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From Nietzsche to Hegel: Concepts and Reality in the History of Philosophy: Tracing a Philosophical Error from Locke to Bradley. By Fiona Ellis. Pp. viii, 173, London and New York, Routledge, 2005, d100.00.

In her ambitious and powerful book, Fiona Ellis argues that at least since the time of Locke philosophers have been in the grip of ‘the syndrome’, the tendency to separate two concepts that essentially belong together. In particular, things in themselves (‘reality’) are conceived as quite distinct from, and not intelligibly related to, the experienceable things captured by our ‘concepts’, which are not genuinely independent of us, while independent reality eludes our grasp. The syndrome, even in the case of concepts and reality, takes a variety of forms. Locke, for example, oscillates between the syndromic view that ‘substances’ are quite separate from ‘ideas’ and inaccessible to us, while the things we perceive are collections of qualities grouped together by us, and the benign view that perceived things essentially presuppose substances and are therefore not constructed by us. To avoid the scepticism threatened by Locke, Berkeley introduces the notion of immaterial substance, but this, Ellis argues, shares the defect of material substance, that it does not secure the intrinsic unity of perceptible things, which remain, as before, collections of ideas grouped together by us. Nietzsche comes next, dislodged from his chronological position in virtue of his manifest infection by the syndrome: he regards our concepts as instruments that structure the data we receive from otherwise inaccessible things in themselves. His unacknowledged mentor, Kant, also tends towards the view, albeit with more subtlety and ambiguity than Nietzsche, that things in themselves outreach our cognition, thus confining us to knowledge of ‘appearances’. It was, in Ellis’s view, the much-maligned Hegel who finally diagnosed the syndrome and proposed a cure. Hegel repaired the separations between the concepts that Kant deployed, arguing that the thing-initself, when ‘abstraction is made of all that it is for consciousness, of all determinations of feeling, as well as of all determinate thoughts, . . . is completely abstract or totally empty’. The subjectivity of thought does not, for Hegel, entail that it is not objective: ‘although the categories (e.g. unity, cause and effect, etc.) pertain to thinking as such, it does not at all follow from this that they must therefore be something subjective of ours, and not also determinations of objects themselves,’ and ‘thoughts are not merely our thoughts, but at the same time the in itself of things.’ Such remarks might suggest that Hegel shares Bradley’s view, that truth does not copy reality, but is identical with it. Ellis denies this, however, arguing that whereas Bradley believes that truth requires an apprehension of the whole of reality that involves the ‘suicide of thought’, Hegel accepts the unqualified truth of non-philosophical propositions (whether by identity or correspondence is of little consequence) and that he endorses a more fluid and open-ended account of philosophical truths: ‘the true is the whole’ in the sense that he transcends, but incorporates, the seemingly incompatible views of his predecessors, leaving open the possibility that his own thought will one day be treated in a similar fashion. A particularly valuable part of the book is Ellis’s analysis of the structure of the syndrome and of other cases where it may be found. The syndrome involves a seesaw-movement between two opposing views. Locke, for example, regards things in themselves as mind-independent but inaccessible. At the other end of the seesaw Berkeley, or a phenomenalist such as J. S. Mill, regards things in themselves as minddependent congeries of sensations. Both views share the assumption that our perceptual experience is not substance-involving, and it is the rejection of this assumption that enables us to dismount the seesaw. A related case is the opposition between the view that our beliefs are anchored to reality by a ‘given’ and the view that the most we can hope for is that our beliefs are coherent. This seesaw too can be dismounted by recognising that experience is conceptual – a view that Hegel holds more firmly than Kant. Some philosophers reduce values to facts, while others locate them in a Platonic heaven; both extremes are defused by the recognition that nature is not primarily the value-bereft nature that science describes but the value-ridden nature of our experience. Hume’s view that causation is no more than contingent regularities and the opposing view that things are endowed with hidden powers are both defused by recognising that things essentially act on other things. In each case, dismounting the seesaw involves not only arguing against the shared assumption of the extremes, but repairing a separation between concepts, between concepts and intuitions, between experience and value, or between things and causal power. Ellis insists, however, that we should also argue for each of the opposing views – not simply because each contains a kernel of truth, but because, as Hegel holds, it is in arguing for a view that we see that, and how, it breaks down. Ellis concludes by wondering whether God is embroiled in the syndrome, seesawing helplessly between inaccessible transcendence and a pantheistic reduction to the things of this world. Dismounting this

ethics. Nietzsche saw that Darwinism destroyed Christianity because it was itself a rival metaphysics: Darwin was like Heraclitus. Du ¨ sing shows how Nietzsche’s reception of Darwin was as fundamental for his metaphysics. Unlike Schorlemmer.’ he said. How can that be. ‘Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature. Du ¨ sing says. Her pursuit of this idea is perhaps hampered by her assumption that our relationship to things and our relationship to God are distinct questions. Reading Darwin made Nietzsche lose his faith and come to believe that the world was a brutal chaos about which God could not care less. which made him. more profoundly. Engels himself explained in his funeral oration why they were there. but instead on ruthlessness and strength. but it is clear from her account that the great biologist’s influence on Nietzsche was identical. was an extremely long and painful process. who was later to rise swiftly in his career to become Director of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington from 1898 to 1907. not grounded in truth. Du ¨ sing argues. ‘The natural sciences free us from God. and that mankind itself is but a transitory blip on the evolutionary scale.’ Edith Du ¨ sing does not discuss Darwin’s crucial influence on Engels and Marxism generally. 17th March 1883 to bury Karl Marx. at least not at first. It was. Professor Edwin Ray Lankester and Professor Carl Schorlemmer. only later to be ever more inextricably drawn ever deeper into them. there were. When still a Christian. Pp. She is a veritable anima naturaliter Hegeliana. $99. Darwinism caused this emancipation of mankind from a religion-based view of the world because his discoveries ‘reduced the gap between inorganic and organic matter to a minimum’ and thereby showed that nature was in fact in a state of permanent transition and motion. That law was not only the one which Engels had expressed in the title of a 1876 essay. ‘the most consistent and radical thinker of de-Christianisation’. Lankester was neither an old friend of Marx nor a political ally: he was instead a prominent young evolutionary biologist and disciple of Darwin and Huxley. two ‘representatives of the natural sciences’ (Engels’ words). cruelty and the fight for survival. if the very world is to be God-involving? Nevertheless. It was perhaps the ethical implications of Darwinism which Nietzsche felt most acutely. and restores him to his proper place in history. ‘The Part played by Labour in the transition from Ape to Man. the son of a pastor. Darwinism means that man does not have God as a father but an ape. 601.’ nor indeed simply the well-known Marxist view that politics. By Edith Du ¨ sing. his hatred of Christianity became truly terrible. that. the author of the view that the gospels are historically unreliable documents: as Du ¨ sing shows. the whole of nature was proved to be moving in eternal flux and circulation. But once it had occurred. the result of his correct understanding of the implications of Darwin’s theory of random genetic mutation. he . When a small group of devoted followers gathered in Highgate cemetery on the morning of Saturday. Ellis has written a splendid book. and as Wilhelm Liebknecht (father of Karl) said in his own oration after Engels’. in addition to the close family members and political allies standing around the grave. It was precisely Nietzsche’s acute sense of loss and fear.’ As Engels wrote limpidly in the ‘Dialectics of Nature’. he had been overwhelmed by the sense of God’s love and by the way Christ prepared man’s salvation: after reading Feuerbach and Strauss.69. Trinity College. anthropology and epistemology as it was for the Marxists. holding that the world is in a state of permanent and meaningless flux. Perhaps one day she will do the same for God. so Marx discovered the law of development of human history. By the time he read Darwin. Oxford Michael Inwood Nietzsches Denkweg: Theologie – Darwinismus – Nihilismus. religion and philosophy were merely ‘superstructures’ of pre-existing economic structures. who shows how Hegel helps to solve philosophical problems. For the young Nietzsche was a committed Christian. ‘Everything which had been held to be eternal became transitory. Wilhelm Fink Verlag. Nietzsche’s loss of faith. but instead by chance. That influence was in turn very similar to that of David Strauss. and who understood immediately the terrifying consequences of Darwinism but who (unlike Engels and the Marxists) did not welcome them. Mu ¨ nchen. As he became convinced that the world was governed not by a good and loving God. he understood that the structure of the world was the precise opposite of what Christianity said it was: it was not based on mercy and meekness. Nietzsche was initially shocked and repelled by the theories of both men. 2006.BOOK REVIEWS 345 seesaw would mean recognising that the world is God-involving. he began to think that Christianity was merely a matter of feeling.

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