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What psychology has to deal with must be something in repose, something which abides in a mobile state of quiet, not with an unquiet thing which constantly reproduces itself or is repressed. But the abiding state, that out of which sin constantly becomes (comes into being), not by necessity, for a becoming by necessity is simply a state of being (as is for example the entire history of the plant), but by freedom-in this abiding state, I say, which is the predisposing assumption, the real possibility of sin, we have a subject for the interest of psychology. What can properly concern psychology, that for which it can concern itself, is the question how sin can come into existence, not the fact that it exists. In its interest in its object psychology carries the thing so far that it is as if sin were there; but the next thing, the fact that it is there, is qualitatively different from this. To show then that this presupposition for the careful observation of psychology turns out to be more and more comprehensive is the interest of psychology; yea, psychology is willing to abandon itself to the illusion that hereby sin is really posited. But this last illusion betrays the impotence of psychology and shows that it has served its turn.

That human nature must be such that it makes sin possible, is, psychologically speaking, perfectly true; but to want to let this possibility of sin become its reality is shocking to ethics and sounds to dogmatics like blasphemy; for freedom is always possible, as soon as it is it is actual, in the same sense in which it has been said by an earlier philosophy" that when God's existence is possible it is necessary.

As soon as sin is really posited, ethics is on the spot and follows every step it takes. How it came into being does not concern ethics, except in so far as it is certain that sin came into the world as sin. But still less than with the genesis of sin is ethics concerned with the still life of its possibility.

If one would ask more particularly in what sense and to what extent psychology pursues the object of its investigation, it is clear from the foregoing and in itself that every observation of the reality of sin as an object of thought is irrelevant to it, nor as the object of observation does it belong to ethics either, for ethics never acts as observer, but accuses, condemns, acts. In the next place, it follows from the foregoing and is evident in itself that psychology has nothing to do with the details of empirical actuality, except in so far as they are outside of sin. As a science, psychology can never have anything to do with the detail which underlies it, and yet this detail may receive its scientific representation in proportion as psychology becomes more and more concrete. In our age this science, which above all others has leave to intoxicate itself, one might almost say, with the foaming multifariousness of life, has become as spare in its diet and as ascetic as any anchorite. This is not the fault of the science but of its devotees. In relation to sin, on the other hand, this whole content of reality is properly denied to it, only the possibility of it still belongs to it. To ethics of course the possibility of sin never presents itself, and ethics never lets itself be fooled into wasting its time upon such reflections. Psychology, on the other hand, loves them; it sits sketching the contours and measuring the angles of possibility, and no more would let itself be disturbed than would Archimedes."

But while psychology thus delves into the possibility of sin, it -is without knowing it in the service of another science, which is only waiting for it to be finished in order to begin for its part and help psychology to an explanation. This other science is not ethics, for ethics has nothing whatsoever to do with this possibility. No, it is dogmatics, and here in turn the problem of original sin emerges. While psychology is fathoming the real possibility of sin, dogmatics explains original sin, which is the ideal possibility of sin. On the other hand, the second ethics has nothing to do with the possibility of sin nor with original sin. The first ethics ignores sin, the second ethics has the reality of sin in its province, and here only by a misunderstanding can psychology intrude.

If what has been here expounded is correct, one will easily see with what justification I have called this book a psychological deliberation, and will see also how this deliberation, in so far as it brings to consciousness its relation to science in general, properly belongs to psychology and leads in turn to dogmatics. Psychology has been called the doctrine of the subjective spirit. If one will pursue this science a little more precisely, one will see how, when it comes to the problem of sin, it must change suddenly into the doctrine of the Absolute Spirit. Here is the place of dogmatics. The first ethics presupposes metaphysics, and the second dogmatics; but it also completes it in such a way that here as everywhere the presupposition comes to evidence.

This was the task of the introduction. The introduction may be correct - while the deliberation itself dealing with the concept of dread may be entirely incorrect. That remains to be seen.


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