Part One of the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences: The Logic
Development of the Object
Mechanism - Chemism - Teleology
The Object is immediate being, because insensible to difference, which in it has suspended itself. It is, further, a totality in itself, while at the same time (as this identity is only the implicit identity of its dynamic elements) it is equally indifferent to its immediate unity. It thus breaks up into distinct parts, each of which is itself the totality. Hence the object is the absolute contradiction between a complete independence of the multiplicity, and the equally complete non-independence of the different pieces.
The definition, which states that the Absolute is the Object, is most definitely implied in the Leibnitzian Monad. The Monads are each an object, but an object implicitly 'representative', indeed the total representation of the world. In the simple unity of the Monad, all difference is merely ideal, not independent or real. Nothing from without comes into the monad: it is the whole notion in itself, only distinguished by its own greater or less development. None the less, this simple totality parts into the absolute multeity of differences, each becoming an independent monad. In the monad of monads, and the Pre-established Harmony of their inward developments, these substances are in like manner again reduced to 'identity' and unsubstantiality. The philosophy of Leibnitz, therefore, represents contradiction in its complete development.
(1) As Fichte in modern times has especially and with justice insisted, the theory which regards the Absolute or God as the Object and there stops, expresses the point of view taken by superstition and slavish fear. No doubt God is the Object, and, indeed, the Object out and out, confronted with which our particular or subjective opinions and desires have no truth and no validity. As absolute object, however, God does not therefore take up the position of a dark and hostile power over against subjectivity. He rather involves it as a vital element in himself. Such also is the meaning of the Christian doctrine, according to which God has willed that all men should be saved and all attain blessedness. The salvation and the blessedness of men are attained when they come to feel themselves at one with God, so that God, on the other hand, ceases to be for them mere object, and, in that way, an object of fear and terror, as was especially the case with the religious consciousness of the Romans. But God in the Christian religion is also known as Love, because in his Son, who is one with him, he has revealed himself to men as a man among men, and thereby redeemed them. All of which is only another way of saying that the antithesis of subjective and objective is implicitly overcome, and that it is our affair to participate in this redemption by laying aside our immediate subjectivity (putting off the old Adam), and learning to know God as our true and essential self.
Just as religion and religious worship consist in overcoming the antithesis of subjectivity and objectivity, so science too and philosophy have no other task than to overcome this antithesis by the medium of thought. The aim of knowledge is to divest the objective world that stands opposed to us of its strangeness, and, as the phrase is, to find ourselves at home in it: which means no more than to trace the objective world back to the notion - to our innermost self. We may learn from the present discussion the mistake of regarding the antithesis of subjectivity and objectivity as an abstract and permanent one. The two are wholly dialectical. The notion is at first only subjective: but without the assistance of any foreign material or stuff it proceeds, in obedience to its own action, to objectify itself. So, too, the object is not rigid and processless. Its process is to show itself as what is at the same time subjective, and thus form the step onwards to the idea. Any one who, from want of familiarity with the categories of subjectivity and objectivity, seeks to retain them in their abstraction will find that the isolated categories slip through his fingers before he is aware, and that he says the exact contrary of what he wanted to say.
(2) Objectivity contains the three forms of Mechanism, Chemism, and Teleology. The object of mechanical type is the immediate and undifferentiated object. No doubt it contains difference, but the different pieces stand, as it were, without affinity to each other, and their connection is only extraneous. In chemism, on the contrary, the object exhibits an essential tendency to differentiation, in such a way that the objects are what they are only by their relation to each other: this tendency to difference constitutes their quality. The third type of objectivity, the teleological relation, is the unity of mechanism and chemism. Design, like the mechanical object, is a self-contained totality, enriched however by the principle of differentiation which came to the fore in chemism, and thus referring itself to the object that stands over against it. Finally, it is the realisation of design which forms the transition to the Idea.
The object (1) in its immediacy is the notion only potentially; the notion as subjective is primarily outside it; and all its specific character is imposed from without. As a unity of differents, therefore, it is a composite, an aggregate; and its capacity of acting on anything else continues to be an external relation. This is Formal Mechanism. Notwithstanding, and in this connection and non-independence, the objects remain independent and offer resistance, external to each other.
Pressure and impact are examples of mechanical relations. Our knowledge is said to be mechanical or by rote, when the words have no meaning for us, but continue external to sense, conception, thought; and when, being similarly external to each other, they form a meaningless sequence. Conduct, piety, etc., are in the same way mechanical, when a man's behaviour is settled for him by ceremonial laws, by a spiritual adviser, etc.; in short, when his own mind and will are not in his actions, which in this way are extraneous to himself.
Mechanism, the first form of objectivity, is also the category which primarily offers itself to reflection, as it examines the objective world. It is also the category beyond which reflection seldom goes. It is, however, a shallow and superficial mode of observation, one that cannot carry us through in connection with Nature and still less in connection with the world of Mind. In Nature it is only the veriest abstract relations of matter in its inert masses which obey the law of mechanism. On the contrary the phenomena and operations of the province to which the term 'physical' in its narrower sense is applied, such as the phenomena of light, heat, magnetism, and electricity, cannot be explained by any mere mechanical processes, such as pressure, impact, displacement of parts, and the like.
Still less satisfactory is it to transfer these categories and apply them in the field of organic nature; at least if it be our aim to understand the specific features of that field, such as the growth and nourishment of plants, or, it may be, even animal sensation. It is at any rate a very deep-seated, and perhaps the main, defect of modern researches into nature, that, even where other and higher categories than those of mere mechanism are in operation, they still stick obstinately to the mechanical laws; although they thus conflict with the testimony of unbiased perception, and foreclose the gate to an adequate knowledge of nature. But even in considering the formations in the world of Mind, the mechanical theory has been repeatedly invested with an authority which it has no right to. Take as an instance the remark that man consists of soul and body. In this language, the two things stand each self-subsistent, and associated only from without. Similarly we find the soul regarded as a mere group of forces and faculties, subsisting independently side by side.
Thus decidedly must we reject the mechanical mode of inquiry when it comes forward and arrogates to itself the place of rational cognition in general, and seeks to get mechanism accepted as an absolute category. But we must not on that account forget expressly to vindicate for mechanism the right and import of a general logical category. It would be, therefore, a mistake to restrict it to the special physical department from which it derives its name. There is no harm done, for example, in directing attention to mechanical actions, such as that of gravity, the lever, etc., even in departments, notably in physics and in physiology, beyond the range of mechanics proper. It must however be remembered that within these spheres the laws of mechanism cease to be final or decisive, and sink, as it were, to a subservient position. To which may be added that in Nature, when the higher or organic functions are in any way checked or disturbed in their normal efficiency, the otherwise subordinate category of mechanism is immediately seen to take the upper hand. Thus a sufferer from indigestion feels pressure on the stomach, after partaking of certain food in slight quantity; whereas those whose digestive organs are sound remain free from the sensation, although they have eaten as much. The same phenomenon occurs in the general feeling of heaviness in the limbs, experienced in bodily indisposition. Even in the world of Mind, mechanism has its place; though there, too, it is a subordinate one. We are right in speaking of mechanical memory, and all sorts of mechanical operations, such as reading, writing, playing on musical instruments, etc. In memory, indeed, the mechanical quality of the action is essential: a circumstance of which the neglect has not unfrequently caused great harm in the training of the young, from the misapplied zeal of modern educationalists for the freedom of intelligence. It would betray bad psychology, however, to have recourse to mechanism for an explanation of the nature of memory, and to apply mechanical laws straight off to the soul. The mechanical feature in memory lies merely in the fact that certain signs, tones, etc., are apprehended in their purely external association, and then reproduced in this association, without attention being expressly directed to their meaning and inward association. To become acquainted with these conditions of mechanical memory requires no further study of mechanics, nor would that study tend at all to advance the special inquiry of psychology.
The want of stability in itself which allows the object to suffer violence, is possessed by it (see preceding §) only in so far as it has a certain stability. Now as the object is implicitly invested with the character of notion, the one of these characteristics is not merged into its other; but the object, through the negation of itself (its lack of independence), closes with itself, and not till it so closes, is it independent. Thus at the same time in distinction from the outwardness, and negativing that outwardness in its independence, does this independence form a negative unity with self - Centrality (subjectivity). So conceived, the other itself has direction and reference towards the external. But this external object is similarly central in itself, and being so, is no less only referred towards the other centre; so that it no less has its centrality in the other. This is (2) Mechanism with Affinity (with bias, or 'difference'), and may be illustrated by gravitation, appetite, social instinct, etc.
This relation, when fully carried out, forms a syllogism. In that syllogism the immanent negativity, as the central individuality of an object (abstract centre) relates itself to non-independent objects, as the other extreme, by a mean which unites the centrality with the non-independence of the objects (relative centre). This is (3) Absolute Mechanism.
The syllogism thus indicated (I - P - U) is a triad of syllogisms. The wrong individuality of non-independent objects, in which formal Mechanism is at home, is, by reason of that non-independence, no less universality, though it be only external. Hence these objects also form the mean between the absolute-and the relative centre (the form of syllogism being U - I - P): for it is by this want of independence that those two are kept asunder and made extremes, as well as related to one another. Similarly absolute centrality, as the permanently underlying universal substance (illustrated by the gravity which continues identical), which as pure negativity equally includes individuality in it, is what mediates between the relative centre and the non-independent objects (the form of syllogism being P - U - I). It does so no less essentially as a disintegrating force, in its character of immanent individuality, than in virtue of universality, acting as an identical bond of union and tranquil self-containedness. Like the solar system, so for example in the practical sphere, the state is a system of three syllogisms.
(1) The Individual or person, through his particularity or physical or mental needs (which when carried out to their full development give civil society), is coupled with the universal, i.e. with society, law, right, government.
(2) The will or action of the individuals is the intermediating force which procures for these needs satisfaction in society, in law, etc., and which gives to society, law, etc., their fulfilment and actualisation.
(3) But the universal, that is to say the state, government, and law, is the permanent underlying mean in which the individuals and their satisfaction have and receive their fulfilled reality, intermediation, and persistence. Each of the functions of the notion, as it is brought by intermediation to coalesce with the other extreme, is brought into union with itself and produces itself: which production is self-preservation. It is only by the nature of this triple coupling, by this triad of syllogisms with the same terming that a whole is thoroughly understood in its organisation.
The immediacy of existence, which the objects have in Absolute Mechanism, is implicitly negatived by the fact that their independence is derived from, and due to, their connections with each other, and therefore to their own want of stability. Thus the object must be explicitly stated as in its existence having an Affinity (or a bias) towards its other - as not-indifferent.
The not-indifferent (biased) object has an immanent mode which constitutes its nature, and in which it has existence. But as it is invested with the character of total notion, it is the contradiction between this totality and the special mode of its existence. Consequently it is the constant endeavour to cancel this contradiction and to make its definite being equal to the notion.
Chemism is a category of objectivity which, as a rule, is not particularly emphasised, and is generally put under the head of mechanism. The common name of mechanical relationship is applied to both, in contradistinction to the teleological. There is a reason for this in the common feature which belongs to mechanism and chemism. In them the notion exists, but only implicit and latent, and they are thus both marked off from teleology where the notion has real independent existence. This is true: and yet chemism and mechanism are very decidedly distinct. The object, in the form of mechanism, is primarily only an indifferent reference to self, while the chemical object is seen to be completely in reference to something else. No doubt even in mechanism, as it develops itself, there spring up references to something else: but the nexus of mechanical objects with one another is at first only an external nexus, so that the objects in connection with one another still retain the semblance of independence.
In nature, for example, the several celestial bodies, which form our solar system, compose a kinetic system, and thereby show that they are related to one another. Motion, however, as the unity of time and space, is a connection which is purely abstract and external. And it seems therefore as if these celestial bodies, which are thus externally connected with each other, would continue to be what they are, even apart from this reciprocal relation. The case is quite different with chemism. Objects chemically biased are what they are expressly by that bias alone. Hence they are the absolute impulse towards integration by and in one another.
The product of the chemical process consequently is the Neutral object, latent in the two extremes, each on the alert. The notion or concrete universal, by means of the bias of the objects (the particularity), coalesces with the individuality (in the shape of the product), and in that only with itself. In this process too the other syllogisms are equally involved. The place of mean is taken both by individuality as activity, and by the concrete universal, the essence of the strained extremes; which essence reaches definite being in the product.
Chemism, as it is a reflectional nexus of objectivity, has pre-supposed, not merely the bias or non-indifferent nature of the objects, but also their immediate independence. The process of chemism consists in passing to and fro from one form to another; which forms continue to be as external as before. In the neutral product the specific properties, which the extremes bore towards each other, are merged. But although the product is conformable to the notion, the inspiring principle of active differentiation does not exist in it; for it has sunk back to immediacy. The neutral body is therefore capable of disintegration. But the discerning principle, which breaks up the neutral body into biased and strained extremes, and which gives to the indifferent object in general its affinity and animation towards another; that principle, and the process as a separation with tension, falls outside of that first process.
The chemical process does not rise above a conditioned and finite process. The notion as notion is only the heart and core of the process, and does not in this stage come to an existence of its own. In the neutral product the process is extinct, and the existing cause falls outside it.
Each of these two processes, the reduction of the biased (not-indifferent) to the neutral, and the differentiation of the indifferent or neutral, goes its own way without hindrance from the other. But that want of inner connection shows that they are finite, by their passage into products in which they are merged and lost. Conversely the process exhibits the nonentity of the presupposed immediacy of the not-indifferent objects. By this negation of immediacy and of externalism in which the notion as object was sunk, it is liberated and invested with independent being in face of that externalism and immediacy. In these circumstances it is the End (Final Cause).
The passage from chemism to the teleological relation is implied in the mutual cancelling of both of the forms of the chemical process. The result thus attained is the liberation of the notion, which in chemism and mechanism was present only in the germ, and not yet evolved. The notion in the shape of the aim or end thus comes into independent existence.
In the End the notion has entered on free existence and has a being of its own, by means of the negation of immediate objectivity. It is characterised as subjective, seeing that this negation is, in the first place, abstract, and hence at first the relation between it and objectivity still one of contrast. This character of subjectivity, however, compared with the totality of the notion, is one-sided, and that, be it added, for the End itself, in which all specific characters have been put as subordinated and merged. For it therefore even the object, which it presupposes, has only hypothetical (ideal) reality - essentially no-reality. The End, in short, is a contradiction of its self-identity against the negation stated in it, i.e. its antithesis to objectivity, and being so, contains the eliminative or destructive activity which negates the antithesis and renders it identical with itself. This is the realisation of the End: in which, while it turns itself into the other of its subjectivity and objectifies itself, thus cancelling the distinction between the two, it has only closed with itself, and retained itself.
The notion of Design or End, while on one hand called redundant, is on another justly described as the rational notion, and contrasted with the abstract universal of understanding. The latter only subsumes the particular, and so connects it with itself: but has it not in its own nature. The distinction between the End or final cause, and the mere efficient cause (which is the cause ordinarily so called), is of supreme importance. Causes, properly so called, belong to the sphere of necessity, blind, and not yet laid bare. The cause therefore appears as passing into its correlative, and losing its primordiality thereby sinking into dependency. It is only by implication, or for us, that the cause is in the effect made for the first time a cause, and that it there returns into itself. The End, on the other hand, is expressly stated as containing the specific character in its own self - the effect, namely, which in the purely causal relation is never free from otherness. The End therefore in its efficiency does not pass over, but retains itself, i.e. it carries into effect itself only, and is at the end what it was in the beginning or primordial state. Until it thus retains itself, it is not genuinely primordial. The End then requires to be speculatively apprehended as the notion, which itself in the proper unity and ideality of its characteristics contains the judgment or negation - the antithesis of subjective and objective - and which to an equal extent suspends that antithesis.
By End however we must not at once, nor must we ever merely, think of the form which it has in consciousness as a mode of mere mental representation. By means of the notion of Inner Design Kant has resuscitated the Idea in general and particularly the idea of life. Aristotle's definition of life virtually implies inner design, and is thus far in advance of the notion of design in modern Teleology, which had in view finite and outward design only.
Animal wants and appetites are some of the readiest instances of the End. They are the felt contradiction, which exists within the living subject, and pass into the activity of negating this negation which mere subjectivity still is. The satisfaction of the want or appetite restores the peace between subject and object. The objective thing which, so long as the contradiction exists, i.e. so long as the want is felt, stands on the other side, loses this quasi-independence, by its union with the subject. Those who talk of the permanence and immutability of the finite, as well subjective as objective, may see the reverse illustrated in the operations of every appetite. Appetite is, so to speak, the conviction that the subjective is only a half-truth, no more adequate than the objective. But appetite in the second place carries out its conviction. It brings about the supersession of these finites: it cancels the antithesis between the objective which would be and stay an objective only, and the subjective which in like manner would be and stay a subjective only.
As regards the action of the End, attention may be called to the fact, that in the syllogism, which represents that action, and shows the end closing with itself by the means of realisation, the radical feature is the negation of the termini. That negation is the one just mentioned both of the immediate subjectivity appearing in the End as such, and of the immediate objectivity as seen in the means and the objects presupposed. This is the same negation as is in operation when the mind leaves the contingent things of the world as well as its own subjectivity and rises to God. It is the 'moment' or factor which (as noticed in the Introduction and § 192) was overlooked and neglected in the analytic form of syllogisms, under which the so-called proofs of the Being of a God presented this elevation.
In its primary and immediate aspect the Teleological relation is external design, and the notion confronts a presupposed object. The End is consequently finite, and that partly in its content, partly in the circumstance that it has an external condition in the object, which has to be found existing, and which is taken as material for its realisation. Its self-determining is to that extent in form only. The unmediatedness of the End has the further result that its particularity or content - which as form-characteristic is the subjectivity of the End - is reflected into self, and so different from the totality of the form, subjectivity in general, the notion. This variety constitutes the finitude of Design within its own nature. The content of the End, in this way, is quite as limited, contingent, and given, as the object is particular and found ready to hand.
Generally speaking, the final cause is taken to mean nothing more than external design. In accordance with this view of it, things are supposed not to carry their vocation in themselves, but merely to be means employed and spent in realising a purpose which lies outside of them. That may be said to be the point of view taken by Utility, which once played a great part even in the sciences, but of late has fallen into merited disrepute, now that people have begun to see that it failed to give a genuine insight into the nature of things. It is true that finite things as finite ought in justice to be viewed as non-ultimate, and as pointing beyond themselves. This negativity of finite things however is their own dialectic, and in order to ascertain it we must pay attention to their positive content.
Teleological observations on things often proceed from a well-meant wish to display the wisdom of God as it is especially revealed in nature. Now in thus trying to discover final causes for which the things serve as means, we must remember that we are stopping short at the finite, and are liable to fall into trifling reflections: as, for instance, if we not merely studied the vine in respect of its well-known use for man, but proceeded to consider the cork-tree in connection with the corks which are cut from its bark to put into the wine-bottles. Whole books used to be written in this spirit. It is easy to see that they promoted the genuine interest neither of religion nor of science. External design stands immediately in front of the idea: but what thus stands on the threshold often for that reason is least adequate.
The teleological relation is a syllogism in which the subjective end coalesces with the objectivity external to it, through a middle term which is the unity of both. This unity is on one hand the purposive action, on the other the Means, i.e. objectivity made directly subservient to purpose.
The development from End to Idea ensues by three stages, first, Subjective End; second, End in process of accomplishment; and third, End accomplished. First of all we have the Subjective End; and that, as the notion in independent being, is itself the totality of the elementary functions of the notion. The first of these functions is that of self-identical universality, as it were the neutral first water, in which everything is involved, but nothing as yet discriminated. The second of these elements is the particularising of this universal, by which it acquires a specific content. As this specific content again is realised by the agency of the universal, the latter returns by its means back to itself, and coalesces with itself. Hence too when we set some end before us, we say that we 'conclude' to do something: a phrase which implies that we were, so to speak, open and accessible to this or that determination. Similarly we also at a further step speak of a man 'resolving' to do something, meaning that the agent steps forward out of his self-regarding inwardness and enters into dealings with the environing objectivity. This supplies the step from the merely Subjective End to the purposive action which tends outwards.
(1) The first syllogism of the final cause represents the Subjective End. The universal notion is brought to unite with individuality by means of particularity, so that the individual as self-determination acts as judge. That is to say, it not only particularises or makes into a determinate content the still indeterminate universal, but also explicitly puts an antithesis of subjectivity and objectivity, and at the same time is in its own self a return to itself; for it stamps the subjectivity of the notion, presupposed as against objectivity, with the mark of defect, in comparison with the complete and rounded totality, and thereby at the same time turns outwards.
(2) This action which is directed outwards is the individuality, which in the Subjective End is identical with the particularity under which, along with the content, is also comprised the external objectivity. It throws itself in the first place immediately upon the object, which it appropriates to itself as a Means. The notion is this immediate power; for the notion is the self-identical negativity, in which the being of the object is characterised as wholly and merely ideal. The whole Middle Term is this inward power of the notion, in the shape of an agency, with which the object as Means is immediately united and in obedience to which it stands.
In finite teleology the Middle Term is broken up into two elements external to each other, (a) the action and (b) the object which serves as Means. The relation of the final cause as power to this object, and the subjugation of the object to it, is immediate (it forms the first premise in the syllogism) to this extent, that in the teleological notion as the self-existent ideality the object is put as potentially null. This relation, as represented in the first premise, itself becomes the Middle Term, which at the same time involves the syllogism, that through this relation – in which the action of the End is contained and dominant – the End is coupled with objectivity.
The execution of the End is the mediated mode of realising the End; but the immediate realisation is not less needful. The End lays hold of the object immediately, because it is the power over the object, because in the End particularity, and in particularity objectivity also, is involved. A living being has a body; the soul takes possession of it and without intermediary has objectified itself in it. The human soul has much to do, before it makes its corporeal nature into a means. Man must, as it were, take possession of his body, so that it may be the instrument of his soul.
(3) Purposive action, with its Means, is still directed outwards, because the End is also not identical with the object, and must consequently first be mediated with it. The Means in its capacity of object stands, in this second premise, in direct relation to the other extreme of the syllogism, namely, the material or objectivity which is presupposed. This relation is the sphere of chemism and mechanism, which have now become the servants of the Final Cause, where lies their truth and free notion. Thus the Subjective End, which is the power ruling these processes, in which the objective things wear themselves out on one another, contrives to keep itself free from them, and to preserve itself in them. Doing so, it appears as the Cunning of reason.
Reason is as cunning as it is powerful. Cunning may be said to lie in the intermediative action which, while it permits the objects to follow their own bent and act upon one another till they waste away, and does not itself directly interfere in the process, is nevertheless only working out its own aims. With this explanation, Divine Providence may be said to stand to the world and its process in the capacity of absolute cunning. God lets men do as they please with their particular passions and interests; but the result is the accomplishment of - not their plans, but his, and these differ decidedly from the ends primarily sought by those whom he employs.
The Realised End is thus the overt unity of subjective and objective. It is however essentially characteristic of this unity, that the subjective and objective are neutralised and cancelled only in the point of their one-sidedness, while the objective is subdued and made conformable to the End, as the free notion, and thereby to the power above it. The End maintains itself against and in the objective: for it is no mere one-sided subjective or particular, it is also the concrete universal, the implicit identity of both. This universal, as simply reflected in itself, is the content which remains unchanged through all the three termini of the syllogism and their movement.
In Finite Design, however, even the executed End has the same radical rift or flaw as had the Means and the initial End. We have got therefore only a form extraneously impressed on a pre-existing material: and this form, by reason of the limited content of the End, is also a contingent characteristic. The End achieved consequently is only an object, which again becomes a Means or material for other Ends, and so on for ever.
But what virtually happens in the realising of the End is that the one-sided subjectivity and the show of objective independence confronting it are both cancelled. In laying hold of the means, the notion constitutes itself the very implicit essence of the object. In the mechanical and chemical processes, the independence of the object has been already dissipated implicitly, and in the course of their movement under the dominion of the End, the show of that independence, the negative which confronts the Notion, is got rid of. But in the fact that the End achieved is characterised only as a Means and a material, this object, viz. the teleological, is there and then put as implicitly null, and only 'ideal'. This being so, the antithesis between form and content has also vanished. While the End by the removal and absorption of all form-characteristics coalesces with itself, the form as self-identical is thereby put as the content, so that the notion, which is the action of form, has only itself for content. Through this process, therefore, there is made explicitly manifest what was the notion of design: viz. the implicit unity of subjective and objective is now realised. And this is the Idea.
This finitude of the End consists in the circumstance, that, in the process of realising it, the material, which is employed as a means, is only externally subsumed under it and made conformable to it. But, as a matter of fact, the object is the notion implicitly: and thus when the notion, in the shape of End, is realised in the object, we have but the manifestation of the inner nature of the object itself. Objectivity is thus, as it were, only a covering under which the notion lies concealed. Within the range of the finite we can never see or experience that the End has been really secured. The consummation of the infinite End, therefore, consists merely in removing the illusion which makes it seem yet unaccomplished. The Good, the absolutely Good, is eternally accomplishing itself in the world: and the result is that it need not wait upon us, but is already by implication, as well as in full actuality, accomplished. This is the illusion under which we live. It alone supplies at the same time the actualising force on which the interest in the world reposes.
In the course of its process the Idea creates that illusion, by setting an antithesis to confront it; and its action consists in getting rid of the illusion which it has created. Only out of this error does the truth arise. In this fact lies the reconciliation with error and with finitude. Error or other-being, when superseded, is still a necessary dynamic element of truth: for truth can only be where it makes itself its own result.
The Idea (next section)
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