D O C U M E N T 4 1 F E B R U A R Y 1 9 2 1 3 5
of the finer spiritual powers that can be extracted in a state of
The pas-
sionate, elemental reply is yes to these questions, but may the seeker of Truth be
seduced solely by this? You, highly esteemed Professor, have delved much deeper
than all the rest of us into the errors in thinking, you have exposed the strange pit-
falls that emotion and so-called sound common sense set before us. To which nec-
essary conclusions did your thinking lead you?
Is it, according to your view, conceivable that “everything is physics,” as the
Mephistophelean creed of materialists states? I believe that external events surely
do occur according to physical laws, many of which are still unknown to us, but
behind any physics there is, I believe—a metaphysics! Oh! this “I believe”—which
is nevertheless still so precarious!
In hours of oppressive fear I reach existential desperation, as you, highly
esteemed Professor, can gather from the poem “The Rope of the Phantom Citizen”
[Das Tau der Schattenbürger], provided you had the great generosity to want to
And since Art is the only possibility “to transfer the content of the soul
into another, without a drop being spilled”—and to me there is something pro-
foundly attractive about precisely this especially with you involved—I am so bold
as to enclose a few more poems of mine, which might perhaps bring you tidings of
the agonies of a distant soul.
In trusting devotion, your highly admiring
Lili Halpern-Neuda.
41. To Lili Halpern-Neuda
Berlin, 5 February 1921
Esteemed Madam,
You did not approach the right
Only he who has renounced the questions
you posed becomes a researcher in the exact sciences. Without a doubt, the diver-
sity of our given experience cannot be exhausted by physics and causality. As little
as, say, the entirety of relations among humans would be exhausted by political
economics. No formal scheme can fully encompass reality but only depict it in a
one-sided manner. Natural science only deals with physical events, and the spiritual
only insofar as it is connected with the physical. Whether this connection is com-
plete we cannot know. But I do believe this on the basis of our incomplete experi-
ence of the relations governing here. We have no reason to believe in the spiritual
independent of physical reality; and I find such belief—because it signifies a vol-
untary abstention from scientific apprehension—ugly and unworthy of a strong
human being.
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