Hegel. The Difference Between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy

Various Forms Occurring in Contemporary Philosophy

Historical View of Philosophical Systems

An age which has so many philosophical systems lying behind it in its past must apparently arrive at the same indifference which life acquires after it has tried all forms. The urge toward totality continues to express itself, but only as an urge towards completeness of information. Individuality becomes fossilized and no longer ventures out into life. Through the variety of what he has, the individual tries to procure the illusion of being what he is not. He refuses the living participation demanded by science,[1] transforming it into mere information, keeping it at a distance and in purely objective shape. Deaf to all demands that he should raise himself to universality, he maintains himself imperturbably in his self-willed particularity. If indifference of this sort escalates into curiosity, it may believe nothing to be more vital than giving a name to a newly developed philosophy, expressing dominion over it by finding a name for it, just as Adam shows his dominance over the animals by giving names to them.[2] In this was philosophy is transposed to the plane of information. Information is concerned with alien objects. In the philosophical knowledge that is only erudition, the inwards totality does not bestir itself, and neutrality retains its perfect freedom [from commitment].

No philosophical system can escape the possibility of this sort of reception; every philosophical system can be treated historically. As every living form belongs at the same time to the realm of appearance, so too does philosophy. As appearance, philosophy surrenders to the power capable of transforming it into dead opinion and into something that belonged to the past from the very beginning. The living spirit that dwells in a philosophy demands to be born of a kindred spirit if it is to unveil itself. It brushes past the historical concern which is moved by some interest, to [collect] information about opinions. For this concern it is an alien phenomenon and does not reveal its own inwardness. It matters little to the spirit that it is forced to augment the extant collection of mummies and the general heap of contingent oddities; for the spirit itself slipped away between the fingers of the curious collector of information. The collector stands firm in his neutral attitude towards truth; he preserves his independence whether he accepts opinions, rejects them, or abstains from decision. He can give philosophical systems only one relation to himself: they are opinions – and such incidental things as opinions can do him no harm. He has not learned that there is truth to be had.[3]

The history of philosophy [seems to] acquire a more useful aspect, however, when the impulse to enlarge science takes hold of it, for according to Reinhold, the history of philosophy should serve as a means “to penetrate more profoundly than ever into the spirit of philosophy, and to develop the idiosyncratic views of one’s predecessors about the grounding of the reality of human cognition further in new views of one’s own."[4]Only if this sort of information concerning previous attempts to solve the problem of philosophy were available could the attempt actually succeed in the end – if mankind is fated to succeed in it at all.

As can be seen, the project of such an investigation presupposes an image of philosophy as a kind of handicraft, something that can be improved by newly invented turns of skill. Each new invention presupposes acquaintance with the turns already in use and with the purposes they serve; but after all the improvements made so far, the principal task remains. Reinhold evidently seems to think of this task as the finding of a universally valid and ultimate turn of skill such that the work completes itself automatically for anyone who can get acquainted with it. If the aim were such an invention, and if science were a lifeless product of alien ingenuity, science would indeed have the perfectibility of which mechanical arts are capable. The preceding philosophical systems would at all times be nothing but practice studies for the big brains. But if the Absolute, like Reason which is its appearance, is eternally one and the same – as indeed it is – then every Reason that is directed toward itself and comes to recognize itself, produces a true philosophy and solves for itself the problem which, like its solution, is at all times the same. In philosophy, Reason comes to know itself and deals only with itself so that its whole work and activity are grounded in itself, and with respect to the inner essence of philosophy there are neither predecessors nor successors.

Nor is it any more correct to speak of personal views entertained in philosophy than of its steady improvement. How could the rational be a personal idiosyncrasy? Whatever is thus peculiar in a philosophy must ipso facto belong to the form of the system and not to the essence of the philosophy. If something idiosyncratic actually constituted the essence of a philosophy, it would not be a philosophy, though even where the system itself declared its essence to be something idiosyncratic it could nevertheless have sprung from authentic speculation which suffered shipwreck when it tried to express itself in the form of science. One who is caught up in his own idiosyncrasy can see in others only their idiosyncrasies. If one allows personal views to have a place in essential philosophy, and if Reinhold regards what he has recently turned to as a philosophy peculiar to himself, then it is indeed possible generally to regard all preceding ways of presenting and solving the problem of philosophy as merely personal idiosyncrasies and mental exercises. But the exercises are still supposed to prepare the way for the attempt that finally succeeds – for though we see that the shores of those philosophical Islands of the Blest that we yearn for are only littered with the hulks of wrecked ships, and there is no vessel safe at anchor in their bays, yet we must not let go of the teleological perspective.

Fichte dared to assert that Spinoza could not possibly have believed in his philosophy, that he could not possibly have had a full inner living conviction; and he said of the ancients that it is even doubtful that they had a clear conception of the task of philosophy.[5] This, too, must be explained in terms of the idiosyncratic form in which his philosophy expressed itself.

In Fichte, the peculiar form of his own system, the vigor that characterizes[6] it as a whole produces utterances of this sort. The peculiarity of Reinhold’s philosophy, on the other hand, consists in its founding and grounding concern with difference philosophical views, making a great to-do about the historical investigation of their idiosyncrasies. His love of, and faith in, truth have risen to an elevation so pure and so sickening that in order to found and ground the step into the temple properly, Reinhold has built a spacious vestibule in which philosophy keeps itself so busy with analysis, with methodology and with storytelling, that it saves itself from taking the step altogether; and in the end, as a consolation for his incapacity to do philosophy, Reinhold persuades himself that the bold steps others have taken had been nothing but preparatory exercises or mental confusions.

The essence of philosophy, on the contrary, is a bottomless abyss for personal idiosyncrasy. In order to reach philosophy it is necessary to throw oneself into it à corps perdu – meaning by ‘body’ here, the sum of one’s idiosyncrasies. For Reason, finding consciousness caught in particularities, only becomes philosophical speculation by raising itself to itself, putting its truth only in itself and the Absolute which at that moment becomes its object. In this process Reason stakes nothing but finitudes of consciousness. In order to overcome these finitudes and construct the Absolute in consciousness, Reason lifts itself into speculation, and in the groundlessness of the limitations and personal particularities it grasps its own grounding within itself. Speculation is the activity of the one universal Reason directed upon itself. Reason, therefore, does not view the philosophical systems of different epochs and different heads merely as different modes [of doing philosophy] and purely idiosyncratic views. Once it has liberated its own view from contingencies and limitations, Reason necessarily finds itself throughout all the particular forms – or else a mere manifold of the concepts and opinions of the intellect; and such a manifold is no philosophy. The true peculiarity of a philosophy lies in the interesting individuality which is the organic shape that Reason has built for itself out of the material of a particular age. The particular speculative Reason [of a later time] finds in it spirit of its spirit, flesh of its flesh, it intuits itself in it as one and the same and yet as another living being. Every philosophy is complete in itself, and like an authentic work of art, carries the totality within itself. Just as the works of Apelles or Sophocles would not have appeared to Raphael and Shakespeare – had they known them – as merely preparatory studies, but as a kindred force of the spirit, so Reason cannot regard its former shapes as merely useful preludes to itself. Virgil, to be sure, regarded Homer to be such a prelude to himself and his refined era, and for this reason Virgil’s work remains a mere postlude.

The Need of Philosophy[7]

If we look more closely at the particular form worn by a philosophy we see that it arises, on the one hand, from the living originality of the spirit whose work and spontaneity have reestablished and shaped the harmony that has been rent; and on the other hand, from the particular form of the dichotomy from which the system emerges. Dichotomy is the source of the need of philosophy; and as the culture of the era, it is the unfree and given aspect of the whole configuration. In [any] culture, the appearance of the Absolute has become isolated from the Absolute and fixated into independence. But at the same time the appearance cannot disown its origin, and must aim to constitute the manifold of its limitations into one whole. The intellect, as the capacity to set limits, erects a building and places it between man and the Absolute, linking everything that man thinks worth and holy to this building, fortifying it through all the powers of nature and talent and expanding it ad infinitum and so mocks itself.[8]Reason reaches the Absolute only in stepping out of this manifold of parts. The more stable and splendid the edifice of the intellect is, the more restless becomes the striving of the life that is caught up in it as a part to get out of it, and raise itself to freedom. When life as Reason steps away into the distance, the totality of limitations is at the same time nullified, and connected with the Absolute in this nullification, and hence conceived and posited as mere appearance. The split between the Absolute and the totality of limitations vanishes.

The intellect copies Reason’s absolute positing and through the form [of absolute positing] it gives itself the semblance of Reason even though the posits are in themselves opposites, and hence finite. The semblance grows that much stronger when intellect transforms and fixes Reason’s negating activity [as distinct from its positing activity] into a product. The infinite, insofar as it gets opposed to the finite, is a thing of this kind, i.e., it is something rational as posited by the intellect. Taken by itself, as something rational, it merely expresses the negating of the finite. By fixing it, the intellect sets it up in absolute opposition to the finite; and reflection which had risen to the plane of Reason when it suspended the finite, now lowers itself again to being intellect because it has fixed Reason’s activity into [an activity of] opposition. Moreover, reflection still pretends to be rational even in its relapse.

The cultures of various times have established opposites of this kind, which were supposed to be products of Reason and absolutes, in various ways, and the intellect has labored over them as such. Antitheses such as spirit and matter, soul and body, faith and intellect, freedom and necessity, etc. used to be important; and in more limited spheres they appeared in a variety of other guises. The whole weight of human interests hung upon them. With the progress of culture they have passed over into such forms as the antithesis of Reason and sensibility, intelligence and nature and, with respect to the universal concept, of absolute subjectivity and absolute objectivity.

The sole interest of Reason is to suspend such rigid antitheses. But this does not mean that Reason is altogether opposed to opposition and limitation. For the necessary dichotomy is One factor in life.[9] Life eternally forms itself by setting up oppositions, and totality at the highest pitch of living energy (in der höchsten Lebendigkeit) is only possible through its own re-establishment out of the deepest fission. When Reason opposed, rather, is just the absolute fixity which the intellect gives to the dichotomy; and it does so all the more if the absolute opposites themselves originated in Reason.

When the might of union vanishes from the life of men and the antitheses lost their living connection and reciprocity and gain independence, the need of philosophy arises. From this point of view the need is contingent. But with respect to the given dichotomy the need is the necessary attempt to suspend the rigidity opposition between subjectivity and objectivity; to comprehend the achieved existence (das Gewordensein) of the intellectual and real world as a becoming. Its being as a product must be comprehended as a producing. In the infinite activity of becoming and producing, Reason has united what was sundered and it has reduced the absolute dichotomy to a relative one, one that is conditioned by the original identity. When, where and in what forms such self-reproductions of Reason occur as philosophy is contingent. This contingency must be comprehended on the basis of the Absolute positing itself as an objective totality. The contingency is temporal insofar as the objectivity of the Absolute is intuited as going forth in time. But insofar as it makes its appearance as spatial compresence, the dichotomy is a matter of regional climate. In the form of fixed reflection, as a world of thinking and thought essence in antithesis to a world of actuality, this dichotomy falls into the Northwest.[10]

As culture grows and spreads, and the development of those outwards expressions of life into which dichotomy can entwine itself becomes more manifold, the power of dichotomy becomes greater, its regional sanctity is more firmly established and the strivings of life to give birth once more to its harmony become more meaningless, more alien to the cultural whole. Such few attempts as there have been on behalf of the cultural whole against more recent culture, like the more significant beautiful embodiments of far away or long ago, have only been able to arouse that modicum of attention which remains possible when the more profound, serious connection of living art [to culture as a living whole] can no longer be understood. The entire system of relations constituting life has become detached from art, and thus the concept of art’s all-embracing coherence has been lost, and transformed into the concept either of superstition or of entertainment. The highest aesthetic perfection, as it evolves in a determinate religion in which man lifts himself above all dichotomy and sees both the freedom of the subject and the necessity of the object vanish in the kingdom of grace, could only be energized up to a certain stage of culture, and within general or mob barbarism. As it progressed, civilization has split away from it [i.e., this aesthetic religious perfection], and juxtaposed it to itself or vice-versa. Because the intellect has grown sure of itself, both [intellect and the aesthetic religious perfection] have come to enjoy a measure of mutual peace by separating into realms that are completely set apart from one another. What happens in one has no significance in the other.

However, the intellect can also be directly attacked by Reason in its own realm. These attempts to nullify the dichotomy, and hence the absoluteness of intellect, through reflection itself are easier to understand. Dichotomy felt itself attacked, and so turned with hate and fury against Reason, until the realm of the intellect rose to such power that it could regard itself as secure from Reason. – But just as we often say of virtue that the greatest witness for its reality is the semblance that hypocrisy borrows from it, so intellect cannot keep Reason off. It seeks to protect itself against the feeling of its inner emptiness, and from the secret fear that plagues anything limited, by whitewashing its particularities with a semblance of Reason. The contempt for Reason shows itself most strongly, not in Reason’s being freely scorned and abused, but by the boasting of the limited that it has mastered philosophy and lives in amity with it. Philosophy must refuse friendship with these false attempts that boast insincerely of having nullified the particularities, but which issue from limitation, and use philosophy as a means to save and secure these limitations.

In the struggle of the intellect with Reason the intellect has strength only to the degree that Reason forsakes itself. Its success in the struggle therefore depends upon Reason itself, and upon the authenticity of the need for the reconstitution of totality, the need from which Reason emerges.

The need of philosophy can be called the presupposition of philosophy if philosophy, which begins with itself, has to be furnished with some sort of vestibule; and there has been much talk nowadays about an absolute presupposition.[11]What is called the presupposition of philosophy is nothing else but the need that has come to utterance. Once uttered, the need is posited for reflection, so that [because of the very nature of reflection] there must be two presuppositions.

One is the Absolute itself. It is the goal that is being sought; but it is already present, or how otherwise could it be sought?[12]Reason produces it, merely by freeing consciousness from its limitations. This suspension of the limitations is conditioned by the presupposed unlimitedness.

The other presupposition may be taken to be that consciousness has stepped out of the totality, that is, it may be taken to be the split into being and not-being, that is, it may be taken to be the split into being and not-being, concept and being, finitude and infinity. From the standpoint of the dichotomy, the absolute synthesis is a beyond, it is the undetermined and the shapeless as opposed to the determinacies of the dichotomy. The Absolute is the night, and the light is younger than it; and the distinction between them, like the emergence of the light out of the night, is the absolute difference – the nothing is the first out of which all being, all the manifoldness of the finite as emerged. But the task of philosophy consists in uniting these presuppositions: to posit being in non-being, as becoming; to posit dichotomy in the Absolute, as its appearance; to posit the finite and the infinite, as life.

Still, it is clumsy to express the need of philosophy as a presupposition of philosophy, for the need acquires in this way a reflective form. This reflective form appears as contradictory propositions, which we shall discuss below.[13] One may require of propositions that they be justified. But the justification of these propositions as presuppositions is still not supposed to be philosophy itself, so that the founding and grounding gets going before, and outside of, philosophy.

Reflection as Instrument of Philosophizing

The form that the need of philosophy would assume, if it were to be expressed as a presupposition, allows for a transition from the need of philosophy to the instrument of philosophizing, to reflection as Reason. The task of philosophy is to construct the Absolute for consciousness. But since the productive activity of reflection is, like its products, mere limitation, this task involves a contradiction. The Absolute is to be posited in reflection. But then it is not posited, but canceled; for in having been posited it was limited [by its opposite]. Philosophical reflection is the mediation of this contradiction. What must be shown above all is how far reflection is capable of grasping the Absolute, and how far in its speculative activity it carries with it the necessity and possibility of being synthesized with absolute intuition. To what extent can reflection be as complete for itself, subjectively, as its product must be, which is constructed in consciousness as the Absolute that is both conscious and non-conscious at the same time?

Reflection in isolation is the positing of opposites, and this would be a suspension of the Absolute, reflection being the faculty of being and limitation. But reflection as Reason has connection with the Absolute, and it is Reason only because of this connection. In this respect, reflection nullifies itself and all being and everything limited, because it connects them with the Absolute. But at the same time the limited gains standing precisely on account of its connection with the Absolute.

Reason presents itself as the force of the negative Absolute, and hence as a negating that is absolute; and at the same time, it presents itself as the force that posits the opposed objective and subjective totality. Reason raises the intellect above itself, driving it toward a whole of the intellect’s own kind.[14] Reason seduces the intellect into producing an objective totality. Every being, because it is posited, is an opposite, it is conditioned and conditioning. The intellect completes these its limitations by positing the opposite limitations as conditions. These need to be completed in the same way, so the intellect’s task expands ad infinitum. In all this, reflection appears to be merely intellect, but this guidance toward the totality of necessity is the contributions and secret efficacy of Reason. Reason makes the intellect boundless, and in this infinite wealth the intellect and its objective world meet their downfall. For every being that the intellect produces is something determinate, and the determinate has an indeterminate before it and after it. The manifoldness of being lies between two nights, without support. It rests on nothing – for the indeterminate is nothing to the intellect – and it ends in nothing. The determinate and the indeterminate, finitude and the infinite that is to be given up for lost,[15]are not united. The intellect stubbornly allows them to subsist side by side in their opposition. And stubbornly it holds fast to being as against not-being; yet being and not-being are equally necessary to it. The intellect essentially aims at thoroughgoing determination. But what is determinate for it is at once bounded by an indeterminate. Thus its positings and determinings never accomplish the task; in the very positing and determining that have occurred there lies a non-positing and something indeterminate, and hence the task of positing and determining recurs perpetually.

If the intellect fixes these opposites, the finite and the infinite, so that both are supposed to subsist together as opposed to each other, then it destroys itself. For the opposition of finite and infinite means that to posit the one is to cancel the other. When Reason recognizes this, it has suspended the intellect itself. Its positing then appears to Reason to be non-positing, its products to be negations. If Reason is placed in opposition to the objective infinite, this nullification of the intellect or Reason’s pure positing without oppositing is subjective infinity: the realm of freedom is itself something opposite and conditioned. In order to suspend opposition absolutely, Reason must also nullify the independence of this realm. It nullifies both of the opposed realms by uniting them; for they only are in virtue of their not being united. Within the union, however, they subsist together; for what is opposite and therefore limited is, in this union, connected with the Absolute. But it does not have standing on its own account, but only insofar as it is posited in the Absolute, that is, as identity. The limited is either necessary or free, according to whether it belongs to one or the other of the mutually opposed and therefore relative totalities. Insofar as the limited belongs to the synthesis of both totalities, its limitation ceases: it is free and necessary at the same time, conscious and nonconscious. This conscious identity of the finite and infinite, the union of both worlds, the sensuous and the intelligible, the necessary and the free, in consciousness, is knowledge. Reflection, the faculty of the finite, and the infinite opposed to it are synthesized in Reason whose infinity embraces the finite within it.

So far as reflection makes itself its own object, its supreme law, given to it by Reason and moving it to become Reason, is to nullify itself. Like everything else, reflection has standing only in the Absolute; but as reflection it stands in opposition to it. In order to gain standing, therefore, reflection must give itself the law of self-destruction. The immanent law, the law through which reflection by its own power would constitute itself as absolute, would be the law of contradiction: namely that, being posited, reflection shall be and remain posited. Reflection would thus fix its products as absolutely opposed to the Absolute. It would have as its eternal law to remain intellect and not to become Reason and to hold fast to its own work, which, as limited, is opposed to the Absolute and as opposed to the Absolute, is nothing.

When places in an opposition, Reason operates as intellect and its infinity becomes subjective. Similarly, the form which expresses the activity of reflecting as an activity of thinking, is capable of this very same ambiguity and misuse. Thinking is the absolute activity of Reason itself and there simply cannot be anything opposite to it. But if it is not so posited, if it is taken to be nothing but reflection of a purer kind, that is, a reflection in which one merely abstracts from the opposition, then thinking of this abstracting kind cannot advance beyond the intellect, not even to a Logic supposed capable of comprehending Reason within itself, still less to philosophy. Reinhold sets up identity as “the essence or inward character of thinking as such”: “the infinite repeatability of one and the same as one and the same, in and through one and the same."[16]One might be tempted by this semblance of identity into regarding this thinking as Reason. But because this thinking has its antithesis (a) in an application of thinking and (b) in absolute materiality (Stoffheit),[17] it is clear that this is not the absolute identity, the identity of subject and object which suspends both in their opposition and grasps them within itself, but a pure identity, that is, an identity originating through abstraction and conditioned by opposition, the abstract intellectual concept of unity, one of a pair of fixed opposites.

Reinhold sees the fault of all past philosophy in “the habit, so deeply rooted and widespread among contemporary philosopher, of regarding thinking both in general and in its application as something merely subjective."[18]If Reinhold were truly serious about the identity and non-subjectivity of this thinking, he could not make any distinction between thinking and its application. If thinking is true identity, and not something subjective, where could this application that is so distinct from it come from, let alone the stuff that is postulated for the sake of the application? To the analytic method an activity must appear to be synthetic precisely because it is to be analyzed. The elements that originate in the analysis are unity and a manifold opposed to it. What analysis presents as unity is called subjective; and thinking is characterized as a unity of this sort opposed to the manifold, that is, it is an abstract identity. In this way thinking has become something purely limited, and its activity is an application [of the identity] to some independently extant material, an application which conforms to a law and is directed by a rule, but which cannot pierce through to knowledge.

Only so far as reflection has connection with the Absolute is it Reason and its deed a knowing. Through this connection with the Absolute, however, reflection’s work passes away; only the connection persists, and it is the sole reality of the cognition. There is therefore no truth in isolated reflection, in pure thinking, save the truth of its nullification. But because in philosophizing the Absolute gets produced by reflection for consciousness, it becomes thereby an objective totality, a whole of knowledge, an organization of cognitions. Within this organization, every part is at the same time the whole; for its standing is its connection with the Absolute. As a part that has other parts outside of it, it is something limited, and is only through the others. Isolated in its limitation the part is defective; meaning and significance it has solely through its coherence with the whole. Hence single concepts by themselves and singular cognitions (Erkenntnisse) must not be called knowledge. There can be plenty of singular empirical known items (Kenntnisse).[19] As known from experience they exhibit their justification in experience, that is, in the identity of concept and being, of subject and object. Precisely for this reason, they are not scientific knowledge: they find their justification only in a limited, relative identity. They do not justify themselves as necessary part of a totality of cognitions organized in consciousness, nor has speculation recognized the absolute identity in them, i.e., their connection with the Absolute.

Relation of Speculation to Common Sense[20]

What the so-called common sense takes to be the rational, consists similarly of single items drawn out of the Absolute into consciousness. They are points of light that rise out of the night of totality and aid men to get through life in an intelligent way. They serve as correct standpoints from which one takes off and to which one returns.

In fact, however, men only have this confidence in the truth of these points of light because they have a feeling of the Absolute attending these points; and it is this feeling alone that gives them their significance. As soon as one takes these truths of common sense by themselves and isolates them as cognitions of the intellect, they look odd and turn into half-truths. Reflection can confound common sense. When common sense permits itself to reflect, the proposition it states for the benefit of reflection claims to be by itself knowledge and valid cognition. Thus sound sense has given up its strength, the strength of supporting its pronouncements and counteracting unsteady reflection solely by the obscure totality which is present as feeling. Although common sense expresses itself for reflection, its dicta do not contain the consciousness of their connection with the absolute totality. The totality remains inward and unexpressed.

For this reason, speculation understands sound intellect well enough, but the sound intellect cannot understand what speculation is doing. Speculation acknowledges as the reality of cognition only the being of cognition in the totality. For speculation everything determinate has reality and truth only in the cognition of its connection with the Absolute. So it recognizes the Absolute in what lies at the basis of the pronouncements of sound sense too. But since, for speculation, cognition has reality only within the Absolute, what is cognized and known in the reflective mode of expression and therefore has a determinate form, becomes nothing in the presence of speculation. The relative identities of common sense which pretends to absoluteness in the limited form in which they appear, become contingencies for philosophical reflection. Common sense cannot grasp how what has immediate certainty for it, can at the same time be nothing to philosophy. For in its immediate truths it only feels their connection with the Absolute, and it does not separate this feeling from their appearance, wherein they are limitations, and yet they are supposed as such to have standing and absolute being. But in the face of speculation they vanish.

Common sense cannot understand speculation; and what is more, it must come to hate speculation when it has experience of it; and, unless it is in the state of perfect indifference that security confers, it is bound to detest and persecute it.[21] For common sense, the essential and the contingent in its utterances are identical and this identity is absolute; and, just as it cannot separate the limits of appearance from the Absolute, so what it does separate in its consciousness, becomes absolutely opposed, and what it cognizes as limited it cannot in consciousnesses unite with the unlimited. Limited and unlimited are, to be sure, identical for common sense, but this identity is and remains something internal, a feeling, something unknown and unexpressed. Whenever it calls the limited to mind, and the limited is raise into consciousness, the unlimited is for consciousness absolutely opposed to the limited.

In this relation or connection of the limited with the Absolute there is consciousness of their opposition only; there is no consciousness at all of their identity. This relation is called faith.[22] Faith does not express the synthesis inherent in feeling or intuition. It is, rather, a relation of reflection to the Absolute, and one in which reflection is certainly Reason. But thought is nullifies itself as something that sunders and is sundered, and also nullifies its product too – an individual consciousness – it still preserves the form of sundering. The immediate certitude of faith, which has been much talked of as the ultimate and highest consciousness, is nothing but the identity itself, Reason, which, however does not recognize itself, and is accompanied by the consciousness of opposition. Speculation, however, lifts the identity of which sound sense is not conscious into consciousness. In other words, speculation constructs conscious identity out of what, in the consciousness of the ordinary intellect, are necessary opposites; and this synthesis of what is sundered in faith is an abomination to faith. In its consciousness the holy and the divine only have standing as objects. So the healthy intellect sees only destruction of the divine in the suspended opposition, in the identity brought into consciousness.

In particular, ordinary common sense is bound to see nothing but nullification in those philosophical systems that satisfy the demand for the conscious identity by suspending dichotomy in such a way that one of the opposites is raised to be the absolute and the other nullified. This is particularly offensive if the culture of the time has already fixed one of the opposites otherwise. Speculation, as philosophy, has here indeed suspended the opposition, but speculation, as system, has elevated something which in its ordinary familiar form is limited, to absolute status. The only aspect here relevant is the speculative, and this is simply not present for ordinary common sense. Viewed from this speculative aspect, the limited is something totally different from what it appears to ordinary common sense; having been elevated into being the Absolute, it is no longer the limited thing that it was. The matter of the materialist is no longer inert matter which has life as its opposite and its formative agent; the Ego of the idealist is no longer an empirical consciousness which, as limited, must posit an infinite outside itself. The question that philosophy has to raise is whether the system has truly purified all finitude out of the finite appearance that it has advanced to absolute status; or whether speculation, even at its further distance from ordinary common sense with its typical fixation of opposites, has not still succumbed to the fate of its time, the fate of positing absolutely one form of the Absolute, that is, something that is essentially an opposite. But even where speculation has actually succeeded in freeing from all forms of appearance the finite which it has made infinite, ordinary common sense primarily takes offense over the name though it may take no other notice of the business of speculation. Speculation does indeed elevate finite things – matter, the Ego – to the infinite and thus nullifies them: matter and Ego so far as they are meant to embrace totality, are no longer matter and Ego. Yet the final act of philosophical reflection is still lacking: that is to say, the consciousness of the nullification of these finite things. And even though the Absolute within the system has still preserved a determinate form, in spite of the fact that this nullification has actually been accomplished, still genuinely speculative tendency is unmistakable anyway. But ordinary common sense understands nothing about it, and does not even see the philosophic principle of suspending the dichotomy. It only sees the systematic principle by which one of the opposites is raised to the Absolute and the other nullified. So it has an advantage over the system with respect to the dichotomy. For there is an absolute opposition present in both of them. But in ordinary common sense there is completeness of opposition [whereas the system makes one of the opposites explicitly absolute]; and hence common sense is enraged on two counts.

Nevertheless, apart from its philosophical side, there accrues to a philosophical system of this kind, encumbered as it is with the defect of raising to the Absolute something that is still in some respect an opposite, another advantage and a further merit, which are not only incomprehensible but must be abhorrent to the ordinary intellect. The advantage is that by raising something finite to an infinite principle, the system has struck down with one stroke the whole mass of finitudes that adhere to the opposite principle. And the merit with regard to culture consists in having made the dichotomy that much more rigid and hence strengthened the urge toward unification in totality in the same measure.

Common sense is stubborn; it stubbornly believes itself secure in the force of its inertia, believes the non-conscious secure in its primordial gravity and opposition to consciousness; believes matter secure against the difference that light brings into it just in order to reconstruct the difference into a new synthesis at a higher level. In northern climates this stubbornness perhaps requires a longer period of time to be so far conquered that the atomic matter itself has become more diversified, and inertia has first been set in motion on its own ground by a greater variety of their combination and dissolution[23]and next by the multitude of fixed atoms thus generated. Thus the human intellect becomes more and more confused in its own proper doings and knowings, to the point where it makes itself capable of enduring the suspension of this confusion and the opposition itself.[24]

The only aspect of speculation visible to common sense is its nullifying activity; and even this nullification is not visible in its entire scope. If common sense could grasp this scope, it would not believe speculation to be its enemy. For in its higher synthesis of the conscious and the non-conscious, speculation also demands the nullification of consciousness itself. Reason thus drowns itself and its knowledge and its reflection of the absolute identity, in its own abyss: and in this night of mere reflection and of the calculating intellect, in this night which is the noonday of life, common sense and speculation can meet one another.

Principle of a Philosophy in the Form of an Absolute Basic Proposition

Philosophy, as a totality of knowledge produced by reflection, becomes a system, that is, an organic whole of concepts, whose highest law is not the intellect, but Reason. The intellect has to exhibit correctly the opposites of what it has posited, as well as its bounds, ground and condition. Reason, on the other hand, unites these contradictories, posits both together and suspends them both. One might demand that the system as an organization of propositions should present the Absolute which lies at the basis of reflection in the fashion of reflection, that is, as the highest, or absolutely fundamental proposition. But such a demand at once entails its own nullity. For a proposition, as something posited by reflection, is something limited and conditioned on its own account. It requires another proposition as its foundation, and so on ad infinitum. Suppose that the Absolute is expressed in a fundamental proposition, validated by and for thinking, a proposition whose form and matter are the same. Then either mere sameness is posited, and the inequality of form and matter is excluded, so that the fundamental proposition is conditioned by this inequality.[25] In this case the fundamental proposition is not absolute but defective; it expresses only a concept of the intellect, an abstraction. Or else the fundamental proposition also contains both form and matter as inequality, so that it is analytic and synthetic simultaneously. In that case the fundamental proposition is an antinomy, and therefore not a proposition. As a proposition it is subject to the law of the intellect, the law that it must not contr adict itself, that it cannot suspend itself, that it be something posited. As an antinomy, however, it does suspend itself.

It is a delusion that something merely posited for reflection must necessarily stand at the summit of a system as the highest or absolute and basic proposition; or that the essence of any system is expressible as a proposition that has absolute validity for thinking. This delusion makes the business of judging a system easy. For of any thought expressed by a proposition it can be shown very easily that it is conditioned by an opposite and therefore is not absolute: and one proves for this opposite that it must be posited, hence that the thought expressed by the fundamental proposition is a nullity. The delusion accounts itself all the more justified if the system itself expresses the Absolute which is its principle, in the form of a proposition or definition which is basically an antinomy, and for this reason suspends itself as something posited for mere reflection. For example, Spinoza’s concept of substance, defined as both cause and effect, concept and being, ceases to be a concept because the opposites are united in a contradiction.

No philosophical beginning could look worse than to begin with a definition as Spinoza does. This offers the starkest contrast to ‘founding and grounding,’ or the ‘deduction of the principle of knowledge,’ or the laborious reduction of all philosophy to the ‘highest facts of consciousness,’ etc.[26] But when Reason has purified itself of the subjectivity of reflection, then Spinoza’s artlessness which makes philosophy begin with philosophy itself, and Reason come forward at once with an antinomy, can be properly appreciated too.

If the principle of philosophy is to be stated in formal propositions for reflection, the only thing that is present, at the outset, as the object of this task is knowledge, i.e., in general terms the synthesis of the subjective and objective, or absolute thinking. But reflection cannot express the absolute synthesis on one proposition, if this proposition has to be valid as a proper proposition for the intellect. Reflection must separate what is one in the absolute Identity; it must express synthesis and antithesis separately, in two propositions, one containing the identity, the other dichotomy.

In A = A, as principle of identity, it is connectedness that is reflected on, and in this connecting, this being one, the equality, is contained in this pure identity; reflection abstracts from all inequality. A = A, the expression of absolute thought or Reason, has only one meaning for the formal reflection that expresses itself in the propositions of the intellect. This is the meaning of pure unity as conceived by the intellect, or in other words a unity in abstraction from opposition.

Reason, however, does not find itself expressed in this onesidedness of abstract unity. It postulates also the positing of what in the pure equality had been abstracted from, the poisiting of the opposite, of inequality. One A is subject, the other object; and the expression of their difference is A ≠ A, or A = B. This proposition directly contradicts the first. It abstracts from pure identity and posits the non-identity, the pure form of non-thinking,[27] just as the first proposition is the form of pure thinking, which is not the same thing as absolute thinking, or Reason. Only because non-thinking too, is thought, only because A ≠ A is posted through thinking, can it be posited at all.[28] In A ≠ A, or A = B there also is the identity, the connection, the “=” of the first proposition, but it is here only subjective, that is, only insofar as non-thinking is posited by thinking. But if non-thinking is posited for thinking this is entirely incidental to the non-thinking, it is a mere form for the second proposition. One must abstract from this form in order to have its matter pure.

This second proposition is as unconditioned as the first and qua unconditioned it is condition of the first, as the first is condition of the second. The first is conditioned by the second in that it is what it is through abstraction from the inequality that the second proposition contains; the second conditioned by the first, in that it is in need of a connection in order to be a proposition.

The second proposition has also been stated in the subordinate form of the principle of sufficient reason. Or rather, it was first brought down to this extremely subordinate meaning when it was turned into the principle of causality. A has a ground means: to A pertains an existence that is not an existence of A: A is a being posited that is not the being posited of A. Hence, A ≠ A, A = B. If one abstracts from A’s being something posited, as one must in order to have the second proposition in its purity, it expresses A’s not being posited. To posit A as something posited and also as something not posited is already the synthesis of the first and second proposition.

Both propositions are principles of contradiction, but in an inverse sense. The first, the principle of identity, states that contradiction is = 0. The second proposition, insofar as one relates it to the first, states that contradiction is as necessary as non-contradiction. Taken separately (für sich) both propositions are posited on the same level. [But] if the second one is so stated that the first proposition is connected with it at the same time, then it is the highest possible expression of Reason by the intellect. This connection of the two propositions expresses the antinomy; and as an antinomy, as an expression of the absolute identity, it makes no difference whether we posit A = A or A = B as long as each of them, A = B and A = A, is taken as connection of both propositions. A = A contains the difference of A as subject and A as object together with their identity, just as A = B contains the identity of A and B together with their difference.

The intellect has not grown into Reason if it does not recognize the antinomy in the principle of sufficient reason which is a connection of both propositions. In that case the second proposition is not, formaliter, a new one for it: for the mere intellect A = B does not say more than the first propositions and consequently it conceives A’s being posited as B only as a repetition of A. That is to say, the intellect just holds fast to the identity and abstracts from the fact that when A is repeated as B or as posited in B, something else, a non-A, is posited and posited as A, hence, A is posited as non-A. If one reflects only on the formal aspect of speculation and holds fast to the synthesis of knowledge [only] in analytic form, then antinomy, that is, the contradiction that cancels itself, is the highest formal expression of knowledge.

Once antinomy is acknowledges as the explicit formula of truth, Reason has brought the formal essence of reflection under its control. The formal essence still has the upper hand, however, if thought, [conceived merely] in its character of abstract unity, i.e., exclusively in the form of the first proposition as opposed to the second, is posited as the first truth of philosophy, and a system of the reality of cognition is supposed to be erected by analysis of the application of thinking.[29] In that case, the entire course of this purely analytic business will be as follows:

Thought, as infinite repeatability of A as A, is an abstraction, the first proposition expressed as activity. But now the second proposition is lacking, the non-thought. There must necessarily be a transition to it as the condition of the first; it. Too. i.e., the matter, must be posited. Then the opposite will be complete; the transition from the first to the second is a certain kind of reciprocal connection between them, which is a very inadequate synthesis called an application of thought.[30] But even this weak synthesis goes counter to the presupposition that thought is a positing of A as A ad infinitum. For in the application, A is at the same time posited as non-A; and thought, in its absolute standing as infinite repetition of A as A, is suspended.

What is opposite to thought is, through its connection with thought, determines as something thought = A. But such a thought, such a positing = A is conditioned by an abstraction and is hence something opposite. Hence, that which is thought, besides the fact that it has been thought = A, has still other determinations = B, entirely independent of being merely determined [as something thought] by pure thought. There other determinations are brute data for thought. Hence for thought as the principle of the analytic way of philosophizing, there must be an absolute stuff. We shall discuss this further below.[31] With this absolute opposition as foundation the formal programme, in which the famous discovery that philosophy must be reduced to logic[32] consists, is allowed no immanent synthesis save that provided by the identity of the intellect, i.e., the repetition of A ad infinitum. But even for this repetition the identity needs some B, C, etc. in which the repeated A can be posited. In order for A to be repeatable, B, C, D, etc. have to be [literally “are"] a manifold, in which each is opposed to the other. Each of them has particular determinations not posited by A. That is to say, there exists an absolutely manifold stuff. Its B, C, D, etc. must fit in with A, as best it can.[33] This fitting in without rhyme or reason takes the place of an original identity. The basic fault can be presented as follows. There is no reflection, in respect to form, on the antinomy of the A = A and A = B. This whole analytic approach lacks the basic consciousness that the purely formal appearance of the Absolute is contradiction. Such consciousness can only come into being where speculation takes its point of departure in Reason and in the A = A as absolute identity of subject and object.

Transcendental Intuition

When speculation is viewed from the standpoint of mere reflection, the absolute identity appears in syntheses of opposites, i.e., in antinomies. The relative identities into which absolute identity differentiates itself are limited to be sure; they belong to the intellect and are not antinomic. At the same time, however, since they are identities, they are not pure concepts of the intellect. And they must be identities because nothing can stand as posited in a philosophy unless it is connected with the Absolute. But on the side of its connection with the Absolute, everything limited is a (relative) identity and hence something that is antinomic for reflection. – And this is the negative side of knowing, the formal aspect which, ruled[34] by Reason, destroys itself. Besides this negative side knowing has a positive side, namely intuition. Pure knowing, which would be knowing without intuition, is the nullification of the opposites in contradiction. Intuition without this synthesis of opposites, [on the other hand,] is empirical, given, non-conscious. Transcendental knowledge unites both reflection and intuition. It is at once concept and being. Because intuition become transcendental, the identity of the subjective and objective, which are separated in empirical intuition, enter consciousness. Knowledge, insofar as it becomes transcendental, posits not merely the concept and its condition – or the antinomy of both, the subjective – but at the same time the objective, that is, being.

In philosophical knowledge, what is intuited is an activity of both intelligence and nature,[35] of consciousness and the unconscious together. It belongs to both worlds at once, the ideal and the real. It belongs to the ideal world because it is posited in the intelligence and, hence, in freedom. It belongs to the real world because it gets its place in the objective totality, it is deduced as a link in the chain of necessity. If we take up the standpoint of reflection or freedom, the ideal is the first, and essence and being are only schematized intelligence. If we take up the standpoint of necessity or being, thought is only a schema of absolute being. In transcendental knowledge both being and intelligence are united. Likewise, transcendental knowledge and transcendental intuition are one and the same. The variation of expression merely indicates the prevalence of the ideal or real factor.

It is of the profoundest significance that it has been affirmed with so much seriousness that one cannot philosophize without transcendental intuition.[36]For what would this be, philosophizing without intuition? One would disperse oneself endlessly in absolute finitudes. Whether these finitudes are subjective concepts or objective things and even though one may pass from one to the other, philosophizing without intuition moves along an endless chain of finitudes, and the transition from being to concept or from concept to being is an unjustified leap. Philosophizing of this sort is called formal. For thing as well as concept is, each taken by itself, just a form of the Absolute. Formal philosophizing presupposed destruction of the transcendental intuition, an absolute opposition of being and concept. If it talks of the unconditioned, it converts even that into something formal, say the form of an Idea that is opposed to Being for instance. The better the method, the more glaring the results. To speculation, [on the contrary,] the finitudes are radii of the infinite focus which irradiates them at the same time that it is formed by them. In the radii the focus is posited and in the focus the radii. In the transcendental intuition all opposition is suspended, all distinction between the universe as constructed by and for the intelligence, and the universe as an organization intuited as objective and appearing independent, is nullified. Speculation produces the consciousness of this identity, and because ideality and reality are one in it, it is intuition.

Postulates of Reason

As a work of reflection the synthesis of the two opposites posited by reflection requires its completion; as antinomy that suspends itself, it needs its standing[37] in intuition. Speculative knowledge has to be conceived as identity of reflection and intuition. So if one posits only the share of reflection, which, as rational, is antinomic, but stands in a necessary connection with intuition, one can in that case say of intuition that it is postulated by reflection. Postulating Ideas is out of the question; for Ideas are the products of Reason or rather, they are the rational, posited as a product by the intellect.[38] The rational must be deduced in its determinate content, that is, it must be deduced starting from the contradiction of determinate opposites, the rational being their synthesis.[39] The only thing that can be postulated is the intuition that fills and sustains this antinomic aspect. This sort of ‘Idea’ that used to be postulated, is the ‘infinite progress,’ which is a mixture of empirical and rational elements: the intuition of time is empirical, while the suspension of all time, its expansion to infinity (Verunend-lichung) is rational. But in the empirical progress, time is not purely infinitized, for in this progress time is supposed to have standing as something finite, as limited moments. It is an empirical infinitude. The true antinomy which posits both the limited and unlimited, not just side by side but together as identical, must ipso facto suspend the opposition. The antinomy postulates the determinate intuition of time, and this determinate intuition must be both the limited moment of the present and the unlimitedness of the moment’s being self-externalized (Aussersichgesetztsein). That is to say, it must be eternity. -

It is equally impossible to postulate intuition as something that is opposed to the Idea or rather, to the necessary antinomy. The intuition that is opposed to the Idea is a limited existent, precisely because it excludes the Idea. Intuition is indeed postulated by Reason, but not as something limited; it is postulated in order to complement the onesidedness of the work of reflection in such a way that the intuitive complement does not remain opposed to reflection but is one with it. In general one can see that this whole manner of postulating has its sole ground in the fact that the onesidedness of reflection is accepted as a starting point. This onesidedness requires, as the complement of its deficiency, the postulation of the opposite that is excluded from it. But this point of view places the essence of Reason in distorted perspective, for it here appears as something that is not self-sufficient but needy. When Reason recognizes itself as absolute, however, philosophy begins where reflection and its style of thinking ends, that is, it begins with the identity of Idea and Being. Philosophy does not have to postulate one of the opposites for in positing absoluteness it immediately posited both Idea and Being, and the absoluteness of Reason is nothing else but the identity of both.

Relation of Philosophizing to a Philosophical System

The need of philosophy can satisfy itself by simply penetrating to the principle of nullifying all fixed opposition and connecting the limited to the Absolute. This satisfaction found in the principle of absolute identity is characteristic of philosophy as such. [For a philosophizing that did no more than this] the known, as to its content, would be something contingent; the dichotomies, from whose nullification the known emerged,[40] would have been given and would have vanished, but they would not themselves be reconstructed syntheses. The content of such philosophizing would have no internal coherence and would not constitute an objective totality of knowledge. But the philosophizing would not necessarily be abstract reasoning simply on account of the incoherence of its content. Abstract reasoning only disperses the posited into ever greater manifoldness; thrown into this stream the intellect drifts without an anchor, yet the whole extension of its manifold is supposed to stand fast unanchored. For true philosophizing on the other hand, even though it may be incoherent, the posited and its opposites disappear because it does not simply put them in context with other finite things, but connects them with the Absolute and so suspends them.

Since the finite things are a manifold, the connection of the finite to the Absolute is a manifold. Hence, philosophizing must aim to posit this manifold as internally connected, and there necessarily arises the need to produce a totality of knowing, a system of science. As a result, the manifold of these connections finally frees itself from contingency: they get their places in the context of the objective totality of knowledge and their objective completeness is accomplished. The philosophizing that does not construct itself into a system is a constant flight from limitations – it is Reason’s struggle for freedom rather than the pure self-cognition of Reason that has become secure in itself and clear about itself. Free Reason and its action are one, and Reason’s activity is a pure self-exposition.

In this self-production of Reason the Absolute shapes itself into an objective totality, which is a whole in itself held fast and complete, having no ground outside itself, but founding by itself in its beginning, middle and end. A whole of this sort appears as an organization of propositions and intuitions. Every synthesis of Reason is united in speculation with the intuition corresponding to it; as identity of the conscious and non-conscious it is for itself in the Absolute and infinite. But at the same time, the synthesis is finite and limited, insofar as it is posited within the objective totality and has other syntheses outside itself. The identity that is least dichotomous – at the objective pole, matter, at the subjective pole, feeling (self-consciousness) – is at the same time an infinitely opposed identity, a thoroughly relative identity. Reason, the faculty of totality (qua objective totality), complements this relative identity with its opposite, producing through their synthesis a new identity which is in turn a defective one in the face of Reason, and which completes itself anew in the same way. The method of the system should be called neither synthetic nor analytic. It shows itself at its purest, when it appears as a development of Reason itself. Reason does not recall its appearance, which emanates from it as a duplicate, back into itself – for then, it would only nullify it. Rather, Reason constructs itself in its emanation as an identity that is conditioned by this very duplicate; it opposes this relative identity to itself once more, and in this way the system advances until the objective totality is completed. Reason then unites this objective totality with the opposite subjective totality to form the infinite world-intuition, whose expansion has at the same time connected into the richest and simplest identity.

It can happen that an authentic speculation does not express itself completely in its system, or that the philosophy of the system and the system itself do not coincide. A system may express the tendency to nullify all oppositions in the most definite way, and yet not pierce through to the most perfect identity on its own account. So in judging philosophical systems it is particularly important to distinguish the philosophy from the system. If the fundamental need has not achieved perfect embodiment in the system, if it has elevated to the Absolute something that is conditioned and that exists only as an opposite, then as a system it becomes dogmatism. Yet true speculation can be found in the most divergent philosophies, in philosophies that decry one another as sheer dogmatism or as mental aberration.[41] The history of philosophy one has value and interest if its holds fast to this viewpoint. For otherwise, it will not give us the history of the one, eternal Reason, presenting itself in infinitely manifold forms; instead it will give us nothing but a tale of the accidental vicissitudes of the human spirit and of senseless opinions, which the teller imputes to Reason, though they should be laid only to his own charge, because he does not recognize what is rational in them, and so turns them inside out.[42]

An authentic speculation, even when it does not succeed in constructing itself completely into a system, necessarily begins from the absolute identity. The dichotomy of the absolute identity into subjective and objective is a production by [or of] the Absolute. The basic principle then, is completely transcendental,[43] and from its standpoint there is no absolute opposition of the subjective and objective. But as a result the appearance of the Absolute is an opposition. The Absolute is not in its appearance, they are themselves opposites. The appearance is not identity. This opposition cannot be suspended transcendentally, that is to say, it cannot be suspended in such a fashion that there is no opposition in principle (an sich). For then appearance would just be nullified, whereas it is supposed to have being just like [the Absolute does]. It is as if one were to claim that the Absolute, in its appearance, had stepped out of itself. So, the Absolute must posit itself in the appearance itself, i.e., it must not nullify appearance but must construct it into identity.

The causal relation between the Absolute and its appearance is a false identity; for absolute opposition is at the basis of this relation. In the causal relation both opposites have standing, but they are distinct in rank. The union is forcible. The one subjugates the other. The one rules, the other is subservient. The unity is forced, and forced into a mere relative identity. The identity which ought to be absolute, is incomplete. Contrary to its philosophy, the system has turned into a dogmatism, it has either turned into realism positing objectivity absolutely, or into idealism positing subjectivity absolutely. Yet both realism and idealism emerged from authentic speculation, though this is more doubtful with respect to realism than to idealism.

Pure dogmatism, if it is a dogmatism of philosophy, remains within the opposition even as a tendency. The basic governing principle in it is the relation of causality in its more complete form as reciprocal interaction: the intelligible realm has effects upon the sensible realm or the sensible upon the intelligible.[44] In consistent realism and idealism the relation of causality plays only a subordinate role, even though it appears to govern – for in realism the subject is posited as produced by the object, and in idealism the object as produced by the subject. But the causal relation is essentially suspended, for the producing is an absolute producing, the product an absolute product; that is to say, the product has no standing apart from the producing; it is not posited as something self-sustaining, as something that has standing prior to and independent of the producing, as is the case with the pure causality relation, the formal principle of dogmatism. In dogmatism, the production is something posited by A and also, at the same time, not posited by A, so A is absolutely only subject, and A = A expresses merely an identity of the intellect. Even though philosophy in its transcendental business makes use of the causal relation yet B, which appears to be opposed to the subject, is in oppositeness a mere possibility and it remains absolutely a possibility, i.e., it is only an accident.[45] Thus the true relation of speculation, the substantiality relation [i.e., the relation of substance and accident] is the transcendental principle, though it appears under the guise of the causal relation. Or again, we might express this formally thus: genuine dogmatism does not recognize that there is an antinomy in this and hence does not recognize the necessity of suspending the subsistence of the opposites. The transition from one to the other by way of the causality relation is the only synthesis possible to dogmatism, and this is an incomplete synthesis.

Notwithstanding this sharp difference between transcendental philosophy and dogmatism, the former is apt to pass over into the latter, when it constructs itself into a system. This is the case if transcendental philosophy while [rightly] refusing to allow any real causal relation on the ground that nothing exists but the absolute identity in which all difference and standing of opposites is suspended, yet introduced the causality relation, insofar as appearance is also supposed to have a standing so the the Absolute must have a relation to appearance other than that of nullification. Thus appearance is turned into something subservient, and likewise[46] transcendental intuition is posited as something merely subjective and not objective, which is to say that the identity is not posited in the appearance. A = A and A = B remain both unconditioned whereas only A = A ought to be absolutely valid; that is, their identity is not set forth in their true synthesis which is no mere ought.

Thus in Fichte’s system Ego = Ego in the Absolute.[47] The totality sought by Reason leads to the second proposition which posits a non-Ego. Not only is this antinomy of the positing of both complete, but also their synthesis is postulated. But in this synthesis the opposition remains. It is not the case that both, Ego as well as non-Ego, are to be nullified, but one proposition is to survive, is to be higher in rank than the other. The speculation at the basis of the system demands the suspension of the opposites, but the system itself does not suspend them. The absolute synthesis which the system achieves is not Ego = Ego, but Ego ought to be equal to Ego. The Absolute is constructed for the transcendental viewpoint but not for the viewpoint of appearance. Both still contradict each other. The identity did not also pass completely into objectivity.[48] Therefore transcendentality is itself something opposite, the subjective. One may also say that the appearance was not completely nullified.

In the following presentation of Fichte’s system an attempt will be made to show that pure consciousness, the identity of subject and object, established as absolute in the system, is a subjective identity of subject and object. The presentation will proceed by showing that the Ego, the principle of the system, is a subjective Subject-Object. This will be shown directly, as well as by inspecting [not only] the deduction of nature, [but also] and particularly, the relations of identity of the special sciences of morality and natural law and the relation of the whole system to the aesthetic sphere.

It will be clear from what has been said that we are concerned in this presentation with Fichte’s philosophy as a system and not as authentic philosophizing.[49] As philosophy it is the most thorough and profound speculation, all the more remarkable because at the time when it appeared even the Kantian philosophy had proved unable to awaken Reason to the lost concept of genuine speculation.


1. Wissenshaft. It is characteristic of Schelling and Hegel (largely as a result of Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre) that they do not merely regard speculative philosophy as a “Science,” but as the only “Science” worth of the name. Hence “Science” and “philosophy” become synonymous.

2. In his first “Philosophy of Spirit” (Winter 1803) Hegel makes the following remark about this: “The first act by which Adam constituted his dominion over the animals is that he gave them names, i.e., he nullified them as beings and made them into essentially ideal things (für sich Ideellen)” (N.K.A., VI, 288). Similarly then, the historian turns the living spirit of a philosophy into a definite “idea” in his own mind.

3. In his Lectures on the History of Philosophy (first given in 1805) Hegel criticized Dietrich Tiedmann as a collector of this kind. See Haldane and Simson, I, 112-3; or Gray, pp. 314-5.

4. Bayträge I, 5-6.

5. See the “Second Introduction to the Science of Knowledge” (Fichte, Werke, I, 513; Heath and Lachs, pp. 81-2).

6. Sthenische Beschaffenheit: the term is borrowed from the physiological theory of Dr. John Brown (1735-88), which influenced Schelling and Hegel greatly in this early period. Reinhold is, by contrast, an “asthenic” philosopher, but Hegel leaves it to us to supply this Brownian complement.

7. As if often the case in Hegel, the genitive here fulfills more than one function. “The need of philosophy” means both the need (at this time) for philosophy, and what philosophy needs (at this time).

8. There is perhaps an echo here of Goethe’s Faust: Ein Fragment (1790), lines 415-20. These lines of Mephistopheles were reproduced without change in Faust Part I (1808). Walter Kaufmann’s translation is as follows: “Who would study and describe the living starts / By driving the spirit out of its parts: / In the palm of his hands he holds all the sections, / Lacks nothing except the spirit’s connections, / Encheiresis naturae the chemists baptize it. / Mock themselves and don’t realize it” (Goethe’s “Faust” [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1961), p. 199, lines 1936-41). (We know that this passage impressed Hegel, and stuck in his mind. For he quoted it, from memory, in his Berlin lectures on Logic and again in his course on the Philosophy of Nature. See Encyclopaedia, Sections 38 Addn. And 246 Addn.)

9. Hegel capitalized Ein. The “Other” factor is “union” or “identity” (with the Absolute).

10. Als eine Welt von denkendem und gedachtem Wesen, in Gegensatz gegen eine Welt von Wirklichkeit fällt diese Entzweiung in den westlichen Norden. The reference here is to Descartes. This is not quite as plain as the French translator, Méry, thinks (p. 175, note F), but it is rendered certain by what Hegel says about the Cartesian philosophy in the “Introduction” to the Critical Journal (which he drafted only a few months later): “Against the Cartesian philosophy, which has expressed in philosophical form the all-emcompassing dualism in the culture of the modern period in our northwestern world... philosophy, like every aspect of living nature must seek means of salvation...” (N.K.A IV, 126). From the context of this latter passage it emerges clearly that Hegel regarded the Reformation as the religious expression, and the French Revolution as the political expression, of the dualism to which Descartes gave philosophical form. The “old life” of which these revolution, together with the Cartesian philosophy were the downfall, was that of Roman Catholic feudalism. But Christian culture was infected with this dualism from the beginning. The new life of which the “saved” philosophy (of Identity) will be the scientific expression must unite the North Western pole of dualism with the South-Eastern pole of “Union” found in classical Greece “far away and long ago.” Hegel and Schelling presumably regarded their native Swabia as the geographical “point of indifference” on this axis.

11. Hegel is principally thinking of Reinhold with his “founding and grounding” and his “arch-truth” (compare pp. 179-86 below).

12. There may perhaps by an echo of Pascal here: “Tu ne me chercherais pas, si tu ne m'avais trouvé” (Pensées, VII, 553).

13. See pp. 103-09.

14. We have omitted the einmal at the beginning of this sentence, because Hegel seems to have forgotten it himself. But it should be noticed that in the present paragraph Hegel seeks to show that “Reason makes the intellect boundless,” and in the next that “Reason suspends itself.”

15. Aufgegeben may means either “given up” or “set as task.” It is likely that Hegel is employing it in both meanings here. To the intellect, totality is something that is only present as infinite regress (or progress). Hence the totality is for it a task that is for ever set a new. But this “bad” concept of the infinite is the same as “giving it up” altogether.

16. Beyträge I, 106.

17. Compare ibid., pp. 108-12.

18. Ibid., p. 96

19. The “singular empirical known items” would here include – and indeed largely consist of – generic classifications and laws or law-like statements. The “limited, relative identity” in which they find their justification would be a basic assumption or general explanatory hypothesis of some kind.

20. Der gesunde Menschenverstand is very much what “common sense” is in English (and “le bon sens” in French). We have therefore followed the general practice of Hegel translators in rendering it thus. However, in its Hegelian context the German phrase has two advantages over its English and French counterparts. It carries in its “Menschen Verstand” an opposition to the divine intellect, and in its “Menschen Verstand” an opposition to Vernunft. These contrasts are lost in “common sense” and “bon sens.” They could only be preserved by a literal rendering (“healthy human intellect”) which would mislead the reader because of its seemingly technical character. Hegel’s attitude to the boasted “soundness” or “heath” of “common sense” when it is exploited in support of a philosophical position is highly ironic. For this reason, although he has nothing against “common sense” in its proper sphere (the making of practical decisions in ordinary life) he sometimes switches from the honorific “gesunde Menschen verstand” to “gemeine Menschenverstand” which has a slightly pejorative ring. Where he does this, we have used “ordinary common sense.” We have also used “sound sense” and “sound intellect” occasionally – to remind the reader of gesund.

21. Speculative philosophers had, of course, hosts of critics who attacked speculation in the name of common sense. Among the so-called Popular Philosophers of the Enlightenment F. Nicolai (1733-1811) comes to mind, and among the followers of Kant and Fichte perhaps W. T. Krug (1770-1842). It is more probable, though, that Hegel’s reference, if it is to any particular person or event at all, is to the Atheismusstreit through which Fichte had lost his chair at Jena in 1799.

22. Just as, in the preceding pages, the target of Hegel’s attack is not so much common sense as the role that certain philosophers give to it, so here he is not so much arguing against faith as such, as against certain philosophic conceptions of faith. He is probably thinking mainly of Jacobi, but Kant, Fichte and Schleiermacher – besides a host of lesser figures – may be in his mind too. Compare Faith and Knowledge, passim.

23. Kombinieren und zersetzen derselben. The reference of derselben is grammatically unclear: it may be either to “intertia” or to “atomic matter”; but the context is in favor of “atomic matter.”

24. This paragraph relates the overcoming of “common sense” theories – and all forms of what Hegel and Schelling called Unphilosophie – by speculative idealism to the similar overcoming of Newtonian physics by Schelling (and his friends and followers) in the new “philosophy of Nature” for which the Journal of Speculative Physics was the official organ. It is not clear whether the analogy is meant simply as a metaphor, or whether a strict Spinozist parallel is intended. It is hard to believe that the paragraph is more than a metaphor, however, become a literal interpretation would seem to commit Hegel to an atomistic theory of mind. But the real thrust of the paragraph is precisely that we have to overcome our atomistic notions about matter.

25. These and similar passages may perhaps be easily understood by connecting them with Kant’s distinction between analytic and synthetic judgments, a distinction which in Hegel’s terms is typical of the reflective philosophy of the intellect and must be overcome in the speculative philosophy of Reason. The connection is by way of conceptual transformations which need not be actual historical steps.

The first set of transformations concerns the copula “is.” The judgment “S is P” is taken to mean “S equals P.” And “S equals P” is further taken to mean the same as “S is identical with P.” Next, the identity relation is taken to be the form of the judgment while “S” and “P” are symbols for the matter (material, content, stuff) of the judgment.

The second set of transformations concerns the grammatical categories of subject and predicate. Paradigmatically, S is always taken to be a particular being and P a general concept or thought. So the first step is to replace the grammatical categories of subject and predicate by the ontological categories of being and thought. These, in turn, are tied to the epistemological categories of object and subject. Particular beings are objects; concepts or thought pertain to the subject. Finally, matter and form enter once more; for thought gives the form, and being gives the matter of the judgment.

If we take these two sets of transformations together, “S is P” becomes the expression of the identity of being and thought, of object and subject, of matter and form. But this is awkward. Within the idealistic current, the identity should be expressed as identity of thought and being and not of being and thought; of subject and object and not of object and subject; of form and matter and not of matter and form – just as, say, Queen Elizabeth would prefer to say that the Prime Minister is close to her rather than that she is close to the Prime Minister. Here, the equivocation of “subject” is a great help. The grammatical subject, whose correlate is the predicate, is allowed to swallow up the epistemological subject, whose correlate is the object; “S is P” becomes “subject is identical with object” (“S=O”). In the wake of that transformation, all other identities are reversed. Thought is identical with being; form with matter.

With these transformations as background, Hegel’s treatment of the formulas “A=A” and “A=B” becomes somewhat more intelligible. A radical change in the meaning of “analytic” and “synthetic” is involved. In the language of the intellect any sentence is either analytic or synthetic. But in the language of speculation, in which Reason expresses itself, a proposition must be both analytic and synthetic; for a speculative proposition asserts the identity of the opposites, that is, of thought and being, of subject and object, of form and matter. That they are opposites is the synthetic element; that they are posited as identical is the analytic element. To the intellect, which takes “A=A” and “A=B” in isolation from one another, “A=A” would be the analytic judgment and “A=B” the synthetic judgment. The speculative élite, however, is aware of the intrinsic unity of what reflection separates into “A=A” and “A=B.” Either “A=A” or “A=B” can function as the highest expression of Reason in the medium of intellect. Reason can see in either “A=A” or “A=B” the identical of what is antinomical to the intellect (although “A=B” is its more striking manifestation, to those at least who are only on their way from reflection to speculation, from intellect to Reason.) “A=A” obvious affirms identity; yet it acknowledges difference by placing “A” in the opposite roles of subject and predicate (which, according to the transformation rules, stand for thought and being). And “A=B” obviously affirms difference by placing different symbols in the opposite roles of subject and predicate, yet acknowledges their identity by “=.” Thus both “A=A” and “A=B” are analytic and synthetic at once. That is to say, they express in the language of reflection the identity of thought and being, subject and object, form and matter. Not only is Kant’s distinction between analytic and synthetic “annulled,” it is turned from a logical weapon against metaphysics into the heartbeat of metaphysics as speculation. Cf. pp. 109, 118 below.

26. “Founding and grounding” is Reinhold’s special trademark: compare p. 98 above, and pp. 179-81 below. The other catchwords remind us first of Kant and of Fichte respectively. But probably Reinhold is the principal target of Hegel’s irony throughout, since he first came to prominence as a disciple of Kant, and he had been an enthusiast for the new “science of knowledge” in its turn. He continued to use the vocabulary of both. In any case Hegel is certainly thinking of the contemporary epigones of the different “schools” of Critical Philosophy rather than of Kant and Fichte.

27. See Reinhold, Beyträge I, 111.

28. Kann er überhaupt gesetzt werden. The most immediate and natural antecender for er is “[der Satz] A nicht = A.” But the alert reader will soon notice that Hegel may very possibly mean “der erste Satz” (i.e., “A = A” or “the form of pure thinking”).

29. This paragraph is definitely aimed as Reinhold and Bardili. In the previous paragraph Hegel may have Jacobi in mind (as well).

30. See Reinhold: Beyträge, No. I, pp. 100 ff. (especially 106 ff). Compare pp. 188-92 below.

31. See pp. 188-9, 191-3, 194-7 below.

32. Reinhold, Beyträge, I, 98.

33. The first edition printed “b, c, d, etc.” here, but this seems to be just a typographical anomaly. Hegel emphasized “sich fügen” (fit in) because it is a technical term in Bardili’s “reduction of philosophy to logic” (on which he is here commenting). Compare note 3 above and pp. 188, 190 below.

34. The editors of the New Critical Editions suggest that regiert may be a misprint for negiert – but it need not be; for Hegel has explained above, how when the intellect becomes Reason, it gives itself the law of self-desctruction.

35. For the systems of Nature and Intelligence see pp. 160-71 below.

36. This is affirmed by Fichte (e.g. in the “Second Introduction to the Science of Knowledge,” Werke, I, 466-7, 472 [Heath and Lachs, pp. 41, 46]). The claim also recurs frequently (and even more explicitly) in Schelling. See, for instance, his System of Transcendental Idealism, Introduction § 4 or the lectures of 1802, On University Education ed. N. Guterman, p 49.

37. Ihr Bestehen: ihr may refer to “the synthesis” or (as Méry thinks) to “the two opposites,” or again to “antinomy” (as we take it).

38. The “postulation of Ideas” is first discussed in Kant’s “Dialectic of Pure Practical Reason” (Akad. V, 107-48). The crucial comment by Fichte about the right of the Ego to “postulate absolutely” is his footnote in Werke I, 260 (Heath and Lachs, p. 230). From Fichte’s earlier use of the term (Werke I, 218; Heath and Lachs, p. 196) we can gather that he regarded the fundamental theoretical principle of his “science of knowledge”: “The Ego posits itself as limited by the non-Ego” as a postulate. Hegel has both Kant’s practical and Fichte’s theoretical “postulates of Reason” in mind here.

39. See especially Kant’s “Dialectic of Pure Practical Reason,” Akad. V, 112-19; and Fichte, Werke I, 125-27 (Heath and Lachs, pp. 122-23). The whole procedure of the Science of Knowledge from this point onward is here alluded to.

40. We follow the text of the first edition. If, with the editors of Hegel’s Werke (1832, 1845 and the “Jubilee” edition) one changed aus deren Vernichtung es ging to auf deren Vernichtung es ging one would get “... the dichotomies whose nullification was the aim...”

41. Geisteverirrung, the word that Reinhold used for d'Holbach’s materialism. (See below p. 177.)

42. The model “teller” here is Reinhold. Hegel’s own aim in all historical inquiries was always to “give the history of the one eternal Reason.”

43. Kant generally uses the adjective “transcendental” to designate philosophical investigations into the possibility of synthetic a priori judgments. Schelling’s use of the term in the System of Transcendental Idealism is cognate with this Kantian definition, for “transcendental philosophy” is there opposed to “philosophy of nature.” But for Schelling, the ultimate principle of Identity is the goal both of “transcendental” and of “natural” inquiry; and with his “breakthrough” to a clear “intellectual intuition” of the “Absolute Identity,” that principle itself could begin to be called a “transcendental” one. Until this “breakthrough” transcendentality is itself “something opposite” (as Hegel says of Fichte’s “system” on p. 117 below).

44. The reciprocal force of the “or” here makes it virtually equivalent to “and.” Hegel is using Kant’s distinction between the intelligible (or “noumenal”) and the sensible (or “phenomenal”) worlds to embrace at the same time various other, more or less cognate, oppositions.

45. That is to say it inheres in the substance A (or it is an attribute of the One Substance of the Identity Philosophy).

46. In Hegel’s time, and with his pen, also still has, occasionally, the meaning “likewise” rather than “hence.”

47. Hegel here goes on to discuss the opening sections of Fichte’s Science of Knowledge (1794). See Werke I, 91-122 (Heath and Lachs, pp. 93-119).

48. This was the aim of Schelling’s philosophy of nature.

49. We should remember that the title of the essay is “Difference Between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System”; qua philosophy there cannot be a difference between them.


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