Friedrich Schelling, (1833-4)
Source: Translated by Professor Andrew Bowie. The full text was published by Cambridge University Press in 1994, but this excerpt was taken from G. W. F. Hegel, Critical Assessments, edited by Robert Stern, Routledge 1994. Routledge also published Prof. Bowie's Schelling and Modern European Philosophy, where an extensive analysis of Schelling's philosophy and his relation to Hegel is available.
The philosophy which has just been presented, which could rely on universal assent if it presented itself as a science of thought or of reason and presented God, whom it reached at the end, as the merely logical result of its earlier mediations, acquired, by assuming the appearance of the opposite, a completely false reputation which even contradicted its original thought (hence the changeable and very various judgments that were expressed about it were quite natural). Now one might hope that this philosophy really would withdraw to within this boundary, would declare itself as negative, merely as logical philosophy when Hegel established precisely as the first demand on philosophy that it should withdraw into pure thinking, and that it should have as sole immediate object the pure concept. Hegel cannot be denied the credit for having seen the merely logical nature of the philosophy which he intended to work on and promised to bring to its complete form. If he had stuck to that and if he had carried out this thought by strictly, decisively renouncing everything positive, then he would have brought about the decisive transition to the positive philosophy, for the Negative, the negative pole can never be there in pure form without immediately calling for the positive pole. But that withdrawal to pure thought, to the pure concept was, as one can find stated on the very first pages of Hegel's Logic, linked to the claim that the concept was everything and left nothing outside itself. Hegel's own words are the following: 'The method is only the movement of the concept itself, but in the sense that the concept is everything and its movement is the universal absolute activity. The method is, therefore, the infinite power of knowing' (here, according to this, after it was up to then just a question of thinking and of the concept, suddenly the claim to cognition (Erkennen) comes in. But cognition is the Positive and only has being (das Seyende), reality (das Wirkliche) as its object, whereas thinking just has the possible, and thus also only has what can be known (das Erkennbare) and not what is known (das Erkannte) as its object) 'the method is, therefore, the infinite power of knowing to which no object, to the extent to which it presents itself as external, distant from reason and independent of reason, can put up any resistance'.
The proposition: the movement of the concept is the universal absolute activity leaves nothing left for God than the movement of the concept, i.e. than for himself to be only the concept. The concept does not have the meaning here of just the concept (Hegel protests most vigorously against this), but instead the meaning of the thing itself (Sache selbst), and in the same way as the Zoroastrians say that the true creator is time, one admittedly cannot reproach Hegel with holding the opinion that God is just a concept; his opinion is rather: the true creator is the concept; with the concept one has the creator and needs no other outside this creator.
What Hegel primarily sought to avoid was precisely that God, as, of course, it could not be otherwise within a logical philosophy, should only be posited in the concept. For him God was not both just a concept and the concept God; for him the concept had the meaning that it was God. His opinion is: God is nothing but the concept which step by step becomes the self-conscious Idea (Idee), as self-conscious Idea releases itself into nature, and, returning from nature into itself, becomes absolute spirit.
Hegel is so little inclined to recognise his philosophy as the merely negative philosophy that he asserts instead that it is the philosophy which leaves absolutely nothing outside itself; his philosophy attributes to itself the most objective meaning and in particular a wholly complete knowledge (Erkenntnis) of God and of divine things - the knowledge which Kant denied to philosophy is supposedly achieved by his philosophy. Indeed he even goes so far as to attribute a knowledge of Christian dogmas to his philosophy; in this respect his presentation of the doctrine of the Trinity is the most informative, which is briefly as follows, God the Father, before the creation, is the purely logical concept which loses its way in the pure categories of being (Seyn). But this God must reveal himself because his essence consists in a necessary process; this revelation or externalisation of himself is the world, and God is the Son. But God must also negate (aufheben) this externalisation as well (which is a stepping outside of the merely logical - Hegel so little recognised the merely logical character of the whole of this philosophy that he declared he was stepping outside it with the Naturphilosophie) - God must also negate this externalisation, this negation of his merely logical being (Seyn) as well, and return to himself, which happens through the human spirit in art, in religion and most completely in philosophy, and this human spirit is at the same time the Holy Ghost, through which God first comes to complete consciousness of himself.
You can see how this process, which was introduced by previous philosophy, is understood here, and how it is taken in the most emphatic fashion as an objective and real process. Hence, however commendable one must find Hegel's impulse to recognise the merely logical nature and significance of the science which he found before him, however commendable it is, in particular, that he revealed as logical relationships the logical relationships which previous philosophy concealed in the Real, one must yet admit that his philosophy, when it is really carried out (precisely because of the pretension to objective, real significance), has become a good deal more monstrous than the preceding philosophy ever was, and that I therefore did not do this philosophy an injustice when I called it - an episode.
I have now determined the place of the Hegelian system in general. But in order to demonstrate this more distinctly, I want to give a more detailed presentation of the course of its development.
In order, then, to enter the movement, Hegel must go back with the concept to some beginning or other, where he is at the greatest distance from that which is only to come into being via the movement. Now within the logical or the Negative there is again that which is to a greater or lesser extent merely logical or negative, because the concept can be more or less fulfilled, can grasp more or less within itself. Hegel therefore goes back to the most negative of all that can be thought, to the concept in which the least can be known, which, therefore, he says, is as free as possible from any subjective determination, and as such is the most objective. And this concept for him is that of pure being (Seyn).
How Hegel arrives at this determination of the beginning can perhaps be explained in the following manner.
The subject which the preceding philosophy had as its beginning point was, as opposed to the Fichtean I which was only the subject of our, of human, or basically for everyone only the subject of their own consciousness - as opposed to this subject which was itself merely subjective, the subject in the philosophy after Fichte was explained as an objective subject (posited outside us, and independent of us), and to the extent to which it was now explained at the same time that the development had first to progress from this objective subject to the subjective one (the one posited in us), then the course in general had admittedly been determined as a progress from the objective into the subjective; but the point of departure was the subjective in its complete objectivity, and thus it was in fact always the subjective, and not the merely objective as it is when Hegel determines his first concept as pure being. For that system (the preceding one) what moves itself in it is only not a subject which is already posited as such, but, as remarked earlier, is only subject in such a way that it is possible for it also to be object; to this extent it is neither decisively subject nor decisively object, but rather an equal validity between both, which was expressed as indifference of the subjective and the objective. For if it is thought of before the process or, as it were, in and before itself, it is not object to itself, but for precisely that reason it is also not subject in relation to itself (it first makes itself into the subject of itself, which is, of course, no less a relative concept, precisely when it first makes itself into the object of itself), it is thus also indifference of subject and object relative to itself (still not subject and object), but precisely because it is not subject and object of itself, it is also not this indifference for itself, and is accordingly merely objective, merely in itself. The transition to the process is now, as you know, precisely that it wants itself as itself, and the First thing in the process is accordingly the subject, which was previously indifferent, in what is now its drawing-itself-to-itself (sich-selbst-Anziehung). In this self-gravitation (Selbstanziehung) that which is attracted (das Angezogene) (we wish to call it B), i.e. the subject to the extent to which it is object of itself, is necessarily something restricted and limited (the attraction (die Anziehung) itself is precisely what does the limiting), but what attracts (we wish to call it A), precisely by the fact that it has attracted being (das Seyn), is itself posited outside itself, inhibited with this being: it is the first stage of objectivity (das erste Objektive). But this first stage of objectivity, this primum existens, is only the occasion of and the first step to the higher potentials of inwardness or spirituality, to which the subject raises itself to the extent to which it keeps on going over into the object in each of its forms, joins the object (for it is, so to speak, only concerned to raise its first being to a being which is appropriate to itself, to equip it with ever more elevated spiritual qualities, to transform it into something in which it can recognise itself and in which it can therefore rest); but as the following stage always held on to the earlier stage, this cannot happen without creating a totality of forms; the movement therefore does not cease until the object has become completely = to the subject. Hence to the extent that in the process as well the primum existens is a minimum of subjective and a maximum of objective, from which ever more elevated potentials of subjective are achieved, here as well (beginning with what is First in the process) there is a progress from the objective into the subjective.
In any case, then, Hegel also had to try to make an objective beginning, indeed, if possible, the most objective beginning, as he wanted to establish the same system overall and in the main question (in der Hauptsache). Here, though, he is faced with determining that which is most objective as the negation of everything subjective, as pure being, i.e. (how else can one understand it?) as being in which there is nothing subjective (nichts von einem Subjekt). For the fact that he does, by the way, attribute a movement, a transition into another concept to this pure being, indeed attributes to it an inner restlessness which drives it on to further determinations, does not prove that he nevertheless thinks a subject in pure being; it only proves something or other of which it can only be said that it is not not, or is not nothing at all, but in no way proves that it already is something - if this were his thought, the progression would have to be completely different. The fact that he nevertheless attributes an immanent movement to pure being means no more, then, than that the thought which begins with pure being feels it is impossible for it to stop at this most abstract and most empty thing of all, which Hegel himself declares is pure being. The compulsion to move on from this only has its basis in the fact that thought is already used to a more concrete being, a being more full of content, and thus cannot be satisfied with that meagre diet of pure being, in which only content in the abstract, but no determinate content, is thought; in the last analysis, then, what does not allow him to remain with that empty abstraction is only the fact that there really is a more rich being which is more full of content, and the fact that the thinking spirit itself is already such a being, thus the fact that it is not a necessity which lies in the concept itself, but rather a necessity which lies in the philosopher and which is imposed upon him by his memory. Thus it is really always only the thought which first seeks to withdraw to the most minimal content possible, but then seeks again successively to fulfil itself, seeks to get to a content, and finally to the complete content of the world and of consciousness - admittedly, as Hegel professes, not in a random, but rather in a necessary progression; but what always tacitly leads this progression is always the terminus ad quem, the real world, at which the science finally is to arrive; but at any time it is only what we have understood of it that we call the real world, and Hegel's own philosophy shows how many sides of this real world he has not grasped; thus contingency (Zufall) cannot be excluded from the progression, namely, what is contingent about the more narrow or broader individual views of the world of the philosophising subject. Thus there is a double deception in this supposedly necessary movement, (1) by the thought being substituted for by the concept, and by the latter being thought of as something which moves itself, when the concept for its own part would lie completely immobile if it were not the concept of a thinking subject, i.e. if it were not thought (Gedanke); (2) by pretending that the thought is only driven forward by a necessity which lies in itself, although it obviously has a goal that it is striving towards, and this goal, however much the person philosophising seeks to hide consciousness thereof from themselves, for this reason unconsciously affects the course of philosophising all the more decisively.
That the absolutely first thought is pure being is proven, though, by the fact that nothing could exclude itself from this concept if it is thought in its purity and complete abstraction - it is supposed to be the purest and most immediate certainty, or pure certainty itself without further content, that which is presupposed along with all certainty; it is not supposed to be an arbitrary action, but rather the most complete necessity, first that being in general, then that all being in being (in dem Seyn alles Seyn) should be thought. Hegel himself calls ' such remarks trivial, but excuses them by saying that the first beginnings must be trivial, as the beginnings of mathematics are also trivial; but if the beginnings of mathematics (I do not know what is meant by this) - but it they could be called trivial, this would only be because they are universally plausible; but the proposition cited does not have the merit of being trivial in this sense; but that supposed necessity, of thinking being in general and thinking all being in being - this necessity is itself merely pretence, since it is an impossibility to think being in general because there is no being in general, there is no being without a subject, being is rather necessarily and at all times something determinate, either essential (wesend) being, which returns to the essence (Wesen) and is identical with it, or objective (gegenstdndlich) being - a distinction which Hegel completely ignores; but objective being is already excluded from the absolutely first thought by its nature; it can, as is already evident in the word 'object' (Gegenstand), only be opposed to an other or only be posited for that to which it is an object,. being of this kind can therefore only be the second; from this it follows that the being of the absolutely first thought could only be non-objective, merely essential, purely primary (urstdndlich) being, with which nothing is posited except just the subject. Therefore the being of the first thought is not a being in general but already a determinate being. By being in general, completely indeterminate being, which Hegel claims to begin with, one could only understand that which is neither essential nor objective being, of which it is then immediately clear that in it truly nothing is thought (generic concept of being, wholly derived from scholasticism). To this one could reply: Hegel admits this himself by having the proposition that pure being is nothing follow immediately after the concept of pure being. But whatever meaning he might give to this proposition, it cannot on any account be his intention to declare pure being to be an unthought (Ungedanken), after he had just declared it to be the absolutely first thought. However, Hegel tries to get further with that proposition, i.e. to get into a becoming. The proposition states quite objectively: 'pure being is nothing'. But, as was already remarked, the true sense is only this: after I have posited pure being I look for something in it and find nothing, because I have forbidden myself to find anything in it precisely by the fact that I have posited it as pure being, as mere being in general. Therefore it is not at all being itself that finds itself, but rather I find it as nothing, and say this in the proposition: pure being is nothing. Let us now investigate the specific meaning of the proposition.
Hegel uses without thinking the form of the proposition, the copula, the is, before he has explained anything at all about the meaning of this is. In the same way Hegel uses the concept 'nothing' as one that needs no explanation, which is completely self-evident. Now the proposition (pure being is nothing) is either meant merely tautologically, i.e. pure being and nothing are only two different expressions for one and the same thing, in which case the proposition, as a tautological proposition, says nothing, but just contains a combination of words, and therefore nothing can follow from it. Or it has the meaning of a judgment, in which case, because of the meaning of the copula in the judgment, it means the same as: pure being is the subject, that which carries nothingness. In this way both pure being and nothing would at least potentially (potentia) be something, the former as that which carries, the latter as that which is carried, and one could then get further from the proposition, by for example having pure being emerge from that relationship of being a subject (of subjection) with the desire itself to be something, by which it would now cease to be equal to nothing and would exclude it from itself, whereby the latter, as excluded from being, now would also become a something. But it is not like this, and the proposition is therefore just meant as a tautology. Pure being is, as it is being in general, admittedly non-being in an immediate way (without any mediation), and in this sense is nothing. One should not be surprised by this proposition, but rather by that to which it is supposed to serve as a means or a transition. From this connection of being and nothing, becoming is supposed to follow. But I first want to note that Hegel wishes to explain that equation of pure being and nothing by the example of the concept of 'beginning'. 'The thing (Sache)', as he puts it, 'is not yet in its beginning'.
The little word 'yet' is interpolated here. If one uses this, then the proposition: pure being is nothing would only mean: being is here - from the present point of view - still nothing. But in the same way as in the beginning the non-being of the thing of which it is the beginning is only the not yet real (wirklich) being of the thing, though not its complete non-being, but certainly also its being, admittedly not its being in an indeterminate manner, as Hegel puts it, but its possible, its potential being, then the proposition: pure being is still (noch) nothing would just mean: it is not yet (noch nicht) real being. But precisely thereby it would become itself determinate and no longer being in general, but rather determinate being, namely, being in potentia. However, with that interpolated yet, something to come which has yet to be is already promised, and with the help of this yet Hegel gets to becoming, of which he says in a very indeterminate manner that it is the unity or unification of nothing and being (one ought rather to say that it is the transition from nothing, from not yet being, to real being, so that, in becoming, nothing and being are not united, but instead nothing is left behind. However, Hegel loves this inexact way of expressing himself; but that way the most trivial things can be given the appearance of something extraordinary).
One cannot really contradict these propositions, or declare them to be false; for they are, rather, propositions that give one nothing. It is as if one wanted to carry water in cupped hands, which also gives one nothing. The work of just holding on to something which cannot be held on to because it is not anything here replaces philosophising. One can say the same thing about all of Hegel's philosophy. One ought really not to talk about it at all because it is characteristic of it that in many cases it consists of just such incomplete thoughts which cannot even be held on to for long enough for a judgment about them to be possible. However, Hegel does not arrive in the manner indicated at some kind of determinate becoming, but rather only at the concept of becoming in general, whereby again nothing is given. But this becoming immediately divides itself up for him into moments, so that he moves over in this way to the category of quantity, and thus in general to the Kantian table of categories.
The moments which have been presented thus far: pure being, nothing, becoming are now the beginnings of the Logic which Hegel declares to be the purely speculative philosophy, specifying that here the Idea is for the time being still enclosed in thought, or that the absolute is still enclosed in its eternity (the Idea and the absolute are, according to this, treated as synonymous, in the same way as thought, because it is wholly atemporal, is regarded as identical with eternity). Because it has to present the pure divine idea as it is before all time or to the extent to which it is still just in thought, the Logic is in this sense subjective science, the Idea is still just posited as Idea, and not also as reality (Wirklichkeit) and objectivity; but it is not subjective science in the sense that it excludes the real world, but it is rather, by revealing itself as the absolute basis of everything real, just as much real and objective science; it still has the wealth both of the sensuous and the spiritual concrete world outside itself; but, as the concrete world is recognised in the subsequent real part, and it turns out in that part that it goes back into the logical Idea and that it has its last basis, its truth in this Idea, then logical universality thereby no longer appears as a particularity in relation to that real wealth, but appears as containing it, as true universality.' You can see that Logic is here opposed as one part, namely, the ideal, to the other, as the real Part of philosophy, which itself comprehends within itself (a) Naturphilosophie, (b) philosophy of the spiritual world. The Logic is only the creation of the completed Idea. This creation takes place by assuming that the Idea, or the concept as it is called when it begins - that the concept, via a moving force inherent in itself - which is called dialectical precisely because it exists just by virtue of the concept - that the concept progresses via the dialectical movement peculiar to it from those first determinations which are empty and devoid of content to determinations which are ever more full of content; the greater fullness of content of the later determinations arises precisely via the fact that they contain subordinated to themselves, or as sublated within themselves, the earlier moments which precede them; every succeeding moment is the moment which sublates the earlier moment, but it is this only to the extent to which the concept itself has already achieved a higher stage of positivity in it; in the last moment it is the completed Idea or, as it is also called, the Idea which grasps itself, which now has all the ways of being that have previously been gone through, all the moments of its being, as sublated moments within itself.
One can see that it is the method of earlier philosophy which is translated here into the Logic. In the same way as in that philosophy the absolute subject surpasses every stage of its being so that it posits itself in an even higher potential of subjectivity, of spirituality or inwardness, until it finally comes to a halt as a pure subject, i.e. one which cannot become objective any more, and thus remains with itself, here the concept which goes through various moments or determinations is supposed, by finally taking up all of them into itself, to be the concept which grasps itself. Hegel calls this progression of the concept a process as well. Only there is a difference between the imitation and the original. In the earlier philosophy the beginning point at which the subject intensifies or raises itself up to a higher subjectivity is a real opposition, a real dissonance, and in this way one understands an intensification. In the Hegelian philosophy the beginning point behaves in relation to what follows it as a mere minus, as a lack, an emptiness, which is filled and is admittedly, as such, negated as emptiness, but in this there is as little to overcome as there is in filling an empty vessel; it all happens quite peacefully - there is no opposition between being and nothing: they don't do anything to each other. The translation of the concept of process on to. the dialectical movement, where no struggle is possible, but only a monotonous, almost soporific progression, therefore belongs to that misuse of words which in Hegel is really a very great means of hiding the lack of true life. I do not wish to say any more about the confusion of thought and concept which also recurs here. Of the thought - if it in fact gets itself involved in this sequence, one can say that it goes or moves through these moments, but if this is said of the concept it is not at all a bold, but in fact a cold metaphor. One can understand that the subject does not remain still, but has an inner compulsion to go over into the object and thus to intensify itself in its subjectivity at the same time. But an empty concept, as which Hegel even explains being, does not yet, because it is empty, have any compulsion to fill itself. It is not the concept which fills itself, but rather the thought, i.e. I, the philosopher, can feel a need to progress from the empty to the full. But as only the thought is the animating principle of this movement, what guarantee is there against arbitrariness? What prevents the philosopher, in order to accommodate a concept, from also being satisfied with a mere appearance of necessity or, conversely, being satisfied with a mere appearance of the concept?
The identity philosophy was with its first steps in nature, thus in the sphere of the empirical and thereby also of intuition (Anschauung). Hegel wanted to erect his abstract Logic above the Naturphilosophie. But he took the method of the Naturphilosophie there with him; it is easy to see how forced the result had to be of wishing to elevate into the merely logical the method which definitely had nature as its content and the intuition of nature as its companion; it was forced because he had to deny these forms of intuition and yet continually tacitly assumed them, whence it is also quite correct to remark, and not difficult to discover that Hegel already presupposed intuition with the first steps of his Logic and could not take a single step without assuming it.
The old metaphysics, which was built up out of various sciences, had as its universal basis a science which also had concepts only as concepts as its content: ontology. In his Logic Hegel had nothing in mind but this ontology, which he wanted to elevate above the bad form which it had had in the Wolffian philosophy, for example, where the various categories were set up and dealt with in a more or less just coincidental, more or less indifferent juxtaposition and succession. He sought to bring about this elevation by applying a method which was invented for a completely different purpose, for real potentials, to mere concepts, into which he in vain sought to breathe a life, an inner compulsion to progression. One can see that there is nothing original in this; the method would never have been invented for this purpose. It is something which is only applied artificially and forcibly in this case. But going back to this ontology at all was a retrograde step.
In Hegel's Logic one finds every concept which just happened to be accessible and available at his time taken up as a moment of the absolute idea at a specific point. Linked to this is the pretension to complete systematisation, i.e. the claim that all concepts have been included and that outside the circle of those that have been included no other concept is possible. But what if concepts can be shown which that system knows nothing about, or which it was only able to take up into itself in a completely different sense from their real sense? Instead of an impartial system which takes up everything with the same fairness we will only have a partial system before us that has only taken up concepts of this kind, or has only taken up the ones it has done in the sense in which they are compatible with the system once the system has been presupposed. In the places where the system comes to the concepts which are higher and thus more familiar to people, to moral and religious concepts, at least, he has long since been reproached with completely arbitrary manipulation of these concepts.
One might like to ask where earlier philosophy had a location or a place for concepts as concepts. One might think it has even been claimed that this philosophy has no place for logic, for universal categories, for concepts as such. It admittedly did not have a place for concepts which still have the real (das Reale) outside themselves, for it was, as was said, with its first steps in nature; but it progressed in nature to the point where the subject (the I), which has gone through the whole of nature, has now come to itself, now possesses itself, admittedly no longer finds the earlier moments themselves which have been left behind in nature, but instead the concepts of these moments, and it finds them as concepts with which consciousness can now do as it pleases and apply in every direction, as it would with something it owns which is completely independent of things. In this way Hegel could at least be aware of the place in the system where the world of concepts, in all its multiplicity and systematically complete analysis, enters into the whole; he could even see the forms of what is generally called logic treated just like forms of nature - an analogy which Hegel uses himself, at least when he talks about the figures of the conclusions. Here, where the infinite potential which has gone through nature first becomes objective to itself, where it unfolds its organism, which has up to now been objectively analysed, subjectively in consciousness as an organism of reason, here, in a philosophy which progresses naturally and really begins from the beginning, was the only place for the concepts as such; for philosophy the concepts could not be any different from the world of the body or of plants or whatever else occurs in nature, but could only be objects which were derived in a completely a priori manner, and thus could not be there until they first step into reality (Wirklichkeit) (with consciousness), at the end of the Naturphilosophie and at the beginning of the philosophy of spirit. At this point the concepts are also themselves something real and objective, whereas where Hegel deals with them they are only something subjective, something which is artificially made objective. Concepts as such do in fact exist nowhere but in consciousness; they are, therefore, taken objectively, after nature, not before it; Hegel took them from their natural position by putting them at the beginning of philosophy. There he places the most abstract concepts first, becoming, existence etc.; but abstractions cannot be there, be taken for realities, before that from which they are abstracted; becoming cannot be there before something becomes, existence not before something exists. When Hegel says philosophy begins by withdrawing completely into pure thinking he has splendidly expressed the essence of the truly negative or purely rational philosophy; and we might be thankful to him for this characteristic expression; but in Hegel this withdrawal into pure thought is not meant or said of the whole of philosophy; he only wishes to win us over for his Logic thereby, by concerning himself with that which is not just before real (wirklich) nature, but before all nature. It is not the objects or the things (Sachen) as they present themselves a priori in pure thinking, and thus in the concept, but rather the concept should again only have the concept as its content. He and his followers only call thinking which just has concepts as its content pure thinking. For him withdrawing into thought only means deciding to think about thinking. But that at least One cannot call real (wirklich) thinking. Real thinking is where something which is opposed to thinking is overcome. Where one only has thinking, and indeed abstract thinking, as a content, thinking has nothing to overcome. (Hegel himself describes this movement by mere abstractions, like being, becoming etc., as a movement in pure, i.e. unresisting ether. The relationship is roughly as follows. Poetry can, for example, represent a poetic soul in relation to and in conflict with reality, and it thereby has a really objective content. But poetry can also have poetry in general and in abstracts as its object - it can be poetry about poetry. Many of our so-called Romantic poetry never got further than such a glorification of poetry by poetry. But no one has held this poetry to be real poetry.)
Hegel introduces as the antithesis of his assertion that the concept alone is real (das einzig Reale) the opinion that truth rests on sensuous reality (Realitat). But this could only be if the concept were a supersensuous, indeed the only supersensuous, reality (Realitat). Obviously Hegel assumes this. This assumption derives directly from the Kantian assumption according to which God is only a concept of reason, an idea of reason. But opposed to the concept is not just sensuous reality, but reality in general, both sensuous and supersensuous. Hegel thinks the only objection to or criticism of the idea of his Logic is that these thoughts are only thoughts, because the true content is supposed to be only in sensuous perception. But it is not a question of that (sensuous perception) here either. It cannot be said in any other way than that the content of the highest science, of philosophy, is indeed thoughts, and that philosophy itself is the science which only comes about by thinking. Therefore the fact that the content of philosophy is only thoughts cannot be criticised, but rather the fact that the object of these thoughts is only the concept or concepts. Hegel is only able to think sensuous reality outside concepts, which is obviously a petitio principii, as God, for example, is not just a concept and yet is also not a sensuous reality (Realitat). Hegel often refers to the fact that people have always thought that philosophy primarily entails thinking or reflection. This is true, but it does not follow from it that the object of this thinking is again only thinking itself or the concept. In the same way: 'The difference of man from animals consists only in thinking.' Assuming this is right, the content of this thinking remains completely indeterminate; for the geometer who looks at sensuously imaginable figures, the scientist who looks at sensuous objects or events, the theologian who regards God as a supersensuous reality will not admit that they are not thinking because the content of their thinking is not the pure concept.
It cannot be our intention to go further into the detail of the Hegelian Logic. What really gives rise to our interest is the system as a whole. In relation to the system which is its basis Hegel's Logic is something completely contingent, in so far as the system is only connected in a very loose way with it. Whoever just assesses the Logic has not assessed the system itself. And whoever in particular only takes to the field against individual points of this Logic may not be wrong, and may show much astuteness and correct insight in doing so, but in relation to the whole nothing is won thereby. I myself believe that one could easily produce this so-called real logic in ten different ways. Yet I do not for this reason underestimate the value of many uncommonly clever, particularly methodological remarks which are to be found in Hegel's Logic. But Hegel threw himself into the methodological discussion in such a way that he thereby completely forgot the questions which lay outside it.
I now turn to the system as such, and will also in doing so not leave unanswered the criticisms of the preceding system made by Hegel.
Although the concept cannot be the sole content of thought, what Hegel asserts might at least remain true: that the Logic in the metaphysical sense which he gives it must be the real basis of all philosophy. What Hegel so often emphasises might for this reason be true after all: that everything that is is in the Idea or in the logical concept, and that as a consequence the Idea is the truth of everything, into which at the same time everything goes as into its beginning and into its end. As far as this constantly repeated conception is concerned, it might be admitted that everything is in the logical Idea, and indeed in such a way that it could not be outside it, because what is senseless really cannot ever exist anywhere. But precisely thereby what is logical also presents itself as the merely negative aspect of existence, as that without which nothing could exist, from which, however, it by no means follows that everything only exists via what is logical. Everything can be in the logical Idea without anything being explained thereby, as, for example, everything in the sensuous world is grasped in number and measure, which does not therefore mean that geometry or arithmetic explain the sensuous world. The whole world lies, so to speak, in the nets of the understanding or of reason, but the question is how exactly it got into those nets, as there is obviously something other and something more than mere reason in the world: indeed there is something which strives beyond these barriers.
The main intention of the Hegelian Logic, and the one on which it primarily prides itself, is that it should take on in its last result the meaning of speculative theology, i.e. that it should be a real (eigentlich) construction of the Idea of God, and that, accordingly, this Idea or the absolute should not just be a presupposition in it, as it was in the immediately preceding system, but rather essentially a result. A double reproach is made to earlier philosophy thereby: (1) it has the absolute merely as an unfounded presupposition instead of as a founded result, (2) it thereby has a presupposition at all, whilst the Hegelian philosophy boasts of being a philosophy which presupposes nothing, absolutely nothing. But as far as the latter is concerned, Hegel must, by setting up the Logic in that sublime sense as the first philosophical science, use the common logical forms to do so, without having justified them, i.e. he must presuppose them, when he says, for example: pure being is nothing, without in the least having proved anything about the meaning of this is. However, it is obviously not just the logical forms, but virtually all concepts which we use in everyday life without further reflection and without considering it necessary for us to justify ourselves because of them, it is virtually all concepts of this kind which Hegel uses at the very beginning, which he therefore presupposes. He admittedly pretends at the beginning to be asking for very little, which is, as it were, not worth mentioning, as devoid of content as being itself, so that one cannot, as it were, help allowing him it. The Hegelian concept is the Indian God Vishnu in his third incarnation, who opposes himself to the Mahabala, the giant prince of darkness (as if to the spirit of ignorance), who has gained supreme power in all three worlds. He first appears to Mahabala in the form of a small, dwarf-like Brahmin and asks him for only three feet of land (the three concepts of being, nothing, becoming). Hardly has the giant granted them, when the dwarf swells up into a massive form, seizes the earth with one step, the sky with the other, and is just in the course of encompassing hell as well with the third, when the giant throws himself at his feet and humbly recognises the power of the highest God, who for his part generously leaves to him power in the realm of darkness (under his supreme power, of course). Let us admit, then, that the three concepts of being, nothing, becoming do not presuppose anything outside themselves, and that they are the first pure thoughts. But these concepts have in them a further determination: one is the first, one the second, in all there are three, and this trinity repeats itself in what follows, where more space has already been gained, in ever greater dimensions. Hegel himself speaks often enough of the tripartite division or trichotomy of the concepts. But how do I end up, here at the farthest edge of philosophy, where it hardly dare yet open its mouth, where it finds word and expression only with great effort, using the concept of number?
But besides this general boast of not presupposing anything, this philosophy also claims to have surpassed the preceding system in the fact that for this system the absolute is a mere presupposition, for it, on the other hand, it is a result, something produced, something founded. Herein lies a misunderstanding which I want briefly to analyse. As you know, for in that system the absolute is, as point of departure (as terminus a quo), pure subject. In the same way as Hegel says that the truly first definition of the absolute is: the absolute is pure being, I might say: the truly first definition of the absolute is that it is subject. Only to the extent to which this subject must at the same time also be thought in the possibility of its becoming object (= subject deprived of itself) (= entselbstetes Subjekt) did I also call it the absolute indifference of subject and object, in the same way as I later, because it is already being thought in the actus, called it living, eternally moving and non-negatable identity of the subjective and the objective. In the earlier system the absolute is, then, not in any other way a presupposition and only a presupposition in the way that in Hegel's system pure being is a presupposition, about which he also does in fact say: it is the first concept of the absolute. But the absolute is admittedly not just a beginning or a mere presupposition: it is just as much also a conclusion and in this sense a result - namely, the absolute in its completion. But the absolute determined in this way, the absolute to the extent to which it now already has all moments of being beneath and relatively outside itself, and as spirit which can no longer descend into being, into becoming, i.e. as spirit which is and remains - this absolute is just as much end or result for the earlier system. The difference between the Hegelian and the earlier system as far as the absolute is concerned is only this. The earlier system does not have a double becoming, a logical one and a real one, but, starting out from the abstract subject, from the subject in its abstraction it is in nature with the first step, and it does not afterwards need a further explanation of the transition from the logical into the real. Hegel, on the other hand, declares his Logic to be that science in which the divine Idea logically completes itself, i.e. in mere thinking, before all reality, nature and time; here, then, he already has the completed divine Idea as a logical result, but he wants immediately afterwards to have it again (namely, after it has gone through nature and the spiritual world) as a real result. In this way Hegel admittedly has something over the earlier system, namely, as was said, the double becoming. But if the Logic is the science in which the divine Idea completes itself merely in thinking, then one would have to expect that philosophy would now be closed, or if it were to progress further the progress could only be in a wholly different science, in which it is no longer just a question of the Idea, as it is in the first science. For Hegel, however, the Logic is only a part of philosophy, the Idea has logically completed itself, and now the same Idea is supposed to complete itself in reality. For it is the Idea which makes the transition into nature. Before I talk about this transition, I want to mention another criticism of the identity system which has been made on the part of Hegel. Namely, the reproach just touched upon (in the preceding philosophy the absolute was supposed to be just a presupposition) was also put as follows: this philosophy, instead of proving the absolute in the scientific manner, had recourse to intellectual intuition, and one did not know what this is; but it was certain that it was nothing scientific, rather something merely subjective, in the last analysis perhaps only something individual, a certain mystical intuition, that only a few favoured people could boast of, with the pretence of which, therefore, one could make life. easy for oneself in science.
Here one can note above all that in the first documentary Presentation of the Identity philosophy, the only one which the author has always recognised as strictly scientific,' the term 'intellectual intuition' does not occur at all, and one could offer a reward to anybody who discovered it there. On the other hand intellectual intuition really is discussed for the first time and originally in a treatise which preceded that Presentation 4 But how is it discussed there? To explain this I must go back to the significance of intellectual intuition in Fichte. For the term already, it is true, derives from Kant, but the application of it to the beginning of philosophy derives from Fichte. Fichte demanded something immediately certain as the beginning. For him this was the I, which he wanted to make sure of by intellectual intuition as something immediately certain, i.e. as something which indubitably exists. The expression of intellectual intuition was precisely the 'I am', stated with immediate certainty. The act was called intellectual intuition because in this case, unlike in sensuous intuition, subject and object were not different from each other, but the same. Now in the treatise quoted I say, not that the I, as it is immediately certain in intellectual intuition, but rather that which has been gained by abstraction from the subject in intellectual intuition, the subject-object which has been removed from intellectual intuition, which is thus universal and without determination, and as such now is no longer something immediately certain, but because it has been removed from intellectual intuition can only be a matter (Sache) of pure thought: only this is the beginning of the objective philosophy which is freed from all subjectivity. Fichte had recourse to intellectual intuition in order to prove the existence of the I: now how could his successor wish to prove with the same intellectual intuition the existence of that which is no longer the I any more, but is rather the absolute subject-object? What has the force of proof in intellectual intuition in relation to the I is just its immediacy; there is immediate certainty in the 'I am' - but is there also in the 'it is' which is the universal subject-object? All power of immediacy is lost here. In this it could no longer be a question of existence, but rather only of the pure content, of the essence of what was contained in intellectual intuition. The I is only a particular concept, a particular form of the subject-object; this was supposed to be shed, so that the subject-object in general should emerge as the universal content of all being. The explanation that one should take the universal concept of subject-object out of intellectual intuition was sufficient proof that it was a question of matter (Sache), of content, not of existence. Hegel might criticise me for not having said it clearly and expressly enough (although it was said clearly enough that it was no longer a question, as it had been in Fichte, of being, of existence),' instead of which he presupposes that, because Fichte proved the existence of the I with intellectual intuition, I wanted to prove the existence of the universal subject-object in the same. He has nothing against this intention: he only criticises the inadequate manner of the proof. Admittedly it is a question of that which is: but precisely this is supposed first to be sought. One does not even yet have it as something which is really thought, i.e. as something which has been logically realised; it is rather from the very beginning merely what is wanted; 'the pistol from which it is fired' is the mere wanting of that which is, which, though, in contradiction with not being able to gain possession of that which is, with not being able to bring it to a halt, is immediately carried away into the progressing and pulling movement, in which being (das Seyende) behaves until the end as that which is never realised, and must first be realised.
Indeed what is first of all in question is: What is. How, therefore, could that from which one begins already be in existence itself (selbst schon seyend seyn) - be something existing, given that that which is, that which exists (das Seyende, das Existirende) is supposed first to be found? Hegel admittedly does not want the absolute, but rather the existing absolute, and presupposes that the preceding philosophy wanted it as well, and as he sees no attempt to prove the existence of the absolute in it (in the manner in which he wants to prove it by his Logic), he thinks that the proof is simply supposed to have lain already in intellectual intuition.
I note that in that (first) Presentation of the Identity system the term the absolute did not occur at all, just as little as did intellectual intuition; the term could not occur in it because the Presentation Was not brought to a conclusion. For that philosophy called the absolute only the potential which remained with itself, which existed, and was acquitted of all progression and further becoming-other. This was the Last, was pure result. That philosophy did not call that which went through the whole the absolute, but instead called it absolute identity, precisely in order to remove every thought of a substrate, of a substance. It becomes a substance, a being (zum Seyenden wird), precisely only at the last moment, for the whole movement only intended to have being (das Seyende) (that which is) as being (als das Seyende), which was impossible at the beginning, which for that very reason was called indifference. Before that it is not something of which I have a concept, but is itself only the concept of all being (alles Seyenden) as something which is to come. It is that which never was, which, as soon as it is thought, disappears and Is only ever in what is to come, but is only in a certain manner there as well, thus Is only really in the end. There, then, it also first assumes the name of being (des Seyenden) as well as that of the absolute. The (first) Presentation had for that reason very deliberately used nothing but abstract expressions such as absolute indifference, absolute identity; only in later presentations did one also allow oneself, perhaps out of a sort of condescension to those who absolutely demanded a substrate, to use the expression the absolute right at the beginning.
But in rejecting intellectual intuition in the sense in which Hegel wants to attribute it to me, it does not follow that it did not have another sense for me, and that I do still now hold on to it in this sense.
That which is absolutely mobile, of which I just spoke, which is continually an other, which cannot be held on to for a moment, which is only really thought in the last moment (take good note of this expression!) how does this relate to thought? Obviously not even as a real object of thought; for by object one understands something which keeps still, which stands still, Which remains. It is not really an object, but rather the mere material of thought throughout the whole science; for real thought expresses itself precisely only in the continual determination and formation of this which is in itself indeterminate, of this which is never the same as itself, which always becomes an other. This first basis, this true prima materia of all thought, cannot, therefore, be what is really thought, cannot be what is thought in the sense that the single formation is. When thought is concerned with the determination of this matter it does not think about this substrate (Unterlage) itself, but rather only of the determination of the concept which it puts into it (sculptor-clay); it is, therefore, what is not really thought in thinking. A thinking which does not think (ein nicht denkendes Denken) will, though, not be far from an intuiting thinking, and, as such, a thinking which has an intellectual intuition as its ground goes through the whole of this philosophy, as it does through geometry, in which the external intuition of the figure which is drawn on the blackboard or wherever is only ever the bearer of an inner and spiritual intuition. This, then, is said in relation to a philosophy without intuition.
Hegel, then (to come back to him), wants the absolute, before he takes it as a principle, as the result of a science, and this science is precisely the Logic. Therefore the Idea continually develops throughout this whole science. BY 'Idea' Hegel also means what is to be realised, what develops and is wanted in the whole process: it is the Idea which at the beginning is excluded from pure being, which, as it were, eats up being, which happens via the determinations of concepts which are put into being; after it has completely eaten up being and transformed it into itself, it is itself, of course, the realised Idea. This Idea which is realised at the end of the Logic is exactly as determinate as the absolute at the end of the Identity philosophy was determinate, as subject-object, as unity of thinking and being, of the Ideal and the Real etc . 7 But as the Idea realised in this way it is precisely already at the limit of the merely logical, and it is thus either not possible to progress at all with it, or this can only be done outside this limit, so that it must completely leave the position within logical science which it still had as just the result of logical science, and go over into the unlogical world, indeed into the world which is opposed to what is logical. This world which is opposed to what is logical is nature; but this nature is no longer a priori nature, for a priori nature would have had to be in the Logic. But according to Hegel the Logic still has nature completely outside itself. Nature begins for him where what is logical finishes. Here nature in general is for him nothing but the agony of the concept. Hegel says in the first edition of his Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences that nature has rightly been determined as the Idea's breaking (Abfall) with itself. (In the second edition of his Encyclopaedia Hegel leaves out the 'rightly' and just says that nature has been determined as the break with the Idea, where the proposition therefore only has the significance of a historical quotation). What is otherwise said of nature is in complete agreement with this 'break': in nature the concept is supposed to be stripped of its splendour, powerless, to have become untrue to itself, and incapable of sustaining itself any more. Jacobi can hardly denigrate nature more than Hegel does in relation to what is logical, from which he excludes nature and to which he can only oppose nature. But in the Idea there is no necessity at all for any kind of movement. The Idea could not, for instance, progress further in itself (for that is impossible, because it is already complete), but would rather have completely to break away from itself. The Idea at the end of the Logic is subject and object, conscious of itself, as the Ideal and the Real, which therefore has no need any more to become more real and real in another way than it already is. Therefore, if it is assumed despite this that something of this kind happens, then it is not assumed because of a necessity in the Idea itself, but simply because nature happens to exist. People have tried to back up this idea, in order to give some reason or other for the Idea to go further, by saying: the Idea admittedly exists at the end of the Logic, but it is not yet proven; it must, therefore, go out of itself, in order to prove itself. But this is one of the numerous pretences with which one can only deceive thoughtless people. But for whom should the Idea prove itself? For itself? But the Idea is that which is sure and certain of itself and knows in advance that it cannot perish in its being-other; this battle would be devoid of any purpose for it. Would it, then, have to prove itself for a third, for a spectator? But where is the spectator? In the last analysis it is only supposed to prove itself for the philosopher, i.e. the philosopher has to wish that the Idea is party to this externalisation in order that he should be given the chance to explain nature and the world of mind, the world of history. For one would laugh at a philosophy that was just a Logic in Hegel's sense, and knew nothing of the real world; for it was not the Logic, but rather the Idea of the philosophy of nature and of spirit which Hegel already found before himself, that could attract the attention which Hegelian philosophy has attracted. There is nothing earth-shaking about the Logic. Hegel must come to reality. But in the Idea itself there is, then, no necessity at all for progression or becoming-other. 'The Idea', says Hegel, the Idea in the infinite freedom in which it exists (thus the completed Idea, freedom, only is where there is completion; only the absolute is acquitted of every necessity for movement) - the Idea in the infinite freedom, in the 'truth of itself, resolves to release itself as nature, or in the form of being-other, from itself'. This expression 'release' - the Idea releases nature - is one of the strangest, most ambiguous and thus also timid expressions behind which this philosophy retreats at difficult points. Jacob Boehme says: divine freedom vomits itself into nature. Hegel says: divine freedom releases nature. What is one to think in this notion of releasing? This much is clear: the biggest compliment one can pay this notion is to call it theosophical. Besides, anyone who was still able to doubt that the Idea at the end of the Logic was meant as the really existing Idea would now have to convince themselves of this fact; for that which is supposed freely to decide must be something which really exists: something that is just a concept cannot decide. It is a very awkward point at which Hegel's philosophy has arrived here, which was not foreseen at the beginning of the Logic, a nasty broad ditch, the demonstration of which (it was mentioned in a few words for the first time in the Preface to Cousin [1/10, p. 2131) has admittedly had much bad blood, but has not had any at all useful and not merely deceptive information whatsoever as a consequence.
Now one can, it is true, not understand at all what should motivate nature, after it has elevated itself to being the highest subject, and has completely eaten up being (Seyn), to make itself subjectless again after all, to reduce itself to mere being (Seyn) and to let itself disintegrate into the bad externality of space and time. However, the Idea has now thrown itself into nature, not in order to remain in matter, but rather in order, through matter, to become spirit again, initially to become human spirit. But the human spirit is only the scene on which spirit in general again works off, by its own activity, alone the subjectivity which it has taken on in human spirit, and makes itself in this way into absolute spirit, which finally takes up all moments of the movement into itself as its own, and is God.
Here as well we will best capture the peculiarity of the system if we see what relationship it gives itself to the immediately preceding philosophy in view of this Last and Highest. The preceding philosophy is reproached with the fact that in it God is supposed to have been determined not as spirit but only as substance. By Christianity and by the catechism everyone is admittedly instructed not only to think God as spirit but to wish and mean him as spirit; in this way nobody will be able to claim that they have discovered that God is spirit. It cannot be meant in this way either. I do not in fact wish to enter into a dispute about whether the Identity philosophy uses the expression 'spirit' in order to express the nature of the absolute, namely, at the end, or in so far as it is the last result. The word ('spirit') would admittedly have sounded more edifying. For the matter in question I could, however, consider it sufficient that God was determined as the existing, permanent self-object (subject-object), for in that way he was also, to use the Aristotelian expression, he who thought himself (o eanton noon) and, even if he was not called spirit, essentially was spirit, and in this sense was not substance, if substance is supposed to mean that which is in a blind manner (das blind Seyende). And there could also be good reasons for the fact that he was not called spirit. For one has no cause in philosophy to be wasteful with words, and one should therefore think well before designating the absolute which is only the end with the word 'spirit'. In a strict sense this ought also to be true of the word 'God'. For the God in so far as he is only the End, as he can only be in the purely rational philosophy, the God who has no future, who cannot initiate anything, who can only be as final cause, and in no way a principle, an initiating, productive cause, such a God is only spirit according to nature and essence, thus in fact only substantial spirit, not spirit in the sense in which piety or normal use of language understands the word; used here it would only be a misleading expression. In Hegel as well the absolute could only be substantial spirit, in the same way as the term 'spirit' in general could-only have more negative than positive meaning left, because this last concept also only arises by successive negation of everything else. The naming of the Last, i.e. the designation of its essence (Wesen) could not be derived from anything physical, only the universal name 'spirit' was left, and as it is not human, finite spirit (for this is also already posited at an earlier stage), it is necessarily infinite, absolute spirit, but just according to its essence, for how should real (wirklich) spirit be that which cannot move away from the end where it is posited, be that which only has the function of taking up all the preceding moments into itself as that which brings everything to an end, but not itself be the beginning and principle of something?
Hegel as well was initially conscious of the negativity of this end, as in general the pressing power of the positive, which demanded satisfaction in this philosophy, only gradually succeeded in drawing out the consciousness of its negativity from the Identity system. This consciousness must have been present when it first arose, for otherwise this philosophy would not have been able to emerge. In Hegel as well, at least in his earliest presentation, there is still an echo, when he comes to the Last, of the fact that it is not at all a question of thinking of something real happening or having happened. I mean by this a paragraph of the first edition of his Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences, which is already distorted in the second edition; in this paragraph he says that the self-conscious Idea purifies itself of all appearance of happening, of contingency and of the being-outside and being-in-succession of the moments (the content of the Idea still has this appearance in religion, which pulls the content apart into a temporal and external sequence just so that it can be imagined (fur die blosse Vorstellung)).
Recently Hegel tried a further greater intensification, and even sought to get to the Idea of a free creation of the world. A curious passage in which this attempt is made is to be found in the second edition of his Logic - the passage was different in the first edition of the Logic and also obviously had a completely different sense there. In the second passage it is as follows:" the Last, into which everything goes as into its ground is then also that from which the First, which was initially established as something immediate, emerges, and 'in this way the absolute spirit, which results as the concrete and last, the highest truth of all being, is known as externalising itself with freedom and as releasing itself into the form of an immediate being at the end of the development - as resolving itself to the creation of a world which contains everything which fell into the development which had preceded that result, so that all this (everything which preceded in the development) is transformed along with its beginning, via this reversed position, into something which is dependent upon the result as a principle'," i.e., therefore, what was at first result becomes principle, and what in the first development was a beginning which led to the result becomes conversely something dependent on the result which has now rather become a principle, and thereby also something which must undoubtedly be deduced. Now if this reversal were possible in the way Hegel wishes, and if he had not just spoken of this reversal but had tried it and really established it, then he would already himself have put a second philosophy by the side of his first, the converse of the first, which would have been roughly what we want under the name of the positive philosophy. But a necessary consequence of this would then have had to have been (because two philosophies cannot have the same significance and status) to recognise his first philosophy as the merely logical and negative philosophy (in which the transition into the Naturphilosophie could then only happen hypothetically, whereby nature as well is sustained merely as a possibility). But the very way in which he sought only occasionally and in passing to interpolate this expression, by changing the original text, shows that he never made a serious attempt really to undertake that reversal, which, in the way he presented it, would have simply consisted in one's going back down the steps that one had gone up in the first philosophy. Let us see what could result from this.
In the Identity philosophy it is admittedly the case that whatever precedes only had its truth in what follows and is relatively higher, and thus it had its truth finally only in God. It is, it is true, not exactly the way that Hegel puts the fact that in the Last everything goes as into its ground; one ought rather to say: everything preceding grounded itself by the fact that it lowers itself to being the ground of what follows, i.e. to that which is no longer itself being (das Seyende) but is instead ground of being (des Seyns) for an other; it grounds itself by its going-to-ground (zu-Grunde-Gehen), and it itself is ground thereby, not what follows. Thus the earth, whose nature it is to fall, whose failing is thus infinite because everything which follows from the nature of a thing follows infinitely - finds its ground by the fact that it makes itself into the ground of something higher, and generally remains in this way in its place (at the same average distance from the centre); and in this way everything finally grounds itself by the fact that it subordinates itself as ground to the absolute, to the last. (After this correction of the terms used, let us move to the matter in question itself (zur Sache selbst).) As, according to Hegel, even that which is the end only makes itself the beginning after it is the end, it does not yet behave in the first movement (and therefore in philosophy, in which it is a result) as effective, but rather as final cause, which is a cause only to the extent to which everything strives towards it. But if the Last is the highest and last final cause, then the whole sequence, with the exception only of the first member - the whole sequence is nothing but an uninterrupted and continuous succession of final causes; each in its place is just as much final cause for what precedes it as the Last is final cause for everything. If we go back as far as matter which can only be thought of as without form, which is what lies at the ground of everything, then inorganic nature is the final cause of matter, organic nature is the final cause of inorganic nature, in organic nature the animal is the final cause of the plant, and humankind is the final cause of the animal world. If, then, in order to get to a creation no more is necessary than to go back down the steps which one has climbed, and if the absolute already becomes an effective cause simply by this reversal, then through this reversal humankind as well would have to appear as the effective or productive cause of the animal realm, the animal realm as the productive cause of the plant realm, the organism in general as the cause of inorganic nature etc., for we do not know how far in Hegel's opinion this should be continued, whether perhaps into the Logic, so that one would come back as far as pure being, which = nothing. Enough! We can see what inconsistencies the reversal would lead to if understood in this way, and see how illusory the opinion is that one could, by such a simple reversal, transform philosophy into a philosophy which could also comprehend a free creation of the world.
Besides, the expression with which the externalisation of absolute spirit is described in the passage cited from the Logic, 'that it releases itself with freedom into the form of an immediate being', shows complete agreement with the expressions which were used in the transition from the Logic to the Naturphilosophie, and in this way, then, absolute spirit, which otherwise was very definitely posited only at the end of the whole development, thus after the philosophy of nature and the philosophy of spirit, is now that which already externalises itself into nature. But even if one disregards this contradiction as well, nothing would be gained by this formal approach to the doctrine of a free creation of the world after all; one was just as far away from it objectively (der Sache nach) as before, and at the end one was even further away. For absolute spirit externalises itself into the world; it suffers in nature; it surrenders itself to a process from which it can no longer escape, against which it has no freedom, in which, so to speak, it is irretrievably involved. This God is not free of the world, but burdened with it instead. As such, therefore, this doctrine is pantheism, but not the pure, quiet pantheism of Spinoza, in which the things are pure logical emanations of the divine nature; this is given up, in order to introduce a system of divine activity and effect, in which divine freedom is all the more ignominiously lost because one had given oneself the appearance of wanting to save it and sustain it. The region of the purely rational science is left, for every externalisation is an act which is freely decided and which absolutely interrupts the merely logical succession; and yet this freedom as well appears as illusory, because at the end one nevertheless sees oneself unavoidably pushed towards the thought which negates all having-happened, everything historical, because, on reflection, one must return again after all into the purely rational.
If one were to ask a follower of this philosophy whether absolute spirit externalised itself at any particular moment into the world, he would have to answer: God has not thrown himself into nature, but rather he throws himself over and over into it, in order in the same way to keep on putting himself at the top again; it is an eternal happening, i.e. a perpetual happening, but precisely for that reason actually not a genuine, i.e. real (wirklich) happening. This God is, furthermore, certainly free to externalise himself into nature, i.e. he is free to sacrifice his freedom, for the act of free externalisation is at the same time the grave of his freedom; from now on he is in the process or is the process himself; he is certainly not the God who has nothing to do (as he would be if he, as the real God, were merely the end). He is rather the God of eternal, perpetual doing, of incessant agitation, who never finds the Sabbath; he is the God who always only does what he has always done, and who therefore cannot create anything new; his life is a cycle of forms in which he perpetually externalises himself, in order to return to himself again, and always returns to himself, only in order to externalise himself anew.
In the last, most popular version, which is calculated to please the greater public, this theme of externalisation is usually argued as follows: 'God is admittedly already in himself the absolute (i.e. without also being it for himself), beforehand (what is this 'beforehand' doing in a purely rational development?). He is already the First, the absolute, but in order to be conscious of himself he externalises himself and he opposes the world to himself as an other, in order to ascend from the lowest stage of externalisation, where he still hovers between consciousness and unconsciousness, to humankind, in whose consciousness of God he has his own. For the knowledge of humankind, the knowledge humankind has of God is the only knowledge God has of himself.' Such a presentation sets the basest tone of affability for this system; it can already be gauged from this in which strata of society it had to sustain itself the longest. For it is easy to observe how certain ideas always first arise in the higher, namely, the scholarly or generally more educated ranks; when they have then already lost their validity in these ranks, they have meanwhile sunk down into the lower strata of society, and still survive there when they are no longer talked about higher up. Thus it is easy to see that this new religion which has emerged from Hegelian philosophy has found its main followers in the so-called greater public, among those in industry and commerce and other members of this class of society which is, by the way, in other ways very worthy of respect; this new religion will also go through its last stages among this public eager for enlightenment. One has the right to assume that this popularisation (Breittreten) of his thoughts would have least of all pleased Hegel himself. However, this all derives from the One mistake, of converting true relationships which were true in themselves, namely, when taken merely logically, into real relationships, whereby all necessity disappears from them.