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Becoming III

Becoming III

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Published by: stephen theron on Dec 19, 2009
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BECOMING III: FROM BEING-FOR-SELF TO QUANTITYBeing-for-self names, after Being and Being Determinate, the third section of the first of the three parts, viz.Quality, of the Doctrine of Being. As such it leads into Quantity, the second part. The second section, BeingDeterminate, however, itself progresses from Quality (in a more specified sense), Limit or Finitude andAlterability to Infinity, whether "bad" or genuine and,
the latter, to Being-for-self as evincing "the categoryof Ideality", proper to the finite. Its "readiest instance", however, is "found in the 'I'" and it is upon this we willfocus when charting the real or 
emergence of quantity from quality. By this we mean a
necessity, though not that the Absolute is necessitated as if constrained to "create" in quantity, as it were. This passage, rather, as
or of the Mind, is intrinsic to Absolute Being itself, disclosed as Beginning (after having
de facto
begun with it) by, finally, some form of an "Ontological Argument". In this sense God creates
and not merely "at" the beginning.
 To the necessary all things, all categories of thought, are necessary and this isone with or is the Ground of "blessedness" and
.Logic thus ends at the Beginning and even absolutely so, in that the idea is finally one with the Method itself of the whole, of Thinking. No hole, no opening, is left such as are routinely taken as an escape from what wemistake for the
of Reason. The Freedom which Reason finally
, superseding any separation of cognition and volition, is the presence of All to and in all, the identity of self with other and with other again, notlimited to the maintenance of the initial, as it appears, individual self, "ruined" before it begins. This "quality" isone with the universal of universals which I, as conscious, am, subject become or passed to subjectivity. As suchI disclose pure quantity, a quantity which, as pure, is one with the One, however, the continuous not excludingthe discrete (or non-continuous) or anything else.As Hegel sums it up (
2), and it is characteristic that the insight comes to the fore in a considerationof philosophical
, asking "whence these categories (quality and quantity) originate":The fact is, quantity just means quality superseded and absorbed: and it is by the dialectic of quality here examined that this supersession is effected…i.e. absolutely or, which is the same, rationally. As Cicero had long ago argued, Reason is divine and thereforeLaw (
 De legibus
II, 4, 10). This is the same as to say that Reason itself is ab-solute, the being loosed (
)from all or, in a word, Freedom, the overcoming, in being and exercise, of the categorical or limited, of the
. Hegel goes on:First of all, we had Being: as the truth of Being, came Becoming: which formed the passage toBeing Determinate: and the truth of that we found to be Alteration. And in its result Alterationshowed itself to be Being-for-self,
exempt from implication of another and from passage intoanother 
… (my emphasis)As such, finally, in Repulsion and Attraction (here we have Atomism, but also the dialectic of finite love) Being-for-self "is clearly seen to annul itself",
while yet remaining 
, and thus, all along the line "to annul quality in thetotality of its stages". "This also is thou, neither is this thou" expresses (as distinct from explaining) thedeveloped "mystical" perception of this.
Quality thus emerges, not as "abstract and featureless" but asindifferent to "determinateness or character", i.e. as quantity, here become figure for or expression of Mind, of Freedom, or the undetermined, transcendent character thereof. Hence Quality was said, as a category "only of thefinite" (90,
), to belong not properly to Mind but to Nature. Alternatively, or as we might interpret or vary
Hegel here, as a moment of Logic and hence necessary it presages (for us) the necessity of Nature, of the Idea inalienation.*********************"If we now ask for the difference between something and another it turns out that they are the same." With thesewords Hegel marks variability, becoming other, as of the essence of, as
identical with
, Determinate Being.
Here, just therefore, we must situate Time, variability's measure., and not make an absolute out of it. McTaggart andnot the lesser theologians was right here, at least if we are interpreting Hegel and with him Aquinas, Augustineand the Apostle Paul. With God, absolutely speaking, or, simply, just absolutely speaking, there is neither 
Augustine relates the
creation (of spirits) to this seeming wordplay, doubly relevant to us should therein fact be no angels other than ourselves.
Hegel, we noted earlier, positively claimed the mystical character for philosophy, i.e. for philosophy.
This identification has become a truism of hermeneutics.
Compare our tentative identification of variation and determinate interpretation in our previous paragraph.
change nor shadow of turning. Change is
and to be known absolutely as such. I am forever what I will bewhile I never 
anything. What is past is not. In realist philosophy the future is an
ens rationis
or, actually,non-being. This however is merely to display the finitude of being, which the Absolute Idea is not. Infinitudetranscends being, in freedom. In the phrase "will be", in fact, the "be" attempts to contradict or immobilise the"will", in vain. There is a continuous moving, ever new, symbolised by the wheel of fire, perpetual creativeutterance of the one entire Word, without parts, toward which the Parmenidean being strove.We have no need, therefore, to try to justify or conform ourselves to the
of the Bible. The letter killsand this is first premise of philosophy's freedom, its opening, as a moment, even to total scepticism as witness,cited by Hegel, to the untruth of any and every predication, even this one. This too finds its parallel, however,within the books of the Bible itself, as in
, the Preacher.
In other words the Bible too is rational, along with Semitic or oriental thought in general. Hegel's categorisationof "the content" into philosophy, religion and art is just that, i.e. abstract. Any one of these qualities is generallyfind linked inseparably in reality with one or both of the other two. In this sense the final absolutised "method" isnot merely and purely philosophy but, rather, Thought, and so Heidegger stands on good Hegelian ground herein refusing to call his later work philosophy simply. The main work of Parmenides was, again under one aspect,a poem. Thus we may after all take seriously, in acceptance or rejection, Beethoven's dictum that "music is agreater revelation than the whole of religion and philosophy", or assertions as to "the truth of poetry" or comparisons of Aquinas's thought to a cathedral.Apologists such as Maritain set up an ultimately false opposition when they refer to the Greeks as "the chosen people of Reason", as if Israel were "chosen" in total abstraction from Reason:How odd of GodTo choose the Jews!It is not odd at all. Maritain touches on something concealed here which relates to Hegel's identification of I, of subjecthood, as "universal of universals" and, hence, most reasonable of all. Just
reasoning one chooses to bechosen, one "legislates for the universe". Election, that is, falls away as self-cancelling and the finite infinitude of Jehovah, as it is often understood, with it. Rational self-awareness perfects the sense of election, of everlastingtranscendence, or that it is
world, as Jerusalem was taken, in a figure, as its still centre. So the Israelites wonvictory after victory, not by force but by trickery or 
, to use Hegel's term. They relied specifically upon"the reason that is in the world. For what is the world without reason" (G. Frege,
The Foundations of Mathematics
). Insofar as we identify with reason the world is saved from unreason. "Salvation is of the Jews".The simple claim is built upon the former truism and Hegel sees it as fulfilled, in embryo maybe, in the uniquediscovery of human personality as such, illustrated by the vanishing of slavery from the European home of theJudaeo-Christian development. The later Wilberforce did not have the monopoly here; this process indeed gotwell under way in early Christian times and has roots in ancient Israel as recorded too in the Old Testament. This belongs with our theme of revelation, unveiling, as truth simply. Faith is not to be set against reason and is notfinally separate from it. This is the sense of 
credo ut intelligam
, as of Greek 
or development in general.We find then that "something in its passage into another only joins with itself… self-related
the passage"(
95). This is "the genuine infinity", negating negation, "restoring" Being as Being-for-self. So Hegel's philosophy is not at all a philosophy of pure Becoming but
exactly the opposite
.The Infinite cannot share anything, even Time, with the finite, without itself becoming finite and partial. The being of the finite is only analogous, a way of speaking. Really, it is
. "Touched… by the infinite" it is indeed"annihilated", it never was. So there is no "unity of finite and infinite". The former is rather a world of shadowsand we with it.The absence of dualism when thus viewing the nothingness of the finite just
what is termed Being-for-self.Here the finite is "absorbed", no longer what it was in our habitual misperception, the "habit of nature" asdistinct from natural law or as, in the tradition,
to "grace", having "contrary workings". Such nature,Hegel makes plain in the
 Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion
, must be totally killed, being doomedintrinsically anyhow. Here, just here, again, enters Ideality and with it, as Being-for-self, enters "I" as its, andIdeality's, "readiest example". The "I" knows itself to be at the centre, as none of Leibniz's monads have inter-subjective content with any other. This is being-for-self, to be for self, in utter freedom, the kind of beingattributed traditionally to God and which alone can satisfy us, since we are rational beings, as if chosen,therefore, to "know the universal". We are
quodammodo omnia
and, just as such or immediately, spirit. Anythingmediating would "appear beside" as
or material interference.
Some exegetes claim that St. John's Gospel was conceived as an explicit answer to this book.
The argument of Aristotle's "book on the soul" (uniquely praised by Hegel) for the spirituality (
)of Mind.
Understood thus the Being-for-self is just One, an exclusive unit even if it exclude by wholly negating others.This One is in a sense All and so already quantity, without character. Yet as such it is, he says, completedQuality."The One is simple Self-Reference", "simple Being". As
One it is not
One or one of many since, rather, it"has the unity of all within itself".
 Still it is "being modified", even though it "is immediacy". As such it isdeterminate, but not thereby finite. It is, we might say, simple being but not simply or abstract being. This, theabstract category, is altogether determinable or "empty" just because being itself is the most fundamental realityor actuality "of every form".
 It cannot itself then have a form.This is truth of intellect or of any intellect. As such it is what we call person and if intelligence could beconstructed artificially it would be personal, like the purportive creature of Mary Shelley's Count Frankenstein or Kubrick's "Hal", though if 
of these indeed should have had intelligence is an undecideable question. The personal is the necessary differentiation of the real or concrete (non-abstract) infinity. Only persons can have theunity of all within themselves by being essentially other and other of the other again. In this sense the
infinite is
as known
the good infinite, in its intrinsic ideality. It is and only is as known or thought. So it is not, astranscending being, as the
me on
is contrasted with the merely
ouk on
in later Greek thought.So any person is, has to be, this relation to all as, indifferently, relation to self which
other. Leibniz's monadseach had to be personal. Whether they then could ever, as fundamentally simple, be an atom or a particle innature is left open. If they could then these things would not be finite but infinite in Hegel's (good) sense.He though asserts that "natural things never attain a free Being-for-self", i.e.
man is "disyinguished… fromnature altogether", just by "knowing himself as 'I'".
 I am You
is the title of a new book (Springer, New York,2004) by Daniel Kolac where he quotes the physicist Erwin Schrödinger (p. xv) as defending the same or aclosely similar position:It is not possible that this unity of knowledge, feeling and choice which you call your ownshould have sprung into being from nothingness at a given moment not so long ago; rather thisknowledge feeling and choice are essentially eternal and unchangeable and numerically one inall men, nay in all sensitive beings. But not in this sense - that you are a part, a piece, of aneternal, infinite being, an aspect or modification of it… For we should then have the same baffling question: which part, which aspect are you? What, objectively, differentiates it from theothers? No,… you - and all other conscious beings as such - are all in all. Hence this life of yours… is in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can besurveyed in one single glance (
 How I See the World 
, 1964, pp. 21-22).
How is it that I can be one of the contingent and finite many, the child asks himself in uneasy wonderment. Theanswer is that he cannot be, that he begets them all within himself, that we, if we should ever speak of "we", beget one another, beget those who beget us. Thus we "cancel" the finite notion of begetting as that of "members" is cancelled in the Pauline phrase "You are all members one of another", an impossible anatomytaken literally. This is effectively Leibniz's conception too, only relatively a "position". That is, philosophy or thought is the reality, not "Leibniz". Otherness is identity, the most "complete development" of contradiction,comments Hegel without taking distance. He rather commends Leibniz above Spinoza as attaining to the personal (
194, 151). This should be related to Hegel's thesis regarding individuality, particularity anduniversality in relation to syllogistic formal logic as treated in the Doctrine of the Notion. Leibniz gaveindividuality "a philosophic shape" in denying that it is
individual (151).Being-for-self then is ideality, which is "the truth of reality" and not merely "parallel" to it, but what it"implicitly is". As McTaggart interpreted it, reality consists of persons, largely leaving implicit just how one person is another and all. Ideality is "all in all". Yet "ideality only has a meaning when it is the ideality of something" (96,
.). Nature cannot "exist without Mind" but the converse also holds,
mutatis mutandis
. Mind,though "beyond Nature", "involves Nature as absorbed in itself". We rise "above the mere 'Either - or' of understanding".Our remark above concerning Reason and "election" in the light of rational self-awareness indicates a deeper sense in Aquinas's remark, whether 
malgré lui
or not, that "it is evident that it is this man who thinks". The one
Cf. J,M.E. McTaggart,
Studies in the Hegelian Cosmology
, Cambridge 1901, Chapter 2, "Immortality".
Summa theol.
Ia, 3,4. Cp. Theron, "
The New Scholasticism
LIII, No. 2, Spring 1979, pp.206-221.
Regarding this "whole" (
) we may compare Hegel's remark on "the unchangeable" which "came to light asthe experience through which self-consciousness passes in its unhappy state of diremption". "This experience isnow doubtless not its own onesided process; for it is itself unchangeable consciousness; and this latter,consequently,
is a particular consciousness as well 
" (
The Phenomenology of Mind 
, tr. Baillie, Hrper Torchbook, New York, 1967, pp. 253-4, my emphasis: Hegel remarks that this consideration is "here out of place", not so inour text now however).

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