Their behaviour in this sense remains centric, as they produced physical and psychical correlations to the things in their environments according to experience and memory. But these chimpanzees could not symbolically position themselves next to these centric correlations in order to transform the latter into an object.
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For this, the external symbolization of culture in the institutionalization of society was required. This socio-cultural Mitwelt allowed the differentiation between inner and outer world to be newly assessed. There was then an excentric world frame through which the environments of the individuals and groups could be transformed. The excentred world frame could be neutralised in relation to the individual physis and psyche, i. From this deep boredom, philosophy, art and science became possible as new world revelations distanced from the environments of the human Dasein in every day life.
For Plessner, the everyday life of the Dasein was not a world, but rather an artificially produced environment. It resulted from a sedimentation and habitualisation of the world into the environment. Logically viewed, everyday life presupposed an extra-ordinary life in an excentric disclosure of the world.
Insofar as the latter had led to the setting up of an artificial environment through technology, society and culture, all symbolic communications could be directly lived in this superficial environment, i. The inner world could only be differentiated from the outer world, without being circular, if this difference were determined from the standpoint of an interpersonal Mitwelt.
Heidegger had still not understood that he lacked a fundamental philosophy of nature and society. However, after the Metaphysics of winter he did allow for excentric world-disclosures in philosophy, art and science. In relation to philosophical anthropology, Cassirer and Heidegger shared two deficits. Neither of them had a philosophy of nature or a philosophy of society. They shared furthermore a third important deficit and this is where Georg Misch and his influence on Plessner comes in.
If the theory of knowledge was no longer to be grounded outside of life, but rather, from anew, from within it, then this had a negative consequence to begin with: Misch advocated the theory of the unfathomability of life and of humans concerning the conduct of their lives as a whole.
Human beings cannot take on the role of god in epistemology, a role independent of any individual life. Thus, the ideal of a godlike knowledge of and beyond all life collapsed, unattainable for human beings. And thus history will continue into the future. The principal of unfathomability replaces a material a priori Scheler or a formal a priori Heidegger in which there is still too much centrism. It has now risen more formidable than ever, and with the further aggravation, that it was unexpected.
Irish disaffection, assuredly, is a familiar fact; and there have always been those among us who liked to explain it by a special taint or infirmity in the Irish character. But Liberal Englishmen had always attributed it to the multitude of unredressed wrongs.
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England had for ages, from motives of different degrees of unworthiness, made her yoke heavy upon Ireland. According to a well known computation, the whole land of the island had been confiscated three times over. Part had been taken to enrich powerful Englishmen and their Irish adherents; part to form the endowment of a hostile hierarchy; the rest had been given away to English and Scotch colonists, who held, and were intended to hold it as a garrison against the Irish.
The manufactures of Ireland, except the linen manufacture, which was chiefly carried on by these colonists, were deliberately crushed for the avowed purpose of making more room for those of England. The vast majority of the native Irish, all who professed the Roman Catholic religion, were, in violation of the faith pledged to the Catholic army at Limerick, despoiled of all their political and most of their civil rights, and were left in existence only to plough or dig the ground, and pay rent to their task-masters.
A nation which treats its subjects in this fashion cannot well expect to be loved by them. It is not necessary to discuss the circumstances of extenuation which an advocate might more or less justly urge to excuse these iniquities to the English conscience. Whatever might be their value in our own eyes, in those of the Irish they had not, and could not have, any extenuating virtue.
Short of actual depopulation and desolation, or the direct personal enslaving of the inhabitants, little was omitted which could give a people cause to execrate its conquerors. But these just causes of disloyalty, it was at last thought, had been removed. The jealousy of Irish industry and enterprise has long ceased, and all inequality of commercial advantages between the two countries has been done away with.
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The civil rights of the Catholic population have been restored to them, and with one or two trifling exceptions their political disabilities have been taken off. The prizes of professional and of political life, in Ireland, England, and every British dependency, have been thrown open, in law and in fact, to Catholic as well as Protestant Irish. The alien Church indeed remains, but is no longer supported by a levy from the Catholic tillers of the soil; it has become a charge on the rent paid by them, mostly to Protestant landlords.
The confiscations have not been reversed; but the hand of time has passed over them: they have reached the stage at which, in the opinion of reasonable men, the reversal of an injustice is but an injustice the more. The representatives of the Irish Catholics are a power in the House of Commons, sufficient at times to hold the balance of parties.
Irish complaints, great and small, are listened to with patience, if not always with respect; and when they admit of a remedy which seems reasonable to English minds, there is no longer any reluctance to apply it. What, then, it is thought even by Liberal Englishmen, has Ireland to resent? What, indeed, remains from which resentment could arise? By dint of believing that disaffection had ceased to be reasonable, they came to think that it had ceased to be possible.
All grievances, of a kind to exasperate the ruled against the rulers, had, they thought, disappeared. Nature, too, not in her kinder, but in one of her cruellest moods, had made it her study to relieve the conscience of the English rulers of Ireland. But the Angel of Death had stepped in, and removed that spectre from before our gate. An appalling famine, followed by an unexampled and continuous emigration, had, by thinning the labour market, alleviated that extreme indigence which, by making the people desperate, might embitter them, we thought, even against a mild and just Government.
Ireland was now not only well governed, but prosperous and improving. Surely the troubles of the British nation about Ireland were now at an end. The disaffection which they flattered themselves had been cured, suddenly shows itself more intense, more violent, more unscrupulous, and more universal than ever.
The population is divided between those who wish success to Fenianism, and those who, though disapproving its means and perhaps its ends, sympathize in its embittered feelings. Repressed by force in Ireland itself, the rebellion visits us in our own homes, scattering death among those who have given no provocation but that of being English-born. So deadly is the hatred, that it will run all risks merely to do us harm, with little or no prospect of any consequent good to itself.
Our rulers are helpless to deal with this new outburst of enmity, because they are unable to see that anything on their part has given cause for it. They are brought face to face with a spirit which will as little tolerate what we think our good government as our bad, and they have not been trained to manage problems of that difficulty. But though their statesmanship is at fault, their conscience is at ease, because the rebellion, they think, is not one of grievance or suffering; it is a rebellion for an idea—the idea of nationality.
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Alas for the self-complacent ignorance of irresponsible rulers, be they monarchs, classes, or nations! If there is anything sadder than the calamity itself, it is the unmistakeable sincerity and good faith with which numbers of Englishmen confess themselves incapable of comprehending it. They know not that the disaffection which neither has nor needs any other motive than aversion to the rulers, is the climax to a long growth of disaffection arising from causes that might have been removed.
What seems to them the causelessness of the Irish repugnance to our rule, is the proof that they have almost let pass the last opportunity they are ever likely to have of setting it right. They have allowed what once was indignation against particular wrongs, to harden into a passionate determination to be no longer ruled on any terms by those to whom they ascribe all their evils. Rebellions are never really unconquerable until they have become rebellions for an idea. Revolt against practical ill-usage may be quelled by concessions; but wait till all practical grievances have merged in the demand for independence, and there is no knowing that any concession, short of independence, will appease the quarrel.
But what, it will be asked, is the provocation that England is giving to Ireland, now that she has left off crushing her commerce and persecuting her religion? What harm to Ireland does England intend, or knowingly inflict? What good, that she knows how to give her, would she not willingly bestow? Unhappily, her offence is precisely that she does not know; and is so well contented with not knowing, that Irishmen who are not hostile to her are coming to believe that she will not and cannot learn. The English people ought to ask themselves, seriously and without prejudice, what it is that gives sober men this opinion of them; and endeavour to remove it, or humbly confess that it is true, and fulfil the only duty which remains performable by them on that supposition, that of withdrawing from the attempt.
More than a generation has elapsed since we renounced the desire to govern Ireland for the English: if at that epoch we had begun to know how to govern her for herself, the two nations would by this time have been one. But we neither knew, nor knew that we did not know. We had got a set of institutions of our own, which we thought suited us—whose imperfections we were, at any rate, used to: we, or our ruling classes, thought, that there could be no boon to any country equal to that of impartingathesea institutions to her, and as none of their benefits were any longer withheld from Ireland.
Ireland, it seemed, could have nothing more to desire. What was not too bad for us, must be good enough for Ireland, or if not. Ireland or the nature of things was alone in fault. It is always a most difficult task which a people assumes when it attempts to govern, either in the way of incorporation or as a dependency, another people very unlike itself. But whoever reflects on the constitution of society in these two countries, with any sufficient knowledge of the states of society which exist elsewhere, will be driven, however unwillingly, to the conclusion, that there is probably no other nation of the civilized world, which, if the task of governing Ireland had happened to devolve on it, would not have shown itself more capable of that work than England has hitherto done.
The reasons are these: First, there is no other civilized nation which is so conceited of its own institutions, and of all its modes of public action, as England is; and secondly, there is no other civilized nation which is so far apart from Ireland in the character of its history, or so unlike it in the whole constitution of its social economy; and none, therefore, which if it applies to Ireland the modes of thinking and maxims of government which have grown up within itself, is so certain to go wrong.
The first indeed of our disqualifications, our conceit of ourselves, is certainly diminishing. Our governing classes are now quite accustomed to be told that the institutions which they thought must suit all mankind since they suited us, require far greater alteration than they dream of to be fit even for ourselves.
When they were told this, they have long been in the habit of answering, that whatever defects these institutions may have in theory, they are suited to the opinions, the feelings, and the historical antecedents of the English people. But mark how little they really mean by this vindication. If suitability to the opinions, feelings, and historical antecedents of those who live under them is the best recommendation of institutions, it ought to have been remembered, that the opinions, feelings, and historical antecedents of the Irish people are totally different from, and in many respects contrary to those of the English; and that things which in England find their chief justification in their being liked, cannot admit of the same justification in a country where they are detested.
But the reason which recommends institutions to their own supporters, and that which is used to stop the mouths of opponents, are far from being always one and the same.
Let us take as an example, that one of our institutions which has the most direct connexion with the worst practical grievances of Ireland; absolute property in land, the land being engrossed by a comparatively small number of families. I am not going to discuss this institution, or to express, on the present occasion, any opinion about its abstract merits.
Let these, if we will, be transcendant—let it be the best and highest form of agricultural and social economy, for anything I mean to say to the contrary. But I do say that this is not self-evident. It is not one of the truths which shine so brilliantly by their own light, that they are assented to by every sane man the moment he understands the words in which they are conveyed. On the contrary, what present themselves the most obviously at the first aspect of this institution are the objections to it.
That a man should have absolute control over what his own labour and skill have created, and even over what he has received by gift or bequest from those who created it, is recommended by reasons of a very obvious character, and does not shock any natural feeling. Moveable property can be produced in indefinite quantity, and he who disposes as he likes of anything which, it can fairly be argued, would not have existed but for him, does no wrong to any one.
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