Part One of the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences: The Logic
World of Appearance — Content & Form — Relation
The Essence must appear or shine forth. Its shining or reflection in it is the suspension and translation of it to immediacy, which, while as reflection-into-self it is matter or subsistence, is also form, reflection-on-something-else, a subsistence which sets itself aside. To show or shine is the characteristic by which essence is distinguished from Being — by which it is essence; and it is this show which, when it is developed, shows itself, and is Appearance. Essence accordingly is not something beyond or behind appearance, but — just because it is the essence which exists — the existence is Appearance (Forth-shining).
Existence stated explicitly in its contradiction is Appearance. But appearance (forth-showing) is not to be confused with a mere show (shining). Show is the proximate truth of Being or immediacy. The immediate, instead of being, as we suppose, something independent, resting on its own self, is a mere show, and as such it is packed or summed up under the simplicity of the immanent essence. The essence is, in the first place, the sum total of the showing itself, shining in itself (inwardly); but, far from abiding in this inwardness, it comes as a ground forward into existence; and this existence being grounded not in itself, but on something else, is just appearance. In our imagination we ordinarily combine with the term appearance or phenomenon the conception of an indefinite congeries of things existing, the being of which is purely relative, and which consequently do not rest on a foundation of their own, but are esteemed only as passing stages. But in this conception it is no less implied that essence does not linger behind or beyond appearance. Rather it is, we may say, the infinite kindness which lets its own show freely issue into immediacy, and graciously allows it the joy of existence. The appearance which is thus created does not stand on its own feet, and has its being not in itself but in something else. God who is the essence, when he lends existence to the passing stages of his own show in himself, may be described as the goodness that creates the world: but he is also the power above it, and the righteousness, which manifests the merely phenomenal character of the content of this existing world, whenever it tries to exist in independence.
Appearance is in every way a very important grade of the logical idea. It may be said to be the distinction of philosophy from ordinary consciousness that it sees the merely phenomenal character of what the latter supposes to have a self-subsistent being. The significance of appearance however must be properly grasped, or mistakes will arise. To say that anything is mere appearance may be misinterpreted to mean that, as compared to what is merely phenomenal, there is greater truth in the immediate, in that which is. Now, in strict fact, the case is precisely the reverse.
Appearance is higher than mere Being — a richer category because it holds in combination the two elements of reflection-into-self and reflection-into-other: whereas Being (or immediacy) is still mere relationlessness, and apparently rests upon itself alone. Still, to say that anything is only an appearance suggests a real flaw, which consists in this, that Appearance is still divided against itself and without intrinsic stability. Beyond and above mere appearance comes in the first place Actuality, the third grade of Essence, of which we shall afterwards speak.
In the history of Modern Philosophy, Kant has the merit of first rehabilitating this distinction between the common and the philosophic modes of thought. He stopped half-way, however, when he attached to Appearance a subjective meaning only, and put the abstract essence immovable outside it as the thing-in-itself beyond the reach of our cognition.
For it is the very nature of the world of immediate objects to be appearance only. Knowing it to be so, we know at the same time, the essence, which, far from staying behind or beyond the appearance, rather manifests its own essentiality by deposing the world to a mere appearance. One can hardly quarrel with the plain man who, in his desire for totality, cannot acquiesce in the doctrine of subjective idealism, that we are solely concerned with phenomena.
The plain man, however, in his desire to save the objectivity of knowledge, may very naturally return to abstract immediacy and maintain that immediacy to be true and actual. In a little work published under the title A Report, Clear as Day, to the Larger Public touching the Proper Nature of the Latest Philosophy: an Attempt to force the Reader to understand, Fichte examined the opposition between subjective idealism and immediate consciousness in a popular form, under the shape of a dialogue between the author and the reader, and tried hard to prove that the subjective idealist's view was right.
In this dialogue the reader complains to the author that he has completely failed to place himself in the idealist's position, and is inconsolable in the thought that things around him are not real things but mere appearances. The affliction of the reader can scarcely be blamed when he is expected to consider himself hemmed in by an impervious circle of purely subjective conceptions. Apart from this subjective view of Appearance, however, we have all reason to rejoice that the things which environ us are appearances and not steadfast and independent existences; since in that case we should soon perish of hunger, both bodily and mental.
The Apparent or Phenomenal exists in such a way that its subsistence is ipso facto thrown into abeyance or suspended and is only one stage in the form itself. The form embraces in it the matter or subsistence as one of its characteristics. In this way the phenomenal has its ground in this (form) as its essence, its reflection-into-self in contrast with its immediacy, but, in so doing, has it only in another aspect of the form. This ground of its is no less phenomenal than itself, and the phenomenon accordingly goes on to an endless mediation of subsistence by means of form, and thus equally by non-subsistence. This endless intermediation is at the same time a unity of self-relation; and existence is developed into a totality, into a world of phenomena — of reflected finitude.
Outside one another as the phenomena in this phenomenal world are, they form a totality, and are wholly contained in their self-relatedness. In this way the self-relation of the phenomenon is completely specified, it has the Form in itself: and because it is in this identity, has it as essential subsistence. So it comes about that the form is Content: and in its phase is the Law of the Phenomenon. When the form, on the contrary, is not reflected into self, it is equivalent to the negative of the phenomenon, to the non-independent and changeable: and that sort of form is the indifferent or External Form.
The essential point to keep in mind about the opposition of Form and Content is that the content is not formless, but has the form in its own self, quite as much as the form is external to it. There is thus a doubling of form. At one time it is reflected into itself; and then is identical with the content. At another time it is not reflected into itself, and then it is external existence, which does not at all affect the content. We are here in presence, implicitly, of the absolute correlation of content and form: viz., their reciprocal revulsion, so that content is nothing but the revulsion of form into content, and form nothing but the revulsion of content into form. This mutual revulsion is one of the most important laws of thought. But it is not explicitly brought out before the Relations of Substance and Causality.
Form and content are a pair of terms frequently employed by the reflective understanding, especially with a habit of looking on the content as the essential and independent, the form on the contrary as the unessential and dependent. Against this it is to be noted that both are in fact equally essential; and that, while a formless content can be as little found as a formless matter, the two (content and matter) are distinguished by this circumstance, that matter, though implicitly not without form, still in its existence manifests a disregard of form, whereas the content, as such, is what it is only because the matured form is included in it. Still the form still suffers from externality. In a book, for instance, it certainly has no bearing upon the content, whether it be written or printed, bound in paper or in leather. That however does not in the least imply that apart from such an indifferent and external form, the content of the book is itself formless. There are undoubtedly books enough which even in reference to their content may well be styled formless: but want of form in this case is the same as bad form, and means the defect of the right form, not the absence of all form whatever. So far is this right form from being unaffected by the content that it is rather the content itself. A work of art that wants the right form is for that very reason no right or true work of art: and it is a bad way of excusing an artist, to say that the content of his works is good and even excellent, though they want the right form. Real works of art are those where content and form exhibit a thorough identity. The content of the Iliad, it may be said, is the Trojan war, and especially the wrath of Achilles. In that we have everything, and yet very little after all; for the Iliad is made an Iliad by the poetic form, in which that content is moulded. The content of Romeo and Juliet may similarly be said to be the ruin of two lovers through the discord between their families: but something more is needed to make Shakespeare's immortal tragedy.
In reference to the relation of form and content in the field of science, we should recollect the difference between philosophy and the rest of the sciences. The latter are finite, because their mode of thought, as a merely formal act, derives its content from without. Their content therefore is not known as moulded from within through the thoughts which lie at the ground of it, and form and content do not thoroughly interpenetrate each other. This partition disappears in philosophy, and thus justifies its title of infinite knowledge. Yet even philosophic thought is often held to be a merely formal act; and that logic, which confessedly deals only with thoughts qua thoughts, is merely formal, is especially a foregone conclusion. And if content means no more than what is palpable and obvious to the senses, all philosophy and logic in particular must be at once acknowledged to be void of content, that is to say, of content perceptible to the senses. Even ordinary forms of thought, however, and the common usage of language, do not in the least restrict the appellation of content to what is perceived by the senses, or to what has a being in place and time.
A book without content is, as every one knows, not a book with empty leaves, but one of which the content is as good as none. We shall find as the last result on closer analysis, that by what is called content an educated mind means nothing but the presence and power of thought. But this is to admit that thoughts are not empty forms without affinity to their content, and that in other spheres as well as in art the truth and the sterling value of the content essentially depend on the content showing itself identical with the form.
But immediate existence is a character of the subsistence itself as well as of the form: it is consequently external to the character of the content; but in an equal degree this externality, which the content has through the factor of its subsistence, is essential to it. When thus explicitly stated, the phenomenon is relativity or correlation: where one and the same thing, viz. the content or the developed form, is seen as the externality and antithesis of independent existences, and as their reduction to a relation of identity in which identification alone the two things distinguished are what they are.
[a] The immediate relation is that of the Whole and the Parts. The content is the whole, and consists of the parts (the form), its counterpart. The parts are diverse from one another. It is they that possess independent being. But they are parts, only when they are identified by being related to one another; or, in so far as they make up the whole, when taken together. But this 'together' is the counterpart and negation of the part.
Essential correlation is the specific and completely universal phase in which things appear. Everything that exists stands in correlation, and this correlation is the veritable nature of every existence. The existent thing in this way has no being of its own, but only in something else: in this other however it is self-relation; and correlation is the unity of the self-relation and relation-to-others. The relation of the whole and the parts is untrue to this extent, that the notion and the reality of the relation are not in harmony. The notion of the whole is to contain parts: but if the whole is taken and made what its notion implies, i.e. if it is divided, it at once ceases to be a whole. Things there are no doubt, which correspond to this relation: but for that very reason they are low and untrue existences. We must remember, however, what 'untrue' signifies. When it occurs in a philosophical discussion, the term 'untrue' does not signify that the thing to which it is applied is non-existent. A bad state or a sickly body may exist all the same; but these things are untrue, because their notion and their reality are out of harmony.
The relation of whole and parts, being the immediate relation, comes easy to reflective understanding: and for that reason it often satisfies when the question really turns on profounder ties. The limbs and organs for instance, of an organic body are not merely parts of it: it is only in their unity that they are what they are, and they are unquestionably affected by that unity, as they also in turn affect it. These limbs and organs become mere parts, only when they pass under the hands of an anatomist, whose occupation be it remembered, is not with the living body but with the corpse. Not that such analysis is illegitimate: we only mean that the external and mechanical relation of whole and parts is not sufficient for us, if we want to study organic life in its truth. And if this be so in organic life, it is the case to a much greater extent when we apply this relation to the mind and the formations of the spiritual world. Psychologists may not expressly speak of parts of the soul or mind, but the mode in which this subject is treated by the analytic understanding is largely founded on the analogy of this finite relation. At least that is so, when the different forms of mental activity are enumerated and described merely in their isolation one after another, as so-called special powers and faculties.
Force and the expression of force
[b] The one-and-same of this correlation (the self-relation found in it) is thus immediately a negative self-relation. The correlation is in short the mediating process whereby one and the same is first unaffected towards difference, and secondly is the negative self-relation, which repels itself as reflection-into-self to difference, and invests itself (as reflection-into-something-else) with existence, whilst it conversely leads back this reflection-into-other to self-relation and indifference. This gives the correlation of Force and its Expression.
The relationship of whole and part is the immediate and therefore unintelligent (mechanical) relation — a revulsion of self-identity into mere variety. Thus we pass from the whole to the parts, and from the parts to the whole: in the one we forget its opposition to the other, while each on its own account, at one time the whole, at another the parts, is taken to be an independent existence. In other words, when the parts are declared to subsist in the whole, and the whole to consist of the parts, we have either member of the relation at different times taken to be permanently subsistent, while the other is non-essential. In its superficial form the mechanical nexus consists in the parts being independent of each other and of the whole.
This relation may be adopted for the progression ad infinitum, in the case of the divisibility of matter: and then it becomes an unintelligent alternation with the two sides. A thing at one time is taken as a whole: then we go on to specify the parts: this specifying is forgotten, and what was a part is regarded as a whole: then the specifying of the part comes up again, and so on for ever. But if this infinity be taken as the negative which it is, it is the negative self-relating element in the correlation — Force, the self-identical whole, or immanency — which yet supersedes this immanency and gives itself expression; and conversely the expression which vanishes and returns into Force.
Force, notwithstanding this infinity, is also finite: for the content, or the one and the same of the Force and its out-putting, is this identity at first only for the observer: the two sides of the relation are not yet, each on its own account, the concrete identity of that one and same, not yet the totality. For one another they are therefore different, and the relationship is a finite one. Force consequently requires solicitation from without: it works blindly: and on account of this defectiveness of form, the content is also limited and accidental. It is not yet genuinely identical with the form: not yet is it as a notion and an end; that is to say, it is not intrinsically and actually determinate. This difference is most vital, but not easy to apprehend: it will assume a clearer formulation when we reach Design. If it be overlooked, it leads to the confusion of conceiving God as Force, a confusion from which Herder's God especially suffers.
It is often said that the nature of Force itself is unknown and only its manifestation apprehended. But, in the first place, it may be replied, every article in the import of Force is the same as what is specified in the Exertion: and the explanation of a phenomenon by a Force is a mere tautology. What is supposed to remain unknown, therefore, is really nothing but the empty form of reflection-into-self, by which alone the Force is distinguished from the Exertion — and that form too is something familiar. It is a form that does not make the slightest addition to the content and to the law, which have to be discovered from the phenomenon alone. Another assurance always given is that to speak of forces implies no theory as to their nature: and that being so, it is impossible to see why the form of Force has been introduced into the sciences at all. In the second place the nature of Force is undoubtedly unknown: we are still without any necessity binding and connecting its content together in itself, as we are without necessity in the content, in so far as it is expressly limited and hence has its character by means of another thing outside it.
(1) Compared with the immediate relation of whole and parts, the relation between force and its putting-forth may be considered infinite. In it that identity of the two sides is realised, which in the former relation only existed for the observer. The whole, though we can see that it consists of parts, ceases to be a whole when it is divided: whereas force is only shown to be force when it exerts itself, and in its exercise only comes back to itself. The exercise is only force once more. Yet, on further examination even this relation will appear finite, and finite in virtue of this mediation: just as, conversely, the relation of whole and parts is obviously finite in virtue of its immediacy. The first and simplest evidence for the finitude of the mediated relation of force and its exercise is, that each and every force is conditioned and requires something else than itself for its subsistence. For instance, a special vehicle of magnetic force, as is well known, is iron, the other properties of which, such as its colour, specific weight, or relation to acids, are independent of this connection with magnetism. The same thing is seen in all other forces, which from one end to the other are found to be conditioned and mediated by something else than themselves. Another proof of the finite nature of force is that it requires solicitation before it can put itself forth. That through which the force is solicited, is itself another exertion of force, which cannot put itself forth without similar solicitation. This brings us either to a repetition of the infinite progression, or to a reciprocity of soliciting and being solicited. In either case we have no absolute beginning of motion. Force is not as yet, like the final cause, inherently self-determining: the content is given to it as determined, and force, when it exerts itself, is, according to the phrase, blind in its working. That phrase implies the distinction between abstract force-manifestation and teleological action.
(2) The oft-repeated statement, that the exercise of the force and not the force itself admits of being known, must be rejected as groundless. It is the very essence of force to manifest itself, and thus in the totality of manifestation, conceived as a law, we at the same time discover the force itself. And yet this assertion that force in its own self is unknowable betrays a well-grounded presentiment that this relation is finite. The several manifestations of a force at first meet us in indefinite multiplicity, and in their isolation seem accidental: but, reducing this multiplicity to its inner unity, which we term force, we see that the apparently contingent is necessary, by recognising the law that rules it. But the different forces themselves are a multiplicity again, and in their mere juxtaposition seem to be contingent. Hence in empirical physics, we speak of the forces of gravity, magnetism, electricity, etc., and in psychology of the forces of memory, imagination, will, and all the other faculties. All this multiplicity again excites a craving to know these different forces as a single whole, nor would this craving be appeased even if the several forces were traced back to one common primary force. Such a primary force would be really no more than an empty abstraction, with as little content as the abstract thing-in-itself. And besides this, the correlation of force and manifestation is essentially a mediated correlation (of reciprocal dependence), and it must therefore contradict the notion of force to view it as primary or resting on itself.
Such being the case with the nature of force, though we may consent to let the world be called a manifestation of divine forces, we should object to have God himself viewed as a mere force. For force is after all a subordinate and finite category. At the so-called renaissance of the sciences, when steps were taken to trace the single phenomena of nature back to underlying forces, the Church branded the enterprise as impious. The argument of the Church was as follows. If it be the forces of gravitation, of vegetation, etc., which occasion the movements of the heavenly bodies, the growth of plants, etc., there is nothing left for divine providence, and God sinks to the level of a leisurely onlooker, surveying this play of forces. The students of nature, it is true, and Newton more than others, when they employed the reflective category of force to explain natural phenomena, have expressly pleaded that the honour of God, as the Creator and Governor of the world, would not thereby be impaired. Still the logical issue of this explanation by means of forces is that the inferential understanding proceeds to fix each of these forces, and to maintain them in their finitude as ultimate. And contrasted with this de-infinitised world of independent forces and matters, the only terms in which it is possible still to describe God will present him in the abstract infinity of an unknowable supreme Being in some other world far away. This is precisely the position of materialism, and of modern ‘freethinking’, whose theology ignores what God is and restricts itself to the mere fact that he is. In this dispute therefore the Church and the religious mind have to a certain extent the right on their side. The finite forms of understanding certainly fail to fulfil the conditions for a knowledge either of Nature or of the formations in the world of Mind as they truly are. Yet on the other side it is impossible to overlook the formal right which, in the first place, entitles the empirical sciences to vindicate the right of thought to know the existent world in all the speciality of its content, and to seek something further than the bare statement of mere abstract faith that God created and governs the world. When our religious consciousness, resting on the authority of the Church, teaches us that God created the world by his almighty will, that he guides the stars in their courses, and vouchsafes to all his creatures their existence and their well-being, the question Why? is still left to answer. Now it is the answer to this question which forms the common task of empirical science and of philosophy. When religion refuses to recognise this problem, or the right to put it, and appeals to the unsearchableness of the decrees of God, it is taking up the same agnostic ground as is taken by the mere Enlightenment of understanding. Such an appeal is no better than an arbitrary dogmatism, which contravenes the express command of Christianity, to know God in spirit and in truth, and is prompted by a humility which is not Christian, but born of ostentatious bigotry.
Force is a whole, which is in its own self negative self-relation; and as such a whole it continually pushes itself off from itself and puts itself forth. But since this reflection-into-another (corresponding to the distinction between the Parts of the Whole) is equally a reflection-into-self, this out-putting is the way and means by which Force that returns back into itself is as a Force. The very act of out-putting accordingly sets in abeyance the diversity of the two sides which is found in this correlation, and expressly states the identity which virtually constitutes their content. The truth of Force and utterance therefore is that relation, in which the two sides are distinguished only as Outward and Inward.
[c] The Inward (Interior) is the ground, when it stands as the mere form of the one side of the Appearance and the Correlation — the empty form of reflection-into-self. As a counterpart to it stands the Outward (Exterior) — Existence — also as form of the other side of the correlation, with the empty characteristic of reflection-into-something-else. But Inward and Outward are identified: and their identity is identity brought to fullness in the content, that unity of reflection-into-self and reflection-into-other which was forced to appear in the movement of force. Both are the same one identity, and this unity makes them the content.
In the first place then, Exterior is the same content as Interior. What is inwardly is also found outwardly, and vice versa. The appearance shows nothing that is not in the essence, and in the essence there is nothing but what is manifested.
In the second place, Inward and Outward, as formal terms, are also reciprocally opposed, and that thoroughly. The one is the abstraction of identity with self; the other mere multiplicity or reality. But as stages of the one form, they are essentially identical so that whatever is at first explicitly put only in the one abstraction, is also plainly and at one step in the other. Therefore what is only internal is also only external: and what is only external, is so far only at first internal.
It is the customary mistake of reflection to take essence to be merely the interior. If it be so taken, even this way of looking at it is purely external, and that sort of essence is the empty external abstraction.
Ins Innere der Natur
Dringt kein erschaffner Geist,
Zu glücklich wenn er nur
De äussere Schaale weisst.
It ought rather to have been said that, if the essence of nature is ever described as the inner part, the person who so describes it only knows its outer shell. In Being as a whole, or even in mere sense-perception, the notion is at first only an inward, and for that very reason is something external to Being, a subjective thinking and being, devoid of truth. In Nature as well as in Mind, so long as the notion, design, or law are at first the inner capacity, mere possibilities, they are first only an external, inorganic nature, the knowledge of a third person, alien force, and the like. As a man is outwardly, that is to say in his actions (not of course in his merely bodily outwardness), so he is inwardly: and if his virtue, morality, etc. are only inwardly his — that is if they exist only in his intentions and sentiments, and his outward acts are not identical with them — the one half of him is as hollow and empty as the other.
The relation of Outward and Inward unites the two relations that precede, and at the same time sets in abeyance mere relativity and phenomenality in general. Yet so long as understanding keeps the Inward and Outward fixed in their separation, they are empty forms, the one as null as the other. Not only in the study of nature, but also of the spiritual world, much depends on a just appreciation of the relation of inward and outward, and especially on avoiding the misconception that the former only is the essential point on which everything turns, while the latter is unessential and trivial. We find this mistake made when, as is often done, the difference between nature and mind is traced back to the abstract difference between inner and outer. As for nature, it certainly is in the gross external, not merely to the mind, but even on its own part. But to call it external 'in the gross' is not to imply an abstract externality – for there is no such thing. It means rather that the Idea which forms the common content of nature and mind, is found in nature as outward only, and for that very reason only inward. The abstract understanding, with its 'either-or', may struggle against this conception of nature. It is none the less obviously found in our other modes of consciousness, particularly in religion. It is the lesson of religion that nature, no less than the spiritual world, is a revelation of God: but with this distinction, that while nature never gets so far as to be conscious of its divine essence, that consciousness is the express problem of the mind, which in the matter of that problem is as yet finite. Those who look upon the essence of nature as mere inwardness, and therefore inaccessible to us, take up the same line as that ancient creed which regarded God as envious and jealous; a creed which both Plato and Aristotle pronounced against long ago. All that God is, he imparts and reveals; and he does so at first in and through nature.
Any object indeed is faulty and imperfect when it is only inward, and thus at the same time only outward, or (which is the same thing) when it is only an outward and thus only an inward. For instance, a child, taken in the gross as human being, is no doubt a rational creature; but the reason of the child as child is at first a mere inward, in the shape of his natural ability or vocation, etc. This mere inward, at the same time, has for the child the form of a mere outward, in the shape of the will of his parents, the attainments of his teachers, and the whole world of reason that environs him. The education and instruction of a child aim at making him actually and for himself what he is at first only potentially and therefore for others, viz., for his grown up friends. The reason, which at first exists in the child only as an inner possibility, is actualised through education: and conversely, the child by these means becomes conscious that the goodness, religion, and science which he had at first looked upon as an outward authority, are his own nature. As with the child so it is in this matter with the adult, when, in opposition to his true destiny, his intellect and will remain in the bondage of the natural man. Thus, the criminal sees the punishment to which he has to submit as an act of violence from without; whereas in fact the penalty is only the manifestation of his own criminal will.
From what has now been said, we may learn what to think of a man who, when blamed for his shortcomings, or, it may be, his discreditable acts, appeals to the (professedly) excellent intentions and sentiments of the inner self he distinguishes therefrom. There certainly may be individual cases where the malice of outward circumstances frustrates well-meant designs, and disturbs the execution of the best-laid plans. But in general even here the essential unity between inward and outward is maintained. We are thus justified in saying that a man is what he does; and the lying vanity which consoles itself with the feeling of inward excellence may be confronted with the words of the Gospel: ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ That grand saying applies primarily in a moral and religious aspect, but it also holds good in reference to performances in art and science. The keen eye of a teacher who perceives in his pupil decided evidences of talent, may lead him to state his opinion that a Raphael or a Mozart lies hidden in the boy: and the result will show how far such an opinion was well-founded. But if a daub of a painter, or a poetaster, soothe themselves by the conceit that their head is full of high ideas, their consolation is a poor one; and if they insist on being judged not by their actual works but by their projects, we may safely reject their pretensions as unfounded and unmeaning. The converse case however also occurs. In passing judgment on men who have accomplished something great and good, we often make use of the false distinction between inward and outward. All that they have accomplished, we say, is outward merely; inwardly they were acting from some very different motive, such as a desire to gratify their vanity or other unworthy passion. This is the spirit of envy. Incapable of any great action of its own, envy tries hard to depreciate greatness and to bring it down to its own level. Let us, rather, recall the fine expression of Goethe, that there is no remedy but Love against great superiorities of others. We may seek to rob men's great actions of their grandeur, by the insinuation of hypocrisy; but, though it is possible that men in an instance now and then may dissemble and disguise a good deal, they cannot conceal the whole of their inner self, which infallibly betrays itself in the decursus vitae. Even here it is true that a man is nothing but the series of his actions.
What is called the ‘pragmatic’ writing of history has in modern times frequently sinned in its treatment of great historical characters, and defaced and tarnished the true conception of them by this fallacious separation of the outward and the inward. Not content with telling the unvarnished tale of the great acts which have been wrought by the heroes of the world's history, and with acknowledging that their inward being corresponds with the import of their acts, the pragmatic historian fancies himself justified and even obliged to trace the supposed secret motives that lie behind the open facts of the record. The historian, in that case, is supposed to write with more depth in proportion as he succeeds in tearing away the aureole from all that has been heretofore held grand and glorious, and in depressing it, so far as its origin and proper significance are concerned, to the level of vulgar mediocrity. To make these pragmatic researches in history easier, it is usual to recommend the study of psychology, which is supposed to make us acquainted with the real motives of human actions. The psychology in question however, is only that petty knowledge of men, which looks away from the essential and permanent in human nature to fasten its glance on the casual and private features shown in isolated instincts and passions. A pragmatic psychology ought at least to leave the historian, who investigates the motives at the ground of great actions, a choice between the ‘substantial’ interests of patriotism, justice, religious truth, and the like, on the one hand, and the subjective and ‘formal’ interests of vanity, ambition, avarice, and the like, on the other. The latter, however, are the motives which must be viewed by the pragmatist as really efficient, otherwise the assumption of a contrast between inward (the disposition of the agent) and the outward (the import of the action) would fall to the ground. But inward and outward have in truth the same content; and the right doctrine is the very reverse of this pedantic judiciality. If the heroes of history had been actuated by subjective and formal interests alone, they would never have accomplished what they have. And if we have due regard to the unity between the inner and the outer, we must own that great men willed what they did, and did what they willed.
The empty abstractions, by means of which the one identical content perforce continues in the two correlatives, suspend themselves in the immediate transition, the one into the other. The content is itself nothing but their identity (§138): and these abstractions are the seeming of essence, put as seeming. By the manifestation of force the inward is put into existence: but this putting is the mediation by empty abstractions. In its own self the intermediating process vanishes to the immediacy, in which the inward and the outward are absolutely identical and their difference is distinctly no more than assumed and imposed. This identity is Actuality.
Actuality (next section)
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