This book undertakes to move the relationship between the sexes into a new and decisive light. It is neither intended to distinguish among the many possible separate character traits, nor to bring together the results of previous scientific measurements and experiments, but seeks rather the reduction of all contradictions between man and woman into one single principle. Hereby, it differs from all other books of this type. It is not positioned on this or that idyll, but presses forward to an ultimate goal; it does not gather together observation upon observation, but brings the psychical differences between the sexes into a system; it is not about women, but the woman. Truly, it takes always the most everyday and most superficial things as its point of departure, but only to explain specific concrete ideas. This is not "inductive metaphysics", but a psychological deepening made in steps.
The investigation is not specialised, but a principled one; it does not scorn the laboratory, even if the latter's proofs concerning the deeper problems are seen as limited for the work of the self-observing type of analysis. Likewise, the artist, who portrays a feminine entity, can impart the typical, without needing to be statistically validated by a guild of science-experiment judges. The artist does not refuse experience, but on the contrary he regards it as his duty to gain experience; but it is for him merely the starting-point of a plunge into himself, which in art appears as a plunge into the world.
The psychology used in this exposition is a thoroughly philosophical one, even though its particular method, justified only by its particular theme, is to start from the most elemental stock of experience. The philosopher's task differs only in terms of form from the artist's. What is symbol to one, becomes concept to the other. As expression and content, thus are art and philosophy controlled. The artist has breathed-in the world, to breathe it out; for the philosopher it is breathed-out and he must breathe it in again.
Yet, all theory necessarily has something pretentious about it; and thus the same content, which in artistry appears natural, can seem uncouth, even offensive, here, in the philosophical system, where as a concentrated assertion about a universal, it appears as a thesis subject to the principle of reason and that sets out to provide proofs. Where the exposition is anti-feminist — and that is the case almost always — even men will not happily or willingly agree: their sexual egoism always makes them love seeing Woman as they choose to have her, as they choose to love her.
How then could I be unprepared for the response women will have to my judgment of their sex?
That the investigation at its end turns to the man, and to him freely attributes the greater and truer blame, in a deeper sense than the feminist suspects, is a situation that will bear little fruit for its author, being a situation most unhelpful for rehabilitating him in the eyes of women.
But the analysis extends to the problem of blame because it ascends from the foremost and most pertinent phenomena up to those points, from which open not only an insight into the nature of woman and her meaning in the cosmos, but also the aspect of her relationship to humanity, and its ultimate and highest tasks. From these points, a position can be won regarding the cultural problem, and the capacity of womanhood can be assessed in the sphere of ideal aims. Thus, there, where the problem of culture and humanity coincide, it will not longer be attempted merely to explain, but rather also to value; yes, there explanation and valuation coincide of themselves.
The investigation is driven to such a lofty outlook, perforce, as it were, without steering to it from the outset. The inadequacy of all empirical-psychological philosophy results from the foundation of empirical psychology itself. Its reverence for experience is not impacted on hereby, since appreciation for it is only heightened and not destroyed if the human being notices those components in appearance - admittedly, in the only thing which he experiences - which bring him to the certainty that there is not merely appearance, if he perceives those signs in it which point to a higher existence, an existence situated over it. That such an ultimate source exists, can be established, even if no living person will ever penetrate to it. And this book also intends to lead up to the vicinity of this source, and not rest before.
Within the narrow confines in which as yet the opposing opinions concerning woman and her question have always clashed, it would, of course, never have been possible to dare strive for such a high goal. The problem is, however, one which stands in relation with all the deepest riddles of being. It can be solved, practically and theoretically, morally or metaphysically, only under the secure guidance of a Weltanschauung (interpretation of the cosmos, or world view).
Weltanschauung - that which deserves the name - is nothing which could ever obstruct discrete cognition; quite the opposite, all special insight of deeper truth is first driven forth by it. Weltanschauung is in itself productive; yet it can never be synthetically credited from an ever-so-great sum of special knowledge, as every age of exclusively empirical knowledge believes.
It is only the seeds of such a complete conception, which become visible in this book, of a conception that comes closest to the weltanschauungen of Plato, Kant and Christianity. But the scientific, psychological-philosophical, logical-ethical foundations, I myself, had to fashion to a great extent. Indeed, it was not possible to make a closer execution, but intend soon to do so thoroughly. By referring to these defects now, it is because consideration of what is expressed regarding the deepest and most general problems is more important to me than any interest aroused by the special application to the problem of woman.
Should it strike the philosophical reader as awkward that the treatment of the loftiest and ultimate questions seems to be placed at the service of a special problem of no overly great dignity: I share with him this distaste. Yet, may I say that the specific problem of the Sex-antagonism forms a point of departure, rather than the goal of a deeper penetration. From such treatment flows a rich bounty for cardinal logical issues of idea and judgment and their relationship to the axioms of thinking; for the theory of humour, of love, and of beauty and value, and problems such as individuality and ethics and how these relate to each other; and for the phenomenon of genius, of the need for immortality, and of Judaism. That the comprehensive discussions benefit the special problem, in the end, is natural, because as the scope of consideration expands, more diverse relations to the problem emerge. And if this coherency reveals how it is virtually hopeless to hang upon women for culture and art, if the final results signify an entire depreciation, yes, a negation of womanhood, nevertheless it does not seek thereby to destroy anything that is, or to degrade anything that of itself has value. A certain horror at my own action must overtake me, were I only a destroyer who left nothing of the plan! The affirmations of the book have perhaps been less well crafted: but he who can hear, will know well to perceive them in everything.