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WHAT

AND WHAT

DEAD
OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL
IS

LIVING

IS

WHAT
WHAT

LIVING AND
IS DEAD OF THE
PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL
IS

BY

BENEDETTO CROCE
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL TEXT OF

THE THIRD ITALIAN EDITION,

1912

BY

DOUGLAS AINSLIE
B.A. (OxoN.), M.R.A.S.

NEW YORK /RUSSELL & RUSSELL

FIRST PUBLISHED IN K)I$

REISSUED, 1969, BY RUSSELL & RUSSELL


A DIVISION

OF

ATHENEUM

PUBLISHERS, INC.

BY ARRANGEMENT WITH MACMILLAN &


L. C.

PRINTED

CO. LTD.,

LONDON

CATALOG CARD NO! 79-83845


THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

IN

TRANSLATOR S NOTE
READERS

of this translation will observe that

have followed the

Italian in discarding

where the

original does so the use of capitals for the


idea, spirit

and so

forth.

words

true that they are

German

printed with capitals in


all

It is

but then, so are

other substantives, and by avoiding their use,

such words as

idea and spirit are better under

stood as immanent rather than as transcendental


"

things-in-themselves."
I

used

"

"

gnoseology

in

my

translation of the

Philosophy of the Practical instead of the para


"

phrase

theory

of

knowledge."

regularly formed from the Greek,

worthy a place
difficulty

identical,

in

This

seems

English, which has

word,
to

me

made no

about accepting an analogous, but not

term such as Epistemology.

When

vi

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

neologisms cover a new thought or


abbreviating, expression,

seems

it

are always legitimate, and

to

facilitate,

me

by

that they

have not hesitated

to

introduce one or two other words thus employed.

The tendency

to avoid

neologism

at all costs

by

the adoption of paraphrase, frequent in contem

porary English writers, seems to


the very purpose which

rendering yet more

it

difficult

is

me

to frustrate

intended to serve,

by the very common

ness of the words used as paraphrase the already


sufficiently subtle qualifications of philosophy.

AUTHOR S NOTE
THE

study,

What

the Philosophy
(Bari,

is

living

and what

of Hegel, was published

Laterza),

and

an

contained

since been increased in the

in

suppress altogether
as

any one

it,

will

if

But

it

the present

This has

has seemed
collection

the bibliographical

something extraneous

republish

on

German and French

need of not a few additions.


opportune

1906

volume and would now have

translations of that

me

in

essay

Hegelian bibliography as an appendix.

to

dead of

is

to

its

ever, separately.

nature,

And

to

portion

and

indeed,

to
if

give himself the trouble of looking

through, correcting, completing and keeping


to date for the use of students of

Hegel,

it

up

propose

The Essay on Hegel is the first of a series of essays upon philo


sophical subjects contained in the volume from which this essay has been
D. A.
selected for translation into English.
1

vii

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

viii

to present

him with

that

first

permission to exercise upon


utendi et abutendi.
critical

study of mine, with


it

most

fully the

jus

In this reimpression of the

study of 1906 will be found instead certain

elucidations of various

points of the

Hegelian

philosophy, which answer to censures and objec


tions that

have been made to

as a rule preferred, as

more

me

though

have

persuasive, objective

treatment or retreatment of disputed points to

polemic properly so

called.
B.

RAIANO (AQUILA),
September 1912.

CROCK.

CONTENTS
PAGE
I.

II.

THE DIALECTIC OR SYNTHESIS OF OPPOSITES

EXPLANATIONS RELATING TO THE HISTORY OF

THE DIALECTIC
III.

THE

DIALECTIC

....
THE

AND

-33

CONCEPTION

OF

REALITY
IV.

THE NEXUS OF THE DISTINCTS AND THE FALSE


APPLICATION OF THE DIALECTIC FORM

V.

THE

METAMORPHOSIS

OF

ERRORS

78

PAR

INTO

TICULAR CONCEPTS AND DEGREES OF TRUTH

(STRUCTURE OF THE LOGIC)


VI.

I.

.100

.120

Art and Language (^Esthetic).

THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PARTICULAR CONCEPTS


INTO PHILOSOPHICAL ERRORS
II.

VIII.

THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PARTICULAR CONCEPTS


INTO PHILOSOPHICAL ERRORS

VII.

.134

History (Idea of a Philosophy of History).

THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PARTICULAR CONCEPTS


INTO PHILOSOPHICAL ERRORS.
III.

Nature (Idea of a Philosophy of Nature).


ix

.150

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL
PAGE

IX.

THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE FALSE SCIENCES


AND THE APPLICATION OF THE DIALECTIC TO
THE INDIVIDUAL AND TO THE EMPIRICAL

X.

XI.

DUALISM NOT OVERCOME

THE

CRITICISM

AND

THOUGHT OF HEGEL
Conclusion.

CONTINUATION

174
192

OF

THE
203

TRANSLATOR S INTRODUCTION
THE

following lines were written before the out

break of war, but

no reason

see

to

qualify

The
any of the statements therein contained.
madness and immoralism of twentieth century
Germany has nothing
writers of a

has been

in

common

with her great

hundred years ago and more.

great

decline

of

There

German thought

coincident with material prosperity and aspiration


for universal

dominion.

Readers of the following pages, accustomed to


Hegel s Himalayan severity and ruggedness of
style and to the arid and difficult treatment of the
Hegelian philosophy, so long in vogue, both here
and in Germany, will probably be surprised at the
profound yet pellucid clarity of Croce s thought.

Hegel has

at last

found a

critic

equal to the task, in the thinker

and interpreter

who

has already

given us complete the Philosophy of the Spirit.

Croce has passed beyond and therefore been able


1

Some

of these thoughts are taken from other essays of Croce.


XI

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

xii

back upon Hegel, to unravel the gorgeous


yet tangled skein of his system, and supply to all
to look

future students the clue of Ariadne.

Who

but Croce would have thought of recom

mending

Were

it

Hegel should be read like a poet?


not for his own work upon aesthetic, such
that

a statement would

seem absurd

but in the light

of the two degrees of theoretic

knowledge and

of the formation of logic from aesthetic intuitions,

such

remark

assumes

Rather, then, than

dwell

its

full

significance.

ever upon some

for

technical difficulty, such as that presented by the


first

he recommends us

triad of the Logic,

Hegel

"like

poet,"

that

is

to read

without paying undue

attention to the verbal form, the historical accident

of what he says, but

full

attention to

In reading a philosopher,

truth.

his inspiration in the

mazes of

its

poetic

we should seek

his text, without

paying undue attention to the pedantries and


formulae with which such a writer as Hegel is
(historically)

overlaid.

We

should

see

in

the

Hegelian triads the mighty effort of the philosopher


against Eleaticism and all forms of Nihilism, and
his attempt to create a

Heracliticism.
is

Croce

help

superior form of

cut-and-dried Hegel of the

thus to be avoided

schools
s

The

new and

we have scraped

and when with

the lichen of his

TRANSLATOR S INTRODUCTION
formulae from the thought of

beneath
that

is

The

we

find

the true philosopher, the hater of

it

abstract

that never

Hegel,

xiii

title

and motionless, of the should-be

of the ideal that

is,

all

of this

scope and object.

book

The

is

not

real.

sufficiently explains its

magnificent critique and

explanation of the dialectic

is

followed by the ex

Hegel s two great errors, the


confusion of distincts and opposites, and of its
position of one of

far-reaching evil consequences for a great part of

the

Hegeli an system.

appear

in

the

Hegel,

who

is

or blunder,
his system.

tions

from

That
itself

Logic

this
is

error should

characteristic

of

not guilty of any mere inadvertence

but errs grandly in a vital part of

One

of the most important deduc

this error

is

that of the death of art,

be merged, according to Hegel, in philosophy.


Croce s refutation of this fallacy and of the

to

application of the dialectic to the empirical world,

were they his sole contribution to philosophic


criticism and research, would suffice to lay all
students of Hegel beneath an obligation of en
lightened gratitude to the philosopher of Naples.

Croce points out how


application of the

it

was owing

dialectic of

to

the

opposites to the

category of distincts that Hegel conceived so great


a contempt for the practical as compared with the

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

xiv

He

theoretic world.

was

led

by his theory to look


upon the former as one from which the thinker
freed himself

In
by the power of his thought.
Hegel, the poet and the sage look down from

their

He

tower of ivory upon the throng below.

conceived the dialectic as a temporal becoming,


a progressiis ad finitum, and once he had attained
to the contemplative

life,

the sage would naturally

no longer desire any sort of intercourse with the


There would thus be cessation of the
throng.

But becoming cannot negate

dialectic.

The

true

is

becoming

is

it is

the intelligence

same way

as the universal

ideal

of real becoming, in the

itself.

not divergent or indifferent in respect to the

particular, but

is

the intelligence of the particular

so that universal and particular, ideal and real be

Outside ideal becoming


coming, are the same.
is not real becoming, but only temporal becoming,
that

is

to say, arithmetical time, a construction of

the abstract intellect

just as the real individual

is

not outside the universal, but only the empirical in


dividual, isolated, atomicized, monadized.

and

real

every instant and every instant

Hegel
rational

Eternity

time coincide, because the eternal

action of the

him

to

in

in the eternal.

and

the

support energetically

the

identification

led

is

is

of

State and of

the

all

real

great men, and

TRANSLATOR S INTRODUCTION

the ethical with the economic

his confusion of

led

to the

xv

creation of Nietzsche s Superman, a

The
being above the morality of the throng.
rationality of the real should, however, be closely
connected with the most rigid condemnation of
error and of evil, and the perpetuity of the dialectic

The

with the constancy of the true.

idea of finite

progress must therefore be looked upon as


complete, until

it

has been enriched by the dialectic

with the idea of infinite progress.

taken by

is

itself,

This

latter,

void of content, for an

also

and never attaining

is

not

does not matter to Tantalus

if

the

eternal approximation

progress

in

it

sweet spring-water be a mile or an inch from his


The
lips, if he is never to touch it with them.

symbol of humanity
the

God-man,

temporal

Christ,

and

the

neither

is

Who

God

is

nor man, but

the eternal in the

temporal

in

the

Another way of stating the same thing

is

eternal.
to

com

bine the western idea of a perpetual breathless


pursuit of truth,

perpetual
identical,

history,

others.

by the
instant

and the

return.

as

in

static oriental idea of the

The

and history are


their turn are philosophy and

because neither

We

spirit

is

complete without the

possess the truth at every moment,

act of thinking,

changed

and

into will

this truth is at

every

and nature, and therefore

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

xvi

into a

new problem, which must be

added

to, if it

sacrifice all

to

is

he has

remain

truth.

for the truth,

even

constantly

A man

may

own

soul,

his

but he can never sacrifice morality, owing to the


contradiction that this would imply.

more than a good word


Hegel

in

Croce has

to say of the study of

Great Britain, and indeed he recently

observed to the present writer that his own thought


remained far more itself in the English than in the

German

versions of his Aesthetic and Philosophy

of the Practical in the latter it seemed to melt


away. But the study of Hegel should receive a
new and vigorous impetus from this work, which
:

much

should do

to correct the widespread con

fusion of the data of empirical or natural science

with true science, which


of sciences.

is

philosophy, the science

Philosophy assigns

its

sphere to each

of the empirical sciences, and in their sphere philo

sophy is not competent. Confusion has arisen


from the attempts so often made by natural
problems outside their com
man may be an excellent entomo

scientists to solve

petency.
logist,

but his views upon the problem of

know

ledge will be devoid of interest, unless he be also


a philosopher.
this
is

The domination

of empiricism in

country has led to suspicion of thought which

simply thought as yet untranslated into volitional

TRANSLATOR S INTRODUCTION
act.

Discussing recently

in

London

xvii

the origins

of socialism with a leading statesman, he remarked


to

me

was the

that socialism

economic conditions,

modern

result of

He seemed

factories, etc.

disinclined to admit that socialism in

its

theoretic

mind of Hegel and then


filtered down through Feuerbach and Marx, to
Sorel and the syndicalists of our day.
There
form

existed in the

first

seems

thought can arise


like a spark from tinder.

to exist the belief that

from psychical friction,


Reality is looked upon by many as the physical,
mind as an epiphenomenon. Without the philo

sophers above mentioned, there could have been

no

"social

The
more

as

question"

than

presents itself to-day.

Roman

days were settled


those of the modern world

labour troubles of
easily

it

because without the modern theoretic

basis.

could not, however, have existed without


theoretic basis,

They
some

however rudimentary. The French

Revolution broke out

first

in the brain of

Jean-

Jacques Rousseau.

Much

will, in

my

by the publication
lead our

men

opinion, have been achieved


in

English of this book,

of action

and as a nation the

English have the genius of practical action


respect

if it

to

Hegel as one of the greatest practical

forces the world has ever seen.

They

are not

xviii

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

likely to
for

here

become mere dreamers by so doing,

we run no

risk of underrating

those

elements of

empirical thought represented by


and
other automobiles. Matter changes
aeroplanes
place with far greater

but there

is

rapidity than

one thing that

"

is

never

heretofore,
in

hurry,"

yet supremely worthy of attention, and that, as

readers of Hegel know,

is

the idea.

DOUGLAS
THE ATHENAEUM,
PALL MALL, LONDON.

AINSLIE.

WHAT

AND WHAT

DEAD
OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL
IS

LIVING

IS

THE DIALECTIC OR SYNTHESIS


OF OPPOSITES
one of those philosophers who have
made not only immediate reality but philosophy

HEGEL

itself

is

the object of their thought, thus contribut

ing to elaborate a logic of philosophy.

believe,

therefore, that the logic of philosophy (with the

consequences ensuing from it for the solution of


particular problems and for the conception of life)

was the goal to which the main effort of his mind


was directed. It was there that he found or
brought to perfection and full value, principles of
high importance which had been unknown to or
hardly mentioned by previous philosophers, or
insufficiently

marked by them, and which may

therefore be considered as his true discoveries.

Strange

is

the aversion to this conception of a

logic of philosophy (for

it

and should be accepted as

is

really very simple

irresistibly evident).

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

2
It

the idea, in other words, that philosophy

is

proceeds by a method peculiar to

itself,

the theory

No

of which should be sought and formulated.

one doubts that mathematics has a method of


own, which
the

that

is

studied in the logic of mathematics

have

sciences

natural

from which arises the logic of


experiment, of abstraction

has

its

their

observation, of

that historiography

method

is

aesthetic

method,

economic
activity

that in

which
science

has

its

economic
is

activity

afterwards

and that

is

ethic (or logic of the will, as

it

art,

inherent

reflected

in

moral

finally the

method, which

reflected

is

and

that poetry

general give us the logic of poetry and

i.e.

method,

method, and that therefore there

logic of the historical


art in

its

in

has sometimes

But when we come to philosophy,


that it,
very many recoil from this conclusion
too, from the moment of its inception, must have
been

called).

method of

its

own, which must be determined.

Conversely, very few are surprised at the

much space

that treatises on logic, while giving


to

the consideration

mathematical

and

of the

natural

no special attention
philosophy, and often pass
give

silence.

disciplines

sciences,
to
it

the

fact

as

of the
a

rule

discipline

over altogether

of
in

THE DIALECTIC
It

very natural that a logic of philosophy

is

should be denied by those who, owing to lack of

deny philosophy

in

or

confusion

mental

or

reflection

For

general.

eccentricity,
it

cannot be

claimed that the theory of an object should be

recognized

when the

reality of the object itself

philosophy does not exist, then


the logic of philosophy does not exist.
Good-bye
to both
enjoy such a position if it satisfy you.

is

denied.

If

But

if

have called

because

we

this spectacle strange,

it

is

too often see those very philosophers

or philosophizers, as the case

may

be,

showing

themselves altogether devoid of the conscious


ness of this inevitable necessity.
assert that philosophy

Some

of them

must follow the abstractOthers see

deductive method of mathematics.

no other way of salvation than a rigorous


adherence to the experimental method. They

for

it

dream and extol a philosophy studied in the


laboratory and the clinic, an empirical metaphysic,
and so on.

Finally (and this

is

the latest fashion,

newly revived), we
are now commended to an individual and fantastic

which,

if

not new,

is

at least

philosophy, which produces itself like

from the compasses to the


to the

zither

bistouri,

art.

Thus,

and from that

every method seems good

philosophy, save the method of philosophy

for

itself.

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

One

single observation should suffice against

such views

namely, that

if

philosophy

provide the understanding, and be as


consciousness of art and

reflective

mathematics and of the

researches

and moral

science, of the practical


fail

how

to see

it

it

to

is

were the

history, of

of

natural

activity,

we

can do this by conforming to

the

method of one of those

He

who, when studying a poem,

particular objects.
limits his study

to the

application of the poetical method, will

in

himself the creation of the poet, this or

feel

that particular

work of

attain to a philosophic

He who

art

but he will not thus

knowledge of the poem.

limits himself to

when studying

mathematical thinking,

a mathematical theory, will be the

disciple, the critic, the perfecter of that

theory

but he will not attain knowledge of the nature of

mathematical

activity.

the objectf of philosophy

be not the production or the reproduction of art


and mathematics and of the various other
activities

of man, but the comprehension

understanding) of them

all,

this

(the

comprehension

is

proceeding by a method of its


own, infused or implicit, which it is important to
itself

an

make

explicit.

activity,

In any case the hope

of judging

the

of understanding and

work of Hegel

is

vain,

if

we

THE DIALECTIC

keep clearly before the mind


problem which we have just enunciated

do not

always

that this

main and principal problem, the central


problem of the Phenomenology of Spirit, and of
the new forms assumed by this book in the

was

his

Science of Logic and in the Encyclopaedia of Philo


sophical Sciences.

Almost

histories of philo

all

sophy, and even the special monographs concern


ing

Hegel

monograph by Kuno

ample
in a

example, the recent and most

(for

repetition of the contents of his

summary

books, so

consist

Fischer),

as

close

to

divisions

his

by
But a complete exposi
thought, an inward and critical
repeat

sections and chapters.


tion of

Hegel

exposition, should, in the


part,

place and in chief

first

be devoted to his doctrine of the nature

of philosophic

enquiry,

and

the differences

to

between such enquiry and other theoretic and nontheoretic forms.

Above

all,

what should be made

Hegel,

modes or
confused.
firstly,

relation

to

Philosophic

It

is

concept, that

or

is

it

the

for

universal
is

or

Hegel

thirdly,

to say

intuition,

spiritual

most readily

is

thought

secondly,

or rapture,

three

the

attitudes with which

concept

concrete.
feeling,

in

is

thought assumes

triple character that philosophic

in

clear

it

is

not

any other

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

similar alogical psychical state, incapable of exact

This distinguishes philosophy


from theories of mysticism and of immediate

demonstration.

knowledge

significance,

for these

so

in

have

at the

as

far

most a negative

they recognize

that

philosophy cannot be constructed by the method


of the empirical and natural sciences, i.e. of the
of the

sciences

but

profound,

Hegel
the

becomes

eyes

to

empty

its
its

you

will,

profundity."

satirical

ferociously

hands,

if

are,

"

its frenzies, its

heaven,

the

clasping

an

with

mysticism, with

They

finite.

sighings,

against

its

raising

the neck and

bowing
faintings,

its

prophetic

mysterious phrases of the initiates.


He always maintains that philosophy should have
a rational and intelligible form that it should be,

accents,

its

"not

esoteric but

exoteric,"

but of humanity.
universal, not

The

not a thing of sects,

philosophic

merely general.

It

is

concept

is

not to be

confounded with general representations, as for


which are
instance, "house," "horse,"
"blue,"

usually

termed

concepts,

owing to a custom
This establishes the

which Hegel calls barbaric.


difference between philosophy and the empirical
or natural sciences, which are satisfied with types

and class-conceptions.
universal

is

concrete

Finally,
it

is

the philosophic

not the making of a

THE DIALECTIC

skeleton of reality, but the comprehension of


in its fulness

and richness.

Philosophic abstrac

and are

not arbitrary but necessary,

tions are

it

therefore adequate to the real, which they do not

mutilate

or

And

falsify.

this

establishes

the

between philosophy and the mathe


not
for these latter do
disciplines

difference

matical

justify their points of departure, but


them,"

and

command

to

we

must,

says

belief that this will

be

"

other hand, has for


;

and

it

its

obey

in

the
the

the con

Philosophy, on the

object that which really

must completely

justify itself,

admitting or allowing any presupposition.

And

in

lines,

opportune" for

duct of the demonstration.

is

Hegel,

draw such and such

command

"

without
1

order to elucidate this triple difference,

according to which the true concept,


philosophical

concept, shows

and concrete,

itself

i.e.

logical,

the
uni

would be necessary to
include in a complete exposition the minor
doctrines, which are attached to the first and
versal,

it

fundamental doctrine, some of which are of great


importance, such as the resumption of the onto-

argument (the defence of Saint Anselm


against Kant), which maintains that in the
logical

See especially the introduction to the Phenomenology


liminaries to the Encyclopaedia.

and the pre

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

philosophic

as

concept,

and

distinct

different

from mere representations of particulars, essence


Another is the review of the
implies existence.

judgment as a con
nexion of subject and predicate. That doctrine
doctrine which regards the

"

"

based on something that is not clearly in


telligible to thought, and is therefore inadequate
to philosophy, of which the true form is the
is

"syllogism,"

in

so

character of reuniting

has

as that

far

itself

with

the

logical

itself;

others,

again, are the critique of the theory, which con


siders the concept to be a

compound of
true
mark of the super

"marks"

"

(which Hegel
ficiality

into

the

of ordinary logic); the critique of divisions

species

(which

calls

"

and

classes

the

demonstration

curative efficacy in our times)

may have

of the vanity of every

"logical

and

calculus";

not a few others besides.

But

it

is

not

my

intention to offer in these

pages a complete exposition of Hegel s system,


but rather
nor even of his logical doctrine
;

to

concentrate

all

attention

upon

the

most

upon the new


aspects of truth revealed by him, and upon the
errors which he allowed to persist or in which he
characteristic part of his thought,

became entangled.

For

this reason, then,

set

aside the various theses briefly mentioned above

THE DIALECTIC
(from which
I

although

it

seems

to

me

impossible to dissent,

how

recognize too

necessary

it

that

is

they should be studied, since they form the often

neglected

BC

of

and

philosophy),

come

without further ado to the point around which

all

the disputes have been kindled and against which


his

opponents have aimed their direct denials

the treatment of the problem of opposites.

This
clearly

is

problem

defined

if

we wish

The

gravity and difficulty.


(which, as

has

whose

sulting

is

to

understand

its

philosophic concept
is

a concrete

concrete, does not

is

it

exclude distinctions, indeed


It

be

been mentioned,

universal), in so far as

itself.

must

terms

it

includes

the universal, distinct in

from

those

As

distinctions.

them

in

re

itself,

empirical

concepts are distinguished into classes and sub


classes, so the philosophic

particular forms, of which

it

concept possesses
is

its

not the mechanical

which every
form unites itself intimately with the others and
with the whole. For example, fancy and intellect,
aggregate, but the organic whole,

in

relation

to

in

the concept of spirit or spiritual

activity, are particular philosophic

they are not outside or beneath

indeed
is

the

spirit itself in

concepts

spirit,

but

they are

those particular forms

one separated from the other,

like

nor

two

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

io

entities each confined

the

fancy,

distinct

as

is

commonly

may be from

it

and external to

itself,

but the one passes into the other.

other,

Hence

to

intellect, is

of intellect and indispensable to

Our thought however,

however

said,

the foundation

it.

in investigating reality,

finds itself face to face, not only with distinct, but

also with opposed concepts.

These

cannot

latter

be identified with the former without more ado,


nor be considered as special cases of them, as

The

they were a sort of distinct concepts.


of distinction

category

category of opposition
said,

two

is

As

distinct concepts unite with

seem

to exclude

is

it

Where one

one another.

opposite concept

in the
is

saying, mors tua vita

mea

by

its

distinct

in its other,

sequence of

slain

has been

but two opposite con

presupposed by and lives

which follows

the

one another,

enters, the other totally disappears.

concept

logical

thing, and

another.

is

although they are distinct


cepts

one

if

opposite

applies here.

An

ideas.
:

the

Examples

of distinct concepts are those already mentioned,

of

fancy

and

intellect.

And

to these

others

could be added, such as rights, morality and the


like.

But

examples of opposite concepts are

drawn from those numerous couples of words, of


which our language is full and which certainly

THE DIALECTIC

do not constitute peaceable and friendly couples.


Such are the antitheses of true and false, ot good
and

beautiful and ugly, value and lack

evil,

value,

and

joy

and

positive

not-being,

life

and passivity,
and death, being and

It is

impossible to confuse

sorrow,

negative,

and so on.

activity

the two series, distincts and opposites

spicuously do they

Now,
it

if

of

so con

differ.

distinction

do not impede,

if

indeed

rather render possible the concrete unity of

the philosophic concept,


that

it

same should

the

Opposition gives

rise

does not seem possible

be
to

true

deep

of opposition.
fissures

in

the

bosom of the philosophic

universal and of each

of

and

its

particular

forms,

irreconcilable

to

Instead of finding the concrete uni

dualisms.

versal, the organic

whole of

reality

which

it

seeks,

thought seems everywhere to run against two


universals, opposing and menacing each other.
In

this

way,

impeded

the

fulfilment

and since an

of

activity

attain to its fulfilment, thereby

philosophy

is

which cannot

shows that

it

has

imposed an absurd task on itself, philosophy itself,


the whole of philosophy, is menaced with failure.

The
that the

seriousness of this impasse

is

the reason

human mind has always laboured

at this

problem of opposites, without, however, always

12

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

clearly

realizing

what

it

And

has been doing.

one of the solutions upon which

it

has relied

in

the course of centuries, has consisted in excluding

opposition from the philosophic concept, and in

maintaining the unreality of that perilous logical


The facts, to tell the truth, proved just
category.
the opposite

but the facts were denied and only

one of the terms was accepted, the other being


illusion"
declared
or, what comes to the same
"

thing, a merely quantitative difference

between

the

opposites

is

two.

This

logical

was drawn

doctrine

of

contained in the philosophic systems

of sensationalism, of empiricism, of materialism,

however otherwise they may


Thought and truth appeared in

of mechanism, or

be termed.

them

in

turn,

effect of habit

of egoism

the ideal,

dream

as

doctrine.

systems,

to

virtue, a

mirage

some kind of voluptuous

or capricious

and so on.

centuries

first,

and association

beauty, a refinement of sensuality

Another
sition

of the brain, or an

a secretion

which posits oppo

logical doctrine,

fundamental

employed
It

is

its

found

category,

force
in

against

the various

has

for

this

first

dualistic

which reassert the antithesis that the

with a delicate sleight of hand, had caused

disappear.

These systems accentuate both

THE DIALECTIC

terms, being and not-being,

and

and

ideal

false,

real,

13

good and

evil,

true

of

the

one

those

series being at variance with those of the other.

Without doubt, the

view

dualistic

retains

its

value against abstract monism a polemical value


due to its denial of the other s negation. But
:

in itself,

because

it

is

the

if

as

little

satisfactory as the other,

first sacrifices

opposition to unity,

the second sacrifices unity to opposition.


In

both

thought

impossible,

that

we

these

sacrifices

continually see

are

so

who

those

maintain the one doctrine turning more or less

The

consciously into maintainers of the other.


Unitarians

introduce

surreptitiously

the

duality

of opposites, under the guise of the duality of


an illusion with which
reality and of illusion
:

they could no more dispense than with reality


itself,

so that they sometimes even say that the

spring of
ists all

And

in illusion.

the opposition

admit some sort of identity or unity of

opposites

owing

life is

unattainable

by

the

human

mind,

to its imperfection, but necessary in order

In this way, both


adequately to think reality.
become involved in contradictions, and come
to

recognize

that

they

have

not

solved

the

problem which they had set themselves, and


that it still remains a problem.

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

For

or

"

necessary

human

the

of

imperfection

illusion,"

words, to which, try as

We

any meaning.
relative

illusions,

perfections.

we

"

necessary

and

accidental

and

individual

mere

we cannot give

will,

know only

im

relative

other than

reality

are

mind,"

the

real,

mind beyond the human mind, we can neither


conceive

nor constitute a term

parison.

Thus

in

any

and mind show us both

reality

And

unity and opposition.

Leibniz said of

(as

philosophical systems) the Unitarians,


as they affirm the
far as

com

first,

in so

far

the oppositionists, in so

they affirm the second, are right in what

and

affirm

wrong

what

in

they deny.
of
never
weary
admiring the virile
Hegel
firmness of the materialists and sensationalists

they

is

and

monists

of

every

unity of the real, and

in

owing

the

asserting

to the historical

which his thought developed, he


the dualistic forms less, and indeed

conditions

admired
never

if,

sort

in

an

lost

opportunity

of

his

expressing

antipathy to them, on the other hand he never


forgot

equally

that

the consciousness

invincible

and equally

of opposition
justifiable

is

with

that of unity.

The

case, then,

desperate

is

seems desperate

and no

the case of desperation.

less

For, to

THE DIALECTIC

15

declare the question insoluble would itself compel


us to consider, whether, by that very declaration,

we had

not already cut the knot

thought, that

to

is

The

of hope.

say,

favour of

in

observer of the history of philosophy

casual

sees

of dualism follow every affirmation

restoration

of monism, and vice versa

each unable wholly

to strangle the other, but able to hold


for a time.

It

it

check

in

would seem almost as though, when

man

has satiated himself with the uniformity of


monism, he distracts himself with the variety of

dualism

when he

he plunges
again into monism, and alternates the two move
and,

thus

ments,

is

tired of this,

tempering

The

with the other.

the

hygienically

one

casual observer, at every

epidemic of materialism, says with a smile, Wait

now

will

come

spiritualism.

ism celebrates
the same

little

spiritual

chiefest triumphs, he smiles in

way and

return in a
or

its

And when

says,

while

soon vanishes,

Wait

materialism

But the smile

there

for

cheerful in the condition of

is

is

will

forced,

nothing really

him who

is

ceaselessly

tossed from one extreme to another, as by an


invincible force

beyond control.
Nevertheless, amid the difficulties which

made
a

conviction,

have

the bottom of our souls

clear, there is at

secret

that

this

unconquerable

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

16

insoluble

this

dualism,

dilemma,

conquerable and soluble


is

is

ultimately

that the idea of unity

not irreconcilable with that of opposition, and

we

that

form

can and should think opposition in the

of

which

concept,

is

supreme

unity.

Ingenuous thought (which is usually called nonphilosophical, but would perhaps be better called
or

naively,

philosophical)

potentially,

embarrassed at the

difficulty

it

is

not

thinks at once

Its motto is not


both unity and opposition.
mors tua vita mea, but concordia discors.
It

that

recognises
a

theless

is

life

harmony

that

against ourselves, but that


selves.

It

struggle,

virtue
it is

recognizes that,

but

never

combat

is

nevertheless our

when one

opposition

has been overcome, a new opposition springs


from the very bosom of the unity, so there must

be a new conquest, then a new opposition, and


so on
the

but

recognizes, too, that this

hoop and another to the

advice

now

with optimistic,

which

observations,

thought,
nothing.

just

It

life.

to the

another

is

knows nothing of exclusive


the wisdom of proverbs gives one blow

of

way

systems

it

in turn.

to

What

potential

And

so,

deny
is

barrel,

now
and

and gives

with pessimistic

complete

wanting

philosophy?

to

one

ingenuous
Implicitly,

amidst the smoke and the dust

THE DIALECTIC
we always

of the battles of science,

find

immediately

in himself,

sigh for the

each one can

sense, for the truth which

good

17

without recourse to

the labourings, the subtleties, and the exaggera

But the sigh


the battle has been joined, and there is

tions of professional philosophers.


is

vain

no way to peace save through victory.


thought

grounds of

its

every objection
dicts

Ingenuous

(and this is its defect) cannot give the


affirmations
it

it

becomes confused and contra

Its truths are not

itself.

vacillates before

complete truths,

because they are not found united, but merely


placed

with

alongside

one another.
and

juxtaposition,

It

fails

works only

in

systematic

Contradictions and doubts and the

coherence.

painful consciousness of antitheses are

welcome

is

all

conflict if

attain to the truth that


in

Such

itself.

through

is

it

we

are

to

complete and secure

indeed, though

truth,

welcome

it

differs

widely from the truth of ordinary and ingenuous

degree of elaboration, cannot but be


and it is certainly a bad
substantially the same
thought

in

sign

when

a philosophy

genuous consciousness.
often happens that

is

at variance

For

this

with in

very reason

when people meet

it

a simple

and conclusive statement of philosophic truths,


that may have cost the labours of centuries, they

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

i8

shrug their shoulders and remark that the


boasted discovery is indeed a very easy thing,
plain and known of all men.
Precisely the same
will

thing occurs in the case of the most inspired


of

creations

which

art,

are

with

developed

such simplicity and naturalness that every one

experiences the illusion of having achieved, or


of being able to achieve them himself.
If

ingenuous thought give the hope and the

indication of the possibility of the reconciliation

of unity and opposition, another form of spiritual

which

creation, of

The

a sort of model.

And

the poet.

all

have experience, provides


philosopher has at his side

the poet, too, seeks the

the poet, too, thirsts for the real

he

truth;

too, like the

from arbitrary abstractions,


because he strives towards the living and the
recoils

philosopher,

concrete

he

too,

abhors the mute ecstasies of

the mystics and the sentimentalists, because

what he

feels that

it

is

he utters and makes to ring


words, limpid and silvery.

in the ear in beautiful

But the poet is not condemned


able.
This very reality, torn
opposition,

is

and he makes

the object of his

to the unattain

and

rent

with

contemplation,

though throbbing with opposi


Cannot the philo
tion, yet one and undivided.
sopher do the same ? Is not philosophy, like
it,

THE DIALECTIC
this

Why should

knowledge

poetry,

19

this perfection,

power of solving and of representing unity


be wanting to the philosophic con

in opposition,

when

cept

aesthetic

in

is

it

all

expression?

analogous to

respects

It

true that philosophy

is

knowledge of the universal, and therefore


and that poetry is knowledge of the
thought

is

and therefore intuition and imagination.

individual,

But why should not the philosophic universal,


like the aesthetic expression, be both at once

and

difference

unity, discord

and concord, discrete

and continuous, permanent and ever-changing

Why

should reality lose

mind

rises

when

true character

its

from the contemplation of the particular


Does not
to the contemplation of the whole ?
the whole
particular

And

in

live

us

as

vividly

does

as

here

it

is

that

Hegel gives

his shout of

jubilation, the cry of the discoverer, the

his

principle

of

it

deserves to be placed

bolized

The

problem of
and so obvious

among

those

another,

sym

by the egg of Christopher Columbus.

opposites are not illusion, neither

illusion.

Eureka,

the

of

solution

opposites: a most simple principle,


that

the

The

opposites

but they are

are

not

For true and concrete unity

opposed

opposed
is

is

to

unity

to

one

unity.

nothing but the

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

20

or

unity,

immobility,

but

of

synthesis,

movement.

is

it

The

development.

a concrete

It

opposites.
It

is

philosophic

is

not

not

fixity,

concept

is

and therefore a thinking


once united and divided. Only

universal,

of reality as at

thus does philosophic truth correspond to poetic

and the pulse of thought beat with the

truth,

pulse of things.
It

indeed, the only possible solution.

is,

rejects

neither

have called

of the two preceding,

and

"monism"

but justifies both.

"dualism

of

It

which

opposites,"

regards them as one-sided

It

a third, in

which await their integration in


which the first and second, even the

third

itself,

disappear,

And

that truth

truths, fragments

opposed to

it,

is

merged

in the

unique truth.

that unity has not opposition

but holds

it

within itself; and that,

without opposition, reality would not be reality,


because it would not be development and life.

Unity

is

the positive, opposition the negative

but the negative


far as negative.

is

also positive, positive in so

Were

it

not so, the fulness and

richness of the positive would be unintelligible.


If

the analogy between poetry and philosophy be

be not sufficiently clear what


is meant by a concrete concept, which as the
logical form of development corresponds to innot satisfactory,

if it

THE DIALECTIC
tuition as

its

from

chosen

we might

poetical form,

that comparisons

21
say,

now

and metaphors are more readily

the

natural

sciences

(sacrificing

exactitude of analogy to aptness of comparison),


that the concrete universal, with
life

opposites, expresses
life

it

the

synthesis of

its

and not the corpse of

gives the physiology, not the anatomy, of

real.

rejecting, as

the

liable to

cause misunderstandings,

formulae of unity and coincidence of

the other

because

opposites,

doctrine of opposites dialectic,

calls his

Hegel

in these stress is laid only

and not

unity,

opposition.

at

The two

upon
same time upon the

the

abstract elements, or the

opposites taken in and by themselves, he calls

moments, a figure taken from the moments of the

and the word

lever,

"moment"

is

sometimes also

applied to the third term, the synthesis.


lation of the

the

word

And

term

first

"solution"

that, as

moments
but

two

in

Hegel
their

preserved

in

to the third

or

(in

means

intimates,

re

expressed by

"overcoming"

(Aufkeben).
that the

two

separation are both negated,

the

The second

synthesis.

(in relation to the first)

and the third

is

The

relation

appears as negation,

to

the second) as a

negation of negation, or as absolute negativity,

which

is

also absolute affirmation.

If,

for conveni-

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

22

we apply numerical symbols


relation, we may call the dialectic

ence of exposition,
to this logical

a triad or trinity, because


of three terms

it

appears as composed

but Hegel never ceases putting

us on our guard against the extrinsic and arbitrary


character of this numerical symbolism, which

is

altogether unsuited to the expression of specula

And

tive truth.

indeed, to speak accurately, in

we do

the dialectic triad

but

one

single

universal, in

More than

concept, which

own

that, in

above

is

it

its

all

not think three concepts,


is

the

concrete

inner nature and structure.

order to obtain this synthesis

things

necessary to define the

And

opposition of the terms.

if

the

activity

which defines the opposition be called intellect,


and the activity which yields the synthesis reason,
it

evident that intellect

is

is

necessary to reason,

moment of it, is intrinsic to it and this,


indeed, is how Hegel sometimes considers it.
Whoever cannot rise to this method of think
ing opposites can make no philosophic affirmation

is

which
its

is

own

not self-contradictory and passes into


contrary.

This has already been ex

emplified in the discussion of the antithesis of

monism and
first

dualism.

triad of the

comprehends

in

And

it

can be seen in the

Hegelian Logic
itself all

the triad which

the others, and which,

THE DIALECTIC
as

23

known, is constituted by the terms


What is being
nothing, and becoming.

well

is

being,

without nothing

What

is

pure, indeterminate,

unqualified, indistinguishable, ineffable being,

not this or that particular being

in general,

being

How can

it

be distinguished from nothing

on the other hand, what


nothing conceived

i.e.

i.e.

is

And,

nothing without being,

in itself,

without determina

tion or qualification, nothing in general, not the

nothing of this or that particular thing

In

what way is this distinguished from being ? To


take one of the terms by itself comes to the same
thing as to take the other by

has

meaning only

Thus

itself, for

the one

and through the other.

in

to take the true without the false, or the

good without the

evil, is to

make

of the true

thing not thought (because thought

is

some

struggle

against the false), and therefore something that


is

And

not true.

similarly

it

is

to

make

of the

good something not willed (because to will the


good is to negate the evil), and therefore some
thing that

is

not good.

Outside the synthesis,

two terms taken abstractly pass into one


Truth is found only
another and change sides.
the

in the third
first

triad,

in
"

Hegel

says,

that

is

to say, in the case of the

becoming, which, therefore,

the

first

concrete

concept."

is,

as

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

24

Nevertheless, this
taking

the

which consists

error,

opposites outside

the

And

constantly reappearing.

in
is

synthesis,

there

it

against

must always be directed the polemic which shows,


as has just been shown, that outside the synthesis,
the opposites are unthinkable.
the dialectic in

But

sense.

it

its

This polemic
"

"

subjective

or

is

"negative"

must not be confused with the true

and proper meaning of the doctrine of dialectic


in its objective or positive sense, which
may also
be designated the logical doctrine of development.
In this negative dialectic the result

not the

is

synthesis, but the annulment, of the two opposite


terms, each on account of the other and there
;

fore the terminology,

which we have explained

above, also acquires, like the word


a

itself,

somewhat

intellect, in

so far as

different
it is

"dialectic

The
moment

meaning.

not an intrinsic

of reason and inseparable from

it,

but

is,

on the

contrary, the affirmation of the separate opposites

which claims to stand alone as ultimate


intellect, in this sense,

depreciatory term.
the eternal
is,

at

"It

enemy

becomes a derogatory and

It

is

the abstract

itself failing of its

not the fault of the

not proceed

intellect,

of philosophic speculation.

bottom, reason
is

truth,

further,

intellect

own
if

It

task.

we do

but a subjective impotence

THE DIALECTIC

which permits that determination to

of reason

continue in that

state."

The

place to a quatriad of terms

but

and

prepare

in

if,

negative

capacity,

it

the

positive

doctrine,

it

compel

it.

confusion between the merely negative


of

aspect

Hegel

and

dialectic

its

positive

has given rise to an objection to the

content

Hegelian doctrine of opposites,

which

mounted by

battle-charger so often
aries

as negative

this

neither produces nor states

The

two affirmations

bring confusion into the domain of

to

intellect

triad itself gives

Reason intervenes

and two negations.


reason,

25

is

the

his advers

Bayard so very old and


do not see how any one

a Brigliadoro or a

broken down that

It has
keeping his seat on it.
been said
If being and nothing are identical
(as Hegel proves or thinks he proves), how can
still

succeeds

in

they constitute becoming

identities,

being

Becoming, on Hegel

must be a synthesis of

theory,

a~a

not of

of which there can be no synthesis.

remains
is

opposites,

a,

and does not become

identical with nothing only

b.

But

when being

and nothing are thought badly, or are not thought


truly.
Only then does it happen that the one
equals

the

other,
1

not

as

Wissensch. der Logik,

a,
iii.

48.

but

rather

as

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

26

= 0.

For the thought which thinks them truly,


being and nothing are not identical, but pre
cisely opposite, and in conflict with one another.

And
two

this conflict

wrestlers, in

of one another

(which is also a union, since


order to wrestle, must lay hold

is

becoming.
added to or derived from the
!)

there

are

first

two taken

two

two unreal

abstractions,

shadows, being and nothing, each by


are, as such, united,

their

common

Another

in

unique concept, outside of

their separation, but a

which

not a concept

It is

which

itself,

not by their conflict, but by

vacuity.

which

objection,

has

seemed

also

triumphant, consists in observing that the concrete

with

universal,

very mark of
logical

synthesis of opposites,

its

concreteness

its

concept, because

the representation of

it

not

is

the

a pure

tacitly introduces in

movement and

ment an element of sense or

of develop

intuition.

But

if

the words are given their precise significance,

sense

and

particular,
is

intuition

should

individual, and

mean

historical.

something
And what

there in the Hegelian concept of the universal

which we can show to be


historical

an element,

we can

What
in

can

the

particular, individual, or

we

way

separate out as such

in which,

for

instance,

distinguish the particular, individual, or

THE DIALECTIC
element

historical
"oak,"

or of

Movement

concept of

the empirical

in

or of

"whale,"

"feudal

or development has about

of the particular
It

27

and contingent.

has no sense-element

It is

regime"?
it

nothing

a universal.

a thought, a concept,

it is

Its

the true concept exactly adequate to reality.

theory

logical

concrete

the

is

But

synthesis of opposites.

was

objection

intended

There
not

it

is

may be

it

against

which the concept possesses

universal,

in

the

character
s

logic.

not something empty and indifferent,

mere

"

ready to receive any

"

recipient

"

in

that this

Hegel

content, but the ideal form of reality


if,

the

this objection,

logic

itself.

And

taken to be only

"

is

an inconceivable abstraction, an abstraction which


"

is

commanded,"
"

"

intuition

like that of

mathematics, and

taken to be the speculative concept,

is

the criticism reveals, not a defect in Hegel, but


his true glory.

For

it

makes

it

clear that he has

destroyed that false concept of a barren and


formal logic as an arbitrary abstraction, and to
the true logical concept he has given a character
of concreteness, which can also be called
tion,"

when

above,

that

bosom

of

pulch* ior.

intuition

signifies,

philosophy
divine

as

"

intui

we showed

must spring from the

Poetry,

matre pule lira

filia

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

28

Philosophy, thus set in friendly relations with


poetry, enters that state which in these days of

Nietzschian phraseology
It is

is

"

called

dionysiac."

a state to terrify timid thinkers, who,

them

ever, in so far as they philosophize, find


selves, without

knowing

Thus our Rosmini, aghast


it

move

to

it

deny

"

recur

always

What

itself?

condition.

being

And even were

that being can

is false,

the question would

same

at the dialectic of

and not being, exclaimed


as true, as

in the

it,

how

it

deny itself,
what could

reason could be

assigned for this alleged desire, on the part of


being, to deny itself and to ignore itself? why, in
short, should

it

make

this

mad

annul

to

effort

Hegel does nothing less


than make being go mad and introduce madness
Thus he claims to give them life,
into all things.
itself? for

the system of

movement,

know

if

world, to
1

mad."

that the

free

passage, becoming.

a similar effort was ever

make

the
1

made

do not
in

the

even being itself, go


Probably Rosmini did not remember

same

all

things,

description,

though certainly

better style, had been given


in the

in far

by Hegel himself

Phenomenology, when, having represented

movement

of reality,

Saggio storico-critico sidle categoric

(Turin, 1883), p. 371.

that process of
e la dialettica^

coming

posthumous work

THE DIALECTIC

29

and passing away which itself is with


he concluded
out beginning and without end

into being

with the words

is

when

is

the Bacchic de

and transparent

seems mad, because


mad, because
life

its

that delirium

the others withdraw,

also simple

that

true

components is not
and since each becomes immediately dis

solved

The

which not one of

lirium, in

drunk

"

Reality

repose."

is life

it

philosophy seems

breaks up abstractions and lives

it

in thought.

It

is

madness which

is

the highest wisdom, and the true and not meta

madmen

phorical

empty words

the

who become mad with

are they

who

of semi-philosophy,

formulas for reality,

who never succeed

take

in raising

themselves to that clear sky whence they can see


their

work

as

it

really

They

is.

their heads, unattainable


to call

it

by them, and are ready

a madhouse.

Another manifestation of
fear

is

this

same

the cry that, with such logic as

very base and rule of

him

see the sky above

man

thought

is

irrational
this,

the

taken from

the principle of identity and contradiction.

Proofs are cited in Hegel

frequent outbursts of

ill-humour against this principle and in his say


ing that

for

there should be substituted the

it

opposite principle
1

that everything

Phanom.

d.

Geistes? p. 37.

is

self-contra-

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

30

But things do not stand precisely in


Hegel does not deny the principle of

dictory.
this case.

identity, for

otherwise he would have been obliged

to admit that his logical theory

was

and not

that philosophic

true, true

and

false

at

once true

being and nothing could be thought in the


synthesis, and also, each in and for itself, outside
ally,

the

synthesis.

And

his

all

polemic,

his

all

philosophy, would no longer have any meaning

it would never have been


seriously accomplished
So far
whereas, obviously, it is most serious.
;

from destroying the principle of identity, Hegel


gives it new life and force, makes it what truly
it

ought to be and what

For

not.
reality

is

left

Now

parts.

when

in

it is

in

ordinary thought

it

ordinary thought, in semi-philosophy,


divided, as has been seen, into
it

is

the one,

the one,
it is

now

two

the other, and

not the other.

in this effort after exclusion, the

And

yet,

one passes into

the other and both are fused in nothingness.


is

these

is

truly

unthinkable

contradictions

It

that

ordinary thought claims to justify and embellish


If attention
by adducing the principle of identity.
be paid to the words of Hegel alone, we might

say that he does not believe in the principle of


identity

but

if

we

look closer,

Hegel does not believe

we

see that what

in is the fallacious use

of

THE DIALECTIC
the use

the principle of identity

abstract thinkers

or

opposition,

unity;

who

retain

taken as a

made

of

it

by those

retain unity

by cancelling

opposition

by cancelling

as he says, the

or,

31

principle of identity

That

law of the abstract intellect/

"

because we are unwilling to

fallacious use exists,

recognize that opposition or contradiction

error of ours

but that

it is

far

less

a subjective

indeed the true being

All things are contradictory in

of things.

not a

which could

defect, or a stain, or an evil in things,

be eliminated from them,

is

them

and thought must think this contradiction.


This establishes truly and firmly the principle of

selves,

identity,

ing

it,

which triumphs over opposition

that

is

to say, in grasping

overcome precisely
identity.

in virtue of the principle of

Opposition unrecognized, or unity un

recognized,

is

but in effect

same

in its unity.

opposition overcome, and

is

Opposition thought

it

in think

apparent obedience to the principle,


is

real contradiction.

its

There

is

between Hegel s method of


thinking and the method of ordinary thought as
there is between him who confronts and conquers
the

difference

an enemy and him

who

closes his eyes in order

not to see him, and believing that he has thus got


rid of

him,

thought

becomes

consists

in

his

victim.

"

Speculative

determining opposition as

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

32

thought does, and


It does not,
itself.
allow

itself to
its

resolving

so

in

doing

it

determines

like representative thought,

be dominated by opposition into


own determinations only in other
l

determinations or in

Reality

nothingness."

a nexus of opposites, and

not rendered dis

is

sipated and discrete thereby.

Indeed,

and

reality

through

generates

supreme

opposition

or

but

discrete,

it

of

dialectic

grasps

of truth, does not

come

from their place,

but

The

them.

in

become
unity

in

discoveries

to drive preceding truths

to confirm

concrete

and

tinction

is

it.

like all

Hegel,

in

eternally

thought, which

opposition and logically synthesizes

The

is

it

the reality of reality,

reality,

dissipated

that

Nor does

itself.

is

and

to enrich

opposition,

is

the

dis

in

universal, unity

and

true

complete principle of identity, which allows no

rival

to

doctrines,

the

principle

because

principle into itself


its

own

flesh
1

as

either

existence,

separate

has

it

enunciated

absorbed

d.

Logik,

ii.

67-8.

or

in

older

the

older

and has transformed

and blood.
Wissensch.

complement

it

into

II

EXPLANATIONS RELATING TO THE


HISTORY OF THE DIALECTIC
SOME

historians of philosophy have thought that

the problem of opposites was the whole problem

Hence

of philosophy.

attempts

at

the history of the various

solution

sometimes been taken


philosophy, and
of the

place

for

the one

problem has
the whole history of

of

this

has been narrated

But the

other.

dialectic,

so

in

far

from being the whole of philosophy, is not even


the whole of logic
although it is a most
important part of it, and might be called its
;

crown.

The
evident
the

reason for this confusion will perhaps be

from what was said above.

intimate

connexion

between

It

the

lies

in

logical

problem of opposites and the great disputes of


the monists and the dualists, of the materialists
and the

spiritualists.

These disputes form the


33

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

34

part of the

principal

and histories of

treatises

philosophy, although they do

primary and fundamental

consider

that

construct

of

in

of logic,

that

dialectical

Were

thought.

this

philosophers

fact

it

in that

the solution, true or

false,

the solution, true or

impossible altogether
individual
it

another,
distinct

members

is

Doubtless, every

way.

can be discovered implicit

the others.

all

in

each one, and in

of one problem, there

false,

of

the

problems

also true that these

of the organic
all

whole,

idea of that whole

This principle we must bear


to

But

all.

to separate

philosophic

All

if it

is

histories

from

one

problems are

and we should not confuse the various

wish to lose

are

two

are

is

it

philosophic problem calls up

of

to

thought reality dialectically,


least given on the occasions when they

have thought

is

when

and

logically

given by the many

finally

who have
or at

But

thyself."

the Hegelian solution would have already

so,

been

better

is

will disappear,

theory

its

one thing to think


and another to have logical con

dialectically,

sciousness

know

think

to

logical

different things

not

"

apparent coincidence

we

which

task,

expressed by the phrase


this

not constitute

circumscribe

the

if

we do

not

itself.

in

enquiry

mind,
as

to

if

we
the

HISTORY OF THE DIALECTIC

ii

35

development of the dialectic doctrine


of opposites, and thereby to recognize the place
historical

and originality that belong to the thought of


This enquiry, within these precise
Hegel.
has perhaps not yet been carried out in
a suitable way.
This is due also to the fact
limits,

the

that

general

cultivate

consciousness

of

who

not

been

has

studies

philosophic

those

persuaded of the importance and truth of the


doctrine, so that there have been wanting the
interest

necessary

research

for

into

and
its

the

directive

The

history.

has been collected on this theme,

is

criterion

best

that

to be found

the books of Hegel himself, especially in his

in

History of Philosophy^ and here

it

is

opportune

rapidly to review his scattered remarks, making,

where

necessary,

some

additions

and

some

comments.

Was Hegel

the

first

principle of the dialectic

Had

to formulate the logical

and of

he forerunners, and

if so,

its

development
who were they

Through what forms and through what approxi1

See also the historical introduction to the Logik u. Metaphysik ot


Fischer (2nd ed., 1865), and the Prohisione ed introduzione alle

Kuno

lezioni di filosofia of B.

with the

new

title

europea,

Bari,

dialectic

and

La

1908).

Spaventa (Napoli,

1862; reprinted by Gentile

Filosofia italiana nelle sue relazioni con la filosofia

For the immediate antecedents of the Hegelian

for the various

phases of its development, see preferably Al.


Schmid, Entwickelungsgeschicte der hegehchen Logik (Regensburg, 1858).

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

36

mations did that principle pass, prior to attain


ing in

him

The

to its perfection

doctrine

of

dialectic

work of

the

is

mature thought, the product of long philosophic

Zeno of Elea
the

motion,

Hellenic antiquity

In

incubation.

refutations

first

we

find,

in

of

of

the

reality

of

the

difficulties

perception

which the principle of opposites gives rise.


Motion is the very fact of development in the

to

form

which

in

And

reflexion.
in

very clear

by

denying

the

resolved

reality

the

In

to

are:

"

being

"

same,"

is,

is

contradiction

(His

and the

an

illusion of

one and immovable.

made

is

not-being
not,"

of

His

the true reality.

and

and also

is

Heraclitus

Zeno,

movement and becoming


all

to

difficulties

of Achilles

Motion

being, reality,

opposition

sayings

the

easily

movement.

of

arrow,

space and time.)

the senses

most

showed the contradictions involved

tortoise, etc.,
in

itself

Zeno, having set the

relief,

of

arguments

offers

it

are

the

"everything

His comparisons of things with a river,


of the opposite which is in its opposite as sweet
flows."

and
lyre

bitter are in honey, of the


;

his cosmological

bow and

of the

views of war and peace,

of discord and harmony,

show how profoundly

Heraclitus

as

felt

reality

contradiction

and

HISTORY OF THE DIALECTIC

,i

Hegel used

development.

to

there

that

say

37

was not one affirmation of Heraclitus that he


had not incorporated
is

to

be

them

incorporating

upon

that

observed,

these

own

his

in

the

by
a

more

far

it

of

he conferred

signification than they had possessed

precise

when they

Without doubt we must hold them

stood alone.
in

act

very

in his doctrine,

affirmations

But

logic.

high esteem, just as they have been handed

down, an ingenuous and penetrating vision of


the truth.
But we must not insist upon them
too

we

lest

much,

run

should

the

risk

of

and make a Post-Kantian

historical falsification,

of a Pre-Socratic.

The same remark


dialectic

of

the

Parmenides,

Philebus,

dialogues

historical

place

Hegel thought

are

whose

the

to

applies

the

Platonic

Sophist,

interpretation

much

matters of

the

and

dispute.

that they contained the essence

of the Platonic philosophy, the attempt,

pass from the universal,

still

i.e.

to

as yet abstract, to

the concrete universal, to posit the speculative

form

of

Questions

the
are

concept

as

discussed

unity
there

in

diversity.

concerning the

one and the many, identity and non-identity,


motion and rest, coming into being and passing
away, being and not being, finite and infinite,

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

38

The

the limited and the unlimited.


of the Parmenides
is

is,

that the one

and other than

itself

relation

conclusion

and

is

is

not,

and that things in


themselves and in distinction from

to

itself,

others are and are not, appear and do not appear.

And

of this indicates an attempt to overcome

all

a difficulty, which issues only in a negative result.

In any case, as Hegel noted, in Plato

find the

but not yet complete consciousness of

dialectic,
its

we

nature.

It is

a speculative

method of thinking,

greatly superior in value to the argumentations

of the Sophists or to the later ingenuities of the

Sceptics
logical

but

does not attain to the level of

it

Of

doctrine.

Aristotle,

that his logical consciousness

is

may be

it

in

with his speculative consciousness

said

disagreement
his logic

purely intellectualist, his metaphysic

is

a study

is

of the categories.

We

can

discover

of

nothing

more

than

an

or

perhaps a conscious
ness of helplessness and an indication of the
extremity

lacuna,

in

need,

the

doctrines

and of the Gnostics.


absolute

thought

being,

the

abyss where

is

of Plotinus, for

all

the

This

is

Jew

reality,

unattainable

inscrutable

negated.

whom

Philo

For them, true

considered

ineffable,

all is

of

God,

by
the

equally true

predicates are inadequate

HISTORY OF THE DIALECTIC

ii

39

them expressing but a

to the Absolute, each of

developed an
idea that Plato had already mentioned
the idea

determination of

In Proclus

it.

is

of the trinity or the triad.

This

Absolute as

spirit,

idea

of

the

philosophic advance

idea,

and the

the

is

great

implicit in Christianity.

Nicholas of Cusa, inheriting Neoplatonic and


mystical traditions, was the thinker who, at the

beginning of the modern world, most energetically


expressed the need of the human spirit to emerge
from dualisms and
that simplicity

conflicts,

where opposites

Cusan was the

the

and to

to

first

coincidence of opposites

is

raise itself to

perceive
in

And

coincide.
that

antithesis

this

to the

merely abstract logic of Aristotle, who conceived


contrariety as

and did not

difference,

perfect

admit that unity could contain contraries, since


he regarded each thing as the privation of its

Cusanus

opposite.
that unity

is

maintained

against

prior to duality, the coincidence of

opposites prior to their separation.


view, that which unites
as

simple

this,

coincidence,

But

in

his

the opposites, thought


is

incomprehensible

to

either

man,

intellect,

mind.

by sense, or by reason, or by
which are the three forms of the human

It
1

remains a simple limit

IvavTibTys

t<rrl

and of God,

5ta0opd rAetos, Metaphys. 10553.

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

40

who

is

a union of
is

ledge

all

no other know

contraries,

save an

permitted,

incomprehensible

comprehension, a learned ignorance.

His thought seems to assume a more positive


function in Giordano Bruno, who proclaims
himself a disciple of

the divine

"

Bruno

Cusan."

also upholds the coincidence of opposites as the

best

of

principle

forgotten and must be resuscitated

an

eloquent

contraries,

description
of.

has been

philosophy that

the

of

the

and gives
of

unification

circle

perfect

and

of

the

straight line, of the acute and obtuse angle, of

heat and cold, of corruption and generation, of


love and

hate,

of poison and antidote, of the

and the plane, of the concave and the


convex, of wrath and patience, of pride and
spherical

humility, of avarice and liberality.

an echo of the Cusan

is

words:

"Whoever

least

and

draw the

of union.

thought,
1

On

the

memorable

him study and contemplate


greatest

Profound

opposites.
to

the

these

there

wishes to know the greatest

secrets of nature, let

the

in

And

is

of

contraries

the magic that

and

knows how

contrast, after having found the point

This was the direction of Aristotle

when he
Cusan,

see

posited
Fiorentino,

Quattrocento (Napoli, 1885), cap.

ii.

privation,
//

Risorgimento

conjoined
filosofico

nel

HISTORY OF THE DIALECTIC

ii

41

with a determinate disposition, as the progenitrix,

parent and mother of form


attain to

He

it.

but he could never

could not, because stopping at

\htgenus of opposition, he was hampered in such


a way that he failed to descend to the species of
even

fix

erred

at

his

the

eyes upon

Hence he

goal.

every step, through saying that the

come together

contraries could not truly

same

did not

so that he did not attain,

contrariety,

In his naturalistic intuition, the

subject."

becomes

principle of the coincidence of opposites

Bruno a kind of

to

We

"

templation

principle of con

aesthetic

delight in colour, not in one

whatever

specific colour,
in one,

in the

which weaves into

be, but chiefly

may

it

We

itself all colours.

delight in a voice, not in a single voice, but in

one

harmony
sensible,
in

sound

complex

itself

of

voices.

many

but chiefly
all

which

in

comprehends

itself

We

in

whole,
itself."

De

in

but chiefly

every knowable

The

that

principle

la causa principio

is

ed uno, Dialogue V.,

metafisici, ed. Gentile, Bari, Laterza),

in

an

can be

completes the

which

no

that

all

being which
in

in

comprehends
knowable which

apprehensible, which embraces

understood

delight

the

that which

in

sensibles

from

results

is

the whole

longer beyond
in

fine

1907, pp. 255-257.

(V.

Dialoghi

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

42

man

reach

it

is

power of the human mind

though not yet a rigorously


still

awaits

logical power.

It

justification in a doctrine of the

its

concept.

The

of

unity

is

opposites

also

earnestly

asserted

by the philosophus theutonicus,

Bohme.

He

force, says

posits the antitheses in

Hegel, but does not allow

to be arrested

their full

his

thought

by the strength of the differences,

and proceeds to posit unity.


is unknowable without the u
is in

Jacob

himself unknowable.

For him, the

yes

The One, God,

no."

If

"

"

he

is

to

be known,

he must distinguish himself from himself, the


Father must duplicate himself in the Son.
Bohme
sees

the

triad

in

all

things,

and fathoms the

significance of the Christian trinity, but he too

does not succeed

in

putting his thoughts into

the form proper to thought.

The

philosophy

of

the

and

seventeenth

eighteenth centuries which developed under the


influence of the mathematical science of nature,

was not capable even of setting the problem in


the form proper to thought.
For Descartes,
thought and extension unite
incomprehensible manner.
unite in Substance:
third

but

in

God, but

in

an

For Spinoza, they


"mode,"

which

is

the

term after substance and attribute, does

HISTORY OF THE DIALECTIC


Leibniz

not constitute a dialectic synthesis.

wrecked on the problem of


an optimism of but

The

century resolves

all

and arrives

evil

is

at

philosophical value.

slight

of

philosophy

popular

43

the

eighteenth

antitheses in God,

who

thus

becomes an assemblage of contradictions, the


problem of problems. Only here and there do

we

find

in

suggestions

some

Vico,

who

the

of

example, there

solitary

is

thinker

dialectic

and

hints

For

solution.

the philosophus italicus, G. B.

not only actually thinks history and

from the logic of


Aristotle, and from that of Cartesian physics and
life

dialectically,

but recoils

mathematics, founding on the one hand a logic


of fancy (poetic logic), and of history (logic of

on the other he gives importance to


the inductive logic of observation and of ex
certainty)

periment, as presage of a more concrete logic.

Another
to Vico,

solitary figure, in

John George

many

respects akin

Hamann (who was

Jacobi to unite in himself in a high

said

degree

by
all

extremes) showed himself from youth onwards


dissatisfied with the principles of identity and
reason and attracted by that of the coincidentia
oppositorum.
in the

De

Hamann had met with this

triplici

minima

and he had carried

"

it

et

for

principle

mensura of Bruno
years

in

his

head

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

44

without being able either to forget it or to under


stand
Yet it seemed to him to be "the
it."

sole

sufficient

reason

of

contradictions*

all

the true process of their solution and

which would put an end

levelling,"

to all the contests of the

From Hamann knowledge


passed to Jacobi, who published

abstract thinkers.

of this principle

and

the extracts relating to

it

which are

to

be found

But Jacobi, hampered


by his theory of immediate knowledge, though
he indicated the lacuna, was not himself in
the works of Bruno.

in

a position to pass

beyond

it

strict

by

logical

thought.

The

reason for this

is,

that in order to arrive

a truly logical statement of the problem of

at

opposites, and to escape the mystical and agnostic

was no

solution (which indeed

necessary

Kantian

the

that

be

accomplished.

his

whole

Critique

Hamann much

less

pronouncement

of

It

solution),

revolution

was

Kant,

Bruno

coincidentiae oppositorum

on

was

should

although

seemed

of Pitre Reason

important

it

than

the

to

sole

the

principium

who was

precisely in

virtue of that critique, the true progenitor of the

new
1

principle

For Hamann,

of the

cf.

and the Essays collected

Hegel,

coincidence
Vermischte

in B. Croce,

of opposites,

Schriften,

Saggi fiL

iii.

ii.

36-37, 87-88,

HISTORY OF THE DIALECTIC

ii

of

new

the

that

dialectic,

of

is,

the

45

logical

doctrine of dialectic.
It

true that Kant, like his immediate pre

is

cursors, from Descartes to Leibniz

and to Hume,

was under the influence of the prevailing intellectualism and of the ideal of a mathematical

Hence

his

agnosticism, the

thing-in-itself,

the abstractness

science of nature.

phantom of the
of the

imperative, and

categorical

But

for traditional logic.

at the

his

same

respect
time, he

maintains and renders more effective the differ

ence

between

and reason.

intellect

In

of Judgment he propounds a
thinking reality, which is no longer
Critique

the

mode

of

merely

mechanical, no longer either the external teleo

logy of the eighteenth century, but


internal teleology

genuine
he catches sight of the idea

beyond the abstract concept.


exposition

of the

is

Better

Antinomies,

still,

in his

Kant advances

the problem of opposites a stage further.

Antinomies

seem

certainly

insoluble,

The

but

the

contradictions spring directly from the necessities

of the

What

human mind.

is

more important

(what indeed is his true glory), he discovers the


a priori synthesis-, and that, as Hegel observed,
can be nothing
opposites."

but

"

an

With Kant

original

synthesis

this synthesis

of

does not

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

46
receive

its full

value.

is

it

contained in

itself.

had been brought

to

The

a priori synthesis

the source of transcendental logic, which exists

by the side of the old


it,

it

not developed in the

could not be slow to reveal the riches

it

which

is

But once

dialectic triad.
light,

It

at first parallel

to

but inevitably bound to end by destroying

it.

Kant

logic,

also throws into relief the form of triplicity,

and although he employs it in an altogether ex


trinsic manner, yet he does employ it constantly,
and almost with the presentiment of

its

near and

greater destinies.

The

task that awaited philosophy after

seems evident:
to create the

to

new

develop the a priori

Kant

synthesis,

philosophical logic, to solve the

problem of opposites, by destroying the dualisms


that had not only been left intact, but rendered

more powerful, by Kant. And if there be little


more in Fichte than there was in Kant, yet in
him everything becomes more simple and more
The thing-in-itself is denied. But
transparent.
on the other hand the concept of the Ego retains
a subjective significance, and does not accomplish
the true unity of subject and object, so that Fichte

does not succeed


to spirit,

ness

and

in justifying

and ends,
in

faith.

like

Kant,

But

the

nature in relation
in

moral abstract-

idea

of

new

ii

HISTORY OF THE DIALECTIC

Logic

and the form of


as

position,

so

that

conceived as a doctrine of science

is

philosophy

much

determined, so

better

is

47

triplicity

assumes a dominant

and

antithesis

thesis,

synthesis.

Schelling takes another step forward, in arriving


at the conviction that

it

is

not possible to think

philosophically, except through the


identity

of

opposites

he

for

conceives

But

Absolute as identity of opposites.


the Absolute
Its

principle of

indifference of subject

is

the

him

for

and

object.

are

differences

It
is
merely quantitative.
And his theory
not yet subject and spirit.
of knowledge is without logic, because for him

the instrument

of philosophy

This

templation.

deficiency

con

aesthetic

is

Schelling

never

overcoming, and the consequences


were so serious as to give rise to what has been

succeeded

in

called his second

manner, the metaphysic of the

irrational. __

Hegel, as

is

known, appeared

later

in

the

philosophical world than his

young contemporary
a
whose
in
certain sense he may
Schelling,
disciple
be called.
But what for Schelling was the point

of arrival,

what was

was
for

for

Hegel a point of

Schelling the

began the process of

Hegel

final

transition

phase,

his degeneration,

a juvenile phase.

He

too for

whence
was

for

some time

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

48

knew no other instrument


thetic contemplation,

knew

of philosophy than aes


intuition as intellectual

and knew no other philosophical system


than the work of art. He too (in the first sketch of
intuition,

his

system that has been preserved) placed

summit of

spiritual

at the

development, not philosophy,

But the profound scientific spirit


of Hegel led him gradually to recognize that
philosophy cannot have any other form than that
but religion.

of thought, in the precise sense in which thought


differs

from fancy and

was no longer thought


istic

sense

after

intuition.

Certainly,

it

in the old logico-natural-

Kant, Fichte and Schelling,

was no longer a possible meaning


the
intellectualism of the two preceding centuries

that

had been mortally wounded. There must be a


logical form, which should preserve and reinforce
a logical
conquests of philosophy
form, which should be the form of the real in its

the recent

integrity.

Everything urged

path of enquiry

Hegel

into

his admiration for the

of the Hellenic world

this

harmony

his participation in the

romantic movement, so rich in antitheses


theological studies, from which

it

seemed

to

his

him

that the Christian idea of the Trinity, attenuated

or rendered void by Protestant rationalism, should


find

its

refuge

and

its

true

meaning

in

the

HISTORY OF THE DIALECTIC

ii

new philosophy

on the

his speculative studies

And

Kantian synthesis and antinomies.

49

with

the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), he detached

himself

from

the

tendencies

philosophical

to

which he had previously adhered, and brought


to light his principle of solution of the

problem

no longer a simple coincidence


no
a third unknown or unintelligible term

of opposites
in

no longer the intuition


of Schelling
but unity and diversity together,
movement and dialectic. The preface to the

longer motionless unity

Phenomenology has been called


to

"

Hegel

but the truth

Romanticism";

is

farewell

that

it

was

only because of his secession that Romanticism

was saved
had

in

a certain

could pluck

The

Only a romantic who


sense surpassed Romanticism

for philosophy.

its

philosophical

fruit.

logic of the dialectic

considered

true

and

is

therefore to be

original

discovery

of

Hegel, not only in comparison with his remote


predecessors, but also with those who are nearest
to him.

If a

proof of this be sought, one need

only consider his attitude towards these

Kant,

who

disclaimed Fichte, would have dis

claimed Hegel even more decisively.


philosophy
ditions

for

latter.

In

Kant

were not the necessary con


understanding Hegel, and therefore
there

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

50

there could be no true

who

combated

in

But Hegel,

criticism.

manner

definitive

the

erroneous tendencies and aspects of the Kantian

and

philosophy,

appeared

in

its

train,

views which

obsolete

the

all

was

showed what a new and

also

fruitful

man who

the

contribution

it

had made to philosophy. So true is this that it


has been possible to say that no one but Hegel
has understood Kant. 1 Schelling always remained
deaf and hostile to the conception of his former

and during the half century that he


survived, he obstinately opposed to it his own
Sometimes,
theory, grown old and degenerate.
friend

indeed

in

(as

the

celebrated

preface

the

to

Fragments of Cousin), while violently rejecting the


philosophy of Hegel, in the same breath he com
plained that he had been robbed by him

however anywhere

without

clearly formulating either the

nature of the theft, or the error.

Hegel, on the

other hand, always venerated Schelling as


father of the

new

philosophy."

the gleam of dialectic that there

He
was

"

the

recognized
in

him, and

always calmly pointed out his merits and his


1

"

For

my

to see, I have

except

Hegel,

part, I have to declare that, so far as it has been given me


no evidence that any man has thoroughly understood Kant

or

that

this

latter

himself remains

aught else than a

problem whose solution has been arrogated, but never effectuated


(J. H. Stirling, The Secret of Hegel, London, 1865, i. 14).

"

ii

HISTORY OF THE DIALECTIC


If a superior

defects.

point of view

such by comprehending within


inferior

lie in its

tion

if

it

show

51
itself

those that are

the proof of the truth of a doctrine

power of furnishing
discovered

of truths

explication of their errors

at

once the

by

others

justifica

and

the

then this sort of proof

has not been wanting to the doctrine of Hegel.

Kant did not


into

fully

understand himself, and

the arms of the neocriticists,

fell

who turned

from his transcendental logic to merely natural


istic

logic

Schelling did

himself and ended with

not fully understand

little

credit as the second

Hegel, both ended in his


great mind, who was their spiritual son an end
more worthy than that of serving as an exercise
Schelling.

But

for

for little scholars, or of


in the failure to

know

surviving each by himself

himself.

Ill

THE DIALECTIC AND

THE CONCEPTION OF REALITY


To

think dialectically, and to think the logical

theory of the dialectic, are, then, two distinct

mental

Yet

acts.

strengthens the

it

is

clear that the

second act

by giving it consciousness of
from the embarrassments that

first,

and freeing it
arise from false ideas concerning the nature of
This is precisely what occurs
philosophic truth.
itself

in

the case of Hegel.

He

is

not only the great

theorist of the dialectic form of thought, but the

most complete dialectician who has appeared in


His dialectical treatment of the ordinary
history.
conception of reality modifies

and changes
all

its

the fissures,

the rents and

general aspect.
all

it

in several parts

All the dualities,

the hiatus, and, so to speak,

wounds with which

reality

all

shows

be lacerated by the abstract intellect,


A complete unity
are filled, closed and healed.
itself to

52

DIALECTIC AND REALITY


the organic whole
life

realized

is

(gediegene Einheit]

the coherence of

re-established

is

again circulate within

And we must

53

blood and

it.

note above

that there dis

all

appears a series of dualisms, which are not true


not

opposites,

false opposites

even
and

true
false

They

distincts.

are

terms which

distincts,

cannot be thought either as elements constitutive


of the concept as universal, or as

its

particular

forms, for the simple reason that, as formulated,

they do not exist.


refers here

Hegel (who,

and there

them and genuine

in his criticism,

to the difference

between

and opposites) exactly


determines their genesis, which is to be found in
distincts

the

phantasmagorias of abstraction. They are


dualities of terms, which have their origin in the
empirical sciences, in the perceptive and legislative
in

consciousness,

the

sciences

of

phenomena.
These sciences, just because they are immersed in
phenomena, whenever they attempt to rise to the
universal are compelled to break up reality into

appearance and

and

accident

and

finite

sensible,

Were

essence,

substance,

infinite,

external

spirit,

one, sensible

and such

these terms truly distinct (or

designated distincts),

internal,

manifestation and force,

many and

matter and

and

like terms.

if

they would give

and super

they truly
rise to the

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

54

problem of the conjunction of


concrete concept.

opposed

(or

if

in

the

Were they true opposites, really

they designated things truly and


1

really

distincts

opposed),

they would give

rise

to

the

But, since
problem of the synthesis of opposites.
they are not, since they assume their appearance
of distinction and opposition, only through the
arbitrary abstraction of the empiricists, naturalists

and mathematicians,

by a negative

criticism of them, achieved

dialectic,

different process

accomplished by a

is

from that which directs positive

dialectic.

They

in

are,

truth,

attempt to overcome

upon

either of the

distinction from the


into

the

unthinkable
the

other, ends

Materialism

other.

phenomenon, matter, the


external, etc.

finite,

but, since that

constituted as to require

appears again

finite

is

insisting

appears in

by changing
preserves

it

the

the sensible, the

term

is

naturally so

other, the

infinite

assuming the form


of a finite from which

born, then another

another, to infinity.

This

the false or bad infinite.


1

its

it

in that finite,

of a quantitative infinite,

another

by

duality,

two terms, as

and every

is

finite,

then

what Hegel called

Supernaturalism pre-

These and similar reservations are made necessary by the plurality


had in philosophical language.

of meanings which those words have

DIALECTIC AND REALITY


serves the other term as sole reality

without

the

appearance,

55

but essence

without

internal

external, the infinite without the finite,

the

become

Here
something inscrutable and unknowable.
appears the thing-in-itself, which would better be
called vacuity in itself

(Hegel says)

because not only

the great mystery, which

very easy thing to know

is

the thing-in-itself not outside

is

on the contrary is a product of


thought, of thought which has been pushed on to
pure abstraction, and which takes as its object
thought, but

identity with

empty
from

nomenon,

thing-in-itself,

back to the phe

very inanity, leads

its

to the finite, to the external, as alone

real

and thinkable

it is

phenomenon,

The

The

itself.

it

and precisely in as much as


is finite and external.

correction

positive

is

given

by

the

concrete concept, by that character of concreteness,

proper

differentiating

to

the

it

from

Hegelian

concept

and

and mathe

naturalistic

The real is neither of those


their sum
it
is the concrete

matical abstractions.

terms

nor

is

concept, which
itself

it

fills

the emptiness of the thing in

and annihilates the distance,

which had

separated that from the phenomenon.


absolute,

which

is

no

longer

It is

parallelism

attributes or an indifference to both

the
of

but which

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

56

accentuates and confers

new

of

in

the

which,

terms,

significance on one

virtue

new

of that

and brings the other within


substance becomes subject, the

significance, absorbs

Thus

itself.

absolute determines itself as spirit and idea

materialism

is

Thus

overcome.

and

too reality

is

no longer an internal confronting an external


nature (according to the saying of Goethe, which

Hegel accepts and makes


nut nor

shell,

but

is

own) has neither


of a piece.
The one is

all

not beyond the many, but

not

beyond body, but

naturalism

With

is

overcome.

his

the

is

is

many

body.

spirit is

And

super-

the destruction of these false distinctions

and oppositions, which may


represented

by

appearance, there

the
is

duality

be summarily
of essence and

all

connected the purely dialectic

treatment (the positive dialectic) of true opposi


tions.

These may be summarily represented by the

antithetic duality of being

and not-being.

a dualism founded upon real opposition

This
;

for

one could think of denying the existence of

is

no

evil,

of the false, of the ugly, of the irrational, of death,

and the antithesis of these terms

to the good, to the

true, to the beautiful, to the rational

and

to

life.

1
For the criticism of these concepts, see especially the doctrine of
the Essence, which forms the second part of the Logic.

DIALECTIC AND REALITY

in

Nor does Hegel deny

But owing

it.

doctrine, which sees in

logical

57
to his

the very act of

thinking opposites, the conception of reality

itself

as development, he cannot consider the negative

term, the side of not-being, as something opposed

and separated from the other.


If the negative
term did not exist, development would not exist
to

and with

reality,

The

appear.

ment

The

and therefore of

but

but he

true

felicity,
is

manly,

find

pages

would

and imbecility

no place

where

that

is

is
:

a character

he who

with

acts,

evil.

human

truly

or

not a beatitude that knows no suffering.

Such a beatitude
fatuity

at grips

is

felicity

not thought

is

Innocence

acts

real.

the absence of thought,

is

truth.

who

of the

the very soul

is

not of action, but of inaction

istic,

errs

the spring of develop

is

contact with error

all

not truth

is

the positive term, would dis

negative

opposition

lack of

and

it,

strife is

in

be possible only to

and the conditions of

it

the history of a world which,


"

wanting (says Hegel),

shows

its

blank."

If this

be true (as

it

doubtless

is,

in

accord

ance with the general and profound persuasion of


aphorisms, which

humanity, expressed

in

seem sometimes

be Hegelian phrases), the

relation

to

between the

many

ideal

and

the

real,

the

58

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

rational

and the

cannot be understood

real,

sense that these words bear


the schools
rational

which

is

What

rational.

rational

that

is real.

between a

conflict

not real and a real which


real

is

The

is

the

the philosophy of

in

as the

is,

in

is

not

and what

rational,

is

idea and the fact are the

What, for instance, do we call rational in


the domain of scientific thought, but thought
same.

itself?

An

thought

it is

irrational

not thought; as

is

thought

What da we

unreal.

the domain of artistic production


art itself:

an

artistic fact, if

not be artistic fact


"

reality,"

but
is,

it

then, the unreal

The work

were

it

ugly,

of

would

certainly no artistic

is

which includes the

artistic unreality.

call rational in

"

What

note

is

"

of ugliness

called irrational,

and cannot be considered

as a species or class of real objects.

doubt, even unreality has

its reality,

Without

but

it is

the

which belongs to

reality of unreality, the reality

not-being in the dialectic triad, to the nothing

which

is

not the real, but the stimulus of the real,

the spring of development.

Those who, relying on


identity of the real

and the

this

doctrine

rational,

of the

have applied

the term optimism to the. Hegelian conception of


reality
1

and of

life,

have grossly misunderstood

Preface to the Philosophy of Rights

and

cf.

Encycl.

6.

his

DIALECTIC AND REALITY

59

meaning.
Hegel cancels neither the evil nor the
vain nothing could be
ugly, nor the false nor the
:

more alien

and

conception of reality, so dramatic,

to his

What he

in a certain sense so tragic.

himself to do

and of error
error

is

is

to

and

sets

understand the function of


to

understand

it

as evil

evil

and as

deny it as such, but rather


To do this is not to close one s

surely not to

to strengthen

it.

eyes upon the sad spectacle, or to

falsify

it

with

the puerile justifications of the external teleology


of the eighteenth century

(as,

Bernardin de Saint-Pierre).
the

bottom

of

this

for

instance, did

But the truth

at

ascription

of

superficial

optimism to Hegel is that he cannot be called a


because pessimism is the negation of
pessimist
the positive term in the dyad of opposites, just as
;

optimism

And

is

the negation of the negative term.

indeed, have there ever been or can there

ever be self-consistent optimists or pessimists

No more

than

there

monists or dualists.
mistic side

method of

have been self-consistent

Every optimist has a

pessi

just as every pessimist proposes a

liberation

and therefore has

from

evil

and from

his optimistic side.

error,

Good and

opposed and correlative terms and the


affirmation of the one is the affirmation of the
evil are

other.

Hegel, who denies both, while preserving

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

6o
both

the dialectic synthesis,

in

and

optimism

pessimism,

laughter nor tears

high

where

Olympus,

philosophic

there

for laughter

beyond both
up on that

is

neither

is

and tears have

become objects for spirit, and their agitation is


overcome in the serenity of thought, as in the
concreteness of
Fact,
it

is

life.

reality,

always rational and ideal

is

always wisdom

always truth,
be

But,

goodness.
is

meant what

is

truly

is

reality.

really

The

but the absence of

most
to

it is

not

reality,

by

illogical,

it

fact,

demand

the

fact

is

what

the unpleasing,
nor

is

fact,

void, not-being

for true being, the


itself.

reality

fact

by

reality,

the capricious,

the ugly, the base,

and moral

well understood,

it

at

stimulus

never

Hegel

dreamed of accepting and justifying as fact what


is
and may this not
misplaced and perverted
;

be

his

justification

considers

unreality

it,

saying has

it,

tion,

Hegel
not of

considering

and void

as

he

the

old

it,

As

Nature abhors a void

most certainly does


death of his activity,
If

for

but

so,

because the void

i.e.

of his being as man.

man

is

the

philosophy furnishes the justifica


evil,

but

only of the

function

of

on the other hand he was never weary of


warning against the facility and superficiality

evil,

DIALECTIC AND REALITY

in

61

with which people are wont to declare irrational


that

which
in

which,

of

virtue

this

cannot be considered

enemy

those

sensitive

effective

irrational.

and

is,

existence,

the

Hegel

is

with

life,

discontented

of the

great

and

been

has

effectually

of

who perpetually declaim


name of reason and virtue,

souls

and agitate in the


and (to take an historical example) of Faustism,
which proclaims that theory is grey and the tree
of

green, which

life

rebels against the laws of

custom and of existence, which despises truth


and science, and instead of being possessed by
the celestial
earthly

He

spirit.

the

is

and

humanitarianism

the power of the

into

falls

spirit,

enemy
of

of encyclopaedic

which

Jacobinism,

opposes its own exquisite heart to hard reality,


and sees everywhere the tyranny and roguery
of priests and despots and of Kantian abstract;

ness,

of a duty which

feeling.

He

at

with

strife

the

them

is

course of the world

birth

which

human

always outside

hates that virtue, which

brings stones to
against

is

that

it

never

always
;

which

may dash
knows

just

itself

what

which certainly has a big head, but


big because it is swelled, and which, if it be

it

wishes

seriously

with

occupied

admiring

its

with

own

anything,

is

occupied

unapproachable

and

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

62

moving

He

perfection.

ought to

the

the

Sollen,

the impotence of the ideal, which

be,

always ought to be and


finds a reality

of

hates

never

adequate to
is

fact, all reality

which never

is,

when, as a matter

it,

adequate to the

The

ideal.

ought to be" is to become


wearisome, as do all the most beautiful words
of that

destiny

"

(Justice, Virtue,

mouths of those

in the

words,

in

resounding

who do

others act
the

Duty, Morality, Liberty,

whom

for

they are mere

barrenness, where

noisy

not fear to

soil

the purity of

by translating it into deed. In the


between this
between the ought to

idea

"

strife

vain

be,"

and the course of the world, the

virtue

For either

course of the world always wins.

world does not change and

the course of the


the

etc.),

demands

virtue

of

arbitrary and absurd,

virtuous

at the

reveal

themselves

and therefore as not

as

truly

most they are good intentions,

perhaps excellent intentions

but

"

the

laurels

good intentions are dry leaves, which have


never been green." Or else, the end of virtue

of

is

achieved,

the world
is

not

the

separated

it

enters into and

course
course

from

becomes part of

and what dies


of

the

the actual

world,
;

in this case

but

virtue,

unless indeed

it

willing to continue living, in order to sulk at

is

its

DIALECTIC AND REALITY

having been guilty of becoming real


illusion arises from the struggle, which is

ideal

for

The

real

certainly

but as the struggle

the world,

of the world with


itself.

of the world that

itself,

one

"Each

and

wills

better, only expresses

than others express

What

then

And

Individu

individuality?

becoming

if it

effective.

Nothing

does not become a passion


can
is

passion

done

be

without

which

activity,

is

toward particular interests and ends.

directed

So much

is

it

true

vehicle of the

universal.

For

that

particular interest

universal,

very pursuit of their


the

repugnance of the bearers

nothing great

passion.

the

world better

his

this

its

can be achieved

man

he

nothing but the vehicle of universality,

the process of

of

but

it."

universal towards

ality is

is

towards the actual, of the admirers of

of ideal

the

is

he

makes
himself

believes

better than the world in which


is

of the

but not as the struggle

individual with

who

63

own

men by

that

private ends

instance,

one

is

the

realize

man makes

a slave of another, and from the strife

between

slave and master, there arises in both the true


1

From

the aphorisms, to be found in the appendix of Rosenkranz s


For the satire on the Sollen see especially the
p. 550.

Hegel s Leben,

Phenomenology,

section

Philosophy of History.

Vernunft,

B,

and the

introduction

to

the

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

64

idea of liberty and of humanity.

more than

achieve

and

fulfil

conscious

their

immanent

the

Their actions
intentions,

intentions, the intentions

of reason, which avails

them

of

itself

this

is

the cunning of reason (die List der Vernunft].

This must not be understood

in a

The cunning

is

sense.

of reason

transcendental

the imaginative

phrase which denotes the rationality of

man

truly does (of

Thus

it.

that

any human work whatsoever),

whether or no he has
of

all

consciousness

reflective

the artist creates the work of art

and does not understand the completed work


yet, though he fail to understand it, his work
;

is

not

irrational,

of

rationality

for

it

Thus

genius.

the

not

for

Great
is

real

reason

this

take

that

own

its

conscious

less

of

later

it

good and

it

simply

individual

action

its

observer

the

conscious of

are

men

not

which

in

way

historian

is

it

in

of

impulse

supreme
good and

the

ingenuously heroic soul believes

obeys the
sentiment

the

obeys

and

and

passion, their

they are the


spirit.

And

men

this

is

less heroic.

in

wants of their

the

time and people, and make of them their

"

it

the very will of reason, what

and substantial

individual

the

is

own

peculiar interest

of affairs
precisely

own
:

"

of the
the

world-

reason

why

DIALECTIC AND REALITY

in

who judge them

those
in

motives.

work

They

than

is

the

no man

true,

pleasure

as

is

never succeed

personal,

a hero

to

mean

but

anything

no other aspect

see

and thus they

essential;
that

them

in

discovering

superficially

65

of

that

although
justify the
his valet

their

proverb

and

is

this

Hegel observes (and Goethe takes

in

repeating

because the great


because the valet

the

man
is

is

acute

not

remark),

not a great man, but

a valet.

For

this

reason,

honours and gratitude are not usually accorded


to great

men by

their contemporaries

they receive this satisfaction


the

at

public opinion of posterity.

them

is

not

the

nor do

hands of

What

falls

honour, but immortal glory

live in the spirit of those

with them, and

who

very people who

yet are

full

to

they

strove

of them.

This Hegelian manner of considering life,


translated into terms of current politics, has been
held to be a conservative
it

spirit.

For

this

reason

has been said that just as Rousseau was the

philosopher of the French Revolution, so Hegel


was the special philosopher of the Prussian
Restoration, the philosopher of the secret council

government and of the bureaucratic ruling of


the state.
But without going into the question
of

of the greater or less truth in fact of these affirma-

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

66
tions,

it

is

historical

III

important to distinguish between the

Hegel and the philosopher

Hegel.

Hegel who took

The

historical

part,

under certain determinate conditions,

social

and

individual, the

problems of

political

in

the

time and of

his

Hegel who belongs to the bio


grapher and the political historian, must not be
his nation,

the

who

confused with the philosopher Hegel,

alone

belongs to the historian of philosophy. The


position from which a particular political attitude

can be deduced shows by that very

fact that

is

it

Philosophy should

not pure philosophical truth.

not meddle (observed the same Hegel) with things


that

do not concern

it

and therefore Plato might

well have spared himself the trouble of giving

advice to nurses on the


children in their arms
"

ing

way they should

and Fichte, of

"

carry

construct

a model police passport, which should be

not

with

furnished,

according

to

particulars

as

bearer, but also with

portrait.

to

Hegel

its

him,

conception

of

only

life

was so

philosophical that conservatism, revolution,


restoration, each in turn, finds

On

this point the socialist

H. Treitschke, Deutsche

Geschichte

and

its justification in

it.

Engels and the con

servative historian Treitschke


1

his

im

are in agreement
ig. Ja.hrhundert,

(1885), pp. 720-1 ; F. Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach,


klassischen deutschen Philosophic (Stuttgart, 1888).

imd

der

vol.

iii.

Ausgang der

DIALECTIC AND REALITY

67

both recognize that the formula of the identity


of the rational and the real could be invoked
for

equally by

all political

opinions and parties, which

formula, but in determining what

and

common

from one another, not as to this

differ

real,

and what the

irrational

the rational

is

and unreal

on

every occasion that a political party prepared for


war against an institution or class of society, it pro
claimed

and

its

adversary irrational,

real existence;

itself into

the

line

of

wings

and by

i.e.

devoid of solid

this declaration

the

school

Hegelian

participated in the revolution of the

even two Hegelians who wrote


vigorous Communist Manifesto.

it

to

variously

in that

ment
of

all

year the

of

"

Enlighten

were henceforth ended, and that

parties

was

But the formula

crude naturalism of the century of the


"

It

them was not an empty label


the fact that the Jacobinism and the

all

stood for

All

nineteenth

century, and especially in that of 1848.

common

brought

with Hegelian philosophy.

all

men

had learned from Hegel the meaning

The

of true political sense.

early work, in which,

examining the condition of Germany, he defined


it

as an

"

abstract state

reminded one of
Secretary
actual

and

his

his

conditions

of

"

(ein Gedankenstaat}, has


critics

of the

profound
the

Italy

Florentine

analysis

of the

of

the

Renais-

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

68
sance.

And Cavour and Bismarck seemed

to

appear as splendid embodiments of the Hegelian


theory, men in whom the rational and the real

were always fused and united, in whom they were


not estranged from one another, in the painful

and

futile

idealizers

conflict, characteristic of the

minds of

and dreamers.

The consequence

to

which

this

mediation of

opposites led, combined with the destruction of


false distincts

of history.

and opposites, was the exaltation

History

the

life

human

of the

race,

time ceases to be
which are developed
conceived as something separate from and in
in

facts

different to the essence of things, to the idea, or,

even worse, as something which weakens


and degrades the idea. Thus had history appeared

what

is

in the various dualistic

materialism,

which,

systems

since

not to speak of

denies

it

all

cannot admit the value even of history.

values,

And

between historians and philosophers there had


sprung up a profound disagreement, a mutual
misunderstanding.
the

This

is

not the place to recall

most ancient forms of

this

disagreement,
such as the philosophy of Descartes, which is
pre-eminently antihistorical
Oriental pantheism, as
1

Cf.

and Spinozism

Hegel

K. Fischer, Hegels Lebcn

ti.

called
Werke,

p.

it,

59.

(or

adding

DIALECTIC AND REALITY

69

was erroneously considered to be atheism,


and all
but should rather be called
acosmism

that

it

"

"),

the

and

sensationalism

the

of

intellectualism

But even among Hegel s


own contemporaries, history has no place in the

eighteenth century.

system of Herbart, who


idea of development
for

whom

the

life

altogether without the

is

nor in that of Schopenhauer,

of the

human

race does not

nor

in the positivist

present problems of progress

systems of Comte and of Spencer.


In the system of Hegel, on the contrary, where
the infinite and the finite are fused in one, and

good and
is

evil constitute a single process, history

the very reality of the idea, spirit

outside

historical

is

nothing

in it, every
development
fact, precisely because it is a fact, is a fact of the
idea and belongs to the concrete organic whole

of the

its

For Hegel,

idea.

becomes sacred history.

be said that

agreement

On

in a certain

because

therefore, all history


this point, too,

sense there

is

it

may

general

attention

particular

and

always been accorded to the


great historical works, which were inspired by the
admiration

influence

has

of

Hegel

histories

of religions,

of

languages, of literatures, of rights, of economics,

and of philosophy.

But

historical studies has

been generally considered

Hegel

influence

in

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

70

an accident, due simply to the personality of the


master, who was a passionate student and a con

summate master

of historical knowledge.

not observed that

consequence

of

was

it

the

really

principle of the solution of opposites

opposites

Thus

dialectic

and of

or of the Hegelian logic in

characteristic aspect.

was

inevitable

much combated

that

It

its

false

most

the advancement of

study was recognized as a great benefit,


but the true reason of the advancement was

historical

ignored

the consequence was accepted, the pre

miss was rejected.

The
is

sacred

an aspect

assumed by

character,

the

of

history,

of immanence,

character

proper to Hegelian thought, to his negation of


all

transcendence.

it

Certainly,

has been equally

an error to praise or to blame his thought as


materialism

and naturalism

for

how

could

philosophy, which reveals the genesis of these


illusions,

whose

a philosophy of activity, a philosophy

principle

naturalistic

and

is

spirit

and

materialistic

words were intended

idea,

ever

But when these

to signify the antireligious

character of Hegelian thought, there was


truth in the observation.

It

is

it

is

some

a philosophy

should say the only philosophy), which


irreligious, because

be

is

(I

radically

not content to oppose

DIALECTIC AND REALITY


itself to religion or to

but

for

And

it.

philosophy that

for

is

it

to satisfy in a rational

is

the

religion

highest
it

philosophy has

answer

in this, that they

since

its

manner the need

man

all

The

needs.

there

questions

have

answer

ought not

to be

is

to

their

asked."

perpetual youth of the Hegelian philo

indomitable vigour,

its

fecundity
in the

of

"

no

which

The

called the only

leaves nothing

remainder.

insoluble

sophy,

may be

supremely religious

Outside of reason

no

itself,

same reason, from

this

for

another point of view,

task

alongside of

it

resolves religion into itself and substitutes

it

itself

range

71

lie,

unexhausted

then, in the logical doctrine, and

thought effectively

doctrine.

its

And

its

in

conformity with that

vigour, fecundity, and youth are

increasingly apparent even in our

own

day, which

marked by a new efflorescence of neurotic


mysticism, and of insincere religiosity, by an anti^
is

barbarism engendered by ppsitiyism, and


the Jacobinism which frequently ensues in these
historical

conditions.

Whoever

feels the dignity of

man

and the dignity of thought can find satisfaction


in no other solution of conflicts and of dualisms
than in the dialectical, the solution

won by

the

genius of Hegel.

The one

philosopher,

who more

than others

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

72

be ranged with Hegel

can

G. B. Vico,

whom

in

this

respect,

is

have already referred to as

the precursor of the antischolastic logical doctrine,

an

aesthetician

Hegel, a

like

preromantic,

Hegel was a romantic, yet resembling him


in

as

closely

his

genuinely dialectic thinking.


Certainly
the attitude of Vico toward religion is less radical

German

than that of the later


if

philosopher.

For

Hegel, biographically speaking, was a very

ambiguous

Christian,

insufficiently

explicit

in

towards the Church, Vico,

stating his position

from the biographical point of view, was a most


sincere and unequivocal Catholic.
Nevertheless,
the whole thought of Vico

is

not only anticatholic,

For he explains how myths

but antireligious.

and religions are formed by a natural process


and his renunciation of this principle of explana
tion

in

the single case of

religion,

if,

from

Hebrew

history and

the subjective point of view,

be the idiosyncrasy of a believer, objectively it


assumes the value of unconscious irony, similar

it

to the conscious irony of Machiavelli,

forbore to enquire

how

the

when he

Papal States ever

subsisted beneath a very bad government, because

they are ruled by superior reasons,


to which the human mind cannot attain."
Vico
"

(he said)

establishes

that

the

true

is

identical

with

the

DIALECTIC AND REALITY

has done a thing can

Consequently he assigns to man


consciousness of the world of man, because

know

truly
full
it

who

only he

deed, that

73

his

is

it.

own work

and

to

God he

restores

knowledge of all the rest of the natural world,


because he alone, who made it, has knowledge
of

it

which forms but a

limitation,

slight

obstacle to the revolutionary principle which he

enunciated, and which, once established for the

human

world, must of necessity be extended to

the whole of reality.

pious Catholic, that

death

so profoundly irre

was the whole theory of knowledge of

ligious
this

And

it

immediately

after

was said that he had been obliged

his

to

conceal part of the thought in his books, by order


of the churchmen.

Rationalists

saw

in

Vico their

master, while zealous Catholics reproved him as


the fountain-head of the antireligious

movement

of the historical epoch, which followed upon

his.

But the resemblances between Vico and Hegel


are far

more evident when we leave

of religion.

and

in

As Hegel was

conflict

in

this point

opposition

to

with the antihistoricism of the

Encyclopaedists and of the Aufklarung, so was

Vico against the antihistoricism of Descartes


and his school.
He showed that if philosophers
did not bring their reasonings into line with the

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

74

authority of philologists, and


to

their

criticize

philologists failed

if

by the reasonings

authority

of philosophers, both equally achieved only half


their purpose.

As Hegel

set himself in opposi

Utopian preachers of abstractions


and champions of sentiment and enjoyment, so

tion

the

to

Vico refuted at once both Stoics and Epicureans,

and

learned

men who,

railed

web of reality

is

human

called

those

at

woven, dictated

rules for conduct, impossible or

the

he

forgetting the struggles and the

pains of which the


u

He

philosophers."

"political

whom

those

only

recognized

dangerous to

condition, such as the regulation of the


"

by the pleasures of the senses


and who gave laws and founded republics

duties of

life

"

shady

repose,"

which

in

well

that

the

liberty,

and

governed";

customs, and above

all

that

to

the

"native

the customs of natural

cannot be changed

but only

in a trice,

gradually, in the passage of


less than

He knew

learned."

must conform

"governments

nature of

no other habitation

"had

the minds of the

than

in

Vico, not

time."

Hegel, had the idea of the cunning of


He called it divine Providence
which,
"

"

reason."

upon

their

the sake of which

they

out of the passions of men,


private advantage,

for

all

intent

lived like wild beasts in solitudes, has created

DIALECTIC AND REALITY


by which men

civil order,

What

does

of what they

men

matter that

it

The

do?

Homo

"

less rational.

human

live in

fact

75

society."

are unconscious

not thereby the

is

non intelligendo

omnia,

fit

because by understanding man explains his


mind and understands things, but when he does

not understand he creates things of himself, and

doing becomes that into which he transforms


himself."
"And must we not say" (he exclaims
in so

"that

elsewhere)

wisdom

this is a counsel of

Without the

force

superhuman

of laws

but

making use precisely of the customs of men, of


those habits which are as unrestrained
natural

of

expressions

human

nature,

divinely regulates and guides them.


that

men have made

of nations
this

world

often

for

themselves

different

men had proposed

means

is

that

These narrow

for realizing

wider

mind has always adopted

order to preserve the race of

example,

and

world

outcome of a mind

to themselves.

ends, this greater

to their lusts

true

sometimes opposed, and


those particular ends, which

ends, transformed into

for

is

it

from,

always superior to

Thus,

...

this

but the profounder truth

certainly the

is

It

the

as

men wish

to

abandon

man upon

in

the earth.

to give free course


their offspring,

thereby they create the chastity of

and

marriage,

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

;6

whence

families

arise

heads of families wish

extreme their paternal power


over their dependants, and thereby cities arise.
to exercise to the

The

reigning classes of nobles desire to abuse

their feudal

power over the plebeians, and thereby

they are brought into subjection to the laws,


created by popular freedom free peoples wish to
;

loose themselves from the restraint of their laws

and thereby they become subject to monarchs.


Monarchs wish to strengthen their own positions
their subjects with

by debasing
dissoluteness,

the vices of

all

and thereby they reduce them

to

endure slavery from stronger nations


nations
wish to destroy themselves, and by going into
;

solitude to preserve

whence,

the phoenix, they arise again.

like

was Mind

what remains of themselves,

that achieved

all

this,

for

intelligence in the actions of men.

there was
It

was not

Fate, for there was choice in their actions

Chance,

for there

was continuity

metaphors,

Hegel.
1

The

And

this

is

the

same

turns of phrase as in

more wonderful,

quotations from Vico are in the Works, ed. Ferrari,

98, 117, 136, 143, 146-7, 183, 571-2;


of G. B. Vico, Bari, 1911.]

nor

results."

ideas, often with the

images, and

always from the

same actions there followed the same

These are the same

It

vi.

235.

[See

v.

since

96, 97,

now my Philosophy

DIALECTIC AND REALITY


the

German

philosopher

least

(at

77

during the

period that he was meditating his philosophy and

composing his Phenomenology of Spirit] does not


seem to have known the other phenomenology,"
"

meditated
title

in

of 7*he

Naples a century

New

Science.

It

earlier,

under the

almost seems as

if

the soul of the Italian Catholic philosopher had

migrated into the


in

German

thinker, reappearing

him, at the distance of a century,

and more self-conscious.

more mature

IV

THE CONNEXION OF DISTINCTS


AND THE FALSE APPLICATION
OF THE DIALECTIC FORM
How

then has

come about

it

that this system

of philosophical thought, established with such


logical

so

depth,

rich

in

irresistible

truth,

so

harmonious with and sympathetic towards concreteness, passion, fancy, and history, has appeared

some thinkers and has been condemned by


them as abstract, intellectualistic, full of arbitrari
to

ness and

artifice, at

and poetry,
it

means

to

reaction
successful

in a

be

word

How

against

and

variance with history, nature,

it,

as the opposite of

can

we

explain the violent

a reaction

definitive,

what

which

and which

would be

it

superficial (and little in the spirit of

seemed

Hegel) to

explain as entirely due to accidental motives, to


lack of intelligence and to ignorance

other hand,

how

has

it

78

come about

On
that

the
this

iv

DISTINCTS & FALSE DIALECTIC

79

philosophical system has been invoked in support

of the most different schools, such as materialism

and theism, the very schools which Hegel in


tended to combat and to surpass ? And how

comes

it

too

(if

may be permitted

a personal

instance, which perhaps does not relate exclus


ively to a personal case) that

now with such

writing

a feeling of complete agreement,

interpretation of and

this

who am

I,

commentary on the

Hegelian doctrine of the synthesis of opposites,


should for several years of my mental life have
a

felt

marked repugnance

especially as

with

it is

its tripartite

to the

presented

system of Hegel,

the Encyclopaedia,

in

division into Logic, Philosophy

of Nature and Philosophy of Spirit, both as

understood

myself, and as

it

saw

expounded
and advocated by Hegelians ? And how comes
it that even now, in
re-reading those works, I
sometimes

feel

arising within
this

the old

me?

must be sought.

the old repugnance,

Adam,

The inmost

Now

it

reason for

we have

that

cated the healthy part of the system,


point out the diseased part as well.

shown what

is

indi

we must

After having

living in the system of Hegel,

must show also what

is

dead

bones, which hinder the very

And we must

in
life

it,

all

we

the unburied

of the living.

not be too easily contented with

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

8o

a concession, which has often been offered by

orthodox Hegelians the recognition that


Hegel could and did err in many of his state

strictly

ments of

historical

and of the natural and

fact

mathematical sciences, owing to the limitations


both of the general state of knowledge of his
time and of his

own

Such

individual culture.

Hegelians admit all this part of the system


must be re-examined and corrected, or even
from top to bottom,

reconstructed

of the progress
study.

The

would be

only as historian and as


is

one who never founds


data,

he remains

intact.

remain unsatisfied with

that

naturalist that

and out of date

deficient

branches of

of those special

implication

the light

in

it

is

Hegel

as philosopher, as

his truth

upon empirical
His adversaries rightly

this concession

because

the source of the dissatisfaction with the system


of Hegel

is

not the quantity or the quality of

the erudition which

it

contains (most admirable,

and occasional archaisms),


I
have declined
but precisely the philosophy.
above to consider the influence of Hegel s
despite

its

deficiencies

thought upon historical studies as something


separate from and independent of the principles
of his system.

cannot

consent

Here,
to

for

the

consider

same reason,

the

cause of his

iv

DISTINCTS & FALSE DIALECTIC

errors

as

Those

principles.

seemed
or

for

the

of

and

historical

because

of

independent

most

his

philosophical

errors

his

81

have

which

naturalistic, are at bottom,

from

they spring

errors,

philosophical

part,

his

from

thought,

method of conceiving history and natural


and it is to
science.
Hegel is all of a piece
his

his credit

that

errors cannot in general be

his

explained as an accidental series of inconsequent


irrelevancies.

The problem,

seek

to

is

then,

what

out

might be the philosophical error or errors (or


the fundamental error, and the others derived
from

it)

which fused and combined


with

thought

immortal

his

thereby to understand the

Hegelian system,

encounter,

rational grounds.

has already

was the
it

is

to

been

and

reaction against

the

in so far as this reaction

was

but

rested

on

all

original

evidently

And

since, according to

said,

the

special field of

Hegel

error,

what

logic of philosophy
s

mental

be presumed that there we

origin of the

the

Hegel

discovery,

not the usual obstructionism, which


truths

in

activity,

shall

which would

in

find

that

case be an error of logical theory.


It

in

is

therefore a just feeling of the direction

which

this search

should

be conducted that

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

82

has

led

the

neglect
the

particular

and

system,

the

of

error

criticism

anti- Hegelian

opposites

to

set

itself

of

details of

the

exhibit

to

the

to

general

and incidental

principle

itself,

in

IV

of

synthesis

on the ground, either that the two

terms are not opposed, or that their synthesis


is

of

not

or that

logical,

and

identity

it

destroys the principle

Yet we have seen

grounds.

none of these objections

similar

that substantially

well

is

on

or

contradiction,

founded, and

every other objection that can be thought out


satisfactorily proves to be equally unfounded

for

that principle resists

examination and assault.

and

will

The

resist

every

error of Hegel,

be sought in his logic


but, as
seems to me, in another part of his logic.
then,

is

to

In the rapid

summary

it

of the various Hegelian

doctrines given at the beginning of this work,

when

it

was important

to

go

the

to

directly

problem of the dialectic, only passing reference


was made to the doctrine of the relation of
distincts, or, as
listic

it

logic, to the

doctrine must

because

it

is

would be expressed

That

theory of classification.

now be considered more

my

natura

in

firm

conviction

that

closely,
in

it

is

hidden the logical error committed by Hegel, so

weighty

in its

consequences.

DISTINCTS & FALSE DIALECTIC

iv

The
universal

the

or

distincts, just as

We

for

talk,

it

but

of

synthesis

the synthesis of opposites.

is

example, of

activity in general

the

is

Idea,

concrete

the

concept,

philosophical

83

spirit,

we

or of spiritual

also talk continually

of the particular forms of this spiritual activity.

And

we

while

consider

of these

all

particular

forms essential to complete spiritual achievement


(so that deficiency

any one of them offends


find a remedy, and its

in

and impels us to
total or partial absence shocks us as something
monstrous and absurd), we are also jealous and
us

no one of them should be confused

vigilant that

with

who judges

art

by moral

criteria,

artistic criteria, or truth

by
and so on.

Even

if

for

by

to

forget

the

would remind us of

shows the spheres of economic, of


and of moral activity almost externally

makes the same man appear

and

distinct,
specialist,

as

morality

life

scientific,

now

or

utilitarian criteria,

we were

distinction, a glance at life


it

we reprove him

Therefore

other.

any

now

as poet,

now

statesman,
itself

philosophy
distinction,

for

it

now

should
is

as

as

man

of business,

philosopher.

remind

not capable

us

of

And
the

of expression

without specialization into aesthetic, logic, ethic,

and the

like

all

of

them philosophy, yet each

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

84

them

of

from

distinct

philosophy

the

others.

These

examples and

which

are

not

of

capable

very clearly
the

of classification

theory

to

of

conception

is

this

combat
into

of empirical classification

the

one

saw

Hegel

explaining.

subordinate and co-ordinate.


fication

and

unity

and he never ceased

importation

philosophy,

once

at

connexion or a rhythm,

distinction, constitute a

which the ordinary

we have given

which

of

distincts,

concepts

as

In ordinary classi

taken as

foundation

concept

is

then another concept

is

introduced, extraneous

is

assumed

to the

and

first,

like the

of division,
a cake

this

(the

first

the

as

basis

knife with which one cuts

concept)

so

into

many

little

which remain separate one from another.


With such procedure, and with such a result,

pieces,

farewell to the unity of the universal.

breaks up

and

into a

indifferent to

thinking of unity,

Hegel

classification

Herbart

is

faculties

of

caused

this

of

external

philosophy, the

rendered impossible.

(incorrectly

statement
of

one another

abhorrence

Reality

number of elements,

the

of

him

this

to

of

prior

to

reject

credited

with
the

criticism)
soul,

method

to

the

first

conception

which

Kant

DISTINCTS & FALSE DIALECTIC

iv

adhered

5till

I8O2

in

the

and

that

feeling that

reject

"bag

we have

of

full

he

(as

which

psychology

as a

spirit

to

85

writes

represents
"

faculties."

The

of the living unity of the

he repeats in the Encyclopaedia ( 379,


and cfr.
445), and in all his other books, in
spirit,"

the most various forms and on the most various


"

is

up of the

spirit

or

activities,

independent

criticism

forces,

faculties,

with

was

far

able

greater

to

right

than

greater consistency
in

sollicitus

Hegel, always

spiritus,

succeeded

different

into

breaking

whatever they be, conceived as


And be it
another."
of one

observed that
unitatem

opposed to the

itself

occasions,

sevvandi

develop this
and with far

who never

Herbart,

his refutation of faculties

making

of the soul agree with his atomistic metaphysic,

and with
of

his ethic

catalogues

another and

of

aesthetic,

ideas,

without

But nevertheless,
of

and

psychological

in

which consisted

separated

relation

to

from
each

one

other.

the opinion of the writers

manuals

and

histories

of

Herbart passes for a revolutionary


view of the spirit, and Hegel almost as

philosophy,
in his

a reactionary,

who

should

old scholastic divisions


1

have preserved the

Verhdltnis d. Skeptizismus zur Philosophic (in Werke, xvi. 130).

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

86
If

concepts cannot be posited in

distinct"

separation but must be unified in their distinction,

the logical theory of these distincts will not be


the theory of classification, but that of implication.

The

not be cut

will

concept

in

by an

pieces

external force, but will divide itself by a

ment

internal to

itself,

of self-distinction

it

move

and throughout these acts

will

maintain

its

own

identity

the distincts will not be in a relation of mutual


indifference,

The

but of lower and higher degree.

classification of reality

must be replaced by

the conception of degrees of Spirit, or in general


of reality

the classificatory scheme by the scheme

of degrees.

And

the thought of Hegel set out on this

path, the only one that conformed to the principle

with which

The

he started, the concrete universal.

theory of degrees permeates

although

it

nowhere receives

full

his works,

all

and

explicitly

Here, too, he had his pre


we should investigate and here,

reasoned statement.
cursors,
too,
is

whom

most nearly akin to him


For Vico never distinguished

the philosopher

perhaps Vico.

spirit,

languages, governments, rights, customs,

religions, otherwise than as a series of


spirit as sense

degrees

imagination, and mind\ languages

as divine mental language, heroic language,

and

iv

DISTINCTS & FALSE DIALECTIC

language

articulate speech

for

governments

and democratic

theocratic, aristocratic,

87
as

rights as

divine right, established by the gods, heroic right,

established by force, and

human

right, established

and so on.
by fully developed human reason
For this reason, Vico too conceived philosophy,
;

not as a cabinet with separate pigeon-holes, but

upon which particular


But if Hegel did not
histories appear in time."
know the work of Vico, he had other incentives

as

"eternal

ideal history,

The very

toward the solution which he sought.

sensualism of the eighteenth century, especially


doctrine of Condillac,

the

poverty of
tions,

its

seemed

notwithstanding the

categories and of
to

him valuable,

its

presupposi

in so

far

as

it

contained the attempt to render comprehensible


the variety of forms

demonstrating

Kant

their

in

the unity of

His

genesis.

spirit,

by

criticism

of

having simply enumerated the faculties


and the categories in his tables was supplemented

by

for

his appreciation of Fichte, for

the necessity of the

But

"

deduction

having affirmed

"

of the categories.

and proper precursor was Schelling s


system of identity, with the method of potentiality,
for which reality developed itself as a series of
his true

powers or degrees.

"

The

"

subject-object

(thus

did Schelling himself recall his juvenile concep-

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

IV

tion in his vindication of himself against

Hegel)

88

virtue of

"in

its

own

nature, objectifies

but from every objectification

and shows

power of

itself

returns victorious

it

on every occasion

hausted every one of

at a higher

when

until,

subjectivity,

it

its virtualities, it

subject triumphing over

itself,

has

ex

appears as

l
all."

What does the theory of degrees mean ?


What are its terms, and what is their relation ?
What difference does it present to the terms and
of

relation

the theory

of

theory of degrees, every concept

concept be a
to the concept

is
b,

In

the

and

let

the

opposites

both distinct from and united

which

is

superior to

it

in

degree

hence (beginning the exposition of the relation)


if a be
posited without b, b cannot be posited
without

a.

relation

of two concepts, a case which

studied

Again, taking as an example the


2

at

length

elsewhere,

that

of art

have

and

philosophy (or of poetry and prose, of language

and

and thought, and so on),


we see how an insoluble puzzle and enigma for
logic, of intuition

empirical and classificatory logic resolves itself


naturally

in

speculative

doctrine of degrees.

In

my

It

logic,
is

thanks

to

the

not possible to posit

1
In the preface to the Fragments of Cousin.
^Esthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic.

iv

art

DISTINCTS & FALSE DIALECTIC


and philosophy as two

89

and co-ordinate

distinct

genus (which might be e.g. the


cognitive form) to which both are subordinate,
so that the presence of the one excludes the
of a

species

the case

in

There

proof of this in the

is

members.

of co-ordinate

other, as

distinctions

many

and prose, which have been


given, and continue to be given, all of them most
vain, since they are founded upon arbitrary

between

poetry

But the knot

characteristics.

we

is

unravelled,

when

think of the relation as one of distinction and

union together

poetry can exist without prose

does not exclude

it

(although

never exist without poetry

but prose can

it),

does not include

art

philosophy, but philosophy directly includes

And

in

words,

fact,

no philosophy ever

images,

metaphors,

symbols, which are

forms

its artistic side,

and indispensable that, were


sophy itself would be wanting.
philosophy
speech.

is

not

exists

it

The same

unexpressed

be

thing can

speech,

wanting, philo

man

in

a side so real

An

conceivable

of

save

art.

thinks in

proved

by

adducing other dyads of philosophic concepts,


the transition from rights to morality, or from
the perceptive

consciousness

consciousness.

Thus

divided in

grows on

itself,

to

the

the real, which


itself,

legislative
is

one,

to use the

is

words

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

90

of Aristotle,

through
which gathers up

If

in

the

philosophy) and
in

the

all

preceding,

pass from the relation of the stages

(in

opposites

itself

passes

in the last stage,

complete or perfect form.

itself, in its

now we

and

and

ideal history

its

attains to

use those of Vico,

to

or,

the

to

pass

the synthesis,

relation

a,

/3,

and

art

chosen,

example

of

the

7 (employing

the example of being, not-being, and becoming),

we

be able to perceive the logical difference


between the two relations,
a and b are two
shall

concepts, the second of which would be abstract

and arbitrary without the first, but which, in


its
connexion with the first, is as real and
concrete as

it

On

is.

the other hand, a and

taken out of relation to


but two abstractions
is 7,

becoming.

to the

If

7,

are not

apply arithmetical symbols

two connexions, we have

in the

second a unity,

which

is

(objective)

If

dialectic

two concepts,

the only concrete concept

we

triunity.

/?,

or, if

in the first a

we

we wish

prefer

it,

to give the

both to

the

dyad,

a triad,

name

synthesis

of

opposites and to the connexion of the different


degrees,

we must

not lose sight of the fact that

one

dialectic

has a different process from

the

that of the other.

If

we wish

connexions the Hegelian terms

to apply to both
"moments"

and

DISTINCTS & FALSE DIALECTIC

iv

91
"

"overcoming,"

and

which

"

maintaining,"

at

is

once

in

moments
synthesis

the

of opposites

is

spirit

the two cases.

in

both

degrees,

both are

the

in the

abstract,

pure
In the nexus of degrees a

in b, that is to say, as

independent

suppressed and preserved as dependent


in passing from art to philosophy negates
:

and

art

these

that

are concrete, as has been noted

overcome

it

of

theory

being and not-being.


is

suppressing

we must note

terms bear different meanings


Indeed,

"

at

the same time maintains

as

of opposites, considered objectively, a and

mutual

their

suppressed

distinction,

and

both

are

maintained

but

/3,

in

them

of

meta

only

and

phorically, because they never exist as a


distinct

the

the nexus

In

expressive form of philosophy.

it

fi

from one another.

These

are profound differences, which

do not

permit that both modes of connexion should be


treated in the

the

nor

same
is

relation to \htfalse as

the

relation as

beautiful to
it

is

life

is

it

to philosophic truth.

whose truth

and death, of

truth without

true

is

itself

life,

life

not in

good
the same

Life with

are two opposed

which

and of

is

to the

the ugly in

out death and death without


falsities,

The

same manner.

its

is

a nexus of

opposite.

But

goodness and goodness without

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

92

are not

truth

in a third

term

two
:

which are annulled

falsities,

they are

which

false conceptions,

resolve themselves in a connexion of degrees,

which truth and goodness are

for

and united
since

is

it

thinking
only

in

goodness without truth

it

once distinct

at

is

impossible,

impossible to will the good without


;

truth without goodness

is

possible,

the sense in which that proposition co

incides with the philosophic thesis of the priority

of the

theoretic over the practical spirit,

theorems of the autonomy of

the

autonomy of science.
Without doubt, a, being
that

of

is,

its

and the

art

a concrete concept,

presenting the concrete concept


particularizations,

with

also

is

in

one

synthesis

of affirmation and negation, of being and not-

Thus, to return again to the same ex


ample, artistic fancy lives as fancy and therefore
being.

it

is

concrete,

it

is

activity

against

passivity,

beauty

against

ugliness.

And

become

particularized,

which affirms

which
being

affirms

and

consequently,

itself
itself

not-being
as

truth

beauty and ugliness, goodness and


But this contest does
wickedness, and so on.

and

falsity,

not take place for one degree in relation


for

to

another

those degrees, considered in their distinction,

are the concept of the spirit in

its

determinations,

iv

DISTINCTS & FALSE DIALECTIC

and not the universal concept of


in

considered

spirit

The

dialectic of synthesis of opposites.

its

organism

the struggle of

is

members

but the

life

against death

of the organism are not therefore

with one another, hand against

at strife

93

foot,

or

eye against hand. Spirit is development, history,


and therefore both being and not-being, be

coming

but

spirit

sub

specie

aeterni,

is

eternal

ideal

philosophy considers,

which

is

eternal

not in time.

It

is

is

history,

the series of the

forms of that coming into being and

passing away, which, as Hegel said,

comes

which

into being

itself

never

and never passes away.

an essential point

if

neglected

we

fall

This
into

the equivocation, to which Lotze (alluding per

haps to a passage of the Parmenides) referred


when he wrote, that because the servant takes
care of his master s boots

it

does not follow that

the concept of servant takes care of the boots


of the concept of master

When we
with

art,

and

say that the spirit


is

driven by

elevate itself to philosophy,

only

we must

by a metaphor.

its

is

not satisfied

dissatisfaction to

we speak

The

spirit,

which

is

satisfied with artistic contemplation, is

the artistic

correctly

not allow ourselves to be misled

spirit, it

is

no longer
no longer

already beyond that level

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

94

the incipient philosophic

is

it

same way the

the

spirit

which

and

for

determinate aesthetic
in love

spirit

feels

itself dis

in

no longer the
spirit, a single and

life,

philosophical but the aesthetic

And

philosophy and

satisfied with the universality of


thirsts for intuition

spirit.

is

which begins

to

fall

again with some determinate vision and

intuition.

antithesis

In the second, as in the

does not arise

in

the

first

case, the

bosom

of the

degree that has been surpassed. As philosophy


does not contradict itself as philosophy, so art
does not contradict

itself as art

and every one

knows the complete satisfaction, the profound


and untroubled pleasure, which springs from the
enjoyment of the work of

The

art.

individual

passes from art to philosophy and passes

spirit

again from philosophy to

art,

in

the same

way

passes from one form of art to another, or


from one problem of philosophy to another that

that

it

is,

not through contradictions intrinsic to each of

these forms in distinction from the others, but

through the contradiction that is inherent in the


And the universal
real, which is becoming.
spirit passes from a to b, and from b to a through

no other necessity than that of its own eternal


nature, which is to be both art and philosophy,
theory and praxis, or however otherwise

it

may

iv

DISTINCTS & FALSE DIALECTIC

determine

So

itself.

true

is

that

this

if

95

this

were caused by a contradiction


which revealed itself as intrinsic to any determin

ideal

transition

would no longer be possible to


that degree, which had been recognized

ate degree,

return to

it

as self-contradictory

to return to

it

would be a

And who would

degeneration or a retrogression.
ever dare to consider

it

a retrogression to return

from philosophy to aesthetic contemplation ? Who


could ever judge to be contradictory or erroneous
either of the essential forms of the

That

transition of ideal history

or rather
this

it

is

Hegel did not make

clear,

which

is

a being.

most important dis


have endeavoured to make

He

conceived the connexion of these


,

triadic

the dialectic

opposites.

of opposites
it

manner of

and he applied to this connexion the


form, which is proper to the synthesis of

of opposites

in

not a transition,

this

degrees dialectically in the

so,

between the theory of opposites and theory

of distincts.

And

spirit

an eternal transition, which, from

view-point of eternity,

tinction,

is

human

The

theory of distincts and the theory

became

for

him one and the same.

was almost inevitable that

this

should be

owing to the peculiar psychological condition


which the discoverer of a new aspect of the

real finds himself (in this case, the synthesis of

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

96

He

opposites).

is

so tyrannized over by his

new wine

discovery, so inebriated with the


that truth, as to see

and

it

own
of

everywhere before him,

to be led to conceive everything according

new

to the

formula.

was

It

also almost inevit

able that this should be so, owing to the relations,


close as they are subtle, which unite the theory

of distincts to that of opposites, and both to the

There

theory of the concrete universal or idea.

are also in the theory of degrees, as in that of


opposites, various
that

is,

tained
is

moments

are negated, and at the


in the

former too, as

To

unity in diversity.

are overcome,

that

same time main

in the latter, there

discern the differences

between the two theories was reserved

when

historical period,

and

new wine was matured

settled.

We

can

distinction

absence
in

the

for a later

at

find

the

of

proofs

every step

in the

distinct

as

relation

presented

and synthesis.

anthropology
soul,

antithesis

psychology
spirit,

natural

real

theoretic

antithesis

free

concepts

Thus we
thesis

soul,
soul,

its

system of Hegel,

of

antithesis,

of this

and of the confusion caused by

which the relation

always

lack

of

spirit,

thesis

thesis,

find in the

sensitive

synthesis.

spirit,

is

In

the

practical

synthesis

and

iv

DISTINCTS & FALSE DIALECTIC

again
thesis
last

the
;

the state,

absolute
thesis

spirit

antithesis

logic

This

the

triadic

or

synthesis

idea,

thesis

is

that

in

thesis

is

anti

religion,

of

judgment,
and in the

knowledge,

And

synthesis.

so

the first case of that abuse jrf

is

and

Hegel,

has

been justly described

as

For who could ever persuade him


religion is the not-being of art, and

and

that art

synthesis

life

anti

society,

form which has offended and still


seriously all who approach the system

offends so

self that

absolute

on.

an abuse.

idea

this

in

In the sphere of

thesis

concept

again,

civil

is

syllogism,

of the

antithesis

of

art

or

synthesis.

philosophy,

subjective

logic

thesis

family,

anti

representation,

synthesis

ethicity,

thesis

thesis

intuition,

97

religion are

two abstractions which

possess truth only in philosophy, the synthesis


of both

or

that

the

practical

spirit

is

the

negation of the theoretical, that representation


is

the

of intuition,

negation

civil

society

the

negation of the family, and morality the negation


of

rights

and

that

all

these

concepts

are

unthinkable outside their synthesis,

free spirit,

thought, the

same way

as
in

state,

ethicity,

being and not-being,

becoming?

in

the

which are

true

only

Certainly Hegel was not always

98

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

faithful

to

declared

the

one

in

of

est lex

quadratum
and often,

in

form

triadic

his

juvenile

mentis]

form

triadic

he

cases,

particular

minimized the error of the

that

essays

naturae, triangulum

developing

he

indeed

(and

but

no such particular determination can suppress


the principle of division assumed as foundation.

On

the

occasions

other

mode

almost to be an imaginative
thoughts,

their substantial

truth.

an

interpretation

would
form

that

discrediting
in

in

But

its

the

in

On

opposites.

the other

would

be

to

wishes to win with


trufh

money
money

The

or

like

of

good

in the

error

incidentally,
is

an

has

been

in

fully

of

synthesis
to

defend the

arguments

advocate

who

rather than with

who

puts

order to

forward

pass

false

confusion,J
is

not such

nor

essential

may seem

in

must most

an

ingejiuity

alloy,

i.e.

extrinsic

swindler

logical value,

or

like

proceed

to

hand,

Hegel with

affirmations of

attain

tantamount

it

dialectic

not

to accept such

be

precisely the value which

maintain

of expressing

which of themselves do

to

seems

form

triadic

is

error,

the

given

it

an

as

can

error

be

of diction

it

which however small

it

which

it

summary formula
the

corrected

confusion

in

between

the

iv

DISTINCTS & FALSE DIALECTIC

99

theory of distincts and the theory of opposites,


yet

produces

say,

from

that

of

is

arises,

gravest
if

results

am

not

that

is

mistaken,

to
all

philosophically erroneous in the system

Hegel.

detail.

it

the

This

we

must

now examine

in

THE METAMORPHOSIS OF ERRORS


PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
AND DEGREES OF TRUTH
(STRUCTURE OF THE LOGIC)
INTO

THE

application of the dialectic of opposites to

the relation

of distincts,
*

out

carried

with

full

to

be

""""

seriousness

logical

expected

from

the

mind of Hegel), was bound


are philosophical

and

vigorous

On

a double consequence.

was

indeed

(as

errors

systematic

to entail, as

it

did,

the one hand, what

came

to

the

acquire

dignity of partial or particular concepts, that


of distinct concepts
distinct

really

is,

and on the other, what are

concepts

were

lowered

the

to

level of simple attempts at truth, to incomplete

and

imperfect

truths

that

to

is

assumed the aspect of philosophical

The

first

the structure

Logic, as
100

they

errors.

of these consequences

of the

say,

we

determined
find

it,

at

METAMORPHOSIS OF ERRORS

least

in

and as

Phenomenology of

of Logic (1812-1816), and

Science

Spirit,

set forth later in detail in the great

is

it

the

in

germ,

101

in

the small

one of the Encyclopaedia (1817, 1827, 1830).


The second determined the character of
aesthetic

and

sophical

sciences of history and

they

may be

and

in

gave

origin

two

the

to

philo

of nature,

as

seen, chiefly in the Encyclopaedia,

the

courses

of

lectures

posthumously

published.

To
and

the

first

moments

of the concept (which

truth and concreteness

its

are

opposites)

naturally

one another

concepts

becoming
analogy,
for

are

and

being

in

the

to

two

are

two

practical

two errors?

of

related

that the lower

For

example,

in

relation

to

abstractions,

become,

by

in

the

and practical

activity.

abstractions,

separately, each

be

to

higher.

thought are stages

stage,

synthesis

in

sense

in

which,

the series of distinct concepts,

intuition, thought,

and

the

taken

which

two degrees,
in

is

same way

the

nothing,

example,

opposites

point,

being confused with one another,

distincts

the abstract

to

with

begin

in

being
O
itself,

Indeed,

the

activity, intuition

relative

to

the

third

But what are

those

and

taken

nothing,
<J

but
first

two

falsities,

of these

or

corre-

102

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

spends

for

allied

to

Hegel

Eleatic

the

as

but

whole of

the

simple

and God as nothing


the most real.
reality,

being,
all

The second corresponds


which

conceives

other

to

which conceive the

philosophical views,

absolute

or

to the Buddhistic view,

things, as the true absolute.

two opposite, yet

base

the

as

nothingness

of

are therefore

They

philosophical errors,

similar,

both of which claim to think the indeterminate

and abstract as supreme


on the other hand, are
whole
rise

The

to

^Esthetic

human

scientific

activity

two unreal

and

real concepts.

Once

and

thoiight

this

owing
to the

abstractly,

concepts,
truths.

is

crown of

the

and gives

rise to

all

the

They

are, therefore,

abstractions, but

two concrete

Logic.

has been posited^

to the confusion

opposites

science,

philosophical

second

the

not

of

and

intuition

first

particular

science of sciences

that

what,

term sums up the


imaginative activity of man and gives

two truths

but

And

reality.

and

the

it

becomes

between the

connexion

of

clear

dialectic

distincts

assumption that the opposites, taken


fulfil

the

same function

those errors

They become

as the distinct

become transmuted
particular

of a lower degree of spirit,

but

truths,
still

into

truths

necessary

METAMORPHOSIS OF ERRORS

forms of

spirit,

And when

or categories.

103

these

have been baptized truths of a certain

errors

there

kind,

error

in

is

nothing to hinder every error,


considered

being

general,

particular

The phenomenology of error thus assumes


appearance of an ideal history of truth.

truths.

the

This baptism, this transfiguration, has seemed,


and will still seem to some, to be the recognition
of a principle

Do we

as

as

important

not frequently speak,

is

it

even

profound.

in

ordinary

language, of progressive errors, of errors which

open the way to truth

Do we

not

that

say

humanity has learned more from certain errors


than from many truths ? The Eleatics_ were

wrong

in

being

but

the

conceiving
that

error

of

absolute

as

simple

nevertheless

theirs

-*

..^=>

>

affirms

an

undeniable,

that the absolute

is

though

partial

truth,

Descartes and

also being.

were wrong in positing the parallelism


of mind and body, of thought and extension
Sjginoza

but

thanks

unless,

distinction
fixed

unity

insoluble

the

relief,

very error, the


terms had been

how

could

their

have been thought afterwards

Kant was wrong

recognize

that

between the two

and thrown into

concrete

as

to

in

but

presenting the antinomies


it

was

thus

he

came

to

necessity of the antinomies, the

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

io 4

of

basis

the

dialectic.

was

Schelling

wrong

the absolute as

in

conceiving
simlg_jdentjty_
but that error of his was the bridge which had
to be crossed to reach the conception of the
;

absolute as unity in opposition and distinction.

Unless

transcendent,

how

conceived
could

the

Ideas

the

as

the

merely logical
have been changed

of Socrates jever

concept
into

had

Plato

Aristotelian concrete (awo\ov)

How

could the a priori synthesis of Kant ever have

without

appeared

the

negation of
wishes truth to be generated

He who

Hume?

without error wishes

He who

father.

is

son without the

the

truth

despises

incomprehensible

which

errors,

^...

eternal aspects.

for

despises error

antecedent

those
its

truth

for

itself,

sceptical

are

without
therefore

But here too we must

be careful

not

to

allow ourselves to be led^astraj by metaphors


In
we must re-think the thing itself.

error, that
sive,

or

but

if

or

we

the

like,

consider

we may declare it
we consider it more

resolves

some

fruitful,

When

truth.

whole,

which may justly be called progres

itself

into

of which are

true

to

not error but

is

doctrine

be

false or true

in detail,

series

as

of

and some

a
;

the doctrine
affirmations,
false

and

METAMORPHOSIS OF ERRORS

its

and

progressiveness

fruitfulness

105
the

in

lie

affirmations which are true, not in those which

are

and which therefore cannot even be

false,

called

affirmations.

doctrine,

the

is

true

being,

The

"

truth,
is

what

Even

but being.

that

the

is false, is

that

affirmation
:

the

in

Thus,

in

absolute
is

it

,.is_

nothing

highest expression of

the

absolute

Eleatic

is

the

spirit,"

absolute

though not simple being. Similarly,


the Cartesian and Spinozist parallelism, the

being,

in

distinction of

extension,

but

mind from body, of thought from

is,

least in a certain sense,

at

remains

it

produced

what

which

theory,

be

to

explained

false is

is

it

is

the hasty metaphysical

two

those

explains

how

true

terms

by

making them two manifestations of God, or


two attributes of substance, and takes the
statement

of

the

Thus

in

Platonic transcendency, the truth

in

lies

too,

the value

the

from real
world

error

lies

things,

which

the

solution.

assigned to the idea, as

longer purely subjective,


real

for

problem

and

in
in

we cannot

but

as

objective and

separating

the

placing

them

think,

no

but can

ideas
in

only

thus
imagining them we
imagine
confuse them again with things real and finite.
It is the error in each of these doctrines that
;

and

in

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

io6
is

the incentive to progress

moment

the necessary

the not-being,

is

it

of development

without

contradiction and doubt, without perplexity and

we should

dissatisfaction,

Man would
would

not

cease

cease

altogether

henceforth

to

the

affirm
it

and

advance.

because

he

would

indeed

we know

So much

be.

the principle of the synthesis

been, expounded

But

above.

accepted

no

truth,

think,

which has

of opposites,
fully

conquer

to

is

it

make

principle

being and not-being,

of

synthesis

this

if

and

does not therefore possess the virtue of changing

not -being into

incentive

is

degree of

or

preserved

degree or aspect of
which is contained
call

the

erroneous.
true

error as

which the

light,

truth

in
it,

in

The

truth.

as

is

ligrrtjof

of
the

the

the

the

error,

particular

that aspect of truth

is

doctrines

These aspects of the

subject
error

into

into progress, error into

progress

truth

partial

which

to

darkness

being,

history

of

that

we

truth are

thought

hemisphere of darkness,

truth has not yet illuminated

and we write the history of successive illumina


tions, not of darkness, which is without history,
because
the
first

it

accompanies every history.

transmutation

of

errors

consequence

of

the

into

Therefore
truths,

transference

of

this

the

METAMORPHOSIS OF ERRORS

dialectic

of

distincts,

into which

be drawn,

is

opposites

the

to

107

connexion

Hegel allowed himself

of
to

be considered as fundamentally
*

to

erroneous.

have premised,
these canons of judgment which I have

If these explanations,

and
laid

if

which

down, be exact, we are now

in a position to

understand the problem and the structure of the


Hegelian Logic not indeed, be it well under
:

stood, the

Hegel

principle of the

logical

(the concrete concept)

and of

doctrines of
his various

particular doctrines (the theory of opposites, the

theory of distincts,

etc.)

of which

we have

already

preceding chapters but of that


determinate thought which led Hegel to conceive

discoursed

in

a fundamental science, which he called Logic or


the Science of logic,

and developed

in thrQe.secjtiQns,

the logic of Being^ the logic of ^Essen^e, and the


It is a science, which has,
logic of the Concept.
not without reason, seemed strange and obscure,

rigorous in appearance, but arbitrary in fact and


at

every step

something unseizable, because

it

provides no secure point to take hold of or to


lean upon.

The problem

of the Hegelian Logic (as appears

from the principal content of that book) is to


submit to examination the various definitions of

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

io8

the Absolute, that

to

is,

review

critically all

forms

means

of philosophy, in order to demonstrate, by

of their difficulties and contradictions, the truth

of that philosophy which considers the Absolute


as spirit or idea.

same time
light

Further,

at

the

find their justification

has been the aspiration, of

it

human

efforts of

show

is

the

all

the

so that this philosophy

in this conception,

as

to

that the aspects of truth brought to

by other philosophies

result,

is

it

Hence

thought.

there pass before us,

in the

now sometimes

named, now sometimes

Logic

expressly

and reference,

in allusion

Oriental Emanationism, Buddhism, Pythagoreanism,

Atomism

the

Heracliteanism,

Eleaticism,

Platonism, Aristotelianism, the

of Democritus,

doctrines of the Pantheists, of the Sceptics and


of

the

Gnostics,

Scholasticism

Locke,

then,

too,

Wolff,

Leibniz,

Schelling,

Jacobi,

thought,"

it

is

the

to

it.

more or

Spinoza,

and

It

somewhat

is

the

other

Fichte,
philo

"

different

from mine

which every philosophy

polemic, by
affirms and maintains its
sophies,

Descartes,

pathologv_pf
has been called by an English

writer, in a sense
it

Anselm,

Hume, Kant,

Herder

sophical points of view.


as

Saint

Christianity,

life

against other philo

less discordant with,

and

hostile

METAMORPHOSIS OF ERRORS

109

This polemic, if we observe it well, can be


conducted in two distinct modes, one of which
presupposes the other as

its

The

basis.

different

philosophies, and their partially erroneous points

of view, can be studied


the

in

individuality,

they assumed

form that

definite

their

in

with

various thinkers at different times, in chronological

sequence

and we thus have the

is

Philosophy (which
like

History o/

both history and criticism,

Or we can study

every true history).

the

universal possibilities of philosophical errors, their


sources,

perpetual

confusion of philosophy

the

with the various other activities of the


spirit
is

and

the polemic against errors

in this case

philosophy

itself,

human

the whole system

for

it

is

only in the completely developed system that the


causes of errors

become

A polemic against

clear.

now
and now at

errors can be placed, for convenience sake,


at the

now

beginning,

in the middle,

the end of a philosophic theory


it

is

inseparable

because, as

Bacon

from

the

but logically

philosophy

said, as the straight

itself,

line

is

the measure both of itself and of the curve, so

verum index sui

et

falsi

every affirmation

is

also negation.

AvHich

is

or, as is

the entire system,

is

generally said,

This

criticism,

also the basis of

that other criticism, the history of philosophy.

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

no

the

by

Hegel,

affirmative

theses

of

his

philosophy, discharged magnificently the task of


criticizing philosophical errors

certainly, within

the limits of his system, or up to the point at

which the errors of

his

him from seeing further

own system prevented

into the errors of others

but in any case with a breadth and richness such

no other

as

philosopher,

save

had

Aristotle,

Aristotle indeed stands to the

ever displayed.

of

Hellenic

thought in
the same relation as Hegel stands to the whole
previous development

philosophical development up to his

own

time,

from the Hellenic, even from the Oriental world.

Hence

the Logic of

Hegel has on several occasions

been compared with and placed beside the Met aphysic of Aristotle.

And

for this reason, in the

History of Philo
sophy also, Hegel attained to heights never reached
previously to him and rarely since, so much so that
considered as the true founder of the history
of philosophy, no longer understood as literary

he

is

history or as a collection of erudite matter, but


as internal history, as an exposition which philo

sophy

itself

makes of

its

own genesis

in time, as

the great autobiography of philosophic thought.


1

"

est la seule

metaphysique qui

Taine, in a letter of 1851


i.

162-3,

cf.

p.

145.

see

Sa

existe,

avec cclle d

Aristote."

H.

Vie ct sa correspondance (Paris, 1902),

METAMORPHOSIS OF ERRORS in
But

owing to the confusion between the


and the connexion of distincts, and to

dialectic

the consequent conception of errors as particular

Hegel was not

truths,

modes
that

with

Here

structure

are Jreated

errors

is,

the

in

as categories

to deduce, or to

\_

as

of

mode

the

distinct

Logic.

concepts^

and the attempt

develop errors,

two

the

indicated, but attempted a third

realized

that

satisfied

is

made

same way

in the

that the categories or the distinct concepts are

The method proper

deduced andf cTeveTopedT


truth

is

applieoVto non-truth JI
J

What was bound


attempt, this

to

happen in this desperate


violent and spasmodic, effort toward

the impossible?
est

to

impossible,

Sil

"

on

est difficile, cest

fait; sil

some

courtier-

le fera"

said

And he performed
an^ienj^gime.
the impossible with a fiat of his will, leading the
minister of the

state

ruin

to

his

Similarly

structure that

beginning.

and

own

provoking
will

ruled

Hegel devised.

the

revolution.

supreme

He

in

the

begins at the

Hegel always gave himself great

trouble over this problem of the beginning, not


less than over that of the introduction to be

provided to philosophy (the senseless dispute as


to the place that the Phenomenology has in the

system

is

well known).

Yet he himself recognizes

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

ii2

quite clearly that philosophy

is

and

"circle"

thereby implies the inconeivability of a necessary


starting-point.

point

and so

A
it

can be entered

circle

with philosophy.

is

begin with the concept of

at

any

We

can

spirit in general,

pro
that
or
we
can
from
by determinations,
ceeding
proceed by successive complications from the

most simple concept, or by discomposition, from


the most complex, or from some intermediary
concept, by going backwards and forwards

or,

and philosophicaMnfinally, from some problem


vestigation and criticism of errors, we can work
to

a complete system.

It

is

this

in

way

that

and here, at
every one begins to philosophize
each one has his beginning,
this point, is reality
;

TO TTpwrov TTpo?

sion there

is

no

^a?, and
Trp&rov

at this stage of apprehen

The preference to be

(frvo-ei.

accorded to one beginning rather than to another

most a question of didactic convenience.


But if the problem of the beginning is of no

is

at

importance

in philosophy,

it

is

true,

on the other

hand, that philosophy, objectively considered, has


its
is

first

position,

its

also last, the first

example,
Idea.

in

But

Trp&rov fyvaei

which

is

first,

which

a circle, such as, for

the philosophy of Hegel, Spirit or


in

the Logic

in
>

so far as

it

examination of a series of errors, how can a

is

an

first

METAMORPHOSIS OF ERRORS

be thought that should be


Trpwrov

that

of necessity, a

first

Hegel began with pure being,

<f>vaei?

is,

113

with the examination of the philosophical

systems which define the Absolute as simple


and he repeatedly tried to justify this
being
;

beginning, but

in vain.

any other, equally


unjustifiable

only one.

if

Why

was a beginning

justified with
is

it

It

any other

claimed to justify

should

we

it

like

but

as the

commence with

not

the philosophies which place the root of things

one of the other of the cosmological elements,


the water of Thales or the air of Anaximenes ?
in

Or with

the sensationalis^philo_sophies, for which

the absoJ.ui-J^-_lhe_relative, and reality

this

point, has

that

laid

Or

the

Let the starting-point be pure


only, an examination which begins at

phenomenon
being

is

again,

down
the

"commanded"

in

a principle,

like

the mathematical disciplines.

course

of the

argument has a

purely biographical, autobiographical, or aesthetic


value.

Indeed, the Phenomenology, which begins

from sensible certainty, and the Logic, which


begins from pure being, follow here and there a
course, which recalls

some philosophic romance

Emile, perhaps, or the journey of the Irishman


in

search of the best of religions.

The beginning was

arbitrary

and the sequel

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

n4
was

not easy to hold

Hegel s
Logic in one s mind, unless recourse be had to
learning it mechanically for there is no necessary
generation of its successive parts from one another.
It

arbitrary.

is

Triad follows triad

one

triad

the

method

but

itself to

links

it

does not appear that

another, triadically, as

After the

implies.

not-being, and becoming,

first triad,

comes the category of

the determinate being (Daseyn)


to

but

if

there

is

be a link between them, determinate being

should arise from becoming as


as

of being,

But the

not-becoming.

its antithesis, i.e.

fact

is

that

Hegel

himself says, that determinate being corresponds


to pure being in the preceding triad.

For

this

reason, the series of triads of the Hegelian Logic

has been interpreted by some

critics,

not as a

great uninterrupted chain, but as a single funda

mental

which other triads are inserted

triad, into

and into which

still

well as that limited

others could be inserted, as

number which Hegel gave,

apparently by

way

of example.

interpretation,

the

necessary

But on

this

ascent

through
from pure being to the idea,
and that ascent was the purpose

different degrees,
is

made

illusory,

of the Logic.

So the book

is

thus reduced to a

congeries of criticisms directed against the affirma


tions of abstract terms, which are resolved in

METAMORPHOSIS OF ERRORS

And

115

would be necessary
add that the criticisms are concerned not only

dialectic syntheses.
to

with

abstract

opposites

but

opposites,

and therefore

it

it

is

also

with

false

not altogether an

erroneous view which has noted a certain change


of

method

the

in the Logic, as

it

gradually rises from

primary to the ulterior categories.

It

is

clear that the content of the criticism changes,

when we pass from


which

those

to

hence

concept;

being

Hegel himself says, that


have another and a passing

we

another

the errors concerning being


refer to essence and to the

in

and

opposite,

the

essence,
in

the

appearing

concept,

the

in

"in

into

the

distinction

between the particular and universality, which


continues as such in that which is distinct from it,
and

is in

a relation of identity with the

If there

the

be no necessary connexion between

Hegel s Logic, there


on the other hand marks of the

successive

appear

in

distinct."

it

parts

of

tendencies which might be expected in a thought-

which has been compelled into those


schematic forms, as into a bed of Procrustes.
content,

That content,
only be

as has

already been said, could

developed, either

in

the form of the

exposition of a complete philosophic system (and

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

n6

philosophy of

spirit),

form of a history of philosophy.

And

in this case, as a

or in the

the treat

ment of the Logic approximates sometimes to


the one type, sometimes to the other.
For

we

instance,

an attempt

discover

of philosophy in the order of the

a history

at

first

categories,

which appear successively Parmenides, HeraDemocritus


and then again, in other
clitus,
in

of

Kant

Descartes, Spinoza,

parts,

the

doctrine

of

the

the

concept

first

part

contains

the

critique of the Aristotelian analytic


part, the criticism of the Leibnizian

And

again,

transform

it

into

itself

spirit,

necessary

monadology.

has an even stronger tendency to

and not empirical) of


forms of

philosophy (speculative

spirit, i.e.

of the particular

cognitive and practical, in their

relation.

Thus,

in

the

being (section on quantity) there


logy of arithmetical procedure

is

first

section, there

the third

is

section,

sophical logic.

the

concepts

elucidated,

of

the gnoseo-

the natural

In the doctrine of the concept, in the


the logic of the concept, of

the judgment, and of the syllogism


in

doctrine

in the doctrine of

essence, of the theory involved in


sciences.

the second

and

the

and then,

more properly

philo

In the parts relating to objectivity,


of
in

mechanism and chemism

are

those relating to teleology and

METAMORPHOSIS OF ERRORS

life,

there

117

a sketch of a philosophy of nature

is

while a practical philosophy appears in the section

on the Idea,

in

aesthetic

not

is

compendium of

the discussion of

excluded

altogether

logic,

which

will.

is

Finally,

be found

to

the

in

in the

Propaedeutic of 1808-1812, the category of the


"

is

Beautiful"

this

reason

united to that of

also,

For

desperate to attempt to

is

it

"Life."

keep the various parts of the system of Hegel


The Logic anticipates
distinct from one another.
the Philosophy of the Spirit, which takes up again
the themes of the Logic, the Philosophy of nature

develops the doctrines of being and of the essence

the parts of the Logic relating to mechanism, to

chemism and
nature

to

life,

anticipate the Philosophy of

the Phenomenology of Spirit contains the

whole system

in a first

sketch

(if

we do

not take

System der Sittlichkeit, which


Hegel did not publish, and which was the very

account of the

first

sketch).

concrete content, taken from the history of

philosophy, and in great measure from the Philo

sophy of

spirit,

a violent and arbitrary arrange

ment, imposed by thefalse^ idea of an a priori


deduction of errors
1

that

Philosophische Propiideutik, ed.

Werke,

xviii.

120).

is

how

the Hegelian

Rosenkranz, 2nd course,

10

(in

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

nS

Logic presents

injures the content.

The arrangement

me.

itself to

But

in

saying this and

in

condemning the undertaking of Hegel, as em


bodied in the Logic, I do not intend to condemn
to death

and

to oblivion that richest of all the

books which bear the


I

mean

to place

it

title

Logic

on the contrary,

in conditions favourable to its

and to the continued exercise of

life

influence

He who

upon the mind.

its

profound

takes up the

Logic of Hegel, with the intention of understand


ing its development and above all the reason of
the

commencement,
put down the book
it,

will

be obliged ere long to

in despair of

understanding
or persuaded that he finds himself face to face

with a mass of meaningless abstractions.

who,

like the

be_ast,"

"

jipj^ojL&ab^is,

But he

a philosophical

instead of leaving the bone alone, takes

now

here and

a bite at

it,

breaks

up and sucks

it

it,

now

will

there,

chews

it,

eventually nourish

himself with the substantial marrow.

Hegel and

have persistently pointed


to the door by which the Logic can be entered
pure being, from which we must gradually pass

his disciples after him,

by the vestibules and up the

stairs of nothing,

of becoming, of determinate being, of something,


of the limit of change, of being
>

in

for

self, etc. etc.

order to reach the sanctuary of the Goddess, or

METAMORPHOSIS OF ERRORS

the Idea.

But he who obstinately knocks

gate and believes the

at that

false information, that

and no other must be the door and the


vainly attempt to enter the palace.

sham

assault from

sides

all

door.
;

Take

such

stair, will

That door,

which has been indicated as the only one,


closed, indeed a

119

is

the palace by

thus alone will you reach

the interior, and penetrate to the very sanctuary.

And

it

of the

may be

that

Goddess

holding the
devotees.

lit

you

will

see the countenance

with a benevolent smile, be

"saintly

simplicity"

of

many

of her

VI

THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PARTI


CULAR CONCEPTS INTO PHILO
SOPHICAL ERRORS
ART AND LANGUAGE

I.

THE

other

blow arising

consequence,

the

(^ESTHETIC)

second

counter

from the confusion between the

synthesis of opposites and the relation of distincts,

was

not

less

to

Owing

grave.

this

Hegel deprived himself of the means


recognizing the autonomy and of attributing

confusion,
of

and proper value to the various forms


Error was confused with particular
of the spirit.
their just

truth, and, as philosophical errors

Hegel
bound

had become

particular truths, so particular truths


to be associated with errors

philosophical errors, to lose

all

and

to

intrinsic

for

were

become

measure,

to be brought to the level of speculative truth,


and to be treated as nothing but imperfect forms

of philosophy.
120

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
For

this

succeed

in

reason,

121

Hegel did not completely

recognizing the nature of the aesthetic,

or of the historical, or of the naturalistic activity


that

to say, of art,

is

or of history, or of the

physical and natural sciences.

Without doubt, the pages of Hegel concerning


aesthetic are animated with great artisticjeelingj
and on the whole there prevails in them the
tendency to make-art a primary element in human
life,

of knowledge and of spiritual_elevaL-

We are

tiojn.

and

mode

far

by these pages far beyond


above the vulgar view, for which art is
carried

a superfluous accident of real

life,

a pleasure, a

game, a pastime or a simple mode of instruction,


The constant contact
empirical and relative.
;

Hegelian speculation with taste and with


works of art, and the dignity which it assigned

of

to the artistic

fluence over

gave it an
minds and made

activity,

men

effective
it

a powerful

stimulus to the study of aesthetic problems.


is

a merit, which, in part,

is

in

common

to

This
all

the

Romantic period (the great


period of the fermentation and the renewal of the
philosophy of art and of literary and artistic criti
aesthetic theories of the

cism and history), and which,


to the

Hegelian

in part, is peculiar

aesthetic, in virtue of its

of ideas, of judgments and of problems.

wealth

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

122

But the elements of truth, scattered

in

plenty

in

the Hegelian eesthetic, are either too general, or

merely incidental, and are, in principle, divergent


from the fundamental concept of art, which Hegel
accepts, and which is erroneous.
It

is

erroneous, because Hegel, firm in

his

belief that every form of spirit (save the ultimate

and supreme form) is nothing but a provisional


and contradictory way of conceiving the Absolute,
could not discover that
form, which

and

in

is

has not yet


condition.

It

ingenuous theoretic

the lyric or the musicjof

which there

contradictory,

first

is

spirit,

nothing philosophically

because the philosophic problem

emerged.
is

This

first

form

is

its

the region of the intuition, of

pure fancy, of language, in its essential character,


as painting, music or song
in a word, it is the
:

region of

art.

When Hegel

begins his medita

upon the phases of spirit, he is already at


a point where that region is behind him, and

tion

yet he does not recognize that he has passed

The Phenomenology

takes

its

start

it.

from sensible

Hegel the simplest form


which (he says) we behave towards

certainty, according to

of

all

that in

immediate or receptive manner


changing nothing in it and abstaining from all
And he does not find
the labour of concepts.
reality

in

an

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
it

seems

The

and

here,

in a

something else
this, here,

now

not the

moment,

in

theoretic

first

sensible certainty,
is
it

it

after

form

is

It

he believes, immediate consciousness

not, as

already mingled with intellectual reflexion,

is

already contains the question as to what

(such

we have

as

is

In place of genuine sensible certainty

truly real.

where there
and

is

not genuine

pure and simple.

cuo-Orjo-t,?

is

But

Hegel speaks,
it

the abstract

is

everything else disappears.

the sensible certainty, of which

not the

moment

the here there

that survives,

all

is

on the

is,

and the poorest.

abstract

now, and

is

thing

is

most

the

which

that such contemplation,

be the richest and most true,

to

contrary,

it

show

difficult to

123

object,

in

aesthetic

contemplation,

no distinction between subject


no comparison of one thing to another,
is

no collocation

in

spatial

and temporal

series)

there has been substituted the first reflexion upon


sensible
first

knowledge

reflexion should

Hegel

surpassed.
subject

without

and

it

is

natural that that

seem imperfect and


often

predicate

resembles,

phenomenon, the thing without


thing in itself, an empty and
foundation
with the

it is

the concept in

predicate,

that

repeats

to

be

the

in

the

"

properties, the

indeterminate

itself,

which, only

receives differentiation and

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

i2 4

But

determination."

without predicate

art

that

is,

subject

precisely,

quite other than the

is

nothingness and void of the thing-in-itself and


of the thing without properties.

without intellectual relations

It
is

it

is

intuition

the emotion,

which a poem communicates, through which there


opens a view of a reality, which we cannot render
in intellectual
in

singing

creating

terms and which we possess only

or

in

Hegel

aesthetic activity

never

in his eyes,

him

it

sign

in

is

is

the

region

of

he does not succeed

Language,

the

Indeed,

work of memory, which he

because

explicitly

it

produces

"signs";

which represents a content


different from that which is its own."

By means

language the intelligence impresses


presentation upon an external element.

form of language, therefore,

is

grammar.

Owing

re

its

intellectual

the product of a logical instinct, which

logical

and

"altogether

of

in

calls

defined as an immediate

intuition,

wards theorized

in

becomes,

too,

an organized contradiction.

"productive,"

the

only

is,

and therein the theoretic form

explaining language.

for

reaches

truly primary, so

is

that

it.

Since

which

re-singing,

The
it

is

is

after

to

this

form, language tries to express the in

dividual, but cannot

do so

"

you wish to say

this

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
piece of paper, upon which

have written,

precisely this

What you

it.

am

is

say

125

writing, or rather

but you do not say

the

universal,

this!

Thus, according to Hegel, does language confute


attempting to express the individual, and,

itself,

on the contrary, always expressing the universal.


But for the omne individuum ineffabile of the
which Hegel here seems to repeat,
we must substitute the opposite solum individuum

scholastics,

addition

ever think that a

does not attain


an end that
dwell

in

escape

art

modis

logicis

ineffabile}.

human

activity,

end, that

its

it

with

How

is

Language

grasp individual

from which

it

itself

must

cannot

it

poetry and

we

artistic expression,

reality, that individual

spirit intuites

we

can

proposes to

essentially

by language, or by

the

such as language,

absurd and therefore that

is

self-deception,

which our

former

the

correct

(or -else

effabile

shading,

and renders, not

in

terms

of concepts, but in sounds, tones, colours, lines,

and so

on.

stood in

its

its

For

reason, language, under

this

true nature,

meaning,

is

and

adequate to

of inadequacy arises

when

in the full
reality.

whole

that fragment
to

which

it

is

The

illusion

the term language

is

meaning, and
separated from the organic

applied to a fragment of this

when

extent of

belongs.

full

Thus

paper,

this

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

126

paper, of which

pressed by the words


torn

is

ex

"

"

this

paper

in

themselves,

asunder from their context and rendered

abstract.

whole
it

not only what

is

speak,

It

spirit,

what

is

my

has present to

represents,

it

it

is

it

rather,

which

my

in so far as

can also render externally, with

sound, colour, and so on.


precisely,"

or

eyes,

because

If

have

say:
it

"this

before

am showing it to others the words that


my mouth obtain their full meaning

paper

me and

issue from

from the

whole psychical situation in which I find myself,


and so from the intention, intonation, and gesture,
with which I pronounce them.
If we abstract

them from

that situation, certainly they will appear

inadequate to that individual

we have made them

so,

Hegel (who had no


condition

of

the

in

but that

is

because

But

by mutilating them.

clear idea of the

could

aesthetic

not

completely
he was obliged to think of
that mutilated and intellectualized manner,
spirit)

understand language
it

and therefore to declare

it

contradictory.

And

he passes from the language


of prose to consider the language of poetry, he

when,

in his ^Esthetic,

back into the old rhetoric, after some attempt


to emerge from it.
Poetic language also, in the
falls

he regards as a mere
different from the lines and
end,

"sign,"

the

essentially

colours

of

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS

127

sculpture and of painting, and from the tones


of music.

Thus Hegel

erroneous logical theory con

cerning distinct concepts conceals from him the


that

place

properly

belongs

the

to

aesthetic

and suggests to him a philosophy of


language, which leads him of necessity to consider
But it is not only language
language as an error.
activity

that

treated

is

this

in

function unrecognized,

mind
of

it,

fashion.

Art,

obtrudes

itself

true

its

upon

his

and since he does not know what to make

he transfers

to a place,

it

belong and where,

where

it

does not

language (which has first


been arbitrarily separated from the representative
and aesthetic activity, with which it altogether
coincides),

it

like

too ends by appearing as nothing

but imperfection and error.


pass
the

it

by

way

in silence

Hegel could neither

nor get rid of

it

lightly (as is

of naturalistic and positivist philosophers).

His time would not permit this, nor would his


individual disposition, in which interest in art was
so

prominent.

The

conception

to

which

attained was substantially that of his time.


in

he

Kant,

the third Critique, had studied the aesthetic

activity along with the teleological

judgment, as

one of the modes of representing nature, when


the mechanical conceptions of the exact sciences

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

28

are surpassed

Schiller

had indicated

VI

it

as the

ground of reconciliation in the struggle between


necessity and liberty, and Sqhelling conceived it
as the true organ of the Absolute.

was

later to consider

like

in

it

Schopenhauer

manner

as

the

contemplation of the Ideas and the freeing of the


will.

For Hegel

also,

this

which the

activity,

whole romantic period sometimes substituted for,


sometimes placed above, and sometimes placed
below religion and philosophy, became a mode of

apprehending the Absolute, of solving the great


In the Phenomenology, he
philosophical problem.

makes

a form of religion, superior to merely

it

natural religion (which adores material objects,


feUcJjes

and the

like),

because

of adoring spirit as subject

he makes

it,

mode

the Encyclopaedia

in

indeed a

it is

with but slight difference, the religion

of beauty, a

first

in relation

degree

to revealed

the latter, as this latter, in its


religion, inferior to
turn,

is

inferior to

philosophy.

The

history of

poetry and of art consequently appears

in

the

lectures on ^.sthetic^ as a history of philosophy,

of religion and of the moral


history of

of works

human
of

art,

ideals, in

that

is

aesthetic form, occupies a

life

of humanity

which the individuality


to

say,

the

properly

secondary place, or

referred to only incidentally.

is

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
If the

conception of

same problem

common
is

as

engaged upon the


and philosophy, is

as

art,

religion

to his time,

what

129

is

peculiar to

Hegel

the relation which he establishes between those

three forms

the distinctive character, which he

assigns to art in relation to religion and philosophy.

Hegel could

not, as others did,

make

the aesthetic

activity complementary to the philosophical activity,

solving in

its

the problems that were insoluble

way

to philosophy.

Still

less

make

could he

His

activity superior to the philosophical.

assumption was bound


of the

solution

dialectic,

The

distinct concepts.

him

to lead
in

its

it

an

logical

to the usual

application

to

artistic activity is distinct

from the philosophical only through its imperfec


tion, only because it apprehends the Absolute in
a sensible and immediate form, whereas philosophy
in

apprehends it
This means,
distinct

the pure

logically,

and that

for

that

medium
art

Hegel

it

is
is

of thought.

not

at

all

practically

reduced (whether he like it or not) to a philo


True
sophical error, or an illusory philosophy.
art would be philosophy, which addresses itself
again to the same problem upon which art has

worked

in

vain and attains a perfect solution of

That such

is

proved by the

the genuine thought of Hegel,

fact that

it.

is

he does not shrink from

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

130

When

the extreme consequence of this theory.


is

philosophy

because

disappear,
die,

completely developed,

and indeed

an error,
history of

is

it

is

superfluous

art

must

already quite dead.

which Hegel

art,

must

If

not necessary and eternal.

is

it

it

art

is

traces,

it

is

The

directed to

shewing the gradual dissolution of the artistic


form, which has no place, in modern times, in our
true and highest interests.
survival

of the

illuminates

It

is

a past, or the

This grandiose paradox

past.

the

everywhere

aesthetic

error

of

Hegel, and better perhaps than any other ex

ample makes clear the error of


tion.

In defence of Hegel,

the death of

art,

death, which

observe

in

is

it

his logical

assump

has been said that

of which he speaks,

an eternal^ rebirth

the spirit of man,

is

that eternal

such as

we

when he passes

from poetry to philosophy, rising from the intuition


to the universal, so that in his eyes, the world

of intuition loses__its^_colpur^
interpretation, there

of the death of

art,

is

But against

the fact that

this

Hegel speaks

not in the sense of perpetually

renewing itself, but as actually about to happen


and as having happened, of a death of art in the
historical world.

This

is

in

complete agreement

with his treatment of the degrees of reality as a


series

of opposites,

difficult

to

abstract

and to

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS

Once he had assumed

separate from one another.

application of the dialectic,

this

Hegel had no

than one of two ways, either

choice

other

131

to

suppress art by means of that grandiose paradox,


or to preserve it with a not less grandiose
inconsistency.

For

this reason,

it

is

not altogether wrongly

system of Hegel (whose twin principles


of the concrete concept and the dialectic, are of
that the

frankly aesthetic inspiration) has appeared to be


a cold intellectualjsm, irreconcilable to the artistic

And

consciousness.

the

misunderstanding

art leaves its traces in his

treatment of

all

of
the

problems into which the concept of art enters as


a necessary and proximate premiss.
Hegel is
usually considered an adversary of the Aristotelian

formal

logics;

but

it

would be better

to say, with

greater exactness, that he was the adversary of


classificatory

and naturalistic

logic, or, better

still,

tEat he limited himself to revealing the inadequacy

of classificatory and naturalistic logic to provide


a

principle

for

recognized this

on

merit

in

this subject could not


"

ing.

Aristotle

We

philosophy.

him and

have already
his

polemic

have a different mean

"

"

(he says)

is

the author of _jn^

Jtellectual logic (the logic of the abstract intellect),

whose forms concern only the

relation of finites

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

132

between themselves
be conceived
classification
in

the true, therefore, cannot

in

not what

is

is

most characteristic

the logic of Aristotle and of his school

tendency

classificatory

Baconian or inductive
of

But the method of

them."

the

Aristotelian

between

The

logic.

logic

logical_jthought

its

is

into

characteristic

or

syllogistic,

which

it

falls

and speech, and

its

while limiting

claim to establish logical forms,


itself to

the

also to be found in the

confusion

the

verbalism,

is

verbal forms.
*

Hegel did not and could not criticize this


error, because he was without the instrument of
criticism,

which can be furnished only by a valid

philosophy of language.
^distinguish

between

the

He

certainly tries to

proposition

and

the

but he cannot adduce good


reasons for this distinction, and he states that

logical

judgment

a proposition (for instance


a

"it

judgment only when with

is
it

hot")

becomes

we answer

the

doubt that may arise as to the truth of the


The exact distinction was beyond
affirmation.
his reach, for

it

pure proposition

consists in recognizing that the


is

nothing but speech

itself,

or

language as pure aesthetic fact, in which there


is no logic, though it is the necessary vehicle
1

Gesch. der Philos?

ii.

365-68.

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
of logical thought.

133

Indeed, not only does he re

tain the tripartition of concept, logical

judgment
between element

and syllogism, and the division


ary forms and methodology, between definition,
division, demonstration and proof, but he even
sets to

work

to distinguish

and define new classes

of judgments and of syllogisms.

VII

THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PARTI


CULAR CONCEPTS INTO PHILO
SOPHICAL ERRORS
II.

HISTORY (IDEA OF A PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY)

IT might be said that the failure to understand

the autonomy of art also prevented Hegel from

understanding the character of history (historio


But the truth is that Hegel was unable
graphy).
to

do

full

justice to this theoretic form, for the

same reason

we have

as in the case of the others,

already mentioned, because

formed

particular

errors.

From

errors have the

that

as

Hegel

measure
religion

it

to

as

into

as

he trans

philosophical

the logical point of view, the two

same

probable that the

second

concepts

i.e.

is

origin.

first

Psychologically,

prepared the way

also psychologically

it is

for the

probable

idea of religion contributed in

some

He regarded
produce the first.
an imaginative and more or less
134

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
form

imperfect

bound

to lead

of

him

philosophy

to assign an

and

135

this

was

analogous position

to art in relation to philosophy.

History, herein differing from


philosophical thought as
it

art,

its

is

but, like

always narration, and never

theory and system, though


its

presupposes

condition

finds its material in the intuitive element.

History, therefore,

at

art,

foundation.

So

it

has theory and system

that,

on the one hand,

historians are trained to the scrupulous study of

documents, and on the other to the formation of


clear ideas

upon

reality

and

upon those aspects of

life

to

It

treat

that

historically.

history

cannot

and especially
which they undertake
life,

has seemed

dispense

with

therefore
scientific

accuracy and yet remain always a work of


If all historical

art.

works be reduced to their simplest

expression, the historical judgment, or the pro

(for

"

something has happened


example, Caesar was killed, Alaric devastated

position affirming that

"

Rome, Dante composed the Comedy,

etc.),

we

upon analysing these propositions, that each


one of them is constituted of intuitive elements,
see,

which act as subject and of


which act as predicate. The

logical
first

for

elements,
instance

and speaking generally, will be Caesar, Rome,


Dante, the Comedy, and so on and the second,
;

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

136
the

concepts of slaughter,

composition, and such

From
that

this

devastation,

artistic

it

follows

like.

historical

gnoseology,

every progress of philosophic thought

is

translated into a progress of historical knowledge,


since

we understand

were truly the

far

historical

more adequately what


facts of Dante s com

poem, when we know better what


But we also
poetry and artistic creation are.
gather that the attempt would be vain to resolve
position of his

those historical affirmations into abstract philo

That would be

sophic affirmations.

the whole and complete fact in what


the condition of the

to

absorb

is

merely

History can give rise

fact.

to a conceptual science of an empirical character,

as

when we pass from

it

proceeds by types and classes


reason,

is

it

science, of

sociology

that

but for that very

absorbed by that conceptual

not

which

to

it

remains the presupposition or

Conversely, history can give rise to

the basis.

philosophy,

when we

sideration

of

the

pass from the historical con

particular

to

the

theoretical

elements, which are at the bottom of that con


sideration

but, for that very reason,

it

cannot be

said to be absorbed in that philosophy,


its

of

pre-supposition and
history,

its

basis,

which

is

^philosophy
understood not as the elaboration of

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
this abstract philosophy, but as history

degree,

abstract philosophy,

What

of history,

philosophy

ment of

a contradiction in terms.

is

the significance of such an idea of a

is

as

For

history.

of a

history

Neither more nor

degree?

of a second

by means of that

obtained

history

137

this

less

second

than the annul

second degree,

this

postulated philosophical consideration of historical


narrative, this philosophic history,

would be true

which the history of the


historians would be revealed as error, because it

history,

is

in

relation to

constructed according to a method which does

not lead to truth,

or,

what amounts

to the

On

thing, does not lead to complete truth.

appearance of the second form, the

would be dissolved

or rather,

solved, precisely because

but something formless.

sophy of history

is

made, one seems

form

first

would be

it

the

dis

would not be a form,

it

The

idea- of a philo

the non-recognition of the

autonomy of historiography,
abstract philosophy.

same

to the

advantage of

Whenever such

a claim

is

to hear the bells tolling for the

death of the history of historians.


usually so docile

when

The

historians

their attention

is

called

some progress in science or philosophy, which


may help to make clear some part of their work

to

as narrators

yet rebel with violence

when any

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

138

one

them of

talks to

some

of

sort

history, or

a philosophy of history, of

method

speculative

when the attempt

is

made

of

knowing

to

persuade
which they have
put all their powers, and of which every line and
every shade is dear to them, to the hands of

them

to consign the labour, into

who

philosophers

and complete
able.

It

were told

is

it.

just

to

are

not

historians,

to

revise

And

their rebellion

as

a painter or a musician

if

is

reason

consign to the philosophers his

picture or his score,

when he had completed

so that they might raise

it

it,

to the second power,

by introducing into it strokes of the philosophic


brush and philosophic harmonies>

T^epTliadTo~pastr-and"deposit the idea of


a philosophy of history and he had to negate,
;

as he did negate, the history of the historians,


for that

He

was required by

his logical presupposition.

divided philosophy into pure or formal philo

sophy (which should have been logic, and was


also metaphysics), and into applied and concrete
philosophy, comprising the two philosophies of

nature and of

the second of which the

spirit, into

philosophy of history entered again


together

composed

the

philosophical sciences.
his

own

the

traditional

the three

encyclopaedia

of

the

Thus Hegel adopted

as

division

of

Scholastic

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
philosophy into rational and

and

real,

139

this not as

formula and external scheme, but as

a simple

expressing

also

the

demand

for

philosophic

treatment of the contingent facts of nature and


of

human

All history, as

history.

viously

explained,

applied

philosophy

can
;

be

but

called

these

have pre

concrete

or

words did not

possess so innocent a meaning for Hegel as for

For him they implied the sharp

ourselves.
tinction

dis

of the history, contained in the philo

sophical encyclopaedia, from

all

the other histories,

which constitute the work of historians.


lectures

upon the philosophy of

tinction

is

In his

history, this dis

very clearly drawn, for he places on

the one side original historiography and reflective

historiography (the second of these two being

subdivided into general, pragmatic,

critical

and

conceptual history), and on the other philosophic


historiography or philosophy of history.
affirms that

Hegel

this philosophic

historio

graphy should have its own method, different


from the method of ordinary historiography, and
he claims

for

struction.

seems

It

it

is

the character of an a priori con


true that by this he sometimes

mean, not a distinctive character, but


only the need for a better elaborated a priori.

He

to

notes

that

ordinary

historians

also

write

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

140

a priori history, for they proceed from certain


thoughts and representations of their own, which,

though defective and arbitrary, yet are always


a priori.
But the a priori that he introduces
is

not the logical element, the interpretation of

which has been recognized above

intuitive data,

as indispensable for
it

is

historical work.

all

Rather,

a history already complete, which needs only

to be clothed

names and

in

(writes

Hegel)

approaches history

is

the simple thought of reason

and therefore

that reason rules the world,

history of the

world

But there

process."

we

or rather,

learn

when we see him

there

also,
is far

more

liberty

is

its

in

it

in the

rational

than

really

this,

mean,

trace the necessary process of

The

history of

the progress in the consciousness of


single

moments

various national spirits

or degrees are the

Volksgeister), the various

each one of which

peoples,

is

what these words

reason in the historical world.


the world

The one

with which philosophy

"

thought"

"

dates.

is

destined to re

present one degree only, and to accomplish only

one task

the

in

whole achievement.

Before

Hegel seeks the data of facts, he knows what


they must be he knows them in anticipation, as
;

we know
its

own

philosophic truths, which spirit finds in


universal

being

and does not deduce

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS

141

In the History of Philo


from contingent facts.
sophy, which is perhaps his principal historical

he knows a priori

work,

philosophy and

which

is

represented

medium

pure

externalities

of

of

history

in

in

same development,

the

is

the system itself in the


free

thought,

and

the

system of philosophy are

the

The theme

identical.

that

the

from historical

history

it

has

the

addition of these externalities (names and dates).

The

first

phases of Hellenic thought are the

first

categories of metaphysic and the phases follow

one another

in

the

same order

as the categories.

Against an interpretation of Hegel s theory


of the philosophy of history, might be set his
various declarations of the great
due to
respect
But we must first examine what value
actual fact.
these declarations can assume or retain.
there

rational

is

process

in

"That

the history of the

be shown by the con


sideration of history itself ... it should be a
"should

world"

(he says)

result

we must take

historically

and

history as

empirically"

extraneous to philosophy;
elsewhere)

should

lower

it is,

The

and proceed
accidental

is

and history (he says


the

universal

into

empirical individuality and into effectual reality


the idea is its essence but the appearance of the

idea

is

in

the sphere of accident and in the realm

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

M2

of arbitrary

if

we can know them

and

accident

truly extraneous

dividuality are
if

But

choice."

to

in

philosophy,

only empirically, there can

be no a priori philosophy of history, but only


And if a philosophy of history be
history itself.
created, then this accidental and individual, and

the

historical

and empirical

recognized and are refuted.

facts,
is

We

not

cannot escape

To recommend

from the dilemma.

are

method,

attention to

or to recognize that the study of documents

the indispensable point of departure for history,

are

mere words, when

in

consequence of the

adoption of certain principles,

what use

to

make

they

could

is

known

not

of those facts and documents.

Those of Hegel s
that

it

disciples,

save

both

who have
the

believed

and the

goat

cabbage by maintaining both the speculative and


the philological methods in history, have saved
neither

the

to

ingenuous
activity

methods

one nor

can
;

for

affirm

be

the
that

exercised

the

method

other.

It

one and
with
is

is

the

two

intrinsic

very

same

different

to

the

and a duplicity of methods means a


It is worse than
duplicity of activity.
ingenuous
to make the two methods alternate and come to
activity,

though they were two


friends and companions engaged in the same task.

one another

s assistance, as

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
At other

times,

Hegel seems

143

understand his

to

a priori scheme as nothing but a rough anticipa


tion of

what
"

thought
"

is

given by actual history:

may be

"It

(he writes in the History of Philosophy"]

that the philosophic order of the degrees of the

idea must be different from that of the concepts

which are produced

time

in

(im Ganzen) the order

the

is

At other

same."

times again he modifies his statement

way

that hardly anything remains of

"

the

The

the

history

of

of

result

all

in

last

is

preceding

time

but only if

the most

The

parenthesis
that

reservation

amounts

to

all

also

and
it

is

be truly a philosophy

and the most

developed, the richest

concrete."

tion,

it

is

philosophies,

should contain the principle of them


therefore

Thus,

it.

he observes

philosophy,

philosophy which

such a

in

the philosophic system

in affirming the identity of

and

Whole

but in the

in

implied

tautological

the

affirma

the most developed, the richest and

most concrete philosophy, is not the last in time,


but that which is truly a philosophy
since it
;

is

possible that a philosophic system which con

stitutes a

regression

What

we

are

may appear

to conclude

Hegel never had

in

from

all

last

this

in

time.

That

mind an a priori philosophy

of history, the idea of which

is,

however, closely

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

44

connected with his dialectic treatment of distincts

No, but rather that error

contradiction

is

and

erroneous thesis of a philosophy


of history (of an ideal history, which is not eternal,
that

Hegel

but in time] shows

be error, by the

to

itself

involuntary contradictions in which

comes involved.

Certainly,

Hegel be

we cannot conclude

that those admissions suffice to heal the defects of

the erroneous thesis and to change

That the philosophy of


should not suffer beside

itself

And

history properly
is

it,

probable inference, from Hegel

enough stated

into truth.

history, thus conceived,

so-called, but should negate

explicitly

it

not merely a

but

s principle,

is

in several propositions.

indeed, the very fact that he defines the

philosophy of history as

"the

thinking contem

"

plation of history

wards,

that

(recalling immediately after

thought

alone

confirmation that he regards

from the animal),

is

history as

either

such,

man

distinguishes

And

imperfect thought.

as

not

or

thought,

as

the attitude of antipathy

and depreciation, which he adopts toward pro


fessional historians,

is

likewise significant

almost

though a philosopher of art should quarrel


But most
with professional poets and painters.

as

instructive of

all

is

what he says of the

which are the material of the historian

facts

study.

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
The

145

only facts which, in his opinion, are valuable

for history are those

ment

which represent the move


All the

of spirit or the history of the State.

remain

particular facts that

mass which, when

"

are a superfluous

faithfully collected,

only oppress

and obscure the objects worthy of history the


essential characteristic of the spirit and of the
;

times

is

always contained
a

therefore,

is,

true

in

great

events.

It

sentiment that has led to

the handing over of such representations of the

romances (such as those of the cele


It is to be held a
brated Walter Scott^ etc.).

particular to

proof of good taste to unite pictures of unessen


tial

and particular

from private
mingle,

to a subject-matter equally

such as those that

unessential,

to

life

facts

in

the

extracts

fiction

and subjective passions.


interests

of so-called

But
truth,

individual trivialities of time and people with the

representation of general

interests

is

not only

contrary to judgment and to taste, but contrary


to the concept of objective truth.

For, according

to this concept, the truth for spirit


is

is

that which

substantial, not the vacuity of external existence,

and of accident.

It is

perfectly indifferent

whether

such insignificant things are formally documented,


a characteristic
or, as in fiction, invented in

manner and

attributed to such

and such a name,

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

46

or to such and such

plainly the

kinds of

in

between

them most

historical facts

historical facts, essential facts

two

between

pernicious distinction

facts,

Whoever

circumstances."

meditates these words will find

VII

and non-

and unessential

facts,

which has often since reappeared among the dis


ciples of Hegel.

It

reappeared

first

in

Edwar<^

Cans, who, when publishing the lectures of the mast&r

upon the philosophy of

history, took occasion to

repeat that this discipline would lose in dignity


it

had

to

encumber

itself

if

with the micrology of

and that consequently its function was to


demonstrate the necessity, not of all facts, but
facts,

only of the great epochs of history and of great

groups of people, and to leave the


narrative history.

down

And

it

rest to

merely

has reappeared right

to that Italian Hegelian,

who maintained

some years ago, in a well-known polemic, that


documents were necessary, to establish in what

Thomas Campanella was successively


confined, and how many days and hours he

prisons

suffered torture

but were not necessary for the

determination of the historical meaning of his

thought and action. This second thing would


be deduced a priori from the ideas of the
Renaissance,

the

Catholic Church, the reforms

of Luther, and the Council of Trent.

Such

dis-

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
tinctions, so far

as

from preserving a class of facts

make

necessary for true history,


even

facts,

as

what

Indeed,

regarding the

it

notion of fact, are

the very

useless.

147

facts a, b,

c,

all

rejected

there

for

as unessential

and

reason

d, e

that

is

superfluous, other than that they are individual

and contingent ? And are not the facts/, g, h, i,


which it is wished to declare essential and
1$, /,
indispensable, equally contingent and individual
If

it

be a contingent

fact that

from cancer of the stomach,

Napoleon suffered
will

i8th

not the

Brumaire and the battle of Waterloo be also


contingent

Will not the whole epoch of the

Revolution and the Empire be contingent

And

thus (since individuality and contingency extend


to

all

facts),

the whole history of the world will

And, on the other hand,

be contingent.

the

if

French Revolution and the i8th Brumaire and


Waterloo were necessary

how

we do

not see

necessity can be denied to Bonaparte,

was an actor
just as

his

facts,

in

drama

the

he was constituted

strength

weaknesses

and
in

in

his

and to Bonaparte

in effective reality

his

who

mental

and

in

physical

resistance to fatigue in his

early years, which enabled

him

to

remain whole

days erect on horseback and to spend whole


nights bent over his

little

table of work,

and

in

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

148

As

the abdominal disease of his mature years.

neither kernel nor shell and comes

reality has

forth all in a jet, as the internal

are

all

and the external

one (and Hegel has taught

mass of

this),

so the

compact mass, it is not composed


of an essential kernel and an inessential shell, of
facts is a

facts that are intrinsically

necessary and facts that

When

are superfluous externalities.

these distinc

tions are adopted in ordinary language, there

is

always implied a reference to definite historical


representations, in relation to the

and

theme

of which,

only in relation to that definite theme, certain

masses of
tinction

is

facts

appear superfluous.

so evidently relative that,

if

The dis
we change

our point of view, and pass from one theme to

what before was superfluous becomes


necessary, and what before was necessary becomes

another,

superfluous.

But

more
that

all

to a

Hegel hands over

facts

form of

him

to

visional

the passage quoted there

be noted.

to
is,

seem

in

to

to romance,

the facts which do not

be historical

and

is

since

art

another

fate of history at the


is

one thing

we should

say

him a pro
form, which philosophy dissipates and

displaces, this

It

art,

is

was

way

for

of shewing the evil

hands of Hegelian philosophy.

a strange fate that the

same philosophy,

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
which, in virtue of one of

its

149

logical doctrines,

had so effectively vindicated the value of history,


of the res gestae, found, as the result of another
of

its logical

doctrines, that

it

could not recognize

the value of the historia rerum gestarum and so


of the

same

res gestae.

Famished

nourished on history, Hegel

understanding that

And

it

for

history,

philosophy, without

did so, yet advocated fasting.

the contradiction blazed in the light of the

sun, before

the eyes of

all

the world

for,

as

there issued from the school of


of great writers of history,

Hegel a series
so there came forth

from the same school the most petulant and comic


depreciators of history and of fact that the world
has ever seen.

,-p*

VIII

THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PARTICU


LAR CONCEPTS INTO
SOPHICAL ERRORS
III.

PHILO

NATURE (!DEA OF A PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE)

IT was certainly a more difficult task to under

stand the true

limits, or

the true nature, of the

natural and mathematical disciplines.

From

the

Renaissance onward, there had taken place a


continual enlargement of what was called experi
mental and mathematical science, the exact science
of nature
to

rule

and science had come more and more

the

intellect,

even

sophical speculation gave


or received to

way

some extent

life

Philo

itself.

before exact science,

its

imprint, as

is

plain

from many parts of the systems of Descartes,


The sensationalism and
Spinoza, and Leibniz.
materialism of the eighteenth century had been
the ultimate consequence of that predominance

of the naturalistic ideal.


150

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
It

is

true that

when

movement

forming, a

the

151

mind of Hegel was


and of reaction

of doubt

had already commenced, and (not to speak of


Vico, who must again be mentioned here) it
being made clear

was

Germany

exact

that

adequate to attain
of things.

several

natural

quarters

was

science

to real reality, to the

mathematics

and

with

of
in

bottom

Philosophers like Kant, armed at

with

points

in

all

empirical

knowledge, analysing the methods of the exact


sciences and drawing their conclusions, proclaimed

the limits of scientific knowledge, and assigned

the fundamental problems to the practical reason

and to

aesthetic

philosophers,

notable

and teleological

like

monument

Jac_dbi,

Other

intuition.

studying

of the application

most

the

of exact

science to speculative problems, the philosophy


of Spinoza,

showed

sciences

finite

and therefore

that with the

method of the

we cannot escape from the finite,


declared that God and the infinite

and moral problems belonged to the realm of


Poets,
feeling and of immediate knowledge.
artists

and men of

Sturm und Drang,


of the
like

felt

intellectualism

Goethe,

living

letters,

nature,

they
to

time of the

the cold and the void

of the

aspired

be

the

at

Aufklarung

to

revealed

vision

only

to

and
of

him

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

152

who should contemplate

with a sympathetic

it

soul.
this critical

Hegel accepted
it

gave
has

and

inheritance,

vigorous expression, by establishing, as

been

already

difference

the

mentioned,

between the method of philosophy and that of


the mathematical and natural disciplines.
Nevertheless, even

seems so

hostile to the ideal of the exact sciences,

the weight and

an effective

deny

power of

that ideal

is

makes

For example,

influence.-

if

itself

Kant

to exact science the possibility of solving

Trle~ttao!amental problems,
for

movement which

this

in

-hi fti ,"The

fbrfly science to

this

just

exact

is

it

science

also certain that,

which

man

can attain

and the solutions

which he proposes by another method, have not


that is, they
cognitive or thought value for him
;

have not

true

method of the

value.
finite

knowledge of God,
that, for

is

sciences in relation to the


it

the

is

none the

less certain

the other

is

is

that

not knowledge,

"

sentiment."

Hegel and

Schelling, things

form,

criticize

not translatable into the form of thought,

and remains
In

Jacobi

him, the only form of knowledge

of the finite sciences


it

If

in

his

immediate predecessor

would seem

to take a different

because both posited as true knowledge

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS

153

the knowledge of the intellectual intuition and


But, on deeper investigation,

of the idea.

we

discover in both the same prepossession (which


could be called the specially

modern preposses

sion), in

favour of the exact sciences, though in

them

receives a

it

new

Instead of

statement.

excluding the exact sciences from philosophy,

and of considering philosophy as incapable of


scientific exactitude, Schelling and Hegel consider
the exact

sciences

as

insufficiently scientific

and

include them in philosophy, which elaborates them,

rendering them scientifically rigorous and supply

Kant and

ing them with an internal necessity.


Jacobi,

each

in

own way, made

his

the exact

sciences non-philosophical in character, and philo

sophy non-scientific

Schelling and

Hegel make

the exact sciences a semi-philosophy, and philo

sophy the true science.

These are two

solutions of a problem, but

assumptions.

And

for

different

both the same

the principal of these

is

the

persuasion that the exact sciences have theoretic


value, or

that

their

concepts are more or less

perfect logical formulations.

Now,

in

order definitely to settle the dispute

between exact science and philosophy, and to


recognize the respective rights of both, it was
necessary to adopt an altogether different method.

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

154

So

the

as

long

methods were

taken

scientific

conflict

reason

truth,

already

activity has

Hence,

fall

versely,

was

philosophic

methods

two

first

determinate

own.

its

method were admitted

to

Con

method were admitted

the speculative

method of

to be the only

be

was shaken and was bound

philosophy had to be eliminated.


if

of

the

inevitable, for

that

recorded,

science, the second


to

be

to

but one intrinsic method,

the

if

and

naturalistic

truth, the other

was a

mere clumsy and contradictory tentative on the


lines of the first method and had to yield before the
complete development of the speculative method.
The mathematical and naturalistic disciplines had

by philosophy, since they were a


mediocre philosophy, which could not maintain
to be replaced

itself

hand, the
Jacobi,

way

the

of escape, taken by

consigning

of

theoretical,

was

closed, once

shewn capable of the


reality,

The

Kant and by

i.e.

to

the

to the non-

thought had been

solution of the problems of

and philosophical

covered.

the other

philosophy

practical reason or to sentiment,

was

On

against a better philosophy.

only other

logic

way

to consign the naturalistic

had been
that

dis

was open

and mathematical

disciplines,/.^. exact science, to the non-theoretical,

that

is,

to

the practical.

This path has been

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
entered upon
it

in

our day, and

it

seems

must increasingly appear, not only

to

155

me

that

but

fruitful,

necessary.

cannot be said that Hegel had no notion of

It

the practical nature of the naturalistic and mathe


matical disciplines.

His books are

rich in analysis

and observations, which could be transplanted


without alteration into the books of the most

modern

Read

theorists of the

his

method of those

disciplines.

pages on the concept of law

empirical sciences.

Law

(he says)

is

the

in

nothing but

the constant image of the inconstant appearance


so that, in passing from the

more

particular to

the more general laws, in reducing them to unity,

we run

into

tautologies, in

which the

intellect

expresses not the reality of things, but only

own

necessity.

What

is

the postulate, that in a

uniformly accelerated

movement, the

are

the

proportionate

to

times,

but

definition of a uniformly accelerated

And what

are the

its

velocities

just

the

movement

numerous hypotheses worked

out by the physicists but assertions, which corre

spond neither

to

empirical

reality

nor to the

philosophic concept, as, for example, the pores, of

which we speak, without their being demonstrated


by experience ? Of the notion of centrifugal and
centripetal

forces,

Hegel observes

that

it

is

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

156

metaphysical monster, which

is

simply presup

posed and which we are forbidden

to

submit to

examination as to the mysterious


which it happens that these forces

intellectual

any

fashion

in

increase and decrease and each in turn


acquires
or loses its preponderance.
In the exact sciences,

what
it

is

called thinkable

isjajse.

is

"It

is

unthinkable, because

quite thinkable, as they say,

that a uniformly increasing

ment should take place

and decreasing move

in circles

but this think-

nothing but an abstract possibility of


representation, which neglects the determinate

ability

is

character

of what

which therefore
In

the

is

not only superficial, but

same way,

irrational

is

under consideration, and

is

in

applied

mathematics,

only to what

the

false."

name

the science

contains of reality and rationality.


In addition to these and to very
similar

observations,

profusion, both

which

are

many

other

scattered

in

through the Phenomenology and

the Logic, as well as through the Philosophy of

Nature, there recur frequently

Hegel the words


fiktionen],

in

intellectiial jutions

arbitrary^_coneptions

the pages of

(Verstandes-

(willkiirlicli),

to

indicate the constructions of the abstract intellect

and of the natural and mathematical

And

fiction

disciplines.

and arbitrariness appeal precisely

to

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
the voluntary and practical activity

157

and since

those acts of will have a secularjiistory and are


the result of most noble efforts and are held in

high esteem, even in enthusiastic admiration, on


account of the proved utility of the results
attained,

should be evident that

it

possible to speak of acts of will in


sense, or of practical acts, as

formed

the bidding

at

passions

if

a^

was im

it

depreciatory^

these were per

of capnc_e

and of

evil

Uut rather in the sense of acts of will

rationally justifiable or of legitimate practical acts.

But there

is

a case in which

shows that he recognizes the


character

legitimate

Hegel

explicitly

non-scientific,

of those

constructions,

they are and as they must remain.

It

is

yet
as

where

he

propounds to himself the question as to


whether philosophic mathematics are possible

which knows by concepts


what ordinary mathematical science deduces from

that

a science

"

is,

presupposed determinations

method of the
such a science
(he says)
tions

of

"is

it

His answer
"

is

impossible.

to

the

is

that

Mathematics

"

the science of the finite determina

magnitude,

have value

beyond

intellect."

according

must remain

which

in their finitude

and therefore

of the intellect.

Since

it is
it

and

and must not pass


essentially a science

has the capacity of

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

158

being a perfect intellectual science,


rather to preserve to

it

is

desirable

the advantage which

it

it

possesses over other sciences of the same kind,

than to disturb

which

cept,

ends"

is

it

by the admixture of the con

heterogeneous to
"If

259).

(JSnc.

it,

or of empirical

we desired

to treat

philosophically the configurations of space or of


"

unity

(he had said in the preceding edition of

the same book),

and

"they

their particular

would

form

would become a matter of


concrete

philosophical

He

concepts."

meaning
them

a philosophy of
logic or of

science,

more concrete meaning came


the

lose their

to

some other

according

as

be attributed to

knew, on the other hand,

does not contemplate numbers


and their figures, but operates (pperierf) with them
that

"arithmetic

for

number

is

indifferent

determinateness and

and must_j3e_set jn motion and placed in


Once a form of activity
relations, from without."
inert,

was admitted, which operates with thought-data


but does not think them, there should have been
no

difficulty in

attaching to

extending the observation and

it all

in

the other scattered observations

on the non-theoretical procedure of the natural


and mathematical disciplines, and thereby attain
ing a truer theory of the genuine nature of exact
science.

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
Hegel
of

also

nature,

had very clearly


of

or

the

but

metaphysical,

in

mind

naturalistic

simply

method applicable not

a concept

method,

gnoseological,

the

only to

159

not

i.e.

so-called

inferior manifestations of reality (the three natural

kingdoms), but also to all the others (to the orbis


intellectualis}. Thus he considered Hugo Grotius s
theory of the external right of States as analogous
to the natural philosophy of

logic
istic

seemed

him

Newton

Aristotelian

be nothing but a natural


science of thought, in which the forms of
to

to

thought were described and placed alongside one


another, as is done in natural history with the
unicorn and the

and the

mammoth, with the black-beetle


mollusc and the same comparison was

suggested

by the doctrine of virtue


By this path, too, he should have

ethics

in

Tugendlehre\
been able to reach the conclusion that the content

of the so-called natural sciences


part of reality, but a

mode which

mode

arises

its

own

not indeed a

of treating

all

reality,

and persists side by side

with the philosophical, precisely


fined within

is

limits,

it

because, con

does not compete

with philosophy.

Another

characteristic observation of Hegel,

which would lead to the same


tion,

upon which he greatly

result, is the affirma


insists, that nature,

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

160

herein differing from humanity, has no history.

Now, if all reality be movement and development,


how can a part of reality ever be conceived, which
is

not, together with the whole, in process of

coming
is

be

But, in truth, that which has no history

nature in the naturalistic sense

mummified

and

nature

contracted

classes

and concepts.

And

modes

English

critic

to say,

is

abstract

in

another

this affords

ground against considering these


cepts as

that

classes

and con

of apprehending real reality.

An

has opportunely noted

the

that

philosophy of history, or the treatment of uni


versal political history, corresponds, in the Philo

sophy of the
in the

spirit,

spirit,

the section on objective

to

same way

that the histories of art,

of religion and of philosophy, which

Hegel has

specially treated elsewhere, correspond respect


to

ively

the

on absolute

section

spirit,

which

comprehends the three spheres of art, religion,


and philosophy. Thus in that philosophy of
spirit,

only the section on

subjective

spirit

or

psychology has no corresponding historical


no history is given of man, con
treatment
:

sidered psychologically.

cause

psychology

and

thus condemned

is

is

Why?
a

Precisely

science

naturalistic

to the

Mackintosh, Hegel and Hegdianism,

same
p.

236,

be

historical
n.

VIII

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS

sterility

which has been recognized

in

161

nature

in general.

But notwithstanding these suggestions, not


withstanding the observations which he had

make and

occasion to

or less consciously

fell

the admissions which

from his

lips,

draw the conclusion which seems

He

more

Hegel did not


to us correct.

did not proclaim the philosophical indiffej:eric_

of the natural and mathematical disciplines and

he turned instead
complete autonomy
towards the solution which had already been
their

adopted by Schelling, when he had conceived a

The

philosophy of nature.

He

was driven

presupposition.
to his

mind

is

quite clear.

to that conclusion

As

art

by his logical
and history had appeared

as philosophical errors to be turned

into truths, the

one

in

pure philosophy, the other

the philosophy of history as he had conceived

in
it

reason

so analogically, the natural and mathematical

disciplines could not retain their relative


as

practical

autonomy

formulations of reality and

of ex

perience, and had to be treated as philosophic

attempts and partial errors, to be turned to truth


in a

philosophy of nature.

"

The

"

antithesis

(he

between physics and philosophy of nature


not that between a not-thinking and a thinking
"

says)
is

of nature.

A philosophy of nature means nothing

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

i6 2

but a thinking contemplation of nature

ordinary physics also


of forces, laws,

etc.,

is

those thoughts are formal and


"

this

determinations

for its

are thoughts

and

only, in physics

intellectualistic."

In the philosophy of nature there

no other

is

question than just the replacing of the categories


of the intellect by the relations of the speculative

concept and the understanding and the determin


ing of experience according to these

relations."

Not only must philosophy agree with


experience

but the

and

presupposition
that

the

in

has

science

philosophic

and

birth

formation

of

physics

as

empirical

He

condition."

natural

well

sees

natural sciences, classifications are

and their purpose is to give


clear and simple marks as aids to subjective
but he nevertheless believes that
knowledge

purely

artificial,

they can be replaced by

and

it

seems

to

"

"

natural

classifications,

him that he has discovered a kind

of beginning of such classifications in

the re

comparative anatomy and in the


division of animals into vertebrate and inverte
searches

of

and of plants into monocotyledons and


He
dicotyledons, and others similar to this.

brate,

often speaks elsewhere of an

which should manifest


physicists

and

"

itself in

naturalists, in

instinct of

reason,"

the theories of the

which the speculative

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
concept would be

in

some measure

163

anticipated.

And

this explains also why he defends against


the naturalistic and mathematical nominalism of

genera and of
mathematical concepts, and why he preserves
unshaken his faith in the "eternal laws of nature."
the

Locke,

reality

of

natural

show how unten

single remark suffices to

any one
wishes to apply philosophy to historical facts, he
cannot do otherwise than narrate history (which
able

in

this

is

equivocal

If

position.

order to be history must always be to some

extent philosophically ilkiminated) and


;

in

the

presence

of history,

is

if

any one,

seized with the

desire for a philosophical system, he cannot do

otherwise than abandon historical exposition and

expound
way,

if

abstract

any one,

philosophy
in

so,

in

the

same

the presence of the natural

by the need for philo


sophy, he has but two ways of satisfying it,
according as his need is for a concrete or for an
sciences,

is

disturbed

In the

abstract philosophy.

first

he must

case,

pass from the natural and mathematical disciplines

(and from their intellectualist and arbitrary con


cepts)

nature

to

the historical vision of the things of

and of man

in

the

second,

he must

simply and solely return to philosophy.

But a

philosophy of natiire, a philosophy which should

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

64

have the natural sciences as


on another

its

base, is also (as,

the philosophy of history

side,

contradiction in terms

because

it

is)

implies philo

sophic thought of those arbitrary concepts, which

and upon which

philo^ophy^djQs_ji.QL_kaciLjv,

it

consequently has no hold, either to affirm or to

deny them.

Hegel
difference

called

repeatedly

between

his

attention

philosophy

the

to

nature

of

and Schelling s, criticizing the latter for being


founded upon the analogy between organic and

upon the comparison of one sphere


of nature with another, and developed by the
But Hegel s
application of a prearranged plan.
inorganic,

nature

philosophy of

is

equally

incapable

development, save by means of analogy.


only difference

is

that in

it

the analogy

is

of

The
taken

from the forms of the concept, and that he there


talks of

and the

judgment, syllogism, dialectic opposites,


like.

Hence

between

the divergence

the two philosophies, mother and daughter, has,


in
it

my

opinion, but slight importance.

seem

to

me

fitting

natural philosophy, with

Nor does

to

attribute to

its

concept of becoming

Hegel

and of evolution, the merit of being the precursor


of Darwin s discoveries.
The evolution and the
dialectic of the concepts, in

Hegel

philosophy

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
of nature,

purely ideal.

is

natural

leaves

It

165

species intact, and indeed proclaims their fixity.


"

It

been a clumsy representation on the

has

part of ancient as well as of

modern philosophy

of nature, to regard the progress and transition

from one natural form or sphere to a higher


as an actual product of external reality, which,
in

order that

may be made

it

clear,

has

been

Ex

driven back into the obscurity of the past.


is

ternality

the special characteristic of nature,

by means of which she permits differences to


assert themselves and to appear as indifferent
existences

the dialectic concept, which

them.

guides

immanent

in

Nebulous representations, which are

at

the degrees

in

their

bottom of sensible

progress,

is

origin, like those of the birth

of plants and of animals from water and of the

most highly developed animal organisms from


the lowest, etc., must be altogether excluded
from

philosophic

This

is

sheer

hostility

transformation and

from Hegel,

consideration

it

who does

is

to

"

(Enc.

the

249).

hypothesis

of

what might be expected

not recognize any historicity

in nature.

Certainly,

when we speak

of the

idea of a philosophy of nature and

mode

fallacious

condemn the

of treatment proposed by Hegel,

it

is

not

66

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL
include

necessary to

the condemnation

in

whole book which bears that


is

not so ugly as he

book

contains

also

appended

is

The

title.

painted

devil

and Hegel

observations

in

(generally

the

to his paragraphs, these

forming the

greater part of the book) a host of most just


criticisms,

which seem

at

first

glance

to

be

directed against mathematicians, physicists and

which are really directed against


the metaphysic which they mingle with their
naturalists, but

teachings, or wrongfully deduce from them.


is

to say, they are directed against the

metaphysic,"

into realities

"

That

ineffable

which changes
these mathematical and naturalistic
as

calls

Hegel

abstractions, like forces, pores,

it,

atoms and so

on.

Here Hegel is quite right and we cannot with


hold from him our lively agreement.
This polemic

is

also the only just part of the

violent invective against

Newton, or against the


bacLjpetaphysic, which Newton (although he had
uttered the warning
Physicists, beware of
"

introduced or suggested.
For
MetajDhysic
the rest, the invectives of Hegel are documents
"),

of the hostility towards naturalists and


maticians,

mathe

which the idea of a philosophy of

nature brought with

it

just

as the

idea of a

philosophy of history inspired a certain hostility

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
against professional historians.

we have

came rather from an excess

it

hostility, as

not arise from contempt for

said, did

those disciplines

His

167

of love, from the too lofty and philosophical idea,

which Hegel still had of them and which made


him severe towards those who cultivated them.
his

Nevertheless,

bete__noir^,

was

destined

to

become the greatest representative of modern


Hegel accumulated criticisms,
accusations and sarcasms against Newton, from
exact

science.

De

the dissertation

orbitis

planetarum to the

edition of the Encyclopaedia.

he deplores

"

illam,

In the dissertation,

quae Newtone incepta

et

physices confusionem

est,

and he

"

mathematices

last

remarks jestingly about the little story of the


apple, that this fruit was three times fatal to the

human

race, causing first the sin of

Adam, then

the destruction of Troy, and finally by falling

upon the head of Newton, the ruin of natural


*

philosophy

Newton

(he says, summarizing, in

the History of Philosophy) was the chief contributor


to the introduction into science of the reflective

determinations of forces, by substituting the laws


of forces for the laws of phenomena.

and
1

optics,

...
17).

he made bad observations and even

universae generis humani, deinde Troiae miseriae principiis

pomuni adfuisse
xvi.

In physics

malum

et

jam

scientiis philosophicis

omen

"

(in

IVerke,

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

68

From experience he passed


of view, made these fundamental,

worse syllogisms.
to general points

and from them constructed single facts. Such is


the nature of his theories.
He was a barbarian
in

use of concepts, and never bethought

the

himself that he was employing determinations

He

thought.

ojf

handled concepts as we handle

stones and pieces of wood.

The experiments

and reasonings of his Optics, which are adduced


as the most sublime example of such operations
study of nature, should really serve as an

in the

example of how one should not experiment or


reason.
Nature opposes these pretended ex
periments

mean

for

she

is

to the

idea of her entertained by any one

puts his faith in them.

culminate
faith

greatly superior

at

in the

who

Similar outbursts, which

hurling of an accusation of bad

Newton (whom he accuses

of having

knowingly altered the results of certain experi


ments), have caused scandal and have been

But while making


judged with great severity.
allowance for whatever small element of passion

may be mingled

with his criticisms, and without

attempting to excuse Hegel by recording


in

these criticisms and even

his language,

he was

in

how

in the violence of

accord with some of his

eminent contemporaries and chiefly with Goethe,

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
it

is

169

certain that, on the whole, his polemic, alike

and

in its justice

in

its

unjust exaggeration,

is

simply the logical consequence of the philosophic


position which Hegel took up in relation to the
intellectualism

In the philosophy of nature also, as in the

philosophy of history, Hegel never dared to declare

and positive method altogether


erroneous, so that it could be wholly replaced
the

empirical

by

the

empirical

and

their

For

method.

speculative

the

him,

by constructing their laws


concepts, come to meet (entgegenarbeiten)
sciences,

work of the philosopher, to whom they


the material ready and half elaborated

the

we have

offer

and

he recommended a^reement^
between physics and philosophy. And declara
tions of the same sort have been repeated
as

by the

seen,

disciples

Hegel, such as
Vera.
This last

of

and

Rosenkranz,

physicists to the labourers


to

the

architect,

rassemble

et

and

prepare

sophic vient ensuite

les

compares
and the philosopher
that

says

these are phrases, inspired by

content.
either

we

For

in truth,

think

that

"

la

physique

materiaux, que la philo

marquer de

towards physicists and

Michelet,

sa

forme"

But

much impertinence

any case empty of all


we do one of two things
in

the

empirical

method

is

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

i;o

capable of positing some laws, some genera, some


concepts, in a word,

case

some

truths

we cannot understand why

and

in

that

the other laws,

genera, truths and concepts, and the whole system


of them, should not be attainable with the same

For the

method.

which posits the

activity,

naturalistic concept, reveals in that act


for positing the others

poetry,

first

and

is

verse,

Or

whole poem.

method

capacity

just as in

the same activity and no other which

it is

forms the

and the whole

its

first

else

and which completes the

we

think that the empirical

not capable of any truth, however small

has no need of the other,

method not only


but can draw from it

To make

verbal concessions to

in that case the speculative

no assistance.
physics and
trifling,

and

to

the empirical

satisfies

nobody.

method,
Hegel,

is

mere

in consider

ing the exact sciences to be a semi-philosophy,

them altogether and absorbed them


philosophy which thus assumed all their rights

really denied
in

and

And

having thus placed so great a


burden upon the shoulders of philosophy, he had
no longer any right to lighten it by trying to
duties.

place part of

it

again upon the empirical sciences,

which were henceforth


existent.

for

him annulled and non

All the rights imply

all

the duties

it

was henceforth the business of philosophy, not

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS

171

of empirical science, to prove and to justify the

existence of this or that particular fact of nature


to discover stars,

physical forces, chemical bodies,

physiological elements,

unknown

species of animals

and vegetables. That poor devil Krug was (it


seems this must henceforth be admitted) simply
the spokesman of good sense, when he demanded
of the

philosophy of Schelling that it


should deduce the moon with its characteristics,
natural

or a rose, a horse, a dog, or even only the pen

with which he, Krug, was writing at that moment.

Hegel from first to last of his writings made fun


of him and represented him as a comical person,

and perhaps he may have been so


not prevent

Hegel

reply to

but this does

Krug

objection

from being embarrassed and ambiguous beneath


an appearance of careless ease.
For Hegel

seemed
that

to say

on the one hand that things of

individual

kind,

individual),

facts

do not belong

(and
to

on the other, that the deduction


but that science has

far

all

facts

philosophy
is

the

physician,
1

See an

250

;/.

illustrious

Salvatore

article of

and

quite possible,

more urgent

tasks on

hand than the deduction of Mr. Krug

And

are

pen.

Neapolitan philologist and

Tommasi, was

1802, in Werke,

\\\.

57-59; and

cf.

also,

like

Encyclopaedia,

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

172

Krug,

in the right,

when he

persistent protagonist of

replied, not without

De

annoyance, to the Hegelian

VIII

some

Meis,

who was

sort of speculative

physiology and pathology, that he would be dis

posed to turn his attention to the method recom

mended, only when some sort of discovery


medicine had been made by means of it
:

in

for

example, the direct cure of pneumonia.

The attempt

on

to hold

to the coat-tails of the

empirical sciences, after having dismissed them,

has then no other meaning, as has been said

above with regard

to history (and

the basis of

the natural sciences

is

that

thesis

is

false.

It

make

it

true.

But the analogy

Hegel

the false nor

does not end here.

historical),

than to prove

does not heal

Hegel, despairing of ever

being able altogether to rationalize history, as


his

idea of a philosophy of history demanded,

ended

by

historical

away a part of
which seemed to him more em
cutting

arbitrarily
fact,

barrassing than the rest, and by consigning


fiction.

And he

sciences, in relation to

of natural

facts,

appearances of

same

did the

to

many

an

reality,

classes

infinite

and

for

to

it

to

the natural

and species

number
what are

of the
called

rare cases, exceptions, or extraordinary beings.

His discovery

is

delicious

it

is

of the impotence

PARTICULAR CONCEPTS
of Nature (die

173

Ohnmacht der Natur), of her

weakness, her swoonings and faintings, during


the difficult task of achieving the rationality of
the concept

But

in the

realm of history

we

did

not allow ourselves to be persuaded to abandon


a part of the facts, for

himself that fact

is

we had

learned from Hegel

So

sacred.

here, in the realm

of nature, having learned from

reason

in

the world,

we

him

shall

believe that one part of reality


inert

towards reason.

And what

the impotence of nat2ire,

the

is

not
is

that there

is

consent to
rebellious or

has been called

clearly nothing but

impotence of the philosophy of nature, as


conceived by Schelling and Hegel, to keep faith
with

its

own programme.

IX

THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE FALSE


SCIENCES AND THE APPLICA
TION OF THE DIALECTIC TO
THE INDIVIDUAL AND TO THE
EMPIRICAL
HEGEL might have

posited the idea of a philo

sophy of history and of a philosophy of nature


he might have desired it, have inculcated and

and have done nothing else.


A
programme may be announced, and then it may
a thing which
be resolved not to carry it out
defended

it,

often happens, especially

dangerous.

when

There are not

the

programme

is

a few systems and

which have never gone beyond intro


ductions and preliminaries, even in contemporary
books,

literature,

and

in their

number

are

some

of those

announced with the greatest boasting. It would


almost be worth while making an instructive
catalogue of them.

But Hegel did not leave the


174

FALSE SCIENCES

175

philosophy of history and the philosophy of nature


as ideas in the air

he constructed both

effectively.

In this passage to actualization, he had to force

himself to treat individual facts and empirical

concepts like particular philosophical concepts

and since he had already applied the dialectic to


these last, he was obliged to proceed to the
treatment

dialectic

of individual facts

and of

empirical concepts,

And
made

this is the second

great abuse that Hegel

of his dialectical discovery.

In order to

reach this second abuse, and to place ourselves


in

a position to give

its

exact formulation and

first,

was indispensable to pass through the


and to work out its manifold consequences.

For

this

genesis,

it

second abuse, that

is,

the

failure

to

recognize the autonomy of history and of the


positive sciences,

some
all

its

is in

its

turn a consequence of

Without following that path in


twists and turnings, we could not com

of these.

prehend how Hegel could ever have arrived


so strange a thought
reach, not only a

full

but by following

it,

comprehension of the

at

we
fact,

but a kind of feeling of admiration for the in

genuity of that closely-knit web of errors, for the

method of that madness, as Pploniu^ would have


said.

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

176

The second abuse


known

and

it

the

is

IX

most commonly

has contributed more than any

thing else to bring the Hegelian philosophy into


disrepute.

jured by the

If certain parts of
first,

historical studies

both

alike

philosophy were

the second injured or

menaced

and the positive sciences

reacted

energetically

in

in

their

and

own

defence.

But

make

in this

connexion,

we must

The

certain observations.

not neglect to

acquired con

method which Hegel

viction of the error of the

defended and strove to apply, has involved


general condemnation

all

Hegel

history of civilization and of

and of

religion,

disciplines.

art,

in

books on the
of philosophy

and on the various mathematical

If the

method

is

erroneous (so the

ingenuous reasoning runs) what value, or what


guarantee can attach to the results ? The books
beginning to end will be sophisticated
And for this reason, not
science and history.

from

only

is

the philosophy of nature never sought

and consulted by students of natural phenomena,


and some translators even omit it from their
versions of the Encyclopaedia

but even Hegel

upon historical subjects have themselves


been viewed with diffidence, almost with the fear

treatises

of being stained by contact with them.

Now,

FALSE SCIENCES

177

those books are to be examined, like

both
details

for

and

general execution

their

in

could

Hegel

all

books,
their

in

and on

act

many

occasions did act in them, either against or in

dependently of his programme.

same way, according to the


wished to adopt methods in
foreign to physics,

Goethe,
best

in the

authorities,

altogether

optics

which have drawn down upon

him the unanimous reproval of specialists in that


subject, and yet in other branches of natural
science, such as

botany and anatomy, he made

true and proper discoveries. 1


in general, the

and of

Indeed, speaking

value of Schelling

and of Hegel

books on the philosophy of


nature continually increases as we pass from the

more

their disciples

abstract to the
to

physics

more concrete
from

physiology,

organic world to the organic

the

so-called

and the reason

this is clearly that the utility of the

method decreases
In any case,

if

in

parts, from

obtain important results, nor

not,

make

for

mathematical

the more concrete

Hegel did

in

as

it

parts.

appears,

original obser

vations in the positive parts of his naturalistic


treatises
1

(such

See Helmholtz

Arbeiten,"

Ideen

and

"

two

we

find
"

lectures,

in

the

works of

Uber Goethes naturwissenschaftliche

Goethes Vorahnungen kommender naturwissenschaftlicher

"

(in

as

Vortrage

und

Rederi],

Braunschweig, 1896,

i.

23-47,

ii.

335-

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

i;8

Treviranus, of Oken, etc.)


offers

is

subject

properly versed

if

the best that he

pyschology and an
which he was more

in

perhaps always

thropology,

in

treatment of history, on

in the

the other hand, he stands on a level with the


historians

greatest

it

although

was

of the

nineteenth

century,

(partly thanks to him) the century

of historical writing.

In the history of philosophy

(of which, as has already

been noted, he may be

considered almost the creator) his observations


are as

full

of truth as they are original.

This

applies to his characterizations of the Presocratics

(and particularly of Parmenides, Heraclitus and


of the Sophists), of Socrates himself, of Plato, of

and of the Sceptics, of


and in
the Neo-Platonists and of Christianity
Aristotle, of the Stoics

modern

times, of the

English empirical philo

sophy, of the critical-speculative period of

Kant

and of Schelling, of Jacobi and of the sentiment


In the study of ancient philo
alists and mystics.
sophy, he fully realized the profound difference

between

its

of presenting and of understand

way

ing problems and the

way

of

and the error of rendering

modern philosophy
its

propositions

in

terms of current philosophy, as did Brucker or


1

Compare with

pp. xv-xvi,

and

this,

on the other hand, a note by Engels, Antidiihring^,

which places

naturalist.

in relief certain merits of

Hegel

as a physicist

FALSE SCIENCES
His

Tiedmann.

political history

179

gives broad and

luminous views on the character and the con


nexions of the great historical epochs, of Greece,
of

Rome, of

the Middle Ages, of the Reformation

The

and of the French Revolution.


literature

and of the

history of

interspersed

arts,

in

his

and judg
ments (for example, on the Homeric epos, on
ancient tragedy, on the Shakespearean drama, on
lectures on aesthetics, contains views

Italian painting of the

painting), which

have

Renaissance and on Dutch


all

become

And

popular.

any one who makes a special study of


the historical ideas which were in vogue in the
in truth,

nineteenth century and have become part of the

patrimony of our culture, would be astonished at


the great number of them which derive from

Hegel
definite

as

their first

form

at

his

source, or which received

hands, although they have

been repeated and popularized by writers (like


Taine) who either did not know, or were in
error about their origin.
unfair

criticism,

Hegel of

(Sometimes

and

not

would be an

by making use of

errors,

discoveries

these

posterior

criticisms

doubtful discoveries, as
for

it

though often made, to accuse

historical

researches

Again,

have

him.

to

rested

on

when he has been blamed

having taken the

"

matriarchate

"

into

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

i8o

consideration, or for not having had a suspicion

of

the

theories

sociological

which

assign

the

origin of art to economic labour and industrial

decoration.)

No

historian,

however

withstand such an examination

great, could

neither

Thucy-

dides nor Polybius, nor Machiavelli, not even a

Niebuhr or a Mommsen.

And

equally

it

would

be unfair to make too heavy and personal a charge


of certain political and national prejudices, which

appear neither more nor less frequently in his


constructions of history than in so many other

and publicists

historians, philosophers

from the

"

of Gioberti to the contem


primacy
porary Germanist manias of Herr Chamberlain
Italian

or of

"

Herr Woltmann.

And

in discussing these historical errors,

which

were the consequence of philosophical errors, it


is necessary also to
distinguish between those
arising

from

erroneous

philosophical

and those which are connected with

The

former,

often has in

Hegel

other philosophers

or

with

the

concepts

his dialectic.

common

with

philosophy of

his time (for example, the treatment of the history

of poetry and of

an art

based upon the concept of


that should be substantially religion or

philosophy

construct

or

and
to

art,

also,

in

general,

reconstruct

the claim to

speculatively

the

FALSE SCIENCES

IX

course of history)

alone

But when

of

but

it

the latter which

is

concerns us to seek here.

it

made,

181

is

it

all

these

certain that

reservations

we do meet

Hegel examples of the

in

have been
the books

dialectic^ treatment

of the individual and empirical and that


to explain and in part to justify the
;

suffices
viojent.

reaction of historians and naturalists against the


dialectic itself.

For the reasons already given, there are


fewer examples in his historical expositions; in
deed, the history of philosophy

almost altogether exempt.

which

history

may be

considered

But the universal

Hegel developed,

is

conceived

in triadic form, as the Oriental worjd, the classi

world and the Germj.nic^world,


These are
thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, which receive
cal

concreteness for better or worse in the formula,


that the Orient

man

is

free

are .fzee

Hence

knew and knows

that only^jone

the Graeco- Roman world, that some,

the Germanic world, that all are free.

the character of the

first

is

despotism,

of the second democracy and aristocracy, of the


third monarchy.

In order to establish this triad,

Hegel is obliged to suppress many facts in space


In space, he altogether eliminates
and time.
the

fifth

part of the world.

Australia and the

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

182

other islands between Asia and America, seem


to

him

be affected with

to

"

physical

immaturity."

him nothing but an append


age of European civilization, and he refuses to

America

itself is for

take into consideration the very ancient civiliza

Mexico and of Peru, because from what


we know of them, "they were altogether natural

tions of

and bound

to perish at the

approach of

Spirit."

As

regards time, he maintains that history only


begins when there are historians, hence the

German word
"storia")

Geschichte

passed a long
is

history.
in

life

without a State

but

It

was with reference

to such limitations

down

of his note-books in the last year of his


universal history, the
in

use

among
1

same
the

division

Greeks

life

is

one

in

"In

valid

as

Greeks and

In this way, he sought to adapt

barbarians."

to his dialectic universal history as

the

this,

do with

their prehistory, has nothing to

time and space that Hegel put

was

subjecti

may have

Peoples

objecti.

word

Italian

means both history a parte

and history a parte


which

the

(or

books of the historians

it

appears

in

and he deluded

himself that he had found in the individual

point of departure which should have the pre


cision of the
1

Aphorism

first
a. d.

term of the

dialectic

Berliner Periods, in Rosenkranz,

p.

triad.

559.

FALSE SCIENCES
Such would be the
sun

the

with

where

spiritual Orient,

But the

of history.

such

183

totters

rises

conquered

triad,

at

every particular
which
Indeed,
Hegel attempts.
development
the
first
catch
which
those
to take only
eye, this
difficulty,

fundamental triad widens into a quatriad, the


Oriental
world,

and

Germanic world

the

Orient, China and


to

historical

of

which

Persia,

art

for

Hegel the

the

in

first

In like manner, the


a

to

rise

Greek or

Symbolical,

and

India are at once sacrificed


is

nation.

gives

Greek world, the Roman

the

world,

triad

of

Classical,

truly

history

Oriental

or

and Christian

whose very formulation


is unstable enough, deduced as it is from the
lack of equilibrium between content and form,
or Romantic, art

a triad

and of which the synthesis would


the second.

third term, but


to

refer to

a fourth artistic

the Romantic

and

also into a quatriad


is

meant

sophy.
in

this
;

be,

not the

Hegel seems
period,

would change

also

than

later

this triad

unless indeed the last phase

to be the dissolution of art into philo

The

history

three phases

of

religions

is

arranged

natural religion, the religion of

the duplication of consciousness in

itself,

and the

religion of the transition to the religion of liberty.

The two

last

are also determined triadically

the

184
religion

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL
of

reduplication

into

the

religions

of

measure (the Chinese), of fancy (the Indian),


the religion
and of internality (the Buddhist)
;

of the transition into the religions of nature, of


spiritual liberty,
religion.
triads.

and of absoluteness or absolute

And these are subdivided into new


The religion of nature is subdivided into

the religions of light (the Persian), of pain (the


Syrian),

of

the

enigma

(the

Egyptian)

the

religion of spiritual liberty, into the religions of

sublimity (the Jewish), of beauty (the Greek), of


the intellect or of finality (the Roman).

Absolute

would then be Christianity. But one


of the most curious examples of the dialectic
religion

construction of the individual

is

furnished by the

characterization of the three parts of the world.

Hegel, as has been

said,

got rid of the two others

by saying that they did not seem


either physically or spiritually

according

to

him,

developed division

presented
into

him mature,

to

the

an

"

new

world,"

incompletely

a northern part and a

southern part, in the manner of the magnet

But

the ancient world exhibited the complete division


into three parts

of which the

first,

Africa (the

region of metal, of the lunar element, hardened

by heat, in which man is confined within himself


and obtuse), is mute spirit, which does not attain

FALSE SCIENCES
to

knowledge

the

second,

185
is

Asia,

splendid

bacchantic dissipation, the region of formless and


indeterminate generation, which cannot order
itself; and the third, Europe, represents conscious
ness,
earth,

and constitutes the rational part of the


with its equilibrium of rivers, valleys, and

mountains

The

and the centre of Europe

philosophy of nature, the


concepts.

In

runs

construction

dialectic

is

in

riot

the

the empirical

field of

positive part, that

its

Germany.

book

is

at

bottom nothing but a compendium of mathe


matical and naturalistic disciplines, divided into

geometry and mechanics,


second, astronomy, physics and chemistry tl^ird,
mineralogy, botany, zoology, geology and physio
three sections

first,

This compendium of different sorts of


knowledge is arranged in the fundamental triad
logy.

of mechanics, physics and organic physics and

the whole

is

subdivided into minor

triads.

We

need not concern ourselves with the idea that


since

in

universal

vergence and the


spirit,

history
final

result

point

of

con

the Germanic

is

so in thej:osmolo[caLconepUoti-ef Hegel,

the centre of the

Germany would be
least

the

according

to

universe

is

the

Earth (and

the centre of the earth, at

the

words

Naturphilosophie^

above quoted).

340 Zus.

PHILOSOPHY Of HEGEL

86

This only shows once more how a lofty philo


sophical intellect can now and then be sub

by sentiment and prejudice.

jugated

rather consider

some examples

of geometry and of physics.

Let us

of the dialectic

Besides the three

dimensions of space, Hegel posits three dimen


sions of time
but
past, present, and future
;

whereas he observes that the three dimensions


of time

not

are

seems

he

nature,

differentiated

existentially

admit

to

that

the

in

three

dimensions of space are so differentiated.

In

any case, these three would be founded upon


the

nature of the concept, although (he says)

the determinations of the concept, in this

first

form of externality, abstract quantity, are only


superficial and constitute differences which are
altogether empty.

are superficial, they are

They

empty, they are arbitrary

them
space

dialectically.
;

but

it

is

and so becomes a
negation

deduction

body

is

is

the

The

yet

point

is

Hegel deduces
the negation of

a negation essentially spatial


line

and the negation of the

surface

of the celestial

the thesis, the

And
bodies

moon and

the bodies of the antithesis

he offers the

the

central

the comets are

the synthesis, the

body of the concrete totality, is the planet.


Magnetism seems to him the demonstration ad

FALSE SCIENCES

187

oculos of the dialectic concept in nature, of the

complete

The two

syllogism.

poles

are

the

extremities of a real line existing in sense, yet

they do
reality,

not

possess

and

sensible

mechanical

but ideal reality, and shew themselves

be altogether inseparable. The point of in


difference, in which their substance finds place,
to

is

their unity as determinations of the concept,

such a way that they receive sense and exist


ence only in such a unity and polarity is only

in

the relation of such moments.

to the

Owing

Hegel combats

necessity of the dialectic form,

the identification of magnetism, electricity, and

chemistry, which physical science tries to effect

and wishes the three


distinct.

He

physiologists,

facts to

consider

The

cell

and the vegetable

disseminated

as

life

triadic

natural

theory too

preserving them

kingdoms

well

to

cell,

everywhere.

answered

"

three

"

to the

abolish the clear distinction

between the animal


or

be both united and

would be equally opposed

who

permit

of

his

his

not

in dialectic form, as geological,

In the first, life


vegetable and animal nature.
in the second,
posits to itself its own conditions
;

the individual

is still

external to

which are themselves individuals


the

members

own members,

its

exist essentially as

in the third,

members

of the

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

i88

individual,

The

and therefore the individual

is

subject.

dialectic applies also each of these forms of

nature

the process of the plant

three syllogisms, that

is

is

divided into

to say, into the process

of formation, into the process of opposition toward

inorganic nature, and into the process of reproduc

are five and not three,

five,

dia

reconstruction of the five senses, which

lectical

Hegel

The

two preceding.

tion, the unity of the

is

not dismayed.

yet they are three.

is

more

laborious.

But

For him the senses are

The

first

that which

is

belongs to the mechanical sphere, of weight and


cohesion and of their change, that is to say, the
sense of touch.
The second is the two senses
of the antithesis, that

and

is

to say that of particular

which comprehends the


neutrality of concrete water, and the antithesis
of the solution of concrete neutrality taste and
ized

aerity,

that

The

smell.

also

is

third

double

is

that

the sense of ideality, and

to say, the sense of ideality

is

as manifestation of the external

of light in general, and

determined

in

more

by the external,

precisely, of light

the concrete externality of colour

and the sense of the manifestation of


which makes
ternalization,

hearing

it

itself

known

by tone

that

as
is

such

internality,
its

ex-

to say, sight

and

in

FALSE SCIENCES

ix

189

Other examples of this dialectic of the empirical


are to be found in profusion in what for us is
also a philosophy of nature (in the gnoseological

sense), or a philosophy of the empirical

many

system of the arts

of

in

parts of the aesthetic, of the logic, and of

the philosophy of

first

i.e.

In the aesthetic, the

spirit.
is

developed

The

triadically.

of the arts, architecture, creates the temple

God

self;

the second, sculpture, creates

the

faithful

third

expresses

in colours, tones,

the

God him

feelings

and words, and

of the
is

sub

The

divided into painting, music, and poetry.

labour of condensing into three, what empirically


is

determined by another number (the

into three, the five senses into three)


to

him

in the fields of

poetry and of

five arts
is

spared

rhetoric, in

which he found ready the tripartition into lyric,


epic, and dramatic poetry, as in natural science

he found the three natural kingdoms.


his classification of the

terminology, word for

judgments is, with a new


word the same as that of

Kant, which has a quatriad as basis

ment of

quality

In logic,

becomes

the judg

that of existence, the

judgment of quantity that of reflexion, the judg


ment of relation that of necessity, the judgment
of modality that of the concept
and the triadic
;

subdivisions of these are preserved.

The

syl-

190

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

logism

(which

in

synthesis

to

relation

as antithesis, or the restoration of the

judgment

the judgment and so the unity and

in

concept

the

is

truth of both,

determinate

of

syllogism

also developed

is

triadically,

as

syllogism

of

being,

and syllogism of necessity.

reflexion,

philosophy

of

spirit,

Hegel

knows

the

In
well

that

psychology cannot serve as basis for philosophy


yet he treats it dialectically.
Subjective spirit is
;

in

developed
of

the three degrees of anthropology,

phenomenology and of psychology

the

includes the soul, natural, sentient, and real

second, consciousness, consciousness of

reason

first

the

self,

and

the third, theoretic, practical, and free

Objective

spirit.

spirit

has the three

of rights, morality, and ethics

moments

rights are sub

divided into rights of property, of contract, and

The

of rights against wrong.

subdivided into
State

the

external

family,

State,

rights,

civil

finally,

and

ethical sphere
society,

into

(a curious

and

internal

is

the

rights,

leap) universal

history.

The Hegelian
satirized,

dialectic

has

so

often

been

but no satire can compare with that

which the author himself unconsciously gives


of it, when he tries to think Africa, Asia, and
Europe, or the hand, the nose, and the

ear,

or

FALSE SCIENCES

191

family patrimony, paternal authority, and the last

and testament, with the same rhythm with


which he had thought being, nothing, and becom

will

sometimes seems as

Hegel was not

ing.

It

in full

possession of his thought, so

he was obliged to
in

the

same way

interpretation of

if

much

assist himself with

so that

mythology

that (according to an ingenious

Hegel himself)

Plato,

when

his

thought failed to master certain arduous problems


which in his time were not yet ripe for solution,
replaced the solution by thought with the solu
tion

by imagination, the concept with the myth.

X
DUALISM NOT OVERCOME
THE

panlogism, which has

been noted

in

the

system of Hegel, is nothing but the sum of the


errors arising from the misuse of the dialectic,

which
It
all
all

is

have analyzed and exposed one by one.

the substitution of philosophic thought for

the other processes of the

spirit,

which must

acquire logical (philosophical) form and perish.

But

it

is

an error to consider panlogism as the

fundamental characteristic of the system, when


it

is

but a morbid excrescence, growing from

it.

no need to adduce as proof of Hegel s


panlogism his identification of logic and meta-

There

is

physic, in that for

him

metaphysic.

Because

had nothing

in

logic
for

common

is

at the

same time

Hegel Logic,

so-called,

with the logic of the

schools (nor, in general, with a science of logic


as a particular philosophical science).

was the doctrine of the

His

logic

categories, of which logic,


192

DUALISM NOT OVERCOME

193

narrow sense, constituted only one, or only


one group. And since the categories embraced
in the

all

and

spirit

all

clear

is

it

reality,

the

that

of logic and metaphysic, of logic

identification

and philosophy, was

at

bottom nothing more than

the identification of metaphysic with metaphysic,

That

of philosophy with philosophy.

his

meta

physic and philosophy are developed, in part, as

panlogism,

The

is

true

but

it

is

a different question.

error lies exactly in the use of the principle,

not in the principle by

The

itself.

against the system of Hegel, that


or

it

is

more

masked dualism, would appear

less

made

has been

other accusation which

be

to

irreconcilable with the accusation of panlogism

but

itself

not

is

it

with the

full

coherence of truth, the error

of panlogism converts itself into


is,

into dualism.

the

The

field

its

contrary, that

of this conversion

there

appears

everywhere,

persistent, the old concept of nature,

by the physical and

natural

is

been

philosophy of nature, where, as has

shown,

Since error can never affirm

so.

solid

and

suggested

sciences.

Hegel

concept a philosophical value, thereby


making it the thought of a reality which should

gave

this

stand

opposed

spirit.

The

to,

critical

or

behind,

point

the

of this

reality

of

conversion,

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

194

or the revelation of the dualism, which

covered
conceal

the very

at

to

tries

the celebrated transition from the

is

it,

moment when he

dis

is

Hegel expressed him

idea to nature, on which

very briefly and obscurely, and on which

self

his disciples

have shed so many words, but so


The idea, which is for itself, con

"

little

light

sidered

according to

this

with

unity

But, as intuition, the idea

intuitive.

into the one-sided determination of

negation, by means of

or

absolute freedom of the idea

that

it

life

does not pass only into

to appear in

only as

it

finite

in the absolute truth of itself,

to
its

of

go

its

it

its

first

brought

immediacy
reflexion.

therefore

is

life,

nor allow

knowledge

but

resolves to allow

freely out of itself, as nature, the

particularity or of

is

extrinsic

The

is

itself,

moment

of

determination and

otherness, the immediate idea which

is its

"

reflexion

(Enc. par. 244).

This conversion and


dangerous,

Hegelian

that

this

many

thought

transition

interpretations

have

been

are

of

proposed

so

the

(and

others might be proposed) in order to avoid the

danger,

to

eliminate

serve to the system

the
its

and to pre
motive, which is

dualism

initial

absolute idealism, or substance as subject.

none of those interpretations seems to be

But
in

DUALISM NOT OVERCOME


accordance

with

the

the

of

thought

genuine

195

philosopher.

Thus
the

may be convenient

it

to maintain that

from the idea to nature

transition

is,

for

Hegel, nothing but the transition from philosophy


to experience, from philosophy to natural science,

whose

and independence
side by side with philosophy, Hegel would never
have thought of denying. The system of Hegel
existence, subsistence,

would become
or of
to

spirit,

in this

way

a philosophy of

universal, extraneous, but not hostile

that

experience,

to

is,

the observation

study of particular historical and natural

But such an interpretation


that

consideration,

is

but from

science,

Tf~

the

facts.

Hegel does not pass from

logic or philosophy in general to the

as

and

met by the simple

philosophy to natural (empirical)

nature

mind

hilQ_$Qphy.sA

and therefore he understands nature, not


in

empirical concept

with

contrast

the

speculative, but as a speculative concept, which

has equal rights with every other.

This same
tion

difficulty confronts the interpreta

which declares that there

either logical or temporal,

is

no

transition,

between the idea and

nature, because the idea does not become nature,

but

is

already

universal,

nature

the

and the universal

individual
is

the

is

the

individual.

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

196

way dualism would be avoided

Doubtless, in this

because
in

it

the universal alone which

is

philosophical

The

consideration.

(which, philosophically,
realized, in so far as

is

is

grasped

individual

the universal

itself) is

merely individual, by in
tuition, that is to say, by a level of spirit, which pre
cedes the philosophical level and is its condition.
it is

But Hegel has not abandoned the individual to


the poets or historians he thought the philosophy
:

of the individual,

when he thought

of nature and of history.

him

In order to interpret

manner proposed,

in the

the philosophy

it

would be neces

sary to cut out from his system, not

some few

incidental pages of digression, but to mutilate


it

by whole books and sections, and these from

among

the parts, which, to the author at least,

seemed

to

be

third

vital

organs of the whole structure.

interpretation

could

be elaborated,

founded upon a meaning of the word "nature,"


of which there are traces in Hegel, as the negative

moment

of

spirit, as

passivity opposed to activity,

the mechanical opposed to the teleological, as not-

being opposed to being.

In this case, spirit and

nature would not be two distinct concepts, concepts


of two realities, or of two forms of reality
but
;

one unique concept of the unique


is

reality,

which

synthesis of opposites, dialectic and develop-

DUALISM NOT OVERCOME


ment

and

which

idea,

alienated from itself as nature, to return

is

to itself in spirit,
in

The

unity would be saved.

its

197

would be

spirit itself,

understood

concreteness, which includes the negative

its

moment.

The

Italian

thinker,

Spavenj, came

very near this interpretation, when he wrote that


the logos in itself is not reality, save in so far
:

"

as

it is

Logic, that

is,

spirit as

thought of thought

and nature, fixed as nature, is


not self-sufficient, and therefore it not only pre

(pure thought)

supposes ideally the logos, but has absolute spirit


as its real principle, precisely because it has it as
its

real

and absolute end.

"

Yet, side by side

with this meaning of the word nature as negation

and not-being (as side by side with the meaning


of the word nature as the individual and the
matter of intuition), Hegel maintains the idea of
nature understood as reality, as the other of
TO eVepoy Katf avro (the other in itself).

were

this not so,

spirit,

Indeed,

Hegel could never have thought

of constructing a philosophy of the negative, of

not being, of what

is

mere abstraction

whereas

he does write a philosophy of nature, and there


fore understands by the object of that philosophy

something positive.
Finally, some have attempted to interpret the
1

Principi di

etica, pp.

53-54.

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

198

as

if

and

nature

concrete spirit

two parts

and

tripartition of logos, nature

Hegelian

spirit

itself,

spirit,

were nothing but the

divided only empirically into

and the logos would signify the true

reality that constitutes both, their identity in the

apparent division
versality,

it

would be

and not only as

separated from the

ally

impossible

to

appears in the world

it

human, when

called social or

cancel

in its uni

spirit

is

But

rest.

the

that

empiric

would be

it

distinction

profound

which Hegel makes between nature and spirit,


and which he affirms as the distinction between
an unconscious and a conscious

psychism was

far

from Hegel

logicity.

intention

for

Panhim,

thought belonged to man and was foreign to the


animal in nature, there is not thought, but only
;

which

determinations of thought,
there certainly
said (and
fied.

is

is

different

an intelligence, but, as Schelling

Hegel approved),

it is

intelligence petri

Therefore Hegel maintained that

in nature

the forms of spirit are not, as in the conscious


spirit,

resolved into one another, but have the

position

of

movement,
system
as

separate
for

Matter

existences.

example, exist as

and

facts in the solar

the determinations of the senses exist

a quality of bodies, and also separately,

elements, and so on (Enc. par. 380)

as

the dialectic

DUALISM NOT OVERCOME


nature of the concept stands as a natural

199
fact, in

the positive and negative poles of the magnet.

To

regard nature and

spirit as

a single series,

distinguishable into two only by a convention, as

man

civilized

may be

is

distinguished from the savage,

a just conception

but

was altogether
His distinction

it

foreign to the intention of Hegel.

of nature and
contrary,

is

whatever may be said to the

spirit,

qualitative

if

the difference between

unconscious and conscious beings, between things

and thinkers,

is

qualitative.

In the genuine thought of Hegel, as found in


his

philosophy of nature,

then, two realities

spirit

and nature

are,

the one opposed to the other,

or the one the basis of the other, but, in any case,

each distinct from the other.

Therefore he had

recourse to a third term, the logos


of overcoming the dualism drove

overcome

it

with

the

triadic

done such excellent service


dualism of opposites.

the necessity

him

form,

to try to

which had

overcoming the
But since nature and spirit
in

are not opposites in his thought, they are not


abstractions, but
triadic

two concrete

form was inapplicable.

to apply

realities

Nor was

two

and the
it

valid

the form of criticism which, also with

marvellous results, he had adopted

for the

con

cepts of reflexion, in the doctrine of the essence

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

200

and

since, for him, nature

the sense in

spirit, in

which he took them, were not concepts of re


flexion, difficult to distinguish,

tinct concepts, of quite

in his triad, the first,

is,

But, while the content of the second

the thesis.

term, the antithesis,

of

theories

The

determinate character.

third term, the Logos,

whole

but two quite dis

is

clearly nothing

mathematical,

and

physical,

but the
natural

and the content of the third term, the

synthesis,

is,

equally clearly, psychology on the

one hand, and on the other, the philosophies of


rights, of art, of religion, and of the absolute
spirit or

Idea

the

has no content of

the thesis, the Logos,

first,

its

own, but borrows

the other two parts, especially from the

mingles with
philosophies.

him who
spirit

it

a polemic against

The

fact

truly separates

and looks

it

from

last,

and

inadequate

that this Logos, for

is,
it

it

from nature and from

well in the face, reveals itself

but the dark foundation of the old

as nothing

God, in whom were united the two


metaphysic
substances of Descartes, the substantia sive Deus,
:

which, in Spinoza, supported the two attributes


of thought and of extension.

It is

the Absolute

of Schelling, indifference of nature and of spirit

or the blind (but not too blind) Will of Scho

penhauer, from

which

come

forth

nature

and

DUALISM NOT OVERCOME


consciousness

or

the

von Hartmann, which,

201

Unconscious of Edward
also with

much

manifesta

tion of reason, gives a beginning to consciousness.

Hegel had reproached Schelling with conceiving


the Absolute as substance and not as subject.
But

his

Logos

is

indeed a subject, which cannot

be thought as subject, or rather, which cannot be


It is, as Hegel himself says,
thought at all.
"

God

in his eternal

essence before the creation

of nature and of the finite spirit


well think

Deus

in

God

in

nobis

et

and we can

"

nature and in the


nos,

finite spirit,

but certainly not a

God

The

triadic

expedient, and the term Logos, to which

Hegel

outside or prior to nature

and man.

has recourse, show that he


in

dualism

is

always entangled

that he struggles valiantly against

but does not escape from

it,

it.

This dualism wot overcome,

in

which Hegel

absolute idealism becomes entangled, owing to


the grave logical error he has committed,

reason of the division of the


a

into

right

and a

left,

and

wing interpreted Hegel

the

Hegelian school
for

the eventual

extension of the latter to an extreme


right

is

left.

theistically.

The
The

subject, the Logos of Hegel, was the personal

God
to

and the relation of the Hegelian philosophy


Christianity was not exhausted in the recog;

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

202

nition of the great philosophical element contained


in

Christian theology, but extended to a

more

substantial

The

much

left

wing
was opposed to all transcendence and to the
whole conception of a personal God.
It empha
agreement.

sized the character of

and

finally

came

immanence of the system,

to sympathize with philosophic

materialism, in so far as this in

its

own way

has

an immanent and not a transcendental character.

would be impossible to decide which of the


two interpretations was the more faithful to the
It

thought of Hegel

for

both of them were founded

upon Hegelian doctrines, and were opposed and


hostile to one another, precisely because those
doctrines were contradictory.

XI

THE CRITICISM AND CONTINUATION


OF THE THOUGHT OF HEGEL
CONCLUSION

WITH

the

philosophy of

have attempted in this essay,


have declared at the same time what, in my

Hegel, which
I

of the

interpretation

opinion,

is

the task that should

and to those who continue

part of

to preserve the vital

the

new concept

it.

to

fall

It
it,

its critics

was necessary
that

is

of the concept, the

to say,

concrete

universal, together with the dialectic of opposites

and the doctrine of degrees of


with the help of that
ing

it,

all

to refute

new concept and by develop

panlogism, and every speculative con

and of the empirical, of

struction of the individual

history

reality

and of nature

to recognize the

of the various forms of

spirit,

autonomy

while preserving

connexion and unity and finally,


to resolve the whole philosophy into a pure philotheir necessary

203

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

204
sophy

of spirit

(or

logic -metaphy sic,

as

it

It was necessary
might then have been called).
from the
to draw forth the Hegelian thought
"

sheath of

its members,"

that

is

to say, of

its

false

members, which had been badly attached to it


and to permit it to form its own members,

answering to the nature of the primitive germ.

The
task.

and

school of
It

Hegel

failed altogether in this

divided, as has been observed, into right

and subdivided into secondary fractions,


on the importance to be attached to the respective
left,

towards transcendence and towards

tendencies

immanence,

in the

wholly united
dialectical

in

and yet it remained


preserving and increasing the
system

entanglement, the confusion between

the dialectic of opposites


distincts,

the

between the

dialectic

of the

and the

dialectic

of

dialectic of the absolute

and

Michelet,

for

contingent.

example, the editor of the Philosophy of Nature,


amused himself with dialectically correcting
certain details

such as the place that belongs

to the fifth part of the world in the dialectic of

geography, which we have already mentioned.


He believed that the islands of Oceania represent
the ultimate future of the

human

race, the

ex

treme development of democratic self-government.

And

to those

who

did not see clearly into dia-

CONCLUSION
lectic

modes

205

of reasoning, Michelet replied that

the dialectic method, like artistic creation,

makes

no claim to universal acceptance, but must remain


"

a specific talent of the favourite of the

Gods."

from doing honour to the


master, who had affirmed so persistently and with

Truly
so

was

this

profoundly

must not be

far

human

a sense, that philosophy

esoteric, but exoteric.

Rosenkranz

(another of the principal representatives of the

he had

constructed

wing), after
^Esthetic of the Ugly, in a

right

way which

content myself with calling bizarre,

all

in
I

his
shall

the terms

of the coarsest and most vulgar psychology, also

proposed re-arrangements and corrections of the


His corrections concerned,
philosophy of nature.
e.g.

the dignity of the fixed stars, which Hegel

was supposed to have slighted in favour of the


the division between
planets and of the earth
;

Hegel was supposed

physics and astronomy, which


to

have wrongfully confused

the transference of

the process of crystallization from the physical to


the organic

and the

like.

But on the other

hand, he never abandoned the Hegelian assump


tion of the philosophy of nature

indeed, where

Hegel had lighted on a glimpse of the truth by


declaring
struction

the

impossibility

of a

dialectic

of mathematics, Rosenkranz

con

was ready

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

206

to contradict him.

he exclaims,

This cannot be

because

if

admitted,"

the dialectic method be

should mathematics be excluded

why

universal,

from

"

"

XI

Vera, the Italian champion of ortho

it?"

continued the exploits against Newton.


maintained that the science of nature is to

doxy,

He

be effected by three methods, the experimental,


the mathematical, and the speculative, which last
the crown of the three

is

other things
lumiere, et

"

Nous

disons quit

meme un temps
un

qui sont sentis, et

et

and he wrote, among

un

et

air,

un, air,

une

espace apparents

une lumiere,

etc.,

qui
"

n apparais sent point et qui sont simple ment penses.


Passing from the extreme right to the extreme

and dwelling

left,

who has

in

moment upon a writer,


times been much known and

for a

recent

discussed in Italy, Frederick Engels (the friend

and collaborator of Karl Marx), we can see how


he reduced philosophy^ hy_ equating it to the
positive sciences, and preserving of it only "the
formal (!)
doctrine of thought and of its laws
:

logic
"

and the

which was

dialectic."

nothing

general laws of the


of

human

societies

but

And
the

of this dialectic,

science

of

the

movement and development


and

of

thought,"

gave such examples as the following.

Engels

grain

of barley, put into the earth, sprouts, and becom-

CONCLUSION

207

negated but other grains come


from the plant and this is the negation of the
ing a plant,

is

The

negation.

chrysalis

comes out of

butterfly

the

reproduces

but,

a,

a=a

ax

butterfly

again

the

negation

the

is

is

negation,

negated

we have

to say, the first a raised

private pro

communism

primitive

the

effect

will

the

proprietorship of the soil

denies

perty

but

In history, civilization begins with

to a power.

common

that

negated when the

In arithmetic,

negating
2

it

chrysalis

of the negation.

by

is

negation

of

the

socialism

negation,

re

producing the primitive communism, but raised


In the history of philosophy,

to a higher power.

the

moment

first

is

original materialism

this

is

negated by idealism, which afterwards suffers the


negation of

negation, in dialectical material

Nor can

ism.

that

its

is

it

eating

it,

it

be objected (added Engels),

possible to negate a grain of barley by

or an insect by treading

positive magnitude a by cancelling

upon
it

it,

or the

because the

negation must be such as to render possible the


negation of the negation

otherwise (he remarks

ingenuously), there would not be a dialecticprocess.


1

Antiduhrin^

pp. 137-146.

of Labriola

pp. 168-178.

intr.

pp. 9-11,

This extract

is

and on the negation of the negation,

also to be found in Italian in the

book, Discorrendo di Socialismo

Appendix

di filosofia (Rome, 1897),

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

208

Who

wealth of amus

will narrate in all their

ing details the lamentable fortunes of the dialectic

method

at the

them

of

hands of Hegel

dialecticized

spirit

One

disciples?

as

masculine

the

and history as
Another found in the

principle, nature as the feminine,

the matrimonial union.

Oriental world, the category of


classical world, the

being

category of essence

the

in

and

in

modern world, the category of the concept.


For yet another, antiquity was the kingdom of
the modern world, that of philosophy the
art

the

was

future

to

be the kingdom of morality

in the ancient world,

Athens was made

and

to corre

spond with dynamic electricity, Sparta with static


electricity, Macedonia with electro- magnetism,
Persia with

light,

absorbent heat.

found

in profusion

Rome
These

those of the obscure

The

expansive

stupidities

and

are to be

books illustrium virorum

in

as well as obscurorum

with

men

nor can

it

be said that

are the least significant.

best of the school were those who, feeling

themselves unable to go beyond Hegel, or believ


ing that the time was not yet ripe for doing so,
limited themselves to preserving the doctrines of
1

These examples are taken from C. Knapp, from A.

etc., in

62.

v.

Cieszkowski,

P. Earth, Geschichtsphilosophie Hegels u. d. Hegelianer, pp. 29,

For other characteristic examples, see the

Esthetic,

c.

13.

historical

part

of

my

CONCLUSION
the master as a sacred trust,

emphasizing the
them, and refrain

profound elements of truth in


ing, as though through an instinct

from insisting upon the

209

for the truth,

difficult parts (the philo

sophy of nature, or the philosophy of


yet without refuting them explicitly.

showed
as

their cautious

and

history),

They

critical spirit, also, in,

were, reconducting Hegel to his Kantian

it

foundations, and in
transition

making the necessity of the


from Kant to Hegel the object of their
Such were Kuno Fischer

continuous study.

Germany,

to

whom we owe

the students

a lucid re-elaboration

Bertrando Spaventa in
Great Britain; 2 and several of

of the Hegelian logic;


Italy; Stirling in

in

whom

they formed in

the

three

Spaventa did not pass beyond or


transform Hegel, but he foresaw clearly that

countries.

In the
was necessary and had to happen.
philosophers (he remarked on this subject), in
"

this

the true philosophers, there

underneath, which

is

is

always something
more than they themselves

and of which they are not conscious


1

and

See his Logik zind Metaphysik. (1852), especially

in

this

is

the second

edition of 1865.
2

J. Stirling,

The Secret of Hegel London, 1865):


(

indicated at shortest thus

Plato
so

made
cf.

made

Hegel

p.

as Aristotle

That

secret

may

be

was implicit in Socrates,


from Fichte and Schelling
was implicit in Kant" (i. p. 1 1

explicit the abstract universal, that

with

less

considerable assistance

explicit the concrete universal, that

317).

"

with considerable assistance from

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

210
the

germ

new

of a

To

life.

to suffocate this germ,

is

sophers mechanically,

repeat the philo

impede its developing and becoming a new


and more perfect system."
to

Of

the adversaries of Hegel,

that they too failed of their duty

had they done

must be said

it

and indeed,

they would not have been the

it,

adversaries, but the disciples and continuers of

For

his thought.

served the

his fanatical followers pre

if

just as

dialectic,

it

stood,

with

confusions and false applications, they, on

other hand, rejected

it

altogether

the

thus falling

We

into an analogous but opposite error.


set aside the bizarre

its

may
who
belched
Schopenhauer,

contumelies against Hegel, but spoke of

forth

him by hearsay, without knowing anything pre


cise

about him. 2

never

rises

anecdotic.

Indeed

above the
Herbart,

recognized in Hegel

his

calumnious gossip
of the general or

level

far better balanced, at least


"

one of those rare

men born

"

and held that the Hegelian


philosophy, because of the clear relief in which
for

it

speculation

sets the contradictions, with

presents

itself to

thought,

Proluzione e introduzione

Such

is

pp. 330-31.

in the

reality, as

it

charged, constitutes

pp. 182-183.

also the opinion of the anti- Hegelian R.

on Schopenhauer (reprinted
cf.

cit.,

is

which

Gesammelte

Haym,

.4z;/5Yi/s,<?,

in his essay

Berlin, 1903)

CONCLUSION

XI

211

the best propaedeutic to metaphysic.

But

if

we

read the refutations of the dialectic by Trendelen-

Germany, by Rosmini in Italy, by Janet


France (to name only the most important), we

burg
in

in

cannot but experience a feeling of distrust

when we
easy,
tion

we

realize that a critic

makes

much more profound

in

for

his task too

divine from his very words of

and of depreciation that there

is

condemna
something

the question, which he

Doubtless those ingenious


confuters brought to light difficulties, and some
has failed Jo reach.

times errors

but they did not show the true

how they derived from the


new and great truth.
To

genesis of the errors,

exaggeration of a

"

confute a philosophy (Hegel himself said)

nothing but to surpass

its limits,

determinate principle, so as to
moment."

means

and to lower

make

of

it

its

an ideal

But with the new generation that reached


maturity after 1848, the philosophical adversaries
of

Hegel

were

soon

succeeded

These hated nothing

adversaries.

by
in

barbaric

Hegel but

which he represented in all its


grandiose seventy Philosophy, which is without
heart and without compassion for the feeblephilosophy

itself,

See his criticism of the Encyclopaedia, Werke, ed. Hartenstein,

670, 685.
2
Enc.

86 Zus.

xii.

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

212

minded and

for the

Philosophy, which

lazy_\

is

not to be placated with the specious offerings of

sentiment and of fancy, nor with the light foods

For

of half-science.

Hegel was the un

these,

avenged shade of the speculative need of the


human spirit a shade which seemed disposed
;

to take

its

own revenge

at

the fierce hatred of Hegel

any moment.
:

a hatred

Hence

composed

of fear and of remorse, and certainly not caused

Hegel had observed


Fichte philosophy had become too

by the errors of
that

after

his system.

and could no longer be an occupation for


the beau monde and for the cultured public, as it
subtle,

had been
Kant.

minds

in the

eighteenth century, previous to

But the

positivist

regression reduced

such an extremity,

to

that

they were

rendered blind to the distinction between the


concept and sensation, between speculation and
empiricism. How then could it have been possible
for

such an age, which lacked

all

the elementary

or

propaedeutic distinctions,

to

understand or

criticize

Hegel,

who assumes

the knowledge and

elementary problems, whose


thought revolves round the ultimate and most
solution

of

the

refined questions,

most

lofty

who

summits
1

breathes and lives on the

For such

Gesch. d. Phil*,

iii.

as these, to look

577-8.

._

CONCLUSION
upon him was

to

awake

in

213

themselves the sad

consciousness of impotence, with

and

"irritations,

of joys that

it

and

may

not taste.

our intellectual outlook.

himself.

is

It is

an improvement

more favourable

and more favourable to

to philosophy in general,

Hegel

agitations

ferocious condemnation

its

Happily, in our day, there


in

its

We are now beginning to possess

a philosophy of art and of language, a theory of


a gnoseology of the mathematical and

history,

which render impossible


the reappearance of those errors, in which Hegel

naturalistic disciplines,

became entangled.

In particular, the old concept

of nature, inherited from science, or rather from

the

philosophy of the seventeenth century,

in process of dissolution

clearer

how

every day

nature, as a concept,

the practical activity of

man

and

he forgets how he has acquired


it

is

becomes

a product of

it is

it,

it

is

only

that

when

he finds

opposed to him as something external, which

terrifies

mystery.

him with

On

its

aspect

of

impenetrable

the other hand, a certain philo

romanticism

is

everywhere appearing
a
condition
and
is
this
(though nothing
again,
more than a condition) for the true understanding

sophical

of

Hegel and

all

the philosophers of his time.

People are sighing again

for

mysticism and for

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

2i 4

immediate knowledge, after the manner of Jacob!


and they are setting up again the old Schellinghian

ideal of an aesthetic contemplation,

give to the

spirit a thirst

for truth

which should

and

for con-

creteness, something that (natural) science cannot

Thus, Bergson, one of the writers who


attached themselves to this movement,

give.

have

advocates as a metaphysic of the absolute, an


intuitive

ment

"

knowledge,

adopte la vie

et

not this just what

qui sinstalle dans

meme

des

mouve-

le

But was

choses."

Hegel demanded, and the

point from which he began

to

find a

mind, which should be mobile as the

form of

movement

of the real, which should participate in the


things,

which should

feel

the pulse of

"

life

reality,"

and should mentally reproduce the rhythm of


development, without breaking
making it rigid and falsifying it

But

for

have quoted, and

that the

xi. p.

"

it

is

for the writer

we

for others of like tendencies.

demand

in

to

have shown

of concrete knowledge

Introduction a la Metaphysiquc
29.

And

vain.

the form of thought,


1

into pieces or

renunciation of thought would have been

asked of Hegel

in

its

Hegel, such a view was only a starting-

point, not a conclusion, as

The

it

of

his great

is

"

in

is

satisfied

merit, his

Revue de mttaph.

et

de morale,

CONCLUSION
immortal

discovery.

studying

Hegel

Hence

critically,

215

the

and

necessity

of

sifting

of

the

intimate and vital elements of his thought from

The modern

the extrinsic and dead.

consciousness

can neither accept the whole of Hegel, nor wholly


refute him, as used to be

him

In relation to

Roman

years ago.

nee tecum vivere possum,

does not appear that we can now


critical revision of Hegelianism from
It

te.

obtain this

its

fifty

stands in the position of the

poet to his lady

nee sine

its

it

done

German

fatherland, which

great son that

it

is

so forgetful of

has not even reprinted his

works and frequently expresses judgments con


cerning him, which astound us who belong to
this remote fringe of Italy, for we have never
altogether forgotten him, and have in

made him our own,


with our Nolan

Parthenopean.

German

studies,

uniting him in brotherhood

Bruno and with our Vico, the


Far more important than the
are the studies on Hegelianism,

which have been carried on


in

England.

shown
is

itself to

clearly

criticized

some wise

over thirty years


There the work of Stirling has

be very

for

fruitful

for there

Hegel

expounded, truthfully interpreted and


reverently and with freedom of mind.

In return, the powerful spirit of

has for the

first

George Hegel

time awakened to the speculative

PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL

2i6
life

the minds of the English,

who have been

for

centuries the world purveyors of empirical philo

sophy and who even

the last century seemed

in

incapable of producing any philosophers better

than Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer.

any one were to ask me if he should


or should not be an
and if I am an
Hegelian,"

Now,

if

"

Hegelian,

with a reply.

might, after

Yet

here this question

all

have

wish as a corollary, to answer

way which

in

is

derived from that very philosophy.


believe

it

who

sophical spirit and philosophical


is

perhaps
am, and

necessary to be, an Hegelian

the same sense in which any one

time,

dispense

said,

and

feels himself to

be

at

but

in

has a philo

culture

once

our

in

Eleatic,

Heraclitean, Socratic, Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic,

tesian,

Spinozist, Leibnizian,

That

and so on.

is

to

pass

Vichian,

Car

Kantian;

to say, in the sense that

thinker and no historical

come

Buddhist,

Christian,

Neoplatonic,

Sceptic,

without

movement
bearing

no

of thought

fruit,

without

depositing an element of truth, which forms part,


consciously

Neither

or

no,

of

living

modern thought.

nor any sensible person would wish to

be an Hegelian,
obsequious

in the

follower,

sense of a servile and

who

professes

every word of the master, or

in the

to

accept

sense of a

CONCLUSION

xi

sectarian,

religipus

who

217

considers disagreement

Hegel too has discovered a


moment of the truth to this moment we must
In

a sin.

short,

That

accord recognition and value.


this

does not happen just

much

The Idea

matter.

at present,

is
it

If

all.

does not

not in a hurry, as

is

Hegel used to say. The same content of truth


must be reached, sooner or later, by a different

way

if

and,

direct

not availed ourselves of his

when we look back upon the


thought, we must still proclaim him,

help,

history of

with

we have

much

yet

marvel, a prophet.

But the

first

condition for resolving whether

to accept or to reject the doctrines

which Hegel

propounds (I am constrained to make explicit


what I should have preferred to leave to be
understood)

end

is

to

read his books

to the spectacle, half comical

gusting, of the accusation

philosopher by

who wage

critics

and

to put

and half

an

dis

and the abuse of a

who do

not

know him, and

created

by their

war with a ridiculous puppet


own imaginations, under the

ignoble

sway of

traditional

a foolish

tellectual laziness.

THE END

prejudice

and

in

CROCE, BENEDETTO

What is living and what is


dead of the philosophy of
wegel
.

29^8
.C75