Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature

Inorganic Physics

A. Mechanics - B. Elementary Physics - C. The Physics of Individuality

§ 204.

Matter in itself holds itself apart from itself through the moment of its negativity, diversity, or abstract separation into parts; it has repulsion. Its being apart from itself is just as essential, however, because these differences are one and the same: the negative unity of this existence apart from itself as being for itself, and thus continuous. Matter therefore has attraction. The unity of these moments is gravity.

Kant has, among other things, through the attempt at a “construction” of matter in his metaphysical elements of the natural sciences, the merit of having started towards a concept of matter, after it had been attributed merely to the deadness of the understanding and its determinations had been conceived as the relations of attributes. With this attempt Kant revived the concept of the philosophy of nature, which is nothing other than the comprehension of nature or, what is the same, the knowledge of the concept in nature. But in so doing he assumed that the reflective categories of attraction and repulsion were readymade, and further, he presupposed that the category of the reflection itself out of which matter should emerge, is readymade. This confusion is a necessary consequence of Kant's procedure, because the former abstract moments can not be conceptualised without their identity; moreover, because the observation of these opposing determinations suspends itself immediately in their identity, there is the danger that they will appear, like attraction, as a mere continuity. I have demonstrated in detail the confusion which dominates Kant's exposition in my system of Logic, vol. 1, part 1, pp. 119ff.

§ 205.

Matter, as having gravity, is only: (1) matter existing in itself or general. But this concept must: (2) specify itself; thus it is elementary matter, and the object of elementary physics. (3) Particular matter taken together is individualised matter, and the object of physics as the actual world of the body.


§ 206.

Matter, as simply general, has at first only a quantitative difference, and particularises itself into different quanta, - masses, which, in the superficial determination of a whole or one, are bodies.

§ 207.

The body is: (1) as heavy matter the solid identity of space and time, but (2) as the first negation it has in itself their ideality, which differentiates them from each other and from the body. The body is essentially in space and time, of which it constitutes its indifferent content in contrast to this form.

§ 208.

(3) As space, in which time is suspended, the body is enduring, and (4) as time, in which the indifferent subsistence of space is suspended, the body is transitory. In general, it is a wholly contingent unit. (5) But as the unity which binds together the two moments in their opposition, the body essentially has motion, and the appearance of gravity.

Because the forces have been seen as only implanted onto matter, motion in particular is considered to be a determination external to the body, even by that physics which is presumably scientific. It has thus become a leading axiom of mechanics that the body is set in motion or placed into a condition only by an external cause. On the one hand it is the understanding which holds motion and rest apart as nonconceptual determinations, and therefore does not grasp their transition into each other, but on the other hand only the selfless bodies of the earth,. which are the object of ordinary mechanics, appear in this representation. The determinations, which occur in the appearance of such bodies and are valid, are set as the foundation, and the nature of the independent bodies is subsumed under this category. In fact, however, the latter are truly more general and the former is that which is subsumed absolutely, and in absolute mechanics the concept presents itself in its truth and singularity.

§ 209.

In motion, time posits itself spatially as place, but this indifferent spatiality becomes just as immediately temporal: the place becomes another (cf § 202). This difference of time and space is, as the difference of their absolute unity and their indifferent content, a difference of bodies, which hold themselves apart from each other yet equally seek their unity through gravity; — general gravitation.

§ 210.

Gravitation is the true and determinate concept of material corporeality, which is thereby just as essentially divided into particular bodies, and which has its manifested existence, the moment of external individuality, in movement, which is thus determined immediately as a relation of several bodies.

General gravitation must be recognised for itself as a profound thought, which constitutes an absolute basis for mechanics if it is conceived initially in the sphere of reflection, though it is so bound up with it through the quantitative determinations that it has attracted attention and credit, and its verification has been based solely on the experience analysed from the solar system down to the phenomenon of the capillary tubes. Certainly gravitation directly contradicts the law of inertia, for, by virtue of the former, matter strives to get out of itself to another. In the concept of gravity, as has been shown, there are included the two moments of being for itself and of that continuity that suspends being for itself These moments of the concept now experience the fate, as particular forces corresponding to the power of attraction and repulsion, of being conceived more precisely as the centripetal and the centrifugal forces, which are supposed, like gravity, to act on bodies, and independently of each other and contingently, to meet together in a third entity, the body. In this way whatever profundity was contained in the thought of general gravitation is destroyed again, and the concept and reason will be unable to penetrate into the theory of absolute motion, as long as the vaunted discoveries of forces prevail there.

if one closely considers the quantitative determinations which have been identified in the laws of the centripetal and the centrifugal forces, one very quickly discovers the confusion which emerges from their separation. This confusion becomes even greater if the separation is mentioned in relation to gravitation; gravitation, also called attraction, then seems to be the same as centripetal force, the law of this individual force is taken as the law of the whole of gravitation, and the centrifugal force, which at another time is valued as thoroughly essential, is viewed as something quite superfluous.-In the above proposition, which contains the immediate idea of gravitation, gravity itself namely, as the concept, which shows itself in the particularity of the body through the external reality of motion, the rational identity and inseparability of these two moments are contained.-The relativity of motion also shows itself in this proposition, which only makes sense in a system of several bodies standing in relation to each other in accordance with a varied determination, so that a different determination will immediately result.

§ 211.

The particular bodies in which gravity is realised have, as the determinations of their different natures, the moments of their concept. One body, therefore, is the general centre of being in itself. Opposing this extreme stands individuality, existing outside of itself and without a centre. But the particular bodies are others, which stand in the determination of being outside of themselves and are at the same time, as being in themselves, also centres for themselves, and are related to the first body as to their essential unity.

§ 212.

(1) The motion of bodies of relative centrality, in relation to bodies of abstract, general centrality, is absolutely free motion, and the conclusion of this system is that the general central body is brought together through relative centrality with dependent corporeality.

As is well-known, the laws of absolutely free motion were discovered by Kepler, a discovery of immortal fame. Kepler proved them, too, in the sense that he found the general expression for the empirical data (cf § 145). Since then it has become a commonplace that Newton first found the proofs of these laws. Not often has fame been more unjustly transferred from the first discoverer to another. Here I only want to point out what has basically already been admitted by mathematicians, namely: (1) that the Newtonian formulas can be derived from Keplerian laws; (2) that the Newtonian proof of the proposition that a body governed by the law of gravitation moves in an ellipse around the central body proceeds in general in a conic section, whereas the main point that was to be proven consists precisely in this, that the course of such a body is neither a circle nor any other conic section, but solely the ellipse. The conditions which make the course of the body into a specific conic section are referred back to an empirical condition, namely, a particular situation of the body at a specific point in time, and to the contingent strength of an impulse which it is supposed to have received at the beginning. (3) Newton's 'law" of the force of gravity has likewise only been demonstrated inductively from experience.

On closer inspection it appears that what Kepler, in a simple and sublime manner, articulated in the form of laws of celestial motion, Newton converted into the nonconceptual, reflective form of the force of gravity. The whole manner of this "proof" presents in general a confused tissue of lines of merely geometrical construction to which a physical meaning of independent forces is given, of the empty concepts of the understanding of a force of acceleration, of particles of time, at whose beginning those forces always play a renewed role, and of a force of inertia, which presumably continues its previous effect, and so on. A rational proof of the quantitative determinations of free motion can only rest on the determinations of the concepts of space and time, the moments whose relation is motion.

§ 213.

(2) The absolute relation of those dependent bodies, which are merely the extreme of the being outside of itself of gravity and therefore lack their own centrality to their relative central bodies, is the residual element of their gravity in them, which because of physical being outside of themselves is mere striving and, therefore, a pressure directed towards the centre lying outside of them.

§ 214.

The separation of the immediate connection in which such a body rests is a contingent condition, which the body, if confronted with an external impediment, suspends as motion, - relatively free motion in which the distancing from the body is not attributed as dependent, but the motion, if the impediment is removed, is immanent to the body and a manifestation of its own gravity. This motion transforms itself for itself into rest.

The attractive force of the sun, for example towards the planets, or of the earth towards those independent bodies belonging to it, seems to suggest the skewed view that the force would be an activity inhabiting the central body, and that the bodies found in its sphere would behave only passively and externally. Thus absolute motion is also viewed, through the application of terms from common mechanics, as the dead conflict of an independent, tangential force and of a force deriving equally independently from the middle point, from which the body would be passively drawn.

The Galilean law of falling, namely, that traversed spaces behave as the squares of transpired times, shows, in contrast to the abstract, homogeneous velocity of the lifeless mechanism, where spaces are proportional to times, the liberation of the conceptual determinations of time and space. In these terms the former has the determination of the root as the negative moment or principle of one, whereas the latter has the determination of the square as a being outside of itself more specifically, without another determinacy like that of the root, a coming outside of itself. In this law both moments still remain in the relation, because the freedom of motion in falling, which is also conditioned, is only formal. By contrast, in absolute motion there is the relation in its totality, since this is the realm of free measures in which each determinacy attains its totality. Because the law is essentially relational, time and space are retained in their original difference. Dimensionless time achieves therefore only a formal identity with itself; space, on the other hand, as positive being outside of itself achieves the dimension of the concept. The Keplerian law is thus the relation of the cubes of the distances to the squares of the times;-a law which is so great because it simply and directly depicts the reason of the thing. The Newtonian formula, however, which transforms it into a law for the force of gravity, exhibits only the perversion and inversion of reflection which has stopped halfway.

§ 215.

(3) In the extremity of dependent bodies, general gravitation, which bodies have as matter toward each other, is subordinated to the gravitation which they have towards their shared central bodies. Towards each other, then, their motion is external and contingent; the cause of the motion is thrust and pressure. In this common mechanical motion the size of the mass, which has no meaning in the fall, and the resistance, which the size achieves through its particular constitution, are moments of determination. But because this motion contradicts the essential relation of the dependent body, namely, that relation to its central body, it suspends itself through itself in rest. This necessity of the concept appears, however, in the sphere of externality, as an external impediment or friction.

The law of inertia is initially taken from the nature of the motion of dependent bodies, for which the motion, because it involves the difference from themselves for themselves, is external. But precisely for this reason rest is immanent to the bodies, namely, the identity with the centre lying outside of them. Their motion converts therefore essentially into rest, but not into absolute rest, rather into the pressure of striving towards their centre. This centre, if it is to be seen as a striving moment, is at the least the transformation of that external movement into the striving which constitutes the nature of the body.

The individual impediment, or the general one, the friction, is external, to be sure, but also necessary. It is the manifestation of that transition posited by the concept of the dependent body. And precisely this can also be found in consideration of the pendulum, the motion of which, it is said, would continue without stopping if friction could be removed.

For itself the law of inertia expresses nothing but the fixation of the understanding on the abstractions of rest and motion, which state that rest is only rest and motion is only motion. The transformation of these abstractions into each other, which is the concept, is for the understanding something external. This law of inertia, together with thrust, attraction, and other determinations have been inadmissibly transposed from common mechanics into absolute mechanics, where motion is rather to be found in its free concept.

§ 216.

The difference between central and dependent bodies is in the implicit being of gravity, whose identical nature is its existence. The dependent body has the beginning of the real difference as the being outside of itself of the gravity identical to itself; the dependent body has only a negative centre and therefore can only move around the centre simply as mass. The determinacy of its motion is not in and for itself but refers back to a factor which is the mass of the other, so that their sizes can be exchanged, and the motion remains the same.

§ 217.

This externality of determinate being constitutes the special determinacy of matter. But in this it does not remain limited by a quantitative difference, rather the difference is essentially a qualitative one, so that the determinacy of matter constitutes its being.

The empty abstraction of formless matter contains a merely quantitative difference and views its further determinacy as a form inessential to it. Even the forces of attraction and repulsion are supposed to influence it externally. Since it is the concept positing itself outside of itself it is so identical to the specific form that the form constitutes its special nature.

Elementary Physics

§ 218.

Gravity, as the essence of matter existing in itself only inner identity, transforms, since its concept is the essential externality, into the manifestation of the essence. As such it is the totality of the determinations of reflection, but these as thrown apart from each other, so that each appears as particular, qualified matter which, not yet determined as individuality, is a formless element.

The determination of an element is the being for itself of matter as it finds its point of unity in the concept, though this does not yet have to do with the determination of a physical element, which is still real matter, a totality of its qualities existing in itself.

(a) Elementary Particles
§ 219.

(1) Matter in its first elementary state is pure identity, not inwardly, but as existing, that is, the relation to itself determined as independent in contrast to the other determinations of totality. This existing self of matter is light.

§ 220.

As the abstract self of matter, light is absolutely lightweight, and as matter, infinite, but as material ideality it is inseparable and simple being outside of itself.

In the Oriental intuition of the substantial unity of the spiritual and the natural, the pure selfhood of consciousness, thought identical with itself as the abstraction of the true and the good is one with light. When the conception which has been called realistic denies that ideality is present in nature, it need only be referred to light, to that pure manifestation which is nothing but manifestation.

Heavy matter is divisible into masses, since it is concrete identity and quantity; but in the highly abstract ideality of light there is no such distinction; a limitation of light in its infinite expansion does not suspend its absolute connection. The conception of discrete, simple, rays of light, and of particles and bundles of them which are supposed to constitute light in its limited expansion, belongs among the rest of the conceptual barbarism which has, particularly since Newton, become dominant in physics. The indivisibility of light in its infinite expansion, a reality outside of itself that remains self-identical, can least of all be treated as incomprehensible by the understanding, for its own principle is rather this abstract identity.

Astronomers have come to speak of celestial phenomena which are perceived by us five hundred years and more after their actual occurrence. In this one can see, on the one hand, empirical manifestations of the propagation of light, carried over from a sphere where they obtain into another where they have no meaning, but on the other hand a past which has become present in ideal fashion as in memory.

There is also the conception of light which suggests that from each point of a visible surface beams are emitted in every direction, so that from each point a material hemisphere of infinite dimensions is formed, and that all of these infinitely many hemispheres interpenetrate each other. If this were so a dense, confused mass should form between the eye and the object, and the still-unexplained visibility would rather, on the basis of this explanation, give way to invisibility. The whole conception reduces to an absurdity, somewhat like the conception of a concrete body which is presumed to consist of many substances, with each existing in the pores of the other, in which, conversely, the others exist and circulate. Through this comprehensive penetration the assumption of the discrete materiality of the supposedly real substances is destroyed, and an entirely ideal relationship is established.

The self-like nature of light, insofar as it vitalises natural things, individualises them, and strengthens and holds together their unfolding, first becomes manifest in the individualisation of matter, for the initially abstract identity is only as return and suspension of particularity the negative unity of individuality.

§ 221.

Light behaves as a general identity, initially in this determination of diversity, or the determination by the understanding of the moment of totality, then to concrete matter as an external and other entity, as to darkening. This contact and external darkening of the one by the other is colour.

According to the familiar Newtonian theory, white, or colourless light consists of five or seven colours; - the theory itself can not say exactly how many. One can not express oneself strongly enough about the barbarism, in the first place, of the conception that with light, too, the worst form of reflection, the compound, was seized upon, so that brightness here could consist of seven darknesses, or water could consist of seven forms of earth. Further, the ineptitude, tastelessness, even dishonesty of Newton's observations and experimentations must be addressed, as well as the equally bad tendency to draw inferences, conclusions, and proofs from impure empirical data. Moreover, the blindness of the admiration given to Newton's work for nearly one and a half centuries must be noted, the narrowmindedness of those admirers who defend his conceptions, and, in particular, the thoughtlessness with which a number of the immediate conclusions of that theory (for example, the impossibility of an achromatic telescope) were dropped, although the theory itself is still maintained. Finally, there is the blindness of the prejudice that the theory rests on something mathematical, as if the partly false and one-sided measurements, as well as the quantitative determinations brought into the conclusions, would provide any basis for the theory and the nature of the thing itself.-A major reason why the clear, thorough, and learned illumination by Goethe of this darkness concerning light has not had a more effective reception is doubtlessly because the thoughtlessness and simplemindedness, which one would have to confess for following Newton for so long, would be entirely too great.

Instead of these nonsensical conceptions disappearing, they have recently been compounded by the discoveries of Malus, by the idea of a polarisation of light, the notion of the four-sidedness of sunbeams, and the idea that red beams rotate in a movement to the left, whereas blue beams rotate in a movement to the right. Such simplistic ideas seem justified by the privilege accorded to physics to generate "hypotheses." But even as a joke one does not indulge in stupidities; thus so much the less should stupidities be offered as hypotheses which are not even meant to be jokes.

§ 222.

Light shapes the determinate being or the physical meaning of the body of abstract centrality in the determination of its identity. Light is the active identity which posits everything as identical. As this identity, however, is still wholly abstract, things are not yet really identical, but are for an other, positing their identity with the other in the other.

§ 223.

This abstract identity has its real antithesis outside of itself. As an elementary moment of reflection it falls apart into itself and is as a duality: (a) of corporeal diversity, of material being for itself of rigidity; (b) of opposition as such, which, existing independently and uncontrolled by individuality, has merely sunken within itself and is thus dissolution and neutrality. The former is the lunar, the latter is the cometary body.

As relative central bodies in the system of gravity these two bodies have their more specific significance, which is based on the same concept as their physical significance and may be stated here: they do not rotate on their axes. The body of rigidity has only a formal being for itself which is independence comprehended in antithesis and therefore not individuality. Hence it is subservient to another body whose satellite it is, and in which it has its axis. The body of dissolution, on the other hand, the opposite of the body of rigidity, behaves aberrantly, and exhibits contingency in its eccentric path as in its physical existence. One can therefore suspect of these bodies that the proximity of a large planet could change their course. They show themselves to be a superficial concretion, which may just contingently turn itself again into dust.

The moon has no atmosphere and therefore lacks the meteorological process. It shows only high mountains and craters, and the combustion of this rigidity in itself It has the shape of a crystal, which Heim (one of the few ingenious geologists) has described as the original form of the earth as a merely solid body.

The comet appears as a formal process and unstable mass of vapour; none of them has exhibited anything of a solid nature, such as a nucleus. In contrast to the image of the ancients, that comets are merely meteors, more recent astronomers have not been as inflexible and presumptuous. Until now only the return of some of them has been demonstrated; others were calculated to return, but did not arrive. Suggestions brought forward by astronomers also indicate that the previously held formal view of comets, as crisscross manifestations appearing in conflict with the coherence of the system, should in time be discarded. Then the idea could be accepted that the other bodies of the system protect themselves against comets, that is, that the other bodies of the system function as necessary organic moments of protection. This view would afford better grounds for comfort in regards to the dangers of comets than the reasons which have been adduced so far.

§ 224.

(3) The antithesis that has gone back into itself is the earth or the planet as such. It is the body of the individual totality, in which rigidity opens up into a separation of real differences, and this dissolution is held together by self-like points of unity.

One is accustomed to seeing the sun and the stars as more excellent natures than the planets, because the first elevation of the reflection above sensory perception sets the abstract as the highest point against that individual element which is not yet conceptualised. The name of a "mad star" has arisen for individual bodies from the immediate view of their motion. In and for itself however, this motion of the individual bodies as a turning on an axis around itself and also around a central body is the most concrete expression of vitality, and therefore more splendid than both the stillness in the centre of the system, and the subservient and extravagant motion of the lunar and cometary bodies. The natural light of the central body is equally its abstract identity, with its truth, like that of thought, in the concrete idea, in individuality.

In regards to the series of planets, astronomy has still not discovered any actual law governing the determination of their proximity, their distancing, or even anything rational-I no longer find satisfying what I tried to show in an earlier dissertation about this issue.-Moreover, the attempts by the philosophy of nature to demonstrate the rationality of the series in its physical constitution, which have until now been merely preliminary attempts to establish basic perspectives, can also be viewed as unsatisfactory. What is irrational is to establish the thought of contingency as the basis, and to see the idea of the organisation of the solar system according to the laws of musical harmony, as for example in Kepler's thought, as an imaginative confusion, and not to respect the profound belief that there is reason in this system. For this belief was the sole basis of Kepler's discoveries. Instead, it was the wholly awkward and confused use of the numerical relations of tones, applied by Newton to colours, which acquired fame and remembrance.

(b.) The Elements
§ 225.

The body of individuality contains the determinations of elemental totality, which have an immediate existence as free, independent bodies, as subordinate moments. As such they constitute general physical elements.

§ 226.

(1) The element of undifferentiated simplicity is no longer the positive identity with itself the self-manifestation which is light as such, which constitutes the proper, inner self of the individual body; on the contrary, it is only a negative generality as the selfless moment of an other. This identity is therefore the seemingly harmless but insidious and consuming power of the individual and organic process. This element, air, behaves as a transparent but just as elastic fluid, which absorbs and penetrates everything.

§ 227.

(2) The elements of the antithesis are (a) being for itself not the indifferent being of rigidity, but rather being for itself posited in individuality as a moment, and therefore material selfhood, light identical to heat: fire. This element is materialised time, absolutely restless and consuming, and causes the self-consumption of the subsisting body as it conversely destroys the body through its external approach. In consuming another, fire consumes itself.

§ 228.

(b) The other element is the neutral element, the antithesis which coalesces into itself. Without individuality, however, and thus without rigidity and determination in itself it is a thoroughgoing equilibrium that dissolves all determinacy mechanically posited in it. It receives its limitation of shape only from outside, and without the unrest of the process in itself but at the most the possibility of process, namely, solubility. This element, water, can assume a gaseous and a solid form as a state apart from its characteristic state, that of internal indeterminacy.

§ 229.

(3) Earth, however, the element of the developed difference and its individual determination, is in the first place still indeterminate: earthiness, as such.

(c) The Elementary Process
§ 230.

The individual identity, by which the different elements in terms of both their difference from each other and their unity with each other are bound, is a dialectic which constitutes the physical life of the earth, the meteorological process. It is in this process alone that the elements, as dependent moments, have their existence, being generated in it and posited as existent.

just as the determinations of ordinary mechanics and the dependent bodies are applied to absolute mechanics and the free central bodies, so too, the finite physics of the single individual bodies is taken to be the same as the free, independent physics of the process of the earth. It is seen as a triumph of science that the same determinations are recognised and demonstrated in the general process of the earth as are found in the external and dependent processes of isolated physical corporeality. The demonstration of this likeness is effected by changing the determinations, through abstraction, from their characteristic differences and conditions into superficial generalities like attraction. Thus forces and laws are imaginatively drawn in which the particular, the concrete concept, and the conditions are lacking and are then fantasised as an addition, partly as an external substance and partly by analogy.

A primary difference marks the fixed idea of the substantial, immutable diversity of the elements, which is posited once and for all by the understanding on the basis of the processes of the isolated materials. Where higher transitions occur in these finite processes, where, for example, water is solidified into a crystal, where light and heat vanish, and so on, the obstinacy of formal thought has recourse to the nebulous and to some extent meaningless conceptions of “solution,” “becoming bound or latent,” and so on. Here, too, essentially belongs the transformation of all relationships in physical phenomena into "substances" and "materials," partly imponderable, so that each physical existence becomes the chaos previously mentioned of materials passing in and out of each other's pores. Such views conflict not only with every concept, but also with reasonable thinking.

§ 231.

The process of the earth is continuously ignited by its general self the activity of light, its primordial relationship to the sun. One moment of this process is the diremption of substantial identity, the development of moments of the independent antithesis into a tension between rigidity and selfless neutrality. Through this tension the earth tends towards resolution into, on the one hand, a crystal, a moon, or on the other hand into a fluid body, a comet, and the moments seek to realise their connection with their independent roots.

§ 232.

The other moment of the process is that being for itself towards which both sides of the antithesis strive, suspends itself as negativity pushed to its extreme;-it becomes the self-igniting destruction of the different existence sought by the moments. Through this process the substantial identity of the moments is produced, and the earth transforms itself into fertile individuality.

The thunderstorm is the complete manifestation of this process, whereas the other meteorological phenomena are beginnings or moments and undeveloped elaborations of it. Concerning thunderstorms, however, physics has so far been unable to propose a satisfactory explanation-since it limits its perspective to the conditions of the external process-, neither of rain formation (in spite of de Luc's observations and the conclusions drawn from them, and, among the Germans, the arguments made by the clever Lichtenberg against the theory of dissolution, whose conclusions have at least been retained to some extent) nor of lightning and thunder. It has had just as little success with other meteorological phenomena, in particular with meteorites, in which the process progresses as far as the beginning of an earthly core.

§ 233.

The concept of matter, gravity, sets out its moments in elemental nature, initially in the form of independent realities. The earth is initially the abstract ground of individuality, and posits itself in its process as the negative unity of the abstract, mutually separating elements, and consequently as the real ground and actuality of individualisation. Now, in this actuality, the elements present themselves as being unified together in concrete points of unity.

The Physics of Individuality

§ 234.

The individual body is matter, brought together by the particularity of the elements out of the generality of gravity and into individuality. Thus it is determined in and for itself and has by virtue of its individuality a characteristic form which constitutes the unity of the differentiation of a body. — This individuality is (a) immediate or at rest, a shape; (b) its separation into the diversity of features and the tension of differences; (c) process, in which the shape dissolves just as much as, in its determinateness in and for itself emerges.

(a) Shape
§ 235.

The individuality of matter in its immediate existence is the immanent form, which gives its own determinate difference to that material of the body which itself has in the first place only a superficial unit, and then one particular determinacy as its essence.

This is the shape, the specific kind of inward coherence of matter and its external border in space; — the individuality of the mechanism.

The specification of matter as an element is at this point shapeless, because it is still only a singularity. Regarding the form of the shape, and individuality in general, it is preferable to avoid the image of an external, mechanical style and composition. It may help in this case to distinguish between the externality of style and the inwardness of the shape's coherence, but the essential point is to remember the peculiar differentiation which arises from this distinction, which at the same time constitutes a determinate, self-identical unity in the relation.

§ 236.

The abstract specification is the specific gravity or density of matter, the relation of the weight of its mass to the volume. In this relation the material selfhood tears itself away from the abstract, general relations to the central body, ceases to be the uniform filling of space, and opposes a specific being in itself to an abstract being apart from itself

The varying density of matter is often explained by the assumption of pores; - though "to explain" means in general to refer a phenomenon back to the accepted, familiar determinations of the understanding, and no conceptions are more familiar than those of "composition," "pieces and their details," and "emptiness." Therefore nothing is clearer than to use the imaginative invention of pores to comprehend the densification of matter. These would be empty interstices, though physics does not demonstrate them, despite its attempt to speak of them as at hand and its claim to be based on experience and observation. What is beyond these and is merely assumed is the matter of thought. It does not occur to physics, however, that it has thoughts, which is true in at least two senses and here in a third sense: the pores are only imaginative inventions.

An immediate example of the peculiar specification of gravity offered by physics is furnished by the phenomenon that, when a bar of iron, evenly balanced on its fulcrum, is magnetised, it loses its equilibrium and shows itself to be heavier at one pole than at the other.-The axioms presupposed by physics in its mode of representing density are: (1) that equal amounts of equally large material parts weigh the same;-in this way the formal identity of gravity remains consistent-(2) the measure of the number of parts is the amount of weight, but (3) also of space, so that bodies of equal weight occupy equal amounts of space; (4) consequently, when equal weights are found in different volumes, the equality of the spaces is preserved by the assumption of pores which fill the space.

Kant has already contrasted intensity to the quantitative determination of the amount, and, instead of positing that the heavier body contains more particles in a certain space, he has assumed that in the heavier body the same number of particles fill space to a greater degree. In this way he created "dynamic physics." At least the determination of the intensive quantum would be just as correct as that of an extensive quantum; but this distinction (cf § 56) is empty and in itself nothing. Here the intensive determination of size, however, has this advantage: that it points to the category of measure and indicates initially a being in itself which as a conceptual determination is an immanent determinacy of form, and only existent as quantum. But to distinguish between extensive or intensive quantum differences, - and dynamic physics goes no further than this-does not express any reality.

§ 237.

Density is at first only a simple determinacy. The simple determinacy is, however, essentially a determination of form as a unity split apart from itself. Thus it constitutes the principle of brittleness, the shaping relation of its consistently maintained points.

The previously mentioned particles, molecules of matter, are an external determination of reflection. The real significance of the determination of the unit is that it is the immanent form of shaping.

§ 238.

The brittle is the subjective entity existing for itself but it must deploy the difference of the concept. The point becomes the line and posits itself as an opposed extreme to the line; the two are held by their middle term and point of indifference in their antithesis. This syllogism constitutes the principle of shaping in its developed determinacy, and is, in this abstract rigour, magnetism.

Magnetism is one of the determinations which inevitably became prominent when thought began to recognise itself in determinate nature and grasped the idea of a philosophy of nature. For the magnet exhibits in a simple, naive way the nature of the concept. The poles are not particular things; they do not possess sensory, mechanical reality, but rather an ideal reality; the point of indifference, in which they have their substance, is the unity in which they exist only as determinations of the concept, and the polarity is an opposition of only such moments. The phenomena revealed by magnetism as merely particular are merely and repeatedly the same determinations, and not diverse features which could add data to a description. That the individual magnetic needle points to the north, and thus to the south as well, is a manifestation of general terrestrial magnetism: in two such empirical magnets the poles named similarly repel each other, whereas the poles named differently attract. And precisely this is magnetism, namely, that the same or indifferent will split apart and oppose each other in the extreme, and the dissimilar or different will posit its indifference. The differently named poles have even been called friendly, and the similarly named poles have been called hostile.

The statement, however, that all bodies are magnetic has an unfortunate double meaning. The correct meaning is that all real, and not merely brittle, figures contain this concept; but the incorrect meaning is that all bodies also have this principle implicitly in its rigorous abstraction, as magnetism. It would be an unphilosophical thought to want to show that a form of the concept is at hand in nature, and that it exists universally in its determinacy as an abstraction. For nature is rather the idea in the element of being apart from itself so that, like the understanding, it retains the moments of the concept as dispersed and depicts them so in reality, but in the higher organic things the differentiated forms of the concept are unified as the highest concretion.

§ 239.

At the opposite end from magnetism, which as linear spatiality and the ideal contrast of extremes is the abstract concept of the shape, stands its abstract totality the sphere, the shape of the real absence of shape, of fluid indeterminacy, and of the indifferent elasticity of the parts.

§ 240.

Between the two actually shapeless extremes contained within magnetism as the abstract concept of the figure there appears, as an immanent form of juxtaposition distinct from that determined by gravity, a kind of magnetism transformed into total corporeality, cohesion.

§ 241.

The common understanding of cohesion merely refers to the individual moment of quantitative strength of the connection between the parts of a body. Concrete cohesion is the immanent form and determinacy of this connection, and comprehends both external crystallisations and the fragmentary shapes or central shapes, crystallisation which displays itself inwardly in transparent movement.

§ 242.

Through external crystallisation the individual body is sealed off as an individual against others, and capable of a mechanical process with them. As an inwardly formed entity the body specifies this process in terms of its behaviour as a merely general mass. In terms of its elasticity, hardness, softness, viscosity, and abilities to extend or to burst, the body retains its individual determinacy in resistance to external force.

§ 243.

As density, however, is at first only simple determinacy by virtue of the relation of volume to mass, cohesion is this simplicity as the selfhood of individuality. The self-preservation of the body during the vibration from a mechanical force is, therefore, also an emergence of its individual, pure ideality, its characteristic motion in itself through its whole cohesion. It is the specific determination of its ideal externality in itself through its self-identified time. In this vibration, the product of real force and external pressure which the body survives in the form of its specified ideality, this simple form achieves independent existence.

But entities without cohesion — which are inflexible and fluid are without resonance and in their resistance, which is merely an external vibration, make only a noise.

§ 244.

This individuality, since it is at first here only immediate, can be suspended by mechanical force. The friction, which brings together that difference of corporeality held apart by cohesion in the negativity of a temporal moment, causes an initial or concluding selfdestruction of the body to break forth. And the body exhibits its specific nature, in the relationship between the inner change and the suspension of its cohesion, through the capacity for heat.

(b) The Particularisation of Differences
§ 245.

Shaping, the individualisation of the mechanism or of weight, turns into elemental particularisation. The individual body has the totality of the elements within itself; as the subject of the same the body contains the elements in the first place as attributes or predicates, but in the second place these are retained only in immediate individuality, and thus they exist also as materials indifferent to each other. Thirdly, they are the relations to the unbound elements and the processes of the individual body with those elements.

In connection with the ancient, general idea that each body consists of the four elements, or with the more recent view of Paracelsus that it consists of mercury or liquid, sulphur or oil, and salt, and with many other ideas of this kind, it is to be remarked first that it is easy to refute these names if one understands by them only the particular empirical substances that they primarily denote. It is, however, not to be overlooked that these names were meant much more essentially to contain and to express the determinations of the concept. Thus we should rather wonder at the vehemence with which thought recognised only its own determination in such sensory things and held fast to its general significance. On the other hand, such a conception and determination, since it has reason as its source-which neither loses its way in the sensory games of phenomena and their confusion, nor allows itself to be brought to forget itself-is elevated infinitely far above the thoughtless investigation and chaotic narrative of the bodies' attributes. Here it is counted as a service and praiseworthy to have made yet another particular discovery, instead of referring the many particulars back to generality and the concept, and recognising the latter in them.

§ 246.

The body individualises: (a) the external self of light in its darkness into its specific opacity, colour; (b) air, as abstract, selfless generality into the simplicity of its specific process, or, as odour, is rather the specific individuality of the body in its simplicity, itself only as process; (c) water, the abstract neutrality, is individualised into the determinate neutrality of saltiness, acidity, and, immediately, into taste.

§ 247.

These particularised bodies are, in their general earthly totality, in the first place only superficially related to one another and preserve their independence by being isolated from each other. But as individuals they also stand in relation to each other and, to be sure, outside of the mechanical relationship as particular individualities.

§ 248.

At first these bodies relate to each other as independent entities, but they then become manifest as a mechanical relationship in an ideal movement, in the internal reverberation as sound. Now, however, in real selfhood, they emerge as an electrical relationship to each other.

§ 249.

The being for itself of these bodies, as it is manifested in physical contact, is posited in each by the difference from the other. Thus this being is not free, but rather an antithetical tension, in which, however, it is not the nature of the body which emerges: only the reality of its abstract self a light, is produced and, in fact, as a light set in opposition. The suspension of the diremption, the other moment of this process, has an undifferentiated light as its product, which disappears immediately as incorporeal. Apart from this abstract physical manifestation, the process has only the mechanical effect of shaking as a significant outcome.

It is well-known that the earlier distinction between vitreous and resinous electricity, determined as a part of sensory existence, was idealised by empirical science into the conceptual distinction between positive and negative electricity. This is a remarkable instance of the way in which empiricism, which initially attempts to grasp and retain generality in sensory form, suspends itself.

Although there has been much discussion recently of the polarisation of light, it would have been more appropriate to reserve this expression for electricity than for the phenomena observed by Malus, where transparent media, reflecting surfaces, and their various reciprocal inclinations, as well as a determinate corner of light, are actually so many different kinds of situations, which produces no difference in light itself but does show itself in light's shining.

The conditions under which positive and negative electricity emerge, in relation to smoother or rougher surfaces, for example, a breath of air, and so on, are proof of the superficiality of the electrical process, and show how little the concrete, physical nature of the body enters into it. Similarly, the weak coloration of the two electrical lights, and the smell and the taste of them, show only the beginning of a physicality in the abstract self of the light in which the process is maintained. Negativity, the suspension of the antithetical tension, is mainly a shock. The self-positing, self-identical self remains as such and consistent in the ideal spheres of space, time, and mechanism. Light has scarcely begun to materialise itself as warmth, and the combustion which can arise from the "discharge" is (Berthollet, Statique chimique, part I, sect. III, not. XI) rather a direct effect of shock than the consequences of the realisation of light as fire.

Galvanism is the electrical process made permanent; it is permanence as the contact between two different, non-brittle bodies, which, as part of their fluid nature (the "electrical conductive potential" of metal), their entire immediate difference towards each other, and the surface qualities of their relationship, maintain their tension mutually. The galvanic process occurs only through this particular specificity of bodies of a more concrete and corporeal nature, and subsequently undergoes a transition to the chemical process.

§ 250.

The individuality of the body is the negative unity of the concept, which is not self-positing simply as an immediate entity and an unmoved generality, but only in the mediation of the process. The body is therefore a product, and its shape a presupposition, for which the end that it will ultimately achieve is also presupposed. The particularisation of the body, however, does not stop at either mere inert diversity or the opposition between different attributes and their tension within the body's pure selfhood. Rather, since the particular attributes are only the reality of this simple concept, the body of their soul, of light, the entire corporeality moves into tension and the process which is the development of the individual body, a process of isolation; — the chemical process.

(c) The Process of Isolation
§ 251.

The chemical process has its products as a presupposition, and therefore begins (1) from the immediacy of their presupposition. In accord with the concept, the particular body is immediate insofar as its attributes or material components are unified together into a simple determination and become equal in the simplicity of specific gravity, thickness. Metals are solid, but in terms of their particularity become fluid and capable of maintaining a determinate difference towards each other.

§ 252.

The middle term, through which the concept with its reality unites these solid differences as the unity of both terms and the essence of each in itself, — posits the difference of one with the difference of the other into a unity, and therefore becomes real as the totality of their concept — is initially opposed to the immediate solidity of the extremes as an abstract neutrality, the element of water. The process itself is the decomposition of water into opposed moments through the presupposed difference of the extremes; they thereby suspend their abstraction and complete themselves as the unity of their concept.

§ 253.

The moments into which water decomposes or, what amounts to the same thing, the forms under which it is posited, are abstract, because water itself is only a physical element and not an individual physical body; — the chemical elements of the antithesis are oxygen and hydrogen. The metals, however, which have been integrated in the process, also receive only an abstract integration from that abstract middle term, a reality which is only a positing of their difference, an oxide.

The condition of lime as an oxide lies closest to the condition of metals, due to the inner indifference of their solid nature. But nature's inability to hold on to the specific concept also allows individual metals to change so far in the opposite direction that their oxide immediately comes to resemble acids. It is well known that chemistry can portray, as amalgamations at least, the metallic components of lime and potash, but also ammonia, strontium, barytes, and indeed, even of different soils, and thereby depict these bodies as oxides. To be sure, the chemical elements are such abstractions that when they are in the form of gases, in which they become manifest for themselves, they interpenetrate like light and, notwithstanding their ponderability, their materiality and impenetrability reveal themselves here to be raised to immateriality. Furthermore, oxygen and hydrogen have a determination so dependent upon the individuality of the body that the components of oxygen are determined in oxides, as a base in general, and, in the opposite direction, as an acid, just as, by contrast, the acidic determination in hydrochloric acid reveals itself as hydrogenation.

§ 254.

In contrast to the solid indifference of the particular corporeality stands physical brittleness, the being of particularity grasped together in the unity of selfhood (brass represents the totality, as the unification of sulphur and metal). This brittleness is the real possibility of combustion, the reality of which is itself the self-devouring being for itself fire, and remains an external entity. Fire mediates the inner difference of the combustible body through the physical element of abstract negativity, air, with a being as posited or reality, and enhances it to acidity. Air, however, decomposes in its negative principle into this, oxygen, and a dead positive residuum, nitrogen.

§ 255.

The chemical elements are: nitrogen, the abstraction of indifference; oxygen, the element of self-subsistent difference, the burning element; hydrogen, the element belonging to the opposition or self-subsistent indifference, the combustible element; and carbon, as the abstraction of their individual element.

§ 256.

(2) The two products of the abstract processes, acids and bases or alkalis, are now no longer merely but actually diverse, and (concentrated acids and alkalis enhanced caustically) are therefore incapable of subsisting for themselves. In a state of restlessness they suspend themselves, and are posited as identical to their opposites. This unity, in which their concept is realised, is the neutral body, salt.

§ 257.

(3) In salt the concrete and shaped body is the product of its process. The relation of such diverse bodies to each other involves to some extent the more precise particularisation of the bodies, from which "elective affinities" derive. In general, however, these processes are for themselves more real, since the extremes occurring in them are not abstract bodies. More specifically, they are the dissolved particles of the neutral bodies into abstractions, the processes from which they are produced, retrogressions back to oxides and acids, and further, both immediately and in abstract forms, back to the indifferent bases, which manifest themselves in this way as products.

Empirical chemistry deals mainly with the particularity of the products, which are then ordered according to superficial and abstract determinations. Metals, oxygen nitrogen and many other bodies, earth, sulphur, phosphorous appear in this order together; just as chaotically, the more abstract and the more real processes are posited on the same level. If a scientific form is to come from this mixture, then each product should be determined according to the level of the process from which it results and which gives it its particular significance. It is just as essential to distinguish the levels of the abstraction or the reality of the process. Animal and vegetable substances belong in any case to an entirely different order, and so little of their nature can be comprehended through the description of the chemical process that much more is destroyed than saved, and only the course of its death is grasped. These substances, however, should serve to work against that metaphysics dominant in both chemistry and physics, namely, the thought or empty idea of the unchangeability of matter, its composition and subsistence in matter. We see admitted in general, however, that chemical substances lose those attributes in combination which they demonstrate separately. Nevertheless the idea remains that these substances are the same things with the attributes as without, and as things with these attributes they are not only products of the process.

An important step towards simplification of the particularities in the elective affinities is the law discovered by Richter and Guiton Morveau, which states that neutral compounds suffer no change regarding their state of solution when they are mixed in solution and the acids exchange bases with each other. The quantitative scale of acids and alkalis has been constructed on the basis of this law, according to which each individual acid has a particular relation for its saturation to each alkali; so that, however, for every other acid whose quantitative unity is only different from the others, now the alkalis have among each other the same relation to their saturation as to the other acids, and similarly, acids display a constant relation among each other and relative to all the different alkali.

Since, moreover, the chemical process has its determination in the concept, the empirical conditions of a particular form, as for example electricity, are not as fixed as sensory determinations and not as abstract moments as is represented for example by an elective affinity. Berthollet, in his famous work Statique chimique, has brought together and investigated the circumstances which produce changes in the results of chemical action, results often attributed only to the conditions of the affinity, which are taken as constant and fixedly determined laws. He says: "The superficiality which these explanations bring into science is prominently regarded as progress."

§ 258.

The chemical process is, to be sure, in general terms, life, for the individual body in its immediacy is suspended and brought forth by the process, so that the concept no longer remains an inner necessity, but becomes manifest. But the body also achieves a mere appearance, and not objectivity. This process is finite and transient, because the individual body has immediate individuality, and therefore a limited particularity, so that the process has immediate and contingent conditions. Fire and differentiation are extinguished in the neutral body, and it does not break apart sufficiently in itself to divide. Similarly, difference exists at first in indifferent independence, but does not stand for itself in relation to the other, nor does it activate itself

Certain chemical phenomena have led chemists to apply the determination of purposiveness in explaining them. An example is the f that an oxide is reduced to a lower degree of oxidation than that at which it can combine with the acid working on it, and a part of it is more strongly oxidised-,-here the self-determination of the concept lies in the realisation.

§ 259.

In the chemical process the body thus displays the transiency of its immediate individuality both in its emergence and its passing away, and presents itself as a moment of generality. In this immediate individuality the concept has the reality which corresponds to it, a concrete generality which derives from particularisation, and at the same time contains in itself the conditions and moments of the total syllogism which fall apart from each other in the immediate chemical process; — the organism.

Organic Physics

Hegel-by-HyperText Home Page @ marxists.org