Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy
Part One: Greek Philosophy. First Period, First Division.
With Anaxagoras a light, if still a weak one, begins to dawn, because the understanding is now recognized as the principle. Aristotle says of Anaxagoras (Met. I. 3): “But he who said that reason (nouς), in what lives as also in nature, is the origin of the world and of all order, is like a sober man as compared with those who came before and spoke at random (eikh).” As Aristotle says, hitherto philosophers may “be compared to the fencers who fence in an unscientific way. Just as the latter often make good thrusts in their struggle, though not by any skill, these philosophers seem to speak without any knowledge of what they say.” Now if Anaxagoras, as a sober man amongst drunkards, was the first to reach this consciousness — for he says that pure thought is the actually existent universal and true — he yet, to a considerable extent, still thrusts into space.
The connection of his philosophy with what precedes is as follows: In Heraclitus’ Idea m motion, all moments are absolutely vanishing. Empedocles represents the gathering together of this motion into a unity, but into a synthetic unity; and with Leucippus and Democritus it is the same, With Empedocles, however, the moments of this unity are the existent elements of fire, water, &c., and with the others, pure abstractions, implicit being, thoughts. But in this way universality is directly asserted, for the opposing elements have no longer any sensuous support. We have had Being, Becoming, the One, as principles; they are universal thoughts and not sensuous, nor are they figures of the imagination; the content and its parts are, however, taken from what is sensuous, and they are thoughts in some sort of a determination. Anaxagoras now says that it is not gods, sensuous principles, elements, or thoughts — which really are determinations of reflection — but that it is the Universal, Thought itself, in and for itself, without opposition, all embracing, which is the substance or the principle. The unity as universal, returns from the opposition into itself, while in the synthesis of Empedocles, what is opposed is still apart from it and independent, and Thought is not Being. Here, however, Thought as pure, free process in itself, is the self determining universal, and is not distinguished from conscious thought. In Anaxagoras quite new ground is thus opened up.
Anaxagoras concludes this period, and after him a fresh one begins. In accordance with the favourite idea of there being a genealogical descent of principles from the teacher to the taught, because he was an Ionian, he is often represented as perpetuating the Ionic school, and as an Ionic philosopher: Hermotimus of Clazomenæ, too, was his teacher. To support this theory Diogenes Laërtius (II. 6) makes him a disciple of Anaximenes, whose birth is, however, placed in Ol. 55-58, or about sixty years earlier than that of Anaxagoras.
Aristotle says (Met. I. 3) that Anaxagoras first began by these determinations to express absolute reality as understanding. Aristotle and others after him, such as Sextus (adv. Math. IX. 7), mention the bare fact that Hermotimus gave rise to this conception, but it was clearly due to Anaxagoras. Little is gained if such a fact were true, since we learn no more about the philosophy of Hermotimus; it cannot have been much. Others have made numerous historical researches respecting this Hermotimus. The name we have already mentioned amongst those of whom it is said that Pythagoras existed in them before he lived as Pythagoras. We also have a story of Hermotimus to the effect that he possessed the peculiar gift of being able to make his soul quit his body. But this did him bad service in the end, since his wife, with whom he had a dispute, and who besides knew very well how matters stood, showed to their acquaintances this soul-deserted body as dead, and it was burnt before the soul reinstated itself — which soul must have been astonished. It is not worth while to investigate what lies at the ground of these ancient stories, i.e. into how we should regard the matter: we may think of it as implying a state of ecstasy.
We must consider the life of Anaxagoras before his philosophy. Anaxagoras, according to Diogenes (II. 7), born in Ol. 70 (500 comes earlier than Democritus, and in age also precedes Empedocles, yet, on the whole, he was contemporaneous with these, as also with Parmenides; he was as old as Zeno, and lived somewhat earlier than Socrates, but still they were acquainted with one another. His native town was Clazomenae, in Lydia, not very far from Colophon and Ephesus, and situated on an isthmus by which a great peninsula is connected with the mainland. His life is shortly summed up in the statement that lie devoted himself to the study of the sciences, withdrew from public affairs; according to Valerius Maximus (VIII. 7, extr. 6) he made numerous journeys, and finally, according to Tennemann (Vol. I. pp. 300, 415), in the forty-fifth year of his age, in the 81st Olympiad (456 B.C.), and at a propitious time, he came to Athens.
With him we thus find Philosophy in Greece proper, where so far there had been none, and coming, indeed, as far as Athens; hitherto either Asia Minor or Italy had been the seat of Philosophy, though, when the inhabitants of Asia Minor fell under Persian rule, with their less of freedom, it expired amongst them. Anaxagoras, himself a native of Asia Minor, lived in the important period between the war of the Medes and the age of Pericles, principally in Athens, which had now reached the zenith of its greatness, for it was both the head of Grecian power, and the seat and centre of the arts and sciences. Athens, after the Persian wars, brought the greater part of the Greek islands into subjection, as also a number of maritime towns in Thrace, and even further into the Black Sea. As the greatest artists collected in Athens, so also did the most noted philosophers and sophists live there — a circle of luminaries in the arts and sciences such as we have in Æschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Thucydides, Diogenes of Apollonia, Protagoras, Anaxagoras, and others from Asia Minor. Pericles then ruled the State, and raised it to that height of splendour which may be called the golden age in Athenian life; Anaxagoras, although living in the most flourishing time of Athenian life, touches on its decay, or rather reaches the first threatening of that decay, which ended in a total extermination of this beautiful life.
What is of special interest at this time is the opposition between Athens and Lacedæmon, the two Greek nations which contended with one another for the foremost place in Greece; here we must therefore allude to the principles of these celebrated States. While the Lacedæmonians had no arts or sciences, Athens had to thank the character of its constitution, and of its whole spirit, for the fact that it was the seat of the sciences and fine arts. But the constitution of Lacedæmon is also worthy of high esteem, for it regulated and restrained the high Doric spirit, and its principal feature was that all personal peculiarity was subordinated, or rather sacrificed, to the general aim of the life of the State, and the individual had the consciousness of his honour and sufficiency only in the consciousness of working for the State. A people of such genuine unity, in whom the will of the individual had, properly speaking, quite disappeared, were united by an indestructible bond, and Lacedæmon was hence placed at the head of Greece, and obtained the leadership, which, we find, it held among the Argives in the days of Troy. This is a great principle which must exist in every true State, but which with the Lacedæmonians retained its one-sided character; this one-sidedness was avoided by the Athenians, and by that means they became the greater. In Lacedæmon personality proper was so much disregarded that the individual could not have free development or expression; individuality was not recognized, and hence not brought into harmony with the common end of the State. This abrogation of the rights of subjectivity, which, expressed in his own way is also found in Plato’s Republic, was carried very far with the Lacedæmonians. But the universal is living spirit only in so far as the individual consciousness finds itself as such within it; the universal is not constituted of the immediate life and being of the individual, the mere substance, but formed of conscious life. As individuality which separates itself from the universal is powerless and falls to the ground, the one-sided universal, the morality of individuality cannot stand firm. The Lacedæmonian spirit, which had not taken into account the freedom of consciousness, and whose universal had isolated itself therefrom, had hence to see it break forth in opposition to the universal; and though the first to come forward as the liberators of Greece from its tyranny were the Spartans, whom even Athens thanks for the expulsion of the descendants of Pisistratus, their relationship to their confederates soon passes into that of common, mean, tyranny. Within the State it likewise ends in a harsh aristocracy, just as the fixed equilibrium of property (each family retaining its inheritance, and through forbidding the possession of money, or trade and commerce, preventing the possibility of inequality in riches) passes into an avarice which, as opposed to this universal, is brutal and mean. This essential, moment of particularity, not being taken into the State, and hence not made legal and moral (moral first of all), comes forth as vice. In a rational organization all the elements of the Idea are present; if the liver were isolated as bile it would become not more, and not less active, but becoming antagonistic, it would isolate itself from the corporate economy of the body. Solon, on the contrary, gave to the Athenians not only equality of laws and unity of spirit in their constitution (which was a purer democracy than in Sparta), but although each citizen had his substantial consciousness in unity with the laws of the State, he also gave free play to the individual mind, so that each might do as he would, and might find expression for himself. Solon entrusted the executive to the people, not to the Ephors, and this became self-government after the displacement of the tyrants, and thus in truth a free people arose; the individual had the whole within himself, as he had his consciousness and action in the whole. Thus we see in this principle the formation of free consciousness and the freedom of individuality in its greatness. The principle of subjective freedom appears at first, however, still in unison with the universal principle of Greek morality as established by law, and even with mythology; and thus in its promulgation, because the genius of its conceptions could develop freely, it brought about these masterpieces in the beautiful plastic arts, and the immortal works of pœtry and history. The principle of subjectivity had, thus far, not taken the form that particularity, as such, should be set free, and that its content should be a subjectively particular, at least distinguished from the universal principle, universal morality, universal religion, universal laws. Thus we do not see the carrying out of isolated ideas, but the great, moral, solid, divine content made in these works object for consciousness, and generally brought before consciousness. Later we shall find the form of subjectivity becoming free for itself, and appearing in opposition to the substantial, to morality, religion, and law.
The basis of this principle of subjectivity, though it is still a merely general one, we now see in Anaxagoras. But amongst this noble, free, and cultured people of Athens, he who had the happiness to be first, was Pericles, and this circumstance raised him in the estimation of the individual to a place so high that few could reach it. Of all that is great amongst men, the power of ruling over the will of men who have but one will, is the greatest, for this controlling individuality must be both the most universal and the most living — a lot for a mortal being than which hardly any better can be found. His individuality was, according to Plutarch. (in Pericle 5) as deep as it was perfect; as serious (he never laughed), as full of energy and restfulness: Athens had him the whole day long. Thucydides has preserved some of Pericles’ speeches to the people which allow of few works being compared to them. Under Pericles the highest culture of the moral commonwealth is to be found, the juncture where individuality is still under and also in the universal. Presently individuality prevails, because its activity falls into extremes, since the state as state, is not yet independently organized within itself. Because the essence of the Athenian State was the common spirit, and the religious faith of individuals in this constituted their essence, there disappears with the disappearance of this faith, the inner Being of the people, since the spirit is not in the form of the Notion as it is in our states. The speedy transition to this last is the nouς, subjectivity, as Being, self-reflection. When Anaxagoras at this time, the principle of which has just been given, came to Athens, he was sought out by Pericles, and, as his friend., lived in very intimate relations with him, before the latter occupied himself with public affairs. But Plutarch (in Pericle 4, 16) also relates that Anaxagoras came to want because Pericles neglected him — did not supply the illuminating lamp with oil.
A more important matter is that Anaxagoras (as happened later with Socrates and many other philosophers) was accused of despising those whom the people accepted as gods. The prose of the understanding came into contact with the pœtic, religious point of view. It is distinctly said by Diogenes Laërtius (II. 12) that Anaxagoras believed the sun and stars to be burning stones; and he is, according to Plutarch, (in Pericle, 6) blamed for having explained something that the prophets stated to be a marvellous omen, in a natural way; it quite tallies with this that he is said to have foretold that on the day of Ægos-Potamos, where the Athenians lost their last fleet against Lysander, a stone should fall from heaven. The general remark might be made of Thales, Anaximander, that the sun, moon, earth and stars were counted as mere things, i.e. as objects external to mind, and that they no longer held them to be living gods, but represented them in different ways — which ideas, for the rest, deserve no further consideration, since these matters belong properly to ordinary learning. Things maybe derived from thought; thought really brings about the result that certain objects which may be called divine, and certain conceptions of these which may be called pœtic, together with the whole range of superstitious beliefs, are demolished — they are brought down to being what are called natural things. For in thought,, as the identity of itself and of Being, mind knows itself as the truly actual, so that for mind in thought, the unspiritual and material is brought down to being, mere things, to the negative of mind. All the ideas of those philosophers have this in common, that nature is through them undeified; they brought the pœtic view of nature down to the prosaic, and destroyed the pœtic point of view which ascribes to all that is now considered to be lifeless, a life proper to itself, perhaps also sensation, and, it may be, a being after the usual order of consciousness. The loss of this point of view is not to be lamented as if unity with nature, pure faith, innocent purity and childlike spirit went with it. Innocent and childlike it may certainly have been, but reason is just the going forth from such innocence and unity with nature. So soon as mind grasps itself, is for itself, it must for that very reason confront the “other” of itself as a negation of consciousness, i.e. look on it as something devoid of mind, an unconscious and lifeless thing, and it must first come to itself through this opposition. There is in this a fixing of self-moving things such as are met with in the myths of the ancients, who relate such tales as that the Argonauts secured the rocks on the Straits of the Hellespont which formerly moved like scissors. Similarly progressive culture consolidated that which formerly was thought to have its own motion and life in itself, and made it into unmoving matter. This transition of the mythical point of view into the prosaic, here comes to he recognized by the Athenians. A prosaic point of view such as this, assumes that man has requirements quite different from those he formerly had; in this we find traces of the powerful, necessary conversion brought about in the ideas of man through the strengthening of thought, through knowledge of himself, and through Philosophy.
The institution of charges of atheism, which we shall touch upon more fully in dealing with Socrates, is, in Anaxagoras’ case, quite comprehensible, from the specific reason that the Athenians, who were envious of Pericles, who contended with him for the first place, and who did not venture to proceed against him openly, took his favourites to law, and sought through charges against his friend, to injure him. Thus his friend Aspasia was brought under accusation, and the noble Pericles had, according to Plutarch (in Pericle, 32), in order to save her from condemnation, to beg the individual citizens of Athens with tears for her acquittal. The Athenian people in their freedom, demanded such acts of the potentates to whom they allowed supremacy, for thereby an acknowledgment was given of their subordination to the people; they thus made themselves the Nemesis in respect to the high place accorded to the great, for they placed themselves in a position of equality with these, while these again made evident their dependence, subjection and powerlessness before the others. What is told about the result of this charge against Anaxagoras is quite contradictory and uncertain: Pericles certainly saved him from condemnation to death. He was either, as some say, condemned only to banishment after Pericles had led him before the people, speaking and entreating for him, after, by reason of his age, attenuation and weakness the sympathy of the people bad been aroused; or else, as others say, with the help of Pericles, he escaped from Athens and was in absence condemned to death, the judgment never being executed upon him. Others again say that he was liberated, but from the vexation that he felt respecting these charges, and from apprehension as to their repetition, he voluntarily left Athens. And at about sixty or seventy years of age, he died in Lampsacus in the 88th Olympiad (428 B.C.).
1. The logical principle of Anaxagoras was that he recognized the nouς as the simple, absolute essence of the world. The simplicity of the nouς is not a Being but a universality which is distinguished from itself, though in such a way that the distinction is immediately sublated and the identity is set forth for itself. This universal for itself, sundered, exists in purity only as thought; it exists also in nature as objective existence, but in that case no longer purely for itself, but as having particularity as an immediate in it. Space and time are, for example, the most ideal, universal facts in nature as such, but there is no pure space, no pure time and motion any more than any pure matter — for this universal is immediately defined space, air, earth, &c. In thought, when I say, I am I, or I= I. I certainly distinguish something from me, but the pure unity remains; there is no movement but a distinction which is not distinguished, or the being-for-me. And in all that I think, if the thought has a definite content, it is my thought: I am thus known to myself in this object. This universal which thus exists for itself and the individual, or thought and being, thus, however, come into definite opposition. Here the speculative unity of this universal with the individual should be considered as it is posited as absolute unity, but the comprehension of the Notion itself is certainly not found with the ancients. We need not expect a pure Notion such as one of an understanding realizing itself into a system, organized as a universe.
How Anaxagoras enunciated the Notion of the nouς, Aristotle (De anim. I. 2) gœs on to tell: “Anaxagoras maintains that the soul is the principle of movement. Yet he dœs not always express himself fully about the soul and nouς: he seems to separate nouς and soul from one another, and still he makes use of them as though they were the same existence, only that by preference he makes the nouς the principle of everything. He certainly speaks frequently of the nouς as of the cause of the beautiful and right, but another time he calls it the soul. For it is in all animals, in large as well as small, the higher kind and the lower; it alone of all existence is the simple, unadulterated and pure; it is devoid of pain and is not in community with any other.” What we therefore have to do is to show from the principle of motion, that it is the self-moving; and this thought is, as existent for itself. As soul, the self-moving is only immediately individual; the nouς, however, as simple, is the universal. Thought moves on account of something: the end is the first simple which makes itself result; this principle with the ancients is grasped as good and evil, i.e. end as positive and negative. This determination is a very important one, but with Anaxagoras it was not fully worked out. While in the first place the principles are material, from these Aristotle then distinguishes determination and form, and thirdly he finds in the process of Heraclitus, the principle of motion. Then in the fourth place there comes the reason why, the determination of end, with the nouς; this is the concrete in itself. Aristotle adds in the abovementioned passage (p. 192), “according to these men” (the Ionians and others) “and in reference to such causes” (water, fire, &c.), “since they are not sufficient to beget the nature of things, the philosophers are, as already said, compelled by the truth to go on to the principle following (exomenhn). For neither the earth nor any other principle is capable of explaining the fact that while on the one hand all is good and beautiful, on the other, something else is produced, and those men do not seem to have thought that this was so; nor is it seemly to abandon such matters to hazard (automatw) and to chance.” Goodness and beauty express the simple restful Notion, and change the Notion in its movement.
With this principle comes the determination of an understanding as of self-determining activity; this has hitherto been wanting, for the Becoming of Heraclitus, which is only process, is not yet as fate, the independently self-determining. By this we must not represent to ourselves subjective thought; in thinking we think immediately of our thought as it is in consciousness. Here, on the contrary, quite objective thought is meant, active understanding — as we say, there is reason in the world, or we speak of genera in nature which are the universal. The genus animal is the substantial of the dog; the dog itself is this; the laws of nature are themselves nature’s immanent essence. The nature is not formed from without as men make a table; this is also made with understanding, but through an understanding outside of this wood. This external form, which is called the understanding, immediately occurs to us in speaking of the understanding but here the universal is meant, that which is the immanent nature of the object itself. The nouς is thus not a thinking existence from without which regulates the world; by such the meaning present to Anaxagoras would be quite destroyed and all its philosophic interest taken away. For to speak of an individual, a unit from without, is to fall into the ordinary conception and its dualism; a so-called thinking principle is no longer a thought, but is a subject. But still the true universal is for all that not abstract, but the universal is just the determining in and out of itself of the particular in and for itself. In this activity, which is independently self-determining, the fact is at once implied that the activity, because it constitutes process, retains itself as the universal self-identical. Fire, which, according to Heraclitus, was process, dies away and merely passes over, without independent existence, into the opposite; it is certainly also a circle and a return to fire, but the principle dœs not retain itself in its determinateness as the universal, seeing that a simple passing into the opposite takes place. This relation to itself in determination which we see appearing in Anaxagoras, now, however, contains the determination of the universal though it is not formally expressed, and therein we have the end or the Good.
I have just recently (p. 316) spoken of the Notion of the end, yet by that we must not merely think of the form of the end as it is in us, in conscious beings. At first, end, in as far as I have it, is my conception, which is for itself, and the realization of which depends on my wish; if I carry it out, and if I am not unskilful, the object produced must be conformable to the end, containing nothing but it. There is a transition from subjectivity to objectivity through which this opposition is always again sublated. Because I am discontented with my end in that it is only subjective, my activity consists in removing this defect and making it objective. In objectivity the end has retained itself; for instance, if I have the end in view of building a house and am active for that end, the house results in which my end is realized. But we must not, as we usually do, abide at the conception of this subjective end; in this case both I and the end exist independently and externally in relation to each other. In the conception that God, as wisdom, rules the world in accordance with an end, for instance, the end is posited for itself in a wise, figuratively conceiving Being. But the universal of end is the fact that since it is a determination independently fixed, that rules present existence, the end is the truth, the soul of a thing. The Good in the end gives content to itself, so that while it is active with this content, and after it has entered into externality, no other content comes forth than what was already present. The best example of this is presented in life; it has desires, and these desires are its ends; as merely living, however, it knows nothing of these ends, but yet they are first, immediate determinations which are established The animal works at satisfying these desires, i.e at reaching the end; it relates itself to external things, partly mechanically, partly chemically. But the character of its activity dœs not remain mechanical or chemical; the product is rather the animal itself, which, as its own end, brings forth in its activity only itself, since it negates and overturns those mechanical or chemical relationships. In mechanical and chemical process, on the other hand, the result is something different, in which the subject dœs not retain itself; but in the end, beginning and end are alike, for we posit the subjective objectively in order to receive it again. Self-preservation is a continual production by which nothing new, but always the old, arises; it is a taking back of activity for the production of itself.
Thus this self-determining activity, which is then active on something else, enters into opposition, but it again negates the opposition, governs it, in it reflects upon itself; it is the end, the thought, that which conserves itself in its self-determination. The development of these moments is the business of Philosophy from henceforth. But if we look more closely as to how far Anaxagoras has got in the development of this thought, we find nothing further than the activity determining from out of itself, which sets up a limit or measure; further than the determination of measure, development dœs not go. Anaxagoras gives us no more concrete definition of the nouς, and this we are still left to consider; we thus have nothing more than the abstract determination of the concrete in itself. The above-mentioned predicates which Anaxagoras gives the nouς, may thus indeed be affirmed. but they are, on their own account, one-sided only.
2. This is the one side in the principle of Anaxagoras; we now have to consider the going forth of the nouς into further determinations. This remaining part of the philosophy of Anaxagoras at first, however, makes us think that the hopes in which such a principle justified us must be very much diminished. On the other side, this universal is confronted by Being, matter, the manifold generally, potentiality as distinguished from the former as actuality. For if the Good or the end is also determined as potentiality, the universal, as the self-moving, may rather be called the actual in itself, the being-for-self, as opposed to implicit being, potentiality, passivity. Aristotle says in an important passage (Met. 1. 8): “If any one should say of Anaxagoras that he adopted two principles, he would rest his statement on a point respecting which the latter never really clearly defined himself, but which he had necessarily to acknowledge to those who adduced it. ... That is, Anaxagoras says that originally everything is mingled. ... But where nothing is yet separated, no distinguishing feature is present; such substance is neither a white, black, gray, nor any other colour, but colourless — , it has no quality nor quantity nor determination (ti). All is mingled except the nouς; this is unmingled and pure. With this in view, it thug occurs to him to denominate as principles the one, for it alone is single and unmingled, and the other-being (qateron), what we call the indeterminate, before it has become determined or partakes of any kind of form.”
This other principle is celebrated under the name of homocomeries (omoiomerh), of like parts or homogeneous, in Aristotle’s rendering (Met. I. 3, 7); Riemer translates h omoiomereia “the similarity of individual parts to the whole,” and ai omoiomereiai “the elementary matter,” yet this latter word seems to be of a later origin. Aristotle says, “Anaxagoras sets forth” (in respect of the material) “infinitely many principles, for he maintained that, like water and fire in Empedocles’ system, nearly all that is formed of like parts only arises from union and passes away through separation; other arising and passing away there is none, for equal parts remain eternal.” That is, the existent, the individual matter such as bones, metal, flesh, &c., in itself consists of parts like itself — flesh of small particles of flesh, gold of small gold particles, &c. Thus he said at the beginning of his work, “All has been alike.” (i.e. unseparated as in a chaos), “and has rested for an infinitude of time; then came the nouς, and it brought in movement, separated and brought order into the separated creation (diekosmhsen), in that it united the like.”
The homœomeriæ become clearer if we compare them with the conceptions of Leucippus and Democritus and others. In Leucippus and Democritus, as well as Empedocles, we saw this matter, or the absolute as objective existence, determined so that simple atoms — with the latter the four elements and with the former infinitely many — were set forth as separate only in form; their syntheses and combinations were existing things. Aristotle (De cœlo, III. 3) says further on this point, “Anaxagoras asserts of the elements the opposite to Empedocles. For the latter takes as original principles, fire, air, earth, and water, through whose union all things arise. On the other hand, Anaxagoras maintains what are of like parts such as flesh, bones, or the like to be simple materials; such things as water and fire, on the contrary, are a mixture of the original elements. For anyone of these four consists of the infinite admixture of all invisible existing things of like parts, which hence come forth from these.” The principle held good for him as for the Eleatics, that “the like only comes out of the like; there is no transition into the opposite, no union of opposites possible.” All change is hence to him only a separation and union of the like; change as true change, would be a Becoming out of the negative of itself. “That is, because Anaxagoras,” says Aristotle (Phys. I, 4), “partook of the view of all physicists that it is impossible that anything can come out of nothing, there was nothing left but to admit that what becomes was already present as an existent, but that, on account of its small size, it was imperceptible to us.” This point of view is also quite different from the conception of Thales and Heraclitus, in which, not only the possibility, but the actuality of the transformation of these like qualitative differences is essentially maintained. But to Anaxagoras with whom the elements are a mingled chaos formed therefrom, having only an apparent uniformity, concrete things arise through the severance of these infinitely many principles from such a chaos, since like finds like. Respecting the difference between Empedocles and Anaxagoras, there is further what Aristotle adds in the same place: “The former allows a change (peri on) in these conditions, the latter only their one appearance.” The conception of Democritus is similar to that of Anaxagoras in so far as that an infinite manifold is the original source. But with Anaxagoras the determination of the fundamental principles appears to contain that which we consider as organized, and to be by no means an independently existent simple; thus perfectly individualized atoms such as particles of flesh and of gold, form, through their coming together, that which appears to be organized. That comes near our ordinary ideas. Means of nourishment, it is thought, contain such parts as are homogeneous to blood, flesh, &c. Anaxagoras hence says, according to Aristotle (De gen. anim. I. 18), “Flesh comes to flesh through food.” Digestion is thus nothing more than the taking up of the homogeneous and separation of the heterogeneous; all nourishment and growth is thus not true assimilation but only increase, because each internal organ of the animal only draws its parts to itself out of the various plants, bodies, &c. Death is, on the other hand, the separation of the like and the mingling with the heterogeneous. The activity of the nouς, as the sundering of the like out of the chaos and the putting together of the like, as also the setting at liberty again of this like, is certainly simple and relative to itself, but purely formal and thus for itself content-less.
This is the general standpoint of the philosophy of Anaxagoras, and quite the same standpoint which in more recent times reigns in chemistry for instance; flesh is certainly no longer regarded as simple, but as being hydrogen, &c. The chemical elements are oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and metals, &c. Chemistry says, if you want to know what flesh, wood, stone, &c., really are, you must set forth their simple elements, and these are ultimate. It also says that much is only relatively simple, e.g. platinum consists of three or four metals. Water and air were similarly long held to be simple, but chemistry at length analyzed them. From this chemical point of view, the simple principles of natural things are determined as infinitely qualitative and thus accepted as unchangeable and invariable, so that all else consists only of the combination of these simples. Man, according to this, is a collection of carbon and hydrogen, some earth, oxides, phosphorus, &c. It is a favourite idea of the physicists to place in the water or in the air, oxygen and carbon, which exist and only require to be separated. This idea of Anaxagoras certainly also differs from modern chemistry; that which we consider as concrete, is for him qualitatively determined or elementary. Yet he allows, with regard to flesh, that the parts are not all alike. “For this reason, they say,” remarks Aristotle (Phys. 1. 4; Met. IV. 5), — but not particularly of Anaxagoras — “everything is contained in everything, for they saw everything arise out of everything: it only appears to be different and is called different in accordance with the predominating number of the particular kind of parts which have mingled themselves with others. In truth the whole is not white, or black, or sweet, or flesh., or bones; but the homœomeriæ which have most accumulated in any place, bring about the result that the whole appears to us as this determinate.” As thus each thing contains all other things, water, air, bones, fruits, &c., on the other hand, the water contains flesh as flesh, bones, &c. Into this infinitely manifold nature of the principles, Anaxagoras thus gœs back; the sensuous has first arisen through the accumulation of all those parts, and in it the one kind of parts then has a predominance.
While he defines absolute existence as universal, we see here that in objective existence, or in matter, universality and thought abandon Anaxagoras. The implicit is to him, indeed, no absolutely sensuous Being; the homœomeriæ are the non-sensuous, i.e. the invisible and inaudible, &c. This is the highest point reached by common physicists in passing from sensuous Being to the non-sensuous, as to the mere negation of the being-for-us; but the positive side is that existent Being is itself universal. The objective is to Anaxagoras certainly the nouς, but for him the other-Being is a mixture of simple elements, which are neither flesh nor fish, red nor blue; again this simple is not simple in itself, but in its essence consists of homœomeriæ, which are, however, so small that they are imperceptible. The smallness thus dœs not take away their existence, for they are still there; but existence is just the being perceptible to sight, smell, &c. These infinitely small homœomeriæ undoubtedly disappear in a more complete conception; flesh, for instance, is such itself, but it is also a mixture of everything, i.e. it is not simple. Further analysis equally shows how such a conception must, to a greater or lesser degree, become confused; on the one side each form is thus in its main elements, original, and these parts together constitute a corporeal whole; this whole has, however, on the other side, to contain everything in itself. The nouς, then, is only what binds and separates, what divides and arranges [das diakosmirende]. This may suffice us; however easily we may get confused with the homœomeriae of Anaxagoras, we must hold fast to the main determination. The homœomeriæ still form a striking conception, and it may be asked how it conforms with the rest of Anaxagoras’ principle.
3. Now as to the relation of the nouς to that matter, both are not speculatively posited as one, for the relation itself is not set forth as one, nor has the Notion penetrated it. Here the ideas become in some measure superficial, and in some measure the conceptions are more consistent as regards the particular, than they at first appear. Because the understanding is the self-determining, the content is end, it retains itself in relation to what is different; it dœs not arise and pass away although it is in activity. The conception of Anaxagoras that concrete principles subsist and retain themselves, is thus consistent; he abolishes arising and passing away and accepts only an external change, a uniting together, and a severance of what is so united. The principles are concrete and have content, i.e. so many ends; in the change that takes place the principles really retain themselves. Like only gœs with like even if the chaotic mixture is a combination of the unlike; but this is only a combination and not an individual. living form which maintains itself, binding like to like. Thus, however rude these ideas are, they are still really in harmony with the nouς.
But if the nouς is with Anaxagoras the moving soul in all, it yet remains to the real, as the soul of the world and the organic system of the whole, a mere word. For the living as living, since the soul was conceived of as principle, the ancients demanded no further principle (for it is the self-moving), but for determinateness, which the animal is as element in the system of the whole, they again required only the universal of these determinations. Anaxagoras calls the understanding such a principle, and in fact the absolute Notion, as simple existence, the self-identical in its differences, the dividing, the reality-establishing, must be known as such. But that Anaxagoras showed forth the understanding in the universe, or had grasped it as a rational system — of this not only do we not find a trace, but the ancients expressly say that he simply let the matter pass, just as when we say that the world or nature is a great system, the world is wisely ordered or is generally speaking rational. By this we are shown no more of the realization of this reason or the comprehensibility of the world. The nouς of Anaxagoras is thus still formal, although the identity of the principle with the. realization was recognized. Aristotle (Met. I. 4) recognizes the insufficiency of the Anaxagorean principle: “Anaxagoras, indeed, requires the nouς for his formation of the world-system; that is, when he has a difficulty in showing the reason for which it is in accordance with necessity, he brings it in; otherwise he employs anything for the sake of explanation, rather than thought.”
It is nowhere more clearly set forth that the nouς of Anaxagoras is still formal, than in the well-known passage out of Plato’s Phædo (p. 97-99, Steph.; p. 85-89, Bekk.), which is noteworthy for its exposition of the philosophy of Anaxagoras. Socrates, according to Plato, states most definitely both what the absolute to them was, and why Anaxagoras did not satisfy them. I quote this because it will best of all lead us on to the main conception which we recognize in the philosophic consciousness of the ancients; at the same time it is an example of the loquacity of Socrates. Socrates’ understanding of the nouς as end is better because its determinations are congenial to him, so that we also see in it the principal forms that appear in Socrates. Plato makes Socrates, in prison, an hour before his death, relate at considerable length his experiences with regard to Anaxagoras: “When I heard it read from a book of Anaxagoras, that he said that the understanding is the disposer of the world and the first cause, I rejoiced in such a cause, and I held that if Mind apportioned out all reality, it would apportion it for the best” (the end would be shown forth). “Now if anyone wished to find the cause of the individual thing, how it becomes, and how it passes away, or how it is, he must discover this from what is best for that thing, whether it is being or in some way suffering or doing.” That the understanding is cause, or that everything is made for the best, means the same thing; this will become clearer from the opposite. It is further said, “For this reason a man has only to consider for himself, as for all others, what is best and most perfect, and then he would of necessity know the worse, for the same science comprises both. Thus reflecting, I rejoiced that I could believe that I had found in Anaxagoras a teacher of the cause of existence” (of the good) “such as I approved of; he would, I believed, tell me whether the earth was flat or round, and if he told me this, he would show me the cause and necessity of the fact, because he would show me the one or the other as being the better; and if he said that the earth is in the centre, he would show me that it was better that it should be in the centre” (i.e. its implicitly and explicitly determined end, and not utility as an externally determined end). “And when he had shown me this, I should be satisfied though he brought forward no other kind of causes, for the same would hold good for the sun, the moon, and the other stars, their respective velocities, returnings, and other conditions. Because he assigned its cause to each and to all in common, I thought that he would explain what was best for each and what was best for all” (the free, implicitly and explicitly existent Idea, the absolute end). “I would not have given up this hope for a great deal, but seized these writings zealously and read them as soon as possible in order to learn as soon as possible the good and the evil. These bright hopes faded when I saw that he did not require thought at all nor any reason for the formation of things, but had recourse to air, fire, water and many other eccentricities.” We here see how to what is best, according to the understanding (the relation of final end), that which we call natural causes is opposed, just as in Leibnitz the operating and the final causes are different.
Socrates explains this in the following way It appears to me to be as if some one were to say that Socrates performs all his actions with understanding, and then in going on to give the reasons for each of my actions, were to say that I sit here because my body consists of bones and muscles the bones are fixed and have joints that divide them (diaf uaς, but the muscles have the power of extending and bending, and they cover the bones with flesh and skin; it is as though he were further to bring forward as the cause of my talking with you, other similar causes, sounds, and air, hearing, and a thousand other things, but omitted to give the true cause” (free independent determination), “which is that the Athenians judged it fit to condemn me, and therefore I judged it better and more just to sit here and to suffer the punishment which they accorded” (we must recollect that one of bis friends had arranged everything for the flight of Socrates, but that he refused to go) “for else, by the dog of Egypt, how long ago would these bones and muscles have gone to Megara or to Bœotia, had they been moved only by their opinion of what was best, and had I not considered it juster and better to bear the punishment which the State laid upon me, instead of escaping and fleeing from it.” Plato here correctly places the two kinds of reason and cause in opposition to one another — the cause proceeding from ends, and the inferior, subject, and merely external causes of chemistry, mechanism, &c. — in order to show the discrepancy between them, as here exemplified in the case of a man with consciousness. Anaxagoras seems to define an end and to wish to proceed from it; but he immediately lets this go again and proceeds to quite external causes. “But to call these” (these bones and muscles) “causes is quite improper. If, however, anyone were to say that without having bones and muscles and whatever else I have, I could not do that which I consider best, he would be quite right. But to say that from such causes, I do that which I do, and do with understanding; to say that I do not do it from the choice of what is best — to make such an assertion shows a great want of consideration; it signifies an incapacity to distinguish that the one is the true cause and the other is only that without which the cause could not operate,” i.e. the conditions.
This is a good example for showing that we miss the end in such modes of explanation. On the other hand, it is not a good example, because it is taken from the kingdom of the self-conscious will, where deliberate and not unconscious end reigns. In this criticism of the Anaxagorean nouς we can certainly see it generally expressed that Anaxagoras made no application of his nouς to reality. But the positive element in the conclusion of Socrates seems, on the other hand, to be unsatisfying, because it gœs to the other extreme, namely, to desire causes for nature which do not appear to be in it, but which fall outside of it in consciousness. For what is good and beautiful is partly due to the thought of consciousness as such; end or purposive action is mainly an act of consciousness and not of nature. But in so far as ends become posited in nature, the end, as end, on the other hand, falls outside of it in our judgment only; as such it is not in nature itself, for in it there are only what we call natural causes, and for its comprehension we have only to seek and show causes that are immanent. According to this, we distinguish, for instance, in Socrates the end and ground of his action as consciousness, and the causes of his actual action: and the latter we would undoubtedly seek in his bones, muscles, nerves, &c. Since we banish the consideration of nature in relation to ends — as present in our thought and not existent in nature — we also banish from our consideration teleological explanations in nature formerly admired, e.g. that grass grows that animals may eat it, and that these last exist and eat grass, so that we may eat them. The end of trees is said to be that their fruit may be consumed and that they should give us wood for heat; many animals have skins for warm clothing; the sea in northern climates floats timber to the shores because on these shores themselves no wood grows, and the inhabitants can hence obtain it, and so on. Thus presented, the end, the Good, lies outside of the thing itself: the nature of a thing then becomes considered, not in and for itself, but only in relation to another which is nothing to it. Thus, because things are only useful for an end, this determination is not their own but one foreign to them. The tree, the grass, is as natural existence, independent, and this adaptation of it to an end, such as making grass that which is to be eaten, dœs not concern the grass as grass, just as it dœs not concern the animal that man should clothe himself in his skin; Socrates may hence seem to miss in Anaxagoras this mode of looking at nature. But this to us familiar way of regarding the good and expedient is on the one hand not the only one, and dœs not represent Plato’s meaning, while, on the other, it is likewise necessary. We have not to represent the good or the end in so one-sided a manner that we think of it existing as such in the perceiving mind, and in opposition to what is; but set free from this form, we must take it in its essence as the Idea of all existence. The nature of things must be recognized in accordance with the Notion, which is the independent, unfettered consideration of things; and because it is that which things are in and for themselves, it controls the relationship of natural causes. This Notion is the end, the true cause, but that which recedes into itself; it is the implicitly existent first from which movement proceeds and which becomes result; it is not only an end present in the imagination before its actuality exists, but is also present in reality. Becoming is the movement through which a reality or totality becomes; in the animal or plant its essence as universal genus, is that which begins its movement and brings it forth. But this whole is not the product of something foreign, but its own product, what is already present as, germ or seed; thus it is called end, the self-producing, that which in its Becoming is already implicitly existent. The Idea is not a particular thing, which might have another content than reality or appear quite different. The opposition is the merely formal opposition of possibility and actuality; the active impelling substance and the product are the same. This realization gœs right through the opposition; the negative in the universal is just this process. The genus sets itself in a state of opposition as individual and universal, and thus, in what lives, the genus realizes itself in the opposition of races which are opposed, but whose principle is the universal genus. They, as individuals, aim at their own self-preservation as individuals in eating, drinking, &c., but what they thereby bring. to pass is genus. Individuals sublate themselves, but genus is that which is ever brought forth; plants bring forth only the same plants whose ground is the universal.
In accordance with this, the distinction between what have been badly named natural causes and the final causes has to be determined. Now if I isolate individuality and merely regard it as movement and the moments of the same, I show what are natural causes. For example, where has this life taken its origin? Through the generation of this its father and mother. What is the cause of these fruits? The tree whose juices so distil themselves that the fruit forthwith arises. Answers of this kind give the causes, i.e. the individuality opposed to an individuality; but their principle is the genus. Now nature cannot represent essence as such. The end of generation is the sublation of the individuality of Being; but nature which in existence certainly brings about this sublation of individuality, dœs not set the universal in its place, but another individual. Bones, muscles, &c., bring forth a movement; they are causes, but they themselves are so through other causes, and so on into infinitude. The universal, however, takes them up into itself as moments which undoubtedly appear in movement as causes, though the fundamental ground of these parts actually is the whole. It is not they which come first, but the result into which the juices of the plants, &c., pass, is the first, just as in origination it appears only as product, as seed, that which constitutes the beginning and the end, even though they be in different individuals. Their real nature is the same.
But such a genus is itself a particular genus and is essentially related to another, e.g. the Idea of the plant to that of the animal; the universal moves on. This looks like external teleology — that plants are eaten by animals, &c., in which their limitation as genus lies. The genus of tile plant has the absolute totality of its realization in the animal, the animal in the conscious existence, just as the earth has it in the plant. This is the system of the whole in which each moment is transitory. The double method of considering the matter thus is that each Idea is a circle within itself. the plant or the animal the Good of its kind; and, on the other hand, each is a moment in the universal Good. If I consider the animal merely as externally adapted to an end, as created for something else, I consider it in a one-sided way; it is real existence, in and for itself universal. But it is just as one-sided to say that the plant, for instance, is only in and for itself, only end to itself, only shut up within itself and going back into itself. For each idea is a circle which is complete in itself, but whose completion is likewise a passing into another circle; it is a vortex whose middle point, that into which it returns, is found directly in the periphery of a higher circle which swallows it up. Thus, for the first time, we reach the determination of an end in the world which is immanent within it.
These explanations are necessary here, since hereafter we see the speculative Idea coming more into the universal; it was formerly expressed as Being and the moments and movements were called existent. What has to be avoided in this transition is that we should thereby think that Being is given up and that we pass into consciousness as opposed to Being (in so doing the universal would lose all its speculative significance); the universal is immanent in nature. This is the meaning which is present when we represent to ourselves that thought constitutes, orders, &c., the world. It is not, so to speak, the activity of the individual consciousness, in which I stand here on one side and, opposite to me, an actuality, matter, which I form, dispose and order as I will; for the universal, Thought, must abide in Philosophy without this opposition. Being, pure Being, is universal when we thereby keep in mind that Being is absolute abstraction, pure thought; but Being as it is thus set forth as Being, has the significance of the opposite to this Being-reflected-into-itself, to thought and recollection; the universal, on the contrary, has reflection immediately in itself. So far, the ancients really got: it dœs not seem far. “Universal” is a dry determination; everyone knows about the universal, but not of it as real existence. Thought, indeed, reaches to the invisibility of the sensuous; not to the positive determinateness of thinking it as universal, but only to the predicateless absolute as to the merely negative; and that is as far as the common ideas of the present day have come. With this discovery of thought we conclude the first Section and enter upon the second period. The profit to be derived from the first period is not very great. Some, indeed, think that there is still some special wisdom in it, but thought is still young, the determinations are thus still poor, abstract and arid. Thought here has but few determinations — water, Being, number, &c. — and these cannot endure; the universal must go forth on its own account as the self-determining activity, and this we find it doing in Anaxagoras alone.
We have still to consider the relationship of the universal as opposed to Being, or consciousness as such in its relation to what is. By Anaxagoras’ determination of real existence, this relationship of consciousness is also determined. In this regard nothing satisfactory can be found; for he recognized, on the one hand, thought as real existence, without, however, bringing this thought to bear on ordinary reality. Thus, on the other hand. this is destitute of thought and independent, an infinite number of homœomeriæ, i.e. an infinite amount of a sensuous implicit existence, which now, however, is sensuous Being; for existent Being is an accumulation of homœomeriæ. The relationship borne by consciousness to real existence may likewise be various. Anaxagoras could thus either say that the truth is only in thought and in rational knowledge, or that it is sensuous perception; for in this we have the homœomeriæ which are themselves implicit. Thus, in the first place, we find from him — as Sextus tells us, (adv. Math. VII., 89-91) “that the understanding (logoς) is the criterion of the truth; the senses cannot judge of the truth on account of their weakness” — weakness for the homœomeriæ are the infinitely small; the senses could not grasp them, do not know that they have to be something ideal and thought. A celebrated example of this is given by him according to Sextus (Pyrrh. Hyp. I. 13, § 33), in the assertion that “the snow is black, for it is water, and water is black.” He here asserts the truth in a reason. In the second place, according to Aristotle (Met. III. 7), Anaxagoras is said to have asserted that, “there is a medium between contradiction (antifasewς); so that everything is untrue. For because the two sides of the opposition are mingled, what is mingled is neither good nor not good, and thus not true.” Aristotle also quotes another time from him (Met. III. 5): “That one of his apothegms to his disciples was that to them things were as they supposed them.” This may relate to the fact that because existent Being is an accumulation of homœomeriæ which are what really exists, sensuous perception takes things as they are in truth.
There is little more to be made of this. But here we have the beginning of a more distinct development of the relationship of consciousness to Being, the development of the nature of knowledge as a knowledge of the true. The mind has gone forth to express real existence as Thought; and thus real existence as existent, is in consciousness as such; it is implicit but likewise in consciousness. This Being is such only in so far as consciousness recognizes it, and real existence is only the knowledge of it. The mind has no longer to seek existence in something foreign, since it is in itself; for what formerly appeared foreign is Thought, i.e. consciousness has this real existence in itself. But this consciousness in opposition is an individual consciousness; thereby in fact, implicit Being is sublated, for the implicit is what is not opposed, not singled out, bu universal. It is, indeed, known, but what is, only is in knowledge, or it is no other Being than that of the knowledge of consciousness. We see this development of the universal in which real existence gœs right over to. the side of consciousness, in the so much decried worldly wisdom of the Sophists; we may view this as indicating that the negative nature of the universal is now developing.
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