Preface to the First Edition
The complete transformation which philosophical thought in Germany has undergone in the last twenty-five years and the higher standpoint reached by spirit in its awareness of itself, have had but little influence as yet on the structure of logic.
That which, prior to this period, was called metaphysics has been, so to speak, extirpated root and branch and has vanished from the ranks of the sciences. The ontology, rational psychology, cosmology, yes even natural theology, of former times – where is now to be heard any mention of them, or who would venture to mention them? Inquiries, for instance, into the immateriality of the soul, into efficient and final causes, where should these still arouse any interest? Even the former proofs of the existence of God are cited only for their historical interest or for purposes of edification and uplifting the emotions. The fact is that there no longer exists any interest either in the form or the content of metaphysics or in both together. If it is remarkable when a nation has become indifferent to its constitutional theory, to its national sentiments, its ethical customs and virtues, it is certainly no less remarkable when a nation loses its metaphysics, when the spirit which contemplates its own pure essence is no longer a present reality in the life of the nation.
The exoteric teaching of the Kantian philosophy — that the understanding ought not to go beyond experience, else the cognitive faculty will become a theoretical reason which itself generates nothing but fantasies of the brain — this was a justification from a philosophical quarter for the renunciation of speculative thought. In support of this popular teaching came the cry of modern educationists that the needs of the time demanded attention to immediate requirements, that just as experience was the primary factor for knowledge, so for skill in public and private life, practice and practical training generally were essential and alone necessary, theoretical insight being harmful even. Philosophy [Wissenschaft] and ordinary common sense thus co-operating to bring about the downfall of metaphysics, there was seen the strange spectacle of a cultured nation without metaphysics – like a temple richly ornamented in other respects but without a holy of holies. Theology, which in former times was the guardian of the speculative mysteries and of metaphysics (although this was subordinate to it) had given up this science in exchange for feelings, for what was popularly matter-of-fact, and for historical erudition. In keeping with this change, there vanished from the world those solitary souls who were sacrificed by their people and exiled from the world to the end that the eternal should be contemplated and served by lives devoted solely thereto — not for any practical gain but for the sake of blessedness; a disappearance which, in another context, can be regarded as essentially the same phenomenon as that previously mentioned. So that having got rid of the dark utterances of metaphysics, of the colourless communion of the spirit with itself, outer existence seemed to be transformed into the bright world of flowers – and there are no black flowers, as we know.
Logic did not fare quite so badly as metaphysics. ?. That one learns from logic how to think (the usefulness of logic and hence its purpose, were held to consist in this — just as if one could only learn how to digest and move about by studying anatomy and physiology) this prejudice has long since vanished, and the spirit of practicality certainly did not intend for logic a better fate than was suffered by the sister science.
Nevertheless, probably for the sake of a certain formal utility, it was still left a place among the sciences, and indeed was even retained as a subject of public instruction. However, this better lot concerns only the outer fate of logic, for its structure and contents have remained the same throughout a long inherited tradition, although in the course of being passed on the contents have become ever more diluted and attenuated; logic shows no traces so far of the new spirit which has arisen in the sciences no less than in the world of actuality. However, once the substantial form of the spirit has inwardly reconstituted itself, all attempts to preserve the forms of an earlier culture are utterly in vain; like withered leaves they are pushed off by the new buds already growing at their roots.