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a desire for social concord built on a foundation of Christian ethics

Universal brotherhood and a new ideal of humanity were the ultimate goal of the supporters of Krause. The German philosopher identifyied the ideal of political and social perfection with that of religious fulfillment. The advent of the better world would result from a rational grasp of the idea of God and of divine order. Krause revitalized the tradition originating in the fourteenth-century German mystics, especially Master Eckhart, of a society in which men would live 'in such a way that virtue would no longer be an effort'.

Once the primary self has been revealed, Krause proceeds to induce, by analytical-subjective means, that this self is a unity in which two elements are contained: body and intellect. The self knows itself as finite for two reasons: (a) because it has to admit as indisputable the presence of other selves that limit it; and (b) because its own functions appear to it as limited. Now, the finite is what is partial, and the partial necessarily presupposes a whole which is its foundation. This whole is, according to Krause, the original or primary essence Urwesen from which arise the two elements, body and intellect, that are contained in the unity of the self. The body forms part of Nature's sphere, the intellect of Spirit's. Nature and Spirit are in their turn finite essences which, as such, postulate a higher, infinite essence, foundation of all finite essences and source of all reality. Krause calls this higher essence Wesen, which can be translated as Absolute Being or God. The Krausist system is, properly speaking, a Wesenlehre or Theory of Being.

The intellect discovers eternal truth through methods and laws whose universal validity and acceptance cannot be doubted. If, in the immense panorama of the real, it is possible to harmonize what is disjoined, different, contradictory, that harmony is made possible only by virtue of the organizing function of reason, the quality that reason possesses of bringing order out of chaos.

From a simple unity, knowledge passes through a stage of differentiation, and ends with the harmonization of opposites in a higher unity. These three periods of dialectical movement correspond to the three stages that can be discerned in the existence of all finite creatures: infancy, youth, and maturity; or, indifferentiation, opposition, and harmony.

simple unity

Primitive man is a rudimentary being placed in a world where the individual factor does not yet exist. His life is spent in blissful unconsciousness: he exists submerged in a whole which is neither explained nor explainable. His notion of God is simple and immediate, something like the idea a nursing child has of its mother: complete dependence and unlimited confidence.

differentiation and opposition

Man begins to recognize the things that he finds around him; he learns to distinguish one from another and is attracted by them in his turn. Human activity is above all a desire for possession, a means of exercising the urge for domination, a declaration of independence. Man observes his increasing energy and skill, and slowly turns away from that simple and fundamental unity in which he had lived with God in earliest times. But even after the separation between man and God has taken place, it cannot be said that man's religious impulse has weakened, merely that it has assumed a different aspect as a result of man's new-found preoccupation with the world of sensorial experience. What in the previous age had been blind instinct, unconscious submission, now becomes food for the imagination. After he has lost God, man feels compelled to rediscover him, seeking him in the inanimate or animate things that he sees on every hand


The third stage begins when man turns his attention to himself and discovers in the depths of his consciousness the image of the one God, creator and ruler of life. But it must be noted that this is not a primary discovery. What man primarily discovers is the unity of his own consciousness. Underneath the multiplicity and variety of his psychic and physical states, he realizes that something exists which underlies them and links them all together, something that is both unique and constant, the origin and purpose of the infinite modalities into which his existence is condensed. If previously he has lived in the dimension of imagination, which required an external and centrifugal kind of activity, now he lives more and more in the area of understanding, of internal activity, which attracts and orders the chaotic impressions that pour in upon him at every instant. In the end he knows that he is one and the same, because he feels capable of interpreting the fundamental cohesion that underlies the chaos of his life. This conviction of his own capacity leads him to a new evaluation of his power, his worth, his mission. What is commonly called 'human dignity' is the realization that man achieves of his essential integrity

The Krausist Movement and Ideological Change in Spain 1854-1874

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