Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy

Oriental Philosophy

THE first Philosophy in order is the so-called Oriental, which, however, does not enter into the substance or range of our subject as represented here. Its position is preliminary, and we only deal with it at all in order to account for not treating of it at greater length, and to show in what relation it stands to Thought and to true Philosophy. The expression Eastern philosophy is specially employed in reference to the period in which this great universal Oriental conception aroused the East — the land of circumscription and of limitation, where the spirit of subjectivity reigns. More particularly in the first centuries of Christendom — that significant period — did these great Oriental ideas penetrate into Italy; and in the Gnostic philosophy they began to force the idea of the illimitable into the Western mind, until in the Church the latter again succeeded in obtaining the ascendency and hence in firmly establishing the Divine. That which we call Eastern Philosophy is more properly the religious mode of thought and the conception of the world belonging generally to the Orientals and approximates very closely to Philosophy; and to consider the Oriental idea of religion just as if it were religious philosophy, is to give the main reason why it is so like.

We do not similarly maintain that the Roman, Greek and Christian Religions constitute Philosophy. These bear all the less similarity thereto in that the Greek and Roman gods as also Christ and the God of the Jews, on account of the principle of individual freedom which penetrates the Greek and still more the Christian element, make their appearance immediately as the explicit, personal forms, which, being mythological or Christian, must first be themselves interpreted and changed into a philosophic form. In the case of Eastern Religion, on the contrary, we are much more directly reminded of the philosophic conception, for since in the East the element of subjectivity has not come forth, religious ideas are not individualized, and we have predominating a kind of universal ideas, which hence present the appearance of being philosophic ideas and thoughts. The Orientals certainly have also individual forms, such as Brahma, Vishnu and Civa, but because freedom is wanting the individuality is not real, but merely superficial. And so ranch is this the case, that when we suppose that we have to deal with a human form, the same loses itself again and expands into the illimitable. Just as we hear amongst the Greeks of a Uranus and Chronos — of Time individualized — we find with the Persians, Zeroane Akerene, but it is Time unlimited. We find Ormuzd and Ahriman to be altogether general forms and ideas; they appear to be universal principles which thus seem to bear a relationship to Philosophy or even seem to be themselves philosophic.

Just as the content of the Eastern religions, God, the essentially existent, the eternal, is comprehended somewhat in the light of universal, we find the relative positions of individuals to Him to be the same. In the Eastern religions the first condition is that only the one substance shall, as such, be the true, and that the individual neither can have within himself, nor can he attain to any value in as far as he maintains himself as against the being in and for itself. He can have true value only through an identification with this substance in which he ceases to exist as subject and disappears into unconsciousness. In the Greek and Christian Religion, on the other hand, the subject knows himself to be free and must be maintained as such; and because the individual in this way makes himself independent, it is undoubtedly much more difficult for Thought to free itself from this individuality and to constitute itself in independence. The higher point of view implicitly contained in the Greek individual freedom, this happier, larger life, makes more difficult the work of Thought, which is to give due value to the universal. In the East, on the contrary, the substantial in Religion is certainly on its own view the principal matter, the essential — and with it lawlessness, the absence of individual consciousness is immediately connected — and this substance is undoubtedly a philosophic idea. The negation of the finite is also present, but in such a manner that the individual only reaches to its freedom in this unity with the substantial. In as far as in the Eastern mind, reflection, consciousness come through thought to distinction and to the determination of principles, there exist such categories and such definite ideas not in unity with the substantial. The destruction of all that is particular either is an illimitable, the exaltitude of the East, or, in so far as that which is posited and determined for itself is known, it is a dry, dead understanding, which cannot take up the speculative Notion into itself. To that which is true, this finite can exist only as immersed in substance; if kept apart from this it remains dead and arid. We thus find only dry understanding amongst the Easterns, a mere enumeration of determinations, a logic like the Wolffian of old. It is the same as in their worship, which is complete immersion in devotion and then an endless number of ceremonials and of religious actions; and this on the other side is the exaltitude of that illimitable in which everything disappears.

There are two Eastern nations with which I wish just now to deal — the Chinese and the Indian.

A. Chinese Philosophy.

It is true of the Chinese as well as of the Indians that they have a great reputation for culture; but this, as well as the amount of Indian literature which exists, has largely diminished through a further knowledge of it. The great knowledge of these people bears upon such subjects as Religion, Science, the Constitution and administration of the state, poetry, handicrafts and commerce. But when we compare the laws and constitution of China with the European, we find that we can only do so in respect of what is formal, for the content is very different. It is also felt, however consistently they may be constituted as to form, that they cannot find their place with us, that we could not allow of their giving us satisfaction, and that they take the place of law, or rather that they put an end to it. It is the same thing when we compare Indian poetry with European; considered as a mere play of the imagination it is as brilliant, rich and cultured as that of any other people. But in poetry we have to do with content, and that is the important part of it. Even the Homeric poetry is not serious for us, and hence such poetry cannot last. It is not the lack of genius in the Oriental poetry; the amount of genius is the same and the form may be very much developed, but the content remains confined within certain bounds and cannot satisfy us, nor can it be our content. This is at outset a fact applying universally to such comparisons, inasmuch as men let themselves be dazzled by form, making it equal with, or even preferring it to ours.

1. Confucius

The first subject of remark with regard to the Chinese respects the teaching of Confucius (500 years before Christ) which made a great sensation in Liebnitz’s time; this teaching is a moral philosophy. Confucius has, besides, commented upon the old traditional principles of the Chinese; his high moral teaching, however, gave him his great fame, and that teaching is the authority most esteemed in China. Confucius’ Biography bas been translated by French missionaries from the original Chinese; from this he appears to have been almost contemporaneous with Thales, to have been for a considerable time Minister, to have then fallen into disfavour, lost his place and lived and philosophized amongst his own friends, while still being often asked to give advice. We have conversations between Confucius and his followers in which there is nothing definite further than a commonplace moral put in the form of good, sound doctrine, which may be found as well expressed and better, in every place and amongst every people. Cicero gives us De Officiis, a book of moral teaching more comprehensive and better than all the books of Confucius. He is hence only a man who has a certain amount of practical and worldly wisdom — one with whom there is no speculative philosophy. We may conclude from his original works that for their reputation it would have been better had they never been translated. The treatise which the Jesuits produced is, however, more a paraphrase than a translation.

2. The Philosophy of the Y-king

A second matter of remark is that the Chinese have also taken up their attention with abstract thoughts and with pure categories. The old book Y-king, or the Book of Principles, serves as the foundation for such; it contains the wisdom of the Chinese, and its origin is attributed to Fohi. That which is there by him related passes into what is quite mythological, fabulous and even senseless. The main point in it is the ascription to him of the discovery of a table with certain signs or figures (Ho-tu) which he saw on the back of a horse-dragon as it rose out of the river. This table contains parallel lines above one another, which have a symbolical signification; and the Chinese say that these lines are the foundation of their characters as also of their philosophy. These symbols are quite abstract categories, and consequently the most superficial determinations of the understanding. It must certainly be considered that pure thoughts are brought to consciousness, but in this case we make no advance, merely remaining stationary so far as they are concerned. The concrete is not conceived of speculatively, but is simply taken from ordinary ideas, inasmuch as it is expressed in accordance with their forms of representation and of perception. Hence in this collection of concrete principles there is not to be found in one single instance a sensuous conception of universal natural or spiritual powers.

To satisfy the curious, I will give these principles in greater detail. The two fundamental figures are a horizontal line ( —— , Yang) and the one which is broken into two equal parts ( – – , Yin). The first which is the perfect, the father, the manlike, the unity, such as is represented by the Pythagoreans, represents the affirmative; the second is the imperfect, the mother, the womanly, the duality and the negation. These signs are held in high esteem, for they are considered to be the Principles of things. First of all they are placed in combination of two from which four figures result:

—— – – ——
——,——, – –.

or the great Yang the little Yang, the little Yin, and the great Yin. The signification of these four representations is matter as perfect and imperfect. The two Yangs are perfect matter: the first is in the category of youth and power; the second is the same matter, but as old and powerless. The third and fourth images, where Yin constitutes the basis, are imperfect matter, which has again the two determinations of youth. and age, strength and weakness. These lines are further united in sets of three, and thus eight figures result, which are called Kua,

—— – – —— – – —— – – —— – –
———— – – – –———— – – – –
——,——,——,——, – –, – –, – –, – –.

I will give the interpretation of these Kua just to show how superficial it is. The first sign, containing the great Yang and the Yang is the Heavens Tien) or the all-pervading ether. The Heavens to the Chinese means what is highest, and it has been a great source of division amongst the missionaries whether they ought to call the Christian God, Tien, or not. The second sign is pure water (Tui), the third Pure fire (Li), the fourth thunder (Tschin), the fifth wind (Siun), the sixth common water (Kan), the seventh mountains (Ken), the eighth the earth (Kuen). We should not place heaven, thunder, wind and mountains on the same footing. We may thus obtain a philosophic origin for everything out of these abstract thoughts of absolute unity and duality. All symbols have the advantage of indicating thoughts and of calling up significations, and in this way such are likewise present there. Thought thus forms the first beginning, but afterwards it goes into the clouds, and Philosophy does likewise. Therefore if Windischmann in his commentary recognizes in this system of Confucius, a “thorough interconnection between all Kua, in the whole series,” it should be remembered that not a particle of the Notion is to be found in it.

United further in sets of four, the lines produce sixty-four figures, which the Chinese consider to be the origin of their characters, since there have been added to these straight lines those which are perpendicular and inclined in different directions.

In Schuking there is also a chapter on Chinese wisdom, where the five elements from which everything is made make their appearance. These are fire, water, wood, metal and earth, which exist all in confusion, and which we should no more than we did before, allow to be principles. The first canon in the law is found in the Schuking as the naming of the five elements; the second, considerations upon the last, and so it goes on. Universal abstraction with the Chinese thus goes on to what is concrete, although in accordance with an external kind of order only, and without containing anything that is sensuous. This is the principle of all Chinese wisdom and of all the objects of study in China.

3. The Sect of the Tao-See

There is yet another separate sect, that of the Tao-See, the followers of which are not mandarins and attached to the state religion, nor are they Buddhists or Lamaics. The originator of this philosophy and the one who was closely connected with it in his life, is Lao-Tso, who was born in the end of the seventh century before Christ and who was older than Confucius, for this representative of the more political school went to him in order to ask his advice. The book of the Lao-Tso, Tao-King, is certainly not included in the proper Kings and has not their authority, but it is an important work amongst the Taosts or the followers of reason, who call their rule in life Tao-Tao, which means the observation of the dictates or the laws of reason. They dedicate their lives to the study of reason, and maintain that he who knows reason in its source will possess universal science, remedies for every ill and all virtue; he will also have obtained a supernatural power of being able to fly to heaven and of not dying.

His followers say of Lao-Tso himself that he is Buddha who as man became the ever-existent God. We still have his principal writings; they have been taken to Vienna, and I have seen them there myself, One special passage is frequently taken from them: “Without a name Tao[1] is the beginning of Heaven and Earth, and with a name she is the Mother of the Universe. It is only in her imperfect state that she is considered with affection; who desires to know her must be devoid of passions.” Abel Remusat says that taken at its best this might be expressed by the Greek in oogoς. The celebrated passage which is often quoted by the ancients is this, “Reason has brought forth the one; the one has brought forth the two; the two have brought forth the three; and the three have produced the whole world.” In this men have tried to find a reference to the Trinity. “The Universe rests upon the principle of Darkness, the universe embraces the principle of Light,” or “it is embraced by ether;” it can be thus reversed, because the Chinese language has no case inflection, the words merely standing in proximity. Another passage in the same place has this sense, “He whom ye look at and do not see, is named I; thou hearkenest to him and hearest him not, and he is called Hi; thou seekest for him with thy hand and touchest him not, and his name is Wei. Thou meetest him and seest not his head; thou goest behind him and seest not his back.” These contradictory expressions are called the” chain of reason.” One naturally thinks in quoting these passages of יהוה and of the African kingly name of Juba and also of Jovis. This I-hi-we´ or I-H-W is further made to signify an absolute vacuity and that which is Nothing; to the Chinese what is highest and the origin of things is nothing, emptiness, the altogether undetermined, the abstract universal, and this is also called Tao or reason. When the Greeks say that the absolute is one, or when men in modern times say that it is the highest existence, all determinations are abolished, and by the merely abstract Being nothing has been expressed excepting this same negation, only in an affirmative form. But if Philosophy has got no further than to such expression, it still stands on its most elementary stage. What is there to be found in all this learning?

B. Indian Philosophy.

If we had formerly the satisfaction of believing in the antiquity of the Indian wisdom and of holding it in respect, we now have ascertained through being acquainted with the great astronomical works of the Indians, the inaccuracy of all figures quoted. Nothing can be more confused, nothing more imperfect than the chronology of the Indians; no people which has attained to culture in astronomy, mathematics, &c., is as incapable for history; in it they have neither stability nor coherence. It was believed that such was to be had in the time of Wikramaditya, who was supposed to have lived about 50 B.C., and under whose reign the poet Kalidasa, author of Sakontala, lived. But further research discovered half a dozen Wikramadityas and careful investigation bas placed this epoch in our eleventh century. The Indians have lines of kings and an enormous quantity of names, but everything is vague.

We know how the ancient glory of this land was held in the highest estimation even by the Greeks, just as they knew about the Gymnosophists, who were excellent men, though people ventured to call them otherwise — men who having dedicated themselves to a contemplative life, lived in abstraction from external life, and hence, wandering about in hordes, like the Cynics renounced all ordinary desires, These latter in their capacity as philosophers, were also more especially known to the Greeks, inasmuch as Philosophy is also supposed to exist in this abstraction, in which all the relationships of ordinary life are set aside; and this abstraction is a feature which we wish to bring into prominence and consider.

Indian culture is developed to a high degree, and it is imposing, but its Philosophy is identical with its Religion, and the objects to which attention is devoted in Philosophy are the same ae those which we find brought forward in Religion. Hence the holy books or Vedas also form the general groundwork for Philosophy. We know the Vedas tolerably well; they contain principally prayers addressed to the many representations of God, direction as to ceremonials, offerings, &c. They are also of the most various periods; many parts are very ancient, and others have taken their origin later, as, for instance, that which treats of the service of Vishnu. The Vedas even constitute the basis for the atheistical Indian philosophies; these, too, are not wanting in gods, and they pay genuine attention to the Vedas. Indian. Philosophy thus stands within Religion just as scholastic Philosophy stands within Christian dogmatism, having at its basis and presupposing the doctrines of the church. Mythology takes the form of incarnation or individualization, from which it might be thought that it would be opposed to Philosophy in its universality and ideality; incarnation is not, however, here taken in so definite a sense, for almost everything is supposed to partake of it, and the very thing that seems to define itself as individuality falls back directly within the mist of the universal. The idea of the Indians more appropriately expressed, is that there is one universal substance which may be laid hold of in the abstract or in the concrete, and out of which everything takes its origin. The summit of man’s attainment is that he as consciousness should make himself identical with the substance, in Religion by means of worship, offerings, and rigid acts of expiation, and in Philosophy through the instrumentality of pure thought.

It is quite recently that we first obtained a definite knowledge of Indian Philosophy; in the main we understand by it religious ideas, but in modern times men have learned to recognize real philosophic writings. Colebrooke, in particular, communicated abstracts to us from two Indian philosophic works, and this forms the first contribution we have had in reference to Indian Philosophy. What Frederick von Schlegel says about the wisdom of the Indians is taken from their religious ideas only. He is one of the first Germans who took up his attention with Indian philosophy, yet his work bore little fruit because he himself read no more than the index to the Ramayana. According to the abstract before mentioned, the Indians possess ancient philosophic systems; one part of these they consider to be orthodox, and those which tally with the Vedas are particularly included; the others are held to be heterodox and as not corresponding with the teaching of the holy books. The one part, which really is orthodox, has no other purpose than to make the deliverances of the Vedas clearer, or to derive from the text of these original treatises an ingeniously thought-out Psychology. This system is called Mimansa, and two schools proceed from it. Distinguished from these there are other systems, amongst which the two chief are those of the Sanc'hya and Nyaya. The former again divides into two parts which are, however, different in form only. The Nyaya is the most developed; it more particularly gives the rules for reasoning, and may be compared to the Logic of Aristotle. Colebrooke has made abstracts from both of these systems, and he says that there are many ancient treatises upon them, and that the versus memoriales from them are very extensive.

1. The Sanc'hya Philosophy of Capila

The originator of the Sanc'hya is called Capila, and he was an ancient sage of whom it was said that he was a son of Brahma, and one of the seven great Holy men; others say that he was an incarnation of Vishnu, like his disciple Asuri, and that he was identified with fire. As to the age of the Aphorisms (Sutras) of Capila, Colebrooke can say nothing; he merely mentions that they were already mentioned in other very ancient books, but he does not .feel able to say anything definite in the matter. The Sanc'hya, is divided into different schools, of which there are two or three, which, however, differ from one another only in a few particulars. It is held to be partly heterodox and partly orthodox.

The real aim of all Indian schools and systems of Philosophy, whether atheistic or theistic, is to teach the means whereby eternal happiness can be attained before, as well as after, death. The Vedas say, “What has to be known is the Soul; it must be distinguished from nature, and hence I it ill never come again.” That means that it is exempt from metempsychosis and likewise from bodily form, so that it does not after death make its appearance in another body. This blessed condition therefore is, according to the Sanc'hya, a perfect and eternal release from every kind of ill. It reads: — “Through Thought, the true Science, this freedom can be accomplished; the temporal and worldly means of procuring enjoyment and keeping off spiritual or bodily evil are insufficient; even the methods advocated by the Vedas are not effectual for the purpose, and these are found in the revealed form of worship, or in the performance of religious ceremonies as directed in the Vedas.” The offering up of animals is specially valuable as such a means; and in this regard the Sanc'hya rejects the Vedas; such an offering is not pure, because it is connected with the death of animals, and the main tenet in the former is not to injure any animal. Other methods of deliverance from evil are in the excessive acts of penance performed by the Indians, to which a retreat within themselves is added. Now when the Indian thus internally collects himself, and retreats within his own thoughts, the moment of such pure concentration is called Brahma, the one and the clearly supersensuous state, which the understanding calls the highest possible existence. When this is so with me, then am I Brahma. Such a retreat into Thought takes place in the Religion as well as in the Philosophy of the Indians, and they assert with reference to this state of bliss that it is what is highest of all, and that even the gods do not attain to it. Indra, for example, the god of the visible heavens, is much lower than the soul in this life of internal contemplation; many thousand Indras have passed away, but the soul is exempt from every change. The Sanc'hya, only differs from Religion in that it has a complete system of thought or logic, and that the abstraction is not made a reduction to what is empty, but ia raised up into the significance of a determinate thought. This science is stated to subsist in the correct knowledge of the principles — which may be outwardly perceptible or not of the material and of the immaterial world.

The Sanc'hya system separates itself into three parts the method of knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the determinate form of the knowledge of principles.

a. As regards the methods of obtaining knowledge, the Sanc'hya says that there are three kinds of evidence possible: first of all, that of perception; secondly, that of inference; thirdly, that of affirmation which is the origin of all others, such as reverence for authority, a teachable disposition, and tradition. Perception is said to require no explanation. Inference is a conclusion arrived at from the operation of cause and effect, by which one determination merely passes over into a second. There are three forms, because inferences are made either from cause to effect, from effect to cause, or in accordance with different relations of cause and effect. Rain, we may say, is foretold when a cloud is seen to be gathering; fire, when a hill is seen to be smoking; or the movement of the moon is inferred when, at different times, it is observed to be in different places. These are simple, dry relations, originating from the understanding. Under affirmation, tradition or revelation is understood, such as that of the orthodox Vedas; in a wider sense, immediate certainty or the affirmation in my consciousness, and in a less wide sense, an assurance through verbal communication or through tradition is so denominated.

b. Of objects of knowledge or of principles, the Sanc'hya gives five-and-twenty; and these I will mention to show the want of order that is in them.

1. Nature, as the origin of everything, is said to be the universal, the material cause, eternal matter, undistinguished and undistinguishable, without parts, productive but without production, absolute substance. 2. Intelligence, the first production of Nature and itself producing other principles, distinguishable as three gods through the efficacy of three qualities, which are Goodness, Foulness and Darkness. These form one person and three gods, namely, Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheswara. 3. Consciousness , personality, the belief that in all perceptions and meditations I am present, that the objects of sense, as well as of intelligence, concern me, in short that I am I. It issues from the power of intelligence, and itself brings forth the following principles. 4-8. Five very subtle particles, rudiments or atoms, which are only perceptible to an existence of a higher order, and not through the senses of men; these proceed from the principle of consciousness, and bring forth on their own account the five elements — space and the first origination of earth, water, fire and air. 9-19. The eleven succeeding principles are the organs of feeling, which are produced by the personality. There are ten external organs, comprising the five senses and five active organs — the organs of the voice, hands and feet, the excretory and genital organs. The eleventh organ is that of the inward sense. 20 to 24. These principles are the five elements brought forth from the earlier-named rudiments — the ether which takes possession of space, air, fire, water and earth. 25. The soul. In this very unsystematic form we see only the first beginnings of reflection, which seem to be put together as a universal. But this arrangement is, to say nothing of being unsystematic, not even intelligent.

Formerly the principles were outside of and successive to one another; their unity is found in the Soul. It is said of the latter that it is not produced, and is not productive; it is individual, and hence there are many souls; it is sentient., eternal, immaterial and unchangeable. Colebrooke here distinguishes between the theistic and atheistic systems of the Sanc'hya, since the former not only admits of individual souls, but also upholds God (Iswara) as the ruler of the world. The knowledge of the soul still remains the principal point. It is through the consideration of nature and through abstraction from nature that the unity of the soul with nature is brought about, just as the lame man and the blind are brought together for the purposes of transport and of guidance — the one being the bearer and being directed (nature?), the other being borne and guiding (soul?). Through the union of Soul and Nature, the creation is effected, and this consists in the development of intelligence and of other principles. This unity is the actual support for that which is, and the means by which it is so maintained. It is at the same time an important consideration that the negation of the object which is contained in thought, is necessary in order to comprehend; this reflection has far more depth than the ordinary talk about immediate consciousness. The view is superficial and perverted which maintains the Easterns to have lived in unity with nature; the soul in its activity, mind, is indeed undoubtedly in relation with nature and in unity with the truth of nature. But this true unity essentially contains the moment of the negation of nature as it is in its immediacy; such an immediate unity is merely the life of animals, the life and perception of the senses. The idea which is present to the Indians is thus indeed the unity of nature and of soul, but the spiritual is only one with nature in so far as it is within itself, and at the same time manifests the natural as negative. As regards the creation, this is further signified. The soul’s desire and end is for satisfaction and freedom, and with this view it is endowed with a subtle environment, in which all the above-mentioned principles are contained, but only in their elementary development. Something of our ideal, or of the implicit is present in this idea; it is like the blossom which is ideally in the bud, and yet is not actual and real. The expression for this is Lingam, the generative power of nature, which holds a high place in the estimation of all Indians. This subtle form, says the Sanc'hya, also assumes a coarse bodily shape, and clothes itself in several garbs; and as a means of preventing the descent into a coarse materiality, philosophic contemplation is recommended.

Hitherto we have observed the abstract principles; the following is to be noticed regarding the creation of the concrete actuality of the universe. The bodily creation consists of the soul habited in a material body; it comprehends eight orders of higher beings and five orders of lower beings, which constitute — with men, who form a single class — fourteen orders, and these are divided into. three worlds or classes. The first eight orders have appellations which appear in Indian mythology, viz Brahma, Prajapatis, Indra, &c.; there are both gods and demi-gods, and Brahma himself is represented here as if he were created. The five lower orders are composed of animals: the four-footed animals are in two classes, birds come third, reptiles, fishes, and insects fourth, and, finally, vegetable and inorganic nature comes fifth. The abode of the eight higher classes is in heaven; they are, it is said, in the enjoyment of that which is good and virtuous, and consequently are happy, though still they are but imperfect and transient; underneath is the seat of darkness or delusion, where beings of the lower orders live; and between is the world of men, where untruth or passion reigns.

Against these three worlds, which have their place in the material creation, the system places yet another creation, and that is the Intellectual, consisting of the powers of understanding and the senses. These last are again divided into four classes, viz, those determinations which impede, those which incapacitate, those which satisfy, and those which perfect the intelligence. 1. Sixty-two of the impeding determinations are adduced; eight kinds of error, as many of opinion or of illusion, ten of passion as being illusion carried to extremity, eighteen of hate or sullenness, and the same of grief. Here there is shown somewhat of an empirical, psychological, and observing mode of treatment. 2. The incapacity of intelligence has again eight-and-twenty variations: injury, want of organs, &c. 3. Satisfaction is either inward or outward. The inward satisfaction is four-fold; the first concerns nature, the whole universal or substantial, and is set forth in the opinion that philosophic knowledge is a modification of the principle of nature itself, with which there is immediately united the anticipation of a liberty given through the act of nature; yet the true liberty is not to be expected as an act of nature, for it is the soul which has to bring forth that liberty through itself and through its thinking activity. The second satisfaction is in the belief of securing liberty through ascetic exercises, pains, torments, and penances. The third has to do with time — the idea that liberty will come in the course of time and without study. The fourth satisfaction is obtained in a belief in luck — in believing that liberty depends on fate. The external mode of obtaining satisfaction relates to continence from enjoyment, but continence from sensuous motives, such as dislike to the unrest of acquisition, and fear of the evil consequences of enjoyment. 4. There are, again, several means of perfecting the intelligence adduced, and, amongst others, there is the direct psychological mode of perfecting mind, as is seen in the act of reasoning, in friendly converse, and so on. This we may find, indeed, in our applied logic.

There is still somewhat to be remarked as to the main points of the system. The Sanc'hya, and likewise the other Indian systems of Philosophy, occupy themselves particularly with the three qualities (Guna) of the absolute Idea, which are represented as substances and as modifications of nature. It is noteworthy that in the observing consciousness of the Indians it struck them that what is true and in and for itself contains three determinations, and the Notion of the Idea is perfected in three moments. This sublime consciousness of the trinity, which we find again in Plato and others, then went astray in the region of thinking contemplation, and retains its place only in Religion, and there but as a Beyond. Then the understanding penetrated through it, declaring it to be senseless; and it was Kant who broke open the road once more to its comprehension. The reality and totality of the Notion of everything, considered in its substance, is absorbed by the triad of determinations; and it has become the business of our times to bring this to consciousness. With the Indians, this consciousness proceeded from sensuous observation merely, and they now further define these qualities as follows: The first and highest is with them the Good (Sattva); it is exalted and illuminating — allied to joy and felicity — and piety predominates within it. It prevails in fire, and therefore flames rise up and sparks fly upwards; if it has ascendency in men, as it does have in the eight higher orders, it is the origin of virtue. This also is the universal — throughout and in every aspect the affirmative — in abstract form. The second and mediate quality is deceit or passion (Najas, Tejas) which for itself is blind; it is that which is impure, harmful, hateful; it is active, vehement, and restless, allied to evil and misfortune, being prevalent in the air, on which account the wind moves transversely; amongst living beings it is the cause of vice. The third and last quality is darkness (Tamas); it is inert and obstructive, allied to care, dullness, and disappointment, predominating in earth and water, and hence these fall down and tend ever downwards. With living beings stupidity takes its origin in this. The first quality is thus the unity with itself; the second the manifestation or the principle of difference, desire, disunion, as wickedness; the third, however, is mere negation, as in mythology it is concretely represented in the form of Siva, Mahadeva, or Maheswara, the god of change or destruction. As far as we are concerned, the important distinction is that the third principle is not the return to the first which Mind and Idea demand, and which is effected by the removal of the negation in order to effect a reconciliation with itself and to go back within itself. With the Indians the third is still change and negation.

These three qualities are represented as the essential being of nature. The Sanc'hya says, “We speak of them as we do of the trees in a wood.” Yet this is a bad simile, for the wood is but an abstract universal, in which the individuals are independent. In the religious ideas of the Vedas, where these qualities also appear as Trimurti, they are spoken of as if they were successive modifications, so that “Everything was darkness first, then received the command to transform itself, and in this manner the form” — which, however, is a worse one — “of movement and activity (foulness) was assumed, until finally, by yet another command from Brahma, the form of goodness was adopted.”

Further determinations of the intelligence in respect of these qualities follow. It is said that eight kinds of intelligence are counted, of which four pertain to what is good: — virtue first, science and knowledge second, thirdly, freedom from passion, which may have either an external and sensuous motive — the repugnance to disturbance — or be of an intellectual nature, and emanate from the conviction that nature is a dream, a mere jugglery and sham; the fourth is power. This last is eight-fold, and hence eight special qualities are given as being present; viz. the power to contract oneself into a quite small form, for which everything shall be penetrable; the power to expand into a gigantic body; the power to become light enough to be able to mount to the sun on a sunbeam; the possession of unlimited power of action in the organs, so that with the finger-tips the moon may be touched — , irresistible will, so that, for instance, one may dive into the earth as easily as in the water; mastery over all living and lifeless existence; the power to change the course of nature; and the power to perform everything that is wished. “The feeling that such transcendent power,” Colebrooke goes on, “is within the reach of man in his life is not peculiar to the Sanc'hya sect, but is common to all systems and religious ideas, and such a power is in good faith ascribed to many holy men and Brahmins in dramas and popular narratives.” Sensuous evidence is of no account as opposed to this, for with the Indian, perception of the senses is, generally speaking, absent; everything adopts the form of imaginary images, every dream is esteemed just as much as truth and actuality. The Sanc'hya ascribes this power to man, in so far as he elevates himself through the working of his thought into inward. subjectivity. Colebrooke says, “The Yoga-sastra names in one of its four chapters a number of acts by which such power may be attained; these are exemplified by a profound meditation, accompanied by holding back the breath and inactivity of the senses, while a fixed position is constantly preserved. By means of such acts the adept reaches the knowledge of all that is past as well as future; he has learned to divine the thoughts of others, to have the strength of elephants, the courage of lions, the swiftness of the wind the power to fly in the, air, to swim in the water, to dive into the earth, to behold every possible world in one moment, and to accomplish other wonderful deeds. But the quickest mode of reaching happiness through deep contemplation is that worship of God which consists in ever murmuring the mystic name of God, ‘Om.'” This idea is a very general one.

Colebrooke deals more particularly with the theistic and atheistic divisions of the Sanc'hya as distinguished. While in the theistic system, Iswara, the chief ruler of the world, is a soul or spirit distinguished from the other souls, Capila, in the atheistic Sanc'hya, disowns Iswara, the originator of the world by volition, alleging that there is no proof of the existence of God, since it is not shown by perception, nor is it possible that it should be deduced from argument. He recognizes, indeed, an existence proceeding from nature which is Absolute Intelligence, the source of all individual intelligences and the origin of all other existences, which gradually develop out of it: about the Creator of the world, understanding this to be creation, he emphatically remarks that “the truth of such an Iswara is proved.” But, he says, “the existence of effects depends on the soul, on consciousness, and not on Iswara. Everything proceeds from the great Principle, which is Intelligence;” to this the individual soul belongs, and through this it is brought about.

c. As to the third division of the Sanc'hya, the more particular consideration of the forms of knowledge as regards the principle, I shall make a few more remarks, which may perhaps have some interest. Of the various kinds of knowledge already given, that of reasoning, of the connection existing with the conclusion through the relation of cause and effect, remains the chief, and I will show how the Indians comprehend this relation. The understanding and all other principles derived from it are to them effects, arid from these they reason to their causes; in one respect this is analogous to our inference, but in, another different. They perceive that “effects exist even before the operation of the causes; for what does not exist cannot be made explicit in existence through causality.” Colebrooke says, “This means that effects are educts rather than products.” But the question is just what products are. As an example of how the effect is already contained in the cause, the following is given: — Oil is already existent in the seeds of sesamum before it is pressed out; rice is in the husk before it is thrashed; milk is in the udder of the cow before it is milked. Cause and effect are in reality the same; a piece of a dress is not really different from the yarn from which it is woven, for the material is the same. This is how this relation is understood. A consequence derived from it was the eternity of the world, for the saying “Out of nothing there comes nothing,” which Colebrooke also mentions, is opposed to the belief in a creation of the world from nothing in our religious sense. As a matter of fact, it must also be said, “God creates the world not out of nothing, but out of Himself; it is His own determination, by Him brought into existence.” The distinction between cause and effect is only a formal distinction; it is the understanding that keeps them separate, and not reason. Moisture is the same as rain; or again we speak in mechanics of different movements, whereas motion has the same velocity before as after impact. The ordinary consciousness cannot comprehend the fact that there is no real distinction between cause and effect.

The Indians infer the existence of “a universal cause which is undistinguishable, while determinate things are finite.” and on this account there must be a cause permeating through them. Even intelligence is an effect of this cause, which is the soul in so far as it is creative in this identity with nature after its abstraction from it. Effect proceeds from cause, yet, on the other hand, this last is not independent, but goes back into universal cause. General destruction is postulated along with what is called the creation of the three worlds. Just as the tortoise stretches out its limbs and then draws them back again within its shell, the five elements, earth, &c., which constitute the three worlds, are in the general ruin and dissolution of things which takes place within a certain time, again drawn back in the reverse order to that in which they emerged from the original principle, because they return, step by step, to their first cause — that is, to what is highest and inseparable, which is Nature. To this the three qualities, goodness, passion, and darkness, are attributed; the further attributes of these determinations may be very interesting, but they are understood in a very superficial way. For it is said that nature operates through the admixture of these three qualities; each thing has all three within itself, like three streams which flow together; it also works by means of modifications, just as water which is soaked in through the roots of plants and led tip into the fruit, obtains a special flavour. There are hence only the categories of admixture and of modification present. The Indians say: — Nature has these three qualities in her own right as her forms and characteristics; other things have them only because they are present in them as effects of the former.”

We still have to consider the relation of nature to spirit. “Nature, although it is quite inanimate, performs the office of preparing the soul for its freedom, just as it is the function of milk — of a substance having no sensation — to nourish the calf.” The Sanc'hya makes. the following simile. Nature is like a bajadere showing herself to the soul as to an audience; she is abused for her impudence in exposing herself too often to the rude gaze of the spectators. “But she retires when she has shown herself sufficiently; she does so because she has been seen, and the audience retires because it has seen. Nature has no further use as regards the soul, and yet the union remains a lasting one.” With the attainment of intellectual knowledge through the study of principles, the final, incontrovertible, single truth is learnt, that “I neither am, nor is anything mine, nor do I exist.” That is, the personality is still distinguished from the soul, and finally personality and self-consciousness disappear for the Indian. “Everything that comes forth in consciousness is reflected by the soul, but like an image which does not dull the crystal of the soul, and does not belong to it. In possession of this self-knowledge” (without personality) “the soul contemplates nature at its ease, thus exempt from all terrible variation, and freed from every other form and operation of the understanding, with the exception of this spiritual knowledge.” This is a mediate spiritual knowledge of the likewise spiritualized content — a knowledge without personality and consciousness. “The soul still indeed remains for some time in bodily garb, but this is only so after the same manner as the potter’s wheel, when the jar is perfected, still turns round from the effect of the previously given impulse.” The soul thus has, according to the Indians, nothing further to do with the body, and its connection therewith is therefore a superfluous one. “But when the separation of the already prepared soul from its body at length comes to pass, and nature is done with soul, the absolute and final liberation is accomplished.” Here we find the crowning moments in the Sanc'hya philosophy.

1. The Philosophy of Gotama and Canade

The philosophy of Gotama and that of Canade belong to one another. The philosophy of Gotama is called Nyaya (reasoning), and that of Canade, Vaiseshica (particular). The first is a specially perfect dialectic, and the second, on the other hand, occupies itself with physics, that is, with particular or sensuous objects. Colebrooke says: — “No department of science or of literature has taken up the attention of the Indians more than the Nyaya; and the fruit of this study is an infinite number of writings, included in which there may be found the works of very celebrated men of learning. The system which Gotama and Canade observe is that indicated in one part of the Vedas as being the path which must be trodden in the pursuit of learning and study; viz., enunciation, definition, and investigation. Enunciation is the specification of a thing by its name, that is, by the expression denoting it, as revelation directs; for language is considered as revealed to man. Definition sets forth the particular quality which constitutes the real character of a thing. Investigation consists in an inquiry into the adequacy and sufficiency of the definition. In conformity with this, the teachers of philosophy pre-suppose scientific terms, proceed to definitions and then come to the investigation of the thus premised subjects.” By the name, the ordinary conception is indicated, and with it what is given in definition is compared in investigation. What comes next is the object to be contemplated. “Gotama here adduces sixteen points, amongst which proof, evidence” (which is formal), it and what has to be proved, are the principal; the others are merely subsidiary and accessory, as contributing to the knowledge and confirmation of the truth. The Njaya concurs with the other psychological schools in this, that it promises happiness, final excellence, and freedom from evil as the reward of a perfect knowledge of the principles which it teaches, that is to say, of the Truth, meaning the conviction of the eternal existence of the soul as separable from body,” which makes spirit independent. Soul then is itself the object which is to be known and proved. This has still to be shown more particularly.

a. The first point of importance, the evidence brought forth as proof, is said to be divided into four kinds:first of all, perception; secondly, inference, of which there are three kinds, viz. inference from result to cause, that from cause to effect, and that derived from analogy. The third kind of evidence is comparison, the fourth, trustworthy authority, including both tradition and the revelation implied in it. These kinds of proof are much brought forward, both in the ancient Treatise ascribed to Gotama and in innumerable commentaries.

b. The second point of importance is found in the subject, which have to be proved, and which have to be made evident; and of these twelve are here given. The first and most important is, however, the soul, as the seat, distinguished from the body and from the senses, of feeling and of knowledge, the existence of which is proved through inclination, disinclination, will, &c. It has fourteen qualities: number, size, individuality, connection, separation, intelligence, pleasure, pain, desire, dislike, will, merit, fault, and imagination. We see in this first commencement of reflection, which is quite without order, neither connection nor any totality of determinations. The second object of knowledge is body; the third, the organs of sensation, as the five outward senses are called. These are not modifications of consciousness, as the Sanc'hya asserts, but matter constructed out of the elements, which respectively consist of earth, water, light, air, and ether. The pupil of the eye is not, they say, the organ of sight, nor the ear of bearing, but the organ of seeing is a ray of light that proceeds from the eye to the object; the organ of hearing is the ether that in the cavity of the ear communicates with the object heard, through the ether that is found between. The ray of light is usually invisible, just as a light is not seen at mid-day, but in certain circumstances it is visible. In taste, a watery substance like saliva is the organ, and so on. We find something similar to what is here said about sight in Plato’s TimŠus (pp. 45, 46, Steph.; pp. 50-53, Bekk.); there are interesting remarks upon the phosphorus of the eyes in a paper by Schultz, contained in Goethe’s Morphology. Examples of men seeing at night, so that their eyes lighted up the object, are brought forward in numbers, but the demonstration certainly demands particular conditions. The objects of sense form the fourth subject. Here Cesava, a commentator, inserts the categories of Canade, of which there are six. The first of these is substance, and of this there are nine kinds: earth, water, light, air, ether, time, space, soul, understanding. The fundamental elements of material substances are by Canade regarded as if they were original atoms, and afterwards aggregates of the same; he maintains the everlasting nature of atoms, and thus much is adduced about the union of atoms, by which means motes are also produced. The second category is that of Quality, and of it there are twenty-four kinds, viz. 1, colour; 2, taste; 3, smell; 4, tangibility; 5, numbers; 6, size; 7, individuality; 8, conjunction; 9, separation 10, priority; 11, posteriority; 12, weight; 13, fluidity; 14, viscidity; 15, sound; 16, intelligence; 17, pleasure; 18, pain; 19, desire; 20, dislike; 21, will; 22, virtue; 23, vice; 24, a capacity which includes three different qualities, viz. celerity, elasticity, and power of imagination. The third category is action; the fourth, association of qualities; the fifth, distinction; the sixth, is aggregation, and, according to Canade, this is the last; other writers add negation as the seventh. This is the manner in which philosophy is regarded by the Indians.

c. The philosophy of Gotama makes doubt the third topic, succeeding those of the evidence of knowledge, and the subjects of interest to knowledge. Another topic is regular proof, formal reasoning, or the perfect syllogism (Nyaya), which consists of five propositions: — 1, the proposition; 2, the reason; 3, the instance; 4, the application; 5, the conclusion. To take examples: — 1. This hill is burning; 2, because it smokes; 3, what smokes is burning, like a kitchen fire; 4, accordingly the bill smokes;, 5, therefore it is on fire. This is propounded as syllogisms are with us, but in the manner adopted,. the matter which is in point is propounded first. We should, on the contrary, begin with the general. This is the ordinary form, and these examples may satisfy us, yet we shall recapitulate the matter once more.

We have seen that in India the point of main importance is the soul’s drawing itself within itself, raising itself up into liberty, or thought, which constitutes itself for itself. This becoming explicit of soul in the most abstract mode may be called intellectual substantiality, but here it is not the unity of mind and nature that is present, but directly the opposite. To mind, the consideration of nature is only the vehicle of thought or its exercise, which has as its aim the liberation of mind. Intellectual substantiality is in India the end, while in Philosophy it is in general the true commencement; to philosophize is the idealism of making thought, in its own right, the principle of truth. Intellectual substantiality is the opposite of the reflection, understanding, and the subjective individuality of the European. With us it is of importance that I will, know, believe, think this particular thing according to the grounds that I have for so doing, and in accordance with my own free will; and upon this an infinite value is set. Intellectual substantiality is the other extreme from this; it is that in which all the subjectivity of the “I” is lost; for it everything objective has become vanity, there is for it no objective truth, duty or right, and thus subjective vanity is the only thing left. The point of interest is to reach intellectual substantiality in order to drown in it that subjective vanity with all its cleverness and reflection. This is the advantage of arriving at this point of view.

The defect in such a view is that because intellectual substantiality, while represented as end and aim for the subject, as a condition that has to be produced in the interest of the subject, even though it be most objective, is yet only quite abstractly objective; and hence the essential form of objectivity is wanting to it. That intellectual substantiality that thus remaining in abstraction, has as its existence the subjective soul alone. Just as in empty vanity, where the subjective power of negation alone remains, everything disappears, this abstraction of intellectual substantiality only signifies an escape into what is empty and without determination, wherein everything vanishes. Therefore what remains to be done is to force forward the real ground of the inwardly self-forming and determining objectivity — the eternal form within itself, which is what men call Thought. Just as this Thought in the first place, as subjective, is mine, because I think, but in the second place is universality which comprehends intellectual substantiality, it is likewise in the third place forming activity, the principle of determination. This higher kind of objectivity that unfolds itself, alone gives a place to the particular content, allows it to have free scope and receives it into itself. If in the Oriental view, the particular shakes and is destined to fall, it still has its place grounded on thought. It is able to root itself in itself, it is able to stand firm, and this is the hard European understanding. Such Eastern ideas tend to destroy it, but it is preserved active in the soil of thought; it cannot exist when regarded as independent, but must exist only as a moment in the whole system. In the Eastern Philosophy we have also discovered a definite content, which is brought under our consideration; but the consideration is destitute of thought or system because it comes from above and is outside of the unity. On that side there stands intellectual substantiality, on this side it appears dry and barren; the particular thus only has the dead form of simple reason and conclusion, such as we find in the Scholastics. Based on the ground of thought, on the other hand, the particular may receive its dues; it may be regarded and grasped as a moment in the whole organization. The Idea has not become objective in the Indian Philosophy; hence the external and objective has not been comprehended in accordance with the Idea. This is the deficiency in Orientalism.

The true, objective ground of thought finds its basis in the real freedom of the subject; the universal or substantial must itself have objectivity. Because thought is this universal, the ground of the substantial and likewise “I” — thought is the implicit and exists as the free subject — the universal has immediate existence and actual presence; it is not only an end or condition to be arrived at, but the absolute character is objective. It is this principle that we find in the Greek world, and the object of our further consideration is its development. The universal first appears as quite abstract, and as such it confronts the concrete world; but its value is both for the ground of the concrete world and for that which is implicit. It is not a beyond; for the value of the present lies in the fact that it exists in the implicit; or that which is implicit, the universal, is the truth of present objects.

Editor’s Notes


1. Dr. Legge states in “The Religions of China” that Tao was not the name of a person, but of a concept or idea. Of the English terms most suitable for it, he suggests the Way in the sense of Method.


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