refer to at the outset of this essay, the Absolute is a basic and fundamental issue forphilosophy as such. In this sense it includes the being of the Eleatics, Democritus’atoms, Plato’s Ideas, and even Thales’ water.
Here the Absolute’s divinity,consciousness or personality is in a sense the effect of philosophical development,never problem-free and never permitting total denial of the naı¨ve early Absolutetheories.The Absolute concept we are interested in is very general (one may even saysuperﬁcial), nonetheless it can be explained with relative precision, and thisexplanation is at once an explanation of the psychological and rational sources—inother words the theoretical and historical base—of philosophical thought. The factis that the source of man’s philosophical and rational relations with the world is anawareness—Aristotle speaks of wonder whereas Shestov speaks of dismay—of theplenitude of the world’s things and phenomena (in other words its diversity,including temporal diversity, yielding transcience) and which indeed expresses theworld’s abundance but can also give rise to feelings of incomprehension, chaos, anddespair, which humans are reluctant to accept. Man has the disposition to ascribeunity, constancy (not necessarily in the passive-substantial sense but in laws, norms,and regulations), wholeness and meaning to the world. This disposition seems to bethe very essence of thought and in a way that preserves spontaneity and commonsense characterizes human activity
human. Philosophy attempts to seek thisworld unity (a plane in whose light the world would appear as one) in a deliberate,methodical and critical way. The Absolute might well be the concept by means of which unity or sense is ascribed to the world as a whole (or our visions of a unitedworld) as objectively as possible.As earlier reﬂections and philosophical history show, world unity can bediscussed on two planes, each of them offering two opposing approaches. On theﬁrst plane, world unity is discussed from the perspective of the uniting factor’s“positioning” in the material world. The question is whether it is source, foundation,precondition, outer frame, or transcendence in relation to empirically given things,or an immanent mystic bond combining all these roles? Thales’ water, Democritus’atoms and Aristotle’s Prime Mover, where the uniting factor is evidently somethingprimary and originary, are the most obvious (though temporary) examples of theﬁrst—‘substantialist’—approach which has dominated Western culture. On theother hand Heraclitus’
and the various pantheistic divinities present in theOriental mystic tradition—especially Hindu—are examples of the second approach,which we may call “energistic.”However, one can also view world unity on another plane, where the questionconcerns the analogical character of the unifying factor in relation to the phenomenalworld: does this factor differ fundamentally from the phenomenal world in themetaphysical sense (as transcendent, albeit in a somewhat different sense thanabove)? Or in the extreme case does it discredit the phenomenal world? Or else isit an energizing force bringing order to phenomenal reality (from within,immanently, though again in a meaning different from that above) and in this sense
This understanding of the Absolute is by no means usurpatory or superﬁcial. It is used by Hegel,speciﬁcally in relation to Thales (Hegel1994, p. 243).4 J. Dobieszewski