BECOMING X: PRELUDE TO THE GROUND Here I want to concentrate on the Zusatz to 119, effectively a summing up but to the point

of an intensification of focus of the development in Essence so far. Incidentally, in the Wallace version (1965) there is a “(1)” at 117, standing for the first differentiation within difference. The word “distinction” would be wrong here, where we are dealing with logic as a prime reality and not abstract. This is the same relation to what is considered as with the Divine Ideas of old (Augustine, Aquinas), each one identical with the divine essence, realissima indeed as one with, as identical with, the divine esse or being. That is, they are not ideas as contradistinguished against “reality”, our “normal” usage. However, I do not find either a “(2)” or further numeral differentiation. I take then the implied “(2)” to belong best at 119, main text. Thus “(2) Difference implicit is essential difference, the positive and the Negative”, as contrasting, in what is itself a Polarity (the Polarity itself is introduced under this heading), with (1), immediate difference, i.e. Diversity or Variety. The exposition shows that (2) is in fact seen as the advance upon (1) which will thus replace or, rather, absorb it. Under Polarity Hegel further settles accounts with the surd of contingency, not however in typical rationalist fashion but with profound rationality in the old metaphysical tradition (pre-Cartesian, but now integrating it with the defining Cartesian insight, the cogito). He introduces Polarity as if taking it from physics, where in his time it was “so dominant”, where it “contains by implication the more correct definition of Opposition” , of which he has just been speaking as itself opposed to Identity and yet as just in that way intrinsically necessary to it or as it were within it. Physics, however, “adheres to the ordinary logic”. We might say that today our quantum physicists both adhere and do not adhere to this, meaning, for my part, that an admission of Hegelian perspectives would help them achieve consistency. The same might then be said concerning the need to, so to say, “save” the enormous intellectual investments made in the postFregean analytical movement, in symbolic logic along with set-theory and, more and more, mereology. Now, as then, physics “might... well be horrified”. We are speaking of new attempts at integration, which always “horrify” as seeming to overthrow or set aside the analytical intelligence or Understanding. Here though we must distinguish, in true analytical fashion, attempts at integration on this same level of Understanding from integrated application of Reason, the “faculty of the unconditioned” (cf.45 and the long historical note to it in the Wallace version). An example of the former would be the chain of hypotheses presented with rocklike consistency in Immanuel Velikovsky’s writings over thirty or so years, proceeding from psychology (he was a pupil of Freud) through ancient history, cosmology, astrophysics, geology and biology. This “affair” is now mainly considered as a phenomenon within the sociology of scientific scholarly activity, how one deals with “heretics”, principally. One sows, others reap. Yet Velikovsky

is as dogmatic and unreflective about his own canons of reasoning, his logic, as any empiricist or rationalist. Hegel, however, picks up the new stress on Polarity and applies it fruitfully to his logical investigation, or study rather, of identity and opposition, positive and negative, within “the doctrine of Essence”. A similar departure might today be made, without being merely whimsical, starting from the Big Bang theory. This has been developed from observations, via the Doppler effect and associated phenomena, indicating an expanding universe. No one seems to have fastened upon a Role of the Observer here, similar after all to that studied in quantum physics. Thus the idea of a uniform expansion outwards presupposes the viewpoint of the one observing it. He has to stand at the centre, otherwise he just moves with the rest. This remains true, even if cosmologists allow for the movement “outwards” of our own galaxy as well. Everything cannot just be moving away from everything else, since in leaving A you approach B, while if B is leaving you too then it must be coming up against C leaving D and so on and so. There is a central point with which the conception identifies, wherever it may be. Our thinking identifies with it. This theory, then, is covertly or unconsciously Idealist, with the Big Bang standing for the Absoluteness of the Subject, of Subjectivity. We are thinking ourselves, under these images. That the Big Bang is not proposed literally is obvious. First, there would be no ears to hear the Bang. Second, as a temporal occurrence it must have a before and a before and a before, at best in circular format. A temporal and spatial occurrence cannot itself bring about space and time. Therefore I suggest a covert idealism, functioning at a deep level of the intelligence. Contradictions within evolutionary theory suggest something similar there, but that would take us too far from the present commentary. We read in the Zusatz to 119: With the positive we return to identity, but in its higher truth as identical self-relation, and at the same time with the note that it is not the negative. The negative per se is the same as difference itself. The identical as such is primarily the yet uncharacterised: the positive on the other hand is what is self-identical, but with the mark of antithesis to another. And the negative is difference as such, characterised as not identity. This is the difference of difference within its own self (my stress). Hegel wants to stress self-identity (in anything) as having “the mark of antithesis” to its own other, which is thus only identifiable as being within it in some way, and this is contradiction, contradiction “successfully” realised, that is to say, as logic taken in abstraction merely will not allow. This is the finitude, and hence eventual falsity, of the Understanding. Thus Hegel takes up but transforms the Kantian insights, as he will do those of Hume. Positive and negative are supposed to express an absolute difference. The two however are at bottom the same: the name of either might be transferred to the other.

This is the insight exemplified also in poetry as intellectual, in Shakespeare over and over again, as if directly intuited, where “love without eyes finds pathways to its will”: Why then, o hating love, o loving hate, O anything of nothing first create? (Romeo and Juliet). Hegel cites debts and assets, east and west, to show that “positive and negative are intrinsically conditioned by one another” as, ultimately, since he takes up contradiction, the true by the false, the false by the true and, indeed, that which is by that which is not. This might indeed seem a logical Manicheism and the imposition of it upon reality, moreover. Where then will be the absolute necessity (in perfect freedom) of the Notion? We shall see. “God is light and in him is no darkness at all”. Nevertheless, in the same scriptures a victory of light over darkness is eternally celebrated. Similarly, in Hegelian philosophy, the Notion is intrinsically result, necessarily resulting from the finite, i.e., Hegel is explicit, from the false. “Everything finite is false.” This indeed is much more than a “victory”, which is a mere image taken from contingent representations. “Result” is not thus understood, whatever etymologies of leaping etc. someone might care to dig up. They are dead and forgotten. The Ricoeurian studies of language as metaphor, that is, abstract from our linguistic intentions. Language never constrains us to say what we do not intend to say, even though Hegel himself teaches, referring to the “I” (20), that through it we say more than we “merely mean” (as John makes Caiaphas unknowingly prophecy when he says “It is expedient that one man die for the people”. This too, along with similar Biblical stories, e.g. of Balaam, belongs to the complex ancestry of Hegel’s thesis of “the cunning of reason”). “I”, that is, never did mean anything other than the universality. In it “we have thought before us in its utter purity” (24, Zus.). For Hegel, this “I” is not, as with Kant, “the mere act of our personal selfconsciousness”. Or, rather, it is this, but no longer as “mere”, or using “self” in a restrictive way. The absolute unity thus introduced into the variety of sense, thinking still of Kant, and not merely that, “this identity is the absolute”, in us as we are in it, but “at the end of the day”, as it were (42, Zus.). It is intrinsic to the Notion not only to think exclusively itself, to the point, however, that this act which it is belongs exclusively to itself. Such exclusivity, however, includes all from which it results, which returns us to Contradiction. “Everything finite is false”! But only when taken in separation from the absolute, the Notion, “in whom we live and move and have our being”, declared St. Paul in prophetic mode. This is an imperfect form of the true Content, according to Hegel (last section of Philosophy of Mind, “Absolute Mind”), even though “who” seems superior to “which”, as (the latter) more immediately or merely linguistically appropriate to the expression “the notion”. One cannot hang much upon this, however, if one is prepared to speak, with Aristotle, of “thought thinking itself” or, in Christian terms, of a Word that “dwelt among us”. Personality itself is only called “whom” so as to distinguish it from “which”, so if everything is “who” this “who” is then equivalently covered by “which”, linguistically. This is another

example of the infinite absorbing the finite and not being, impossibly, contradistinguished against it. In opposition, the different is not confronted by any other, but by its other. Here Hegel sees what we may call the bond of contradiction, “the very moving principle of the world”. This is all the more so in that “the aim of philosophy is to banish indifference, and to ascertain the necessity of things.” This programme of course necessitates a “deconstruction” of at least some notions of contingency, as Aristotle carried out for “chance” in the Physics. We get it later on in this “doctrine of Essence”. “Indifference” here carries us back to Identity and Difference, to be buried, banished and absorbed in the Ground (as succeeding category). What really is a category? It is where we so to say “accuse” (kategoros) the irresistible, try to make it stop. We cannot. It is illusion. The river, thought, has flowed on in the very attempt, as music, qua music, “is fled”. Philosophical language thus conducts itself as between waking and sleeping, in comparison with the attentive mind. So language, this medium, is indeed treated by Hegel as phenomenal, in the semiotic section of the Encyclopaedia and elsewhere. He thus comments upon his own activity while doing it. Nothing though forbids us to do this. We should stop trying to think that “Of course something else is also possible”, of a “what would have happened”. All “true thinking... is a thinking of necessity”. Counter-examples spring to mind and one needs to expend effort to discover, if it is not already clear, what Hegel means here. He explains it in terms of contradiction as “moving principle”, the other always standing over against its other, as in “self and world”, we might say, which yet is it. Hegel insists here that we cannot either retain “mere variety... as a valid category side by side with opposition”, as he thinks the physicists do. He refers in illustration to contemporary dithering, as distinct from the disagreements which also then existed, about colour theory. Could there be black without white? Or grey without either of them? Part (2) of this Zusatz has obscurities, I find. “Whatever exists is concrete, with difference and opposition in itself.” In itself! This is the truth behind the abstract “Either-or” maintained by the understanding. This, as finite, is false and must be “absorbed” in the fuller truth of Reason just cited. There exists no such alternative “in heaven nor in earth, neither in the world of mind nor of nature.” The two pairs form an interesting equivalence. Mind is already “heaven”, as Hegel indeed repeatedly indicates, calling it, viz. thinking, Blessedness, at the climax of this doctrine of Essence. But “heaven” of course, while capturing the Content, belongs to the imperfect form of Religion. When Hegel, anyhow, goes on to speak of the finitude of “things” he is not referring to “whatever exists” as just mentioned. This is the “concrete”. They have a “want of correspondence between their immediate being, and what they essentially are.” This refers us to immediacy as characterising Being before Being is discovered, at Measure in the text, to be “essentially” or mediately Essence. As we said earlier on, that “Being” for Hegel stands just or exclusively for the Beginning. It is the name for the beginning of the dialectic and thus immediate. The dialectic,

however, shows it to be mediate, and so “Essence”, in turn, is the name for the mediate, for what Being, going into itself, shows itself (no longer part of a complex between thought and thinker) to be. Where we speak of shine, therefore, appearance, or even “the given” we are already, in truth, delving beyond that sheer appearance which would be unsayable. We make a contrast with what we pretend not yet to know. Hegel’s example of the acid base is not easily graspable. The point though is that it “is not something that persists quietly”, as “itself and not another thing”. Its “only being consists in its relation to its other.” “Its” is the point. It is becoming what it is not, in an “effort to realise what it potentially is”. Why effort? Well, the effort is not ours, finally, not the acid’s. It belongs to the “moving principle”, the saying against, the “not this” which drives the dialectic to its antecedent and originating result, at once cause and effect and so neither of these. Yet it “cancels itself”, not so as to leave “abstract identity”. Rather, the “proximate result of opposition (when realised as contradiction) is the Ground.” This is what we must now look into. **********************************************’ Paragraph 120 of the Encyclopaedia is at first sight as arrestingly bizarre as some South German wood-carving placed over an entrance to some deeper architectural mystery, in this case “the Ground”. Probably there is no other way to approach these profound conceptions, to which Hegel is compelled by, simply, logic, reflecting upon the thought-forms as much as any “mystic” meditating upon the forms of faith. Such a one takes these too as thought-forms, inasmuch as he must believe in their compatibility with reason, more, in their rationality, as having identical content with it. It belongs to the concept of God, as indeed of the Absolute and Infinite, that we not abstract rationality from it as some second “thing” which it possesses. Hegel himself has anyhow just suggested that we “may well be horrified”. Contrariety then has two forms. The Positive is the aforesaid various (different) which is understood to be independent, and yet at the same time not to be unaffected by its relation to its other. The Negative is to be, no less independently, negative self-relating, selfsubsistent, and yet at the same time as Negative must on every point have this its self-relation, i.e. its Positive, only in the other. The “not to be unaffected” says everything. The Positive is so to say conditioned by the negative, light by darkness. We may recall Plato’s analysis of pleasure as the absence of pain, or as what we wish to continue (Aristotle) as pain is what we wish to stop, i.e. we do not merely wish pain to stop, as it were contingently. The Positive, he is saying, is never contingent. Nor then is the Negative. It is, rather, “self-subsistent”, but negatively. That is, it has “this its self-relation, i.e. its Positive”, what is positive about it insofar as it is negative, “only in the other”. So here we seem to have an endless see-saw of contradiction, since the Positive in turn is the negative of the Negative and so on. Negation, Aquinas had already declared, is a “being of reason”, an ens rationis. Hegel goes further, no doubt

with the Kantian antinomies in mind, showing how the whole world of Understanding is overthrown or, rather, absorbed into a less finite vista as thought, nous, flows back, in a continuum, towards the Absolute that it has never left, since it is itself. Thought was and is never able to deal with its other, its negative, other than by denying and thus consuming or absorbing it. “Both Positive and Negative are therefore explicit contradiction; both are potentially the same.” This, one might say, is the absolutisation of Reconciliation to a point where it is no longer able to be made an object of thought. The adversary is disarmed in his very opposition, as it were laughed at (“The notion is pure play”). Hegel adds, in a curious formulation, “Both are so actually also.” That is, I take it, they are both equally Actuality. Either “is the abrogation of the other and of itself”. The dualist world of affirmation and negation is selfabrogating. This, again, agrees with the later affirmation(!) that judgment or predication finds no place in the final perspective of the Notion. In the traditional logic, indeed, notion or concept (in apprehension simplex) precisely precedes the making of judgments (second operation of intellect or reason). “Thus they fall to the Ground.” He adds “Or”, oder, as if explaining (not to say clarifying), “the essential difference, as a difference, is only the difference of it from itself, and thus contains the identical”. The “it” refers to difference again. So difference contains the identical, i.e. it is not difference, absolutely speaking. The other is the same. Hegel reaches complete agreement with the judgement, passed from the absolute viewpoint upon any finite “quality”, “thing”, whatever, “This also is thou, neither is this thou”, where “thou” addresses the Absolute as it were personally. This is but in agreement with his general programme, if we have followed him so far. Difference is only a difference of a thing from itself, in which case the other type, variety, cannot arise in the first place but is essentially otiose. The contradiction, the opposition, goes deeper than the everyday can allow. Hegel outdoes Hume at his own game, so to say, except that it is not a game but an ascent away from the finite which, as we said, it kicks away or, simply, annihilates or consumes, absorbs. Simple negation is revealed as abstract merely, even if our everyday language will doubtless continue as it is, if we insist on speaking. Difference and identity both belong to difference. “As self-relating difference it is likewise virtually enunciated as the self-identical.” There is no leap, no gap, in the reasoning here. “And the opposite is in general that which includes the one and its other, itself and its opposite”, it really is. This “immanence of essence”, as Hegel now calls it (and we need to have understood why), “is the Ground”. ********************************************************** To understand, we need to go back to Leibniz, with whom indeed Hegel shows himself here in explicit continuity (121, Zus.). Leibniz did not proffer his Principle of Sufficient Reason as mere stale repetition of “everything has a cause”, but showed himself conscious of exhibiting an advance upon that. The vulgar or unreflected notion of cause is, rather, referred back to Reason and its allsufficiency. Nor does he, as often is assumed, preserve unchanged a sheer

duality between efficient and final causality. The sufficient reason is rather the last (dernière) reason or, for that matter, cause. All “causality” thus becomes final, if we are to speak “sufficiently”. There is a reason for everything, we say. This, however, should be referred to Reason itself as reasoning. This is misunderstood as mechanical causality, since even the self-alienation of the Idea in Nature is itself an idea, and an intermediate or “momentary” one at that, i.e. it is a Moment of the Idea. Thinking transcends or rather “puts by” (aufhebt) and overthrows nature. The thinking we ourselves attain to empirically overcomes or “puts by” the empirical consciousness of its (empirical) origins as a mere seeming, a mis-perception, as entailed by the findings of Logic. Self-relation of finite things, along with both Identity and Being as immediate, is the same basic abstraction and hence false (113). The acid does not remain an acid as it goes up into the compound, though thus realising its native potential. Thus “contradiction is the very moving principle of the world.” The world is thus contradiction. It is not what is, but is the Notion finally which Essence is on the way to, so to say, representing. For it is not it, nor does it really “become”, since it is still formal. In truth, nothing becomes, there is no Becoming. In eternity, which is the Absolute, which is Idea, we perceive ourselves, or whatever such selves finally are. We even perceive ourselves misperceiving ourselves in what, like the acid, has gone up, as a moment, into the whole or, rather, into the Notion. Being itself is replaced by Necessity, by, that is to say, full Possibility, of all contraries. Unintelligence, passing empirically into understanding, the vis cogitative of old, views the finite as self-identical or precisely not as self-contradictory or as passing essentially, and ipso facto, into its other. Such identity is one with the immediacy of Being, as if this immediacy were not itself mediated by Essence. Aristotle had insisted there is no essence or nature of the things which are. Essence here, however, does not mean nature. In some respects it is, rather, Appearance, which again is not “mere” appearance since the latter is essential (to Essence). The unessential is essential, since essence has the unessential “as its own proper seeming (reflection) in itself”. We might say, it is what we are talking about. Essence is essence, is Being-in-self (not immediate), “only to the extent that it has in itself its negative, i.e. reference to another” (my stress). Speaking still of another, though, implies retention of the form of identity, “in the mode of Being”. “The sphere of Essence thus turns out to be a still imperfect combination of immediacy and mediation” (114). Every term in it is both selfrelated and forced beyond itself. He says “term”, for it is a sphere of discourse, a shadow-realm still of the momentary, destined to be “ungratefully” kicked away and made as if it never was, in thought’s thinking of itself, finally, as Result in its essential nature. In religious terms, in religion rather, this is represented as the glorified wounds of Christ, “slain before the foundations of the world”. Here in philosophy this is “put by” and yet retained as (eternally) “accomplished”. Thought accomplishes what the thing itself (“thing” too is a momentary category) was said to accomplish. In other words, cataphatics pass into apophatics, not as alternative but as more perfect. What, though, is no longer spoken of is not God,

the absolute, but the religious material itself which has brought us to where we now stand, Hegel insists (cf. 163, Zus.). Essence has “reflected being, a being in which another shows, and which shows in another. And so it is also the sphere in which the contradiction, still implicit in the sphere of Being, is made explicit.” The Becoming of the “doctrine of Being” is here “represented by the Ground of determinate being”. This Ground, we have seen, is Essence. It is, like all the categories in fact, a kind of formal pre-play of the eventual Notion as entire reality, but more clearly so. We have pursued it through the lenses of identity and Difference. It is, so to say, the substrate of infinite possibility which is indeed Sufficient Reason for all, is Reason itself, able to endure its own demise while yet thinking this very demise. “Everything has its Sufficient Ground” (121). According to my English version Hegel gives both these words (originally in French or Latin) the capital letters of nomina, an explicit or explicitly implicit reference to Leibniz. But if he is following Leibniz he interprets him by selecting the one word Grund, which has two sides rather than being ambiguous. Leibniz with “sufficient reason” seems closer to nous setting all in order (Anaxagoras). Grund, being purely formal, does not yet set anything in order. It is both the reason for things and the actual, or factual, foundation. Hegel points out, somewhat impatiently perhaps, that a reason exists (and can be given) for anything. Omnis agens agit propter finem, be he thief or deserter (121, Zus.). More generally, electricity is the “ground” for electrical phenomena. This is to give “the formal difference of mediation”, adding nothing, but yet translating “into the form of inwardness”. What is inwardness here, we might want to ask? On one hand any ground suffices: on the other no ground suffices as mere ground; because, as already said, it is yet void of a content objectively and intrinsically determined, and is therefore not selfacting and productive. One notes that in English we ask for “grounds” of a statement but never for “the ground” (though one might occasionally hear “On what ground?”). We speak of grounding a proposition. A content thus objectively and intrinsically determined, and hence self-acting, will hereafter come before us as the notion: and it is the notion which Leibniz had in his eye when he spoke of sufficient ground, and urged the study of things under its point of view. He sought a “full and concrete” knowledge, transcending the cleavage between efficient and finite causality, as we remarked above, or rather he insisted “on the place of final causes to which the efficient were to lead up”. This of course is nothing new. Aquinas insists over and over that God is the end of all things and processes, which is as much as to say that the absolute, the Notion, is one. We must not be misled by his habitually religious style of writing, mandatory in a sacral civilisation, which Hegel, we may say, has now put firmly in its place as second in perfection to the philosophical. Thus those who protest at a re-

theologising of philosophy here may well be rather holding out for a continued absolute validity “in its own sphere”, as they would say, for such religious language. But it is valid merely finitely, until the philosophical insight into it is reached. It is destined for Aufhebung, as the seer saw no temple in the heavenly Jerusalem, where God is the or their sun. We must not be foolishly scandalised at his using the word “God”. Language anyhow is irredeemably metaphorical, as noted above, and the Truth actually brooks no linguistic or predicative judgement whatever, Hegel in no way shrinks from saying. Predication rather is not suited for truth, he presumes to “say” (pre-dicate). This too is then provisional, momentary, and this naturally makes the parameters of ongoing dialectic very liberal, though even this liberality should be exactly described, which is not to say “demarcated”. The Ground, that is, is Ground without boundaries. It is not Grundstück. This term itself, if understood partitively, “piece of ground”, confirms what Hegel is saying. The Grund, however, cannot be literally carved up, even as Possibility, the potential, of the Absolute, is not reducible to a class of possibilities to which it relates as object. It is essentially and entirely self-relating and only as such can Grund be predicated of it as containing all, all “existences”, as we will later say, and their opposites, all “things”, the Positive as such and its Negative and the Negative of that over again. Yet it is no longer mere Substrate, even if it is only formally Actuality, i.e. it is not Actuality. As Ground though it is “sufficient reason” for any and every totality. It is in that sense that Hegel says that each thing has its own Ground, meaning that the boundless Ground becomes in each case just the “defining” Ground of that thing, which is to say that each thing, each element, is endlessly related to everything else distributively and otherwise: The reflection-on-another of the existent is however inseparable from the reflection-on-self: the ground is their unity, from which existence has issued. The existent therefore includes relativity, and has on its own part its multiple interconnexions with other existents: it is reflected on itself as its ground (124). This, indeed, is how it becomes dialectically, as next category, a Thing. Existence, however, in the Encyclopaedia version of the dialectic, is a new departure or step from “A. -The pure principles or categories of Reflection”, viz.Identity, Difference and Ground, since Existence constitutes, after the former threefold division, the second of the three divisions of “ESSENCE AS GROUND OF EXISTENCE”. “The Thing” is the third, before we pass to “B. – APPEARANCE” and, terminating or accomplishing Essence, and not merely its “doctrine”, if that were possible, “C. – ACTUALITY. Hegel is often blamed for using the same names over again for higher or lower grades of his system of thought. We should rather look for the positive motive in this, which is to show, surely, the insufficiency, as he states frequently enough, of linguistic or predicative representation of things, of, that is, the pure dialectical continuum which is a “flowing into” the final viewpoint as eternal result. Flow, that is, is metaphor for the utter transcendence of that mis-perception we call flow. The music is indeed “heard all at once”, though music is represented to us as the specific opposite of this, as the very type of flow, of progression, of unfolding. Finite things and conceptions indeed find their destruction in their opposites at the very moment of their absolutisation, of their

self-denial. This is the point, too, about “the absolute religion”. The contemporary philosopher of it, the “theologian”, may therefore recognise himself, as does surely today’s quantum physicist, in Hegel’s journey here.

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