This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
still fail to satisfy the wish to see how far this particular thought is founded in universal thought, and in that way necessary… Quantity, of course, is a stage of the Idea: and as such it must have its due, first as a logical category, and then in the world of objects, natural as well as spiritual (99, Zus). Hegel manifests here not so much an anti- as a supra-empirical approach. Absolute idealism claims to show how such an approach, method even, is philosophically or, in Hegel's understanding, logically necessary. Mind, "universal thought", orders all things. Religious content is thereby vindicated while the form of this content is corrected or even perfected or "accomplished". This does not entail that "true religion", any more than true art (the first of the three forms of absolute mind), just is philosophy, even if these two should be destined to "vanish away" or be absorbed, like faith and hope. The final "theological virtue" may indeed be philosophical, may indeed be philosophy, beyond all sign and writing, absolute content indeed and hence absolute consciousness (424). Yet Hegel might still claim with Aquinas, without contradiction, that the content of a revelation to all men is better presented in imperfect figures and metaphors as closer to the itself figurative world of nature. Nature is the alienated Idea, in which men, or women, have their being as men specifically, the Lebenswelt of individuals set, as such, towards "ruin", itself, however, "the 'procession' of spirit" (222). The Idea itself needs such a world, mediate and manifest, intrinsically, as becoming or being itself in Spirit and truth. The Leibnizian "best of all possible worlds" entails also as principle the necessity of creation or of world as such, a necessity at this level indistinguishable from absolute freedom (158). We are "worlds" away from theological nominalism of the Ockhamist or Hobbesian variety. In the opposite direction, however, any world, qua mobile or changeable being, entails an infinite and perfect ultimate. In that sense Quality is negated and gone beyond in this next "stage of the Idea": Quantity is pure being, where the mode or character is no longer taken as one with the being itself, but explicitly put as superseded and indifferent. (99) A so to say lazy absolutisation of mathematical views is what is chiefly warned against in this section. With the eighteenth century French materialists in view Hegel points out how quantity's "range of validity" gets "exaggerated" when we take the "lower" or quantitative (he says "mathematical") sciences or "objects" as normative. This "identifies the Idea with one of its special stages." Quantity is more prominent, however, in inorganic than in organic nature, in mechanics than in chemistry (not to be confounded with his "stipulated" categories of Mechanism and Chemism. Thus the number three has not the same prominence "in speaking of God as Trinity as for the three sides of a triangle." Numerus non ponitur in divinis, concurred the Trinitarian Aquinas. By this route Hegel winds up by re-affirning quality: Mind to be sure is more than Nature and the animal is more than the plant: but we know very little of these objects… if a more and less is enough for us, and if we do not proceed to… their qualitative character.
Yet these distinctions are what have just been negated (aufgehoben) in previous sections, so where are we going? Nowhere! For the progression (the stepping forward) of the dialectic is logical and not a duplication upon the spatial and temporal, upon motion, which leaves behind (in change) an earlier "position" or place. Quality is more clearly affirmed than ever here by its subsumption into quantity and both are only finally or truly thought in the Notion from which or rather within which they necessarily emanate, since it is itself manifestation, verbum procedens, alienation returning home in Spiritu. Thus Spirit itself, in self-spiration dialectically negating or superseding generation and being generated, paternity and filiation (McTaggart's interpretation of Hegelian Trinitarianism), does not leave behind or forsake these "positions" but rather affirms them in their true and complete perspective, free from abstraction.1 The beginning is the end, the first last, as the Father is first seen in Christ, the man; as Christ has to "go away" for Spirit to come to us. It is plain, if we come so far, that religion has to explain these notions in terms of the logical processes considered, of, more widely, logic, nature and spirit and the "method" or philosophy thereof, all however being contained notionally in the first. All this was present to Hegel's mind, however it square or not with our own prejudices and mind-sets. One does not understand him better by abstracting from it, though one may make better use of him, for a time, in Procrustean fashion for this or that finite end. This, however, will be of no interest for philosophy, though it turn the world upside down, within time or "for a time". This, of course, is also the fault of religion where reduced to a "religious movement" (as distinct from eternal "processions"). Omega-point is eternally "accomplished". I am alpha and omega. This "I" we discussed in III. ******************************** Hegel is keen to distance Quantity from Magnitude which "especially marks determinate Quantity". Here though we speak of "quantity in general", the presupposition of magnitude as of things having quantity. Magnitude implies change as "what can be increased or diminished" whereas "The Absolute is pure Quantity." We are reminded of Plato's "tallness itself" or "the tall", not individual but not abstract either. Hegel equates this "point of view", as he calls it although he himself has just asserted it (99), "upon the whole" with defining the Absolute as Matter. Matter, that is, not as separate from form, in abstraction, but as intrinsically prescinding from form inasmuch as being the necessary fundament (substrate, hypokeimenon) of any form whatever and so itself having none. Such an Absolute is thus "absolute indifference". Only purely quantitative distinctions are admissible and these, surely, are the different numbers, all extrinsic alterations by addition of itself again to the unitary one. This is close in fact to how Aquinas views the angelic or spiritual creation, where each angel is itself a species or kind, hence not subject to quantity, but yet distinct from the others only as the elements of the number series are distinct. One might even conclude that angels are numbers and, as Pythagoras intimated, vice versa. Pure space and time "may be taken as examples" of the "absolute indifference" of Quantity if we "allow ourselves" to regard the real as whatever fills them up, "it matters not what". This would have to be space and time in the Cartesian plenary sense, a notion by no means dead, whether in Heidegger ("being and time") or some recent speculations in physics. The Kantian a priori from of (all) intuition is a variant upon this plenary character. Space and time, though, would have to be analogies and not instances of Hegelian quantity in its "absolute indifference". Even if they should coincide with it they could not be instances, since quantity
Especially the abstraction endemic to a would-be "sacred" theology. What is sacred draws all unto itself and thus includes the temple it stands outside of as superseding it, the veil rent in twain. It is daily bread and water, food and drink.
is here posited as absolute, as quantity itself. The participation relation (methexis) could never be reduced to an instance (the "third man" argument). That was precisely Aristotle's objection to it. Hegel himself, however, does not "allow himself" so to regard the real (as matter), which is rather Thought, the notion. A thought, Augustine had noted, has no duration and no parts, no place, as do the pack of cards in the thought that the pack of cards is on the table, however we are stuck for explaining how I can "think of" this pack of cards. Quantity, anyhow, as Number, "is the thought nearest the sensible" and "is undoubtedly a thought", "the thought of the sensible itself", in fact (104, Zus. 3). We are concerned, exclusively, with "the notion of quantity reached by logical development", not by mathematical abstraction from a material reality previously posited. This notion has no intrinsic connection with potential alteration, as does magnitude. What though is this "free self-evolution of thought"? We have followed it indeed up to here, where the question arises, for normal intuition, more acutely. Quantity is absolute, an ever to be reckoned with "stage of the Idea", of Spirit, and yet it is most associated with lower or more evanescent phenomena. It will of course yield to categories of intensive magnitude or degree, such as one finds in notions of more or less "created" grace in theology. We are made aware here from the start, however, of quantity as infinite, as in the number series, which however refers to or, rather, embodies extensive magnitude or quantity exclusively, "in its complete specialisation". "Number is… thought in its complete self-externalisation." Because it is a thought, it does not belong to perception: but it is a thought which is characterised by the externality of perception. Not only therefore may the quantum be increased or diminished without end: the very notion of quantum is thus to push out and beyond itself. This, though, is "only the meaningless repetition of one and the same contradiction, which attaches to the quantum both generally and… as degree."(104). For, Hegel cites, joining with Aristotle (actually Simplicius2) in approval of Zeno, "It is the same to say a thing once, and to say it for ever". There is a "continual extrusion of quantity… beyond itself… false infinity." "The quantitative form of this infinite progression" is "a mere imaginary infinity", as he quotes from Spinoza. These at least at first sight paradoxes of quantity as now presented can call in question our whole apprehension of the Hegelian scheme of reality. This is supposedly mirrored in the scheme of the Encyclopaedia itself, as scheme within a scheme, rather as a map of the world is imposed upon it as a smaller copy of itself, as a map upon itself, ad infinitum. For we think of, we read, the map in "reading" the world. This is presupposed to the possibility of reading and makes our commentary, again, a copy of a copy. Reading, that is, modulates into thinking and there the infinitude, supposed discrete, is yet continuous. Does the mirror cloud here, we are asking. Does Hegel, as McTaggart suspects, slip into considering quantity abstractly rather than as a necessary category or, indeed, manifestation of "existence"? For this we have to ask, does quantity appear to Absolute Mind just as it occurs to our collectively philosophising minds? Answer: I who am thinking am all (if I am thinking), beyond even "the whole". But do I, taken absolutely, work upwards from "immediate being" or downwards from the Idea which I am? Do I upload or download? The latter. This is "the cunning of Reason". Where then is quantity's necessity, thus considered? Answer: we are that Absolute misperceiving ourselves. Thus philosophy as a linguistic or vocal project, as predication, is our very climbing out of that misperception, "from shadows to reality". It is, in an impossible figure, both the ladder and that which kicks the ladder away, is not only beginning and end but, again impossibly, both means and end. The impossibility,
Cf. The Logic of Hegel (ed. Wallace), OUP 1965 (1873), note on pp. 414-5.
however, resides in the falsity of all the categories, as finite, apart from their trans-categorial term where they are all realised as one and indistinguishable, as inseparably reciprocal relations. In this they might recall quantity itself, the indifference of the "ones". So we are not actually doing the dialectic, in this finite and hesitant way. It is forever kicked away, this activity, and really denied in the "ingratitude" of Spirit as its ever-present Result. This is fate or predestination, actuality rather and apotheosis of "method". We can however rephrase the question, our question, in terms of the three Encyclopaedic parts of reality, the "Trinitarian" dialectic we referred to. As with the Word-become-flesh in the Trinity, so Nature here as the self-alienated Idea, is the king-pin. There is really no "flesh", this notion, valid for "ordinary" or phenomenal discourse, cancels or transcends itself. The "free evolution of thought" then is simply Manifestation, Showing, in religion Glory, in art Perfection. Nature, as self-alienated Idea, is the Idea qua manifest (and not itself absolutely). In nature, in another terminology, lie coiled all the ideae divinae, the divine ideas, each and any one of which is identical with "the divine essence". 3 This is "eternity in a grain of sand" and is why, to continue with Blake, "the fool sees not the same tree as a wise man sees". We are all fools most of "the time". So Nature is every finite idea, every possible "othering" of the Absolute, including a man or woman "writing philosophy" and not only "birds, trees and flowers". The Infinite Idea as containing all can only be itself as othering itself in entirety within itself. This is not itself repeatable, ad infinitum say, since then it would not be genuinely infinite. The two (three, a million) "persons" are one being, one relation, one manifestation. Their perfect accord, called return, reditus, by a temporal analogy only, is Spirit as "breathed" forth, the Idea as not merely manifest but as uttered in eternal exchange. Again, however, there is no Nature that is not thought, the finite is ideal, as ideal as a word (logos). As I am you, so the Father and the Son, say, "are not two Gods but one". Similarly, two lovers become "one flesh" and, as regards the sexes, they dwell within one another in that final difference which is sameness, each inwardly or more truly the other, as in Jung's "system" of anima and animus. Hence each is the whole figure of attraction to the other, towards which each repels itself. This is so whether we suppose two sexes or, say, thirty-two, all opposites, such as meet in love, being all the same, as a matter of logic, just two. Regarding figure, let us just note here that figure is a modulation of Image, which denotes all that is manifest, though not the manifesting. For manifesting is Act, absolute or "loosed from" all the identities of predication which image it. For predication itself a compound non-identity as being a positing of identity. Thus, as touching nature or history, we can say, with one English version of Scripture, "now these things happened in a figure." Whether this is more or less insightful than the Greek original is not germane to our enquiry here. Happening is figure, phenomenon. "No birth, no death." This again is "the cunning of Reason", ever setting us on an indirect path to itself as the Result determining the whole, as if phenomena result from what they result in. We are caused by the cause to find the cause, but this is also, more fundamentally, the inherent reciprocity of causality, insofar as reciprocity is itself found to be a category superior to causality, into which causality "passes" (154). *********************************** Quantity then appears as idea or necessary notion into which the idea of quality, quality "itself", "passes" and has to pass as overtopping itself, being finite. Reason brooks no finitude as absolute. All flows towards the end (finis) or end without end or limit (infinis) which is thus also the beginning, as containing what vanishes into it. The idea of a mere temporal finish is accomplished in the idea of accomplishment, as circularity is the perfect motion,
Cf. Aquinas, Summa theol. Ia, 15.
reflected uniquely in philosophy as science of sciences. An absolute starting-point is not to be found. Therefore Hegel was "justified" in starting with being as immediate. But therefore too one may start anywhere, as in the various styles of philosophy Hegel claims to reconcile and bring to fuller self-consciousness "for the time being", and still conclude in the Hegelian synthesis or, in the fullest sense, summa or, as catching this circular "motion", encyclopaedia (16, 17). Philosophy has "to arrive at the notion of its notion", as "practice made perfect". "Why do you call me good since there is none good but God?" More radically, "all predication is false." The problems of ethics do not belong finally in philosophy, which is "first" and entire, theologia as Aristotle termed it. Hegel has been much vilified for showing this, how ethical discourse pushed beyond a limit lands in contradiction, even though its whole meaning, aim and definition be the transcending of limit. This is the contradiction not merely of "ought"4 but of every virtue left to itself as being, just as well, the multitude of "sins" which love, charity "covers", absorbing even faith and hope, themselves merely directed towards the Absolute which Love is. It is not a bad name and the atheist McTaggart defends its employment here well and in full implicit accord with Hegel, for whatever that may be worth. Does this mean though that, so to say, God had to think quantity, as placed on the circle? That cannot be right. This "had to" is a phrase saturated with materialistic imaginings, whatever we say about circles. Quantity rather takes its place in the run-up to the absolute and unique reality, which is Reason knowing itself, as equally descending from it in that necessity of selfdecree, self-positing, which is supreme freedom, ever accomplishing itself prior to, though not "before", all question, all contingency. Or, more precisely still, in thinking quantity we touch, conceive, the Absolute in one of those fleeting modes under which alone it manifests itself, since it is manifestation. One sees not the Lord but "the glory of" the Lord, of the everywhere "implicit"5, but only as swallowed up into it. One may compare the notion of lumen gloriae as corresponding to the Scriptural "In thy light shall we see light", the term as the beginning again. This "theological", even "dogmatic" moment, mutatis mutandis, has itself also to be accounted for and not to be gainsaid in this continuing development which is thought, thinking itself. Hegel does not gainsay it.6 All is aufgehoben, antiquity, patristics, scholasticism, the "new time" (Neuzeit as not exclusively re-naissance), enlightenment (every stage was/is enlightenment, in a measure), romanticism, including the earlier Phenomenology of Mind and, to generalise, up to where we stand now, after Hegel, "after virtue", after modernism and so on. No one can "step into the same river twice", the misconception of all and any scholasticism, even the Hegelian. Hegel too may be understood "correctly" but not finally except in the effort to make something of him, as the intellectus agens "makes" its concepts… "notion and object are implicitly the same" (193). Quantity, as we saw, has two sources: the exclusive unit, and the identification or equalisation of these units (100). We did see this, the continuous self-sameness "made explicit by attraction" annulling all distinguishing quality, the discreteness of the mutually repelling units evoked implicitly as presupposed to any continuousness whatever. As composites imply simples, so simples compose. There never actually was a pure chaos of atoms, since time itself comes in with mirroring their composition, the continuum. Yet this, the continuum in its purest form, can
For an interpretation of Hegel's relation to Kantian ethics or, rather, meta-ethics, more focussed upon just this relation, see Robert M. Wallace, Reality, Freedom and God, Cambridge University Press, 2008. 5 The key notion of Eugene Gendlin's philosophy. 6 We may compare recent interpretations of Aquinas's moral theology as a sustained effort to exhibit the continuity of Christian thought and practice with the ancient philosophical tradition. Cf. Contemplating Aquinas (edited Fergus Kerr), London 2003, reviewed by me for Anuario tomistico, Pamplona.
itself be divided infinitely as well or even better than anything else. Precisely when we "invest time, space or matter with the attribute of continuous quantity alone" we make it divisible ad infinitum", i.e. the final "simple" this form of intuition (ultimately Verstand) builds upon is unthinkable. Each view evokes, as "inadequate", the other, as the waves and particles of physics but, as a priori, in a yet stricter identity. There are not two kinds of magnitude, just as there is no attraction without repulsion. This is the paradox of love (Empedocles), of same and other, of male and female, intrinsic reciprocity, pure relation not relating anything (cf. 124, 125, on "thing", "thing-in-itself"). We may say, there is no species without individual, as space has points, the basic continuum is "potentially" discrete. So, conversely, there are no individuals without species (100, zus.), no sameness as such but only the same x or y. Continuity and Discreteness entirely exhaust (and do not merely specify) the same quantity, "its own idea". For the "elements" of an idea are one with that idea as any idea divina, in Augustine's sense, is one with the divine essence. Thus Aquinas was forced to speak of the existing species he hypothesised to explain angels, those divine "messengers", as "individual forms". Yet, he knew, they were, in his own system, precisely not "individualised", as if spirit were some superior matter, matter being principium individuationis. "Individual" became here a totally analogical notion, rather as we are now suggesting of persons in reciprocal implication or relation to the point of identity with that implication. So in the end we find that "I" is "the universal of universals". So is Hegel simply serving up the old scholastic metaphysics, along with Trinitarianism even? As he himself makes clear, going beyond is not running away from, "the earlier are preserved in the later; but subordinated and submerged" (86 Zus.). One comes "not to destroy but to fulfil", this being, we might say, philosophy's consolatio, in final vision or comprehension. The new or submerging element here is that quantity, once abstractly identified as the partes extra partes of matter specifically, just as Hegel says, is now seen as presupposed and hence necessary to the reciprocal co-implication of an intrinsically "ideal" final yet trans-finite reality. It transcends all composite totality without thereby being abstractly simple simply.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.