in this respect that it can be put wholly on one side or the other of the line. Matters are not so clear.

In the controversy as to the woman question, appeal has been made to the arbitration of anatomy, in the hope that by that aid a line could be drawn between those characters of males or females that are unalterable because inborn, and those that are acquired. (It was a strange adventure to attempt to decide the differences between the natural endowment of men and women on anatomical results; to suppose that if all other investigation failed to establish the difference, the matter could be settled by a few more grains of brain-weight on the one side.) However, the answer of the anatomists is clear enough, whether it refer to the brain or to any other portion of the body; absolute sexual distinctions between all men on the one side and all women on the other do not exist. Although the skeleton of the hand of most men is different from that of most women yet the sex cannot be determined with certainty either from the skeleton or from an isolated part with its muscles, tendons, skin, blood and nerves. The same is true of the chest, sacrum or skull. And what are we to say of the pelvis, that part of the skeleton in which, if anywhere, striking sexual differences exist? It is almost universally believed that in the one case the pelvis is adapted for the act of parturition, in the other case is not so adapted. And yet the character of the pelvis cannot be taken as an absolute criterion of sex. There are to be found, and the wayfarer knows this as well as the anatomist, many women with narrow male-like pelves[4] and many men with the broad pelves of women. Are we then to make nothing of sexual differences? That would imply, almost, that we could not distinguish between men and women.

From what quarter are we to seek help in our problem? The old doctrine is insufficient, and yet we cannot make shift without it. If the received ideas do not suffice, it must be our task to seek out new and better guides.



In the widest treatment of most living things, a blunt separation of them into males or females no longer suffices for the known facts. The limitations of these conceptions have been felt more or less by many writers. The first purpose of this work is to make this point clear.

I agree with other authors who, in a recent treatment of the facts connected with this subject, have taken as a starting-point what has been established by embryology regarding the existence in human beings, plants, and animals of an embryonic stage neutral as regards sex.

In the case of a human embryo of less than five weeks, for instance, the sex to which it would afterwards belong cannot be recognised. In the fifth week of fœtal life processes begin which, by the end of the fifth month of pregnancy, have turned the genital rudiments, at first alike in the sexes, into one sex and have determined the sex of the whole organism. The details of these processes need not be described more fully here. It can be shown that however distinctly unisexual an adult plant, animal or human being may be, there is always a certain persistence of the bisexual character, never a complete disappearance of the characters of the undeveloped sex. Sexual differentiation, in fact, is never complete. All the peculiarities of the male sex may be present in the female in some form, however weakly developed; and so also the sexual characteristics of the woman persist in the man, although perhaps they are not so completely rudimentary. The characters of the other sex occur in the one sex in a vestigial form. Thus, in the[6] case of human beings, in which our interest is greatest, to take an example, it will be found that the most womanly woman has a growth of colourless hair, known as “lanugo” in the position of the male beard; and in the most manly man there are developed under the skin of the breast masses of glandular tissue connected with the nipples. This condition of things has been minutely investigated in the true genital organs and ducts, the region called the “urino-genital tract,” and in each sex there has been found a complete but rudimentary set of parallels to the organs of the other sex.

These embryological conclusions can be brought into relation with another set of facts. Haeckel has used the word “gonochorism” for the separation of the sexes, and in different classes and groups of creatures different degrees of gonochorism may be noted. Different kinds of animals and plants may be distinguished by the extent to which the characters of one sex are rudimentary in the other. The most extreme case of sexual differentiation, the sharpest gonochorism, occurs in sexual dimorphism, that is to say, in that condition of affairs in which (as for instance in some water-fleas) the males and females of the same species differ as much or even more from each other as the members of different species, or genera. There is not so sharply marked gonochorism amongst vertebrates as in the case of crustacea or insects. Amongst the former there does not exist a distinction between males and females so complete as to reach sexual dimorphism. A condition much more frequent amongst them is the occurrence of forms intermediate in regard to sex, what is called abnormal hermaphroditism; whilst in certain fishes hermaphroditism is the normal condition.

I must point out here that it must not be assumed that there exist only extreme males with scanty remnants of the female condition, extreme females with traces of the male, hermaphrodite or transitional forms, and wide gaps between these conditions. I am dealing specially with human beings, but what I have to say of them might be applied, with more[7] or less modification, to nearly all creatures in which sexual reproduction takes place.

Amongst human beings the state of the case is as follows: There exist all sorts of intermediate conditions between male and female—sexual transitional forms. In physical inquiries an “ideal gas” is assumed, that is to say, a gas, the behaviour of which follows the law of Boyle-Gay-Lussac exactly, although, in fact, no such gas exists, and laws are deduced from this so that the deviations from the ideal laws may be established in the case of actually existing gases. In the same fashion we may suppose the existence of an ideal man, M, and of an ideal woman, W, as sexual types although these types do not actually exist. Such types not only can be constructed, but must be constructed. As in art so in science, the real purpose is to reach the type, the Platonic Idea. The science of physics investigates the behaviour of bodies that are absolutely rigid or absolutely elastic, in the full knowledge that neither the one nor the other actually exists. The intermediate conditions actually existing between the two absolute states of matter serve merely as a starting-point for investigation of the “types” and in the practical application of the theory are treated as mixtures and exhaustively analysed. So also there exist only the intermediate stages between absolute males and females, the absolute conditions never presenting themselves.

Let it be noted clearly that I am discussing the existence not merely of embryonic sexual neutrality, but of a permanent bisexual condition. Nor am I taking into consideration merely those intermediate sexual conditions, those bodily or psychical hermaphrodites upon which, up to the present, attention has been concentrated. In another respect my conception is new. Until now, in dealing with sexual intermediates, only hermaphrodites were considered; as if, to use a physical analogy, there were in between the two extremes a single group of intermediate forms, and not an intervening tract equally beset with stages in different degrees of transition.


The fact is that males and females are like two substances combined in different proportions, but with either element never wholly missing. We find, so to speak, never either a man or a woman, but only the male condition and the female condition. Any individual, “A” or “B,” is never to be designated merely as a man or a woman, but by a formula showing that it is a composite of male and female characters in different proportions, for instance, as follows:

A = {

α Mα´ W

B = {

β Wβ´ M


A = { α M   B = { β B
α´ W β´ M

always remembering that each of the factors α, α´, β, β´ must be greater than 0 and less than unity.

Further proofs of the validity of this conception are numerous, and I have already given, in the preface, a few of the most general. We may recall the existence of “men” with female pelves and female breasts, with narrow waists, overgrowth of the hair of the head; or of “women” with small hips and flat breasts, with deep bass voices and beards (the presence of hair on the chin is more common than is supposed, as women naturally are at pains to remove it; I am not speaking of the special growth that often appears on the faces of women who have reached middle age). All such peculiarities, many of them coinciding in the same individuals, are well known to doctors and anatomists, although their general significance has not been understood.

One of the most striking proofs of the view that I have been unfolding is presented by the great range of numerical variation to be found where sexual characters have been measured either by the same or by different anthropological or anatomical workers. The figures obtained by measuring female characters do not begin where those got from males leave off, but the two sets overlap. The more obvious this uncertainty in the theory of sexual intermediate forms may be, the more is it to be deplored in the interests of true science. Anatomists and anthropologists of the ordinary[9] type have by no means striven against the scientific representation of the sexual types, but as for the most part they regarded measurements as the best indications, they were overwhelmed with the number of exceptions, and thus, so far, measurement has brought only vague and indefinite results.

The course of statistical science, which marks off our industrial age from earlier times, although perhaps on account of its distant relation to mathematics it has been regarded as specially scientific, has in reality hindered the progress of knowledge. It has dealt with averages, not with types. It has not been recognised that in pure, as opposed to applied, science it is the type that must be studied. And so those who are concerned with the type must turn their backs on the methods and conclusions of current morphology and physiology. The real measurements and investigations of details have yet to be made. Those that now exist are inapplicable to true science.

Knowledge must be obtained of male and female by means of a right construction of the ideal man and the ideal woman, using the word ideal in the sense of typical, excluding judgment as to value. When these types have been recognised and built up we shall be in a position to consider individual cases, and their analysis as mixtures in different proportions will be neither difficult not fruitless.

I shall now give a summary of the contents of this chapter. Living beings cannot be described bluntly as of one sex or the other. The real world from the point of view of sex may be regarded as swaying between two points, no actual individual being at either point, but somewhere between the two. The task of science is to define the position of any individual between these two points. The absolute conditions at the two extremes are not metaphysical abstractions above or outside the world of experience, but their construction is necessary as a philosophical and practical mode of describing the actual world.

A presentiment of this bisexuality of life (derived from the actual absence of complete sexual differentiation) is very old.[10] Traces of it may be found in Chinese myths, but it became active in Greek thought. We may recall the mythical personification of bisexuality in the Hermaphroditos, the narrative of Aristophanes in the Platonic dialogue, or in later times the suggestion of a Gnostic sect (Theophites) that primitive man was a “man-woman.”



The first thing expected of a book like this, the avowed object of which is a complete revision of facts hitherto accepted, is that it should expound a new and satisfactory account of the anatomical and physiological characters of the sexual types. Quite apart from the abstract question as to whether the complete survey of a subject so enormous is not beyond the powers of one individual, I must at once disclaim any intention of making the attempt. I do not pretend to have made sufficient independent investigations in a field so wide, nor do I think such a review necessary for the purpose of this book. Nor is it necessary to give a compilation of the results set out by other authors, for Havelock Ellis has already done this very well. Were I to attempt to reach the sexual types by means of the probable inferences drawn from his collected results, my work would be a mere hypothesis and science might have been spared a new book. The arguments in this chapter, therefore, will be of a rather formal and general nature; they will relate to biological principles, but to a certain extent will lay stress on the need for a closer investigation of certain definite points, work which must be left to the future, but which may be rendered more easy by my indications.

Those who know little of Biology may scan this section hastily, and yet run little risk of failing to understand what follows.

The doctrine of the existence of different degrees of masculinity and femininity may be treated, in the first place, on purely anatomical lines. Not only the anatomical form,[12] but the anatomical position of male and female characters must be discussed. The examples already given of sexual differences in other parts of the body showed that sexuality is not limited to the genital organs and glands. But where are the limits to be placed? Do they not reach beyond the primary and secondary sexual characters? In other words, where does sex display itself, and where is it without influence?

Many points came to light in the last decade, which bring fresh support to a theory first put forward in 1840, but which at the time found little support since it appeared to be in direct opposition to facts held as established alike by the author of the theory and by his opponents. The theory in question, first suggested by the zoologist J. J. S. Steenstrup, of Copenhagen, but since supported by many others, is that sexual characters are present in every part of the body.

Ellis has collected the results of investigations on almost every tissue of the body, which serve to show the universal presence of sexual differences. It is plain that there is a striking difference in the coloration of the typical male and female. This fact establishes the existence of sexual differences in the skin (cutis) and in the blood-vessels, and also in the bulk of the colouring-matter in the blood and in the number of red corpuscles to the cubic centimetre of the blood fluid. Bischoff and Rudinger have proved the existence of sexual differences in brain weight, and more recently Justus and Alice Gaule have obtained a similar result with regard to such vegetative organs as the liver, lungs and spleen. In fact, all parts of a woman, although in different degrees in different zones, have a sexual stimulus for the male organism, and similarly all parts of the male have their effect on the female.

The direct logical inference may be drawn, and is supported by abundant facts, that every cell in the body is sexually characteristic and has its definite sexual significance. I may now add to the principle already laid down in this book, of the universal presence of sexually intermediate[13] conditions, that these conditions may present different degrees of development. Such a conception of the existence of different degrees of development in sexuality makes it easy to understand cases of false hermaphroditism or even of the true hermaphroditism, which, since the time of Steenstrup, has been established for so many plants and animals, although not certainly in the case of man. Steenstrup wrote: “If the sex of an animal has its seat only in the genital organs, then one might think it possible for an animal really to be bisexual, if it had at the same time two sets of sexual organs. But sex is not limited to one region, it manifests itself not merely by the presence of certain organs; it pervades the whole being and shows itself in every point. In a male body, everything down to the smallest part is male, however much it may resemble the corresponding female part, and so also in the female the smallest part is female. The presence of male and female sexual organs in the same body would make the body bisexual only if both sexes ruled the whole body and made themselves manifest in every point, and such a condition, as the manifestations of the sexes are opposing forces, would result simply in the negation of sex in the body in question.” If, however, the principle of the existence of innumerable sexually transitional conditions be extended to all the cells of the body, and empirical knowledge supports such a view, Steenstrup’s difficulty is resolved, and hermaphroditism no longer appears to be unnatural. There may be conceived for every cell all conditions, from complete masculinity through all stages of diminishing masculinity to its complete absence and the consequent presence of complete femininity. Whether we are to think of these gradations in the scale of sexual differentiation as depending on two real substances united in different proportions, or as a single kind of protoplasm modified in different ways (as, for instance, by different spatial dispositions of its molecules), it were wiser not to guess. The first conception is difficult to apply physiologically; it is extremely difficult to imagine that two sets of conditions should be able to produce the[14] essential physiological similarities of two bodies, one with a male and the other a female diathesis. The second view recalls too vividly certain unfortunate speculations on heredity. Perhaps both views are equally far from the truth. At present empirical knowledge does not enable us to say wherein the masculinity or the femininity of a cell really lies, or to define the histological, molecular or chemical differences which distinguish every cell of a male from every cell of a female. Without anticipating any discovery of the future (it is plain already, however, that the specific phenomena of living matter are not going to be referred to chemistry and physics), it may be taken for granted that individual cells possess sexuality in different degrees quite apart from the sexuality of the whole body. Womanish men usually have the skin softer, and in them the cells of the male organs have a lessened power of division upon which depends directly the poorer development of the male macroscopic characters.

The distribution of sexual characters affords an important proof of the appearance of sexuality in different degrees. Such characters (at least in the animal kingdom) may be arranged according to the strength of their exciting influence on the opposite sex. To avoid confusion, I shall make use of John Hunter’s terms for classifying sexual characters. The primordial sexual characters are the male and female genital glands (testes and epididymis, ovaries and epoophoron); the primary sexual characters are the internal appendages of the sexual glands (vasa deferentia vesiculæ seminales, oviducts and uterus), which may have sexual characters quite distinct from those of the glands and the external sexual organs, according to which alone the sex of human beings is reckoned at birth (sometimes quite erroneously, as I shall show) and their consequent fate in life decided. After the primary, come all those sexual characters not directly necessary to reproduction. Such secondary sexual characters are best defined as those which begin to appear at puberty, and which cannot be developed except under the influence on the system of the internal[15] secretions of the genital glands. Examples of these are the beards in men, the luxuriant growth of hair in women, the development of the mammary glands, the character of the voice. As a convenient mode of treatment, and for practical rather than theoretical reasons, certain inherited characters, such as the development of muscular strength or of mental obstinacy may be reckoned as tertiary sexual characters. Under the designation “quaternary sexual characters” may be placed such accessories as relative social position, difference in habit, mode of livelihood, the smoking and drinking habit in man, and the domestic duties of women. All these characters possess a potent and direct sexual influence, and in my opinion often may be reckoned with the tertiary characters or even with the secondary. This classification of sexual characters must not be taken as implying a definite chain of sequence, nor must it be assumed that the mental sexual characters either determine the bodily characters or are determined by them in some causal nexus. The classification relates only to the strength of the exciting influence on the other sex, to the order in time in which this influence is exerted, and to the degree of certainty with which the extent of the influence may be predicted.

Study of secondary sexual characters is bound up with consideration of the effect of internal secretions of the genital glands on general metabolism. The relation of this influence or its absence (as in the case of artificially castrated animals) has been traced out in the degree of development of the secondary characters. The internal secretions, however, undoubtedly have an influence on all the cells of the body. This is clearly shown by the changes which occur at puberty in all parts of the body, and not only in the seats of the secondary sexual characters. As a matter of fact, the internal secretions of all the glands must be regarded as affecting all the tissues.

The internal secretions of the genital glands must be regarded as completing the sexuality of the individual. Every cell must be considered as possessing an original sexuality, to which the influence of the internal secretion in[16] sufficient quantity is the final determining condition under the influence of which the cell acquires its final determinate character as male or female.

The genital glands are the organs in which the sex of the individual is most obvious, and in the component cells of which it is most conspicuously visible. At the same time it must be noted that the distinguishing characters of the species, race and family to which an organism belongs are also best marked in the genital cells. Just as Steenstrup, on the one hand, was right in teaching that sex extends all over the body and is not confined to the genital organs, so, on the other hand, Naegeli, de Vries, Oskar Hertwig and others have propounded the important theory, and supported it by weighty arguments, that every cell in a multi-cellular organism possesses a combination of the characters of its species and race, but that these characters are, as it were, specially condensed in the sexual cells. Probably this view of the case will come to be accepted by all investigators, since every living being owes its origin to the cleavage and multiplication of a single cell.

Many phenomena, amongst which may be noticed specially experiments on the regeneration of lost parts and investigations into the chemical differences between the corresponding tissues of nearly allied animals, have led the investigators to whom I have just referred to conceive the existence of an “Idioplasm,” which is the bearer of the specific characters, and which exists in all the cells of a multi-cellular animal, quite apart from the purposes of reproduction. In a similar fashion I have been led to the conception of an “Arrhenoplasm” (male plasm) and a “Thelyplasm” (female plasm) as the two modes in which the idioplasm of every bisexual organism may appear, and which are to be considered, because of reasons which I shall explain, as ideal conditions between which the actual conditions always lie. Actually existing protoplasm is to be thought of as moving from an ideal arrhenoplasm through a real or imaginary indifferent condition (true hermaphroditism) towards a protoplasm that approaches, but never[17] actually reaches, an ideal thelyplasm. This conception brings to a point what I have been trying to say. I apologise for the new terms, but they are more than devices to call attention to a new idea.

The proof that every single organ, and further, that every single cell possesses a sexuality lying somewhere between arrhenoplasm and thelyplasm, and further, that every cell received an original sexual endowment definite in kind and degree, is to be found in the fact that even in the same organism the different cells do not always possess their sexuality identical in kind and degree. In fact each cell of a body neither contains the same proportion of M and W nor is at the same approximation to arrhenoplasm or thelyplasm; similar cells of the same body may indeed lie on different sides of the sexually neutral point. If, instead of writing “masculinity” and “femininity” at length, we choose signs to express these, and without any malicious intention choose the positive sign (+) for M and the negative (-) for W, then our proposition may be expressed as follows: The sexuality of the different cells of the same organism differs not only in absolute quantity but is to be expressed by a different sign. There are many men with a poor growth of beard and a weak muscular development who are otherwise typically males; and so also many women with badly developed breasts are otherwise typically womanly. There are womanish men with strong beards and masculine women with abnormally short hair who none the less possess well-developed breasts and broad pelves. I know several men who have the upper part of the thigh of a female with a normally male under part, and some with the right hip of a male and the left of a female. In most cases these local variations of the sexual character affect both sides of the body, although of course it is only in ideal bodies that there is complete symmetry about the middle line. The degree to which sexuality displays itself, however, as, for instance, in the growth of hair, is very often unsymmetrical. This want of uniformity (and the sexual manifestations never show complete uniformity) can hardly[18] depend on differences of the internal secretion; for the blood goes to all the organs, having in it the same amount of the internal secretion; although different organs may receive different quantities of blood, in all normal cases its quality and quantity being proportioned to the needs of the part.

Were we not to assume as the cause of these variations the presence of a sexual determinant generally different in every cell but stable from its earliest embryonic development, then it would be simple to describe the sexuality of any individual by estimating how far its sexual glands conformed to the normal type of its sex, and the facts would be much simpler than they really are. Sexuality, however, cannot be regarded as occurring in an imaginary normal quantity distributed equally all over an individual so that the sexual character of any cell would be a measure of the sexual characters of any other cells. Whilst, as an exception, there may occur wide differences in the sexual characters of different cells or organs of the same body, still as a rule there is the same specific sexuality for all the cells. In fact it may be taken as certain that an approximation to a complete uniformity of sexual character over the whole body is much more common than the tendency to any considerable divergences amongst the different organs or still more amongst the different cells. How far these possible variations may go can be determined only by the investigation of individual cases.

There is a popular view, dating back to Aristotle and supported by many doctors and zoologists, that the castration of an animal is followed by the sudden appearance of the characters of the other sex; if the gelding of a male were to bring about the appearance of female characteristics then doubt would be thrown on the existence in every cell of a primordial sexuality independent of the genital glands. The most recent experimental results of Sellheim and Foges, however, have shown that the type of a gelded male is distinct from the female type, that gelding does not induce the feminine character. It is better to avoid too[19] far-reaching and radical conclusions on this matter; it may be that a second latent gland of the other sex may awake into activity and sexually dominate the deteriorating organism after the removal or atrophy of the normal gland. There are many cases (too readily interpreted as instances of complete assumption of the male character) in which after the involution of the female sexual glands at the climacteric the secondary sexual characters of the male are acquired. Instances of this are the beard of the human grandam, the occasional appearance of short antlers in old does, or of a cock’s plumage in an old hen. But such changes are practically never seen except in association with senile decay or with operative interference.

In the case of certain crustacean parasites of fish, however (the genera Cymothoa, Anilocra and Nerocila of the family Cymothoidæ), the changes I have just mentioned are part of the normal life history. These creatures are hermaphrodites of a peculiar kind; the male and female organs co-exist in them but are not functional at the same period. A sort of protandry exists; each individual exercises first the functions of a male and afterwards those of the female. During the time of their activity as males they possess ordinary male reproductive organs which are cast off when the female genital ducts and brood organs develop. That similar conditions may exist in man has been shown by those cases of “eviratio” and “effeminatio” which the sexual pathology of the old age of men has brought to light. So also we cannot deny altogether the actual occurrence of a certain degree of effeminacy when the crucial operation of extirpation of the human testes has been performed.[1] On the other hand, the fact that the relation is not universal or inevitable, that the castration of an individual does not certainly result in the appearance of the characters of the other sex, may be taken as a proof that it is necessary to assume the original presence throughout[20] the body of cells determined by arrhenoplasm or thelyplasm.

[1] So also in the opposite case; it cannot be wholly denied that ovariotomy is followed by the appearance of masculine characters.

The possession by every cell of primitive sexuality on which the secretion of the sexual glands has little effect might be shown further by consideration of the effects of grafting male genital glands on female organisms. For such an experiment to be accurate it would be necessary that the animal from which the testis was to be transplanted should be as near akin as possible to the female on which the testis was to be grafted, as, for instance, in the case of a brother and sister; the idioplasm of the two should be as alike as possible. In this experiment much would depend on limiting the conditions of the experiment as much as possible so that the results would not be confused by conflicting factors. Experiments made in Vienna have shown that when an exchange of the ovaries has been made between unrelated female animals (chosen at random) the atrophy of the ovaries follows, but that there is no failure of the secondary sexual characters (e.g., degeneration of the mammæ). Moreover, when the genital glands of an animal are removed from their natural position and grafted in a new position in the same animal (so that it still retains its own tissues) the full development of the secondary sexual characters goes on precisely as if there had been no interference, at least in cases where the operation is successful. The failure of the transplantation of ovaries from one animal to another may be due to the absence of family relationship between the tissues; the influence of the idioplasm probably is of primary importance.

These experiments closely resemble those made in the transfusion of alien blood. It is a practical rule with surgeons that when a dangerous loss of blood has to be made good, the blood required for transfusion must be obtained from an individual not only of the same species and family, but also of the same sex as that of the patient. The parallel between transfusion and transplantation is at once evident. If I am correct in my views, when surgeons seek to transfuse blood, instead of being content with injections[21] of normal salt solution they must take the blood not merely from one of the same species, family and sex, but of a similar degree of masculinity or femininity.

Experiments on transfusion not only lend support to my belief in the existence of sex characters in the blood corpuscles, but they furnish additional explanations of the failure of experiments in grafting ovaries or testis on individuals of the opposite sex. The internal secretions of the genital glands are operative only in their appropriate environment of arrhenoplasm or thelyplasm.

In this connection, I may say a word as to the curative value of organotherapy. Although, as I have shown to be the case, the transplantation of freshly extirpated genital glands into subjects of the opposite sex has no effect, it does not follow that the injection of the ovarian secretion into the blood of a male might not have a most injurious effect. On the other hand, the principle of organotherapy has been opposed on the ground that organic preparations procured from non-allied species could not possibly be expected to yield good results. It is more than likely that the medical exponents of organotherapy have lost many valuable discoveries in healing because of their neglect of the biological theory of idioplasm.

The theory of an idioplasm, the presence of which gives the specific race characters to those tissues and cells which have lost the reproductive faculty, is by no means generally accepted. But at the least all must admit that the race characters are collected in the genital glands, and that if experiments with extracts from these are to provide more than a good tonic, the nearest possible relationship between the animals experimented upon must be observed. Parallel experiments might be made as to the effect of transplantation of the genital glands and injections of their extracts on two castrated cocks of the same strain. For instance, the effects of the transplantation of the testes of one of them into any other part of its own body or peritoneal cavity or into any similar part of the other cock might be compared with the effects of intravenous injection of testis extract of the one on[22] the other. Such parallel investigations would also increase our knowledge as to the most suitable media and quantities of the extracts. It is also to be desired, from the theoretical point of view, that knowledge may be gained as to whether the internal secretion of the genital glands enters into chemical union with the protoplasm of the cells or whether it acts as a physiological stimulus independent of the quantity supplied. So far we know nothing that would enable us to come to a definite opinion on this point.

The limited influence of the internal secretions of the sexual glands in forming the sexual characters must be realised to warrant the theory of a primary, generally slight, difference in each cell, but still determinate sexual influence.[2] If the existence of distinct graduations of these primary characteristics in all the cells and tissues can be recognised, there follow many important and far-reaching conclusions. The individual egg-cells and spermatozoa may be found to possess different degrees of maleness and femaleness, not only in different individuals, but in the ovaries and testes of the same individual, especially at different times; for instance, the spermatozoa differ in size and activity. We are still quite ignorant on these matters, as no one has worked on the requisite lines.

[2] The existence of sexual distinctions before puberty shows that the power of the internal secretions of the sexual glands does not account for everything.

It is extremely interesting to recall in this connection that many times different investigators have observed in the testes of amphibia not only the different stages in the development of spermatozoa, but mature eggs. This interpretation of the observations was at first disputed, and it was suggested that the presence of unusually large cells in the tubes of the testes had given rise to the error, but the matter has now been fully confirmed. Moreover, in these Amphibia, sexually intermediate conditions are very common, and this should lead us to be careful in making statements as to the uniform presence of arrhenoplasm or thelyplasm in a body. The methods of assigning sex to a new-born[23] infant seem most unsatisfactory in the light of these facts. If the child is observed to possess a male organ, even although there may be complete epi- or hypo-spadism, or a double failure of descent of the testes, it is at once described as a boy and is henceforth treated as one, although in other parts of the body, for instance in the brain, the sexual determinant may be much nearer thelyplasm than arrhenoplasm. The sooner a more exact method of sex discrimination is insisted upon the better.

As a result of these long inductions and deductions we may rest assured that all the cells possess a definite primary sexual determinant which must not be assumed to be alike or nearly alike throughout the same body. Every cell, every cell-complex, and every organ have their distinctive indices on the scale between thelyplasm and arrhenoplasm. For the exact definition of the sex, an estimation of the indices over the whole body would be necessary. I should be content to bear the blame of all the theoretical and practical errors in this book did I believe myself to have made the working out of a single case possible.

Differences in the primary sexual determinants, together with the varying internal secretions (which differ in quantity and quality in different individuals) produce the phenomena of sexually intermediate forms. Arrhenoplasm and thelyplasm, in their countless modifications, are the microscopic agencies which, in co-operation with the internal secretions, give rise to the macroscopic differences cited in the last chapter.

If the correctness of the conclusions so far stated may be assumed, the necessity is at once evident for a whole series of anatomical, physiological, histological and histo-chemical investigations into those differences between male and female types, in the structure and function of the individual organs by which the dowers of arrhenoplasm and thelyplasm express themselves in the tissues. The knowledge we possess at the present time on these matters comes from the study of averages, but averages fail to satisfy the modern statistician, and their scientific value is very small. Investigations into[24] the sex-differences in the weight of the brain, for instance, have so far proved very little, probably because no care was taken to choose typical conditions, the assignment of sex being dependent on baptismal certificates or on superficial glances at the outward appearance. As if every “John” or “Mary” were representative of their sexes because they had been dubbed “male” and “female!” It would have been well, even if exact physiological data were thought unnecessary, at least to make certain as to a few facts as to the general condition of the body, which might serve as guides to the male or female condition, such as, for instance, the distance between the great trochanters, the iliac spines, and so forth, for a sexual harmony in the different parts of the body is certainly more common than great sexual divergence.

This source of error, the careless acceptance of sexually intermediate forms as representative subjects for measurement, has maimed other investigations and seriously retarded the attainment of genuine and useful results. Those, for instance, who wish to speculate about the cause of the superfluity of male births have to reckon with this source of error. In a special way this carelessness will revenge itself on those who are investigating the ultimate causes that determine sex. Until the exact degree of maleness or femaleness of all the living individuals of the group on which he is working can be determined, the investigator will have reason to distrust both his methods and his hypotheses. If he classify sexually intermediate forms, for instance, according to their external appearance, as has been done hitherto, he will come across cases which fuller investigation would show to be on the wrong side of his results, whilst other instances, apparently on the wrong side, would right themselves. Without the conception of an ideal male and an ideal female, he lacks a standard according to which to estimate his real cases, and he gropes forward to a superficial and doubtful conclusion. Maupas, for instance, who made experiments on the determination of sex in Hydatina senta, a Rotifer, found that there was always an experimental[25] error of from three to five per cent. At low temperatures the production of females was expected, but always about the above proportion of males appeared; so also at the higher temperatures a similar proportion of females appeared. It is probable that this error was due to sexually intermediate stages, arrhenoplasmic females at the high temperature, thelyplasmic males at the low temperature. Where the problem is more complicated, as in the case of cattle, to say nothing of human beings, the process of investigation will yield still less harmonious results, and the correction of the interpretation which will have to be made by allowing for the disturbance due to the existence of sexually intermediate forms will be much more difficult.

The study of comparative pathology of the sexual types is as necessary as their morphology, physiology and development. In this region of inquiry as elsewhere, statistics would yield certain results. Diseases manifestly much more abundant in one sex might be described as peculiar to or idiopathic of thelyplasm or arrhenoplasm. Myxœdema, for instance, is idiopathic of the female, hydrocele of the male.

But no statistics, however numerous and accurate, can be regarded as avoiding a source of theoretical error until it has been shown from the nature of any particular affection dealt with that it is in indissoluble, functional relation with maleness or femaleness. The theory of such associated diseases must supply a reason why they occur almost exclusively in the one sex, that is to say, in the phrase of this treatise, why they are thelyplasmic or arrhenoplasmic.




“L’amour est un oiseau rebelle,
Que nul ne peut apprivoiser:
Et c’est bien en vain qu’on l’appelle
S’il lui convient de refuser.
Rien n’y fait; menace ou prière:
L’un parle, l’autre se tait;
Et c’est l’autre que je préfère;
Il n’a rien dit, mais il me plaît.


L’amour est enfant de Bohême
Il n’a jamais connu de loi.”

It has been recognised from time immemorial that, in all forms of sexually differentiated life, there exists an attraction between males and females, between the male and the female, the object of which is procreation. But as the male and the female are merely abstract conceptions which never appear in the real world, we cannot speak of sexual attraction as a simple attempt of the masculine and the feminine to come together. The theory which I am developing must take into account all the facts of sexual relations if it is to be complete; indeed, if it is to be accepted instead of the older views, it must give a better interpretation of all these sexual phenomena. My recognition of the fact that M and F (maleness and femaleness) are distributed in the living world in every possible proportion has led me to the discovery of an unknown natural law, of a law not yet suspected by any philosopher, a law of sexual attraction. As[27] observations on human beings first led me to my results, I shall begin with this side of the subject.

Every one possesses a definite, individual taste of his own with regard to the other sex. If we compare the portrait of the women which some famous man has been known to love, we shall nearly always find that they are all closely alike, the similarity being most obvious in the contour (more precisely in the “figure”) or in the face, but on closer examination being found to extend to the minutest details, ad unguem, to the finger-tips. It is precisely the same with every one else. So, also, every girl who strongly attracts a man recalls to him the other girls he has loved before. We see another side of the same phenomenon when we recall how often we have said of some acquaintance or another, “I can’t imagine how that type of woman pleases him.” Darwin, in the “Descent of Man,” collected many instances of the existence of this individuality of the sexual taste amongst animals, and I shall be able to show that there are analogous phenomena even amongst plants.

Sexual attraction is nearly always, as in the case of gravitation, reciprocal. Where there appear to be exceptions to this rule, there is nearly always evidence of the presence of special influences which have been capable of preventing the direct action of the special taste, which is almost always reciprocal, or which have left an unsatisfied craving, if the direct taste were not allowed its play.

The common saying, “Waiting for Mr. Right,” or statements such as that “So-and-so are quite unsuitable for one another,” show the existence of an obscure presentiment of the fact that every man or woman possesses certain individual peculiarities which qualify or disqualify him or her for marriage with any particular member of the opposite sex; and that this man cannot be substituted for that, or this woman for the other without creating a disharmony.

It is a common personal experience that certain individuals of the opposite sex are distasteful to us, that others leave us cold; whilst others again may stimulate us until, at last,[28] some one appears who seems so desirable that everything in the world is worthless and empty compared with union with such a one. What are the qualifications of that person? What are his or her peculiarities? If it really be the case—and I think it is—that every male type has its female counterpart with regard to sexual affinity, it looks as if there were some definite law. What is this law? How does it act? “Like poles repel, unlike attract,” was what I was told when, already armed with my own answer, I resolutely importuned different kinds of men for a statement, and submitted instances to their power of generalisation. The formula, no doubt, is true in a limited sense and for a certain number of cases. But it is at once too general and too vague; it would be applied differently by different persons, and it is incapable of being stated in mathematical terms.

This book does not claim to state all the laws of sexual affinity, for there are many; nor does it pretend to be able to tell every one exactly which individual of the opposite sex will best suit his taste, for that would imply a complete knowledge of all the laws in question. In this chapter only one of these laws will be considered—the law which stands in organic relation to the rest of the book. I am working at a number of other laws, but the following is that to which I have given most investigation, and which is most elaborated. In criticising this work, allowance must be made for the incomplete nature of the material consequent on the novelty and difficulty of the subject.

Fortunately it is not necessary for me to cite at length either the facts from which I originally derived this law of sexual affinity or to set out in detail the evidence I obtained from personal statements. I asked each of those who helped me, to make out his own case first, and then to carry out observations in his circle of acquaintances. I have paid special attention to those cases which have been noticed and remembered, in which the taste of a friend has not been understood, or appeared not to be present, or was different from that of the observer. The minute degree of knowledge of the external form of the human body which[29] is necessary for the investigation is possessed by every one.

I have come to the law which I shall now formulate by a method the validity of which I shall now have to prove.

The law runs as follows: “For true sexual union it is necessary that there come together a complete male (M) and a complete female (F), even although in different cases the M and F are distributed between the two individuals in different proportions.”

The law may be expressed otherwise as follows:

If we take μ, any individual regarded in the ordinary way as a male, and denote his real sexual constitution as Mμ, so many parts really male, plus Wμ, so many parts really female; if we also take ω, any individual regarded in the ordinary way as a female, and denote her real sexual constitution as Wω, so many parts really female, plus Mω, so many parts really male; then, if there be complete sexual affinity, the greatest possible sexual attraction between the two individuals, μ and ω,

(1) Mμ (the truly male part in the “male”) + Mω (the truly male part in the “female”) will equal a constant quantity, M, the ideal male; and

(2) Wμ + Wω (the ideal female parts in respectively the “male” and the “female”) will equal a second constant quantity, W, the ideal female.

This statement must not be misunderstood. Both formulas refer to one case, to a single sexual relation, the second following directly from the first and adding nothing to it, as I set out from the point of view of an individual possessing just as much femaleness as he lacks of maleness. Were he completely male, his requisite complement would be a complete female, and vice versâ. If, however, he is composed of a definite inheritance of maleness, and also an inheritance of femaleness (which must not be neglected), then, to complete the individual, his maleness must be completed to make a unit; but so also must his femaleness be completed.


If, for instance, an individual be composed thus:

μ {

34 M
14 W,


μ { 34 M
14 W,

then the best sexual complement of that individual will be another compound as follows:

ω {

14 M
34 W.


ω { 14 M
34 W.

It can be seen at once that this view is wider in its reach than the common statement of the case. That male and female, as sexual types, attract each other is only one instance of my general law, an instance in which an imaginary individual,

χ {

1 M
0 W,


χ { 1 M
0 W,

finds its complement in an equally imaginary individual,

γ {

0 M
1 W.


γ { 0 M
1 W.

There can be no hesitation in admitting the existence of definite, individual sexual preferences, and such an admission carries with it approval of the necessity of investigating the laws of the preference, and its relation to the rest of the bodily and mental characters of an individual. The law, as I have stated it, can encounter no initial sense of impossibility, and is contrary neither to scientific nor common experience. But it is not self-evident. It might be that the law, which cannot yet be regarded as fully worked out, might run as follows:

Mμ - Mω = a constant;

that is to say, it may be the difference between the degrees of masculinity and not the sum of the degrees of masculinity that is a constant quality, so that the most masculine man would stand just as far removed from his complement[31] (who in this case would lie nearly midway between masculinity and femininity) as the most feminine man would be removed from his complement who would be near the extreme of femininity. Although, as I have said, this is conceivable, it is not borne out by experience. Recognising that we have to do here with an empirical law, and trying to observe a wise scientific restraint, we shall do well to avoid speaking as if there were any “force” pulling the two individuals together as if they were puppets; the law is no more than the statement that an identical relation can be made out in each case of maximum sexual attraction. We are dealing, in fact, with what Ostwald termed an “invariant” and Avenarius a “multiponible”; and this is the constant sum formed by the total masculinity and the total femininity in all cases where a pair of living beings come together with the maximum sexual attraction.

In this matter we may neglect altogether the so-called æsthetic factor, the stimulus of beauty. For does it not frequently happen that one man is completely captivated by a particular woman and raves about her beauty, whilst another, who is not the sexual complement of the woman in question, cannot imagine what his friend sees in her to admire. Without discussing the laws of æsthetics or attempting to gather together examples of relative values, it may readily be admitted that a man may consider a woman beautiful who, from the æsthetic standpoint, is not merely indifferent but actually ugly, that in fact pure æsthetics deal not with absolute beauty, but merely with conceptions of beauty from which the sexual factor has been eliminated.

I have myself worked out the law in, at the lowest, many hundred cases, and I have found that the exceptions were only apparent. Almost every couple one meets in the street furnishes a new proof. The exceptions were specially instructive, as they not only suggested but led to the investigation of other laws of sexuality. I myself made special investigations in the following way. I obtained a set of photographs of æsthetically beautiful women of blameless[32] character, each of which was a good example of some definite proportion of femininity, and I asked a number of my friends to inspect these and select the most beautiful. The selection made was invariably that which I had predicted. With other male friends, who knew on what I was engaged, I set about in another fashion. They provided me with photographs from amongst which I was to choose the one I should expect them to think most beautiful. Here, too, I was uniformly successful. With others, I was able to describe most accurately their ideal of the opposite sex, independently of any suggestions unconsciously given by them, often in minuter detail than they had realised. Sometimes, too, I was able to point out to them, for the first time, the qualities that repelled them in individuals of the opposite sex, although for the most part men realise more readily the characters that repel them than the characters that attract them.

I believe that with a little practice any one could readily acquire and exercise this art on any circle of friends. A knowledge of other laws of sexual affinity would be of great importance. A number of special constants might be taken as tests of the existence of complementary individuals. For instance, the law might be caricatured so as to require that the sum of the length of the hairs of any two perfect lovers should always be the same. But, as I have already shown in chapter ii., this result is not to be expected, because all the organs of the same body do not necessarily possess the same degree of maleness or femaleness. Such heuristic rules would soon multiply and bring the whole subject into ridicule, and I shall therefore abstain from further suggestions of the kind.

I do not deny that my exposition of the law is somewhat dogmatical and lacks confirmation by exact detail. But I am not so anxious to claim finished results as to incite others to the study, the more so as the means for scientific investigations are lacking in my own case. But even if much remains theoretical, I hope that I shall have firmly riveted the chief beams in my edifice of theory by showing how it[33] explains much that hitherto has found no explanation, and so shall have, in a fashion, proved it retrospectively by showing how much it would explain if it were true.

A most remarkable confirmation of my law may be found in the vegetable kingdom, in a group of facts hitherto regarded as isolated and to be so strange as to have no parallel. Every botanist must have guessed already that I have in mind the phenomena of heterostylism, first discovered by Persoon, then described by Darwin and named by Hildebrand. Many Dicotyledons, and a few Monocotyledons, for instance, species of Primulaceæ and Geraneaceæ and many Rubiaceæ, phanerogams in the flowers of which both the pollen and the stigma are functional, although only in cross-fertilisation, so that the flowers are hermaphrodite in structure but unisexual physiologically, display the peculiarity that in different individuals the stamens and the stigma have different lengths. The individuals, all the flowers of which have long styles and therefore high stigmas and short anthers, are, in my judgment, the more female, whilst the individuals with short styles and long anthers are more male. In addition to such dimorphic plants, there are also trimorphic plants, such as Lythrum salicaria, in which the sexual organs display three forms differing in length. There are not only long-styled and short-styled forms, but flowers with styles of a medium length.

Although only dimorphism and trimorphism have been recognised in the books, these conditions do not exhaust the actual complexities of structure. Darwin himself pointed out that if small differences were taken into account, no less than five different situations of the anthers could be distinguished. Alongside such plain cases of discontinuity, of the separation of the different degrees of maleness and femaleness in plainly distinct individuals, there are also cases in which the different degrees grade into each other without breaks in the series. There are analogous cases of discontinuity in the animal kingdom, although they have always been thought of as unique and isolated phenomena, as the parallel with heterostylism had not been suggested. In[34] several genera of insects, as, for instance, some Earwigs (Forficulæ) and Lamellicorn Beetles (Lucanus cervus), the Stag-beetle (Dynastes Hercules), and Xylotrupes gideon, there are some males in which the antennæ, the secondary sexual characters by which they differ most markedly from the females, are extremely long, and others in which they are very short. Bateson, who has written most on this subject, distinguishes the two forms as “high males” and “low males.” It is true that a continuous series of intermediate forms links the extreme types, but, none the less, the vast majority of the individuals are at one extreme or the other. Unfortunately, Bateson did not investigate the relations between these different types of males and the females, and so it is not known if there be female types with special sexual affinity for these male types. Thus these observations can be taken only as a morphological parallel to heterostylism and not as cases of the law of complementary sexual attraction.

Heterostylous plants may possibly be the means of establishing my view that the law of sexual complements holds good for every kind of living thing. Darwin first, and after him many other investigators have proved that in heterostylous plants fertilisation has the best results, or, indeed, may be possible only when the pollen from a macrostylous flower (a flower with the shortest form of anthers and longest pistil) falls on the stigma of a microstylous blossom (one where the pistil is the shortest possible and the stamens at their greatest length), or vice versâ. In other words, if the best result is to be attained by the cross-fertilisation of a pair of flowers, one flower with a long pistil, and therefore high degree of femaleness, and short stamens must be mated with another possessing a correspondingly short pistil, and so, with the amount of femaleness complementary to the first flower, and with long stamens complementary to the short stamens of the first flower. In the case of flowers where there are three pistil lengths, the best results may be expected when the pollen of one blossom is transmitted to another blossom in which the stigma is the nearest complement[35] of the stigma of the flower from which the pollen came; if another combination is made, either naturally or by artificial fertilisation, then, if a result follows at all, the seedlings are scanty, dwarfed and sometimes infertile, much as when hybrids between species are formed.

It is to be noticed that the authors who have discussed heterostylism are not satisfied with the usual explanation, which is that the insects which visit the flowers carry the pollen at different relative positions on their bodies corresponding to the different lengths of the sexual organs and so produce the wonderful result. Darwin, moreover, admits that bees carry all sorts of pollen on every part of their bodies; so that it has still to be made clear how the female organs dusted with two or three kinds of pollen make their choice of the most suitable. The supposition of a power of choice, however interesting and wonderful it is, does not account for the bad results which follow artificial dusting with the wrong kind of pollen (so-called “illegitimate fertilisation”). The theory that the stigmas can only make use of, or are capable of receiving only “legitimate pollen” has been proved by Darwin to be erroneous, inasmuch as the insects which act as fertilisers certainly sometimes start various cross-breedings.

The hypothesis that the reason for this selective retention on the part of individuals is a special quality, deep-seated in the flowers themselves, seems more probable. We have probably here to do with the presence, just as in human beings, of a maximum degree of sexual attraction between individuals, one of which possesses just as much femaleness as the other possesses maleness, and this is merely another mode of stating my sexual law. The probability of this interpretation is increased by the fact that in the short-styled, long-anthered, more male flowers, the pollen grains are larger and the papillæ on the stigmas are smaller than the corresponding parts of the long-styled, short-anthered, more female flowers. Here we have certainly to do with different degrees of maleness and femaleness. These circumstances supply a strong corroboration of my law of sexual affinity,[36] that in the vegetable kingdom as well as in the animal kingdom (I shall return later to this point) fertilisation has the best results when it occurs between parents with maximum sexual affinity.[3]

[3] For special purposes the breeder, whose object frequently is to modify natural tendencies, will often disregard this law.

Consideration of sexual aversion affords the readiest proof that the law holds good throughout the animal kingdom. I should like to suggest here that it would be extremely interesting to make observations as to whether the larger, heavier and less active egg-cells exert a special attraction on the smaller and more active spermatozoa, whilst those egg-cells with less food-yolk attract more strongly the larger and less active spermatozoa. It may be the case, as L. Weill has already suggested in a speculation as to the factors that determine sex, that there is a correlation between the rates of motion or kinetic energies of conjugating sexual cells. It has not yet been determined, although indeed it would be difficult to determine, if the sexual cells, apart from the streams and eddies of their fluid medium, approach each other with equal velocities or sometimes display special activity. There is a wide field for investigation here.

As I have repeatedly remarked, my law is not the only law of sexual affinity, otherwise, no doubt, it would have been discovered long ago. Just because so many other actors are bound up with it,[4] because another, perhaps many other laws sometimes overshadow it, cases of undisturbed action of sexual affinity are rare. As the necessary investigations have not yet been finished, I will not speak at length of such laws, but rather by way of illustration I shall refer to a few factors which as yet cannot be demonstrated mathematically.

[4] In speaking of the sexual taste in men and women, one thinks at once of the usual but not invariable preference individuals show for a particular colour of hair. It would certainly seem as if the reason for so strongly marked a preference must lie deep in human nature.

I shall begin with some phenomena which are pretty[37] generally recognised. Men when quite young, say under twenty, are attracted by much older women (say those of thirty-five and so on), whilst men of thirty-five are attracted by women much younger than themselves. So also, on the other hand, quite young girls (sweet seventeen) generally prefer much older men, but, later in life, may marry striplings. The whole subject deserves close attention and is both popular and easily noticed.

In spite of the necessary limitation of this work to the consideration of a single law, it will make for exactness if I try to state the formula in a more definite fashion, without the deceptive element of simplicity. Even without being able to state in definite quantities the other factors and the co-operating laws, we may reach a satisfactory exactness by the use of a variable factor.

The first formula was only an abstract general statement of what is common to all cases of maximum sexual attraction so far as the sexual relation is governed by the law. I must now try to find an expression for the strength of the sexual affinity in any conceivable case, an expression which on account of its general form, can be used to describe the relationship between any two living beings, even if these belong to different species or to the same sex.


χ {

α Mα´ W


γ {

β Wβ´ M


χ { α M and γ { β W
α´ W β´ M

(where α, α´, β, and β´ are each greater than 0 and less than unity) define the sexual constitutions of any two living beings between which there is an attraction, then the strength of the attraction may be expressed thus:

A = Kα - β f t

where t is an empirical or analytical function of the period during which it is possible for the individuals to act upon one another, what may be called the “reaction-time”; whilst K is the variable factor in which we place all the[38] known and unknown laws of sexual affinity, and which also varies with the degree of specific, racial and family relationship, and with the health and absence of deformity in the two individuals, and which, finally, will become smaller as the actual spacial distance between the two is greater, and which can be determined in any individual case.

When in this formula α = β A must be infinity; this is the extreme case; it is sexual attraction as an elemental force, as it has been described with a weird mastercraft by Lynkeus in the novel “Im Postwagen.” Such sexual attraction is as much a natural law as the downward growth of a rootlet towards the earth, or the migration of bacteria to the oxygen at the edge of a microscopic cover-glass. But it takes some time to grow accustomed to such a view. I shall refer to this point again.

If α - β has its maximum value, which is when it equals unity, then A = K . t.

This would be the extreme case of the action of all the sympathetic and antipathetic relations between human beings (leaving out of account social relations in their narrowest sense, which are merely the safeguards of communities) which are not included in the law of sexual affinity. As K generally increases with the strength of congenital relationship, A has a greater value when the individuals are of the same nationality than when they belong to different nationalities. The value of t is great in this case, and one can investigate its fluctuations, as, for instance, when two domestic animals of different species are in association; at first it usually stands for violent enmity, or fear of each other (and A has a negative value), whilst later on a friendship may come about.

When K = 0 in the formula

A = K . t α - β,

then A = 0, which means that between two living beings of origin too remote there may be no trace of sexual attraction.


The provisions of the criminal statute-books, however, in reference to sodomy and bestiality show plainly that even in the case of very remote species K has a value greater than nothing. The formula may apply to two individuals not only not of the same species, but even not of the same order.

It is a new theory that the union of male and female organisms is no mere matter of chance, but is guided by a definite law; and the actual complexities which I have merely suggested show the need for complete investigation into the mysterious nature of sexual attraction.

The experiments of Wilhelm Pfeffer have shown that the male cells of many cryptogams are naturally attracted not merely by the female cells, but also by substances which they have come in contact with under natural conditions, or which have been introduced to them experimentally, in the latter case the substances being sometimes of a kind with which they could not possibly have come in contact, except under the conditions of experiment. Thus the male cells of ferns are attracted not only by the malic acid secreted naturally by the archegonia, but by synthetically prepared malic acid, whilst the male cells of mosses are attracted either by the natural acid of the female cells or by acid prepared from cane sugar. A male cell, which, we know not how, is influenced by the degree of concentration of a solution, moves towards the most concentrated part of the fluid. Pfeffer named such movements “chemotactic” and coined the word “chemotropism” to include these and many other asexual cases of motion stimulated by chemical bodies. There is much to support the view that the attraction exercised by females on males which perceive them at a distance by sense organs is to be regarded as analogous in certain respects with chemotropism.

It seems highly probable that chemotropism is also the explanation of the restless and persistent energy with which for days together the mammalian spermatozoa seek the entrance to the uterus, although the natural current produced from the mucous membrane of the uterus is from[40] within outwards. The spermatozoon, in spite of all mechanical and other hindrances, makes for the egg-cell with an almost incredible certainty. In this connection we may call to mind the prodigious journeys made by many fish; salmon travel for months together, practically without taking any food, from the open sea to the sources of the Rhine, against the current of the river, in order to spawn in localities that are safe and well provided with food.

I have recently been looking at the beautiful sketches which P. Falkenberg has made of the processes of fertilisation in some of the Mediterranean seaweeds. When we speak of the lines of force between the opposite poles of magnets we are dealing with a force no more natural than that which irresistibly attracts the spermatozoon and the egg-cell. The chief difference seems to be that in the case of the attraction between the inorganic substances, strains are set up in the media between the two poles, whilst in the living matter the forces seem confined to the organisms themselves. According to Falkenberg’s observations, the spermatozoa, in moving towards the egg-cells, are able to overcome the force which otherwise would be exercised upon them by a source of light. The sexual attraction, the chemotactic force, is stronger than the phototactic force.

When a union has taken place between two individuals who, according to my formula, are not adapted to each other, if later, the natural complement of either appears the inclination to desert the makeshift at once asserts itself in accordance with an inevitable law of nature. A divorce takes place, as much constitutional, depending on the nature of things, as when, if iron sulphate and caustic potash are brought together, the SO4 ions leave the iron to unite with the potassium. When in nature an adjustment of such differences of potential is about to take place, he who would approve or disapprove of the process from the moral point of view would appear to most to play a ridiculous part.

This is the fundamental idea in Goethe’s “Wahlverwandtschaften” (Elective Affinities), and in the fourth[41] chapter of the first part of that work he makes it the subject of a playful introduction which was full of undreamed of future significance, and the full force of which he was fated himself to experience in later life. I must confess to being proud that this book is the first work to take up his ideas. None the less, it is as little my intention as it was the intention of Goethe to advocate divorce; I hope only to explain it. There are human motives which indispose man to divorce and enable him to withstand it. This I shall discuss later on. The physical side of sex in man is less completely ruled by natural law than is the case with lower animals. We get an indication of this in the fact that man is sexual throughout the year, and that in him there is less trace than even in domestic animals of the existence of a special spring breeding-season.

The law of sexual affinity is analogous in another respect to a well-known law of theoretical chemistry, although, indeed, there are marked differences. The violence of a chemical reaction is proportionate to the mass of the substances involved, as, for instance, a stronger acid solution unites with a stronger basic solution with greater avidity, just as in the case of the union of a pair of living beings with strong maleness and femaleness. But there is an essential difference between the living process and the reaction of the lifeless chemical substances. The living organism is not homogeneous and isotropic in its composition; it is not divisible into a number of small parts of identical properties. The difference depends on the principle of individuality, on the fact that every living thing is an individual, and that its individuality is essentially structural. And so in the vital process it is not as in inorganic chemistry; there is no possibility of a larger proportion forming one compound, a smaller proportion forming another. The organic chemotropism, moreover, may be negative. In certain cases the value of A may result in a negative quantity, that is to say, the sexual attraction may appear in the form of sexual repulsion. It is true that in purely chemical processes the same reaction may take place[42] at different rates. Taking, however, the total failure of some reaction by catalytic interference as the equivalent of a sexual repulsion, it never happens, according to the latest investigations at least, that the interference merely induces the reaction after a longer or shorter interval. On the other hand, it happens frequently that a compound which is formed at one temperature breaks up at another temperature. Here the “direction” of the reaction is a function of the temperature, as, in the vital process, it may be a function of time.

In the value of the factor “t,” the time of reaction, a final analogy of sexual attraction with chemical processes may be found, if we are willing to trace the comparison without laying too much stress upon it. Consider the formula for the rapidity of the reaction, the different degrees of rapidity with which a sexual attraction between two individuals is established, and reflect how the value of “A” varies with the value of “t.” However, what Kant termed mathematical vanity must not tempt us to read into our equations complicated and difficult processes, the validity of which is uncertain. All that can be implied is simple enough; sensual desire increases with the time during which two individuals are in propinquity; if they were shut up together, it would develop if there were no repulsion, or practically no repulsion between them, in the fashion of some slow chemical process which takes much time before its result is visible. Such a case is the confidence with which it is said of a marriage arranged without love, “Love will come later; time will bring it.”

It is plain that too much stress must not be laid on the analogy between sexual affinity and purely chemical processes. None the less, I thought it illuminating to make the comparison. It is not yet quite clear if the sexual attraction is to be ranked with the “tropisms,” and the matter cannot be settled without going beyond mere sexuality to discuss the general problem of erotics. The phenomena of love require a different treatment, and I shall return to them in the second part of this book. None the less, there[43] are analogies that cannot be denied when human attractions and chemotropism are compared. I may refer as an instance to the relation between Edward and Ottilie in Goethe’s “Wahlverwandtschaften.”

Mention of Goethe’s romance leads naturally to a discussion of the marriage problem, and I may here give a few of the practical inferences which would seem to follow from the theoretical considerations of this chapter. It is clear that a natural law, not dissimilar to other natural laws, exists with regard to sexual attraction; this law shows that, whilst innumerable gradations of sexuality exist, there always may be found pairs of beings the members of which are almost perfectly adapted to one another. So far, marriage has its justification, and, from the standpoint of biology, free love is condemned. Monogamy, however, is a more difficult problem, the solution of which involves other considerations, such as periodicity, to which I shall refer later, and the change of the sexual taste with advancing years.

A second conclusion may be derived from heterostylism, especially with reference to the fact that “illegitimate fertilisation” almost invariably produces less fertile offspring. This leads to the consideration that amongst other forms of life the strongest and healthiest offspring will result from unions in which there is the maximum of sexual suitability. As the old saying has it, “love-children” turn out to be the finest, strongest, and most vigorous of human beings. Those who are interested in the improvement of mankind must therefore, on purely hygienic grounds, oppose the ordinary mercenary marriages of convenience.

It is more than probable that the law of sexual attraction may yield useful results when applied to the breeding of animals. More attention will have to be given to the secondary sexual characters of the animals which it is proposed to mate. The artificial methods made use of to secure the serving of mares by stallions unattractive to them do not always fail, but are followed by indifferent results. Probably an obvious result of the use of a substituted stallion in impregnating a mare is the extreme nervousness[44] of the progeny, which must be treated with bromide and other drugs. So, also, the degeneration of modern Jews may be traced in part to the fact that amongst them marriages for other reasons than love are specially common.

Amongst the many fundamental principles established by the careful observations and experiments of Darwin, and since confirmed by other investigators, is the fact that both very closely related individuals, and those whose specific characters are too unlike, have little sexual attraction for each other, and that if in spite of this sexual union occurs, the offspring usually die at an early stage or are very feeble, or are practically infertile. So also, in heterostylous plants “legitimate fertilisation” brings about more numerous and vigorous seeds than come from other unions.

It may be said in general that the offspring of those parents which showed the greatest sexual attraction succeed best.

This rule, which is certainly universal, implies the correctness of a conclusion which might be drawn from the earlier part of this book. When a marriage has taken place and children have been produced, these have gained nothing from the conquest of sexual repulsion by the parents, for such a conquest could not take place without damage to the mental and bodily characters of the children that would come of it. It is certain, however, that many childless marriages have been loveless marriages. The old idea that the chance of conception is increased where there is a mutual participation in the sexual act is closely connected with what we have been considering as to the greater intensity of the sexual attraction between two complementary individuals.



The law of Sexual Attraction gives the long-sought-for explanation of sexual inversion, of sexual inclination towards members of the same sex, whether or no that be accompanied by aversion from members of the opposite sex. Without reference to a distinction which I shall deal with later on, I may say at once that it is exceedingly probable that, in all cases of sexual inversion, there will be found indications of the anatomical characters of the other sex. There is no such thing as a genuine “psycho-sexual hermaphroditism”; the men who are sexually attracted by men have outward marks of effeminacy, just as women of a similar disposition to those of their own sex exhibit male characters. That this should be so is quite intelligible if we admit the close parallelism between body and mind, and further light is thrown upon it by the facts explained in the second chapter of this book; the facts as to the male or female principle not being uniformly present all over the same body, but distributed in different amounts in different organs. In all cases of sexual inversion, there is invariably an anatomical approximation to the opposite sex.

Such a view is directly opposed to that of those who would maintain that sexual inversion is an acquired character, and one that has superseded normal sexual impulses. Schrenk-Notzing, Kraepelin, and Féré are amongst those writers who have urged the view that sexual inversion is an acquired habit, the result of abstinence from normal intercourse and particularly induced by example. But what about the first offender? Did the god Hermaphroditos[46] teach him? It might equally be sought to prove that the sexual inclination of a normal man for a normal woman was an unnatural, acquired habit—a habit, as some ancient writers have suggested, that arose from some accidental discovery of its agreeable nature. Just as a normal man discovers for himself what a woman is, so also, in the case of a sexual “invert” the attraction exercised on him by a person of his own sex is a normal product of his development from his birth. Naturally the opportunity must come in which the individual may put in practice his desire for inverted sexuality, but the opportunity will be taken only when his natural constitution has made the individual ready for it. That sexual abstinence (to take the second supposed cause of inversion) should result in anything more than masturbation may be explained by the supposition that inversion is acquired, but that it should be coveted and eagerly sought can only happen when the demand for it is rooted in the constitution. In the same fashion normal sexual attraction might be said to be an acquired character, if it could be proved definitely that, to fall in love, a normal man must first see a woman or a picture of a woman. Those who assert that sexual inversion is an acquired character, are making a merely incidental or accessory factor responsible for the whole constitution of an organism.

There is little reason for saying that sexual inversion is acquired, and there is just as little for regarding it as inherited from parents or grandparents. Such an assertion, it is true, has not been made, and seems contrary to all experience; but it has been suggested that it is due to a neuropathic diathesis, and that general constitutional weakness is to be found in the descendants of those who have displayed sexual inversion. In fact sexual inversion has usually been regarded as psycho-pathological, as a symptom of degeneration, and those who exhibit it have been considered as physically unfit. This view, however, is falling into disrepute, especially as Krafft-Ebing, its principal champion, abandoned it in the later editions of his work.[47] None the less, it is not generally recognised that sexual inverts may be otherwise perfectly healthy, and with regard to other social matters quite normal. When they have been asked if they would have wished matters to be different with them in this respect, almost invariably they answer in the negative.

It is due to the erroneous conceptions that I have mentioned that homo-sexuality has not been considered in relation with other facts. Let those who regard sexual inversion as pathological, as a hideous anomaly of mental development (the view accepted by the populace), or believe it to be an acquired vice, the result of an execrable seduction, remember that there exist all transitional stages reaching from the most masculine male to the most effeminate male and so on to the sexual invert, the false and true hermaphrodite; and then, on the other side, successively through the sapphist to the virago and so on until the most feminine virgin is reached. In the interpretation of this volume, sexual inverts of both sexes are to be defined as individuals in whom the factor α (see page 8, chap. i.) is very nearly 0.5 and so is practically equal to α´; in other words, individuals in whom there is as much maleness as femaleness, or indeed who, although reckoned as men, may contain an excess of femaleness, or as women and yet be more male than female. Because of the want of uniformity in the sexual characters of the body, it is fairly certain that many individuals have their sex assigned them on account of the existence of the primary male sexual characteristic, even although there may be delayed descensus testiculorum, or epi- or hypo-spadism, or, later on, absence of active spermatozoa, or even, in the case of assignment of the female sex, absence of the vagina, and thus male avocations (such as compulsory military service) may come to be assigned to those in whom α is less than 0.5 and α´ greater than 0.5. The sexual complement of such individuals really is to be found on their own side of the sexual line, that is to say, on the side on which they are reckoned, although in reality they may belong to the other.


Moreover, and this not only supports my view but can be explained only by it, there are no inverts who are completely sexually inverted. In all of them there is from the beginning an inclination to both sexes; they are, in fact, bisexual. It may be that later on they may actively encourage a slight leaning towards one sex or the other, and so become practically unisexual either in the normal or in the inverted sense, or surrounding influence may bring about this result for them. But in such processes the fundamental bisexuality is never obliterated and may at any time give evidence of its suppressed presence.

Reference has often been made, and in recent years has increasingly been made, to the relation between homo-sexuality and the presence of bisexual rudiments in the embryonic stages of animals and plants. What is new in my view is that according to it, homo-sexuality cannot be regarded as an atavism or as due to arrested embryonic development, or incomplete differentiation of sex; it cannot be regarded as an anomaly of rare occurrence interpolating itself in customary complete separation of the sexes. Homo-sexuality is merely the sexual condition of these intermediate sexual forms that stretch from one ideally sexual condition to the other sexual condition. In my view all actual organisms have both homo-sexuality and hetero-sexuality.

That the rudiment of homo-sexuality, in however weak a form, exists in every human being, corresponding to the greater or smaller development of the characters of the opposite sex, is proved conclusively from the fact that in the adolescent stage, while there is still a considerable amount of undifferentiated sexuality, and before the internal secretions have exerted their stimulating force, passionate attachments with a sensual side are the rule amongst boys as well as amongst girls.

A person who retains from that age onwards a marked tendency to “friendship” with a person of his own sex must have a strong taint of the other sex in him. Those, however, are still more obviously intermediate sexual forms,[49] who, after association with both sexes, fail to have aroused in them the normal passion for the opposite sex, but still endeavour to maintain confidential, devoted affection with those of their own sex.

There is no friendship between men that has not an element of sexuality in it, however little accentuated it may be in the nature of the friendship, and however painful the idea of the sexual element would be. But it is enough to remember that there can be no friendship unless there has been some attraction to draw the men together. Much of the affection, protection, and nepotism between men is due to the presence of unsuspected sexual compatibility.

An analogy with the sexual friendship of youth may be traced in the case of old men, when, for instance, with the involution following old age, the latent amphisexuality of man appears. This may be the reason why so many men of fifty years and upwards are guilty of indecency.

Homo-sexuality has been observed amongst animals to a considerable extent. F. Karsch has made a wide, if not complete, compilation from other authors. Unfortunately, practically no observations were made as to the grades of maleness or femaleness to be observed in such cases. But we may be reasonably certain that the law holds good in the animal world. If bulls are kept apart from cows for a considerable time, homo-sexual acts occur amongst them; the most female are the first to become corrupted, the others later, some perhaps never. (It is amongst cattle that the greatest number of sexually intermediate forms have been recorded.) This shows that the tendency was latent in them, but that at other times the sexual demand was satisfied in normal fashion. Cattle in captivity behave precisely as prisoners and convicts in these matters. Animals exhibit not merely onanism (which is known to them as to human beings), but also homo-sexuality; and this fact, together with the fact that sexually intermediate forms are known to occur amongst them, I regard as strong evidence for my law of sexual attraction.

Inverted sexual attraction, then, is no exception to my[50] law of sexual attraction, but is merely a special case of it. An individual who is half-man, half-woman, requires as sexual complement a being similarly equipped with a share of both sexes in order to fulfil the requirements of the law. This explains the fact that sexual inverts usually associate only with persons of similar character, and rarely admit to intimacy those who are normal. The sexual attraction is mutual, and this explains why sexual inverts so readily recognise each other. This being so, the normal element in human society has very little idea of the extent to which homo-sexuality is practised, and when a case becomes public property, every normal young profligate thinks that he has a right to condemn such “atrocities.” So recently as the year 1900 a professor of psychiatry in a German university urged that those who practised homo-sexuality should be castrated.

The therapeutical remedies which have been used to combat homo-sexuality, in cases where such treatment has been attempted, are certainly less radical than the advice of the professor; but they serve to show only how little the nature of homo-sexuality was understood. The method used at present is hypnotism, and this can rest only on the theory that homo-sexuality is an acquired character. By suggesting the idea of the female form and of normal congress, it is sought to accustom those under treatment to normal relations. But the acknowledged results are very few.

The failure is to be expected from our standpoint. The hypnotiser suggests to the subject the image of a “typical” woman, ignorant of the innate differences in the subject and unaware that such a type is naturally repulsive to him. And as the normal typical woman is not his complement, it is fruitless of the doctor to advise the services of any casual Venus, however attractive, to complete the cure of a man who has long shunned normal intercourse. If our formula were used to discover the complement of the male invert, it would point to the most man-like woman, the Lesbian or Sapphist type. Probably such is the only type of woman who would attract the sexual invert or please him. If a[51] cure for sexual inversion must be sought because it cannot be left to its own extinction, then this theory offers the following solution. Sexual inverts must be brought to sexual inverts, from homo-sexualists to Sapphists, each in their grades. Knowledge of such a solution should lead to repeal of the ridiculous laws of England, Germany and Austria directed against homo-sexuality, so far at least as to make the punishments the lightest possible. In the second part of this book it will be made clear why both the active and the passive parts in male homo-sexuality appear disgraceful, although the desire is greater than in the case of the normal relation of a man and woman. In the abstract there is no ethical difference between the two.

In spite of all the present-day clamour about the existence of different rights for different individualities, there is only one law that governs mankind, just as there is only one logic and not several logics. It is in opposition to that law, as well as to the theory of punishment according to which the legal offence, not the moral offence, is punished, that we forbid the homo-sexualist to carry on his practices whilst we allow the hetero-sexualist full play, so long as both avoid open scandal. Speaking from the standpoint of a purer state of humanity and of a criminal law untainted by the pedagogic idea of punishment as a deterrent, the only logical and rational method of treatment for sexual inverts would be to allow them to seek and obtain what they require where they can, that is to say, amongst other inverts.

My theory appears to me quite incontrovertible and conclusive, and to afford a complete explanation of the entire set of phenomena. The exposition, however, must now face a set of facts which appear quite opposed to it, and which seem absolutely to contradict my reference of sexual inversion to the existence of sexually intermediate types, and my explanation of the law governing the attraction of these types for each other. It is probably the case that my explanation is sufficient for all female sexual inverts, but it is certainly true that there are men with very little taint of[52] femaleness about them who yet exert a very strong influence on members of their own sex, a stronger influence than that of other men who may have more femaleness—an influence which can be exerted even on very male men, and an influence which, finally, often appears to be much greater than the influence any woman can exert on these men. Albert Moll is justified in saying as follows: “There exist psycho-sexual hermaphrodites who are attracted by members of both sexes, but who in the case of each sex appear to care only for the characters peculiar to that sex; and, on the other hand, there are also psycho-sexual (?) hermaphrodites who, in the case of each sex, are attracted, not by the characteristics peculiar to that sex, but by those which are either sexually indifferent or even antagonistic to the sex in question.” Upon this distinction depends the difference between the two sets of phenomena indicated in the title of this chapter—Homo-sexuality and Pederasty. The distinction may be expressed as follows: The homo-sexualist is that type of sexual invert who prefers very female men or very male women, in accordance with the general law of sexual attraction. The pederast, on the other hand, may be attracted either by very male men or by very female women, but in the latter case only in so far as he is not pederastic. Moreover, his inclination for the male sex is stronger than for the female sex, and is more deeply seated in his nature. The origin of pederasty is a problem in itself and remains unsolved by this investigation.



In view of the admitted close correspondence between matter and mind, we may expect to find that the conception of sexually intermediate forms, if applied to mental facts, will yield a rich crop of results. The existence of a female mental type and a male mental type can readily be imagined (and the quest of these types has been made by many investigators), but such perfect types never occur as actual individuals, simply because in the mind, as in the body, all sorts of sexually intermediate conditions exist. My conception will also be of great service in helping us to discriminate between the different mental qualities, and to throw some light into what has always been a dark corner for psychologists—the differences between different individuals. A great step will be made if we are able to supply graded categories for the mental diathesis of individuals; if it shall cease to be scientific to say that the character of an individual is merely male or female; but if we can make a measured judgment and say that such and such an one is so many parts male and so many parts female. Which element in any particular individual has done, said, or thought this or the other? By making the answer to such a question possible, we shall have done much towards the definite description of the individual, and the new method will determine the direction of future investigation. The knowledge of the past, which set out from conceptions which were really confused averages, has been equally far from reaching the broadest truths as from searching out the most intimate[54] detailed knowledge. This failure of past methods gives us hope that the principle of sexually intermediate forms may serve as the foundation of a scientific study of character and justifies the attempt to make of it an illuminating principle for the psychology of individual differences. Its application to the science of character, which, so far, has been in the hands of merely literary authors, and is from the scientific point of view an untouched field, is to be greeted more warmly as it is capable of being used quantitatively, so that we venture to estimate the percentage of maleness and femaleness which an individual possesses even in the mental qualities. The answer to this question is not given even if we know the exact anatomical position of an organism on the scale stretching from male to female, although as a matter of fact congruity between bodily and mental sexuality is more common than incongruity. But we must remember what was stated in chap. ii. as to the uneven distribution of sexuality over the body.

The proportion of the male to the female principle in the same human being must not be assumed to be a constant quantity. An important new conclusion must be taken into account, a conclusion which is necessary to the right application of the principle which clears up in a striking fashion earlier psychological work. The fact is that every human being varies or oscillates between the maleness and the femaleness of his constitution. In some cases these oscillations are abnormally large, in other cases so small as to escape observation, but they are always present, and when they are great they may even reveal themselves in the outward aspect of the body. Like the variations in the magnetism of the earth, these sexual oscillations are either regular or irregular. The regular forms are sometimes minute; for instance, many men feel more male at night. The large and regular oscillations correspond to the great divisions of organic life to which attention is only now being directed, and they may throw light upon many puzzling phenomena. The irregular oscillations probably depend chiefly upon the environment, as for instance on[55] the sexuality of surrounding human beings. They may help to explain some curious points in the psychology of a crowd which have not yet received sufficient attention.

In short, bi-sexuality cannot be properly observed in a single moment, but must be studied through successive periods of time. This time-element in psychological differences of sexuality may be regularly periodic or not. The swing towards one pole of sexuality may be greater than the following swing to the other side. Although theoretically possible, it seems to be extremely rare for the swing to the male side to be exactly equal to the swing towards the female side.

It may be admitted in principle, before proceeding to detailed investigation, that the conception of sexually intermediate forms makes possible a more accurate description of individual characters in so far as it aids in determining the proportion of male and female in each individual, and of measuring the oscillations to each side of which any individual is capable. A point of method must be decided at once, as upon it depends the course the investigation will pursue. Are we to begin by an empirical investigation of the almost innumerable intermediate conditions in mental sexuality, or are we to set out with the abstract sexual types, the ideal psychological man and woman, and then investigate deductively how far such ideal pictures correspond with concrete cases? The former method is that which the development of psychological knowledge has pursued; ideals have been derived from facts, sexual types constructed from observation of the manifold complexity of nature; it would be inductive and analytic. The latter mode, deductive and synthetic, is more in accordance with formal logic.

I have been unwilling to pursue the second method as fully as is possible, because every one can apply for himself to concrete facts the two well-defined extreme types; once it is understood that actual individuals are mixtures of the types, it is simple to apply theory to practice, and the actual pursuit of detailed cases would involve much repetition and bring little theoretical advantage. The second method,[56] however, is impracticable. The collection of the long series of details from which the inductions would be made would simply weary the reader.

In the first or biological part of my work, I give little attention to the extreme types, but devote myself to the fullest investigation of the intermediate stages. In the second part, I shall endeavour to make as full a psychological analysis as possible of the characters of the male and female types, and will touch only lightly on concrete instances.

I shall first mention, without laying too much stress on them, some of the more obvious mental characteristics of the intermediate conditions.

Womanish men are usually extremely anxious to marry, at least (I mention this to prevent misconception) if a sufficiently brilliant opportunity offers itself. When it is possible, they nearly always marry whilst they are still quite young. It is especially gratifying to them to get as wives famous women, artists or poets, or singers and actresses.

Womanish men are physically lazier than other men in proportion to the degree of their womanishness. There are “men” who go out walking with the sole object of displaying their faces like the faces of women, hoping that they will be admired, after which they return contentedly home. The ancient “Narcissus” was a prototype of such persons. These people are naturally fastidious about the dressing of their hair, their apparel, shoes, and linen; they are concerned as to their personal appearance at all times, and about the minutest details of their toilet. They are conscious of every glance thrown on them by other men, and because of the female element in them, they are coquettish in gait and demeanour. Viragoes, on the other hand, frequently are careless about their toilet, and even about the personal care of their bodies; they take less time in dressing than many womanish men. The dandyism of men on the one hand, and much of what is called the emancipation of women, are due to the increase in the numbers of these epicene creatures, and not merely to a passing fashion.


Indeed, if one inquires why anything becomes the fashion it will be found that there is a true cause for it.

The more femaleness a woman possesses the less will she understand a man, and the sexual characters of a man will have the greater influence on her. This is more than a mere application of the law of sexual attraction, as I have already stated it. So also the more manly a man is the less will he understand women, but the more readily be influenced by them as women. Those men who claim to understand women are themselves very nearly women. Womanish men often know how to treat women much better than manly men. Manly men, except in most rare cases, learn how to deal with women only after long experience, and even then most imperfectly.

Although I have been touching here in a most superficial way on what are no more than tertiary sexual characters, I wish to point out an application of my conclusions to pedagogy. I am convinced that the more these views are understood the more certainly will they lead to an individual treatment in education. At the present time shoemakers, who make shoes to measure, deal more rationally with individuals than our teachers and schoolmasters in their application of moral principles. At present the sexually intermediate forms of individuals (especially on the female side) are treated exactly as if they were good examples of the ideal male or female types. There is wanted an “orthopædic” treatment of the soul instead of the torture caused by the application of ready-made conventional shapes. The present system stamps out much that is original, uproots much that is truly natural, and distorts much into artificial and unnatural forms.

From time immemorial there have been only two systems of education; one for those who come into the world designated by one set of characters as males, and another for those who are similarly assumed to be females. Almost at once the “boys” and the “girls” are dressed differently, learn to play different games, go through different courses of instruction, the girls being put to stitching and so forth.[58] The intermediate individuals are placed at a great disadvantage. And yet the instincts natural to their condition reveal themselves quickly enough, often even before puberty. There are boys who like to play with dolls, who learn to knit and sew with their sisters, and who are pleased to be given girls’ names. There are girls who delight in the noisier sports of their brothers, and who make chums and playmates of them. After puberty, there is a still stronger display of the innate differences. Manlike women wear their hair short, affect manly dress, study, drink, smoke, are fond of mountaineering, or devote themselves passionately to sport. Womanish men grow their hair long, wear corsets, are experts in the toilet devices of women, and show the greatest readiness to become friendly and intimate with them, preferring their society to that of men.

Later on, the different laws and customs to which the so-called sexes are subjected press them as by a vice into distinctive moulds. The proposals which should follow from my conclusions will encounter more passive resistance, I fear, in the case of girls than in that of boys. I must here contradict, in the most positive fashion, a dogma that is authoritatively and widely maintained at the present time, the idea that all women are alike, that no individuals exist amongst women. It is true that amongst those individuals whose constitutions lie nearer the female side than the male side, the differences and possibilities are not so great as amongst those on the male side; the greater variability of males is true not only for the human race but for the living world, and is related to the principles established by Darwin. None the less, there are plenty of differences amongst women. The psychological origin of this common error depends chiefly on a fact that I explained in chap. iii., the fact that every man in his life becomes intimate only with a group of women defined by his own constitution, and so naturally he finds them much alike. For the same reason, and in the same way, one may often hear a woman say that all men are alike. And the narrow uniform view about men, displayed by most of the leaders of the[59] women’s rights movement depends on precisely the same cause.

It is clear that the principle of the existence of innumerable individual proportions of the male and female principles is a basis of the study of character which must be applied in any rational scheme of pedagogy.

The science of character must be associated with some form of psychology that takes into account some theory of the real existence of mental phenomena in the same fashion that anatomy is related to physiology. And so it is necessary, quite apart from theoretical reasons, to attempt to pursue a psychology of individual differences. This attempt will be readily enough followed by those who believe in the parallelism between mind and matter, for they will see in psychology no more than the physiology of the central nervous system, and will readily admit that the science of character must be a sister of morphology. As a matter of fact there is great hope that in future characterology and morphology will each greatly help the other. The principle of sexually intermediate forms, and still more the parallelism between characterology and morphology in the widest application, make us look forward to the time when physiognomy will take its honourable place amongst the sciences, a place which so many have attempted to gain for it but as yet unsuccessfully.

The problem of physiognomy is the problem of the relation between the static mental forces and the static bodily forces, just as the problem of physiological psychology deals with the dynamic aspect of the same relations. It is a great error in method, and in fact, to treat the study of physiognomy, because of its difficulty, as impracticable. And yet this is the attitude of contemporary scientific circles, unconsciously perhaps rather than consciously, but occasionally becoming obvious as for instance in the case of the attempt of von Möbius to pursue the work of Gall with regard to the physiognomy of those with a natural aptitude for mathematics. If it be possible, and many have shown that it is possible, to judge correctly[60] much of the character of an individual merely from the examination of his external appearance, without the aid of cross-examination or guessing, it cannot be impossible to reduce such modes of observation to an exact method. There is little more required than an exact study of the expression of the characteristic emotions and the tracking (to use a rough analogy) of the routes of the cables passing to the speech centres.

None the less it will be long before official science ceases to regard the study of physiognomy as illegitimate. Although people will still believe in the parallelism of mind and body, they will continue to treat the physiognomist as as much of a charlatan as until quite recently the hypnotist was thought to be. None the less, all mankind at least unconsciously, and intelligent persons consciously, will continue to be physiognomists, people will continue to judge character from the nose, although they will not admit the existence of a science of physiognomy, and the portraits of celebrated men and of murderers will continue to interest every one.

I am inclined to believe that the assumption of a universally acquired correspondence between mind and body may be a hitherto neglected fundamental function of our mind. It is certainly the case that every one believes in physiognomy and actually practises it. The principle of the existence of a definite relation between mind and body must be accepted as an illuminating axiom for psychological research, and it will be for religion and metaphysics to work out the details of a relationship which must be accepted as existing.

Whether or no the science of character can be linked with morphology, it will be valuable not only to these sciences but to physiognomy if we can penetrate a little deeper into the confusion that now reigns in order to find if wrong methods have not been responsible for it. I hope that the attempt I am about to make will lead some little way into the labyrinth, and will prove to be of general application.


Some men are fond of dogs and detest cats; others are devoted to cats and dislike dogs. Inquiring minds have delighted to ask in such cases, Why are cats attractive to one person, dogs to another? Why?

I do not think that this is the most fruitful way of stating the problem. I believe it to be more important to ask in what other respects lovers of dogs and of cats differ from one another. The habit, where one difference has been detected, of seeking for the associated differences, will prove extremely useful not only to pure morphology and to the science of character, but ultimately to physiognomy, the meeting-point of the two sciences. Aristotle pointed out long ago that many characteristics of animals do not vary independently of each other. Later on Cuvier, in particular, but also Geoffrey St. Hilaire and Darwin made a special study of these “correlations.” Occasionally the association of the characters is easy to understand on obvious utilitarian principles; where for instance the alimentary canal is adapted to the digestion of flesh, the jaws and body must be adapted for the capture of the prey. But association such as that between ruminant stomachs and the presence of cloven hoofs and of horns in the male, or of immunity to certain poisons with particular colouring of the hair, or among domestic pigeons of short bills with small feet, of long bills with large feet, or in cats of deafness with white fur and blue eyes—such are extremely difficult to refer to a single purpose.

I do not in the least mean to assert that science must be content with no more than the mere discovery of correlations. Such a position would be little better than that of a person who was satisfied by finding out that the placing of a penny in the slot of a particular automatic machine always was followed by the release of a box of matches. It would be making resignation the leading principle of metaphysics. We shall get a good deal further by such correlations, as, for instance, that of long hair and normal ovaries; but these are within the sphere of physiology, not of morphology. Probably the goal of an ideal morphology[62] could be reached best not by deductions from an attempted synthesis of observations on all the animals that creep on the land or swim in the sea (in the fashion of collectors of postage stamps), but by a complete study of a few organisms. Cuvier by a kind of guess-work used to reconstruct an entire animal from a single bone: full knowledge would enable us to do this in a complete, definite, qualitative and quantitative fashion. When such a knowledge has been attained, each single character will at once define and limit for us the possibilities of the other characters. Such a true and logical extension of the principle of correlation in morphology is really an application of the theory of functions to the living world. It would not exclude the study of causation, but limit it to its proper sphere. No doubt the “causes” of the correlations of organisms must be sought for in the idioplasm.

The possibility of applying the principle of correlated variation to psychology depends on differential psychology, the study of psychological variation. I believe, moreover, that a combination of study of the anatomical “habit,” and the mental characteristics will lead to a statical psycho-physics, a true science of physiognomy. The rule of investigation in all the three sciences will have to be that the question is posed as follows; given that two organisms are known to differ in one respect, in what other respects are they different? This will be the golden rule of discovery, and, following it, we shall no longer lose ourselves hopelessly in the dark maze that surrounds the answer to the question “Why?” As soon as we are informed as to one difference, we must diligently seek out the others, and the mere putting of the question in this form will directly bring about many discoveries.

The conscious pursuit of this rule of investigation will be particularly valuable in dealing with problems of the mind. Mental actions are not co-existent in the sense of physical characters, and it has been only by accidental and fortunate chances, when the phenomena have presented themselves in rapid succession in an individual, that discoveries of[63] correlation in mental phenomena have been noticed. The correlated mental phenomena may be very different in kind, and it is only when we know what we are after and deliberately seek for them that we shall be able to transcend the special difficulties of the kind of material we are investigating, and so secure for psychology what is comparatively simple in anatomy.



As an immediate application of the attempt to establish the principle of intermediate sexual forms by means of a differential psychology, we must now come to the question which it is the special object of this book to answer, theoretically and practically, I mean the woman question, theoretically so far as it is not a matter of ethnology and national economics, and practically in so far as it is not merely a matter of law and domestic economy, that is to say, of social science in the widest sense. The answer which this chapter is about to give must not be considered as final or as exhaustive. It is rather a necessary preliminary investigation, and does not go beyond deductions from the principles that I have established. It will deal with the exploration of individual cases and will not attempt to found on these any laws of general significance. The practical indications that it will give are not moral maxims that could or would guide the future; they are no more than technical rules abstracted from past cases. The idea of male and female types will not be discussed here; that is reserved for the second part of my book. This preliminary investigation will deal with only those charactero-logical conclusions from the principle of sexually intermediate forms that are of significance in the woman question.

The general direction of the investigation is easy to understand from what has already been stated. A woman’s demand for emancipation and her qualification for it are in direct proportion to the amount of maleness in her. The[65] idea of emancipation, however, is many-sided, and its indefiniteness is increased by its association with many practical customs which have nothing to do with the theory of emancipation. By the term emancipation of a woman I imply neither her mastery at home nor her subjection of her husband. I have not in mind the courage which enables her to go freely by night or by day unaccompanied in public places, or the disregard of social rules which prohibit bachelor women from receiving visits from men, or discussing or listening to discussions of sexual matters. I exclude from my view the desire for economic independence, the becoming fit for positions in technical schools, universities and conservatoires or teachers’ institutes. And there may be many other similar movements associated with the word emancipation which I do not intend to deal with. Emancipation, as I mean to discuss it, is not the wish for an outward equality with man, but what is of real importance in the woman question, the deep-seated craving to acquire man’s character, to attain his mental and moral freedom, to reach his real interests and his creative power. I maintain that the real female element has neither the desire nor the capacity for emancipation in this sense. All those who are striving for this real emancipation, all women who are truly famous and are of conspicuous mental ability, to the first glance of an expert reveal some of the anatomical characters of the male, some external bodily resemblance to a man. Those so-called “women” who have been held up to admiration in the past and present, by the advocates of woman’s rights, as examples of what women can do, have almost invariably been what I have described as sexually intermediate forms. The very first of the historical examples, Sappho herself, has been handed down to us as an example of the sexual invert, and from her name has been derived the accepted terms for perverted sexual relations between women. The contents of the second and third chapter thus at once become important with regard to the woman question. The characterological material at our disposal with regard to celebrated and emancipated[66] women is too vague to serve as the foundation of any satisfactory theory. What is wanted is some principle which would enable us to determine at what point between male and female such individuals were placed. My law of sexual affinity is such a principle. Its application to the facts of homo-sexuality showed that the woman who attracts and is attracted by other women is herself half male. Interpreting the historical evidence at our disposal in the light of this principle, we find that the degree of emancipation and the proportion of maleness in the composition of a woman are practically identical. Sappho was only the forerunner of a long line of famous women who were either homo-sexually or bisexually inclined. Classical scholars have defended Sappho warmly against the implication that there was anything more than mere friendship in her relations with her own sex, as if the accusation were necessarily degrading. In the second part of my book, however, I shall show reasons in favour of the possibility that homo-sexuality is a higher form than hetero-sexuality. For the present, it is enough to say that homo-sexuality in a woman is the outcome of her masculinity and presupposes a higher degree of development. Catherine II. of Russia, and Queen Christina of Sweden, the highly gifted although deaf, dumb and blind, Laura Bridgman, George Sand, and a very large number of highly gifted women and girls concerning whom I myself have been able to collect information, were partly bisexual, partly homo-sexual.

I shall now turn to other indications in the case of the large number of emancipated women regarding whom there is no evidence as to homo-sexuality, and I shall show that my attribution of maleness is no caprice, no egotistical wish of a man to associate all the higher manifestations of intelligence with the male sex. Just as homo-sexual or bisexual women reveal their maleness by their preference either for women or for womanish men, so hetero-sexual women display maleness in their choice of a male partner who is not preponderatingly male. The most famous of George Sand’s many affairs were those with de Musset, the most effeminate[67] and sentimental poet, and with Chopin, who might be described almost as the only female musician, so effeminate are his compositions.[5] Vittoria Colonna is less known because of her own poetic compositions than because of the infatuation for her shown by Michael Angelo, whose earlier friendships had been with youths. The authoress, Daniel Stern, was the mistress of Franz Liszt, whose life and compositions were extremely effeminate, and who had a dubious friendship with Wagner, the interpretation of which was made plain by his later devotion to King Ludwig II. of Bavaria. Madame de Staal, whose work on Germany is probably the greatest book ever produced by a woman, is supposed to have been intimate with August Wilhelm Schlegel, who was a homo-sexualist, and who had been tutor to her children. At certain periods of his life, the face of the husband of Clara Schumann might have been taken as that of a woman, and a good deal of his music, although certainly not all, was effeminate.

[5] Chopin’s portraits show his effeminacy plainly. Merimée describes George Sand as being as thin as a nail. At the first meeting of the two, the lady behaved like a man, and the man like a girl. He blushed when she looked at him and began to pay him compliments in her bass voice.

When there is no evidence as to the sexual relations of famous women, we can still obtain important conclusions from the details of their personal appearance. Such data support my general proposition.

George Eliot had a broad, massive forehead; her movements, like her expression, were quick and decided, and lacked all womanly grace. The face of Lavinia Fontana was intellectual and decided, very rarely charming; whilst that of Rachel Ruysch was almost wholly masculine. The biography of that original poetess, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, speaks of her wiry, unwomanly frame, and of her face as being masculine, and recalling that of Dante. The authoress and mathematician, Sonia Kowalevska, like Sappho, had an abnormally scanty growth of hair, still less than is the fashion amongst the poetesses and female[68] students of the present day. It would be a serious omission to forget Rosa Bonheur, the very distinguished painter; and it would be difficult to point to a single female trait in her appearance or character. The notorious Madame Blavatsky is extremely masculine in her appearance.

I might refer to many other emancipated women at present well known to the public, consideration of whom has provided me with much material for the support of my proposition that the true female element, the abstract “woman,” has nothing to do with emancipation. There is some historical justification for the saying “the longer the hair the smaller the brain,” but the reservations made in chap. ii. must be taken into account.

It is only the male element in emancipated women that craves for emancipation.

There is, then, a stronger reason than has generally been supposed for the familiar assumption of male pseudonyms by women writers. Their choice is a mode of giving expression to the inherent maleness they feel; and this is still more marked in the case of those who, like George Sand, have a preference for male attire and masculine pursuits. The motive for choosing a man’s name springs from the feeling that it corresponds with their own character much more than from any desire for increased notice from the public. As a matter of fact, up to the present, partly owing to interest in the sex question, women’s writings have aroused more interest, ceteris paribus, than those of men; and, owing to the issues involved, have always received a fuller consideration and, if there were any justification, a greater meed of praise than has been accorded to a man’s work of equal merit. At the present time especially many women have attained celebrity by work which, if it had been produced by a man, would have passed almost unnoticed. Let us pause and examine this more closely.

If we attempt to apply a standard taken from the names of men who are of acknowledged value in philosophy, science, literature and art, to the long list of women who have achieved some kind of fame, there will at once be a miserable[69] collapse. Judged in this way, it is difficult to grant any real degree of merit to women like Angelica Kaufmann or Madame Lebrun, Fernan Caballero or Hroswitha von Gandersheim, Mary Somerville or George Egerton, Elizabeth Barrett Browning or Sophie Germain, Anna Maria Schurmann or Sybilla Merian. I will not speak of names (such as that of Droste-Hülshoff) formerly so over-rated in the annals of feminism, nor will I refer to the measure of fame claimed for or by living women. It is enough to make the general statement that there is not a single woman in the history of thought, not even the most manlike, who can be truthfully compared with men of fifth or sixth-rate genius, for instance with Rückert as a poet, Van Dyck as a painter, or Scheirmacher as a philosopher. If we eliminate hysterical visionaries,[6] such as the Sybils, the Priestesses of Delphi, Bourignon, Kettenberg, Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon, Joanna Southcote, Beate Sturmin, St. Teresa, there still remain cases like that of Marie Bashkirtseff. So far as I can remember from her portrait, she at least seemed to be quite womanly in face and figure, although her forehead was rather masculine. But to any one who studies her pictures in the Salle des Etrangers in the Luxemburg Gallery in Paris, and compares them with those of her adored master, Bastien Lepage, it is plain that she simply had assimilated the style of the latter, as in Goethe’s “Elective Affinities” Ottilie acquired the handwriting of Eduard.

[6] Hysteria is the principal cause of much of the intellectual activity of many of the women above mentioned. But the usual view, that these cases are pathological, is too limited an interpretation, as I shall show in the second part of this work.

There remain the interesting and not infrequent cases where the talent of a clever family seems to reach its maximum in a female member of the family. But it is only talent that is transmitted in this way, not genius. Margarethe van Eyck and Sabina von Steinbach form the best illustrations of the kind of artists who, according to Ernst Guhl, an author with a great admiration for women-workers, “have been undoubtedly influenced in their choice of an[70] artistic calling by their fathers, mothers, or brothers. In other words, they found their incentive in their own families. There are two or three hundred of such cases on record, and probably many hundreds more could be added without exhausting the numbers of similar instances.” In order to give due weight to these statistics it may be mentioned that Guhl had just been speaking of “roughly, a thousand names of women artists known to us.”

This concludes my historical review of the emancipated women. It has justified the assertion that real desire for emancipation and real fitness for it are the outcome of a woman’s maleness.

The vast majority of women have never paid special attention to art or to science, and regard such occupations merely as higher branches of manual labour, or if they profess a certain devotion to such subjects, it is chiefly as a mode of attracting a particular person or group of persons of the opposite sex. Apart from these, a close investigation shows that women really interested in intellectual matters are sexually intermediate forms.

If it be the case that the desire for freedom and equality with man occurs only in masculine women, the inductive conclusion follows that the female principle is not conscious of a necessity for emancipation; and the argument becomes stronger if we remember that it is based on an examination of the accounts of individual cases and not on psychical investigation of an “abstract woman.”

If we now look at the question of emancipation from the point of view of hygiene (not morality) there is no doubt as to the harm in it. The undesirability of emancipation lies in the excitement and agitation involved. It induces women who have no real original capacity but undoubted imitative powers to attempt to study or write, from various motives, such as vanity or the desire to attract admirers. Whilst it cannot be denied that there are a good many women with a real craving for emancipation and for higher education, these set the fashion and are followed by a host of others who get up a ridiculous agitation to convince themselves of[71] the reality of their views. And many otherwise estimable and worthy wives use the cry to assert themselves against their husbands, whilst daughters take it as a method of rebelling against maternal authority. The practical outcome of the whole matter would be as follows; it being remembered that the issues are too mutable for the establishment of uniform rules or laws. Let there be the freest scope given to, and the fewest hindrances put in the way of all women with masculine dispositions who feel a psychical necessity to devote themselves to masculine occupations and are physically fit to undertake them. But the idea of making an emancipation party, of aiming at a social revolution, must be abandoned. Away with the whole “woman’s movement,” with its unnaturalness and artificiality and its fundamental errors.

It is most important to have done with the senseless cry for “full equality,” for even the malest woman is scarcely more than 50 per cent. male, and it is only to that male part of her that she owes her special capacity or whatever importance she may eventually gain. It is absurd to make comparisons between the few really intellectual women and one’s average experience of men, and to deduce, as has been done, even the superiority of the female sex. As Darwin pointed out, the proper comparison is between the most highly developed individuals of two stocks. “If two lists,” Darwin wrote in the “Descent of Man,” “were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music—comprising composition and performance, history, science, and philosophy, with half a dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear comparison.” Moreover, if these lists were carefully examined it would be seen that the women’s list would prove the soundness of my theory of the maleness of their genius, and the comparison would be still less pleasing to the champions of woman’s rights.

It is frequently urged that it is necessary to create a public feeling in favour of the full and unchecked mental development of women. Such an argument overlooks[72] the fact that “emancipation,” the “woman question,” “women’s rights movements,” are no new things in history, but have always been with us, although with varying prominence at different times in history. It also largely exaggerates the difficulties men place in the way of the mental development of women, especially at the present time.[7] Furthermore it neglects the fact that at the present time it is not the true woman who clamours for emancipation, but only the masculine type of woman, who misconstrues her own character and the motives that actuate her when she formulates her demands in the name of woman.

[7] There have been many celebrities amongst men who received practically no education—for instance, Robert Burns and Wolfram von Eschenbach; but there are no similar cases amongst women to compare with them.

As has been the case with every other movement in history, so also it has been with the contemporary woman’s movement. Its originators were convinced that it was being put forward for the first time, and that such a thing had never been thought of before. They maintained that women had hitherto been held in bondage and enveloped in darkness by man, and that it was high time for her to assert herself and claim her natural rights.

But the prototype of this movement, as of other movements, occurred in the earliest times. Ancient history and mediæval times alike give us instances of women who, in social relations and intellectual matters, fought for such emancipation, and of male and female apologists of the female sex. It is totally erroneous to suggest that hitherto women have had no opportunity for the undisturbed development of their mental powers.

Jacob Burckhardt, speaking of the Renaissance, says: “The greatest possible praise which could be given to the Italian women-celebrities of the time was to say that they were like men in brains and disposition!” The virile deeds of women recorded in the epics, especially those of Boiardo and Ariosto, show the ideal of the time. To call[73] a woman a “virago” nowadays would be a doubtful compliment, but it originally meant an honour.

Women were first allowed on the stage in the sixteenth century, and actresses date from that time. “At that period it was admitted that women were just as capable as men of embodying the highest possible artistic ideals.” It was the period when panegyrics on the female sex were rife; Sir Thomas More claimed for it full equality with the male sex, and Agrippa von Nettesheim goes so far as to represent women as superior to men! And yet this was all lost for the fair sex, and the whole question sank into the oblivion from which the nineteenth century recalled it.

Is it not very remarkable that the agitation for the emancipation of women seems to repeat itself at certain intervals in the world’s history, and lasts for a definite period?

It has been noticed that in the tenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth, and now again in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the agitation for the emancipation of women has been more marked, and the woman’s movement more vigorous than in the intervening periods. It would be premature to found a hypothesis on the data at our disposal, but the possibility of a vastly important periodicity must be borne in mind, of regularly recurring periods in which it may be that there is an excess of production of hermaphrodite and sexually intermediate forms. Such a state of affairs is not unknown in the animal kingdom.

According to my interpretation, such a period would be one of minimum “gonochorism,” cleavage of the sexes; and it would be marked, on the one hand, by an increased production of male women, and on the other, by a similar increase in female men. There is strong evidence in favour of such a periodicity; if it occurs it may be associated with the “secessionist taste,” which idealised tall, lanky women with flat chests and narrow hips. The enormous recent increase in a kind of dandified homo-sexuality may be due to the increasing effeminacy of the age, and the peculiarities of the Pre-Raphaelite movement may have a similar explanation.


The existence of such periods in organic life, comparable with stages in individual life, but extending over several generations, would, if proved, throw much light on many obscure points in human history, concerning which the so-called “historical solutions,” and especially the economic-materialistic views now in vogue have proved so futile. The history of the world from the biological standpoint has still to be written; it lies in the future. Here I can do little more than indicate the direction which future work should take.

Were it proved that at certain periods fewer hermaphrodite beings were produced, and at certain other periods more, it would appear that the rising and falling, the periodic occurrence and disappearance of the woman movement in an unfailing rhythm of ebb and flow, was one of the expressions of the preponderance of masculine and feminine women with the concomitant greater or lesser desire for emancipation.

Obviously I do not take into account in relation to the woman question the large number of womanly women, the wives of the prolific artisan class whom economic pressure forces to factory or field labour. The connection between industrial progress and the woman question is much less close than is usually realised, especially by the Social Democratic Group. The relation between the mental energy required for intellectual and for industrial pursuits is even less. France, for instance, although it can boast three of the most famous women, has never had a successful woman’s movement, and yet in no other European country are there so many really businesslike, capable women. The struggle for the material necessities of life has nothing to do with the struggle for intellectual development, and a sharp distinction must be made between the two.

The prospects of the movement for intellectual advance on the part of women are not very promising; but still less promising is another view, sometimes discussed in the same connection, the view that the human race is moving towards a complete sexual differentiation, a definite sexual dimorphism.


The latter view seems to me fundamentally untenable, because in the higher groups of the animal kingdom there is no evidence for the increase of sexual dimorphism. Worms and rotifers, many birds and the mandrills amongst the apes, have more advanced sexual dimorphism than man. On the view that such an increased sexual dimorphism were to be expected, the necessity for emancipation would gradually disappear as mankind became separated into the completely male and the completely female. On the other hand, the view that there will be periodical resurrections of the woman’s movement would reduce the whole affair to ridiculous impotence, making it only an ephemeral phase in the history of mankind.

A complete obliteration will be the fate of any emancipation movement which attempts to place the whole sex in a new relation to society, and to see in man its perpetual oppressor. A corps of Amazons might be formed, but as time went on the material for the corps would cease to occur. The history of the woman movement during the Renaissance and its complete disappearance contains a lesson for the advocates of women’s rights. Real intellectual freedom cannot be attained by an agitated mass; it must be fought for by the individual. Who is the enemy? What are the retarding influences?

The greatest, the one enemy of the emancipation of women is woman herself. It is left to the second part of my work to prove this.





“All that a man does is physiognomical of him.”

A free field for the investigation of the actual contrasts between the sexes is gained when we recognise that male and female, man and woman, must be considered only as types, and that the existing individuals, upon whose qualities there has been so much controversy, are mixtures of the types in different proportions. Sexually intermediate forms, which are the only actually existing individuals, were dealt with in a more or less schematic fashion in the first part of this book. Consideration of the general biological application of my theory was entered upon there; but now I have to make mankind the special subject of my investigation, and to show the defects of the results gained by the method of introspective analysis, as these results must be qualified by the universal existence of sexually intermediate conditions. In plants and animals the presence of hermaphroditism is an undisputed fact; but in them it appears more to be the juxtaposition of the male and female genital glands in the same individual than an actual fusion of the two sexes, more the co-existence of the two extremes than a quite neutral condition. In the case of human beings, however, it appears to be psychologically true that an individual, at least at one and the same moment, is always either man or woman. This is in harmony with the fact that each individual, whether superficially regarded as male or female, at once can recognise his sexual complement in[80] another individual “woman” or “man.”[8] This uni-sexuality is demonstrated by the fact, the theoretical value of which can hardly be over-estimated, that, in the relations of two homo-sexual men one always plays the physical and psychical roll of the man, and in cases of prolonged intercourse retains his male first-name, or takes one, whilst the other, who plays the part of the woman, either assumes a woman’s name or calls himself by it, or—and this is sufficiently characteristic—receives it from the former.

[8] I once heard a bi-sexual man exclaim, when he saw a bi-sexual actress with a slight tendency to a beard, a deep sonorous voice, and very little hair on her head, “There is a fine woman.” “Woman” means something different for every man or for every poet, and yet it is always the same, the sexual complement of their own constitution.

In the same way, in the sexual relations of two women, one always plays the male and the other the female part, a fact of deepest significance. Here we encounter, in a most unexpected fashion, the fundamental relationship between the male and female elements. In spite of all sexually intermediate conditions, human beings are always one of two things, either male or female. There is a deep truth underlying the old empirical sexual duality, and this must not be neglected, even although in concrete cases there is not a necessary harmony in the anatomical and morphological conditions. To realise this is to make a great step forward and to advance towards most important results. In this way we reach a conception of a real “being.” The task of the rest of this book is to set forth the significance of this “existence.” As, however, this existence is bound up with the most difficult side of characterology, it will be well, before setting out on our adventurous task, to attempt some preliminary orientation.

The obstacles in the way of characterological investigation are very great, if only on account of the complexity of the material. Often and often it happens that when the path through the jungle appears to have been cleared, it is lost again in impenetrable thickets, and it seems impossible[81] to recover it. But the greatest difficulty is that when the systematic method of setting out the complex material has been proceeded with and seems about to lead to good results, then at once objections of the most serious kind arise and almost forbid the attempt to make types. With regard to the differences between the sexes, for instance, the most useful theory that has been put forward is the existence of a kind of polarity, two extremes separated by a multitude of intermediate conditions. The characterological differences appear to follow this rule in a fashion not dissimilar to the suggestion of the Pythagorean, Alcmæon of Kroton, and recalling the recent chemical resurrection of Schelling’s “Natur-philosophie.”

But even if we are able to determine the exact point occupied by an individual on the line between two extremes, and multiply this determination by discovering it for a great many characters, would this complex system of co-ordinate lines really give us a conception of the individual? Would it not be a relapse to the dogmatic scepticism of Mach and Hume, were we to expect that an analysis could be a full description of the human individual? And in a fashion it would be a sort of Weismannistic doctrine of particulate determinants, a mosaic psychology.

This brings us in a new way directly against the old, over-ripe problem. Is there in a man a single and simple existence, and, if so, in what relation does that stand to the complex psychical phenomena? Has man, indeed, a soul? It is easy to understand why there has never been a science of character. The object of such a science, the character itself, is problematical. The problem of all metaphysics and theories of knowledge, the fundamental problem of psychology, is also the problem of characterology. At the least, characterology will have to take into account the theory of knowledge itself with regard to its postulates, claims, and objects, and will have to attempt to obtain information as to all the differences in the nature of men.

This unlimited science of character will be something more than the “psychology of individual differences,” the[82] renewed insistence upon which as a goal of science we owe to L. William Stern; it will be more than a sort of polity of the motor and sensory reactions of the individual, and in so far will not sink so low as the usual “results” of the modern experimental psychologists, which, indeed, are little more than statistics of physical experiments. It will hope to retain some kind of contact with the actualities of the soul which the modern school of psychology seems to have forgotten, and will not have to fear that it will have to offer to ardent students of psychology no more than profound studies of words of one syllable, or of the results on the mind of small doses of caffein. It is a lamentable testimony to the insufficiency of modern psychology that distinguished men of science, who have not been content with the study of perception and association, have yet had to hand over to poetry the explanation of such fundamental facts as heroism and self-sacrifice.

No science will become shallow so quickly as psychology if it deserts philosophy. Its separation from philosophy is the true cause of its impotency. Psychology will have to discover that the doctrine of sensations is practically useless to it. The empirical psychologists of to-day, in their search for the development of character, begin with investigation of touch and the common sensations. But the analysis of sensations is simply a part of the physiology of sense, and any attempt to bring it into relation with the real problems of psychology must fail.

It is a misfortune of the scientific psychology of the day that it has been influenced so deeply by two physicists, Fechner and von Helmholtz, with the result that it has failed to recognise that only the external and not the internal world can be reconstructed from sensations. The two most intelligent of the empirical psychologists of recent times, William James and R. Avenarius, have felt almost instinctively that psychology cannot really rest upon sensations of the skin and muscles, although, indeed, all modern psychology does depend upon study of sensations. Dilthey did not lay enough stress on his argument that existing[83] psychology does nothing towards problems that are eminently psychological, such as murder, friendship, loneliness, and so forth. If anything is to be gained in the future there must be a demand for a really psychological psychology, and its first battle-cry must be: “Away with the study of sensations.”

In attempting the broad and deep characterology that I have indicated, I must set out with a conception of character itself as a unit existence. As in the fifth chapter of Part I., I tried to show that behind the fleeting physiological changes there is a permanent morphological form, so in characterology we must seek the permanent, existing something through the fleeting changes.

The character, however, is not something seated behind the thoughts and feelings of the individual, but something revealing itself in every thought and feeling. “All that a man does is physiognomical of him.” Just as every cell bears within it the characters of the whole individual, so every psychical manifestation of a man involves not merely a few little characteristic traits, but his whole being, of which at one moment one quality, at another moment another quality, comes into prominence.

Just as no sensation is ever isolated, but is set in a complete field of sensation, the world of the Ego, of which now one part and now the other, stands out more plainly, so the whole man is manifest in every moment of the psychical life, although, now one side, now the other, is more visible. This existence, manifest in every moment of the psychical life, is the object of characterology. By accepting this, there will be completed for the first time a real psychology, existing psychology, in manifest contradiction of the meaning of the word, having concerned itself almost entirely with the motley world, the changing field of sensations, and overlooked the ruling force of the Ego. The new psychology would be a doctrine of the whole, and would become fresh and fertile inasmuch as it would combine the complexity of the subject and of the object, two spheres which can be separated only in abstraction. Many disputed points of[84] psychology (perhaps the most important) would be settled by an application of such characterology, as that would explain why so many different views have been held on the same subject. The same psychical process appears from time to time in different aspects, merely because it takes tone and colouring from the individual character. And so it well may be that the doctrine of differential psychology may receive its completion in the domain of general psychology.

The confusion of characterology with the doctrine of the soul has been a great misfortune, but because this has occurred in actual history, is no reason why it should continue. The absolute sceptic differs only in a word from the absolute dogmatist. The man who dogmatically accepts the position of absolute phenomenalism, believing it to relieve him of all the burden of proof that the mere entering on another standpoint would itself entail, will be ready to dismiss without proof the existence which characterology posits, and which has nothing to do with a metaphysical “essence.”

Characterology has to defend itself against two great enemies. The one assumes that character is something ultimate, and as little the subject-matter of science as is the art of a painter. The other looks on the sensations as the only realities, on sensation as the ground-work of the world of the Ego, and denies the existence of character. What is left for characterology, the science of character? On the one hand, there are those who cry, “De individuo nulla scientia,” and “Individuum est ineffabile”; on the other hand, there are those sworn to science, who maintain that science has nothing to do with character.

In such a cross-fire, characterology has to take its place, and it may well be feared that it may share the fate of its sisters and remain a trivial subject like physiognomy or a diviner’s art like graphology.



“Woman does not betray her secret.”

“From a woman you can learn nothing of women.”

By psychology, as a whole, we generally understand the psychology of the psychologists, and these are exclusively men! Never since human history began have we heard of a female psychology! None the less the psychology of woman constitutes a chapter as important with regard to general psychology as that of the child. And inasmuch as the psychology of man has always been written with unconscious but definite reference to man, general psychology has become simply the psychology of men, and the problem of the psychology of the sexes will be raised as soon as the existence of a separate psychology of women has been realised. Kant said that in anthropology the peculiarities of the female were more a study for the philosopher than those of the male, and it may be that the psychology of the sexes will disappear in a psychology of the female.

None the less the psychology of women will have to be written by men. It is easy to suggest that such an attempt is foredoomed to failure, inasmuch as the conclusions must be drawn from an alien sex and cannot be verified by introspection. Granted the possibility that woman could describe herself with sufficient exactness, it by no means follows that she would be interested in the sides of her[86] character that would interest us. Moreover, even if she could and would explore herself fully, it is doubtful if she could bring herself to talk about herself. I shall show that these three improbabilities spring from the same source in the nature of woman.

This investigation, therefore, lays itself open to the charge that no one who is not female can be in a position to make accurate statements about women. In the meantime the objection must stand, although, later, I shall have more to say of it. I will say only this much—up to now, and is this only a consequence of man’s suppression?—we have no account from a pregnant woman of her sensations and feelings, neither in poetry nor in memoirs, nor even in a gynæcological treatise. This cannot be on account of excessive modesty, for, as Schopenhauer rightly pointed out, there is nothing so far removed from a pregnant woman as shame as to her condition. Besides, there would still remain to them the possibility of, after the birth, confessing from memory the psychical life during the time; if a sense of shame had prevented them from such communication during the time, it would be gone afterwards, and the varied interests of such a disclosure ought to have induced some one to break silence. But this has not been done. Just as we have always been indebted to men for really trustworthy expositions of the psychical side of women, so also it is to men that we owe descriptions of the sensations of pregnant women. What is the meaning of this?

Although in recent times we have had revelations of the psychical life of half-women and three-quarter women, it is practically only about the male side of them that they have written. We have really only one clue; we have to rely upon the female element in men. The principle of sexually intermediate forms is the authority for what we know about women through men. I shall define and complete the application of this principle later on. In its indefinite form, the principle would seem to imply that the most womanish man would be best able to describe woman, and that the[87] description might be completed by the real woman. This, however, is extremely doubtful. I must point out that a man can have a considerable proportion of femaleness in him without necessarily, to the same extent, being able to portray intermediate forms. It is the more remarkable that the male can give a faithful account of the nature of the female; since, indeed, it must be admitted from the extreme maleness of successful portrayers of women that we cannot dispute the existence of this capacity in the abstract male; this power of the male over the female is a most remarkable problem, and we shall have to consider it later. For the present we must take it as a fact, and proceed to inquire in what lies the actual psychological difference between male and female.

It has been sought to attribute the fundamental difference of the sexes to the existence of a stronger sexual impulse in man, and to derive everything else from that. Apart from the question as to whether the phrase “sexual instinct” denotes a simple and real thing, it is to be doubted if there is proof of such a difference. It is not more probable than the ancient theories as to the influence of the “unsatisfied womb” in the female, or of the “semen retentum” in men, and we have to be on guard against the current tendency to refer nearly everything to sublimated sexual instinct. No systematic theory could be founded on a generalisation so vague. It is most improbable that the greater or lesser strength of the sexual impulse determines other qualities.

As a matter of fact, the statements that men have stronger sexual impulses than women, or that women have them stronger than men, are false. The strength of the sexual impulse in a man does not depend upon the proportion of masculinity in his composition, and in the same way the degree of femininity of a woman does not determine her sexual impulse. These differences in mankind still await classification.

Contrary to the general opinion, there is no difference in the total sexual impulses of the sexes. However, if we examine the matter in respect to the two component forces[88] into which Albert Moll analysed the impulse, we shall find that a difference does exist. These forces may be termed the “liberating” and the “uniting” impulses. The first appears in the form of the discomfort caused by the accumulation of ripe sexual cells; the second is the desire of the ripe individual for sexual completion. Both impulses are possessed by the male; in the female only the latter is present. The anatomy and the physiological processes of the sexes bear out the distinction.

In this connection it may be noted that only the most male youths are addicted to masturbation, and although it is often disputed, I believe that similar vices occur only among the maler of women, and are absent from the female nature.

I must now discuss the “uniting” impulse of woman, for that plays the chief, if not the sole part in her sexuality. But it must not be supposed that this is greater in one sex than the other. Any such idea comes from a confusion between the desire for a thing and the stimulus towards the active part in securing what is desired. Throughout the animal and plant kingdoms, the male reproductive cells are the motile, active agents, which move through space to seek out the passive female cells, and this physiological difference is sometimes confused with the actual wish for, or stimulus to, sexual union. And to add to the confusion, it happens, in the animal kingdom particularly, that the male, in addition to the directly sexual stimulus, has the instinct to pursue and bodily capture the female, whilst the latter has only the passive part to be taken possession of. These differences of habit must not be mistaken for real differences of desire.

It can be shown, moreover, that woman is sexually much more excitable (not more sensitive) physiologically than man.

The condition of sexual excitement is the supreme moment of a woman’s life. The woman is devoted wholly to sexual matters, that is to say, to the spheres of begetting and of reproduction. Her relations to her husband and children complete her life, whereas the male is something more than[89] sexual. In this respect, rather than in the relative strength of the sexual impulses, there is a real difference between the sexes. It is important to distinguish between the intensity with which sexual matters are pursued and the proportion of the total activities of life that are devoted to them and to their accessory cares. The greater absorption of the human female by the sphere of sexual activities is the most significant difference between the sexes.

The female, moreover, is completely occupied and content with sexual matters, whilst the male is interested in much else, in war and sport, in social affairs and feasting, in philosophy and science, in business and politics, in religion and art. I do not mean to imply that this difference has always existed, as I do not think that important. As in the case of the Jewish question, it may be said that the Jews have their present character because it has been forced upon them, and that at one time they were different. It is now impossible to prove this, and we may leave it to those who believe in the modification by the environment to accept it. The historical evidence is equivocal on the point. In the question of women, we have to take people as they exist to-day. If, however, we happen to come on attributes that could not possibly have been grafted on them from without, we may believe that such have always been with them. Of contemporary women at least one thing is certain. Apart from an exception to be noted in chap. xii., it is certain that when the female occupies herself with matters outside the interests of sex, it is for the man that she loves or by whom she wishes to be loved. She takes no real interest in the things for themselves. It may happen that a real female learns Latin; if so, it is for some such purpose as to help her son who is at school. Desire for a subject and ability for it, interest in it, and the facility for acquiring it, are usually proportional. He who has slight muscles has no desire to wield an axe; those without the faculty for mathematics do not desire to study that subject. Talent seems to be rare and feeble in the real female (although possibly it is merely that the dominant sexuality prevents its development), with[90] the result that woman has no power of forming the combinations which, although they do not actually make the individuality, certainly shape it.

Corresponding to true women, there are extremely female men who are to be found always in the apartments of the women, and who are interested in nothing but love and sexual matters. Such men, however, are not the Don Juans.

The female principle is, then, nothing more than sexuality; the male principle is sexual and something more. This difference is notable in the different way in which men and women enter the period of puberty. In the case of the male the onset of puberty is a crisis; he feels that something new and strange has come into his being, that something has been added to his powers and feelings independently of his will. The physiological stimulus to sexual activity appears to come from outside his being, to be independent of his will, and many men remember the disturbing event throughout their after lives. The woman, on the other hand, not only is not disturbed by the onset of puberty, but feels that her importance has been increased by it. The male, as a youth, has no longing for the onset of sexual maturity; the female, from the time when she is still quite a young girl, looks forward to that time as one from which everything is to be expected. Man’s arrival at maturity is frequently accompanied by feelings of repulsion and disgust; the young female watches the development of her body at the approach of puberty with excitement and impatient delight. It seems as if the onset of puberty were a side path in the normal development of man, whereas in the case of woman it is the direct conclusion. There are few boys approaching puberty to whom the idea that they would marry (in the general sense, not a particular girl) would not appear ridiculous, whilst the smallest girl is almost invariably excited and interested in the question of her future marriage. For such reasons a woman assigns positive value only to her period of maturity in her own case and in that of other women; in childhood, as in old age, she has no real relation to the world. The thought of her childhood is for her, later on,[91] only the remembrance of her stupidity; she faces the approach of old age with dislike and abhorrence. The only real memories of her childhood are connected with sex, and these fade away in the intensely greater significance of her maturity. The passage of a woman from virginity is the great dividing point of her life, whilst the corresponding event in the case of a male has very little relation to the course of his life.

Woman is only sexual, man is partly sexual, and this difference reveals itself in various ways. The parts of the male body by stimulation of which sexuality is excited are limited in area, and are strongly localised, whilst in the case of the woman, they are diffused over her whole body, so that stimulation may take place almost from any part. When in the second chapter of Part I., I explained that sexuality is distributed over the whole body in both sexes, I did not mean that, therefore, the sense organs, through which the definite impulses are stimulated, were equally distributed. There are, certainly, areas of greater excitability, even in the case of the woman, but there is not, as in the man, a sharp division between the sexual areas and the body generally.

The morphological isolation of the sexual area from the rest of the body in the case of man, may be taken as symbolical of the relation of sex to his whole nature. Just as there is a contrast between the sexual and the sexless parts of a man’s body, so there is a time-change in his sexuality. The female is always sexual, the male is sexual only intermittently. The sexual instinct is always active in woman (as to the apparent exceptions to this sexuality of women, I shall have to speak later on), whilst in man it is at rest from time to time. And thus it happens that the sexual impulse of the male is eruptive in character and so appears stronger. The real difference between the sexes is that in the male the desire is periodical, in the female continuous.

This exclusive and persisting sexuality of the female has important physical and psychical consequences. As the sexuality of the male is an adjunct to his life, it is possible for him to keep it in the physiological background, and out[92] of his consciousness. And so a man can lay aside his sexuality and not have to reckon with it. A woman has not her sexuality limited to periods of time, nor to localised organs. And so it happens that a man can know about his sexuality, whilst a woman is unconscious of it and can in all good faith deny it, because she is nothing but sexuality, because she is sexuality itself.

It is impossible for women, because they are only sexual, to recognise their sexuality, because recognition of anything requires duality. With man it is not only that he is not merely sexual, but anatomically and physiologically he can “detach” himself from it. That is why he has the power to enter into whatever sexual relations he desires; if he likes he can limit or increase such relations; he can refuse or assent to them. He can play the part of a Don Juan or a monk. He can assume which he will. To put it bluntly, man possesses sexual organs; her sexual organs possess woman.

We may, therefore, deduce from the previous arguments that man has the power of consciousness of his sexuality and so can act against it, whilst the woman appears to be without this power. This implies, moreover, that there is greater differentiation in man, as in him the sexual and the unsexual parts of his nature are sharply separated. The possibility or impossibility of being aware of a particular definite object is, however, hardly a part of the customary meaning of the word consciousness, which is generally used as implying that if a being is conscious he can be conscious of any object. This brings me to consider the nature of the female consciousness, and I must take a long détour to consider it.



Before proceeding to consider the main difference between the psychical life of the sexes, so far as the latter takes subjective and objective things as its contents, a few psychological soundings must be taken, and conceptions formulated. As the views and principles of prevailing systems of psychology have been formed without consideration of the subject of this book, it is not surprising that they contain little that I am able to use. At present there is no psychology but many psychologists, and it would really be a matter of caprice on my part to choose any particular school and attempt to apply its principles to my subject. I shall rather try to lay down a few useful principles on my own account.

The endeavours to reach a comprehensive and unifying conception of the whole psychical process by referring it to a single principle have been particularly evident in the relations between perceptions and sensations suggested by different psychologists. Herbart, for instance, derived the sensations from elementary ideas, whilst Horwicz supposed them to come from perceptions. Most modern psychologists have insisted that such monistic attempts must be fruitless. None the less there was some truth in the view.

To discover this truth, however, it is necessary to make a distinction that has been overlooked by modern workers. We must distinguish between the perceiving of a perception, feeling of a sensation, thinking a thought from the later repetitions of the process in which recognition plays a[94] part. In many cases this distinction is of fundamental importance.

Every simple, clear, plastic perception and every distinct idea, before it could be put into words, passes through a stage (which may indeed be very short) of indistinctness. So also in the case of association; for a longer or shorter time before the elements about to be grouped have actually come together, there is a sort of vague, generalised expectation or presentiment of association. Leibnitz, in particular, has worked at kindred processes, and I believe them to underlie the attempts of Herbart and Horwicz.

The common acceptance of pleasure and pain as the fundamental sensations, even with Wundt’s addition of the sensations of tension and relaxation, of rest and stimulation, makes the division of psychical phenomena into sensations and perceptions too narrow for due treatment of the vague preliminary stages to which I have referred. I shall go back therefore to the widest classification of psychical phenomena that I know of, that of Avenarius into “elements” and “characters.” The word “character” in this connection, of course, has nothing to do with the subject of characterology.

Avenarius added to the difficulty of applying his theories by his use of a practically new terminology (which is certainly most striking and indispensable for some of the new views he expounded). But what stands most in the way of accepting some of his conclusions is his desire to derive his psychology from the physiology of the brain, a physiology which he evolved himself out of his inner consciousness with only a slight general acquaintance with actual biological facts. The psychological, or second part of his “Critique of Pure Experience,” was really the source from which he derived the first or physiological part, with the result that the latter appears to its readers as an account of some discovery in Atlantis. Because of these difficulties I shall give here a short account of the system of Avenarius, as I find it useful for my thesis.

An “Element” in the sense of Avenarius represents what[95] the usual psychology terms a perception, or the content of a perception, what Schopenhauer called a presentation, what in England is called an “impression” or “idea,” the “thing,” “fact,” or “object” of ordinary language; and the word is used independently of the presence or absence of a special sense-organ stimulation—a most important and novel addition. In the sense of Avenarius, and for our purpose, it is a matter of indifference to the terminology how far what is called “analysis” takes place, the whole tree may be taken as the “element,” or each single leaf, or each hair, or (where most people would stop), the colours, sizes, weights, temperatures, resistances, and so forth. Still, the analysis may go yet further, and the colour of the leaf may be taken as merely the resultant of its quality, intensity, luminosity, and so forth, these being the elements. Or we may go still further and take modern ultimate conceptions reaching units incapable of sub-division.

In the sense of Avenarius, then, elements are such ideas as “green,” “blue,” “cold,” “warm,” “soft,” “hard,” “sweet,” “bitter,” and their “character” is the particular kind of quality with which they appear, not merely their pleasantness or unpleasantness, but also such modes of presentation as “surprising,” “expected,” “novel,” “indifferent,” “recognised,” “known,” “actual,” “doubtful,” categories which Avenarius first recognised as being psychological. For instance, what I guess, believe, or know is an “element”; the fact that I guess it, not believe it or know it, is the “character” in which it presents itself psychologically (not logically).

Now there is a stage in mental activity in which this sub-division of psychical phenomena cannot be made, which is too early for it. All “elements” at their first appearance are merged with the floating background, the whole being vaguely tinged by “character.” To follow my meaning, think of what takes place, when for the first time at a distance one sees something in the landscape, such as a shrub or a heap of wood, at the moment when one does not yet know what “it” is.


At this moment “element” and “character” are absolutely indistinguishable (they are always inseparable as Petzoldt ingeniously pointed out), so improving the original statement of Avenarius.

In a dense crowd I perceive, for instance, a face which attracts me across the swaying mass by its expression. I have no idea what the face is like, and should be quite unable to describe it or give an idea of it; but it has appealed to me in the most disturbing manner, and I find myself asking with keen curiosity, “Where have I seen that face before?”

A man may see the head of a woman for a moment, and this may make a very strong impression on him, and yet he may be unable to say exactly what he has seen, or, for instance, be able to remember the colour of her hair. The retina must be exposed to the object sufficiently long, if only a fraction of a second, for a photographic impression to be made.

If one looks at any object from a considerable distance one has at first only the vaguest impression of its outlines; and as one comes nearer and sees the details more clearly, lively sensations, at first lost in the general mass, are received. Think, for instance, of the first general impression of, say, the sphenoid bone disarticulated from a skull, or of many pictures seen a little too closely or a little too far away. I myself have a remembrance of having had strong impressions from sonatas of Beethoven before I knew anything of the musical notes. Avenarius and Petzoldt have overlooked the fact that the coming into consciousness of the elements is accompanied by a kind of secretion of characterisation.

Some of the simple experiments of physiological psychology illustrate the point to which I have been referring. If one stays in a dark room until the eye has adapted itself to the absence of light, and then for a second subjects oneself to a ray of coloured light, a sensation of illumination will be received, although it is impossible to recognise the quality of the illumination; something has been[97] perceived, but what the something is cannot be apprehended unless the stimulation lasts a definite time.

In the same way every scientific discovery, every technical invention, every artistic creation passes through a preliminary phase of indistinctness. The process is similar to the series of impressions that would be got as a statue was gradually unwrapped from a series of swathings. The same kind of sequence occurs, although, perhaps, in a very brief space of time, when one is trying to recall a piece of music. Every thought is preceded by a kind of half-thought, a condition in which vague geometrical figures, shifting masks, a swaying and indistinct background hover in the mind. The beginning and the end of the whole process, which I may term “clarification,” are what take place when a short-sighted person proceeds to look through properly adapted lenses.

Just as this process occurs in the life of the individual (and he, indeed, may die long before it is complete), so it occurs in history. Definite scientific conceptions are preceded by anticipations. The process of clarification is spread over many generations. There were ancient and modern vague anticipations of the theory of Darwin and Lamarck, anticipations which we are now apt to overvalue. Mayer and Helmholtz had their predecessors, and Goethe and Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps two of the most many-sided intellects known to us, anticipated in a vague way many of the conclusions of modern science. The whole history of thought is a continuous “clarification,” a more and more accurate description or realisation of details. The enormous number of stages between light and darkness, the minute gradations of detail that follow each other in the development of thought can be realised best if one follows historically some complicated modern piece of knowledge, such as, for instance, the theory of elliptical functions.

The process of clarification may be reversed, and the act of forgetting is such a reversal. This may take a considerable time, and is usually noticed only by accident at some point or other of its course. The process is similar to the[98] gradual obliteration of well-made roads, for the maintenance of which no provision has been made. The faint anticipations of a thought are very like the faint recollections of it, and the latter gradually become blurred as in the case of a neglected road over the boundaries of which animals stray, slowly obliterating it. In this connection a practical rule for memorising, discovered and applied by a friend of mine, is interesting. It generally happens that if one wants to learn, say, a piece of music, or a section from the history of philosophy, one has to go over parts of it again and again. The problem was, how long should the intervals be between these successive attempts to commit to memory? The answer was that they should not be so long as to make it possible to take a fresh interest in the subject again, to be interested and curious about it. If the interval has produced that state of mind, then the process of clarification must begin from the beginning again. The rather popular physiological theory of Sigismund Exner as to the formation of “paths” in the nervous system may perhaps be taken as a physical parallel of the process of clarification. According to the theory, the nerves, or rather the fibrils, make paths easy for the stimulations to travel along, if these stimulations last sufficiently long or are repeated sufficiently often. So also in the case of forgetting; what happens is that these paths or processes of the nerve-cells atrophy from disuse. Avenarius would have explained the above processes by his theory of the articulation of the fibres of the brain, but his physical doctrine was rather too crude and too simple for application to psycho-physics. None the less his conception of articulation or jointing is both convenient and appropriate in its application to the process of clarification, and I shall employ it in that connection.

The process of clarification must be traced thoroughly in order to realise its importance, but for the moment, it is important to consider only the initial stage. The distinction of Avenarius between “element” and “character,” which later on will become evident in a process of clarification, is not applicable to the very earliest moments of the process.[99] It is necessary to coin a name for those minds to which the duality of element and character becomes appreciable at no stage of the process. I propose for psychical data at this earliest stage of their existence the word Henid (from the Greek ἑν, because in them it is impossible to distinguish perception and sensation as two analytically separable factors, and because, therefore, there is no trace of duality in them).

Naturally the “henid” is an abstract conception and may not occur in the absolute form. How often psychical data in human beings actually stand at this absolute extreme of undifferentiation is uncertain and unimportant; but the theory does not need to concern itself with the possibility of such an extreme. A common example from what has happened to all of us may serve to illustrate what a henid is. I may have a definite wish to say something particular, and then something distracts me, and the “it” I wanted to say or think has gone. Later on, by some process of association, the “it” is quite suddenly reproduced, and I know at once that it was what was on my tongue, but, so to speak, in a more perfect stage of development.

I fear lest some one may expect me to describe exactly what I mean by “henid.” The wish can come only from a misconception. The very idea of a henid forbids its description; it is merely a something. Later on identification will come with the complete articulation of the contents of the henid; but the henid is not the whole of this detailed content, but is distinguished from it by a lower grade of consciousness, by an absence of, so to speak, relief, by a blending of the die and the impression, by the absence of a central point in the field of vision.

And so one cannot describe particular henids; one can only be conscious of their existence.

None the less henids are things as vital as elements and characters. Each henid is an individual and can be distinguished from other henids. Later on I shall show that probably the mental data of early childhood (certainly of the first fourteen months) are all henids, although perhaps not in the absolute sense. Throughout childhood these[100] data do not reach far from the henid stage; in adults there is always a certain process of development going on. Probably the perceptions of some plants and animals are henids. In the case of mankind the development from the henid to the completely differentiated perception and idea is always possible, although such an ideal condition may seldom be attained. Whilst expression in words is impossible in the case of the absolute henid, as words imply articulated thoughts, there are also in the highest stages of the intellect possible to man some things still unclarified and, therefore, unspeakable.

The theory of henids will help in the old quarrel between the spheres of perception and sensation, and will replace by a developmental conception the ideas of element and character which Avenarius and Petzoldt deduced from the process of clarification. It is only when the elements become distinct that they can be distinguished from the characters. Man is disposed to humours and sentimentalities only so long as the contours of his ideas are vague; when he sees things in the light instead of the dark his process of thinking will become different.

Now what is the relation between the investigation I have been making and the psychology of the sexes? What is the distinction between the male and the female (and to reach this has been the object of my digression) in the process of clarification?

Here is my answer:

The male has the same psychical data as the female, but in a more articulated form; where she thinks more or less in henids, he thinks in more or less clear and detailed presentations in which the elements are distinct from the tones of feeling. With the woman, thinking and feeling are identical, for man they are in opposition. The woman has many of her mental experiences as henids, whilst in man these have passed through a process of clarification. Woman is sentimental, and knows emotion but not mental excitement.

The greater articulation of the mental data in man is reflected in the more marked character of his body and[101] face, as compared with the roundness and vagueness of the woman. In the same connection it is to be remembered that, notwithstanding the popular belief, the senses of the male are much more acute than those of the woman. The only exception is the sense of touch, an exception of great interest to which I shall refer later. It has been established, moreover, that the sensibility to pain is much more acute in man, and we have now learned to distinguish between that and the tactile sensations.

A weaker sensibility is likely to retard the passage of mental data through the process of clarification, although we cannot quite take it for granted that it must be so. Perhaps a more trustworthy proof of the less degree of articulation in the mental data of the woman may be drawn from consideration of the greater decision in the judgments made by men, although indeed it may be the case that this distinction rests on a deeper basis. It is certainly the case that whilst we are still near the henid stage we know much more certainly what a thing is not than what it is. What Mach has called instinctive experience depends on henids. While we are near the henid stage we think round about a subject, correct ourselves at each new attempt, and say that that was not yet the right word. Naturally that condition implies uncertainty and indecision in judgment. Judgment comes towards the end of the process of clarification; the act of judgment is in itself a departure from the henid stage.

The most decisive proof for the correctness of the view that attributes henids to woman and differentiated thoughts to man, and that sees in this a fundamental sexual distinction, lies in the fact that wherever a new judgment is to be made, (not merely something already settled to be put into proverbial form) it is always the case that the female expects from man the clarification of her data, the interpretation of her henids. It is almost a tertiary sexual character of the male, and certainly it acts on the female as such, that she expects from him the interpretation and illumination of her thoughts. It is from this reason that so many girls say that they could only marry, or, at least, only love a man who was[102] cleverer than themselves; that they would be repelled by a man who said that all they thought was right, and did not know better than they did. In short, the woman makes it a criterion of manliness that the man should be superior to herself mentally, that she should be influenced and dominated by the man; and this in itself is enough to ridicule all ideas of sexual equality.

The male lives consciously, the female lives unconsciously. This is certainly the necessary conclusion for the extreme cases. The woman receives her consciousness from the man; the function to bring into consciousness what was outside it is a sexual function of the typical man with regard to the typical woman, and is a necessary part of his ideal completeness.

And now we are brought up against the problem of talent; the whole modern woman question appears to be resolving itself into a dispute as to whether men or women are more highly gifted. As the question is generally propounded there is no attempt to distinguish between the pure types of sex; the conclusions with regard to these that I have been able to set forth have an important bearing on the answer to the question.



There has been so much written about the nature of genius that, to avoid misunderstanding, it will be better to make a few general remarks before going into the subject.

And the first thing to do is to settle the question of talent. Genius and talent are nearly always connected in the popular idea, as if the first were a higher, or the highest, grade of the latter, and as if a man of very high and varied talents might be a sort of intermediate between the two. This view is entirely erroneous. Even if there were different degrees or grades of genius, they would have absolutely nothing to do with so-called “talent.” A talent, for instance the mathematical talent, may be possessed by some one in a very high degree from birth; and he will be able to master the most difficult problems of that science with ease; but for this he will require no genius, which is the same as originality, individuality, and a condition of general productiveness.

On the other hand, there are men of great genius who have shown no special talent in any marked degree; for instance, men like Novalis or Jean Paul. Genius is distinctly not the superlative of talent; there is a world-wide difference between the two; they are of absolutely unlike nature; they can neither be measured by one another or compared to each other.

Talent is hereditary; it may be the common possession of a whole family (e.g., the Bach family); genius is not transmitted; it is never diffused, but is strictly individual.

Many ill-balanced people, and in particular women,[104] regard genius and talent as identical. Women, indeed, have not the faculty of appreciating genius, although this is not the common view. Any extravagance that distinguishes a man from other men appeals equally to their sexual ambition; they confuse the dramatist with the actor, and make no distinction between the virtuoso and the artist. For them the talented man is the man of genius, and Nietzsche is the type of what they consider genius. What has been called the French type of thought, which so strongly appeals to them, has nothing to do with the highest possibilities of the mind. Great men take themselves and the world too seriously to become what is called merely intellectual. Men who are merely intellectual are insincere; they are people who have never really been deeply engrossed by things and who do not feel an overpowering desire for production. All that they care about is that their work should glitter and sparkle like a well-cut stone, not that it should illuminate anything. They are more occupied with what will be said of what they think than by the thoughts themselves. There are men who are willing to marry a woman they do not care about merely because she is admired by other men. Such a relation exists between many men and their thoughts. I cannot help thinking of one particular living author, a blaring, outrageous person, who fancies that he is roaring when he is only snarling. Unfortunately, Nietzsche (however superior he is to the man I have in mind) seems to have devoted himself chiefly to what he thought would shock the public. He is at his best when he is most unmindful of effect. His was the vanity of the mirror, saying to what it reflects, “See how faithfully I show you your image.” In youth when a man is not yet certain of himself he may try to secure his own position by jostling others. Great men, however, are painfully aggressive only from necessity. They are not like a girl who is most pleased about a new dress because she knows that it will annoy her friends.

Genius! genius! how much mental disturbance and discomfort, hatred and envy, jealousy and pettiness, has it not[105] aroused in the majority of men, and how much counterfeit and tinsel has the desire for it not occasioned?

I turn gladly from the imitations of genius to the thing itself and its true embodiment. But where can I begin? All the qualities that go to make genius are in so intimate connection that to begin with any one of them seems to lead to premature conclusions.

All discussions on the nature of genius are either biological-clinical, and serve only to show the absurd presumption of present knowledge of this kind in its hope to solve a problem so difficult; or they descend from the heights of a metaphysical system for the sole purpose of including genius in their purview. If the road that I am about to take does not lead to every goal at once, it is only because that is the nature of roads.

Consider how much deeper a great poet can reach into the nature of man than an average person. Think of the extraordinary number of characters depicted by Shakespeare or Euripides, or the marvellous assortment of human beings that fill the pages of Zola. After the Penthesilea, Heinrich von Kleist created Kätchen von Heilbronn, and Michael Angelo embodied from his imagination the Delphic Sibyls and the Leda. There have been few men so little devoted to art as Kant and Schelling, and yet these have written most profoundly and truly about it. In order to depict a man one must understand him, and to understand him one must be like him; in order to portray his psychological activities one must be able to reproduce them in oneself. To understand a man one must have his nature in oneself. One must be like the mind one tries to grasp. It takes a thief to know a thief, and only an innocent man can understand another innocent man. The poseur only understands other poseurs, and sees nothing but pose in the actions of others; whilst the simple-minded fails to understand the most flagrant pose. To understand a man is really to be that man.

It would seem to follow that a man can best understand himself—a conclusion plainly absurd. No one can understand[106] himself, for to do that he would have to get outside himself; the subject of the knowing and willing activity would have to become its own object. To grasp the universe it would be necessary to get a standpoint outside the universe, and the possibility of such a standpoint is incompatible with the idea of a universe. He who could understand himself could understand the world. I do not make the statement merely as an explanation: it contains an important truth, to the significance of which I shall recur. For the present I am content to assert that no one can understand his deepest, most intimate nature. This happens in actual practice; when one wishes to understand in a general way, it is always from other persons, never from oneself, that one gets one’s materials. The other person chosen must be similar in some respect, however different as a whole; and, making use of this similarity, he can recognise, represent, comprehend. So far as one understands a man, one is that man.

The man of genius takes his place in the above argument as he who understands incomparably more other beings than the average man. Goethe is said to have said of himself that there was no vice or crime of which he could not trace the tendency in himself, and that at some period of his life he could not have understood fully. The genius, therefore, is a more complicated, more richly endowed, more varied man; and a man is the closer to being a genius the more men he has in his personality, and the more really and strongly he has these others within him. If comprehension of those about him only flickers in him like a poor candle, then he is unable, like the great poet, to kindle a mighty flame in his heroes, to give distinction and character to his creations. The ideal of an artistic genius is to live in all men, to lose himself in all men, to reveal himself in multitudes; and so also the aim of the philosopher is to discover all others in himself, to fuse them into a unit which is his own unit.

This protean character of genius is no more simultaneous than the bi-sexuality of which I have spoken. Even the[107] greatest genius cannot understand the nature of all men at the same time, on one and the same day. The comprehensive and manifold rudiments which a man possesses in his mind can develop only slowly and by degrees with the gradual unfolding of his whole life. It appears almost as if there were a definite periodicity in his development. These periods, when they recur, however, are not exactly alike; they are not mere repetitions, but are intensifications of their predecessors, on a higher plane. No two moments in the life of an individual are exactly alike; there is between the later and the earlier periods only the similarity of the higher and lower parts of a spiral ascent. Thus it has frequently happened that famous men have conceived a piece of work in their early youth, laid it aside during manhood, and resumed and completed it in old age. Periods exist in every man, but in different degrees and with varying “amplitude.” Just as the genius is the man who contains in himself the greatest number of others in the most active way, so the amplitude of a man’s periods will be the greater the wider his mental relations may be. Illustrious men have often been told, by their teachers, in their youth “that they were always in one extreme or another.” As if they could be anything else! These transitions in the case of unusual men often assume the character of a crisis. Goethe once spoke of the “recurrence of puberty” in an artist. The idea is obviously to be associated with the matter under discussion.

It results from their periodicity that, in men of genius, sterile years precede productive years, these again to be followed by sterility, the barren periods being marked by psychological self-depreciation, by the feeling that they are less than other men; times in which the remembrance of the creative periods is a torment, and when they envy those who go about undisturbed by such penalties. Just as his moments of ecstasy are more poignant, so are the periods of depression of a man of genius more intense than those of other men. Every great man has such periods, of longer or shorter duration, times in which he loses self-confidence,[108] in which he thinks of suicide; times in which, indeed, he may be sowing the seeds of a future harvest, but which are devoid of the stimulus to production; times which call forth the blind criticisms “How such a genius is degenerating!” “How he has played himself out!” “How he repeats himself!” and so forth.

It is just the same with other characteristics of the man of genius. Not only the material, but also the spirit, of his work is subject to periodic change. At one time he is inclined to a philosophical and scientific view; at another time the artistic influence is strongest; at one time his intervals are altogether in the direction of history and the growth of civilisation; later on it is “nature” (compare Nietzsche’s “Studies in Infinity” with his “Zarathustra”); at another time he is a mystic, at yet another simplicity itself! (Björnson and Maurice Maeterlinck are good modern examples.) In fact, the “amplitude” of the periods of famous men is so great, the different revelations of their nature so various, so many different individuals appear in them, that the periodicity of their mental life may be taken almost as diagnostic. I must make a remark sufficiently obvious from all this, as to the existence of almost incredibly great changes in the personal appearance of men of genius from time to time. Comparison of the portraits at different times of Goethe, Beethoven, Kant, or Schopenhauer are enough to establish this. The number of different aspects that the face of a man has assumed may be taken almost as a physiognomical measure of his talent.[9]

[9] I cannot help using the word “talent” from time to time when I really mean genius; but I wish it to be remembered that I am convinced of the existence of a fundamental distinction between “talent,” or “giftedness,” and “genius.”

People with an unchanging expression are low in the intellectual scale. Physiognomists, therefore, must not be surprised that men of genius, in whose faces a new side of their minds is continually being revealed, are difficult to classify, and that their individualities leave little permanent mark on their features.


It is possible that my introductory description of genius will be repudiated indignantly, because it would imply that a Shakespeare has the vulgarity of his Falstaff, the rascality of his Iago, the boorishness of his Caliban, and because it identifies great men with all the low and contemptible things that they have described. As a matter of fact, men of genius do conform to my description, and as their biographies show, are liable to the strangest passions and the most repulsive instincts. And yet the objection is invalid, as the fuller exposition of the thesis will reveal. Only the most superficial survey of the argument could support it, whilst the exactly opposite conclusion is a much more likely inference. Zola, who has so faithfully described the impulse to commit murder, did not himself commit a murder, because there were so many other characters in him. The actual murderer is in the grasp of his own disposition: the author describing the murder is swayed by a whole kingdom of impulses. Zola would know the desire for murder much better than the actual murderer would know it, he would recognise it in himself, if it really came to the surface in him, and he would be prepared for it. In such ways the criminal instincts in great men are intellectualised and turned to artistic purposes as in the case of Zola, or to philosophic purposes as with Kant, but not to actual crime.

The presence of a multitude of possibilities in great men has important consequences connected with the theory of henids that I elaborated in the last chapter. A man understands what he already has within himself much more quickly than what is foreign to him (were it otherwise there would be no intercourse possible: as it is we do not realise how often we fail to understand one another). To the genius, who understands so much more than the average man, much more will be apparent.

The schemer will readily recognise his fellow; an impassioned player easily reads the same power in another person; whilst those with no special powers will observe nothing. Art discerns itself best, as Wagner said. In the[110] case of complex personalities the matter stands thus: one of these can understand other men better than they can understand themselves, because within himself he has not only the character he is grasping, but also its opposite. Duality is necessary for observation and comprehension; if we inquire from psychology what is the most necessary condition for becoming conscious of a thing, for grasping it, we shall find the answer in “contrast.” If everything were a uniform grey we should have no idea of colour; absolute unison of sound would soon produce sleep in all mankind; duality, the power which can differentiate, is the origin of the alert consciousness. Thus it happens that no one can understand himself were he to think of nothing else all his life, but he can understand another to whom he is partly alike, and from whom he is also partly quite different. Such a distribution of qualities is the condition most favourable for understanding. In short, to understand a man means to have equal parts of himself and of his opposite in one.

That things must be present in pairs of contrasts if we are to be conscious of one member of the pair is shown by the facts of colour-vision. Colour-blindness always extends to the complementary colours. Those who are red blind are also green blind; those who are blind to blue have no consciousness of yellow. This law holds good for all mental phenomena; it is a fundamental condition of consciousness. The most high-spirited people understand and experience depression much more than those who are of level disposition. Any one with so keen a sense of delicacy and subtilty as Shakespeare must also be capable of extreme grossness.

The more types and their contrasts a man unites in his own mind the less will escape him, since observation follows comprehension, and the more he will see and understand what other men feel, think, and wish. There has never been a genius who was not a great discerner of men. The great man sees through the simpler man often at a glance, and would be able to characterise him completely.


Most men have this, that, or the other faculty or sense disproportionately developed. One man knows all the birds and tells their different voices most accurately. Another has a love for plants and is devoted to botany from his childhood. One man pores lovingly into the many layered rocks of the earth, and has only the vaguest appreciation of the skies; to another the attraction of cold, star-sown space is supreme. One man is repelled by the mountains and seeks the restless sea; another, like Nietzsche, gets no help from the tossing waters and hungers for the peace of the hills. Every man, however simple he may be, has some side of nature with which he is in special sympathy and for which his faculties are specially alert. And so the ideal genius, who has all men within him, has also all their preferences and all their dislikes. There is in him not only the universality of men, but of all nature. He is the man to whom all things tell their secrets, to whom most happens, and whom least escapes. He understands most things, and those most deeply, because he has the greatest number of things to contrast and compare them with. The genius is he who is conscious of most, and of that most acutely. And so without doubt his sensations must be most acute; but this must not be understood as implying, say, in the artist the keenest power of vision, in the composer the most acute hearing; the measure of genius is not to be taken from the acuteness of the sense organ but from that of the perceiving brain.

The consciousness of the genius is, then, the furthest removed from the henid stage. It has the greatest, most limpid clearness and distinctness. In this way genius declares itself to be a kind of higher masculinity, and thus the female cannot be possessed of genius. The conclusion of this chapter and the last is simply that the life of the male is a more highly conscious life than that of the female, and genius is identical with the highest and widest consciousness. This extremely comprehensive consciousness of the highest types of mankind is due to the enormous number of contrasting elements in their natures.


Universality is the distinguishing mark of genius. There is no such thing as a special genius, a genius for mathematics, or for music, or even for chess, but only a universal genius. The genius is a man who knows everything without having learned it.

It stands to reason that this infinite knowledge does not include theories and systems which have been formulated by science from facts, neither the history of the Spanish war of succession nor experiments in dia-magnetism.

The artist does not acquire his knowledge of the colours reflected on water by cloudy or sunny skies, by a course of optics, any more than it requires a deep study of characterology to judge other men. But the more gifted a man is, the more he has studied on his own account, and the more subjects he has made his own.

The theory of special genius, according to which, for instance, it is supposed that a musical “genius” should be a fool at other subjects, confuses genius with talent. A musician, if truly great, is just as well able to be universal in his knowledge as a philosopher or a poet. Such an one was Beethoven. On the other hand, a musician may be as limited in the sphere of his activity as any average man of science. Such an one was Johann Strauss, who, in spite of his beautiful melodies, cannot be regarded as a genius if only because of the absence of constructive faculty in him. To come back to the main point; there are many kinds of talent, but only one kind of genius, and that is able to choose any kind of talent and master it. There is something in genius common to all those who possess it; however much difference there may seem to be between the great philosopher, painter, musician, poet, or religious teacher. The particular talent through the medium of which the spirit of a man develops is of less importance than has generally been thought. The limits of the different arts can easily be passed, and much besides native inborn gifts have to be taken into account. The history of one art should be studied along with the history of other arts, and in that way many obscure events might be explained.[113] It is outside my present purpose, however, to go into the question of what determines a genius to become, say, a mystic, or, say, a great delineator.

From genius itself, the common quality of all the different manifestations of genius, woman is debarred. I will discuss later as to whether such things are possible as pure scientific or technical genius as well as artistic and philosophical genius. There is good reason for a greater exactness in the use of the word. But that may come, and however clearly we may yet be able to describe it woman will have to be excluded from it. I am glad that the course of my inquiry has been such as to make it impossible for me to be charged with having framed such a definition of genius as necessarily to exclude woman from it.

I may now sum up the conclusions of this chapter. Whilst woman has no consciousness of genius, except as manifested in one particular person, who imposes his personality on her, man has a deep capacity for realising it, a capacity which Carlyle, in his still little understood book on “Hero-Worship,” has described so fully and permanently. In “Hero-Worship,” moreover, the idea is definitely insisted on that genius is linked with manhood, that it represents an ideal masculinity in the highest form. Woman has no direct consciousness of it; she borrows a kind of imperfect consciousness from man. Woman, in short, has an unconscious life, man a conscious life, and the genius the most conscious life.



The following observation bears on my henid theory:

I made a note, half mechanically, of a page in a botanical work from which later on I was going to make an extract. Something was in my mind in henid form. What I thought, how I thought it, what was then knocking at the door of my consciousness, I could not remember a minute afterwards, in spite of the hardest effort. I take this case as a typical example of the henid.

The more deeply impressed, the more detailed a complex perception may be the more easily does it reproduce itself. Clearness of the consciousness is the preliminary condition for remembering, and the memory of the mental stimulation is proportional to the intensity of the consciousness. “I shall not forget that”; “I shall remember that all my life”; “That will never escape my memory again.” Such phrases men use when things have made a deep impression on them, of moments in which they have gained wisdom or have become richer by an important experience. As the power of being reproduced is directly proportionate to the organisation of a mental impression, it is clear that there can be no recollection of an absolute henid.

As the mental endowment of a man varies with the organisation of his accumulated experiences, the better endowed he is, the more readily will he be able to remember his whole past, everything that he has ever thought or heard, seen or done, perceived or felt, the more completely in fact will he be able to reproduce his whole life. Universal remembrance of all its experiences, therefore, is the sure,[115] most general, and most easily proved mark of a genius. If a common theory, especially popular with the philosophers of the coffee-house, be true, that productive men (because they are always covering new ground) have no memory, it is often because they are productive only from being on new ground.

The great extent and acuteness of the memory of men of genius, which I propose to lay down dogmatically as a necessary inference from my theory, without attempting to prove it further, is not incompatible with their rapid loss of the facts impressed on them in school, the tables of Greek verbs, and so forth. Their memory is of what they have experienced, not of what they have learned. Of all that was acquired for examination purposes only so much will be retained as was in harmony with the natural talent of the pupil. Thus a house-painter may have a better memory for colours than a great philosopher; the most narrow philologist may remember Greek aorists that he has learned by heart better than his teacher, who may none the less be a great poet. The uselessness of the experimental school of psychology (notwithstanding their marvellous arsenal of instruments of experimental precision) is shown by their expectation of getting results as to memory from tests with letters, unconnected words, long rows of figures. These experiments have so little bearing on the true memory of man, on the memory by which he recalls the experiences of his life, that one wonders if such psychologists have realised that such a thing as the mind exists. The customary experiments place the most different subjects under the same conditions, pay no attention to the individuality of these subjects, and treat them merely as good or bad registering apparatus. There is a parable in the fact that the two German words “bemerken” (take notice of) and “merken” (remember) come from the same root. Only what is harmonious with some inborn quality will be retained. When a man remembers a thing, it is because he was capable of taking some interest in the thing; when he forgets, it is because he was uninterested. The religious[116] man will surely and exactly remember texts, the poet verses and the mathematician equations.

This brings us in another fashion to the subject of the last chapter, and to another reason for the great memories of genius. The more significant a man is, the more different personalities he unites in himself, the more interests that are contained in him, the more wide his memory must be. All men have practically the same opportunities of perception, but the vast majority of men apprehend only an infinitesimal part of what they have perceived. The ideal genius is one in whom perception and apprehension are identical in their field. Of course no such being actually exists. On the other hand, there is no man who has apprehended nothing that he has perceived. In this way we may take it that all degrees of genius (not talent) exist; no male is quite without a trace of genius. Complete genius is an ideal; no man is absolutely without the quality, and no man possesses it completely. Apprehension or absorption, and memory or retention, vary together in their extent and their permanence. There is an uninterrupted gradation from the man whose mentality is unconnected from moment to moment, and to whom no incidents can signify anything because there is within him nothing to compare them with (such an extreme, of course, does not exist) to the fully developed minds for which everything is unforgettable, because of the firm impressions made and the sureness with which they are absorbed. The extreme of genius also does not exist, because even the greatest genius is not wholly a genius at every moment of his life.

What is at once a deduction from the necessary connection between memory and genius, and a proof of the actuality of the connection, lies in the extraordinary memory for minute details shown by the man of genius. Because of the universality of his mind, everything has only one interpretation for him, an interpretation often unsuspected at the time; and so things cling obstinately in his memory and remain there inextinguishably, although he may have taken not the smallest trouble to take note of[117] them. And so one may almost take as another mark of the genius that the phrase “this is no longer true” has no meaning for him. There is nothing that is no longer true for him, probably just because he has a clearer idea than other men of the changes that come with time.

The following appears to be one of the best means for the objective examination of the endowment of a man: If after a long separation from him we resume the new intercourse with the circumstances of the last, then we shall find that the highly endowed man has forgotten nothing, that he vividly and completely takes up the subject from where it was left off with the fullest recollection of the details. How much ordinary men forget of their lives any one can prove to his astonishment and horror. It may happen that we have been for hours importantly engaged with a man a few weeks before, and we may find that he has forgotten all about it. It is true that if one recalls all the circumstances to his mind, he begins to remember, and, finally, with sufficient help, may remember almost completely. Such experience has made me think that there may be an empirical proof of the hypothesis that no absolute forgetting ever occurs; that if the right method with the individual be chosen recollection may always be induced.

It follows also that from one’s own experience, from what one has thought or said, heard or read, felt or done, one can give the smallest possible to another, that the other does not already know. Consideration of the amount that a man can take in from another would seem to serve as a sort of objective measure of his genius, a measure that does not have to wait for an estimation of his actual creative efforts. I am not going to discuss the extent to which this theory opposes current views on education, but I recommend parents and teachers to pay attention to it. The extent to which a man can detect differences and resemblances must depend on his memories. This faculty will be best developed in those whose past permeates their present, all the moments of the life of whom are amalgamated.[118] Such persons will have the greatest opportunities of detecting resemblances and so finding the material for comparisons. They will always seize hold of from the past what has the greatest resemblance to the present experience, and the two experiences will be combined in such a way that no similarities or differences will be concealed. And so they are able to maintain the past against the influence of the present. It is not without reason that from time immemorial the special merit of poetry has been considered to be its richness in beautiful comparisons and pictures, or that we turn to again and again, or await our favourite images with impatience when we read Homer or Shakespeare or Klopstock. To-day when, for the first time for a century and a half, Germany is without great poets or painters, and when none the less it is impossible to find any one who is not an “author,” the power of clear and beautiful comparison seems to have gone. A period the nature of which can best be described in vague and dubious words, the philosophy of which has become in more than one sense the philosophy of the unconscious can contain nothing great. Consciousness is the mark of greatness, and before it the unconscious is dispersed as the sun disperses a mist. If only consciousness were to come to this age, how quickly voices that are now famous would become silent. It is only in full consciousness, in which the experience of the present assumes greater intensity by its union with all the experiences of the past, that imagination, the necessary quality for all philosophical as for all artistic effort, can find a place. It is untrue, therefore, that women have more imagination than men. The experiences on account of which men have assigned higher powers of imagination to women come entirely from the imaginative sexual life of women. The only inferences that can be drawn from this do not belong to the present section of my work.

The absence of women from the history of music must be referred to deeper causes; but it also supports my contention that women are devoid of imagination. To produce[119] music requires a great deal more imagination than the malest woman possesses, and much more than is required for other kinds of artistic or for scientific effort. There is nothing in nature, nothing in the sphere of the senses, corresponding directly with sound pictures. Music has no relation to the world of experience; there is no “music,” no chords or melodies in the natural world; these have to be evolved from the imagination of the composer. Every other art has more definite relations to empirical art. Even architecture, which has been compared with music, has definite relations to matter, although, like music, it has no anticipations in the senses. Architecture, too, is an entirely masculine occupation. The very idea of a female architect excites compassion.

The so-called stupefying effect of music on the creative or practical musician (especially instrumental music) depends on the fact that even the sense of smell is a better guide to man in the world of experience than the contents of a musical work. And it is just this complete absence of all relation to the world of sight, taste, and smell, that makes music specially unfitted to express the female nature. It also explains why this peculiarity of his art demands the highest grade of imagination from a musician, and why those to whom musical compositions “come” seem stranger to their fellow men than painters or sculptors. The so-called “imagination” of women must be very different from that of men, since there is no woman with even the same position in the history of music that Angelica Kaufmann had in art.

Where anything obviously depends on strong moulding women have not the smallest leaning towards its production, neither in philosophy nor in music, in the plastic arts nor in architecture. Where, however, a weak and vague sentimentality can be expressed with little effort, as in painting or verse-making, or in pseudo-mysticism and theosophy, women have sought and found a suitable field for their efforts. Their lack of productiveness in the former sphere is in harmony with the vagueness of the psychical life of[120] women. Music is the nearest possible approach to the organisation of a sensation. Nothing is more definite, characteristic, and impressive than a melody, nothing that will more strongly resist obliteration. One remembers much longer what is sung than what is spoken, and the arias better than the recitatives.

Let us note specially here that the usual phrases of the defenders of women do not apply to the case of women. Music is not one of the arts to which women have had access only so recently that it is too soon to expect fruits; from the remotest antiquity women have sung and played. And yet....

It is to be remembered that even in the case of drawing and painting women have now had opportunities for at least two centuries. Every one knows how many girls learn to draw and sketch, and it cannot be said that there has not yet been time for results were results possible. As there are so few female painters with the smallest importance in the history of art, it must be that there is something in the nature of things against it. As a matter of fact, the painting and etching of women is no more than a sort of elegant, luxurious handiwork. The sensuous, physical element of colour is more suitable for them than the intellectual work of formal line-drawing, and hence it is, that whereas women have acquired some small distinction in painting they have gained none in drawing. The power of giving form to chaos is with those in whom the most universal memory has made the widest comprehension possible; it is a quality of the masculine genius.

I regret that I must so continually use the word genius, as if that should apply only to a caste as well defined from those below as income-tax payers are from the untaxed. The word genius was very probably invented by a man who had small claims on it himself; greater men would have understood better what to be a genius really was, and probably they would have come to see that the word could be applied to most people. Goethe said that perhaps only a genius is able to understand a genius.


There are probably very few people who have not at some time of their lives had some quality of genius. If they have not had such, it is probable that they have also been without great sorrow or great pain. They would have needed only to live sufficiently intently for a time for some quality to reveal itself. The poems of first love are a case in point, and certainly such love is a sufficient stimulus.

It must not be forgotten that quite ordinary men in moments of excitement, in anger at some underhanded deed, have found words with which they never would have been credited. The greater part of what is called expression in art as in language depends (if the reader will remember what I have said about the process of “clarification”) on the fact that some individual more richly endowed clarifies, organises, and exhibits some idea almost instantaneously, an idea which to a less endowed person was still in the henid form. The course of clarification is much shortened in the mind of the second person.

If it really were the case, as popular opinion has tried to establish, that the genius were separated from ordinary men by a thick wall through which no sound could penetrate, then all understanding of the efforts of genius would be denied to ordinary men, and their works would fail to make any impression on them. All hopes of progress depend on this being untrue. And it is untrue. The difference between men of genius and the others is quantitative not qualitative, of degree not of kind.

There is, moreover, very little sense in preventing young people from giving expression to their ideas on the pretext that they have less experience than have older persons. There are many who may live a thousand years without encountering experience of any value. It could only be in a society of persons equally gifted that such an idea could have any meaning.

Because the life of the genius is more intense even in his earliest years than that of other children, his memory can go further back. In extreme cases the memory may be complete and vivid back to the third year of life, whereas[122] in most recollection begins much later. I know some people whose earliest recollections date only from their eighth year, and there are instances of an even later beginning of the conscious life. I do not maintain that the date at which active memory begins can be taken as a measure of relative genius, that he who remembers from his second year is so much the more of a genius than he who can go back only to his fourth or fifth year. But in a general way, I believe the parallel to hold good.

Even in the cases of the greatest men, some time, greater or shorter, elapsed between the date of their earliest recollection and the time from which onwards they remember everything, from the time, in fact, in which their genius was ripe. But in the case of most men there is forgetfulness of the greater part of their lives; they are conscious only that they themselves and none other have lived their lives. Out of their whole lives there only remain certain moments, and scattered recollections, which serve as sign-posts. If they are asked about any particular thing they can only tell, for instance, because in such and such a month they were so old, or they wore such and such clothes, they lived at this place, or that their income was so much.

If one has lived with them in former years, it is only after great trouble that the past can be brought to their mind. In such cases one is surely justified in saying that such a person is ungifted, or at least in not considering him conspicuously able.

The request for an autobiography would put most men into a most painful position; they could scarcely tell if they were asked what they had done the day before. Memory with most people is quite spasmodic and purely associative. In the case of the man of genius every impression that he has received endures; he is always under the influence of impressions; and so nearly all men of genius tend to suffer from fixed ideas. The psychical condition of men’s minds may be compared with a set of bells close together, and so arranged that in the ordinary man a bell rings only when one beside it sounds, and the vibration lasts only a moment.[123] In the genius, when a bell sounds it vibrates so strongly that it sets in action the whole series, and remains in action throughout life. The latter kind of movement often gives rise to extraordinary conditions and absurd impulses, that may last for weeks together and that form the basis of the supposed kinship of genius with insanity.

For similar reasons gratitude is apparently the rarest human virtue. People are often very conscious of how much they have borrowed, but they neither can nor will try to remember the necessity in which they stood, nor the freedom which that help brought them. Even if want of memory were really the cause of ingratitude, it would not be sufficient for a man to possess a marvellous memory to have a like spirit of gratitude. A special condition is also necessary, but its description cannot be undertaken here.

From the connection between giftedness and memory which is so often mistaken and denied because it is not sought where it is to be found, from the power of self recollection, a further fact is to be deduced. The poet who feels urged to write without premeditation, without reflection, without having willingly pressed the pedal; the musician to whom the desire to compose has come, so that he must create whether he will or no, even if he feels more inclined to sleep or to rest; these, in such moments, will simply reproduce thoughts they have carried in their heads all their lives. A composer who can remember none of his songs or subjects by heart, or a poet who cannot recollect any of his poems—without having carefully learned them—such men are in no sense really great.

Before we apply these remarks to the consideration of the mental differences of the sexes, we must make yet one more distinction between different kinds of memory. The individual moments in the life of a gifted man are not remembered as disconnected points, not as different particles of time, each one separated and defined from the following one, as the numerals one, two, and so on.

The result of self-observation shows that sleep, the limitations of consciousness, the gaps in memory, even[124] special experiences, appear to be in some mysterious way one great whole; incidents do not follow each other like the tickings of a watch, but they pass along in a single unbroken stream. With ordinary men the moments which are united in a close continuity out of the original discrete multiplicity are very few, and the course of their lives resembles a little brook, whereas with the genius it is more like a mighty river into which all the little rivulets flow from afar; that is to say, the universal comprehension of genius vibrates to no experience in which all the individual moments have not been gathered up and stored.

This peculiar continuity by which a man first realises that he exists, that he is, and that he is in the world, is all comprehensive in the genius, limited to a few important moments in the mediocre, and altogether lacking in woman. When a woman looks back over her life and lives again her experiences, there is presented no continuous, unbroken stream, but only a few scattered points. And what kind of points? They are just those which accord with woman’s natural instincts. Of what these interests exclusively consist the second chapter gave a preliminary idea; and those who remember the ideas in question will not be astonished at the following facts: The female is concerned altogether with one class of recollections—those connected with the sexual impulse and reproduction. She thinks of her lovers and proposals, of her marriage day, of every child as if it were a doll; of the flowers which she received at every ball, the number, size, and price of the bouquets; of every serenade; of every verse which (as she fondly imagines) was written for her; of every phrase by which a lover has impressed her; but above all—with an exactness which is as contemptible as it is disquieting to herself—of every compliment without exception that has ever been paid her.

That is all that the real woman recalls of her life. But it is just those things which human beings never forget, and those they cannot remember that give the clue to knowledge of their life and character. It belongs to a later period of the book to go more thoroughly into the reason why the[125] female has precisely the remembrances she has. Some important conclusion may be expected from reflection on the incredible memory with which women recall all the adulation and flattery, all the proofs of gallantry, which have happened to them since childhood.

Whatever may be urged against the present complete limitation of the female memory to the sphere of sexuality and conjugal life, it is to me quite evident. Various arguments about girls’ schools, and so forth, I am prepared for. These difficulties will have to be cleared away later. But I must just say again that all memory, which is to be used as a means of psychological definition of the individual, can include only the memory of what has been learnt when learning means actual experience.

The explanation of the discontinuity in the psychical life of women (reference to which is introduced here, only because it is a necessary psychological factor in the problem of memory, and without reference to its spiritualistic or idealistic significance) can be reached only when the nature of continuity is studied with reference to the deepest problems of philosophy and psychology.

As a proof of the fact I will at present quote nothing more than the statement of Lotze, which has so often caused astonishment, that women much more readily submit themselves to new relationships and more easily accommodate themselves to them than men, in whom the parvenu can be seen much longer, whereas one might not be able to tell the peasant from the peeress, the woman brought up in poor surroundings from the patrician’s daughter. Later on I shall deal more exhaustively with this subject.

At any rate, it will now be seen why (if neither vanity, desire for gossip, nor imitation drives them to it) only the better men write down recollections of their lives, and how I perceive in this a strong evidence of the connection between memory and giftedness. It is not as if every man of genius wished to write an autobiography: the incitement to autobiography comes from special, very deep-seated psychological conditions. But on the other hand, the[126] writing of a full autobiography, if it is the outcome of a genuine desire, is always the sign of a superior man. For real faithful memory is the source of reverence. The really great would resist any temptation to give up his past in exchange for material advantage or mental health; the greatest treasures of the world, even happiness itself, he would not take in exchange for his memories.

The desire for a draught of the waters of Lethe is the trait of mediocre or inferior natures. And however much a really great man, as Goethe says, may condemn and abhor his past failings, and although he sees others clinging fast to theirs, he will never smile at those past actions and failings of his own, or make merry over his early mode of life and thought.

The class of persons, now so much in evidence, who claim to have “conquered” their pasts, have the smallest possible claim to the word “conquer.” They are those who idly relate that they formerly believed this or the other, but have now “overcome” their beliefs, whereas they are as little in earnest about the present as they were about the past. They see only the mechanism, not the soul of things, and at no stage what they believe themselves to have conquered was deep in their natures.

In contrast with these it may be noticed with what painful care great men render even the, apparently, most minute details in their own biographies: for them the past and present are equal; with others neither of the two are real.

The famous man realises how everything, even the smallest, most secondary, matters played an important part in his life, how they have helped his development, and to this fact is due his extraordinary reverence for his own memoirs. And such an autobiography is not written all at once, as it were, with one event treated like another, and without meditation; nor does the idea of it suddenly occur to a man; the material for such a work by a great man, so to speak, is always at hand.

His new experiences acquire a deeper significance because of the past, which is always present to him, and hence the[127] great man and only the great man, feels that he himself is in very truth a “man of destiny.” And so it comes that great men are always more “superstitious” than average men. To sum up, I may say:

A man is himself important precisely in proportion that all things seem important to him.

In the course of further investigation this dictum will be seen to have a deep significance even apart from its bearing on the universality, comprehension, and comparison exhibited by the genius.

The position of woman in these matters is not difficult to explain. A real woman never becomes conscious of a destiny, of her own destiny; she is not heroic; she fights most for her possessions, and there is nothing tragic in the struggle as her own fate is decided with the fate of her possessions.

Inasmuch as woman is without continuity, she can have no true reverence; as a fact, reverence is a purely male virtue. A man is first reverent about himself, and self-respect is the first stage in reverence for all things. But it costs a woman very little to break off with her past; if the word irony could be fittingly used here, one might say that a man does not easily regard his past with irony and superiority as women appear to do—and not only after marriage.

Later on I shall show how women are exactly the opposite of that which reverence means. I would rather be silent about the reverence of widows.

The superstition of women is psychologically absolutely different from the superstitions of famous men.

The reverent relation to one’s own past, which depends on a real continuity of memory, and which is possible only by comprehension, can be shown in relation to a still wider and deeper subject.

Whether a man has a real relationship to his own past or not, involves the question as to whether he has a desire for immortality, or if the idea of death is indifferent to him.

The desire for immortality is to-day, as a rule, treated shamefully, and in a very different spirit.


Not only is the problem treated as merely ontological, but the psychological side of it is only trifled with. It has been held that it is connected, like the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, with the feeling that we have all experienced, when, in doing something certainly for the first time, we seem to remember having gone through the same experience before. Another generally adopted view is to derive the idea of immortality from the belief in spirits, as has been done by Tylor, Spencer, Avenarius, and others, although in any other age than this age of experimental psychology it would have been dismissed a priori. I am sure that it must seem impossible to the majority of thinking men to regard a belief so important to mankind, about which there has been so much strife, as merely the last stage in a syllogism of which the first premiss is the midnight dream of a dead man. How can phenomena of that kind explain the belief in the continuity of their lives after death held so firmly by Goethe or Bach, or the desire for immortality which speaks to us in Beethoven’s last sonatas? The desire for the persistence of the conscious self must spring from sources mightier than these feeble rationalistic guesses.

The deeper source of the belief depends on the relation of a man to his own past. Our consciousness and vision of the past is the strongest ground for our desire to be conscious in the future. The man who values his past, who holds his mental life in greater respect than his corporeal life, is not willing to give up his consciousness at death. And so this organic primary desire for immortality is strongest in men of genius, in the men whose pasts are richest. This connection between the desire for immortality and memory receives strong support from what is related by those who have been rescued from sudden death. Even if they had not thought it out before they relive their past in a few moments, at once and with frantic rapidity. The feeling of what is impending brings in violent contrast the intensity of the present consciousness and the idea that it may cease for ever. In reality we know very little of the mental state of[129] the dying. It takes more than an ordinary person to interpret it, and for reasons connected with what I have been saying men of genius usually avoid death-beds. But it is quite wrong to ascribe the sudden appearance of religion in so many people who are fatally ill, to a desire to make sure of their future state. It is extremely superficial to assume that the doctrine of hell can for the first time assume such an importance to the dying as to make them afraid to pass away “with a lie on their lips.”[10]

[10] I venture to remind readers how often at the approach of death those who have been occupied with purely scientific matters have turned to religious problems, e.g., Newton, Gauss, Riemann, Weber.

The important point is this: Why do men who have lived throughout a lying life feel towards the end a sudden desire for truth? And why are others so horrified, although they do not believe in punishment in the next world, when they hear of a man dying with a lie on his lips or with an unrepented action? And why have both the hardness of heart until the end and the death-bed repentance appealed so forcibly to the imagination of poets? The discussion as to the “euthanasia” of atheists, which was so popular in the eighteenth century, is more than a mere historical curiosity as F. A. Lange considered it.

I adduce these considerations not merely to suggest a possibility which is hardly more than a guess. It seems to be unthinkable that it is not the case that many more people than actual geniuses have some trace of genius. The quantitative difference in natural endowment will be most marked at the moment when the endowment becomes active. And for most men this moment is the point of death. If we were not accustomed to regard men of genius as a separate class shut off from the others like the payers of income-tax, we should find less difficulty in grafting these new ideas on the old. And just as the earliest recollections of childhood which a man has are not the result of some external event breaking through the[130] continuity of the past course of his life, but are the result of his internal development, there comes to every one a day on which his consciousness is so intensified that remembrance remains, and from that time onwards, according to his endowment, more or fewer remembrances are formed (a factor which by itself upsets the whole of modern psychology), so in different men there are many different stimulants of the consciousness of which the last is the hour of death, and from the point of view of their degree of genius men might almost be classified by the number of things that excite their consciousness. I take this opportunity of again urging the falseness of a doctrine of modern psychology (which treats men simply as better or worse pieces of registering apparatus and takes no notice of the internal, ontogenetic development of the mind); I mean the idea that in youth we retain the greatest number of impressions. We must not confuse really experienced impressions with the mere material on which to exercise memorising. Such stuff a child learns more easily simply because it is not weighted with mental impressions. A psychology which is opposed to experience in matters so fundamental must be rejected. What I am attempting at present is no more than to give the faintest indication of that ontogenetic psychology or theoretical biography which sooner or later will replace what now passes for the science of mind. Every programme represents some definite conviction; before we wish to reach a goal we have some definite conception of what the goal is to be. The name “theoretical biography” will define the new subject from philosophy and physiology, and the biological method of treatment introduced by Darwin, Spencer, and others will be widened until it becomes a science capable of giving a rational orderly account of the whole course of the mental life from the cradle to the grave. It is to be called biography, not biology, because it is to deal with the investigation of the permanent laws that rule the mental development of an individual, whereas biology itself concerns itself with individuals themselves.[131] The new knowledge will seek general points of view and the establishment of types. Psychology must try to become theoretical biography. Existing psychology would find its place in the branches of the new science, and in this way only would Wundt’s desire to establish the foundations of a science of the mind be fulfilled. It would be absurd to despair of this simply because of the uselessness of the existing science of the mind which has not yet even grasped its own object. In this way a justification for experimental psychology might yet be found, in spite of the important results of the investigations by Windelband and Rickert on the relation between natural and psychical science, or the old dichotomy between the physical and mental sciences.

The relation between the continuity of memory and the desire for immortality is borne out by the fact that woman is devoid of the desire for immortality. It is to be noted that those persons are quite wrong who have attributed the desire for immortality to the fear of death. Women are as much afraid of death as are men, but they have not the longing for immortality.

My attempted explanation of the psychological desire for immortality is as yet more an indication of the connection between the desire and memory than a deduction from a higher natural law. It will always be found that the connection actually exists; the more a man lives in his past (not, as a superficial reader might guess, in his future) the more intense will be his longing for immortality. The lack of the desire for immortality in women is to be associated with the lack in them of reverence for their own personality. It seems, however, that the absence of both reverence and desire for immortality in woman is due to a more general principle, and in the same fashion in the case of man the co-existence of a higher form of memory and the desire for immortality may be traced to some deeper root. So far, I have attempted only to show the coincidence of the two, how the deep respect for their own past and the deep desire for their own future are to be found in the same individuals.[132] It will now be my task to find the common origin of these two factors of the mind.

Let us take as a starting-point what we were able to lay down as to the universality of the memory of great men. To such everything is equally real: what took place long ago and the most recent experience. Thus it happens that a single experience does not end with the moment of time in which it happened, does not disappear as this moment of time disappears, but through the memory is wrested from the grasp of time. Memory makes experience timeless; the essence of it is that it should transcend time. A man can only remember the past because memory is free from the control of time, because events which in nature are functions of time, in the spirit have conquered time.

But here a difficulty crops up. How can memory be a negation of time if, on the other hand, it is certain that if we had no memory we should be unconscious of time? It is certainly true that we shall always be conscious of the passing of time by our memory of the past. If the two are in so intimate a relation how can the one be the negation of the other?

The difficulty is easy to resolve. It is just because a living creature—not necessarily a human being—by being endowed with memory is not wholly absorbed by the experiences of the moment that it can, so to speak, oppose itself to time, take cognisance of it, and make it the subject of observation. Were the being wholly abandoned to the experience of the moment and not saved from it by memory then it would change with time and be a floating bubble in the stream of events; it could never be conscious of time, for consciousness implies duality. The mind must have transcended time to grasp it, it must have stood outside it in order to be able to reflect upon it. This does not apply merely to special moments of time, as, for instance, to the case that we cannot be conscious of sorrow until the sorrow is over, but it is a part of the conception of time. If we could not free ourselves from time, we could have no knowledge of time.


In order to understand the condition of timelessness let us reflect on what memory rescues from time. What transcends time is only what is of interest to the individual, what has meaning for him; in fact, all that he assigns value to. We remember only the things that have some value for us even if we are unconscious of the value. It is the value that creates the timelessness. We forget everything that has no value for us even if we are unconscious of that absence of value.

What has value, then, is timeless; or, to put it the other way, a thing has the more value the less it is a function of time. In all the world value is in proportion to independence of time; only things that are timeless have a positive value. Although this is not what I take to be the deepest and fullest meaning of value, it is, at least, the first special law of the theory of values.

A hasty survey of common facts will suffice to prove this relation between value and duration. We are always inclined to pay little attention to the views of those whom we have known only for a short time, and, as a rule, we think little of the hasty judgments of those who easily change their ideas. On the other hand, uncompromising fixedness gains respect, even if it assume the form of vindictiveness or obstinacy. The ære perennius of the Roman poets and the Egyptian pyramids lasting for forty centuries are favourite images. The reputation a man leaves behind him would soon be depreciated were it suspected that it would soon disappear instead of being handed down the centuries. A man dislikes to be told that he is always changing; but let it be put that he is simply showing new sides of his character and he will be proud of the permanence through the changes. He who is tired of life, for whom life has ceased to be of interest, is interesting to no one. The fear of the extinction of a name or of a family is well known.

So also statute laws and customs lose in value if their validity is expressly limited in time; and if two people are making a bargain, they will be the more ready to distrust one another if the bargain is to be only of short duration.[134] In fact, the value that we attach to things depends to a large extent on our estimate of their durability.

This law of values is the chief reason why men are interested in their death and their future. The desire for value shows itself in the efforts to free things from time, and this pressure is exerted even in the case of things which sooner or later must change, as, for instance, riches and position and everything that we call the goods of this world. Here lies the psychological motive for the making of wills and the bestowal of property. The motive is not care for relatives, because a man without relatives very often is more anxious to settle his goods, not feeling, perhaps, like the head of a family, that in any event his existence will have some kind of permanence, that traces of him will be left after his own death.

The great politician or ruler, and especially the despot, whose rule ends with his death, seeks to increase his own value by making it independent of time. He may attempt it through a code of laws or a biography like that of Julius Cæsar, by some great philosophical undertaking, by the founding of museums or collections, or (and this perhaps is the favourite way) by alterations of the calendar. And he seeks to extend his power to the utmost during his life-time, to preserve it and make it stable by enduring contracts and diplomatic marriages, and most of all by attacking and removing everything that could endanger the permanence of his kingdom. And so the politician becomes a conqueror.

Psychological and philosophical investigations of the theory of values have neglected the time element. Perhaps this is because they have been very much under the influence of political economy. I believe, however, that the application of my principle to political economy would be of considerable value. Very slight reflection will lead one to see that in commercial affairs the time element is a most important factor in estimating value. The common definition of value, that it is in proportion to the power of the thing valued to relieve our wants, is quite incomplete without the element of time. Such things as air and water have[135] no value only in so far as they are not localised and individualised; but as soon as they have been localised and individualised, and so received form, they have received a quality that may not last, and with the idea of duration comes the idea of value. Form and timelessness, or individuation and duration, are the two factors which compose value.

Thus it can be shown that the fundamental law of the theory of value applies both to individual psychology and to social psychology. And now I can return to what is, after all, the special task of this chapter.

The first general conclusion to be made is that the desire for timelessness, a craving for value, pervades all spheres of human activity. And this desire for real value, which is deeply bound up with the desire for power, is completely absent in the woman. It is only in comparatively rare cases that old women trouble to make exact directions about the disposition of their property, a fact in obvious relation with the absence in them of the desire for immortality.

Over the dispositions of a man there is the weight of something solemn and impressive—something which makes him respected by other men.

The desire for immortality itself is merely a specific case of the general law that only timeless things have a positive value. On this is founded its connection with memory. The permanence with which experiences stay with a man is proportional to the significance which they had for him. Putting it in a paradoxical form, I may say: Value is created by the past. Only that which has a positive value remains protected by memory from the jaws of time; and so it may be with the individual psychical life as a whole. If it is to have a positive value, it must not be a function of time, but must subdue time by eternal duration after physical death. This draws us incomparably nearer the innermost motive of the desire for immortality. The complete loss of significance which a rich, individual, fully-lived life would suffer if it were all to end with death, and the consequent senselessness of everything, as Goethe said, in[136] other words, to Eckermann (February 14, 1829) lead to the demand for immortality. The strongest craving for immortality is possessed by the genius, and this is explained by all the other facts which have been discussed as to his nature.

Memory only fully vanquishes time when it appears in a universal form, as in universal men.

The genius is thus the only timeless man—at least, this and nothing else is his ideal of himself; he is, as is proved by his passionate and urgent desire for immortality, just the man with the strongest demand for timelessness, with the greatest desire for value.[11]

[11] It is often a cause for astonishment that men with quite ordinary, even vulgar, natures experience no fear of death. But it is quite explicable: it is not the fear of death which creates the desire for immortality, but the desire for immortality which causes fear of death.

And now we are face to face with an almost astonishing coincidence. The timelessness of the genius will not only be manifest in relation to the single moments of his life, but also in his relation to what is known as “his generation,” or, in a narrower sense, “his time.” As a matter of fact, he has no relations at all with it. The age does not create the genius it requires. The genius is not the product of his age, is not to be explained by it, and we do him no honour if we attempt to account for him by it.

Carlyle justly noted how many epochs had called for great men, how badly they had needed them, and how they still did not obtain them.

The coming of genius remains a mystery, and men reverently abandon their efforts to explain it. And as the causes of its appearance do not lie in any one age, so also the consequences are not limited by time. The achievements of genius live for ever, and time cannot change them. By his works a man of genius is granted immortality on the earth, and thus in a threefold manner he has transcended time. His universal comprehension and memory forbid the annihilation of his experiences with the passing of the[137] moment in which each occurred; his birth is independent of his age, and his work never dies.

Here is the best place to consider a question which, strangely enough, appears to have received no attention. The question is, if there be anything akin to genius in the world of animals and plants? Although it must be admitted that exceptional forms occur amongst animals and plants, these cannot be regarded as coming under our definition of genius. Talent may exist amongst them as amongst men below the standard of genius. But the special gift, what Moreau, Lombroso, and others have called the “divine spark,” we must deny to animals. This limitation is not jealousy nor the anxious guarding of a privilege, but is founded on good grounds.

Is there anything unexplained by the assumption that the first appearance of genius was in man! In the first place, it is because of this that the human race has an objective mind; in other words, that man is the only organism with a history.

The history of the human race (naturally I mean the history of its mind and not merely of its wars) is readily intelligible on the theory of the appearance of genius, and of the imitation by the more monkey-like individuals of the conduct of those with genius. The chief stages, no doubt, were house-building, agriculture, and, above all, speech. Every single word has been the invention of a single man, as, indeed, we still see, if we leave out of consideration the merely technical terms. How else could language have arisen? The earliest words were “onomatopoetic”; a sound similar to the exciting cause was evolved almost without the will of the speaker, in direct response to the sensuous stimulation. All the other words were originally metaphors, or comparisons, a kind of primitive poetry, for all prose has come from poetry. Many, perhaps the majority of the greatest geniuses, have remained unknown. Think of the proverbs, now almost commonplaces, such as “one good turn deserves another.” These were said for the first time by some great man. How many quotations[138] from the classics, or sayings of Christ, have passed into the common language, so that we have to think twice before we can remember who were the authors of them. Language is as little the work of the multitude as our ballads. Every form of speech owes much that is not acknowledged to individuals of another language. Because of the universality of genius, the words and phrases that he invents are useful not only to those who use the language in which he wrote them. A nation orients itself by its own geniuses, and derives from them its ideas of its own ideals, but the guiding star serves also as a light to other nations. As speech has been created by a few great men, the most extraordinary wisdom lies concealed in it, a wisdom which reveals itself to a few ardent explorers but which is usually overlooked by the stupid professional philologists.

The genius is not a critic of language, but its creator, as he is the creator of all the mental achievements which are the material of culture and which make up the objective mind, the spirit of the peoples. The “timeless” men are those who make history, for history can be made only by those who are not floating with the stream. It is only those who are unconditioned by time who have real value, and whose productions have an enduring force. And the events that become forces of culture become so only because they have an enduring value.

If we make a criterion of genius the exhibition of this threefold “timelessness” we shall have a measure by which it is easy to test all claimants. Lombroso and Türck have expanded the popular view which ascribes genius to all whose intellectual or practical achievements are much above the average. Kant and Schelling have insisted on the more exclusive doctrine that genius can be predicated only of the great creative artists. The truth probably lies between the two. I am inclined to think that only great artists and great philosophers (amongst the latter, I include, above all, the great religious teachers) have proved a claim to genius. Neither the “man of action” nor “the man of science” has any claim.


Men of action, famous politicians and generals, may possess a few traits resembling genius (particularly a specially good knowledge of men and an enormous capacity for remembering people). The psychology of such traits will be dealt with later; they are confused with genius only by those whom the externals of greatness dazzle. The man of genius almost typically renounces such external greatness because of the real greatness within him. The really great man has the strongest sense of values; the distinguished general is absorbed by the desire for power. The former seeks to link power with real value; the latter desires that power itself should be valued. Great generals and great politicians, like the bird Phœnix, are born out of fiery chaos and like it disappear again in chaos. The great emperor or the great demagogue is the only man who lives entirely in the present; he does not dream of a more beautiful, better future; his mind does not dwell on his own past which has already passed, and so in the two ways most possible to man, he does not transcend time, but lives only in the moment. The great genius does not let his work be determined by the concrete finite conditions that surround him, whilst it is from these that the work of the statesman takes its direction and its termination. And so the great emperor is no more than a phenomenon of nature, whereas the genius is outside nature and is an incorporation of the mind. The works of men of action crumble at the death of their authors, if indeed they have not already decayed, or they survive only a brief time leaving no traces behind them except what the chronicles record as having been done and later undone. The emperor creates no works that survive time, passing into eternity; such creations come from genius. It is the genius in reality and not the other who is the creator of history, for it is only the genius who is outside and unconditioned by history. The great man has a history, the emperor is only a part of history. The great man transcends time; time creates and time destroys the emperor.

The great man of science, unless he is also a philosopher[140] (I think of such names as Newton and Gauss, Linnæus and Darwin, Copernicus and Galileo), deserves the title of genius as little as the man of action. Men of science are not universal; they deal only with a branch or branches of knowledge. This is not due, as is sometimes said, merely to the extreme modern specialisation that makes it impossible to master everything. Even in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries there are still amongst the learned men individuals with a knowledge as many-sided as that of Aristotle or Leibnitz; the names of von Humboldt and William Wundt at once come to my mind. The absence of genius comes from something much more deeply seated in the men of science, and in science itself, from a cause which I shall explain in the eighth chapter. Probably some one may be disposed to argue that if even the most distinguished men of science have not a knowledge so universal as that of the philosopher, there are some who stand on the outermost fringes of philosophy, and to whom it is yet difficult to deny the word genius. I think of such men as Fichte, Schleiermacher, Carlyle, and Nietzsche. Which of the merely scientific has felt in himself an unconditioned comprehension of all men and of all things, or even the capacity to verify any single thing in his mind and by his mind? On the contrary, has not the whole history of the science of the last thousand years been directed against this? This is the reason why men of science are necessarily one-sided. No man of science, unless he is also a philosopher, however eminent his achievements, has that continuous unforgetting life that the genius exhibits, and this is because of his want of universality.

Finally, it is to be observed that the investigations of the scientific are always in definite relation to the knowledge of their day. The scientific man takes possession of a definite store of experimental or observed knowledge, increases or alters it more or less, and then hands it on. And much will be taken away from his achievements, much will silently disappear; his treatises may make a brave show in the libraries, but they cease to be actively alive. On the other[141] hand, we can ascribe to the work of the great philosopher, as to that of the great artist, an imperishable, unchangeable presentation of the world, not disappearing with time, and which, because it was the expression of a great mind, will always find a school of men to adhere to it. There still exist disciples of Plato and Aristotle, of Spinoza and Berkeley and Bruno, but there are now none who denote themselves as followers of Galileo or Helmholtz, of Ptolemy or Copernicus. It is a misuse of terms, due to erroneous ideas, to speak of the “classics” of science or of pedagogy in the sense that we speak of the classics of philosophy and art.

The great philosopher bears the name of genius deservedly and with honour. And if it will always be the greatest pain to the philosopher that he is not an artist, so the artist envies the philosopher his tenacious and controlled strength of systematic thought, and it is not surprising that the artist has taken pleasure in depicting Prometheus and Faust, Prospera and Cyprian, Paul the Apostle and Il Penseroso. The philosopher and the artist are alternate sides of one another.

We must not be too lavish in attributing genius to those who are philosophers or we shall not escape the reproach of being merely partisans of philosophy against science. Such a partisanship is foreign to my purpose, and, I hope, to this book. It would only be absurd to discuss the claims to genius of such men as Anaxagoras, Geulincx, Baader, or Emerson. I deny genius either to such unoriginally profound writers as Angelus Silesius, Philo and Jacobi, or to original yet superficial persons such as Comte, Feuerbach, Hume, Herbart, Locke and Karneades. The history of art is equally full of preposterous valuations, whilst, on the other hand, the history of science is extremely free from false estimations. The history of science busies itself very little with the biographies of its protagonists; its object is a system of objective, collective knowledge in which the individual is swept away. The service of science demands the greatest sacrifice, for in it the individual human being renounces all claim to eternity as such.



The title that I have given to this chapter at once opens the way to misinterpretation. It might appear as if the author supported the view that logical and ethical values were the objects exclusively of empirical psychology, psychical phenomena, like perception and sensation, and that logic and ethics, therefore, were subsections of psychology and based upon psychology.

I declare at once that I call this view, the so-called psychologismus, at once false and injurious. It is false because it can lead to nothing; and injurious because, while it hardly touches logic and ethics, it overthrows psychology itself. The exclusion of logic and ethics from the foundations of psychology, and the insertion of them in an appendix, is one of the results of the overgrowth of the doctrine of empirical perception, of that strange heap of dead, fleshless bones which is known as empirical psychology, and from which all real experience has been excluded. I have nothing to do with the empirical school, and in this matter lean towards the transcendentalism of Kant.

As the object of my work, however, is to discover the differences between different members of humanity, and not to discuss categories that would hold good for the angels in heaven, I shall not follow Kant closely, but remain more directly in psychological paths.

The justification of the title of this chapter must be reached along other lines. The tedious, because entirely new, demonstration of the earlier part of my work has shown that the human memory stands in intimate relation[143] with things hitherto supposed unconnected with it—such things as time, value, genius, immortality. I have attempted to show that memory stands in intimate connection with all these. There must be some strong reason for the complete absence of earlier allusions to this side of the subject. I believe the reason to be no more than the inadequacy and slovenliness which hitherto have spoiled theories of memory.

I must here call attention to a theory first propounded by Charles Bonnet in the middle of the eighteenth century and towards the end of the nineteenth century, specially insisted upon by Ewald Hering and E. Mach. This theory regarded the human memory as being only a special case of a property common to all organised matter, the property that makes the path of new stimuli rather easier if these resemble stimuli that have acted at some former time. The theory really makes the human memory an adaptation in the sense of Lamarck, the result on the living organism of repeated stimulation. It is true that there is a point in common between the human memory and the increase of sensitiveness caused by the repeated application of a stimulus; that identical element consists in the permanence of the effect of the first stimulation. There is, however, a fundamental difference between the growth of a muscle that is much used or the adaptation of the eater of arsenic or morphia to increased doses, and the recollection of past experiences by human beings. In the one case the trace of the old is just to be felt in the new stimulation; in the other case, by means of the consciousness, the old situations are actually reproduced with all their individuation. The identification of the two is so superficial that it is a waste of time to dwell longer on it.

The doctrine of association as the theory of memory is linked with the foregoing physiological theory as a matter of history, through Hartley, and, as a matter of fact, because the idea of habit is shared by the two. The association theory attributes memory to the mechanical play of the linking of presentations according to four laws. It[144] overlooks the fact that memory (the continuous memory of man) is a function of the will. I can remember a thing if I really will. In the case of hypnosis, when the recollection of all that has been forgotten is induced, an outside will replaces the will of the subject. It is will that sets in action the chains of association, and we have to deal here with something deeper than a mechanical principle.

In the association psychology, which first splits up the psychic life, and then vainly imagines that it can weld the re-assorted pieces together again, there is another confusion, the confusion between memory and recollection, which has persisted in spite of the well-founded objections of Avenarius and von Höffding. The recognition of a circumstance does not necessarily involve the special reproduction of the former impression, even although there seems to be a tendency for the new impression, at least, partly to recall the old one. But there is another kind of recognition, perhaps as common, in which the new impression does not appear to be directly linked with an association, but in which it comes, so to speak, “coloured” (James would say “tinged”) with that character that would be called by von Höffding the “familiarity quality.” To him who returns to his native place the roads and streets seem familiar, even although he has forgotten the names, has to ask his way, and can think of no special occasion on which he went along them. A melody may seem “familiar” and yet I may be unable to say where I heard it. The “character” (in the sense of Avenarius) of familiarity, of intimacy, hovers over the sense-impression itself, and analysis can detect no associations, none of the fusing of the old and new, which, according to the assertion of a presumptuous pseudo-psychology, produces the feeling; these cases are quite easy to distinguish from cases in which there is a real although vague association with an older experience in henid form.

In individual psychology this distinction is of great importance. In the highest types of mankind the consciousness of the continuous past is present in so active a form that the moment such a one sees an acquaintance in the[145] street he is at once able to reproduce the last meeting as a complete experience, whereas in the case of the less gifted person, the feeling of familiarity that makes recognition possible, occurs when he is able to recall the past connection in all its details.

If we now, in conclusion, ask whether or no other animals than man possess a similar faculty for remembering and reviving their earlier lives in their entirety it is most probable that the answer must be in the negative. Animals could not, as they do, remain for hours at a time, motionless and peaceful on one spot, if they were capable of thinking of the future or of remembering the past. Animals have the feeling of familiarity and the sense of expectation (as we find from the recognition of his master by a dog after twenty years’ absence); but they possess no memory and no hope. They are capable of recognition through the sense of familiarity, but they have no memory.

As memory has been shown to be a special character unconnected with the lower spheres of psychical life, and the exclusive property of human beings, it is not surprising that it is closely related to such higher things as the idea of value and of time, and the craving for immortality, which is absent in animals, and possible to men only in so far as they possess the quality of genius. If memory be an essentially human thing, part of the deepest being of humanity, finding expression in mankind’s most peculiar qualities, then it will not be surprising if memory be also related to the phenomena of logic and ethics. I have now to explore this relationship.

I may set out from the old proverb that liars have bad memories. It is certain that the pathological liar has practically no memory. About male liars I shall have more to say; they are not common, however. But if we remember what was said as to the absence of memory amongst women we shall not be surprised at the existence of the numerous proverbs and common sayings about the untruthfulness of women. It is evident that a being whose memory is very slight, and who can recall only in the most imperfect fashion[146] what it has said or done, or suffered, must lie easily if it has the gift of speech. The impulse to untruthfulness will be hard to resist if there is a practical object to be gained, and if the influence that comes from a full conscious reality of the past be not present. The impulse to lie is stronger in woman, because, unlike that of man, her memory is not continuous, whilst her life is discrete, unconnected, discontinuous, swayed by the sensations and perceptions of the moment instead of dominating them. Unlike man, her experiences float past without being referred, so to speak, to a definite, permanent centre; she does not feel herself, past and present, to be one and the same throughout all her life. It happens almost to every man that sometimes he “does not understand himself”; indeed, with very many men, it happens (leaving out of the question the facts of psychical periodicity) that if they think over their pasts in their minds they find it very difficult to refer all the events to a single conscious personality; they do not grasp how it could have been that they, being what they feel themselves at the time to be, could ever have done or felt or thought this, that, or the other. And yet in spite of the difficulty, they know that they had gone through these experiences. The feeling of identity in all circumstances of life is quite wanting in the true woman, because her memory, even if exceptionally good, is devoid of continuity. The consciousness of identity of the male, even although he may fail to understand his own past, manifests itself in the very desire to understand that past. Women, if they look back on their earlier lives, never understand themselves, and do not even wish to understand themselves, and this reveals itself in the scanty interest they give to the attempts of man to understand them. The woman does not interest herself about herself, and hence there have been no female psychologists, no psychology of women written by a woman, and she is incapable of grasping the anxious desire of the man to understand the beginning, middle, and end of his individual life in their relation to each other, and to interpret the whole as a continual, logical, necessary sequence.


At this point there is a natural transition to logic. A creature like woman, the absolute woman, who is not conscious of her own identity at different stages of her life, has no evidence of the identity of the subject-matter of thought at different times. If in her mind the two stages of a change cannot be present simultaneously by means of memory, it is impossible for her to make the comparison and note the change. A being whose memory is never sufficiently good as to make it psychologically possible to perceive identity through the lapse of time, so as to enable her, for instance, to pursue a quantity through a long mathematical reckoning; such a creature in the extreme case would be unable to control her memory for even the moment of time required to say that A will be still A in the next moment, to pronounce judgment on the identity A = A, or on the opposite proposition that A is not equal to A, for that proposition also requires a continuous memory of A to make the comparison possible.

I have been making no mere joke, no facetious sophism or paradoxical proposition. I assert that the judgment of identity depends on conceptions, never on mere perceptions and complexes of perceptions, and the conceptions, as logical conceptions, are independent of time, retaining their constancy, whether I, as a psychological entity, think them constant or not. But man never has a conception in the purely logical form, for he is a psychological being, affected by the condition of sensations; he is able only to form a general idea (a typical, connotative, representative conception) out of his individual experiences by a reciprocal effacing of the differences and strengthening of the similarities, thus, however, very closely approximating to an abstract conception, and in a most wonderful fashion using it as such. He must also be able to preserve this idea which he thinks clear, although in reality it is confused, and it is memory alone that brings about the possibility of that. Were he deprived of memory he would lose the possibility of thinking logically, for this possibility is incarnated, so to speak, only in a psychological medium.


Memory, then, is a necessary part of the logical faculty. The propositions of logic are not conditioned by the existence of memory, but only the power to use them. The proposition A = A must have a psychological relation to time, otherwise it would be At1 = At2. Of course this is not the case in pure logic, but man has no special faculty of pure logic, and must act as a psychological being.

I have already shown that the continuous memory is the vanquisher of time, and, indeed, is necessary even for the idea of time to be formed. And so the continuous memory is the psychological expression of the logical proposition of identity. The absolute woman, in whom memory is absent, cannot take the proposition of identity, or its contradictory, or the exclusion of the alternative, as axiomatic.

Besides these three conditions of logical thought, the fourth condition, the containing of the conclusion in the major premiss, is possible only through memory. That proposition is the groundwork of the syllogism. The premisses psychologically precede the conclusion, and must be retained by the thinking person whilst the minor premiss applies the law of identity or of non-identity. The grounds for the conclusion must lie in the past. And for this reason continuity which dominates the mental processes of man is bound up with causality. Every psychological application of the relation of a conclusion to its premisses implies the continuity of memory to guarantee the identity of the propositions. As woman has no continuous memory she can have no principium rationis sufficientis.

And so it appears that woman is without logic.

George Simmel has held this familiar statement to be erroneous, inasmuch as women have been known to draw conclusions with the strongest consistency. That a woman in a concrete case can unrelentingly pursue a given course at the stimulation of some object is no more a proof that she understands the syllogism, than is her habit of perpetually recurring to disproved arguments a proof that the law of identity is an axiom for her. The point at issue is whether or no they recognise the logical axioms as the criteria of[149] the validity of their thoughts, as the directors of their process of thinking, whether they make or do not make these the rule of conduct and the principle of judgment. A woman cannot grasp that one must act from principle; as she has no continuity she does not experience the necessity for logical support of her mental processes. Hence the ease with which women assume opinions. If a woman gives vent to an opinion, or statement, and a man is so foolish as to take it seriously and to ask her for the proof of it, she regards the request as unkind and offensive, and as impugning her character. A man feels ashamed of himself, feels himself guilty if he has neglected to verify a thought, whether or no that thought has been uttered by him; he feels the obligation to keep to the logical standard which he has set up for himself. Woman resents any attempt to require from her that her thoughts should be logical. She may be regarded as “logically insane.”

The most common defect which one could discover in the conversation of a woman, if one really wished to apply to it the standard of logic (a feat that man habitually shuns, so showing his contempt for a woman’s logic) is the quaternio terminorum, that form of equivocation which is the result of an incapacity to retain definite presentations; in other words the result of a failure to grasp the law of identity. Woman is unaware of this; she does not realise the law nor make it a criterion of thought. Man feels himself bound to logic; the woman is without this feeling. It is only this feeling of guilt that guarantees man’s efforts to think logically. Probably the most profound saying of Descartes, and yet one that has been widely misunderstood, is that all errors are crimes.

The source of all error in life is failure of memory. Thus logic and ethics, both of which deal with the furtherance of truth and join in its highest service, are dependent on memory. The conception dawns on us that Plato was not so far wrong when he connected discernment with memory. Memory, it is true, is not a logical and ethical act, but it is a logical and ethical phenomenon. A man who has had a vivid and deep perception regards it as a fault, if some half-hour[150] afterwards he is thinking of something different, even if external influences have intervened. A man thinks himself unconscientious and blameworthy if he notices that he has not thought of a particular portion of his life for a long time. Memory, moreover, is linked with morality, because it is only through memory that repentance is possible. All forgetfulness is in itself immoral. And so reverence is a moral exercise; it is a duty to forget nothing, and for this reason we should reverence the dead. Equally from logical and ethical motives, man tries to carry logic into his past, in order that past and present may become one.

It is with something of a shock that we realise here that we approach the deep connection between logic and ethics, long ago suggested by Socrates and Plato, discovered anew by Kant and Fichte, but lost sight of by living workers.

A creature that cannot grasp the mutual exclusiveness of A and not A has no difficulty in lying; more than that, such a creature has not even any consciousness of lying, being without a standard of truth. Such a creature if endowed with speech will lie without knowing it, without the possibility of knowing it; Veritas norma sui et falsa est. There is nothing more upsetting to a man than to find, when he has discovered a woman in a lie, and has asked her, “Why did you lie about it?” that she simply does not understand the question, but simply looks at him and laughingly tries to soothe him, or bursts into tears.

The subject does not end with the part played by memory. Lying is common enough amongst men. And lies can be told in spite of a full remembrance of the subject which for some purpose some one wishes to be informed about. Indeed, it might almost be said that the only persons who can lie are those who misrepresent facts in spite of a superior knowledge and consciousness of them.

Truth must first be regarded as the real value of logic and ethics before it is correct to speak of deviations from truth for special motives as lies from the moral point of view. Those who have not this high conception should be adjudged as guilty rather of vagueness and exaggeration[151] than of lying; they are not immoral but non-moral. And in this sense the woman is non-moral.

The root of such an absolute misconception of truth must lie deep. The continuous memory against which alone a man can be false, is not the real source of the effort for truth, the desire for truth, the basal ethical-logical phenomenon, but only stands in intimate relation with it.

That which enables man to have a real relation to truth and which removes his temptation to lie, must be something independent of all time, something absolutely unchangeable, which as faithfully reproduces the old as if it were new, because it is permanent itself; it can only be that source in which all discrete experiences unite and which creates from the first a continuous existence. It is what produces the feeling of responsibility which oppresses all men, young and old, as to their actions, which makes them know that they are responsible, which leads to the phenomena of repentance and consciousness of sin, which calls to account before an eternal and ever present self things that are long past, its judgment being subtler and more comprehensive than that of any court of law or of the laws of society, and which is exerted by the individual himself quite independently of all social codes (so condemning the moral psychology which would derive morality from the social life of man). Society recognises the idea of illegality, but not of sin; it presses for punishment without wishing to produce repentance; lying is punished by the law only in its ceremonious form of perjury, and error has never been placed under its ban. Social ethics with its conception of duty to our neighbour and to society, and practical exclusion from consideration of the other fifteen hundred million human beings, cannot extend the realm of morality, when it begins by limiting it in this arbitrary fashion.

What is this “centre of apperception” that is superior to time and change?

It can be nothing less than what raises man above himself (as a part of the world of sense) which joins him to an[152] order of things that only the reason can grasp, and that puts the whole world of sense at his feet. It is nothing else than personality.

The most sublime book in the world, the “Criticism of Practical Reason,” has referred morality to an intelligent ego, distinct from all empirical consciousness. I must now turn to that side of my subject.



David Hume is well known to have abolished the conception of the ego by seeing in it only a bundle of different perceptions in continual ebb and flow. However completely Hume thought himself to have compromised the ego, at least he explained his view relatively moderately. He proposed to say nothing about a few metaphysicians who appeared to rejoice in another kind of ego; for himself he was quite certain that he had none, and he dared to suppose that the majority of mankind, leaving the few peculiar metaphysicians out of the question, were, like himself, mere bundles. So the polite man expressed himself. In the next chapter I shall show how his irony recoils on himself. That his view became so famous depends partly on the over-estimation in which Hume is held and which is largely due to Kant. Hume was a most distinguished empirical psychologist, but he cannot be regarded as a genius, the popular view notwithstanding. It is not very much to be the first of English philosophers, but Hume has not even a claim to that position. I do not think that Kant would have given so much praise to Hume if he had been fully acquainted with all Hume’s work and not merely with the “Enquiry,” as he certainly rejected the position of Spinoza, according to which men were not “substances,” but merely accidents.

Lichtenberg, who took the field against the ego later than Hume, was still bolder. He is the philosopher of impersonality, and calmly corrects the conversational “I think” into an actual “it thinks”; he regards the ego as a creation of[154] the grammarian. In this Hume had anticipated him, inasmuch as he also had declared, at the end of his analysis, all disputes as to the identity of the person to be merely a battle of words.

E. Mach has recently represented the universe as a coherent mass, and the egos as points in which the coherent mass has greater consistency. The only realities are the perceptions, which are connected in one individual strongly, but which are weaker in another individual who is thus differentiated from the first.

The contents of the perceptions are the realities, and they persist externally to the worthless personal recollections. The ego is not a real but only a practical entity and cannot be isolated, and, therefore, the idea of individual immortality must be rejected. None the less the idea of an ego is not wholly to be rejected; here and there, as, for instance, in Darwin’s struggle for existence, it appears to have some validity.

It is extraordinary how an investigator who has accomplished so much, not only as a historian of his special branch and as a critic of ideas, but who is also fully equipped with knowledge of biology, should have paid no heed to the fact that every organic being is indivisible from the first, and is not composed of anything like atoms, monads, &c. The first distinctive mark of the living as opposed to inorganic matter is that the former is always differentiated into dissimilar, mutually dependent parts, and is not homogeneous like a crystal. And so it should have been borne in mind that it was at least possible that individuation, the fact that organic beings are not united, like Siamese twins, would prove to have importance in psychical matters, and the ego, therefore, was more than Mach’s idea of it as a mere waiting-hall of perceptions.

It may be that there exists a psychical correlation even amongst animals. Everything that an animal feels and perceives has a different “note” or “colour” in every individual. This individual quality is not only characteristic of the class, genus, species, race, and family, but also is[155] different in every individual of the same family, &c. The idioplasm is the physiological equivalent of this specific individual quality of the sensations and perceptions, and there are reasons analogous with those in favour of the supposition of an idioplasm for the supposition of an individual character amongst animals. The sportsman who has to do with dogs, the trainer with horses, and the keeper with animals will readily admit the existence of this individuality as a constant element. It is clear that we have to do here with something more than a mere rendezvous of perceptions.

But even if this psychical analogue of the idioplasm were proved to exist in the case of animals, it could not be ranked with the intelligible character, the existence of which in any living creature except man cannot be maintained. The intelligible character of men, their individuation, has the same relation to empirical character that memory has to the simple power of recognition. And finally we come to identity, by which the structure, form, law, and cosmos persist even through the change of contents. The considerations from which is drawn the proof of the existence in man of such a noumenal, trans-empirical subject must now be stated briefly. They come from logic and ethics.

Logic deals with the true significance of the principle of identity (also with that of contradiction; the exact relation of these two, and the various modes of stating it are controversial matters outside the present subject). The proposition A = A is axiomatic and self-evident. It is the primitive measure of truth for all other propositions; however much we may think over it we must return to this fundamental proposition. It is the principle of the distinction between truth and error; and he who regards it as meaningless tautology, as was the case with Hegel and many of the later empiricists (this being not the only surprising point of contact between two schools apparently so different) is right in a fashion, but has misunderstood the nature of the proposition. A = A, the principle of all truth, cannot itself be a special truth. He who finds the proposition of identity[156] or that of non-identity meaningless does so by his own fault. He must have expected to find in these propositions special ideas, a source of positive knowledge. But they are not in themselves knowledge, separate acts of thought, but the common standard for all acts of thought. And so they cannot be compared with other acts of thought. The rule of the process of thought must be outside thought. The proposition of identity does not add to our knowledge; it does not increase but rather founds a kingdom. The proposition of identity is either meaningless or means everything. Upon what do the propositions of identity and of non-identity depend? The common view is that they are judgments. Sigwart, for instance, who has recently discussed the matter, puts it as follows: The two judgments A is B and A is not B cannot be true at the same time because the judgment “An unlearned man is learned” would involve a contradiction because the predicate “learned” is affirmed of a subject of which the judgment has been made implicitly that he is unlearned, so that in reality two judgments are made, X is learned and X is unlearned. The “psychologismus” of this method of argument is plain. It has recourse to a temporary judgment preceding the formation of the conception “unlearned man.” The proposition, however, A is not A claims validity quite apart from the past, present, or future existence of other judgments. It depends on the conception “unlearned man.” It makes the conception more certain by excluding contradictory instances.

This, then, gives us the true function of the principles of identity and non-identity. They are materials for conceptions.

This function concerns only logical conceptions, but not what have been called psychological conceptions. The conception is always represented psychologically by a generalisation; and this presentation in a certain fashion is included in the conception. The generalisation represents the conception psychologically, but is not identical with it. It can, so to speak, be richer (as when I think of a triangle)[157] or it can be poorer (the conception of a lion contains more than my generalisation of lions). The logical conception is the plumb-line which the attention tries to follow; it is the goal and pole-star of the psychological generalisation.

Pure logical thought cannot occur in the case of men; it would be an attribute of deity. A human being must always think partly psychologically because he possesses not only reason but also senses, and his thought cannot free itself from temporal experiences but must remain bound by them. Logic, however, is the supreme standard by which the individual can test his own psychological ideas and those of others. When two men are discussing anything it is the conception and not the varying individual presentations of it that they aim at. The conception, then, is the standard of value for the individual presentations. The mode in which the psychological generalisation comes into existence is quite independent of the conception and has no significance in respect to it. The logical character which invests the conception with dignity and power is not derived from experience, for experience can give only vague and wavering generalisations. Absolute constancy and absolute coherence which cannot come from experience are the essence of the conception of that power concealed in the depths of the human mind whose handiwork we try hard but in vain to see in nature. Conceptions are the only true realities, and the conception is not in nature; it is the rule of the essence not of the actual existence.

When I enunciate the proposition A = A, the meaning of the proposition is not that a special individual A of experience or of thought is like itself. The judgment of identity does not depend on the existence of an A. It means only that if an A exists, or even if it does not exist, then A = A. Something is posited, the existence of A = A whether or no A itself exists. It cannot be the result of experience, as Mill supposed, for it is independent of the existence of A. But an existence has been posited; it is not the existence of the object; it must be the existence of[158] the subject. The reality of the existence is not in the first A or the second A, but in the simultaneous identity of the two. And so the proposition A = A is no other than the proposition “I am.”

From the psychological point of view, the real meaning of the proposition of identity is not so difficult to interpret. It is clear that to be able to say A = A, to establish the permanence of the conception through the changes of experience, there must be something unchangeable, and this can be only the subject. Were I part of the stream of change I could not verify that the A had remained unchanged, had remained itself. Were I part of the change, I could not recognise the change. Fichte was right when he stated that the existence of the ego was to be found concealed in pure logic, inasmuch as the ego is the condition of intelligible existence.

The logical axioms are the principle of all truth. These posit an existence towards which all cognition serves. Logic is a law which must be obeyed, and man realises himself only in so far as he is logical. He finds himself in cognition.

All error must be felt to be crime. And so man must not err. He must find the truth, and so he can find it. The duty of cognition involves the possibility of cognition, the freedom of thought, and the hope of ascertaining truth. In the fact that logic is the condition of the mind lies the proof that thought is free and can reach its goal.

I can treat ethics briefly and in another fashion, inasmuch as what I have to say is founded on Kant’s moral philosophy. The deepest, the intelligible, part of the nature of man is that part which does not take refuge in causality, but which chooses in freedom the good or the bad. This is manifest in consciousness of sin and in repentance. No one has attempted to explain these facts otherwise; and no one allows himself to be persuaded that he must commit this or that act. In the shall there lies the possibility of the can. The causal determining factors, the lower motives that act upon him, he is fully[159] aware of, but he remains conscious of an intelligible ego free to act in a different way from other egos.

Truth, purity, faithfulness, uprightness, with reference to oneself; these give the only conceivable ethics. Duty is only duty to oneself, duty of the empirical ego to the intelligible ego. These appear in the form of two imperatives that will always put to shame every kind of psychologismus—the logical law and the moral law. The internal direction, the categorical imperatives of logic and morality which dominate all the codes of social utilitarianism are factors that no empiricism can explain. All empiricism and scepticism, positivism and relativism, instinctively feel that their principal difficulties lie in logic and ethics. And so perpetually renewed and fruitless efforts are made to explain this inward discipline empirically and psychologically.

Logic and ethics are fundamentally the same, they are no more than duty to oneself. They celebrate their union by the highest service of truth, which is overshadowed in the one case by error, in the other by untruth. All ethics are possible only by the laws of logic, and logic is no more than the ethical side of law. Not only virtue, but also insight, not only sanctity but also wisdom, are the duties and tasks of mankind. Through the union of these alone comes perfection.

Ethics, however, the laws of which are postulates, cannot be made the basis of a logical proof of existence. Ethics are not logical in the same sense that logic is ethical. Logic proves the absolute actual existence of the ego; ethics control the form which the actuality assumes. Ethics dominate logic and make logic part of their contents.

In thinking of the famous passage in the “Critique of Practical Reason,” where Kant introduces man as a part of the intelligible cosmos, it may be asked how Kant assured himself that the moral law was inherent in personality. The answer Kant gave was simply that no other and no nobler origin could be found for it. He goes no further than to say that the categorical imperative is the law of[160] the noumenon, belonging to it and inherent in it from the beginning. That, however, is the nature of ethics. Ethics make it possible for the intelligible ego to act free from the shackles of empiricism, and so through ethics, the existence of whose possibilities logic assures us, is able to become actual in all its purity.

There remains a most important point in which the Kantian system is often misunderstood. It reveals itself plainly in every case of wrong-doing.

Duty is only towards oneself; Kant must have realised this in his earlier days when first he felt an impulse to lie. Except for a few indications in Nietzsche, and in Stirner, and a few others, Ibsen alone seems to have grasped the principle of the Kantian ethics (notably in “Brand” and “Peer Gynt”). The following two quotations also give the Kantian view in a general way:

First Hebbel’s epigram, “Lies and Truth.”

“Which do you pay dearer for, lies or the truth? The former costs you yourself, the latter at most your happiness.”

Next, the well-known words of Sleika from the “Westöstlichen Diwan”:

All sorts go to make a world,
The crowd and the rogue and the hero;
But the highest fortune of earth’s children
Is always in their own personality.
It matters little how a man lives
If only he is true to himself;
It matters nothing what a man may lose
If he remains what he really is.

It is certainly true that most men need some kind of a God. A few, and they are the men of genius, do not bow to an alien law. The rest try to justify their doings and misdoings, their thinking and existence (at least the mental side of it), to some one else, whether it be the personal God of the Jews, or a beloved, respected, and revered human being. It is only in this way that they can bring their lives under the social law.


Kant was permeated with his conviction, as is conspicuous in the minutest details of his chosen life-work, that man was responsible only to himself, to such an extent that he regarded this side of his theory as self-evident and least likely to be disputed. This silence of Kant has brought about a misunderstanding of his ethics—the only ethics tenable from the psychologically introspective standpoint, the only system according to which the insistent strong inner voice of the one is to be heard through the noise of the many.

I gather from a passage in his “Anthropology” that even in the case of Kant some incident in his actual earthly life preceded the “formation of his character.” The birth of the Kantian ethics, the noblest event in the history of the world, was the moment when for the first time the dazzling awful conception came to him, “I am responsible only to myself; I must follow none other; I must not forget myself even in my work; I am alone; I am free; I am lord of myself.”

“Two things fill my mind with ever renewed wonder and awe the more often and the deeper I dwell on them—the starry vault above me and the moral law within me. I must not look on them both as veiled in mystery or think that their majesty places them beyond me. I see them before me, and they are part of the consciousness of my existence. The first arises from my position in the outer world of the senses, and links me with the immeasurable space in which worlds and worlds and systems and systems, although in immeasurable time, have their ebbs and flows, their beginnings and ends. The second arises from my invisible self, my personality, and places me in a world that has true infinity, but which is evident only to the reason and with which I recognise myself as being bound, not accidentally as in the other case but in a universal and necessary union. On the one hand, the consciousness of an endless series of worlds destroys my sense of importance, making me only one of the animal creatures which must return its substance again to the planet (that, too, being no[162] more than a point in space) from whence it came, after having been in some unknown way endowed with life for a brief space. The second point of view enhances my importance, makes me an intelligence, infinite and unconditioned through my personality, the moral law in which separates me from the animals and from the world of sense, removes me from the limits of time and space, and links me with infinity.”

The secret of the critique of practical reason is that man is alone in the world, in tremendous eternal isolation.

He has no object outside himself; lives for nothing else; he is far removed from being the slave of his wishes, of his abilities, of his necessities; he stands far above social ethics; he is alone.

Thus he becomes one and all; he has the law in him, and so he himself is the law, and no mere changing caprice. The desire is in him to be only the law, to be the law that is himself, without afterthought or forethought. This is the awful conclusion, he has no longer the sense that there can be duty for him. Nothing is superior to him, to the isolated absolute unity. But there are no alternatives for him; he must respond to his own categorical imperatives, absolutely, impartially. “Freedom,” he cries (for instance, Wagner, or Schopenhauer), “rest, peace from the enemy; peace, not this endless striving”; and he is terrified. Even in this wish for freedom there is cowardice; in the ignominious lament there is desertion as if he were too small for the fight. What is the use of it all, he cries to the universe; and is at once ashamed, for he is demanding happiness, and that his own burden should rest on other shoulders. Kant’s lonely man does not dance or laugh; he neither brawls nor makes merry; he feels no need to make a noise, because the universe is so silent around him. To acquiesce in his loneliness is the splendid supremacy of the Kantian.



“In the beginning the world was nothing but the Âtman, in the form of a man. It looked around and saw nothing different to itself. Then it cried out once, ‘It is I.’ That is how the word ‘I’ came to be. That is why even at the present day, if any one is called, he answers, ‘It is I,’ and then recalls his other name, the one he bears.”—(Brihadâranyata-Upanishad.)

Many disputations about principles in psychology arise from individual characterological differences in the disputants. Thus, in the mode that I have already suggested, characterology might play an important part. When one person thinks to have discovered this, the other that, by introspection, characterology would have to show why the results in the one case should differ from those in the other, or, at least, to point out in what other respects the persons in question were unlike. I see no other possible way of clearing up the disputed points of psychology. Psychology is a science of experiences, and, therefore, it must proceed from the individual to the general, and not, as in the supra-individualistic laws of logic and ethics, proceed from the universal to the individual case. There is no such thing as an empirical general psychology; and it would be a mistake to approach such without having fully reckoned with differential psychology.

It is a great pity that psychology has been placed between philosophy and the analysis of perceptions. From whichever side psychologists approached the subject, they have always been assured of the general validity of their results.[164] Perhaps even so fundamental a question as to whether or no perception itself implies an actual and spontaneous act of consciousness cannot be solved without a consideration of characterological differences.

The purpose of this work is to apply characterology to the solution of a few of these doubtful matters, with special reference to the distinctions between the sexes. The different conceptions of the I-problem, however, depend not so much on differences of sex as on differences in giftedness. The dispute between Hume and Kant receives its characterological explanation much in the same way as if I were to distinguish two men in so far as the one held in the highest esteem the works of Makart and Gounod, the other those of Rembrandt and Beethoven. I would simply distinguish the two by their giftedness. So also the judgments about the “I” must be very different in the cases of differently gifted men. There have been no truly great men who were not persuaded of the existence of the “I”; a man who denies it cannot be a great man.

In the course of the following pages this proposition will be taken as absolutely binding, and will be used really as a means of valuing genius.

There has been no famous man who, at least some time in the course of his life, and generally earlier in proportion to his greatness, has not had a moment in which he was absolutely convinced of the possession of an ego in the highest sense.

Let us compare the following utterances of three very great geniuses.

Jean Paul relates in his autobiographical sketch, “Truths from my own Life”:

“I can never forget a circumstance which, so far, has been related by no one—the birth of my own self-consciousness, the time and place of which I can tell. One morning I was standing, as a very young child, at the front door, and looking towards the wood-shed I suddenly saw, all at once my inner likeness. ‘I’ am ‘I’ flashed like lightning from the skies across me, and since then has remained. I saw[165] myself then for the first time and for ever. This cannot be explained as a confusion of memory, for no alien narrative could have blended itself with this sacred event, preserved permanently in my memory by its vividness and novelty.”

Novalis, in his “Miscellaneous Fragments,” refers to an identical experience:

“This factor every one must experience for himself. It is a factor of the higher order, and reveals itself only to higher men; but men should strive to induce it in themselves. Philosophy is the exercise of this factor, it is a true self-revelation, the stimulation of the real ego by the ideal ego. It is the foundation of all other revelations; the resolution to philosophise is a challenge to the actual ego, to become conscious of itself, to grow and to become a soul.”

Schelling discusses the same phenomenon in his “Philosophical Letters upon Dogmatism and Criticism,” a little known early work, in which occur the following beautiful words:

“In all of us there dwells a secret marvellous power of freeing ourselves from the changes of time, of withdrawing to our secret selves away from external things, and of so discovering to ourselves the eternal in us in the form of unchangeability. This presentation of ourselves to ourselves is the most truly personal experience upon which depends everything that we know of the supra-sensual world. This presentation shows us for the first time what real existence is, whilst all else only appears to be. It differs from every presentation of the sense in its perfect freedom, whilst all other presentations are bound, being overweighted by the burden of the object. Still there exists for those who have not this perfect freedom of the inner sense some approach to it, experiences approaching it from which they may gain some faint idea of it.... This intellectual presentation occurs when we cease to be our own object, when, withdrawing into ourselves, the perceiving self merges in the self-perceived. At that moment we annihilate time and duration of time; we are no longer in time, but time, or[166] rather eternity itself, is in us. The external world is no longer an object for us, but is lost in us.”

The positivist will perhaps only laugh at the self-deceived deceiver, the philosopher who asserts that he has had such experiences. Well, it is not easy to prevent it. It is also unnecessary. But I am by no means of the opinion that this “factor of a higher order” plays the same part in all men of genius of a mystical identity of subject and object as Schelling describes it.

Whether there are undivided experiences in which the dualism of actual life is overcome, as is indicated by Plotin and the Indian Mahatmas, or whether this is only the highest intensification of experience, but in principle similar to all others—does not signify here, the coincidence of subject and object, of time and eternity, the representing of God through living men, will neither be demonstrated as possible nor denied as impossible. The experiencing of one’s own “I” is not to be begun by theoretical knowledge, and no one has ever, so far, tried to put it in the position of a systematic philosophy. I shall, therefore, not call this factor of a higher order, which manifests itself in some men in one way and in other men in another way, an essential manifestation of the true ego, but only a phase of it.

Every great man knows this phase of the ego. He may become conscious of it first through the love of a woman, for the great man loves more intensely than the ordinary man; or it may be from the contrast given by a sense of guilt or the knowledge of having failed; these, too, the great man feels more intensely than smaller-minded people. It may lead him to a sense of unity with the all, to the seeing of all things in God, or, and this is more likely, it may reveal to him the frightful dualism of nature and spirit in the universe, and produce in him the need, the craving, for a solution of it, for the secret inner wonder. But always it leads the great man to the beginning of a presentation of the world for himself and by himself, without the help of the thought of others.

This intuitive vision of the world is not a great synthesis[167] elaborated at his writing-table in his library from all the books that have been written; it is something that has been experienced, and as a whole it is clear and intelligible, although details may still be obscure and contradictory. The excitation of the ego is the only source of this intuitive vision of the world as a whole in the case of the artist as in that of the philosopher. And, however different they may be, if they are really intuitive visions of the cosmos, they have this in common, something that comes only from the excitation of the ego, the faith that every great man possesses, the conviction of his possession of an “I” or soul, which is solitary in the universe, which faces the universe and comprehends it.

From the time of this first excitation of his ego, the great man, in spite of lapses due to the most terrible feeling, the feeling of mortality, will live in and by his soul.

And it is for this reason, as well as from the sense of his creative powers, that the great man has so intense a self-consciousness. Nothing can be more unintelligent than to talk of the modesty of great men, of their inability to recognise what is within them. There is no great man who does not well know how far he differs from others (except during these periodical fits of depression to which I have already alluded). Every great man feels himself to be great as soon as he has created something; his vanity and ambition are, in fact, always so great that he over-estimates himself. Schopenhauer believed himself to be greater than Kant. Nietzsche declared that “Thus spake Zarathustra” was the greatest book in the world.

There is, however, a side of truth in the assertion that great men are modest. They are never arrogant. Arrogance and self-realisation are contradictories, and should never be confused although this is often done. A man has just as much arrogance as he lacks of self-realisation, and uses it to increase his own self-consciousness by artificially lowering his estimation of others. Of course the foregoing holds true only of what may be called physiological, unconscious arrogance; the great man must occasionally[168] comport himself with what seems rudeness to contemptible persons.

All great men, then, have a conviction, really independent of external proof, that they have a soul. The absurd fear must be laid aside that the soul is a hyperempirical reality and that belief in it leads us to the position of the theologists. Belief in a soul is anything rather than a superstition and is no mere handmaid of religious systems. Artists speak of their souls although they have not studied philosophy or theology; atheists like Shelley use the expression and know very well what they mean by it.

Others have suggested that the “soul” is only a beautiful empty word, which people ascribe to others without having felt its need for themselves. This is like saying that great artists use symbols to express the highest form of reality without being assured as to the existence of that reality. The mere empiricist and the pure physiologist no doubt will consider that all this is nonsense, and that Lucretius is the only great poet. No doubt there has been much misuse of the word, but if great artists speak of their soul they know what they are about. Artists, like philosophers, know well when they approach the greatest possible reality, but Hume had no sense of this.

The scientific man ranks, as I have already said, and as I shall presently prove, below the artist and the philosopher. The two latter may earn the title of genius which must always be denied to the scientific man. Without any good reason having been assigned for it, it has usually been the case that the voice of genius on any particular problem is listened to before the voice of science. Is there justice in this preference? Can the genius explain things as to which the man of science, as such, can say nothing? Can he peer into depths where the man of science is blind?

The conception genius concludes universality. If there were an absolute genius (a convenient fiction) there would be nothing to which he could not have a vivid, intimate, and complete relation. Genius, as I have already shown, would have universal comprehension, and through its[169] perfect memory would be independent of time. To comprehend anything one must have within one something similar. A man notices, understands, and comprehends only those things with which he has some kinship. The genius is the man with the most intense, most vivid, most conscious, most continuous, and most individual ego. The ego is the central point, the unit of comprehension, the synthesis of all manifoldness.

The ego of the genius accordingly is simply itself universal comprehension, the centre of infinite space; the great man contains the whole universe within himself; genius is the living microcosm. He is not an intricate mosaic, a chemical combination of an infinite number of elements; the argument in chap. iv. as to his relation to other men and things must not be taken in that sense; he is everything. In him and through him all psychical manifestations cohere and are real experiences, not an elaborate piece-work, a whole put together from parts in the fashion of science. For the genius the ego is the all, lives as the all; the genius sees nature and all existences as whole; the relations of things flash on him intuitively; he has not to build bridges of stones between them. And so the genius cannot be an empirical psychologist slowly collecting details and linking them by associations; he cannot be a physicist, envisaging the world as a compound of atoms and molecules.

It is absolutely from his vision of the whole, in which the genius always lives, that he gets his sense of the parts. He values everything within him or without him by the standard of this vision, a vision that for him is no function of time, but a part of eternity. And so the man of genius is the profound man, and profound only in proportion to his genius. That is why his views are more valuable than those of all others. He constructs from everything his ego that holds the universe, whilst others never reach a full consciousness of this inner self, and so, for him, all things have significance, all things are symbolical. For him breathing is something more than the coming and going of gases through the walls of the capillaries; the blue of the sky is[170] more than the partial polarisation of diffused and reflected light; snakes are not merely reptiles that have lost limbs. If it were possible for one single man to have achieved all the scientific discoveries that have ever been made, if everything that has been done by the following: Archimedes and Lagrange, Johannes Müller and Karl Ernst von Baer, Newton and Laplace, Konrad Sprengel and Cuvier, Thucydides and Niebuhr, Friedrich August Wolf and Franz Bopp, and by many more famous men of science, could have been achieved by one man in the short span of human life, he would still not be entitled to the denomination of genius, for none of these have pierced the depths. The scientist takes phenomena for what they obviously are; the great man or the genius for what they signify. Sea and mountain, light and darkness, spring and autumn, cypress and palm, dove and swan are symbols to him, he not only thinks that there is, but he recognises in them something deeper. The ride of the Valkyrie is not produced by atmospheric pressure and the magic fire is not the outcome of a process of oxidation.

And all this is possible for him because the outer world is as full and strongly connected as the inner in him, the external world in fact seems to be only a special aspect of his inner life; the universe and the ego have become one in him, and he is not obliged to set his experience together piece by piece according to rule. The greatest poly-historian, on the contrary, does nothing but add branch to branch and yet creates no completed structure. That is another reason why the great scientist is lower than the great artist, the great philosopher. The infinity of the universe is responded to in the genius by a true sense of infinity in his own breast; he holds chaos and cosmos, all details and all totality, all plurality, and all singularity in himself. Although these remarks apply more to genius than to the nature of the productions of genius, although the occurrence of artistic ecstasy, philosophic conceptions, religious fervour remain as puzzling as ever, if merely the conditions, not the actual process of a really great achievement has[171] been made clearer, yet this is nevertheless to be the final definition of genius:

A man may be called a genius when he lives in conscious connection with the whole universe. It is only then that the genius becomes the really divine spark in mankind.

The great idea of the soul of man as the microcosm, the most important discovery of the philosophy of the Renaissance—although traces of the idea are to be found in Plato and Aristotle—appears to be quite disregarded by modern thinkers since the death of Leibnitz. It has hitherto been held as only holding good for genius, as the prerogative of those masters of men.

But the incongruity is only apparent. All mankind have some of the quality of genius, and no man has it entirely. Genius is a condition to which one man draws close whilst another is further away, which is attained by some in early days, but with others only at the end of life.

The man to whom we have accorded the possession of genius, is only he who has begun to see, and to open the eyes of others. That they then can see with their own eyes proves that they were only standing before the door.

Even the ordinary man, even as such, can stand in an indirect relationship to everything: his idea of the “whole” is only a glimpse, he does not succeed in identifying himself with it. But he is not without the possibility of following this identification in another, and so attaining a composite image. Through some vision of the world he can bind himself to the universal, and by diligent cultivation he can make each detail a part of himself. Nothing is quite strange to him, and in all a band of sympathy exists between him and the things of the world. It is not so with plants or animals. They are limited, they do not know the whole but only one element; they do not populate the whole earth, and where they are widely dispersed it is in the service of man, who has allotted to them everywhere the same task. They may have a relation to the sun or to the moon, but they certainly are wanting in respect of the “starry vault” and “the moral law.” For the latter[172] originates in the soul of man, in which is hidden all totality, which can see everything because it is universal itself: the starry heavens and the moral law are fundamentally one and the same. The universalism of the categorical imperative is the universalism of the universe.

The infinity of the universe is only the “thought-picture” of the infinity of the moral volition.

This was taught, the microcosm in man, by Empedocles that mighty magician.

Γαίῃ μὲν γὰρ γαῖαν ὀπώπαμεν, ὕδατι δ’ ὕδωρ,
Αἰθέρι δ’ αἰθέρα δῖον, ἀτὰρ πυρὶ πῦρ ἀίδηλον,
Στοργῇ δὲ στοργήν, νεῖχος δέ τε νείχεϊ λυγρῷ.

And Plotinus;

Οὐ γὰρ ἂν πώποτε εἴδεν
ὀφθαλμὸς ἥλιον ἡλιοειδὴς μὴ γεγενημένος,

which Goethe imitated in the famous verse:

“Wär’ nicht das Auge sonnenhaft,
Die Sonne könnt’ es nie erblicken;
Läg’ nicht in uns des Gottes eig’ne Kraft,
Wie könnt uns Göttliches entzücken?”

Man is the only creature, he is the creature in Nature, that has in himself a relation to every thing.

He to whom this relationship brings understanding and the most complete consciousness, not to many things or to few things, but to all things, the man who of his own individuality has thought out everything, is called a genius. He in whom the possibility of this is present, in whom an interest in everything could be aroused, yet who only, of his own accord, concerns himself with a few, we call merely a man.

The theory of Leibnitz, which is seldom rightly understood, that the lower monads are a mirror of the world without being conscious of this capacity of theirs, expresses the same idea. The man of genius lives in a state of complete understanding, an understanding of the whole; the whole world[173] is also in ordinary men, but not in a condition that can become creative. The one lives in conscious active relation with the whole, the other in an unconscious relation; the man of genius is the actual, the common man the potential, microcosm. The genius is the complete man; the manhood that is latent in all men is in him fully developed.

Man himself is the All, and so unlike a mere part, dependent on other parts; he is not assigned a definite place in a system of natural laws, but he himself is the meaning of the law and is therefore free, just as the world whole being itself, the All does not condition itself but is unconditioned. The man of genius is he who forgets nothing because he does not forget himself, and because forgetting, being a functional subjection to time, is neither free nor ethical. He is not brought forward on the wave of a historical movement as its child, to be swallowed up by the next wave, because all, all the past and all the future is contained in his inward vision. He it is whose consciousness of immortality is most strong because the fear of death has no terror for him. He it is who lives in the most sympathetic relation to symbols and values because he weighs and interprets by these all that is within him and all that is outside him. He is the freest and the wisest and the most moral of men, and for these reasons he suffers most of all from what is still unconscious, what is chaos, what is fatality within him.

How does the morality of great men reveal itself in their relations to other men? This, according to the popular view, is the only form which morality can assume, apart from contraventions of the penal code. And certainly in this respect, great men have displayed the most dubious qualities. Have they not laid themselves open to accusations of base ingratitude, extreme harshness, and much worse faults?

It is certainly true that the greater an artist or philosopher may be, the more ruthless he will be in keeping faith with himself, in this very way often disappointing the expectations of those with whom he comes in contact in every-day life;[174] these cannot follow his higher flights and so try to bind the eagle to earth (Goethe and Lavater) and in this way many great men have been branded as immoral.

Goethe, fortunately for himself, preserved a silence about himself so complete that modern people who think that they understand him completely as the light-living Olympian, only know a few specks of him taken from his marvellous delineation of Faust; we may be certain, none the less, that he judged himself severely, and suffered in full measure for the guilt he found in himself. And when an envious Nörgler, who never grasped Schopenhauer’s doctrine of detachment and the meaning of his Nirwana, throws the reproach at the latter that he got the last value out of his property, such a mean yelping requires no answer.

The statement that a great man is most moral towards himself stands on sure ground; he will not allow alien views to be imposed on him, so obscuring the judgment of his own ego; he will not passively accept the interpretation of another, of an alien ego, quite different from his own, and if ever he has allowed himself to be influenced, the thought will always be painful to him. A conscious lie that he has told will harass him throughout his life, and he will be unable to shake off the memory in Dionysian fashion. But men of genius will suffer most when they become aware afterwards that they have unconsciously helped to spread a lie in their talk or conduct with others. Other men, who do not possess this organic thirst for truth, are always deeply involved in lies and errors, and so do not understand the bitter revolt of great men against the “lies of life.”

The great man, he who stands high, he in whom the ego, unconditioned by time, is dominant, seeks to maintain his own value in the presence of his intelligible ego by his intellectual and moral conscience. His pride is towards himself; there is the desire in him to impress his own self by his thoughts, actions, and creations. This pride is the pride peculiar to genius, possessing its own standard of value, and it is independent of the judgment of others, since it possesses in itself a higher tribunal. Soft and[175] ascetic natures (Pascal is an example) sometimes suffer from this self-pride, and yet try in vain to shake it off. This self-pride will always be associated with pride before others, but the two forms are really in perpetual conflict.

Can it be said that this strong adaptation to duty towards oneself prejudices the sense of duty towards one’s neighbours? Do not the two stand as alternatives, so that he who always keeps faith with himself must break it with others? By no means. As there is only one truth, so there can be only one desire for truth—what Carlyle called sincerity—that a man has or has not with regard both to himself and to the world; it is never one of two, a view of the world differing from a view of oneself, a self-study without a world-study; there is only one duty and only one morality. Man acts either morally or immorally, and if he is moral towards himself he is moral towards others.

There are few regions of thought, however, so full of false ideas, as the conception of moral duty towards one’s neighbours and how it is to be fulfilled. Leaving out of consideration, for the moment, the theoretical systems of morality which are based on the maintenance of human society, and which attach less importance to the concrete feelings and motives at the moment of action than to the effect on the general system of morality, we come at once to the popular idea which defines the morality of a man by his “goodness,” the degree to which his compassionate disposition is developed. From the philosophical point of view, Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith saw in sympathy the nature and source of all ethical conduct, and this view received a very strong support from Schopenhauer’s sympathetic morality. Schopenhauer’s “Essay on the Foundations of Morality” shows in its motto “It is easy to preach morality, difficult to find a basis for it,” the fundamental error of the sympathetic ethics which always fails to recognise that the science of ethics is not merely an explanation and description of conduct, but a search for a guide to it. Whoever will be at the pains diligently to listen to the inner voice of man, in order to establish[176] what he ought to do, will certainly reject every system of ethics, the aim of which is to be a doctrine of the requirements which man has invented for himself and others instead of being a relation of what he actually does in furthering these requirements or in stifling them. The object of all moral science is not what is happening but what ought to happen.

All attempts to explain ethics by psychology overlook the fact that every psychic event in man is appraised by man himself, and the appraiser of the psychic event cannot be a psychic event. This standard can only be an idea, or a value which is never fully realised, and which cannot be altered by any experience because it remains constant, even if all experience is in opposition to it. Moral conduct can be only conduct controlled by an idea. And so we can choose only from systems of morality which set up some idea or maxim for the regulation of conduct, and there are only two to choose from, the ethical socialism or social ethics, founded by Bentham and Mill, but imported to the Continent and diligently propagated in Germany and Norway, and ethical individualism such as is taught by Christianity and German idealism.

The second failure of all the systems of ethics founded on sympathy is that they attempt to find a foundation for morality, to explain morality, whilst the very conception of morality is that it should be the ultimate standard of human conduct, and so must be inexplicable and non-derivative, must be its own purpose, and cannot be brought into relation of cause and effect with anything outside itself. This attempted derivation of morality is simply another aspect of the purely descriptive, and therefore necessarily, relative, ethics, and is untenable from the fact that however diligently the search be made, it is impossible to find in the sphere of causes and effects a high aim that would be applicable to every moral action. The inspiring motive of an action cannot come from any nexus of cause and effect; it is much more in the nature of things for cause and effect to be linked with an inspiring[177] moral aim. Outside the domain of first causes there lies a domain of moral aims, and this latter domain is the inheritance of mankind. The complete science of existence is a linking together of first causes until the first cause of all is reached, and a complete science of “oughts” leads to a union of all in one great aim, the culminating moral imperative.

He who rates sympathy as a positive moral factor has treated as moral something that is a feeling, not an act. Sympathy may be an ethical phenomenon, the expression of something ethical, but it is no more an ethical act than are the senses of shame and pride; we must clearly distinguish between an ethical act and an ethical phenomenon. Nothing must be considered an ethical act that is not a confirmation of the ethical idea by action; ethical phenomena are unpremeditated, involuntary signs of a permanent tendency of the disposition towards the moral idea. It is in the struggle between motives that the idea presses in and seeks to make the decision; the empirical mixture of ethical and unethical feelings, sympathy and malice, self-confidence and presumption, gives no help towards a conclusion. Sympathy is, perhaps, the surest sign of a disposition, but it is not the moral purpose inspiring an action. Morality must imply conscious knowledge of the moral purpose and of value as opposed to worthlessness. Socrates was right in this, and Kant is the only modern philosopher who has followed him. Sympathy is a non-logical sensation, and has no claim to respect.

The question now before us is to consider how far a man can act morally with regard to his fellow men.

It is certainly not by unsolicited help which obtrudes itself on the solitude of another and pierces the limits that he has set for himself; not by compassion but rather by respect. This respect we owe only to man, as Kant showed; for man is the only creature in the universe who is a purpose to himself.

But how can I show a man my contempt, and how[178] prove to him my respect? The first by ignoring him, the second by being friendly with him.

How can I use him as a means to an end, and how can I honour him by regarding him himself as an end? In the first case, by looking upon him as a link in the chain of circumstances with which I have to deal; in the second, by endeavouring to understand him. It is only by interesting oneself in a man, without exactly telling him so, by thinking of him, by grasping his work, by sympathising with his fate, and by seeking to understand him, that one can respect one’s neighbour. Only he who, through his own afflictions, has become unselfish, who forgets small wranglings with his fellow man, who can repress his impatience, and who endeavours to understand him, is really disinterested with regard to his neighbour; and he behaves morally because he triumphs over the strongest enemy to his understanding of his neighbour—selfishness.

How does the famous man stand in this respect? He who understands the most men, because he is most universal in disposition, and who lives in the closest relation to the universe at large, who most earnestly desires to understand its purpose, will be most likely to act well towards his neighbour.

As a matter of fact, no one thinks so much or so intently as he about other people (even although he has only seen them for a moment), and no one tries so hard to understand them if he does not feel that he already has them within him in all their significance. Inasmuch as he has a continuous past, a complete ego of his own, he can create the past which he did not know for others. He follows the strongest bent of his inner being if he thinks about them, for he seeks only to come to the truth about them by understanding them. He sees that human beings are all members of an intelligible world, in which there is no narrow egoism or altruism. This is the only explanation of how it is that great men stand in vital, understanding relationship, not only with those round about them, but with all the personalities of history who have preceded them;[179] this is the only reason why great artists have grasped historical personalities so much better and more intensively than scientific historians. There has been no great man who has not stood in a personal relationship to Napoleon, Plato, or Mahomet. It is in this way that he shows his respect and true reverence for those who have lived before him. When many of those who have been intimate with artists feel aggrieved when later on they recognise themselves in their works; when writers are reproached for treating everything as copy, it is easy enough to understand the feeling. But the artist or author who does not heed the littlenesses of mankind has committed no crime, he has simply employed his creative act of understanding with regard to them, by a single-minded representation and reproduction of the world around him, and there can be no higher relation between men than this. The following words of Pascal, which have already been mentioned, are specially applicable here: “A mesure qu’on a plus d’esprit, on trouve qu’il y a plus d’hommes originaux. Les gens du commun ne trouvent pas de différence entre les hommes.” It follows from the foregoing that the greater a man is the greater efforts he will make to understand things that are most strange to him, whilst the ordinary man readily thinks that he understands a thing, although it may be something he does not at all understand, so that he fails to perceive the unfamiliar spirit which is appealing to him from some object of art or from a philosophy, and at most attains a superficial relation to the subject, but does not rise to the inspiration of its creator. The great man who attains to the highest rungs of consciousness does not easily identify himself and his opinion with anything he reads, whilst those with a lesser clarity of mind adopt, and imagine that they absorb, things that in reality are very different. The man of genius is he whose ego has acquired consciousness. He is enabled by it to distinguish the fact that others are different, to perceive the “ego” of other men, even when it is not pronounced enough for them to be conscious of it themselves. But it is only he who feels that every other man is also an[180] ego, a monad, an individual centre of the universe, with specific manner of feeling and thinking and a distinct past, he alone is in a position to avoid making use of his neighbours as means to an end, he, according to the ethics of Kant, will trace, anticipate, and therefore respect the personality in his companion (as part of the intelligible universe), and will not merely be scandalised by him. The psychological condition of all practical altruism, therefore, is theoretical individualism.

Here lies the bridge between moral conduct towards oneself and moral conduct towards one’s neighbour, the apparent want of which in the Kantian philosophy Schopenhauer unjustly regarded as a fault, and asserted to arise necessarily out of Kant’s first principles.

It is easy to give proofs. Only brutalised criminals and insane persons take absolutely no interest in their fellow men; they live as if they were alone in the world, and the presence of strangers has no effect on them. But for him who possesses a self there is a self in his neighbour, and only the man who has lost the logical and ethical centre of his being behaves to a second man as if the latter were not a man and had no personality of his own. “I” and “thou” are complementary terms. A man soonest gains consciousness of himself when he is with other men. This is why a man is prouder in the presence of other men than when he is alone, whilst it is in his hours of solitude that his self-confidence is damped. Lastly, he who destroys himself destroys at the same time the whole universe, and he who murders another commits the greatest crime because he murders himself in his victim. Absolute selfishness is, in practice, a horror, which should rather be called nihilism; if there is no “thou,” there is certainly no “I,” and that would mean there is nothing.

There is in the psychological disposition of the man of genius that which makes it impossible to use other men as a means to an end. And this is it: he who feels his own personality, feels it also in others. For him the Tat-tvam-asi is no beautiful hypothesis, but a reality. The highest individualism[181] is the highest universalism. Ernest Mach is in great error when he denies the subject, and thinks it is only after the renunciation of the individual “I” that an ethical relation, which excludes neglect of the strange “I” and over-estimation of the individual “I,” may be expected. It has already been seen where the want of one’s own I leads in relation to one’s neighbour. The I is the fundamental ground of all social morality. I should never be able to place myself, as an actual psychological being, in an ethical relation to a mere bundle of elements. It is possible to imagine such a relationship; but it is entirely opposed to practical conduct; because it eliminates the psychological condition necessary for making the moral idea an actual reality.

We are preparing for a real ethical relation to our fellow men when we make them conscious that each of them possesses a higher self, a soul, and that they must realise the souls in others.

This relation is, however, manifested in the most curious manner in the man of genius. No one suffers so much as he with the people, and, therefore, for the people, with whom he lives. For, in a certain sense, it is certainly only “by suffering” that a man knows. If compassion is not itself clear, abstractly conceivable or visibly symbolic knowledge, it is, at any rate, the strongest impulse for the acquisition of knowledge. It is only by suffering that the genius understands men. And the genius suffers most because he suffers with and in each and all; but he suffers most through his understanding.

Although I tried to show in an earlier chapter that genius is the factor which primarily elevates man above the animals, and in connection with that fact that it is man alone who has a history (this being explained by the presence in all men of some degree of the quality of genius), I must return to that earlier side of my argument. Genius involves the living actuality of the intelligible subject. History manifests itself only as a social thing, as the “objective spirit,” the individuals as such playing no part in it,[182] being, in fact, non-historical. Here we see the threads of our argument converging. If it be the case, and I do not think that I am wrong, that the timeless, human personality is the necessary condition of every real ethical relation to our fellow men, and if individuality is the necessary preliminary to the collective spirit, then it is clear why the “metaphysical animal” and the “political animal,” the possessor of genius and the maker of history, are one and the same, are humanity. And the old controversy is settled; which comes first, the individual or the community? Both must be equal and simultaneous.

I think that I have proved at every point that genius is simply the higher morality. The great man is not only the truest to himself, the most unforgetful, the one to whom errors and lies are most hateful and intolerable; he is also the most social, at the same time the most self-contained, and the most open man. The genius is altogether a higher form, not merely intellectually, but also morally. In his own person, the genius reveals the idea of mankind. He represents what man is; he is the subject whose object is the whole universe which he makes endure for all time.

Let there be no mistake. Consciousness and consciousness alone is in itself moral; all unconsciousness is immoral, and all immorality is unconscious. The “immoral genius,” the “great wicked man,” is, therefore, a mythical animal, invented by great men in certain moments of their lives as a possibility, in order (very much against the will of the Creator) to serve as a bogey for nervous and timid natures, with which they frighten themselves and other children. No criminal who prided himself in his deed would speak like Hagen in the “Götterdämmerung” over Siegfried’s dead body: “Ha, ha, I have slain him; I, Hagen, gave him his death blow.”

Napoleon and Bacon, who are given as counter-instances, were intellectually much over-rated or wrongly represented. And Nietzsche is the least reliable in these matters, when he begins to discuss the Borgia type. The conception of the[183] diabolical, of the anti-Christ, of Ahriman, of the “radical evil in human nature,” is exceedingly powerful, yet it concerns genius only inasmuch as it is the opposite of it. It is a fiction, created in the hours in which great men have struggled against the evil in themselves.

Universal comprehension, full consciousness, and perfect timelessness are an ideal condition, ideal even for gifted men; genius is an innate imperative, which never becomes a fully accomplished fact in human beings. Hence it is that a man of genius will be the last man to feel himself in the position to say of himself: “I am a genius.” Genius is, in its essence, nothing but the full completion of the idea of a man, and, therefore, every man ought to have some quality of it, and it should be regarded as a possible principle for every one.

Genius is the highest morality, and, therefore, it is every one’s duty. Genius is to be attained by a supreme act of the will, in which the whole universe is affirmed in the individual. Genius is something which “men of genius” take upon themselves; it is the greatest exertion and the greatest pride, the greatest misery and the greatest ecstasy to a man. A man may become a genius if he wishes to.

But at once it will certainly be said: “Very many men would like very much to be ‘original geniuses,’” and their wish has no effect. But if these men who “would like very much” had a livelier sense of what is signified by their wish, if they were aware that genius is identical with universal responsibility—and until that is grasped it will only be a wish and not a determination—it is highly probable that a very large number of these men would cease to wish to become geniuses.

The reason why madness overtakes so many men of genius—fools believe it comes from the influence of Venus, or the spinal degeneration of neurasthenics—is that for many the burden becomes too heavy, the task of bearing the whole world on the shoulders, like Atlas, intolerable for the smaller, but never for the really mighty minds. But the higher a man mounts, the greater may be his[184] fall; all genius is a conquering of chaos, mystery, and darkness, and if it degenerates and goes to pieces, the ruin is greater in proportion to the success. The genius which runs to madness is no longer genius; it has chosen happiness instead of morality. All madness is the outcome of the insupportability of suffering attached to all consciousness. Sophocles derived his idea that a man might wish to become mad for this reason, and lets Aias, whose mind finally gives way, give utterance to these words:

εν τω φρονειν γαρ μηδεν ἡδιστος βιος.

I shall conclude this chapter with the solemn words, similar to the best moments of Kant’s style, of Johann Pico von Mirandola, to whom I may bring some measure of recognition. In his address “on the dignity of man” the Supreme Being addresses the following words to man:

“Nec certam sedem, nec propriam faciem, nec munus ullum peculiare tibi dedimus, O Adam: ut quam sedem, quam faciem, quae munera tute optaveris, ea pro voto, pro tua sententia, habeas et possideas. Definita caeteris natura intra praescriptas a nobis leges coercetur; tu nullis angustiis coercitus, pro tuo arbitrio, in cuius manu te posui, tibi illam praefinies. Medium te mundi posui, ut circumspiceres inde commodius quicquid est in mundo. Nec te caelestem, neque terrenum, neque mortalem, neque immortalem fecimus, ut tui ipsius quasi arbitrarius honorariusque plastes et fictor in quam malueris tute formam effingas. Poteris in inferiora quae sunt bruta degenerare, poteris in superiora quae sunt divina, ex tui animi sententia regenerari.

O summam Dei Patris liberalitatem, summam et admirandam hominis felicitatem: cui datum id habere quod optat, id esse quod velit. Bruta simul atque nascuntur id secum afferunt e bulga matris, quod possessura sunt. Supremi spiritus aut ab initio aut paulo mox id fuerunt, quod sunt futuri in perpetuas aeternitates. Nascenti homini omniferaria semina et omnigenae vitae germina indidit Pater; quae quisque excoluerit, illa adolescent et fructus suos[185] ferent in illo: si vegetalia, planta fiet, si sensualia, obbrutescet, si rationalia, caeleste evadet animal, si intellectualia, angelus erit et Dei filius. Et si nulla creaturarum sorte contentus in unitatis centrum suac se receperit, unus cum Deo spiritus factus, in solitaria Patris caligine qui est super omnia constitutus omnibus antestabit”.



It is now time to return to the actual subject of this investigation in order to see how far its explanation has been helped by the lengthy digressions, which must often have seemed wide of the mark.

The consequences of the fundamental principles that have been developed are of such radical importance to the psychology of the sexes that, even if the former deductions have been assented to, the present conclusions may find no acceptance. This is not the place to analyse such a possibility; but in order to protect the theory I am now going to set up, from all objections, I shall fully substantiate it in the fullest possible manner by convincing arguments.

Shortly speaking the matter stands as follows: I have shown that logical and ethical phenomena come together in the conception of truth as the ultimate good, and posit the existence of an intelligible ego or a soul, as a form of being of the highest super-empirical reality. In such a being as the absolute female there are no logical and ethical phenomena, and, therefore, the ground for the assumption of a soul is absent. The absolute female knows neither the logical nor the moral imperative, and the words law and duty, duty towards herself, are words which are least familiar to her. The inference that she is wanting in supersensual personality is fully justified. The absolute female has no ego.

In a certain sense this is an end of the investigation, a final conclusion to which all analysis of the female leads. And although this conclusion, put thus concisely, seems[187] harsh and intolerant, paradoxical and too abrupt in its novelty, it must be remembered that the author is not the first who has taken such a view; he is more in the position of one who has discovered the philosophical grounds for an opinion of long standing.

The Chinese from time immemorial have denied that women possess a personal soul. If a Chinaman is asked how many children he has, he counts only the boys, and will say none if he has only daughters. Mahomet excluded women from Paradise for the same reason, and on this view depends the degraded position of women in Oriental countries.

Amongst the philosophers, the opinions of Aristotle must first be considered. He held that in procreation the male principle was the formative active agent, the “logos,” whilst the female was the passive material. When we remember that Aristotle uses the word “soul” for the active, formative, causative principle, it is plain that his idea was akin to mine, although, as he actually expressed it, it related only to the reproductive process; it is clear, moreover, that he, like all the Greek philosophers except Euripides, paid no heed to woman, and did not consider her qualities from any other point of view than that of her share in reproduction.

Amongst the fathers of the Church, Tertullian and Origen certainly had a very low opinion of woman, and St. Augustine, except for his relations with his mother, seems to have shared their view. At the Renaissance the Aristotelian conceptions gained many new adherents, amongst whom Jean Wier (1518-1588) may be cited specially. At that period there was a general, more sensible and intuitive understanding on the subject, which is now treated as merely curious, contemporary science having bowed the knee to other than Aristotelian gods.

In recent years Henrik Ibsen (in the characters of Anitra, Rita, and Irene) and August Strindberg have given utterance to this view. But the popularity of the idea of the soullessness of woman has been most attained by the[188] wonderful fairy tales of Fouqué, who obtained the material for them from Paracelsus, after deep study, and which have been set to music by E. T. A. Hoffman, Girschner, and Albert Lorzing.

Undine, the soulless Undine, is the platonic idea of woman. In spite of all bi-sexuality she most really resembles the actuality. The well-known phrase, “Women have no character,” really means the same thing. Personality and individuality (intelligible), ego and soul, will and (intelligible) character, all these are different expressions of the same actuality, an actuality the male of mankind attains, the female lacks.

But since the soul of man is the microcosm, and great men are those who live entirely in and through their souls, the whole universe thus having its being in them, the female must be described as absolutely without the quality of genius. The male has everything within him, and, as Pico of Mirandola put it, only specialises in this or that part of himself. It is possible for him to attain to the loftiest heights, or to sink to the lowest depths; he can become like animals, or plants, or even like women, and so there exist woman-like female men.

The woman, on the other hand, can never become a man. In this consists the most important limitation to the assertions in the first part of this work. Whilst I know of many men who are practically completely psychically female, not merely half so, and have seen a considerable number of women with masculine traits, I have never yet seen a single woman who was not fundamentally female, even when this femaleness has been concealed by various accessories from the person herself, not to speak of others. One must be (cf. chap. i. part I.) either man or woman, however many peculiarities of both sexes one may have, and this “being,” the problem of this work from the start, is determined by one’s relation to ethics and logic; but whilst there are people who are anatomically men and psychically women, there is no such thing as a person who is physically female and psychically male, notwithstanding the extreme maleness[189] of their outward appearance and the unwomanliness of their expression.

We may now give, with certainty, a conclusive answer to the question as to the giftedness of the sexes: there are women with undoubted traits of genius, but there is no female genius, and there never has been one (not even amongst those masculine women of history which were dealt with in the first part), and there never can be one. Those who are in favour of laxity in these matters, and are anxious to extend and enlarge the idea of genius in order to make it possible to include women, would simply by such action destroy the conception of genius. If it is in any way possible to frame a definition of genius that would thoroughly cover the ground, I believe that my definition succeeds. And how, then, could a soulless being possess genius? The possession of genius is identical with profundity; and if any one were to try to combine woman and profundity as subject and predicate, he would be contradicted on all sides. A female genius is a contradiction in terms, for genius is simply intensified, perfectly developed, universally conscious maleness.

The man of genius possesses, like everything else, the complete female in himself; but woman herself is only a part of the Universe, and the part can never be the whole; femaleness can never include genius. This lack of genius on the part of woman is inevitable because woman is not a monad, and cannot reflect the Universe.[12]

[12] It would be a simple matter to introduce at this point a list of the works of the most famous women, and show by a few examples how little they deserve the title of genius. But it would be a wearisome task, and any one who would make use of such a list can easily procure it for himself, so that I shall not do so.

The proof of the soullessness of woman is closely connected with much of what was contained in the earlier chapters. The third chapter explained that woman has her experiences in the form of henids, whilst those of men are in an organised form, so that the consciousness of the female is lower in grade than that of the male. Consciousness,[190] however, is psychologically a fundamental part of the theory of knowledge. From the point of view of the theory of knowledge, consciousness and the possession of a continuous ego, of a transcendental subjective soul, are identical conceptions. Every ego exists only so far as it is self-conscious, conscious of the contents of its own thoughts; all real existence is conscious existence. I can now make an important addition to the theory of henids. The organised contents of the thoughts of the male are not merely those of the female articulated and formed, they are not what was potential in the female becoming actual; from the very first there is a qualitative difference. The psychical contents of the male, even whilst they are still in the henid stage that they always try to emerge from, are already partly conceptual, and it is probable that even perceptions in the male have a direct tendency towards conceptions. In the female, on the other hand, there is no trace of conception either in recognition or in thinking.

The logical axioms are the foundation of all formation of mental conceptions, and women are devoid of these; the principle of identity is not for them an inevitable standard, nor do they fence off all other possibilities from their conception by using the principle of contradictories. This want of definiteness in the ideas of women is the source of that “sensitiveness” which gives the widest scope to vague associations and allows the most radically different things to be grouped together. And even women with the best and least limited memories never free themselves from this kind of association by feelings. For instance, if they “feel reminded” by a word of some definite colour, or by a human being of some definite thing to eat—forms of association common with women—they rest content with the subjective association, and do not try to find out the source of the comparison, and if there is any relation in it to actual fact. The complacency and self-satisfaction of women corresponds with what has been called their intellectual unscrupulousness, and will be referred to again in connection with their want of the power to form concepts. This[191] subjection to waves of feeling, this want of respect for conceptions, this self-appreciation without any attempt to avoid shallowness, characterise as essentially female the changeable styles of many modern painters and novelists. Male thought is fundamentally different from female thought in its craving for definite form, and all art that consists of moods is essentially a formless art.

The psychical contents of man’s thoughts, therefore, are more than the explicit realisation of what women think in henids. Woman’s thought is a sliding and gliding through subjects, a superficial tasting of things that a man, who studies the depths, would scarcely notice; it is an extravagant and dainty method of skimming which has no grasp of accuracy. A woman’s thought is superficial, and touch is the most highly developed of the female senses, the most notable characteristic of the woman which she can bring to a high state by her unaided efforts. Touch necessitates a limiting of the interest to superficialities, it is a vague effect of the whole and does not depend on definite details. When a woman “understands” a man (of the possibility or impossibility of any real understanding I shall speak later) she is simply, so to speak tasting (however wanting in taste the comparison may be) what he has thought about her. Since, on her own part, there is no sharp differentiation, it is plain that she will often think that she herself has been understood when there is no more present than a vague similarity of perceptions. The incongruity between the man and woman depends, in a special measure, on the fact that the contents of the thoughts of the man are not merely those of the woman in a higher state of differentiation, but that the two have totally distinct sequences of thought applied to the same object, conceptual thought in the one and indistinct sensing in the other; and when what is called “understanding” in the two cases is compared, the comparison is not between a fully organised integrated thought and a lower stage of the same process; but in the understanding of man and woman there is on[192] the one side a conceptual thought, on the other side an unconceptual “feeling,” a henid.

The unconceptual nature of the thinking of a woman is simply the result of her less perfect consciousness, of her want of an ego. It is the conception that unites the mere complex of perceptions into an object, and this it does independently of the presence of an actual perception. The existence of the complex of perceptions is dependent on the will; the will can shut the eyes and stop the ears so that the person no longer sees nor hears, but may get drunk or go to sleep and forget. It is the conception which brings freedom from the eternally subjective, eternally psychological relativity of the actual perceptions, and which creates the things in themselves. By its power of forming conceptions the intellect can spontaneously separate itself from the object; conversely, it is only when there is a comprehending function that subject and object can be separated and so distinguished; in all other cases there is only a mass of like and unlike images present mingling together without law and order. The conception creates definite realities from the floating images, the object from the perception, the object which stands like an enemy opposite the subject that the subject may measure its strength upon it. The conception is thus the creator of reality; it is the “transcendental object” of Kant’s “Critique of Reason,” but it always involves a transcendental “subject.”

It is impossible to say of a mere complex of perceptions that it is like itself; in the moment that I have made the judgment of identity, the complex of perceptions has become a concept. And so the conception gives their value to all processes of verification and all syllogisms; the conception makes the contents of thought free by binding them. It gives freedom both to the subject and object; for the two freedoms involve each other. All freedom is in reality self-binding, both in logic and in ethics. Man is free only when he himself is the law. And so the function of making concepts is the power by which man gives himself dignity; he honours himself by giving freedom to the[193] objective world, by making it part of the objective body of knowledge to which recourse may be had when two men differ. The woman cannot in this way set herself over against realities, she and they swing together capriciously; she cannot give freedom to her objects as she herself is not free.

The mode in which perceptions acquire independence in conceptions is the means of getting free from subjectivity. The conception is that about which I think, write, and speak. And in this way there comes the belief that I can make judgments concerning it. Hume, Huxley, and other “immanent” psychologists, tried to identify the conception with a mere generalisation, so making no distinction between logical and psychological thought. In doing this they ignored the power of making judgments. In every judgment there is an act of verification or of contradiction, an approval or rejection, and the standard for these judgments, the idea of truth, must be something external to that on what it is acting. If there are nothing but perceptions, then all perceptions must have an equal validity, and there can be no standard by which to form a real world. Empiricism in this fashion really destroys the reality of experience, and what is called positivism is no more than nihilism. The idea of a standard of truth, the idea of truth, cannot lie in experience. In every judgment this idea of the existence of truth is implicit. The claim to real knowledge depends on this capacity to judge, involves the conception of the possibility of truth in the judgment.

This claim to be able to reach knowledge is no more than to say that the subject can judge of the object, can say that the object is true. The objects on which we make judgments are conceptions; the conception is what we know. The conception places a subject and an object against one another, and the judgment then creates a relation between the two. The attainment of truth simply means that the subject can judge rightly of the object, and so the function of making judgments is what places the ego in relation to[194] the all, is what makes a real unity of the ego and the all possible. And thus we reach an answer to the old problem as to whether conception or judgment has precedence; the answer is that the two are necessary to one another. The faculty of making conceptions cleaves subject and object and unites them again.

A being like the female, without the power of making concepts, is unable to make judgments. In her “mind” subjective and objective are not separated; there is no possibility of making judgments, and no possibility of reaching, or of desiring, truth. No woman is really interested in science; she may deceive herself and many good men, but bad psychologists, by thinking so. It may be taken as certain, that whenever a woman has done something of any little importance in the scientific world (Sophie Germain, Mary Somerville, &c.) it is always because of some man in the background whom they desire to please in this way; and it is more often justifiable to say “cherchez l’homme” where women are concerned than “cherchez la femme” in the case of men.

But there have never been any great discoveries in the world of science made by women, because the facility for truth only proceeds from a desire for truth, and the former is always in proportion to the latter. Woman’s sense of reality is much less than man’s, in spite of much repetition of the contrary opinion. With women the pursuit of knowledge is always subordinated to something else, and if this alien impulse is sufficiently strong they can see sharply and unerringly, but woman will never be able to see the value of truth in itself and in relation to her own self. Where there is some check to what she wishes (perhaps unconsciously) a woman becomes quite uncritical and loses all touch with reality. This is why women so often believe themselves to have been the victims of sexual overtures; this is the reason of extreme frequency of hallucinations of the sense of touch in women, of the intensive reality of which it is almost impossible for a man to form an idea. This also is why the imagination of women is composed of[195] lies and errors, whilst the imagination of the philosopher is the highest form of truth.

The idea of truth is the foundation of everything that deserves the name of judgment. Knowledge is simply the making of judgments, and thought itself is simply another name for judgment. Deduction is the necessary process in making judgments, and involves the propositions of identity and of contradictories, and, as I have shown, these propositions are not axiomatic for women.

A psychological proof that the power of making judgments is a masculine trait lies in the fact that the woman recognises it as such, and that it acts on her as a tertiary sexual character of the male. A woman always expects definite convictions in a man, and appropriates them; she has no understanding of indecision in a man. She always expects a man to talk, and a man’s speech is to her a sign of his manliness. It is true that woman has the gift of speech, but she has not the art of talking; she converses (flirts) or chatters, but she does not talk. She is most dangerous, however, when she is dumb, for men are only too inclined to take her quiescence for silence.

The absolute female, then, is devoid not only of the logical rules, but of the functions of making concepts and judgments which depend on them. As the very nature of the conceptual faculty consists in posing subject against object, and as the subject takes its deepest and fullest meaning from its power of forming judgments on its objects, it is clear that women cannot be recognised as possessing even the subject.

I must add to the exposition of the non-logical nature of the female some statements as to her non-moral nature. The profound falseness of woman, the result of the want in her of a permanent relation to the idea of truth or to the idea of value, would prove a subject of discussion so exhaustive that I must go to work another way. There are such endless imitations of ethics, such confusing copies of morality, that women are often said to be on a moral plane higher than that of man. I have already pointed out the need to[196] distinguish between the non-moral and the immoral, and I now repeat that with regard to women we can talk only of the non-moral, of the complete absence of a moral sense. It is a well-known fact of criminal statistics and of daily life that there are very few female criminals. The apologists of the morality of women always point to this fact.

But in deciding the question as to the morality of women we have to consider not if a particular person has objectively sinned against the idea, but if the person has or has not a subjective centre of being that can enter into a relation with the idea, a relation the value of which is lowered when a sin is committed. No doubt the male criminal inherits his criminal instincts, but none the less he is conscious—in spite of theories of “moral insanity”—that by his action he has lowered the value of his claim on life. All criminals are cowardly in this matter, and there is none of them that thinks he has raised his value and his self-consciousness by his crime, or that would try to justify it to himself.

The male criminal has from birth a relation to the idea of value just like any other man, but the criminal impulse, when it succeeds in dominating him, destroys this almost completely. Woman, on the contrary, often believes herself to have acted justly when, as a matter of fact, she has just done the greatest possible act of meanness; whilst the true criminal remains mute before reproach, a woman can at once give indignant expression to her astonishment and anger that any one should question her perfect right to act in this or that way. Women are convinced of their own integrity without ever having sat in judgment on it. The criminal does not, it is true, reflect on himself, but he never urges his own integrity; he is much more inclined to get rid of the thought of his integrity,[13] because it might remind him of his guilt: and in this is the proof that he had a[197] relation to the idea (of truth), and only objects to be reminded of his unfaithfulness to his better self. No male criminal has ever believed that his punishment was unjust. A woman, on the contrary, is convinced of the animosity of her accuser, and if she does not wish to be convinced of it, no one can persuade her that she has done wrong.

[13] A male criminal even feels guilty when he has not actually done wrong. He can always accept the reproaches of others as to deception, thieving, and so on, even if he has never committed such acts, because he knows he is capable of them. So also he always feels himself “caught” when any other offender is arrested.

If any one talks to her it usually happens that she bursts into tears, begs for pardon, and “confesses her fault,” and may really believe that she feels her guilt; but only when she desires to do so, and the outbreak of tears has given her a certain sort of satisfaction. The male criminal is callous; he does not spin round in a trice, as a woman would do in a similar instance if her accuser knew how to handle her skilfully.

The personal torture which arises from guilt, which cries aloud in its anguish at having brought such a stain upon herself, no woman knows, and an apparent exception (the penitent, who becomes a self-mortifying devotee,) will certainly prove that a woman only feels a vicarious guilt.

I am not arguing that woman is evil and anti-moral; I state that she cannot be really evil; she is merely non-moral.

Womanly compassion and female modesty are the two other phenomena which are generally urged by the defenders of female virtue. It is especially from womanly kindness, womanly sympathy, that the beautiful descriptions of the soul of woman have gained most support, and the final argument of all belief in the superior morality of woman is the conception of her as the hospital nurse, the tender sister. I am sorry to have to mention this point, and should not have done so, but I have been forced to do so by a verbal objection made to me, which can be easily foreseen.

It is very shortsighted of any one to consider the nurse as a proof of the sympathy of women, because it really implies the opposite. For a man could never stand the sight of the sufferings of the sick; he would suffer so intensely that he would be completely upset and incapable of lengthy attendance on them. Any one who has watched nursing sisters is astounded at their equanimity and “sweetness”[198] even in the presence of most terrible death throes; and it is well that it is so, for man, who cannot stand suffering and death, would make a very bad nurse. A man would want to assuage the pain and ward off death; in a word, he would want to help; where there is nothing to be done he is better away; it is only then that nursing is justified and that woman offers herself for it. But it would be quite wrong to regard this capacity of women in an ethical aspect.

Here it may be said that for woman the problem of solitude and society does not exist. She is well adapted for social relations (as, for instance, those of a companion or sick-nurse), simply because for her there is no transition from solitude to society. In the case of a man, the choice between solitude and society is serious when it has to be made. The woman gives up no solitude when she nurses the sick, as she would have to do were she to deserve moral credit for her action; a woman is never in a condition of solitude, and knows neither the love of it nor the fear of it. The woman is always living in a condition of fusion with all the human beings she knows, even when she is alone; she is not a “monad,” for all monads are sharply marked off from other existences. Women have no definite individual limits; they are not unlimited in the sense that geniuses have no limits, being one with the whole world; they are unlimited only in the sense that they are not marked off from the common stock of mankind.

This sense of continuity with the rest of mankind is a sexual character of the female, and displays itself in the desire to touch, to be in contact with, the object of her pity; the mode in which her tenderness expresses itself is a kind of animal sense of contact. It shows the absence of the sharp line that separates one real personality from another. The woman does not respect the sorrow of her neighbour by silence; she tries to raise him from his grief by speech, feeling that she must be in physical, rather than spiritual contact with him.

This diffused life, one of the most fundamental qualities of the female nature, is the cause of the impressibility of all[199] women, their unreserved and shameless readiness to shed tears on the most ordinary occasion. It is not without reason that we associate wailing with women, and think little of a man who sheds tears in public. A woman weeps with those that weep and laughs with those that laugh—unless she herself is the cause of the laughter—so that the greater part of female sympathy is ready-made.

It is only women who demand pity from other people, who weep before them and claim their sympathy. This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the psychical shamelessness of women. A woman provokes the compassion of strangers in order to weep with them and be able to pity herself more than she already does. It is not too much to say that even when a woman weeps alone she is weeping with those that she knows would pity her and so intensifying her self-pity by the thought of the pity of others. Self-pity is eminently a female characteristic; a woman will associate herself with others, make herself the object of pity for these others, and then at once, deeply stirred, begin to weep with them about herself, the poor thing. Perhaps nothing so stirs the feeling of shame in a man as to detect in himself the impulse towards this self-pity, this state of mind in which the subject becomes the object.

As Schopenhauer put it, female sympathy is a matter of sobbing and wailing on the slightest provocation, without the smallest attempt to control the emotion; on the other hand, all true sorrow, like true sympathy, just because it is real sorrow, must be reserved; no sorrow can really be so reserved as sympathy and love, for these make us most fully conscious of the limits of each personality. Love and its bashfulness will be considered later on; in the meantime let us be assured that in sympathy, in genuine masculine sympathy, there is always a strong feeling of reserve, a sense almost of guilt, because one’s friend is worse off than oneself, because I am not he, but a being separated from his being by extraneous circumstances. A man’s sympathy is the principle of individuality blushing for[200] itself; and hence man’s sympathy is reserved whilst that of woman is aggressive.

The existence of modesty in women has been discussed already to a certain extent; I shall have more to say about it in relation with hysteria. But it is difficult to see how it can be maintained that this is a female virtue, if one reflect on the readiness with which women accept the habit of wearing low-necked dresses wherever custom prescribes it. A person is either modest or immodest, and modesty is not a quality which can be assumed or discarded from hour to hour.

Strong evidence of the want of modesty in woman is to be derived from the fact that women dress and undress in the presence of one another with the greatest freedom, whilst men try to avoid similar circumstances. Moreover, when women are alone together, they are very ready to discuss their physical qualities, especially with regard to their attractiveness for men; whilst men, practically without exception, avoid all notice of one another’s sexual characters.

I shall return to this subject again. In the meantime I wish to refer to the argument of the second chapter in this connection. One must be fully conscious of a thing before one can have a feeling of shame about it, and so differentiation is as necessary for the sense of shame as for consciousness. The female, who is only sexual, can appear to be asexual because she is sexuality itself, and so her sexuality does not stand out separately from the rest of her being, either in space or in time, as in the case of the male. Woman can give an impression of being modest because there is nothing in her to contrast with her sexuality. And so the woman is always naked or never naked—we may express it either way—never naked, because the true feeling of nakedness is impossible to her; always naked, because there is not in her the material for the sense of relativity by which she could become aware of her nakedness and so make possible the desire to cover it.

What I have been discussing depends on the actual[201] meaning of the word “ego” to a woman. If a woman were asked what she meant by her “ego” she would certainly think of her body. Her superficies, that is the woman’s ego. The ego of the female is quite correctly described by Mach in his “Anti-metaphysical Remarks.”

The ego of a woman is the cause of the vanity which is specific of women. The analogue of this in the male is an emanation of the set of his will towards his conception of the good, and its objective expression is a sensitiveness, a desire that no one shall call in question the possibility of attaining this supreme good. It is his personality that gives to man his value and his freedom from the conditions of time. This supreme good, which is beyond price, because, in the words of Kant, there can be found no equivalent for it, is the dignity of man. Women, in spite of what Schiller has said, have no dignity, and the word “lady” was invented to supply this defect, and her pride will find its expression in what she regards as the supreme good, that is to say, in the preservation, improvement, and display of her personal beauty. The pride of the female is something quite peculiar to herself, something foreign even to the most handsome man, an obsession by her own body; a pleasure which displays itself, even in the least handsome girl, by admiring herself in the mirror, by stroking herself and playing with her own hair, but which comes to its full measure only in the effect that her body has on man. A woman has no true solitude, because she is always conscious of herself only in relation to others. The other side of the vanity of women is the desire to feel that her body is admired, or, rather, sexually coveted, by a man.

This desire is so strong that there are many women to whom it is sufficient merely to know that they are coveted.

The vanity of women is, then, always in relation to others; a woman lives only in the thoughts of others about her. The sensibility of women is directed to this. A woman never forgets that some one thought her ugly; a woman never considers herself ugly; the successes of others at the most only make her think of herself as perhaps less attractive.[202] But no woman ever believes herself to be anything but beautiful and desirable when she looks at herself in the glass; she never accepts her own ugliness as a painful reality as a man would, and never ceases to try to persuade others of the contrary.

What is the source of this form of vanity, peculiar to the female? It comes from the absence of an intelligible ego, the only begetter of a constant and positive sense of value; it is, in fact, that she is devoid of a sense of personal value. As she sets no store by herself or on herself, she endeavours to attain to a value in the eyes of others by exciting their desire and admiration. The only thing which has any absolute and ultimate value in the world is the soul. “Ye are better than many sparrows” were Christ’s words to mankind. A woman does not value herself by the constancy and freedom of her personality; but this is the only possible method for every creature possessing an ego. But if a real woman, and this is certainly the case, can only value herself at the rate of the man who has fixed his choice on her; if it is only through her husband or lover that she can attain to a value not only in social and material things, but also in her innermost nature, it follows that she possesses no personal value, she is devoid of man’s sense of the value of his own personality for itself. And so women always get their sense of value from something outside themselves, from their money or estates, the number and richness of their garments, the position of their box at the opera, their children, and, above all, their husbands or lovers. When a woman is quarrelling with another woman, her final weapon, and the weapon she finds most effective and discomfiting, is to proclaim her superior social position, her wealth or title, and, above all, her youthfulness and the devotion of her husband or lover; whereas a man in similar case would lay himself open to contempt if he relied on anything except his own personal individuality.

The absence of the soul in woman may also be inferred from the following: Whilst a woman is stimulated to try to impress a man from the mere fact that he has paid no[203] attention to her (Goethe gave this as a practical receipt), the whole life of a woman, in fact, being an expression of this side of her nature, a man, if a woman treats him rudely or indifferently, feels repelled by her. Nothing makes a man so happy as the love of a girl; even if he did not at first return her love, there is a great probability of love being aroused in him. The love of a man for whom she does not care is only a gratification of the vanity of a woman, or an awakening and rousing of slumbering desires. A woman extends her claims equally to all men on earth.

The shamelessness and heartlessness of women are shown in the way in which they talk of being loved. A man feels ashamed of being loved, because he is always in the position of being the active, free agent, and because he knows that he can never give himself entirely to love, and there is nothing about which he is so silent, even when there is no special reason for him to fear that he might compromise the lady by talking. A woman boasts about her love affairs, and parades them before other women in order to make them envious of her. Woman does not look upon a man’s inclination for her so much as a tribute to her actual worth, or a deep insight into her nature, as the bestowing a value on her which she otherwise would not have, as the gift to her of an existence and essence with which she justifies herself before others.

The remark in an earlier chapter about the unfailing memory of woman for all the compliments she has ever received since childhood is explained by the foregoing facts. It is from compliments, first of all, that woman gets a sense of her “value,” and that is why women expect men to be “polite.” Politeness is the easiest form of pleasing a woman, and however little it costs a man it is dear to a woman, who never forgets an attention, and lives upon the most insipid flattery, even in her old age. One only remembers what possesses a value in one’s eyes; it may safely be said that it is for compliments women have the most developed memory. The woman can attain a sense of value by these external aids, because she does not possess within her an[204] inner standard of value which diminishes everything outside her. The phenomena of courtesy and chivalry are simply additional proofs that women have no souls, and that when a man is being “polite” to a woman he is simply ascribing to her the minimum sense of personal value, a form of deference to which importance is attached precisely in the measure that it is misunderstood.

The non-moral nature of woman reveals itself in the mode in which she can so easily forget an immoral action she has committed. It is almost characteristic of a woman that she cannot believe that she has done wrong, and so is able to deceive both herself and her husband. Men, on the other hand, remember nothing so well as the guilty episodes of their lives. Here memory reveals itself as eminently a moral phenomenon. Forgiving and forgetting, not forgiving and understanding, go together. When one remembers a lie, one reproaches oneself afresh about it. A woman forgets, because she does not blame herself for an act of meanness, because she does not understand it, having no relation to the moral idea. It is not surprising that she is ready to lie. Women have been regarded as virtuous, simply because the problem of morality has not presented itself to them; they have been held to be even more moral than man; this is simply because they do not understand immorality. The innocence of a child is not meritorious; if a patriarch could be innocent he might be praised for it.

Introspection is an attribute confined to males, if we leave out of account the hysterical self-reproaches of certain women—and consciousness of guilt and repentance are equally male. The penances that women lay on themselves, remarkable imitations of the sense of guilt, will be discussed when I come to deal with what passes for introspection in the female sex. The “subject” of introspection is the moral agent; it has a relation to psychical phenomena only in so far as it sits in judgment on them.

It is quite in the nature of positivism that Comte denies the possibility of introspection, and throws ridicule on it. For certainly it is absurd that a psychical event and a[205] judgment of it could coincide if the interpretations of the positivists be accepted. It is only on the assumption that there exists an ego unconditioned by time and intrinsically capable of moral judgments, endowed with memory and with the power of making comparisons, that we can justify the belief in the possibility of introspection.

If woman had a sense of her personal value and the will to defend it against all external attacks she could not be jealous. Apparently all women are jealous, and jealousy depends on the failure to recognise the rights of others. Even the jealousy of a mother when she sees another woman’s daughters married before her own depends simply on her want of the sense of justice.

Without justice there can be no society, so that jealousy is an absolutely unsocial quality. The formation of societies in reality presupposes the existence of true individuality. Woman has no faculty for the affairs of State or politics, as she has no social inclinations; and women’s societies, from which men are excluded, are certain to break up after a short time. The family itself is not really a social structure; it is essentially unsocial, and men who give up their clubs and societies after marriage soon rejoin them. I had written this before the appearance of Heinrich Schurtz’ valuable ethnological work, in which he shows that associations of men, and not the family, form the beginnings of society.

Pascal made the wonderful remark that human beings seek society only because they cannot bear solitude and wish to forget themselves. It is the fact expressed in these words which puts in harmony my earlier statement that women had not the faculty of solitude and my present statement that she is essentially unsociable.

If a woman possessed an “ego” she would have the sense of property both in her own case and that of others. The thieving instinct, however, is much more developed in men than in women. So-called “kleptomaniacs” (those who steal without necessity) are almost exclusively women. Women understand power and riches but not personal[206] property. When the thefts of female kleptomaniacs are discovered, the women defend themselves by saying that it appeared to them as if everything belonged to them. It is chiefly women who use circulating libraries, especially those who could quite well afford to buy quantities of books; but, as matter of fact, they are not more strongly attracted by what they have bought than by what they have borrowed. In all these matters the relation between individuality and society comes into view; just as a man must have personality himself to appreciate the personalities of others, so also he must acquire a sense of personal right in his own property to respect the rights of others.

One’s name and a strong devotion to it are even more dependent on personality than is the sense of property. The facts that confront us with reference to this are so salient that it is extraordinary to find so little notice taken of them. Women are not bound to their names with any strong bond. When they marry they give up their own name and assume that of their husband without any sense of loss. They allow their husbands and lovers to call them by new names, delighting in them; and even when a woman marries a man that she does not love, she has never been known to suffer any psychical shock at the change of name. The name is a symbol of individuality; it is only amongst the lowest races on the face of the earth, such as the bushmen of South Africa, that there are no personal names, because amongst such as these the desire for distinguishing individuals from the general stock is not felt. The fundamental namelessness of the woman is simply a sign of her undifferentiated personality.

An important observation may be mentioned here and may be confirmed by every one. Whenever a man enters a place where a woman is, and she observes him, or hears his step, or even only guesses he is near, she becomes another person. Her expression and her pose change with incredible swiftness; she “arranges her fringe” and her bodice, and rises, or pretends to be engrossed in her work. She is full of a half-shameless, half-nervous expectation.[207] In many cases one is only in doubt as to whether she is blushing for her shameless laugh, or laughing over her shameless blushing.

The soul, personality, character—as Schopenhauer with marvellous sight recognised—are identical with free-will. And as the female has no ego, she has no free-will. Only a creature with no will of its own, no character in the highest sense, could be so easily influenced by the mere proximity to a man as woman is, who remains in functional dependence on him instead of in free relationship to him. Woman is the best medium, the male her best hypnotiser. For this reason alone it is inconceivable why women can be considered good as doctors; for many doctors admit that their principal work up to the present—and it will always be the same—lies in the suggestive influence on their patients.

The female is uniformly more easily hypnotised than the male throughout the animal world, and it may be seen from the following how closely hypnotic phenomena are related to the most ordinary events. I have already described, in discussing female sympathy, how easy it is for laughter or tears to be induced in females. How impressed she is by everything in the newspapers! What a martyr she is to the silliest superstitions! How eagerly she tries every remedy recommended by her friends!

Whoever is lacking in character is lacking in convictions. The female, therefore, is credulous, uncritical, and quite unable to understand Protestantism. Christians are Catholics or Protestants before they are baptized, but, none the less, it would be unfair to describe Catholicism as feminine simply because it suits women better. The distinction between the Catholic and Protestant dispositions is a side of characterology that would require separate treatment.

It has been exhaustively proved that the female is soulless and possesses neither ego nor individuality, personality nor freedom, character nor will. This conclusion is of the highest significance in psychology. It implies that the psychology of the male and of the female must be treated[208] separately. A purely empirical representation of the psychic life of the female is possible; in the case of the male, all the psychic life must be considered with reference to the ego, as Kant foresaw.

The view of Hume (and Mach), which only admits that there are “impressions” and “thoughts” (ABC and α β γ ...), and which has almost driven the psyche out of present day psychology, declares that the whole world is to be considered exclusively as a picture in a reflector, a sort of kaleidoscope; it merely reduces everything to a dance of the “elements,” without thought or order; it denies the possibility of obtaining a secure standpoint for thought; it not only destroys the idea of truth, and accordingly of reality, the only claims on which philosophy rests, but it also is to blame for the wretched plight of modern psychology.

This modern psychology proudly styles itself the “psychology without the soul,” in imitation of its much over-rated founder, Friedrich Albert Lange. I think I have proved in this work that without the acknowledgment of a soul there would be no way of dealing with psychic phenomena; just as much in the case of the male who has a soul as in the case of the female who is soulless.

Modern psychology is eminently womanish, and that is why this comparative investigation of the sexes is so specially instructive, and it is not without reason that I have delayed pointing out this radical difference; it is only now that it can be seen what the acceptation of the ego implies, and how the confusing of masculine and feminine spiritual life (in the broadest and deepest sense) has been at the root of all the difficulties and errors into which those who have sought to establish a universal psychology have fallen.

I must now raise the question—is a psychology of the male possible as a science? The answer must be that it is not possible. I must be understood to reject all the investigations of the experimenters, and those who are still sick with the experimental fever may ask in wonder if all these have no value? Experimental psychology has not given a[209] single explanation as to the deeper laws of masculine life; it can be regarded only as a series of sporadic empirical efforts, and its method is wrong inasmuch as it seeks to reach the kernel of things by surface examination, and as it cannot possibly give an explanation of the deep-seated source of all psychical phenomena. When it has attempted to discover the real nature of psychical phenomena by measurements of the physical phenomena that accompany them, it has succeeded in showing that even in the most favourable cases there is an inconstancy and variation. The fundamental possibility of reaching the mathematical idea of knowledge is that the data should be constant. As the mind itself is the creator of time and space, it is impossible to expect that geometry and arithmetic should explain the mind, that the creature should explain the creator.

There can be no scientific psychology of man, for the aim of psychology is to derive what is not derivative, to prove to every man what his real nature and essence are, to deduce these. But the possibility of deducing them would imply that they were not free. As soon as it has been admitted that the conduct, action, nature, of an individual man can be determined scientifically, it will be proved that man has no free-will. Kant and Schopenhauer understood this fully, and, on the other hand, Hume and Herbart, the founders of modern psychology, did not believe in free-will. It is this dilemma that is the cause of the pitiful relation of modern psychology to all fundamental questions. The wild and repeated efforts to derive the will from psychological factors, from perception and feeling, are in themselves evidence that it cannot be taken as an empirical factor. The will, like the power of judgment, is associated inevitably with the existence of an ego, or soul. It is not a matter of experience, it transcends experience, and until psychology recognises this extraneous factor, it will remain no more than a methodical annex of physiology and biology. If the soul is only a complex of experiences it cannot be the factor that makes experiences possible. Modern psychology in reality denies the existence of the soul, but the soul rejects modern psychology.


This work has decided in favour of the soul against the absurd and pitiable psychology without a soul. In fact, it may be doubted if, on the assumption that the soul exists and has free thought and free-will, there can be a science of causal laws and self-imposed rules of willing and thinking. I have no intention of trying to inaugurate a new era of rational psychology. I wish to follow Kant in positing the existence of a soul as the unifying and central conception, without which any explanation or description of psychic life, however faithful in its details, however sympathetically undertaken, must be wholly unsatisfying. It is extraordinary how inquirers who have made no attempt to analyse such phenomena as shame and the sense of guilt, faith and hope, fear and repentance, love and hate, yearning and solitude, vanity and sensitiveness, ambition and the desire for immortality, have yet the courage simply to deny the ego because it does not flaunt itself like the colour of an orange or the taste of a peach. How can Mach and Hume account for such a thing as style, if individuality does not exist? Or again, consider this: no animal is made afraid by seeing its reflection in a glass, whilst there is no man who could spend his life in a room surrounded with mirrors. Can this fear, the fear of the doppelganger,[14] be explained on Darwinian principles? The word doppelganger has only to be mentioned to raise a deep dread in the mind of any man. Empirical psychology cannot explain this; it reaches the depths. It cannot be explained, as Mach would explain the fear of little children, as an inheritance from some primitive, less secure stage of society. I have taken this example only to remind the empirical psychologists that there are many things inexplicable on their hypotheses.

[14] It is notable that women are devoid of this fear; female doppelgangers are not heard of.

Why is any man annoyed when he is described as a Wagnerite, a Nietzchite, a Herbartian, or so forth? He objects to be thought a mere echo. Even Ernst Mach is angry in anticipation at the thought that some friend will[211] describe him as a Positivist, Idealist, or any other non-individual term. This feeling must not be confused with the results of the fact that a man may describe himself as a Wagnerite, and so forth. The latter is simply a deep approval of Wagnerism, because the approver is himself a Wagnerite. The man is conscious that his agreement is in reality a raising of the value of Wagnerism. And so also a man will say much about himself that he would not permit another to say of him. As Cyrano de Bergerac put it:

“Je me les sers moi-même, avec assez de verve,
Mais je ne permets pas qu’un autre me les serve.”

It cannot be right to consider such men as Pascal and Newton, on the one hand, as men of the highest genius, on the other, as limited by a mass of prejudices which we of the present generation have long overcome. Is the present generation with its electrical railways and empirical psychology so much higher than these earlier times? Is culture, if culture has any real value, to be compared with science, which is always social and never individual, and to be measured by the number of public libraries and laboratories? Is culture outside human beings and not always in human beings?

It is in striking harmony with the ascription to men alone of an ineffable, inexplicable personality, that in all the authenticated cases of double or multiple personality the subjects have been women. The absolute female is capable of sub-division; the male, even to the most complete characterology and the most acute experiment, is always an indivisible unit. The male has a central nucleus of his being which has no parts, and cannot be divided; the female is composite, and so can be dissociated and cleft.

And so it is most amusing to hear writers talking of the soul of the woman, of her heart and its mysteries, of the psyche of the modern woman. It seems almost as if even an accoucheur would have to prove his capacity by the strength of his belief in the soul of women. Most women, at least, delight to hear discussions on their souls, although[212] they know, so far as they can be said to know anything, that the whole thing is a swindle. The woman as the Sphinx! Never was a more ridiculous, a more audacious fraud perpetrated. Man is infinitely more mysterious, incomparably more complicated.

It is only necessary to look at the faces of women one passes in the streets. There is scarcely one whose expression could not at once be summed up. The register of woman’s feelings and disposition is so terribly poor, whereas men’s countenances can scarcely be read after long and earnest scrutiny.

Finally, I come to the question as to whether there exists a complete parallelism or a condition of reciprocal interaction between mind and body. In the case of the female, psycho-physical parallelism exists in the form of a complete co-ordination between the mental and the physical; in women the capacity for mental exertion ceases with senile involution, just as it developed in connection with and in subservience to the sexual instincts. The intelligence of man never grows as old as that of the woman, and it is only in isolated cases that degeneration of the mind is linked with degeneration of the body. Least of all does mental degeneration accompany the bodily weakness of old age in those who have genius, the highest development of mental masculinity.

It is only to be expected that the philosophers who most strongly argued in favour of parallelism, such as Spinoza and Fechner, were also determinists. In the case of the male, the free intelligible agent who by his own will can distinguish between good and evil, the existence of parallelism between mind and body must be rejected.

The question, then, as to the proper view of the psychology of the sexes may be taken as settled. There has to be faced, however, an extraordinarily difficult problem that, so far as I know, has not even been stated yet, but the answer to which, none the less, strongly supports my view of the soullessness of women.

In the earlier pages of my volume I contrasted the clarity[213] of male thinking processes with their vagueness in woman, and later on showed that the power of orderly speech, in which logical judgments are expressed, acts on women as a male sexual character. Whatever is sexually attractive to the female must be characteristic of the male. Firmness in a man’s character makes a sexual impression on a woman, whilst she is repelled by the pliant man. People often speak of the moral influence exerted on men by women, when no more is meant than that women are striving to attain their sexual complements. Women demand manliness from men, and feel deeply disappointed and full of contempt if men fail them in this respect. However untruthful or great a flirt a woman may be, she is bitterly indignant if she discover traces of coquetry or untruthfulness in a man. She may be as cowardly as she likes, but the man must be brave. It has been almost completely overlooked that this is only a sexual egotism seeking to secure the most satisfactory sexual complement. From the side of empirical observation, no stronger proof of the soullessness of woman could be drawn than that she demands a soul in man, that she who is not good in herself demands goodness from him. The soul is a masculine character, pleasing to women in the same way and for the same purpose as a masculine body or a well-trimmed moustache. I may be accused of stating the case coarsely, but it is none the less true. It is the man’s will that in the last resort influences a woman most powerfully, and she has a strong faculty for perceiving whether a man’s “I will” means mere bombast or actual decision. In the latter case the effect on her is prodigious.

How is it that woman, who is soulless herself, can discern the soul in man? How can she judge about his morality who is herself non-moral? How can she grasp his character when she has no character herself? How appreciate his will when she is herself without will?

These difficult problems lie before us, and their solutions must be placed on strong foundations, for there will be many attempts to destroy them.



The chief objection that will be urged against my views is that they cannot possibly be valid for all women. For some, or even for the majority, they will be accepted as true, but for the rest——

It was not my original intention to deal with the different kinds of women. Women may be regarded from many different points of view, and, of course, care must be taken not to press too hardly what is true for one extreme type. If the word character be accepted in its common, empirical signification, then there are differences in women’s characters. All the properties of the male character find remarkable analogies in the female sex (an interesting case will be dealt with later on in this chapter); but in the male the character is always deeply rooted in the sphere of the intelligible, from which there has come about the lamentable confusion between the doctrine of the soul and characterology. The characterological differences amongst women are not rooted so deeply that they can develop into individuality; and probably there is no female quality that in the course of the life of a woman cannot be modified, repressed, or annihilated by the will of a man.

How far such differences in character may exist in cases that have the same degree of masculinity or of femininity I have not yet been at the pains to inquire. I have refrained deliberately from this task, because in my desire to prepare the way for a true orientation of all the difficult problems connected with my subject I have been anxious not to raise side issues or to burden the argument with collateral details.


The detailed characterology of women must wait for a detailed treatment, but even this work has not totally neglected the differences that exist amongst women; I shall hope to be acquitted of false generalisations if it be remembered that what I have been saying relates to the female element, and is true in the same proportion that women possess that element. However, as it is quite certain that a particular type of woman will be brought forward in opposition to my conclusions, it is necessary to consider carefully that type and its contrasting type.

To all the bad and defamatory things that I have said about women, the conception of woman as a mother will certainly be opposed. But those who adduce this argument will admit the justice of a simultaneous consideration of the type that is at the opposite pole from motherhood, as only in this way is it possible to define clearly in what motherhood consists and to delimit it from other types.

The type standing at the pole opposite to motherhood is the prostitute. The contrast is not any more inevitable than the contrast between man and woman, and certain limits and restrictions will have to be made. But allowing for these, women will now be treated as falling into two types, sometimes having in them more of the one type, sometimes more of the other.

This dichotomy may be misunderstood if I do not distinguish it from a contrast that is popularly made. It is often said that a woman should be both mother and mistress. I do not see the sense or the utility of the distinction involved in the phrase. Is no more meant by “mistress” than the condition which of necessity must precede motherhood? If that is so, then no lasting characterological property is involved. For the word “mistress” tells us nothing about a woman except that she is in a certain relation to a man. It has nothing to do with her real being; it is something imposed on her from without. The conception of being loved tells us nothing about the nature of the person who is loved. The condition of being loved, whether as mother or mistress, is a merely accidental, external designation of the[216] individual, whereas the quality of motherhood is something born in a woman, something deep-seated in her nature. It is this something that we must investigate.

That motherhood and prostitution are at extreme poles appears probable simply from the fact that motherly women bear far more children, whilst the frivolous have few children, and prostitutes are practically sterile. It must be remembered, of course, that it is not only prostitutes who belong to the prostitute type; very many so-called respectable girls and married women belong to it. Accurate analysis of the type will show that it reaches far beyond the mere women of the streets. The street-walker differs from the respectable coquette and the celebrated hetaira only through her incapacity for differentiation, her complete want of memory, and her habit of living from moment to moment. If there were but one man and one woman on the earth, the prostitute type would reveal itself in the relations of the woman to the man.

This fact of limited fertility ought by itself to relieve me from the necessity of comparing my view of prostitution with the popular view that would derive what is really deep-seated in the nature of women from mere social conditions, from the poverty of women and the economic stress of a society arranged by males, from the difficulty of women succeeding in a respectable career, or from the existence of a large bachelor class with the consequent demand for a system of prostitution. To these suggestions it may well be replied that prostitution is by no means confined to the poorer classes; that women without any economic necessity have frequently given way to its appeal; that there are many situations in shops, offices, post-offices, the telegraph and telephone services, wherever mere mechanical ability is required, where women are preferred because, from their lower degree of differentiation, their demands are smaller; and business men having discovered this in anticipation of science, readily employ them at a lower rate of wages. Young prostitutes have often quite as hard an economic battle to fight, as they must wear expensive clothes, and as[217] they are always charged excessively high rates for food and lodging. Prostitution is not a result of social conditions, but of some cause deep in the nature of women; prostitutes who have been “reclaimed” frequently, even if provided for, return to their old way of life. It is a curious circumstance that prostitutes appear to be relatively immune to certain diseases which readily affect other types of women. I may note finally, that prostitution is not a modern growth; it has been known from the earliest times, and even was a part of some ancient religions, as, for instance, among the Phœnicians.

Prostitution cannot be considered as a state into which men have seduced women. The man may occasionally be to blame, as, for instance, when a servant is discharged and finds herself deserted. But where there is no inclination for a certain course, the course will not be adopted. Prostitution is foreign to the male element, although the lives of men are often more laborious and unpleasant than those of women, and male prostitutes (such as are found amongst waiters, barbers, and so on) are always advanced sexually intermediate forms. The disposition for and inclination to prostitution is as organic in a woman as is the capacity for motherhood.

Of course, I do not mean to suggest that, when any woman becomes a prostitute, it is because of an irresistible, inborn craving. Probably most women have both possibilities in them, the mother and the prostitute. What is to happen in cases of doubt depends on the man who is able to make the woman a mother, not merely by the physical act but by a single look at her. Schopenhauer said that a man’s existence dates from the moment when his father and mother fell in love. That is not true. The birth of a human being, ideally considered, dates from the moment when the mother first saw or heard the voice of the father of her child. Biological and medical science, under the influence of Johannes Müller, Th. Bischoff, and Darwin have been completely opposed, for the last sixty years, to the theory of “impression.” I may later attempt to develop[218] such a theory. For the present I shall remark only that it is not fatal to the theory of impression that it does not agree with the view which regards the union of an ovum and spermatazoon as the only beginning of a new individual; and science will have to deal with it instead of regarding it as being opposed to all experience and so rejecting it. In an a priori science such as mathematics, I may take it for granted that even on the planet Jupiter 2 and 2 could not make 5, but biology deals only with propositions of relative universality. Although I support the theory of the existence of such a power of impression, it must not be supposed that I think that all malformations and abnormalities, or even any large number of them, are due to it. I go no further than to say that it is possible for the progeny to be influenced by a man, although physical relations between him and the mother have not taken place. And just as Schopenhauer and Goethe were correct in their theory of colour, although they were in opposition to all the physicists of the past, present, and future, so Ibsen (in “The Lady from the Sea”) and Goethe (in “Elective Affinities”) may be right against all the scientific men who deal with the problems of inheritance on a purely physical basis.

If a man has an influence on a woman so great that her children of whom he is not the father resemble him, he must be the absolute sexual complement of the woman in question. If such cases are very rare, it is only because there is not much chance of the absolute sexual complements meeting, and this is no argument against the truth of the views of Goethe and Ibsen to which I have just referred.

It is a rare chance if a woman meets a man so completely her sexual complement that his mere presence makes him the father of her children. And so it is conceivable in the case of many mothers and prostitutes that their fates have been reversed by accident. On the other hand, there must be many cases in which the woman remains true to the maternal type without meeting the necessary man, and also cases where a woman, even although she meets the man,[219] may be driven none the less into the prostitute type by her natural instincts.

We have not to face the general occurrence of women as one or other of two distinct inborn types, the maternal type and the prostitute. The reality is found between the two. There are certainly no women absolutely devoid of the prostitute instinct to covet being sexually excited by any stranger. And there are equally certainly no women absolutely devoid of all maternal instincts, although I confess that I have found more cases approaching the absolute prostitute than the absolute mother.

The essence of motherhood consists, as the most superficial investigation will reveal, in that the getting of the child is the chief object of life, whereas in the prostitute sexual relations in themselves are the end. The investigation of the subject must be pursued by considering the relation of each type to the child and to sexual congress.

Consider the relation to the child first. The absolute prostitute thinks only of the man; the absolute mother thinks only of the child. The best test case is the relation to the daughter. It is only when there is no jealousy about her youth or greater beauty, no grudging about the admiration she wins, but an identification of herself with her daughter so complete that she is as pleased about her child’s admirers as if they were her own, that a woman has a claim to the title of perfect mother.

The absolute mother (if such existed), who thinks only about the child, would become a mother by any man. It will be found that women who were devoted to dolls when they were children, and were kind and attentive to children in their own childhood, are least particular about their husbands, and are most ready to accept the first good match who takes any notice of them and who satisfies their parents and relatives. When such a maiden has become a mother, it matters not by whom, she ceases to pay any attention to any other men. The absolute prostitute, on the other hand, even when she is still a child, dislikes children; later on, she may pretend to care for them as[220] a means of attracting men through the idea of mother and child. She is the woman whose desire is to please all men; and since there is no such thing as an ideally perfect type of mother, there are traces of this desire to please in every woman, as every man of the world will admit.

Here we can trace at least a formal resemblance between the two types. Both are careless as to the individuality of their sexual complement. The one accepts any possible man who can make her a mother, and once that has been achieved asks nothing more; on this ground only is she to be described as monogamous. The other is ready to yield herself to any man who stimulates her erotic desires; that is her only object. From this description of the two extreme types we may hope to gain some knowledge of the nature of actual women.

I have to admit that the popular opinion as to the monogamous nature of women as opposed to the essential polygamy of the male, an opinion I long held, is erroneous. The contrary is the case. One must not be misled by the fact that a woman will wait very long for a particular man, and where possible will choose him who can bestow most value on her, the most noble, the most famous, the ideal prince. Woman is distinguished by this desire for value from the animals, who have no regard for value either for themselves and through themselves, as in the case of a man, or for another and through another, as in the case of a woman. But this could be brought forward only by fools as in any way to the credit of woman, since, indeed, it shows most strongly that she is devoid of a feeling of personal value. The desire for this demands to be satisfied, but does not find satisfaction in the moral idea of monogamy. The man is able to pour forth value, to confer it on the woman; he can give it, he wishes to give it, but he cannot receive it. The woman seeks to create as much personal value as possible for herself, and so adheres to the man who can give her most of it; faithfulness of the man, however, rests on other grounds. He regards it as the completion of[221] ideal love, as a fulfilment, even although it is questionable if that could be attained. His faithfulness springs from the purely masculine conception of truth, the continuity demanded by the intelligible ego. One often hears it said that women are more faithful than men; but man’s faithfulness is a coercion which he exercises on himself, of his own free will, and with full consciousness. He may not adhere to this self-imposed contract, but his falling away from it will seem as a wrong to himself. When he breaks his faith he has suppressed the promptings of his real nature. For the woman unfaithfulness is an exciting game, in which the thought of morality plays no part, but which is controlled only by the desire for safety and reputation. There is no wife who has not been untrue to her husband in thought, and yet no woman reproaches herself with this. For a woman pledges her faith lightly and without any full consciousness of what she does, and breaks it just as lightly and thoughtlessly as she pledged it. The motive for honouring a pledge can be found only in man; for a woman does not understand the binding force of a given word. The examples of female faithfulness that can be adduced against this are of little value. They are either the slow result of the habit of sexual acquiescence, or a condition of actual slavery, dog-like, attentive, full of instinctive tenacious attachment, comparable with that necessity for actual contact which marks female sympathy.

The conception of faithfulness to one has been created by man. It arises from the masculine idea of individuality which remains unchanged by time, and, therefore, needs as its complement always one and the same person. The conception of faithfulness to one person is a lofty one, and finds a worthy expression in the sacramental marriage of the Catholic Church. I am not going to discuss the question of marriage or free-love. Marriage in its existing form is as incompatible as free-love with the highest interpretations of the moral law. And so divorce came into the world with marriage.

None the less marriage could have been invented only by[222] man. No proprietary institution originated with women. The introduction of order into chaotic sexual relations could have come only through man’s desire for it, and his power to establish it. There have been periods in the history of many primitive races in which women had great influence; but the period of matriarchy was a period of polyandry.

The dissimilarity in the relations of mother and prostitute to their child is rich in important conclusions. A woman in whom the prostitute element is strong will perceive her son’s manhood and always stand in a sexual relation to him. But as no woman is the perfect type of mother, there is something sexual in the relation of every mother and son. For this reason, I chose the relation of the mother to her daughter and not to her son, as the best measure of her type. There are many well-known physiological parallels between the relations of a mother to her children and of a wife to her husband.

Motherliness, like sexuality, is not an individual relation. When a woman is motherly the quality will be exercised not only on the child of her own body, but towards all men, although later on her interest in her own child may become all-absorbing and make her narrow, blind, and unjust in the event of a quarrel.

The relation of a motherly girl to her lover is interesting. Such a girl is inclined to be motherly towards the man she loves, especially towards that man who will afterwards become the father of her child; in fact, in a certain sense the man is her child. The deepest nature of the mother-type reveals itself in this identity of the mother and loving wife; the mothers form the enduring root-stock of our race from which the individual man arises, and in the face of which he recognises his own impermanence. It is this idea which enables the man to see in the mother, even while she is still a girl, something eternal, and which gives the pregnant woman a tremendous significance. The enduring security of the race lies in the mystery of this figure, in the presence of which man feels his own fleeting impermanence.[223] In such minutes there may come to him a sense of freedom and peace, and in the mysterious silence of the idea, he may think that it is through the woman that he is in true relation with the universe. He becomes the child of his beloved one, a child whose mother smiles on him, understands him, and takes care of him (Siegfried and Brünnhilde, Act III.). But this does not last long. (Siegfried tears himself from Brünnhilde). For a man only comes to his fulness when he frees himself from the race, when he raises himself above it. For paternity cannot satisfy the deepest longings of a man, and the idea that he is to be lost in the race is repellent to him. The most terrible chapter in the most comfortless of all the great books that have been written, the chapter on “Death and its Relation to the Indestructibility of our Nature,” in Schopenhauer’s “The World as Will and Idea,” is where the permanence of the will to maintain the species is set down as the only real permanence.

It is the permanence of the race that gives the mother her courage and fearlessness in contrast with the cowardliness and fear of the prostitute. It is not the courage of individuality, the moral courage arising from an inner sense of freedom and personal value, but rather the desire that the race should be maintained which, acting through the mother, protects the husband and child. As courage and cowardice belong respectively to the mother and the prostitute, so is it with that other pair of contrasting ideas, hope and fear. The absolute mother stands in a persisting relation to hope; as she lives on through the race, she does not quail before death, whilst the prostitute has a lasting fear of it.

The mother feels herself in a sense superior to the man; she knows herself to be his anchor; as she is in a secure place, linked in the chain of the generations, she may be likened to a harbour from which each new individual sails forth to wander on the high seas. From the moment of conception onwards the mother is psychically and physically ready to feed and protect her child. And this protective[224] superiority extends itself to her lover; she understands all that is simple and naïve and childlike in him, whilst the prostitute understands best his caprices and refinements. The mother has the craving to teach her child, to give him everything, even when the child is represented by the lover; the prostitute strives to impose herself on the man, to receive everything from him. The mother as the upholder of the race is friendly to all its members; it is only when there is an exclusive choice to be made between her child and others that she becomes hard and relentless; and so she can be both more full of love and more bitter than the prostitute.

The mother is in complete relation with the continuity of the race; the prostitute is completely outside it. The mother is the sole advocate and priestess of the race. The will of the race to live is embodied in her, whilst the existence of the prostitute shows that Schopenhauer was pushing a generalisation too far when he declared that all sexuality had relation only to the future generation. That the mother cares only for the life of her own race is plain from the absence of consideration for animals shown by the best of mothers. A good mother, with the greatest peace of mind and content, will slaughter fowl after fowl for her family. The mother of children is a cruel step-mother to all other living things.

Another striking aspect of the mother’s relation to the preservation of the race reveals itself in the matter of food. She cannot bear to see food wasted, however little may be left over; whilst the prostitute wilfully squanders the quantities of food and drink she demands. The mother is stingy and mean; the prostitute open-handed and lavish. The mother’s object in life is to preserve the race, and her delight is to see her children eat and to encourage their appetites. And so she becomes the good housekeeper. Ceres was a good mother, a fact expressed in her Greek name, Demeter. The mother takes care of the body, but does not trouble about the mind.[15] The relation between mother and child[225] remains material from the kissing and hugging of childhood to the protective care of maturity. All her devotion is for the success and prosperity of her child in material things.

[15] Compare the conversation in Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt,” Act ii., between the father of Solveig and Aase (perhaps the best-drawn mother in all literature) when they were discussing the search for their son:

Aase. “We shall find him.”

Her Husband. “And save his soul.”

Aase. “And his body.”

Maternal love, then, cannot be truly represented as resting on moral grounds. Let any one ask himself if he does not believe that his mother’s love would not be just as great for him if he were a totally different person. The individuality of the child has no part in the maternal love; the mere fact of its being her own child is sufficient, and so the love cannot be regarded as moral. In the love of a man for a woman, or between persons of the same sex, there is always some reference to the personal qualities of the individual; a mother’s love extends itself indifferently to anything that she has borne. It destroys the moral conception if we realise that the love of a mother for her child remains the same whether the child becomes a saint or a sinner, a king or a beggar, an angel or a fiend. Precisely the same conclusion will be reached from reflecting how children think that they have a claim on their mother’s love simply because she is their mother. Maternal love is non-moral because it has no relation to the individuality of the being on which it is bestowed, and there can be an ethical relation only between two individualities. The relation of mother and child is always a kind of physical reflex. If the little one suddenly screams or cries when the mother is in the next room, she will at once rush to it as if she herself had been hurt; and, as the children grow up, every wish or trouble of theirs is directly assumed and shared by the mother as if they were her own. There is an unbreakable link between the mother and child, physical, like the cord that united the two before childbirth. This is the real nature of the maternal relation; and, for my part, I protest[226] against the fashion in which it is praised, its very indiscriminate character being made a merit. I believe myself that many great artists have recognised this, but have chosen to be silent about it. The extraordinary over-praising of Raphael is losing ground, and the singers of maternal love are no higher than Fischart or Richepin.

Maternal love is an instinctive and natural impulse, and animals possess it in a degree as high as that of human beings. This alone is enough to show that it is not true love, that it is not of moral origin; for all morality proceeds from the intelligible character which animals, having no free will, do not possess. The ethical imperative can be heard only by a rational creature; there is no such thing as natural morality, for all morality must be self-conscious.

Her position outside the mere preservation of the race, the fact that she is not merely the channel and the indifferent protector of the chain of beings that passes through her, place the prostitute in a sense above the mother, so far at least as it is possible to speak of higher or lower from the ethical point of view when women are being discussed.

The matron whose whole time is taken up in looking after her husband and children, who is working in, or superintending the work of, the house, garden, or other forms of labour, ranks intellectually very low. The most highly-developed women mentally, those who have been lauded in poetry, belong to the prostitute category; to these, the Aspasia-type, must be added the women of the romantic school, foremost among whom must be placed Karoline Michaelis-Böhmer-Forster-Schlegel-Schelling.

It coincides with what has been said that only those men are sexually attracted by the mother-type who have no desire for mental productivity. The man whose fatherhood is confined to the children of his loins is he whom we should expect to choose the motherly productive woman. Great men have always preferred women of the prostitute type.[16] Their choice falls on the sterile woman, and, if there is[227] issue, it is unfit and soon dies out. Ordinary fatherhood has as little to do with morality as motherhood. It is non-moral, as I shall show in chap. xiv.; and it is illogical, because it deals with illusions. No man ever knows to what extent he is the father of his own child. And its duration is short and fleeting; every generation and every race of human beings soon disappears.

[16] Wherever I am using this term I refer, of course, not merely to mercenary women of the streets.

The wide-spread and exclusive honouring of the motherly woman, the type most upheld as the one and only possible one for women, is accordingly quite unjustified. Although most men are certain that every woman can have her consummation only in motherhood, I must confess that the prostitute—not as a person, but as a phenomenon—is much more estimable in my opinion.

There are various causes of this universal reverence for the mother.

One of the chief reasons appears to be that the mother seems to the man nearer his ideal of chastity; but the woman who desires children is no more chaste than the man-coveting prostitute.

The man rewards the appearance of higher morality in the maternal type by raising her morally (although with no reason) and socially over the prostitute type. The latter does not submit to any valuations of the man nor to the ideal of chastity which he seeks for in the woman; secretly, as the woman of the world, lightly as the demi-mondaine, or flagrantly as the woman of the streets, she sets herself in opposition to them. This is the explanation of the social ostracisms, the practical outlawry which is the present almost universal fate of the prostitute. The mother readily submits to the moral impositions of man, simply because she is interested only in the child and the preservation of the race.

It is quite different with the prostitute. She lives her own life exactly as she pleases, even although it may bring with it the punishment of exclusion from society. She is not so brave as the mother, it is true, being thoroughly cowardly; but she has the correlative of cowardice, impudence,[228] and she is not ashamed of her shamelessness. She is naturally inclined to polygamy, and always ready to attract more men than the one who would suffice as the founder of a family. She gives free play to the fulfilment of her desire, and feels a queen, and her most ardent wish is for more power. It is easy to grieve or shock the motherly woman; no one can injure or offend the prostitute; for the mother has her honour to defend as the guardian of the species, whilst the prostitute has forsworn all social respect, and prides herself in her freedom. The only thought that disturbs her is the possibility of losing her power. She expects, and cannot think otherwise than that every man wishes to possess her, that they think of nothing but her, and live for her. And certainly she possesses the greatest power over men, the only influence that has a strong effect on the life of humanity that is not ordered by the regulations of men.

In this lies the analogy between the prostitute and men who have been famous in politics. As it is only once in many centuries that a great conqueror arises, like Napoleon or Alexander, so it is with the great courtesan; but when she does appear she marches triumphantly across the world.

There is a relationship between such men and courtesans (every politician is to a certain extent a tribune of the people, and that in itself implies a kind of prostitution). They have the same feeling for power, the same demand to be in relations with all men, even the humblest. Just as the great conqueror believes that he confers a favour on any one to whom he talks, so also with the prostitute. Observe her as she talks to a policeman, or buys something in a shop, you see the sense of conferring a favour explicit in her. And men most readily accept this view that they are receiving favours from the politician or prostitute (one may recall how a great genius like Goethe regarded his meeting with Napoleon at Erfurt; and on the other side we have the myth of Pandora, and the story of the birth of Venus).

I may now return to the subject of great men of action[229] which I opened in chap. v. Even so far-seeing a man as Carlyle has exalted the man of action, as, for instance, in his chapter on “The Hero as King.” I have already shown that I cannot accept such a view. I may add here that all great men of action, even the greatest of them, such as Cæsar, Cromwell, Napoleon, have not hesitated to employ falsehood; that Alexander the Great did not hesitate to defend one of his murders by sophistry. But untruthfulness is incompatible with genius. The “Memoirs of Napoleon,” written at St. Helena, are full of misstatements and watery sophistry, and his last words, that “he had loved only France,” were an altruistic pose. Napoleon, the greatest of the conquerors, is a sufficient proof that great men of action are criminals, and, therefore, not geniuses. One can understand him by thinking of the tremendous intensity with which he tried to escape from himself. There is this element in all the conquerors, great or small. Just because he had great gifts, greater than those of any emperor before him, he had greater difficulty in stifling the disapproving voice within him. The motive of his ambition was the craving to stifle his better self. A truly great man may honestly share in the desire for admiration or fame but personal ambition will not be his aim. He will not try to knit the whole world to himself by superficial, transitory bonds, to heap up all the things of the world in a pyramid over his name. The man of action shares with the epileptic the desire to be in criminal relation to everything around him, to make them appanages of his petty self. The great man feels himself defined and separate from the world, a monad amongst monads, and, as a true microcosm, he feels the world already within him; he realises in the fullest sense of personal experience that he has a definite, assured, intelligible relation to the world whole. The great tribune and the great courtesan do not feel that they are marked off from the world; they merge with it, and demand it all as decoration or adornment of their empirical persons, and they are incapable of love, affection, or friendship.

The king of the fairy tale who wished to conquer the[230] stars is the perfect image of the conqueror. The great genius honours himself, and has not to live in a condition of give and take with the populace, as is necessary for the politician. The great politician makes his voice resound in the world, but he has also to sing in the streets; he may make the world his chessboard, but he has also to strut in a booth; he is no more a despot than he is a beggar for alms. He has to court the populace, and here he joins with the prostitute. The politician is a man of the streets. He must be completed by the public. It is the masses that he requires, not real individualities. If he is not clever he tries to be rid of the great men, or if, like Napoleon, he is cunning, he pretends to honour them in order that he may make them harmless. His dependence on the public makes some such course necessary. A politician cannot do all that he wishes, even if he is a Napoleon, and if, unlike Napoleon, he actually wished to realise ideals, he would soon be taught better by the public, his real master. The will of him who covets power is bound.

Every emperor is conscious of this relation between himself and the masses, and has an almost instinctive love of great assemblages of his people, or his army, or of his electors. Not Marcus Aurelius or Diocletian, but Kleo, Mark Antony, Themistocles, and Mirabeau are the embodiments of the real politician. Ambition means going amongst the people. The tribune has to follow the prostitute in this respect. According to Emerson, Napoleon used to go incognito amongst the people to excite their hurrahs and praise. Schiller imagined the same course for his Wallenstein.

Hitherto the phenomena of the great man of action have been regarded even by artists and philosophers as unique. I think that my analysis has shown that there is the strongest resemblance between them and prostitutes. To see an analogy between Antonius (Cæsar) and Cleopatra may appear at first far-fetched, but none the less it exists. The great man of action has to despise his inner life, in order that he may live altogether “in the world,” and he must[231] perish, like the things of the world. The prostitute abandons the lasting purpose of her sex, to live in the instincts of the moment. The great prostitute and the great tribune are firebrands causing destruction all around them, leaving death and devastation in their paths, and pass like meteors unconnected with the course of human life, indifferent to its objects, and soon disappearing, whilst the genius and the mother work for the future in silence. The prostitute and the tribune may be called the enemies of God; they are both anti-moral phenomena.

Great men of action, then, must be excluded from the category of genius. The true genius, whether he be an artist or a philosopher, is always strongly marked by his relation to the constructive side of the world.

The motive that actuates the prostitute requires further investigation. The purpose of the motherly woman was easy to understand; she is the upholder of the race. But the fundamental idea of prostitution is much more mysterious, and no one can have meditated long on the subject without often doubting if it were possible to get an explanation. Perhaps the relation of the two types to the sexual act may assist the inquiry. I hope that no one will consider such a subject below the dignity of a philosopher. The spirit in which the inquiry is made is the chief matter. It is at least clear that the painters of Leda and Danäe have pondered over the problem, and many great writers—I have in mind Zola’s “Confession of Claude,” his “Hortense,” “Renée,” and “Nana,” Tolstoi’s “Resurrection,” Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler,” and “Rita,” and above all the “Sonja” of that great soul Dostoyevski—must have been thinking of the general problem rather than merely wishing to describe particular cases.

The maternal woman regards the sexual relations as means to an end; the prostitute considers them as the end itself. That sexual congress may have another purpose than mere reproduction is plain, as many animals and plants are devoid of it. On the other hand, in the animal kingdom sexual congress is always in connection with reproduction[232] and is never simply lust; and, moreover, takes place only at times suitable for breeding. Desire is simply the means employed by nature to secure the continuity of the species.

Although sexual congress is an end in itself for the prostitute, it must not be assumed that it is meaningless in the mother-type. Women who are sexually anæsthetic no doubt exist in both classes, but they are very rare, and many apparent cases may really be phenomena of hysteria.

The final importance attached by the prostitute to the sexual act is made plain by the fact that it is only that type in which coquetry occurs. Coquetry has invariably a sexual significance. Its purpose is to picture to the man the conquest of the woman before it has occurred, in order to induce him to make the conquest an actual fact. The readiness of the type to coquet with every man is an expression of her nature; whether it proceeds further depends on merely accidental circumstances.

The maternal type regards the sexual act as the beginning of a series of important events, and so attaches value to it equally with the prostitute, although in a different fashion. The one is contented, completed, satisfied; her life is made richer and of fuller meaning to her by it. The other, for whom the act is everything, the compression and end of all life, is never satisfied, never to be satisfied, were she visited by all the men in the world.

The body of a woman, as I have already shown, is sexual throughout, and the special sexual acts are only intensifications of a distributed sensation. Here, also, the difference between the two types displays itself. The prostitute type in coquetting is merely using the general sexuality of her body as an end in itself; for her there is a difference only in degree between flirtation and sexual congress. The maternal type is equally sexual, but with a different purpose; all her life, through all her body, she is being impregnated. In this fact lies the explanation of the “impression” which I referred to as being indubitable, although it is denied by men of science and physicians.

Paternity is a diffused relation. Many instances, disputed[233] by men of science, point to an influence not brought about directly by the reproductive cells. White women who have borne a child to a black man, are said if they bear children afterwards to white men, to have retained enough impression from the first mate to show an effect on the subsequent children. All such facts, grouped under the names of “telegony,” “germinal infection,” and so on, although disputed by scientists, speak for my view. And so also the motherly woman, throughout her whole life, is impressed by lovers, by voices, by words, by inanimate things. All the influences that come to her she turns to the purpose of her being, to the shaping of her child, and the “actual” father has to share his paternity with perhaps other men and many other things.

The woman is impregnated not only through the genital tract but through every fibre of her being. All life makes an impression on her and throws its image on her child. This universality, in the purely physical sphere, is analogous to genius.

It is quite different with the prostitute. Whilst the maternal woman turns the whole world, the love of her lover, and all the impressions that she receives to the purposes of the child, the prostitute absorbs everything for herself. But just as she has this absorbing need of the man, so the man can get something from her which he fails to find in the badly dressed, tasteless, pre-occupied maternal type. Something within him requires pleasure, and this he gets from the daughters of joy. Unlike the mother, these think of the pleasures of the world, of dancing, of dressing, of theatres and concerts, of pleasure-resorts. They know the use of gold, turning it to luxury instead of to comfort, they flame through the world, making all its ways a triumphant march for their beautiful bodies.

The prostitute is the great seductress of the world, the female Don Juan, the being in the woman that knows the art of love, that cultivates it, teaches it, and enjoys it.

Very deep-seated differences are linked with what I have been describing. The mother-woman craves for respectability[234] in the man, not because she grasps its value as an idea, but because it is the supporter of the life of the world. She herself works, and is not idle like the prostitute; she is filled with care for the future, and so requires from the man a corresponding practical responsibility, and will not seduce him to pleasure. The prostitute, on the other hand, is most attracted by a careless, idle, dissipated man. A man that has lost self-restraint repels the mother-woman, is attractive to the prostitute. There are women who are dissatisfied with a son that is idle at school; there are others who encourage him. The diligent boy pleases the mother-woman, the idle and careless boy wins approval from the prostitute type. This distinction reaches high up amongst the respectable classes of society, but a salient example of it is seen in the fact that the “bullies” loved by women of the streets are usually criminals. The souteneur is always a criminal, a thief, a fraudulent person, or sometimes even a murderer.

I am almost on the point of saying that, however little woman is to be regarded as immoral (she is only non-moral), prostitution stands in some deep relation with crime, whilst motherhood is equally bound with the opposite tendency. We must avoid regarding the prostitute as the female analogue of the criminal; women, as I have already pointed out, are not criminals; they are too low in the moral scale for that designation. None the less, there is a constant connection between the prostitute type and crime. The great courtesan is comparable with that great criminal, the conqueror, and readily enters into actual relations with him; the petty courtesan entertains the thief and the pickpocket. The mother type is in fact the guardian of the life of the world, the prostitute type is its enemy. But just as the mother is in harmony, not with the soul but with the body, so the prostitute is no diabolic destroyer of the idea, but only a corrupter of empirical phenomena. Physical life and physical death, both of which are in intimate connection with the sexual act, are displayed by the woman in her two capacities of mother and prostitute.


It is still impossible to give a clearer solution than that which I have attempted, of the real significance of motherhood and prostitution. I am on an unfamiliar path, almost untrodden by any earlier wayfarer. Religious myths and philosophy alike have been unable to propound solutions. I have found some clues however. The anti-moral significance of prostitution is in harmony with the fact that it appears only amongst mankind. In all the animal kingdom the females are used only for reproduction; there are no true females that are sterile. There are analogies to prostitution, however, amongst male animals; one has only to think of the display and decoration of the peacock, of the shining glow-worm, of singing birds, of the love dances of many male birds. These secondary sexual manifestations, however, are mere advertisements of sexuality.

Prostitution is a human phenomenon; animals and plants are non-moral; they are never disposed to immorality and possess only motherhood. Here is a deep secret, hidden in the nature and origin of mankind. I ought to correct my earlier exposition by insisting that I have come to regard the prostitute element as a possibility in all women just as much as the merely animal capacity for motherhood. It is something which penetrates the nature of the human female, something with which the most animal-like mother is tinged, something which corresponds in the human female, to the characters that separate the human male from the animal male. Just as the immoral possibility of man is something that distinguishes him from the male animal, so the quality of the prostitute distinguishes the human female from the animal female. I shall have something to say as to the general relation of man to this element in woman, towards the end of my investigation, but possibly the ultimate origin of prostitution is a deep mystery into which none can penetrate.



The arguments which are in common use to justify a high opinion of woman have now been examined in all except a few points to which I shall recur, from the point of view of critical philosophy, and have been controverted. I hope that I have justified my deliberate choice of ground, although, indeed, Schopenhauer’s fate should have been a warning to me. His depreciation of women in his philosophical work “On Women,” has been frequently attributed to the circumstance that a beautiful Venetian girl, in whose company he was, fell in love with the extremely handsome personal appearance of Byron; as if a low opinion of women were not more likely to come to him who had had the best not the worst fortune with them.

The practice of merely calling any one who assails woman a misogynist, instead of refuting argument by argument, has much to commend it. Hatred is never impartial, and, therefore, to describe a man as having an animus against the object of his criticism, is at once to lay him open to the charge of insincerity, immorality, and partiality, and one that can be made with a hyperbole of accusation and evasion of the point, which only equal its lack of justification. This sort of answer never fails in its object, which is to exempt the vindicator from refuting the actual statements. It is the oldest and handiest weapon of the large majority of men, who never wish to see woman as she is. No men who really think deeply about women retain a high opinion of them; men either despise women or they have never thought seriously about them.


There is no doubt that it is a fallacious method in a theoretical argument to refer to one’s opponent’s psychological motives instead of bringing forward proofs to controvert his statements.

It is not necessary for me to say that in logical controversy the adversaries should place themselves under an impersonal conception of truth, and their aim should be to reach a result, irrespective of their own concrete opinions. If, however, in an argument, one side has come to a certain conclusion by a logical chain of reasoning, and the other side merely opposes the conclusion without having followed the reasoning process, it is at once fair and appropriate to examine the psychological motives which have induced the adversaries to abandon argument for abuse. I shall now put the champions of women to the test and see how much of their attitude is due to sentimentality, how much of it is disinterested, and how much due to selfish motives.

All objections raised against those who despise women arise from the erotic relations in which man stands to woman. This relationship is absolutely different from the purely sexual attraction which occurs in the animal world, and plays a most important part in human affairs. It is quite erroneous to say that sexuality and eroticism, sexual impulse and love, are fundamentally one and the same thing, the second an embellishing, refining, spiritualising sublimation of the first; although practically all medical men hold this view, and even such men as Kant and Schopenhauer thought so. Before I go into the reasons for maintaining the existence of this great distinction, I should like to say something about the views of these two men.

Kant’s opinion is not of much weight, because love as sexual impulse must have been as little known to him as possible, probably less than in the case of any other man. He was so little erotic that he never felt the kindred desire to travel.[17] He represents too lofty and pure a type to speak[238] with authority on this matter: his one passion was metaphysics.

[17] The association of these two desires may surprise readers. It rests on a metaphysical ground, much of which will be more apparent when I have developed my theory of eroticism further. Time, like space, is conceived of as unlimited, and man, in his desire for freedom, in his efforts stimulated by his power of free will to transcend his limits, has the craving for unlimited time and unlimited space. The desire for travel is simply an expression of this restlessness, this fundamental chafing of the spirit against its bonds. But just as eternity is not prolonged time, but the negation of time, so however far a man wanders, he can extend his area but cannot abolish space. And so his efforts to transcend space must always be heroic failures: I shall show that his eroticism is a similar notable failure.

As for Schopenhauer, he had just as little idea of the higher form of eroticism; his sexuality was of the gross order. This can be seen from the following: Schopenhauer’s countenance shows very little kindliness and a good deal of fierceness (a circumstance which must have caused him great sorrow. There is no exhibition of ethical sympathy if one is very sorry for oneself. The most sympathetic persons are those who, like Kant and Nietzsche, have no particle of self-pity).

But it may be said with safety that only those who are most sympathetic are capable of a strong passion: those “who take no interest in things” are incapable of love. This does not imply that they have diabolical natures. They may, on the contrary, stand very high morally without knowing what their neighbours are thinking or doing, and without having a sense for other than sexual relations with women, as was the case with Schopenhauer. He was a man who knew only too well what the sexual impulse was, but he never was in love; if that were not so, the bias in his famous work, “The Metaphysics of Sexual Love,” would be inexplicable; in it the most important doctrine is that the unconscious goal of all love is nothing more than “the formation of the next generation.”

This view, as I hope to prove, is false. It is true that a love entirely without sexuality has never been known. However high a man may stand he is still a being with[239] senses. What absolutely disposes of the opposite view is this: all love, as such—without going into æsthetic principles of love—is antagonistic to those elements (of the relationship) which press towards sexual union; in fact, such elements tend to negate love. Love and desire are two unlike, mutually exclusive, opposing conditions, and during the time a man really loves, the thought of physical union with the object of his love is insupportable. Because there is no hope which is entirely free from fear does not alter the fact that hope and fear are utterly opposite principles. It is just the same in the case of sexual impulse and love. The more erotic a man is the less he will be troubled with his sexuality, and vice versâ.

If it be the case that there is no adoration utterly free from desire, there is no reason why the two should be identified, since it might be possible for a superior being to attain the highest phases of both. That person lies, or has never known what love is, who says he loves a woman whom he desires; so much difference is there between sexual impulse and love. This is what makes talk of love after marriage seem, in most cases, make-believe.

The following will show how obtuse the view of those is who persist, with unconscious cynicism, in maintaining the identity of love and sexual impulse. Sexual attraction increases with physical proximity; love is strongest in the absence of the loved one; it needs separation, a certain distance, to preserve it. In fact, what all the travels in the world could not achieve, what time could not accomplish, may be brought about by accidental, unintentional, physical contact with the beloved object, in which the sexual impulse is awakened, and which suffices to kill love on the spot. Then, again, in the case of more highly differentiated, great men, the type of girl desired, and the type of girl loved but never desired, are always totally different in face, form, and disposition; they are two different beings.

Then there is the “platonic love,” which professors of psychiatry have such a poor opinion of. I should say rather, there is only “platonic” love, because any other so-called[240] love belongs to the kingdom of the senses: it is the love of Beatrice, the worship of Madonna; the Babylonian woman is the symbol of sexual desire.

Kant’s enumeration of the transcendental ideas of love would have to be extended if it is to be held. For the purely spiritual love, the love of Plato and Bruno, which is absolutely free from desire, is none the less a transcendental concept; nor is its significance as a concept impaired, because such a love has never been fully realised.

It is the problem put forward in “Tannhäuser.” We have Tannhäuser, Wolfram, Venus, and Maria. The fact that two lovers, who have found each other once for all—Tristan and Isolde—choose death instead of the bridal bed, is just as absolute a proof of a higher, maybe metaphysical, something in mankind, as the martyrdom of a Giordano Bruno.

“Dir, hohe Liebe, töne
Begeistert mein Gesang,
Die mir in Engelschöne
Tief in die Seele drang!
Du nahst als Gott gesandte:
Ich folg’ aus holder Fern’,—
So führst du in die Lande,
Wo ewig strahlt dein Stern.”

Who is the object of such love? Is it woman, as she has been represented in this work, who lacks all higher qualities, who gets her value from another, who has no power to attain value on her own account? Impossible. It is the ideally beautiful, the immaculate woman, who is loved in such high fashion. The source of this beauty and chastity in women must now be found.

The question as to whether the female sex is the more beautiful, and as to whether it deserves the title of “the” beautiful, has been much disputed.

It may be well to consider by whom and how far woman is considered beautiful.

It is well known that woman is not most beautiful in the nude. I admit that in pictures or statues the nude female may look well. But the sexual impulse makes it impossible[241] to look at a living woman in a nude condition with the purely critical, unemotional eye, which is an essential feature in judging any object of beauty. But apart from this, an absolute nude female figure in the life leaves an impression of something wanting, an incompleteness, which is incompatible with beauty.

A nude woman may be beautiful in details, but the general effect is not beautiful; she inevitably creates the feeling that she is looking for something, and this induces disinclination rather than desire in the spectator. The sight of an upright female form, in the nude, makes most patent her purposelessness, the sense of her purpose in life being derived from something outside herself; in the recumbent position this feeling is greatly diminished. It is evident that artists have perceived this in reproducing the nude.

But even in the details of her body a woman is not wholly beautiful, not even if she is a flawless, perfect type of her sex. The genitalia are the chief difficulty in the way of regarding her as theoretically beautiful. If the idea were justified that man’s love for woman is the direct result of his sexual impulse; if we could agree with Schopenhauer that “the under-sized, narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped, and short-limbed sex is called beautiful only because the male intellect is befogged by the sexual impulse, that impulse being the creator of the conception of the beauty of woman,” it would follow that the genitalia could not be excluded from the conception of beauty. It requires no lengthy exposition to prove that the genitalia are not regarded as beautiful, and that, therefore, the beauty of woman cannot be regarded as due to the sexual impulse. In fact, the sexual impulse is in reality opposed to the conception of beauty. The man who is most under its influence has least sense of female beauty, and desires any woman merely because she is a woman.

A woman’s nude body is distasteful to man because it offends his sense of shame. The easy superficiality of our day has given colour to the statement that the sense of shame has arisen from the wearing of clothes, and it has been urged that the objection to the nude arises from those[242] who are unnatural and secretly immorally-minded. But a man who has become immorally-minded no longer is interested in the nude as such, because it has lost its influence on him. He merely desires and no longer loves. All true love is modest, like all true pity. There is only one case of shamelessness—a declaration of love the sincerity of which a man is convinced of in the moment he makes it. This would represent the conceivable maximum of shamelessness; but there is no declaration of love which is quite true, and the stupidity of women is shown by their readiness to believe such protestations.

The love bestowed by the man is the standard of what is beautiful and what is hateful in woman. The conditions are quite different in æsthetics from those in logic or ethics. In logic there is an abstract truth which is the standard of thought; in ethics there is an ideal good which furnishes the criterion of what ought to be done, and the value of the good is established by the determination to link the will with the good. In æsthetics beauty is created by love; there is no determining law to love what is beautiful, and the beautiful does not present itself to human beings with any imperative command to love it. (And so there is no abstract, no super-individual “right” taste).

All beauty is really more a projection, an emanation of the requirements of love; and so the beauty of woman is not apart from love, it is not an objective to which love is directed, but woman’s beauty is the love of man; they are not two things, but one and the same thing.

Just as hatefulness comes from hating, so love creates beauty. This is only another way of expressing the fact that beauty has as little to do with the sexual impulse as the sexual impulse has to do with love. Beauty is something that can neither be felt, touched, nor mixed with other things; it is only at a distance that it can be plainly discerned, and when it is approached it withdraws itself. The sexual impulse which seeks for sexual union with woman is a denial of such beauty; the woman who has been possessed and enjoyed, will never again be worshipped for her beauty.


I now come to the second question: what are the innocence and morality of a woman?

It will be convenient to start with a few facts that concern the origin of all love. Bodily cleanliness, as has often been remarked, is in men a general indication of morality and rectitude; or at least it may be said that uncleanly men are seldom of high character. It may be noticed that when men, who formerly paid little attention to bodily cleanliness, begin to strive for a higher perfection of character, they at the same time take more trouble with the care of the body. In the same way, when men suddenly become imbued with passion they experience a simultaneous desire for bodily cleanliness, and it may almost be said of them that only at such a time do they wash themselves thoroughly. If we now turn to gifted men, we shall see that in their case love frequently begins with self-mortification, humiliation, and restraint. A moral change sets in, a process of purification seems to emanate from the object loved, even if her lover has never spoken to her, or only seen her a few times in the distance. It is, then, impossible that this process should have its origin in that person: very often it may be a bread-and-butter miss, a stolid lump, more often a sensuous coquette, in whom no one can see the marvellous characteristics with which his love endows her, save her lover. Can any one believe that it is a concrete person who is loved? Does she not in reality serve as the starting point for incomparably greater emotions than she could inspire?

In love, man is only loving himself. Not his empirical self, not the weaknesses and vulgarities, not the failings and smallnesses which he outwardly exhibits; but all that he wants to be, all that he ought to be, his truest, deepest, intelligible nature, free from all fetters of necessity, from all taint of earth.

In his actual physical existence, this being is limited by space and time and by the shackles of the senses; however deep he may look into himself, he finds himself damaged and spotted, and sees nowhere the image of speckless purity for which he seeks. And yet there is nothing he covets so[244] much as to realise his own ideal, to find his real higher self. And as he cannot find this true self within himself, he has to seek it without himself. He projects his ideal of an absolutely worthy existence, the ideal that he is unable to isolate within himself, upon another human being, and this act, and this alone, is none other than love and the significance of love. Only a person who has done wrong and is conscious of it can love, and so a child can never love. It is only because love represents the highest, most unattainable goal of all longing, because it cannot be realised in experience but must remain an idea; only because it is localised on some other human being, and yet remains at a distance, so that the ideal never attains its realisation; only because of such conditions can love be associated with the awakening of the desire for purification, with the reaching after a goal that is purely spiritual, and so cannot be blemished by physical union with the beloved person; only thus, is love the highest and strongest effort of the will towards the supreme good; only thus does it bring the true being of man to a state between body and spirit, between the senses and the moral nature, between God and the beasts. A human being only finds himself when, in this fashion, he loves. And thus it comes about that only when they love do many men realise the existence of their own personality and of the personality of another, that “I” and “thou” become for them more than grammatical expressions. And so also comes about the great part played in their love story by the names of the two lovers. There is no doubt but that it is through love that many men first come to know of their own real nature, and to be convinced that they possess a soul.

It is this which makes a lover desire to keep his beloved at a distance—on no account to injure her purity by contact with him—in order to assure himself of her and of his own existence. Many an inflexible empiricist, coming under the influence of love, becomes an enthusiastic mystic; the most striking example being Auguste Comte, the founder of positivism, whose whole theories were revolutionised by his feelings for Clotilde de Vaux.


It is not only for the artist, but for the whole of mankind that Amo, ergo sum holds good psychologically.

Love is a phenomenon of projection just as hate is, not a phenomenon of equation as friendship is. The latter presupposes an equality of both individuals: love always implies inequality, disproportion. To endow an individual with all that one might be and yet never can be, to make her ideal—that is love. Beauty is the symbol of this act of worship. It is this that so often surprises and angers a lover when he is convinced that beauty does not imply morality in a woman. He feels that the nature of the offence is increased by “such depravity” being possible in conjunction with such “beauty.” He is not aware that the woman in question seems beautiful to him because he still loves her; otherwise the incongruity between the external and internal would no longer pain him.

The reason an ordinary prostitute can never seem beautiful is because it is naturally impossible to endow her with the projection of value; she can satisfy only the taste of vulgar minds. She is the mate of the worst sort of men. In this we have the explanation of a relation utterly opposed to morality: woman in general is simply indifferent to ethics, she is non-moral, and, therefore, unlike the anti-moral criminal, who is instinctively disliked, or the devil who is hideous in every one’s imagination, serves as a receptacle for projected worthiness; as she neither does good nor evil, she neither resists nor resents this imposition of the ideal on her personality. It is patent that woman’s morality is acquired; but this morality is man’s, which he in an access of supreme love and devotion has conveyed to her.

Since all beauty is always only the constantly renewed endeavour to embody the highest form of value, there is a pre-eminently satisfying element in it, in the face of which all desire, all self-seeking fade away.

All forms of beauty which appeal to man, by reason of the æsthetic function, are in reality also attempts on his part to realise the ideal. Beauty is the symbol of[246] perfection in being. Therefore beauty is inviolable; it is static and not dynamic; so that any alteration with regard to it upsets and annuls the idea of it. The desire of personal worthiness, the love of perfection, materialise in the idea of beauty. And so the beauty of nature is born, a beauty that the criminal can never know, as ethics first create nature. Thus it is that nature always and everywhere, in its greatest and smallest forms, gives the impression of perfection. The natural law is only the mortal symbol of the moral law, as natural beauty is the manifestation of nobility of the soul; logic thus becomes the embodiment of ethics! Just as love creates a new woman for man instead of the real woman, so art, the eroticism of the All, creates out of chaos the plenitude of forms in the universe; and just as there is no natural beauty without form, without a law of nature, so also there is no art without form, no artistic beauty which does not conform to the laws of art. Natural beauty is no less a realisation of artistic beauty than the natural law is the fulfilment of the moral law, the natural reflection of that harmony whose image is enthroned in the soul of man. The nature which the artist regards as his teacher, is the law which he creates out of his own being.

I return to my own theme from these analyses of art, which are no more than elaborations of the thoughts of Kant and Schelling (and of Schiller writing under their influence). The main proposition for which I have argued is that man’s belief in the morality of woman, his projection of his own soul upon her, and his conception of the woman as beautiful, are one and the same thing, the second being the sensuous side of the first.

It is thus intelligible, although an inversion of the truth, when, in morality, a beautiful soul is spoken of, or when, following Shaftesbury and Herbart, ethics are subordinated to æsthetics; following Socrates and Plato we may identify the good and the beautiful, but we must not forget that beauty is only a bodily image in which morality tries to represent itself, that all æsthetics are created by ethics.[247] Every individual and temporal presentation of this attempted incarnation must necessarily be illusory, and can have no more than a fictitious reality. And so all individual cases of beauty are impermanent; the love that is directed to a woman must perish with the age of the woman. The idea of beauty is the idea of nature and is permanent, whilst every beautiful thing, every part of nature, is perishable. The eternal can realise itself in the limited and the concrete only by an illusion; it is self-deception to seek the fulness of love in a woman. As all love that attaches itself to a person must be impermanent, the love of woman is doomed to unhappiness. All such love has this source of failure inherent in it. It is an heroic attempt to seek for permanent worth where there is no worth. The love that is attached to enduring worth is attached to the absolute, to the idea of God, whether that idea be a pantheistic conception of enduring nature, or remain transcendental; the love that attaches itself to an individual thing, as to a woman, must fail.

I have already partly explained why man takes this burden on himself. Just as hatred is a projection of our own evil qualities on other persons in order that we may stand apart from them and hate them; just as the devil was invented to serve as a vehicle of all the evil impulses in man; so love has the purpose of helping man in his battle for good, when he feels that he himself is not strong enough. Love and hate are alike forms of cowardice. In hate we picture to ourselves that our own hateful qualities exist in another, and by so doing we feel ourselves partly freed from them. In love we project what is good in us, and so having created a good and an evil image we are more able to compare and value them.

Lovers seek their own souls in the loved ones, and so love is free from the limits I described in the first part of this book, not being bound down by the conditions of merely sexual attraction. In spite of their real opposition, there is an analogy between erotics and sexuality. Sexuality uses the woman as the means to produce pleasure and[248] children of the body; erotics use her as the means to create worth and children of the soul. A little understood conception of Plato is full of the deepest meaning: that love is not directed towards beauty, but towards the procreation of beauty; that it seeks to win immortality for the things of the mind, just as the lower sexual impulse is directed towards the perpetuation of the species.

It is more than a merely formal analogy, a superficial, verbal resemblance, to speak of the fruitfulness of the mind, of its conception and reproduction, or, in the words of Plato, to speak of the children of the soul. As bodily sexuality is the effort of an organic being to perpetuate its own form, so love is the attempt to make permanent one’s own soul or individuality. Sexuality and love are alike the effort to realise oneself, the one by a bodily image, the other by an image of the soul. But it is only the man of genius who can approach this entirely unsensuous love, and it is only he who seeks to produce eternal children in whom his deepest nature shall live for ever.

The parallel may be carried further. Since Novalis first called attention to it, many have insisted on the association between sexual desire and cruelty. All that is born of woman must die. Reproduction, birth, and death are indissolubly associated; the thought of untimely death awakens sexual desire in its fiercest form, as the determination to reproduce oneself. And so sexual union, considered ethically, psychologically, and biologically, is allied to murder; it is the negation of the woman and the man; in its extreme case it robs them of their consciousness to give life to the child. The highest form of eroticism, as much as the lowest form of sexuality, uses the woman not for herself but as means to an end—to preserve the individuality of the artist. The artist has used the woman merely as the screen on which to project his own idea.

The real psychology of the loved woman is always a matter of indifference. In the moment when a man loves a woman, he neither understands her nor wishes to understand her, although understanding is the only moral basis[249] of association in mankind. A human being cannot love another that he fully understands, because he would then necessarily see the imperfections which are an inevitable part of the human individual, and love can attach itself only to perfection. Love of a woman is possible only when it does not consider her real qualities, and so is able to replace the actual psychical reality by a different and quite imaginary reality. The attempt to realise one’s ideal in a woman, instead of the woman herself, is a necessary destruction of the empirical personality of the woman. And so the attempt is cruel to the woman; it is the egoism of love that disregards the woman, and cares nothing for her real inner life.

Thus the parallel between sexuality and love is complete. Love is murder. The sexual impulse destroys the body and mind of the woman, and the psychical eroticism destroys her psychical existence. Ordinary sexuality regards the woman only as a means of gratifying passion or of begetting children. The higher eroticism is merciless to the woman, requiring her to be merely the vehicle of a projected personality, or the mother of psychical children. Love is not only anti-logical, as it denies the objective truth of the woman and requires only an illusory image of her, but it is anti-ethical with regard to her.

I am far from despising the heights to which this eroticism may reach, as, for instance, in Madonna worship. Who could blind his eyes to the amazing phenomenon presented by Dante? It was an extraordinary transference of his own ideal to the person of a concrete woman whom the artist had seen only once and when she was a young girl, and who for all he knew might have grown up into a Xantippe. The complete neglect of whatever worth the woman herself might have had, in order that she might better serve as the vehicle of his projected conception of worthiness, was never more clearly exhibited. And the three-fold immorality of this higher eroticism becomes more plain than ever. It is an unlimited selfishness with regard to the actual woman, as she is wholly rejected for the ideal[250] woman. It is a felony towards the lover himself, inasmuch as he detaches virtue and worthiness from himself; and it is a deliberate turning away from the truth, a preferring of sham to reality.

The last form in which the immorality reveals itself is that love prevents the worthlessness of woman from being realised, inasmuch as it always replaced her by an imaginary projection. Madonna worship itself is fundamentally immoral, inasmuch as it is a shutting of the eyes to truth. The Madonna worship of the great artists is a destruction of woman, and is possible only by a complete neglect of the women as they exist in experience, a replacement of actuality by a symbol, a re-creation of woman to serve the purposes of man, and a murder of woman as she exists.

When a particular man attracts a particular woman the influence is not his beauty. Only man has an instinct for beauty, and the ideals of both manly beauty and of womanly beauty have been created by man, not by woman. The qualities that appeal to a woman are the signs of developed sexuality; those that repel her are the qualities of the higher mind. Woman is essentially a phallus worshipper, and her worship is permeated with a fear like that of a bird for a snake, of a man for the fabled Medusa head, as she feels that the object of her adoration is the power that will destroy her.

The course of my argument is now apparent. As logic and ethics have a relation only to man, it was not to be expected that woman would stand in any better position with regard to æsthetics. Æsthetics and logic are closely interconnected, as is apparent in philosophy, in mathematics, in artistic work, and in music. I have now shown the intimate relation of æsthetics to ethics. As Kant showed, æsthetics, just as much as ethics and logic, depend on the free will of the subject. As the woman has not free will, she cannot have the faculty of projecting beauty outside herself.

The foregoing involves the proposition that woman cannot love. Women have made no ideal of man to[251] correspond with the male conception of the Madonna. What woman requires from man is not purity, chastity, morality, but something else. Woman is incapable of desiring virtue in a man.

It is almost an insoluble riddle that woman, herself incapable of love, should attract the love of man. It has seemed to me a possible myth or parable, that in the beginning, when men became men by some miraculous act of God, a soul was bestowed only on them. Men, when they love, are partly conscious of this deep injustice to woman, and make the fruitless but heroic effort to give her their own soul. But such a speculation is outside the limits of either science or philosophy.

I have now shown what woman does not wish; there remains to show what she does wish, and how this wish is diametrically opposed to the will of man.



“Erst Mann und Weib zusammen
Machen den Menschen aus.”—Kant.

The further we go in the analysis of woman’s claim to esteem the more we must deny her of what is lofty and noble, great and beautiful. As this chapter is about to take the deciding and most extreme step in that direction, I should like to make a few remarks as to my position. The last thing I wish to advocate is the Asiatic standpoint with regard to the treatment of women. Those who have carefully followed my remarks as to the injustice that all forms of sexuality and erotics visit on woman will surely see that this work is not meant to plead for the harem. But it is quite possible to desire the legal equality of men and women without believing in their moral and intellectual equality, just as in condemning to the utmost any harshness in the male treatment of the female sex, one does not overlook the tremendous, cosmic, contrast and organic differences between them. There are no men in whom there is no trace of the transcendent, who are altogether bad; and there is no woman of whom that could truly be said. However degraded a man may be, he is immeasurably above the most superior woman, so much so that comparison and classification of the two are impossible; but even so, no one has any right to denounce or defame woman, however inferior she must be considered. A true adjustment of the claims for legal equality can be[253] undertaken on no other basis than the recognition of a complete, deep-seated polar opposition of the sexes. I trust that I may escape confusion of my views as to woman with the superficial doctrine of P. J. Möbius—a doctrine only interesting as a brave reaction against the general tendency. Women are not “physiologically weak-minded,” and I cannot share the view that women of conspicuous ability are to be regarded as morbid specimens.

From a moral point of view one should only be glad to recognise in these women (who are always more masculine than the rest) the exact opposite of degeneration, that is to say, it must be acknowledged that they have made a step forward and gained a victory over themselves; from the biological standpoint they are just as little or as much phenomena of degeneration as are womanish men (unethically considered). Intermediate sexual forms are normal, not pathological phenomena, in all classes of organisms, and their appearance is no proof of physical decadence.

Woman is neither high-minded nor low-minded, strong-minded nor weak-minded. She is the opposite of all these. Mind cannot be predicated of her at all; she is mindless. That, however, does not imply weak-mindedness in the ordinary sense of the term, the absence of the capacity to “get her bearings” in ordinary everyday life. Cunning, calculation, “cleverness,” are much more usual and constant in the woman than in the man, if there be a personal selfish end in view. A woman is never so stupid as a man can be.

But has woman no meaning at all? Has she no general purpose in the scheme of the world? Has she not a destiny; and, in spite of all her senselessness and emptiness, a significance in the universe?

Has she a mission, or is her existence an accident and an absurdity?

In order to understand her meaning, it is necessary to start from a phenomenon which, although old and well recognised, has never received its proper meed of consideration. It is from nothing more nor less than the[254] phenomenon of match-making from which we may be able to infer most correctly the real nature of woman.

Its analysis shows it to be the force which brings together and helps forward two people in their knowledge of one another, which helps them to a sexual union, whether in the form of marriage or not. This desire to bring about an understanding between two people is possessed by all women from their earliest childhood; the very youngest girls are always ready to act as messengers for their sisters’ lovers. And if the instinct of match-making can be indulged in only after the particular woman in question has brought about her own consummation in marriage, it is none the less present before that time, and the only things which are at work against it are her jealousy of her contemporaries, and her anxiety about their chances with regard to her lover, until she has finally secured him by reason of her money, her social position, and so forth.

As soon as women have got rid of their own case by their own marriage, they hasten to help the sons and daughters of their acquaintances to marry. The fact that older women, in whom the desire for sexual satisfaction has died out, are such match-makers is so fully recognised that the idea has wrongly spread that they are the only real match-makers.

They urge not only women but men to marry, a man’s own mother often being the most active and persistent advocate of his marriage. It is the desire and purpose of every mother to see her son married, without any thought of his individual taste; a wish which some have been blind enough to regard as another charm in maternal love, of which such a poor account was given in an earlier chapter. It is possible that many mothers may hope that their sons should obtain permanent happiness through marriage, however unfit they may be for it; but undoubtedly this hope is absent with the majority, and in any case it is the match-making instinct, the sheer objection to bachelordom, which is the strongest motive of all.

It is clear that women obey a purely instinctive,[255] inherent impulse, when they try to get their daughters married.

It is certainly not for logical, and only in a small degree for material reasons, that they go to such lengths to attain their ends, and it is certainly not because of any desire expressed by their daughters (very often it is in direct opposition to the girl’s choice); and since the match-making instinct is not confined to the members of a woman’s own family, it is impossible to speak of it as being part of the “altruistic” or “moral” attitude of maternal love; although most women if they were charged with match-making projects would undoubtedly answer “that it is their duty to think of the future welfare of their dear children.”

A mother makes no difference in arranging a marriage for her own daughter and for any other girl, and is just as glad to do it for the latter if it does not interfere with the interests of her own family; it is the same thing, match-making throughout, and there is no psychological difference in making a match for her own daughter and doing the same thing for a stranger. I would even go so far as to say that a mother is not inconsolable if a stranger, however common and undesirable, desires and seduces her daughter.

The attitude of one sex to certain traits of the other can often be applied as a criterion as to how far certain peculiarities of character are exclusively the property of the one sex or are shared by the other. So far, we have had to deny to women many characters which they would gladly claim, but which are exclusively masculine; in match-making, however, we have a characteristic which is really and exclusively feminine, the exceptions being either in the case of very womanish men or else special instances which will be fully dealt with later on, in chap. xiii. Every real man will have nothing to do with this instinct in his wife, even when his own daughters, whom he would gladly see settled in life, are concerned; he dislikes and despises the whole business, and leaves it entirely to his wife, as being altogether in her province. This is a striking instance of a purely feminine psychical characteristic, being not only unattractive[256] to a man, but even repulsive to him when he is aware of it: while the male characteristics in themselves are sufficient to please the female, man has to denude woman of hers before he can love her.

But the match-making instinct exerts a much deeper and more important influence on the nature of woman than can be gathered from the little I have said on this subject. I wish now to draw attention to woman’s attitude at a play: she is always waiting to see if the hero and heroine, the lovers in the piece, will quarrel. This is nothing but match-making, and psychologically does not differ a hair from it: it is the ever present desire to see the man and woman united. But that is not all; the tremendous excitement with which women await the crucial point in a decent or indecent book is due to nothing less than the desire to see the sexual union of the principal characters, and is coupled with an actual excitation at the thought, and positive appreciation of the force which is behind sexual union. It is not possible to state this formally and logically, the only thing is to try and understand how it is that the two things are psychologically one with women. The mother’s excitement on her daughter’s wedding-day is of the same quality as that engendered by reading a story by Prévost, or Sudermann’s “Katzensteg.” It is quite true that men are very interested by novels which end in sexual union, but in quite a different way from women; they thoroughly appreciate the sexual act in imagination, but they do not follow the gradual approach of the two people concerned from the very beginning; and their interest does not grow, as woman’s does, in constant proportion to the reciprocal value which the two people have for one another.

The breathless pleasure with which the various obstacles are overcome, the feeling of disappointment at each thwarting of the sexual purpose, is altogether womanish and unmanly; but it is always present with woman. She is continually on the watch for sexual developments, whether in real life or in literature. Has no one ever wondered why women are so keen and “disinterested” about bringing[257] other men and women together? The satisfaction they derive from it arises from a personal stimulus at the thought of the sexual union of others.

But the full extent to which match-making influences the point of view of all women is not yet fully grasped. On a summer evening when lovers may be seen in dark corners of public places, or on the seats and banks round about, it is always the women who wilfully and curiously try to see what is happening, whilst men who have to pass that way do so unwillingly, looking the other way, because of a sense of intrusion. Just in the same way it is women who turn in the streets to look at nearly every couple they meet, and gaze after them. This espionage and turning round are none the less “match-making,” because they are sub-conscious acts. If a man does not want to see a thing he turns his back on it, and does not look round; but women are glad to see two people in love with one another, and take pleasure in surprising them in their love-making, because of their innate and super-personal desire that sexual union should occur.

But man, as was seen much further back, only cares for that which has a positive value. A woman when she sees two lovers together is always awaiting developments, that is to say, she expects, anticipates, hopes, and desires an outcome. I know an elderly married woman who listened expectantly at the door for some time, when a servant of hers had allowed her sweetheart to come into her room, before she walked in and gave her notice.

The idea of union is always eagerly grasped and never repelled whatever form it may take (even where animals are concerned).[18] She experiences no disgust at the nauseating details of the subject, and makes no attempt to think of anything pleasanter. This accounts for a great deal of what is so apparently mysterious in the psychic life of woman. Her wish for the activity of her own sexual life is her strongest impulse, but it is only a special case of her[258] deep, her only vital interest, the interest that sexual unions shall take place; the wish that as much of it as possible shall occur, in all cases, places, and times.

[18] The one apparent exception to this rule is fully discussed in this chapter.

This universal desire may either be concentrated on the act itself or on the (possible) child; in the first case, the woman is of the prostitute type and participates merely for the sake of the act; in the second, she is of the mother type, but not merely with the idea of bearing children herself; she desires that every marriage she knows of or has helped to bring about should be fruitful, and the nearer she is to the absolute mother the more conspicuous is this idea; the real mother is also the real grandmother (even if she remains a virgin; Johann Tesman’s marvellous portrayal of “Tante Jule” in Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” is an example of what I mean). Every real mother has the same purpose, that of helping on matrimony; she is the mother of all mankind; she welcomes every pregnancy.

The prostitute does not want other women to be with child, but to be prostitutes like herself.

A woman’s relations with married men show how she subordinates her own sexuality to her match-making instinct, the latter being the dominant power.

Woman objects more strongly to bachelordom than anything else, because she is altogether a match-maker, and this makes her try to get men to marry; but if a man is already married she at once loses most of her interest in him, however much she liked him before. If the woman herself is already married, that is to say, when each man she meets is not a possible solution to her own fate, one would not imagine that a married man would find less favour with her because he was married than when he was a bachelor if the woman herself is unfaithful; but women seldom carry on an intrigue with another woman’s husband, except when they wish to triumph over her by making him neglect her. This shows that the disposition of woman is towards the fact of pairing; when men are already paired she seldom attempts to make them unfaithful, for the fact of their being paired has satisfied her instinct.


This match-making is the most common characteristic of the human female; the wish to become a mother-in-law is much more general than even the desire to become a mother, the intensity and extent of which is usually over-rated.

My readers may possibly not understand the emphasis I have laid on a phenomenon which is usually looked upon as amusing as it is disgusting; and it may be thought that I have given undue importance to it.

But let us see why I have done so. Match-making is essentially the phenomenon of all others which gives us the key to the nature of woman, and we must not, as has always been the case, merely acknowledge the fact and pass on, but we should try to analyse and explain it. One of our commonest phrases runs: “Every woman is a bit of a match-maker.”

But we must remember that in this, and nothing else, lies the actual essence of woman. After mature consideration of the most varied types of women and with due regard to the special classes besides those which I have discussed, I am of opinion that the only positively general female characteristic is that of match-making, that is, her uniform willingness to further the idea of sexual union.

Any definition of the nature of woman which goes no further than to declare that she has the strong instinct for her own union would be too narrow; any definition that would link her instincts to the child or to the husband, or to both, would be too wide. The most general and comprehensive statement of the nature of woman is that it is completely adapted and disposed for the special mission of aiding and abetting the bodily union of the sexes. All women are match-makers, and this property of the woman to be the advocate of the idea of pairing is the only one which is found in women of all ages, in young girls, in adults, and in the aged. The old woman is no longer interested in her own union, but she devotes herself to the pairing of others. This habit of the old woman is nothing new, it is only the continuance of her enduring instinct surviving the complications that were caused when her[260] personal interests came into conflict with her general desire; it is the now unselfish pursuit of the impersonal idea.

It is convenient to recapitulate at this point what my investigation has shown as to the sexuality of women. I have shown that woman is engrossed exclusively by sexuality, not intermittently, but throughout her life; that her whole being, bodily and mental, is nothing but sexuality itself. I added, moreover, that she was so constituted that her whole body and being continually were in sexual relations with her environment, and that just as the sexual organs were the centre of woman physically, so the sexual idea was the centre of her mental nature. The idea of pairing is the only conception which has positive worth for women. The woman is the bearer of the thought of the continuity of the species. The high value which she attaches to the idea of pairing is not selfish and individual, it is super-individual, and, if I may be forgiven the desecration of the phrase, it is the transcendental function of woman. And just as femaleness is no more than the embodiment of the idea of pairing, so is it sexuality in the abstract. Pairing is the supreme good for the woman; she seeks to effect it always and everywhere. Her personal sexuality is only a special case of this universal, generalised, impersonal instinct.

The effort of woman to realise this idea of pairing is so fundamentally opposed to that conception of innocence and purity, the higher virginity which man’s erotic nature has demanded from women, that not all his erotic incense would have obscured her real nature but for one factor. I have now to explain this factor which has veiled from man the true nature of woman, and which in itself is one of the deepest problems of woman, I mean her absolute duplicity. Her pairing instinct and her duplicity, the latter so great as to conceal even from woman herself what is the real essence of her nature, must be explained together.

All that may have seemed like clear gain is now again called into question. Self-observation was found lacking in women, and yet there certainly are women who observe[261] very closely all that happens to them. They were denied the love of truth, and yet one knows many women who would not tell a lie for anything. It has been said that they are lacking in consciousness of guilt; but there are many women who reproach themselves bitterly for most trifling matters, besides “penitents” who mortify their flesh. Modesty was left to man, but what is to be said of the womanly modesty, that bashfulness, which, according to Hamerling, only women have? Is there no foundation for the way in which the idea has grown and found such acceptance? And then again: Can religion be absent, in spite of so many “professing” women? Are we to exclude all women from the moral purity, all the womanly virtues, which poets and historians have ascribed to her? Are we to say that woman is merely sexual, that sexuality only receives its proper due from her when it is so well known that women are shocked at the slightest allusion to sexual matters, that instead of giving way to it they are often irritated and disgusted at the idea of impurity, and quite often detest sexual union for themselves and regard it just as many men do?

It is, of course, manifest that one and the same point is bound up in all these antitheses, and on the answer given to them depends the final and decisive judgment on woman. And it is clear that if only one single female creature were really asexual, or could be shown to have a real relationship to the idea of personal moral worth, everything that I have said about woman, its general value as psychically characteristic of the sex, would be irretrievably demolished, and the whole position which this book has taken up would be shattered at one blow.

These apparently contradictory phenomena must be satisfactorily explained, and it must be shown that what is at the bottom of it all and makes it seem so equivocal arises from the very nature of woman which I have been trying to explain all along.

In order to understand these fallacious contradictions one must first of all remember the tremendous “accessibility,”[262] to use another word, the “impressionability,” of women. Their extraordinary aptitude for anything new, and their easy acceptance of other people’s views have not yet been sufficiently emphasised in this book.

As a rule, the woman adapts herself to the man, his views become hers, his likes and dislikes are shared by her, every word he says is an incentive to her, and the stronger his sexual influence on her the more this is so. Woman does not perceive that this influence which man has on her causes her to deviate from the line of her own development; she does not look upon it as a sort of unwarrantable intrusion; she does not try to shake off what is really an invasion of her private life; she is not ashamed of being receptive; on the contrary, she is really pleased when she can be so, and prefers man to mould her mentally. She rejoices in being dependent, and her expectations from man resolve themselves into the moment when she may be perfectly passive.

But it is not only from her lover (although she would like that best), but also from her father and mother, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, near relations and distant acquaintances, that a woman takes what she thinks and believes, being only too glad to get her opinions “ready made.”

It is not only inexperienced girls but even elderly and married women who copy each other in everything, from the nice new dress or pretty coiffure down to the places where they get their things, and the very recipes by which they cook.

And it never seems to occur to them that they are doing something derogatory on their part, as it ought to do if they possessed an individuality of their own and strove to work out their own salvation. A woman’s thoughts and actions have no definite, independent relations to things in themselves; they are not the result of the reaction of her individuality to the world. They accept what is imposed on them gladly, and adhere to it with the greatest firmness. That is why woman is so intolerant when there has been a breach of conventional laws. I must quote an amusing[263] instance, bearing on this side of woman’s character, from Herbert Spencer. It is the custom in various tribes of Indians in North and South America for the men to hunt and fight and leave all the laborious and menial tasks to their wives. The Dakotan women are so imbued with the idea of the reasonableness and fitness of this arrangement that, instead of feeling injured by it, the greatest insult that one of these women can offer to another would be implied in some such words as follows: “You disgraceful creature.... I saw your husband carrying home wood for the fires. What was his wife doing that he had to demean himself by doing woman’s work?”

The extraordinary way in which woman can be influenced by external agencies is similar in its nature to her suggestibility, which is far greater and more general than man’s; they are both in accordance with woman’s desire to play the passive and never the active part in the sexual act and all that leads to it.[19]

[19] The quiescent, inactive, large egg-cells are sought out by the mobile, active, and slender spermatozoa.

It is the universal passivity of woman’s nature which makes her accept and assume man’s valuations of things, although these are utterly at variance with her nature. The way in which woman can be impregnated with the masculine point of view, the saturation of her innermost thoughts with a foreign element, her false recognition of morality, which cannot be called hypocrisy because it does not conceal anything anti-moral, her assumption and practise of things which in themselves are not in her realm, are all very well if the woman does not try to use her own judgment, and they succeed in keeping up the fiction of her superior morality. Complications first arise when these acquired valuations come into collision with the only inborn, genuine, and universally feminine valuation, the supreme value she sets on pairing.

Woman’s acceptance of pairing as the supreme good is quite unconscious on her part. As she has no sense of[264] individuality she has nothing to contrast with pairing; and so, unlike man, she cannot realise its significance, or even notice the presence in herself of this instinct.

No woman knows, or ever has known, or ever will know, what she does when she enters into association with man. Femaleness is identical with pairing, and a woman would have to get outside herself in order to see and understand that she pairs. Thus it is that the deepest desire of woman, all that she means, and all that she is, remain unrecognised by her. There is nothing, then, to prevent the male negative valuation of pairing overshadowing the female positive valuation of it in the consciousness of the woman. The susceptibility of woman is so great that she can even act in opposition to what she is, to the one thing on which she really sets a positive value!

But the imposture which she enacts when she allows herself to be incorporated with man’s opinions of sexuality and shamelessness, even of the imposture itself, and when she uses the masculine standard for her actions, is such a colossal fraud that she is never conscious of it; she has acquired a second nature, without even guessing that it is not her real one; she takes herself seriously, believes she is something and that she believes in something; she is convinced of the sincerity and originality of her moralisings and opinions; the lie is as deeply rooted as that; it is organic. I cannot do better than speak of the ontological untruthfulness of woman.

Wolfram von Eschenbach says of his hero:

“... So keusch und rein
Ruht’ er bei seiner Königin,
Dass kein Genügen fänd’ darin
So manches Weib beim lieben Mann.
Dass doch so manche in Gedanken
Zur Üppigkeit will überschwanken,
Die sonst sich spröde zeigen kann!
Vor Fremden züchtig sie erscheinen,
Doch ist des Herzens tiefstes Meinen
Das Widerspiel vom äussern Schein.”

Wolfram indicates clearly enough what is at the bottom[265] of woman’s heart, but he does not say all that is to be said. Women deceive themselves as well as others on this point. One cannot artificially suppress and supplant one’s real nature, the physical as well as the other side, without something happening. The hygienic penalty that must be paid for woman’s denial of her real nature is hysteria.

Of all the neurotic and psychic phenomena, those of hysteria are the most fascinating for psychologists; they represent a far more difficult and, therefore, a more interesting study than those observed in melancholia or in simple paranoia.

The majority of psychiatrists have a distrust of psychological analyses which it is not easy for them to shake off; every statement of pathological alteration of tissues or intoxication by certain means is for them a limine credible; it is only in psychical matters that they refuse to recognise a primary cause. But since no reason has so far been given why psychical phenomena should be of importance secondary to physical phenomena, it is quite justifiable to disregard such prejudices.

It is quite possible—there is nothing to prevent it being so—that a very great deal, perhaps everything, may depend on the proper interpretation of the “psychical mechanism” of hysteria. That this is so is proved by the fact that the few conclusions of any value with reference to hysteria so far discovered have been arrived at in this way; the investigations carried out by Pierre Janet, Oskar Vogt, and particularly by J. Breuer and S. Freud, show what I mean. All good work on hysteria will undoubtedly follow the lines these men have worked on; that is to say, by investigation of the psychological processes which led up to the disease.

I believe myself that what may be called a psychological sexual traumatism is at the root of hysteria. The typical picture of a hysterical case is not very different from the following: A woman has always accepted the male views on sexual matters; they are in reality totally foreign to her nature, and sometime, by some chance, out of the conflict between what her nature asserts to be true and[266] what she has always accepted as true and believed to be true, there comes what may be called a “wounding of the mind.” It is thus possible for the person affected to declare a sexual desire to be an “extraneous body in her consciousness,” a sensation which she thinks she detests, but which in reality has its origin in her own nature. The tremendous intensity with which she endeavours to suppress the desire (and which only serves to increase it) so that she may the more vehemently and indignantly reject the thought—these are the alternations which are seen in hysteria. And the chronic untruthfulness of woman becomes acute if the woman has ever allowed herself to be imbued with man’s ethically negative valuation of sexuality. It is well known that hysterical women manifest the strongest suggestibility with men. Hysteria is the organic crisis of the organic untruthfulness of woman.

I do not deny that there are hysterical men, but these are comparatively few; and since man’s psychic possibilities are endless, that of becoming “female” is amongst them, and, therefore, he can be hysterical. There are undoubtedly many untruthful men, but in them the crisis takes a different form, man’s untruthfulness being of a different kind and never so hopeless in character as woman’s.

This examination into the organic untruthfulness of woman, into her inability to be honest about herself which alone makes it possible for her to think that she thinks what is really totally opposed to her nature, appears to me to offer a satisfactory explanation of those difficulties which the ætiology of hysteria present.

Hysteria shows that untruthfulness, however far it may reach, cannot suppress everything. By education or environment woman adopts a whole system of ideas and valuations which are foreign to her, or, rather, has patiently submitted to have them impressed on her; and it would need a tremendous shock to get rid of this strongly-rooted psychical complexity, and to transplant woman to that condition of intellectual helplessness which is so characteristic of hysteria.


An extraordinary shock suffices to destroy the artificial structure, and to place woman in the arena to undertake a fight between her unconscious, oppressed nature, and her certainly conscious but unnatural mind. The see-sawing which now begins between the two explains the unusual psychic discontinuity during the hysterical phase, the continual changes of mood, none of which are subject to the control of a dominant, central, controlling nucleus of individuality. It is extraordinary how many contradictions can co-exist in the hysterical. Sometimes they are highly intelligent and able to judge correctly and keenly oppose hypnotism and so forth. Then, again, they are excited by most trivial causes, and are most subject to hypnotic trances. Sometimes they are abnormally chaste, at other times extremely sensual.

All this is no longer difficult to explain. The absolute sincerity, the painful love of truth, the avoidance of everything sexual, the careful judgment, and the strength of will—all these form part of that spurious personality which woman in her passivity has taken upon herself to exhibit to herself and to the world at large. Everything that belongs to her original temperament and her real sense form that “other self,” that “unconscious mind” which can delight in obscurities and which is so open to suggestion.

It has been endeavoured to show that in what is known as the “duplex” and “multiplex personality,” the “double conscience,” the “dual ego,” lies one of the strongest arguments against the belief in the soul. As a matter of fact, these phenomena are the very reasons why we ought to believe in a soul. The “dividing up of the personality” is only possible when there never has been a personality, as with woman. All the celebrated cases which Janet has described in his book, “L’Automatisme Psychologique,” concern women, not in a single instance man. It is only woman who, minus soul or an intelligible ego, has not the power to become conscious of what is in her; who cannot throw the light of truth on her inmost self; who can by her completely passive inundation by a[268] consciousness belonging to another, allow what is in her own nature to be suppressed by an extraneous element; who can display the hysterical phenomena described by Janet. Hysteria is the bankruptcy of this superficial sham self which has been put on, and the woman becomes for the time being a tabula rasa, whilst the working in her of her own genuine nature appears to her as something coming from without. This apparent “secondary personality,” this “foreign body in the consciousness,” this false self, is, in reality, the true female nature, sexuality itself appearing, and a proper understanding of this fact, and of the complications that must ensue from the ebbings and flowings of the false, supposed to be true, and the true supposed to be false, lie at the root of the most difficult phenomena of hysteria.

Woman’s incapacity for truth—which I hold to be consequent on her lack of free will with regard to the truth, in accordance with Kant’s “Indeterminism”—conditions her falsity. Any one who has had anything to do with women knows how often they give offhand quite patently untrue reasons for what they have said or done, under the momentary necessity of answering a question. It is, however, hysterical subjects who are most careful to avoid unveracity (in a most marked and premeditated way before strangers); but however paradoxical it may sound it is exactly in this that their untruthfulness lies! They do not know that this desire for truth has come to them from outside and is no part of their real nature.

They have slavishly accepted the postulate of morality, and, therefore, wish to show at every opportunity, like a good servant, how faithfully they follow instructions.

It is always suspicious when a man is frequently spoken of as exceptionally trustworthy: he must have gone out of his way to let people know it, and it would be safe to wager that in reality he is a rogue. No confidence must be placed in the genuineness of hysterical morality, which doctors (no doubt in good faith) often emphasise by remarks as to the high moral position of their patients.


I repeat: hysterical patients do not consciously simulate. It can only be made clear to them by suggestion that they actually have been simulating, and all the “confessions” of the dissimulation can only be explained in the same way. Otherwise they believe in their own natural honesty and morality. Neither are the various things which torture them imaginary; it is much more likely that in the fact that they feel them, and that the symptoms first disappear with what Breuer calls “catharsis” (the successive bringing to their consciousness of the true causes of their illness by hypnotism), lies the proof of their organic untruthfulness.

The self-accusations which hysterical people are so full of are nothing but unconscious dissimulation. The sense of guilt, which is equally poignant in great and most trifling things, cannot be genuine; if the hysterical self-torturers possessed a standard of morality for themselves and others they would not be so indiscriminate in their self-accusations, and not cast as much blame on themselves for a slight error as for real wrong-doing.

The most distinguishing character of the unconscious untruthfulness of their self-reproaches is their habit of telling others how wicked they are, what terrible things they have done, and then they ask if they (the hysterical) are not hopelessly abandoned sort of people. No one who really feels remorse could talk in such a way. The fallacy of representing the hysterical as being eminently moral is one which even Breuer and Freud have shared. The hysterical simply become imbued with moral ideas which are foreign to them in their normal state. They subordinate themselves to this code, they cease to prove things for themselves, they no longer exercise their own judgment.

Probably these hysterical subjects approach more closely than any other natures to the moral ideal of the social and utilitarian ethics which regard a lie as moral if it is for the good of society or of the race. Hysterical women realise that ideal ontogenetically inasmuch as their standard of morality comes from without, not from within, and practically as they appear to act most readily from altruistic[270] motives. For them duty towards others is not merely a special application of duty towards oneself.

The untruthfulness of the hysterical is proportional to their belief in their own accuracy. From their complete inability to attain personal truth, to be honest about themselves—the hysterical never think for themselves, they want other people to think about them, they want to arouse the interest of others—it follows that the hysterical are the best mediums for hypnotic purposes. But any one who allows him or herself to be hypnotised is doing the most immoral thing possible. It is yielding to complete slavery; it is a renunciation of the will and consciousness; it means allowing another person to do what he likes with the subject. Hypnosis shows how all possibility of truth depends upon the wish to be truthful, but it must be the real wish of the person concerned: when a hypnotised person is told to do something, he does it when he comes out of the trance, and if asked his reasons will give a plausible motive on the spot, not only before others, but he will justify his action to himself by quite fanciful reasons. In this we have, so to speak, an experimental proof of Kant’s “Ethical Code.”

All women can be hypnotised and like being hypnotised, but this proclivity is exaggerated in hysterical women. Even the memory of definite events in their life can be destroyed by the mere suggestion of the hypnotiser. Breuer’s experiments on hypnotised patients show clearly that the consciousness of guilt in them is not deeply seated, as otherwise it could not be got rid of at the mere suggestion of the hypnotiser. But the sham conviction of responsibility, so readily exhibited by women of hysterical constitution, rapidly disappears at the moment when nature, the sexual impulse, appears to drive through the superficial restraints. In the hysterical paroxysm what happens is that the woman, while no longer believing it altogether herself, asseverates more and more loudly: “I do not want that at all, some one not really me is forcing it on me, but I do not want it at all.” Every stimulation from outside will now be brought into relation with that demand, which[271] as she partly believes, is being forced on her, but which, in reality, corresponds with the deepest wish of her nature. That is why women in a hysterical attack are so easily seduced. The “attitudes passionelles” of the hysterical are merely passionate repudiations of sexual desire, which are loud merely because they are not real, and are more plaintive than at other times because the danger is greater. It is easy to understand why the sexual experiences of the time preceding puberty play so large a part in acute hysteria. The influence of extraneous moral views can be imposed comparatively easily on the child, as they have little to overcome in the almost unawakened state of the sexual inclinations. But, later on, the suppressed, although not wholly vanquished, nature lays hold of these old experiences, reinterprets them in the light of the new contents of consciousness, and the crisis takes place. The different forms that the paroxysms assume and their shifting nature are due very largely to the fact that the subject does not admit the true cause, the presence of a sexual desire, any consciousness of it being attributed by her to some extraneous influence, some self that is not her “real self.”

Medical observation or interpretation of hysteria is wrong; it allows itself to be deceived by the patients, who in turn deceive themselves. It is not the rejecting ego but the rejected which is the true and original nature of the hysterical patients, however much they pretend to themselves and others that it is foreign to them.

If the rejecting ego were really their natural ego they could act in opposition to the disturbing element which they say is foreign to them, and be fully conscious of it, and differentiate and recognise it in their memory. But the fraud is evident, because the rejecting ego is only borrowed, and they lack the courage to look their own desire in the face, although something seems to say that it is the real, inborn, and only powerful one they have. Even the desire itself has no real identity, for it is not seated in a real individual, and, as it is suppressed, leaps, so to speak, from one part of the body to the other. It may be that my attempt[272] at an explanation will be thought fanciful, but at least it appears to be true that the various forms of hysteria are one and the same thing. This one thing is what the hysterical patient will not admit is part of her, although it is what is pressing on her. If she were able to ascribe it to herself and criticise it in the way in which she admits trivial matters of another kind, she would be in a measure outside and above her own experiences. The frantic rage of hysterical women at what they say is imposed on them by some strange will, whilst it in reality is their own will, shows that they are just as much under the domination of sexuality as are non-hysterical women, are just as subject to their destiny and incapable of averting it, since they, too, are without any intelligible, free ego.

But it may be asked, with reason, why all women are not hysterical, since all women are liars? This brings us to a necessary inquiry as to the hysterical constitution. If my theory has been on the right lines, it ought to be able to give an answer in accordance with facts. According to it, the hysterical woman is one who has passively accepted in entirety the masculine and conventional valuations instead of allowing her own mental character its proper play. The woman who is not to be led is the antithesis of the hysterical woman. I must not delay over this point; it really belongs to special female characterology. The hysterical woman is hysterical because she is servile; mentally she is identical with the maid-servant. Her opposite (who does not really exist) is the shrewish dame. So that women may be subdivided into the maid who serves, and the woman who commands.[20]

[20] We may find the analogy to this in men: there are masculine “servants” who are so by nature, and there is the masculine form of the shrew—e.g., the policeman. It is a noticeable fact that a policeman usually finds his sexual complement in the housemaid.

The servant is born and not made, and there are many women in good circumstances who are “born servants,” although they never need to put their rightful position to[273] the test! The servant and the mistress are a sort of “complete woman” when considered as a “whole.”[21]

[21] A real dame would never dream of asking her husband what she was to do, what she is to give him for dinner, &c.; the hysterical woman, on the contrary, is always lacking in ideas, and wants suggestions from others. This is a rough way of indicating the two types.

The consequences of this theory are fully borne out by experience. The Xanthippe is the woman who has the least resemblance to the hysterical type. She vents her spleen (which is really the outcome of unsatisfied sexual desires) on others, whereas the hysterical woman visits hers on herself. The “shrew” detests other women, the “servant” detests herself. The drudge weeps out her woes alone, without really feeling lonely—loneliness is identical with morality, and a condition which implies true duality or manifoldness; the shrew hates to be alone because she must have some one to scold, whilst hysterical women vent their passion on themselves. The shrew lies openly and boldly but without knowing it, because it is her nature to think herself always in the right, and she insults those who contradict her. The servant submits wonderingly to the demands made of her which are so foreign to her nature: the hypocrisy of this pliant acquiescence is apparent in her hysterical attacks when the conflict with her own sexual emotions begins. It is because of this receptivity and susceptibility that hysteria and the hysterical type of woman are so leniently dealt with: it is this type, and not the shrewish type, that will be cited in opposition to my views.[22]

[22] It is the “yielding type” and not the virago type of woman that men think capable of love. Such a woman’s love is only the mental sense of satisfaction aroused by the maleness of some particular man, and, therefore, it is only possible with the hysterical; it has nothing to do with her individual power of loving, and can have nothing to do with it. The bashfulness of woman is also due to her “obsession” by one man; this also causes her neglect of all other men.

Untruthfulness, organic untruthfulness, characterises both types, and accordingly all women. It is quite wrong to say[274] that women lie. That would imply that they sometimes speak the truth. Sincerity, pro foro interno et externo, is the virtue of all others of which women are absolutely incapable, which is impossible for them!

The point I am urging is that woman is never genuine at any period of her life, not even when she, in hysteria, slavishly accepts the aspect of truth laid on her by another, and apparently speaks in accordance with those demands.

A woman can laugh, cry, blush, or even look wicked at will: the shrew, when she has some object in view; the “maid,” when she has to make a decision for herself. Men have not the organic and physiological qualifications for such dissimulation.

If we are able to show that the supposed love of truth in these types of woman is no more than their natural hypocrisy in a mask, it is only to be expected that all the other qualities for which woman has been praised will suffer under analysis. Her modesty, her self-respect, and her religious fervour are loudly acclaimed. Womanly modesty, none the less, is nothing but prudery, i.e., an extravagant denial and rejection of her natural immodesty. Whenever a woman evinces any trace of what could really be called modesty, hysteria is certainly answerable for it. The woman who is absolutely unhysterical and not to be influenced, i.e., the absolute shrew, will not be ashamed of any reproaches her husband may shower on her, however just; incipient hysteria is present when a woman blushes under her husband’s direct censure; but hysteria in its most marked form is present when a woman blushes when she is quite alone: it is only then that she may be said to be fully impregnated with the masculine standard of values.

The women who most nearly approximate to what has been called sexual anæsthesia or frigidity are always hysterical, as Paul Solliers, with whom I entirely agree, discovered. Sexual anæsthesia is merely one of the many hysterical, that is to say, unreal, simulated forms of anæsthesia. Oskar Vogt, in particular (and general observation has confirmed him), proved that such anæsthesia[275] does not involve a real lack of sensation, but is simply due to an inhibition which keeps certain sensations in check, and excludes them from the consciousness.

If the anæsthetised arm of a hypnotised subject is pricked a certain number of times, and the medium is told to say how many times he has been pricked, he is able to do so, although otherwise he would not have perceived them. So also with sexual frigidity; it is an order given by the controlling force of the super-imposed asexual ideas; but this, like all other forms of anæsthesia, can be counteracted by a sufficiently strong “order.”

The repulsion to sexuality in general shown by the hysterical woman corresponds in its nature with her insensibility to sexual matters in her own case. Such a repulsion, an intense disinclination for everything sexual, is really present in many women, and this may be urged as an exception to my generalisation as to the universality in woman of the match-making tendency. But women who are made ill by discovering two people in sexual intercourse are always hysterical. In this we have a special justification of the theory which holds match-making to be the true nature of woman, and which looks upon her own sexuality as merely a special case of it. A woman may be made hysterical not only by a sexual suggestion to herself which she outwardly resists whilst inwardly assenting to it, but may be just as much so by the sight of two people in sexual intercourse, for, though she thinks the matter has no value for her, her inborn assent to it forces itself through all outward and artificial barriers, and overcomes the super-imposed and incorporated method of thought in which she usually lives. That is to say, she feels herself involved in the sexual union of others.

Something similar takes place in the hysterical “consciousness of guilt,” which has already been spoken about. The absolute shrew never feels herself really in the wrong; the woman who is slightly hysterical only feels so in the presence of men; the woman who is thoroughly hysterical feels it in the presence of the particular man who dominates[276] her. One cannot prove the existence of a sense of guilt in woman by the mortifications to which “devotees” and “penitents” subject themselves. It is these extreme cases of self-discipline which make one suspicious. Doing penance proves, in most cases, that the doer has not overcome his fault, that the sense of guilt has not really entered consciousness; it appears really to be much rather an attempt to force repentance from the outside, to make up for not really feeling it.

The difference between the conviction of guilt in hysterical women and in men, and the origin of the self-reproaches of the former, are of some importance. When the hysterical woman realises that she has done or thought something immoral, she tries to rectify it by some code which she seeks to obey and to substitute in her mind in place of the immoral thought. She does not really get rid of the thought which is too deeply rooted in her nature; she does not really face it, try to understand it, and so purge herself of it. She simply, from point to point, case by case, tries to adhere to the moral code without ever transforming herself, reforming her idea. The moral character in the woman is elaborated bit by bit; in the male right conduct comes from moral character. The vow remodels the whole man; the change takes place in the only possible way, from within outwards, and leads to a real morality which is not only a justification by works. The morality of the woman is merely superficial and is not real morality.

The current opinion that woman is religious is equally erroneous. Female mysticism, when it is anything more than mere superstition, is either thinly veiled sexuality (the identification of the Deity and the lover has been frequently discussed, as, for instance, in Maupassant’s “Bel-Ami,” or in Hauptmann’s “Hannele’s Himmelfahrt”) as in numberless spiritualists and theosophists, or it is a mere passive and unconscious acceptance of man’s religious views which are clung to the more firmly because of woman’s natural disinclination for them. The lover is readily transformed[277] into a Saviour; very readily (as is well known to be the case with many nuns) the Saviour becomes the lover. All the great women visionaries known to history were hysterical; the most famous, Santa Teresa, was not misnamed “the patron saint of hysteria.” At any rate, if woman’s religiousness were genuine, and if it proceeded from her own nature, she would have done something great in the religious world; but she never has done anything of any importance. I should like to put shortly what I take to be the difference between the masculine and feminine creeds; man’s religion consists in a supreme belief in himself, woman’s in a supreme belief in other people.

There is left to consider the self-respect which is often described as being so highly developed in the hysterical. That it is only man’s self-respect which has been so thoroughly forced into woman, is clear from its nature and the way it shows itself, as Vogt, who extended and verified experiments first made by Freud, discovered from self-respect under hypnotism. The extraneous masculine will creates by its influence a “self-respecting” subject in the hypnotised woman by inducing a limitation of the field of the unhypnotised state. Apart from suggestion, in the ordinary life of the hysterical it is only the man with whom they are “impregnated” who is respected in them. Any knowledge of human nature which women have comes from their absorption of the right sort of man. In the paroxysms of hysteria this artificial self-respect disappears with the revolt of oppressed nature.

This is quite parallel to the clairvoyance of hysterical mediums, which is undoubted, but has as little to do with “occult” spiritism as the ordinary hypnotic phenomena. Just as Vogt’s patients made strenuous efforts to observe themselves carefully under the powerful will of the suggestor, the clairvoyante, under the influence of the dominating voice of the man who is imposing his will on her, is capable of telepathic performances, and at his command can, blindfolded, read communications held by people unknown to her at a great distance away;[278] this I saw happen at München under circumstances which precluded any chance of fraud.

In woman there are not strong passions opposed to the desire for the good and true as is the case with man. The masculine will has more power over woman than over the man himself; it can realise something in women which, in his own case, has to encounter too many obstacles. He himself has to battle with an anti-moral and anti-logical opposition in himself. The masculine will can obtain such power over woman’s mind that he makes her, in a sense, clairvoyant, and breaks down her limitations of mentality.

Thus it comes about that woman is more telepathic than man, can appear more innocent, and can accomplish more as a “seer,” and it is only when she becomes a medium, i.e., the object, that she realises in herself most easily and surely the masculine will for the good and true. Wala can be made to understand, but not until Dotan subdues her. She meets him half-way, for her one desire is to be conquered.

The subject of hysteria, so far as the purposes of this book are concerned, is now exhausted.

The women who are uniformly quoted as proofs of female morality are always of the hysterical type, and it is the very observance of morality, in doing things according to the moral law as if this moral law were a law of their personality instead of being only an acquired habit, that the unreality, the immorality of this morality is shown.

The hysterical diathesis is an absurd imitation of the masculine mind, a parody of free will which woman parades at the very moment when she is most under a masculine influence.

Woman is not a free agent; she is altogether subject to her desire to be under man’s influence, herself and all others: she is under the sway of the phallus, and irretrievably succumbs to her destiny, even if it leads to actively developed sexuality. At the most a woman can reach an indistinct feeling of her un-freedom, a cloudy idea of the possibility of controlling her destiny—manifestly only a flickering spark of the free, intelligible subject,[279] the scanty remains of inherited maleness in her, which, by contrast, gives her even this slight comprehension. It is also impossible for a woman to have a clear idea of her destiny, or of the forces within her: it is only he who is free who can discern fate, because he is not chained by necessity; part of his personality, at least, places him in the position of spectator and a combatant outside his own fate and makes him so far superior to it. One of the most conclusive proofs of human freedom is contained in the fact that man has been able to create the idea of causality. Women consider themselves most free when they are most bound; and they are not troubled by the passions, because they are simply the embodiment of them. It is only a man who can talk of the “dira necessitas” within him; it is only he could have created the idea of destiny, because it is only he who, in addition to the empirical, conditioned existence, possesses a free, intelligible ego.

As I have shown, woman can reach no more than a vague half-consciousness of the fact that she is a conditioned being, and so she is unable to overcome the sexuality that binds her. Hysteria is the only attempt on her part to overcome it, and, as I have shown, it is not a genuine attempt. The hysteria itself is what the hysterical woman tries to resist, and the falsity of this effort against slavery is the measure of its hopelessness. The most notable examples of the sex (I have in mind Hebbel’s Judith and Wagner’s Kundry) may feel that is because they wish it that servitude is a necessity for them, but this realisation does not give them power to resist it; at the last moment they will kiss the man who ravishes them, and succumb with pleasure to those whom they have been resisting violently. It is as if woman were under a curse. At times she feels the weight of it, but she never flees from it. Her shrieks and ravings are not really genuine, and she succumbs to her fate at the moment when it has seemed most repulsive to her.

After a long analysis, then, it has been found that there is no exception to the complete absence in women of any true, inalienable relation to worth. Even what is covered[280] by such current terms as “womanly love,” “womanly virtue,” “womanly devoutness,” “womanly modesty,” has failed to invalidate my conclusions. I have maintained my ground in face of the strongest opposition, even including that which comes from woman’s hysterical imitations of the male morality.

Woman, the normal receptive woman of whom I am speaking, is impregnated by the man not only physically (and I set down the astonishing mental alteration in women after marriage to a physical phenomenon akin to telegony), but at every age of her life, by man’s consciousness and by man’s social arrangements. Thus it comes about that although woman lacks all the characters of the male sex, she can assume them so cleverly and so slavishly that it is possible to make mistakes such as the idea of the higher morality of women.

But this astounding receptivity of woman is not isolated, and must be brought into practical and theoretical connection with the other positive and negative characteristics of woman.

What has the match-making instinct in woman to do with her plasticity? What connection is there between her untruthfulness and her sexuality? How does it come about that there is such a strange mixture of all these things in woman?

This brings us to ask the reason why women can assimilate everything. Whence does she derive the falsity which makes it possible for her to prefer to believe only what others have told her, to have only what they (choose to) give her, to be merely what they make her?

In order to give the right answer to these questions we must turn once more, for the last time, from the actual point. It was found that the power of recognition which animals possess, and which is the psychical equivalent of universal organic response to repeated stimuli, was curiously like and unlike human memory; both signify an equally lasting influence of an impression which was limited to a[281] definite period; but memory is differentiated from mere passive recognition by its power of actively reproducing the past.

Later on, it was seen that mere individuation, the characteristic of all organic differentiation, and individuality, man’s possession, are different. And finally it was found that it was necessary to distinguish carefully between love, peculiar to man, and the sexual instinct, shared by the animals. The two are allied inasmuch as they are both efforts at immortality.

The desire for worth was referred to as a human character, absent in the animals where there is only a desire for satisfaction. The two are analogous, and yet fundamentally different. Pleasure is craved; worth is what we feel we ought to crave. The two have been confused, with the worst results for psychology and ethics. There has been a similar confusion between personality and persons, between recognition and memory, sexuality and love.

All these antitheses have been continually confused, and, what is even more striking, almost always by men with the same views and theories, and with the same object—that of trying to obliterate the difference between man and the lower animals.

There are other less known distinctions which have been equally neglected. Limited consciousness is an animal trait; the active power of noticing is a purely human one. It is evident that there is something in common in the two facts, but still they are very different. Desire, or impulse, and will are nearly always spoken of as if they were identical. The former is common to all living creatures, but man has, in addition, a will, which is free, and no factor of psychology, because it is the foundation of all psychological experiences. The identification of impulse and will is not solely due to Darwin; it occurred also in Schopenhauer’s conception of the will, which was sometimes biological, sometimes purely philosophical.

I may group the two sets of factors as follows:


Common to men and animals, fundamentally organic. Limited to mankind, and in particular to the males of mankind.
Individuation. Individuality.
Recognition. Memory.
Pleasure. Sense of worth or value.
Sexual desire. Love.
Limitation of the field of consciousness. Faculty of “taking notice.”
Impulse. Will.

The series shows that man possesses not only each character which is found in all living things, but also an analogous and higher character peculiar to himself. The old tendency at once to identify the two series and to contrast them seems to show the existence of something binding together the two series, and at the same time separating them. One may recall in this connection the Buddhistic conception of there being in man a superstructure added to the characters of lower existences. It is as if man possessed all the properties of the beasts, with, in each case, some special quality added. What is this that has been added? How far does it resemble, and in what respects does it differ from, the more primitive set?

The terms in the left-hand row are fundamental characteristics of all animal and vegetable life. All such life is individual life, not the life of undivided masses; it manifests itself as the impulse to satisfy needs, as sexual impulse for the purpose of reproduction. Individuality, memory, will, love, are those qualities of a second life, which, although related to organic life to a certain extent, are toto cœlo different from it.

This brings us face to face with the religious idea of the eternal, higher, new life, and especially with the Christian form of it.

As well as a share in organic life, man shares another life, the ζωη αιωνιος of the New Dispensation. Just as all earthly life is sustained by earthly food, this other life[283] requires spiritual sustenance (symbolised in the communion service). The birth and death of the former have their counterparts in the latter—the moral re-birth of man, the “regeneration”—and the end: the final loss of the soul through error or crime. The one is determined from without by the bonds of natural causation; the other is ruled by the moral imperative from within. The one is limited and confined to a definite purpose; the other is unlimited, eternal and moral. The characters which are in the left row are common to all forms of lower life; those in the right-hand column are the corresponding presages of eternal life, manifestations of a higher existence in which man, and only man, has a share. The perpetual intermingling and the fresh complications which arise between the higher and lower natures are the making of all history of the human mind; this is the plot of the history of the universe.

It is possible that some may perceive in this second life something which in man might have been derived from the other lower characters; such a possibility dismiss at once.

A clearer grasp of this sensuous, impressionable lower life will make it clear that, as I have explained in earlier chapters, the case is reversed; the lower life is merely a projection of the higher on the world of the senses, a reflection of it in the sphere of necessity, as a degradation of it, or its Fall. And the great problem is how the eternal, lofty idea came to be bound with earth. This problem is the guilt of the world. My investigation is now on the threshold of what cannot be investigated; of a problem that so far no one has dared to answer, and that never will be answered by any human being. It is the riddle of the universe and of life; the binding of the unlimited in the bonds of space, of the eternal in time, of the spirit in matter. It is the relation of freedom to necessity, of something to nothing, of God to the devil. The dualism of the world is beyond comprehension; it is the plot of the story of man’s Fall, the primitive riddle. It is the binding of eternal life in a perishable being, of the innocent in the guilty.


But it is evident that neither I nor any other man can understand this. I can understand sin only when I cease to commit it, and the moment I understand it I cease to commit it. So also I can never comprehend life while I am still alive. There is no moment of my life when I am not bound down by this sham existence, and it must be impossible for me to understand the bond until I am free from it. When I understand a thing I am already outside it; I cannot comprehend my sinfulness while I am still sinful.

As the absolute female has no trace of individuality and will, no sense of worth or of love, she can have no part in the higher, transcendental life. The intelligible, hyperempirical existence of the male transcends matter, space, and time. He is certainly mortal, but he is immortal as well. And so he has the power to choose between the two, between the life which is lost with death and the life to which death is only a stepping-stone. The deepest will of man is towards this perfect, timeless existence; he is compact of the desire for immortality. That the woman has no craving for perpetual life is too apparent; there is nothing in her of that eternal which man tries to interpose and must interpose between his real self and his projected, empirical self. Some sort of relation to the idea of supreme value, to the idea of the absolute, that perfect freedom which he has not yet attained, because he is bound by necessity, but which he can attain because mind is superior to matter; such a relation to the purpose of things generally, or to the divine, every man has. And although his life on earth is accompanied by separation and detachment from the absolute, his mind is always longing to be free from the taint of original sin.

Just as the love of his parents was not pure in purpose, but sought more or less a physical embodiment, the son, who is the outcome of that love, will possess his share of mortal life as well as of eternal: we are horrified at the thought of death, we fight against it, cling to this mortal life, and prove from that that we were anxious to be born as we were born, and that we still desire to be born of this world.


But since every male has a relation to the idea of the highest value, and would be incomplete without it, no male is really ever happy. It is only women who are happy. No man is happy, because he has a relation to freedom, and yet during his earthly life he is always bound in some way. None but a perfectly passive being, such as the absolute female, or a universally active being, like the divine, can be happy. Happiness is the sense of perfect consummation, and this feeling a man can never have; but there are women who fancy themselves perfect. The male always has problems behind him and efforts before him: all problems originate in the past; the future is the sphere for efforts. Time has no objective, no meaning, for woman; no woman questions herself as to the reason of her existence; and yet the sole purpose of time is to give expression to the fact that this life can and must mean something.

Happiness for the male! That would imply wholly independent activity, complete freedom; he is always bound, although not with the heaviest bonds, and his sense of guilt increases the further he is removed from the idea of freedom.

Mortal life is a calamity, and must remain so whilst mankind is a passive victim of sensation; so long as he remains not form, but merely the matter on which form is impressed. Every man, however, has some glimmer of higher things; the genius most certainly and most directly. This trace of light, however, does not come from his perceptions; so far as he is ruled by these, man is merely a passive victim of surrounding things. His spontaneity, his freedom, come from his power of judging as to values, and his highest approach to absolute spontaneity and freedom comes from love and from artistic or philosophical creation. Through these he obtains some faint sense of what happiness might be.

Woman can really never be quite unhappy, for happiness is an empty word for her, a word created by unhappy men. Women never mind letting others see their unhappiness, as it is not real; behind it there lies no consciousness of guilt, no sense of the sin of the world.


The last and absolute proof of the thoroughly negative character of woman’s life, of her complete want of a higher existence, is derived from the way in which women commit suicide.

Such suicides are accompanied practically always by thoughts of other people, what they will think, how they will mourn over them, how grieved—or angry—they will be. Every woman is convinced that her unhappiness is undeserved at the time she kills herself; she pities herself exceedingly with the sort of self-compassion which is only a “weeping with others when they weep.”

How is it possible for a woman to look upon her unhappiness as personal when she possesses no idea of a destiny? The most appallingly decisive proof of the emptiness and nullity of women is that they never once succeed in knowing the problem of their own lives, and death leaves them ignorant of it, because they are unable to realise the higher life of personality.

I am now ready to answer the question which I put forward as the chief object of this portion of my book, the question as to the significance of the male and female in the universe. Women have no existence and no essence; they are not, they are nothing. Mankind occurs as male or female, as something or nothing. Woman has no share in ontological reality, no relation to the thing-in-itself, which, in the deepest interpretation, is the absolute, is God. Man in his highest form, the genius, has such a relation, and for him the absolute is either the conception of the highest worth of existence, in which case he is a philosopher; or it is the wonderful fairyland of dreams, the kingdom of absolute beauty, and then he is an artist. But both views mean the same. Woman has no relation to the idea, she neither affirms nor denies it; she is neither moral nor anti-moral; mathematically speaking, she has no sign; she is purposeless, neither good nor bad, neither angel nor devil, never egoistical (and therefore has often been said to be altruistic); she is as non-moral as she is non-logical. But all existence is moral and logical existence. So woman has no existence.


Woman is untruthful. An animal has just as little metaphysical reality as the actual woman, but it cannot speak, and consequently it does not lie. In order to speak the truth one must be something; truth is dependent on an existence, and only that can have a relation to an existence which is in itself something. Man desires truth all the time; that is to say, he all along desires only to be something. The cognition-impulse is in the end identical with the desire for immortality. Any one who objects to a statement without ever having realised it; any one who gives outward acquiescence without the inner affirmation, such persons, like woman, have no real existence and must of necessity lie. So that woman always lies, even if, objectively, she speaks the truth.

Woman is the great emissary of pairing. The living units of the lower forms of life are individuals, organisms; the living units of the higher forms of life are individualities, souls, monads, “meta-organisms,” a term which Hellenbach uses and which is not without point.

Each monad, however, is differentiated from every other monad, and is as distinct from it as only two things can be. Monads have no windows, but, instead, have the universe in themselves. Man as monad, as a potential or actual individuality, that is, as having genius, has in addition differentiation and distinction, individuation and discrimination; the simple undifferentiated unit is exclusively female. Each monad creates for itself a detached entity, a whole; but it looks upon every other ego as a perfect totality also, and never intrudes upon it. Man has limits, and accepts them and desires them; woman, who does not recognise her own entity, is not in a position to regard or perceive the privacy of those around her, and neither respects, nor honours, nor leaves it alone: as there is no such thing as one-ness for her there can be no plurality, only an indistinct state of fusion with others. Because there is no “I” in woman she cannot grasp the “thou”; according to her perception the I and thou are just a pair, an undifferentiated one; this makes it possible for woman to bring[288] people together, to match-make. The object of her love is that of her sympathy—the community, the blending of everything.[23]

[23] All individuality is an enemy of the community. This is seen most markedly in men of genius, but it is just the same with regard to the sexes.

Woman has no limits to her ego which could be broken through, and which she would have to guard.

The chief difference between man’s and woman’s friendship is referable to this fact. Man’s friendship is an attempt to see eye to eye with those who individually and collectively are striving after the same idea; woman’s friendship is a combination for the purpose of match-making. It is the only kind of intimate and unreserved intercourse possible between women, when they are not merely anxious to meet each other for the purpose of gossiping or discussing every day affairs.[24]

[24] Men’s friendships avoid breaking down their friends’ personal reserve. Women expect intimacy from their friends.

If, for instance, one of two girls or women is much prettier than the other, the plainer of the two experiences a certain sexual satisfaction at the admiration which the other receives. The principal condition of all friendship between women is the exclusion of rivalry; every woman compares herself physically with every woman she gets to know. In cases where one is more beautiful than the other, the plainer of the two will idolise the other, because, though neither of them is in the least conscious of it, the next best thing to her own sexual satisfaction for the one is the success of the other; it is always the same; woman participates in every sexual union. The completely impersonal existence of women, as well as the super-individual nature of their sexuality, clearly shows match-making to be the fundamental trait of their beings.

The least that even the ugliest woman demands, and from which she derives a certain amount of pleasure, is that any one of her sex should be admired and desired.

It follows from the absorbing and absorbable nature of[289] woman’s life that women can never feel really jealous. However ignoble jealousy and the spirit of revenge may be, they both contain an element of greatness, of which women, whether for good or evil, are incapable. In jealousy there lies a despairing claim to an assumed right, and the idea of justice is out of woman’s reach. But that is not the chief reason why a woman can never be really jealous of any man. If a man, even if he were the man she was madly in love with, were sitting in the next room making love to another woman, the thoughts that would be aroused in her breast would be so sexually exciting that they would leave no room for jealousy. To a man, such a scene, if he knew of it, would be absolutely repulsive, and it would be nauseous to him to be near it; woman would feverishly follow each detail, or she would become hysterical if it dawned on her what she was doing.

A man is never really affected by the idea of the pairing of others: he is outside and above any such circumstance which has no meaning for him; a woman, however, would be scarcely responsible for her interest in the process, she would be in a state of feverish excitement and as if spellbound by the thought of her proximity to it.

A man’s interest in his fellow men, who are problems for him, may extend to their sexual affairs; but the curiosity which is specially for these things is peculiar to woman, whether with regard to men or women. It is the love affairs of a man which, from first to last, interest women; and a man is only intellectually mysterious and charming to a woman so long as she is not clear as to these.

From all this it is again manifest that femaleness and match-making are identical; even a superficial study of the case would have resulted in the same conclusions. But I had a much wider purpose, and I hope I have clearly shown the connection between woman positive as match-maker, and woman negative as utterly lacking in the higher life. Woman has but one idea, an idea she cannot be conscious of, as it is her sole idea, and that is absolutely opposed to the spiritual idea. Whether as a mother seeking[290] reputable matrimony, or the Bacchante of the Venusberg, whether she wishes to be the foundress of a family, or is content to be lost in the maze of pleasure-seekers, she always is in relation to the general idea of the race as a whole of which she is an inseparable part, and she follows the instinct which most of all makes for community.

She, as the missionary of union, must be a creature without limits or individuality. I have prolonged this side of my investigation because its important result has been omitted from all earlier characterology.

At this stage it well may be asked if women are really to be considered human beings at all, or if my theory does not unite them with plants and animals? For, according to the theory, women, just as little as plants and animals, have any real existence, any relation to the intelligible whole. Man alone is a microcosm, a mirror of the universe.

In Ibsen’s “Little Eyolf” there is a beautiful and apposite passage.

“Rita. ‘After all, we are only human beings.’

“Allmers. ‘But we have some kinship with the sky and the sea, Rita.’

“Rita. ‘You, perhaps; not me.’”

Woman, according to the poet, according to Buddha, and in my interpretation, has no relation to the all, to the world whole, to God. Is she then human, or an animal, or a plant?

Anatomists will find the question ridiculous, and will at once dismiss the philosophy which could lead up to such a possibility. For them woman is the female of Homo sapiens, differentiated from all other living beings, and occupying the same position with regard to the human male that the females of other species occupy with regard to their males. And he will not allow the philosopher to say, “What has the anatomist to do with me? Let him mind his own business.”

As a matter of fact, women are sisters of the flowers, and are in close relationship with the animals. Many of their[291] sexual perversities and affections for animals (Pasiphäe myth and Leda myth) indicate this. But they are human beings. Even the absolute woman, whom we think of as without any trace of intelligible ego, is still the complement of man. And there is no doubt that the fact of the special sexual and erotic completion of the human male by the human female, even if it is not the moral phenomenon which advocates of marriage would have us believe, is still of tremendous importance to the woman problem. Animals are mere individuals; women are persons, although they are not personalities.

An appearance of discriminative power, though not the reality, language, though not conversation, memory, though it has no continuity or unity of consciousness—must all be granted to them.

They possess counterfeits of everything masculine, and thus are subject to those transformations which the defenders of womanliness are so fond of quoting. The result of this is a sort of amphi-sexuality of many ideas (honour, shame, love, imagination, fear, sensibility, and so on), which have both a masculine and feminine significance.

There now remains to discuss the real meaning of the contrast between the sexes.

The parts played by the male and female principles in the animal and vegetable kingdoms are not now under consideration; we are dealing solely with humanity.

That such principles of maleness and femaleness must be accepted as theoretical conceptions, and not as metaphysical ideas, was the point of this investigation from the beginning. The whole object of the book has been to settle the question, in man at least, of the really important differences between man and woman, quite apart from the mere physiological-sexual differentiation. Furthermore, the view which sees nothing more in the fact of the dualism of the sexes than an arrangement for physiological division of labour—an idea for which, I believe, the zoologist, Milne-Edwards, is responsible—appears, according to this work, quite untenable; and it is useless to waste time discussing such a superficial and intellectually complacent view.


Darwinism, indeed, is responsible for making popular the view that sexually differentiated organisms have been derived from earlier stages in which there was no sexual dimorphism; but long before Darwin, Gustav Theodor Fechner had already shown that the sexes could not be supposed to have arisen from an undifferentiated stage by any principle such as division of labour, adaptation to the struggle for existence, and so forth.

The ideas “man” and “woman” cannot be investigated separately; their significance can be found out only by placing them side by side and contrasting them. The key to their natures must be found in their relations to each other. In attempting to discover the nature of erotics I went a little way into this subject. The relation of man to woman is simply that of subject to object. Woman seeks her consummation as the object. She is the plaything of husband or child, and, however we may try to hide it, she is anxious to be nothing but such a chattel.

No one misunderstands so thoroughly what a woman wants as he who tries to find out what is passing within her, endeavouring to share her feelings and hopes, her experiences and her real nature.

Woman does not wish to be treated as an active agent; she wants to remain always and throughout—this is just her womanhood—purely passive, to feel herself under another’s will. She demands only to be desired physically, to be taken possession of, like a new property.

Just as mere sensation only attains reality when it is apprehended, i.e., when it becomes objective, so a woman is brought to a sense of her existence only by her husband or children—by these as subjects to whom she is the object—so obtaining the gift of an existence.

The contrast between the subject and the object in the theory of knowledge corresponds ontologically to the contrast between form and matter. It is no more than a translation of this distinction from the theory of experience to metaphysics. Matter, which in itself is absolutely unindividualised and so can assume any form, of itself has no[293] definite and lasting qualities, and has as little essence as mere perception, the matter of experience, has in itself any existence. If the Platonic conception is followed out, it will be apparent that that great thinker asserted to be nothing what the ordinary Philistine regards as the highest form of reality. According to Plato, the negation of existence is no other than matter. Form is the only real existence. Aristotle carried the Platonic conception into the regions of biology. For Plato form is the parent and creator of all reality. For Aristotle, in the sexual process the male principle is the active, formative agent, the female principle the passive matter on which the form is impressed. In my view, the significance of woman in humanity is explained by the Platonic and Aristotelian conception. Woman is the material on which man acts. Man as the microcosm is compounded of the lower and higher life. Woman is matter, is nothing. This knowledge gives us the keystone to our structure, and it makes everything clear that was indistinct, it gives things a coherent form. Woman’s sexual part depends on contact; it is the absorbing and not the liberating impulse. It coincides with this, that the keenest sense woman has, and the only one she has more highly developed than man, is the sense of touch. The eye and the ear lead to the unlimited and give glimpses of infinity; the sense of touch necessitates physical limitations to our own actions: one is affected by what one feels; it is the eminently sordid sense, and suited to the physical requirements of an earth-bound being.

Man is form, woman is matter: if that is so it must find expression in the relations between their respective psychic experiences.

The summing up of the connected nature of man’s mental life, as opposed to the inarticulate and chaotic condition of woman’s, illustrates the above antithesis of form and matter.

Matter needs to be formed: and thus woman demands that man should clear her confusion of thought, give meaning to her henid ideas. Women are matter, which[294] can assume any shape. Those experiments which ascribe to girls a better memory for learning by rote than boys are explained in this way: they are due to the nullity and inanity of women, who can be saturated with anything and everything, whilst man only retains what has an interest for him, forgetting all else.

This accounts for what has been called woman’s submissiveness, the way she is influenced by the opinions of others, her suggestibility, the way in which man moulds her formless nature. Woman is nothing; therefore, and only therefore, she can become everything, whilst man can only remain what he is. A man can make what he likes of a woman: the most a woman can do is to help a man to achieve what he wants.

A man’s real nature is never altered by education: woman, on the other hand, by external influences, can be taught to suppress her most characteristic self, the real value she sets on sexuality.

Woman can appear everything and deny everything, but in reality she is never anything.

Women have neither this nor that characteristic; their peculiarity consists in having no characteristics at all; the complexity and terrible mystery about women come to this; it is this which makes them above and beyond man’s understanding—man, who always wants to get to the heart of things.

It may be said, even by those who may wish to agree with the foregoing arguments, that they have not indicated what man really is. Has he any special male characteristics, like match-making and want of character in women? Is there a definite idea of what man is, as there is of woman, and can this idea be similarly formulated?

Here is the answer: The idea of maleness consists in the fact of an individuality, of an essential monad, and is covered by it. Each monad, however, is as different as possible from every other monad, and therefore cannot be classified in one comprehensive idea common to many other monads. Man is the microcosm; he contains all kinds of possibilities.[295] This must not be confused with the universal susceptibility of woman who becomes all without being anything, whilst man is all, as much or as little, according to his gifts, as he will. Man contains woman, for he contains matter, and he can allow this part of his nature to develop itself, i.e., to thrive and enervate him; or he can recognise and fight against it—so that he, and he alone, can get at the truth about woman. But woman cannot develop except through man.

The meaning of man and woman is first arrived at when we examine their mutual sexual and erotic relations. Woman’s deepest desire is to be formed by man, and so to receive her being. Woman desires that man should impart opinions to her quite different to those she held before, she is content to let herself be turned by him from what she had till then thought right. She wishes to be taken to pieces as a whole, so that he may build her up again.

Woman is first created by man’s will—he dominates her and changes her whole being (hypnotism). Here is the explanation of the relation of the psychical to the physical in man and woman. Man assumes a reciprocal action of body and mind, in the sense rather that the dominant mind creates the body, than that the mind merely projects itself on phenomena, whilst the woman accepts both mental and psychical phenomena empirically. None the less, even in the woman there is some reciprocal action. However, whilst in the man, as Schopenhauer truly taught, the human being is his own creation, his own will makes and re-makes the body, the woman is bodily influenced and changed by an alien will (suggestion).

Man not only forms himself, but woman also—a far easier matter. The myths of the book of Genesis and other cosmogonies, which teach that woman was created out of man, are nearer the truth than the biological theories of descent, according to which males have been evolved from females.

We have now to come to the question left open in chap. ix., as to how woman, who is herself without soul or will, is yet able to realise to what extent a man may be[296] endowed with them; and we may now endeavour to answer it. Of this one must be certain, that what woman notices, that for which she has a sense, is not the special nature of man, but only the general fact and possibly the grade of his maleness. It is quite erroneous to suppose that woman has an innate capacity to understand the individuality of a man. The lover, who is so easily fooled by the unconscious simulation of a deeper comprehension on the part of his sweetheart, may believe that he understands himself through a girl; but those who are less easily satisfied cannot help seeing that women only possess a sense of the fact not of the individuality of the soul, only for the formal general fact, not for the differentiation of the personality. In order to perceive and apperceive the special form, matter must not itself be formless; woman’s relation to man, however, is nothing but that of matter to form, and her comprehension of him nothing but willingness to be as much formed as possible by him; the instinct of those without existence for existence. Furthermore, this “comprehension” is not theoretical, it is not sympathetic, it is only a desire to be sympathetic; it is importunate and egoistical. Woman has no relation to man and no sense of man, but only for maleness; and if she is to be considered as more sexual than man, this greater claim is nothing but the intense desire for the fullest and most definite formation, it is the demand for the greatest possible quantity of existence.

And, finally, match-making is nothing else than this. The sexuality of women is super-individual, because they are not limited, formed, individualised entities, in the higher sense of the word.

The supremest moment in a woman’s life, when her original nature, her natural desire manifests itself, is that in which her own sexual union takes place. She embraces the man passionately and presses him to her; it is the greatest joy of passivity, stronger even than the contented feeling of a hypnotised person, the desire of matter which has just been formed, and wishes to keep that form for ever. That is why a woman is so grateful to her possessor, even if the gratitude[297] is limited to the moment, as in the case of prostitutes with no memory, or, if it lasts longer, as in the case of more highly differentiated women.

This endless striving of the poor to attach themselves to riches, the altogether formless and therefore super-individual striving of the inarticulate to obtain form by contact, to keep it indefinitely and so gain an existence, is the deepest motive in pairing.

Pairing is only possible because woman is not a monad, and has no sense of individuality; it is the endless striving of nothing to be something.

It is thus that the duality of man and woman has gradually developed into complete dualism, to the dualism of the higher and lower lives, of subject and object, of form and matter, something and nothing. All metaphysical, all transcendental existence is logical and moral existence; woman is non-logical and non-moral. She has no dislike for what is logical and moral, she is not anti-logical, she is not anti-moral. She is not the negation, she is, rather, nothing. She is neither the affirmation nor the denial. A man has in himself the possibility of being the absolute something or the absolute nothing, and therefore his actions are directed towards the one or the other; woman does not sin, for she herself is the sin which is a possibility in man.

The abstract male is the image of God, the absolute something; the female, and the female element in the male, is the symbol of nothing; that is the significance of the woman in the universe, and in this way male and female complete and condition one another. Woman has a meaning and a function in the universe as the opposite of man; and as the human male surpasses the animal male, so the human female surpasses the female of zoology. It is not that limited existence and limited negation (as in the animal kingdom) are at war in humanity; what there stand in opposition are unlimited existence and unlimited negation. And so male and female make up humanity.

The meaning of woman is to be meaningless. She represents[298] negation, the opposite pole from the Godhead, the other possibility of humanity. And so nothing is so despicable as a man become female, and such a person will be regarded as the supreme criminal even by himself. And so also is to be explained the deepest fear of man; the fear of the woman, which is the fear of unconsciousness, the alluring abyss of annihilation.

An old woman manifests once for all what woman really is. The beauty of woman, as may be experimentally proved, is only created by love of a man; a woman becomes more beautiful when a man loves her because she is passively responding to the will which is in her lover; however deep this may sound, it is only a matter of everyday experience.

All the qualities of woman depend on her non-existence, on her want of character; because she has no true, permanent, but only a mortal life, in her character as the advocate of pairing she furthers the sexual part of life, and is fundamentally transformed by and susceptible to the man who has a physical influence over her.

Thus the three fundamental characters of woman with which this chapter has dealt come together in the conception of her as the non-existent. Her instability and untruthfulness are only negative deductions from the premiss of her non-existence. Her only positive character, the conception of her as the pairing agent, comes from it by a simple process of analysis. The nature of woman is no more than pairing, no more than super-individual sexuality.

If we turn to the table of the two kinds of life given earlier in this chapter, it will be apparent that every inclination from the higher to the lower is a crime against oneself. Immorality is the will towards negation, the craving to change the formed into the formless, the wish for destruction. And from this comes the intimate relation between femaleness and crime. There is a close relation between the immoral and the non-moral. It is only when man accepts his own sexuality, denies the absolute in him,[299] turns to the lower, that he gives woman existence. The acceptance of the Phallus is immoral. It has always been thought of as hateful; it has been the image of Satan, and Dante made it the central pillar of hell.

Thus comes about the domination of the male sexuality over the female. It is only when man is sexual that woman has existence and meaning.

Her existence is bound up with the Phallus, and so that is her supreme lord and welcome master.

Sex, in the form of man, is woman’s fate; the Don Juan is the only type of man who has complete power over her.

The curse, which was said to be heavy on woman, is the evil will of man: nothing is only a tool in the hand of the will for nothing. The early Fathers expressed it pathetically when they called woman the handmaid of the devil. For matter in itself is nothing, it can only obtain existence through form. The fall of “form” is the corruption that takes place when form endeavours to relapse into the formless. When man became sexual he formed woman. That woman is at all has happened simply because man has accepted his sexuality. Woman is merely the result of this affirmation; she is sexuality itself. Woman’s existence is dependent on man; when man, as man, in contradistinction to woman, is sexual, he is giving woman form, calling her into existence. Therefore woman’s one object must be to keep man sexual. She desires man as Phallus, and for this she is the advocate of pairing. She is incapable of making use of any creature except as a means to an end, the end being pairing; and she has but one purpose, that of continuing the guilt of man, for she would disappear the moment man had overcome his sexuality.

Man created woman, and will always create her afresh, as long as he is sexual. Just as he gives woman consciousness, so he gives her existence. Woman is the sin of man.

He tries to pay the debt by love. Here we have the explanation of what seemed like an obscure myth at the end of the previous chapter. Now we see what was hidden in[300] it: that woman is nothing before man’s fall, nor without it; that he does not rob her of anything she had before. The crime man has committed in creating woman, and still commits in assenting to her purpose, he excuses to woman by his eroticism.

Whence otherwise would come the generosity of love, which can never be satisfied by giving? How is it that love is so anxious to endow woman with a soul, and not any other creature? Whence comes it that a child cannot love until love coincides with sexuality, the stage of puberty, with the repeated forming of woman, with the renewing of sin? Woman is nothing but man’s expression and projection of his own sexuality. Every man creates himself a woman, in which he embodies himself and his own guilt.

But woman is not herself guilty; she is made so by the guilt of others, and everything for which woman is blamed should be laid at man’s door.

Love strives to cover guilt, instead of conquering it; it elevates woman instead of nullifying her. The “something” folds the “nothing” in its arms, and thinks thus to free the universe of negation and drown all objections; whereas the nothing would only disappear if the something put it away.

Since man’s hatred for woman is not conscious hatred of his own sexuality, his love is his most intense effort to save woman as woman, instead of desiring to nullify her in himself. And the consciousness of guilt comes from the fact that the object of guilt is coveted instead of being annihilated.

Woman alone, then, is guilt; and is so through man’s fault. And if femaleness signifies pairing, it is only because all guilt endeavours to increase its circle. What woman, always unconsciously, accomplishes, she does because she cannot help it; it is her reason for being, her whole nature. She is only a part of man, his other, ineradicable, his lower part. So matter appears to be as inexplicable a riddle as form; woman as unending as man, negation as eternal as existence; but this eternity is only the eternity of guilt.



It would not be surprising if to many it should seem from the foregoing arguments that “men” have come out of them too well, and, as a collective body, have been placed on an exaggeratedly lofty pedestal. The conclusions drawn from these arguments, however surprised every Philistine and young simpleton would be to learn that in himself he comprises the whole world, cannot be opposed and confuted by cheap reasoning; yet the treatment of the male sex must not simply be considered too indulgent, or due to a direct tendency to omit all the repulsive and small side of manhood in order to favourably represent its best points.

The accusation would be unjustified. It does not enter the author’s mind to idealise man in order more easily to lower the estimation of woman. So much narrowness and so much coarseness often thrive beneath the empirical representation of manhood that it is a question of the better possibilities lying in every man, neglected by him or perceived either with painful clearness or dull animosity; possibilities which as such in woman neither actually nor meditatively ever come to any account. And here the author cannot in any wise really rely on the dissimilarities between men, however little he may impugn their importance. It is, therefore, a question of establishing what woman is not, and truly in her there is infinitely much wanting which is never quite missing even in the most mediocre and plebeian of men. That which is the positive attribute of the woman, in so far as a positive can be spoken of in regard to such a being, will constantly be found also in many[302] men. There are, as has already often been demonstrated, men who have become women or have remained women; but there is no woman who has surpassed certain circumscribed, not particularly elevated moral and intellectual limits. And, therefore, I must again assert that the woman of the highest standard is immeasurably beneath the man of lowest standard.

These objections may go even further and touch a point where the ignoring of theory must assuredly become reprehensible. There are, to wit, nations and races whose men, though they can in no wise be regarded as intermediate forms of the sexes, are found to approach so slightly and so rarely to the ideal of manhood as set forth in my argument, that the principles, indeed the entire foundation on which this work rests, would seem to be severely shaken by their existence. What shall we make, for example, out of the Chinese, with their feminine freedom from internal cravings and their incapacity for every effort? One might feel tempted to believe in the complete effeminacy of the whole race. It can at least be no mere whim of the entire nation that the Chinaman habitually wears a pigtail, and that the growth of his beard is of the very thinnest. But how does the matter stand with the negroes? A genius has perhaps scarcely ever appeared amongst the negroes, and the standard of their morality is almost universally so low that it is beginning to be acknowledged in America that their emancipation was an act of imprudence.

If, consequently, the principle of the intermediate forms of the sexes may perhaps enjoy a prospect of becoming of importance to racial anthropology (since in some peoples a greater share of womanishness would seem to be generally disseminated), it must yet be conceded that the foregoing deductions refer above all to Aryan men and Aryan women. In how far, in the other great races of mankind, uniformity with the standard of the Aryan race may reign, or what has prevented and hindered this; to arrive more nearly at such knowledge would require in the first instance the most intense research into racial characteristics.


The Jewish race, which has been chosen by me as a subject of discussion, because, as will be shown, it presents the gravest and most formidable difficulties for my views, appears to possess a certain anthropological relationship with both negroes and Mongolians. The readily curling hair points to the negro; admixture of Mongolian blood is suggested by the perfectly Chinese or Malay formation of face and skull which is so often to be met with amongst the Jews and which is associated with a yellowish complexion. This is nothing more than the result of everyday experience, and these remarks must not be otherwise understood; the anthropological question of the origin of the Jewish race is apparently insoluble, and even such an interesting answer to it as that given by H. S. Chamberlain has recently met with much opposition. The author does not possess the knowledge necessary to treat of this; what will be here briefly, but as far as possible profoundly analysed, is the psychical peculiarity of the Jewish race.

This is an obligatory task imposed by psychological observation and analysis. It is undertaken independently of past history, the details of which must be uncertain. The Jewish race offers a problem of the deepest significance for the study of all races, and in itself it is intimately bound up with many of the most troublesome problems of the day.

I must, however, make clear what I mean by Judaism; I mean neither a race nor a people nor a recognised creed. I think of it as a tendency of the mind, as a psychological constitution which is a possibility for all mankind, but which has become actual in the most conspicuous fashion only amongst the Jews. Antisemitism itself will confirm my point of view.

The purest Aryans by descent and disposition are seldom Antisemites, although they are often unpleasantly moved by some of the peculiar Jewish traits; they cannot in the least understand the Antisemite movement, and are, in consequence of their defence of the Jews, often called Philosemites; and yet these persons writing on the subject of[304] the hatred of Jews, have been guilty of the most profound misunderstanding of the Jewish character. The aggressive Antisemites, on the other hand, nearly always display certain Jewish characters, sometimes apparent in their faces, although they may have no real admixture of Jewish blood.[25]

[25] Zola was a typical case of a person absolutely without trace of the Jewish qualities, and, therefore, a philosemite. The greatest geniuses, on the other hand, have nearly always been antisemites (Tacitus, Pascal, Voltaire, Herder, Goethe, Kant, Jean Paul, Schopenhauer, Grillparzer, Wagner); this comes about from the fact as geniuses they have something of everything in their natures, and so can understand Judaism.

The explanation is simple. People love in others the qualities they would like to have but do not actually have in any great degree; so also we hate in others only what we do not wish to be, and what notwithstanding we are partly. We hate only qualities to which we approximate, but which we realise first in other persons.

Thus the fact is explained that the bitterest Antisemites are to be found amongst the Jews themselves. For only the quite Jewish Jews, like the completely Aryan Aryans, are not at all Antisemitically disposed; among the remainder only the commoner natures are actively Antisemitic and pass sentence on others without having once sat in judgment on themselves in these matters; and very few exercise their Antisemitism first on themselves. This one thing, however, remains none the less certain: whoever detests the Jewish disposition detests it first of all in himself; that he should persecute it in others is merely his endeavour to separate himself in this way from Jewishness; he strives to shake it off and to localise it in his fellow-creatures, and so for a moment to dream himself free of it. Hatred, like love, is a projected phenomenon; that person alone is hated who reminds one unpleasantly of oneself.

The Antisemitism of the Jews bears testimony to the fact that no one who has had experience of them considers them loveable—not even the Jew himself; the Antisemitism of the Aryans grants us an insight no less full of[305] significance: it is that the Jew and the Jewish race must not be confounded. There are Aryans who are more Jewish than Jews, and real Jews who are more Aryan than certain Aryans. I need not enumerate those non-semites who had much Jewishness in them, the lesser (like the well-known Frederick Nicolai of the eighteenth century) nor those of moderate greatness (here Frederick Schiller can scarcely be omitted), nor will I analyse their Jewishness. Above all Richard Wagner—the bitterest Antisemite—cannot be held free from an accretion of Jewishness even in his art, however little one be misled by the feeling which sees in him the greatest artist enshrined in historical humanity; and this, though indubitably his Siegfried is the most un-Jewish type imaginable. As Wagner’s aversion to grand opera and the stage really led to the strongest attraction, an attraction of which he was himself conscious, so his music, which, in the unique simplicity of its motifs, is the most powerful in the world, cannot be declared free from obtrusiveness, loudness, and lack of distinction; from some consciousness of this Wagner tried to gain coherence by the extreme instrumentation of his works. It cannot be denied (there can be no mistake about it) that Wagner’s music produces the deepest impression not only on Jewish Antisemites, who have never completely shaken off Jewishness, but also on Indo-Germanic Antisemites. From the music of “Parsifal,” which to genuine Jews will ever remain as unapproachable as its poetry, from the Pilgrim’s march and the procession to Rome in “Tannhäuser,” and assuredly from many another part, they turn away. Doubtless, also, none but a German could make so clearly manifest the very essence of the German race as Wagner has succeeded in doing in the “Meistersingers of Nurnberg.” In Wagner one thinks constantly of that side of his character which leans towards Feuerbach, instead of towards Schopenhauer. Here no narrow psychological depreciation of this great man is intended. Judaism was to him the greatest help in reaching a clearer understanding and assertion of the extremes within him in his struggle to reach “Siegfried” and[306] “Parsifal,” and in giving to German nature the highest means of expression which has probably ever been found in the pages of history. Yet a greater than Wagner was obliged to overcome the Jewishness within him before he found his special vocation; and it is, as previously stated, perhaps its great significance in the world’s history and the immense merit of Judaism that it and nothing else, leads the Aryan to a knowledge of himself and warns him against himself. For this the Aryan has to thank the Jew that, through him, he knows to guard against Judaism as a possibility within himself. This example will sufficiently illustrate what, in my estimation, is to be understood by Judaism.

I do not refer to a nation or to a race, to a creed or to a scripture. When I speak of the Jew I mean neither an individual nor the whole body, but mankind in general, in so far as it has a share in the platonic idea of Judaism. My purpose is to analyse this idea.

That these researches should be included in a work devoted to the characterology of the sexes may seem an undue extension of my subject. But some reflection will lead to the surprising result that Judaism is saturated with femininity, with precisely those qualities the essence of which I have shown to be in the strongest opposition to the male nature. It would not be difficult to make a case for the view that the Jew is more saturated with femininity than the Aryan, to such an extent that the most manly Jew is more feminine than the least manly Aryan.

This interpretation would be erroneous. It is most important to lay stress on the agreements and differences simply because so many points that become obvious in dissecting woman reappear in the Jew.

Let me begin with the analogies. It is notable that the Jews, even now when at least a relative security of tenure is possible, prefer moveable property, and, in spite of their acquisitiveness, have little real sense of personal property, especially in its most characteristic form, landed property. Property is indissolubly connected with the self, with individuality. It is in harmony with the foregoing that the[307] Jew is so readily disposed to communism. Communism must be distinguished clearly from socialism, the former being based on a community of goods, an absence of individual property, the latter meaning, in the first place a co-operation of individual with individual, of worker with worker, and a recognition of human individuality in every one. Socialism is Aryan (Owen, Carlyle, Ruskin, Fichte). Communism is Jewish (Marx). Modern social democracy has moved far apart from the earlier socialism, precisely because Jews have taken so large a share in developing it. In spite of the associative element in it, the Marxian doctrine does not lead in any way towards the State as a union of all the separate individual aims, as the higher unit combining the purposes of the lower units. Such a conception is as foreign to the Jew as it is to the woman.

For these reasons Zionism must remain an impracticable ideal, notwithstanding the fashion in which it has brought together some of the noblest qualities of the Jews. Zionism is the negation of Judaism, for the conception of Judaism involves a world-wide distribution of the Jews. Citizenship is an un-Jewish thing, and there has never been and never will be a true Jewish State. The State involves the aggregation of individual aims, the formation of and obedience to self-imposed laws; and the symbol of the State, if nothing more, is its head chosen by free election. The opposite conception is that of anarchy, with which present-day communism is closely allied. The ideal State has never been historically realised, but in every case there is at least a minimum of this higher unit, this conception of an ideal power which distinguishes the State from the mere collection of human beings in barracks. Rousseau’s much-despised theory of the conscious co-operation of individuals to form a State deserves more attention than it now receives. Some ethical notion of free combination must always be included.

The true conception of the State is foreign to the Jew, because he, like the woman, is wanting in personality; his failure to grasp the idea of true society is due to his lack of[308] a free intelligible ego. Like women, Jews tend to adhere together, but they do not associate as free independent individuals mutually respecting each other’s individuality.

As there is no real dignity in women, so what is meant by the word “gentleman” does not exist amongst the Jews. The genuine Jew fails in this innate good breeding by which alone individuals honour their own individuality and respect that of others. There is no Jewish nobility, and this is the more surprising as Jewish pedigrees can be traced back for thousands of years.

The familiar Jewish arrogance has a similar explanation; it springs from want of true knowledge of himself and the consequent overpowering need he feels to enhance his own personality by depreciating that of his fellow-creatures. And so, although his descent is incomparably longer than that of the members of Aryan aristocracies, he has an inordinate love for titles. The Aryan respect for his ancestors is rooted in the conception that they were his ancestors; it depends on his valuation of his own personality, and, in spite of the communistic strength and antiquity of the Jewish traditions, this individual sense of ancestry is lacking.

The faults of the Jewish race have often been attributed to the repression of that race by Aryans, and many Christians are still disposed to blame themselves in this respect. But the self-reproach is not justified. Outward circumstances do not mould a race in one direction, unless there is in the race the innate tendency to respond to the moulding forces; the total result comes at least as much from the natural disposition as from the modifying circumstances. We know now that the proof of the inheritance of acquired characters has broken down, and, in the human race still more than the lower forms of life, it is certain that individual and racial characters persist in spite of all adaptive moulding. When men change, it is from within, outwards, unless the change, as in the case of women, is a mere superficial imitation of real change, and is not rooted in their natures. And how can we reconcile the idea that[309] the Jewish character is a modern modification with the history of the foundation of the race, given in the Old Testament without any disapprobation of how the patriarch Jacob deceived his dying father, cheated his brother Esau and over-reached his father-in-law, Laban?

The defenders of the Jew have rightly acquitted him of any tendency to heinous crimes, and the legal statistics of different countries confirm this. The Jew is not really anti-moral. But, none the less, he does not represent the highest ethical type. He is rather non-moral, neither very good nor very bad, with nothing in him of either the angel or the devil. Notwithstanding the Book of Job and the story of Eden, it is plain that the conceptions of a Supreme Good and a Supreme Evil are not truly Jewish; I have no wish to enter upon the lengthy and controversial topics of Biblical criticism, but at the least I shall be on sure ground when I say that these conceptions play the least significant part in modern Jewish life. Orthodox or unorthodox, the modern Jew does not concern himself with God and the Devil, with Heaven and Hell. If he does not reach the heights of the Aryan, he is also less inclined to commit murder or other crimes of violence.

So also in the case of the woman; it is easier for her defenders to point to the infrequency of her commission of serious crimes than to prove her intrinsic morality. The homology of Jew and woman becomes closer the further examination goes. There is no female devil, and no female angel; only love, with its blind aversion from actuality, sees in woman a heavenly nature, and only hate sees in her a prodigy of wickedness. Greatness is absent from the nature of the woman and the Jew, the greatness of morality, or the greatness of evil. In the Aryan man, the good and bad principles of Kant’s religious philosophy are ever present, ever in strife. In the Jew and the woman, good and evil are not distinct from one another.

Jews, then, do not live as free, self-governing individuals, choosing between virtue and vice in the Aryan fashion. They are a mere collection of similar individuals each cast[310] in the same mould, the whole forming as it were a continuous plasmodium. The Antisemite has often thought of this as a defensive and aggressive union, and has formulated the conception of a Jewish “solidarity.” There is a deep confusion here. When some accusation is made against some unknown member of the Jewish race, all Jews secretly take the part of the accused, and wish, hope for, and seek to establish his innocence. But it must not be thought that they are interesting themselves more in the fate of the individual Jew than they would do in the case of an individual Christian. It is the menace to Judaism in general, the fear that the shameful shadow may do harm to Judaism as a whole, which is the origin of the apparent feeling of sympathy. In the same way, women are delighted when a member of their sex is depreciated, and will themselves assist, until the proceeding seems to throw a disadvantageous light over the sex in general, so frightening men from marriage. The race or sex alone is defended, not the individual.

It would be easy to understand why the family (in its biological not its legal sense) plays a larger rôle amongst the Jews than amongst any other people; the English, who in certain ways are akin to the Jews, coming next. The family, in this biological sense, is feminine and maternal in its origin, and has no relation to the State or to society. The fusion, the continuity of the members of the family, reaches its highest point amongst the Jews. In the Indo-Germanic races, especially in the case of the more gifted, but also in quite ordinary individuals, there is never complete harmony between father and son; consciously, or unconsciously, there is always in the mind of the son a certain feeling of impatience against the man who, unasked, brought him into the world, gave him a name, and determined his limitations in this earthly life. It is only amongst the Jews that the son feels deeply rooted in the family and is fully at one with his father. It scarcely ever happens amongst Christians that father and son are really friends. Amongst Christians even the daughters stand a little further[311] apart from the family circle than happens with Jewesses, and more frequently take up some calling which isolates them and gives them independent interests.

We reach at this point a fact in relation to the argument of the last chapter. I showed there that the essential element in the pairing instinct was an indistinct sense of individuality and of the limits between individuals. Men who are match-makers have always a Jewish element in them. The Jew is always more absorbed by sexual matters than the Aryan, although he is notably less potent sexually and less liable to be enmeshed in a great passion. The Jews are habitual match-makers, and in no race does it so often happen that marriages are arranged by men. This kind of activity is certainly peculiarly necessary in their case, for, as I have already stated, there is no people amongst which marriages for love are so rare. The organic disposition of the Jews towards match-making is associated with their racial failure to comprehend asceticism. It is interesting to note that the Jewish Rabbis have always been addicted to speculations as to the begetting of children and have a rich tradition on the subject, a natural result in the case of the people who invented the phrase as to the duty of “multiplying and replenishing the earth.”

The pairing instinct is the great remover of the limits between individuals; and the Jew, par excellence, is the breaker down of such limits. He is at the opposite pole from aristocrats, with whom the preservation of the limits between individuals is the leading idea. The Jew is an inborn communist. The Jew’s careless manners in society and his want of social tact turn on this quality, for the reserves of social intercourse are simply barriers to protect individuality.

I desire at this point again to lay stress on the fact, although it should be self-evident, that, in spite of my low estimate of the Jew, nothing could be further from my intention than to lend the faintest support to any practical or theoretical persecution of Jews. I am dealing with Judaism, in the platonic sense, as an idea. There is no[312] more an absolute Jew than an absolute Christian. I am not speaking against the individual, whom, indeed, if that had been so, I should have wounded grossly and unnecessarily. Watchwords, such as “Buy only from Christians,” have in reality a Jewish taint; they have a meaning only for those who regard the race and not the individual, and what is to be compared with them is the Jewish use of the word “Goy,” which is now almost obsolete. I have no wish to boycott the Jew, or by any such immoral means to attempt to solve the Jewish question. Nor will Zionism solve that question; as H. S. Chamberlain has pointed out, since the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem, Judaism has ceased to be national, and has become a spreading parasite, straggling all over the earth and finding true root nowhere. Before Zionism is possible, the Jew must first conquer Judaism.

To defeat Judaism, the Jew must first understand himself, and war against himself. So far, the Jew has reached no further than to make and enjoy jokes against his own peculiarities. Unconsciously he respects the Aryan more than himself. Only steady resolution, united to the highest self-respect, can free the Jew from Jewishness. This resolution, be it ever so strong, ever so honourable, can only be understood and carried out by the individual, not by the group. Therefore the Jewish question can only be solved individually; every single Jew must try to solve it in his proper person.

There is no other solution to the question and can be no other; Zionism will never succeed in answering it.

The Jew, indeed, who has overcome, the Jew who has become a Christian, has the fullest right to be regarded by the Aryan in his individual capacity, and no longer be condemned as belonging to a race above which his moral efforts have raised him. He may rest assured that no one will dispute his well-founded claim. The Aryan of good social standing always feels the need to respect the Jew; his Antisemitism being no joy, no amusement to him. Therefore he is displeased when Jews make revelations about Jews, and he who does so may expect as few thanks[313] from that quarter as from over-sensitive Judaism itself. Above all, the Aryan desires that the Jew should justify Antisemitism by being baptized. But the danger of this outward acknowledgment of his inward struggles need not trouble the Jew who wishes for liberty within him. He will long to reach the holy baptism of the Spirit, of which that of the body is but the outward symbol.

To reach so important and useful a result as what Jewishness and Judaism really are, would be to solve one of the most difficult problems; Judaism is a much deeper riddle than the many Antisemites believe, and in very truth a certain darkness will always enshroud it. Even the parallel with woman will soon fail us, though now and then it may help us further.

In Christians pride and humility, in Jews haughtiness and cringing, are ever at strife; in the former self-consciousness and contrition, in the latter arrogance and bigotry. In the total lack of humility of the Jew lies his failure to grasp the idea of grace. From his slavish disposition springs his heteronomous code of ethics, the “Decalogue,” the most immoral book of laws in the universe, which enjoins on obedient followers, submission to the powerful will of an exterior influence, with the reward of earthly well-being and the conquest of the world. His relations with Jehovah, the abstract Deity, whom he slavishly fears, whose name he never dares to pronounce, characterise the Jew; he, like the woman, requires the rule of an exterior authority. According to the definition of Schopenhauer, the word ‘God’ indicates a man who made the world. This certainly is a true likeness of the God of the Jew. Of the divine in man, of “the God who in my bosom dwells,” the true Jew knows nothing; for what Christ and Plato, Eckhard and Paul, Goethe and Kant, the priests of the Vedas, Fechner, and every Aryan have meant by divine, for what the saying, “I am with you always even to the end of the world”—for the meaning of all these the Jew remains without understanding. For the God in man is the human soul, and the absolute Jew is devoid of a soul.


It is inevitable, then, that we should find no trace of belief in immortality in the Old Testament. Those who have no soul can have no craving for immortality, and so it is with the woman and the Jew; “Anima naturaliter Christiana,” said Tertullian.

The absence from the Jew of true mysticism—Chamberlain has remarked on this—has a similar origin. They have nothing but the grossest superstition and the system of divinatory magic known as the “Kabbala.” Jewish monotheism has no relation to a true belief in God; it is not a religion of reason, but a belief of old women founded on fear.

Why is it that the Jewish slave of Jehovah should become so readily a materialist or a freethinker? It is merely the alternative phase to slavery; arrogance about what is not understood is the other side of the slavish intelligence. When it is fully recognised that Judaism is to be regarded rather as an idea in which other races have a share, than as the absolute property of a particular race, then the Judaic element in modern materialistic science will be better understood. Wagner has given expression to Judaism in music; there remains to say something about Judaism in modern science.

Judaism in science, in the widest interpretation of it, is the endeavour to remove all transcendentalism. The Aryan feels that the effort to grasp everything, and to refer everything to some system of deductions, really robs things of their true meaning; for him, what cannot be discovered is what gives the world its significance. The Jew has no fear of these hidden and secret elements, for he has no consciousness of their presence. He tries to take a view of the world as flat and commonplace as possible, and to refuse to see all the secret and spiritual meanings of things. His view is non-philosophical rather than anti-philosophical.

Because fear of God in the Jew has no relation with real religion, the Jew is of all persons the least perturbed by mechanical, materialistic theories of the world; he is readily beguiled by Darwinism and the ridiculous notion that[315] men are derived from monkeys; and now he is disposed to accept the view that the soul of man is an evolution that has taken place within the human race; formerly, he was a mad devotee of Buchner, now he is ready to follow Ostwald.

It is due to a real disposition that the Jews should be so prominent in the study of chemistry; they cling naturally to matter, and expect to find the solution of everything in its properties. And yet one who was the greatest German investigator of all times, Kepler himself, wrote the following hexameter on chemistry:

“O curas Chymicorum! O quantum in pulvere inane!”

The present turn of medical science is largely due to the influence of the Jews, who in such numbers have embraced the medical profession. From the earliest times, until the dominance of the Jews, medicine was closely allied with religion. But now they would make it a matter of drugs, a mere administration of chemicals. But it can never be that the organic will be explained by the inorganic. Fechner and Preyer were right when they said that death came from life, not life from death. We see this taking place daily in individuals (in human beings, for instance, old age prepares for death by a calcification of the tissues). And as yet no one has seen the organic arise from the inorganic. From the time of Schwammerdam to that of Pasteur it has become more and more certain that living things never arise from what is not alive. Surely this ontogenetic observation should be applied to phylogeny, and we should be equally certain that, in the past, the dead arose from the living. The chemical interpretation of organisms sets these on a level with their own dead ashes. We should return from this Judaistic science to the nobler conceptions of Copernicus and Galileo, Kepler and Euler, Newton and Linnæus, Lamarck and Faraday, Sprengel and Cuvier. The freethinkers of to-day, soulless and not believing in the soul, are incapable of filling the places of these great men and of reverently realising the presence of intrinsic secrets in nature.


It is this want of depth which explains the absence of truly great Jews; like women, they are without any trace of genius. The philosopher Spinoza, about whose purely Jewish descent there can be no doubt, is incomparably the greatest Jew of the last nine hundred years, much greater than the poet Heine (who, indeed, was almost destitute of any quality of true greatness) or than that original, if shallow painter, Israels. The extraordinary fashion in which Spinoza has been over-estimated is less due to his intrinsic merit than to the fortuitous circumstance that he was the only thinker to whom Goethe gave his attention.

For Spinoza himself there was no deep problem in nature (and in this he showed his Jewish character), as, otherwise, he would not have elaborated his mathematical method, a method according to which the explanation of things was to be found in themselves. This system formed a refuge into which Spinoza could escape from himself, and it is not unnatural that it should have been attractive to Goethe, who was the most introspective of men, as it might have seemed to offer to him tranquillity and rest.

Spinoza showed his Jewishness and the limits that always confine the Jewish spirit in a still plainer fashion; I am not thinking of his failure to comprehend the State or of his adhesion to the Hobbesian doctrine of universal warfare as the primitive condition of mankind. The matter goes deeper. I have in mind his complete rejection of free-will—the Jew is always a slave and a determinist—and his view that individuals were mere accidents into which the universal substance had fallen. The Jew is never a believer in monads. And so there is no wider philosophical gulf than that between Spinoza and his much more eminent contemporary, Leibnitz, the protagonist of the monad theory, or its still greater creator, Bruno, whose superficial likeness with Spinoza has been exaggerated in the most grotesque fashion.

Just as Jews and women are without extreme good and extreme evil, so they never show either genius or the depth of stupidity of which mankind is capable. The specific[317] kind of intelligence for which Jews and women alike are notorious is due simply to the alertness of an exaggerated egotism; it is due, moreover, to the boundless capacity shown by both for pursuing any object with equal zeal, because they have no intrinsic standard of value—nothing in their own souls by which to judge of the worthiness of any particular object. And so they have unhampered natural instincts, such as are not present to help the Aryan man when his transcendental standard fails him.

I may now touch upon the likeness of the English to the Jews, a topic discussed at length by Wagner. It cannot be doubted that of the Germanic races the English are in closest relationship with the Jews. Their orthodoxy and their devotion to the Sabbath afford a direct indication. The religion of the Englishman is always tinged with hypocrisy, and his asceticism is largely prudery. The English, like women, have been most unproductive in religion and in music; there may be irreligious poets, although not great artists, but there is no irreligious musician. So, also, the English have produced no great architects or philosophers. Berkeley, like Swift and Sterne, were Irish; Carlyle, Hamilton, and Burns were Scotch. Shakespeare and Shelley, the two greatest Englishmen, stand far from the pinnacle of humanity; they do not reach so far as Angelo and Beethoven. If we consider English philosophers we shall see that there has been a great degeneration since the Middle Ages. It began with William of Ockham and Duns Scotus; it proceeded through Roger Bacon and his namesake, the Chancellor; through Hobbes, who, mentally, was so near akin to Spinoza; through the superficial Locke to Hartley, Priestley, Bentham, the two Mills, Lewes, Huxley, and Spencer. These are the greatest names in the history of English philosophy, for Adam Smith and David Hume were Scotchmen. It must always be remembered against England, that from her there came the soulless psychology. The Englishman has impressed himself on the German as a rigorous empiricist and as a practical politician, but these two sides exhaust his importance in philosophy. There[318] has never yet been a true philosopher who made empiricism his basis, and no Englishman has got beyond empiricism without external help.

None the less, the Englishman must not be confused with the Jew. There is more of the transcendental element in him, and his mind is directed rather from the transcendental to the practical, than from the practical towards the transcendental. Otherwise he would not be so readily disposed to humour, unlike the Jew, who is ready to be witty only at his own expense or on sexual things.

I am well aware how difficult are the problems of laughter and humour—just as difficult as any problems that are peculiar to man and not shared by him with the beasts; so difficult that neither Schopenhauer nor Jean Paul himself were able to elucidate them. Humour has many aspects; in some men it seems to be an expression of pity for themselves or for others, but this element is not sufficient to distinguish it.

The essence of humour appears to me to consist in a laying of stress on empirical things, in order that their unreality may become more obvious. Everything that is realised is laughable, and in this way humour seems to be the antithesis of eroticism. The latter welds men and the world together, and unites them in a great purpose; the former loses the bonds of synthesis and shows the world as a silly affair. The two stand somewhat in the relation of polarised and unpolarised light.

When the great erotic wishes to pass from the limited to the illimited, humour pounces down on him, pushes him in front of the stage, and laughs at him from the wings. The humourist has not the craving to transcend space; he is content with small things; his dominion is neither the sea nor the mountains, but the flat level plain. He shuns the idyllic, and plunges deeply into the commonplace, only, however, to show its unreality. He turns from the immanence of things and will not hear the transcendental even spoken of. Wit seeks out contradictions in the sphere of experience; humour goes deeper and shows that experience[319] is a blind and closed system; both compromise the phenomenal world by showing that everything is possible in it. Tragedy, on the other hand, shows what must for all eternity be impossible in the phenomenal world; and thus tragedy and comedy alike, each in their own way, are negations of the empiric.

The Jew who does not set out, like the humourist, from the transcendental, and does not move towards it, like the erotic, has no interest in depreciating what is called the actual world, and that never becomes for him the paraphernalia of a juggler or the nightmare of a mad-house. Humour, because it recognises the transcendental, if only by the mode of resolutely concealing it, is essentially tolerant; satire, on the other hand, is essentially intolerant, and is congruous with the disposition of the Jew and the woman. Jews and women are devoid of humour, but addicted to mockery. In Rome there was even a woman (Sulpicia) who wrote satires. Satire, because of its intolerance, is impossible to men in society. The humourist, who knows how to keep the trifles and littlenesses of phenomena from troubling himself or others, is a welcome guest. Humour, like love, moves away obstacles from our path; it makes possible a way of regarding the world. The Jew, therefore, is least addicted to society, and the Englishman most adapted for it.

The comparison of the Jew with the Englishman fades out much more quickly than that with the woman. Both comparisons first arose in the heat of the conflict as to the worth and the nature of Jews. I may again refer to Wagner, who not only interested himself deeply in the problem of Judaism, but rediscovered the Jew in the Englishman, and threw the shadow of Ahasuerus over his Kundry, probably the most perfect representation of woman in art.

The fact that no woman in the world represents the idea of the wife so completely as the Jewess (and not only in the eyes of Jews) still further supports the comparison between Jews and women. In the case of the Aryans, the metaphysical qualities of the male are part of his sexual attraction[320] for the woman, and so, in a fashion, she puts on an appearance of these. The Jew, on the other hand, has no transcendental quality, and in the shaping and moulding of the wife leaves the natural tendencies of the female nature a more unhampered sphere; and the Jewish woman, accordingly, plays the part required of her, as house-mother or odalisque, as Cybele or Cyprian, in the fullest way.

The congruity between Jews and women further reveals itself in the extreme adaptability of the Jews, in their great talent for journalism, the “mobility” of their minds, their lack of deeply-rooted and original ideas, in fact the mode in which, like women, because they are nothing in themselves, they can become everything. The Jew is an individual, not an individuality; he is in constant close relation with the lower life, and has no share in the higher metaphysical life.

At this point the comparison between the Jew and the woman breaks down; the being-nothing and becoming-all-things differs in the two. The woman is material which passively assumes any form impressed upon it. In the Jew there is a definite aggressiveness; it is not because of the great impression that others make on him that he is receptive; he is no more subject to suggestion than the Aryan man, but he adapts himself to every circumstance and every race, becoming, like the parasite, a new creature in every different host, although remaining essentially the same. He assimilates himself to everything, and assimilates everything; he is not dominated by others, but submits himself to them. The Jew is gifted, the woman is not gifted, and the giftedness of the Jew reveals itself in many forms of activity, as, for instance, in jurisprudence; but these activities are always relative and never seated in the creative freedom of the will.

The Jew is as persistent as the woman, but his persistence is not that of the individual but of the race. He is not unconditioned like the Aryan, but his limitations differ from those of the woman.

The true peculiarity of the Jew reveals itself best in his[321] essentially irreligious nature. I cannot here enter on a discussion as to the idea of religion; but it is enough to say that it is associated essentially with an acceptance of the higher and eternal in man as different in kind, and in no sense to be derived from the phenomenal life. The Jew is eminently the unbeliever. Faith is that act of man by which he enters into relation with being, and religious faith is directed towards absolute, eternal being, the “life everlasting” of the religious phrase. The Jew is really nothing because he believes in nothing.

Belief is everything. It does not matter if a man does not believe in God; let him believe in atheism. But the Jew believes nothing; he does not believe his own belief; he doubts as to his own doubt. He is never absorbed by his own joy, or engrossed by his own sorrow. He never takes himself in earnest, and so never takes any one else in earnest. He is content to be a Jew, and accepts any disadvantages that come from the fact.

We have now reached the fundamental difference between the Jew and the woman. Neither believe in themselves; but the woman believes in others, in her husband, her lover, or her children, or in love itself; she has a centre of gravity, although it is outside her own being. The Jew believes in nothing, within him or without him. His want of desire for permanent landed property and his attachment to movable goods are more than symbolical.

The woman believes in the man, in the man outside her, or in the man from whom she takes her inspiration, and in this fashion can take herself in earnest. The Jew takes nothing seriously; he is frivolous, and jests about anything, about the Christian’s Christianity, the Jew’s baptism. He is neither a true realist nor a true empiricist. Here I must state certain limitations to my agreement with Chamberlain’s conclusions. The Jew is not really a convinced empiricist in the fashion of the English philosophers. The empiricist believes in the possibility of reaching a complete system of knowledge on an empirical basis; he hopes for the perfection of science. The Jew does not really believe in[322] knowledge, nor is he a sceptic, for he doubts his own scepticism. On the other hand, a brooding care hovers over the non-metaphysical system of Avenarius, and even in Ernst Mach’s adherence to relativity there are signs of a deeply reverent attitude. The empiricists must not be accused of Judaism because they are shallow.

The Jew is the impious man in the widest sense. Piety is not something near things nor outside things; it is the groundwork of everything. The Jew has been incorrectly called vulgar, simply because he does not concern himself with metaphysics. All true culture that comes from within, all that a man believes to be true and that so is true for him, depend on reverence. Reverence is not limited to the mystic or the religious man; all science and all scepticism, everything that a man truly believes, have reverence as the fundamental quality. Naturally it displays itself in different ways, in high seriousness and sanctity, in earnestness and enthusiasm. The Jew is never either enthusiastic or indifferent, he is neither ecstatic nor cold. He reaches neither the heights nor the depths. His restraint becomes meagreness, his copiousness becomes bombast. Should he venture into the boundless realms of inspired thought, he seldom reaches beyond pathos. And although he cannot embrace the whole world, he is for ever covetous of it.

Discrimination and generalisation, strength and love, science and poetry, every real and deep emotion of the human heart, have reverence as their essential basis. It is not necessary that faith, as in men of genius, should be in relation only to metaphysical entity; it can extend also to the empirical world and appear fully there, and yet none the less be faith in oneself, in worth, in truth, in the absolute, in God.

As the comprehensive view of religion and piety that I have given may lead to misconstruction, I propose to elucidate it further. True piety is not merely the possession of piety, but also the struggle to possess it; it is found equally in the convinced believer in God (Handel or Fechner), and also in the doubting seeker (Lenau and Dürer); it need not[323] be made obvious to the world (as in the case of Bach), it may display itself only in a reverent attitude (Mozart). Nor is piety necessarily connected with the appearance of a Founder; the ancient Greeks were the most reverent people that have lived, and hence their culture was highest; but their religion had no personal Founder.

Religion is the creation of the all; and all that humanity can be is only through religion. So far from the Jew being religious, as has been assumed, he is profoundly irreligious.

Were there need to elaborate my verdict on the Jews I might point out that the Jews, alone of peoples, do not try to make converts to their faith, and that when converts are made they serve as objects of puzzled ridicule to them. Need I refer to the meaningless formality and the repetitions of Jewish prayer? Need I remind readers that the Jewish religion is a mere historical tradition, a memorial of such incidents as the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, with the consequent thanks of cowards to their Saviour; and that it is no guide to the meaning and conduct of life? The Jew is truly irreligious and furthest of mankind from faith. There is no relation between the Jew himself and the universe; he has none of the heroism of faith, just as he has none of the disaster of absolute unbelief.

It is not, then, mysticism that the Jew is without, as Chamberlain maintains, but reverence. If he were only an honest-minded materialist or a frank evolutionist! He is not a critic, but only critical; he is not a sceptic in the Cartesian sense, not a doubter who sets out from doubt towards truth, but an ironist; as, for instance, to take a conspicuous example, Heine.

What, then, is the Jew if he is nothing that a man can be? What goes on within him if he is utterly without finality, if there is no ground in him which the plumb line of psychology may reach?

The psychological contents of the Jewish mind are always double or multiple. There are always before him two or many possibilities, where the Aryan, although he sees as widely, feels himself limited in his choice. I think that the[324] idea of Judaism consists in this want of reality, this absence of any fundamental relation to the thing-in-and-for-itself. He stands, so to speak, outside reality, without ever entering it. He can never make himself one with anything—never enter into real relationships. He is a zealot without zeal; he has no share in the unlimited, the unconditioned. He is without simplicity of faith, and so is always turning to each new interpretation, so seeming more alert than the Aryan. Internal multiplicity is the essence of Judaism, internal simplicity that of the Aryan.

It might be urged that the Jewish double-mindedness is modern, and is the result of new knowledge struggling with the old orthodoxy. The education of the Jew, however, only accentuates his natural qualities, and the doubting Jew turns with a renewed zeal to money-making, in which only he can find his standard of value. A curious proof of the absence of simplicity in the mind of the Jew is that he seldom sings, not from bashfulness, but because he does not believe in his own singing. Just as the acuteness of Jews has nothing to do with true power of differentiating, so his shyness about singing or even about speaking in clear positive tones has nothing to do with real reserve. It is a kind of inverted pride; having no true sense of his own worth, he fears being made ridiculous by his singing or speech. The embarrassment of the Jew extends to things which have nothing to do with the real ego.

It has been seen how difficult it is to define the Jew. He has neither severity nor tenderness. He is both tenacious and weak. He is neither king nor leader, slave nor vassal. He has no share in enthusiasm, and yet he has little equanimity. Nothing is self-evident to him, and yet he is astonished at nothing. He has no trace of Lohengrin in him, and none of Telramund. He is ridiculous as a member of a students’ corps and he is equally ridiculous as a “philister.” Because he believes in nothing, he takes refuge in materialism; from this arises his avarice, which is simply an attempt to convince himself that something has a permanent value. And yet he is no real tradesman; what[325] is unreal, insecure in German commerce, is the result of the Jewish speculative interest.

The erotics of the Jew are sentimentalism, and their humour is satire. Perhaps examples may help to explain my interpretation of the Jewish character, and I point readily to Ibsen’s King Hakon in the “Pretenders,” and to his Dr. Stockmann in “The Enemy of the People.” These may make clear what is for ever absent in the Jew. Judaism and Christianity form the greatest possible contrasts; the former is bereft of all true faith and of inner identity, the latter is the highest expression of the highest faith. Christianity is heroism at its highest point; Judaism is the extreme of cowardliness.

Chamberlain has said much that is true and striking as to the fearful awe-struck want of understanding that the Jew displays with regard to the person and teaching of Christ, for the combination of warrior and sufferer in Him, for His life and death. None the less, it would be wrong to state that the Jew is an enemy of Christ, that he represents the anti-Christ; it is only that he feels no relation with Him. It is strong-minded Aryans, malefactors, who hate Jesus. The Jew does not get beyond being bewildered and disturbed by Him, as something that passes his wit to understand.

And yet it has stood the Jew in good stead that the New Testament seemed the outcome and fine flower of the Old, the fulfilment of its Messianic prophecies. The polar opposition between Judaism and Christianity makes the origin of the latter from the former a deep riddle; it is the riddle of the psychology of the founder of religions.

What is the difference between the genius who founds a religion and other kinds of genius? What is it that has led him to found the religion?

The main difference is no other than that he did not always believe in the God he worships. Tradition relates of Buddha, as of Christ, that they were subject to greater temptations than other men. Two others, Mahomet and Luther, were epileptic. Epilepsy is the disease of the[326] criminal; Cæsar, Narses, Napoleon, the greatest of the criminals, were epileptics.

The founder of a religion is the man who has lived without God and yet has struggled towards the greatest faith. How is it possible for a bad man to transform himself? As Kant, although he was compelled to admit the fact, asked in his “Philosophy of Religion,” how can an evil tree bring forth good fruit? The inconceivable mystery of the transformation into a good man of one who has lived evilly all the days and years of his life has actually realised itself in the case of some six or seven historical personages. These have been the founders of religions.

Other men of genius are good from their birth; the religious founder acquires goodness. The old existence ceases utterly and is replaced by the new. The greater the man, the more must perish in him at the regeneration. I am inclined to think that Socrates, alone amongst the Greeks, approached closely to the founders of religion; perhaps he made the decisive struggle with evil in the four-and-twenty hours during which he stood alone at Potidæa.

The founder of a religion is the man for whom no problem has been solved from his birth. He is the man with the least possible sureness of conviction, for whom everything is doubtful and uncertain, and who has to conquer everything for himself in this life. One has to struggle against illness and physical weakness, another trembles on the brink of the crimes which are possible for him, yet another has been in the bonds of sin from his birth. It is only a formal statement to say that original sin is the same in all persons; it differs materially for each person. Here one, there another, each as he was born, has chosen what is senseless and worthless, has preferred instinct to his will, or pleasure to love; only the founder of a religion has had original sin in its absolute form; in him everything is doubtful, everything is in question. He has to meet every problem and free himself from all guilt. He has to reach firm ground from the deepest abyss; he has to surmount the nothingness in him and bind himself to the utmost[327] reality. And so it may be said of him that he frees himself of original sin, that in him God becomes man, but also that the man becomes God; in him was all error and all guilt; in him there comes to be all expiation and redemption.

Thus the founder of a religion is the greatest of the geniuses, for he has vanquished the most. He is the man who has accomplished victoriously what the deepest thinkers of mankind have thought of only timorously as a possibility, the complete regeneration of a man, the reversal of his will. Other great men of genius have, indeed, to fight against evil, but the bent of their souls is towards the good. The founder of a religion has so much in him of evil, of the perverse, of earthly passion, that he must fight with the enemy within him for forty days in the wilderness, without food or sleep. It was only thus that he can conquer and overcome the death within him and free himself for the highest life. Were it otherwise there would be no impulse to found a faith. The founder of a religion is thus the very antipodes of the emperor; emperor and Galilean are at the two poles of thought. In Napoleon’s life, also, there was a moment when a conversion took place; but this was not a turning away from earthly life, but the deliberate decision for the treasure and power and splendour of the earthly life. Napoleon was great in the colossal intensity with which he flung from him all the ideal, all relation to the absolute, in the magnitude of his guilt. The founder of religion, on the other hand, cannot and will not bring to man anything except that which was most difficult for himself to attain, the reconciliation with God. He knows that he himself was the man most laden with guilt, and he atones for the guilt by his death on the cross.

There were two possibilities in Judaism. Before the birth of Christ, these two, negation and affirmation, were together awaiting choice. Christ was the man who conquered in Himself Judaism, the greatest negation, and created Christianity, the strongest affirmation and the most[328] direct opposite of Judaism. Now the choice has been made; the old Israel has divided into Jews and Christians, and Judaism has lost the possibility of producing greatness. The new Judaism has been unable to produce men like Samson and Joshua, the least Jewish of the old Jews. In the history of the world, Christendom and Jewry represent negation and affirmation. In old Israel there was the highest possibility of mankind, the possibility of Christ. The other possibility is the Jew.

I must guard against misconception; I do not mean that there was any approach to Christianity in Judaism; the one is the absolute negation of the other; the relation between the two is only that which exists between all pairs of direct opposites. Even more than in the case of piety and Judaism, Judaism and Christianity can best be contrasted by what each respectively excludes. Nothing is easier than to be Jewish, nothing so difficult as to be Christian. Judaism is the abyss over which Christianity is erected, and for that reason the Aryan dreads nothing so deeply as the Jew.

I am not disposed to believe, with Chamberlain, that the birth of the Saviour in Palestine was an accident. Christ was a Jew, precisely that He might overcome the Judaism within Him, for he who triumphs over the deepest doubt reaches the highest faith; he who has raised himself above the most desolate negation is most sure in his position of affirmation. Judaism was the peculiar, original sin of Christ; it was His victory over Judaism that made Him greater than Buddha or Confucius. Christ was the greatest man because He conquered the greatest enemy. Perhaps He was, and will remain, the only Jew to conquer Judaism. The first of the Jews to become wholly the Christ was also the last who made the transition. It may be, however, that there still lies in Judaism the possibility of producing a Christ, and that the founder of the next religion will pass through Jewry.

On no other supposition can we account for the long persistence of the Jewish race which has outlived so many other peoples. Without at least some vague hope, the Jews[329] could not have survived, and the hope is that there must be something in Judaism for Judaism; it is the idea of a Messiah, of one who shall save them from Judaism. Every other race has had some special watchword, and, on realising their watchword, they have perished. The Jews have failed to realise their watchword, and so their vitality persists. The Jewish nature has no other metaphysical meaning than to be the spring from which the founders of religion will come. Their tradition to increase and multiply is connected with this vague hope, that out of them shall come the Messiah. The possibility of begetting Christs is the meaning of Judaism.

As in the Jew there are the greatest possibilities, so also in him are the meanest actualities; he is adapted to most things and realises fewest.

Judaism, at the present day, has reached its highest point since the time of Herod. Judaism is the spirit of modern life. Sexuality is accepted, and contemporary ethics sing the praises of pairing. Unhappy Nietzsche must not be made responsible for the shameful doctrines of Wilhelm Bölsche. Nietzsche himself understood asceticism, and perhaps it was only as a revulsion from the evils of his own asceticism that he attached value to the opposite conception. It is the Jew and the woman who are the apostles of pairing to bring guilt on humanity.

Our age is not only the most Jewish but the most feminine. It is a time when art is content with daubs and seeks its inspiration in the sports of animals; the time of a superficial anarchy, with no feeling for Justice and the State; a time of communistic ethics, of the most foolish of historical views, the materialistic interpretation of history; a time of capitalism and of Marxism; a time when history, life, and science are no more than political economy and technical instruction; a time when genius is supposed to be a form of madness; a time with no great artists and no great philosophers; a time without originality and yet with the most foolish craving for originality; a time when the cult of the Virgin has been replaced by that of the Demi-vierge.[330] It is the time when pairing has not only been approved but has been enjoined as a duty.

But from the new Judaism the new Christianity may be pressing forth; mankind waits for the new founder of religion, and, as in the year one, the age presses for a decision. The decision must be made between Judaism and Christianity, between business and culture, between male and female, between the race and the individual, between unworthiness and worth, between the earthly and the higher life, between negation and the God-like. Mankind has the choice to make. There are only two poles, and there is no middle way.



At last we are ready, clear-eyed and well armed, to deal with the question of the emancipation of women. Our eyes are clear, for we have freed them from the thronging specks of dubiety that had hitherto obscured the question, and we are armed with a well-founded grasp of theory, and a secure ethical basis. We are far from the maze in which this controversy usually lies, and our investigation has got beyond the mere statement of different natural capacity for men and women, to a point whence the part of women in the world-whole and the meaning of her relation to humanity can be estimated. I am not going to deal with any practical applications of my results; the latter are not nearly optimistic enough for me to hope that they could have any effect on the progress of political movements. I refrain from working out laws of social hygiene, and content myself with facing the problem from the standpoint of that conception of humanity which pervades the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.

This conception is in great danger from woman. Woman is able, in a quite extraordinary way, to produce the impression that she herself is really non-sexual, and that her sexuality is only a concession to man. But be that as it may, at the present time men have almost allowed themselves to be persuaded by woman that their strongest and most markedly characteristic desire lies in sexuality, that it is only through woman that they can hope to satisfy their truest and best ambitions, and that chastity is an unnatural and impossible state for them. How often it[332] happens that young men who are wrapped up in their work are told by women to whom they appeal and who would prefer to have them paying them attention, or even as sons-in-law, that “they ought not to work too hard,” that they ought to “enjoy life.” At the bottom of this sort of advice there lies a feeling on the woman’s part, which is none the less real because it is unconscious, that her whole significance and existence depend on her mission as a procreating agent, and that she goes to the wall if man is allowed to occupy himself altogether with other than sexual matters.

That women will ever change in this respect is doubtful. There is nothing to show that she ever was different. It may be that to-day the physical side of the question is more to the fore than formerly, since a great deal of the “woman movement” of the times is merely a desire to be “free,” to shake off the trammels of motherhood; as a whole the practical results show that it is revolt from motherhood towards prostitution, a prostitute emancipation rather than the emancipation of woman that is aimed at: a bold bid for the success of the courtesan. The only real change is man’s behaviour towards the movement. Under the influence of modern Judaism, men seem inclined to accept woman’s estimate of them and to bow before it.

Masculine chastity is laughed at, and the feeling that woman is the evil influence in man’s life is no longer understood, and men are not ashamed of their own lust.

It is now apparent from where this demand for “seeing life,” the Dionysian view of the music-hall, the cult of Goethe in so far as he follows Ovid, and this quite modern “coitus-cult” comes. There is no doubt that the movement is so widespread that very few men have the courage to acknowledge their chastity, preferring to pretend that they are regular Don Juans. Sexual excess is held to be the most desirable characteristic of a man of the world, and sexuality has attained such pre-eminence that a man is doubted unless he can, as it were, show proofs of his prowess. Chastity, on the other hand, is so despised that[333] many a really pure lad attempts to appear a blasé roué. It is even true that those who are modest are ashamed of the feeling; but there is another, the modern form of shame—not the eroticist’s shame, but the shame of the woman who has no lover, who has not received appraisement from the opposite sex. Hence it comes that men make it their business to tell each other what a right and proper pleasure they take in “doing their duty” by the opposite sex. And women are careful to let it be known that only what is “manly” in man can appeal to them: and man takes their measure of his manliness and makes it his own. Man’s qualifications as a male have, in fact, become identical with his value with women, in women’s eyes.

But God forbid that it should be so; that would mean that there are no longer any men.

Contrast with this the fact that the high value set on women’s virtue originated with man, and will always come from men worthy of the name; it is the projection of man’s own ideal of spotless purity on the object of his love.

But there should be no mistaking this true chastity for the shivering and shaking before contact, which is soon changed for delighted acquiescence, nor for the hysterical suppression of sexual desires. The outward endeavour to correspond to man’s demand for physical purity must not be taken for anything but a fear lest the buyer will fight shy of the bargain; least of all the care which women so often take to choose only the man who can give them most value must not deceive any one (it has been called the “high value” or “self-respect” a girl has for herself)! If one remembers the view women take of virginity, there can be very little doubt that woman’s one end is the bringing about of universal pairing as the only means by which they acquire a real existence; that women desire pairing, and nothing else, even if they personally appear to be as uninterested as possible in sensual matters. All this can be fully proved from the generality of the match-making instinct.


In order to be fully persuaded of this, woman’s attitude towards the virginity of those of her own sex must be considered.

It is certain that women have a very low opinion of the unmarried. It is, in fact, the one female condition which has a negative value for woman. Women only respect a woman when she is married; even if she is unhappily married to a hideous, weak, poor, common, tyrannical, “impossible” man, she is, nevertheless, married, has received value, existence. Even if a woman has had a short experience of the freedom of a courtesan’s life, even if she has been on the streets, she still stands higher in a woman’s estimation than the old maid, who works and toils alone in her room, without ever having known lawful or unlawful union with a man, the enduring or fleeting ecstasy of love.

Even a young and beautiful girl is never valued by a woman for her attractions as such (the sense of the beautiful is wanting in woman since they have no standard in themselves to measure it by), but merely because she has more prospect of enslaving a man. The more beautiful a young girl is, the more promising she appears to other women, the greater her value to woman as the match-maker in her mission as guardian of the race; it is only this unconscious feeling which makes it possible for a woman to take pleasure in the beauty of a young girl. It goes without saying that this can only happen when the woman in question has already achieved her own end (because, otherwise, envy of a contemporary, and the fear of having her own chances jeopardised by others, would overcome other considerations). She must first of all attain her own union, and then she is ready to help others.

Women are altogether to blame for the unpleasant associations which are so unfortunately connected with “old maids.” One often hears men talking respectfully of an elderly woman; but every woman and girl, whether married or single, has nothing but contempt for such a one, even[335] when, as is often the case, they are unconscious that it is so with them. I once heard a married woman, whose talents and beauty put jealousy quite out of the question, making fun of her plain and elderly Italian governess for repeatedly saying that: “Io sono ancora una virgine” (that she was still a virgin). The interpretation put on the words was that the speaker wished to admit she had made a virtue of necessity, and would have been very glad to get rid of her virginity if she could have done so without detriment to her position in life.

This is the most important point of all: women not only disparage and despise the virginity of other women, but they set no value on their own state of virginity (except that men prize it so highly). This is why they look upon every married woman as a sort of superior being. The deep impression made on women by the sexual act can be most plainly seen by the respect which girls pay to a married woman, of however short a standing; which points to their idea of their existence being the attainment of the same zenith themselves. They look upon other young girls, on the contrary, as being, like themselves, still imperfect beings awaiting consummation.

I think I have said enough to show that experience confirms the deduction I made from the importance of the pairing instinct in women, the deduction that virgin worship is of male, not female origin.

A man demands chastity in himself and others, most of all from the being he loves; a woman wants the man with most experience and sensuality, not virtue. Woman has no comprehension of paragons. On the contrary, it is well known that a woman is most ready to fly to the arms of the man with the widest reputation for being a Don Juan.

Woman requires man to be sexual, because she only gains existence through his sexuality. Women have no sense of a man’s love, as a superior phenomenon, they only perceive that side of him which unceasingly desires and appropriates the object of his affections, and men who have[336] none or very little of the instinct of brutality developed in them have no influence on them.

As for the higher, platonic love of man, they do not want it; it flatters and pleases them, but it has no significance for them, and if the homage on bended knees lasts too long, Beatrice becomes just as impatient as Messalina.

In coitus lies woman’s greatest humiliation, in love her supremest exaltation. Since woman desires coitus and not love, she proves that she wishes to be humiliated and not worshipped. The ultimate opponent of the emancipation of women is woman.

It is not because sexual union is voluptuous, not because it is the typical example of all the pleasures of the lower life, that it is immoral. Asceticism, which would regard pleasure in itself as immoral, is itself immoral, inasmuch it attributes immorality to an action because of the external consequences of it, not because of immorality in the thing itself; it is the imposition of an alien, not an inherent law. A man may seek pleasure, he may strive to make his life easier and more pleasant; but he must not sacrifice a moral law. Asceticism attempts to make man moral by self-repression and will give him credit and praise for morality simply because he has denied himself certain things. Asceticism must be rejected from the point of view of ethics and of psychology inasmuch as it makes virtue the effect of a cause, and not the thing itself. Asceticism is a dangerous although attractive guide; since pleasure is one of the chief things that beguile men from the higher path, it is easy to suppose that its mere abandonment is meritorious.

In itself, however, pleasure is neither moral nor immoral. It is only when the desire for pleasure conquers the desire for worthiness that a human being has fallen.

Coitus is immoral because there is no man who does not use woman at such times as a means to an end; for whom pleasure does not, in his own as well as her being, during that time represent the value of mankind.


During coitus a man forgets all about everything, he forgets the woman; she has no longer a psychic but only a physical existence for him. He either desires a child by her or the satisfaction of his own passion; in neither case does he use her as an end in herself, but for an outside cause. This and this alone makes coitus immoral.

There is no doubt that woman is the missionary of sexual union, and that she looks upon herself, as on everything else, merely as a means to its ends. She wants a man to satisfy her passion or to obtain children; she is willing to be used by man as a tool, as a thing, as an object, to be treated as his property, to be changed and modelled according to his good pleasure. But we should not allow ourselves to be used by others as means to an end.

Kundry appealed often to Parsifal’s compassion for her yearnings: but here we see the weakness of sympathetic morality, which attempts to grant every desire of those around, however wrong such wishes may be. Ethics and morality based on sympathy are equally absurd, since they make the “ought” dependent on the “will,” (whether it be the will of oneself, or of others, or of society, it is all the same,) instead of making the “will” dependent on the “ought”; they take as a standard of morality concrete cases of human history, concrete cases of human happiness, concrete moments in life instead of the idea.

But the question is: how ought man to treat woman? As she herself desires to be treated or as the moral idea would dictate?

If he is going to treat her as she wishes, he must have intercourse with her, for she desires it; he must beat her, for she likes to be hurt; he must hypnotise her, since she wishes to be hypnotised; he must prove to her by his attentions how little he thinks of himself, for she likes compliments, and has no desire to be respected for herself.

If he is going to treat her as the moral idea demands, he must try to see in her the concept of mankind and endeavour to respect her. Even although woman[338] is only a function of man, a function he can degrade or raise at will, and women do not wish to be more or anything else than what man makes them, it is no more a moral arrangement than the suttee of Indian widows, which, even though it be voluntary and insisted upon by them, is none the less terrible barbarity.

The emancipation of woman is analogous to the emancipation of Jews and negroes. Undoubtedly the principal reason why these people have been treated as slaves and inferiors is to be found in their servile dispositions; their desire for freedom is not nearly so strong as that of the Indo-Germans. And even although the whites in America at the present day find it necessary to keep themselves quite aloof from the negro population because they make such a bad use of their freedom, yet in the war of the Northern States against the Federals, which resulted in the freedom of the slaves, right was entirely on the side of the emancipators.

Although the humanity of Jews, negroes, and still more of women, is weighed down by many immoral impulses; although in these cases there is so much more to fight against than in the case of Aryan men, still we must try to respect mankind, and to venerate the idea of humanity (by which I do not mean the human community, but the being, man, the soul as part of the spiritual world). No matter how degraded a criminal may be, no one ought to arrogate to himself the functions of the law; no man has the right to lynch such an offender.

The problem of woman and the problem of the Jews are absolutely identical with the problem of slavery, and they must be solved in the same way. No one should be oppressed, even if the oppression is of such a kind as to be unfelt as such. The animals about a house are not “slaves,” because they have no freedom in the proper sense of the word which could be taken away.

But woman has a faint idea of her incapacity, a last remnant, however weak, of the free intelligible ego, simply because there is no such thing as an absolute woman.[339] Women are human beings, and must be treated as such, even if they themselves do not wish it. Woman and man have the same rights. That is not to say that women ought to have an equal share in political affairs. From the utilitarian standpoint such a concession, certainly at present and probably always, would be most undesirable; in New Zealand, where, on ethical principles, women have been enfranchised, the worst results have followed. As children, imbeciles and criminals would be justly prevented from taking any part in public affairs even if they were numerically equal or in the majority; woman must in the same way be kept from having a share in anything which concerns the public welfare, as it is much to be feared that the mere effect of female influence would be harmful. Just as the results of science do not depend on whether all men accept them or not, so justice and injustice can be dealt out to the woman, although she is unable to distinguish between them, and she need not be afraid that injury will be done her, as justice and not might will be the deciding factor in her treatment. But justice is always the same whether for man or woman. No one has a right to forbid things to a woman because they are “unwomanly”; neither should any man be so mean as to talk of his unfaithful wife’s doings as if they were his affair. Woman must be looked upon as an individual and as if she were a free individual, not as one of a species, not as a sort of creation from the various wants of man’s nature; even though woman herself may never prove worthy of such a lofty view.

Thus this book may be considered as the greatest honour ever paid to women. Nothing but the most moral relation towards women should be possible for men; there should be neither sexuality nor love, for both make woman the means to an end, but only the attempt to understand her. Most men theoretically respect women, but practically they thoroughly despise them; according to my ideas this method should be reversed. It is impossible to think highly of women, but it does not follow that we are to despise[340] them for ever. It is unfortunate that so many great and famous men have had mean views on this point. The views of Schopenhauer and Demosthenes as to the emancipation of women are good instances. So also Goethe’s

Immer is so das Mädchen beschäftigt und reifet im stillen
Häuslicher Tugend entgegen, den klugen Mann zu beglücken.
Wünscht sie dann endlich zu lesen, so wählt sie gewisslich ein Kochbuch,

is scarcely better than Molière’s

... Une femme en sait toujours assez,
Quand la capacité de son esprit se hausse
A connaître un pourpoint d’avec un haut de chausse.

Men will have to overcome their dislike for masculine women, for that is no more than a mean egoism. If women ever become masculine by becoming logical and ethical, they would no longer be such good material for man’s projection; but that is not a sufficient reason for the present method of tying woman down to the needs of her husband and children and forbidding her certain things because they are masculine.

For even if the possibility of morality is incompatible with the idea of the absolute woman, it does not follow that man is to make no effort to save the average woman from further deterioration; much less is he to help to keep woman as she is. In every living woman the presence of what Kant calls “the germ of good” must be assumed; it is the remnant of a free state which makes it possible for woman to have a dim notion of her destiny. The theoretical possibility of grafting much more on this “germ of good” should never be lost sight of, even although nothing has ever been done, or even if nothing could ever be done in that respect.

The basis and the purpose of the universe is the good, and the whole world exists under a moral law; even to the animals, which are mere phenomena, we assign moral values, holding the elephant, for instance, to be higher than the[341] snake, notwithstanding the fact that we do not make an animal accountable when it kills another. In the case of woman, however, we regard her as responsible if she commits murder, and in this alone is a proof that women are above the animals. If it be the case that womanliness is simply immorality, then woman must cease to be womanly and try to be manly.

I must give warning against the danger of woman trying merely to liken herself outwardly to man, for such a course would simply plunge her more deeply into womanliness. It is only too likely that the efforts to emancipate women will result not in giving her real freedom, in letting her reach free-will, but merely in enlarging the range of her caprices.

It seems to me that if we look the facts of the case in the face there are only two possible courses open for women: either to pretend to accept man’s ideas, and to think that they believe what is really opposed to their whole, unchanged nature, to assume a horror of immorality (as if they were moral themselves), of sexuality (as if they desired platonic love); or to openly admit that they are wrapped up in husband and children, without being conscious of all that such an admission implies, of the shamelessness and self-immolation of it.

Unconscious hypocrisy, or cynical identification with their natural instincts; nothing else seems possible for woman.

But it is neither agreement nor disagreement with, but rather the denial and overcoming of her womanishness that a woman should aim at. If a woman really were to wish, for instance, for man’s chastity, it would mean that she had conquered the woman in her, it would mean that pairing was no longer of supreme importance to her and that her aim was no longer to further it. But here is the trouble: such pretensions must not be accepted as genuine, even although here and there they are actually put forward. For a woman who longed for man’s purity is, apart from her hysteria, so stupid and so incapable of[342] truthfulness that she is unable to perceive that she is in this way negating herself, making herself absolutely worthless, without existence!

It is difficult to decide which is preferable: the unlimited hypocrisy which can appropriate the thing that is most foreign to it, i.e., the ascetic ideal, or the ingenuous admiration for the reformed rake, the complacent devotion to him. The principal problem of the woman question lies in the fact that in each case woman’s one desire is to put all responsibility on man, and in this it is identical with the problem of mankind.

Friedrich Nietzsche says in one of his books: “To underestimate the real difficulties of the man and woman problem, to fail to admit the abysmal antagonism and the inevitable nature of the constant strain between the two, to dream of equal rights, education, responsibilities and duties, is the mark of the superficial observer, and any thinker who has been found shallow in these difficult places—shallow by nature—should be looked upon as untrustworthy, as a useless and treacherous guide; he will, no doubt, be one of those who ‘briefly deal with’ all the real problems of life, death and eternity—who never gets to the bottom of things. But the man who is not superficial, who has depth of thought as well as of purpose, the depth which not only makes him desire right but endows him with determination and strength to do right, must always look on woman from the oriental standpoint:—as a possession, as private property, as something born to serve and be dependent on him—he must see the marvellous reasonableness of the Asiatic instinct of superiority over women, as the Greeks of old saw it, those worthy successors and disciples of the Eastern school. It was an attitude towards woman which, as is well known, from Homer’s time till that of Pericles, grew with the growth of culture, and increased in strength step by step, and gradually became quite oriental. What a necessary, logical, desirable growth for mankind! if we could only attain to it ourselves!”

The great individualist is here thinking in the terms of[343] social ethics, and the autonomy of his moral doctrine is overshadowed by the ideas of caste, groups, and divisions. And so, for the benefit of society, to preserve the place of men, he would place woman in subjection, so that the voice of the wish for emancipation could no longer be heard, and so that we might be freed from the false and foolish cry of the existing advocates of women’s rights, advocates who have no suspicion of the real source of woman bondage. But I quoted Nietzsche, not to convict him of want of logic, but to lead to the point that the solution of the problem of humanity is bound up with the solution of the woman problem. If any one should think it a high-flown idea that man should respect woman as an entity, a real existence, and not use her merely as a means to an end, that he should recognise in her the same rights and the same duties (those of building up one’s own moral personality) as his own, then he must reflect that man cannot solve the ethical problem in his own case, if he continues to lower the idea of humanity in the women by using her simply for his own purposes.

Coitus is the price man has to pay to women, under the Asiatic system, for their oppression. And although it is true that women may be more than content with such recompence for the worst form of slavery, man has no right to take part in such conduct, simply because he also is morally damaged by it.

Even technically the problem of humanity is not soluble for man alone; he has to consider woman even if he only wishes to redeem himself; he must endeavour to get her to abandon her immoral designs on him. Women must really and truly and spontaneously relinquish coitus. That undoubtedly means that woman, as woman, must disappear, and until that has come to pass there is no possibility of establishing the kingdom of God on earth. Pythagoras, Plato, Christianity (as opposed to Judaism), Tertullian, Swift, Wagner, Ibsen, all these have urged the freedom of woman, not the emancipation of woman from man, but rather the emancipation of woman from herself.


It is easy to bear Nietzsche’s anathema in such company! But it is very hard for woman to reach such a goal by her own strength. The spark in her is so flickering that it always needs the fire of man to relight it; she must have an example to go by. Christ is an example; He freed the fallen Magdalen, He swept away her past and expiated it for her. Wagner, the greatest man since Christ’s time, understood to the full the real significance of that act: until woman ceases to exist as woman for man she cannot cease being woman. Kundry could only be released from Klingsor’s curse by the help of a sinless, immaculate man—Parsifal. This shows the complete harmony between the psychological and philosophical deduction which is dealt with in Wagner’s “Parsifal,” the greatest work in the world’s literature. It is man’s sexuality which first gives woman existence as woman. Woman will exist as long as man’s guilt is inexpiated, until he has really vanquished his own sexuality.

It is only in this way that the eternal opposition to all anti-feministic tendencies can be avoided; the view that says, since woman is there, being what she is, and not to be altered, man must endeavour to make terms with her; it is useless to fight, because there is nothing which can be exterminated. But it has been shown that woman is negative and ceases to exist the moment man determines to be nothing but true existence.

That which must be fought against is not an affair of ever unchangeable existence and essence: it is something which can be put an end to, and which ought to be put an end to.

This is the way, and no other, to solve the woman question, and this comes from comprehending it. The solution may appear impossible, its tone exaggerated, its claims overstated, its requirements too exacting. Undoubtedly there has been little said about the woman question, as women talk of it; we have been dealing with a subject on which[345] women are silent, and must always remain silent—the bondage which sexuality implies.

This woman question is as old as sex itself, and as young as mankind. And the answer to it? Man must free himself of sex, for in that way, and that way alone, can he free woman. In his purity, not, as she believes, in his impurity, lies her salvation. She must certainly be destroyed, as woman; but only to be raised again from the ashes—new, restored to youth—as a real human being.

So long as there are two sexes there will always be a woman question, just as there will be the problem of mankind. Christ was mindful of this when, according to the account of one of the Fathers of the Church—Clemens—He talked with Salome, without the optimistic palliation of the sex which St. Paul and Luther invented later: death will last so long as women bring forth, and truth will not prevail until the two become one, until from man and woman a third self, neither man nor woman, is evolved.


Now for the first time, looking at the woman question as the most important problem of mankind, the demand for the sexual abstinence on the part of both sexes is put forward with good reason. To seek to ground this claim on the prejudicial effects on the health following sexual intercourse would be absurd, for any one with knowledge of the physical frame could upset such a theory at all points; to found it on the immorality of passion would also be wrong, because that would introduce a heteronomous motive into ethics. St. Augustine, however, must certainly have been aware, when he advocated chastity for all mankind, that the objection raised to it would be that in such a case the whole human race would quickly disappear from the face of the earth.

This extraordinary apprehension, the worst part of which appears to be the thought that the race would be exterminated, shows not only the greatest unbelief in individual immortality and eternal life for moral well-doers; it is not[346] only most irreligious, but it proves at the same time the cowardice of man and his incapacity to live an individual life. To any one who thinks thus, the earth can only mean the turmoil and press of those on it; death must seem less terrible to such a man than isolation. If the immortal, moral part of his personality were really vigorous, he would have courage to look this result in the face; he would not fear the death of the body, nor attempt to substitute the miserable certainty of the continuation of the race for his lack of faith in the eternal life of the soul. The rejection of sexuality is merely the death of the physical life, to put in its place the full development of the spiritual life.

Hence it follows that it cannot be a moral duty to provide for the continuance of the race. This common argument appears to me to be so extraordinarily false that I am almost ashamed to meet it. Yet at the risk of making myself ridiculous I must ask if any one ever consummated coitus to avoid the great danger of letting the human race die out, if he failed in his duty? And would it not follow that any man who prefers chastity would be open to the charge of immoral conduct? Every form of fecundity is loathsome, and no one who is honest with himself feels bound to provide for the continuity of the human race. And what we do not realise to be a duty, is not a duty.

On the contrary, it is immoral to procreate a human being for any secondary reason, to bring a being into the limitations of humanity, the conditions made for him by his parentage; the fundamental reason why the possible freedom and spontaneity of a human being is limited is that he was begotten in such an immoral fashion. That the human race should persist is of no interest whatever to reason; he who would perpetuate humanity would perpetuate the problem and the guilt, the only problem and the only guilt. The only true goal is divinity and the union of humanity with the Godhead; that is the real choice between good and evil, between existence and negation. The moral sanction that has been invented for coitus, in supposing that there[347] is an ideal attitude to the act in which only the propagation of the race is thought of, is no sufficient defence. There is no such imperative in the mind of man; it is merely an ingenious defence of a desire, and there is the fundamental immorality in it, that the being to be created has no power of choice with regard to his parents. As for the sexual union in which the production of children is prevented, there is no possible justification.

Sexual union has no place in the idea of mankind, not because ascetism is a duty, but because in it woman becomes the object, the cause, and man does what he will with her, looks upon her merely as a “thing,” not as a living human being with an inner, psychic, existence. And so man despises woman the moment coitus is over, and the woman knows that she is despised, even although a few minutes before she thought herself adored.

The only thing to be respected in man is the idea of mankind; this disparagement of woman (and himself), induced by coitus, is the surest proof that it is opposed to that idea of mankind. Any one who is ignorant of what this Kantian “idea of mankind” means, may perhaps understand it when he thinks of his sisters, his mother, his female relatives; it concerns them all: for our own sakes, then, woman ought to treated as human, respected and not degraded, all sexuality implying degradation.

But man can only respect woman when she herself ceases to wish to be object and material for man; if there is any question of emancipation it should be the emancipation from the prostitute element. It has never until now been made clear where the bondage of woman lies; it is in the sovereign, all too welcome power wielded on them by the Phallus. There can be no doubt that the men who have really desired the emancipation of women are the men who are not very sexual, who have no great craving for love, who are not very profound, but who are men of noble and spiritual minds. I am not going to try to palliate the erotic motives of man, nor to represent his antipathy to the “emancipated woman” as being in any sense less than[348] it is; it is much easier to go with the majority, than, as Kant did, to climb, painfully and slowly, to the heights of isolation.

But a great deal of what is taken for enmity to emancipation is due to the want of confidence in its possibility. Man does not really want woman as a slave: he is usually only too anxious for a companion. The education which the woman of the present day receives is not calculated to fit her for the battle against her real bondage. The last resource of her “womanly” teacher, if she declines to do this or that, is to say that no man will have her unless she does it. Women’s education is directed solely to preparing them for their marriage, the happy state in which they are to find their crown. Such training would have little effect on man, but it serves to accentuate woman’s womanishness, her dependence, and her servile condition. The education of woman must be taken out of the hands of woman; the education of mankind must be taken out of the hands of the mother. This is the first step towards placing woman in a relation to the idea of mankind, which since the beginning she has done more than anything else to hinder.


A woman who had really given up her sexual self, who wished to be at peace would be no longer “woman.” She would have ceased to be “woman,” she would have received the inward and spiritual sign as well as the outward form of regeneration.

Can such a thing be?

There is no absolute woman, but even so to say “yes” to the above question is like giving one’s assent to a miracle. Emancipation will not make woman happier; it will not ensure her salvation, and it is a long road which leads to God. No being in the transition stage between freedom and slavery can be happy. But will woman choose to abandon slavery in order to become unhappy? The question is not merely if it be possible for woman to[349] become moral. It is this: is it possible for woman really to wish to realise the problem of existence, the conception of guilt? Can she really desire freedom? This can happen only by her being penetrated by an ideal, brought to the guiding star. It can happen only if the categorical imperative were to become active in woman; only if woman can place herself in relation to the moral idea, the idea of humanity.

In that way only can there be an emancipation of woman.



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Transcriber’s Notes

The language of the source document (including inconsistencies in spelling, hyphenation, etc.) has been retained, unless listed below. Many of the proper names mentioned in the book are spelled differently from what is usual. These have been left as printed as well, unless listed below.

Page xviii, Continuous and discontinuance memory: as printed in the source document.

Page 36, so many other actors: possibly an error for so many other factors.

Page 141, Prospera: possibly an error for Prospero.

Page 205, much more developed in men than in women: probably an error for much more developed in women than in men (cf. remainder of paragraph).

Page 282, The terms in the left-hand row: as printed in the source document.

Page 307, in the left row: as printed in the source document.

Changes made

Some minor obvious typographical and punctuation errors and misprints have been corrected silently.

Footnotes have been moved to directly underneath the paragraph where they are referenced.

Page 7: Boyle-Guy-Lussac changed to Boyle-Gay-Lussac

Page 25: thelyplastic changed to thelyplasmic

Page 29: closing quote mark added after ... in different proportions.

Page 38: Postwangen changed to Postwagen

Page 69: Jeanna de la Mothe Guyon changed to Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon; Footnote 6: Hysterias if ... changed to Hysteria is ...

Page 97: Helmholz changed to Helmholtz as elsewhere

Page 118: Kloppstock changed to Klopstock

Page 160: Nebbel’s epigram changed to Hebbel’s epigram

Page 181: Ernest Mack changed to Ernest Mach

Page 185: closing quote mark added after Latin text

Page 217: Th. Bischof changed to Th. Bischoff

Page 305: Tannhaüser changed to Tannhäuser

Index: some minor spelling changes made to conform to the text.