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This… is what forms the dialectic of quantity. The result… is not a mere return to quality, as if that were the true and quantity the false notion, but an advance to the unity and truth of both, to qualitative quantity or Measure (106, Zus.).1 The main interest of Measure has to be how it can intrinsically serve as the springboard from being to essence, while it itself, like “the other stages of Being” and every category “may serve as a definition of the Absolute”. This truth indeed alone explains how a featureless Substrate, indifferent beyond all conceivable difference, may also “serve” as such a definition and the best one at that, at the moment of its appearance. Still, the (later) Encyclopaedia gets by with scarce or no mention of either this term or its category, unless or in so far as this might be assimilable to the Measureless. Still, “it is the very essence of Being to characterise itself” (107, Zus., and here it is “essence” with a small e), even though it should exit as a featureless Substrate (in fact it never exits: being itself brings forth or becomes essence, as Hegel stresses – we do not in our superior dialectical wisdom replace being with essence, but only being as first or “immediately” apprehended). Like material prima, the Substrate is abstract, i.e. it only “occurs” in reality under some “form” or other from which it is yet conceptually separate, i.e. it is, in realist terms, distinct yet not separate. Nonetheless the realist Aquinas, at first sight strangely, includes material prima, along with God, angels and souls indifferently as (a?) necessary being. Here we see, incidentally, otherwise than in Leibniz’s usage (reduce in “analytical” philosophy to necessary truth only), how such necessity does not connect with any distinction between creator and creature. But if necessity is after all one, univocal, then Substrate and Absolute do in fact coincide, are identical, with that Infinity which (necessarily) differentiates itself infinitely, as, again, does Being. For this is “the very essence of Being”. 2 Or, bonum est diffusivum sui, again infinitely, since nothing restrains it. McTaggart’s frequent suggestion that the Absolute might be finite in some respects seems perverse (there are well-known arguments), while the identity of bonum and all the “transcendental predicates” with being, ens (thus also “diffusive”, though never diffuse) is widespread (86). Hegel, indeed, will pair quality and quantity in analogous or, rather, univocal ratio with God and Nature (or nature). Ratio has to be univocal since, as Aristotle shows, itself supplying the (univocal) ratio, as we say, of analogy. Yet it is not of course unthinkable, it must indeed be conceded, that analogy is itself analogous, no doubt ad infinitum. This circumstance, however, returns analogy itself to
Unless stated otherwise the numerical references in brackets in the text are to the paragraphs of the Encyclopaedia of Hegel (Wallace translation).
In this context to try to bring in. as relating to, ”being” without a capital, i.e. not as a category, would be like trying to introduce an unbound variable. In fact being was always “nothing other” than what “first falls into the mind”, primum cadit in mente. Conversely, however, this implies all that is claimed for Absolute Mind, called in some systems ipsum esse subsistens.
univocity, which thus itself turns out to be analogical. In other words this distinction, trumpeted more by Thomists than by Thomas, is of limited use. It is a main thrust of Hegelian assertion that one can and must speak unambiguously (despite the falsity of all predication, as he claims) of the Absolute. So here Measure will reflect the reciprocal dependence upon one another of “God” and nature, whereby, as in the old doctrine of the “divine ideas”, here the Notion, and notions (as Bonaventura placed them all “in” the one Word), God, the Absolute, is All in a total reversal of any possible “pantheism”, where some other all is said to be God. “Measure is the qualitative quantum” (107). It is “the completion of Being” where being, again, is gone beyond into essence where, after all, nothing is or ever was or could be, just “itself and not another thing”. All is inter-related, each is in fact relation, so that ultimately there is no relation (nothing to relate) and ipso facto no “each”. Nor, though, can Essence itself be one big Being. This is the background to later discussions of Existence here, which carry over into later discussions, often based on Meinong’s thought, of “sistology”. Essence is a reality, beyond questions of Being or Non-Being, or even of abstract and concrete. We do not have to say the Absolute is a super-Individual. We will see that it is not. But neither is it abstract, since it demands all our love. Hegel is in complete agreement with Deuteronomy here (cf. 159, final paragraph of main text). Love, however, it must be conceded, is nowhere treated as a category. See, however the Zusatz to 158, where amor intellectualis Dei (as in Spinoza) is equated with being “determined by the absolute idea throughout”. This, a Christian or a Freudian might figuratively say, would be the fulfilment of eros in crucifixion and resurrection, Aufhebung of the category of life (or non-life). “My eros is crucified” (Ignatius of Antioch). In Freud we have the death-instinct, as such aimed at some good, I would argue (omnis agens agit propter finem). Even if Being as a category is replaced or gives way to Essence yet the deeper meaning, Hegel will stress, is that Being itself, with deeper penetration, discloses itself as Essence and as essentially Essence, not, that is, as “the passage of different into different, the different does not vanish: the different terms remain in their relation” (110, Zus.). Difference itself is superseded by, as found based upon, that infinite (and eternal) differentiation proper to the Notion. On just one, still somewhat quantitative way of expressing or viewing it, Big fleas have little fleas Upon their backs to bite’em And little fleas have smaller fleas And so ad infinitum. Here fleas serve not just for the particles of physics but for any units or ones. The relations, however, are ultimately self-cancelling, since there are no longer any finite “things” to make into relata. “Everything finite is false.” This is the basic meaning (not cause) of Being’s yielding, so to say, to Essence. Everything finite has its measure, beyond which it is “no more seen” since again, “the things which are seen are temporal”, i.e. are not at all, are “tensed”, bound within mere grammar, as Essence is not. We recall Wittgenstein’s suggestion, “Essence as
grammar?” The question should be raised, but only to be denied. Under realism language and grammar are phenomena like any other (evolution as grammar?) while under idealism the reality is Thought, Mind, itself bringing forth language as sign (and finite category, due for “ungrateful” supersession) within itself, along with all structure. By the same token, however, Hegel might reverse Wittgenstein’s question to “Grammar as essence?”, in his sense of the latter term as set forth in his logic. Here it would be grammar that is superseded. The question needs to be asked, however, how far is the “scientific” distinction between the manifest and the scientific or real world 3 different from that between realism and absolute idealism? The scientists may have yet to follow this basic principle through to the end, as one might think a basic contradiction in realist accounts of evolution, of the brain thinking it, for example, might be moving them already to do, though more in physics than in biology. Again, however, Hegel’s category-name of “essence” cannot be equated without more ado either with this term as used in daily speech or with the various Latin scholastic conceptions of essentia.4 The relation between the three stages of the logical idea appear in a real and concrete shape thus: God, who is the truth, is known by us in his truth, that is, as absolute spirit, only in so far as we at the same time recognise that the world which he created, nature and the finite spirit, are, in their difference from God, untrue (83, Zus., concluding the chapter “Logic Further Defined and Divided”). Elsewhere, however, Hegel cautions in general against use of the unreflected term “God” in philosophy as much as does, say, the physicist Paul Davies. What he says here, all the same, is the decret and pivotal meaning of Measure. It is in fact precisely as “alienated” in the “moment” we call Nature that the idea seems to include things which precisely do not (pace Augustine) shout out their meaning (ipse fecit nos). They are not beings-for-self. In the eternity of the Notion, as one religious and poetical thinker expressed it, this “Content”: The smallest portion of this edifice... The very pavement is made up of life – Of holy, blessed, and immortal beings Who hymn their Maker’s praise continually.5
As set forth in, say, Wilfrid Sellars: Science, Perception and Reality (c.1966).
The biologist Richard Dawkins speaks of the superior simplicity of evolution as contrasted with God in religion, ever more complex and so no explanation of anything. Here he ignores the findings of Aquinas, Hegel and others that God, in the identity of every idea in Essence (essentia divina in Aquinas) is absolutely simple and this not in any “abstract” way but precisely as beyond anything finite or composite. The biologist may well supersede this “moment” in his thinking, in Thought’s thinking itself. See my “Christianity without (or within) God?” Open Theology, April 2009, online at www.opentheology.com .
J.H. Newman, The Dream of Gerontius. Cp. Hegel, “Spirit is thus the self-supporting absolutely real ultimate being” (Wesen), Phenomenology of Mind, tr. Baillie, p. 459, where
Measure, that is, is the principle of the earlier Limit, represented for the Greeks by Nemesis, says Hegel, as overtaking with destruction all excess. The excess is indeed the destruction (of the previous category of being). Maas, translated here as “measure”, is also the German word for the cardinal virtue of temperantia, temperance. Yet there exists also the Latin term mensura. Yet it is this Measure which unites and reconciles Quality and Quantity, the what kind and the how much (quantum) at the same time as it carries us out beyond Being, disclosing Essence. Beyond its measure a thing (quality) ceases to be itself. This was in fact the very principle of Aristotelian substantial change, and the far-reaching agreement with the early part of Aristotle’s Physics is unmistakeable in the more detailed The Science of Logic. This, supremely on Hegel’s principles (“every philosophy is true”), is but what we would expect. Under the figure of the “nodal line” Hegel considers the anciently remarked antinomy between quantity and quality. When does a head become bald, a heap of wheat a grain or two (or three plus)? Substantial change is in itself instantaneous (here already there is paradox, if it cannot be successive at all and is yet change: surely an identity, not merely of “prime matter”, must be implicit, as Hegel will bring out), without “steps”, as one “defining” form replaces another or “comes”. In Hegel “the quantum shows itself as specifying”.6 A new form “comes”, the “matter” as res or thing (not material prima) is “converted into a new quality”. Yet there has always been a host of difficulties about this, about why we do not merely have to do with a new “moment” of the substrate (hypokeimenon) or about whether the two views might not be the same. They surely are not. Here, where quantitative addition passes a new “node” to change or indeed supersede (as therefore including it) quality, as ice becomes liquid water, “we meet... the Measureless” (109), through excess. Nemesis has intervened. Here we have not, strictly speaking, an example but an illustration. In Mind itself there can be no examples, while in the “world”, the appearance, of sense the Idea is selfalienated. Only with this proviso can “sense-cognition” be seen as quaedam ratio, a kind of Reason. For here ratio, reason, “in the world”, is not Reason or Spirit in itself as thinking the world, without however any real relation to it since the world itself, as “moment”, is finally not real but as due for supersession is superseded in primary germ. The world of immediate Being is untrue, to the point that the “I”, though ever knowing itself, scarcely recognises itself there, being more certain of itself “than that I have hands or feet” (as Newman said of his certitude of God). Only if we grasp this explanatory priority of illustration over example can we fully appreciate Hegel’s view of the succession of “quantitative ratios” as being in principle infinite. That is, for this we do not have to suppose endlessness in the supply of transforming heat, water into steam and beyond, or beyond ice conversely or anything similar. Quantity, the conclusion is, “is naturally and
he also speaks of “groups of articulated spirits”. The tendency of Essence, however, is to posit identity between such groupings, as indeed between praise and being, maker and made, cause and effect, q.v.
Robert M. Wallace, op. cit. ch. 4, 7/54.
necessarily a tendency to exceed itself” (109: this Zusatz has “is”, not “has” merely), irrespective of demographic “peakings” and so on. This is “the process of measure”, the not being able to step into the same river twice, the ultimate ruin, looking ahead, of substance (as of individual life). The dialectic is “all of a piece”. As Hegel says, we find this “nodal line” in Nature “under a variety of forms”. Stringed instruments, for example, simply show how the separate sequence, ladder, scale of notes, tones, semitones, quarter-tones and beyond where the ear cannot follow, is “really” continuous flow stopping or repeating nowhere. There are no instants, no points on the line even. And what of this line itself, the line of process? It too offends against, does not square with the final simplicity from which all proceeds, as mentioned above, in which alone all is realised in, therefore, distributive and total negation of itself in its otherness from “the Notion”, the self-thinking Mind itself. The immediacy, that is, is “set aside”. In Measure quality and quantity, succeeding to the more abstract “factors” of Being and Nothing, each are “only through the instrumentality of the other”. Yet this unity too is “self-annulling” into Infinity “as a negation of negation” (111). So now this “unity is explicitly... simple relation-to-self, which contains in it being and all its forms absorbed” (my emphasis). This is Hegel’s notion of the Substrate, whether or not it coincides at all with Aristotle’s conception of a universal potentiality (in nature) which is one with a natural perishability. In the first place, Hegel is not here doing philosophy of nature simply, though it might follow therefrom, but logic as he has defined it, ultimately the notion “in and for itself”. Logic has “sides” but no parts (79). Logic is not merely “objective thought” but “objectivity” itself which, as spiritual, converts into the boundless or universal Subjectivity of thought, of thinking. Such thinking, however, is no longer contrasted, as if partial, with some other reality. This is why Hegel insists that it is Being itself that modulates into essence as always having been it. We are not dealing with a mere conceptual refinement but with a metaphysical unveiling which, he will say (has said), is ultimately revelation, but from within. Inside and outside are mutually “cancelling”, in fact. Being thus negating itself (forma dat esse and here, in the Substrate, following on the Measureless, as is shown, without naming the Substrate, in 111, all forms are “absorbed” or, rather, superseded en bloc) “is a mediation with self and a reference to self”. This is what Hegel calls Essence, where all coincides with itself in the other, all others, in a relation beyond relation, a relatedness rather but without relata, as, to illustrate, positive and negative, not as being and nothing. Quality and quantity were “like some and other” but now some and other are superseded or at least on the way to it. The dialectic, again, is all of a piece, as the pious possess what they hope for in hoping for it. Being itself, in “the process of Measure”, is (and not merely has been) “thrown into abeyance and absorbed”, without “several characteristics”. “Such Being is Essence, Measure is implicitly Essence”, whether or not Measure implies a measurer. Nemesis was herself Measure, and some claim that there can be thoughts without a thinker 7 as with the spinning of a roulette wheel. For the dialectic, however, one thought, one Begriff, emerges as “thinking itself”, as Act. This process, of Being as of Measure, is one of “realising what it is implicitly”. It is not, that is, a chain of reasoning in
Cf. G. Frege, Der gedanke.
vacuo. Or, it is Reason (Vernünft) superseding Understanding (Verstand), in Hegel’s transformation of these Kantian terms, of course “lifted” in the first place from the living language of relational life in comm-unity, the “ordinary consciousness”. The transience of the categories is their ever referring to another, which in turn refers. So there is no “passing into”, as it may seem when one thinks immediate Being. Nothing “vanishes” here, for there is “no real other, but only diversity, reference of the one to its other”, held simultaneously as it were. Transition itself is abrogated, so that the dialectic itself must from now on be differently conceived. “In the sphere of Being the reference of one term to another is only implicit; in Essence on the contrary it is explicit” (111, Zus.).
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