BECOMING XVI: NECESSITY

We now come to Necessity, that which “is so because it is”, as Hegel terminates these difficult three introductory paragraphs (149). I will take them as a whole before reading the Zusatz to 147. We have then “a circle of possibility and immediate actuality”. All the indications are that Hegel not merely “has time in mind” but that he is guided by the previous unfolding of the dialectic (he explicitly prescinds from mere “discussion” and so we may on occasion do the same) to a conceptual representation which clearly show the necessity, at a certain moment of the dialectic, of a temporal process, of Time, without his needing inappropriately to mention it, as I am doing. Time itself, along with nature and individual mind as a whole, are moments of the dialectic. In immortality nature and individual are absorbed and thereby uniquely, most properly and without loss activated, i.e. not merely “for the first time” or as it were parousially. There is no “End of Time” if time is not, nor could there be anyhow since the expression, understood temporally, is a straight contradiction. There is much of Hume in Hegel and Hume is thus, so to say, redeemed, if he needs it. He is anyhow absorbed, not needing to be neurotically dismissed, as by the partisans of “restoration”, a word always smelling of death and decay. This circle, as “externality (of actuality)”, “is what is called Real Possibility.” Called by whom? Here is a hint of concession to the immediate. Yet, as circle, “it is the totality, and thus the content, the actual fact or affair in its all-round definiteness.” We are speaking of Essence as replacing Being, but at the same time of Idea and Manifestation as one, going a step beyond speaking of Idea and its manifestation. A relation of God and Nature transcending contingency is also intimated, though contingency is contained within it as dialectical moment. This circular unity, again, “realises the concrete totality of the form, the immediate self-translation of inner into outer, and of outer into inner.” The selftranslation is immediate, i.e. the unity is this translation, which yet remains precisely a translation, while “realises” gives the link with “Real Possibility”. “This self-movement of the form is Activity, distinguished now from Actuality. Activity carries into effect “the fact or affair as a real ground which is self-suspended to actuality”. It carries into effect, again, “the contingent actuality, the conditions; i.e. it is their reflection-in-self” and, at the same time, these conditions are selfsuspended “to another actuality, the actuality of the actual fact.” Fact and conditions pass into one another and this is necessity, their necessity. “If all the conditions are at hand, the fact (event) must be actual; and the fact itself is one of the conditions.” The fact itself is one of the conditions. Just one, it is surely implied, recalling Hegel’s dialectical placing of Existence earlier. As with Kant previously, a long meditation upon Hume is surely evidenced here. Why does Hume speak of causality as a necessary connection, only distinguishing cause from effect in terms of before and after, here disappearing in the “circle” of contingency?

But then the fact itself, if it is “one of the conditions”, must be condition for some new fact behind the fact, or is this rather the fact over again? That is, as infinite, as for Hegel it must finally be since each category is such as representing, in its moment, the Absolute, must not the fact ever direct to further recesses, as thought thinking itself thinks itself thinking itself (cf. McTaggart’s scheme of infinite reflexive perception of perception, “determinate correspondence”) or as knowledge includes knowledge of knowledge ad infinitum? The reason Hegel gives for his thus reducing “fact” from its more usual “clinching” role is that “being in the first place only inner, it is at first itself only pre-supposed.” There is, indeed, an ambiguity about “fact”, which may easily strike readers of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. Fact aspires to connect with reality beyond all argument, yet it is squarely based in our language, such as that “It is a fact that...” Facts are irreducibly propositional and hence even relational. Yet they are presented in isolation, the abstractive essence of fact, precisely as demanding to be related. They are not, for example, substances. Fact is indeed pre-supposed, by our system of predication one might well say, but “at first only” only! This, that Hegel calls “developed actuality”, dialectically developed this can only be, is Necessity, viz. this “real Possibility” we have been discussing. As thus presupposed, however, a fact is what “is so because its circumstances are so, and at the same time it is so, unmediated: it is so, because it is.” It is brute, “brute fact”. Thus we naturally regard and speak of what we immediately experience before asking “why” about it. As developed and explained here it forms part, or logical moment rather, of a Necessity not immediate to us. He will say of Activity, and we note it already now, that it carries into effect, although it is “the movement”, yet “has... an independent existence of its own (as a man, a character)” requiring, he adds, both conditions and fact for its “possibility” (148, c.). This is the subjective “moment”, here shown as not dependent on affirmation of man as man (man or “character”, he seems to say, though man as character equally calls man as man in question) but within dialectical Reason alone. The existence of Activity is a consciousness, a differentiation, since a knowing. If the computer knows, it is conscious, whether or not we add “It is not conscious, therefore...” Such “consciousness” however need not be interpreted in the narrowly psychologistic sense. On the other hand the notion of “intentional systems” would need modification before incorporation into an absolute idealism, where the knowledge is utlimately self-knowedge as including all (the sense of the Delphic response to Socrates, i.e. to philosophy, in Hegel's interpretation). There is thus much more to Necessity than a mere “union of possibility and actuality”, which leaves everything open. Necessity “is the notion itself”, in some nearer sense than that in which everything is this. We have to rise beyond “actualities”, the category thereof. These are “forms only, collapsing and transient”, however much they may seem to satisfy us in this mere moment which we have reached. “Deeper in and further up”, thought as it were exhorts. We proceed.

In 148 Hegel refers back to these three elements “in the process of Necessity”, Condition, Fact, and the Activity, conscious, as he has remarked, of the greater difficulty now attending our reading. We may wonder why or how it is a “process”. They “constitute” necessity, he also says. “The Condition is (a) what is pre-supposed or ante-stated, i.e. it is not only supposed or stated.” It is not, that is, only a correlative to the fact but also prior,” even “independent”. It is “a contingent and external circumstance which exists without respect to the fact.” This must be read in the light of his earlier exposition of the Condition. This “term” though, pre-supposed and “ante-stated”, is equally a (or the?) “complete circle of conditions”, the “external” world as it is, we might say, using Hegel’s term. These or this “are passive, are used as materials for the fact”, “used up” as he also says repeatedly, “into the content of which they thus enter”, as the manifestation which necessity, the notion, is, we might also say (to ourselves), thinking of previous moments in this discourse of the dialectic. The Fact, now, “is also (a) something pre-supposed or ante-stated”, whether to the Condition or the Activity or both is as yet unclear. A purely reciprocal correlation with the Condition(s) seems denied. Yet it too, we go on to read, is “prior and independent”. Yet this is called “a process”, even if not as such temporal. Thus “at first” the Fact, as “supposed”, is “only inner and possible, and also, being prior, an independent content by itself”, i.e. it is not, like the Condition, “a contingent and external circumstance”. It is “inner”. Again, by “using up” (they use or use up one another) “the conditions, it receives its external existence”, this Fact which was at first only inner, realising “the determinations1 of its content”. These do indeed “reciprocally correspond to the conditions”. The fact both “presents itself out of these as the fact” and “also proceeds from them”, i.e. at the same time as it is pre-supposed and ante-stated to them. The mutual identity, beyond reciprocal implication, of Inner and Outer, is here confirmed. Even the Activity, or third “element”, “has an independent existence of its own (as a man, a character)”, although “possible only where the conditions are and the fact”, i.e. along with them in what is, we shall see and have seen, necessity. “It is the movement which translates the conditions into fact, and the latter into the former as the side of existence”. It is in fact, again, subjectivity, thought, though Hegel does not yet say this, of particular or universal self indifferently. The movement “educes the fact from the conditions in which it is potentially present.” It “gives existence to the fact.” It does this “by abolishing the existence possessed by the conditions” (my emphasis). This refers, I do not doubt, to the “upward spring of the mind” outlined at 50. In itself it “signifies”, i.e. the actual spring signifies, “that the being which the world has is only a semblance” and that “truth abides in God”, in that in which “we live and move and have our being”, to take a leaf out of the scripture. The world is the external, the alienated Idea.
1

Wallace has ”articles”.

“In so far as these three elements stand to each other in the shape of independent existences,” the world, its being so, the subject, “this process has the aspect of an outward necessity.” It is not, it is implied, the whole story. “Outward necessity has a limited content for its fact”, “this whole in the shape of singleness”. The limitedness, however, is so to say formal rather than material. It arises “logically” “since in its form this whole is external to itself”. It is “selfexternalised even in its own self and in its content.” Any such world, as “externalised”, would be limited in virtue of just this externalisation. This is what Hegel means surely by self- or intrinsically externalised. The externality itself as such “is a limit of its content.” This is the inward rationale of contingency within ultimate necessity as the Notion. It is not, except immediately or “vulgarly”, the “empirical” barrier at which ultimate necessity stops, in contradiction of itself, such that “Either man exists or God exists” (Sartre). Necessity is, i.e. God knows all things since this knowledge is prior to and not “caused” by them. Hegel simply fills in the Augustinian-Thomist and arguably Aristotelian tradition here. Here, at least, his thought coincides with the teaching of divine creation as necessarily finite, even though he will also speak of it as an entire manifestation. There too he mirrors the distinct “processions” of Word, internal but also “external” in “incarnation”, and creature, dis-covering a foundation of necessity for what in religion is represented as contingent (as Aquinas or Augustine stressed with the felix culpa) in the spirit of the thought of Duns Scotus on this point. What is brought out here is a necessary connection between time and necessity, revealed immediately in the past-present structure. By becoming past things, events, are revealed as necessary. It was fated to be, we say, meaning that, as now complete, it not merely cannot but could not, i.e. as complete, be otherwise. Refutations of “fatalism” turn upon just this point. Fatalism, however, in some statements of it, is not the sound doctrine of Necessity that is ultimately one with freedom. So it is, moreover, with facts, therefore dependent upon the Condition(s) as described above. The fact is what has become, even where it is an apparently timeless definition such as that man is an animal. We thus suppose a stage of becoming what something is, whether or not such a stage has occurred. Thus God exists, completely, i.e. completedly, as result, says Hegel. This has to be perceived and that is the Activity, ultimately of absolute self-perception. This is in general reflected in Aristotle's term for essence, coined before the medieval abstract term, namely, that which was to be, ti en einai, quod erat esse. In so far as time becomes fact, therefore, it is no longer perceptible as time, as condition. The upward spring has been made. The causal relation there becomes reversible exactly as instanced in the relation between Condition and Fact here and this will be further gone into under the category of Causality, coming after Substance. Time's arrow is indeed reversible (Boltzmann) but then it is no longer that arrow we had been calling time. He thought he saw a bank-clerk descending from a bus, He looked again and found it was a hippopotamus.

This indeed, Necessity, is that true and final Leviathan glimpsed, differently, by the author of Job or by Thomas Hobbes, which we see, not underneath any and every phenomenon or immediacy, but when we “look again”, as the poet-logician here intimates. **************************************’’’ Hegel sums up (149). Necessity is in itself (an sich) “the one essence... but now full of content, in the reflected light of which its distinctions take the form of independent realities.” Distinctions now are logical as “independent realities” are not, i.e. that is the distinction, the separation rather, we normally make. Here, in absolute idealism, in the dialectic which issues in absolute idealism (it is not anteriorly presupposed), they come together, are revealed as being one and the same. Necessity is “self-same” or same all the way through, we might first interpret. Thus it both has “the form of independent realities” and is “absolute form”, essence. As such it is activity, “the activity which reduces into dependency (e.g. the conditions) and mediates into immediacy” (my stress). “Whatever is necessary is through another”. In this light, causality, Hume identified and questioned it, giving reasons malgré lui, as he admits, since reasons remain themselves causes, the inner the outer and vice versa. “What is the world without reason?” (var. “the reason”) Gottlob Frege would later ask. 2 This other, anyhow, before a trio of constituents and now a “through” (it is the same), is a “breaking up” into Fact, Activity and Condition, “an intermediate actuality or accidental circumstance”. We may call it either. So, being thus “through”, the necessary “is not in and for itself”, just yet, but hypothetical, he says, “a mere result of assumption” (of a “necessary connection”). “But this intermediation is just as immediately however the abrogation of itself”. It, the fact, closes with itself, somewhat as we indicated above, when discussing the necessary contingency of the Outward. This “contingent condition”, as ground, translates into immediacy, i.e. immediate necessity, lifting up the dependency upon the other two constituents of “the process”, into actuality, our present larger concern (142). “In this return to itself the necessary simply and positively is, as unconditioned actuality.” Hegel, we may or might think, is simply asking or compelling us to recognise what stands close before us but needs to be seen in the mirror which is reflection, like the nose on our faces. Mediated through circumstances, necessity is yet unmediated, “closer than I am to myself” if I think of the activity particularly. This will become clearer. Again, it is the undeniable, not such or merely that or as if Hegel foists upon us now a maybe unwelcome positive thesis in “cosmology”, but the undeniable as the undeniable, viz. Necessity, from which all thought has to start. And thus it is thought itself that has brought us to this and not, except in second place, some individual philosopher. Thus we are engaged with a text, its import for us, and not with a man or individual, ruined in essence.
2

Frege is frequently supposed in the Anglo-American camp to have been an anti-idealist or realist. Writings of Hans Sluga and others, this citation from The Foundations of Arithmetic apart, seem to me to well document the contrary.

*********************************************’ The Zusats to 147 provides us with some final, indeed more “cosmological” considerations upon Necessity: When anything is said to be necessary, the first question we ask is, Why? Anything necessary accordingly comes before us as something due to a supposition, the result of certain antecedents. If we go no further than mere derivation from antecedents however, we have not gained a complete notion of what necessity means. This would be his criticism of Hume. What is merely derivative, is what it is, not through itself, but through something else; and in this way too it is merely contingent. What is necessary, on the other hand, we would have to be what it is through itself; and thus, although derivative, it must still contain the antecedent whence it is derived as a vanishing element in itself. How “vanishing”? It is absorbed, in the “ingratitude” of Spirit, the Activity which is itself constituent of Necessity. Of this, “It is,” we say. “We thus hold it to be simple self-relation, in which all dependence on something else is removed.” Nor is there, therefore, some further end. In this sense necessity is called blind. He speaks again of “the process of necessity” as beginning “with the existence of scattered circumstances”. One recalls the treatment of Atomism in the Doctrine of Being. These are “an immediate actuality which collapses”, a new actuality proceeding. One recalls the “upward spring of the mind” from 50, insofar as Activity, having “an independent existence of its own (as a man, a character)” (148) is involved. There are thus two ways of seeing this now “doubled” Content, as “final realised fact” or as these scattered circumstances “positively” or positivistically viewed, though this “is nought”, is “inverted into its negative, thus becoming content of the realised fact.” The dialectical striving towards result is at work here, how we think it duplicating or identified with how it is brought about. Implied, in contemporary terms, is a reconciliation of the mechanistic and the teleological accounts of reality. Yet it is the former which is “absorbed”. The immediate circumstances become “conditions” in the reciprocal sense outlined above, being “retained as content of the ultimate reality” (my stress). This, McTaggart will claim, is timeless immortality, without beginning or end, necessity in fact, which can however only apply to or be born by persons. All else, unable to be a condition in this sense, is “misperception” (or outside which is inside, we might rather say). Hegel, however, speaks of “circumstances and conditions” (my stress) here. Yet in “teleological action, we have in the end of action a content which is already fore-known”, “not blind but seeing”. This he identifies as rule by Providence, where “absolutely pre-determined” design “is the active principle”, “fore-known and fore-willed”. The priority, we know, is logical rather than temporal.

Necessity and providence, he goes on, “are not mutually excluding” but have the same “intellectual principle”, viz. the notion, “the truth of necessity”. Yet necessity itself “is the notion implicit”. It is no “blind fatalism” that seeks to “understand the necessity of every event.” He refers here to the philosophy of history as a Theodicy just inasmuch as investigating such necessity. Nothing, that is, escapes this Logic as “empirical”, “contingent” or whatever. Will and accomplishment are absolutely identical. Man, “in his difference from God”, is not absolute. Here we see the folly of speaking of Hegel’s “pantheism”. We have to transcend ourselves, actively. ******************************************************’’ In speaking here of Man as something yet actual “in his difference from God”, although not absolutely so, however, Hegel touches upon the question of an Analogy of Being. More usually he eschews or avoids this approach or way of speaking in his texts, his basic axiom, or one of them, being rather that “Everything finite is false”, in line here with the mystical tradition or, rather, the concurrence of mystical and philosophical writers on this point, particularly of the Platonic school. Within this school, however, Aristotle, remarking that Being “is said in many ways”, prepared the way for the medieval division on this point, even though Aristotle arrives at the end of the Metaphysics at the position we find, mutatis mutandis, in Hegel on this point of the relation, which is nonrelation, of the Absolute to things finite. So Thomas Aquinas takes up Aristotle’s explanation of this analogia in terms of the different proportion (ratio) of God to God’s act of being, from which his essence or conception is not separate, and of finite things to their acts of being (actus essendi). Duns Scotus, in the next generation, says he knows nothing of (nescio) or does not know any such “act”, as distinct from the act which is essence or what a (given) thing is (essentia). There are many variants upon this, for example in the interpretation of Cajetan’s (sixteenth century) commentaries, deeply affected by the terminology at least of the by then far more numerous and influential Scotist school, upon Aquinas’s Summa theologiae and more especially of his treatise “On the Analogy of Names” (De analogia nominum).3 For Scotus the concept of being is necessarily univocal, not analogical. Indeed the controversy extends to asking whether analogy applies to words or concepts or both. It is generally applied to concepts and there the dispute becomes whether it is only a logical but also a metaphysical doctrine. In this latter sense there is, nowadays, an increasingly insistent claim that there is ontological discontinuity between the being of God and the being of creatures, which are nonetheless both
3

This title seems to imply that analogy is a logical doctrine rather than a metaphysical theory of Being. Thus the contemporary Thomist Ralph McInerny interprets it, arguing from Thomas’s and other texts. Viewed thus though it has a continuity with the practice in theology of determining what it is correct to say merely, thus reducing the doctrine’s interest for any thorough-going philosophy such as Hegel’s. The point, however, for Thomas was that he felt that one could not say anything correctly about God (a point criticised by Hegel, at least regarding some uses made of such negative theology) and hence pleaded for analogy.

real. This though is little more than a religious refusal to engage in just those thought-processes which Hegel works through in his Logic and elsewhere. It is a general abdication or a plea to be allowed to take philosophy, which, like being, “has no parts” (Parmenides), piecemeal, usually appealing to “mystery”. Mystery, however, is just what such religious rationalism, in the negative sense, refuses to acknowledge or live with, namely, that in the face of the absolute or except as identified with it we “both are and are not”, are one with our Other or not-self. Kant had already pointed away from this impotence of analogy in speaking not of man but of “the rational creature”. Hume, after all, had already relativised language about the finite Self. Thus far, though sceptical as to an Absolute, he is in line with Catherine of Siena’s report, “I am he who is, you are she who is not.” In this discussion of Hegel’s the matter is touched upon while treating of a determining divine or absolute knowledge. This too, mutatis mutatis is a theme of Aquinas, on necessarily absolute omniscience, and uneasiness about it, in relation to human freedom, lay behind much later theological disagreement, Calvinists finding comfort in the Dominican position that God necessarily makes our actions free and as such “pre”-determines them. Against this were pitted the Jesuit and related doctrines of Molinism, scientia media and so on, concerning which the Pope of the day refused, in the early seventeenth century, to make a decision in so far as it affected confessional theology. No one knows if the Jesuits would have listened anyway and it is this school of “humanistic” thought, embodied in Suarez, which came to Kant via Wolff and others. It includes, as part of its indifferentist notion of freedom, the idea of a libertas indifferentiae as essential to our free choice which is therefore independent even of God, this being thought necessary by the pious for God to “judge” us. In effect, God is reduced to one among a plurality of actors and thus the way is prepared for formal atheism. This is the background to Hegel’s distinctive remarks on ethical matters, at which many have professed to be scandalised or at least puzzled. It is quite clear that Hegel is in line with the Dominican and Thomist school on these matters. Whether this is through having studied them or independently or both is a question for the historians of thought. He is certainly well versed in earlier texts as common patrimony of all the parties. Regarding determining absolute knowledge, Hegel claims to show the identity of freedom and Destiny or Fate, as this was anciently understood. Against this background he criticises as less noble the “modern” insistence, which he effectively finds neurotic, on renouncing “only in prospect of compensation”. Destiny “leaves no room for consolation” and consolation is his subject here. We need have no “sense of bondage” to Destiny. This modern point of view, “that of Consolation”, nonetheless derives from Christianity and is a viewpoint which, he will show, when rightly understood is superior. No room is left for consolation and yet, via the revelation of divine or absolute Subjectivity, the Christian religion is one of “absolute Consolation”. He cites the text “God wills that all men be saved” which troubled Augustine so much, but he does not follow Augustine’s talk of an antecedent and a consequent will. What God wills not merely is accomplished but is and is what is. “That teaching declares that subjectivity has an infinite value.”

So Hegel both eschews consolation and declares that the Christian consolation is absolute. He is in striking accord with Thérèse Martin, known as the saint of Lisieux, who declared “My only consolation is to have none”, the classical mystical doctrine of the “Dark Night of the Soul” (title of a work by John of the Cross, a Spanish Carmelite friar).4 He thus overcomes the unreflected antithesis between pagan resignation and Christian consolation. Some people are surprised at his deigning to treat at all of the “soft” subject of consolation. It forms the necessary pendant, however, to his superficially “hard” doctrine of necessity. He claims to present the consolations of necessity itself as he establishes it here. Any “sense of bondage” to Destiny “springs from inability to surmount the antithesis”, from seeing what is as contrary to what ought to be. We may again surmise a Humean background here. In fact, if one says God is implied in there being any world at all, i.e. not via a demonstration of a particular design, then this “abstract” ought is already overthrown. In this same sense Aquinas places the absolute good of God and the happiness (beatitude) that God is, as finis ultimus of all, above the purely ethical or “honourable” good (bonum honestum) which only derives its absoluteness from its being needed in the form of virtues necessary for this other and final end. This, as an intrinsic necessity, is not understood in the Utilitarian way. Happiness, rather, is itself höchste Entfaltung der Sittlichkeit (Martin Grabmann) and happiness, it is argued, just is in itself transcendent. All things in fact participate in this end, interpreting participation, however, as the absorption and negation Hegel describes.5 Because it is, it ought to be, Hegel thus argues. “All shall be well and all manner of thing”, one might recall from a third lady thinker (Julian of Norwich), keeping in the background Boethius’ assertions of, specifically, the consolations of “the lady Philosophy”. In face of reality there is, finally, “no contrast, no bondage, no pain, no sorrow”, and this attitude, it is true, is “void of consolation”. But, again, “it is a frame of mind which does not need consolation.” That’s the consolation of it. b.) Hegel speaks now of Subjectivity. It is “personal subjectivity” as having “acquired its infinite significance” which gives rise to what we might call these hang-ups of “the Christian world”. Christian or not, we live in a Christian or “postChristian” world, whether we talk about the French Revolution or the United Nations. It is also a Greco-Roman and Jewish world. It is also an increasingly Chinese world. Hegel speaks first of natural and finite Subjectivity, having contingent and arbitrary private interests. This is “all that we call person” and not “thing” or the non-personal. In contrast to this obstinate pursuit of subjective aims, he says, one cannot but admire “the tranquil resignation of the ancients to destiny”. It seems “higher and worthier”, more “religious”, we might almost say. “But the term subjectivity is not to be confined merely to the bad and finite kind of it which is contrasted with the thing (fact).” Really it is “immanent in the fact”,
4

It is by the way striking that Hegel somewhere mentions “Spanish poetry” as a possible distraction from the “task” of philosophy. John’s work consists in a commentary on his own profound poems.
5

Cf. Especially 142 Zus., final paragraph.

as we have seen above in the treatment of Activity. Thus infinite it “is the very truth of the fact”. Here Hegel’s reasoning coincides in its conclusion with his picture of the Christian God as Absolute, but that is a circumstance not intrinsic to the reasoning itself so is no objection to it, prejudices apart. The doctrine of consolation, anyway, here “receives a newer and a higher significance”, according to which “the Christian religion is to be regarded as the religion of consolation and even of absolute consolation.” Here he cites the Pauline “universalist” text from the Epistle to Timothy, a first-century episkopos or overseer of a community of Christians. This text was later made canonical and so Hegel claims that Christianity “teaches” what it declares, “that subjectivity has an infinite value”. This “consoling power of Christianity just lies in the fact that God Himself is in it known as the absolute subjectivity”, as self of myself he might have said, echoing Augustine. For “inasmuch as subjectivity involves the element of particularity”, of differentiation, no doubt itself infinite if it characterises “God”, or the Infinite and Absolute, “our particular personality too is recognised not merely as something to be solely and simply nullified, but as at the same time as something to be preserved.” This says, in effect, that it is nullified, yet it is preserved. He does not and need not say how. By contrast the ancient gods, he says, “do not know themselves, are only known” as personifications. So they themselves are powerless before destiny, thus seen as after all blind. But the Christian God “is also self-knowing”, “absolutely actual” therefore. As so often in Hegel, we suddenly feel that he is but uncovering the obvious. Each man, however, he goes on, is “the architect of his own fortune”, as we can see once we shake off the miasma of a blind necessity, as opposed to the all-seeing, omniscient necessity of Providence. All comes from the self. Hence the oracular advice, “Know thyself” was not restrictive or constraining in the sense of restraining, but all sufficient, opening up more deeply reflected vistas moreover. To blame circumstances is “unfreedom”. Whatever happens to a man “is only the outcome of himself”. “No doubt too there is a great deal of chance in what befalls us” but this chance, Hegel declares, “has its ‘root’ in the natural man”. We might take this as a variant upon the idea that pure chance is only real at the phenomenal level, actually finding a strict causal explanation among things “not intended” (the view offered in Aristotle’s Physics). Yet Hegel seems to be offering a more anthropological view, in the sense of concern with the subject, borrowing from or almost hijacking the theological perspectives of natural and “supernatural” in order to press home the absolute requirement of selftranscendence in order for man to be man, as knowing himself identified with “absolute” perspectives, self in other, in Otherness itself, the truth of knowledge. Thus he concludes by saying that our “view of necessity” determines our destiny itself. It is “at the root of the content and discontent of men”.

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