Infomotions, Inc.Hegelianism and personality. / Seth Pringle-Pattison, A. (Andrew), 1856-1931

Author: Seth Pringle-Pattison, A. (Andrew), 1856-1931
Title: Hegelianism and personality.
Publisher: Edinburgh W. Blackwood 1887
Tag(s): personality; hegel, georg wilhelm friedrich, 1770-1831; hegel; hegelianism; fichte; ego; kant; logic; philosophy; system; reality; unity; self; consciousness; notion; absolute ego; hegelian system; theory; existence
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THE following Lectures, forming the second series 
of Balfour Philosophical Lectures, were delivered 
in the University of Edinburgh at the close of 
last winter session. They take up the questions 
which were suggested by the concluding lecture 
of the previous course on Scottish Philosophy; 
but they will be found to depend for intelligi 
bility on nothing beyond themselves. In pre 
paring for publication, I have adhered to the 
lecture form; but in what now stands as the 
third and fourth lectures, I have found it desir 
able to alter the arrangement of topics which 
was adopted in delivery. I have also endeavoured, 
by occasional changes and additions, and by the 
help of Appendices and fuller references, to bring 

vi Prefatory Note. 

into relief the chief points on which my criti 
cism turns, and at the same time, by more 
careful definition, to avoid the possibility of 

ST ANDREWS, October 1887. 





Relation of these Lectures to the previous course on 
Scotch Philosophy English Neo- Kantianism or Neo- ^-*** 
Hegelianism Green s Spiritual Principle Source of 
the conception in German philosophy Sketch of the 
following Lectures Results of the Kantian philosophy 
Refutation of the sensational atomism of Hume 
Time, space, and the categories The Self or Subject 
The terms synthetic and transcendental as applied 
to the Ego The transcendental and the empirical Self 
The transcendental method Kant unfaithful to his 
own principles Legitimate outcome of the transcen 
dental method Mr Shadworth Hodgson s statement 
of the position Neo-Kantianism transforms Kant s , 
theory of knowledge into a metaphysic of existence 
Green s account of the Spiritual Principle It repre 
sents merely the formal unity of the universe Kant s 
insistence on the abstract character of his inquiry 
Neo-Kantianism illegitimately converts " consciousness ^ 
in general " into " a universal consciousness " Ferrier s 
more cautious argument Negative or critical attitude 
of the theory of knowledge Kant s own position, . 1 

APPENDIX TO LECTURE I. Leibnitian elements in Kant s 

doctrine of things-in-themselves, .... 36 

viii Contents. 



Fichte the first to transform Kant s theory of knowledge 
into an absolute metaphysic His constitutionally syn 
thetic mind Every philosophy must be a Monism 
Dogmatism and Idealism as the only two possible types 
of philosophy Impossibility of explaining the Self by 
action ab extra Fichte s distinction between the Abso 
lute Ego and the empirical self His speculative ex 
planation of the given element in knowledge The Non- 
Ego and the origin of consciousness A series of me 
chanical metaphors Fichte disclaims this interpreta 
tion of his theory Exclusively practical character of his 
idealism at this period It leaves no permanent reality 
in the universe Later forms of his theory Disuse 
of the term Ego Schilling s Absolute a relapse into 
Spinozism The inevitable result of substantiating the 
logical unity of thought as a creative Self Fascina 
tion of the conception Taken as a metaphysic, it de 
prives both God and man of real existence Fichte s 
later developments Life or Nature as the prius of 
individuals Knowledge as independent and self-ex 
istent Existence of God out of and beyond the pro 
cess of evolution, 39 

APPENDIX TO LECTURE II. Green s account of feeling, . 74 


Hegel s relation to Fichte and Schelling The notion of 

\ development in Hegel Hegel s relation to Kant 

The Logic as the centre of the system An immanent 

criticism of categories Hegel s Anthropomorphism 

Contents. ix 

defended Dependence of the dialectic on experience <-" 
Trendelenburg s criticisms Order of exposition re 
verses the order of thought by which the results were 
reached True explanation of the onward impulse in 
the Method The Absolute Idea derived by Hegel 
from the human self-consciousness, . . . .79 



Relation of Hegel s Logic to his Philosophy of Nature and 
Philosophy of Spirit The Absolute Idea and the Ab 
solute Spirit Identification of Logic with Metaphysics v^ 
The transition from Logic to Nature Impossibility 
of such deduction An absolute philosophy must con 
struct everything as a necessity of thought Compari 
son between Hegel and Plato The endeavour to con- ^ 
struct existence out of abstract thought Hegel s scorn 
for " Being " involves a fallacy Nature as the other " 
of thought Things merely exemplifications of logical 
notions Hegel s statements only true as metaphors 
Identity of Knowing and Being in this sense impossible t^*"" 
Illustration from Schelling True conclusion from 
Hegel s own admissions Hegel s account of Nature 
as a system of types Non-rational character of Nature 
as a mere collocation Hegel s use of the term Con 
tingency, 101 

APPENDIX TO LECTURE IV. Kant and Fichte on the ques 
tion of real existence, 141 


Hegel evades the questions of the divine existence and 
human immortality Ambiguity of the terms Spirit 

x Contents. 

and Absolute Spirit The system deals throughout 
only with generals Hegel s scheme of reconciliation 
peculiarly grand Spirit intended to be the concrete 
unity of God and man What the system yields is 
alternation, not union Two lines of thought in Hegel 
Relation of the Absolute to the world-process If 

I the Absolute exists as completed self -consciousness. 

there is no room for Nature or finite selves Illus 
trated from the Philosophy of Religion The Son and 
the "World Recourse to mythical explanation of the 
real world Second line of thought starts with the 
real world Hegel s interpretation of history Identi 
fication of human history with the divine life De 
velopment in time Outline of Hegel s conception \/^ 
The Absolute as the one Subject of the historical pro 
cess Misapplication of the philosophical notion of 
development, 149 



Identification of the Absolute with the last term of 
human achievement Hegel s own position The 
Hegelians of the Left Human persons as foci of an 
impersonal system of thought Idealism and Rational 
ism pass into Materialism and Sensualism Feuerbach 
and Strauss Self -existence of thoughts unmeaning 
, The Absolute not to be identified with the historical 
process Hegel s Absolutism exemplified in Ethics and 
Politics The Philosophy of Law : the real is the 
rational Hegel s explanations : the real and the 
truly real His use of the term "truth" Unwilling 
confession of failure Absolutism destructive of ethical 
endeavour and historical progress Hegel s own con 
demnation of this attitude of finality, . . .185 

Contents. xi 


The unification of consciousness in a single Self the radical 
error of Hegelianism and Neo-Kantianism Uniqueness 
and exclusiveness of every self as such The universal 
Self is rooted in the fallacy of Scholastic Realism 
Traceable to a confusion between logic orepistemologyi^ 
and metaphysic or ontology The doctrine sacrifices 
the personality of God Ambiguity as to human im 
mortality These two positions complementary sides 
of the same view of existence, ..... 214 




IN beginning a second course of these Lectures, 
I may be permitted to refer very shortly to the 
argument of the former course, with the view of 
indicating a certain continuity of thought between 
the two. The first course was devoted to a com 
parison and contrast of Scottish and German 
philosophy ; and, amid much unlikeness, there 
still seemed to be justification for pointing to 
certain broad lines of similarity. These lines 
of similarity were determined by the opposition 
of both to a common foe namely, to Empiricism, 
as that appeared historically in the sensational 
atomism of Hume, which still remains, and must 

2 Hegelianism and Personality. 

continue to remain, the classical form of that 
theory. Certain contentions of Eeid were in 
stanced which, if construed liberally, might fairly 
be compared with positions taken up by Kant 
against the Humian Empiricism. After the ex 
hibition of these points of unanimity, certain 
other aspects of the Kantian theory were ex 
amined, which have made it, in my opinion, as 
fruitful of harm in one direction as it has been 
of good in another. I mean Kant s view of the 
subjectivity of the categories and forms of thought, 
and his doctrine of the relativity of knowledge, 
based as that is upon the notion of the thing-in- 
itself. In the last lecture, there was little oppor 
tunity for more than general considerations as 
to the possibility of philosophy as a completed 
system of the universe ; but in the last paragraph 
I pointed out several important questions to 
which the answer of Hegelianism (which was 
taken as the type of such a system) seems, on the 
surface at all events, vague, if not unsatisfactory. 
These questions centred in the question of the 
nature of the individual, and it is here that we 
have to resume the subject. 

There will be nothing further said in these 
lectures of Scottish Philosophy. The object of 
this second course will be critically to test the 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 3 

Idealism reared upon Kant s foundations by his 
successors in Germany, and now represented in 
this country by a number of writers often classed 
together as Neo-Kantians or English Hegelians. 
Neither of these terms, perhaps, is unobjection 
able, for the English followers of Hegel do not 
profess to bind themselves to any of the details, 
or even to many of the characteristic doctrines, of 
the master ; while, if we use the former term, we 
must bear in mind that the doctrine of the Eng 
lish Neo-Kantians is to the full as different from 
Kant as that of the Neo-Platonists from Plato. 
But it is useless to quarrel over a name whose 
denotation, at all events, is sufficiently understood. 
It is enough for our present purpose if we know 
who are the thinkers referred to, and what are 
their characteristic doctrines. I need only name, 
therefore, the late Professor Green of Oxford as 
the most eminent of the writers referred to, and 
one to whose utterances, more especially since his 
lamented death, a certain authority has been ac 
corded, as to those of a leader and accredited 
exponent of this mode of thought. 

Now the most superficial acquaintance with 
Green s writings is enough to tell us that his 
whole system centres in the assertion of a Self or 
Spiritual Principle as necessary to the existence 

4 Hegelianism and Personality. 

alike of knowledge and morality. The presence 
of this principle of connection and unity to the 
particulars of sense alone renders possible a cos 
mos or intelligible world, and is likewise the sole 
explanation of ethics as a system of precepts. 
The impressive assertion of this one position con 
stitutes Green s continually repeated criticism 
upon Locke and Hume, and upon current English 
Empiricism. It may almost be said to constitute 
his entire system. As regards the critical part 
of Green s work, there has been of late, I think, a 
growing admission of its victorious and, indeed, 
conclusive character. But as regards the nature 
of the Self or Spiritual Principle which is, in his 
hands, the instrument of victory, the candid reader 
of Green is forced to admit that almost everything 
is left vague. It was only in the Prolegomena 
to Ethics, in fact, that any definite indication 
was given that the principle was to be interpreted 
as a universal or divine Self, somehow present and 
active in each individual. And even there this 
conception is little more than hinted at, and the 
possibility of such a relation between the divine 
and the human, as well as the evidence for the 
identification of the two selves, is nowhere ex 
plained. What is meant in such a relation by 
the divine Self, and what by the human self ? 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 5 

Here Green seems to fail us. The Self which he 
uses with such effect as a weapon of critical 
warfare is nowhere precisely denned by him, so 
as to be capable of employment constructively as 
a metaphysical reality. 

The ambiguity which thus clings to Green s 
central conception is incident, I propose to show, 
to the source from which he derived it. That 
source, as is well known, was the Kantian philo 
sophy read in the light of the Hegelian system. 
Green s view of the Self which means his view of 
the universe cannot be properly understood or 
fairly judged without some insight into the genesis 
and growth of this conception in the thought of 
Kant and his successors. Instead, therefore, ofy 
confining myself to a criticism of Green s state 
ments, I propose to trace the development of his 
central doctrine. The manner in which what we 
may call broadly the Hegelian conception was 
reached, will be itself, to a certain extent, the best 
criticism of the system which we are asked to 
accept. For, while leaving much of Hegel on one 
side, Green and the English Hegelians reproduce 
his fundamental position in their own doctrine of 
the Self. Consequently, should examination de 
tect any radical flaw in the doctrine of German 
idealism in reference to the self and God, the same 


6 Hegelianism and Personality. 

criticism will be found to apply to the English 
idealism of to-day in the same reference. It may 
also be said in favour of this method of procedure, 
that the constructive efforts of English idealism 
consist as yet more of hints and references to the 
German writers than of independently elaborated 
statements. In carrying out this programme, 
however, it will be desirable, as far as possible, 
to avoid entangling ourselves in the historical 
paraphernalia of successive systems. I will rather 
endeavour to disengage leading principles, dwell 
ing with this view chiefly upon the final form of 
German idealism in Hegel s system, and treating 
of Kant and Fichte only so far as they either 
lead up to Hegel s positions, or illustrate them 
effectively by contrast. 

The remainder of this first lecture will accord 
ingly deal with those features of the Kantian 
theory which have an immediate bearing on the 
later Idealism, and will criticise the position 
taken up by Green, so far as that directly depends 
upon a manipulation of Kantian doctrines. The 
second will be devoted to Fichte, because the step 
taken by Fichte in transforming Kant s theory of 
knowledge into a metaphysic of the universe is 
all -important in the present connection ; and, 
moreover, the progress of Fichte s thought through 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 7 

its different stages appears to me to throw an 
instructive light upon some positions afterwards 
taken up by Hegel. The three following lectures 
will criticise somewhat closely the leading de 
terminations of the Hegelian system. This criti 
cism will be found to turn mainly on Hegel s 
treatment of existent reality, or, what turns out 
to be the same thing, of the individual. The 
question is as wide as existence, and concerns the 
individual being wherever found ; as such it will 
be first discussed. But it will not be amiss to 
examine still more in detail the implications of 
this Idealism in regard to the divine existence, 
the human person, and the questions which are 
of most intimate concern to us as men. If these 
implications are unsatisfactory or inadmissible, it 
will then be comparatively easy to determine how 
far the English version of the theory is open to 
the same objections, and how far these invalidate 
its claim to be an intelligible and consistent 
metaphysical system. 

The Kantian theory supplies, at the very least, 
a conclusive refutation of the sensational atomism 
into which Empiricism had at last resolved itself 
in Hume. Or, as it was formerly put, 1 Hume s 

1 Scottish Philosophy, p. 66. 

8 Hegelianism and Personality. 

| own system is the self -refutation of the fallacy of 
: the abstract particular. If we start with such 
isolated particulars, all synthesis or connection 
must of necessity be illusory. Even the illusion 
of connection is, however, demonstrably impos 
sible, unless through the suppressed presence of 
certain principles of real synthesis. As a matter 
of fact, we nowhere do start with the mere par 
ticular, the isolated atom of sense; on the con 
trary, such perception is altogether impossible to 
the mind. We cannot look at anything "in 
itself "; everything is indissolubly connected with 
other things, and its very existence consists in 
this reference or rather in multitudinous refer 
ences beyond itself. In place of amplifying 
this point here, I may be allowed to refer to 
what was said in the second lecture of the pre 
vious course on " The Philosophical Scepticism of 
David Hume." 

Kant s system, then, contains the demonstra 
tion that from sense as sense knowledge can 
never by any possibility arise. And this demon 
stration is not merely negative; it has also its 
positive side, inasmuch as Kant exhibits to us 
some of the chief principles of synthesis or 
rational connectedness which are essentially in 
volved in knowledge. All events, Hume had 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 9 

said, are "entirely loose and separate," and 
knowledge, he had contended, is resolvable into 
such events. But this is so far from being true, 
that an event, if it be known, is knowable at all 
only by reference to the background of the past 
against which it stands out, as it were, in relief. 
Impressions or sensations must, at least, be known 
as successive ; or, in other words, time is a uni 
versal form of synthesis, weaving them together 
in spite of their qualitative differences, and thus 
rendering an isolated particularity impossible. 
The notion of substance that is to say, of per 
manence and change and the closely allied 
notion of causality, are involved in the perception 
of succession from the first, for they are simply 
transcripts of the essential nature of an existence 
in time. 

But existence merely in time, Kant goes on to 
argue, is impossible to realise. Time implies as 
its correlate Space. The very notions or cate 
gories which have just been described as tran 
scripts of the essential nature of time carry with 
them this reference to space. Consciousness of 
time can arise only through the perception of 
change, and change implies the perception of a 
permanent which is changed a background, as 
it was expressed above, against which the fleeting 

io Hegelianism and Personality. 

moments of time, as filled out by subjective 
feeling, may be apprehended as appearing and 
vanishing. Space, or rather space with its filling 
of matter existence in space furnishes the 
perception which serves as this necessary back 
ground. Change is perceivable and dates are 
possible, just because the world exists as a per 
manent object in space. 

Now whether or not the absolute necessity of 
space to time be accepted as thus expressed, the 
correlation and mutual reference of the two in our 
experience is not open to doubt. Space is a basal 
element of our knowledge as ineradicable as time, 
and as incapable of derivation from units of sense 
as such. Kant s categories of quantity, relation, 
and modality may be regarded simply as an an 
alysis of the nature of space and time. They 
are the principles of connection and coherence in 
a world laid out in these two elements; they con 
stitute, in short, the abstract or intellectual, ex 
pression of what is perceptively present in space 
and time. 1 Kant s proof may be accepted, then, 
so far as it asserts that these forms, and with 

1 The categories of quality refer to what has been called the 
material element in experience to the actuality or reality of 
existence, without reference to the nature of that existence as 
temporal or spatial. 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 1 1 

them these categories or principles of mutual re 
lation and explanation, are necessarily involved 
in our experience of the known world, and that 
without them no knowledge would be possible at 
all. Accordingly, a sensationalism which begins 
by denying the presence of these principles must 
be impotent to evolve them, though the appear 
ance of success may sometimes be obtained by 
the covert assumption of the very principles in 

Going further, however, or rather retracing our 
footsteps and bringing to light the fundamental 
but hitherto unobserved assumption, we reach the 
central position of Kantian and subsequent ideal 
ism the necessity of a permanent subject of 
knowledge. A knowledge of sequent states is 
only possible when each is accompanied by the 
" I think " of an identical apperception. Or, as 
it has been otherwise expressed, there is all the 
difference in the world between succession and 
consciousness of succession, between change and 
consciousness of change. Mere change or mere 
succession, if such a thing were possible, would 
be, as Kant points out, first A, then B, then C, 
each filling out existence for the time being and 
constituting its sum, then vanishing tracelessly 
to give place to its successor to a successor 

1 2 Hegelianism and Personality. 

which yet would not be a successor, seeing that 
no record of its predecessor would remain. The 
change, the succession, the series can only be 
known to a consciousness or subject which is not 
identical with any one member of the series, but 
is present equally to every member, and identical 
with itself throughout. Connection or related- 
ness of any sort even Hume s association is 
possible only through the presence of such a 
unity to each term of the relation. Hence, while 
it is quite true, as Hume said, that when we enter 
into what we call ourselves, we cannot point to 
any particular perception of Self, as we can point 
to particular perceptions of heat or cold, love or 
hatred, it is as undoubted that the very condition 
of all these particular perceptions, given along 
with each of them and essential to the connecting 
of one with another, is precisely the Self or Sub 
ject which Hume could not find which he could 
not find because he looked for it not in its proper 
character, as the subject or correlate of all per 
ceptions or objects, but as itself, in some fashion, 
a perception or object added to the other contents 
of consciousness. 

All knowable existence, then, is existence for a 
Self. The Self thus unearthed Kant terms " the 
highest principle of all exercise of the understand- 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 1 3 

ing," and he names it, somewhat cumbrously, the 
synthetic unity of apperception or the transcen 
dental unity of self-consciousness. The adjectives 
indicate its nature and function. The unity is 
synthetic, because it binds together, as related 
members of one whole, what would otherwise fall 
apart as unrelated particulars ; and moreover, it 
is only through this synthesis that the unity of 
the Self or Ego exists. It is the unity of the 
synthesis, and apart from its synthetic activity 
would no more be real than the particulars of 
sense would be real without its action. A unity 
is impossible without a manifold of which it is 
the unity; or, in other words, the Self can be 
conscious of its own identity, that is, can be 
conscious of itself can be a Self only through 
the elements which it unites, /fou cannot have 
thoughts without a thinker, but it is equally true 
that you cannot have a thinker without thoughts. 
Any attempt to separate the two sides is a de 
parture from reality, and the substantiation of an 
abstraction. In short, the ultimate fact of know 
ledge is neither pure subject nor pure object, 
neither a mere sensation nor a mere Ego, but an 
Ego or Subject conscious of sensations. It is not 
a mere unity, but a unity in duality. This duality 
belongs to the very essence of self-consciousness, 

14 Hegelianism and Personality. 

and cannot be banished by any philosophy which 
is faithful to facts. 

The term transcendental, applied to the unity 
of apperception, has a similar implication. It 
does not mean, as is sometimes supposed, that the 
Ego is an entity beyond experience ; it means, on 
the contrary, that the " identical self " is deduced 
or proved solely with reference to experience, as 
a necessary condition of knowledge. Out of that 
reference it has no meaning, and consequently no 
assertions can be made about it. The term also 
serves to keep before us the contrast repeatedly 
emphasised by Kant between the Self in question 
and the empirical Ego. The empirical self is the 
matter of the internal sense in its form of time ; 
in other words, it is the succession of mental 
states the thoughts, feelings, and actions upon 
which a man may look back as constituting the 
record of his experience, his life. The empirical 
self is thus an object among other objects ; it is 
part of the process of experience. As Kant says, 
it is the object treated by empirical psychology, 
which he describes as a kind of physiology of the 
internal sense. It is with reference to the 
empirical ego that man is said to have the power 
of making himself his own object. When we do 
so when we turn our attention inwards, as the 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 1 5 

saying is it is this empirical consciousness which 
lies spread out before us, not, of course, the whole 
history, but the mingling feelings and desires, the 
thoughts, intentions, and resolves which fill out 
our present consciousness, and which are them 
selves in their dominant moods and directions the 
outcome of the mental actions and circumstances 
that went before them. This consciousness of 
certain present experiences upon a background of 
dominant modes of thought and courses of action 
constitutes the present existence of the empirical 
self. In the language of recent psychology, the 
empirical self is a complex presentation to con 
sciousness; it is "continuously, but at no one 
moment completely, presented." 1 From such a 
presentation or object, the transcendental self or 
the unity of apperception is carefully distin 
guished by Kant. Without going back upon 
ground already traversed, it is sufficient to re 
member that the empirical self is serial ; and 
a series, if it is to be known as such, implies a 
consciousness present to each of its members, 
and self-identical throughout their change. To 
the transcendental Ego alone belong such predi- 

1 Ward, article " Psychology " in the ninth edition of the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

1 6 Hegelianism and Personality. 

cates as "static," "permanent," "unchangeable," 
"identical." 1 

The term transcendental is also applied by 
Kant in a wider but precisely similar sense to 
characterise his whole method of philosophic 
proof. The transcendental proof, as he is never 
weary of telling us, is the proof by reference to 
the possibility of experience. It is the analysis of 
experience or, as we may say here, of knowledge, 
with a view to discover its indispensable consti 
tutive elements. Taking the fact of knowledge 
as it finds it, it does not inquire how that fact 
was realised or came into being an inquiry 
which is in truth, from the philosophical point of 
view, impossible but, moving always within the 
fact, it asks what are the conditions of its being 
f what it is, what, in other words, are its essential 
V elements. As Mr Shadworth Hodgson says, it is 
An analysis of the nature of knowledge, not of its 
fuenesis. The transcendental method is a proof, 
/ consequently, which can never overstep ex 
perience, which can never be justified in detach- 
\ ing the conditions of knowledge from the synthesis 
\ in which it finds them. Neither the particulars 
of sense, on the one hand, nor the universal of the 
Ego, on the other, can be so detached. If the 

1 Stehend, bleibend, unwandelbar, identisch. 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 1 7 

isolation of the former gave rise to the fallacy 
which was traced to its culmination in Hume 
the fallacy of the abstract particular the isola 
tion of the latter involves the no less dangerous 
fallacy of the abstract or empty universal. Par 
ticulars exist only as a manifold referred through 
the categorised forms of time and space to the 
unity of the subject ; and the subject exists only as 
the unity of the manifold whose central principle 
of connection it is. In a word, the procedure of 
a transcendental philosophy which would be con 
sistent with itself must be immanent throughout. 
But if this is so, then it is evident that many 
of Kant s own statements will require revision. 
It is manifestly inadmissible, for example, to 
speak of the categories and the forms of space 
and time as belonging especially to the subject, 
and as imposed by it upon an alien matter. As 
soon as we so speak, we have deserted the im 
manent point of view ; we have hypostatised the 
Ego apart from the synthesis in which alone it 
exists, and by way of concealing the nakedness 
of our abstraction have clothed it with certain 
forms of thought. So conceived, these forms are 
no better than innate ideas of the crudest type, 
lodged somehow in the individual mind. Kant s 
whole distinction between matter and form, which 

[ 8 Hegelianism and Personality. 

treats the former as the contribution of the ob 
ject and the latter as specially due to the subject, 
is quite untenable on his own transcendental 
principles. "What, indeed, could offend more 
flagrantly against these principles than such an 
attempt to transcend the bounds of possible ex 
perience, and to treat subject and object as two 
causally related entities, outside of knowledge, 
which by their interaction give rise to know 
ledge ? This subject-in -itself and object-in-itself, 
each contributing its share to the composite 
whole of knowledge, are the very chimeras which 
Criticism and the transcendental method went 
out to slay. There is certainly interaction be 
tween the human organism and its environment ; 
and the human subject, when his organism is 
affected, is able to refer that affection to an ex 
ternal object. But this whole process takes place 
within the world of knowledge, or in Kantian 
language within the realm of phenomena. It is 
a phenomenal object the organism which is 
affected, and it is another phenomenal object 
say, the sun to which the affection is referred. 
There is no reference whatever to a noumenal 
background, in which the causes of knowledge 
existed before knowledge was ; and the metaphor 
of impression, while intelligible in the physio- 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 1 9 

logical sphere indicated, is entirely out of place, 
and, in truth, unmeaning, when applied to the 
subject of knowledge. Subject and object are 
terms, in short, that have a meaning only within 
the world of knowledge ; they are not to be taken 
as two transcendent things-in-themselves. And 
as soon as we cease to regard them as such, and 
cease to treat experience as the result of their 
interaction, all ground for Kant s view of the 
subjectivity and relativity of our knowledge dis 
appears. Knowledge is like a seamless garment 
which cannot be divided and have its parts 
assigned in this fashion. There is one intellig 
ible world, all the elements of which are mutu 
ally complementary and equally necessary. We 
cannot have form without matter, or matter 
without form; but the two are not brought to 
gether. The form is the form of the matter, and 
the matter is, as it were, simply the exhibition of 
the form. This necessity of correlation may be 
treated without injustice as the fundamental 
feature of the transcendental method. And if 
now we ask what is to be said of the self, we 
may most correctly reply that " so far is it from 
being a figure of speech that the self exists only 
through the world and the world through the 
self, that we might say with equal truth the self 

2O Hegelianism and Personality. 

is the world and the world is the self. The self 
and the world are only two sides of the same 
reality ; they are the same intelligible world 
looked at from two opposite points of view." 1 It 
is, of course, only from the point of view of the 
self or subject that this identity can be grasped, 
but this does not confer upon the self a separate 
existence. The transcendental self, as the impli 
cate of all experience, is, for a theory of know 
ledge, simply the necessary point of view from 
which the universe can be unified, that is, from 
which it becomes a universe. For the rest, the 
mind and the world, subject and object, are con 
vertible terms ; we may talk indifferently of the 
one or of the other: the content of our notion 
remains the same in both cases. - 

Such, it seems to me, is the legitimate outcome 
of the transcendental method, when it is con 
sistently applied, and when the results are stated 
in their most exact and unadorned form. If I 
am not mistaken, Mr Shadworth Hodgson s 
Philosophy of Eeflection is, as regards the au 
thor s main contention, the most clear-sighted 

1 Essays in Philosophical Criticism, p. 38. The first essay 
of this volume, on "Philosophy as Criticism of Categories," is 
in the main an attempt to expound the view here indicated, 
though perhaps without sufficient recognition of its necessary 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 2 1 

and thoroughgoing application of the Kantian 
method; and the doctrine of subjective and ob 
jective " aspects " there developed seems to coin 
cide with the result reached above. Mr Hodgson 
maintains most jealously the immanent nature of 
the inquiry, and consequently refuses (rightly as 
it seems to me) to attribute causal activity to the 
Subject. To do so would be, in his language, to 
relapse into the Dogmatic or causal-entity view 
from which it is the special function of the 
Critical theory of knowledge to set us free. He 
recognises at the same time the limitations of the 
inquiry, and does not put forward the theory of 
knowledge as a ready-made ontology ; he does not 
claim, on the strength of it, to possess an abso 
lute theory of the universe. In this he differs 
markedly from Neo-Kantians like Green. Green 
also claims to follow out the transcendental 
method to its legitimate issue, and to make 
Kant consistent with himself ; but in so doing he 
avowedly transforms Kant s theory of knowledge 
into a metaphysic of existence, an absolute phil 

This transformation forms the core of the Neo- 
Kantian position, and it raises afresh the ques 
tion of the nature of the transcendental self a 
question not sufficiently answered even by all 

22 Hegelianism and Personality. 

that has been already said. What is the tran 
scendental self which plays so great a part in 
this analysis ? Kant calls it on occasion the 
" pure " or " primitive " Ego, and speaks of it as 
"the highest principle of the exercise of the 
understanding." It lies at the basis of the cate 
gories, he tells us, and forms " the ground of their 
possibility"; it is "the vehicle of all conceptions 
whatever." 1 "The static and permanent Ego," 
he says in one place, "constitutes the correlate 
of all my ideas " ; 2 " all objects v which can occupy 
me are determinations of my identical self," 3 and 
hence the transcendental Ego may be spoken of, 
with strict propriety, as " the correlate of all ex 
istence." 4 Expressions such as these, coupled 
with the sharp distinction drawn between the 
transcendental and the empirical self, perhaps 
first suggested to Kant s successors their meta 
physical transformation of his conception. This 
self which seems to have no predicates of mor 
tality about it which seems to be the presup 
position of all else, while itself presuppositionless 

1 Werke, iii. 274 (ed. Hartenstein, 1868), Meiklejohn, 237. 

2 Ibid., iii. 581 (from the version of the Deduction of the 
Categories in the first edition). 

3 Ibid., iii. 585. 

4 Ibid., iii. 617 (from the Paralogism of Pure Reason in the 
first edition). 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 23 

has been taken by later thinkers, and mark 
edly- by the English Neo-Kantians, as a universal 
or absolute self-consciousness, or in plainer terms 
as the one eternal divine Subject to which the 
universe is relative. This identification, though 
it may not be found in Kant himself, is dictated, 
they contend, by the consistent tenor of the 
whole system. In so far, therefore, as they 
present this doctrine as the direct outcome of 
the Kantian System, the soundness of their 
philosophical conclusion may fitly be considered 
here, without unduly anticipating the argument 
of the following lectures. 

Green, then, explicitly identifies the self which 
the theory of knowledge reveals the " single 
active self-conscious principle, by whatever name 
it may be called," 1 with the universal or divine 
self-consciousness. He calls it himself most fre 
quently a " spiritual principle." It is " the eter 
nally complete consciousness " which, according to 
his view, makes the animal organism of man a 
vehicle for the reproduction of itself. Numberless 
references to this eternal self might be quoted 
from the Prolegomena to Ethics/ with only verbal 
variations in statement. It is the punctum stans, 
to which all order in time is relative. Its con- 

1 Prolegomena to Ethics, 40. 

24 Hegelianism and Personality. 

stant presence to the relations which constitute 
the content of the universe communicates to 
these relations their permanence and objectivity. 
It is their "medium and sustainer"; 1 the objec 
tivity of the universe just means its existence for 
such a consciousness. It will be observed, fur 
ther, that Green habitually attributes to this 
eternal Self a constitutive activity which is tanta 
mount to creation. It is said to "make nature"; 
nature is said to " result from the activity of the 
spiritual principle." But if we consider the char 
acter of the method by which the result was 
reached, such predicates will appear more than 
questionable, for the Self is nothing apart from 
the world. If it is necessary as the sustainer of 
relations, it is nothing apart from the relations 
which it sustains. They exist together, or not at 
all ; they exist, as was said above, as two aspects 
of the same fact. Accordingly, as Mr Balfour 
pointed out in a criticism of Green s metaphysics, 
published in Mind a few years ago, if we speak 
of activity at all, " we must allow that it is as 
correct to say that nature makes mind as that 
mind makes nature ; that the World created God 
as that God created the World." 2 This is so far 
from being a travesty of the Neo-Kantian position 

1 Prolegomena to Ethics, 68. 2 Mind, ix. 80. 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 25 

that it seems the only possible way of stating it 
when we aim at perfect frankness and scientific 
explicitness of expression. And, indeed, in dis 
cussing the applicability of the term "cause" to 
describe the relation between God and the world, 
Green himself warns us that " there is no separate 
particularity in the agent, on the one side, and 
the determined world as a whole, on the other, 
such as characterises any agent or patient, any 
cause and effect, within the phenomenal world." 
"That the unifying principle should distinguish 
itself from the manifold which it unifies is indeed 
a condition of the unification, but it must not be 
supposed that the manifold has a nature of its 
own apart from the unifying principle, or this 
principle another nature of its own apart from 
what it does in relation to the manifold world." 1 
Indeed, " the concrete whole," he says in another 
place, " may be described indifferently as an eter 
nal intelligence realised in the related facts of 
the world, or as a system of related facts ren 
dered possible by such an intelligence." 2 Apart 
from the metaphysical bearing given to it, this 
is almost in so many words the result which we 
reached a little ago by the aid of the transcen 
dental method. 

1 Prolegomena to Ethics, 80, 81. - Ibid., 38. 

26 Hegelianism and Personality. 

The self or unifying principle has then, ac 
cording to Green, no nature of its own apart 
from what it does in relation to the manifold 
world. But what the unifying principle does 
in relation to the manifold world is simply to 
unify it. Green himself tells us in one place 
that we know the spiritual principle only as 
" a principle of unity in relation." 1 That, cer 
tainly, is all that the transcendental analysis 
of knowledge tells us about it. The eternal 
Self which we reach along this path is no more 
than a focus imaginarius into which the multi 
plex relations which constitute the intelligible 
world return. Such a focus or principle of unity 
enables us to round off our theory with an ap 
pearance of personality, but it does not satisfy 
in any real sense the requirements of Theism. 
7 Adapting a phrase used by Hegel in another con- 
nection, we may say that this Self is like a consti- 
1 tutional monarch who reigns but does not govern 
I whose signature is the necessary completion of 
/every document, but is affixed impartially to each 
as it is laid before him. Such a monarch, says 
Hegel, may aptly be compared to the dot on the 
i ; he represents the unity of the State, and gives 
the formal imprimatur of his " I will " to its 

1 Prolegomena to Ethics, 72. 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 2 7 

actions. In like manner, the transcendental Ego, 
as revealed by the theory of knowledge, represents 
merely the formal unity of the universe ; and 
unless we have other data, and approach the 
question along a different road, we are still far 
from anything like spirituality or freedom in the 
ordinary sense of these words. Green s use of the 
term "spiritual principle" is almost inevitably 
open to misinterpretation, and by its associations 
leads even himself to make assertions which are 
not warranted by his own proof which are indeed 
inconsistent with it. 

In this respect, Kant saw his way more clearly 
than many of those who make bold to teach him 
consistency. It was not merely his entanglement 
in " psychological " prejudices that held him back 
from such conclusions. He understood the nature 
of his own inquiry, and knew what it could yield 
him and what it could not. In this connection 
Kant has received perhaps less than justice at 
the hands of his critics. It may be that he 
mingles psychology with his theory of knowledge ; 
but the consequences may be quite as fatal, if 
we confound the boundaries of epistemology and 
metaphysics. In point of fact, however he may 
nod at times, Kant is in general sufficiently awake 
to the distinction between his transcendental in- 

28 Hegelianism and Personality. 

vestigation and an investigation into psychological 
matter of fact. He enforces in various passages 
the perfectly general character of his inquiry. 
He is dealing, he says, not with any individual 
mind or consciousness, but with consciousness in 
general, with "the conditions of possible ex 
perience," 1 "the unity of possible consciousness," 2 
or, as he calls it in another place, with "the 
logical form of all cognition," 3 with the ultimate 
nature, as we might say, of knowledge as know 
ledge. The transcendental logic, in a word, is a 
study of knowledge in abstraoto. But just because 
of this perfectly general or abstract character 
which belongs to the investigation, the results of 
the investigation must also be perfectly general 
or abstract. They will be abstract conditions, not 
concrete facts or metaphysical realities. The 
analysis reveals to us, according to its own claims, 
certain conditions which must be fulfilled in every 
instance of actual knowledge certain categories 
or fundamental modes of connection, and, as a 
supreme condition, the unity of the pure Ego 
but it deals itself with no actual knower, whether 

1 Werke, iii. 575. 2 Ibid., iii. 585. 

3 Ibid., iii. 578. The recurrent use of the term " possible" 
is characteristic of Kant possible experience, possible con 
sciousness, possible cognition ; so also the phrase uberhaupt 
thought in general, experience in general, &c. 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 29 

human or divine. It deals, in a word, with pos 
sible consciousness, or consciousness in general, 
which, so long as it remains a "general," is of 
course a pure abstraction. 

But if this is so, it must be in the highest 
degree improper to convert consciousness in gene 
ral without more ado into a universal conscious 
ness. Surely it does not follow that, because we 
are professedly abstracting from any particular 
self of experience, we are therefore analysing the V 
absolute or divine self-consciousness. The tran 
scendental theory of knowledge, because it is 
an abstract inquiry, necessarily speaks of a single 
Self or logical subject ; but this singularity is ] 
the singularity which belongs to every abstract 
notion, and decides nothing as to the singularity j 
or plurality of existing intelligences. We can \ 
have absolutely no right to transform this logical 
identity of type into a numerical identity of ex 
istence. The theory of knowledge, at least, can 
give us no such right. Yet this seems to be 
precisely the step which Neo-Kantianism takes. 
It takes the notion of knowledge as equivalent 
to a real Knower; and, the form of knowledge 
being one, it leaps to the conclusion that what 
we have before us is the One Subject who sus 
tains the world, and is the real Knower in all 

30 Hegeli&nism and Personality. 

finite intelligences. It seems a hard thing to 
say, but to do this is neither more nor less 
than to hypostatise an abstraction. It is of a 
piece with the Scholastic Realism which hyposta- 
tised humanitas or homo as a universal substance, 
of which individual men were, in a manner, 
the accidents. Similarly here, the notion of 
knowledge in general the pure Ego which is 
reached by abstraction from the individual human 
knower, is erected into a self-existent reality 
" an eternally complete self-consciousness " of 
which the individual is an imperfect reproduc 
tion or mode. There no doubt may be an 
eternally complete self-consciousness which holds 
a creative relation to our own, and much of 
Green s theory of the universe may be substan 
tially true; but if so, its truth must be estab 
lished upon other lines. It is resting on a fallacy 
to believe that the eternally complete self-con 
sciousness is proved in this fashion by the theory 
of knowledge. 

Terrier s argument in his Institutes of Meta- 
physic, in many respects so similar, appears to 
me to be much more cautious than Green s, and 
more consonant with the conditions of the theory 
of knowledge. A short reference to it may eluci 
date the point at issue. Terrier proves in his 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 3 1 

Epistemology and Agnoiology the impossibility 
of matter per se or mind per se, and thus lays 
down certain fundamental conditions to which 
all cognition must conform. That is to say, he 
too analyses the notion of knowledge ; but he 
does not proceed to hypostatise it, as we have 
seen Neo- Kantianism do. The concluding pro 
positions of the Ontology simply apply the no 
tion to the elimination from existence of what 
has been proved to be contradictory and incon 
ceivable. " The only true and real and inde 
pendent existences* are minds-together-with-that 
which they apprehend." So runs the second last 
proposition, and the last says : " All absolute 
existences are contingent except one ; in other 
words, there is one but only one absolute exist 
ence which is strictly necessary, and that existence 
is a supreme and infinite and everlasting Mind 
in synthesis with all things." Even this is more 
than is strictly warranted by the theory of know 
ledge alone ; it depends rather on general meta 
physical considerations. But at least neither 
here nor in the working out of the propositions 
is there any identification of the necessary exist 
ence and the contingent existences. There is no 
statement whatever as to the relation between 
them, for the theory of knowledge affords no 

32 Hegelianism and Personality. 

data for determining that relation. The real 
service of the theory of knowledge in this con 
nection is, that it eliminates the thing-in-itself 
and the Ego-in-itself the mere object and the 
mere subject and therefore legitimates the asser 
tion that all existence to which we can attach 
a meaning must be existence-for-a-self, or, as it 
may perhaps be otherwise expressed, the only 
real existences are selves i.e., beings who possess 
either in higher or lower fashion an analogue of 
what we call self-consciousness in ourselves. But 
whether there be one Self or many selves, and, 
if there be both, what is the relation between 
the One and the many these are questions of 
metaphysics or ontology, not to be settled out 
of hand by the perfectly general result to which 
the theory of knowledge leads us. 

Unquestionably the results of the epistemologi- 
cal investigation must have an important bearing 
upon the metaphysical problem ; but the office of 
the theory of knowledge must, in the main, be 
negative or indirect, ruling out certain solutions 
as inadmissible rather than itself supplying us 
with a ready-made solution. In a word, the 
theory of knowledge, even in its amended form, 
must maintain the critical attitude at first assigned 
to it by Kant. Though we may disagree with 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 33 

many of the arguments by which he supports his 
position, it cannot, I think, be doubted that 
Kant was methodically correct in the view he 
took of his own inquiry. There is nothing in 
it, as I conceive, to preclude us from the attempt 
to construct a metaphysical system ; but it can 
not stand itself as a dogmatic theory. 

Kant himself, it is almost superfluous to point 
out, would never have acquiesced in the deduc 
tions which his Neo-Kantian followers have 
drawn from his premisses. Nothing, of course, 
was further from his thoughts than an identifi 
cation of the transcendental Ego with the divine 
self - consciousness, as is sufficiently proved by 
his constant references to the latter as a per 
ceptive, that is, a non-discursive understanding, 
the very possibility of which we are unable to 
comprehend. 1 But Kant further refuses to re- 

1 As if anticipating that the attempt would be made to rep 
resent the difference between the human consciousness and 
the divine as essentially one of degree, Kant expressly declared 
himself on this point in an important letter to Marcus Herz 
in 1789. It will be found, he says, " that we cannot assume 
the human understanding to be specifically the same as the 
divine, and only distinguished from it by limitation i.e., in 
degree. The human understanding is not, like the divine, a 
faculty of immediate perception, but one of thought, which, if 
it is to produce knowledge, requires alongside of it or rather 
requires as its material a second quite different faculty, a 


34 Hegelianism and Personality. 

cognise the transcendental Ego as constituting the 
real self even of the individual human knower. 
This is, in fact, the text of his whole contention 
in the well-known argument headed " The Paral 
ogism of Pure Eeason." Kant is there attacking 
the old metaphysical psychology for reasoning, 
not indeed to the same conclusion, but on pre 
cisely similar lines to those on which the Neo- 
Kantian proof of the universal Self has been seen 
to run. The metaphysical psychologists also 
started with the abstract Ego, which forms the 
presupposition of knowledge ; and as this unity 
of consciousness is one, eternal (or out of time), 
and indivisible, they proceeded to prove by its 
means the necessary immortality of the human 
soul. This is the Paralogism which Kant at 
tacks, and in the course of his attack we get a 
collection of predicates applied to the pure Ego 
which serve as a wholesome corrective to some 
of the proud names heaped upon it before. The 
Ego, he says, is " a merely logical qualitative 

faculty or receptivity of perception." Werke, viii. 719. 
As further emphasising the complete distinction existing in 
Kant s mind between the consciousness of the individual and 
the divine self-consciousness, reference need only he made to 
the thoroughly transcendent conception of God with which the 
Kantian ethics end a being apart, whose function it is to mete 
out happiness in accordance with desert. 

Kant and Neo- Kantianism. 3 5 

unity of self -consciousness in thought generally ; " 
it is in itself a perfectly empty or contentless 
idea a perfectly empty expression which I can 
apply to every thinking subject nay, it is actu 
ally " the poorest of all our ideas." No doubt the 
argument here is overlaid in parts by extraneous 
considerations, and infected by Kant s relativistic 
prejudice ; but in pointing out the merely logical 
character of the self reached by the analysis of 
knowledge, he is not only guided by a sounder 
instinct, but shows also a keener insight than his 
speculative followers. " The logical exposition of 
thought in general is mistaken," he says, " for a 
metaphysical determination of the object." The 
words are spoken of the metaphysical psycholo 
gists, but it would be impossible to characterise 
more aptly the fallacy which underlies the Neo- 
Kantian deification of the abstract unity of 

36 Hegelianism and Personality. 


Though it is hardly, perhaps, an integral part of the 
present argument, it seems natural to connect Kant s 
refusal to substitute for the real self a purely logical 
or formal unity with his refusal to identify the 
reality of the external world with mere relations. 
Kant s doctrine of things-in-themselves, as ordinarily 
understood, I cannot but hold to be fundamentally 
false, and a fruitful source of error ; * but it does not 
/therefore follow that the whole external world is 
nothing more than a complex of thought-relations. 
There seems no reason why, if we resolve the rest of 
the external world in this way, we should not reduce 
our fellow-men also to mere complexes of relations, 
which have no existence on their own account. For 
our fellow-men are given to us, in the first instance, 
as part of the external world ; and it would seem as 
if the same reasons which make us assign to them 
an existence on their own account, and not as mere 
objects either of our own or of a supposed universal 
consciousness, should lead us to attribute an (at least 
analogously) independent existence to the external 
world, or at any rate to certain existences in it. 
Kant himself, after the promulgation of his Critical 
j system, was resolutely averse to speculation beyond 
/ certain limits ; but there are indications in his writ 
ings that, if indulged, his speculations would have led 
him in a Leibnitian direction, as was indeed natural 
in the case of one who had been reared and had passed 

1 The fifth lecture of the previous course was chiefly devoted 
to combating the doctrine of the unknowable thing per se, as it 
appears in Kant and Hamilton. 

Appendix to Lediire I. 37 

a great part of his life within that school. If this be 
taken as the idea underlying his assertion of things- 
in-themselves, it may be readily admitted that much 
of the objectionableness of that doctrine would dis 

Kant s position in regard to the real existence of 
the self, and his doctrine of an independent existence 
of things as more than relations, do in fact form part 
of a tolerably coherent realistic metaphysic, which was 
overshadowed but never displaced in Kant s mind by 
his Critical idealism. This realistic groundwork has 
been more and more lost sight of in certain circles, as 
the idealistic deductions from the Kantian theory 
have come more and more into prominence. But 
when this is the case, Kant s own position is inevit 
ably misunderstood. It is not without interest to 
note that the isolated passages in which Kant suggests 
a Leibnitian interpretation of things-in-themselves are 
precisely those which have been seized upon by later 
writers as anticipations of the Fichtian theory. This 
has been conclusively proved by Ueberweg, 1 in regard 
to one of these " asides " of Kant, which occurs at the 
end of the section on the Paralogism of Pure Reason, 
and is therefore connected with the present subject. 
Kant is speaking of the supposed difficulty of explain 
ing an interaction between mind and matter, between 
the non-spatial and the spatial. They appear to be 
separated, as Hamilton was fond of saying, by the whole 
diameter of being. But, in point of fact, Kant argues, 
the "transcendental object which underlies external 
phenomena, as well as that which underlies internal 
perception, is in itself neither matter nor a thinking 
being, but a to-us-unknown ground of phenomena. 

1 History of Philosophy, ii. 175. 

38 Hegelianism and Personality. 

... I can very well suppose that the substance which 
in respect of our external sense possesses extension is 
in itself the subject of thought which can be con 
sciously represented by its own inner sense. Thus 
that which in one aspect is called material would at 
the same time, in another aspect, be a thinking being 
a being whose thoughts, it is true, we cannot per 
ceive, but the signs of whose thoughts in phenomena 
we can perceive." ] 

1 In first edition. Werke, iii. 694. 



F I C H T E. 

IN the philosophical development with which we 
are here concerned, Fichte is an important figure. 
As was mentioned in the previous lecture, he was 
the first to transform Kant s theory of knowledge 
into an absolute metaphysic, and in so doing he 
laid the corner-stone of the whole fabric of German 
idealism. Fichte is interesting and instructive 
alike in his general mode of procedure, in the 
difficulties he encounters, and in the admissions 
to which these difficulties drive him. Moreover, 
being immediately based upon Kant, his construc 
tions have in some ways a closer resemblance in 
form to those of Neo-Kantians like Green than is 
the case with the later and less accessible system 
of Hegel. 

But though building immediately upon Kant, 

4O Hegelianism and Personality. 

Fichte represents a totally different type of mind. 
Kant is patient and analytic, Fichte is boldly 
synthetic ; his system is essentially, as it has just 
been termed, a construction. It is a construction 
to explain the duality of sense and reason of 
receptivity and spontaneity which Kant either 
left standing as an ultimate fact, or simply referred 
to the accepted psychological opposition of mind 
and things. Fichte claims to present us with a 
metaphysical explanation of this psychological 
appearance. He begins by scornfully dismissing 
things-in-themselves as in no sense a philosophical 
explanation. To explain sensation or " the given " 
by referring to the action of a thing-in-itself of 
which we know nothing, is to darken counsel by 
words without knowledge. Fichte stoutly refused 
to believe that Kant could ever have intended 
the thing-in-itself to be so interpreted. " Should 
he make such a declaration," said the impetuous 
philosopher, " I shall consider the Critique of 
Pure Eeason to be the offspring of the strangest 
chance rather than the work of a mind." When 
Kant soon afterwards published the declaration 
in question, his disappointed disciple was driven 
to reflect that the Holy Spirit in Kant had 
thought more in accordance with truth than 
Kant in his individual capacity had done. To 

Fichte. 41 

Fichte himself it was an axiom that philo 
sophy, if it is to be philosophy at all, must 
be in one piece. Its explanation must be a de 
duction of the apparently disparate elements of 
existence from a single principle; to rest in an 
unexplained dualism means to despair of philo 

But if every genuine philosophy is thus a 
Monism of some sort, there are, Fichte proceeds, 
only two possible systems or types of philosophy 
between which we have to choose. The one of 
these he calls Dogmatism, a mode of thought 
which, when consistent with itself, most com 
monly takes the form of Materialism, though 
Spinozism is also cited as being, on a higher 
plane, the typical example of a rigorous Dog 
matism. The system or type of thought opposed 
to Dogmatism Fichte calls sometimes Criticism, 
sometimes Idealism. The opposition of the two 
systems consists in this, that Dogmatism starts 
with the absolute or independent existence of 
" things," and is therefore inevitably led, in the / 
last resort, to explain the conscious intelligence 
as their product; while Idealism, on the other 
hand, refuses to start otherwise than with the 
Ego, and ends by explaining " things " as forms 
of the Ego s productive activity. By Dogmatism 

42 Hegelianism and Personality. 

the Ego is treated as a thing among things, from 
whose combinations it results by the ordinary 
process of causation ; in Fichte s own phrase, the 
\ Ego becomes in such systems " an accident of the 
world." And if such an attitude be once adopted, 
it is of comparatively little importance whether 
the substance of which it is an accident be the 
divine essence, as with Spinoza, or cosmic atoms, 
as with the Materialists. In either case our 
philosophy becomes transcendent, because we go 
(or rather try to go) behind the Ego, and make 
it an accident or appendage of something else. 
Criticism, on the other hand, says Fichte, char 
acterising his own philosophy, is throughout im 
manent in its procedure. The Ego takes the 
place, as it were, of the universal substance of 
\ Dogmatism; and instead of the Ego s being an 
outcome of " things," all " things " have their 
existence within the circle of the Ego. The Ego 
is the one primary and indubitable fact ; or 
rather, in Fichte s language, it is the eternal act 
or energising through which we live, and within 
which all existence is contained. 

Moreover, Idealism alone furnishes a real solu 
tion of the problem. The explanation which 
Dogmatism offers of the genesis of self-conscious 
ness or the Ego is completely illusory. It leaves 

Fichte. 43 

unexplained the essential feature of self-conscious 
ness the duality or doubleness, if it may be so 
expressed, which lies in knowledge and reflec 
tion. The Ego is not a mere fact, which exists 
as the Dogmatist conceives a " thing " to exist ; 
it is existence and knowledge of existence in one. 
Intelligence not only is ; it looks on at its own 
existence. It is for itself, whereas the very notion 
of a thing is that it does not exist for itself, but 
only for another that is, for some intelligence. 
" In intelligence, accordingly," says Fichte, " there 
is, If I may express myself metaphorically, a 
double series of being and looking on, of the real 
and the ideal. The thing, on the other hand, 
represents only a single or simple series, that of 
the real mere position or objective existence. 
. . . The two lie, therefore, in two worlds be 
tween which there is no bridge." 1 Things pro 
duce things in a chain of mechanically determined 
causality, but this causal action is all within the 
real series ; there is no bridge from a thing to the 
idea of a thing, no passage from a world of mere 
things to a consciousness which knows the things. 
Every attempt to bridge this chasm turns out, 
says Fichte, to be " a few empty words, which 
may, indeed, be learned by heart and repeated, 

i Werke, i. 436. 

44 Hegelianism and Personality. 

but which have never conveyed a thought to any 
man, and never will." x Unless, therefore, we 
accept the Ego with its duality as an ultimate 
fact, or rather the ultimate world-constituting 
fact, we can never reach it along the lines of 
Dogmatism. Accordingly, as the existence of 
the self-conscious Ego is not a more or less pro 
bable hypothesis, but an ever-present fact of our 
own experience, we are shut up to the rival system 
oi- Idealism. It is, in fact, of the very essence of 
the Ego that it cannot be produced by anything 
external to itself ; it is self-centred, self -creative, 
and its life is the perpetual re-affirmation of itself. 
In Fichte s language, it is the Absolute Thesis, 
self-position or self-affirmation. 

This forcible statement will probably be ac 
cepted as a sufficient refutation of the stand 
point against which it is directed. Jt is funda 
mentally impossible to explainjhe existence of., a 
^self as a_result of action ab extra ; _.it_ exists only 
through its own activity. As Fichte says, " I am 
altogether my own creation. Through no law of 
nature, or any consequence of nature s laws, but 
through absolute freedom, not by a transition but 
by a leap, do we raise ourselves to rationality." 2 
The contradiction which any one may detect in 
1 Werke, i. 438. 2 ibid., i. 298. 

Fichte. 45 

such a statement is involved in every account of 
the origin of a self-conscious life ; for surely it lies 
in the very nature of the case that our own 
existence forms our necessary presupposition. 
We abut here upon an impenetrable mystery, for 
to conceive our own origin would mean to tran 
scend altogether the conditions of our being. If 
the conception were possible, we should be loosed 
at once from our individual moorings. It may 
be that we should then be as God ; but the 
human reason totters on the verge of such a 

Apart, however, from any attempt to solve a pro 
blem which they do but suggest, Fichte s words ap 
peal to us as a true rendering of the characteristic 
feature of the concrete Ego its self-centred activ 
ity, which excludes the idea of mechanical causal 
ity, and forbids us to treat the self as a retainer of 
any thing or system of things. But Fichte goes 
further than this, and we are but entering upon the 
most characteristic portions of his system. Great 
part of his philosophy is, indeed, little more than 
an attempt to overcome or rationalise the contra 
diction contained in his own words quoted above. 
The attempt is made by means of a distinction 
within the concrete self between the pure or 
Absolute Ego and the self of the individual as 

46 Hegelianism and Personality. 

such. It is not, we are told, to the concrete 
personality of the individual as such that this 
absolute position or self-creation in strictness 
refers, but to " the Ego as absolute subject," to 
"pure consciousness." This pure Ego is not a 
fact that we can discover or verify within our 
empirical consciousness, Fichte tells us ; it is 
rather an act which "lies at the basis of all 
^consciousness and alone makes consciousness 
* possible." 1 The burden of the contradiction 
seems somehow lighter, if we can divide the rdles 
in this fashion, assigning creative function to the 
pure Ego and the part of creature to the empirical 
self. Nor is the device a new one in the annals 
of philosophy ; for we find a very similar division 
of labour in Aristotle between the vovs iroi^riKo^ 
and the z^oO? TraOrjTi/cbs, the Active and the Pas- 
, sive Eeason. But in Fichte s case the distinction 
is drawn directly from the Kantian scheme. 
The Absolute Ego is simply Kant s transcendental 
unity of apperception; but the identification of 
that unity with the central creative thought of 
the universe has now been made. Instead of 
being, as with Kant, the function of human 
thought, which generates the form, and the form 
only, of a phenomenal world, the pure Ego has 
1 Werke, i. 91. 

Fichte. 47 

become for Fichte the absolute creator of an 
absolute world. 

The working out of this distinction between 
the absolute and the empirical Ego is found to 
include, in Fichte s hands, an explanation of the 
apparently " given " element in knowledge, which 
was referred to at the outset as the underlying 
motive of his philosophy. For Fichte does not 
deny, any more than Kant did, that the ordinary 
consciousness seems to itself to be filled from an 
alien source. He acknowledges that the objective 
world is to the individual, in the first instance, 
simply a given material, in relation to which he 
is receptive ; the individual may be said, in the 
strictest sense, to find it presented to him. 
Fichte calls this objective aspect of conscious 
ness the Non-Ego, and is thus far from denying 
the fact which Kant formulated in his assertion 
of a given element in knowledge. But, as already 
remarked, he seeks a speculative explanation of 
this fact or appearance an explanation which 
Kant can hardly be said to have attempted. 1 

Fichte s explanation is not found, however, in 
the theoretical sphere, that is, in the domain of 
knowledge as knowledge. Kant, it is well known, 
considered that only in dealing with the practical 

1 See Appendix, p. 74. 

48 Hegelianism and Personality. 

or moral reason had he penetrated to the noumenal 
reality of the Self ; and it was here that the in 
tense ethical fervour of Fichte s nature attached 
itself most closely to the Kantian philosophy. 
In practical reason or will, we find, according to 
him, the reality of the world-process, the reality 
of which knowledge gives only a picture, a repre 
sentation, a rendering. In the idea of duty or 
moral destiny is to be found the ultimate explan 
ation or meaning of existence. From this point 
of view, then, we first come to perceive the 
necessity of the object as Non-Ego that is, as 
something seemingly foreign and alien. Only 
through the Non-Ego, as an obstacle of this sort, 
can the practical activity of the Ego be realised. 
The creation or " positing " of the Non-Ego is thus 
the device of the Absolute Ego itself, in order to 
attain self-realisation. "The Absolute Ego," he 
says, " is absolutely identical with itself ; every 
thing in it is one and the same Ego, and belongs 
(if so inapt an expression may be allowed) to one 
and the same Ego ; there is nothing here to dis 
tinguish, no multiplicity. The Ego is everything 
and is nothing, because it is nothing for itself. 
. . . In virtue of its essence it strives (though 
even this is not strictly true except with reference 
to the future) to maintain itself in this condition. 

Fichte. 49 

There arises in it a difference, consequently some 
thing alien or foreign." 1 By the finite or prac 
tical Ego which results, the difference whose 
emergence is thus enigmatically expressed must 
be simply accepted as a fact ; and trie Non-Ego 
which impedes its activity keeps therefore a 
character of foreignness. Nevertheless, as the 
thing-in-itself may be taken as an exploded 
fiction, and the Non-Ego exists only for the Ego, 
the appearance of opposition must be held, from 
the speculative point of view, to be due to the 
nature and action of the Ego itself. It is, as we 
may say, its own activity taking a roundabout 

This is, in effect, Fichte s celebrated theory of 
the Anstqss or shock of opposition in which con 
sciousness arises. In working out the idea, 
Fichte is dangerously lavish in his use of mechan 
ical metaphors. The fundamental conception, 
however, is that the Absolute Ego may be com 
pared to an infinite outgoing activity, which, so 
conceived, is formless and characterless. It re 
quires to break itself against some obstacle, and 
thus, as it were, be reflected back upon itself, in 
order that it may come to self -consciousness 
in order that we may be able to distinguish any- 
1 Werke, i. 264. 

50 Hegelianism and Personality. 

thing in it, or to apply any predicate intelligently 
to it. For Eichte says, quite unequivocally, that it 
is only the limited Ego, whose striving is met by 
a counter-striving, that is conscious. " Only by 
means of such a Non-Ego is the Ego intelligence/ * 
Where this is not the case, where the Ego is all 
in all, "it is for that very reason nothing at 
all." 2 

Taken in any literal or mechanical sense, the 
objections to such a construction are tolerably 
obvious. The whole excursion into the void pre 
ceding consciousness is an attempt to transcend 
self-consciousness and construct it out of an 
tecedent existences, and that after emphatically 
denouncing the futility of such experiments. The 
Anstoss is entirely a metaphor taken from ,the 
struggles of the embodied Ego against material 
obstacles, and as such is quite inapplicable to the 
action of intelligence and its relation to its objects. 
Moreover, the Absolute Ego cannot receive the 
Anstoss, because it is either subject and object at 
once and therefore all -containing, with nothing 
beyond it on which it could impinge, or, as devoid 
of self-consciousness, it is, as we found Eichte 
himself saying, " nothing at all." And above all, 
it may be asked, What do we mean by speaking 

1 Werke, i. 248. 2 Ibid., i. 281. 

Fichte. 5 1 

of an Ego, when what we have is admittedly no 
more than a formless and aimless activity ? 

But perhaps it is hardly fair to Fichte to say 
that he consciously intended to give a mechanical 
explanation of the kind just indicated. At all 
events, the objections made to his theory, and the 
manifold misunderstandings to which it gave rise, 
drew from him an indignant disclaimer that he 
had ever dreamt of giving an actual construction 
of consciousness before all consciousness. 1 He 
brands such an interpretation as a gross misun 
derstanding of his meaning as if he had set about 
to write the biography of a man before his birth. 
" Consciousness exists," he declares, " with all its 
determinations at a stroke, just as the universe is 
an organic whole, no part of which can exist with 
out all the rest something, therefore, which can 
not have come gradually into being, but must 
necessarily have been there in its completeness 
at any period when it existed at all." In other 
words, he would tell us that he is not narrating 
what ever took place, but is analysing an eternal 
fact or process analysing consciousness, in short, 
into its different moments, though these are in 
separable, though they are, indeed, mere abstrac 
tions, if supposed to exist separately. We can- 

1 Cf. Werke, ii. 379 and 399. 

5 2 Hegelianism and Personality. 

not refuse to accept a declaration so explicit. It 
would actually seem to be the case that, at this 
stage of his philosophy, Fichte did not contem 
plate any self-consciousness as existent except the 
self -consciousness of finite individuals. Being, 
existence, and suchlike terms, always had a flavour 
of grossness about them for Fichte. He would 
have readily allowed, therefore, that the empirical 
individuals were the only existences or real beings 
in the world, though contending at the same time 
that their existence derived its meaning from a 
moral order of the universe. Fichte did not, 
therefore, at this stage, attribute to the Absolute 
Ego any existence on its own account ; it was to 
him simply one aspect of the self -consciousness of 
the empirical individual. Hence he could not 
but vehemently repudiate an interpretation of his 
theory which turned it, in his own contemptuous 
phrase, into a story or tale. 

We get accordingly, at this period of Fichte s 
life, what is perhaps the most characteristic form 
of his idealism an idealism which he loved to 
describe as not dogmatic but practical. It looks 
not behind to a source from which things pro 
ceed, but forward to their goal or destiny, deter 
mining not what is, but what is to be. 1 It is 
1 Cf. Werke, i. 156. 

Fichte. 53 

worth our while to look somewhat closely at the 
appearance which the universe presents on this 
theory, in order to see how far the theory is ten 
able, and at the same time how far Fichte con 
sistently maintains the position which he claims 
to occupy in regard to the Absolute Ego. 

He disclaims, as has been said, anything like a 
primitive reality or source of things. The finite, 
striving Egos constitute the sum of actual exist 
ence, the external world being simply the material 
or sphere of their moral action. The striving of 
the finite Egos is due, certainly, to the ideal of a 
moral destiny present to each. This ideal is the 
motive-power of the whole struggle with its eter 
nal or never-ending advance. We are drawn for 
ward by " the idea of our absolute existence," or, 
as it is sometimes called, " the Idea of the Ego," 
that is to say, by the idea of an absolute or un 
impeded activity. Just as in the case of Aris 
totle s re Xo? or End, this idea of the Ego and the 
eternal Sollen, or Ought-to-be, involved in it, con 
tains the explanation of the whole evolution. 
But the Idea of the Ego is not, so far as can be 
gathered from Fichte, an eternal prius, and in this 
respect it differs from the Aristotelian reXo?. It 
is merely an idea, and will never be actual. It 
cannot be realised, for the very sufficient reason 

54 Hegelianism and Personality. 

that the extinction of opposition would signify 
the cessation of the strife on which consciousness 

It was doubtless the intensity of Eichte s moral 
earnestness, and his somewhat exclusive attention 
to that side of experience, which led to such a 
formulation of his philosophy. But even as a 
metaphysic of ethics, such a theory is insufficient. 
Morality becomes illusory, if it is represented as 
the pursuit of a goal whose winning would be 
suicidal to morality itself, and to all conscious 
life. This consummation is unequivocally ex 
pressed by Schelling in his youthful work, On 
the Ego a work which was commended by 
Fichte himself as an unexceptionable presentation 
of the doctrine of the Wissenschaf tslehre. " The 
ultimate goal of the finite Ego," says Schelling, " is 
enlargement of its sphere till the attainment of 
identity with the infinite Ego. But the infinite 
Ego knows no object, and possesses, therefore, 
no consciousness or unity of consciousness, such 
as we mean by personality. Consequently the 
ultimate goal of all endeavour may also be repre 
sented as enlargement of the personality to infin 
ity that is to say, as its annihilation. The ulti 
mate goal of the finite Ego, and not only of it but 
also of the Non-Ego the final goal, therefore, of 

Fichte. 55 

the world is its annihilation as a world." l We 
may well, then, withdraw our eyes from the goal, 
if we are not to lose heart for the race. Fichte s 
account, in short, leaves no permanent reality 
in the universe whatever. The world is hung, 
as it were, between two vacuities between the 
pure or Absolute Ego, on the one hand, which is 
completely empty apart from the finite individ 
uals whom it constitutes, and "the Idea of the 
Ego," on the other, which is admittedly unattain 
able, and, if attainable, would be a total blank, 
the collapse of all conscious life. 

But it was impossible that such an exclusively 
practical point of view could be maintained for any 
length of time as a metaphysic of the universe. 
The manifold empirical Egos could neither be 
taken as metaphysically self-explaining, nor could 
they be explained by reference to a re Xo? or End, 
which is a mere idea. There is evidence that 
Fichte himself though at one time, as has been 
. said, he might, if challenged, have acquiesced in 
the statement that the reality of the universe 
consisted simply of striving finite Egos was at 
no time completely satisfied with this conclusion. 
And, in spite of disclaimers in regard to any ex 
istence of the Absolute Ego prior to and apart 

1 Vom Ich als Princip der Philosophic, 14. 

56 Hegelianism and Personality. 

from its finite realisations, it is hardly possible to 
explain satisfactorily the extreme elaboration be 
stowed upon this theory of the Absolute Ego and 
the Anstoss, without believing that Fichte was at 
least half - consciously impelled by the need of 
some prius, which should not be merely logical 
some metaphysical prius or ultimate Eeality 
from which the origin of finite Egos might be 

This conviction is confirmed when we turn to 
the later forms of his theory. He first denied, as 
we have seen, that he meant to speak of a real 
prius at all; but almost immediately he seems 
to have begun to feel the impossibility of doing 
without an ultimate reality of some sort. At the 
same time he was quick to recognise the inappli 
cability of the term Ego, with its implication of 
self-consciousness to such a prius as the theory 
led to. Accordingly, we find the two processes 
going on side by side ; he gradually disuses the 
term Ego, and at the same time embraces more 
distinctly the idea of a metaphysical ground or 
source. Thus, in 1800, in the Destiny of Man/ 
speaking of the Absolute Ego as identity of sub 
ject and object, he defines it as " that which is 
neither subject nor object, but the ground of both, 
and that out of which both come into being," and 

Fichte. 5 7 

refers immediately afterwards to " the incompre 
hensible One " which " separates itself into these 
two." 1 And as early as 1801, we find him drop 
ping the term Absolute Ego, and adopting the 
more general designation of the Absolute. The 
same course was taken by Eichte s youthful 
disciple Schelling. When Schelling proceeds to 
define the Absolute as the indifference-point of 
subject and object "pure identity in which 
nothing is distinguishable " it cannot any longer 
be doubted that we are being offered a meta 
physical ground or source of the actual world, 
but neither can it be pretended that these 
terms indicate an Ego, an intelligent or spiritual 
principle. Eichte described his own system as an 
inverted Spinozism, in which the Absolute Ego 
stands in place of Substance, thus conserving the 
rights of the self-conscious life, and justifying the 
name Idealism. But here it is proved by the self- 
development of the system that, when thought out, 
it falls back into Spinozism pure and simple. The 
Absolute Ego passes into the Absolute, and turns 
out to be no better than an absolute Substance 
from which all determinations are absent. It is 
on the same footing with negations like the Un 
conscious, or the Unknown and Unknowable. 

1 Werke, ii. 225. 

58 Hegelianism and Personality. 

This result, however, is not accidental to the 
theory ; it is the natural and inevitable result of 
the mode of reasoning pursued. In considering 
the Kantian philosophy in the first lecture, we 
dwelt at considerable length on the impossibility 
of separating the transcendental unity from the 
empirical consciousness which it unifies. To 
suppose it existing on its own account is as if we 
supposed that one end of a stick could exist with 
out the other. Kant was under no temptation to 
separate the transcendental and the empirical 
self, because the former was for him simply the 
logical unity of thought in general, and he had 
never thought of identifying it with a divine or 
creative Self. But in Fichte (and this constitutes 
his interest and importance) this step the step 
which is repeated in Green, and which forms the 
central tenet of Neo-Kantianism has been defin 
itely taken. And as soon as this identification is 
made as soon as we begin to speak of the Ab 
solute Ego, or the universal consciousness the 
temptation to separate becomes irresistible. We 
can hardly avoid substantiating this " eternal 
Self," and ascribing to it a creative function in 
respect of the manifold human individualities, 
which look so little self-dependent and self- 
explaining. Green, as we saw, repeatedly ascribes 

Fichte. 59 

such creative action to his spiritual principle. It 
is, indeed, I believe, the need of some permanent 
principle on which these manifold individual 
selves might be seen to depend, combined with 
the perception that no self can be explained 
materialistically, or quasi - materialistically, by 
action from without, that prompts the identifi 
cation in question. Unless the two selves can 
be so far separated as to supply the metaphysical 
explanation required, the charm of the identifica 
tion is lost. 

Probably no one who has really lived in this 
phase of thought can fail to remember the thrill 
with which the meaning of the new principle first 
flashed upon him, and the light which it seemed 
to throw upon old difficulties. It had become 
impossible, with due regard to the unity of things, 
to conceive God as an object, as something quite 
external to ourselves; and, on the other hand, 
there seemed nothing but a relapse into ordin 
ary Pantheism, with its submergence of self- 
consciousness, and all that hangs thereby, in a 
general life, which reason and conscience alike 
declare to be inferior to our own. But, in this 
dilemma, the universal consciousness seemed to 
rise upon us as a creative power which was not 
without us, but within, which did not create a 

60 Hegelianism and Personality. 

world of objects and leave it in dead independ 
ence, but perpetually unrolled, as it were, in each 
of us the universal spectacle of the world. The 
world was thus perpetually created anew in each 
finite spirit, revelation to intelligence being the 
only admissible meaning of that much -abused 
term creation. We had here a new and better 
Berkeleyanism, for God in this system (so it 
seemed), was not an unknown Spirit, hidden, as 
it were, behind the screen of phenomena; God 
was not far from any one of us, nay, He was 
within us, He was in a sense our very Self. Here, 
too, we had a principle which seemed to satisfy 
as well as Pantheism the imperative need of 
unity, but did so without sacrificing the claims of 
self-consciousness. For Self, as the eternal sus 
taining Subject of the universe, formed the be 
ginning, middle, and end of the system. 

I do not think I can be wrong in attributing 
to considerations like these the remarkable hold 
which this conception has exercised over many 
minds. It flashes upon them like a wholly new 
point of view, and seems to deliver them from a 
host of difficulties. The deliverance may be in 
part illusory, but it is not therefore a mark of 
speculative weakness to have embraced the con 
ception. On the contrary, it is a conception 

Fickle. 61 

which only a speculative mind could have origin 
ated, and for whose intelligent apprehension a 
genuine speculative effort is likewise demanded. 
None the less, however, is the supposed solution 
wrapped in fatal ambiguity. When the rush of 
feeling subsides which first bore conviction in 
upon our minds, we are reluctantly forced to ad 
mit that, whatever adumbrations of the truth 
such a conception may contain, it is, as it 
stands, a play of abstractions which is essen 
tially impossible and unmeaning, but which, 
if taken seriously as a metaphysic, would de 
prive both God and man of real existence. Tor 
surely, if we do not mean to pay ourselves with 
words, it is essential to the coherence of the 
above account that this divine, creative Self 
should really exist as something more than the 
individuals whom it constitutes, and in whom it 
creatively works. If the account is to have any 
meaning as a satisfaction of our metaphysical and 
religious needs, the Absolute Ego must really be 
an Ego. If it is to fill the metaphysical place 
assigned to it by the system, and to justify, for 
example, the appellation of spiritual principle, it 
must exist for itself, with a self-consciousness of 
its own. Indeed it would be easy to show that 
many of those who have espoused this theory 

62 Hegelianism and Personality. 

have explicitly attributed such a self-conscious 
ness to the Absolute Ego; while many more, 
without making the matter clear to themselves, 
are habitually swayed by the same associations. 
It cannot, however, in the interests of clear think 
ing, be too plainly pointed out that, whatever 
other warrant there may be for such a conception 
of the divine Self and its creative relation to the 
human consciousness, there is absolutely none in 
the theory under consideration. The theory not 
only does not show the Absolute Ego to be self- 
conscious and creative, but it becomes unmeaning 
to make such assertions about it, if it is in a strict 
sense " nothing at all " when separated from the 
individual consciousness whose unity it is. The 
process of hypostatisation by which this divine 
Self is reached is somehow thus. It is as if we 
took the concrete personality of the individual 
which may be described in certain of its aspects 
as an instance of unity in multiplicity or perma 
nence in change and separated the unity from 
the multiplicity, assigning the unity to a universal 
or divine Self, and treating the multiplicity, or the 
changing " states of consciousness," as the empiri 
cal self or the individual qud individual. Thinkers 
like Fichte or Green fully admit, when questioned, 
that a real self-conscious being, in the ordinary 

Fichte. 63 

sense of the word, comes to pass only when these 
two sides are united. Nevertheless it is made to 
appear as if this real self-consciousness were the 
result of activity on the part of the universal 
Self, as if the latter supplied itself somehow with 
matter in the shape of empirical states of con 
sciousness, which it then proceeds to unify. But 
this is to seek to produce a reality from the union 
of two abstractions. Distinguishing two insepar 
able aspects of any concrete self, we substantiate 
one of them, and make it do duty for God ; the 
other what is left of us we do not exactly sub 
stantiate, but we think of it as an effect of our first 
abstraction. But the true result of this course is, 
as I have said, to deprive both God and man of 
real existence. This is manifest in the case of 
God, but it is not less true of the individual. 
The empirical self is not the real self, it is not 
the whole man ; for half the man has been taken 
away to be made into a god. The empirical self 
is merely, so to speak, the objective side of the 
man s consciousness. He is left without a self of 
his own to which his " states of consciousness " 
could be object, and the divine Self a Self iden 
tical in all men is brought in to perform that 
function for him. The individual seems thus to 
become no more than an object of the divine Self, 

64 Hegelianism and Personality. 

a series of phenomena threaded together and re 
viewed by it an office which it performs in pre 
cisely the same fashion for any number of such 
so-called individuals. Such a representation, in 
truth, wipes out the selfhood and independence 
of the individual with a completeness which few 
systems of Pantheism can rival. But when the 
issue is thus made plain, it must be apparent that 
the representation cannot be a true one. The 
real self is one and indivisible, and is unique in 
each individual. This is the unequivocal testi 
mony of consciousness. The argument which 
seeks to undermine it is converting an identity of 
type into a numerical unity of existence, and then 
treating the real individuals as accidental forms 
of this hypostatised abstraction. But the fact that 
we all speak of ourselves in the first person, using 
the same term "I," surely does not imply that 
this logical subject exhausts the reality of that 
which it symbolises; still less does the identity 
of the symbol imply that all these different selves 
are numerically one and the same Self. On the 
contrary, whatever resemblance there may be, 
they are absolutely and for ever exclusive. 

When the first step has been taken, the pro 
gress of thought in regard to this hypostatised 

Fichte. 65 

abstraction is as we have just traced it in Fichte, 
so far as we have followed him, and in Schelling. 
It is discovered that the so-called Absolute Ego 
is not an Ego at all; the term Ego is dropped, 
therefore, and there remains the Absolute with 
out further designation, as the womb out of which 
all things proceed. This is a solution which settles 
everything in an easy fashion, but which seems 
to give up everything for which " Idealism " was 
supposed to strive. The Absolute, so conceived, 
is simply a predicateless ground of existence in 
general; or, in Hegel s well-known phrase, it is 
the night in which all cows are black. This is a 
consummation, therefore, which need not detain 
us further. Fichte s own later developments are 
more interesting, because they soon abandon this 
path, and show an endeavour to cope more con 
scientiously with the difficulties of the question. 1 
It has already been pointed out how he began 

1 In referring to these developments, I have restricted my 
self to his more academic utterances where regard is had to 
scientific accuracy of expression, and have not entered upon his 
more popular and semi-religious lectures. The manifold (often 
unfinished) forms in which Fichte presents his views, and the 
varying terminology in which he clothes them, make it a very 
difficult task to disentangle his later positions. It is permis 
sible to doubt whether, on certain points, they had taken defin 
ite shape in his own mind. The quotations that follow are all 
taken from the "Thatsachen des Bewusstseins." 

66 Hegelianism and Personality. 

to disuse the term Absolute Ego, embracing at 
the same time more definitely the idea of a causal 
prius of individual intelligences. The term which 
he afterwards used most frequently to designate 
this prius the term which he used, for example, 
in his Berlin lectures, and in the important work 
called Facts of Consciousness, which was care 
fully prepared by him for publication is Life 
(Leben), or "the universal Life." And it pres 
ently appears that what he is speaking of is not 
the abstraction of the transcendental unity, but 
Nature, the elemental and unconscious existence 
out of which, as a matter of historical fact, the 
human individual seems to arise. The world, 
as we perceive it apart from the free action of 
conscious beings, is, he says, "a mere objective 
being, a mere streaming out (Ausstromen), pure 
externality without any inner core. 1 If free 
activity is to be realised "and this is, of course, 
for Fichte the only worthy end of existence 
" the One Life must first of all gather itself to 
gether out of that universality and dispersedness 
into a single point. ... In such a contraction, 

1 Werke, ii. 639. This Life, he says a few pages further on, 
is itself neither in space nor time ; it is a mere force, pure force 
without substrate, which is not itself a phenomenon at all, and 
which cannot therefore be perceived, but which lies at the basis 
of all possible phenomenal or perceived existence. 

Fichte. 67 

the power which contracts itself is evidently the 
One Life, for except it nothing exists. The indi 
vidual only comes into existence thereby, the 
self-contraction of the One being the original 
actus individuationis" He is evidently anxious 
to be as explicit as possible, for he goes on to 
repeat " What is it, then, that makes and pro 
duces the individual ? Evidently the One Life, 
through the contraction of itself. ... It is 
unconditionally necessary that Life assume in 
dividual form, if it is to act. There can be no 
action except in individual form, seeing that only 
thereby does Life concentrate itself into the point 
of unity from which all action must start. Only 
in the individual is Life a practical principle." l 
" Would it be strictly correct," he reiterates, " to 
say that the individual becomes conscious of him 
self ? By no means, for the individual does not 
as yet exist at all; how, then, could he become 
anything ? On the contrary, we ought to say 
Life (das Leberi) becomes conscious of itself in 
individual form and as individual." 2 Moreover, 
we may go further and say, " The universal Life 
creates the individual anew at every moment, 
though it is permissible, when we are not speak 
ing strictly, to use the static form of Life in the 
1 Werke, ii. 640, 641. 2 Ibid., 647. 

68 Hegelianism and Personality. 

individual in question as a logical subject, and to 
say the individual creates himself afresh with ab 
solute freedom at every moment." 1 The indi 
vidual, however, it must always be remembered, 
is not an existence by himself, " but only a con 
tingent form " of the One Life. 2 " The One does 
not lose itself in the various and opposite forms 
of itself, but remains permanent in all their 
change, and is therefore in strictness that which 
exists for or by itself in Life" (das eigentlich 
fur sich Seyende am Leben). It is not, as will 
be seen, the Absolute, taken as equivalent to 
God, but it is, he says, "the Absolute in life 
(das Absolute am und im Leben) as contrasted with 
its mere appearances." 3 

This is ample evidence that the prius from 
which the individual emerges is not an Ego in 
the ordinary sense of that term. It is Nature, 
which is treated by Fichte as the visible appear 
ance of the universal Life or Force 4 of which he 
speaks. But, it may be rejoined, the terms he 
now uses all seem to imply that very origin of 
consciousness from the unconscious, of the ideal 
from the real, which Fichte before declared to 
be inconceivable. This, however, was an incon- 

1 Werke, ii. 649. 2 Ibid., 640. 3 Ibid., 642. 

4 He sometimes varies " Leben " by " Kraft." 

Fichte. 69 

sequence too gross for Fichte to be guilty of ; and 
on looking more closely we find him speaking of 
" Life " as " the life of Knowledge," 1 and at other 
times expressly identifying Knowledge and Life. 2 
Sometimes, instead of Knowledge, he uses the 
phrase " universal and absolute Thought." " Uni 
versal and absolute Thought," he says, "thinks 
the other Egos, and me myself among them that 
is, it produces them by its thought." 3 " In the 
first unreflective act of perception, for example, 
it is not I who think ; we must rather say thought 
itself, as an independent life, thinks of its own 
prompting and through its own powers." This is 
plainly the exact parallel of what was said above 
of the relation of " the universal Life " to the in 
dividual thinker ; and similarly he speaks in this 
connection of individuals as simply the points in 
which knowledge comes to self-perception. And 
again, condemning the popular prejudice or mis 
representation that according to his system the 
world is made a product of the individual s 
thought, he says, with a slight variation of 
phraseology, "Not the individual but the one 
immediate spiritual Life itself is the creator of 
all phenomena, and therefore of the phenomenal 

1 Werke, ii. 555. 2 Cf. Werke, ii. 685, &c. 

3 Ibid., 603. 

70 Hegelianisin and Personality. 

individuals themselves. Hence it is that the 
Wissenschaftslehre insists so strongly on think 
ing this One Life pure and without substrate. 
Beason, universal thought, knowledge as such, is 
higher and more than the individual. To be able 
to conceive no reason save such an one as the 
individual possesses as an accident of himself, is 
tantamount to being unable to conceive reason 
at all." 1 The contempt which is here just indi 
cated finds full expression towards the end of the 
book. Fichte there asserts roundly that " Know 
ledge has a truly independent existence. It exists 
by itself as a free and independent Life, and we 
require no bearer of knowledge." The inability 
to do without such a bearer, he brands as " the 
absolute annihilation of philosophy." " Man does 
not possess knowledge, but Knowledge, so God 
will, is to possess man." 2 

Those who are conversant with the Hegelian 
system and its developments will not fail to note 
how closely this result of Fichte s later specula 
tion resembles the impersonal system of thought 
which is put forward by some Hegelians as the 
ultimate reality of the universe, and the only God 
for which the system can find room. Fichte, 
however, as already hinted, does not identify this 

1 Werke, ii. 607, 608. " Ibid., 688. 

Fichte. 71 

independent self-existing Knowledge with God. 
His statement on this subject comes almost at 
the end of the treatise we have been consider 
ing. Knowledge, he seems to say, must have an 
object ; if it were simply knowledge of knowledge, 
it would collapse into nonentity. The object of 
knowledge is God, and knowledge is accordingly 
described as the image or perception of God. 
More strictly, however, it may be said that God 
is never known purely as He is, and Knowledge 
or Life (which are perfectly identical terms) 
might therefore be better described as "the in 
finite striving to become in reality the image of 
God." God Himself is "the absolute, the self- 
subsistent, that which does not enter into pro 
cess, and has never come into being: of which 
one can say absolutely nothing else than just 
it is." 1 

This doctrine of God is peculiar to Fichte s 
later thought, and is so obscurely enunciated 
(besides being so entirely biographical in its 
interest) that it would be out of place to dwell 
upon it longer here. But it is at least apparent 
that he now ascribes to God an existence out of 
and beyond the process of evolution which for 
merly constituted his entire universe. He had 
1 Cf. Werke, ii. 680-87. 

72 Hegelianism and Personality. 

felt, it would seem, the necessity of bringing per 
manence and metaphysical reality into his sys 
tem by the assertion of this Absolute Being as 
the last term of explanation and the object of 
all knowledge. Fichte has thus at least the 
merit of having faced the question of the mode 
of existence we are to attribute to the Divine 
Being and the relation in which he stands to 
the process of world-evolution. This is a ques 
tion which we shall find it by no means easy to 
determine in the Hegelian system. Meanwhile, 
Fichte s conclusion on the subject his assertion 
of an Absolute Being who does not enter into 
process is worth noting as the outcome of the 
prolonged criticisms and modifications to which 
he subjected his earlier system. 

The second point in this new version of his 
theory which demands a passing word (also 
in connection with Hegel) is the transforma 
tion of the Absolute Ego into the notion of 
" absolute knowledge " or " universal thought " 
as self-supporting, depending upon God, it is 
true, for its object, but requiring no subject or 
bearer, itself giving rise to individual subjects 
by a process of self-concentration. The final dis 
appearance of the empty Ego is hardly a cause 
for wonder or regret; but, in spite of Fichte s 

Fichte. 73 

imperious tone, and his warning that we are 
merely setting the seal to our own philosophic 
incompetency, we must summon up all our hardi 
hood and openly confess that to speak of thought 
as self-existent, without any conscious being whose 
the thought is, conveys no meaning to our minds. 
Thought exists only as the thought of a thinker ; 
it must be centred somewhere. To thought per 
se we can attribute neither existence nor causal 
activity; and this being so, it can have no place in 
metaphysics as a theory of Being. 

This is a point which will receive abundant 
exemplification in the system of Hegel, which we 
now pass to consider. 

74 Hegelianism and Personality 


It is worth noting that in dealing with the material 
or given element in knowledge (cf. p. 47, supra), Fichte 
is more conscientiously thoroughgoing than Green. In 
fact, though the Neo-Kantians dismiss Kant s explana 
tion of sensation as unphilosophical and irrelevant, 
they seldom volunteer an explanation of their own; 
jand it is evident that, to Green at least, the facts 
of sense the sense-qualities of things constitute 
a serious embarrassment. He constantly assumes a 
stream of sensations as the material upon which the 
pause -giving and rationally constitutive activity of 
thought is exercised. These fleeting sensations form, 
as it were, the straw out of which his bricks are made, 
and it is difficult to see how he could commence opera 
tions without them. It is the equivocation between 
feeling and felt thing (between mere sensation and sen- 
sation transformed by the presence of the permanent 
Ego and qualified by manifold rational relations) that 
/ furnishes him with his recurring criticism upon Em 
pirical thinkers. The whole aim of idealism, he says, 
"is to articulate coherently the conviction of there being 
a world of abiding realities other than, and determin 
ing the endless flow of, our feelings " ( Prolegomena, 
39). But though Green is successful in showing that 
the thinkers he criticises have imported into sensation 
or feeling much more than they are willing to acknow 
ledge, his very mode of stating the question seems to 
involve the existence of mere feeling in some fashion 
as that which thought transforms into a system of 
stable facts. He sees this himself, and endeavours 
( Prolegomena/ 46 et seq.) to treat it as an illusion 

Appendix to Lecture II. 75 

necessarily incident to our point of view. " There is a 
point at which the individual s retrospective analysis 
of the knowledge which he finds himself to possess 
necessarily stops. Antecedently to any of the forma 
tive intellectual processes which he can trace, it would 
seem that something must have been given for those 
processes to begin upon. This something is taken to 
be feeling pure and simple. When all accretions of 
form due to the intellectual establishment of relations 
have been stripped off, there seem to remain the mere 
sensations, without which the intellectual activity 
would have had nothing to deal with or operate upon. 
These then must be in an absolute sense the matter 
the matter excluding all form of experience." 
The statement is warrantable, if at all, he says, " only 
as a statement in regard to the mental history of the 
individual," and of course it is easy to show that sensa 
tion, as a 7r/3ooT?7 ^7 of this sort, is something of which 
no assertions can be made, inasmuch as it lies outside 
" the cosmos of possible experience." " Mere sensation 
is in truth a phrase that represents no reality. . . . 
Thought is the necessary condition of the existence of 
sensible facts, and mere sensation, in the sense sup 
posed, is not a possible constituent of the realm of 
facts " (pp. 48, 49). But this appears, after all, rather 
to overstate the case ; for " this does not mean," Green 
goes on to say, " that no being can feel which does 
not also think. "We are not called upon here to in 
quire whether there are really animals which feel but 
have not the capacity of thinking. All that the 
present argument would lead us to maintain would be 
that, so far as they feel without thinking, their feel 
ings are not facts for them, for their consciousness. 
Their feelings are facts; but they are facts only so 

76 Hegelianism and Personality. 

far as determined by relations, which exist only for 
a thinking consciousness and otherwise could not exist. 
And in like manner, that large part of our own sensitive 
life which goes on without being affected by concep 
tions, is a series of facts with the determination of 
* which, indeed, thought, as ours or in us, has nothing 
to do, but which not the less depends for its exist 
ence as a series of facts on the action of the same 
subject which, in another mode of its action, enables 
us to know them." " Just so far as we feel without 
thinking, no world of phenomena exists for us. The 
suspension of thought in us means also the suspension 
of fact or reality for us. We do not cease to be 
facts, but facts cease to exist for our consciousness." 
The feelings exist as facts, it is implied, for the uni 
versal consciousness " the consciousness which con 
stitutes reality and makes the world one." But, 
according to Green s own showing, the real world 
\ present to such a consciousness would consist of the 
objective conditions of the successive feelings ; it 
would be the totality of the conditions of sensation 
minus the sensitive experience itself. But surely in 
the case of feeling it is the latter the existence of 
^the feeling for the feeling consciousness which is 
the real fact to be explained. Without absolutely 
I denying this aspect of feeling, Green s explanation 
seems arbitrarily to rule such experience out of the 
category of reality or fact, and to identify feeling 
with its conditions in a way which dangerously re 
sembles the cruder dicta of Materialism. In his 
posthumous Lectures on Logic he deals with the 
same question, and suggests that "the notion that 
an event in the way of sensation is something over 
and above its conditions," may be " a mistake of ours 

Appendix to Lecture II. 77 

arising from the fact that we feel before we know 
what the reality of the feeling is" (Works, ii. 190). 
" For the only sort of consciousness for which there is 
reality," he says roundly, " the conceived conditions 
are the reality" (191). "For a subject perfectly in 
telligent, reality would be the fact that a sensation 
shall occur or has occurred just as much as that it is 
now occurring, because such a subject would not be a 
subject of the sensation" (185). To this I can only 
reply, that such a statement seems to me to substitute 
for the moving world of actual events in time the 
static knowledge-picture of a conjectured eternal con 
sciousness, and thus to wipe out the whole subjective 
experience of the sensitive creatures known to us, 
human and otherwise. 

How impossible it is to get to work without feeling 
is well seen from this hypothetical case of a subject 
perfectly intelligent but not itself the subject of sen 
sation. " Admitting an eternally thinking subject as 
the correlatum of nature," Green asks in another 
place, " what is nature for such a subject ? " (Works, 
ii. 74). "Mature is really," he answers, "or for the 
eternal thinking subject, for God, what it is for our 
reason." But " when we come to say what it is for 
our reason, we cannot get beyond the mere formal 
conditions of there being a nature at all." " For 
reason, nature is a system of becoming which rests 
on unchangeable conditions." In other words, we 
get the general conception of orderly change the 
schematised categories of substance and cause and 
no account whatever is given of the content or 
"matter" of nature. And even so much, it after 
wards appears, is possible only for a sensitive con 
sciousness, for such a scheme involves the experience 

78 Hegelianism and Personality. 

of existence in time. " Sensibility," Green says, " is 
the condition of existence in time, of there being 
events related to each other as past, present, and 
future ; " and he therefore postulates " an eternal sen 
sibility " as " the eternal condition of time " (Works, 
ii. 79, 80). But how this is to be interpreted I fail 
to understand. And when he elsewhere traces the 
whole difficulty to " a process of abstraction," and 
assures us that " feeling and thought are inseparable 
and mutually dependent, in the consciousness for which 
the world of experience exists," that " each in its full 
reality includes the other" ( Prolegomena to Ethics, 
51), I am fain to confess, with Hume, that our line 
is too short to fathom such immense abysses. It is a 
seductive but unsatisfactory method of surmounting 
actual difficulties to refer us for their solution to a 
possible divine experience which we cannot even con 
ceive. At all events, Green s imbroglio in regard to 
sensation and time is significant as an index of the 
difficulties which attend the post-Kantian idealism in 
its attempt to account on its own principles for Kant s 
" natura materialiter spectata." 




As we should expect, the form of Hegel s system 
was conditioned by the form which philosophy 
had taken in the theories of his immediate pre 
decessors. Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel stand 
upon the common basis of the Idealism which 
they developed out of the Kantian system. But 
Schelling, as we have seen, in developing Fichte s 
earlier views, had drifted into a position hardly 
distinguishable from Spinozism. A philosophy, 
however, whose Absolute is described as " total 
indifference " or " pure identity in which nothing 
is distinguishable," has its face turned the wrong 
way. Schelling, like Spinoza, cannot avoid speak 
ing as if the developed system of differences which 
constitutes the intelligible world were unreal in 
comparison with this pure identity, and existed 

8o Hegelianism and Personality. 

only in the " imagination " of the individual. It 
is against this submergence of difference, and con 
sequent extinction of the life of the universe, that 
some of Hegel s sharpest sayings are directed in 
the famous Preface to the Phenomenology of 
Spirit. According to the mot already quoted, 
I such an Absolute is no better than the night in 
/ which all cows are black. The " truth," or ulti 
mate reality, of the universe cannot be a pure, 
/ " original," or " immediate " identity ; it must be 
/ an identity that mediates or restores itself in 
f /other words, an identity which is realised through 
difference. The type of such an identity is found 
v in the self - conscious life, and " everything in 
philosophy depends on the insight that the Abso 
lute is to be apprehended not as Substance but 
as Subject." So Hegel sums up his contention, 
making a return, as it were, to Eichte s position 
to re-emphasise the central principle of Idealism, 
which Schelling had been in danger of forgetting. 
But the principle reappears in a form consider 
ably changed. This is largely traceable to the 
strong hold which the notion of development had 
on Hegel. In the same Preface, Hegel blames 
Fichte for taking the Subject as a motionless 
ready-made form into which, as it were, we stuff 
all the facts of the universe, and imagine that 

Hegel s Logic and Experience. 81 

everything is then comfortably explained. It is 
true that Fichte described the Ego as not so much 
a fact but an act a continual energising or self- 
realisation, and might, therefore, have readily 
adopted Hegel s account of the Subject as essen 
tially the process of its own becoming (SicJiselbst- 
werden) ; but he did not connect the process with 
the facts of nature and history. It remained, for 
the most part, an abstract construction in vacuo, 
as we saw in examining the account of the 
Anstoss. Hegel refuses to take Self-conscious 
ness, Subject, or Spirit, either as a ready-made 
fact or as an abstract construction, and insists on 
connecting it with the process of cosmic develop 
ment, which is thus viewed as the process of 
the development or " becoming " of Spirit. Only 
then, he says, is Spirit the True, the Whole, or 
the Absolute. And if our demonstration is to be 
complete, we must be able to draw all the facts 
of nature and history within this process, and 
exhibit them as stages or elements in the self- 
development of Spirit. If we separate the Abso 
lute from this process our idea becomes a mere 
abstraction ; the Absolute, according to his ex 
pression, is essentially result, or rather it is " the 
result together with its becoming." It is only 
putting the position slightly otherwise to say that 

8 2 Hegelianism and Personality. 

this process of evolution, as crowned and con 
summated in Spirit, is itself the ultimately real. 
The beginning is the same as the end, for both 
are united in the notion of End, Purpose, or Final 
Cause (Ziueck). In a development so conceived 
the End is in the beginning, or the real beginning 
is the End ; the first stage is implicitly the last. 

By this conception of development, Hegel not 
only transforms the abstract Ego of Eichte, but 
also makes a distinct advance upon Schelling, 
though Schelling uses the idea of development 
freely enough. This advance has often been com 
pared to that made by Aristotle upon Plato. The 
dominating conception of the Aristotelian philo 
sophy is the notion of End or Final Cause ; and 
Aristotle s advance upon Plato lay chiefly in the 
clearness with which he grasped the truth that 
the ultimate metaphysical explanation of exist 
ence must be sought not so much in a prius out 
of which things emerge as in the goal towards 
which they move. Not that the notion of End 
does not appear in Plato ; it may be traced very 
plainly in the account of the Idea of the Good, 
and in the quest of Perfect Beauty as set forth in 
the Symposium. But it is a frequent character 
istic of Plato s thought to look back to the be 
ginning rather than forward to the End, and to 

Hegel s Logic and Experience. 83 

lose itself, accordingly, in cosmological construc 
tions. And in this Schelling resembled or fol 
lowed Plato, forgetting that, as soon as the 
beginning is separated from the End, it becomes 
something perfectly formless and indefinable a 
source or womb to which things are referred, but 
which contributes nothing to their explanation. 
It cannot be doubted that Hegel owes to his pro 
found study of Aristotle much of the advantage 
which he has over his predecessors his firmer 
grasp of reality and the less arbitrary character 
of its constructions. And in particular, so far as 
he consistently maintains the Aristotelian doc 
trine of the evep^eia as philosophically prior to 
the Svvafjiis or potentiality out of which it appears 
to be evolved the doctrine of the reXo? or End 
as the explanatory cause of the whole develop 
ment so far it may be cordially allowed that 
Hegel represents what is profoundest and best in 
modern philosophy. This thought was, I believe, 
the inspiration and motive-power of his philo 
sophy. It is more doubtful whether the system 
which he elaborated is ultimately consistent 
with it. 

Hegel s relation to Kant is even more import 
ant for the proper understanding of the specific 
features of his system than those relations to 

84 Hegelianism and Personality. 

Fichte and Schelling which have just been ad 
verted to. Fichte s system has its centre in 
Ethics, Schelling s in the Philosophy of Nature ; 
Logic is the centre of the Hegelian system. In 
this peculiarity we may trace the more imme 
diate influence of Kant and of the Transcendental 
Logic which formed the core of Kant s first great 
Critique. Hegel s Logic is neither more nor less 
than an expansion, a completion and rectifica 
tion of Kant s table of the categories. In other 
words, it is a systematic grammar of thought 
an analysis of- the nature of our general concep 
tions and of their relations to one another. The 
special result of the analysis is, indeed, just to 
make explicit the mutual relations of these con 
ceptions, and to assign, therefore, to each its 
proper sphere of explanation, its proper place and 
function in the organism of knowledge. The 
points of view from which Kant and Hegel re 
spectively undertake the analysis of our general 
notions are different. Hegel often blames his 
predecessor for undertaking his criticism of know 
ledge solely with reference to the question whether 
the conceptions examined are subjective or objec 
tive, a priori or a posteriori, in their origin. He 
maintains (rightly, as it appears to me) that in 
trying to determine such a question we are essay- 

Hegel s Logic and Experience. 85 

ing an impossible task. Thought cannot ulti 
mately criticise its own validity. To do so would 
require a second species of thought to sit in judg- / 
ment upon our first or actual thought, and a j 
third thought to test the validity of the verdict 
thus obtained, and so on ad infinitum a species 
of never-ending appeal as wearisome as fruit 
less. The trustworthiness or objective validity of t x 
our thought is, and must be, an assumption. Such 
an assumption may, if it is desired, be styled the 
trust or faith of reason in itself ; such faith, at 
all events, is the only reasonable attitude, and 
from the nature of the case no arguments can be 
advanced in support of a distrust which is tan- { 
tamount to absolute scepticism. Hegel justly,] 
therefore, sets aside the subjective prejudice which 
infects Kant s investigation, and insists upon the 
necessity of a perfectly disinterested investiga 
tion of our conceptions. His Logic is to be an 
analysis of the nature of thought undertaken 
without any preconceptions an examination of 
our conceptions or categories on their own account, 
with a view to define them precisely and fix 
their mutual relations. 

The result is, as I have tried to show on another 
occasion, 1 that instead of an impossible criticism 

1 Essays in Philosophical Criticism, Essay I. Philosophy as 
Criticism of Categories. 

86 Hegelianism and Personality. 

y ab extra of thought as such, we get an immanent 
^ criticism of one conception by another. The 
whole theory of knowledge resolves itself, indeed, 
into this immanent criticism of categories. That 
is to say, a systematic survey of our conceptions 
enables us to estimate the significance of each 
single conception aright, and prevents us from 
putting it to work for which it is inadequate 
or unfit. It enables us to see which are the 
poorer, less determinate, or more abstract concep 
tions, and which are, in comparison, richer, more 
determinate, more concrete. With this insight, 
we perceive that the latter are, in Hegel s phrase, 
the " truer " categories that is to say, they give 
a more adequate account of the ultimate reality 
of things. We cease, therefore, to put forward 
the more elementary determinations of thought, 
as if they were pre-eminently adapted to express 
the nature of that reality. We do not define 
God as Being, with the Eleatics, nor, with Spinoza, 
as Infinite Substance, nor even as the Great First 
Cause. Such determinations, though in a sense 
true so far as they go, are recognised by a system 
atic criticism of thought to be wholly inadequate 
as expressions of the divine nature. They are 
inadequate, not merely as all human conceptions 
must be inadequate to such an object, by reason 

Hegel s Logic and Experience. 87 

of our ignorance ; they are inadequate even with 
reference to what we know. We know them 
to be inadequate by reference to other concep 
tions which we possess by reference, in brief, 
to a conception like self-consciousness, which we 
may draw from our own experience. In general, 
such a review enables us to do justice to our 
conceptions all round to allow to each its rela 
tive justification, and, on the other hand, to 
repel the extravagant claims put forward on 
behalf of some to embody the only objective or 
scientifically accurate account of the universe. 
Some men of science are fond of advancing this 
claim on behalf of the categories of mechanism. 
The ideas of matter and motion are so clear and 
simple, that it seems as if all explanation must 
consist in reducing phenomena to terms of matter 
in motion ; so at least it is often contended from 
the scientific side. But such explanation is often 
a practical suppressio veri ; it is a suppression 
of part of the fact to be explained. Nothing is 
more essential than to be on our guard against 
the seductive simplification of facts which con 
sists in their reduction to simpler categories. It 
is, of course, possible to treat any fact more or 
less abstractly that is, to take account only of 
certain of its aspects, not of the full concrete fact. 

88 Hegelianism and Personality. 

The explanation by reduction to simpler cate 
gories is such an abstract account an account 
true so far as it goes, but not the whole truth, 
and consequently false if put forward as such. 

Hegel s analysis and systematisation of the 
categories is therefore of the highest importance 
both for science and for a sound philosophy. By 
its means, according to his own expression, we 
become master of our conceptions instead of being 
mastered by them. And by bringing to light the 
different threads of meaning which sometimes 
mingle in a single term, he has frequently laid 
bare the motives of many an old dispute, and set 
tled it thereby in the only way in which settlement 
was possible. Moreover, coming to the work, as 
we have seen, without any of Kant s preconcep 
tions, Hegel was in a position not only immensely 
to amplify and improve the Kantian scheme, but 
also to avoid the arbitrary distinction which Kant 
had drawn between certain categories as objective 
ly valid and others as merely regulative ideas. 
Hegel passes from Mechanism to Chemism, and 
from Chemism to Teleology, and the notion of the 
organism, recognising in all alike an objective 
validity. So far from being a mere subjective 
gloss upon the lower, the higher categories are 
a more accurate and adequate rendering of the 

Hegel s Logic and Experience. 89 

nature of things. Pre-eminently is this the case 
with the category or notion to which all the rest 
lead up, the notion of self-consciousness, or, as 
Hegel calls it when it attains the form of specu 
lative insight, the Absolute Idea. Instead of being 
dealt with as an unexplained excrescence upon 
the universe, the self-conscious knower is treated 
by Hegel as the ultimate fact, to which all other 
facts if we may even speak of them provisionally 
as independent facts are relative, and in which \ 
they find their explanation. Instead of shrinking \ 
from what is called Anthropomorphism, he accepts | 
this Ultimate category of thought as the only one 
we can use in seeking to give an adequate account 
of the great Fact of existence. And here it seems 
to me that Hegel is unquestionably correct. No 
thing can be more certain than that all philo 
sophical explanation must be explanation of the 
lower by the higher, and not vice versd; and if 
self-consciousness is the highest fact we know, 
then we are justified in using the conception of 
self-consciousness as our best key to the ultimate 
nature of existence as a whole. 

Hegel, however, has the air of saying a good 
deal more than this, and hence it becomes neces 
sary to consider somewhat carefully the relation 
of Hegel s Logic to experience, and the nature of 

go Hegelianism and Personality. 

the proof which he professes to give of the " de 
velopment" of conceptions there expounded, and 
of the supreme conception in which, as he would 
say, the whole development returns to itself. 
Hegel apparently wishes us to believe that his 
procedure is entirely presuppositionless, and that 
it is guided by an unerring dialectic wholly free 
from subjective admixture, and representing, as 
he says, the march of the object itself (der G-ang 
der Sadie selbst). And as the Logic advances 
from its beginning in the most abstract datum of 
thought to its consummation in the notion of self- 
consciousness or speculative knowledge, this latter 
notion is represented as proved by the same pas 
sionless and unerring dialectic to be the ultimately 
True. But if we aim at soberness, we may correct 
a number of seemingly extravagant statements by 
other utterances of Hegel himself. Here as else 
where, in the exposition of his system, Hegel has 
suppressed the reference to experience. He pre 
sents everything synthetically, though it must 
first have been got analytically by an ordinary 
process of reflection upon the facts which are the 
common property of every thinker. Thus the 
notions with which the Logic deals admittedly 
form part and parcel of the apparatus of every 
day thought, and the development which Hegel 

Hegel s Logic and Experience. 91 

gives of them is simply their systematic placing. 
The very abstraction of " Being," with which the 
Method starts, is the starting-point merely because 
it is the baldest abstraction that we can make 
from the complex fulness of actuality ; it is the 
barest statement that can be made about the 
actual. And once got by this process of abstrac 
tion, it is not to be supposed that Being gives 
birth, as it were, out of itself to the more concrete 
conceptions which follow. It may be fairly 
granted, I think, to critics of the Method like 
Trendelenburg and Von Hartmann, that every 
step of the advance is empirically conditioned. 
The celebrated dialectical opposition which is the 
nerve of the process is not the contradictory 
opposition of the logician. Mere contradiction 
yields nothing new, nothing, therefore, which, 
by synthesis or fusion with the original datum, 
could yield a third product different from either. 
The opposition which Hegel makes his fulcrum 
is contrary or real opposition ; the second is not 
simply tEe negative^of the first, but both ZXQ,/ 
real determinations of things. But if this is so, 
then the first does not of itself strike round into 
its opposite. The opposite arises only for a sub 
jective reflection which has had the advantage of 
acquaintance with the real world.^Such a reflec- 

92 Hegelianism and Personality. 

tion, playing upon the empty abstraction, perceives 
its need of supplement by reference to the fuller 
reality from which it is an abstraction. Only in 
this way is the path to be traversed determined. 

/The forward movement is in reality a progress 
//backwards : it is a retracing of our steps to the 
/world as we know it in the fulness of its real 


This view of the Method is well expressed by 
Trendelenburg, perhaps the acutest of Hegel s 
logical critics, in a passage which I cannot do 
better than quote. " The dialectic," says Trendel 
enburg, " begins according to its own declaration 
with abstraction ; for if pure being is repre 
sented as equivalent to nothing, thought has 
reduced the fulness of the world to the merest 
emptiness. But it is the essence of abstraction 
that the elements of thought which in their 
original form are intimately united are violently 
held apart. What is thus isolated by abstraction, 
however, cannot but strive to escape from this 
forced position. Inasmuch as it is a part torn from 
a whole, it cannot but bear upon it the traces that 
it is only a part ; it must crave to be completed. 
When this completion takes place, there will 
arise a conception which contains the former in 
itself, But inasmuch as only one step of the 

Hegel s Logic and Experience. 93 

original abstraction has been retraced, the new 
conception will repeat the process ; and this will 
go on until the full reality of perception has been 
restored. . . . Plainly a whole world may de 
velop itself in this fashion, and, if we look more 
narrowly, we have discovered here the secret of 
the dialectic method. That method is simply the 
act by which we undo or retrace our original 
abstraction. The first ideas, because they are the 
products of abstraction, are recognised on their 
first appearance as mere parts or elements of a 
higher conception, and the merit of the dialectic 
really lies in the comprehensive survey of these 
parts from every side, and the thereby increased 
certainty we gain of their necessary connection 
with one another." 1 

1 Logische Untersuchungen, i. 94, 95. As an example of 
the general criticisms made in the text, it is sufficient to take 
the very first triplet, Being, Non-being or Nothing, and Be 
coming, and here we may again conveniently follow Trendelen- 
burg. " If Becoming is clear to us through perception, there 
may easily be distinguished in it the moments of Being and 
Non-being. Thus, while day is dawning, we may say it is 
already day, and also it is not yet day. We separate or dis 
tinguish these moments in Becoming as actually observed, hit 
without in the least understanding logically the characteristic 
of real existence in virtue of ivhich they are present together. 
. . . Pure Being, identical with self, is rest ; Nothing, like 
wise identical with itself, is also rest. How does the movement 
of Becoming arise out of the union of these two motionless 

* v 

y r> 

94 HegeKanism and Personality. 

Totally damaging as this may appear, at first 
sight, to the claims of the Method, it is not diffi 
cult to see that it is a perfectly true account of 

ideas ? ... It could not do so unless the idea of Becoming 
were presupposed. From pure Being, an admitted abstraction, 
and Nothing, again an admitted abstraction, it is impossible 
that there should suddenly arise Becoming, this concrete per 
ception which presides over life and death." (Logische Unter- 
suchungen, i. 38.) 

The constant presence of such concrete phantasmata in other 
words, the essential dependence of the Logic on temporal and 
spatial metaphors is evidently fatal, it may be added, to its 
claim to be, in any special sense, pure thought. Trendelenburg 
proves conclusively how the images of physical motion and 
physical processes cling to, and really dominate, the account of 
transitions which are supposed to take place in the ether of 
pure thought. Trendelenburg is followed here by Haym (Hegel 
und seine Zeit, p. 318). As the Method will not engage our 
attention further, this may be the most convenient place for 
remarking that a detailed criticism of the Logic would only 
reveal how great is the part played by subjective reflection 
in its construction ; almost at any point Hegel might have 
engineered his path otherwise than he did. Nor are examples 
wanting of purely arbitrary and illusory transitions, as, for ex 
ample, that in the Psychology signalised by Trendelenburg, 
where we are supposed to pass by the necessity of the notion 
from the ages of man to the difference of the sexes, and thence 
to sleeping and waking ! In general, it may be said that the 
Method is more or less of an artifice to introduce system ; and 
when reduced to a mechanism, it leads to forced constructions. 
What is valuable in the Logic is its matter, not its form ; and 
the profound philosophical criticisms embedded in it would 
retain their value in any setting. Cf. Dr Stirling s remarks in 
the last note to Schwegler (p. 475), where he seems to approxi 
mate to this view. 

Hegel s Logic and Experience. 95 

Hegel s method of going to work. What is more, 
Hegel himself, though he might "hold it not 
honesty to have it thus set down," will be found 
fully admitting that the dialectical advance really 
depends upon the fuller knowledge which the 
subject brings with him from his experience. 
" As a matter of fact," he says, " we bring the 
Notion and the whole nature of thought with us ; 
and so we may very well say that every begin 
ning must be made with the Absolute, and that/ 
all advance is only its exposition." 1 And again, 
" It must be allowed that there is an important 
truth in the representation that the movement 
forwards is a movement backwards to the ground 
of the whole, to the original and the true, on 
which that with which we made a beginning 
depends." 2 In fact, we come here upon a stand 
ing characteristic of Hegel s thought, namely 
that the order of exposition always reverses th 
real order of thought by which the results were 
arrived at. Consequently, we have to look for 
the real fact from which he started, the real 
explanation of the whole process, in the result 
which he apparently reaches by means of it. 
He really lets down the ladder only in order to 
mount again by it to his original starting-point. 

1 Werke, v. 334. 2 Ibid., iii. 64. 

96 Hegelianism and Personality. 

The result is, therefore, not proved, in the or 
dinary sense, by the dialectical evolution which 
we go through to reach it ; it was the underlying 
assumption of the whole. Thus (to take an ex 
ample) it is, in a manner, true to point out that 
the different conceptions, as they pass in review, 
are so many imperfect modes of expressing the 
Idea, which impel us onwards, therefore, to the 
perfect form. Hegel habitually speaks in this 
way. " Being," he tells us, " is the first definition 
of the Absolute, but it is also the most abstract 
and sterile." " Being-for-self," or the One, the 
last stage of Quality in the Logic, also " finds its 
readiest instance in the Ego." Similarly with 
Essence, the Thing and its properties, Substance 
and its accidents. "Though an essential stage 
in the evolution of the Idea, Substance is not the 
same with the Absolute Idea. It is the Idea under 
the still limited form of necessity ; it is not the 
final Idea." Hence, on reaching the end, he is 
able to say, " Each of the stages hitherto reviewed 
is an image or adumbration of the Absolute, but 
at first in a limited mode ; and thus it is forced 
onwards to the Whole, the evolution of which we 
have termed Method." * But the true explanation 
of this onward impulse in the lower conceptions 

1 Wallace s Logic of Hegel, 325 (Werke, vi. 410). 

Hegel s Logic and Experience. 97 

lies, as has been said, in their apparent goal. 
They are all anticipations of that goal, because 
we are anthropomorphic, and necessarily so, to 
the inmost fibre of our thinking. Every category, 
that is, every description of existence or relation, 
is necessarily a transcript from our own nature 
and our own experience. Into some of our con 
ceptions we put more, into others less, of our 
selves ; but all modes of existence and forms of 
action are necessarily construed by us in terms 
of our own life. Everything, down to the atom, 
is constructed upon the scheme of the conscious 
self, with its multiplicity of states and its cen 
tral interpenetrating unity. We cannot rid our 
thought of its inevitable presupposition. Nor, 
it may be remarked, is there any reason why we 
should look upon this necessity as an irksome 
bondage and a source of illusion. This is what 
we usually associate with the term anthropo 
morphism ; and undoubtedly there is a rude and 
uncritical anthropomorphism, applied both to 
nature and God, which amply deserves all the 
reprobation it has received. We must not, like 
the savage, transfer the fulness of our personal 
life to the forces of nature, nor, as we are too apt 
to do, must we make God altogether in our own 
image. Our anthropomorphism must be critical. : 

98 Hegelianism and Personality. 

But to seek to escape from it altogether is as 

I futile and, it may be added, as gratuitous as the 
attempt already mentioned to criticise the validity 
of thought as such. 

It must not be supposed, therefore, that I am 
finding fault with Hegel s acceptance of self- 
consciousness as the ultimate category of thought 
that through which we think everything else, 
and through which alone the universe is intelli 
gible to us. On this point I am quite at one with 
him. I merely wish to make it plain that this 
notion is not really reached by any " high priori 
road," but is simply derived by Hegel from the 
fact of his own self-conscious experience. We 
need not be misled in this respect by the grandiose 
title of the Absolute Idea. The Absolute Idea, 
speculative knowledge, pure knowledge, the pure 
Ego, as it is variously termed, is simply the notion 
"of knowledge as such, the relation described by 
Aristotle, when he said that in a sense the thinker 
V and his thoughts are one. In its essence, the re 
lation of knower and known is, as it were, a 
transparent relation, in which the difference 
of subject and object may be said to be over 
come. Of the human consciousness this cannot, 
in strictness, be asserted, seeing that both in 
knowledge and practice we seem to be dependent 

Hegel s Logic and Experience. 99 

upon what is not ourselves. If, however, we 
suppose cognition and volition, as finite activities, 
to have done their work, then the matter, which 
at first has the appearance of being extraneously 
received, will have been thoroughly intelligised 
and reduced to law; while, on the other hand, 
through volition, it will have become, in all its 
parts, the vehicle or expression of rational ends. 
In that case, it may be argued, the self-conscious 
knower would recognise in the object nothing 
foreign, but only, as it were, the realisation of 
his own personality. This is Hegel s idea of per 
fected knowledge, or rather of an eternally com 
plete self-consciousness, as reached at the end of 
the Logic. There is a passage in which Fichte 
describes what he calls " the Idea of the Ego " in 
almost identical terms. But Fichte, as we saw, 
treated this Idea as an ideal incapable of realisa- 
tion, and Hegel is constantly taunting the Fichtian 
Idealism with its mere Ought-to-be. In one sense 
Hegel is plainly right, for it is an impossible 
speculative position to found upon an ideal which 
is nowhere real. But if Fichte merely meant to\ 
say that this speculative ideal is not, and never 
will be, realised in the progress of human ex 
perience, then Hegel is as plainly in the wrong if 
he intended to call this position in question. It 

ioo Hegelianism and Personality. 

may be granted to Hegel, as against Fichte, that 
the idea must be realised in the divine self-con 
sciousness that, so far, it is not a mere Ought-to- 
be. But to us such realisation remains a belief 
or faith, not something which is attained in actual 
knowledge, even in the reflective knowledge of the 
absolute philosopher. It is one thing to assert the 
metaphysical necessity of an Absolute Self-con- 

. sciousness, another to assert the present realisa 
tion of absolute knowledge in a philosophical 

*" system. But it will be seen in the sequel that 
it is a characteristic of the Hegelian system to 
bind up these two essentially different positions 
in such a way that it becomes impossible to say 
which is intended. At this stage it is enough to 
repeat that, however the Logic may seem in its 
conclusion to overleap the human consciousness 
altogether and transport us directly to the specular 

/outlook of Deity, it comes no nearer converting 
faith into sight than any other system has done. 
The Absolute Idea is no more than an ideal drawn 
by Hegel from his sole datum, the human self- 
consciousnesss, and does not of itself lift us 
beyond our starting-point. 




HAVING thus indicated the relation in which the 
Hegelian Logic stands to experience, we must 
next consider the place it holds in the system. 
Although, as I have said, the centre of Hegel s 
philosophising, it forms only the first part of the 
fully articulated theory. What, then, is its rela 
tion to the Philosophy of Nature and the Philo 
sophy of Spirit which follow it ? 

This is a point of no little importance to realise 
clearly, first in understanding, and secondly in 
passing judgment upon the Hegelian system. For, 
at first sight, it is difficult to see any difference 
between the Absolute Idea in which the Logic 
culminates and the Absolute Spirit with which 
Hegel closes the record of Philosophy in general. 
The Absolute Idea is defined as " the unity of the 

1O2 Hegelianism and Personality. 

Notion and its reality," "the unity of the sub 
jective and the objective Idea," " the Idea which 
thinks itself," " the Idea which is object to itself," 
" the eternal perception of itself in the other, the 
Notion which has achieved itself in its objec 
tivity." It is "both in itself and for itself; it 
is the vorfcn^ vorjcreo)? which Aristotle long ago 
termed the supreme form of the Idea." These 
designations all in Hegel s own words seem 
essentially identical with what is afterwards said 
of Mind, Self-consciousness, or Absolute Spirit, 
on its return out of Nature, when it gains " clear 
prospect o er its being s whole." And the relation 
between the two is not made quite plain by 
Hegel s manner of treatment. A key will be 
found, however, if we remember that throughout 
the Logic (in spite of the experiential basis which 
we have claimed for it) Hegel has been nowhere 
in direct contact with facts or factual existences. 
The Logic moves, as he tells us himself, in a 
realm of shades that is, in less metaphorical 
language, it deals from beginning to end with 
abstractions, with general notions, or, to use a 
technical term, with abstract universals. In 
place of Kant s summary table, it professes to be 
an exhaustive system of the categories. But this 
is literally all. In following the advance of 

Logic as MetapJiysic. 103 

thought it deals with the notion or conception of 
Being and the notion or conception of Becoming, 
but with no actual beings or processes. It con 
siders the categories of substance and cause, but 
apart from any actual instance of substantial 
existence or causal agency. And finally, to come 
to the decisive point, it considers the notion of . 
knowledge and the relative opposition of subject 
and object which it involves ; but as yet there is, 
and can be, no question of any real knower who 
might serve as a concrete example of the notion 
or type. Here, then, we touch the difference 
between the Absolute Idea and the Absolute 
Spirit. As the Logic deals only with categories 
or logical abstractions, the Absolute Idea is merely 
the scheme or form of self-consciousness. In the 
other case in the Philosophy of Spirit we are 
dealing, or are supposed to be dealing, with 
realities, facts of existence. Hence the Absolute 
Spirit is, in the Hegelian system, the one ulti 
mately real existence of which the supreme 
category of the Logic was a description or defini 
tion. The Logic, in short, is ostensibly a logic 
and nothing more; but in the Philosophy of 
Nature and the Philosophy of Spirit we are 
offered a metaphysic or ontology a theory of 
the ultimate nature of existence. It must, one 

IO4 Hegelianism and Personality. 

would think, be of fundamental importance to 
clear thinking to keep these two inquiries distinct, 
and that no matter how intimate their mutual 
relations may be. But so far is Hegel from doing 
this that, as I propose to show, he systematically 
and in the most subtle fashion confounds these 
two points of view, and ends by offering us a 
> logic as a metapJiysic. Nor is this merely an 
implication of his views; for the identification 
of Logic with Metaphysics is often presented by 
Hegelians as the gist and outcome of the system. 
The Hegelian logic, it is said, is not a logic of 
subjective thought; it is an absolute logic, and 
constitutes, therefore, at the same time the only 
possible metaphysic. We have first, then, to 
consider the path by which Hegel would lead us 
to a position, on the surface at all events, so 
extraordinary. After making the nature of the 
position clear to ourselves in this way, we shall 
have the materials for forming a judgment as to 
its philosophical tenability. 

With this view, let us turn back to the end of 
the Logic and examine the step which follows. 
The transition from Logic to Nature has long 
been celebrated as the mauvais pas of the Hegel 
ian system. It is, indeed, so remarkable, and 
so essentially incomprehensible to our habits of 

Logic as Metaphysic. 105 

thought, that it will be best to keep close to 
Hegel s own language in formulating it. The 
Absolute Idea, he says in the larger Logic, is 
" still logical, still confined to the element of pure 
thoughts. . . . But inasmuch as the pure idea of 
knowledge is thus, so far, shut up in a species of 
subjectivity, it is impelled to remove this limita 
tion ; and thus the pure truth, the last result of 
the Logic, becomes also the beginning of another 
sphere and science." The Idea, he recalls to us, 
has been defined as "the absolute unity of the 
pure notion and its reality" "the pure notion 
which is related only to itself ; " but if this is so, 
the two sides of this relation are one, and they 
collapse, as it were, "into the immediacy of 
Being." " The Idea as the totality in this form 
is Nature. This determining of itself, however, is 
not a process of becoming or a transition " such 
as we have from stage to stage in the Logic. 
" The passing over is rather to be understood thusj 
that the Idea freely lets itself go, being ab 
solutely sure of itself and at rest in itself. On 
account of this freedom, the form of its deter 
mination is likewise absolutely free namely, the 
externality of space and time existing absolutely 
for itself without subjectivity." A few lines 
lower he speaks of the "resolve (Entschluss) of 

io6 Hegelianism and Personality. 

the pure Idea to determine itself as external 
Idea." l Turning to the Encyclopaedia we find, 
at the end of the smaller Logic, a more concise 
but substantially similar statement. "The Idea 
which exists for itself, looked at from the point of 
view of this unity with itself, is Perception ; and 
the Idea as it exists for perception is Nature. . . . 
jThe absolute freedom of the Idea consists in this, 
j^hat in the absolute truth of itself [i.e., according 
to Hegel s usage, when it has attained the full 
perfection of the form which belongs to it], it re 
solves to let the element of its particularity the 
immediate Idea as its own reflection go forth 
freely from itself as Nature." 2 And in the lec 
ture-note which follows we read, as in the larger 
Logic " We have now returned to the notion of 
the Idea with which we began. This return to 
the beginning is also an advance. That with 
which we began was Being, abstract Being, and 
now we have the Idea as Being ; but this existent 
Idea is Nature." In the beginning of the Philo 
sophy of Nature the " new sphere and science " 
which he referred to as thus inaugurated no 
further light is vouchsafed; it is simply stated 

1 Werke, v. 352, 353. 

2 Werke, vi. 413, 414 ; Wallace, 328. The italics are Hegel s 
own throughout. 

Logic as Metaphysic. 107 

that Nature has shown itself to be the Idea in 
the form of otherness. 1 

What are we to say of the deliberate attempt 
made in these passages to deduce Nature from the 
logical Idea ? Simply, I think, that there is no 
real deduction in the case. The phrases used are 
metaphors which, in the circumstances, convey no 
meaning whatever. As Schelling afterwards said, 
they merely indicate a resolute leap on Hegel s 
part across "the ugly broad ditch" which dia 
lectic is powerless to bridge. On this point, few 
English thinkers are likely to have much diffi 
culty in making up their mind. But if our con 
demnation is so prompt and decisive if we con 
demn the attempt not so much because it has 
failed as because it was ever made how are we 
to account for the form of rigorous deduction 
which Hegel adopts ? Is there no sympathetic 
explanation to be given of his procedure ? To 
some extent I think there is, if it be remembered 
that Hegel s true meaning is reached, as I re 
marked before, by reading him backward rather 
than forward. He would certainly have pro- 

1 A third account in some detail is given in the Philosophy 
of Religion (Werke, xii. 206-208), and forms in some respects a 
useful gloss upon the more authoritative and would-be scien 
tific statements quoted in the text. This account is referred to 
in Lecture V., p. 163 ct seq. 

io8 Hegelianism and Personality. 

Rested against the idea that he was here describ 
ing any real process anything that ever took 
*|place; just as he would have protested against 
the idea that he ever meant to assert a factual ex 
istence of the logical Idea by itself, antecedently 
to the existence of Nature and Spirit. Nature 
itself, we can hear him saying, is an abstraction 
that cannot exist, if by existence is meant inde 
pendent factual existence on its own account ; it 
exists only relatively to, or within, the life of 
Spirit, which is therefore in strictness the only 
existence or fact. But if this is true of Nature, 
it is still more manifestly true of Logic or the 
system of thought -determinations which sums 
itself in the Absolute Idea ; such a system is 
admittedly an abstraction, and was never affirmed 
to exist in rerum naturd. Here again, then, as 
throughout the Logic, it might be said we are 
merely undoing the work of abstraction and retrac- 
ing our steps towards concrete fact. This, as we 
jhave seen, implies the admission that it is our ex- 
Iperiential knowledge of actual fact which is the 
jreal motive-force impelling us onward impelling 
us here from the abstract determinations of the 
Logic to the quasi-reolity of Nature, and thence 
to the full reality of Spirit. It is because we 
ourselves are spirits, that we cannot stop short of 

Logic as Metaphysic. 109 

that consummation. In this sense, we can under 
stand the feeling of "limitation" or incompleteness 
of which Hegel speaks at the end of the Logic. 
The pure form craves, as it were, for its concrete 
realisation. But it need hardly be added that 
the craving or feeling of incompleteness exists 
in our subjective thought alone, and belongs in 
no sense to the chain of thought-determinations 

Such, it seems to me, is the explanation which 
a conciliatory and sober-minded Hegelian would 
give of Hegel s remarkable tour de force. In 
treating of Hegel on other occasions, 1 I have been 
fain to avail myself of this interpretation, being 
unable otherwise to put an intelligible meaning 
into his statements on the subject. For those who 
accept this reading, Hegel s clumsy stride from 
Logic to Nature will appear only an objection 
able mode of presentation incident to the syn 
thetic and impersonal form in which he had, once 
for all, cast his system. Otherwise they will lay 
as little stress as possible upon the so-called 
deduction. Further reflection has convinced me, 
however, that Hegel s contention here is of more 
fundamental import to his system than such a 

1 In the Development from Kant to Hegel, and in Mind, vi. 
513 et scq. 

1 1 o Hegelianism and Personality. 

representation allows. Perhaps it may even be 
said that, when we surrender this deduction, 
though we may retain much that is valuable in 
Hegel s thought, we surrender the system as a 
system. For, however readily he may admit, 
when pressed, that in the ordo ad indimduum 
experience is the quarry from which all the 
materials are derived, it must not be forgotten 
that he professes to offer us an absolute philoso- 
j phy. And it is the characteristic of an absolute 
philosophy that everything must be deduced or 
constructed as a necessity of thought. Hegel s 
system, accordingly, is so framed as to elude the 
necessity of resting anywhere on mere fact. It is 
not enough for him to take self-conscious intel 
ligence as an existent fact, by reflection upon 
whose action in his own conscious experience and 
in the history of the race certain categories are 
disclosed, reducible by philosophic insight to a 
system of mutually connected notions, which 
may then be viewed as constituting the essence 
or formal structure of reason. He apparently 
t /thinks it incumbent upon him to prove that spirit 
exists by a necessity of thought. The concrete 
existence of the categories (in Nature and Spirit) 
is to be deduced from their essence or thought- 
nature ; it is to be shown that they cannot not 

Logic as Metaphysic. 1 1 1 

be. When we have mounted to the Absolute 
Idea, it is contended, we cannot help going 
further. The nisus of thought itself projects 
thought out of the sphere of thought altogether 
into that of actual existence. In fact, strive 
against the idea as we may, it seems indubitable 
that there is here once more repeated in Hegel 
the extraordinary but apparently fascinating 
attempt to construct the world out of abstract 
thought or mere universals. The whole form 
and structure of the system, and the express 
declarations of its author at points of critical im 
portance, combine to force this conviction upon 
us. The language used can only be interpreted 
to mean that thought out of its own abstract 
nature gives birth to the reality of things. 

Hegel s procedure here cannot but recall to 
our minds the similar reasonings of Plato. There* 
is a difference, no doubt, between categories and 
class-names; but, otherwise, the resemblance is 
striking between the abstract chain of the Logic 
and Plato s system of general notions or Ideas, 
rising from stage to stage and culminating in the 
Idea of the Good. The Platonic world of Ideas 
was not an abstract One, like the principle of the 
Eleatics; it was itself multiplicity in unity a 
system of Ideas, each of which was connected 

1 1 2 Hegelianism and Personality. 

with, or, according to the Platonic phrase, par 
ticipated in, all the rest, the whole series being 
summed, as it were, in the Idea of the Good. So 
far we have almost an exact parallel to Hegel s 
Logic. But for Plato also there arose the neces 
sity of passing beyond this world of pure Ideas. 
The sensible world the world of real multi 
plicity and change pressed itself upon his notice. 
The sensible world presents us, not with a single 
changeless type, but with a multitude of ever- 
changing individuals, which may be said more or 
less perfectly to exemplify the abstract type, but 
the determinations of whose real existence are 
not exhausted by that formal definition. Here 
Plato also has recourse to a species of " passing 
over " on the part of the Ideas. Every one must 
have felt how difficult it is at this point, I do 
not say, to yield assent to what Plato says, but 
to put any intelligible meaning upon his words. 
"We cannot doubt," says Zeller, "that Plato 
meant to set forth in Ideas not merely the arche 
types and essence of all true existence, but ener 
getic powers ; that he regarded them as living 
and active, intelligent and reasonable." 1 They 
are represented as of themselves creative and as 
the efficient causes of the manifold and transient 

1 Plato and the Older Academy, 267. 

Logic as Metapkysic. 1 1 3 

shadows of themselves which we call real things. 
But even if we grant Plato the self-subsistent 
existence of his pure forms, and try, per im- 
possibile, to follow him in the dynamic efficiency 
which he ascribes to them, he still fails to give 
any satisfactory explanation of the indefinite 
reduplication by the Idea of its own exemplifi 
cations, not to speak of other essential features 
of the sensible world. He is obliged to call 
in a second principle, the Platonic matter, as it 
has been called the unlimited element of space, 
he would appear to mean as the condition of 
separation, division, motion, and unlimited re 
petition. A break-down very similar in this- 
respect will be observed when we come to close, 
quarters with Hegel. / 

But, it will be said, surely it is impossible to 
ascribe such crude mythological conceptions to 
Hegel, who lived, after all, in the nineteenth ;_/" 
century. How can we credit him with a point 
of view which we have even a certain shame- 
facedness in attributing to Plato ? This is un 
doubtedly an important consideration, and one 
which may well make us hesitate. But it is not 
the mythological detail which determines the fun 
damental similarity of two doctrines ; though, to 
my mind, Hegel s passage from Logic to Nature 

1 14 Hegelianism and Personality. 

s is to the full as mythological as anything we find 

in Plato. 1 Even the creative agency assigned to 


1 Perhaps, too, we in England, and at the present day, 
hardly realise the extraordinary intellectual atmosphere in 
which the Hegelian system was produced. A time of philoso 
phical zymosis or seething, Dr Stirling has styled the period : 
it was a time in which system chased system, and in which 
men ran riot in the most imaginative conceptions. Without 
leaving the ranks of the dii majores, who were also compara 
tively the saner spirits of the movement, I may quote a passage 
from Schelling s Lectures on the Method of Academic Study/ 
which illustrates to some extent the intellectual tone of the 
time. The passage occurs at the beginning of the eleventh 
lecture, in a discussion of the very point adverted to in the text 
the relation of Nature to the Ideas, as he calls them after 
Plato. "God s mode of producing or creating," he says, "is 
a pouring of His whole universality and essentiality into par 
ticular forms, whereby the latter, though special or particular, 
are yet universa, what the philosophers have called Monads or 
Ideas. . . . Now, though the Ideas in God are pure and ab 
solutely ideal, yet they are not dead but living, the first organisms 
of the divine self-perception, which, on that very account, par 
ticipate in all the qualities of His nature, and in spite of their 
particular form share in His undivided and absolute reality. 
In virtue of this participation they are, like God, productive, 
and work according to the same law and in a similar fashion. 
That is, they infuse their essence, as it were, into particular 
forms and reveal it through individual and particular things, 
though themselves timeless, and only from the standpoint of 
individual things, and for such individual things, existing in 
time. The Ideas are related to things as their souls ; the things 
are their bodies. " 

Even if what is here asserted of the Ideas is a delegated life 
and activity, inasmuch as it is said to belong to the conceptions 
as elements in the divine life, yet there is still the same personifi 
cation of abstract conceptions as with Plato, and a real activity 

Logic as Metaphysic. \ 1 5 

the Ideas is rather a necessary consequence of 
Plato s doctrine than its distinguishing charac 
teristic. The distinctive feature of the Platonic 
theory of Ideas, in which it is the type of a whole 
family of systems, Hegel s among the rest, I take 
to be its endeavour to construct existence or life 
out of pure form or abstract thought. Plato s 
whole account of sensible things is to name the 
general idea of which they are particular ex 
amples ; Hegel s whole account of Nature is that 
it is a reflection or realisation of the abstract 
categories of the Logic. If the reality of natural 
things consists only in this, then creative agency 
must be attributed, more or less explicitly, to the 
thought-determinations. In them, at all events, 
lies the ultimate explanation of so-called exist 
ence. If this be admitted, the rest is for the 
most part matter of expression. 

If further corroboration is wanted of the view 
here taken of the relation of logic and reality in 

is similarly attributed to them. If, then, we bear in mind that 
Schelling was Hegel s philosophical associate, or senior partner, 
so to speak, for several years in fact, up to the very year 
(1803) in which this passage was published and if we re 
member that, as regards the Philosophy of Nature in particular, 
Hegel did little more than adapt the ideas so prodigally thrown 
out by Schelling, I cannot but think that such a passage forms 
rather a sinister gloss upon some of Hegel s own expressions. 

1 1 6 Hegelianism and Personality. 

the Hegelian scheme, there are many incidental 
remarks, besides the official passages already 
quoted, which present the same idea in a dif 
ferent connection, and in a slightly different form. 
Nothing, for example, can exceed the scorn which 
Hegel pours upon " Being " which he rarely in 
troduces without pausing to tell us that it is the 
very poorest and most abstract of notions. " Cer 
tainly," he says, " it would be strange if the Notion, 
the very heart of the mind, the Ego, or in one word 
the concrete totality we call God, were not rich 
enough to embrace so poor a category as Being, 
the very poorest and most abstract of all." * Every 
reader of Hegel must be familiar with this snort of 
contempt, which is heard most frequently, it may 
be noted, when the Ontological argument and 
modern criticisms upon it are under considera 
tion. But we are apt to be taken in here by 
Hegel s superior air, under cover of which he 
evades the real point at issue. He is certainly 
correct in saying that the category of Being is 
the poorest arid most abstract of all; it is the 
very least that can be said of a thing. Conse 
quently, if any one were to suppose that he had 
done with things, when he had simply affirmed 
their existence, he would undoubtedly be making 

i Wallace s Logic of Hegel, 92. 

Logic as Metaphysic. 1 1 7 

a great mistake. Instead of being at the end of 
his task, he is only at the beginning. He must 
proceed to determine the mode of their existence 
in a thousand ways before he can be said, even 
approximately, to give a true account of their 
nature. In short, the progress of knowledge may 
very well be described as a continual advance to 
wards greater determinateness. And if we apply 
this reasoning to the supreme object of thought 
in Hegel s language here, to " the concrete totality 
we call God " it is again very evident, as was 
pointed out in last lecture, that if we are content 
simply with an assertion of God s existence, we 
leave the whole question of the divine nature 
dark. Because Being is the last result of ab 
straction, people are apt to imagine that, when 
they have reached it, they have reached the 
grandest and most dignified title they can apply ; 
whereas, as Hegel says, it is the most meagre 
assertion that can be made. Hegel deserves all 
praise for the persistency with which he has 
attacked this vicious tendency of thought, and 
of the scholastic logic in particular, to hark back 
upon its first abstractions. But when all this is 
thankfully admitted, the real point at issue re 
mains untouched. When we say that a thing 
exists or possesses being, we may be saying very 

1 1 8 Hegelianism and Personality. 

little about it ; yet that is, on the other hand, the 
all -important assertion upon which all the rest 
are based. When we are assured that we are 
dealing with a reality, we can go on from the 
elementary statement of its existence to a more 
elaborate description of its nature. But that ele 
mentary statement must be originally made in 
virtue of some immediate assurance, some im 
mediate datum of experience. We must touch 
reality somewhere ; otherwise our whole con 
struction is in the air. Whether we rest con 
tent, as the ordinary consciousness apparently 
does, with the immediacy we seem to have in 
external perception, or restrict such immediacy 
to the perception of our own existence whether 
we look with some schools at the senses as the 
type of such assurance or include also the higher 
feelings and what are called the dictates of the 
heart in short, whatever view we may take as 
to the precise locus and scope of such immediate 
certainty, no sophistry can permanently obscure 
our perception that the real must be given. 
Thought cannot make it ; thought only describes 
what it finds. That there is a world at all, we 
know only through the immediate assurance, per 
ception, or feeling of our own existence, and 
through ourselves of other persons and things. 

Logic as Metaphysic. 1 19 

Kant may have unduly narrowed the meaning of 
the term experience, but there is no circumvent 
ing his classical criticism of the Ontological argu 
ment. There is no evolution possible of a fact 
from a conception. The existence of God must 
either be an immediate certainty, or it must be 
involved in facts of experience which do possess 
that certainty. 

If, in the light of what has been said, we look 
once more at Hegel s disparaging reference to 
" Being," we see at once the fallacy which it in 
volves, if it is intended to apply to the question 
before us. "It would be strange," he says, "if 
the Notion, the very heart of the mind, the Ego, 
or in one word, the concrete totality we call God, 
were not rich enough to embrace so poor a cate 
gory as Being." Most assuredly the Notion con 
tains the category of Being ; so does the Ego, that 
is to say, the Idea of the Ego, and the Idea of 
God, both of which are simply the Notion under 
another name. The category of Being is con 
tained in the Ego, and may be disengaged from 
it, much as, in the old logic of the schools, the 
notion "man" could be made to yield up suc 
cessively the notion "animal," "substance," and 
the rest, and eventually the very notion in ques 
tion Being. But when we ask for real bread, 

1 20 Hegelianism and Personality. 

why put us off with a logical stone like this ? It 
is not the category " Being," of which we are in 
quest, but that reality of which all categories are 
only descriptions, and which itself can only be 
experienced, immediately known, or lived. To 
such reality or factual existence there is no lo 
gical bridge ; and thoughts or categories have 
meaning only if we assume, as somehow given, 
a real world to which they refer. 

But even if we waive objections which, I think, 
are insuperable, and allow Hegel to take this im 
possible leap from Logic to Nature, there remains 
the essential further question, What account does 
he give of the Nature thus boldly deduced ? Is 
it an. account at once credible and sufficient ? 

Nature, Hegel tells us, is the Idea or thought 
in the form of otherness, in the form of exter 
nality to itself. Or again, more metaphorically, 
he quotes Schelling s saying that Nature is a 
petrified intelligence, or as others have said, a 
frozen intelligence ; * or it might be described, he 
says again, as the corpse of the understanding. 
Still more poetically he says : " Nature is spirit 
in alienation from itself. Hence the study of 
nature is the liberation of spirit in nature or the 

1 Werke, vi. 46 ; Wallace, 39. 

Logic as Metaphysic. 1 2 1 

liberation of nature itself; for nature is poten 
tially reason, but only through the spirit does this 
inherent rationality become actual and apparent. 
Spirit has the certainty which Adam had when 
he saw Eve. This is flesh of my flesh and bone 
of my bone. For Nature is in like manner the 
bride to which Spirit is wedded. . . The inner 
heart of nature (das Innere der Natur) is nothing 
but the universal ; hence, when we have thoughts, 
we recognise in nature s inner heart only our own 
reason and feel ourselves at home there." l But 
we must not be carried away by the poetry of 
passages which recall the rich metaphors of 
Bacon and Wordsworth. For when we inquire 
more narrowly into the Self or Spirit, which we 
recognise in nature under its form of estrange 
ment, it is found to be neither more nor less than 
the logical categories the Notion. This is im 
plied, indeed, in the very passage quoted, by the 
introduction of the phrase " the universal " ; and 
it is made more explicit in a passage of the c En 
cyclopaedia, which conveys the same 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 

1 Werke, vii. 22. 

122 Hegelianism and Personality. 

objective world back to the Notion, which is our 
inmost self." 1 And in another passage he ex 
pressly gives this explanation of his phrases 
about thought as the kernel of the world, and 
nature as a system of unconscious thought : " In 
stead of using the term Thought (G-edanken), it 
would be better, in order to avoid misconception, 
to say category, or thought-determination (Denk- 
bestimmung). For logic [which he has a few 
lines before identified with metaphysic] is the 
search for a system of thought-determinations in 
which the opposition between subjective and 
objective, in its usual sense, vanishes." 2 This 
system is, of course, the chain of categories un 
rolled in the Logic, which, forming, as it were, 
the common basis of nature and mind, is spoken 
of by Hegel as " the absolute and self-existent 
ground of the universe." 3 Indeed, in his own 
words in the same connection, "the Philosophy 
of Nature and the Philosophy of Mind take 
the place, as it were, of an Applied Logic, and 
Logic is the soul which animates them both. 
Their problem is only to recognise the logical forms 
under the shapes they assume in Nature and Mind 

1 Werke, vi. 367. 2 Ibid., vi. 46 ; Wallace, 39. 

3 Ibid., vi. 51 ; Wallace, 42. 

Logic as Met apky sic. 123 

shapes which are only a particular mode of expres 
sion for the forms of pure thought" l 

But if men and things are merely types or 
exemplifications of logical notions, what consti 
tutes the difference, we may ask, between the 
category, as such, in the Logic and the category, 
as thing, in nature ? 2 If nature is " the other " 
of thought, thought in estrangement or alienation 
from itself, what is it that makes the otherness, 
the alienation ? What is the nature of the 
" petrifaction " that thought experiences ? Hegel 
is fain to speak of it in many places as materi- 
ature. 3 Similarly, Dr Stirling says that Hegel 
" demonstrates the presence of the notion in the 
most crass, refractory, extreme externality de 
monstrates all to be but a concretion of the 
notion." 4 Now I maintain that the whole prob 
lem of reality as such is wrapped up in these 
metaphorical phrases otherness, petrifaction, 
materiature, concretion and that by evading 
the question, Hegel virtually declines to take / 
account of anything but logical abstractions. He 

1 Wallace, 41, 42. 

2 Restricting ourselves for the present to the case of nature, 
though the assertion is made by Hegel equally of "the Philo 
sophy of Nature and the Philosophy of Spirit." 

3 Materiatur. 

4 Secret of Hegel, i. 177. The italics are mine. 


124 Hegelianism and Personality. 

offers us, in a word, a logic in place of a meta- 
physic; and it may be unhesitatingly asserted 
that such a proposal, if taken literally, is not only 
untenable, it is absurd. "Neither gods nor men," 
as Dr Stirling says, when speaking in his own 
person, " are in very truth logical categories," x 
and the same may be said of every natural thing. 
A living dog is better than a dead lion, and even 
an atom is more than a category. It at least 
exists as a reality, whereas a category is an 
abstract ghost, which may have a meaning for 
intelligent beings, but which, divorced from such 
real beings and their experience, is the very type 
of a non-ens. 

I am far from denying that we may truly speak 
of the categories as realised in nature, just as we 
speak, in a wider way, of the world as the reali 
sation or manifestation of reason. But we must 
recognise the ^^si-metaphorical nature of the 
language used, which simply means that the 
world gives evidence of being constructed on 
a rational plan. To discover the categories in 
nature means no more than to understand nature 
by their means; from which it is a legitimate 
inference that nature is laid out, as we may say, 
according to these conceptions. Hegel apparently 

1 Schwegler, 476. 

Logic as Metaphysic. 1 2 5 

says, on one occasion, that his own elaborate phras 
eology means no more than the ancient position 
that z/oO? rules the world, or the modern phrase, 
there is Eeason in the world. 1 If the system is 
reducible to this very general proposition, our 
objections would certainly fall to the ground ; but 
Hegel s own expressions go a long way further. 
His language would justify us in believing that 
the categories actually take flesh and blood and 
walk into the air, and that the whole frame of 
nature is no more than a duplicate or reflection 
of the thought-determinations of the Logic. Nor 
is this merely a forced interpretation put upon 
his words. It is, as will be more fully seen in 
the following lecture, if not his deliberate mean 
ing, still a real tendency of his thought. When 
he speaks, therefore, of the categories as the heart 
or kernel of nature, we require to be on our guard 
against the idea that logical abstractions can 
thicken, as it were, into real existences. Cate 
gories are not the skeleton round which an in 
definite " materiature " gathers to form a thing. 
The meanest thing that exists has a life of its 
own, absolutely unique and individual, which we 
can partly understand by terms borrowed from our 

1 Werke, vi. 46 ; Wallace, 39 ; in the context of some of the 
passages already quoted. 

126 Hcgelianism and Personality. 

own experience, but which is no more identical 
with, or in any way like, the description we give 
of it, than our own inner life is identical with the 
description we give of it in a book of philosophy. 
Existence is one thing, knowledge is another. 
But the logical bias of the Hegelian philosophy 
tends, as I have said, to make this essential dis 
tinction disappear, and to reduce things to mere 
types or " concretions " of abstract formulae. 
" Hegel is so complete," says Dr Stirling in the 
context of the passage previously quoted, "that 
he leaves existential reality at the last as a mere 
abstraction, as nothing when opposed to the work 
of the notion." x That is just what I complain of. 
The result of Hegel s procedure would really be 
to sweep " existential reality " off the board alto 
gether, under the persuasion, apparently, that a 
full statement of all the thought-relations that 
constitute our knowledge of the thing is equi 
valent to the existent thing itself. On the con 
trary, it may be confidently asserted that there 
is no more identity of Knowing and Being with 
an infinity of such relations than there was with 

Hegel s position, or the tendency of his thought, 
may again be aptly illustrated, I think, by two 

1 Secret of Hegel, i. 177. 

Logic as Metaphy sic. 127 

passages from Schelling. "In the highest per 
fection of natural science," he tells us in the 
Transcendental Idealism/ "the phenomenal or] 
material element must disappear entirely, an< 
only the laws, or the formal element, remain. . . 
The more law becomes apparent in nature, the 
more the hull or wrapping disappears ; the pheno 
mena themselves become more spiritual, and at 
last cease altogether (zuletzt vollig auf horen). Op 
tical phenomena are nothing more than a system 
of geometry whose lines are drawn by the light, 
and the material nature of this light itself is 
already doubtful. In the phenomena of magnet 
ism all trace of matter has already vanished, and 
of the phenomena of gravitation nothing remains 
but their law, the carrying out of which on a 
great scale constitutes the mechanism of the 
heavenly movements." 1 And in another place 
we read : " The Philosophy of Nature gives an 
account of what is immediately positive in nature, 
without attending to space, for example, and the 
rest of such nullities (den Raum und das ubrige 
Niehtige). It sees in the magnet nothing but 
the living law of Identity, and in matter only the 
unfolded copula in the shape of gravitation, co- 

1 Werke, I. iii. 340. 

128 Hegelianism and Personality. 

hesion, &c." x Surely, on reading a passage like 
this, we instinctively feel that the reality or quali 
tative existence of things is being spirited away 
from us under a metaphor. It may be very well 
for a philosophy so conceived to " abstract " from 
what it cannot explain ; but for all that, the 
magnet is neither the law of Identity, as Schelling 
sets it down, nor the Syllogism, as Hegel would 
have it to be. 2 In short, whatever truth such 
passages 3 may have as accounts of the progress 
of knowledge, they leave the metaphysical ques 
tion of existence untouched. Whatever import 
ance we attach, and rightly attach, in philosophy 
to the universal or the formal, the individual 
alone is the real. 

It cannot be supposed that Hegel was blind to 
a plain truth like this, and accordingly passages 
might easily be quoted which apparently admit 
all that has been said. But the form which such 
admissions take in Hegel is characteristic. While 
not denying the individual character of existence, 
he yet adroitly contrives to insinuate that, because 
it is indefinable, the individual is therefore a 

1 " Darlegung des wahren Verhaltnisses der Naturphilosophie 
zu der verbesserten Fichte schen Lehre," Werke, I. vii. 64. 

2 See Wallace, p. 42. 

3 For a very similar passage in Hegel himself, see Wallace, 
35, 36. 

Logic as Met apky sic. 129 

valueless abstraction. "Sensible existence/ he 
says, for example, " has been characterised by the 
attributes of individuality and a mutual exclusion 
of its members. It is well to remember that 
these very attributes are thoughts and general 
terms. . . . Language is the work of thought; 
and hence all that is expressed in language must 
be universal. . . . And what cannot be uttered, 
feeling or sensation, far from being the highest 
truth, is the most unimportant or untrue. If I 
say the unit, this unit, here, now, all these 
are universal terms. Everything and anything 
is an individual, a this, or if it be sensible, is 
here and now. Similarly, when I say I, I mean 
my single self, to the exclusion of all others ; but 
what I say, viz., I, is just every other I, which 
in like manner excludes all others from itself. 
. . . All other men have it in common with me 
to be I. " 1 This demonstration of the universal, 
or, to put it perhaps more plainly, the abstract, 
nature of thought, even in the case of those terms 
which seem to lay most immediate hold upon 
reality, is both true and useful in its own place. 
But the legitimate conclusion from it in the pre 
sent connection is not Hegel s insinuated dispar 
agement of the individual, but rather that which 

1 Wallace, 32. 


1 30 Hegelianism and Personality. 

Trendelenburg draws from the very same consider 
ations, that the individual, as such, is incommen 
surable or unapproachable by thought. 1 Or, as 
Mr Bradley puts it still more roundly and tren 
chantly, " The real is inaccessible by way of ideas. 
. . We escape from ideas, and from mere uni- 
versals, by a reference to the real which appears 
in perception." 2 

If there is an approach to disingenuousness in 
Hegel s manner of turning the tables upon reality 
here, his treatment of the most characteristic 
feature of nature, and real existence in general, 
displays a much more unmistakable infusion of 
the same quality. 

Nature has been defined as "the other" of 
reason ; that is, it is in some way the duplicate 
or reflection of the thought-determinations of the 
Logic. Conceptions which were there regarded 
in their abstract nature are now exhibited as 
realised in actual existences. In Hegel s own 
formal definition, towards the beginning of the 
Naturphilosophie, " Nature is to be regarded 
as a system of grades, the one of which proceeds 

1 "Das Einzelne 1st an sich. das dem Denken Incommensur 
able." Logische Untersuchungen, ii. 230. 

2 Principles of Logic, 63, 69. 

Logic as Met aphy sic. 131 

necessarily from the other, and constitutes its 
proximate truth; not, however, in such a way 
that the one is actually produced out of the other, 
but in the inner idea which is the ground of 
nature." 1 In other words, the Philosophy of 
Nature gives us a system or ascending series of 
types, in which we pass from space and gravita 
tion, at the one end of the scale, to the animal 
organism at the other. Speaking with some lati 
tude, we may be said to pass, in such a progress, 
from the most abstract and imperfect analogue of 
self-conscious existence to the very brink of the 
appearance of consciousness in the world. The 
course of the exposition is swelled and distorted 
by the mass of empirical matter which Hegel 
takes from the special sciences, and forces, often 
violently enough, into the forms of his system ; 
but the method followed is intended to be sub 
stantially similar to that of the Logic. The 
whole system of types, moreover, is to be taken as 
an ideal development. It has nothing to do with 
the possible evolution of the planetary system 
out of a simpler state of mutually attracted va 
porous particles, with the origin of life from the 
non-living, or with the evolution of one animal 
type from another, as set forth in the Darwinian 

1 Werke, vii. 32. 

132 Hegelianism and Personality. 

theory. With these questions of scientific evolu 
tion philosophy does not deal, according to Hegel s 
statement above ; his own evolution is, as he would 
say, a timeless evolution like that of the logical 
categories. That is to say, he contemplates the 
system of types as existing eternally side by side, 
all being necessary to the entirety of the system. 
"The notion," he says, "thrusts all its particu 
larity at once into existence. It is perfectly 
empty to represent the species as evolving them 
selves gradually in time ; the time-difference has 
absolutely no interest for thought." 1 This em 
bodies a profound truth, as I conceive, with regard 
to the philosophy of evolution, but we are not 
concerned with that aspect of the position here. 
What is evident from these quotations is, that 
nature is, in a manner, reduced by Hegel to a 
static system of abstract types. 

But a mere glance at nature suffices to show 
that its leading feature, as contrasted with the 
logical necessity which links the different parts of 
a rational system together, is its pure matter-of- 
f actness I will not say its irrational, but its non- 
rational or alogical character. Things lie side by 
side in space, or succeed one another in time, with 
perfect indifference ; there is no logical passage 

1 Werke, vii. 33 

Logic as Metaphy sic. 133 

from the one to the other. Why should there 
be just so many planets in our system, and no 
more ? and why should their respective sizes be 
just as they are ? Why should one of them have 
been rent into fragments and not the rest ? Why 
should the silver streak cut England off from 
Continental Europe ? Why should any island 
rise in ocean precisely where it does ? Why 
should there be an island there at all, and if an 
island, why not a mile to eastward or to westward ? 
No doubt, in many cases, we may be able to give 
what is called a reason for these facts i.e., we may 
be able to point to a certain previous distribution 
of things from which they necessarily resulted. 
It is conceivable that if our knowledge were per 
fect, we should be able to account in this way 
for the exact position of each minutest grain of 
sand. But the ultimate collocation to which we 
traced the present arrangement would be as far 
removed as ever from logical or rational neces 
sity: it would be a mere collocation, something 
wholly alogical, to be accepted as a matter of fact. 
The same thing might be further exemplified by 
appeal to another aspect of the world an aspect 
which is coextensive with our whole experience 
of external nature. What logical connection is 
there between the different qualities of things 

134 Hegelianism and Personality. 

between the smell of a rose, for example, and its 
shape ; or between the taste of an orange and its 
colour? These qualities are found together, as 
matter of fact, but no process of reasoning could . 
possibly lead us from the one to the other. Then, 
to go back to Hegel s idea of a system of types, 
what are we to say of the indefinite multi 
plicity of individuals in which the type is realised ? 
Why should there be more than one perfect ex 
ample of each ? Of all this there is no account 
in Hegel ; yet it is the most characteristic feature 
of real existence. As Professor James of Har 
vard says " The parts seem to be shot out of a 
pistol at us. Each asserts itself as a simple brute 
fact, uncalled for by the rest, which, so far as we 
can see, might even make a better system without 
it. Arbitrary, foreign, jolting, discontinuous are 
the adjectives by which we are tempted to de 
scribe it." 1 

It was not possible for Hegel altogether to ig 
nore the aspect of existence emphasised in the last 
paragraph, but he seems to think that by naming 
the difficulty he has got rid of it. He calls it 
Contingency, and opposes it to the necessity of 
the Notion : " The contradiction of the Idea in 
its state of externality to itself as nature, is, more 

1 Mind, vii. 187. 

Logic as Metaphy sic. 135 

particularly, the contradiction between the neces 
sity infused by the Notion into nature s forma 
tions (and their consequent rational determination 
as members of an organic totality), and, on the 
other hand, their indifferent contingency arid in 
determinate lawlessness. Contingency and lia 
bility to determination from without have their 
right within the sphere of nature." 1 But then 
follows the audacious stroke by which Hegel 
endeavours to turn the tables upon reality. It 
is nature s fault, not the philosopher s, he says 
in effect, that facts behave in this alogical way. 
" It is the impotence of nature that it maintains 
the determinations of the Notion only in an, ab 
stract or general fashion, and leaves the execution 
of the particular exposed to determination from 
without." Again, he says : " Nature is Spirit in 
alienation from itself, which, as released out of 
itself, is full of freaks, a bacchantic god ; who does 
not rein himself in and keep himself in hand ; in 
nature the unity of the notion is concealed." 2 
He expresses the same idea more prosaically, but 
not less strongly, in the introduction to the En- 

1 Werke, vii. 36. 

2 Ibid., vii. 24. There is a play in the original upon the 
word "ausgelassen," which means both " released " or "let 
out," and full of freaks or riotous mirth. 

1 36 Hegelianism and Personality. 

cyclopedia : " The Idea of nature, when it is in 
dividualised, loses itself in contingencies. Natural 
history, geography, medicine, &c., have to deal 
with determinations of existence, with species 
and distinctions which are determined not by 
reason, but by sport and external accident." 1 
Finally, when the point comes up in connection 
with the category of Contingency in the Logic, 
Hegel takes occasion to make a disparaging re 
mark upon the admiration sometimes lavished 
upon nature for its richness and variety : " In its 
vast variety of structures, organic and inorganic, 
nature affords us only the spectacle of a contin 
gency that runs riot into endless detail. At any 
rate, the checkered scene presented by the several 
varieties of animals and plants, conditioned as it 
is by outward circumstances, the complex changes 
in the figuration and grouping of clouds, and the 
like, ought not to be set above the equally casual 
fancies of the mind which surrenders itself to 
its own caprices." 2 " Contingency, however," he 

1 " Die von ausserlichem Zufall und vom Spiele, nicht durch 
Vernunft bestimmt sind." Werke, vi. 24 ; Wallace, 21. 

2 It is perhaps worth remarking that Hegel s instances, being 
of an especially unimportant nature, tend to disguise the fact 
that what he calls contingency is coextensive with the whole 
range of existence as such. Thus, it is not merely my " casual 
fancies " that display contingency, but the whole course of my 

Logic as Metaphysic. 1 3 7 

proceeds, " has, no less than other forms of the Idea, 
its due office in the world of objects. This is 
seen, in the first instance, in nature, on whose 
surface, so to speak, contingency ranges unchecked 
a fact which must simply be recognised with 
out the pretension which is sometimes, but er 
roneously, ascribed to philosophy of seeking to 
find in it something which can only be as it is, 
and not otherwise." 1 

These passages, more particularly the last, con 
tain a curious combination of two points of view, 
one of which is wholly untenable, while the other 
is not open to a system like Hegel s. The first is 
that Contingency is itself a category, a form of 
the Idea which, when the Idea is realised, must 
be represented and have its scope as well as the 
other categories. By calling a thing contingent, 
therefore, we seem to be making an assertion 
about it which brings it within the range of our 
rational system. But this is surely the most 
transparent fallacy. For, to say that a thing is 
contingent or accidental, is to say, in so many 
words, that we can give no rational account of 
why it is as it is, and not otherwise. It is hard 

thoughts looked at as a process of events in time, that is to say, 
my whole subjective or individual experience. 
1 Werke, vi. 288, 290 ; Wallace, 227, 228. 

1 38 Hegelianism and Personality. 

to see how the saying that we have no explana 
tion to give can be interpreted as itself the very 
explanation wanted. A system of rationalism 
which talks of what is " determined not by reason 
but by sport and external accident," must fairly be 
held to acknowledge a breakdown in its attempt to 
grasp the whole of existence. Hegel makes this 
acknowledgment, after a fashion, in what may 
be distinguished as a second point of view. He 
says that we must not pretend to reduce this 
contingency to reason, or, as he expresses it in 
the Naturphilosophie " The impotence of na 
ture sets limits to philosophy, and it is most un 
seemly to demand of the Notion that it shall 
comprehend such contingencies, and, as it is 
called, construct or deduce them/ But he throws 
the blame on Nature. If we cannot rationalise 
the facts, that is merely because the facts are of 
no interest or importance to reason. Now, in a 
sense, this is a position which no one would think 
of disputing. So far as the meaning of the uni 
verse is concerned, it may be said that it does not 
matter whether such details are arranged in this 
way or in that way. And to expound the mean 
ing of the universe constitutes, it may be argued, 
the essential task of philosophy. Philosophy has 
to show that the world embodies a rationally satisfy- 

Logic as Met aphy sic. 139 

ing End, which does not fail of realisation ; but it 
is of necessity precluded from taking any notice 
of the individual facts, whether persons or things, 
in which this meaning, End, or Idea is realised. 
There is a certain amount of truth in this conten 
tion, though I venture to think that such a phil 
osophy would remain seriously incomplete on its 
metaphysical side. But however that may be, 
Hegel, as the propounder of an absolute system, is 
not entitled to hold such language. It might be 
intelligible on the part of a philosophy which, pro 
fessedly starting with the tangled facts of experi 
ence, endeavoured to trace in them a thread of ra 
tional purpose, and thus work its way to the more 
or less confident assertion of a rational harmony 
or system. But it is otherwise with a philosophy 
which sets out from a completed system of thought, 
and professes to explain the factual world to its 
inmost fibre out of reason. Because it starts from 
the contingent individual facts of experience, the 
first system is in no danger of abolishing its own 
standing-ground. But for a system like Hegel s 
to waive aside all consideration of mere matter- 
of-fact, means not so much that the matter-of-fact 
basis is taken for granted, as that it is systemati 
cally ignored. And an important practical result 
will be that the End in which the meaning of the 

1 40 Hegelianism and Personality. 

world is found will be the realisation of some 
abstract idea, without any regard for the indi 
viduals for whom alone it can be realised, and 
whose existence is, after all, the only reality. 
The universe will tend to shrink together into a 
logical process, of which individuals are merely 
the foci. 

It will be seen in the next lecture that this is 
a special danger of the Hegelian system. 

Appendix to Lecture IV. 141 


It may be instructive and not without interest to 
place on record the expressed opinions of Kant and 
Fichte on the question of real existence. They will 
be found (what we should hardly expect in the case 
of Fichte) to form an effective contrast to the tendency 
of Hegelian thought as indicated above. The com 
parison is the more easily made since Hegel in his 
Logic is going over essentially the same ground as 
Kant in the Transcendental Logic and Fichte in the 
theoretical part of the Wissenschaftslehre. 

Of Kant not much requires to be said. To him, 
of course, the categories are mere empty forms without 
the matter of sense. For the rest, his position has 
been indicated above. Every existential proposition, 
he says, is synthetical. Its truth can only be ascer 
tained a posteriori, or by a reference to experience. 
Hence existence is something which no notion or 
system of notions can give us. This is the line of 
thought which he brings to bear with conclusive force 
upon the ontological argument for the existence of 
God ; and Hegel s persistent attempts to rehabilitate 
that argument are not without significance for a final 
estimate of his own system. 

Kant, as is well known, criticised Fichte s system 
(in his public declaration on the subject) as " neither 
more nor less than a mere logic, whose principles do 
not reach the material element in knowledge, but 
which, on the contrary, as pure logic, abstracts from 
the content of cognition. To extract from pure logic 
a real object is a futile task, and hence one which has 

142 Hegelianism and Personality. 

never been essayed." x But though there is much in 
the form of the Wissenschaftslehre to justify this 
censure, it is less than just to Fichte. It is, however, 
by anticipation, a very apt description of Hegel s pro 
cedure. Fichte expressly guards himself against the 
imputation in question. The theoretical part of the 
* Wissenschaftslehre corresponds, as has been said, 
to Hegel s Logic ; 2 and at the end of this analysis 
Fichte tells us that the whole inquiry has been moving 
hitherto in a world of unrealities. We have been talk 
ing of the Ego, he says, but, so far, we have been talking 
" of a mere relation without anything that stands in 
relation from which something, indeed, complete 
abstraction is made in the whole theoretical part of 
the Wissenschaftslehre. " 3 In other words, we 
have been talking of the notion of the Ego, but not 
of any real Ego ; we have been dealing throughout 
with abstractions, not with real existences. Similarly, 
on coming to the second part of his investigation, he 
says : " In the theoretical Wissenschaftslehre we 
have to do solely with knowledge; here, in the 
practical part, with what is known. In the former 
case, the question is, How is anything posited, per 
ceived, or thought [i.e., what are the formal conditions 
of knowledge, what is the notion of knowledge in 
general] 1 in the present case it is, What is posited 1 
If, therefore, the ; Wissenschaftslehre is to be taken 

1 Werke, viii. 600. 

2 It is, of course, far from being so exhaustive, and the order 
of the deduction is the reverse of Hegel s, beginning with the 
notion of the Ego as a synthesis of subject and object, and 
deducing a variety of categories from that relation. But 
differences of procedure do not affect the correspondence in 
aim of the two undertakings. 

3 Werke, i. 207. 

Appendix to Lectiire IV. 143 

as a metaphysic, it must refer the inquirer to its 
practical part, for this alone speaks of a primitive 
reality." ] A little later, he is speaking of feeling, 
which ordinary consciousness attributes to the action 
of a thing, but which Fichte maintains to be due to 
the Ego itself, and he adds this emphatic statement : 
" Here lies the ground of all reality. Solely through 
the reference of feeling to the Ego is reality possible 
for the Ego, whether it be the reality of the Ego itself 
or of the Non-Ego. . . . Our attitude to reality in 
general, whether of the Ego or the Non-Ego, is one of 
belief and nothing more." 2 " To forget this original 
feeling," he says elsewhere, " leads to a baseless tran 
scendent Idealism and an incomplete philosophy which 
cannot explain the merely sensible predicates of ob 
jects." 3 It is true that Eichte does not leave this 
feeling a mere fact, as Kant did ; he refers it to the 
needs of the moral life, thus seeking, as it were, to 
rationalise it and bring it within the compass of his 
Monism. But what we are here concerned with, is 
his insistence upon feeling as the only point where 
we touch solid ground and get a basis for our whole 
structure. The same point of view is still more im 
pressively urged in the eloquent Bestimmung des 
Menschen, which he wrote in 1800 for use outside 
the schools ; it forms, indeed, the turning-point of the 
whole discussion. 

This treatise is divided into three books, the 
first of which, entitled Doubt, portrays the misery 

1 Werke, i. 285. 

2 Ibid., i. 301. "An Realitat iiberhaupt . . . findet 
lediglich ein Glaube statt." 

3 Ibid., i. 490. This passage is from the Second Introduc 
tion to the Wissenschaftslehre, published in 1797 ; the previous 
passages are from the Wissenschaftslehre itself. 

144 Hegelianism and Personality. 

of a man entangled in Materialism and Fatalism, 
through viewing himself simply as a natural thing 
among other things a mere wheel in the vast 
machine of the universe. The second book, entitled 
* Knowledge, describes his deliverance from such fears 
by the Kantio-Fichtian theory of knowledge. He is 
made to recognise the inner impossibility of the posi 
tion which Fichte designates Dogmatism the impos 
sibility, that is to say, that a system of mere things 
should give rise to the unique fact of self-consciousness. 
On the contrary, he finds that the mere object is an 
unrealisable abstraction, and that the whole of the 
natural world, in which he seemed to be imprisoned 
as an insignificant part, exists only as a phenomenon 
that is, relatively to the consciousness which it 
threatened at first to engulf. But in the midst of 
his exultation there is suddenly borne in upon him 
the conviction that such a deliverance is, after all, 
purely illusory. For the demonstration has simply 
fehown that all objects must, as such, be brought 

/ Under the form of the knowing self. But such a self 
has no predicates of reality about it ; it is simply a 

, formal point of unity for the process of knowledge. 
If the system of things is reduced to ideas or 
objects in consciousness, he himself is likewise re 
solved into a mere Vorstellen or process of ideas 
without significance or aim, because without self- 
initiated activity. 1 When this insight is reached, 

1 Ich selbst weiss iiberhaupt nicht, und bin nicht. Bilder 
sind ; sie sind das Einzige was da ist, und sie wissen von sich 
nach Weise der Bilder : Bilder die voriiberschweben, ohne dass 
etwas sei, dem sie voriiberschweben. . . . Bilder ohne etwas in 
ihnen Abgebildetes, ohne Bedeutung und Zweck. . . . Alle 
Realitat verwandelt sich in einen wunderbaren Traum, ohne 
ein Leben von welchem getraumt wird, und ohne einen Geist, 
dem da traumt." Werke, ii. 245. 

Appendix to Lecture IV. 145 

Fichte turns upon his anxious inquirer and upbraids 
him for supposing that this theory which represents 
the theoretical Wissenschaftslehre was to be taken 
as a complete system of the human spirit. "Didst 
thou imagine," he says, " that these results were not 
as well known to me as to thee I . . , Thou askedst 
to know of thy knowledge. Dost thou wonder, then, 
that upon this path nothing more is to be found than 
just what thou desiredst to know thy knowledge 1 
. . . What arises through knowledge and out of 
knowledge is only a knowing. But all knowing is 
only representation or picture, and there always arises 
the demand for something which shall correspond to 
the picture. This demand no knowledge can satisfy. 
. . . But, at least, the reality whose slave thou 
fearedst to be the reality of an independent sen 
sible world has vanished. For this whole sensible 
world arises only through knowledge, and is itself 
part of our knowledge. . . . This is the sole merit 
of which I boast in the system which we have but 
now discovered together. It destroys and annihilates 
error; truth it cannot give, because in itself it is 
absolutely empty." 

Only in the third book, entitled Belief or Faith, 
does Fichte proceed at last to satisfy the demand of 
his disciple for reality, and to communicate his own 
final position. " There is something in me," he says, 
" which impels to absolute, independent, self-originated 
activity. ... I ascribe to myself the power of form 
ing an idea or plan, and likewise the power, through a 
real action, of embodying this idea beyond the world 
of ideas (ausser dem Begriffe). I ascribe to myself, 
in other words, a real active force a force which 
produces being, and which is quite different from the 

1 46 Hegelianism and Personality. 

mere faculty of ideas. The ideas or plans spoken of 
I above, usually called ends or purposes, are not to be 
considered, like the ideas of cognition, as after-pictures 
of something given ; they are rather fore-pictures, or 
exemplars of something which is to be produced. The 
real force, however, does not lie in them ; it exists on 
its own account, and receives from them only its 
determinate direction, knowledge looking on, as it 
were, as a spectator of its action. Such indepen 
dence, in fact, I ascribe to myself in virtue of the 
afore-mentioned impulse." "Here," he proceeds, 
"lies the point to which the consciousness of all 
reality is attached. This point is the real activity 
of my idea, and the real power of action which I am 
obliged, in consequence, to attribute to myself. How 
ever it may be with the reality of a sensible world 
external to me, I myself am real; I take hold on 
reality here ; it lies in me, and is there at home. 
This real power of action of mine may doubtless be 
made an object of thought or knowledge, but at the 
f basis of such thought lies the immediate feeling of my 
.. impulse to self-originated activity. Thought does 
nothing but picture or represent this feeling, and 
take it up into its own form of thought." Actual 
existence, in brief, or the consciousness of reality, is 
reached, according to Fichte, only in Will, or in the 
immediate feeling of my own activity. Even in 
opposition to the sceptical doubts which the under 
standing may subsequently raise as to a possible self- 
deception, this feeling must be accepted as our only 
firm standing-gronnd ; it must be believed. Belief is 
" the organ with which I lay hold upon reality." 

These quotations have run almost to undue length. 
But Fichte s testimony is especially important in view 

Appendix to Lecture IV. 147 

of his constitutionally deductive mind and his fondness 
of construction whenever an opening for it could be 
found. The passages quoted show him laying stress, < 
even in his earliest writings, upon the essentially given ( 
character of reality. It must be lived or experienced, j 
if we are to know of its existence at all ; our relation 
to it must be that of immediate consciousness or 
feeling. Knowledge may afterwards take up this 
datum into its own forms, but knowledge stands always 
in this dependent or parasitical relation to reality. 
It is the picture or representation, the symbol of 
what is real; but as Fichte says, "Knowledge just 
because it is knowledge is not reality." It comes not 
first but second. As Schelling put it in his later writ 
ings " Not because there is thought is there existence, 
but because there is existence is there thought." Or 
as we might express the same thing, connecting it with 
our parallel between Hegel and Plato, real things are 
not the shadows of intellectual conceptions, but intel 
lectual conceptions are themselves the shadows of a 
real world. ]S"or is it allowable to reply that this is 
true only of human thought, and that the real world 
must still be admitted to be but the shadow of a 
divine or absolute thought. For, in the first place, 
God is included in the real world when that term is 
taken in its fullest extent, and the divine thoughts 
evidently presuppose the divine existence a divine 
being whose thoughts they are. And, secondly, though 
we may perhaps speak of the real world in the nar 
rower sense, as shadows or effects of the creative 
thoughts of God, the thoughts in that case are not 
active of themselves. " The real force," as Fichte says 
above, " does not lie in them " : it lies in the divine 
Being as living active Will. 

148 Hegelianism and Personality. 

But here again Hegel parts company with Fichte. 
Just as he apparently makes a systematic attempt to 
deduce existence from pure or abstract thought, so 
the divine existence itself tends to shrink in his hands 
into a priority of certain logical notions, to which, as 
we have seen in the foregoing lecture, a dynamic or 
creative efficiency is attributed. This fact which 
will be fully discussed in the lectures that follow 
appears to be a striking confirmation of the view 
taken above of Hegel s real meaning. 




IN the last lecture, Hegel s attempt to construct 
the world out of mere universals has been some 
what fully dealt with, and we have now to con 
sider more particularly the account which the 
system gives of God and man. Does it provide 
for their concrete reality, or is the general criti 
cism of the last lecture applicable here too ? Do 
we recognise the same tendency to sublimate 
reality into abstract universals ? 

The first thing that strikes an attentive stu 
dent is the way in which Hegel manages to evade 
giving any definite answer to the world-old ques 
tions which lie at the root of all philosophy the 
questions as to the nature of God and His relation 
to man. This may seem a strange assertion to 
make regarding a system in which there is so 

150 Hegelianism and Personality. 

much talk of the Absolute, so much talk of God, 
even under that more homely name. Yet I think 
it must be admitted that at the end Hegel leaves 
us in grave doubt both as to the mode of existence 
which he means to attribute to the Divine Being, 
and as to his deliverance on the question of im 
mortality, which is after all the most pressing 
problem of human destiny. I need appeal no 
further than to the example of Dr Stirling, than 
whom no man has studied Hegel more profoundly 
or more honestly. Dr Stirling, as is well known, 
gives his ruling on the side of a personal God and 
human immortality. But whence the need of 
this laborious assurance, if Hegel s statements had 
been forthright, and the inevitable consequence 
of his system ? Whence those waverings in the 
Secret before the final deliverance ; whence, even 
after that deliverance, the hesitation that leavens 
the last notes to Schwegler ? " Very obscure, 
certainly, in many respects," so we read in the 
Secret * " is the system of Hegel, and in none, 
perhaps, obscurer than in how we are to conceive 
God as a Subjective Spirit and man as a Subjec 
tive Spirit, and God and Man in mutual relation." 
If further evidence of this ambiguity were neces 
sary, it would be sufficient to refer to the history 

1 I. 244. 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 1 5 1 

of the Hegelian school in Germany, which shows 
us Christian Theist and logical Atheist alike ap 
pealing to the Master s words and claiming to be 
the true inheritor of his doctrine. 

Such ambiguity was possible just because the 
question, which Dr Stirling formulates as the 
question of " God as a Subjective Spirit and man 
as a Subjective Spirit " is one of concrete exist 
ences, whereas it is the peculiarity of the He 
gelian system that it deals throughout only with 
generals. Hegel speaks in strictness, from begin 
ning to end of his system, neither of the divine 
Self-consciousness nor of human self-conscious 
ness, but of Self-consciousness in general neither 
of the divine Spirit nor of human spirits, but 
simply of "Spirit." The process of the world is 
viewed, for example, as the realisation of spirit 
or self-conscious intelligence. But spirit is an 
abstraction ; intelligence is an abstraction, only 
spirits or intelligences are real. It is the same 
even when we come to absolute spirit a case 
which might seem at first sight to leave no loop 
hole for doubt. The forms of the German lan 
guage itself seem to abet Hegel in his evasion ; 
for though he talks (and by the idiom of the lan 
guage cannot avoid talking) of "der absolute 
Geist" (the absolute spirit), that by no means 

1 5 2 Hegelianism and Personality. 

implies, as the literal English translation does, 
that he is speaking of God as a Subjective Spirit, 
a singular intelligence. It no more implies this 
than the statement, " Man is mortal " (in German, 
"the man is mortal") implies a reference to a 
specific individual. The article goes with the noun 
in any case, according to German usage ; and 
" absolute spirit " has no more necessary reference 
to a concrete Subject than the simple " spirit " or 
intelligence which preceded it. Absolute spirit 
is said to be realised in art, in religion, in phil 
osophy ; but of the real Spirit or spirits in whom 
and for whom the realisation takes place we are 
not told, and are ultimately left to choose between 
two sharply opposed and irreconcilable positions. 
This, however, is precisely what was to be 
expected from a philosophy which treats notions 
as the ultimately real, and things or real beings 
as their exemplifications. Hegel has taken the 
notion or conception of self-consciousness Sub 
ject, as he calls it in his earlier writings, 
Spirit in his later and he conceives the whole 
process of existence as the evolution, and ulti 
mately the full realisation of this notion. But it 
is evident that if we start thus with an abstract 
conception, our results will remain abstract 
throughout. Spirit, when it reappears at the end 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 153 

of the development, will reappear, certainly, in a 
singular form, and we may imagine, therefore, 
that the reference is to the Divine Spirit ; but as 
a matter of fact it is the abstract singular with 
which we started, which means no more than 
" there is intelligence or spirit " " the form is 
realised." But where or in whom the realisation 
takes place, of this nothing is said, or can be said, 
along these lines. For an answer we are forced 
to fall back upon ordinary experience ; and there 
it may be said that the action is realised in our 
personal existence and in the products of human 
civilisation. But as to any further and more 
perfect realisation in a divine Spirit, recourse 
must be had, I fear, to more homely methods of 
inference than Hegel patronises. 

Spirit, or " the concrete Idea," was beyond doubt 
intended by Hegel to be the unity in which God 
and man shall both be comprehended in a more 
intimate union or living interpenetration than any ^ 

previous philosophy had succeeded in reaching. \s 
And this unity or interpenetration is to be asserted 
without prejudice to the play of difference 
without, therefore, falling back into a pantheistic 
identity of substance. It was an aim and task 
worthy of a philosopher, for both philosophy and 
religion bear ample testimony to the almost in- 

154 Hegelianism and Personality. 

superable difficulty of finding room in the universe 
for God and man. When speculation busies it 
self with the relation of these two, each in turn 
tends to swallow up the other. The pendulum of 
human thought swings continually between the 
two extremes of Individualism, leading to Athe 
ism, and Universalism, leading to Pantheism or 
Akosmisin. This insight into the history of the 
past makes it all the more the imperative task of 
further philosophising to seek a statement of their 
relations which can be accepted as true by the 
speculative and the moral consciousness alike. 
Hegel was fully alive to this obligation, and his 
scheme of reconciliation is in its conception a 
peculiarly grand one. It is no less than to ex 
hibit the whole process of the universe as so 
many necessary moments or stages in the tri 
umphant and all-embracing life of God. Nor 
need there be any hesitation in allowing that the 
execution of the conception, too, will always 
remain one of the great monuments of the human 
mind. Even in its error, the Hegelian system is 
one of those " splendid faults " which may serve 
for the instruction of generations. But it cannot 
be accepted as a solution of the problem. Spirit 
is not the real unity of the two sides which it is 
intended to be, and is put forward as being. 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 1 5 5 

Though it is called " the concrete Idea, " 1 we have 
no evidence that it is really concrete in the sense / 
of designating an actual existence ; it is concrete , 
only with reference to the " logical Idea " which 
preceded it. Spirit or Absolute Spirit is the 
ultimate product of that self -creative projection 
of the Idea into existence which has been already 
criticised ; and it may therefore be denominated 
the Idea as real. It is the real duplicate of the 
Idea, the notion of knowledge hypostatised. But 
we have abundantly seen the impossibility of reach 
ing a real existence by such means. " The con 
crete Idea " remains abstract, and unites God and 
man only by eviscerating the real content of both. 
Both disappear or are sublimated into it, but 
simply because it represents what is common to 
both, the notion of intelligence as such. They 
disappear, not indeed in a pantheistic substance, 

1 Werke, xv. 685, at the end of the History of Philoso 
phy, where it is also " die sich wissende Idee" "derGedanke der 
sich selbst fasst." Similarly, at the end of the Encyclopaedia 
(Werke, vii. 2, 468-469), Absolute Spirit is spoken of as "die 
sich wissende Vernunft," "die sich denkende Idee"; and it is 
said in the concluding sentence that " die ewig an und fiir sich 
seyende Idee sich ewig als absoluter Geist bethatigt, erzeugt und 
geniesst." Hence the term "the Idea" is often used, in a wider 
sense, to designate not the logical Idea specifically, but what 
Hegel would call " the concrete totality" of which his system is 
the explication. 

156 Hegelianism and Personality. 

but in a logical concept. If we scrutinise the 
system narrowly, we find Spirit or the Absolute 
doing duty at one time for God, and at another 
/time for man; but when we have hold of the 
* divine end we have lost our grasp of the human 
end, and vice versd. We never have the two 
together, but sometimes the one and sometimes 
the other a constant alternation, which really 
represents two different lines of thought in the 
system, and two different conclusions to which it 
leads. But the alternation is so skilfully managed 
by Hegel himself that it appears to be not alter 
nation but union. 

The truth of this statement will be best seen 
by pressing the question of the relation of God 
or the Absolute to the development sketched by 
Hegel in the Encyclopaedia. That development 
proceeds from Logic to Nature, from Nature to 
Spirit, and in Spirit through all the grades of the 
slowly - opening individual intelligence to the 
Objective Spirit of society and the State, and 
further still to the Absolute Spirit, as existent 
and known in art, religion, and philosophy. The 
crucial question, therefore, comes to be, what is 
the Subject here developed, and in what sense are 
we to take the term development ? According to 
Hegel s usage, the Subject of the development is 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 1 5 7 

spoken of in the singular number, as " a universal / 
individual," and is expressly styled the Absolute. 
The Absolute is said in this development to come 
to itself or to realise its own nature. This seems, 
therefore, the answer to our question, and the 
existence of God (to go no further) would appear 
to be placed beyond dispute by such a statement. 
Nor is there any lack of explicit assertions of the 
divine existence on Hegel s part. It is as if he 
was conscious of the misleading effect liable to be 
produced by the form in which he had cast his 
system, and was desirous of counteracting such 
mistaken impressions. He reminds us, therefore, 
ever and anon, that what appears as the end of 
the development is in reality also the beginning 
the living presupposition of the whole. Thought 
does not exist first as Logic, then as Nature, and 
finally in its completed form as Spirit ; it exists 
only as Spirit, which is thus the one res completa, 
or completed Fact, from which Logic and Nature 
are alike abstractions. Accordingly this triple ; 
development has been, after all, only an ideal 
analysis, a logical separation of elements which 
are never really separate, but exist only within 
the concrete life of Spirit. This is abundantly 
plain in the enigmatical but striking sayings that 
form the bulk of the Preface to the Phaenomen- 


> -^ 

1 58 Hegelianism and Personality. 

ology, some of which were quoted in a former 
lecture. 1 We meet the same thing in the larger 
Logic ; 2 and in the Philosophy of Religion, 
where he is applying or carrying over the results 
of the Logic, he takes even more pains to avoid 
misconception. In consequence of the logical 
evolution, he says, " We may have the misleading 
idea that God is represented there as result ; but 
if we are better acquainted with the subject, we 
know that result in this connection has the sense 
of absolute Truth. Hence that which appears as 
result, just because it is the absolute Truth, ceases 
to be something which results or draws its exist 
ence from anything else. . . . God is the 
absolutely True, is equivalent to saying that the 
absolutely True, in so far as it is the last, is just 
as much the first. It is, in fact, the True, only 
so far as it is not only beginning, but also end or 

1 At the beginning of the Third Lecture, pp. 80, 81 supra. 
Among other passages which might be quoted are such as the fol 
lowing : " The True is the becoming of itself, the circle which 
presupposes its end as its aim, and thus has its end for its begin 
ning " (Werke, ii. 15). " The Absolute is essentially result, i.e., 

-,y only at the end does it exist as what it truly is ; " but " the 
result is for that very reason the same as the beginning, for the 
beginning is to be taken as aim or purpose " (Ibid., pp. 16-17). 

2 E.g., in the passage formerly quoted : " We may very well 
say that every beginning must be made with the Absolute, just 
as all advance (that is, all dialectical development) is only its 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 1 59 

result in so far, namely, as it results from itself." x 
This is a point on which references might be in 
definitely multiplied. It is enough, therefore, in 
the meantime to accept Hegel s reiterated assur 
ance that the Absolute " absolute self-conscious 
Spirit" is eternally self-existent, the only Fact 
in the strict and full sense of that term. 

How, then, is this completed self-consciousness 
related to the development which constitutes the 
world-process ? If we look closely at the account 
Hegel gives, we find, I think, that there is no real 
connection between the two, and that the appear-^ 
ance of connection is maintained by the use of } . 
the term development in a double sense. Irufehfe 
first place, the term is used with the associations 
derived from its use in the Logic. We may, if we 
will, call the systematic placing of conceptions in 
the Logic a process or development ; and if we do 
so, it is perfectly apparent that there is nothing 
here analogous to a development in time. There 
is a system of abstract notions mutually connec 
ted, which permit us therefore to pass from one 
to another by logically___necessary but altogether 
timeless transitions. In fact, the whole system, 

1 Werke, xi. 48. So again (p. 132), "The result casts off 
its character of result. . . . Absolute Spirit, conscious of 
itself, is thus the First and the Last." Cf. also xii. 178. 

1 60 Hegelianism and Personality. 

as a system of abstractions, may be said to be out 
of time ; and the process of development, if we 
persist in calling it so, may also be spoken of as 
a timeless or eternal process. Now Hegel extends 
this idea of logically necessary and timeless trans 
ition to the process by which, in his own language, 
thought externalises itself in Nature, and returns 
to itself in Spirit. It is with logical necessity, we 
are told, that the logical Idea determines itself to 
be more than logic, and the same necessity drives 
it back upon itself out of its temporary alienation. 
Hence Hegel speaks of this also as an eternal 
process. Expressed in the language of religion, 
" God is the creator of the world ; it belongs to 
His being, to His essence, to be creator. . . . 
Creation is not an act undertaken once upon a 
time. What belongs to the Idea belongs to it as 
an eternal moment or determination." 1 " God is as 
Spirit essentially this revelation of Himself. He 
does not create the world once ; He is the eternal 
creator this eternal self -revelation, this actus. 
This is his notion, his definition. . . . God posits the 
other and sublates it in His eternal movement." 2 
" Without the world God would not be God." 3 

These expressions are all taken from the Phil 
osophy of Keligion/ but the doctrine is one which 
1 Werke, xii. 181. 2 Ibid., xii. 157. 3 Ibid., xi. 122. 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 1 6 1 

meets us throughout Hegel s works. The terms 
used are intended to convey the impression that 
the life of the world is included within the pro 
cess of the absolute self-consciousness, and that 
everything is thereby satisfactorily comprehended 
within the all-containing walls of the divine unity. 
But it is impossible at one and the same time 
to describe this process as necessary and eternal, 
and to include within it the real course of the 
world nature and history. If we choose the 
first alternative, then Hegel s Nature his sec 
ond stage is in no way different from Fichte s 
Non-Ego ; it is, indeed, as he himself describes 
it, simply the necessary negative or opposite in 
volved in self -consciousness. An opposition or 
duplicity of some sort may readily be deduced as 
necessary to the existence of self-consciousness as 
such; but that is very far from constituting a 
deduction of nature or the world as an infinitely 
varied concrete fact. Fichte s construction, as he 
himself admitted, was an ideal construction of the 
notion of self-consciousness, not an account of any 
real process or real existence; and it is exactly 
the same with Hegel s. This eternal process of 
creation or self-revelation is simply the general 
notion of self-consciousness as such. To treat the 
divine life as the perfect example of this was per- 

1 62 Hegelianism and Personality. 

haps not extraordinary ; certainly Hegel was not 
the first to do so. But it is simply matter of 
assertion on Hegel s part to draw Nature with its 
real processes and living forms within the circle, 
and to treat it all as simply the objective side of the 
divine Self-consciousness. And even if we were 
inclined to let that pass, his construction leaves 
no room for any other self besides the divine 
*f Spectator. In short, as we have had so often to 
remark in Hegel, there has been a daring but un 
justifiable stride from an ideal or notional analysis 
to real facts. Every Ego carries in itself a Non- 
Ego, but that does not justify us in sweeping all 
existence without more ado into the circle of a 
single Self-consciousness, identifying Nature with 
the Non-Ego of God, and simplifying the problem 
by extruding our own self -consciousness altogether. 
And it cannot be said that this is a misrepresenta 
tion of Hegel. If we are consistent with his posi 
tion here, there is room only for one Self-conscious- 
I ness ; finite selves are wiped out, and nature, de- 
[ prived of any life of its own, becomes, as it were, 
the still mirror in which the one Self -conscious 
ness contemplates itself. Such is the scheme of 
the universe contemplated from the divine point 
of view. But I must repeat that it is reached by 
hypostatising the notion of self-consciousness and 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 1 63 

not by any progress from reality. There is, in 
fact, no bridge between this hypostatised concep 
tion and the world of real things and real men. 

This comes out very plainly in Hegel s own 
account in the Philosophy of Eeligion/ where he 
begins, contrary to his usual practice, with the 
Absolute in the completed perfection of its 
notion. Adopting religious terminology, Hegel 
speaks here successively of the kingdom of the 
Father, the kingdom of the Son, and the kingdom 
of the Spirit. The kingdom of the Father is 
further described in the heading as " God in his 
eternal idea, in and for himself." He begins by 
arguing that God, thus contemplated in his eternal 
idea, is still in the abstract element of thought ; 
the idea is not yet posited in its reality. But 
he goes on, under this same head, to speak of the 
absolute diremption or distinction which must 
take place within this pure thought ; and thirdly, 
still under the same head, of God as Spirit, or the 
Holy Trinity. This " still mystery," as he calls 
it, is " the eternal truth " of philosophy ; it is " the 
pure idea of God." In fact, it just brings to light 
the essential nature of Mind or Spirit, as seen in 
the act of knowledge. " God, who eternally exists 
in and for Himself, eternally distinguishes Him 
self from Himself that is to say, eternally begets 

1 64 Hegelianism and Personality. 

Himself as His Son. But what thus distinguishes 
itself from itself has not the form of otherness 
or alien being; on the contrary, that which is 
distinguished is immediately identical with that 
from which it has been separated. God is Spirit ; 
no darkness, no tinge of foreign colour, passes into 
this pure light." 1 In this separation, the first 
that which distinguishes may be called the 
universal ; and the second that which is distin 
guished the particular : but the two determina- 
Vtions _are the same. The distinction is at once 
laid down and removed ; it is laid down as a dis 
tinction which is no real difference. "The fact 
that it is so constitutes the nature of Spirit, or, 
/ if we express it in the form of feeling, eternal 
Love. The Holy Ghost is this eternal Love. . . . 
Love is a distinction between two who are yet for 
one another absolutely without distinction. . . . 
God is Love i.e., he is this distinction and the 
nullity of this distinction a play of distinction 
in which there is no seriousness." 2 In spite, 
therefore, of what is said at the outset that God 
is contemplated here as still in the abstract ele 
ment of thought it does not seem possible to 
understand this elaborate construction as any 
thing else than an account of the divine Self-con- 

1 Werke, xii. 185. 2 Ibid., 187. 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 165 

sciousness as that really exists for God Himself. 
As Hegel does not fail to tell us himself, it is a 
speculative construction of the Trinity; and on 
Hegelian principles, the Trinity, so conceived, 
must undoubtedly be held to exist for itself and 
on its own account. 

The construction itself is not peculiar to Hegel. 
He traces what he calls anticipations of the doc 
trine not only in Aristotle s statements about 
knowledge, and in what he says of the vo^cns 
vorjo-ea)?, but more particularly in the Neo-Platonic 
doctrine of the Logos. Hegel s speculative Trin 
ity is, in fact, simply the rehabilitation of that an 
cient philosopheme which, at the end of the pro 
saic age of the Enlightenment, Lessing had laid 
his vivifying hand upon, 1 and made a present of 
to the new German philosophy. But whatever 
be its value as a speculative construction of the 
divine nature, what we have to observe here is 
that Hegel s object is to represent the life of the 
universe as a whole under the form of this per 
fect self-consciousness. It is essential to his pur 
pose, therefore, that the second stage of the pro 
cess what is here called the Son should be 
understood as equivalent to the world. The pas 
sages, indeed, asserting an eternal creation of the 

1 In his Education of the Human Race. 

1 66 Hegelianism and Personality. 

world as an essential element of the divine nature, 
are taken from this very section ; so that the in 
tention of identifying the Son and the world is 
obvious. But it is eventually found impossible 
to carry out this identification. The religious 
consciousness itself is the first to revolt against 
the representation of the world-process as a play 
of love with itself a play of distinction in which 
; there is no difference. If that were so, what 
would become of the consciousness of alienation, 
of sin, and the need of reconciliation, which Hegel 
accepts as the most fundamental feature of reli 
gious experience ? This points to a real differ 
ence which is not covered by such phrases as those 
quoted above. And accordingly, when he comes 
to treat, in the second place, of the kingdom of 
the Son, Hegel has to admit, though it fits in 
, badly with the preceding, that the Son and the 
world are not quite the same. In order to pass 
from the one to the other, the ideal difference 
must become real. " The Son must receive the 
determination of the other as such; he must exist 
as something free and on his own account, and 
must appear as something actual, beyond and 
without God, something existent." x And then 
we fall back upon a set of phrases almost identi- 

1 Werke, xii. 206. 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 167 

cal with those which met us before at the end of 
the Logic/ as an explanation of how real exist 
ence came to be. These need not be repeated 
here. 1 If we compare the world with the Son, 
Hegel proceeds, " the finite world is the side of 
difference emphasised against the side of unity ; 
it is a world which is outside of the truth a 
world in which the other has the form of being." 2 
But how is this accentuation of the otherness to 
be explained ? Whence this relative freedom and 
independence which makes the world so much 
more than the mere reflex of a theoretic con 
sciousness ? This is the very problem of the real 
world the very crux of the difficulty in Hegel s 
system. But, at the critical point, Hegel has 
nothing to offer us except the phrases from the 
Logic, and a quotation from Jacob Boehme. 
" This passing over into difference in the element 
of the Son has been expressed by Jacob Boehme 
in this wise : The first-begotten was Lucifer, the 
light-bearer, the bright, the clear one ; but he lost 
himself in his own imaginings; he asserted his 
independence, and fell." 3 This was not merely a 
casual figure, for it was repeated in the lectures 
on the Philosophy of Nature. 4 But in refer- 

1 Cf. supra, pp. 105, 106. 2 Werke, xii. 208. 

3 Ibid., xii. 207. 4 Ibid., vii. 1, 31. 

1 68 Hegelianism and Personality. 

ence to it, it is surely sufficient to say that, if 
Plato s myths indicate the break-down of scien 
tific explanation, there is a break-down much 
more complete in this borrowed myth of Hegel s. 1 
The apostasy and fall of Lucifer is, of course, 
a mythical explanation that explains nothing; 
but the figure seems at all events to embody the 
acknowledgment that the world-process and the 
eternal process described above as constituting 
the divine life are not one and the same. The 
latter is an eternal or timeless process, in which 
we do not work from point to point of time at 
all, but analyse the different elements of one 
conception. The former the world-process is 
a real process in time, in which one stage labo 
riously prepares the way for another and gives 
place to it. In short, to sum up what I have 
been urging, the self-consciousness of God here 

1 It is worth noting how closely the figure approaches to 
Schilling s explanation of the finite world, when he was at the 
turning-point of his philosophical career namely, as the result 
of an act of primal apostasy or revolt from God. In the trea 
tise where he first makes use of this idea Philosophy and 
Religion (1804) Schelling treats the world-process as a pro 
cess towards the culmination of this apostasy and separation 
in the independent self-assertion of the Ego. The world- 
process is thus definitely placed outside the inner circle of the 
divine Self-consciousness outside the life of God as a Subjec 
tive Spirit. 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 169 

constructed is simply the construction of the 
notion of self-consciousness as such ; and no evi 
dence is adduced of the existence of a Being- 
corresponding to the notion. If, however, we 
assume such a Being to exist, it offers no point 
of transition at which we might pass from it to 
the real world we know. We can describe its 
connection with that world in none but the old- 
fashioned figurative way, which it was the boast 
of the Hegelian philosophy to have stated at last \ 
in terms of pure reason. Strictly, indeed, if we 
start with this conception, as Hegel does in the 
Philosophy of Eeligion, the conception carries 
with it no hint of the existence of a finite world 
at all ; there is no escape from the charmed cirCte 
of the perfect Self, unless per saltum. -We fall 
back suddenly on our empirical knowledge, re 
versing henceforth our whole procedure, taking 
our stand on the facts of difference and imper 
fection, and treating the conception of God as 
the ideal of human effort. Hegel, then, either 
gives us no demonstration of the existence of 
God in the ordinary sense of His existence, 
that is to say, as a self-conscious being, a Sub 
jective Spirit ; or if, following the persistent bent 
of the system, we take the construction of the 
notion of self - consciousness for such a proof, 

1 70 Hegelianism and Personality. 

then such a construction is all-inclusive, and 
eliminates the time -process of the finite world 


But the time-process of the finite world is, after 
all, the reality with which we are immediately 
acquainted ; and, to do Hegel justice, it is here 
that his real strength lies. He grapples like a 
giant with the real matter of experience, in his 
determination to reduce it from a merely empir 
ical chaos to something in which the action of 
reason may be traced. It may be said with 
truth that it was Hegel s interpretation of his 
tory that made the success of his system, and 
gave it its wonderful hold over a full generation. 
It is here, and not in mere Neo-Platonic play with 
an abstract notion, that we have to seek his actual 
achievements. History lived in his hands anew, 
the past being no longer indifferent to the 
present, but linked to it indissolubly in one great 
process of development. It is enough for the 
present to indicate that this process is conceived 
as the realisation of self - conscious life in the 
widest sense the realisation of the external con 
ditions of such a life in society and the State, 
and the attainment through religion and philo 
sophy of that subjective satisfaction which comes 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 171 

from the insight into the rationality and self- 
centred completeness of the whole process. Such 
a perfect demonstration may be, in the nature of 
the case, a task too great for human powers. 
Doubtless, too, Hegel s interpretations and se 
quences may at times be arbitrary. The tend 
ency to construct history in accordance with a fore 
gone conclusion, rather than faithfully to construe 
the refractory facts, can hardly fail to be some 
times too strong for a man in whom ideas are 
much alive. But when Hegel is at his best, he 
is beyond such cavilling ; his profound knowledge 
of the past is matched by the sympathetic insight 
which enables him to go straight to the heart of 
the matter in hand and lay bare its inner signifi 
cance. So important is the historical side to 
Hegel, that it may almost be said that history is 
elevated in his hands into a philosophy. If the i 
side of Hegel s thought that we have been con 
sidering up till now exhibits him divorced from 
reality altogether, we see here the counter-tend 
ency so at least it seems at first, the tendency 
to merge philosophy in history, and to take the 
results of the historical process, just as they are, 
for philosophic truth. The absolute philosophy 
becomes in this way an absolute empiricism. The 
actual is the rational, the real is the ideal ; and 

172 Hegelianism and Personality. 

the absolute takes up its abode among men in 
the most unequivocal fashion. But this identi 
fication of human history with the divine life 
springs, as I propose to show, from the very same 
attempt to bring together the real process in 
time and the so - called eternal process of the 
absolute self -consciousness. The attempt has just 
been seen to collapse when made from the other 
side. We have now to test its success when 
made from the side of human history and finite 

Here it is all-important to note at the outset 
that, from the moment we touch Nature the 
perceptual elements of time and space we are no 
longer on logical ground "We are in the realm of 
facts, and are dealing with the infinitely varied 
particulars of concrete reality. It is no longer, 
therefore, a logical or timeless evolution that we 
I have before us, but a process of real development 
/ in time. In view of the double sense of the term 
development already adverted to, we should be at 
pains to make this point clear ; for the conversion 
of history into inetaphysic seems to depend upon 
a subtle confusion of theVtwo senses. In the 
first sense, as has been seen, development means 
(- simply logical implication. This sense we have 
in the Logic and in the construction of the Trin- 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 1 73 

ity as given above : Ego logically implies non-Ego. 
The second sense is the ordinary one, in which the 
presence of the element of time is essential. In 
a development so conceived the stages are sue- 
cessive, each stage preparing the way for the next, 
and then yielding place to it. Now it appears to 
me that, just as Hegel tries to embrace within 
logic the transition from logic to what is not 
logic, so he contrives, though not in so many 
words, to carry over into the real development 
the associations of the first or logical sense of the 
term. An impression is thus created that it is 
permissible to treat time as an unessential factor, 
which virtually disappears when the necessity of 
the evolution has been grasped. And accordingly, 
the way is prepared for identifying the long series 
of events in time with a single perfect and time- 
lessly existing Form. But even if we allow to 
Hegel that, in the Philosophy of Nature and the 
Philosophy of Spirit, we get not an actual history 
but a philosophised history that is to say, a state 
ment of the essential or necessary moments in the 
evolution freed from their time- vesture of detail- 
it must still be maintained that the original, the 
actual process, was one in which real being passed 
from phase to phase in time. Indeed we may 
go further and say that if we give up time we move 

1 74 Hegelianism and Personality. 

out of reality altogether. Nor need it be supposed 
that ample acknowledgment of the time-nature 
of the process is wanting in Hegel himself. 
" History in general," he says, " is the develop 
ment of Spirit in time." 1 And it is hardly 
necessary to refer to his impressive and often- 
quoted utterances in regard to the labour and the 

1 Philosophy of History, 75 (Sibree s translation). Such 
acknowledgments in Hegel will be found and this is intelli 
gible enough to refer to history as opposed to nature. In this 
passage he opposes history as the development of Spirit in time 
to Nature as the " development of the idea in space" Space, 
with the individuation and multiplicity to which it gives rise, 
seems, rather than time, to be the outstanding feature of 
Nature. Moreover, though Nature is undoubtedly in a pro 
cess of perpetual change, and so subject to the dominion of 
time, still change in Nature does not seem to carry with it the 
notion of progress or real development. The system of things 
seems to resolve itself into a few physical constants, which form 
the permanent basis of all Nature s transformations ; and thus 
change tends to take the form of cycles in which we recur at 
the end to our first starting-point. This, at least, was Hegel s 
view. "In Nature," he says, "there is nothing new under 
the sun, and the multiform play of its phenomena so far only 
induces a feeling of ennui. Only in those changes which take 
place within the realm of Spirit does anything new take place." 
(Phil, of History, 65.) " The world of mind and the world of 
matter," he says elsewhere, " continue to have this distinction, 
that the latter moves only in a recurring cycle, while in the 
former an advance or progress (Fortschreiten) certainly takes 
place." (Encyclopaedia, Wallace, 323.) This difference, em 
bodied in the current opposition between the natural and the 
historical sciences, does not, however, affect the character of 
natural changes as events in time. 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 175 

pain the slow travail, as one might say under 
taken by the spirit of the world " the tremendous 
labour of world-history," " the sacrifices that have 
ever and anon been laid on the mighty altar of 
the earth through the vast lapse of ages." x What 
becomes of the whole Philosophy of History if we 
deny a real development in time ? Or where shall 
we find a place, in that case, for the History of 
Philosophy and for the historical development of 
Art and Eeligion, so fully treated by Hegel ? All 
these disciplines necessarily assume that we are 
dealing not with a logical process but with a real 
development in time. And it is implied in all 
real development that, though the less perfect is 
destined to give place to the more perfect, yet the 
less perfect exists in its own time and place no 
less than the more perfect to which it leads up. 2 
Accepting, then, these characteristics of history 

1 See the prefaces to the Phenomenology and the Philosophy 
of History. 

2 Every form except the highest must, of course, according 
to Hegel s phraseology, be "untrue," that is to say, in 
adequate to its notion. But in spite of that it is none the 
less actual, and to be reckoned with as such. It may either co 
exist with the more perfect form, as often happens, or, if it has 
disappeared, still it did exist, and formed the real condition of 
the present existence of that which has supplanted it. This 
pretension, as Hamilton would have called it this stretching 
out of the contents of reality in time makes it impossible to 
resume all existence in one perfect form, as Hegel tends to do, 

1 76 Hegelianism and Personality. 

as a real development, let us look shortly at 
Hegel s philosophical conclusions. Nature is a 
process towards spirit: it is the becoming of 
spirit, and is only intelligible when related to its 
end or outcome, which is, therefore, at the same 
time its immanent or indwelling purpose. Spirit 
appears at first as the sensuous or merely natural 
consciousness a centre of sensation and desire, 
but otherwise hardly separated, as it were, from 
the nature in which it is rooted. History that 
is, the history of humanity, of civilisation is the 
record of the gradual unfolding of the potential 
ities of reason that lay concealed within this 
insignificant and unpromising beginning. 1 " The 
destiny of the spiritual world and the final cause 
of the world at large," Hegel declares to be, " the 
consciousness of its own freedom on the part of 
spirit, and, ipso facto, the reality of that free 
dom." 2 Out of the conflicting passions and in 
terests of men there is built up built up ~by 

when he dismisses this and the other phenomenon from con 
sideration on the plea that they are " untrue." 

1 "History constitutes the rational necessary course of the 
World-spirit that spirit whose nature is always one and the 
same, but which unfolds this one nature in the phenomena of 
the world s existence." " History exhibits spirit in the pro 
cess of working out the knowledge of that which it is poten 
tially." Philosophy of History, 11 and 18. 

2 Philosophy of History, 20. 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 1 77 

them, acting as the unconscious instruments of 
reason that stable system of law and custom 
which sets bounds to individual lawlessness and 
caprice. This edifice of institutions, laws, and 
customs goes by the name of the Objective Spirit ; 
in it spirit is, as it were, externalised, and takes 
visible shape before us. The perfect form of this 
edifice is the rationally organised state. Only 
within the bounds of ordinance thus set can the 
true destiny of spirit be realised; that is, only 
here can it come to full consciousness of itself. 
Universal history traces the rise and fall of states 
i.e., of the different national forms in which the 
Ideal of Freedom has been approximately realised, 
leading us eventually to the culminating, and, as 
it would seem, perfect realisation of the Idea in 
the modern German constitution. The succes 
sive forms pass away, being judged, as it were, 
and superseded by the further progress of history ; 
but the whole process is "the unfolding and 
realisation of the universal spirit : " 1 or, as it is 
expressed in the Phenomenology, " the World- 
spirit had the patience to traverse these forms 
in the long extent of time, and to undertake the 
tremendous labour of world-history, in the course 
of which he infused into each form all of his own 

1 "VVerke, viii. 431 (from the Philosophy of Law). 

1 78 Hegelianism and Personality. 

content which it was capable of holding ; and 
he did so because by no less a labour could he 
attain to a consciousness of his own nature." x 
This consciousness is practically realised in the 
state which Hegel terms the divine Idea as it 
exists on earth. 2 In it, he says, " the true atone 
ment or reconciliation is made objective the 
atonement which unfolds the State as the image 
and reality of reason, in which self-consciousness 
finds in organic development the reality of its 
own inmost knowing and willing." 3 The same 
atonement or reconciliation is realised in the 
subjective sphere of feeling, through religion, and 
in the element of knowledge through philosophy. 
In the Hegelian philosophy, Spirit at last reaches 
complete insight into its own nature complete 
self - consciousness. This perfect self-knowledge 
it is which supplies us with the key to the past, 
enabling us to trace an orderly progress in what 
were otherwise an aimless succession of mutu 
ally contradictory views. Unrolled in the light 
of consummation, the history of philosophy ap 
pears as " the history of thought finding itself." 4 

1 Werke, ii. 24. 2 Philosophy of History, 41. 

3 Werke, viii. 440 (Philosophy of Law). 

4 Die Geschichte von dem Sichselbstfinden des Gedankens. 
"Werke, xiii. 15. 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 1 79 

" The time is certainly long which Spirit requires 
to work out philosophy for itself. But as regards 
the slowness of the World-spirit, we must reflect 
that he is not pressed. He has no need of hurry, 
and has time enough : a thousand years are be 
fore Thee as one day." x 

The substitution of the obviously more con 
venient term "Weltgeist," or World - spirit, in 
several of these passages, need not obscure the 
fact that Hegel knows but one subject of the 
development. The real development here traced 
is a development of what he calls in the Phae- 
nomenology " the universal individual " or " the 
universal self ; " 2 it is the Absolute itself which 
arrives at full self-consciousness in the absolute 
philosophy. The Absolute is this process and 
its culmination. And it will be noted that just 
as this view of the Absolute comes into prom 
inence, the other view of it as existing timelessly 
in static perfection recedes into the background, 
and becomes unreal. It is, however, the very 
gist and heart of the Hegelian philosophy that 
these two are one. The Absolute of the system 
is professedly a reconciliation of the divine and 
the human, the infinite and the finite, aspects 
of existence ; and in order to achieve this unity, 

1 Werke, xiii. 49. 2 Ibid., ii. 22 and 25. 

1 80 Hegelianism and Personality. 

(Hegel is bound to represent the subject of the 
, development and the perfect subject which 

V forms the presupposition of the whole develop 
ment as one and the same subject. He turns 
round, therefore, to assure us that what thus 
appears under the form of time exists really in 
an eternal present. For example, he adds to the 
quotation made above : " A thousand years are 
before Thee as one day: He has time enough, 
just because He is Himself out of time ; because 
He is eternal." 

The appearance of unity is thus gained by 
pressing the philosophical or Aristotelian view of 
evolution, which implies the presence of the End 
in the beginning. The Idea, Hegel would seem to 
say, is the eternal, which possesses itself equally 
in each of its forms to which, therefore, the time- 

- / evolution is in a sense indifferent. But, in point 
of fact, this application of the philosophical notion 
I of development does not give a true rendering of 
the doctrine. Hegel s view practically identifies 
the different stages ; to be implicit and to be ex 
plicit makes no real difference to what may be 
called the developing subject. In the real world, 
however, this does constitute a difference to the 
developing subject, and without this real difference 
the notion of development would disappear alto- 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 1 8 1 

gether. The oak-subject is different when it is an 
acorn from what it is when it is a full-grown oak ; 
the human subject is different as a child from the 
same subject as the full-grown philosopher. And 
what is more, only one stage is real at a time. 1 
The subject of these transformations does not 
exist as the perfect form while it is still strug 
gling towards it ; it does not exist as the evepyeia, 
while it is still in the 5iW/u9, and when it has 
attained the evGpyeia, it exists no longer as the 
Suva/us. The acorn does not exist as the oak-tree 
while it is still the acorn, but only afterwards 
when it has grown into the oak ; and then it no 
longer exists as the acorn. If we apply the same 
idea to the process of the universe, and treat it as 
the evolution of a single subject or Universal 
Self, we must, if the process is to be a real one 
and to correspond to the notion of development, 
have a self which grows from less to more a self, 
at least, which is somehow different at A from 
what it is at B, and still more different from what 
it is at its culmination in Z. We must either 

1 This is quite consistent with saying that nothing of the 
past is lost. As Hegel puts it, " The grades which spirit seems 
to have left behind, it still possesses in the depth of its present." 
But they do not exist now in the same sense in which they 
existed then ; their present existence is only in the form of 
memory, conscious or organic. 

1 8 2 Hegelianism and Personality. 

admit a growing Absolute of this description, or 
say that the Absolute exists only in eternal per 
fection at Z, and that A, B, C, D, and the rest 
are the result of something very like subjective 
illusion. Passages might be quoted from Hegel 
which apparently make for the latter view. Per 
haps the strongest of these is in the Encyclopedia/ 
where he says : " Objectivity is, as it were, only a 
hull or wrapping under which the Notion lies con 
cealed. . . . The consummation of the infinite End 
or Aim consists, therefore, merely in removing the 
illusion which makes it seem yet unaccomplished. 
. . . This illusion it is under which we live, and 
it alone supplies the actualising force on which 
our interest in the world depends. In the course 
of its process the Idea makes itself that illusion by 
setting up an antithesis to confront itself, and its 
action consists in getting rid of the illusion which 
it has created." 1 But such a passage does not 
fairly represent the general tenor of his thought : 
this morally paralysing view of existence repre 
sents rather a rebound on Hegel s part from the 
opposite extreme of a growing God. For, as he 
insists himself so strongly in his criticisms of 
Fichte, it is absurd to place the reality of the 

1 Wallace, 304. 

Hegel s Doctrine of God and Man. 183 

universe in an End which is nowhere as yet 
realised. On precisely the same grounds, it is a 
perversion of the notion of immanent develop 
ment to argue as if a development could be ex 
plained by a principle which, at the outset of the 
development, existed, as the saying is, only poten 
tially. If the completed self-consciousness is o 
be in truth the actuality the moving and direct- ., 
ing power of the whole process, then it must 
exist as such throughout the process. But in 
that case it cannot be identified, as Hegel iden 
tifies it, with the subject which undergoes devel 
opment, and which distinctly does not exist in 
completeness except at the end of the process, if, 
indeed, then. In other words, we have not onejx- 
subject, but two. To fall back upon one simple 
instance which, of course, is only an analogue 
the full-grown oak gives rise to the fresh acorn, 
but the oak-subject is not therefore to be iden 
tified with the acorn-subject which passes from 
stage to stage, and eventually becomes an oak 
itself. Similarly, although we may assume a 
divine Subject as in some, to us incomprehensible, 
way, the author and inspirer of the time-develop 
ment which is for us the immediately real, it no 
wise follows that the divine Subject is to be iden- 

1 84 Hegelianism and Personality. 

tified with the Subject which undergoes this de 
velopment or rather, we should say, with the 
innumerable subjects of this development, for there 
;is no one Subject of history, and to speak of the 

(World-spirit as such is at most a pardonable 
figure of speech. 



I ENDEAVOURED in the preceding Lecture to point 
out two lines of thought in Hegel. The one starts 
from the idea of God, which is Neo-Platonically 
constructed as Trinity in unity, but which is 
simply the idea of knowledge as such, treated as 
a real being. There is no passage from this w 
hypostatised conception to the facts of the finite 
world. The second line of thought starts with 
these facts, and treats the historical development 
of humanity as the process in which the Absolute 
comes to itself. These two lines of thought, I 
argued, are not successfully brought together by 
Hegel, and the attempt to bring them together 
involves a violation of the true notion of develop 
ment. One of these views was bound to give way 
to the other; and it was only natural that the 

1 86 Hegelianism and Personality. 

strength which the second view derived from its 
contact with reality should enable it to triumph 
over the first. This is observable in Hegel him 
self, and still more in the history of the school. 
In spite of a certain mystic or Platonic vein, 
there never lived a man more wedded to hard 
fact than Hegel ; and he had an instinctive aver 
sion to seeking the Divine in some ideal beyond 
the confines of the world that now is. God must 
be found here, he argued, or not at all. Hence 
he came more and more strongly to insist upon 
the fact that the revelation and the reality of the 
Divine existence is contained in history. He 
undoubtedly insists in this connection on much 
that is true ; but when the position is trans 
formed by some of his ablest followers into a 
frank identification of the Absolute with man, 
we are face to face with a consequence of the 
Hegelian argument to which attention has not 
yet been called. 

This is, that if we identify the Absolute with 
the subject of the development, we are unable to 
rise higher than man s actual achievement, and 
are therefore inevitably led to put man in the 
place of God. God or the Absolute is represented 
in the system as the last term of a development 
into which we have a perfect insight ; we our- 

Hegelianism as an A bsolute System. 187 

selves, indeed, as absolute philosophers, are equally 
the last term of the development. It is impos 
sible, therefore, to discriminate in the account 
given between the absolute philosopher and God. 
The philosopher s knowledge is God s knowledge 
of himself ; and, with some reservations as to par 
ticularity and contingency, this knowledge is 
apparently put forward as perfectly adequate. 
No provision is made, no room seemingly is left, 
for any further knowledge of himself on God s 
part. The Philosophy of Law, of History, of 
^Esthetics, of Eeligion, and the History of Philo 
sophy itself, all conclude in the same style. The 
Absolute is attained in each of these spheres, 
being simply man s record and ultimate attain 
ment along these various lines. " God is not a . 
Spirit beyond the stars," says Hegel. " He is 
Spirit in all spirits " * a true thought finely j 
expressed. But if the system leaves us without 
any self-conscious existence in the universe be 
yond that realised in the self-consciousness of 
individual philosophers, the saying means that 
God, in any ordinary acceptation of the word, is 
eliminated from our philosophy altogether. Thus 
translated, it is no longer fine and no longer true. 
The same tendency is observable throughout the 
1 Werke, xi. 24. 

1 88 Hegelianism and Personality. 

Philosophy of Keligion/ where we should natu 
rally expect to meet it least. The self-existence 
i of God, if I may so speak, seems to disappear; 
I God is begotten, and has His only reality in the 
I consciousness of the worshipping community. 
Evidently this is to renounce the idea of any 
thing like a separate personality or self-conscious 
ness in the Divine Being. Whether Hegel had 
himself explicitly renounced the idea, it is perhaps 
impossible to say with certainty. Many students 
from his own day till now have refused to draw 
this conclusion from his writings, finding in them, 
as I am far from denying, numerous passages 
which seem to support their view. But to me 
most of these utterances have a doubtful ring. 
The drift of Hegel s mind appears to me, on the 
whole, to be in the opposite direction ; and the 
religious or theological form into which he often 
/throws his thought I cannot regard as other than 
I a metaphorical expression of positions which, in 
j themselves, have no affinity with the dogmas in 
/ question. In a notable passage in the Philosophy 
of Eeligion, he frankly compares his own treat 
ment of the Christian dogmas to the procedure of 
the Neo-Platonists in infusing a philosophic mean 
ing into the popular mythology which preceding 
thinkers of a rationalistic turn had altogether cast 

Hegelianism as an Absolute System. 189 

aside. 1 But whatever may have been Hegel s 
personal position in the matter, the negative view 
taken by his most daring and perhaps his ablest 
followers the Hegelians of the Left, as they 
were called would appear to be the only one for 
which, in consistency, the system has room. For 
as water cannot rise higher than its source, so the 
development cannot go further than the philo 
sopher himself. As long as we claim to have an 
absolute philosophy in the Hegelian sense, so long 
must we identify our own thought with the 
divine, and treat the Absolute as a mere ex 
pression for human achievement in its different 

This consequence was frankly avowed by the 
Hegelians of the Left. The Absolute realises 
itself, they declared, only in the human indi 
vidual. Behind or beside the individuals, there 
exists only the logical Idea, in which we are 
asked to recognise the ultimate self-sustaining 
reality of the universe. 2 The Absolute, accord 
ingly, is not a complete and eternally existent 

1 Werke, xi. 95. 

2 Hegel himself, it may be remarked, had spoken of the 
logical Idea as "the realm of truth as it is without hull or 
wrapping in and for itself" "the exposition of God as he is 
in his eternal essence, before the creation of nature or any 
finite spirit." Ibid., iii. 36. 


1 90 Hegelianism and Personality. 

self-consciousness, but an impersonal system of 
thought. This is the only thing permanent in 
phenomena ; from it the phenomenal world 
arises, and into it it returns. In man this im 
personal Absolute this eternal system of ab 
stract thoughts comes to consciousness of itself. 
Human persons are, as it were, the foci in which 
the impersonal life, of thought momentarily con 
centrates itself, in order to take stock of its own 
contents. These foci appear only to disappear in 
. the perpetual process of this realisation. 

The independent existence here attributed to 
abstract thoughts or categories makes this result 
one of the most remarkable theories on record. 
The categories not only exist of themselves, but 
they creatively give rise to the phenomenal world 
of men and things. In comparison with this 
apotheosis of logic, materialism itself seems 
mildly reasonable. Yet these Hegelians of the 
Left men like Feuerbach, Euge, Strauss, Bruno 
Bauer, and others were only taking literally 
Hegel s own statements about the Logic, and 
abolishing that supreme Spirit, for whom, so long 
as the Absolute is identified with the subject of 
the process, there is really no room in the system. 
Indeed we may go further, and say that this is 
the natural outcome of a theory which endeav- 

Hegelianism as an Absolute System. 191 

ours to construct reality out of the logical Idea. 
What other result could we expect than that 
both God and man, as real beings, would vanish 
back into their source, leaving us with the logi 
cal Idea itself as the sole reality ? This is as 
serted in so many words of God. Man, of course, 
as a phenomenal existence, is in evidence, and 
cannot be simply denied ; but he, too, is robbed 
of all true personality, and appears only as the 
vanishing centre of a system of knowledge, an 
exemplification of the form of consciousness in 
general. The Idea is all in all. Truly, as Dr 
Stirling says, the Idea so conceived is " a blind, ,| 
dumb, invisible idol," and the theory is " the jf. 
most hopeless theory that has ever been offered / 
to humanity." 1 And it is instructive to notice 
how the most absolute Idealism and Eationalism 
historically transformed itself into its diametrical 
opposite into the most thoroughgoing Material 
ism and Sensualism. The process may be traced 
in Feuerbach, Strauss, and others. For if the 
Idea realises itself in man alone, then man, as 
this sensuous individual, is the only reality which 
in any wise concerns us. The metaphysical pri 
ority assigned to the logical system pales before 
the imperative reality of the senses. " The new 

1 Schwegler, 474 and 435. 

1 92 Hegelianism and Personality. 

philosophy," says Feuerbach, laying down the 
lines of the Philosophic der Zukunft, " has for 
its subject not the Ego, not absolute, that is, 
abstract, Spirit, in short not Eeason in dbstracto, 
but the actual and whole essence of man. The 
reality, the subject of reason, is only man. Man 
thinks, not the Ego, not Eeason. The new phil 
osophy rests therefore on the divinity (Gfottheit), 
that is, the truth, of the whole man. If the old 
philosophy said, Only the rational is the true 
and the real/ the new philosophy says, on the 
other hand, only the human is the true and the 
real ; for only the human is the rational. Man 
is the measure of reason." x A personal God to 
this philosophy is no more than man s projection 
of his own image upon the screen of his imagina 
tion. Immortality is likewise a delusion ; to the 
individual belongs only the sensuous present. 
As Idealism does not recognise the distinction of 
popular philosophy between the body and the 
soul, the reality of man is thus, practically, 
identified with his bodily existence, and we pass 
to a consistent Sensationalism and an essentially 
materialistic view of the universe. 2 A similar 

1 Philosophic der Zukunft, 51, quoted by Harms. 

2 A logical Idealism of the Hegelian stamp lies, in truth, in 
some respects very near to Materialism. The categories, it is no 

Hegelianism as an Absolute System. 193 

transition to Materialism, or something indis 
tinguishable from it, achieved itself more slowly 
in Strauss. Strauss began his career as one of 
the ablest and clearest of Hegel s followers. His 
last book, The Old Faith and the New a very 
interesting personal record is to all intents and 
purposes a confession of Materialism. But, in 
deed, what is the difference between Idealism 
and Materialism, if in the one case human existj 
ence is the outcome of an unconscious system of 
logical conceptions, and in the other the outcome *" 
of unconscious matter ? In the latter case, mai 
is the chance result of mechanical laws ; in the 
former, the process is said to be controlled by a 
logical necessity. But in both cases the evolu 
tion is for us and for us alone it exists in a , 
true sense aimless. It is a spectacle constantly / 
repeated, but it discards and tramples under foot / 
those conscious ends which alone are to be/ 
deemed worthy of attainment. If we take awa y 
from Idealism personality, and the ideals that 
belong to personality, it ceases to be Idealism in 
the historic sense of that word. To call it so is 

doubt asserted, form the immanent reality of the material uni 
verse ; and therefore, when man arises out of Nature, it is as 
if thought came to itself. But the frank derivation of man 
from Nature holds its own, while the unsubstantial basis of 
categories falls altogether into the background. 


194 Hegelianism and Personality. 

merely confusing the issues, for it has joined 
hands with the enemy, and fights on the other 
side of the field. 

A very simple reflection, however, suffices to 
deliver us from these results. We have only to 
remember that to speak of the self-existence of 
thoughts, without a thinker whose they are, is to 
use words without a meaning; and the whole 
fabric of this Hegelianism of the Left collapses. 
Nevertheless, as has been contended, it has the 
consistency of the system on its side, so long as 
we identify the Absolute with our knowledge of 
the Absolute, and take the process of human 
development as in very truth the evolution of 
God. Hegel s determination to have one process 
and one subject was the original fountain of 
error. This identification, therefore, is what we 
must begin by denying. The development we 
can trace is not the development of God, but of 
man s thoughts about God a development, there 
fore, which does not affect the existence of their 
object. In the history of philosophy, for ex 
ample, who can believe that we have the suc 
cessive stages by which God arrived at a know 
ledge of Himself, complete knowledge being dated 
from the beginning of the present century ? 
What we really have is the history of man s 

Hegelianism as an Absolute System. 195 

repeated efforts to solve the problem of the uni 
verse a history which, even from this point of 
view, we might not unreasonably expect to show 
marks of progress and increasing insight ; though 
even at the end, if we are honest with ourselves, 
the insight is so dim that the title of absolute 
knowledge applied to it has the sound of Mephis- 
tophelian mockery. It is, if possible, even more 
plainly so in the case of religion. What is re 
ligion, if not an attitude of the subjective spirit 
of man ? We are here altogether on human 
ground. And the same is true of art, and of 
history itself the history of civilisation, of states 
and empires. Is it not effrontery to narrow 
down the Spirit of the universe to a series of 
events upon this planet ? Can we believe, as 
Lotze puts it, "that the creative cause of the 
universe issued from its darkness into the light 
of manifestation only by the narrow path of 
earthly nature, and after having formed man and 
human life again retreated into infinity, as if 
with all its ends accomplished ? For this dia 
lectical idyll we must substitute an outlook into 
the boundlessness of other worlds, not with the 
vain effort to know the unknowable, but with the 
view of letting the boundlessness of this back 
ground mark out the narrow limits of the realm 

1 96 Hegelianism and Personality. 

of existence actually knowable by us." 1 It seems 
strange, he adds, in the Metaphysic, that these 
Idealists, though fully aware of the Copernican 
discoveries and living under their influence, 
"should yet be able to persuade themselves 
that the spiritual development of their Abso 
lute was confined to the shores of the Mediter 
ranean." 2 Surely the explicit statement of such 
results is sufficient to discredit them. Only 
under cover of an ambiguous phrase can they 
have been believed. 

It is perhaps in ethics and politics, which are 
essentially sciences of the ideal the ought-to-be 
that the malign influences of Hegel s attitude 
are most clearly seen. I am fully aware while 
saying this, that it is precisely in these spheres 
that some of Hegel s best work was done. But 
while recognising the solidity and strength of his 
writing on these subjects, it is impossible to shut 
our eyes to the assumption of finality made here 
as elsewhere. And it is natural that in this more 
concrete sphere the assumption should appear 
more grossly at variance with the facts of the 
case. There are few more constantly recurring 
polemics in Hegel than that which he carries on 

1 Lotze, Microcosmus I. 458 (English translation). 

2 Metaphysic, 379 (Clarendon Press). 

Hegelianism as an Absolute System. 197 

against Fichte s Sollen, the attempt, that is, to 
interpret the universe entirely through the notion 
of duty, something that is not, but is to be. As 
against this conception Hegel repeatedly tells us 
that " the Idea is not so feeble as merely to have 
a right or an obligation to exist without actually 
existing." 1 And he is fond of justifying his 
position by reference to the religious conscious 
ness. " The religious mind," he says, " views the 
world as ruled by Divine Providence, and there 
fore as corresponding with what it ought to be ; " 
or in more technical language, the Will must re 
turn to the point of view of Intelligence or cogni 
tion, which " apprehends the world as the notion 
actual." 2 " It is easier," he says in the Philosophy 
of History, "to discover a deficiency in individuals, 
in states, and in Providence, than to see their real 
import. This subjective fault-finding is easy. . . . 
Age generally makes men more tolerant ; youth 
is always discontented. . . . The insight, then, ; 
to which philosophy is to lead us is, that the real 
world is as it ought to be." 3 

Now there is no difficulty in admitting that 
when we try speculatively to comprehend all 
existence within our view, it is impossible to rest 

1 Wallace, 9. - Ibid., 322, 323. 

3 English translation, 38. 

198 Hegelianism and Personality. 

in Fichte s position. This has been already urged 
in a former lecture, and it was eventually admit 
ted by Fichte himself in the emphasis which he 
laid in his later writings upon the actuality of 
God as distinct from the process of becoming. 
Both this later position of Fichte s, therefore, and 
the religious point of view to which Hegel ap 
peals, affirm the reality of the Ideal ; but there 
seems to be a not unimportant difference between 
the sense in which they do so and that in which 
Hegel asserts it. Hegel s invocation of " the reli 
gious mind " here is perhaps hardly fair. It is 
quite true that the religious man views the world 
as ruled by Divine Providence, but this view is 
surely to be interpreted as a faith or belief a 
faith which he clings to, may one not say, often 
with a species of desperation in the face of anom 
alies and difficulties which he cannot pretend to 
solve. This faith is his last refuge against com 
plete moral scepticism ; but he does not profess to 
see the plan of the Divine government. Still less 
does he make any assertion of the perfection of 
the actual world, such as Hegel puts in his 
mouth. On the contrary, the religious man is 
almost always found painting the present state of 
things in the darkest colours ; and, if his religion 
be real, this is the source of his energy as a 

Hegelianism as an Absolute System. 199 

practical reformer. Hegel s position is essentially 
different. His whole theory leads him up to the 
assertion that here too, just as in knowledge, the 
circle is closed, finality is attained; the ideal is 
real, and we see that it is so. 

This position is most clearly expressed in the 
Philosophic des Eechts/ published in 1820. But 
the acceptance, nay, the worship, of mere fact 
which it consistently involves is so destructive of 
all ethical ideals, and the air of almost brutal 
Actualism so fatal to further progress, that, when 
Hegel slipped into the unqualified assertion of it 
in the Preface to this work, the utterance roused 
something like a storm of obloquy. It is here 
that the famous saying occurs " What is 
rational is real, and what is real is rational ; " 
and it is followed by other passages equally 
strong. " This treatise is intended to be nothing 
else than an attempt to comprehend and to exhibit 
the State as an existence essentially rational. 
As a philosophical work, it must most carefully 
avoid all construction of a State as it ought to be. 
The instruction which it may contain does not lie 
in instructing the State as to the form in which 
it ought to be, but simply in teaching how the 
State, the moral universe, is to be cognised. The 
task of philosophy is to understand the what is, 

2OO Hegelianism and Personality. 

for what is is reason." x Thus on his recon 
struction or transcript of man s creation, Hegel 
echoes the verdict of the Divine Workman, when 
He saw everything He had made, and, behold, it 
was very good. The resemblance is striking, and 
was dictated by the whole tenor of his philos 
ophy. But such praise applied to the Prussian 
State in the year 1820 seems to have almost too 
strong an infusion of the tolerance of age which 
he commends as the insight of true philosophy. 
We can scarcely wonder that his enemies at 
tributed such utterances to no loftier source than 
the optimistic conservatism of the man with 
whom the world has dealt liberally and who sees 
his own life -purpose achieved. Hegel was 
branded as a reactionary, as the " official " phil 
osopher of the Prussian State, whose business it 
was to rehabilitate the actual by decking it out 
in the trappings of rational necessity. In this 
his enemies were certainly unjust. The state 
ments in question are not insincere opportunisms ; 
they are the genuine outcome of one whole side 
of Hegel s thought. That side was uppermost 
when he wrote the Philosophy of Law, and they 
seem to have slipped from him almost uncon 
sciously in this strong and unqualified form. 
1 Werke, viii. 18. 

Hegelianism as an Absolute System. 201 

The clamour, however, to which this Preface 
gave rise, roused Hegel to a sense of his im 
prudence, and to an acknowledgment that his 
statements were not to be taken in their frank 
literal meaning. In the Introduction to the 
Encyclopaedia x he expressly replied to his 
critics in a passage which reads very like a 
palinode. He begins by sheltering himself be 
hind the religious doctrine already referred to, 
and then proceeds as follows : " Existence is in 
part mere appearance, and only in part reality. 
In common life, any freak or error, evil and 
everything of the nature of evil, as well as every 
miserable and transient existence whatever, gets 
in a careless way, and as it were by accident, the 
name of reality. But even our ordinary feelings 
are enough to forbid an accidental existence get 
ting the emphatic name of a reality. When I 
spoke of the real, it might have been understood 
in what sense I used the term, seeing that in a 
detailed Logic I had treated among other things 
of Reality, and had accurately distinguished it 
not only from the contingent, which, after all, has 
also existence, but even from the ordinary cate 
gories of mere existence (Dasein, Existenz und 

1 A second edition of the Encyclopaedia appeared in 1827, 
a third in 1830. 

202 Hegelianism and Personality. 

andern Bestimmungeri)." " The understanding 
prides itself/ he proceeds, " upon its Ought/ 
which it takes especial pleasure in prescribing on 
the field of politics ; . . . for who is not acute 
enough to see a great deal in his own surround 
ings which is really far from being what it ought 
to be ? But such acuteness is mistaken in the 
conceit that when it examines these objects, and 
pronounces what they ought to be, it is dealing 
with the interests of philosophical science. Phil 
osophy has to do only with the Idea with a 
reality, therefore, of which those objects, institu 
tions, and conditions represent only the outward 
and superficial side." x 

The Preface does not mean, therefore, that 
"whatever is is right." Not the real in the 
ordinary sense of that word is the rational, but 
only the truly real that which reason justifies 
as such. The Idea realises itself, but still the 
external fabric cannot be taken as its complete 
or even consistent realisation. In short, the real, 
so far as it is rational, is rational; the rest we 
leave out of account. We deny the term real of 
that which is not rational. Surely this is to 
reduce the position to an empty tautology. 

This equivocation between " the real " and " the 

1 Werke, vi. 10, 11 ; Wallace, 8, 9. 

Hegelianism as an Absolute System. 203 

truly real" is more, however, than an isolated quib 
ble on Hegel s part to extricate himself from an 
uncomfortable position. It is not a piece of con 
scious insincerity ; for we can hardly impute to 
him the stony-hearted optimism and the pecu 
liarly gross empiricism which a literal rendering 
of his words would imply. He probably meant 
to say substantially what he afterwards explained 
that he had meant namely, that on the whole a 
purpose of reason is visible in the social and legal 
structures of mankind. Philosophy, working on 
the great scale, can afford to neglect exceptions, 
misgrowths, positive evils. In itself, this is per 
haps an intelligible and justifiable position, but 
is it one which is open to an absolute philosophy ? 
The old difficulty of the contingent, of reality as 
such, is upon us again, and again Hegel tries to 
wave it contemptuously aside. The embarrassing 
facts are not " truly real," or, more concisely still, 
they are not " true." Hegel s use of this con 
stantly recurring term is little more than an index 
to the difficulty in question. In the Logic 
every higher category is looked upon as the 
" truth " of the lower, and the Absolute Idea is 
the full truth of which all the preceding forms 
of thought were imperfect expressions. Used 
thus of categories or abstract definitions, the term 

204 Hegelianism and Personality. 

is sufficiently in place, and might be rendered by 
a phrase like " adequate expression." But it re 
ceives from Hegel a much wider extension, being 
applied to existences as well as to conceptions. 
Here the ambiguity begins, for an existence is 
properly said to have "reality," truth being a 
term properly applicable to conceptions alone, 
and signifying their correspondence with reality. 
We have, however, the advantage of an express 
declaration by Hegel as to the sense to be at 
tached to the term in this new connection. He 
distinguishes " truth " in his usage from mere 
correctness or " formal truth," as he calls it. 
" Truth in the deeper sense consists in the iden 
tity between objectivity and the notion. It is in 
this deeper sense that truth is understood when 
we speak of a true State or a true work of art. 
These objects are true, if they are as they ought 
to be i.e., if their reality corresponds to their 
notion. When thus viewed, to ~be untrue means 
much the same as to be bad. A bad man is an 
untrue man, one who does not behave as his 
notion or vocation requires of him." 1 Hegel 
has the grace to say in another place that " when 
the term untrue occurs in a philosophical dis 
cussion, it does not signify that the thing to 
1 Wallace, 306. 

Hegelianism as an Absohite System. 205 

which it is applied does not exist. A bad State 
or a sick body may certainly exist ; but these 
objects are untrue, because their notion and their 
reality are out of harmony." x Nevertheless, he 
seems to say, such existences do not count; we 
may exclude them from our reckoning altogether, 
Would that we could believe this comfortable 
saying! That these facts have no place in an 
absolute system that they " ought not " to be 
there is plain enough. They are the standing- 
refutation of its claims. But dismissed in this 
fashion they cannot be. 

The distinction which Hegel here attempts to 
draw marks the reappearance of the other line of 
thought which runs through the system. This 
Platonising strain, as it has been aptly named, 2 
predominates in the Logic, and appears more 
or less in other works, but is markedly absent in 
the Philosophy of Law. Under its influence, as 
we have seen, Hegel, like Plato, seeks reality not 
in the actual world, but in the eternal realm of 
an absolute and self-guaranteeing thought. The 
world of timeless forms is the real world, not the 
world of existing things and persons. To this 

1 Ibid., 211. 

2 By Hay in in his Hegel und seine Zeit, a book a good deal 
marred by its rhetorical strain and a semi-popular looseness of 
treatment, but often containing suggestive criticisms. 

206 Hegelianism and Personality. 

latter world Hegel (when following out this train 
of thought) accords, like Plato, only as it were 
a quasi- reality. He even speaks, as we have 
seen, of the whole course of finite development 
as a species of illusion "only a hull or wrap 
ping under which the notion lies concealed." 
But, on the other hand, the identity of the real 
and the ideal is to an absolute system the very 
breath of its life. " The real is rational " is the 
necessary complement of "the rational is real." 
Hence Hegel s apparent rebound from his Plato- 
rising strain to the opposite extreme of Empiri- 
ism or Actualism. His philosophy can justify 
tself only as the union of its Platonism with its 
Empiricism, or as the exhibition of the one in the 
>ther. Divorced from the world of facts, the 
latonism or Idealism is all in the air. The 
eality of the rational is ultimately the proof 
f its rationality ; for unless it asserts itself in 
existence, the circle of the system is not closed. 
Just so far indeed as the real does not correspond 
to the rational, the system itself falls to the 
ground, and its statements as to the nature of 
the rational take the character of undemonstrated 
assertions. Sweeping, therefore, though the state 
ments in the Philosophy of Law and the Philo 
sophy of History are, they seem to me to repre- 

Hegelianism as an A b so hit e System. 207 

sent the attitude which an absolute philosophy must 
necessarily assume so long as it is animated by a 
confident belief in itself. Strictly speaking, we can 
have no standing-ground in a system like Hegel s 
from which to criticise the actual. None the less, 
however, is this attitude one which will not bear 
examination. It only requires to be openly avowed, 
as here by Hegel, and it is at once seen to be un 
tenable. The explanations or apologies to which 
Hegel has recourse do but acknowledge with a bad 
grace that the brave words formerly used will not 
bear to be pressed. The real and the ideal do 
not coincide or interpenetrate, and the two sides 
of the system are therefore not really brought 
together. Nature or existence, says Hegel, is the 
home of Contingency, and so it fails of truth 
fails, that is, to body forth the notion. Necessity, 
says Plato, is mingled with Eeason in the origin 
of the world, and Eeason cannot quite subdue 
Necessity to itself. The very form of words is 
almost the same, in which the two thinkers 
record their own failure in the attempt to con 
ceal it. 

If we turn to the Philosophy of Law/ it will 
be found that, in spite of Hegel s subsequent at 
tempts to guard his meaning, the descriptions of 
it in the Preface were essentially correct. It is 

208 Hegelianism and Personality. 

a transcript of what is of existing institutions 
and customs, and of the existent State. There 
is throughout the book none of the enthusiasm 
of moral progress which meets us, for example, 
in Kant and Fichte. Indeed the inner side of 
actions that which constitutes their whole moral 
significance is hurriedly passed over, in order 
to arrive at a consideration of those bonds of 
social observance which keep the individual right, 
as it were, without his thinking about it. 1 The 
conscientious or self-questioning habit of mind is 
studiously depreciated, and no higher standard is 
set up than that of the society in which a man 
lives. Do as others do ; perform the duties of your 
station ; be a good father and a good citizen, 
and get rid of windy enthusiasms. Such is the 
temper of the book from first to last. It is, as 
it were, the externalisation of morality. For the 
inner fact of duty there is substituted an auto 
matic adaptation to an external mechanism of 
observance and respectability. Unquestionably 
there is a great deal of massive common-sense in 
all this ; and Hegel is never happier than when 
administering a slap in the face to some superfine 

1 It need hardly be pointed out that though the title of the 
book is the Philosophy of Law (Philosophic des Rechts), it 
is a complete treatise on Hegelian ethics. 

Hegelianism as an Absolute System. 209 

feeling. But it is also true that it is the justifi 
cation of the existing standard. It is the mood 
of satisfied acquiescence in things as they are, 
which the years bring to the man of the world 
a mood as far removed as possible from the 
atmosphere of moral endeavour. There is in it 
no impulse onwards, no impulse upwards. It is 
an atmosphere fatal to moral progress, and ulti 
mately fatal to morality itself. Green is not slow 
to point out that the habit of conscientiousness 
of moral self -interrogation is the very main 
spring of morality, essential even for preventing 
the deterioration of moral practice, much more 
so for the elevation of the existing standard. 
" The standard of respectability," he says, " could 
never have been attained, if the temper which 
acquiesces in it had been universal if no one 
had been lifted above that acquiescence in the 
past. It has been reached through the action 
of men who, each in his time and turn, have 
refused to accept the way of living which they 
found about them." 1 Hence when he comes to 
treat of ethics, Green is forced to desert the 
Hegelian Absolutism, and to insist upon " an 
ideal of virtue " as " the spring from which moral 
ity perpetually renews its life." He philosophises 

1 Prolegomena to Ethics, 324. 

2 io Hegelianism and Personality. 

here more in the spirit of Kant and Fichte than of 
Hegel. Fichte is in a manner the typical moral 
ist; for the moral man can never tell himself 
that he has already attained. In the character 
of logical necessity which he imparts to the 
historical process, and in his contention that the 
goal is reached and the long march of the Spirit 
ended, Hegel s attitude is as typically non-ethical. 
This attitude of attainment and finality is also 
curiously observable in the Philosophy of History. 
As Haym observes, the Hegelian philosophy of 
history has no future. From youth in Greece 
and manhood in Eome, Spirit has advanced in 
the German or Teutonic world to the stadium of 
old age. It is true, Hegel adds that while the 
old age of nature is weakness that of Spirit is its 
perfect maturity and strength ; but he fully 
accepts the finality of the comparison. 1 Yet, as 
the same writer acutely points out, this would- 
be absolute and final philosophy naively supplies 
us with its own condemnation. All readers of 
Hegel will remember the finely inspired passage 
in which he compares philosophy to the owl of 
Minerva. It forms the conclusion of the Preface 
to the Philosophy of Law, and breathes at its 
outset the same spirit as the passages formerly 

1 Philosophy of History, 115 (English translation). 

Hegelianism as an A bsolute System. 211 

quoted : " If it were the purpose of philosophy to 
reform and improve the existing state of things, 
it comes a little too late for such a task. It is 
only when the actual world has reached its full 
fruition that the ideal rises to confront the reality, 
and builds up, in the shape of an intellectual 
realm, that same world grasped in its substan 
tial being. When philosophy paints its grey 
in grey, some one shape of life has meanwhile 
grown old : and grey in grey, though it brings 
it into knowledge, cannot make it young again. 
The owl of Minerva does not start upon its flight 
until the evening twilight has begun to fall." 
" Just as each individual," he says a little before, 
" is the son of his own time, so philosophy is its 
own time formulated or reduced to thoughts (in 
Gedanken erfasst) ; it is as foolish to imagine 
that a philosophy can go beyond the world pres 
ent to it, as that an individual can overleap his 
own time." 1 This is an idea deeply rooted in 
Hegel, and it forms the staple of most Hegelian 
histories of philosophy. But how are we to 
reconcile this acknowledgment of thoroughgoing 

1 "Werke, viii. 18. Cf. the emphatic assertion of the same 
position in the Philosophy of History " Each individual is 
the son of his nation and of his age. None remains behind it, 
still less advances before it " (English translation, 55). 

2 1 2 Hegelianism and Personality. 

relativity with the absolute claims made for his 
own philosophy ? Is the future to be an absolute 
monotony, bringing us no new lessons, and yield 
ing us no deeper insight ? Not for a moment 
can we entertain such an idea. 1 The " horologue 
of the universe" did not run down and come 
to a standstill with the dawn of the nineteenth 
century. In truth, this golden age of philosophy, 
with its absolute knowledge and its rational state, 
strikes at last upon the spirit with a sense of 
intolerable ennui. We feel instinctively with 
Lessing that the search for truth is a nobler thing, 
and better for our spirits health, than the truth 
here offered for our acceptance. It might be 
otherwise if the truth were really ours, but that, 
we may well believe, is reserved for God alone. 
The perfect knowledge and the perfect State of 
Hegelianism ring alike hollow, when brought face 
to face with the riddle of the painful earth 
with the always solemn and often terrible mys 
tery that environs us. Let us be honest with 

1 The idea, however, is naturally suggested to the student 
who has lived himself into the Hegelian system, and it was 
not uncommon among Hegel s earlier and more confident 
followers. " Jenes Pathos und jene Ueberzeugtheit der Hegel - 
ianer vom Jahre 1830 muss man sich vergegenwartigen, welche 
im vollen bitteren Ernste die Frage ventilirten, was wohl den 
ferneren Inhalt der Weltgeschichte bilden werde, nachdem doch 
in der Hegel schen Philosophic der Weltgeist an sein Ziel, an 
das Wissen seiner selbst hindurchgedrungen sei." Haym, p. o. 

Hegelianism as an Absolute System. 213 

ourselves, and let us be shy of demonstrations 
which prove too much. We are men and not gods; 
the ultimate synthesis is not ours. The universe 
is not plain to us, save by a supreme effort of faith 
of faith in reason and faith in goodness. It is 
the splendid faith of Hegel in reason which gives 
such massive proportions to his thought, and makes 
it like the opening up of a new world to him 
who enters upon it. But if this faith be reduced 
to system, and put forward as a demonstration, 
I feel equally certain that the effect is as harm 
ful as it was at first beneficial. It saps the 
springs both of speculative interest and of moral 
endeavour. No, we may rest assured that fin 
ality is not for the race of man ; we cannot lift 
ourselves out of the stream of ever-flowing time 
in which our lives are passed. Hegelianism is 
one more great attempt satisfactorily to name the 
Whole, and to find room within it for all the 
different sides of existence. But Time is still 
the god who devours his own children, and the 
Hegelian system will be no exception. It will 
remain as the system of Aristotle or as the 
system of Spinoza remains, and men will draw 
from its rich materials for their own intellectual 
structures. They will draw inspiration and guid 
ance from its successes ; they will take warning 
by its mistakes. 


IF any justification be needed of this prolonged 
criticism of Hegel, it must be found in the con 
siderations which I adduced at the outset. The 
truth of the Hegelian system, or of some essential 
ly similar scheme, is presupposed in the doctrine 
of English JSTeo-Kantians or Neo-Hegelians as to 
the universal Self and its relation to the world. 
There may be no mention of Hegel in their writ 
ings, and the doctrine itself may be explicitly 
derived by them from a development and criti 
cism of the Kantian philosophy ; but the nerve of 
such development and criticism is supplied by 
Hegel s professed exhibition of existence as the 
process of such a Self. Hegel also exemplifies on 
a great scale the same mode of reasoning which 
was animadverted upon in the first lecture as the 
fallacy of Neo-Kantianism ; and a study of his 
system enables us, better than anything else, to 

Conclusion. 215 

see the results to which this line of thought con 
ducts us. 

The radical error both of Hegelianism and of 
the allied English doctrine I take to be the iden 
tification of the human and the divine self-con 
sciousness, or, to put it more broadly, the uni 
fication of consciousness in a single Self. The 
exposure of this may be said to have been, in a 
manner, the thesis of these lectures. This iden 
tification or unification depends throughout, it 
has been argued, upon the tendency to take a 
mere form for a real being to identity 
of type for a unily of existence. Each of us is 
a Self : that is to say, in the technical language of 
recent philosophy, we exist for ourselves or are 
objects to ourselves. We are not mere objects 
existing only for others, but, as it were, subject 
and object in one. Selfhood may also be said t to 
imply that, in one aspect of my existence, I am 
universal, seeing that I distinguish.jnxjndividual 
existence from that of other beings, while embrac 
ing both within a common world. Irrespective 
of metaphysical theory, every Self is universal in 
this sense, and by all means let this characteristic 
be embodied in the definition of the Self. If d 
mere individual, as we are often told, would ba 
a being without consciousness of its own limita-j 

2 1 6 Hegelianism and Personality. 

being, therefore, which could not know 
itself as an individual then no Self is a mere 
individual. We may even safely say that the 
mere individual is a fiction of philosophic thought. 
There could be no interaction between individuals, 
unless they were all embraced within one Eeality ; 
still less could there be any knowledge by one in 
dividual of others, if they did not all form parts 
of one system of things. But it is a great step 
further to say that this universal attitude of the 
Self, as such, is due to the fact that it is one uni 
versal Self that thinks in all so-called thinkers. 
This is, to say the least, an extremely unfortunate 
way of stating the necessities of the case. For 
though selfhood, as was seen in the earlier 
lectures, involves a duality in unity, and is de- 
scribable as subject-object, it is none the less true 
that each Self is a unique existence, which is 
perfectly impervious, if I may so speak, to other 
selves impervious in a fashion of which the im 
penetrability of matter is a faint analogue. The 
self, accordingly, resists invasion ; in its character 
of self it refuses to admit another self within 
itself, and thus be made, as it were, a mere 
retainer of something else. The unity of things 
(which is not denied) cannot be properly ex 
pressed by making it depend upon a unity of 

Conclusion. 2 1 7 

the Self in all thinkers ; for the very character 
istic of a self is this exclusiveness. So far from 
a principle of union in the sense desired, the self 
is in truth the very apex of separation and dif- 
ferentiation. It is none the less true, of course, 
that only through selfhood am I able to recognise 
the unity of the world and my own union with 
the source of all, and this is the incentive to the 
metaphysical use of the idea of a universal Self 
which I am criticising. But though the self is 
thus, in knowledge, a principle of unification, it 
is, in existence or metaphysically, a principle of 
isolation. And the unification which proceeds 
in the one case is, to the end, without prejudice 
to the exclusive self-assertion in the other. There 
is no deliverance of consciousness which is more 
unequivocal than that which testifies to this in 
dependence and exclusiveness. I have a centre 
of my own a will of my own which no one 
shares with me or can share a centre which I 
maintain even in my dealings with God Himself. 
For it is eminently false to say that I put off, or 
can put off, my personality here. The religious 
consciousness lends no countenance whatever to 
the representation of the human soul as a mere 
mode or efflux of the divine. On the contrary, 
only in a person, in a relatively independent or 

2 1 8 Hegelianism and Personality. 

self-centred being is religious approach to God 
possible. Eeligion is the self-surrender of the 
human will to the divine. " Our wills are ours to 
make them Thine." But this is a se//-surrender, a 
surrender which only self, only will, can make. 

The doctrine of the universal Self is reached by 
a process of reasoning which I have already com 
pared to the procedure of Scholastic Realism in 
dealing with individuals and " universals." Real 
ism also treated the individual as merely the 
vehicle of a universal form. It took the species 
as a real existence apart from its individuals ; 
more real than they, and prior to them, for they 
are regarded as in effect its creatures. The indi 
vidual man stands in this secondary and depen 
dent relation to the species " humanitas," and that 
universal inheres in turn in a higher genus, till 
we reach the ultimate abstraction of a universal 
, Being or substance of which all existing things 
are accidents. For the ultimate goal of Realism 
is a thorough-going Pantheism. Any student of 
the Scholastic period may see that only inconsis 
tent reservations and the compromises necessi 
tated by their churchly position restrained the 
Realists from this conclusion. It was widely 
drawn, however, in the heresies of the time, and 
the greater the speculative ability and consistency 

Conclusion. 219 

of the Kealistic thinker, the nearer he approached 
it. And beyond the pale of Christendom alto 
gether, in the system of Averroes, the typical in 
fidel of the middle ages, the same Eealism meets 
us in the doctrine of the identity of the human 
intellect in all individual men identity not in 
the sense of essential similarity, but of existential 
unity..- Though this universal intellect is re 
garded by Averroes as an inferior emanation of 
the Divine Being, and not as immediately identi 
cal with the divine intellect, the striking similar 
ity of the doctrine to the JSTeo-Kantian theory of! 
the universal Self cannot fail to be remarked/ 
It does not affect the character of Eealism 
whether the universal is actually separated from 
the individuals and assigned a transcendent exist 
ence, or whether it is said to exist only in the 
individuals. This difference between the so-called 
Platonic and Aristotelian forms of Eealism does 
not touch the fundamental doctrine common to 
both the doctrine of the species as an entity in 
the individuals common to all and identical in 
each, an entity to which individual differences 
adhere as accidents. As against this view we 
may set Cousin s rendering of Abelard s doctrine 
" Only individuals exist, and in the individual 
nothing but the individual." Similarity of essence 

22O Hegetianism and Personality. 

or nature is one thing, existence is another. When 
existence is in question, it is the individual, not 
the universal, that is real ; and the real individual 
is not a composite of species and accidents, but is 
individual to the inmost fibre of his being. 

In the last resort this realistic fallacy, whether 
in the Schoolmen or in Hegel and the Neo- 
Kantians, may be traced, as I suggested in the 
end of the first lecture, to a confusion between 
logic or epistemology and metaphysic or ontology. 
The imaginary subject (Bevmsstsein liberliaupt) of 
the theory of knowledge is hypostatised by the 
Neo-Kantians as the one ultimately real Thinker. 
Hegel s metaphysical logic may be taken without 
injustice as the culmination of this tendency. 
A Kant ridiculed Fichte s system (not unnaturally, 
but, as we have seen, not quite fairly) as an at 
tempt to extract existence from mere logic, and 
^saidjt looked to him like a kind of ghost. 1 This 
criticism would have been more applicable to 
Hegel s attempt to construct the universe out of 
mere universals. And even if we decline to take 
such Hegelian statements literally, the vice of 
the position still clings to the system; for the 
existence of things, however explained, is still re- 

1 Wie eine Art Gespenst : in a letter dated April 1798 
(\Verke, viii. 812). 

Conclusion. 2 2 1 

garded as serving only for the exemplification of 
these abstract notions. This holds true of the 
whole course of development, even in the case of 
spirit. If we examine Hegel s statements as to 
the nature of spirit, they are all cast in the same 
mould. Spirit is that which has returned out of 
otherness to be at home with itself ; spirit is that 
which restores itself ; it is not an immediate but 
a mediated or restored unity ; it is an identity 
which is not blank but constitutes the negation 
of the negation. Such are the constantly recur 
ring phrases that meet us, and they all express 
the same thing namely, that unity in duplicity 
(or trinity in unity, as Hegel might have called 
it) which characterises self-conscious life. They 
give us simply the abstract scheme of intelligence 
which Fichte constructs for us in the Wissen- 
schaftslehre. But there is no virtue in this ab 
stract form as such, and if the goal of the de 
velopment is represented as the realisation of the 
mere form of knowledge, it ceases to be anything 
of real value. It is this idealism of logical 
formuLne with its sacrifice of the true goods of 
the spirit, which Lotze censures so severely in 
the Hegelian system. 

My contention throughout these lectures has 
been that the attempt of the Hegelian and Neo- 

222 Hegelianisin and Personality. 

Hegelian schools to unify the divine and the human 
subject is ultimately destructive of the reality of 
both. If, as has been argued above, 1 the theory 
deprives man of his proper self, by reducing him, 
as it were, to an object of a universal Thinker, it 
leaves this universal Thinker also without any 
true personality. We cannot rightly conceive 
either the divine or the human Self in this im 
possible union, nor is this wonderful, seeing that 
they are merely two inseparable aspects of our 
own conscious life isolated and hypostatised. As 
for the divine Self, if per impossibile we figure this 
abstraction to ourselves as the permanent counter 
part or sustainer of an objective world, such a 
purely objective consciousness is not in any true 
sense of the word a Self ; it is no more than an 
imaginary focus into which an objective system 
of relations returns. We have learned and this 
is well to be chary of attributing to the Divine 
Spirit a subjectivity like our own. But it must 
not be forgotten that if we are to keep the name 
rod at all, or any equivalent term, subjectivity 
an existence of God for Himself, analogous to our 
own personal existence, though doubtless tran 
scending it infinitely in innumerable ways is an 
essential element in the conception. If it is said 

1 Cf., for example, pp. 62-64. 

Conclusion. 223 

that this is abstract thinking, and illegitimately 
separates God s being from His manifestation or 
working in the universe, the charge does not ap 
pear to be borne out by the logical doctrine of 
Essence as we know it in its application to man. 
A pan may be said to be for others what his acts 
and words are ; and if we know these, we rightly 
say that we know the man. Similarly we may be 
said to know God as manifested in nature and 
history. Knowledge of the manifestation is in 
both cases knowledge of the essence ; it does not 
cut us off from knowledge of the essence, as the 
Kelativists would have us believe. But just as 
the man has a centre of his own, which we cannot 
occupy, and from which he looks, as it were, upon 
the inner side of his acts and words (as well as 
upon a private world of thoughts and feelings, 
many of which do not take shape in the common 
or general world at all), so, if we speak of God 
at all, there must be a divine centre of thought, 
activity, and enjoyment, to which no mortal can 
penetrate. In this sense every man s being is 
different for himself from what it is as exhibited 
to others, and God s being may infinitely transcend 
His manifestation as known by us. 

Moreover, the admission of a real self-conscious-" 
ness in God seems demanded of us if we are not 

224 Hegelianism and Personality. 

to be unfaithful to the fundamental principle of 
the theory of knowledge interpretation by means 
of the highest category within our reach. The 
self-conscious life is that highest, and we should 
be false to ourselves, if we denied in God what we 
recognise as the source of dignity and worth in 
ourselves. Only, as was said in a previous lecture, 
though we must be anthropomorphic, our anthro 
pomorphism must be critical. Just as we do not 
read our full selves into life of lower forms, so 
or rather much more so must we avoid trans 
ferring to God all the features of our own self- 
consciousness. God may, nay must, be infinitely 
more we are at least certain that He cannot be 
less than we know ourselves to be. 

The Hegelian system is as ambiguous on the 
question of man s immortality as on that of the 
personality of God, and for precisely the same 
reason namely, because the Self of which asser 
tions are made in the theory is not a real but a 
logical self. Hence, although passages may be 
quoted which seem direct assertions of immor 
tality, they are found, on closer examination, to 
resolve themselves into statements about the 
Absolute Ego, or the unity of self-consciousness 
as such. Thus, we are told, Time is but a form 
of the Ego s own life a form in which it knows 

Conclusion. 225 

objects but the Subject itself is not bound by 
time - determinations. It is present to all the 
moments of time alike, being, in fact, the bond 
which unites the several moments in one Time. 
The Ego, it is argued, is, in a strict sense, timeless 
or out of time, and it becomes absurd, therefore, 
to apply time-predicates to it and to speak of its 
origin or decease. 1 As applied to the immor 
tality of the individual self, however, this argu 
ment proves nothing. It only proves that the 
Ego must have coexisted with, or been present to, 
all its experience in the past ; it does not prove 
that that experience may not come to an end, 
and the Ego along with it. Or again, we are told 
that the Ego is the absolutely necessary presup 
position of thought and existence. We cannot 
strip off the Self ; we cannot even conceive our 
own annihilation. But this is one of the demon 
strations which prove too much. It applies as 
much to the times before our birth as to the times 
after our death. If we think at all, we cannot 

1 This argument involves, it may be remarked, the subtle 
confusion between the logical and the metaphysical criticised in 
a former lecture. Only an abstraction can properly be spoken 
of as out of time ; so far as the Ego is real, it is not out of time, 
but abides or persists through time. Even in speaking of the 
Divine Being, that is the only sense which the term "eternal" 
can bear to us. 

226 Hegelianism and Personality. 

abstract from self-consciousness. But if, as Lucre 
tius says, the future is to be of no more import to 
us than the days of old when the Pceni flocked 
together to battle, and the empire of the world was 
at stake, then surely the immortality thus guar- 

j anteed can be of no concrete concern to us. It 
rests, indeed, again, upon the conversion of a 
logical necessity into a metaphysical existence. 
This logical necessity under which we lie is said 
to be due to the presence in each of us of an un- 
originated and unending Self. Even if we take 
the argument at its own valuation, therefore, it is 
the immortality of this Absolute Self which it 
proves. In like manner Aristotle maintained the 

\ eternity of the Active Eeason, 1 and Averroes the 
immortality of the intellect identical in all men. 
Spinoza, too, spoke of the pars ceterna nostri. In 
no other sense does Hegel speak of the immor 
tality of "man as spirit" an immortality or 
eternity which he is at pains to designate as a 
" present quality," an actual possession. 2 Hegel s 

1 Aristotle s theory of the Active Reason has already been 
compared to the doctrine of the universal Self. The history of 
the Peripatetic school, it may be added, forms an interesting 
parallel to the development of the Hegelian school as indicated 
in the sixth lecture. The Active Reason speedily disappeared 
in the purely naturalistic system of Strato of Lampsacus. 

2 Werke, xii. 219. 

Conclusion. 227 

utterances on this subject are all pervaded, to my 
mind, by this double entendre, and virtually amount 
to a shelving of the question. For it has been 
abundantly seen that the Absolute Ego or the 
Active Keason. is in itself a pure abstraction ; 
and to be told that we survive in that form is no 
whit more consoling than to be told that the 
chemical elements of our body will survive in 
new transformations. 

The two positions the divine personality and 
human dignity and immortality are two comple 
mentary sides of the same view of existence. If 
we can believe, with the Hegelians of the Left, 
that there is no permanent Intelligence and Will 
at the heart of things, then the self-conscious life 
is degraded from its central position, and becomes 
merely an incident in the universe. In that case 
we may well believe that human self-conscious 
ness is but like a spark struck in the dark to die 
away presently upon the darkness whence it has 
arisen. For, according to this theory, the universe 
consists essentially .in the evolution and reabsorp- 
tion of transitory forms forms that are filled 
with knowledge and shaped by experience, only 
to be emptied and broken by death. But it is a 
mockery to speak as if the universe had any real 
or worthy End, if it is merely the eternal repe- 

228 Hegelianism and Personality. 

tition of this Danaid labour. And an account 
which contradicts our best-founded standards of 
value, and fails to satisfy our deepest needs, 
stands condemned as inherently unreasonable and 
incredible. I do not think that immortality can 
be demonstrated by philosophy ; but certainly to a 
philosophy founding upon self-consciousness, and 
especially upon the moral consciousness, it must 
seem incredible that the successive generations 
should be used up and cast aside as if character 
were not the only lasting -product and the only 
valuable result of time, ii may be said that 
morality is independent of the belief in immortal 
ity that its true foundation is goodness for the 
sake of goodness, virtue for virtue s sake and I 
willingly admit the nobility of temper that often 
underlies this representation. As against the 
theory which would base morality upon selfish re 
wards and punishments in a future state, it is pro 
foundly true. But immortality is claimed by our 
moral instincts in no sense as a reward, but sim 
ply as " the wages of going on and not to die." 
And the denial of immortality seems so much at 
variance with our notions of the moral reason 
ableness of the world, that I believe it must ulti 
mately act as a corrosive scepticism upon morality 

Conclusion. 229 

Gone for ever ! Ever ? No ; for since our dying race began, 
Ever, ever, and for ever was the leading light of man. 

Those that in barbarian burials killed the slave and slew the 

Felt within themselves the sacred passion of the second life. 

Truth for truth, and good for good ! The Good, the True, the 

Pure, the Just, 
Take the charm * for ever from them, and they crumble into 

dust." 1 

One word by way of conclusion and epilogue. 
It is possible that to some these lectures may 
appear to contain only unmitigated condemnation 
of Hegel and his system. That is an impression 
which I should much regret. I should regret it, 
not only because of my own great personal obliga 
tions to Hegel, which would make such a condem 
nation savour of ingratitude, but also on account 
of the great debt which philosophy in general 
owes to Hegel, and the speculative outlook which 
is got by studying him. I would dissuade no one 
from the study of Hegel. His aim is so great that 
the mere effort to keep pace with him strengthens 
the thews of the mind. Moreover, there is much 
in Hegel of the highest philosophical importance 
and truth. His services to the phenomenology 
or philosophical history of consciousness in all 
its forms have been simply immense. His Logic/ 

1 Locksley Hall : Sixty Years After. 

230 Hegelianism and Personality. 

looked at as a criticism of categories, with its in 
sistence on self -consciousness as the ultimate prin-;. 
ciple of explanation, is also an imperishable gift. I 
have already defended his anthropomorphism in 
this respect, and am ready to do battle for it again. 
Nothing can be more unphilosophical than the 
attempt to crush man s spirit by thrusting upon 
it the immensities of the material universe. In 
this respect, Hegel s superb contempt for nature 
as nature has a justification of its own. In fact, 
we might adopt Fichte s strong expression, and 
say, that if matter alone existed, it would be 
equivalent to saying that nothing existed at all. 
In all this, Hegel is the protagonist of Idealism 
in the historic sense of that word, and champions 
the best interests of humanity. It is Hegelianism 
as a system, and not Hegel, that I have attacked. 
The point of my criticism has been that in its 
execution the system breaks down, and ultimately 
sacrifices these very interests to a logical abstrac 
tion styled the Idea, in which both God and man 
disappear. Nor are these interests better con 
served by the Neo-Kantianism or Neo-Hegeli- 
anism, which erects into a god the mere form of 
self-consciousness in general. 


B Seth Pringle Pattison, 

2745 Andrew 

55 * Hegelianism and personal! tj 




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