The Light, the Word, the Sea, and the Inner Moral Self

Notes on the margins of Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka’s Logos and Life, Book Three
  • Krystyna Gorniak-Kocikowska
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 38)


Friedrich Nietzsche claimed the mistake made by all philosophers before him was they first accepted a certain system of values, mostly ethical, and only afterwards tried to explain the reality. This means people first make the decision about what is right and what wrong or what is good and bad, and only after this decision is made do they try to explore the reality — or rather that part of reality which they first evaluated as good, i.e., worthy of exploration (hence they claim their explanation, the research, to be right). According to Nietzsche, even if the philosophers declare that they search for the Truth (truth, by the way, is a value, too), their real goal is the “majestic building of morality”.1


Moral Ideal Human Species Creative Vision Weak Individual Dynamic Vision 
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  1. 1.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, Werke, Vol. 2, ed. by Karl Schlechta, (Ullstein GmbH Frankfurt am Main-Berlin-Vienna: 1972), p. 13.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This very useful and inspiring term does not mean the same as Roman Ingarden’s “gate of consciousness”, although it would be interesting to investigate how far Tymieniecka was inspired by Ingarden at that point.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, Logos and Life. Book 3: The Passions of the Soul and the Elements in the Onto-Poiesis of Culture. “The Life-Significance of Literature”, in: A-T. Tymieniecka (ed.), Analecta Husserliana, Vol. XXVIII, (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990), p. 10.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    It is too bad that Tymieniecka concentrated on the Western tradition only, although it is obvious that the inclusion of the Oriental symbolic of light and sea would change significantly the direction of her consideration. I hope that she will continue her writing on this subject. Her familiarity with the philosophies of the East allows us to expect some interesting conclusions, e.g., about enlightenment or about symbolic and poetic on the sea in Zen Buddhism.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    I do not want to examine here the often enough discussed issue of the influence both of them had on the development of art, and, of course, on the concept of proper epistemological procedures.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    This has a long tradition within Western culture. Heraclitus, and Plato too, claimed already the same (although Plato by no means appreciated this changing character of the material world). In the case of Tymieniecka we have to deal with an interesting relation between the role played in her thought by the static picture emerging from “eye-knowledge”, which she advocates when writing about the importance of light, and her acknowledgement that the basic character of reality is motion (for which the sea is the best expression).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    See: Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, “Trzy wymiary fenomenologii — ontologiczny, transcendentalny, kosmiczny — rola Romana Ingardena”. Translated from English into Polish by B. Chwedenczuk in: Fenomenologia Romana Ingardena (Warsaw: Wydanie specjalne Studiow Filozoficznych, 1972), p. 203.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    In the history of Western philosophical and religious thought both directions were explored: (a) To be happy means to be good, (b) To be good means to be happy. Generally speaking, it was accepted that: (a) A bad person cannot be really happy, (b) A happy person cannot be really bad. The problem of happiness is regarded here in a different way than it is in Durkheim’s The Division of Labor in the Society, esp. pp. 179–184 (Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labor in the Society. With an introduction by Lewis A. Coser. Translated by W. D. Halls [New York: The Free Press A Division of Macmillan, 19841). Durkheim identifies happiness almost exclusively with pleasure and is interested, first of all, in the problem of the durability and intensity of happiness as well as the problem of the relationship between happiness and the development of civilization. In his opinion people can feel happy at different stages of civilization and, therefore, the search for happiness cannot be seen as the goal which is the base for people’s activities and the cause of “progress”. Durkheim is here similar in his views to Herbert Spencer and to Stanislaw Brzozowski, a Polish philosopher of the beginning of the 20th century influenced by Spencer. Opposing the moral validity of such an under­standing of happiness, Brzozowski, in turn, advocated for that very reason the “heroic” model of human existence, which brought him close to Kant and Nietzsche. What I mean here, however, in writing of people’s search for happiness, is expressed better by Goethe in his Faust and is closer to the ancient Greek and Roman understanding of the problem.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Maybe happiness is the goal not only of human life, but of all forms of life, of life “as such”. According to Karl Popper: “Life looks for a better world. Each living individual thing tries to find a better world, at least in order to survive or to swim a bit easier there. This is characteristic of all life, from the amoeba up to man. It is ever our wish, our hope, and our utopia to find an ideal world.” Karl Raimund Popper & Konrad Lorenz, Die Zukunft ist offen (Munich: 1985), p. 17.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    This is, of course, an abstract, model example. The assumption here is, first of all, that the given individual analyses constantly his/her situation, asking at every second whether he/she is totally content or not. In reality all individuals act very often without any consideration of their feelings or even without thinking about what they are currently doing and what can be the result of their actions. Nevertheless, the situation of lack of any discomfort, the situation in which everybody is absolutely happy, is the situation in which no action, no change, no movement is reasonable — therefore, if human beings are “thinking animals”, no movement will happen. This is, in my opinion, Hegel’s concept of the end of history. (In German, the word for “history” is “Geschichte”. The word “Geschichte” comes from “geschehen” — to happen. The end of history is the end of any happenings.) History will have no end as long as at least one human being will feel even the smallest discomfort, will have the will to change his/her situation and will be able to try to do so. Changing anything in his/her own situation, this individual will change directly or indirectly the situation of at least one other individual making this other individual feel some discomfort, which will cause the next action, etc., etc. Usually, below a certain level of discomfort, there is no active attempt to change the situation. That does not mean, however, that the desire for change is not there — psychological or physical (e.g., the body tries to make its situation as comfortable as possible in order to survive).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    I use the word “image” purposefully — despite the reservation expressed previously. The point here is that we think traditionally about ourselves as having images of the reality in our heads. Because of the influence of Plato’s philosophy over such a long period of the Western history, our language reflects the woridview imposed by him. One of the valuable attempts of post-modern thinkers (although I have doubts whether they will be really successful in this) is the deconstruction of the language, understood here as the deconstruction of the traditional patterns of links between words, their meaning, and the reality with which they are connected.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Karl Popper claims: “Human being is first of all language. What is it that makes the development of culture possible? Critique. Through language and through critique we have developed culture”. Popper in Popper-Lorenz, op. cit., p. 39.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Leonard H. Ehrlich, Karl Jaspers: Philosophy as Faith (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1975), p. 228.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Tymieniecka, Logos and Life. Book 3, op. cit., p. 138.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    And yet, as Tymieniecka points out, using Melville’s Moby Dick as an example, there are still links even “between two human beings as radically different by human worldly standards as they only could be: here, a young bell boy, an `idiot’ by all accounts, helpless, weak and life-forlorn, and, there, a powerful, strong educated ship commander”. (Tymieniecka, Logos and Life, op. cit.,p. 117) These links are “not easy pity or compassion, but the innermost passion of the soul, that of human communion”. (Ibidem, p. 116) They became recognized on the “verge of existence”, which is somewhat similar to what Karl Jaspers called the “boundary situation”. Jaspers wrote: “The basic condition is a mode of the boundary situations — that is to say, of human situations that are immutable, unlike situations in the world. We can neither avoid nor transcend them, but their shattering impact brings us to ourselves as possible Existenz. What becomes of man in boundary situations makes out his greatness, and without considering these conditions of greatness we cannot truthfully love the nobility in it. The inevitability of struggle, of suffering, of death, of coincidence — these are what we call boundary situations.” (Karl Jaspers, Philosophical Faith and Revelation, trans. by E. B. Ashton [New York: Harper and Row, 19671, p. 210.)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    What I mean here, is rather a “vision of the future” that is closer to Tymieniecka’s term “Imaginatio Creatrix”, whereas, if I understood her correctly, Tymieniecka uses “vision” not only in that sense, but also in a sense of “better seeing”, “seeing through” or “being illuminated”. (See Tymieniecka, Logos and Life, op. cit.,esp. pp. 81f., 94ff.)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Tymieniecka writes: “Joseph Conrad, shows rightly (...) that ”facts have no mean­ing“. Without imagination and reflection, they simply remain meaningless. We otherwise do not ”think“ about them; when confronted with them we simply take instinctively the most expedient course of action that we are capable of. ”We endow the brute facts of life with significance only as our mind moves from marveling to wonderment to fabula­tion.“ (Tymieniecka, Logos and Life, op. cit., p. 37)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Nietzsche was aware of this. Hence, he did not postulate the establishment of any “pure” or “non-biased” knowledge — he protested against the restrictive character of morality in the process of scientific and/or philosophical investigation of the world if moral norms are accepted in the manner of slavery, as something imposed from outside, and are not established by the act of will of the given individual. Nietzsche wanted us to have the courage to say that in the act of “knowledge” we are, in fact, the creators. We create the world claiming that it is as we want to see it, which means, as we want it to be.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nietzsche, and Jaspers too, knew that action and theoretical investigation of reality do exclude each other.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Tymieniecka, Logos and Life, op. cit.,pp. 10f.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    In the previous stages of Occidental culture, the focus was on nature, as the ground for man and his life-world, and creation aimed at depicting it, mirroring it, imitating it. With the advent of the modern age which came to its culmination in our century, steps were prepared for the turn toward man’s own forces and powers. This is precisely the period in which these steps brought about a radical change in the creative vision itself that the human being held about his universe of life that marks the advent of a new era. The focus of the creative vision of man with respect to the human province of existence is now deliberately on his own powers and forces, that is, upon the forces, energies, mechanisms,and mysteries of the great fluctuations in the universal scheme of life so that he may penetrate and command them“. (Tymieniecka, Logos and Life, op. cit., p. 97.)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ibid., p. 10.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
  24. 24.
    “... the sea is not in man’s nature. On the sea man enjoys a merely provisional status, he not being an aquatic animal He is absolutely dependent on his vessel and its condition”. Ibid., p. 135.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ibid., p.117.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ibid., p. 126.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    See Nietzsche, op. cit., Vol. 4, p. 450.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
  29. 29.
    Nietzsche, op. cit., Vol. 3, p. 247.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Tymieniecka, Logos and Life, op. cit.,p. 115.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ibid., p. 116.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
  33. 33.
    Karl Jaspers, The Question of German Guilt, trans. from German by E. B. Ashton (New York: 1961), pp. 22f.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Tymieniecka, Logos and Life, op. cit.,p. 137.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Ibid., pp. 138f.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ibid., p. 140.Google Scholar
  37. 37.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krystyna Gorniak-Kocikowska
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Adam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznanPoland
  2. 2.Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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