Infomotions, Inc.Prolegomena to the study of Hegel's philosophy and especially of his logic. / Wallace, William, 1844-1897

Author: Wallace, William, 1844-1897
Title: Prolegomena to the study of Hegel's philosophy and especially of his logic.
Publisher: Oxford Clarendon Press 1894
Tag(s): logic; hegel, georg wilhelm friedrich, 1770-1831; prolegomena; hegel; unity; kant; philosophy; reality
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
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Identifier: prolegomenato00walluoft
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THE present volume of Prolegomena completes the 
second edition of my LOGIC OF HEGEL which originally 
appeared in 1874. The translation, which was issued 
as a separate volume in the autumn of 1892, had been 
subjected to revision throughout : such faults as I could 
detect had been amended, and many changes made in 
the form of expression with the hope of rendering the 
interpretation clearer and more adequate. But, with 
a subject so abstruse and complicated as Hegel s Logic, 
and a style so abrupt and condensed as that adopted 
in his Encyclopaedia, a satisfactory translation can 
hardly fall within the range of possibilities. Only 
the enthusiasm of youth could have thrown itself 
upon such an enterprise; and later years have but 
to do what they may to fulfil the obligations of a 
task whose difficulties have come to seem nearly in 
superable. The translation volume was introduced by 
a sketch of the growth of the Encyclopaedia through 
the three editions published in its author s lifetime : 
and an appendix of notes supplied some literary and 
historical elucidations of the text, with quotations 
bearing on the philosophical development between 
Kant and Hegel. 

viii PREFACE. 

The Prolegomena, which have grown to more than 
twice their original extent, are two-thirds of them new 
matter. The lapse of twenty years could not but 
involve a change in the writer s attitude, at least in 
details, towards both facts and problems. The general 
purpose of the work, however, still remains the same, 
to supply an introduction to the study of Hegel, 
especially his Logic, and to philosophy in general. 
But, in the work of altering and inserting, I can 
hardly imagine that I have succeeded in adjusting 
the additions to the older work with that artful junc 
ture which would simulate the continuity of organic 
growth. To perform that feat would require a master 
who surveyed from an imperial outlook the whole 
system of Hegelianism in its history and meaning ; 
and I at least do not profess such a mastery. Prob 
ably therefore a critical review will discern inequalities 
in the ground, and even discrepancies in the statement, 
of the several chapters. To remove these strains of 
inconsistency would in any case have been a work of 
time and trouble : and, after all, mere differences in 
depth or breadth of view may have their uses. The 
writer cannot always compel the reader to understand 
him, as he himself has not always the same faculty 
to penetrate and comprehend the problems he deals 
with. In these arduous paths of research it may well 
happen that the clearest and truest perceptions are 
not always those which communicate themselves with 
fullest persuasion and gift of insight. Schopenhauer 
has somewhere compared the structure of his philo 
sophical work to the hundred-gated Thebes : so many, 
he says, are the points of access it offers for the 


pilgrims after truth to reach its central dogma. So if 
one may parallel little things with his adventurous 
quest even the less speculative chapters, and the less 
consecutive discourse, of these Prolegomena may prove 
helpful to some individual mood or phase of mind. 
If as I suspect the Second Book should elicit the 
complaint that the reader has been kept wandering 
too long and too deviously in the Porches of Philosophy, 
I will hope that sometimes in the course of these 
rovings he may come across a wicket-gate where he 
can enter, and which is the main thing gather truth 
fresh and fruitful for himself. 

Fourteen chapters, viz. II, XXIV, and the group 
from VII to XVIII inclusive, are in this edition almost 
entirely new. Three chapters of the first edition, 
numbered XIX, XXII, XXIII, have been dropped. 
For the rest, Chaps. III-VI in the present cor 
respond to Chaps. II-V in the first edition : Chap. 
XIX to parts of VII, VIII: Chaps. XX-XXIII to 
Chaps. IX-XII : Chaps. XXV-XXX to Chaps. XIII- 
XVIII: and Chaps. XXXI, XXXII to Chaps. XX, 
XXI. But some of those nominally retained have 
been largely rewritten. 

The new chapters present, amongst other things, a 
synopsis of the progress of thought in Germany during 
the half-century which is bisected by the year 1800, 
with some indication of the general conditions of the 
intellectual world, and with some reference to the inter 
connexion of speculation and actuality. Jacobi and 
Herder, Kant, Fichte, and Schelling have been especi 
ally brought under succinct review. In the first edition 
I did Kant less than justice. I have now, so far as my 


limits allowed, tried to rectify the impression; and 
even more perhaps, by a clear palinode, to tender 
my apology for the meagre and somewhat inapprecia- 
tive notice I gave to the great names of Fichte and 
Schelling. For like reasons, and from a growing per 
ception how much post-Kantian thought owed to the 
pre-Kantian thinkers, Spinoza and Leibniz have been 
partly brought within my range. If, furthermore, I 
may seem to have transgressed the due amount of 
allusions and comparisons drawn from Plato and 
Aristotle, Bacon and Mill, the excuse must be sought 
in that fixture of philosophical horizon which can 
hardly but creep on after a quarter of a century spent 
in teaching philosophy under the customs and ordi 
nances of the Oxford School of Classical Philology. 

It would be to mistake the scope of this survey to 
seek in it a history of the philosophers of the period 
I have named. They have been presented, not in 
and for themselves, but as momenta or constituent 
factors in producing Hegel s conceptioji__of thp aim 
and method of philosophy. To do this it was neces 
sary to lay stress on their inner purport and implica 
tions : to treat the individual thinker in subordination 
to the general movement of ideas : to give, as far as 
was possible, a constructive conception of them rather 
than an analysis and chronicle. .Yet as the picture 
had to be done, so to say, with a few vigorous touches, 
and made characteristic rather than descriptive, it can 
not have that fairness and completeness which only 
patient study of every feature and untiring experiment 
in reconstruction can enable even the artist to produce. 
I may have seemed to confine the environment too 


exclusively to continental thinkers : but this is not, 
I think, due to any anti-patriotic bias. English (by 
which term, I may explain to my countrymen, I mean 
English-writing) thought, if it has its own intrinsic 
value, has after all been only an occasional influence, 
of suggestion and modification, in Germany. It is not 
therefore an integral portion of my theme. Even in 
Kant s case, too much may be made of the stimulus 
he received from Hume. 

Even twenty years ago, my translation could hardly 
be described literally as a voice crying in the wilder 
ness. But since that time there has been a considerable 
out-put of history, translation, and criticism referring 
to the great age of German philosophy, and a compara 
tively numerous group of writers, more or less familiar 
with the aims and principles of that period, have treated 
various parts of philosophy with notable independence 
and originality. To these writers it has sometimes 
been found convenient to give the title of Neo- 
Kantians, or Neo- Hegelians. The prefix suggests 
that they do not in all points reproduce the ideal or 
the caricature which vulgar tradition fancied, and perhaps 
still fancies, to be implied in German transcendentalism. 
And that for the good reason that the springs of the 
movement lie in the natural and national revulsion of 
English habits of mind. Slowly, but at length, the 
storms of the great European revolution found their 
way to our intellectual world, and shook church and 
state, society and literature. The homeless spirit of 
the age had to reconsider the task of rebuilding its 
house of life. It may have been that some of the 
seekers, in the fervour of a first impression, spoke 


unadvisedly, as if salvation could and would come to 
English philosophy only by Kant and Hegel. Yet, 
there was a real foundation for the belief that the 
insularity however necessary in its season, and how 
ever admirable in some of its results which had 
secluded and narrowed the British mind since the 
middle of the eighteenth century, needed something 
deeper and stronger than French ideology to bring 
it abreast of the requirements of the age. Whatever 
may be the drawbacks of transcendentalism, they are 
virtues when set beside the vulgar ideals of enlighten 
ment by superficialisation. Mill has well pointed out 
how the spirit of Coleridge was for the higher intel 
lectual life a needful complement to the spirit of 
Bentham. Yet the spirit of Coleridge had but caught 
some of the side-lights and romantic illuminations : it 
had not dared to face the central sun either in litera 
ture or philosophy. The scholar who has given us 
excellent versions of Fichte s lighter works, those who 
have translated and expounded Kant, and the great 
author who opened German literature to the British 
public, have brought us nearer the higher teaching 
of Germany. In Germany itself it has always been 
the possession only of the few. Even at the height 
of the classical period there were litterateurs who 
vended thousands of their books for Goethe s hun 
dreds, and the great philosophers had ten opponents 
to one follower even amongst the teachers of their day. 
Yet Goethe and not Kotzebue gave the permanent law 
to literature; Hegel, and not Krug or Fries, has 
influenced philosophy. To have had the resolution 
to learn in this school is the merit of Neo-Hegelianism. 

PREFACE. xiii 

It has probably not found Kant free from puzzles and 
contradictions, or Hegel always intelligible. But the 
example of the Germans has served to widen and 
deepen our ideas of philosophy: to make us think 
more highly of its function, and to realise that it is 
essentially science, and the science of supreme reality. 
And it has at least familiarised many with the heresy 
that dilettantism and occasional fits of speculativeness 
are worth as little in philosophy as elsewhere. To have 
striven for dignity in its scope, and scientific security 
in its method, is something. If the Neo-Hegelian has 
not given philosophy a settled language, it may be 
urged that a philosophical language cannot be created 
by the easy device of inventing a few Hellenistic- 
seeming vocables. 

I could have wished to make these volumes a 
worthier contribution to the work whereby these and 
other writers have recently enriched our island philo 
sophy. Not least because of the honoured name 
I have ventured to write on the dedication-page. If, 
as Epicurus said, we should above all be grateful to 
the past, the first meed is from the scholar due to the 
teachers of earlier years, and not least those who have 
now entered into their rest. I do not forget what I, 
and others, owed to T. H. Green, my predecessor in 
the Chair of Moral Philosophy ; that example of high- 
souled devotion to truth, and of earnest and intrepid 
thinking on the deep things of eternity. But at this 
season the memory of my Oxford tutor and friend is 
naturally most prominent. The late Master of Balliol 
College was more than a mere scholar or a mere 
philosopher. He seemed so idealist and yet so prac- 


tical : so realist and yet so full of high ideals : so 
delicately kind and yet so severely reasonable. You 
felt he saw life more steadily and saw it more whole 
than others : as one reality in which religion and 
philosophy, art and business, the sciences and theo 
logy, were severally but elements and aspects. To the 
amateurs of novelty, to the slaves of specialisation, to the 
devotees of any narrow way, such largeness might, with 
the impatience natural to limited minds, have seemed 
indifference. So must appear those who on higher 
planes hear all the parts in the harmony of humanity, 
and with the justice of a wise love maintain an intel 
lectual Sophrosyne. On his pupils this secret power 
of an other-world serenity laid an irresistible spell, 
and bore in upon them the conviction that beyond 
scholarship and logic there was the fuller truth of life 
and the all-embracing duty of doing their best to fulfil 
the amplest requirements of their place. 

In earlier days Jowett had been keenly interested in 
German philosophy, and had made a version (most of 
which was still extant in 1868) of the Logic I have 
translated. But Greek literature, and above all Plato, 
drew him to more congenial fields. It was on his 
suggestion, or shall I say injunction ? at that date, 
that the work I had casually begun was some years 
later prosecuted to completion. It was his words, 
again, two years ago, that bade me spare no labour 
in the work of revision. 

December, 1893. 


THE Logic of Hegel is a name which may be 
given to two separate books. One of these is the 
Science of Logic (Wissenschaft der Logik), first 
published in three volumes (1812-1816), while its 
author was schoolmaster at Nuremberg. A second 
edition was on its way, when Hegel was suddenly cut 
off, after revising the first volume only. In the Secret 
of Hegel/ the earlier part of this Logic has been 
translated by Dr. Hutchison Stirling, with whose 
name German philosophy is chiefly associated in this 

The other Logic, of which the present work is a 
translation, forms the First Part in the Encyclopaedia 
of the Philosophical Sciences/ The first edition of 
the Encyclopaedia appeared at Heidelberg in 1817 ; 
the second in 1827; and the third in 1830. It is 
well to bear in mind that these dates take us back 
forty or fifty years, to a time when modern science 
and Inductive Logic had yet to win their laurels, and 
when the world was in many ways different from what 
it is now. The earliest edition of the Encyclopaedia 
contained the pith of the system. The subsequent 
editions brought some new materials, mainly intended 
to smooth over and explain the transitions between 
the various sections, and to answer the objections of 


critics. The work contained a synopsis of philosophy 
in the form of paragraphs, and was to be supplemented 
by the viva voce remarks of the lecturer. 

The present volume is translated from the edition 
of 1843, forming the Sixth Volume in Hegel s Collected 
Works. It consists of two nearly equal portions. One 
half, here printed in more open type, contains Hegel s 
Encyclopaedia, with all the author s own additions. 
The first paragraph under each number marks the 
earliest and simplest statement of the first edition. 
The other half, here printed in closer type, is made up 
of the notes taken in lecture by the editor (Henning) 
and by Professors Hotho and Michelet. These notes 
for the most part connect the several sections, rather 
than explain their statements. Their genuineness is 
vouched for by their being almost verbally the same 
with other parts of Hegel s own writings. 

The translation has tried to keep as closely as 
possible to the meaning, without always adhering very 
rigorously to the words of the original. It is, however, 
much more literal in the later and systematic part, 
than in the earlier chapters. 

The Prolegomena which precede the translation have 
not been given in the hope or with the intention of 
expounding the Hegelian system. They merely seek 
to remove certain obstacles, and to render Hegel less 
tantalizingly hard to those who approach him for the 
first time. How far they will accomplish this, remains 
to be seen. 

September, 1873. 















xviii CONTENTS. 



THE CRITICAL SOLUTION (continued} : KANT .... 112 































P. 464. 1. 13. for the sense which read the sense in which 







THE condemnation/ says Hegel, which a great 
man lays upon the world, is to force it to explain him V 
The greatness of Hegel, if it be measured by this 
standard, must be something far above common. Inter 
preters of his system have contradicted each other, 
almost as variously as the several commentators on the 
Bible. He is claimed as their head by widely different 
schools of thought, all of which appeal to him as the 
original source of their line of argument. The Right 
wing, and the Left, as well as the Centre, profess to be 
the genuine descendants of the prophet, and to inherit 
the mantle of his inspiration. If we believe one side, 
Hegel is only to be rightly appreciated when we divest 
his teaching of every shred of religion and orthodoxy 
which it retains. If we believe another class of expo 
sitors, he was the champion of Christianity. 

These contradictory views may be safely left to 
abolish each other. But diversity of opinion on such 
topics is neither unnatural, nor unusual. The meaning 
and the bearings of a great event, or a great character, 
or a great work of reasoned thought, will be estimated 
and explained in different ways, according to the effect 

1 Hegel s Leben (Rosenkranz), p. 555. 

B 2 


they produce on different minds and different levels of 
life and society. Those effects, perhaps, will not pre 
sent themselves in their true character, until long after 
the original excitement has passed away. To some 
minds, the chief value of the Hegelian system will lie in 
its vindication of the truths of natural and revealed 
religion, and in the agreement of the elaborate reason 
ings of the philosopher with the simple aspirations 
of mankind towards higher things. To others that 
system will have most interest as a philosophical history 
of thought, an exposition of that organic development 
of reason, which underlies and constitutes all the varied 
and complex movement of the world. To a third class, 
again, it may seem at best an instrument or method of 
investigation, stating the true law by which knowledge 
proceeds in its endeavour to comprehend and assimilate 
existing nature. 

While these various meanings may be given to the 
Hegelian scheme of thought, the majority of the world 
either pronounce Hegel to be altogether unintelligible, 
or banish him to the limbo of a priori thinkers, that 
bourne from which no philosopher returns. To argue 
with those who start from the latter conviction would 
be an ungrateful, and probably a superfluous task. 
Wisdom is justified, we may be sure, of all her chil 
dren. But it may be possible to admit the existence of 
difficulties, and agree to some extent with those who 
complain that Hegel is impenetrable and hard as ada 
mant. There can be no doubt of the forbidding aspect 
of the most prominent features in his system. He is 
hard in himself, and his readers find him hard. His 
style is not of the best, and to foreign eyes seems 
unequal. At times he is eloquent, stirring, and striking: 
again his turns are harsh, and his clauses tiresome to 
disentangle : and we are always coming upon that 


childlikeness of literary manner, which English taste 
fancies it can detect in some of the greatest works of 
German genius. There are faults in Hegel, which 
obscure his meaning : but more obstacles are due to 
the nature of the work, and the pre-occupations of our 
minds. There is something in him which fascinates 
the thinker, and which inspires a sympathetic student 
with the vigour and the hopefulness of the spring-time. 
Perhaps the main hindrance in the way of a clear 
vision is the contrast which Hegelian philosophy offers 
to our ordinary habits of mind. Generally speaking, we 
rest contented if we can get tolerably near our object, 
and form a general picture of it to set before ourselves. 
It might almost be said that we have never thought of 
such a thing as being in earnest either with our words 
or with our thoughts. We get into a way of speaking 
with an uncertain latitude of meaning, and leave a good 
deal to the fellow-feeling of our hearers, who are ex 
pected to mend what is defective in our utterances. 
For most of us the place of exact thought is supplied 
by metaphors and pictures, by mental images, and 
figures generalised from the senses. And thus it 
happens that, when we come upon a single precise 
and definite statement, neither exceeding nor falling 
short in its meaning, we are thrown out of our reckon 
ing. Our fancy and memory have nothing left for them 
to do : and, as fancy and memory make up the greater 
part of what we loosely call thinking, our powers of 
thought seem to be brought to a standstill. Those who 
crave for fluent reading, or prefer easy writing, some 
thing within the pale of our usual mental lines, are 
more likely to find what they seek in the ten partially 
correct and approximate ways commonly used to 
give expression to a truth, than in the one simple 
and accurate statement of the thought. We prefer a 


familiar name, and an accustomed image, on which our 
faculties may work. But in the atmosphere of Hegelian 
thought, we feel very much as if we had been lifted into 
a vacuum, where we cannot breathe, and which is a fit 
habitation for unrecognisable ghosts only. 

Nor is this all. The traveller, as his train climbs 
the heights of Alps or Apennines, occasionally, after 
circling in grand curve upon the mountain-side, and 
perhaps after having been dragged mysterious distances 
through the gloom of a tunnel, finds himself as it 
would seem back at the same place as he looked forth 
from some minutes before ; and it is only after a brief 
comparison that he realises he now commands a wider 
view from a point some hundreds of feet higher. So 
the student of Hegel (and it might be the case with 
Fichte also) as the machinery of the dialectical method, 
with its thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, carries him 
round and round from term to term of thought like 
the Logos and the Spirit, which blow us whitherso 
ever they list begins to suffer from dizziness at the 
apprehension that he has been the victim of phantasma 
goria and has not really moved at all. It is only later 
if ever that he recognises that the scene, though similar, 
is yet not altogether the same. It is only later if ever 
that he understands that the path of philosophy is no 
wandering from land to land more remote in search 
of a lost Absolute, a vanished God ; no setting forth of 
new and strange facts, of new Gods, but the revelation 
in fuller and fuller truth of the immanent reality in 
whom we live, and move, and have our being, the 
manifestation in more closely-knit unity and more 
amply-detailed significance of that Infinite and Eternal, 
which was always present among us, though we saw 
but few, perhaps even no, traces of its power and 


To read Hegel often reminds us of the process we 
have to go through in trying to answer a riddle. The 
terms of the problem to be solved are all given to us : 
the features of the object are, it may be, fully described: 
and yet somehow we cannot at once tell what it is all 
about, or add up the sum of which we have the several 
items. We are waiting to learn the subject of the pro 
position, of which all these statements may be regarded 
as the predicates. Something, we feel, has undoubtedly 
been said : but we are at a loss to see what it has been 
said about. Our mind wanders round from one familiar 
object to another, and tries them in succession to see 
whether any one satisfies the several points in the 
statement and includes them all. We grope here and 
there for something we are acquainted with, in which 
the bits of the description may cohere, and get a unity 
which they cannot give themselves. When once we 
have hit upon the right object, our troubles are at an 
end : and the empty medium is now peopled with a 
creature of our imagination. We have reached a fixed 
point in the range of our conception, around which the 
given features may cluster. 

All this trouble caused by the Hegelian theory of 
what philosophy involves viz. really beginning at the 
beginning, is saved by a device well known to the 
several branches of Science. It is the way with them to 
assume that the student has a rough general image of 
the objects which they examine; and under the 
guidance, or with the help of this generalised image, 
they go on to explain and describe its outlines more 
completely. They start with an approximate concep 
tion, such as anybody may be supposed to have ; and 
this they seek to render more definite. The geologist, 
for example, could scarcely teach geology, unless he 
could pre-suppose or produce some acquaintance on the 


part of his pupils with what Hume would have called 
an impression or an idea of the rocks and forma 
tions of which he has to treat. The geometer gives a 
short, and, as it were, popular explanation of the sense 
in which angles, circles, triangles, &c. are to be under 
stood : and then by the aid of these provisional defini 
tions we come to a more scientific notion of the same 
terms. The third book of Euclid, for example, brings 
before us a clearer notion of what a circle is, than the 
nominal explanation in the list of definitions. By means 
of these temporary aids, or, as we may call them, 
leading-strings for the intellect, the progress of the 
ordinary scientific student is made tolerably easy. But 
in philosophy, as it is found in Hegel, there is quite 
another way of working. The helps in question are 
absent : and until it be seen that they are not even 
needed, the Hegelian theory will remain a sealed 
mystery. For that which the first glance seemed to 
show as an enigma, is only the plain and unambiguous 
statement of thought. Instead of casting around for 
images and accustomed names, we have only to accept 
the several terms and articles in the development of 
thought as they present themselves. These terms 
merely require to be apprehended. They stand in no 
immediate need of illustration from our experience. 
What we have to bring to the work, is patience, self- 
restraint, the sacrifice of our cherished habits of mind, 
the surrender of the natural wish to see at once what it 
all comes to, what it is good for, how it squares with 
other convictions. As Bacon reminded his age, Into 
the kingdom of philosophy, as into the kingdom of 
heaven, none can enter, nisi sub persona infantis : i. e. 
unless he at least steadfastly resolve to renounce that 
world which lieth in the Evil. 

Ordinary knowledge consists in referring a new object 


to a class of objects, that is to say, to a generalised image 
with which we are already acquainted. It is not so 
much cognition as re-cognition. " What is the truth ? " 
asked Lady Chettam of Mrs. Cadwallader in Middle- 
march. "The truth? he is as bad as the wrong 
physic nasty to take, and sure to disagree." " There 
could not be anything worse than that," said Lady 
Chettam, with so vivid a conception of the physic that 
she seemed to have learned something exact about 
Mr. Casaubon s disadvantages/ Once we have referred 
the new individual to a familiar category or a convenient 
metaphor, once we have given it a name, and introduced 
it into the society of our mental drawing-room, we are 
satisfied. We have put a fresh object in its appropriate 
drawer in the cabinet of our ideas : and hence, with the 
pride of a collector, we can calmly call it our own. But 
such acquaintance, proceeding from a mingling of 
memory and naming, is not the same thing as know 
ledge in the strict sense of the term \ What is he ? 
Do you know him ? * These are our questions : and 
we are satisfied when we learn his name and his calling. 
We may never have penetrated into the inner nature of 
those objects, with whose tout ensemble, or rough out 
lines, we are so much at home, that we fancy ourselves 
thoroughly cognisant of them. Classifications are only 
the first steps in science: and we do not understand 
a thought because we can view it under the guise of 
some of its illustrations. 

In the case of the English reader of Hegel some 
peculiar hindrances spring from the foreign language. 
In strong contrast to most of the well-known German 
philosophers, he may be said to write in the popular 
and national dialect of his country. Of course there 

Das Bekannte uberhaupt ist darum, well es bekannt ist, nicht 
erkannt. Phenomenologie des Geistes, p. 24. 



are tones and shades of meaning given to his words by 
the general context of his system. But upon the whole 
he did what he promised to J. H. Voss the translator 
of Homer, and the poet of the Luise, in a letter written 
from Jena in 1805. He there says of his projects : 
4 Luther has made the Bible, and you have made Homer 
speak German. No greater gift than this could be 
given to the nation. So long as a nation is not 
acquainted with a noble work in its own language, it is 
still barbarian, and does not regard the work as its own. 
Forget these two examples, and I may describe my 
own efforts as an attempt to teach philosophy to speak 
in German V 

Yet, in this matter of nationalising or Germanising 
philosophy, he only carried a step further what Wolff 
and even Kant had begun ; just as, on the other hand, 
he falls a long way short of what K. C. F. Krause, his 
contemporary, attempted in the same direction. Such 
an attempt, by its very nature, could never command 
a popular success. It runs directly counter to that 
tendency already noted, to escape the requirement to 
think and think for ourselves, by taking refuge under 
the shadow of a familiar term, which conceals in its 
apparent simplicity a great complex of ill-apprehended 
elements. The ordinary mind and the more readily 
perhaps the more vulgar it is flees for ease and safety 
to a cosmopolitan term, to the denationalised vocable of 
learned origin, to the language of general European 
culture. To such an ordinary mind and up at least 
to a certain extent we all at times come under that 
heading the effort to remain in the pellucid air of our 
unadulterated mother-tongue is too embarrassing to be 
long continued. Nor, after all, is it more than partially 
practicable. The well of German undefiled is apt to 

1 Vermischte Schriften, vol. ii. p. 474. 


run dry. Hegel himself never shrinks when it is 
needful to appropriate non-Teutonic words, and is in 
the habit of employing the synonymous terms of native 
and of classical origin with a systematic difference of 
meaning l . 

Hegel is unquestionably par excellence the philosopher 
of Germany, German through and through. For 
philosophy, though the common birthright of full-grown 
reason in all ages and countries, must like other 
universal and cosmopolitan interests, such as the State, 
the Arts, or the Church, submit to the limits and 
peculiarities imposed upon it by the natural divisions of 
race and language. The subtler nuances, as well as the 
coarser differences of national speech, make themselves 
vividly felt in the systems of philosophy, and defy 
translation. If Greek philosophy cannot, no more can 
German philosophy be turned into a body of English 
thought by a stroke of the translator s pen. There is 
a difference in this matter, a difference at least in 
degree, between the special sciences and philosophy. 
The several sciences have a de-nationalised and cosmo 
politan character, like the trades and industries of 
various nations ; they are pretty much the same in one 
country and another, especially when we consider the 
details, and neglect the general subdivisions. But in 
the political body, in the works of high art, and in the 

1 e. g. Dasein and Existenz : Wirklichkeit and Realitcit : Wesen and 
Substanz. It is the same habit of curiously pondering over the tones 
and shades of language which leads him to something very like 
playing on words, and to etymologising, as one may call it, on un- 
etymological principles : e. g. the play on Mein and Meinung (vol. ii. 
32 : cf. Werke, ii. 75) : the literal rendering of Erinnerung (Encycl. 
234 and 450); and the abrupt transitions, as it would seem, from 
literal to figurative use of such a term as Grund. At the same time 
it is well not to be prosaically certain that a free play of thought does 
not follow the apparently fortuitous assonance of words. 


systems of philosophy, the whole of the character and 
temperament of the several peoples finds its expression, 
and stands distinctly marked, in a shape of its own. If 
the form of German polity be not transferable to this 
side of the Channel, no more will German philosophy. 
Direct utilisation for English purposes is out of the 
question : the circumstances are too different. But the 
study of the great works of foreign thought is not on 
that account useless, any more than the study of the 
great works of foreign statesmanship. 

Hegel did good service, at least, by freeing philosophy 
from that aspect of an imported luxury, which it usually 
had, as if it were an exotic plant removed from the 
bright air of Greece into the melancholy mists of 
Western Europe. We have still/ he says, to break 
down the partition between the language of philosophy, 
and that of ordinary consciousness : we have to over 
come the reluctance against thinking what we are 
familiar with 1 . Philosophy must be brought face to 
face with ordinary life, so as to draw its strength from 
the actual and living present, and not from the memories 
or traditions of the past. It has to become the organised 
and completed thinking of what is contained blindly and 
vaguely in the various levels of popular intelligence, as 
these are more or less educated and ordered. It must 
grow naturally, as in ancient Greece, from the neces 
sities of the social situation, and not be a product of 
artificial introduction and nurture : the revelation by the 
mind s own energy of an implicit truth, not the com 
munication of a mystery sacramentally received. To 
suppose that a mere change of words can give this 
grace, would be absurd. Yet where the national life 
pulses strong, as that of Germany in those days did at 
first in letters and then in social reform, the dominant 

1 Hegel s Leben (Rosenkranz), p. 552. 


note will make itself felt even in the neutral regions of 
speculation. It was a step on the right road to banish 
a pompous and aristocratic dialect from philosophy, and 
to lead it back to those words and forms of speech, 
which are at least in silent harmony with the national 



BUT/ it is urged, though it be well to let the stream 
of foreign thought irrigate some of our philosophical 
pastures, though we should not for ever entrench our 
selves in our insularity why try to introduce Hegel, of 
all philosophers confessedly the most obscure? Why 
not be content with the study and the " exploitation " of 
Kant, whom Germans themselves still think so impor 
tant as to expound him with endless comment and 
criticism, and who has at length found, after some 
skirmishes, a recognised place in the English philo 
sophical curriculum ? Why seek for more Teutonic 
thinking that can be found in Schopenhauer, and found 
there in a clear and noble style, luminous in the highest 
degree, and touching with no merely academic abstruse- 
ness the problems of life and death ? Or as that song 
is sweetest to men which is the newest to ring in their 
ears why not render accessible to English readers the 
numerous and suggestive works of Eduard von Hart- 
mann, and of Friedrich Nietzsche not to mention 
Robert Hamerling 1 ? Or, finally, why not give us more 
and ever more translations of the works in logic, ethics, 
psychology, or metaphysics, of those many admirable 
teachers in the German universities, whom it would be 

1 A book by V. Knauer published last year (Hauptprobleme der 
Philosophic), a series of popular lectures, gives one-sixth of its space 
to the Atomistic of Will by the Austrian poet Hamerling. 


invidious to try to single out by name ? As for Hegel, 
his system, in the native land of the philosopher, is 
utterly discredited ; its influence is extinct ; it is dead 
as a door-nail. It is a pity to waste labour and distract 
attention, and that in English lands, where there are 
plenty of problems of our own to solve, by an attempt, 
which must perforce be futile, to resuscitate these 
defunctitudes ? 

That Hegelianism has been utterly discredited, in 
certain quarters, is no discovery reserved for these later 
days. But on this matter perhaps we may borrow an 
analogy. If the reader will be at the trouble to take up 
two English newspapers of opposite partisanship and 
compare the reports from their foreign correspondents 
on some question of home politics, he may, if a novice, 
be surprised to learn that according to one, the opinion 
e. g. of Vienna is wholly adverse to the measure, while, 
according to the other, that opinion entirely approves. 
It is no new thing to find Hegelianism in general 
obloquy. Even in 1830 the Catholic philosopher and 
theologian Giinther 1 an admirer, but by no means 
a follower of Hegel wrote that, for some years it had 
been the fashion in learned Germany to look upon 
philosophy, and above all Hegelian philosophy, as 
a door-mat on which everybody cleaned his muddy 
boots before entering the sanctuary of politics and 
religion/ What is true as regards the alleged surcease 
of Hegelianism is that in the reaction which from 
various causes turned itself against philosophy in the 
two decennia after 1848, that system, as the most 
deeply committed part of the metaphysical* host, 
suffered most severely. History and science seemed 
to triumph along the whole line. But it may be perhaps 
permissible to remark that Hegelianism had predicted 

1 Hegel s Briefe, ii. 349. 

1 6 PROLEGOMENA. [li. 

for itself the fate that it proved had fallen on all other 
philosophies. After the age of Idealism comes the turn 
of Realism. The Idea had to die had to sink as a 
germ in the fields of nature and history before it could 
bear its fruit. Above all it is not to be expected that 
such a system, so ambitious in aim and concentrated in 
expression, could find immediate response and at once 
disclose all its meaning. His first disciples are not the 
truest interpreters of any great teacher. What he saw 
in the one comprehensive glance of genius, his successors 
must often be content to gather by the slow accumulation 
of years, and perhaps centuries, of experience. It is not to 
Theophrastus that we go for the truest and fullest con 
ception of Aristotelianism ; nor is Plato to be measured 
by what his immediate successors in the Academy 
managed to make out of him. It is now more than 
a century since Kant gave his lesson to the public, and 
we are still trying to get him focussed in a single view : 
it may be even longer till Hegel comes fully within the 
range of our historians of thought. Aristotelianism too 
had to wait centuries till it fully entered the conscious 
ness even of the thinking world. 

It is to be said too that without Hegel it would be diffi 
cult to imagine what even teachers, like Lotze, who were 
very unlike him, would have had to say. It does not 
need a very wide soul, nor need one be a mere dilet- 
tantist eclectic, to find much of Schopenhauer s work far 
from incompatible with his great, and as some have 
said, complementary opposite. It is not indeed prudent 
as yet for a writer in Germany who wishes to catch the 
general ear to affix too openly a profession of Hegelian 
principles, and he will do well to ward off suspicion by 
some disparaging remarks on the fantastic methods, the 
overfondness for system, the contempt for common sense 
and scientific results which, as he declares, vitiate all 


the speculations of the period from 1794 to 1830. But 
under the names of Spinoza and of Leibniz the leaven 
of Hegelian principles has been at work : and if the 
Philistines solve the riddle of the intellectual Samson, 
it is because they have ploughed with his heifer, because 
his ideas are part of the modern stock of thought, not 
from what they literally read in the great thinkers at the 
close of the seventeenth century. Last year saw appear 
in Germany two excellent treatises describable as 
popular introductions to philosophy \ one by a thinker 
who has never disguised his obligations to Hegel, the 
other by a teacher in the University of Berlin who may 
in many ways be considered as essentially kindred with 
our general English style of thought. But both treatises 
are more allied in character to the spirit of the Hegelian 
attempts to comprehend man and God than to the forma- 
listic and philological disquisitions which have for some 
years formed the staple of German professorial activity. 
And, lastly, the vigorous thinker, who a quarter of a 
century ago startled the reading public by the portent of 
a new metaphysic which should be the synthesis of 
Schelling and Schopenhauer, has lately informed us 2 
that his affinity to Hegel is, taken all in all, greater 
than his affinity to any other philosopher ; and that 
that affinity extends to all that in Hegel has essential 
and permanent value. 

But it is not on Eduard von Hartmann s commenda 
tion that we need rest our estimate of Hegelianism. We 
shall rather say that, till more of Hegel has been assimi 
lated, he must still block the way. Things have altered 
greatly in the last twenty years, it is true ; and ideas of 

1 J. Volkelt, Vortrdge ziir Einfithrung in die Philosophic der Gegen- 
wart (Munchen 1892) : F. Paulsen, Einleitung in die Philosophic (Berlin 

K. v. Hartmann, Kritische Wanderungen, p. 74. 

1 8 PROLEGOMENA. [11. 

more or less Hegelian origin have taken their place in 
the common stock of philosophic commodities. But it 
will probably be admitted by those best qualified to 
speak on the subject, that the shower has not as yet 
penetrated very deeply into the case-hardened soil, still 
less saturated it in the measure most likely to cause 
fruitful shoots to grow forth. We have to go back to 
Hegel in the same spirit as we go to Kant, and, for that 
matter, to Plato or Descartes : or, as the moderns may 
go back to borrow from another sphere to Dante or 
Shakespeare. We do not want the modern poet to 
resuscitate the style and matter of King Lear or of the 
Inferno. Yet as the Greek tragedian steeped his soul 
in the language and the legend of Homeric epic, as 
Dante nurtured his spirit on the noble melodies of 
Mantua s poet ; so philosophy, if it is to go forth strong 
and effective, must mould into its own substance the 
living thought of former times. It would be as absurd, 
and as impossible to be literally and simply a Hegelian, 
if that means one for whom Hegel sums up all philo 
sophy and all truth as it is to be at the present day in 
the literal sense a Platonist or an Aristotelian. The 
world may be slow, the world of opinion and thought may 
linger : e pur si muove. We too have our own problems 
the same, no doubt, in a sense, from age to age, and yet 
infinitely varying and never in two ages alike. New 
stars have appeared on the spiritual sky ; and whether 
they have in them the eternal light or only the flash 
and glare of a passing meteor, they alter the aspects 
of the night in which we are still waiting for the dawn. 
A new language, born of new relations of ideas, or of 
new ideas, is perforce for our generation the vehicle of 
all utterances, and we cannot again speak the dialect, 
however imposing or however quaint, of a vanished 


And for that reason there must always be a new 
philosophy, couched in the language of the age, sym 
pathetic with its hopes and fears, conscious of its 
beliefs, more or less sensible of its problems as indeed 
we may be confident there always will be. But, per 
haps, the warrior in that battle against illusion and pre 
judice, against the sloth which takes things as they are 
and the poorness of spirit which is satisfied with first 
appearances, will not do wisely to disdain the past. He 
will not indeed equip himself with rusty swords and 
clumsy artillery from the old arsenals. But he will not 
disdain the lessons of the past, its methods and princi 
ples of tactics and strategy. Recognising perhaps some 
defects and inequalities in the methods and aims of 
thought most familiar to him and current in his vicinity, 
he may go abroad for other samples, even though they 
be not in all respects worth his adoption. And so 
without taking Hegel as omniscient, or pledging him 
self to every word of the master, he may think from 
his own experience that there is much in the system 
that will be helpful, when duly estimated and assimi 
lated, to others. There is and few can be so bigoted 
or so positive-minded as to regret it there is un 
questionably a growing interest in English-speaking 
countries in what may be roughly called philosophy 
the attempt, unprejudiced by political, scientific, or 
ecclesiastical dogma, to solve the questions as to what 
the world really is, and what man s place and func 
tion is. The burthen of the mystery, the heavy and 
the weary weight of all this unintelligible world is 
felt felt widely and sometimes felt deeply. To the 
direct lightening of that burthen and that mystery it 
is the privilege of our profoundest thinkers and our 
far-seeing poets and artists to contribute. To the 
translator of Hegel there falls the humbler task of 

c 2 


making accessible, if it may be, something of one of the 
later attempts at a solution of the enigma of life and 
existence, an attempt which for a time dazzled some 
of the keenest intellects of its age, and which has at 
least impressed many others with the conviction, born of 
momentary flashes from it of vast illuminant power, that 
si sic otnnia there was here concealed a key to many 
puzzles, and a guard against many illusions likely to 
beset the inquirer after truth. 



ALTHOUGH we need not take too seriously Hegel s 
remark (vol. ii. p. 13) on the English conception of philo 
sophy, it may be admitted that, by the dominant school 
of English thought, philosophy, taken in the wide sense 
it has predominantly born abroad, was, not so very long 
ago, all but entirely ignored. Causes of various kinds 
had turned the energy of the English mind into other 
directions, not less essential to the common welfare. 
Practical needs and an established social system helped 
to bind down studies to definite and particular objects, 
and to exclude what seemed vague and general investi 
gations with no immediate bearing on the business of 
life. Hence philosophy in England could hardly exist 
except when it was reduced to the level of a special 
branch of science, or when it could be used as a recep 
tacle for the principles and methods common to all the 
sciences. The general term was often used to denote 
the wisdom of this world, or the practical exhibition of 
self-control in life and action. For those researches, 
which are directed to the objects once considered proper 
to philosophy, the more definite and characteristic term 
came to be Mental and Moral Science. 

The old name was in certain circles restricted to 
denote the vague and irregular speculations of those 
thinkers, who either lived before the rise of exact 
science, or who acted in defiance of its precepts and its 
example. One large and influential class of English 

22 PROLEGOMENA. [ill. 

thinkers inclined to sweep philosophy altogether away, 
as equivalent to metaphysics and obsolete forms of error ; 
and upon the empty site thus obtained they sought to 
construct a psychological theory of mind, or they tried 
to arrange and codify those general remarks upon the 
general procedure of the sciences which are known 
under the name of Inductive Logic. A smaller, but not 
less vigorous, school of philosophy looked upon their 
business as an extension and rounding off of science 
into a complete unification of knowledge. The first is 
illustrated by the names of J. S. Mill and Mr. Bain : the 
second is the doctrine of Mr. Herbert Spencer. 

The encyclopaedic aggregate of biological, psycho 
logical, ethical and social investigation which Mr. Spencer 
pursues, under the general guidance of the formula of 
evolution by differentiation and integration, still pro 
ceeds on its course : but though its popularity as such 
popularity goes is vast and more than national, it does 
not and probably cannot find many imitators. Very 
differently stand matters with the movement in psycho 
logy and logic. Here the initiative has led to divergent 
and unexpected developments. Psychology, which at 
first was partly an ampler and a more progressive logic, 
a theory of the origin and nature of knowledge, partly 
a propaedeutic to the more technical logic and ethics, 
and pursued in a loosely introspective way, has gravi 
tated more and more towards its experimental and phy 
siological side, with occasional velleities to assume the 
abstractly-mathematical character of a psycho-physical 
science. Logic, on the other hand, has also changed 
its scope. Not content to be a mere tool of the sciences 
or a mere criterion for the estimation of evidence, it has 
in one direction grown into a systematic effort to become 
an epistemology a system of the first principles of 
knowledge and reality a metaphysic of science ; and 


in another it has sought to realise the meaning of those 
old forms of inference which the logicians of half a cen 
tury ago were inclined to pooh-pooh as obsolete. Most 
remarkable and most novel of all is the vast increase 
of interest and research in the problems of ethics and 
of what is called the philosophy of religion subjects 
which at that date were literally burning questions, 
apt to scorch the fingers of those who touched them. 
In all of this, but especially marked in some leading 
thinkers, the ruling feature is the critical the sceptical, 
i. e. the eager, watchful, but self-restrained attitude 
towards its themes. Ever driving on to find a deeper 
unity than shows on the surface, and to get at principles, 
the modern thinker and in this we see the permanent 
and almost overwhelming influence of Kant upon him 
recoils from the dogmatism of system, at the very 
moment it seems to be within his grasp. 

Thus the recent products of English thought have 
been, as Mr. Spencer has taught us to say, partly in the 
line of differentiation, partly of integration. At one 
moment it seems as if the ancient queen of the sciences 
sat like Hecuba, exul, mops, while her younger daughters 
enjoyed the freedom and progress of specialisation. 
The wood seems lost behind the trees. And at another, 
again, the centripetal force seems to preponderate : 
every department, logic, ethics, psychology, sociology, 
rapidly carries its students on and up to fundamental 
questions, if not to fundamental principles. Philo 
sophy the one and undivided truth and quest of truth 
emerges fresh, vigorous, and as yet rather indeter 
minate, from the mass of detailed investigations. That 
the position is now altered from what it was in times 
when knowledge had fewer departments, is obvious. 
The task of the synoptic mind which Plato claims 
for the philosopher grows increasingly difficult : but 

24 PROLEGOMENA. [ill. 

that is hardly a reason for performing it in a more 
perfunctory way. It seems rather as if in such a crisis 
one of the great reconstructive systems of a preceding 
age might be in some measure helpful. 

If we consult history, it is at once clear that philosophy, 
or the pursuit of ultimate reality and permanent truth, 
went hand in hand with scientific researches into facts 
and their particular explanations. 

In their earlier stages the two tendencies of thought 
were scarcely distinguishable. The philosophers of 
Ionia and Magna Graecia were also the scientific 
pioneers of their time. Their fragmentary remains 
remind us at times of the modern theories of 
geology and biology, at other times of the teachings 
of idealism. The same thing is comparatively true of 
the earlier philosophers of Modern Europe. The 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in spite of Bacon 
and Newton, endeavoured to study the mental and 
moral life by a method which was a strange mixture of 
empiricism and metaphysics. In words, indeed, the 
thinkers from Descartes to Wolff duly emphasise, 
perhaps over-emphasise, the antithesis between the 
extended and the intellectual. But in practice their 
course is not so clear. Their mental philosophy is often 
only a preliminary medicina mentis to set the individual 
mind in good order for undertaking the various tasks 
awaiting a special research. They are really eager to 
get on to business, and only, as it were, with regret 
spend time in this clearance of mental faculty. And 
when they do deal with objects, the material and extended 
tends to become the dominant conception, the basis of 
reality. The human mind, that nobilissima substantia, 
is treated only as an aggregate, or a receptacle, of ideas, 
and the mens, with them all nearly as with Spinoza, 
is only an idea carport s, and that phrase not taken so 


highly as Spinoza s perhaps should be taken. In the 
works of these thinkers, as of the pre-Socratics, there 
is one element which may be styled philosophical, and 
another element which maybe styled scientific, if we 
use both words vaguely. But with Socrates in the 
ancient, and with Kant in the modern epoch of philo 
sophy, an attempt was made to get the boundary 
between the two regions definitively drawn. The dis 
tinction was in the first place accompanied by something 
like turning the back upon science and popular concep 
tions. Socrates withdrew thought from disquisitions 
concerning the nature of all things, and fixed it upon 
man and the state of man. Kant left the broad fields 
of actually-attained knowledge, and inquired into the 
central principle on which the acquisition of science, 
the laws of human life, and the ideals of art and 
religion, were founded. 

The change thus begun was not unlike that which 
Copernicus effected in the theory of Astronomy. Hu 
man personality, either in the actualised forms of the 
State, or in the abstract shape of the Reason, that 
intellectual liberty, which is a man s true world, was, 
at least by implication, made the pivot around which 
the system of the sciences might turn. In the contest, 
which according to Reid prevails between Common 
Sense and Philosophy, the presumptions of the former 
have been distinctly reversed, and Kant, like Socrates, 
has shown that it is not the several items of fact, but 
the humanity, the moral law, the thought, which under 
lies these doctrines, which give the real resting-point 
and true centre of movement. But this negative atti 
tude of philosophy to the sciences is only the beginning, 
needed to secure a standing-ground. In the ancient 
world Aristotle, and in the modern Hegel (as the 
inheritor of the labours of Fichte and Schelling), exhibit 

26 PROLEGOMENA. [ill. 

the movement outwards to reconquer the universe, pro 
ceeding from that principle which Socrates and Kant 
had emphasised in its fundamental worth. 

Mr. Mill, in the closing chapter of his Logic, has 
briefly sketched the ideal of a science to which he gives 
the name of Teleology, corresponding in the ethical 
and practical sphere to a Philosophia Prima, or Meta 
physics, in the theoretical. This ideal and ultimate 
court of appeal is to be valid in Morality, and also 
in Prudence, Policy and Taste. But the conception, 
although a desirable one, falls short of the work which 
Hegel assigns to philosophy. What he intended to 
accomplish with detail and regular evolution was not a 
system of principles in these departments of action only, 
but a theory which would give its proper place in our 
total Idea of reality to Art, Science, and Religion, to all 
the consciousness of ordinary life, and to the evolution 
of the physical universe. Philosophy ranges over the 
whole field of actuality, or existing fact. Abstract prin 
ciples are all very well in their way ; but they are not 
philosophy. If the world in its historical and its present 
life develops into endless detail in regular lines, philo 
sophy must equally develop the narrowness of its first 
principles into the plenitude of a System, into what 
Hegel calls the Idea. His point of view may be 
gathered from the following remarks in a review of 
Hamann, an erratic friend and fellow-citizen of Kant s. 
Hamann would not put himself to the trouble, which 
in an higher sense God undertook. The ancient philo 
sophers have described God under the image of a round 
ball. But if that be His nature, God has unfolded it ; 
and in the actual world He has opened the closed shell 
of truth into a system of Nature, into a State-system, a 
system of Law and Morality, into the system of the 
world s History. The shut fist has become an open 


hand, the fingers of which reach out to lay hold of 
man s mind, and draw it to Himself. Nor is the human 
mind a self-involved intelligence, blindly moving within 
its own secret recesses. It is no mere feeling and 
groping about in a vacuum, but an intelligent system of 
rational organisation. Of that system Thought is the 
summit in point of form : and Thought may be described 
as the capability of going beyond the mere surface of 
God s self-expansion, or rather as the capability, by 
means of reflection upon it, of entering into it, and then 
when the entrance has been secured, of retracing in 
thought God s expansion of Himself. To take this 
trouble is the express duty and end of ends set before 
the thinking mind, ever since God laid aside His 
rolled-up form, and revealed Himself 1 . 

Enthusiastic admirers have often spoken as if the 
salvation of the time could only come from the He 
gelian philosophy. Grasp the secret of Hegel, they 
say, and you will find a cure for the delusions of your 
own mind, and the remedy which will set right the 
wrongs of the world. These high claims to be a panacea 
were never made by Hegel himself. According to him, 
as according to Aristotle, philosophy as such can pro 
duce nothing new. Practical statesmen, and theoretical 
reformers, may do their best to correct the inequalities 
of their time. But the very terms in which Bacon 
scornfully depreciated one great concept of philosophy 
are to be accepted in their literal truth. Like a virgin 
consecrated to God, she bears no fruit 2 . She repre 
sents the spirit of the world, resting, as it were, when 
one step in the progress has been accomplished, and 
surveying the advance which has been made. Philo 
sophy is not, says Fichte, even a means to shape life : 

1 Vermischte Schriften, vol. ii. p. 87. 

2 De Augnt. Scient. iii. 5. 


for it lies in a totally different world, and what is to 
have an influence upon life must itself have sprung from 
life. Philosophy is only a means to the knowledge of 
life. Nor has it the vocation to edify men, and take 
the place of religion on the higher levels of intellect. 
The philosopher/ Fichte boldly continues, has no 
God at all and can have no God : he has only a con 
cept of the concept or of the Idea of God. It is only in 
life that there is God and religion : but the philosopher 
as such is not the whole complete man, and it is impos 
sible for any one to be only a philosopher V Philosophy 
does not profess to bring into being what ought to be, 
but is not yet. It sets up no mere ideals, which 
must wait for some future day in order to be realised. 
Enough for it if it show what the world ts, if it were 
what it professes to be, and what in a way it must be, 
otherwise it could not be even what it is. The subject- 
matter of philosophy is that which is always realising 
and always realised the world in its wholeness as it is 
and has been. It seeks to put before us, and embody 
in permanent outlines, the universal law of spiritual life 
and growth, and not the local, temporary, and indi 
vidual acts of human will. 

Those who ask philosophy to construe, or to deduce 
a priori a single blade of grass, or a single act of a 
man, must not be grieved if their request sounds absurd 
and meets with no answer. The sphere of philosophy 
is the Universal. We may say, if we like, that it is 
retrospective. It is the spectator of all time and all 
existence : it is its duty to view things sub specie aeter- 
nitatis. To comprehend the universe of thought in 
all its formations and all its features, to reduce the solid 
structures, which mind has created, to fluidity and 

1 The passages occur in some notes (written down by F. in reference 
to the charge of Atheism) published in his Werke, v. pp. 342, 348. 


transparency in the pure medium of thought, to set free 
the fossilised intelligence which the great magician who 
wields the destinies of the world has hidden under the 
mask of Nature, of the Mind of man, of the works of 
Art, of the institutions of the State and the orders of 
Society, and of religious forms and creeds : such is the 
complicated problem of philosophy. Its special work is 
to comprehend the world, not try to make it better. If 
it were the purpose of philosophy to reform and im 
prove the existing state of things, it comes a little too 
late for such a task. As the thought of the world/ 
says Hegel, it makes its first appearance at a time, 
when the actual fact has consummated its process of 
formation, and is now fully matured. This is the 
doctrine set forth by the notion of philosophy; but 
it is also the teaching of history. 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 substantial 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 V 

1 Philosophic des Rechts, p. 20 (Werke, viii). 



EVEN an incidental glance into Hegel s Logic can 
not fail to discover the frequent recurrence of the 
name of God, and the discussion of matters not gene 
rally touched upon ; unless in works bearing upon 
religion. There were two questions which seem to have 
had a certain fascination for Hegel. One of them, a 
rather unpromising problem, referred to the distances 
between the several planets in the solar system, and the 
law regulating these intervals 1 . The other and more 
intimate problem turned upon the value of the proofs 
usually offered in support of the being of God. That 
God is the supreme certitude of the mind, the basis of 
all reality and knowledge, is what Hegel no more put 
in question, than did Descartes, Spinoza, or Locke. 
What he often repeated was that the matter in these 
proofs must be distinguished from the imperfect manner 
in which the arguers presented it. Again and again 

1 Hegel s Leben, p. 155. It was in his dissertation de Orbitis 
Planetarum, that the notorious contretemps occurred, whereby, 
whilst the philosopher, leaning to a Pythagorean proportion, hinted 
in a line that it was unnecessary to expect a planet between 
Mars and Jupiter, astronomers in the same year discovered Ceres, 
the first-detected of the Planetoids. A good deal has been made out 
of this trifle ; but it has not yet been shown that the corroboration 
was anything but the luck of the other hypothesis. 


in his Logic, as well as in other discussions more 
especially devoted to it, he examines this problem. 
His persistence in this direction might earn for him 
that title of Knight of the Holy Ghost/ by which 
Heine, in one of the delightful poems of his Reise- 
bilder, describes himself to the maid of Klausthal in 
the Harz. The poet of Love and of Freedom had 
undoubted rights to rank among the sacred band : 
but so also had the philosopher. Like the Socrates 
whom Plato describes to us, he seems to feel that 
he has been commissioned to reveal the truth of God, 
and quicken men by an insight into the right wisdom. 
Nowhere in the modern period of philosophy has 
higher spirit breathed in the utterances of a thinker. 
The same theme is claimed as the common heritage 
of philosophy and religion. A letter to Duboc 1 , the 
father of a modern German novelist, lets us see how 
important this aspect of his system was to Hegel 
himself. He had been asked to give a succinct ex 
planation of his standing-ground : and his answer 
begins by pointing out that philosophy seeks to ap 
prehend in reasoned knowledge the same truth which 
the religious mind has in its faith. 

Words like these may at first sight suggest the bold 
soaring of ancient speculation in the times of Plato and 
Aristotle, or even the theories of the medieval School 
men. They sound as if he proposed to do for the 
modern world, and in the full light of modern know 
ledge, what the Schoolmen tried to accomplish within 
the somewhat narrow conceptions of medieval Chris 
tianity and Greek logic. Still there is a difference 
between the two cases. While the Doctors of the 

Vermischte Schriften, vol. ii. p. 520. Duboc was a retired hatter, 
of French origin, who had settled at Hamburg (Hegel s Briefe. 
ii. 76 seqq.). 


Church, in appearance at least, derived the form of 
exposition, and the matter of their systems, from two 
independent and apparently heterogeneous sources, 
the modern Scholastic of Hegel claims to be a har 
monious unity, body finding soul, and soul giving 
itself body. And while the Hegelian system has the 
all-embracing and encyclopaedic character by which 
Scholastic science threw its arms around heaven and 
earth, it has also the untrammeled liberty of the Greek 
thinkers. Hegel, in short, shows the union of these two 
modes of speculation : free as the ancient, and compre 
hensive as the modern. His theory is the explication 
of God ; but of God in the actuality and plenitude of 
the world, and not as a transcendent Being, such as an 
over-reverent philosophy has sometimes supposed him, 
in the solitude of a world beyond. 

The greatness of a philosophy is its power of com 
prehending facts. The most characteristic fact of 
modern times is Christianity. The general thought 
and action of the civilised world has been alternately 
fascinated and repelled, but always influenced, and to 
a high degree permeated, by the Christian theory of 
life, and still more by the faithful vision of that life 
displayed in the Son of Man. To pass that great 
cloud of witness and leave it on the other side, is to 
admit that your system is no key to the secret of the 
world, even if we add, as some will prefer, of the 
world as it is and has been. And therefore the 
Hegelian system, if it is to be a philosophy at all, 
must be in this sense Christian. But it is neither a 
critic, nor an apologist of historical Christianity. The 
voice of philosophy is as that of the Jewish doctor of 
the Law : If this council or this work be of men, it 
will come to nought : but if it be of God, ye cannot 
overthrow it. Philosophy examines what is, and not 


what, according to some opinions, ought to be. Such 
a point of view requires no discussion of the How or 
the Why of Christianity. It involves no inquiry into 
historical documents, or into the belief in miracles : 
for to it Christianity rests only incidentally on the 
evidence of history; and miracles, as vulgarly explained, 
can find no reception in a philosophical system. For 
it Christianity is absolute religion : religion i. e. which 
has fully become and realised all that religion meant to 
be. That religion has, of course, its historical side : it 
appeared at a definite epoch in the annals of our race : 
it revealed itself in a unique personality in a remarkable 
nation. And at an early period of his life Hegel had 
tried to gather up in one conception the traits of that 
august figure, in his life and speech and death. But, in 
the light of philosophy, this historical side shrivels up 
as comparatively unimportant. Not the personality, 
but the revelation of reason through man s spirit : 
not the annals of a life once spent in serving God and 
men, but the words of the Eternal Gospel, are hence 
forth the essence of Christianity. 

Thus the controlling and central conception of life 
and actuality, which is the final explanation of all that 
man thinks and does, has a twofold aspect. There is, 
as it were, a double Absolute for under this name 
philosophy has what in religion corresponds to God. 
It is true that in the final form of his system the 
Absolute Spirit has three phases each as it were 
passing on into and incorporated with the next Art 
working out its implications till it appears as Religion, 
and Religion calling for its perfection in Philosophy. 
But in the Phenomenology, his first work, the religion 
of Art only intervenes as a grade from natural religion 
to religion manifest or revealed ; and in the first edition 
of the Encyclopaedia what is subsequently called Art is 


entitled the Religion of Art. It is in entire accord 
ance with these indications when in the Lectures on 
Aesthetics 1 it is said the true and original position of 
Art is to fee the first-come immediate self-satisfaction of 
Absolute Spirit ; though in our days (it is added) its 
form has ceased to be the highest need of the spirit/ 
It is hardly too much then to say that, for Hegel, the 
Absolute has two phases, Religion and Philosophy. 

The Hegelian view presents itself most decisively, 
though perhaps with a little lecture-like over-insistance, 
in the Philosophy of Religion 2 . The object of religion 
as of philosophy is the eternal truth in its very objec 
tivityGod and nothing but God, and the "explica 
tion" of God. Philosophy is not a wisdom of the 
world, but cognition of the non-worldly : not a cogni 
tion of the external mass of empirical existence and 
life, but cognition of what is eternal, what is God, 
and what flows from His nature. For this nature 
must reveal and develop itself. Hence philosophy 
" explicates " itself only when it " explicates " religion ; 
and in explicating itself it explicates religion. . . . Thus 
religion and philosophy coincide : in fact, philosophy is 
itself a divine service, is a religion : for it is the same 
renunciation of subjective fancies and opinions, and is 
engaged with God alone/ 

Again, it may be asked in what sense philosophy 
has to deal with God and with Truth. These two 
terms are often synonyms in Hegel. All the objects 
of science, all the terms of thought, all the forms of 
reality, lead out of themselves, and seek for a centre 
and resting-point. They are severally inadequate and 
partial, and they crave adequacy and completeness. 
They tend to organise themselves ; to call out more 

1 Werke, x. i, p. 131. 

2 Werke, xi. p. 21. 



and more distinctly the fuller reality which they pre 
suppose, which must have been, otherwise they could 
not have been : they reduce their first appearance of 
completeness to its due grade of inadequacy and bring 
out their complementary side, so as to constitute a 
system or universe; and in this tendency to a self- 
correcting unity consists their progress to truth. Their 
untruth lies in isolation and pretended independence 
or finality. This completed unity, in which all things 
receive their entireness and become adequate, is their 
Truth : and that Truth, as known in religious language, 
is God. Rightly or wrongly, God is thus interpreted 
in the Logic of Hegel. 

Such a position must seem very strange to one who 
is familiar only with the sober studies of English 
philosophy. In whatever else the leaders of the 
several schools in this country disagree, they are 
nearly all at one in banishing God and religion to 
a world beyond the present sublunary sphere, to an 
inscrutable region beyond the scope of scientific in 
quiry, where statements may be made at will, but 
where we have no power of verifying any statement 
whatever. This is the common doctrine of Spencer 
and Mansel, of Hamilton and Mill. Even those 
English thinkers, who show some anxiety to support 
what is at present called Theism, generally rest content 
with vindicating for the mind the vague perception of 
a Being beyond us, and differing from us incommen- 
surably. God is to them a residual phenomenon, a 
marginal existence. Outside the realm of experience 
and knowledge there is not-nothing a something 
beyond definite circumscription : incalculable, and 
therefore an object, possibly of fear, possibly of hope : 
the reflection in the utter darkness of a great What- 
may-it-not-be ? He is the Unknown Power, felt by 

D 2 


what some of these writers call intuition, and others 
call experience. They do not however allow to know 
ledge any capacity of apprehending in detail the truths 
fhich belong to the kingdom of God. Now the whole 
aching of Hegel is the overthrow of the limits thus 
it to religious thought. To him all thought, and all 
actuality when it is grasped by knowledge, is from 
man s side, an exaltation of the mind towards God : 
while, when regarded from the divine standing-point, 
it is the manifestation by God of His own nature in its 
infinite variety. 

It is only when we fix our eyes clearly on these 
general features in his speculation, that we can under 
stand why he places the maturity of ancient philosophy 
in the time of Plotinus and Proclus. Not that these 
Neo-Platonists are, as thinkers, of power equal to their 
master of Athens. But, in the realm of the blind the 
one-eyed may be king. The later thinkers set their 
vision more distinctly and persistently on the land that 
is eternal on the further side of being/ to quote 
Plato s phrase. It is for the same reason Hegel gives 
so much attention to the religious or semi-religious 
theories of Jacob Bohme and of Jacobi, though these 
men were in many ways so unlike himself. 



IT is hazardous to try to sum up the net result of a 
philosophy in a few paragraphs. Since Aristotle sepa 
rated the pure energy of philosophy from the activities 
which leave works made and deeds done behind them, 
it need scarcely be repeated that the result of a philo 
sophical system is nothing palpable or tangible, 
nothing on which you can put your finger, and say 
definitely : Here it is. The spirit of a philosophy 
always refuses to be incarcerated in a formula, however 
deftly you may try to charm it there. The statement of 
the principle or tendency of a philosophical system tells 
not what that system is, but what it is not. It marks 
off the position from contiguous points of view ; and 
on that account never gets beyond the border-land, 
which separates that system from something else. The 
method and process of reasoning is as essential in 
knowledge, as the result to which it leads : and the 
method in this case is thoroughly bound up with the 
subject-matter. A mere analysis of the method, there 
fore, or a mere record of the purpose and outcome of 
the system, would be, the one as well as the other, 
a fruitless labour, and come to nothing but words. 
Thus any attempt to convey a glimpse of the truth in 
a few sentences and in large outlines seems foreclosed. 

38 PROLEGOMENA. |_ v - 

The theory of Hegel has an abhorrence of mere 
generalities, of abstractions with no life in them, and 
no growth out of them. His principle has to prove 
and verify itself to be true and adequate : and that 
verification fills up the whole circle of circles, of which 
philosophy is said to consist. 

It seems as if there were in Hegel two distinct habits 
of mind which the world the outside observer rarely 
sees except in separation. On one hand there is a 
sympathy with mystical and intuitional minds, with the 
upholders of immediate knowledge and of innate ideas, 
with those who find that science and demonstration 
rather tend to distract from the one thing needful 
who would lie in Abraham s bosom all the year/ 
those who would fain lay their grasp upon the whole 
before they have gone through the drudgery of details. 
On the other hand, there is within him a strongly 
rationalising and non-visionary intellect, with a prac 
tical and realistic bent, and the full scientific spirit. 
Schelling, in an angry mood, could describe him as the 
quintessence of all that is prosaic, both outside and in 1 . 
Yet, seen from other points of view, Hegel has been 
accused of dreaminess, pietism, and mystical theology. 
His merging of the ordinary contrasts of thought in a 
completer truth, and what would popularly be described 
as his mixing up of religious with logical questions, and 
the general unfathomableness of his doctrine, all seem 
to support such a charge. Yet all this is not incon 
sistent with a rough and incisive vigour of under 
standing, a plainness of reason, and a certain hardness 
of temperament. This philosopher is in many ways 
not distinguishable from the ordinary citizen, and there 
are not unfrequent moments when his wife hears him 
groan over the providence that condemned him to be a 

1 Aus Schellings Leben (Plitt), ii. 161. 


philosopher 1 . He is contemptuous towards all weakly 
sentimentalism, and almost brutal in his emphasis on 
the reasonableness of the actual and on the folly of 
dreaming the might-have-been ; and keeps his house 
hold accounts as carefully as the average head of a 
family. And, perhaps, this convergence of two ten 
dencies of thought may be noticed in the gradual 
maturing of his ideas. In the period of his Lehrjahre/ 
or apprenticeship, from 1793 to 1800, we can see the 
study of religion in the earlier part of that time at 
Bern succeeded by the study of politics and philo 
sophy at Frankfort-on-the-Main. 

His purpose on the whole may be termed an attempt 
to combine breadth with depth, the intensity of the 
mystic who craves for union with Truth, with the 
extended range and explicitness of those who multiply 
knowledge. The depth of the mind is only so deep 
as its courage to expand and lose itself in its explica 
tion V It must prove its profundity by the ordered 
fullness of the knowledge which it has realised. The 
position and the work of Hegel will not be intelligible 
unless we keep in view both of these antagonistic 

The purpose of philosophy as has been pointed 
out is, for Hegel to know God, which is to know 
things in their Truth to see all things in God to 
comprehend the world in its eternal significance. 
Supposing the purpose capable of being achieved, 
what method is open to its attainment? There is 
on one hand the method of ordinary science in 
dealing with its objects. These are things, found as 
it were projected into space before the observer, 
lying outside one another in prima facie indepen- 

1 Hegel s Brief e, ii. 377. 

2 Phenomenologie des Geistes, p. 9. 


dence, though connected (by a further rinding) with 
each other by certain accidents called qualities 
and relations. Among the objects of knowledge, there 
are included, by the somewhat naive intellect that 
accepts tradition like a physical fact ; certain things* 
of a rather peculiar character. One of these is God : 
the others, which a historical criticism has subjoined, 
are the Soul and the World. And whatever may be 
said of the thinghood, reality, or existence of the World, 
there is no doubt that God and the Soul figure, and 
figure largely, in the consciousness of the human race 
as entities, differing probably in many respects from 
other things, but still possessed of certain fundamental 
features in common, and thus playing a part as distinct 
realities amongst other realities. 

Given such objects, it is natural for a reflecting mind 
to attempt to make out a science of God and a science 
of the Soul, just as of other things.* And to these 
a system-loving philosopher might add a science of the 
world (Cosmology) 1 . It was felt, indeed, that these 
objects were peculiar and unique. Thus, for example, 
as regards God, it was held necessary by the logician 
who saw tradition in its true light to prove His exist 
ence : and various arguments to that end were at 
different times devised. With regard to the human 
Soul, similarly, it was considered essential to establish 
its independent reality as a thing really separate from 
the bodily organism with which its phenomena were 
obviously connected, to prove, in short, its substantial 
existence, and its emancipation from the bodily fate of 
dissolution and decay. With reference to the World, the 
problem was rather different : it was felt that the name 
suggested problems for thought rather than denoted 

1 Cf. Notes and Illustrations in vol. ii. 396, and chapter iii. of the 


reality. How can we predicate of the whole what is 
predicable of its parts? This or that may have a 
beginning and a cause, may have a limit and an end : 
but can the totality be presented under these aspects, 
without leading to self-contradiction ? And the result 
of these questions in the case of Cosmology * was to 
shed in the long run similar doubts on Rational* 
Theology and Rational * Psychology. 

Practically this metaphysical science which is so 
called as dealing with a province or provinces of being 
beyond the ordinary or natural (physical) realities- 
treated God and the Soul by the same terms (or 
categories) as it used in dealing with material objects. 
God e. g. was a force, a cause, a being ; so, too, was 
the Soul. The main butt of Kant s destructive Criticism 
of pure Reason is to challenge the justice of including 

God and the Soul among the objects of science, 

among the things we can know as we may know plants 
or stars. To make an object of knowledge (in the strict 
sense), to make a thing, the prerequisite, Kant urges, is 
perception in space and time. Without a sensation 
and that sensation, as it were, laid out in place and 
duration an object of science is impossible. No mere 
demonstration will conjure it into existence. And with 
that requirement the old theology and psychology, which 
professed to expound the object-God and the object- 
soul, were ruled out-of-order in the list of sciences, and 
reduced to mere dialectical exercises. The circle of the 
sciences, therefore, does not lead beyond the con- 
ditioned,* beyond the regions of space and time. It has 
nothing to say of a first cause* or of an ultimate end. 

Such was the result that might fairly be read from 
Kant s Criticism of pure Reason, especially if read 
without its supplementary sequels, and, above all, if 
read by those in whom feeling was stronger than 


thought, or who were by nature more endowed with 
the craving for faith than with the mind of philosophy. 
Such a personality appeared in J. H. Jacobi, the younger 
brother of a poet not undistinguished in his day. Amid 
the duties of public office and the cares of business, he 
found time to study Spinoza, the English and Scotch 
moralists, and above all to follow with interest the 
development of Kant from the year 1763 onwards. 
His house at Diisseldorf was the scene of many literary 
reunions, and Jacobi himself maintained familiar inter 
course with the leaders of the literary and intellectual 
world, such as Lessing, Hamann, Goethe. His first 
considerable works were two novels, in letters, Allwill, 
begun in a serial magazine in 1775, and Woldemar, 
begun in another magazine in 1777; both being issued 
as complete works in 1781. Both turn on a moral 
antithesis, and both leave the antithesis as they found 
it. Here pleads the advocate of the heart: it is the 
heart which alone and directly tells man what is good : 
virtue is a fundamental instinct of human nature : the 
true basis of morals is an immediate certainty; and 
the supreme standard is an ethical genius which as 
it were discovered virtue and which still is a paramount 
authority in those exceptional situations in life when 
the grammar of virtue fails to supply adequate rules, 
and where, therefore, the immediate voice of conscience 
must in a licence of sublime poesy l dare, as Burke 
says, to suspend its own rules in favour of its own 
principles. There, on the other hand, is the champion 
of reason, who declares all this sentimentalism a veri 
table mysticism of antinomianism and a quietism of 
immorality- : To humanity, he says, and to every 
man (every complete man) principles, and some system 

1 Jacobi s Werke, v. 79, in, 115, 4 1 ?- 

2 Ibid., i. 178. 


of principles, are indispensable/ Woldemar concludes 
with the pair of mottoes : Whosoever trusts to his own 
heart is a fool/ and Trust love: it takes everything, 
but it gives everything/ 

In 1780 Jacobi had his historic conversation with 
Lessing at Wolfenbuttel l . The talk turned on Spinoza. 
For many years the philosophy of Spinoza had seemed 
to vanish from the world. His name was only heard 
in a reference of obloquy, as if it were dangerous to be 
even suspected of infection with the taint of Atheism. 
But both Lessing and Jacobi had found him out. The 
former saw in him an ally in that struggle for higher 
light and wider views which he undertook in a spirit 
and with a scope hardly surmised by those he usually 
wrought with. Jacobi, on the contrary, saw in him 
personified the conjunction of all those irreligious ten 
dencies which all philosophy in some degree exhibited : 
the tendency to veil or set aside God and personality. 
I believe/ says Jacobi, as he began the conversation 
in an intelligent personal cause of the world/ Then 
I am going/ replied Lessing, to hear something quite 
new : and he dryly put aside the other s rhapsody 
on the personal extra-mundane deity with the remark 
Words, my dear Jacobi, words/ Jacobi s work Letters 
on the doctrine of Spinoza (it appeared in 1785) was 
the beginning of a controversy in which Mendelssohn 
and Herder took part, and in which Goethe took an 
interest under Herder s tutorship. To the exact philo 
logical study of Spinoza it did not contribute much : for 
the Spinoza whom Herder and Goethe saw as their 
spiritual forefather was transfigured in their thought to 
a figure to which Leibniz had almost an equal right 
to give his name. He upheld to them the symbol of 
the immanence of the divine in nature : he was the 

1 Jacobi s Werke, iv. i. Abth. p. 55 seqq. 


leader in the battle against philistine deism and utili 

With the Kantian criticism of the pseudo-science of 
theology Jacobi had in one way no fault to find. That 
reasoning by its demonstration cannot find out God, was 
to him an axiomatic belief. But the man of feeling* 
felt uneasy at the trenchant methods of the Konigsberg 
man of logic. He seemed to see the world of men and 
things passing under Kant s manipulation into a mere 
collection of phenomena and ideas of the mind. Still 
more was he sensible to the loss of his God. That sur 
rogate of an argument for theism which Kant seemed 
to offer in the implications of the Moral Law did not 
give what Jacobi wanted. Mere morality is a cold and 
mechanical principle he thinks compared with that 
infinite life and love which we deem we have in God. 
The son of man, he felt, was, in virtue of an indwelling 
genius of conscience, supreme over the moral law : 
how much more, then, the Absolute and Eternal on a 
higher grade of being than its mechanical regularities ! 

If the way of reasoning will not carry us to the 
Absolute, still less (and that is whither Jacobi wishes 
to reach) to God, there must be another way : for some 
thing in him, which may be called Faith or Feeling, 
Spiritual Sense or Reason, proclaims itself certain of 
the reality both of God and Nature. There is an 
objective reality outside and beyond him yet some 
how to be reached by a daring leap, whereby, out of 
sheer force of will, he, shutting his eyes to the temporal 
and the mechanical, finds himself carried over the 
dividing gulf into the land of eternal life and love. 
I appeal he says in his latest utterances 1 to an 
imperative, an invincible feeling as the first and un- 
derived ground of all philosophy and all religion, to 

1 Jacobi s Werke y iv. i, p. xxi. 


a feeling which lets man become aware of and alive to 
the fact that he has a sense for the supersensuous/ 
As it is religion which makes man man/ he continues, 
and which alone lifts him above the animals, so it also 
makes him a philosopher/ Such an organ for the 
supersensuous is what in his later writings he calls 
Vernunft (Reason) and distinguishes from Ver stand 
(Understanding). This reason/ says Coleridge (to 
whom we owe this use of the terms in English) in the 
Friend, is an organ bearing the same relation to 
spiritual objects as the eye bears to material pheno 
mena. It is that intuition of things which arises when 
we possess ourselves as one with the whole/ and is 
opposed to that science of the mere understanding in 
which transferring reality to the negations of reality 
(to the ever-varying framework of the uniform life) we 
think of ourselves as separated beings, and place nature 
in antithesis to the mind, as object to subject, thing to 
thought, death to life. But this Reason is even more 
than this. It is the direct contact with reality, which it 
affirms and even is. It apprehends the me and the thee, 
it apprehends above all the great Thee, God : appre 
hends, and we may even say appropriates 1 . And it 
apprehends them at one bound in one salto mortale 
because if is really in implicit possession of them. Call 
the step a miracle, if you will : you must admit, he 
adds, that some time or other every philosophy must 
have recourse to a miracle 2 / 

And yet the asseveration rings false it shows a 
womanish wilfulness and weakness in its reiteration. 
He has the reality; yet he has it not. Were a God 
known/ he says in one place, He would not be God/ 
He yearns with passionate longing to find the living 

1 Jacobi s Brief wechsel, i. 330. 
3 Jacobi s Werke, iii. 53. 


and true : he feels himself and the Eternal clasped in 
one : his faith effects the reality of things hoped for. 
But, he adds, We never see the Absolute : the primal 
light of reason is but faint. It is but a presage a pre 
suppositionof the Everlasting. This reason, in short, 
needs discipline and development, it needs the ethical 
life to raise it: without morality no religiosity/ he 
says. Light, he complains, is in my heart/ but at the 
moment I want to bring it into the understanding, the 
light goes out. And yet he knows and Coleridge 
repeats the consciousness of reason and of its revela 
tions is only possible in an understanding. 

There seem to be one or two motives acting upon 
Jacobi. The plain man/ especially if he be of high 
character and of noble religiosity, has a feeling that 
the lust of philosophising disturbs the security of life, 
and endangers things which are deservedly dear to 
him. In such an one the enthusiasm of logic the 
calm pursuit of truth at all costs, so characteristic 
of Lessing is inferior to the enthusiasm of life/- 
a passion in which the terrestrial and the celestial are 
inextricably blended, where one clings to God as the 
stronghold of self, and sets personality our human 
personality in the throne of the Eternal. He will be 
all that is noble and good, if only he be not asked 
utterly to surrender self. So, too, Jacobi s God or 
Absolute (for he leaves his non-philosophy so far as 
to use both names), is rather the final aim of a grand, 
overpowering yearning, than a calm, self-centred, self- 
expanding life which carries man along with it. It 
would be, he feels, so very terrible, if at the last there 
were no God to meet us to find the throne of the 
universe vacant. Avaunt philosophy, therefore ! Let 
us cling to the faith of our nature and our childhood, 
and refuse her treacherous consolations ! 


With the central proposition of Jacobi, Hegel, for 
one, is not inclined to quarrel. He too, as he asks and 
answers the question as to the issues of this and of the 
better life, might say 

Question, answer presuppose 
Two points : that the thing itself which questions, answers, is, it 

knows ; 

As it also knows the thing perceived outside itself a force 
Actual ere its own beginning, operative through its course, 
Unaffected by its end, that this thing likewise needs must be ; 
Call this God, then, call that Soul, and both the only facts for me. 
Prove them facts? that they o erpass my power of proving proves 

them such : 
Fact it is, I know, I know not something which is fact as much. 

But when Jacobi goes on to say that it is the supreme 
and final duty of the true sage to unveil reality/ 
meaning thereby that, given the feeling, he has only to 

Define it well 
For fear divine Philosophy 
Should push beyond her mark and be 
Procuress to the Lords of Hell, 

Hegel withdraws. It is the duty of philosophy to 
labour to make the perception the fleeting, uncertain, 
trembling perception of faith, a clear, sure, inwardly 
consistent knowledge: to show, and not merely to 
assert, that the path of (this world s) duty is the way 
to (that world s) glory/ There is, Hegel himself has 
said more than once, something opposed to ordinary 
ways of thinking in the procedure of the philosopher. 
To the outsider, it seems like standing on your head. 
It involves something like what, in religious language, 
is termed conversion a new birth becoming a new 
man. But though such a change always seems to 
culminate in a moment of sudden transformation, as 
if the continuity of old and new were disrupted, the 
process has a history and a preparation. Of that 


pilgrim s progress of the world-distracted soul to its 
discovery of its true being in God, philosophy is the 
record : a record which Hegel has written both in the 
Phenomenologv of Mind, and, more methodically, in 
his Encyclopaedia. The passage from nature to God 
or from man s limitations to the divine fullness must 
be made, he urged, in the open day and not in the 
secret vision when sleep falls upon men. When the 
aged Jacobi read these requirements of Hegel, he wrote 
to a friend : He may be right, and I should like once 
again to experiment with him all that the power of 
thinking can do alone, were not the old man s head 
too weak for it 1 . 

For a philosophy like this, says Hegel 2 , individual 
man and humanity are the ultimate standpoint : as 
a fixed invincible finitude of reason, not as a reflection 
of the eternal beauty, or as a spiritual focus of the 
universe, but as an ultimate sense-nature, which how 
ever with the power of faith can daub itself over here 
and there with an alien supersensible. Let us suppose 
an artist restricted to portrait-painting ; he might so far 
idealise as to introduce in the eye of a common 
place countenance a yearning look, and on its lips a 
melancholy smile, but he would be utterly debarred from 
depicting the Gods, sublime over yearning and melan 
choly as if the delineation of eternal pictures were 
only possible at the cost of humanity. So too Philoso 
phy on this view must not portray the Idea of man, 
but the abstraction of a humanity empirical and mingled 
with short-comings, and must bear a body impaled on 
the stake of the absolute antithesis ; and when it clearly 
feels its limitation to the sensible, it must at the same 
time bedeck itself with the surface colour of a super- 

1 Jacobi s Briefwechsel, ii. 468. 

2 Hegel s Werke, i. 15. 



sensible, and point the finger of faith to a something 

But the truth cannot be defrauded by such a con 
secration if finitude be still left subsisting; the true 
consecration must annihilate it. The artist, who fails to 
give actuality the true truth by letting fall upon it the 
ethereal illumination and taking it completely in that 
light, and who can only depict actuality in its bare 
ordinary reality and truth (a reality however which 
is neither true nor real) may apply the pathetic remedy 
to actuality, the remedy of tenderness and senti 
mentality, everywhere putting tears on the cheeks 
of the commonplace, and an O God ! in their mouth. 
No doubt his figures in this way direct their look over 
the actual heavenwards, but like bats they belong 
neither to the race of birds nor beasts, neither to earth 
nor heaven. Their beauty is not free from ugliness, 
nor their morals without weakness and meanness : the 
intelligence they haply may show is not without banality : 
the success which enters into it is not without vulgarity, 
and the misfortune not without cowardice and terror; 
and both success and misfortune have something con 
temptible. So too philosophy, if it takes the finite and 
subjectivity as absolute truth in the logical form habitual 
to her, cannot purify them by bringing them into rela 
tion with an infinite : for that infinite is not itself the 
true, because it is unable to consume finitude. But 
where a philosophy consumes the temporal as such 
and burns up reality, its action is pronounced a cruel 
dissection, which does not leave man complete, and 
a forcible abstraction which has no truth, above all no 
truth for life. And such an abstraction is treated as 
a painful amputation of an essential piece from the 
completeness of the whole : that essential piece, and 
absolute substantiality being believed to consist in the 


temporal and empirical, and in privation. It is as if 
a person, who sees only the feet of a work of art, were 
to complain, should the whole work be unveiled to his 
eyes, that he was deprived of the privation, that the 
incomplete was decompleted. 

Jacobi has been spoken of as the leader of this 
Un-philosophy of faith. As such his allies lie on one 
side among philosophers who hold by the deliverances 
of common sense/ by the consciousness of the unso 
phisticated man shrinking from the waywardness of an 
idealism that deprives him of his solidest realities. 
The type of such a philosopher has been drawn by 
Hegel in Krug. But, on the other side, Jacobi touched 
hands though not in a sympathetic spirit with a some 
what motley band which also had set its face to go to 
the everlasting gates, but had turned aside to aimless 
wandering on the Hill Difficulty, or sought too soon 
the repose of the Delectable Mountains, without due 
sojourn in the valley of Humiliation or descent under 
the Shadow of Death. Like Wordsworth, they felt 
that the world is too much with us : that our true self 
is frittered away into fragments and passing stages, in 
which we are not ourselves, whereby we also lose the 
true perception of the essential life of nature. Gradually 
we have sunk into the deadening arms of habit, reduced 
ourselves to professional and conventional types, and 
lost the freer and larger mobility of spiritual being. 
We have grown into versldndige Leute people of 
practical sense and worldly wisdom. To such, philoso 
phy would come if it could come as the great breath 
of life of reason (Vernunft) which transcends the 
separations inevitable in practical will and knowledge. 
But to this band which has been styled the Romantic 
School of Germany the liberation came in ways more 

1 Hegel s Vermischte Schriften, i. 50. 


analogous to that craved for by Jacobi. Their way 
was the way of Romance and Imagination. The 
principle of Romance is the protest against confining 
man and nature to the dull round of uniformities which 
custom and experience have imprisoned them in. 
Boundless life, infinite spontaneity is surging within us 
and the world, ready to break down the dams con 
vention and inertia have established. That inner power 
is an ever- fresh, ever-restless Irony, which sets up and 
overthrows, which refuses to be bound or stereotyped, 
which is never weary, never exhausted, free in the 
absolute sense. It is the mystic force of Nature, which 
they seemed to see ever on the spring to work its magic 
transformations, and burst the bulwarks of empirical 
law. It is the princely jus aggratiandi, the sportive sove 
reignty of the true artist, who is able at any moment to 
enter into direct communion with the heart of things. 

The beginning of the nineteenth century in Germany, 
as well as in England, was a period of effervescence : 
there was a good deal of fire, and naturally there 
was also a good deal of smoke. Genius was exultant 
in its aspirations after Freedom, Truth, and Wisdom. 
The Romantic School, which had grown up under the 
stimulus of Fichte s resolve to enact thought, and had 
for a time been closely allied with Schelling, counted 
amongst its literary chiefs the names of the Schlegels, 
of Tieck, Novalis, and perhaps Richter. The world, 
as that generation dreamed, was to be made young 
again, first by drinking, where Wordsworth led, from 
the fresh springs of nature, afterwards when, as often 
has happened, doubts arose as to where Nature was 
really to be found, by an elixir distilled from the 
withered flowers of medieval Catholicism and chivalry, 

Since the Mid- Age was the Heroic Time 

and even from the old roots of primeval wisdom. The 



good old times of faith and harmonious beauty were to 
be brought back again by the joint labours of ideas and 

So, all that the old Dukes had been, without knowing it, 
This Duke would fain know he was without being it. 

To that period of incipient and darkling energy 
Hegel stands in very much the same position 
as Luther did to the pre- Reformation mystics, to 
Meister Eckhart, and the unknown author of the 
1 German Theology/ It was from this side, from the 
school of Genius and Romance in philosophy, that 
Hegel was proximately driven, not into sheer re-action, 
but into system, development, and science. 

To elevate philosophy from a love of wisdom into the 
possession of real wisdom, into a system and a science, 
is the aim which he distinctly set before himself from 
the beginning. In almost every work, and every course 
of lectures, whatever be their subject, he cannot let slip 
the chance of an attack upon the mode of philosophising 
which substituted the strength of belief or conviction 
for the intervention of reasoning and argument. There 
may have been a strong sympathy in him with the end 
which these German contemporaries and, in some ways, 
analogues to Coleridge, Shelley, Wordsworth, and 
Byron had in view. No one who reads his criticism 
of Kant can miss perceiving his bent towards the 
Infinite. But he utterly rejects the vision of feeling, 
whether as longing faith or devout enjoyment, as an 
adequate exposition of the means to this end. Whereas 
these fantastic seers and sentimentalists either disparage 
science as a limitation to the spirit, in the calm trust of 
their life in God, or yearn throughout life for a peace 
which they never quite reach, Hegel is bent upon 
showing men that the Infinite is not unknowable, 
as Kant would have it, and yet that man can not, as 


Jacob! would have it, naturally and without an effort 
enjoy the things of God \ He will prove that the way 
of Truth is open, and prove it by describing in detail 
every step of the road. Philosophy for him must be 
reasoned truth. She does not visit favoured ones in 
visions of the night, but comes to all who win her by 
patient study. 

For those/ he says, who ask for a royal road to 
science, no more convenient directions can be given 
than to trust to their own sound common sense, and, if 
they wish to keep up with the age and with philosophy, 
to read the reviews criticising philosophical works, and 
perhaps even the prefaces and the first paragraphs in 
these works themselves. The introductory remarks 
state the general and fundamental principles ; and the 
reviews, besides their historical information, contain 
a critical estimate, which, from the very fact that it is 
such, is beyond and above what it criticises. This is 
the road of ordinary men : and it may be traversed in 
a dressing-gown. The other way is the way of intuition. 
It requires you to don the vestments of the high-priest. 
Along that road stalks the ennobling sentiment of the 
Eternal, the True, the Infinite. But it is wrong to call 
this a road. These grand sentiments find themselves, 
naturally and without taking a single step, centred in the 
very sanctuary of truth. So mighty is genius, with its 
deep original ideas and its high flashes of wit. But 
a depth like this is not enough to lay bare the sources 
of true being, and these rockets are not the empyrean. 
True thoughts and scientific insights are only to be 
gained by the labour which comprehends and grasps its 
object. And that thorough grasp alone can produce 
the universality of science. Contrasted with the vulgar 
vagueness and scantiness of common sense, that univer- 
1 Compare pages 121-142 of the Logic. 


salityis a fully-formed and rounded intellect; and, con 
trasted with the un- vulgar generality of the natural gift 
of reason when it has been spoilt by the laziness and 
self-conceit of genius, it is truth put in possession of its 
native form, and thus rendered the possible property of 
every self-conscious reason V 

These words which were taken to heart (unnecessarily, 
perhaps) by the patron of the Intellectual Intuition rung 
the knell to the friendship of Hegel with his great con 
temporary Schelling. Yet this hard saying is also the 
keynote to the subsequent work of the philosopher. In 
Hegel we need expect no brilliant aper^us of genius, no 
intellectual legerdemain, but only the patient unravel 
ing of the clue of thought through all knots and 
intricacies : a deliberate tracing and working-out of 
the contradictions and mysteries in thought, until the 
contradiction and the mystery disappear. Perseverance 
is the secret of Hegel. 

This characteristic of patient work is seen, for ex 
ample, in the incessant prosecution of hints and 
glimpses, until they grew into systematic and rounded 
outline. Instead of vague anticipations and guesses 
at truth, fragments of insight, his years of philosophic 
study are occupied with writing and re-writing, in the 
endeavour to clear up and arrange the masses of his 
ideas. Essay after essay, and sketch after sketch of 
a system, succeed each other amongst his papers. His 
first great work was not published before his 37th year, 
after six years spent in university work at Jena, following 
as many spent in preliminary lucubration. The notes 
which he used to dictate some years afterwards to the 
boys in the Gymnasium at Niirnberg bear evidence of 
constant remodelling, and the same is true of his 
professorial lectures. 

1 Phenomenologie des Geistes, p. 54 (Werke, ii). 


Such insistance in tracing every suggestion of truth 
to its place in the universe of thought is the peculiar 
character and difficulty of Hegelian argument. Other 
observers have now and again noticed, accentuated, and, 
it may be, popularised some one point or some one law 
in the evolution of reason. Here and there, as we 
reflect, we are forced to recognise what Hegel termed 
the dialectical nature in thought, the tendency, by 
which a principle, when made to be all that it implied, 
when, as the phrase is, it is carried to extremes, recoils 
and leaves us confronted by its antithesis. We cannot, 
for example, study the history of ancient thought without 
noting this phenomenon. Thus, the persistence with 
which Plato and Aristotle taught and enforced the 
doctrine that the community was the guide and safe 
guard of the several citizens, very soon issued in the 
schools of Zeno and Epicurus, teaching the rights of 
self-seeking and of the independent self-realisation of the 
individual. But the passing glimpse of an indwelling 
discord in the terms, by which we argue, is soon for 
gotten, and is set aside under the head of accidents, 
instead of being referred to a general law. Most of us 
take only a single step to avoid what has turned out 
wrong, and when we have overcome the seeming abso 
luteness of one idea, we are content and even eager to 
throw ourselves under the yoke of another, not less 
one-sided than its predecessor. Sometimes one feels 
tempted to say that the course of human thought as 
a whole, as well as that branch of it termed science, 
exhibits nothing but a succession of illusions, which 
enclose us in the belief that some idea is all-embracing 
as the universe, illusions, from which the mind is time 
after time liberated, only in a little while to sink under 
the sway of some partial correction, as if it and it only 
were the complete truth. 


Or, again, the Positive Philosophy exhibits as one of 
its features an emphatic and popular statement of 
a fallacy much discussed in Hegel. One of the best 
deeds of that school has been to protest against 
a delusive belief in certain words and notions ; particu 
larly by pointing out the insufficiency of what it calls 
metaphysical terms, i. e. those abstract entities formed 
by reflective thought, which are little else than a double 
of the phenomenon they are intended to explain. To 
account for the existence of insanity by an assumed 
basis for it in the insane neurosis/ or to attribute the 
sleep which follows a dose of opium to the soporific 
virtues of the drug, are some exaggerated examples of 
the metaphysical intellect which is so rampant in 
much of our popular, and even of our esoteric science. 
Positivism by its logical precepts ought at least to have 
instilled general distrust of abstract talk about essences, 
laws, forces and causes, whenever they claim an inhe 
rent and independent value, or profess to be more 
than a reflex of sensation. But all this is only a desul 
tory perception, the reflection of an intelligent observer. 
When we come to Hegel, the Comtian perception of 
the danger lying in the terms of metaphysics is replaced 
by the Second Part of Logic, the Theory of Essential 
Being, where substances, causes, forces, essences, 
matters, are confronted with what Mr. Bain has called 
their suppressed correlative V 

1 Practical Essays, p. 43. 



BY asserting the rights of philosophy against the 
dogmatism of self-inspired unphilosophy/ and by main 
taining that we must not feel the truth, with our eyes as 
it were closed, but must open them full upon it, Hegel 
does not reduce philosophy to the level of one of the 
finite sciences. The name finite/ like the name em 
pirical/ is not a title of which the sciences have any 
cause to be ashamed. They are called empirical, because 
it is their glory and their strength to found upon 
experience. They are called finite, because they have a 
fixed object, which they must expect and cannot alter ; 
because they have an end and a beginning, pre 
supposing something where they begin, and leaving 
something for the sciences which come after. Botany 
rests upon the researches of chemistry : and astronomy 
hands over the record of cosmical movements to 
geology. Science is interlinked with science; and each 
of them is a fragment. Nor can these fragments ever, 
in the strict sense of the word, make up a whole or 
total. They have broken off, sometimes by accident, 
and sometimes for convenience, from one another. The 
sciences have budded forth here and there upon the 
tree of popular knowledge and ordinary consciousness, 
as the interest and needs of the time drew attention 


closer to various points and objects in the world sur 
rounding us. 

Prosecute the popular knowledge about any point 
far enough, substituting completeness and accuracy for 
vagueness, and especially giving numerical definiteness 
in weight, size, and figure, until the little drop of fact 
has grown into an ocean, and the mere germ has ex 
panded into a structure with complex interconnexion, 
and you will have a science. By its point of origin 
this luminous body of facts is united to the great circle 
of human knowledge and ignorance. Each special 
science is a part, which presupposes a total of much 
lower organisation, but much wider range than itself: 
each branch of scientific knowledge grows out of the 
already existent tree of acquaintance with things. But 
the part very soon assumes an independence of its own, 
and adopts a hostile or negative attitude towards the 
general level of unscientific opinion. This process of 
what we may, from the vulgar point of view, call ab 
normal development, is repeated irregularly at various 
points along the surface of ordinary consciousness. At 
one time it is the celestial movements calling for the 
science of astronomy: at another the problem of dividing 
the soil calling for the geometrician. Each of these 
outgrowths naturally re-acts and modifies the whole 
range of human knowledge, or what we may call 
popular science ; and thus, while keeping up its own 
life, it quickens the parent stock with an infusion of 
new vigour, and raises the general intelligence to a 
higher level and into a higher element. 

The order of the outcome of the sciences in time, 
therefore, and their connexions with one another, 
cannot be explained or understood, if we look only to 
the sciences themselves. We must first of all descend 
into the depths of natural thought, or of general culture, 



and trace the lines which unite science with science in 
that general medium. The systematic interdependence 
of the sciences must be chiefly sought for in the work 
ings of thought as a whole in its popular phases, and in 
the action and reaction of that general human thought 
with the sciences, those definite organisations of know 
ledge which form sporadically round the nuclei here and 
there presented in what would superficially be described 
as the inorganic mass and medium of popular know 
ledge. Thus, by means of the sciences in their aggre 
gate action, the material of common consciousness is 
expanded and developed, at least in certain parts, though 
the expansion may be neither consistent nor systematic. 
But so long as this work is incomplete, so long, that is 
to say, as every point in the line of popular knowledge 
has not received its due elaboration and equal study, 
the sciences merely succeed each other in a certain 
imperfect sequence, or exist in juxtaposition : they do 
not form a total. The whole of scientific knowledge 
will only be formed, when science shall be as completely 
rounded and unified, as in its lower sphere and more 
inadequate element the ordinary consciousness of the 
world is now. 

Up to a certain point the method of science is but 
the method of ordinary consciousness pursued know 
ingly and steadily. But ere long the method acquires 
a distinctive character of its own. It shakes off the 
pressure of that immediate subservience in which 
ordinary knowledge stands to man s needs, wishes and 
interests. Knowledge is pursued within a wide range 
for its own sake, and by a class more or less definitely 
set apart by humanity for its scientific service, which 
is thus performed more systematically and continuously. 
But the great step which carries ordinary knowledge 
into its higher region is the discovery, due to reflection 


and comparison, that there is a double grade of reality 
a permanent, essential, uniform, substantial being, 
which is contrasted with an evanescent, apparent, vary 
ing and accidental. To know a thing is in all cases to 
relate it to something else : to know it in the higher 
sense vere scire is to relate it to its essence, its sub 
stantial or universal form, its permanent self. Ordinary 
knowledge, e. g., fixes a thing by referring to its ante 
cedents : scientific knowledge refers it to its invariable/ 
unconditional or essential antecedent, to something 
which contains it implicitly, and necessarily, and is not 
merely by accident or juxtaposition associated with it. 
To discover this permanent, underlying substance or 
reality comes to be the problem of science a problem 
which may be taken in the widest generality, or re 
stricted to some one group of existences. What is 
asked for, e.g., may be the uniformity and essence in 
the appearance of the diurnal journey of the sun, or it 
may be the underlying, invisible, nature which displays 
itself in all the variety of minerals, and in animal 
and plant life. The one-and-the-same in a diversity of 
many ; the type-form in individuals : the cause which is 
the key to understanding an effect that always and un 
conditionally follows it ; the force which finds different 
expression in actions are what Science seeks. 

In that search two points emerge as regards the 
method. The first is the importance of quantitative 
statements or numerical appreciations, and the general 
law that variations in the qualitative are in some ratio 
concomitant with variations in the quantitative. Mathe 
matics, in a word, is found to be an invaluable instru 
ment for recording with accuracy the minutest as well 
as the most immense differences of quality. First, it is 
seen that qualitative differences within a given range, 
e.g. various colours or various musical notes, can be accu- 


rately expressed by a numerical ratio. But, secondly, 
it soon appears that even greater divergences of quality, 
e.g. those of colour and of chemical quality, may pos 
sibly be reduced to stages on one quantitative scale. It 
is not unnatural that such experiences should give rise 
to a hope and in sanguine minds, an assurance that 
all the phenomena of nature are ultimately phases of 
some common nature some elementary being which 
runs through an infinite gamut of numerically defined 

But the numerical prepossession as we may call it 
creates another assumption. Every number consists of 
units : every cube can be regarded as an aggregation of 
smaller cubes, and in measurement is (implicitly at 
least) so regarded. Transferring this to the physical 
world, every object is regarded as a composite a Large, 
made up by the addition and juxtaposition of many 
(relatively) Littles. The essentials of the composite 
are here the elements that compose it : these, by a 
natural tendency, we proceed to conceive as remaining 
always unchanged, and giving rise by their peculiar 
juxtaposition to certain perceptions in the human being. 
You whirl rapidly a blazing piece of wood, and instead 
of a discontinuous series of flashes you see one orbit of 
luminous matter : or, let falling rain-drops take up a 
particular position in reference to your eyes and the 
sun, and a rainbow is visible. In both cases there is 
what may be called an illusion the illusion, above all, 
of unity and continuity. Now what is in these cases 
obviously and demonstrably seen, is, as Leibniz in par 
ticular has reminded us, the general law of all matter 
as such. In the extended and material world there is 
nowhere a real unity discoverable. The small is made 
up of the smaller ad infinitum 1 . But the conclusion 

1 Leibniz, ed. Gerhardt, iii. 507 : Les atomes sont 1 effet de la 


(which Leibniz drew) that unity belongs only to 
Monads and never by any possibility to a material sub 
stance, was not that commonly reached or accepted. 
There are or there must be, said the prevalent creed, 
ultimates, indivisibles, indecomposables, simples, atoms. 
These are the final bricks of reality, out of which the 
apparent universe is built : each with a maximum, a ne 
plus ultra of resistibility, hardness, fullness, and un- 
squeezable bulk. 

Into further details of these ultimate irreducibles we 
need not enter. It is sufficient to denote the general 
purport of the conception, and the tendency it implies. 
In these ultimates supreme reality is understood to lie; 
and on them at last, and indeed always, rests whatever 
reality truly exists in any object. All else is secondary 
and, comparatively speaking, illusory, unreal. Any 
phenomena that may be noted only affect the surface or 
show of these reals : the inner reality continues one and 
unchanged. Outside them, around them, is the void 
emptiness, non-entity. Yet null and void as it may be, 
we may, in passing, reply, this circumambient is the 
source of all that gives these masses of atoms any dis 
tinctive reality any character of true being. Space 
may be empty enough, a mere spectre-shell ; and yet 
it is their differences in spatial circumstance that bring 
out and actualise what they implicitly are. These 
individual these units of reality, these atoms, are real 
and knowable only in their relations. So too Time 
may be contemptuously treated as a passive receptacle : 
yet it is only by its connexions in the past and the 
future that the present moment has any actuality it may 
claim. And time and space are potent agencies in 

foiblesse de nostre imagination, qui aime a se reposer et a se hater 
9. venir a une fin dans les sous-divisions et analyses : il n en est pas 
ainsi dans la nature qui vient de Tinfini et va a 1 infini. 


popular mode of utterance whatever the mechanical 
philosophy may say. 

But all of these relations are in the realm of unreality. 
The atoms alone are : and yet the void, which ought 
not to be, in an unmistakable way is also. To this 
mysterious vacuum which lies outside (and yet not out 
side) reality, to this not-being which is, there can only 
be given a half-negative and baffling name. Let it be 
called Chance or let it be called Necessity; let it be 
called inexplicable Law of co-existence and sequence, 
the Force which is the beginning of motion. It is the 
ultimate key to the mystery but it is at least a key 
which no human hand can use ; or even lay hold of. It 
is enough for science if, leaving this ultimate inexplica- 
bility untouched, it trace in each separate instance the 
exact equation between the sum of the constituents and 
the total which they compose, if it prove that the 
several items when put together exactly give the sum 
proposed. Identification the establishment of quanti 
tative equations is the work of science. Identity is its 
canon, working on the presumption or axiom that there 
can be nothing in the result which was not in the ante 
cedents or conditions. Ex nihilo nihil fit. The quantity 
of energy must always be the same, though its phases 
may vary, or temporarily avoid detection. Matter, i.e. 
the ultimate reality, is indestructible. In short, the 
method of analysis and synthesis, as that of addition 
and subtraction, is a calculus which takes the form of 
an equation. 

So far the inorganic, inanimate world has been 
mainly in view. If we now turn to the organisms, we 
find the popular creed expressed in the adage Omne 
vivum e vivo. No eye has ever seen though fanatical 
observers have sometimes so deluded themselves as 
to think they saw a living being directly emerge from 


inorganic stuff. The saner student of physiology con 
tents himself with leaving for the while the crux of the 
genesis of Life, and examining only the building up of 
the living creature out of its constituents. Here the 
atom is called the cell : every organism is a synthesis 
of cells, and in the cell we have the primary element of 
organic reality: Omnis cellula e cellula. In the atom 
we have the ultimate element; in the cell a relative 
element, the absolute beginning of a new order of 
things, which we may, if we like, choose to treat 
(though only for logical simplicity s sake) as a gradual 
development from the other and more primitive, but 
which, so far as experience and history teach, is equally 
ultimate in its kind. But be the final constituent 
(physical) atom, or (physiological) cell, the relation of 
these constituents is at first conceived by science only 
as composition, or mechanical synthesis. It is only 
gradually that science begins to have doubts as to the 
inviolability and unalterableness of the elements. When 
the idea not altogether new of a latent meta-sche- 
matism and latent process within the constituents is 
entertained and carried out in earnest, science has 
passed on to a new stage : from mechanical atomism to 
a dynamic and organic theory of existence. And the 
governing ideas of scientific logic have then ceased to 
be co-existence, and sequence, correlation and compo 
sition : the new category is intus-susception, develop 
ment, adaptation not only external but internal. 

Divide et impera is the motto of Science. To isolate 
one thing or one group of facts from its context, to 
penetrate beneath the apparent simplicity, which time 
and custom have taught ordinary eyes to see in the 
concrete object, to the multitude of underlying simple 
elements, to leave everything extraneous out of sight, 
to abolish the teleology which imposes upon Nature 


a permanent tribute (direct or indirect) towards the 
supply of human wants, and to take, as it were, one 
thing at a time and study it for itself disinterestedly ; 
that is the problem of the sciences. And to accomplish 
that end they do not hesitate to break the charmed 
links which in common vision hold the world together, 
to disregard the spiritual harmony which the sense of 
beauty finds in the scene, to strip off the relations of 
means and end, which reflection has thrown from thing 
to thing, and the sensuous atmosphere of so-called 
secondary qualities in which human sense has en 
veloped each ; and finally to sever its connexion by 

the whole round world is every way 
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God. 

In those days when reflection had not set in, when 
humanity had not yet found itself a stranger in the 
house of Nature, and had not yet dared to regard her 
as a mere automatic slave, men had no doubts as to the 
meaning of things. They lived sympathetically her 

1 Man, once descried, imprints for ever 
His presence on all lifeless things : the winds 
Are henceforth voices, wailing or a shout, 
A querulous mutter, or a quick gay laugh. 

To the extent of his abilities and his culture, indeed 
man has in all ages read himself into the phenomena 
external to him. Such readings, in times when he 
feared and loved his kinsfolk of Nature, were fetichism 
and anthropomorphism. Gradually, however, forget 
ting his community, he claimed to be the measure and 
master of all things : to decree their use and function. 
But in course of time, when the sciences had eman 
cipated themselves from the yoke of philosophy, 
they refused to borrow any such help in reading the 
riddle of the universe, and resolved to begin, ab ovo, 



from the atom or cell, and leave the elements to 
work out their own explanation. Modern science in so 
doing practises the lessons learned from Spinoza and 
Hume. The former teaches that all conception of 
order, i. e. of adaptation and harmony in nature, and 
indeed all the methods by which nature is popularly 
explained, are only modes of our emotional imagination, 
betraying how imperfect has been in most of us the 
emancipation of human intellect from the servitude to 
the affections l . The latter points out that all connexions 
between things are solely mental associations, ingrained 
habits of expectation, the work of time and custom, 
accredited only by experience 2 . There must be no 
pre-suppositions allowed in the studies of science, no 
help derived prematurely from the later terms in the 
process to elucidate the earlier. Let man, it is said, be 
explained by those laws, and by the action of those 
primary elements which build up every other part of 
nature : let molecules by mechanical union construct 
the thinking organism, and then construct society. The 
elements which we find by analysis must be all that is 
required to make the synthesis. Thus in modern times 
science carries out, fully and with the details of actual 
knowledge in several branches, the principles of the 
atom and the void, which Democritus suggested. 

1 Spinoza, Ethica, i. 36. App. * Quoniam ea nobis prae ceteris grata 
sunt quote facile imaginari possumus, ideo homines ordinem confusioni 
praeferunt : quasi ordo aliquid in natura praeter respectum ad nostram 
imaginationem esset . . . Videmus itaque omnes rationes quibus vulgus 
solet naturam explicare modos esse tantummodo imaginandi? Cf. Eth. 
iv. praef. : Epist. xxxii. 

2 This transition of thought from the Cause to the Effect pro 
ceeds not from Reason. It derives its origin altogether from Custom 
and Experience. Hume, Essay V. (Enquiry concerning Human 
Understanding.) All inferences from Experience therefore are 
effects of Custom. (Ibid.) 


The scientific spirit, however, the spirit of analysis 
and abstraction (or of Mediation and Reflection ), is 
not confined in its operations to the physical world. 
The criticism of ordinary beliefs and conventions has 
been applied and applied at an earlier period to 
what has been called the Spiritual world, to Art, 
Religion, Morality, and the institutions of human 
Society. Under these names the agency of ages, acting 
by their individual minds, has created organic systems, 
unities which have claimed to be permanent, inviolable, 
and divine. Such unities or organic structures are the 
Family, the State, the works of Art, the forms, doctrines, 
and systems of Religion, existing and recognised in 
ordinary consciousness. But in these cases, as in 
Nature, the reflective principle may come forward and 
ask what right these unities have to exist. This is the 
question which the Encyclopaedic/ the Aufklarung, 
the Rationalist and Freethinking theories, raise 
and have raised in the last century and the present. 
What is the Family, it is said, but a fiction or con 
vention, which is used to give a decent, but somewhat 
transparent covering to a certain animal appetite, and 
its probable consequences ? What is the State, and 
what is Society, but a fiction or compact, by which the 
weak try to make themselves seem strong, and the 
unjust seek to shelter themselves from the consequences 
of their own injustice ? What is Religion, it is said, 
but a delusion springing from the fears and weakness 
of the crowd, and the cunning of the few, which men 
have fostered until it has wrapped humanity in its 
snaky coils? And Poetry, we are assured, like its 
sister Arts, will perish and its illusions fade away, when 
Science, now in the cradle, has become the full-grown 
Hercules. As for Morality and Law, and the like, the 
same condemnation has been prepared from of old. 

F 2 


All of them, it is said, are but the inventions of power 
and craft, or the phantoms of human imagination, 
which the strength of positive science and bare facts is 
destined in no long time to dispel. 

When they insisted upon a severance of the elements 
in the vulgarly-accepted unities of the world, Science 
and Freethinking, like Epicurus in an older day, have 
believed that they were liberating the world from its 
various superstitions, from the bonds which instinct 
and custom had fastened upon things so as to combine 
them into systems more or less arbitrary. They 
denied the supremacy and reality of those ideas which 
insist on the essential unity and self-sameness in things 
that visibly and tangibly have a separate existence of 
their own, and branded these ideas comprehensively as 
mysticism and metaphysics. They sought to disabuse 
us of spirits, vital forces, divine right of govern 
ments, final causes, et hoc genus omne. They were 
exceedingly jealous for the independence of the indi 
vidual, and for his right to demand satisfaction for the 
questioning, ground-seeking faculty of his nature. But 
while they did so they hardly realised how entirely the 
spectator is the part, the product of what he surveys, 
and while surveying treats as if it were but a spot or 
mark on the circumference of the circle that lies some 
way off around him. l Phenomenalism/ as this mode 
of looking at things has been called, is false to life, and 
would cut away the ground from philosophy . 

To some extent philosophy returns to the position 
of the wider consciousness, to the general belief in 
harmony and symmetry. It reverts to the unity or 
connexion, which the natural presumptions of mankind 
find in the picture of the world. The nolo philosophari 
of the intuitivist, in reaction from the supposed excesses 

1 J. Grote, Exploratio Philosophicd . 


of the sciences, simply reverted to the bare re-statement 
of the popular creed. If science, e.g., had shown that 
the perception of an external world pre-supposed for its 
accomplishment an unsuspected series of intermediate 
steps, the mere intuitivist simply denied the inter 
mediation by appealing to Common Sense, or to the 
natural instincts and primary beliefs of mankind. Con 
viction and natural instinct were declared to counter 
balance the abstractions of science. But philosophy 
which seeks to comprehend existence cannot take the 
same ground as the intuitional school, or neglect the 
testimony of science. If the spiritual unity of the world 
has been denied and lost to sight, mere assertion that 
we feel and own its pervading power will not do much 
good. It is necessary to reconcile the contrast between 
the wholeness of the natural vision, and the fragmen 
tary, but in its fragments elaborated, result of science. 

The sciences break up the rough generalisations or 
vulgar concepts of everyday use, and make their fixed 
distinctions yield to analysis. They thus render con 
tinuous things which were looked at as only separate. 
But they tend again to substitute the results of their 
analysis as a new and permanent distinction and 
principle of things. They are like revolutionists who 
upset and perturb an old order, and set up a new and 
minuter tyranny in its place. Gradually, the general 
culture, the average educated intelligence gathers up 
the fruit of scientific research into the total development 
of humanity: and uses the work of science to fill up the 
lacunae, the gaps, which make popular consciousness so 
irregular and disconnected. A sort of popular philo 
sophy comes to sum up and estimate what science has 
accomplished : and therein is as it were the spirit of 
the world taking into his own hand the acquisitions 
won by the more audacious and self-willed of his sons, 


and investing them in the common store. They are set 
aside and preserved there, at first in an abstract and 
technical form, but destined soon to pass into the 
possession of all, and form that mass of belief and 
instinctive or implanted knowledge whence a new 
generation will draw its mental supplies. Each great 
scientific discovery is in its turn reduced to a part of 
the common stock. It leaves the technical field, and 
spreads into the common life of men, becoming em 
bodied in their daily beliefs, a seed of thought, from 
which, by the agency of intelligent experience, new 
increments of science will one day spring. 

Philosophy properly so called is also the unification 
of science, but in a new sphere, a higher medium not 
recognised by the sciences themselves. The recon 
ciliation which the philosopher believes himself to 
accomplish between ordinary consciousness and science 
is identified by either side with a phase of its antagonist 
error. Science will term philosophy a modified form 
of the old religious superstition. The popular con 
sciousness of truth, and especially religion, will see in 
philosophy only a repetition or an aggravation of the 
evils of science. The attempt at unity will not approve 
itself to either, until they enter upon the ground which 
philosophy occupies, and move in that element. And 
that elevation into the philosophic ether calls for 
a tension of thought which is the sternest labour im 
posed upon man : so that the continuous action of 
philosophising has been often styled superhuman. If 
anywhere, it is in pure philosophy that proof becomes 
impossible, unless for those who are willing to think for 
themselves \ The philosophic lesson cannot be handed 
on to a mere recipient : the result, when cut off from 

1 Cf. vol. ii. p. 4. 


the process which produced it, vanishes like the palace 
in the fairy tale. 

1 The whole of philosophy is nothing but the study of 
the specific forms or types of unity V There are many 
species and grades of this unity. They are not merely 
to be enumerated and asserted in a vague way, as they 
here and there force themselves upon the notice of the 
popular mind. Philosophy sees in that unity neither 
an ultimate and unanalysable fact, nor a deception, but 
a growth (which is also a struggle), a revealing or unfold 
ing, which issues in an organism or system, constructing 
itself more and more completely by a force of its own. 
This system formed by these types of the fundamental 
unity is called the Idea/ of which the highest law is 
development. Philosophy essays to do for this connec 
tive and unifying nature, i. e. for the thought in things, 
something like what the sciences have done or would 
like to do for the facts of sense and matter, to do for 
the spiritual binding-element in its integrity, what is 
being done for the several facts which are more or less 
combined. It retraces the universe of thought from its 
germinal form, where it seems, as it were, an indecom 
posable point, to the fully matured system or organism, 
and shows not merely that one phase of pure thought 
passes into another, but how it does so, and yet is not 
lost, but subsists suspended and deprived of its narrow 
ness in the maturer phase. 

1 Philosophic der Religion, i. p. 97 : Die ganze Philosophie ist nichts 
Anderes als das Studium der Bestimmungen der Einheit. See 
especially Encycl, 573 (Philosophy of Mind, pp. 192 seqq.). 



THE psychology of the Greeks has to all appearance 
given the mere intellect an undue pre-eminence, if it 
has not even treated it as man s essential self. Whether 
the appearance is altogether sound might be a profitable 
inquiry for those who most criticise it. At any rate, 
a later psychology has taught us to regard man as at 
once a cognitive, an emotional, and a volitional being. 
It has arrived at this conclusion as it looked at the 
division that parted off the systems of science from the 
sphere of conduct and social life, and both from the 
inner life of sentiment, of love, admiration and rever 
ence. And the inference was justifiable, in the same 
way as Plato s when, as he surveyed the triple sphere 
into which the outward world of his contemporary 
society was divided, he concluded a triplicity of the 
soul. If it was justifiable, it was also, as in his case, 
somewhat misleading. In the outward manifestation, 
where the letters are posted up on a gigantic scale, one 
tends to forget that they only spell one word. Their 
difference and distance seem increased, and we fail to 
note that, though there are three aspects, yet there is 
only one power or soul, which exhibits itself under one 
or other of the three tones or modes. In the actual 
human being, cognition is always of some emotional 


interest and always leads up to some practical result. 
From different points of view one or other is occasion 
ally declared to be primary and original ; the others 
derivative and secondary. At any rate we may say 
that in the ordinary human being who is still in the 
garden of preparation and has not yet stepped forth on 
one of the separate routes of life, his knowledge, his 
emotional and his active life are in a tolerable harmony, 
and that each in its little development is constantly 
followed by the other. 

But with the outward differentiation an inward went 
hand in hand. In some cases the intellectual or scien 
tific, in others the emotional, in others the active 
faculties became predominant. Human nature in order 
to attain all its completeness had first of all, as it were, 
to lose its life in order to gain it. The individual had 
to sacrifice part of his all-sided development in order 
that he might gain it again, and in a larger measure, 
through the medium of society. This process is the 
process of civilisation : the long and, as it often seems, 
weary road by which man can only realise himself by 
self-sacrifice : can only reach unity through the way of 
diversity, and must die to live. It is a process in 
which it is but too easy to notice only one stage and 
speak of it as if it were the whole. It is possible some 
times to identify civilisation with the material increase 
in the means of producing enjoyment, or with the pro 
gress of scientific teaching as to the laws of those material 
phenomena on which material civilisation is largely 
dependent. It is possible sometimes to take as its test 
the stores of artistic works, and the extension of a lively 
and delicate love of all that is beautiful and tasteful. 
One may identify it with a high-toned moral life, and 
with an orderly social system. Or one may maintain 
that the real civilisation of a country presupposes 


a lofty conception and reverent attitude to the supreme 
source of all that is good, and true, and beautiful. 

The question is important as bearing on the relation 
of philosophy to the special sciences. Philosophy is 
sometimes identified with the sum of sciences : some 
times with their complete unification. Philosophy, says 
a modern, is knowledge completely unified. It is of 
course to some extent a question of words in what 
sense a term is to be defined. And no one will dispute 
that the scientific element is in point of form the most 
conspicuous aspect of philosophy. Yet if we look at 
the historical use of the term, one or two considerations 
suggest themselves. Philosophy, said an ancient, is 
the knowledge of things human and divine. Again and 
again, it has claimed for its task to be a guide and chart 
of human life to reveal the form of good and of beauty. 
But to do this, it must be more than a mere science, or 
than a mere system of the sciences. Again, it has been 
urged by modern critics that Kant at last discovered 
for philosophy her true province the study of the 
conditions and principles of human knowledge. But 
though epistemology is all-important, the science of 
knowledge is not identical with philosophy : nor did 
Kant himself think it was. Rather his view is on the 
whole in accord with what he has called the world s 
(as opposed to the scholar s) conception of philosophy 1 , 
as the science of the bearing of all ascertainable truths 
on the essential aims of human reason teleologia 
humanae rationis, in accord, too, with the world s con 
ception of the philosopher as no mere logician, but the 
legislator of human reason. 

This, it need hardly be added, is the conception of 
philosophy which is implicitly the basis of Hegel s use. 
Let us hear Schelling. A philosophy which in its 

1 Kant s Kritik d. r. Vernunft : Methodenl. Architektonik d. r. Vern. 


principle is not already religion is no true philosophy 1 / 
Or again, as to the place of Ethics : Morality is God 
like disposition, an uplifting above the influence of the 
concrete into the realm of the utterly universal. Philo 
sophy is a like elevation, and for that reason intimately 
one with morality, not through subordination, but 
through essential and inner likeness V But, again, it 
has more than once been felt that philosophy is 
kindred with Art. It has been said not as a com 
plimentthat philosophy is only a form of gratifying 
the aesthetic instincts. Schopenhauer has suggested 
as a novelty that the true way to philosophy was not 
by science, but through Art. And Schelling before 
him had while asserting the inner identity of the two 
even gone so far as to assert 3 that Art is the sole, true 
and eternal organon as well as the ostensible evidence of 

Philosophy, therefore, is one of a triad in which the 
human spirit has tried to raise itself above its limitations 
and to become god-like. And philosophy is the climax ; 
Art the lowest ; Religion in the mean. But this does 
not mean that Religion supersedes Art, and that Philo 
sophy supersedes religion ; or, if we retain the term 
supersede/ we must add that the superseded is not 
left behind and passed aside : it is rather an integral 
constituent of what takes its place. Philosophy is true 
and adequate only as it has given expression to all that 
religion had or aimed at. So, too, Religion is not the 
destruction of Art : though here the attitude may often 
seem to be more obviously negative. A religion which 
has no place for art is, again, no true religion. And 
thus again, Philosophy becomes a reconciler of Art and 
Religion : of the visible ideal and the invisible God. 

1 Schilling s Werke, v. 116. 2 Ibid. v. 276. 3 Ibid. iii. 267. 

76 PROLEGOMENA. [vii. 

Art, on the other hand, is a foretaste and a prophecy of 
religion and philosophy. 

But Art, Religion, and Philosophy, again, rest upon, 
grow out of, and are the fulfilment of an ethical society 
a state of human life where an ordered common 
wealth in outward visibility is animated and sustained 
by the spirit of freedom and self-realisation. And that 
public objective existence of social humanity in its turn 
reposes on the will and intelligence of human beings, 
of souls which in various relations of discipline and 
interaction with their environment have become free- 
agents, and have risen to be more than portions 
of the physical world, sympathetic with its changes, 
and become awake to themselves and their surround 
ings. Such is the mental or spiritual life as it rises 
to full sense of its power, recognises its kindred with 
the general life, carries out that kindred .in its social 
organisation, and at length through the strength social 
union gives floats boldly in the empyrean of spiritual 
life, in art, religion, and philosophy. 

But, what about the special relationship of philosophy 
to the sciences ? Undoubtedly the philosophers of the 
early years of the century have used lordly language in 
reference to the sciences. They have asserted from 
Fichte downwards that the philosophical construction 
of the universe must justify itself to itself must be con 
sistent, continuous, and coherent and that it had not 
to wait for experience to give it confirmation. Even 
the cautious Kant had gone so far as to assert that 
the understanding gives us nature i. e. as he ex 
plains, natura formaliter spectata, viz., the order and 
regularity in the phenomena that it is the source of 
the laws of nature and of its formal unity. The so- 
called proofs of natural laws are only instances and 

1 Kant, Kritik d. r. Vern., Deduction of the Categories, Sect. III. 


exemplifications, which no more prove them, than we 
prove that 6x4=24, because 6 yards of cloth at 45. 
must be paid for by 24 shillings. To assert that this in 
stance is no proof, is not to reject experience still less 
to refuse respect to the new discoveries of science. But 
it is unquestionably to assert that there is something 
prior to the sciences prior, i. e. in the sense that Kant 
speaks of the a priori, something which is fundamental 
to them, and constitutes them what they are some 
thing which is assumed as real if their syntheses (and 
every scientific truth is a synthesis) are to be possible. 
The analysis and exhibition in its organic completeness 
of this Kantian a priori is the theme of the Hegelian 

The Philosophy of Nature stands in the Hegelian 
system between Logic and Mental or Spiritual Philo 
sophy. Man intelligent, moral, religious and artistic 
man rests upon the basis of natural existence : 
he is the child of the earth, the offspring of natural 
organisation. But Nature itself such is the hypothesis 
of the system is only intelligible as the reflex of that 
a prioriwhich has been exhibited in Logic. The whole 
scheme by which the natural world is scientifically held 
together, apprehended by ordinary consciousness and 
elaborated by mathematical analysis, presupposes the 
organism of the categories these fundamental habits 
of thought or form of conception which are the frame 
work of the existence we know. Yet Nature never 
shows this intelligible world the Idea in its purity 
and entirety. In the half-literal, half-figurative phrases 
of Hegel, Nature shows the Idea beside itself, out of its 
mind, alienated, non compos mentis. It is a mad world, 
my masters. The impotence of nature Ohnmachtder 
Natur l is a frequent phrase, by which he indicates the 

1 Encyclopaedic, 250. 

78 PR OLE GO MEN A . [vil. 

a-logical, if not illogical, character of the physical world. 
Here we come across the negation of mind : chance 
plays its part : contingency is everywhere. If you 
expect that the physical universe will display unques 
tioning obedience to the laws of reason and of the 
higher logic, you will be disappointed. What you see 
is fragmentary, chaotic, irregular. To the bodily sense 
even when that sense has been rendered more pene 
trating by all the many material and methodical aids of 
advanced civilisation the Idea is in the natural world 
presented only in traces, indications, portions, which 
it requires a well-prepared mind to descry, still more 
to unite. Yet at the same time the indications of that 
unity are everywhere, and the hypothesis of the logical 
scheme or organisation of the Idea is the only theory 
which seems fully to correspond with the data. Nature \ 
J says Hegel, is the Idea as it shows itself in sense-per 
ception, not as it shows itself in thought. In thought 
a clear all-comprehending total ; in sense a baffling 
fragment. The Idea the unity of life and knowledge 
is everywhere in nature, but nowhere clearly, or 
whole, or otherwise than a glimpse ; not a logical 
scheme or compact theory. Nature is the sensible in 
which the intelligible is bound the reality which is the 
vehicle of the ideal. But the ideal treasure is held in 
rough and fragile receptacles which half disclose and 
half conceal the light within. Nature in short con 
tains, but disguised, the idea, in fainter and clearer 
evidences : it is the function of man, by his scientific 
intelligence and ethical work, building up a social 
organisation, to provide the ground on which the ulti 
mate significance and true foundation of the world may 
be deciphered, guessed, or believed, or imaginatively pre 
sented. The verification of the guess or deciphering, 

1 Encycl. Sect. 244 (Logic, p. 379). 


of course, lies in its adequacy to explain and colligate 
the facts. The true method and true conception 
is that which needs no subsequent adjustments no 
epicycles to make it work which is no mere hypo 
thesis useful for subjective arrangement, but issues 
with uncontrollable force and self-evidence from 
the facts. 

What Hegel has called the impotence of nature/ 
Schopenhauer has styled the irrational Will, and it 
is from that end, so to speak, that Schopenhauer s 
philosophy begins. Nature the basis of all things 
the fundamental prius is an irresistible and irregular 
appetite or craving to be, to do, to live, but an 
appetitus or nisus which ascends from grade to grade 
from mere mechanical forces acting in movement 
up to the highest form of animal activity. But as this 
Will * or blind lust of being and instinct of life gets 
above the inorganic world, and manifests itself in the 
animal organism, there emerges a new order of exist 
ence the intellect, or the ideal world. Seen from the 
underside, indeed, all that has appeared now in the 
animal is a brain and a nerve-system a new species of 
matter. But there is another side to the Mind which 
has thus awakened out of the sleep of natural forces. 
This intellect is unaware and can never be made aware 
that it is a child of nature : it acknowledges no 
superior, and no beginning or end in time. Its natal 
day is infinitely beyond the age when the cosmic 
process began its race; before stars gathered their 
masses of luminosity, and the earth received the first 
germs of life. As the genius of Art, it arrests the 
toiling struggle of existence to produce new forms and 
destroy old ones ; it sets free in typical forms of 
eternal beauty the great ideas that nature vainly seeks 
to embody, and as moral and religious life its aim is to 

8o PROLEGOMENA. [vil. 

annihilate the craving and the lust for more and ever 
more being and to enter in passionless and calm union 
with the One-and-All. 

Thus it is, if not absurd, at least misleading, to speak 
of Hegel s system as Panlogism. Strictly speaking, it 
is only of the Logic that this is the proper name : there, 
unquestionably, reason is all and in all. Yet to hold 
that reason is the very life and centre of things is for 
philosophy the cardinal article the postulate which 
must inspire her first and last steps and guide her 
throughout. But the Logical Idea, if put at the begin 
ning, is at first only put as a presupposition, which 
it is the task of human intelligence to work out and 
organise. If it be the key which is to explain nature 
and render it intelligible, it is a key which has only 
been gained in the process the long process by 
which man has risen from his natural origin never 
however parting company with it to survey and com 
prehend himself and his setting. The faculty of pure 
thinking/ which is the pre-condition of Logical study, is 
the result of a gradual development in which animal 
sense has grown, and metamorphosed, and worked itself 
up to be a free intelligence and a good will capable of 
discerning and fulfilling the universal and the eternal. 
Thus in the Logic the system constructs the pure Idea 
the ideal timeless organisation of thoughts or Xoy<i 
on which all knowledge of reality rests the diamond 
net which suffers nothing to escape its meshes : in the 
Philosophy of Nature it tries to put together in unity 
and continuity the phases and partial aspects which the 
physical universe presents in graduated exemplification 
of the central truth : and in the Philosophy of Mind 
it traces the steps by which a merely natural being 
becomes the moral and aesthetic idealist in whom man 
approaches deity. 


It is indeed Hegel s fundamental axiom that ac 
tuality is reasonable. But the actuality is not thet/ 
appearance the temporary phases the succession of 
event : it is the appearance rooted in its essence the 
succession concentrated (yet not lost) in its unity. 
There is room for much so-called irrationality within 
these ranges. For, when human beings pronounce 
something irrational, they only mean that their practical 
intelligence would have adopted other methods to 
arrive at certain conclusions. They judge, in fact, by 
their limited understandings and not ex ordine universi. 
Hegel s doctrine is after all only another way of stating 
the maintenance of the fittest ; and it is liable to the K 
same misconception by those who employ their personal 
aims as the standards of judgment. 

So too there is reason there is the Idea in Nature. 
But it is there only for the artist, the religious man, 
and the philosopher ; and they see it respectively by the 
eye of genius, by the power of faith, by the thought of 
reason. They see it from the standpoint of the abso 
lute sub specie quadam adernitatis. It is therefore a 
recalcitrant matter in which Nature presents the Idea : 
or, if recalcitrant suggests a positive opposition, let us 
say rather a realm in which the Idea fails to come 
out whole and clear, where unity has to be forced 
upon and read into the facts. Science, says one writer, 
is an ideal construction : it implies an abstraction from 
irregularities and inequalities : it smoothes and sub 
limates the rough and imperfect material into a more 
rounded and perfect whole. Its object, which it terms 
a reality, is a non-sensible, imperceptible reality : what 
one might as well call an ideality, were it not that here 
again the popular imagination twists the word into a 
subjective sense to mean the private and personal ideas 
of the student. 

82 PROLEGOMENA. [vil. 

But the obvious individual reality never quite in its 
obviousness equals the golden mediocrity* of the ideal. 
Its myriad grapes must be crushed to yield the wine of 
the spirit. 

It s a lifelong toil till our lump be leavened 

till the ore be transformed into the fine gold. But the 
gold is there, and in the great laboratory of natura 
naturans is the principle and agent of its own purifica 
tion. Nature is made better by no mean, but nature 
makes that mean for nature is spirit in disguise. 

It is on this side that a certain analogy of Hegel s and 
Schelling s philosophy of nature with the Romantic 
school comes out. Nature is felt, as it were, to be 
spirit-haunted, to give glimpses of a solidarity, a design, 
a providentiality, which runs counter to that general 
outward indifference in which part seems to have 
settled beside part, each utterly indifferent to the other. 
Romance is the unexpected coincidence, the sudden 
jumping together of what seemed set worlds apart 
and utterly alien. It was the sense of this Romance 
which wove its wild legends of nymph and cobold, of 
faun and river-god, of imp and fairy, wielding the 
powers of the elements and guiding the life of even the 
so-called inanimate world. But it is no less the theme 
of the fairy tale of science. Even in the austere de 
monstrations of geometry, and the constructions of 
mechanics, the un-looked-for slips upon us with gipsy 
tread. Who has not in his early studies of mathe 
matics been fain to marvel at the almost unexpected 
consilience of property with property in a figure, sud 
denly placing in almost eery relief the conjunction of 
what was apparently poles asunder ? It is not a mere 
form of words to speak of beautiful properties of a conic 
section or a curve. Custom perhaps has blunted our 


sense for the symmetries of celestial dynamics, but they 
are none the less admirable, because we are otherwise 
engrossed. To the first generation of our century the 
phenomena of chemistry, magnetism and electricity ap 
pealedas they have never since done with a tangible 
demonstration of that appetitus ad invicem, that instinct of 
union Bacon speaks of; and this time in a higher form 
than in mere mechanism. Polarity the bifurcation of 
reality into a pair of opposites which yet sought their 
complement in each other eternally dividing only 
eternally to unite, and thus only to exist became a 
process pressed into general service. Lastly, what 
more admirable than that adaptation of the individual 
to the environment and of the environment to the 
individual of the organs in him to his total, and of 
his total to his organs. One in all and All in one : one 
life in perpetual transformation, animals, plants, and 
earth and air; one organism, developing in absolute 
coherence. This was the vision which the genius of 
Schelling and his contemporaries saw the same vision 
which, by accumulation of facts and pictorial history, 
Darwin and his disciples have impressed in some 
measure even on the dullest. 

But there is a profound difference between the spirit 
of a Philosophy of Nature and the aggregate of the 
physical sciences. Each science takes the particular 
quarry which accident or providence has assigned to it, 
and does its best to put out every piece of rock it 
contains. But it seldom goes, unless by constraint, 
and in these days of specialisation it does so less and 
less, to examine the neighbouring excavation, and see 
if there be any connexion between the strata. Even 
within its own domain it is ashamed to put forward too 
much parade of system. Its method is often like that 
of the showman in the travelling menagerie: And 

G 2 

84 PROLEGOMENA. [vil. 

now, please pass to the next carriage/ It respects the 
compartmental arrangement into which it finds the 
world broken up, and often thinks it has deserved well 
if it has filled the compartment fuller than before, or 
succeeded in creating a few sub-compartments within 
the old bounds. Even the so-called mental and moral 
sciences when they lose their philosophical character 
tend to imitate these features. Yet in every science 
there is an outlook and an outlet, for whosoever has the 
will and the power, to emerge from his narrow domain 
on the open fields and free prospect into the first 
fountains and last great ocean of being. Always, and 
not least in our own day, the physicist, the chemist, 
the physiologist, the psychologist, the sociologist, and 
the economist, have made their special field a platform 
where they might discourse de omnibus rebus, and 
become for the nonce philosophers and metaphysicians. 
It would be a silly intolerance and a misconception of 
the situation to exclaim Ne sutor ultra crepidam. In the*/ 
organic system of things each " moment " even inde 
pendent of the whole is the whole ; and to see this 
is to penetrate to the heart of the thing/ We need 
hardly go to Hegel to be told that to know one thing 
thoroughly well is to know all things. The finite, which 
we inertly rest content with, would, if we were in full 
sympathy with it, open up its heart and show us the 
infinite. And yet if the specialist when he rises from his 
shoe-making, with a heart full of the faith that there 
is nothing like leather/ should proclaim his discovery of 
it in regions where it was hitherto unsurmised, one may 
smile incredulous and be no cynic. 

Philosophy then keeps open eye and ear as far as 
may be no doubt for the finer shades and delicate 
details but essentially for the music of humanity 
and the music of the spheres for the general pur- 


pose and drift of all sciences from mathematics to 
sociology as they help to make clear the life of nature 
and further the emancipation of man. It will seem 
occasionally to over-emphasise the continuity of science 
and to make light of its distinctions : it will seem 
occasionally more anxious as to the order than as to 
the contents of the sciences : it will remind the sciences 
of the hypothetical and formal character of much of 
their method and some of their principles : and some 
times will treat as unimportant, results on which the 
mere scholar or dogmatist of science lays great weight. 
From his habit of dealing with the limitations and 
mutual implication of principles and conceptions, the 
philosopher will often be able and perhaps only too 
willing to point out cases where the mere specialist 
has allowed himself to attribute reality to his abstrac 
tion. He will tell the analyst of the astronomical 
motions that he must not take the distinction of cen 
trifugal and centripetal force, into which mechanics 
disintegrate the planetary orbit, as if it really meant 
that the planet was pulled inward by one force and sent 
on spinning forward by another . And the scientist, 
proud of his mathematics, will resent and laugh at the 
philosopher who lets fall a word about the planets 
moving in grand independence like blessed gods/ 
The philosopher will hint to the chemist that his 
formulae of composition and decomposition of bodies 
are, as he uses them, somewhat mythological, picturing 
water as atom of oxygen locked up with atom of 
hydrogen ; and the chemist will go away muttering 
something about a fool who does not believe in the 

Encyclop. 266, 269; cf. the lecture-note as given in Werke vii 
i. p. 97. A large number of paradoxical analogies from Hegel s 
Nalurphilosophie has been collected by Riehl in his Philosophischer 
Criticismiis, ii. 2, 120. 


well-ascertained chemical truth that water is composed 
of these two gases. If the philosopher further hints 
that it is not the highest ideal of a chemical science to 
be content with enumerating fifty or sixty elements, and 
detecting their several properties and affinities 1 ; that it 
would be well to find some principle of gradation, some 
unity or law which brought meaning into meaningless 
juxtaposition, the mere dogmatist, whose chemistry is his 
living and who shrinks from disendowment, will scent a 
propensity towards the heresy which sinks all elements 
in one. And yet, even among chemists, the instinct 
for law and unity begins to demand satisfaction. 

A still richer store of amazing paradox and perplexing 
analogies awaits anyone who will turn over the volume 
in Hegel s Werke (vii. i) and select the plums which 
lie thick in the lecture-notes. He will find a great deal 
and probably more, the less he really knows of any of 
the subjects under discussion that he cannot make 
head or tail of: language where he cannot guess 
whether it should be taken literally or figuratively. For 
Hegel seriously insists on the essential unity and 
identity of all the compartments of the physical uni 
verse; he will not keep time and space on one level, 
matter and motion on another, and senses, suns, plants, 
passions, all in their proper province. Going far be 
yond the theory which supposes that all the complex 
difference of organisation has grown up in endless, 
endless ages from a primitive indistinctness, so that the 
gap of time acts as a wall to keep early and late apart, 
Hegel insists upon their essential unity to-day. And 
that sounds hard the herald of anarchy, of the collapse 
of the ordered polity of the scientific state. It is no 
doubt probable that Hegel, like other men, made mis 
takes ; that he over-estimated the supposed discoveries 

1 See notes and illustrations in vol. ii. 419. 


of the day: that he indulged in false analogies, and that 
he was attracted by a daring paradox. All this has 
nothing to do with his main thesis : which is, that the 
natural realm is as it stands an a-logical realm where 
reason has gone beside itself, and yet containing an 
instrument man, and that is mind by which its ration 
ality may be realised and restored. In that point at 
least he and Schopenhauer are at one. 



WE have seen that an innate tendency leads the 
human mind to connect and set in relation, to connect, 
it may be erroneously, or without proper scrutiny, or 
under the influence of passions or prejudices, but at 
any rate to connect. Criticism occasionally has im 
patiently banned this tendency as a mere fountain of 
errors. The human mind, says Francis Bacon, always 
assumes a greater uniformity in things than it finds ; 
it expects symmetry, is bold in neglecting exceptional 
cases, and would fain go beyond all limits in its ever 
lasting cry, Why and To what end. It varies in indi 
viduals between a passion for discovering similarities 
and an intent acuteness to every shade of unlikeness. 
But notwithstanding these warnings of the hen, the ugly 
duckling Reason will go beyond what is given : it 
knows no insuperable limitation. It may be guilty of 
what Bacon calls anticipation an induction on evi 
dence insufficient or it may subdue itself to the duty 
of interpretation of nature by proper methods: in 
either case, it is an act of association, synthesis, unifi 
cation. For Not* is dpxri, and knows that it is : it will 
not yield to clamour or mere rebuke : it, too, cannot be 
commanded, unless by first obeying it : and Bacon, 
having duly objurgated the mind left to itself/ is obliged 
to let it go to gather the grapes before they are quite 


ripe, and to indulge it with a prerogative of instances. 
As Mr. Herbert Spencer and many others are never 
weary of telling us : We think in relations. This is 
truly the form of all thought : and if there are any other 
forms they must be derived from this V Man used to 
be defined as a thinking or rational animal : which 
means that man is a connecting and relation-giving 
animal ; and from this, Aristotle s definition, making 
him out to be a political animal, is only a corollary, 
most applicable in the region of Ethics. Here is the 
ultimate point, -from which the natural consciousness, 
and the energies of science, art, and religion equally 
start upon their special missions. 

In ordinary life we attach but little importance to 
this machinery of cognition. We incline to let the 
fact of synthesis drop out of sight, as if it required no 
further study or notice, and we regard the things con 
nected as exclusively worth attending to. The interest 
centres on the object on the matter: the formal ele 
mentthe connective tissue is only an instrument of no 
importance, except in view of the end it helps us to. We 
use general and half-explained terms, such as develop 
ment, evolution, continuity, as bridges from one thing to 
another, without giving any regard to the means of 
locomotion on their own account. Some one thing is 
the product of something else : we let the term product 
slip out of the proposition as unimportant : and then 
read the statement so as to explain the one thing by 
turning it into the other. Things, according to this 

1 First Principles, p. 162. It may be as well to remark that Relation 
is scarcely an adequate description of the nature of thought as 
a whole. We shall see when we come to the theory of logic, that 
the term is applicable and then somewhat imperfectly only to the 
second phase of thought, the categories of reflection, which are the 
favourite categories of science and popular metaphysics. 


opinion, are all-important : the rest is mere words. 
These relations between things are not open to further 
investigation or definition : they are each sui generis, or 
peculiar : and even if the logician in his analysis of 
inference finds it advisable to deal with them, he will 
be content, if he can classify them in some approximate 
way, as a basis for his subdivision of propositions. 
This is certainly one way of getting rid of Metaphysics 
for the time. 

But there are epochs in life, and epochs in universal 
history, when the mind withdraws from its immersion 
in active life, and reflects upon its own behaviour as on 
the proceedings of some strange creature, of which it is 
a mere spectator. At such seasons when we stop to 
reflect upon the partial scene, and close our eyes to the 
totality, doubts begin to arise, whether our procedure 
is justified when we unify and combine the isolated 
phenomena. Have we any right to throw our own 
subjectivity, the laws of our imagination and thought, 
into the natural world ? Would it not be more proper 
to refrain altogether from the use of such conceptions? 

Philosophy, said one of the ancients l , begins in 
wonder, and ends in wonder. It begins from the sur 
prise that something could be what it purports to be : 
it ends in the marvel of our having thought anything 
else possible. Such a phrase well becomes the naive 
age in which the soul goes freely forth, wandering from 
one novelty to another, curious to find out all that can 
be known, like the young wanderer on the sea-shore 
whom fresh pebbles and new shells tempt endlessly to 
fill his basket. But as the ages roll on, and the accu 
mulations of the past grow heavier in the receptacle, the 
need of a re-examination of the stores becomes impera 
tive. The bright colours have faded and generally 

1 Arist. Metaph. i. 2. 26. 


they fade soon : there has been much picked up in the 
inexperience of youthful enthusiasm which maturer 
reflection hardly can think worth carrying further. 

The duty of doubt and of re-examination of what 
tradition has bequeathed has been enforced by philo 
sophy in all ages. For it is the cardinal principle of 
philosophy to be free to possess its soul never to be 
a mere machine or mere channel of tradition. But, in 
some ages, this assertion of its freedom has had for the 
soul a pre-eminently negative aspect. It has meant 
only freedom from and not also freedom in and 
through its environing, or rather constituting, sub 
stance. Such an epoch was seen in the ancient world 
when the New Academy, with its sceptical abstention 
from all objective assertions, had to protest against the 
dogmatism of the Stoic and Epicurean schoolmen. In 
modern times the initial shudder before plunging 
in has been a recurrent crisis. Each thinker as 
he personally resolved to thread his way through 
the wilderness of current opinion to the realm of 
certified truth has had to remind himself (and his 
contemporaries) that in knowledge at least no posses 
sions are secured property unless they have been 
earned by the sweat of their owner s brow. This is the 
common theme of Bacon s aphorisms in the beginning 
of the Novum Organum, of Descartes Discourse of 
Method, and of Spinoza s unfinished essay on the 
Emendation of the Intellect. There is indeed a dis 
crepancy in these utterances as to the measure in which 
they severally think it needful to insist as preliminary on 
a kind of moral and religious consecration of life to the 
service of truth. But a more compelling division arises. 
The maxim may be understood to say, Divest thy 
mind of its ill-gotten gains, its evil habits, prejudices, 
and system, and in childlike simplicity prepare thine eye 

92 PROLEGOMENA. [viil. 

and ear to receive in pure vessels the stores of truth 
which are ready to stream in from the world/ Or it 
may rather be held to say, Remember that thou art 
a conscious, waking mind ; and that every idea thou 
hast is thine by thine own assent : insist upon thy right 
of free intelligence, and give no place to any belief 
which thou hast not raised into full light of conscious 
ness, and found to be completely consistent with the 
whole power and content of thy clearest thought/ And, 
we may add, if the maxim be obeyed too exclusively in 
either way, it will be obeyed amiss. 

With Locke the question comes into even greater pro 
minence. On what conditions can I have knowledge ? 
How can I be certified that my ideas the subjective 
images in my mind have a reference to something 
objective and real ? Locke s answer is ; not unnaturally 
perhaps, somewhat prolix, and wanting in fundamental 
precision of principles. After dismissing the view that, 
even before experience, there are certain common 
ideas spontaneously and by original endowment present 
in all human beings, he goes on to show how we can 
sufficiently account for the ideas w r e actually find by 
supposing in us an almost unlimited power of joining 
and disjoining, of comparing, relating, and unifying 
the various elementary ideas which make their 
way into the empty chambers of our mind by the 
senses. As to the source, the channel, and the nature 
of these sense-ideas, Locke is obscure and apparently 
inconsistent : though clearly it should be all important 
to know how an idea can be caused by, or spring from, 
a material thing. When in his fourth book he comes 
to the question of what is the reality, or the meaning of 
our ideas, he does not really get beyond a few -rather 
dubiously reasoned-out conclusions that, although 
strictly we cannot go beyond the present testimony of 

vni. J LOCKE. 93 

our senses employed about the particular objects that 
do affect them/ we may for practical purposes allow a 
good deal to the presumptions of general probability. 

But Locke had also begun to criticise our ideas, in 
his account of their formation out of the simple ideas 
(which neither Locke nor any other atomist of mind 
has succeeded in making clear) which the several 
senses give, and by observing or reflecting on what 
goes on or is present in our minds, we form, he says, 
various ideas. In a style of discussion which is on the 
borderland between vulgar and philosophical analysis 
(never quite false, but nearly always inadequate, because 
it almost invariably assumes what it ostensibly proposes 
to explain,) Locke tells us how we get one idea by 
enlarging/ another by repeating, as we please, the 
bounteous data of the touch and sight. But amongst 
the compounds there are some of more disputable origin. 
There are some e.g. ideas of punishable acts or legal 
ised states which are voluntary collections of ideas 
put together in the mind independent from any original 
patterns in nature. These, though entirely subjective, 
are entirely real, because they only serve as patterns by 
which we may judge or designate things so and so. It 
is worse with the idea of power, which we only collect 
or infer, and that not from matter, where it is in 
visible, but only in a clear light when we consider God 
and spirits. Still worse, perhaps, is it with the idea of 
substance, which is a collection of simple ideas with 
the t supposition of an incomprehensible something 
in which the collection subsists. 

Hume put all this rather more pointedly. We have 
impressions, i. e. lively perceptions by sense. We have 
also ideas, i.e. fainter images of these, but otherwise 
identical. An idea should be a copy of an impression. 
If you cannot point out any such impression, you may 


be certain you are mistaken when you imagine you 
have any such idea. There is prevalent in the mental 
world a kind of association ; a gentle force connects 
ideas in our imagination according to certain relations 
they possess. This mind* or this imagination is only 
a bundle or collection of impressions and ideas ; but a 
collection which is continually and rapidly changing in 
its constituents, and in the scale of liveliness possessed 
by each constituent. When an idea is particularly fresh 
and forcible, it is a belief, or it is believed in : when faint, 
not so. Or, otherwise put, the object of an idea is said 
to exist, when the idea itself is vividly felt*. Really 
there is no such thing as external existence taken 
literally. Our universe is the universe of the imagina 
tion" : all existence is for a consciousness. 

Impressions arise in certain orders of sequence or 
co-existence. When two impressions frequently recur 
and always in the same order, the custom binds them 
so closely together, that, should one of them only be 
given as impression, we cannot help having an idea of 
the other, which, growing more vivid by the contagion 
of the contiguous impression, creates, or is, a belief in 
its reality. Between the perceptions as such, there 
is no connexion ; they are distinct and independent 
existences. They only get a connexion through our 
feeling ; we feel a determination of our thought to pass 
from one to another. The one impression has no 
power to produce the other; the one thing does not 
cause the other. We never have any impression that 
contains any power or efficacy 2 / Hence the power 
and necessity we attribute to the so-called causal agent 
and to the connexion are an illegitimate transference 
from our feeling, and a mistranslation of our in- 

1 Treatise of Human Nature (Understanding), iii. 7 and ii. 6. 

2 Ibid. iii. 14. 

viii.] HUME. 95 

capacity to resist the force of habitual association into 
a real bond between the two impressions themselves. 
The necessity is in the mind as a habit-caused com 
pulsion not in the objects. 

As with the relation of cause and effect, so it is with 
others. The identity of continued existence is only 
another name an objective transcript of the feeling 
of smooth uninterrupted succession of impressions in 
which our thought glides along from one in easy tran 
sition to another. And here the coherence and con 
tinuity of perceptions need not be absolute. A vivid 
impression of unbroken connexion in a part will, if 
predominant, by association fill up the gaps and weak 
points, and behind the admitted breaks in the line of 
our ideas will suppose invent or create an imper 
ceptible but real continuity in the supposed things. And 
by this fiction of a continuous existence of our percep 
tions, we easily lapse into the doctrine that our per 
ceptions have an independent existence as objects or 
things in themselves : a doctrine which according to 
Hume is contrary to the plainest experience. 

But if the world is always the world of imagination 
of Vorstellung of mental representation, Hume is 
aware that we must admit two orders or grades of such 
representation. We must distinguish, he remarks \ 
in the imagination betwixt the principles which are 
permanent, irresistible and universal (such as the 
customary transition from causes to effects and from 
effects to causes), and the principles which are change 
able, weak and irregular. The former are the founda 
tion of all our thoughts and actions. There are, in 
other words, normal and general laws of association- 
such as the relation of cause and effect which per 
suade us of real existence. By its own laws, therefore, 

1 Treatise of Human Nature (Understanding), iv. 4. 


within the realm of Vorstellung or Mental idea, there 
grows up a permanent, objective world for all, con 
trasted with the temporary, accidental perception of the 
individual and of the moment ; and this serves as the 
standard or the one common measure by which occa 
sional perturbations are to be measured. Within the 
limits of the subjective in general there arises a sub 
jective of higher order, which is truly objective. This 
same change of front as it may be called Hume 
makes in morals. There the mind can modify and 
control its passions according as it can feel the objects 
of them near or far ; and though each of us has his 
peculiar position/ we can so creating the ethical 
basis fix on some steady and general points of 
view, and always in our thoughts place ourselves in 
them, whatever may be our present situation * : we can 
1 choose some common point of view/ and from the 
vantage-ground of a permanent principle, however dis 
tant, we have a chance of gaining the victory over our 
passion, however near. 

Thus far Hume had gone in the development of 
idealism. Whether his theory is consistent from end 
to end, need not be here discussed. But it is evident 
that Hume was not lost in the quagmire of subjective 
idealism. The objective and the subjective are with 
him akin : the objective is the subjective, which is uni 
versal, permanent, and normal. The causal relation 
has, in the first instance, only a subjective necessity ; but 
through that subjective necessity or its irresistible belief, 
it generates an objective world. But it has been and 
is the fortune of philosophers to be known in the philo 
sophical world by some conspicuous red rag of their 
system which first caught the eye of the bull-like leaders 
of the human herd. It was so notably with Hobbes 

1 Treatise of Human Nature (Morals), iii. i. 

viii.] KANT AND HUME. 97 

and Spinoza; and most of the thinkers whose names 
appear in the pages of Kant suffer from this curtailment. 
Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, are there 
not the real philosophers, discoverable in their works, 
but the creatures of historic reputation and of popular 
simplification who do duty for them. 

Kant s Hume is therefore a somewhat imaginary 
being: the product, partly of imperfect knowledge of 
Hume s writings, partly of prepossessions derived from 
a long previous training in German rationalism. Such a 
Hume was or would have been, had he existed a phi 
losopher who took the objects of experience for things 
in themselves/ who treated the conception of cause as 
a false and deceptive illusion/ who did not indeed 
venture to assail the certainty of mathematics, but held 
as regards all knowledge about the existence of things 
empiricism to be the sole source of principles/ found 
ing his conclusion mainly on an examination of the 
causal nexus 1 . This note of warning* sounded against 
the claims of pure reason as he calls Hume s Enquiry 
was what about 1762 broke Kant s dogmatic slumber 
and forced him to give his researches in speculative 
philosophy a new direction. His first step was to 
generalise Hume s problem from an inquiry into the 
origin of the causal idea into a general study of the 
synthetic principles in knowledge. His next was to 
attempt to fix the number of these concepts and syn 
thetic principles. And his third was to deduce them : 
i. e. ; to prove the reciprocal implication between ex 
perience or knowledge and the concepts or categories 
of intelligence. 

1 Kant, Prolegomena to Metaph. Introduction and Crit. of Practical 
Reason (on the Claim of Pure Reason, Werke, viii. 167). 



THE Criticism of Pure Reason has been described 
by its author as a generalisation of Hume s problem. 
Hume, he thought, had treated his question on the 
relations of ideas in their bearing upon matters of 
fact mainly with reference to the isolated case of cause 
and effect. Kant extended the inquiry so as to com 
prise all those connective and unifying ideas which 
form the subject-matter of metaphysics. In his own 
technical language which has lost its meaning for the 
present day he asked, Are Synthetic judgments 
a priori possible ? a question which in another place 
he has translated into the form, Is the metaphysical 
faith of men sound, and is a metaphysical science 
possible ? By a metaphysics he meant in the first 
instance the belief in a more than empirical reality, and 
secondly the science which should give real knowledge 
of God ; Freedom and Immortality, a science whose 
objects would be God, the World, and the Soul. 
From a comparatively early date (1762-4) Kant had 
been inclined to suspect and distrust the claims of 
metaphysics to replace faith, and to give knowledge of 
spiritual reality ; and he had tried to vindicate for the 
moral and religious life an independence of the conclu 
sions and methods of the metaphysical theology and 


psychology of the day. But it was not till some years 
later in 1770 that he formulated any very definite 
views as to the essential conditions of scientific know 
ledge : and it was not till 1781 that his theory on the 
subject was put together in a provisionally complete 

What then are the criteria of a science ? When is 
our thought knowledge, and of objective reality? In 
the first place, there must be a given something 
a sense-datum an impression as Hume might have 
said. If there be no impression, therefore, there can 
be no scientific idea, no real knowledge. There must 
be the primary touch the feeling the affection the 
/ ne sais quoi of contact with reality. Secondly, what is 
given can only be received if taken up by the recipient, 
and in such measure as he is able to appropriate it. 
The given is received in a certain mode. In the present 
case, the sensation is apprehended and perceived under 
the forms of space and time. Perception, in other 
words, whatever may be its special quality or its sen 
suous material, is always an act of dating andJocalisa- 
tipn. The distinction between the mere lump of feeling 
or sensibility and the perception is that the latter 
implies a field of extended and mutually excluding 
parts of space, and a series of points of time, both field 
and series being continuous, and, so far as inexhausti 
bility goes, infinite. Thirdly, even in the reception of 
the given there is a piece of action and spontaneity. If 
the more passive recipiency be called Sense, this active 
element in the adaptation may be termed Intellect. 
Intellect is a power or process of choice, selection, 
comparison, distinguishing and dividing, analysis and 
synthesis, affirmation and negation, numeration, of judg 
ment and doubt, of connexion and disjunction, differen 
tiation and integration. Its general aspect is by Kant 

H 2 

ioo PROLEGOMENA. [ix. 

sometimes described as Judgment the act of thought 
which correlates by distinguishing ; sometimes as Apper 
ception, and the unity of apperception. It is, i. e., an 
active unity and a synthetic energy ; it unifies, and 
always unifies. It links perception to perception, corre 
lating one with another interpreting one by another ; 
estimating the knowledge-value of one by the rest. 
It thus ap-perceives. It is a faculty of association and 
consociation of ideas. But the association is inward 
and ideal union: the one idea interpenetrates and 
fuses with the other, even while it remains distinct. 

Kant s work may be described in its first stage as 
an analysis and a criticism of experience. The term 
Experience is an ambiguous one. It sometimes means 
what has been called the raw material of experience : 
the crude, indigested mass of poured-in matter-of-know- 
ledge. If there be such a shapeless lump anywhere, 
which has to be considered presently it, at any rate, 
is not on Kant s view properly entitled to the name of 
Experience. The Given must be felt and apprehended : 
and to put the point paradoxically to be felt it must be 
more than feJt, it must foe perrei vprL It must, in other 
words, be projected set in space and time : let out of 
the mere dull inner subjectivity of feeling into the clear 
and distinct outer subjectivity of perception. But, 
again, to be perceived, it must be apperceived : to be 
set in time and space, it must first of all be in the hands 
of the unifying consciousness, which is the lord of time 
and space. For in so far as space and time mean a place 
and an order in so far as they mean more than an 
empty inconceivable receptacle for bulks of sensation, 
in the same degree do they presuppose an intellectual, 
synthetic genius, which is in all its perceptions one and 
the same, the fundamental, original unity of conscious 
ness. And this analysis of experience is transcen- 


dental. Beginning with the assumed datum the 
object of or in experience it shows that this object 
which is supposed to be there -to exist by itself and 
wait for perception is created by and in the very act 
which apprehends it. Climbing up and rising above 
its habitual absorption in the thing, consciousness (that 
of the philosophic observer and analyst) sees the thing 
in the act of making, and watches its growth. 

We have seen that Kant made free use of the 
metaphor of giving and receiving. But it is hardly 
possible to use such metaphors and retain independence 
of judgment. The associations customarily attached to 
the figurative language carry one away easily, and often 
for a long way, on the familiar paths of imagination. 
The analogy is used even where if all were looked 
into its terms become meaningless. No reader of 
Locke can have failed, e. g., to notice how he is misled 
by his own images of the dark room and the empty 
cabinet : images, useful and perhaps even necessary, 
but requiring constant restraint in him who would ply 
them wisely and to his reader s good. From what has 
been said above it will be clear that the acquisition of 
experience, the growth of knowledge, is a unique 
species of gift and acceptance. The consciousness 
which Kant describes may be the consciousness of 
John Doe or Richard Roe : but as Kant describes it, 
the limitations of their personality, i. e. of their in 
dividual body and soul, have been neglected. It is 
consciousness_in_general which_as Kant s theme, just 
as it is granite in general and not the block in yonder 
field, which is the theme of the geologist. Once get 
that clear, and you will also see clearly that conscious 
ness is at once giver and recipient neither or both : at 
once receptivity and spontaneity. But you may reply 
does not the material object act (chemically, optically, 

102 PROLEGOMENA. [ix. 

mechanically, &c.) on the sense-organ on the periphery 
of my body, does not the nerve-string convey the im 
pression to the brain ; and is not perception the effect 
of that process, in which the material object is the 
initial caused 

In this exposition which is not unknown in vulgar 
philosophy there is a monstrous, almost inextricable, 
complication of fact with inference, of truth with error. 
So long as there is an uncertainty and metaphysicians 
themselves, we may be reminded, are not agreed upon 
the matter as to what we are to understand by cause, 
effect, and act, what an impression is, and how brain 
and intelligence mutually stand to each other, it is 
hardly possible to pronounce judgment upon this mode 
of statement. Yet perhaps we may go so far as to say 
that while the terms quoted bear an intelligible meaning 
when applied within the physiological process they are 
vain when used of relations of mind to body. There is 
a sense in which we may speak of the action of mind on 
body, and of body on mind : but what we mean would 
perhaps be more unmistakably expressed by saying 
that the higher intellectual and volitional energies are 
never in our experience entirely independent of the 
influences of the lower sensitive and emotional nature. 
In the metaphysical sense which the terms are here 
made to bear, they mislead. Action and re-action can 
only take place in the separateness of space, where one 
is here and another there : (though, be it added, they 
cannot take place even on these terms, unless the here 
and the there be somehow unified in a medium which 
embraces both). Mens, said Spinoza, is the idea 
carports 1 : he would hardly have said Corpus habet 
ideam. What he meant would scarcely have been well 
described by calling it a parallelism or mutual indepen- 
1 Spinoza, Eth. ii. 7-13. 


dence, yet with harmony or identity, of body and mind. 
Apart from body, no doubt, mind is for him a nullity : 
for body is what gives it reality. But, on the other 
hand, Mind is the enveloping and including Attribute 
of the two : idealism 

This was the fundamental proposition which Kant 
contended for ; what he spoke of as his own Copernican 
discovery : though, in reality, for the student of the 
history of philosophy it was only the re-statement, in 
some respects the clearer statement, of the idealism 
which even Hume, not to mention Spinoza and Leibniz, 
had maintained. The world of experience the em-j 
pineal, objective, and real world is a world of ideas, 
of representations which have place only in mind, of 
appearances. Space and time are subjective : the foxms 
of though^ are snhjprtivf> : and vet they constitute 
phenomenal or empirical or real objectivity. Such 
language is it would seem inevitably misunderstood : 
and in his second edition, Kant besides many other 
minor modifications of statement, had to defend him 
self by inserting a confutation of idealism/ i.e. of the 
theory which holds that the existence of objects outside 
us in space is doubtful, if not even impossible. But no 
end of argument will ever confute the view that Kant s 
doctrine is such idealism : until people can be got to 
rise to a new view of whatsis subjectivity what is an 
idea and what is existence outside us. 

By subjective the world is in the way of under 
standing what is due to personal prepossession, void of 
general acceptability, a product of individual feeling, 
peculiar and inexplicable tastes. By subjective Kant 
means what belongs to the subject or knowing mind as 
such and in its generality : what is constitutive of 
intelligence in general, what sense and intellect are 
semper et ubique. Into the question how the human 

104 PROLEGOMENA. [ix. 

being came to have such an intellectual endowment 
the question which Nativist psychology is supposed to 
settle in one way, and Evolutionism in another Kant 
does not enter; he merely says where there is know 
ledge, there is a knower, a knowing subject so con 
stituted. It comes after all to the tautology that the 
reality we know-is a known reality : that knowledge is 
a growth in the knower, and not an accidental product 
due to things otherwise unknown. The predicate (or 
category) is is contained, implicit, in the predicate is 
known/ or what is puts implicitly, is known puts 
explicitly and truly. 

By appearance the world understands a sham, or at 
least somewhat short of reality. By appearance Kant 
understands a reality which has appeared : or, as that 
is going too far, a something which is real so far as it 
goes (a prima facie fact), but only a candidate for 
admission into the circle of reals. And such reality 
depends on nothing more than its thorough-going 
coherence with other appearances, its explaining the rest, 
and being in turn explained by them, its absolute adap 
tation to its environment. And this environment all lies 
in the common field of consciousness, and in the one 
correlating and unifying apperceptivity of the ego, - 
that Ego which is the inseparable comrade, vehicle, and 
judge, of all our perceptions. It is the appearance 
but as yet not the appearance of something, but rather 
an appearance to >orfor_ something. 

By an idea the world in general understands what it 
is sometimes ready to call a mere idea. And by a mere 
idea is meant something which is 0t_rality, but 
a peculiarity of an individual mind, or group of minds 
a fancy, without objective truth : something, we 
may even add, which for many people is located in 
their own head or brain, cut off by blank bone-walls 


from the open air of real being. By idea (repre 
sentation, Vorstellung) Kant meant that an object is 
always and essentially the object of a mind : always 
relative to a subject consciousness, and implying it, 
just as a subject consciousness always implies an 

And by existence outside us the world probably 
means for it is imprudent to define and refine too 
much in this hazy medium of words where we all drowse 
existence of things on an independent footing beyond 
the limits of our personal, i. e. bodily and sentient, self. 
As regards our own trunk and limbs, most of us, except 
in some most strange insanity, are not likely ever to be 
in doubt, and are indeed more likely, after Schopen 
hauer s model, to take the knowledge of these personalia 
as the one thing immediately and intuitively certain. 
We talk freely enough, it is true, about existence outside 
our own minds ; but it is only a drastic method of 
stating the difference between a fancy and a fact. And 
probably we labour under a half-unconscious hallucina 
tion that our minds are localised in some material 
seat/ somewhere in our bodily limits, and more 
especially in the central nerve-organs. 

But, as has been said elsewhere \ the point of view 
under which Mind is regarded by Kant is that of Con 
sciousness, and especially perceptive consciousness. 
He describes, as we have put it above, the steps or 
conditions under which the single sense-observation 
is elevated into the rank of an experience claiming 
universality and necessity. But the whole machinery 
of consciousness the form of sensibility and the cate 
gory of intellect is originally set in motion by an 

1 Encyclopaedia, 415, 420. Consciousness is only as it were 
the surface of the ocean of mind ; and reflects only the lights and 
shadows in the sky above it. 

106 PROLEGOMENA. [ix. 

impetus from without : or at least the manipulating 
machinery requires a raw material on which to operate. 
Consciousness, or the observer who takes this point 
of view, feels that it is being played upon by an unknown 
performer- or that it is attempting to apprehend some 
thing, which, because the act of apprehension is also to 
some extent (and to what extent, who can say ?) a trans 
mutation, it must for ever fail to apprehend truly. 
It is haunted by the phantom of a real, a thing in its 
own right, which can only appear in forms of sense and 
intellect, never in its own essential being. It is only 
a short step further and Kant, if one may judge him 
by several isolated passages, has more than once crossed 
the interval, to treat, after the manner of uneducated 
consciousness and of popular science, the thing in its 
independent being as the cause which produces the 
sensation, or as the original which the mental idea 
reproduces under the distortions or modifications 
rendered necessary by the sensuous-intellectual medium. 
For, if under the terms of one analogy the perception is 
an effect of the thing, under those of another it is an 
image or copy of external reality. 

If this be Kantian philosophy and it can quote 
chapter and verse in its favour Kantian philosophy is 
one version of the great dogma of the relativity of 
knowledge. That unhappy phrase seems to have many 
meanings, but none of absolutely catholic acceptation. 
It may mean that knowledge of things states their 
relations the way they behave in reference to this or 
that, in these or those circumstances ; and that of an 
utterly unrelated and absolutely isolated thing, our 
knowledge is and must be nil. Of a thing-in-itself we 
can know nothing ; for there is nothing to know. It 
may mean that knowledge is relative to the recipient or 
the knower, that it is not a product which can stand 


by itself, but needs a vehicle and an object in close 
relation. In this way, too, knowledge is relative to 
age and circumstances : grows from period to period, 
and may even decay. And thirdly, the relativity of 
knowledge may be taken to mean that we (and all 
human beings) can never know the reality ; because 
we can only know the phenomenon, i. e. the modified, 
transmuted, reflected thing which has reconstituted an 
image of itself after passing the interfering medium. 
For, first of all, we must strip it this image so- 
called (the vulgar call it the thing ) of the secondary 
qualities (sound, colour, taste, resistance) which it has 
in the consciousness of a being dependent on his sense- 
organs : and then, we must get rid also of those quanti 
tative attributes (figure, number, size) which it has in 
the consciousness of a spatially and temporally per 
ceptive being ; and then ; but the prospect is too 
horrible to continue further and face the Gorgon s head 
in the outer darkness, where man denudes appearance 
in the hope to meet reality. 

The fact is, there are too many strands in the web 
which Kant is weaving, for him or perhaps for any 
man to keep them all well in hand and lose none of the 
symmetry of the pattern he designs. To be just, we 
must, in dealing with him as with any other philosopher, 
try to keep in view the unity of that design instead of 
insisting too minutely and too definitely upon its occa 
sional defects. It is easy to work the pun that a critical 
philosophy must itself expect to be criticised ; it is 
more important to remember that by a criticism Kant 
meant an attempt to steer a course between the always 
enticing extremes of dogmatism and scepticism, an 
attempt to be fair, i. e. just to both sides, and yet neither 
to sink into the systematised placidity of the former, nor 
to rove in a mere guerilla warfare with the latter. And it 


is the mere privateer who in the popular sense of the 
word is the mere critic. 

Of Kant we must remember that he has the defects 
of his qualities. He prides himself on his distinctions 
of sense and intellect, of imagination and understand 
ing, of understanding and reason ; and with justice : 
but his distinctions are sometimes so decisive that it is 
hard work both for him and for his reader to recon 
stitute their unity. He is fond of utilising old classifi 
cations to embody his new doctrine : and occasionally 
the result is like what we have been taught to expect 
from pouring new wine into old bottles. He draws 
hard and fast lines, and then has to create, as it 
seems, supplementary links of connexion, which, if 
they operate, can only do so because they are the very 
unity he began by ignoring. One gets perfectly lost in 
the multitude of syntheses, in the labyrinth of categories, 
schemata, and principles, of paralogisms, antinomies, 
and ideals of pure reason. One part of this formalism 
may be set down to the pedantry and pipeclay of the 
age of the Great Frederick pedantry, from which, as 
we console ourselves, our modern souls are freed. But 
it arises rather from the necessity of pursuing the 
battle between truth and error through every com 
plicated passage in that great fortress which ages of 
scholasticism had on various plans gradually con 
structed. Kant is always a little of the martinet and 
the schoolmaster ; but it is because he knows that true 
liberty cannot be secured without forms and must 
capture the old before it can plant the new. The forms 
as they stand in his grouping may often appear stiff 
and lifeless : but a more careful study, more sym 
pathetically intent, will find that there is latent life and 
undisplayed connexion in the terms. Unfortunately 
the classified cut-and-dried specimens are more welcome 


to the collector, and can more easily be put in evidence 
in the examination-room. 

Thus the original question, Are synthetic judgments 
a priori possible ? is answered somewhat piecemeal in 
a way that leads the reader to suppose it is a question 
of psychology. He hears so much of sense, imagina 
tion, intellect, in the discussion, that he fancies it is an 
account of a process carried on by the faculties of an 
individual mind. And of course nobody need suppose 
these processes are ever carried on otherwise than 
by individual thinkers, human beings with proper 
names. But scientific investigation is concerned only 
with the essential and universal. For it, really, sense, 
imagination, &c. are not so many faculties in a thinking 
agent : they are grades and aspects of consciousness, 
powers in a process of gradual mental complication 
(involution). Kant is really dealing with a normal 
thought with its distinguishable constituent aspects. 
Only -he fails to make this explicit and clear. The 
individualism the un-historical prepossession of his 
age is upon his phraseology, if not upon his thought : 
and one hardly realises that he is really engaged on 
human thought and knowledge as a substantial subject 
of itself apart from its individual vehicles, on that 
thought, which lives and grows in social institutions 
and products, in language, science, literature, and 
moral usage, the common stock which one age be- 
queathes to the next, but which the later-comer can 
only inherit if he works for and creates it afresh. If it 
be a psychology, therefore, it is a psychology which does 
not assume a soul with qualities, but which expounds 
the steps in the constitution of a normal intelligence. 

One may note, without insisting on them too much, 
the defects of his treatment of the forms of thought. It 
may be said that, in the first place, the table of the 


categories was incomplete. It had been borrowed, as 
Kant himself tells us, from the old logical subdivision 
of judgments, derived more or less directly from 
Aristotle and the Schoolmen. Now many of the rela 
tions occurring in ordinary thought could not be 
reduced to any of the twelve forms, without doing 
violence to them. But Kant expressly disclaims ex- 
haustiveness in detail. He could, if he would : but that 
is for another season. In the second place, the classifi 
cation did not expressly put forward any principle or 
reason, and gave ground for no development. That 
there should be four fundamental categories, each with 
three divisions, making twelve in all, seems as inex 
plicable as that there should be four Athenian tribes in 
early times and twelve Phratriai. The twelve patriarchs 
of thought stand as if in equal authority, with little or 
no bearing upon one another. We have here, in short, 
what seems an artificial and not a natural classification 
of the types of thought. But Kant himself has given 
some explanation of the triad, and a sympathetic 
interpretation has shown how the four main groups 
are steps in the solution of one problem l . In the third 
place, the question as taken up seems largely psycho 
logical, or subjective, concerning the constitution of the 
human mind as a percipient and cognitive faculty. But 
this is necessary, perhaps, to the restricted nature 
of Kant s problem. He is dealing with the elements 
that form our objective or scientific consciousness of 
I the physical world. The deeper question of the place 
and work of mind in life in general, in law and morality 
and religion, does not at this stage come before him. 
That problem in fact only gradually emerges with the 
Criticism of the Moral Faculty and the Aesthetic Judg- 

1 It is not the least of the merits of the exposition in Caird s Critical 
Philosophy of Immanuel Kant, vol. i. to have brought out this. 


ment. Logic as the doctrine of the Logos which is 
the principle of all things, even of its own Other had 
to wait for its preparation till it could be matured. 

In Hegel the question assumes a wider scope, and 
receives a more thorough-going answer. In the first 
place the question about the Categories is transferred 
from what we have called the epistemological or psycho 
logical, to what Hegel terms the logical, sphere. It is 
transferred from the Reason subjectively considered 
as a mere receptive and synthetic human conscious 
ness to the Reason which is in the world and in 
history, a Reason, which our Reason, as it were, 
touches, and so becomes possessed of knowledge. In 
the second place, the Categories become a vast multitude. 
The intellectual telescope discovers new stars behind 
the constellations named in ancient lore. There is no 
longer, if there ever was, any mystic virtue supposed to 
inhere in the number twelve : while the triadic arrange 
ment is made radical and everywhere recurs. The 
modern chemist of thought vastly amplifies the number 
of its elementary types and factors, and proves thai 
many of the old Categories are neither simple nor 
indecomposable. Thirdly, there is a systematic de 
velopment or process which links the Categories to 
gether, and shows how the most simple, abstract, and 
inadequate, inevitably lead up to the most complex and 
adequate. Each term or member in the organism of 
thought has its place conditioned by all the others : 
each of them is the germ, or the ripe fruit of another. 



KANT S answer to his question was briefly this. In 
telligence is essentially synthetic, always supplementing 
the given by something beyond, instituting relationships, 
unifying the many, and thus building up concrete 
totalities. In pure mathematics this is obvious: the 
process of numeration shows it creating number out of 
units, and geometry shows elementary propositions 
leading on to complicated theorems. In abstract physics 
it is hardly less obvious : there, e. g., the principle of 
reason and consequent or the persistence of substance 
are rational and legitimate steps beyond the mere 
datum. The more important question follows. How 
are these pure syntheses applicable to real fact? 
To that Kant replies : They apply, because in all that 
we call real or objective fact there is a subjective element 
or constituent. What appears to be purely given, and 
independent of our perceptions, is a product of per 
ceptual and conceptual conditions, is constituted by 
a synthesis in perception, imagination, conception. 
Our world is a mental growth not our individual 
product, but the work of that common mind in which 
we live and think, and which lives and thinks in us. 
Anyhow it is not an isolated self-existing un-intelligent 
world for ever materially outside us an other world, 


eternally separate from us ; but bone of our bone, flesh 
of our flesh, the work realised by our great elder 
brother/ the Idea of human collectivity the Reason 
or Spirit in which we are all one soul. It is therefore 
no unwarranted step on to a foreign property when we 
apply the categories of thought and forms of sense to 
determine objective reality : for objective reality has 
been for ever made, and is now making, objective and 
reality by the conscious or unconscious syntheses of 
perception and imagination. 

There remains the answer to the same question as 
regards the objects of Metaphysics. These objects are 
according to Kant inferences, and illegitimate inferences. 
They are not necessary elements or factors in the con 
stitution of experience. In order that there should be 
experience, knowledge, science, there must be an end 
less hold of space and time in which to stow it clearly 
and distinctly away : and there must also be ties and 
relations binding it part to part, links of reference 
and correlation, a sort of logical elastic band that will 
stretch to include infinitely copious materials. But 
each real knowledge attaches to a definite assignable 
perception, in a single place and time. From this point 
we can travel by means of like points practically 
without limit in any direction. But though the old 
margin fades forever and forever as we move, a new 
margin takes its place : the limitation and finitude 
remain : and new acquisitions are always balanced in 
part by the loss of the old. Yet the heart and the 
imagination are clamorous, and the intellect is ready to 
serve them. Such an intellect Kant has called Reason, 
and its products (Platonic) Ideas. The (Platonic) 
Idea expresses not so much an object of knowledge as 
a postulate, a problem, an act of faith. The Vaulting 
ambition Intelligence o erleaps itself and falls on 


t other/ Unsatisfied with a bundle of sensations and 
ideas, it demands their abiding unity in a substantial 
Soul. To simplify the endlessness of physical phe 
nomena, it sums them up in a Universe. To gather all 
mental and physical diversities and divisions into one 
life, it creates the ideal of God. 

Each single experience, and the collected aggregate 
of these experiences, is felt to fall short of a complete 
total : and yet this complete total, the ultimate unity, is 
itself not an experience at all. But, if it be no object of 
experience, it is still an idea on which reason is in 
evitably driven : and the attempt to apprehend it, in the 
absence of experience, gives rise to the theories of 
Metaphysics. Everything, however, which can be in 
the strict sense of the word known, must be perceived 
in space and time, or, in other words, must lie open to 
experience. Where experience ends, human reason 
meets a barrier which checks any efficient progress, but 
refuses to recognise the check as due to a natural limit 
which it is really impossible to pass. The idea of com 
pleteness, of a rounded system, or unconditional unity, 
is still left, after the categories of the understanding 
have done their best : and is not destroyed although its 
realisation or explication is declared to be impossible. 

There is thus left unexplained a totality which encom 
passes all the single members of experience a unity 
compared to which the several categories are only a 
collection of fragments an infinite which commands 
and regulates the finite concepts of the experiential 
intellect. But in the region of rational thought there is 
no objective and independent standard by which we can 
verify the conclusions of Reason. There are no definite 
objects, lying beyond the borders of experience, towards 
which it might unerringly turn ; and its sole authentic 
use, accordingly, is to see that the understanding is 


thorough and exact, when it deals in the co-ordination 
of experiences. In this want of definite objects, Reason, 
whenever it acts for itself, can only fall into perpetual 
contradictions and sophistries. Pure Reason, there-/ 
fore, the faculty of ideas, the organ of Metaphysics,) 
does not of itself constitute knowledge, but merely 
regulates the action of the understanding. 

By this rigour of demonstration Kant dealt a deadly 
blow, as it seemed, to the dogmatic Metaphysics, and 
the Deism of his time. Hume had shaken the certainty 
of Metaphysics and thrown doubt upon Theology : but 
Kant apparently made an end of Metaphysics, and 
annihilated Deistic theology. The German philosopher, 
as Hegel has said and Heine has repeated, did thoroughly 
and with systematic demonstration what Voltaire did 
with literary graces and not without the witticisms with 
which the French executioner gives the coup de grace. 
When a great Idea had been degraded into a vulgar 
doctrine and travestied in common reality, the French 
man met its inadequacies with graceful satire, and 
showed that these half-truths were not eternal verities. 
The German made a theory and a system of what was 
only a sally of criticism; and rendered the criticism 
wrong, by making it too consistent and too logical *. 

Science such is Kant s conclusion is of the definite 
and detailed, of the conditioned. It goes from point 
to point, within the enveloping unity of what we call 
experience, and which rests upon the transcendental 
and original unity of consciousness. But a knowledge 
of the whole of the enveloping unity is a contradiction 
in terms. To know is to synthetise : you cannot syn- 
thetise synthesis. Knowledge is of the relative : but 
an absolute and unconditional totality has no relations. 
We may therefore, possibly, feel, believe in, presuppose 

1 Hegel s Werke, vol. i. p. 140. 

I 2 

1 1 6 PROLEGOMENA. [x 

the absolute : but know it in the stricter sense, we 
cannot. It may be the object of a rational faith. But 
as for knowledge, we can get on in psychology without 
the invisible and immortal soul : we can carry out 
sciences of the physical universe, without troubling our 
selves about the cosmological questions of ultimate 
atoms or ultimate void, of first beginning and final end : 
and no proofs will ever prove the existence of that 
ideal of reason briefly termed God which tran 
scends and completes and creates all existence. Not 
that such Ideas are useless even in science. They 
represent if not without risks the faith and the pre 
supposition which underlie the spirit of scientific pro 
gress, and set before it an ideal perfection which it will 
do well to strive after, though it can never get beyond 
approximations. What is perhaps more important : 
this faith of reason science is as little competent to 
disprove, as it is incompetent to prove it. Science is 
not all in all : we are more than mere theoretical and 
cognitive beings. The logic of science is not the sole 
code of our spiritual or higher intellectual life ; 

We live by admiration, hope, and love. 

The sequel and development of the first Criticism are 
found in Kant s works on ethics, aesthetics, teleology 
and religion. Only in one supplementary chapter, and 
in casual indications as need arises, has Kant made 
any pronouncement on his view of Philosophy as 
a whole and as a system. That it is and can only be 
a system, when it really engages on reconstruction in 
theory, was of course his fundamental insight. But in 
his stage of Zetesis l , of testing and sifting the sound 

1 Kant from 1762 onwards continues to insist on the necessity for 
philosophy taking up an analytic and critical attitude to current con 
ceptions : see especially Werke, i. 95 and 292. 

x.] KANT S ETHICS. 117 

from the professed, he has confined himself to break 
ing up the mass piecemeal, and leaving each result in 
its turn to corroborate and correct the other. Sense 
and intellect may spring from a common stem ; but let 
us, he says, deal with them in their apparent separate- 
ness. Reason practical must no doubt be identical at 
bottom with reason theoretical : all the more convincing 
will be the undesigned coincidence between the results 
of an inquiry into the principles of science, and one 
into the principles of morals. We have seen that 
science ultimately rests though it does not discuss it 
and would indeed be incompetent to do so on a faith, 
a hope, a postulate of the ultimate supremacy of intelli 
gence, the faith of reason in its own power (not verifi 
able indeed by an exhaustive list of actual results) or 
in the rationality of the world. For science though 
a kind of action and a part of conduct is a sort of 
inactive action : an enclave in the busy world, a period 
of preparation for the battle of life. In the field of 
conduct the ultimate presupposition, which was for the 
luxury of science called a reasonable faith or faith of 
reason, makes itself felt in the more forcible form of 
a categorical imperative. 

Or, at least, so it seems on first acquaintance. The 
command of duty, addressed to the sensuously-con 
ditioned nature, brooks no opposition and condescends 
to no reasons in explanation or promises by way of 
attraction. The moral law claims unconditional au 
thority: towards its sublime aspect reverence and sheer 
obeisance is due, utter loyalty to duty for duty s sake. 
Nothing short of this absolute identification with the 
Ought and a willingly willed self-surrender of the whole 
self to it can entitle an agent to the full rank of moral 
goodness. Such is the form the synthetic link which 
joins the sensuous w y ill indissolubly with the will reason- 


able of moral law. Now for its explanation. Humanity, 
though in the world of appearance and experience 
always subject to sensuous conditions, is also a power 
of transcending these conditions. Man is more than 
he can ever show in visibly single act. He has in him 
the hope, the faith, the vision of absolute perfection 
and completeness : but has it not as positive attained 
vision, but as the perpetual unrest of unsatisfied en 
deavour, as the feeling and the anticipation of an un 
achieved idea. And that perfection, that completeness 
he believes himself to be ; he even in some sense is. 
Lapses and ill-success cannot quench the faith : for so 
long as there is life, there is hope. 

As he pictures out this invisible self, it may assume 
various forms more or less imaginative. At times it 
may seem a far away, and yet intimately near, being of 
beings, the common father of all souls, the eternal 
self-existent centre of life and love, the omnipresent 
bond of nature, the omniscient heart of hearts, on 
whom he can lean in closest communion ; though he 
is only too well aware how often he lives as if God 
were not, and human beings were roaming specks in 
chaos. At other times, he looks up to it as to an inner 
and better self, his conscience, the true and permanent 
being, which controls his choices and avoidances, which 
approves and disapproves, commands and condemns : 
his soul of soul, genius, and guardian spirit. In such 
a mood to be true to his own self to follow the very 
voice of his nature is to realise his law of life. His 
Ego is the absolute ego the reason which is all things. 
And lastly, there are times when he conceives this 
better self and true essence as the community of the 
faithful, as the congregation of reasonable beings, of all 
perfected humanity. 

In Kantian phraseology, man under one visible form 


is the union of an intelligence and a sensibility, of 
a noumenal with a phenomenal being. He is, indeed, 
says Kant, the former only in idea : it is only a stand 
point which he assumes. But it is a standpoint he 
always does assume, if he is to be practical, i. e. if he is 
to move and modify the world he finds around him. 
And what standpoint is that ? What is the law that 
has to govern his action, the law of the spiritual world? 
Its supreme law is the law of liberty ; and that law is 
autonomy. Action always under law but that law 
a self-imposed one. So act that thy will may be thy 
law, and with thy will the law of all others whatsoever; 
so act that no other human being may by thy act be 
deprived of full freedom and treated merely as a thing : 
so act as to respect the dignity of every human being 
as implicitly a sovereign legislative. In other words, 
Morality is a stage of struggle and of progress which 
bears witness to something beyond. The I ought 
represents a transition stage towards the I will/ or 
rather it is the translation of it into the language of 
the phenomenal world. Morality, in a sense-being, 
always presents itself as a contest between the good 
and the evil principle : but in the transcendent and 
noumenal being which such a being essentially is, 
in the reasonable or good will, the victory is already 
won by the good. Good is the law which governs the 
world, and which is the strength of the individual life. 
To the sensuous imagination, indeed, which here is 
apt to usurp the place of reason, things appear under 
a somewhat different aspect. There the certainty of 
self-conquest is forced by the difficulties of apparent 
failure t6 veil itself under the picture of a perpetual ap 
proximation through endless ages towards the standard 

1 Foundation of Metaph. of Eth. (Werke, viii. 82, 89) : Dieses Sollen 
ist eigentlich ein Wollen. 


of perfect goodness : the confidence that the world is 
reasonable is presented under the conception of a God 
who makes all things work together for good to the 
righteous : and the autonomy of reason presents itself 
as the postulate of freedom to begin afresh, absolutely 
untrammeled by all that has gone before. Thus the 
kingdom of reason is represented as having its times 
and seasons ; as making determinate starts, and work 
ing up to a consummation in the end of ages. But 
implicitly Kant s idea of reason s autonomy, of the 
I ought as in its supreme truth an I will, is an 
eternal truth. The standpoint, so to call it after 
Kant, is the standpoint which explains life and conduct 
and which makes conduct possible. It is the assertion 
that the completeness is, and is my inmost being, the 
source of my action, my chief good, and that chief good 
not a gratification or satisfaction to be looked forward 
to as reward, but essential life and self-realisation. And 
this joy is what is hidden under the austere gravity of 
the categorical imperative. 

The Criticism of the Judgment-faculty is Kant s 
next step towards providing a completer philosophy. 
Ostensibly it owes its origin to the need of supple 
menting the treatment of Understanding and Reason 
by a discussion of Judgment, and of considering our 
emotional as well as our cognitive and volitional appre 
ciations. What it really does is to minimise still further 
the gulf left between the intellect and nature between 
the natural and the spiritual world. The intellect, said 
the first criticism, makes nature : it makes possible the 
general outlines of our conception of the world around 
us as a causally-connected system, in which a permanent 
being undergoes perpetual alteration, and manifests 
phenomena subject to mathematical conditions. In 
tellect, in short, has staked out the world which is the 


object of the practical man, and of his adviser the 
scientist. But there is another world the world of 
beauty and sublimity the world which art imitates 
and realises. The interpretation Kant gives to the 
aesthetic world is as follows. The fact of beauty is 
a witness to the presence in the mere copiousness of 
sensible existence of a sub-conscious symmetry or 
spirit of harmony which realises without compulsion 
and as if by free grace all the proportion and coherence 
which intellect requires. Nature itself has something 
which does the work that intellect was charged with, 
and does it with a subtle secret hand which does not 
suggest the artificer. The fact of sublimity, on the 
other hand, indicates the presence of an even greater 
spirit. For beauty may seem from what has been 
said to be only an unbought accrement to the com 
modities of life facilitating the task of the practical 
intellect. But the sublime in nature speaks of some 
thing which is greater than human utilities and prac 
tical conveniences. It reveals a something which is 
in sympathy with our essential and higher self, and 
therefore stirs within us the keen rapture of the 
traveller who sees from afar his home in rocky Ithaca, 
but a something which is cold to daily wants and 
vulgar satisfactions, and therefore strikes upon us 
a gelid awe. 

Another world yet remains, which appeals neither to 
our utilitarian science, nor to our higher sentiments of 
artistic perfection. This is the world as the home of 
organic life, and perhaps itself an organism. The 
organism is apt to be a poser for the ordinary cate 
gories of mechanical science. Here the part contains 
the whole, not less than the whole contains the part : 
the cause is an effect, as well as cause, of its effect. 
One thing is in another, and the other in it : the 

122 PROLE GOMENA . [x . 

present is charged with the past, and pregnant of the 
future/ as the great founder of modern teleology often 
said. In the plant and the animal the natural world 
has to a certain degree reached an ideal unity which 
is also real. Reason the syllogism is here not 
merely introduced from without, as when man manipu 
lates, but is the immanent law of a natural life, the 
end working out itself by its own means and act. The 
fact admitted in these creatures suggests extending the 
conception of organism (or teleology) to nature as a 
whole. From this point of view Nature may almost be 
said to have a history because it is almost conceived 
as having one abiding self which in apparent un 
consciousness wonderfully simulates the purposive 
adaptation of conscious life. The older vulgar tele 
ology was somewhat mechanical : it regarded the 
natural world outside of or as it said, below man 
as having no end of its own, but in its series subserving 
man s commodities. In the teleology of Kant the 
supreme end is still in a way man, and still there is a 
little of the mechanical about it : but it is not to promote 
man s happiness, understood as that probably must be 
in a selfish sense, but to produce in him the worthiest 
agent to carry on to its highest the rational process of 
development. The struggles and pains of natural 
existence, the laws of life, the competition of rivals, 
are all means in the hands of nature to produce an 
autonomous being. Kant says, a moral agent. But a 
moral agent has been already explained as an intelli 
gence certified unto truth and a self-centred will whose 
law is the law of the cosmos, whose plan of life, if we 
so put of it, is essentially a concentration in miniature 
and in individuality of the system ordained by the all- 
present God. 

It is true that Kant, after all these soarings, checks 



enthusiasm by the words not that we can know this, 
or that it is so : but our nature with unmistakable 
tendency bids us act as if it were so. Logic will 
hardly justify it but life seems to demand it. And 
some have replied : let us trust the larger hope/ 



To get the full effect of a new doctrine it must be 
brought into contact with a mind unshackled by those 
traditional prepossessions which clung to its original 
author. Kant, essentially by training a man of the 
school, was by heart and character essentially a seeker 
after the wider ends of the larger world. His lesson is 
on one hand the scholar s disproof of pretended science, 
and on another an appeal and an example to the mere 
scholar to make his philosophy ample for the whole 
life, and co-extensive with the -whole field of reality. 
His first disciples who stand forward as teachers caught 
only the first part of his message, and sought to set 
theoretical philosophy on a sounder basis. Johann 
Gottlieb Fichte perhaps the least professional of great 
philosophical professors with a resolute will, a passion 
for logical thoroughness, and great impulse to force 
mankind to be free and to realise liberty in an institu 
tion was the first who really grappled with the search 
ing questions that arose out of Kant s message to his 
age. His was a Kantism, not certainly always of the 
letter, nor indeed always of the spirit : yet for all that, 
there was substantial justice in his claim that his 
system supplied the presupposition which gives meaning 
and interconnexion to Kant s utterances 1 . It is, says 
1 Cf. notes and illustrations in vol ii. p. 399. 


the proverb, the first step that costs. And Fichte took 
that step. Before his impetuosity the cautelous clauses 
which besmirched the great purpose of Criticism shrunk 
away, the central truth was disengaged from its old- 
fashioned swaddling clothes, and openly announced 
itself as a renovating, almost a revolutionary principle. 
But, as v/as to be expected, the unity and force are 
paid for by a considerable surrender of catholicity. If 
Kant s utterances are fused into comparative simplicity, 
the unification does not embrace the whole of the 
Kantian gospels. What Fichte did in his earlier stage 
the stage by which he counts in the history of 
philosophy was to emphasise and exhibit in his 
systematic statement that priority or supremacy of the 
practical over the theoretical reason which Kant 
had enunciated, and to put in the very foreground that 
self or Ego which Kant had indicated, under the title 
of transcendental unity of apperception/ as the focus 
which gives coherence and objectivity to experience. 
But to put the final presupposition at the head and 
front of all, as a principle originating and governing 
the whole line of procedure, is really to modify in a 
thorough-going way the whole aspect of a doctrine and 
its inner constitution. Kant s way is quiet analysis : 
from the given, or what is supposed given, up re- 
gressively to its final presuppositions, its latent prius. 
He shows you the thing is so, apparently without 
effort, by judicious application of the proper re-agent, 
as it were. Fichte, on the contrary, pours forth a strong 
current of deduction : Let it be assumed that so and so 
is, then must, or then shall, something else be ; and so 
onwards. Instead of a glance at the secret substructure 
of the world, you see it, at a magician s mandate, building 
itself up ; stone calling to stone, and beam to beam, to 
fill up the gaps and bind the walls together. And you 

126 PROLEGOMENA. [xi. 

must not merely read or listen. You are summoned as 
a partner in the work ; a work the author feels, only 
half-consciously, he has not yet quite accomplished, and 
where therefore he complains of the bystander s dullness. 
This, one may say, was a new conception, certainly a 
new practice, of philosophy. Kant had indeed hinted 
that the pupil in philosophy must symphilosophise ; 
but practically, even his aim had been to describe or 
narrate a process of thought with such quasi-historical 
vividness and detail that the listener was sympathetic 
ally carried through the succession of ideas which were 
called up before him. What had been generally given 
in philosophical literature was a sort of historical ac 
count of how thoughts happened : a succession of pic 
tures presented with the interposition here and there of 
a little reasoning, expository of connexions. You en 
listed your reader s sympathy : you set his imagination 
to work by translating the logical process into a his 
torical event the Logos into a Mythos and blending 
with your narrative a little explanation as to general 
drift and relations, you left him to himself to enjoy the 
Theoria. The nearest approach Fichte makes to this 
polite and easy method is in the Sun-clear Statement, 
where he, as he says, attempts to force the reader to 
understand him. But probably these things cannot be 
forced. And for the rest Fichte s characteristic attitude 
is to request, or command, his reader (or pupil) to think 
with him, to put himself in the posture required, to 
perform the act of thought described. He has not 
merely to be present at the lecture, but personally to 
perform the experiment. It is not a mere story to be 
heard and admired and forgotten. De te, O pupil ! 
fabula narratur. If it be a play, you are the actor 
as well as the onlooker : and the play is not a play, 
but the drama the nameless drama of the soul trans- 


acted in the unseen sub-conscious depths which bear 
up its visible life. 

You do not therefore begin by getting a fact put 
before you. Your fact, in philosophy, must be your 
own act: not something done and dead, passive, a 
thing, but something doing, alive, active : your intro 
spection must be, let us say, an experiment in the 
growing, responsive, quick life, not anatomy of the 
mere cadaver. Think, therefore, and catch yourself in 
the act of thinking. Get something before your mind s 
eye, and see what it involves. It matters not what you 
perceive or feel : only realise it fully and penetrate its 
meaning and implications. It is of course the percep 
tion of something here and now. And you would be, 
in ordinary life, eager to get on to something else to 
associate the present fact to something perceived else 
where, to draw conclusions about things yet to come. 
But if you philosophise, you must check this practical- 
minded impatience and concede yourself leisure to 
ponder deeply all that the single perception involves. 
Be content to sit awhile with Mary, by the side of 
Rachel of old. Let Martha bustle about. Fichte tells 
you that your perception rests, and you, you see that 
it rests, on the I am that I am/ on the I = I, i. e. on 
the continuity, identity, and unity of the percipient self. 
Make the statement of what you perceive, believe it, 
that is, assert it: and you have done what? You 
have pledged your whole selffalsus in tmo, falsus in 
omnibus to its truth: its background is your whole 
and one mental life. And is that all ? You have also 
called the world to witness : your statement if, as it 
professes, it form an item however slight in the realm 
of knowledge requests and expects every other I to 
acknowledge your perception. Your certainty of the 
fact rests on the certainty of your self: and your self is 


a self certified by its ever-postulated identity with other 
selves, so on ad infinitum. In affirming this (whatever 
be your statement) you affirm the Absolute Infinite Ego. 
Heaven and earth are at stake in every jot and tittle 1 . 

At which plain frankness there was much cachin- 
nation and even muttering among the baser sort. Even 
wiser heads forgot if they ever knew that Leibniz 
a century before had startled the world of his day by 
a view that the Ego or something like it 2 was, under 
the name of monad, the presupposition of each and 
every detail of existence in any organic total. It was 
useless for Fichte to repeat 3 that his philosophical Ego 
was not the empirical or individual ego which he in 
this every-day world had to provide clothes and com 
pany for. It is hard to persuade the world that it does 
not know that I am I/ and what that means. Later, 
therefore, Fichte, going along with the movement of 
contemporary speculation, and willing to avoid one 
source of confusion, tended to keep off the name of 
Ego from the absolute basis of all knowledge and 
experienced reality. But unquestionably the absolu- 
tising of the Ego is the characteristic note of his first 
period in philosophy : and it rings with the spirit of the 
heaven-storming Titan. It means that the cardinal 
principle and foundation of man s conscious moral and 
intellectual life is identical with the principle of the 
Universe, even if the Universe seem not to know it. 
It means that self-consciousness the certainty that 
I am I and one in all my manifestations is the 
highest word yet uttered. In, or under, the surface of 
human knowledge and belief in reality, there is a tran 
scendental Ego a self identical with all other selves, 

1 Cf. notes and illustrations in vol. ii. p. 387. 

2 Leibniz, Werke, ed. Gerhardt, iv. p. 392. 

3 Cf. notes and illustrations in vol. ii. p. 393. 


infinite, unlimited, unconditional, absolute. The cer 
tainty of human knowledge and therefore of all reality 
in consciousness is the Absolute, an absolute cer 
tainty and knowledge but an absolute with which 
I identify myself, which I am, and which is me. This 
is the absolute thesis the nerve and utter basis-laying 
at the ground, or rather under the ground, of all I know, 
feel, and will. 

This, then, is the thesis at the very foundation of all 
Wissenschaft : and therefore figures at the head of 
the Wissenschaftslehre, the name Fichte gives his 
fundamental philosophy. But alone it is powerless. 
A foundation is only a foundation, by being built upon. 
The position must be defined by counterposition : thesis 
by antithesis: ego by non-ego. Ego, in fact, is first 
made such, as set against you. In other words, the per 
ception we assumed to start with does not merely 
suppose and indeed pre-suppose the absolute Ego ; but 
it sets in the absolute Ego an ego and a non-ego, 
sets against the lesser ego, something limiting and 
limited, something defining it in one particular direction ; 
or, if the original consciousness we started to examine 
was an act of will, then, it may be said, the non-ego 
appears as about to be limited and defined by the Ego. 
Be our consciousness, therefore, practical or theoretical, 
of action or of knowledge, its fundamental characteristic 
is the conjunction (correlation with subjugation) of an 
ego and a non-ego. It is always a synthesis of an 
original antithesis 1 ; of self and not-self. But every 

1 The antithesis has two members : the partial ego, and the non- 
ego, which confronts. The synthesis is a putting together two 
separate things, so as to correlate them ; but it falls short of what 
would be understood in some present usage by synthetic unity 
which has a certain mystical ring. It is important for a student of 
Schelling or Hegel to remember this distinction of synthesis from 
absolute unity : e.g. Schelling, Werke, v. 43. 

130 PROLEGOMENA. [xi. 

such synthesis which brings together into one a self and 
a not-self, is possible only in the original thesis of 
a greater self an absolute Ego which includes the 
not-self and the self it contrasts within its larger self. 
The unity of the first principle 1 (A = A, or 1 = 1) parting 
or distinguishing itself into the opposition of A versus 
not- A, Ego set against non-ego, re-asserts itself again in 
consciousness (perception of objects, and action upon 
them by will) as synthesis, i. e. a conjunction (not a real 
union). And this synthesis is either the limitation of 
the Ego by the non-ego or the limitation of the non-ego 
by the Ego. The former gives the formula of theo 
retical, the latter that of practical consciousness. 

We begin with the absolute Ego. It is absolute 
activity, utter freedom. It is the source of all action, 
all life. Yet if thus implicitly everything, it is actually 
nothing. To be something, it must restrict itself, set up 
in itself an antithesis : by the setting up of a not-self, at 
once limit and realise itself: translate itself from ideal 
absoluteness and unconditionality into a reality which 
is also limited and partial. All consciousness and 
action exhibit this antithesis of a limited self and an 
outside and adversative other-being; but the antithesis 
rests upon the medium of a larger life, a thesis which 
transcends and includes the antithesis, and which leads 
to that alternating adaptation of the two sides to one 
another (their synthesis) which actual experience pre 
sents as its recurring phase 2 . The Wissenschaftslehre 

1 A A is the more purely logical formula: / - / presents it as 
a personal and metaphysical identity. The A, which is A, is to be 
distinguished from the A which is opposed to not-A. But it is 
Fichte s standpoint to insist on their being one Ego. 

2 To give this interpretation of the larger Ego as Life and Blessed 
ness is to assume that the teaching, e. g. of the Anweisung zum 
Seligen Leben, is the logical deepening of the earlier language about 
the Ego. 


leaving the absolute Ego in the background deals with 
the play that goes on in human experience between the 
correlatives to which it has reduced itself; the antago 
nism, but the moderated and overruled antagonism, of 
Ego and non-ego. 

Observe the contrast to the ordinary methods of 
expression. Popular language if the popular philo 
sophers are to be trusted as its exponents says an 
impression is produced by an external object on the 
senses, and causes an idea in the mind/ The object* 
works a series of marvellous effects on a mind, which 
to begin with is hardly describable as anything more 
than an imagined point of resistance, getting reality by 
being repeatedly impinged upon \ Fichte s statements 
are rather interpreters of the vulgar phrases, which say 
I hear, I see ; as if, forsooth, the I did it all. 
According to Fichte, the I/ the absolute I, is the 
real (but secret) source of the position in which con 
sciousness finds itself limited by a non-ego. But within 
the finite ego and its consciousness there is no remi 
niscence or awareness of this its great co-partner s the 
absolute ego s act. For the finite consciousness, the 
beginning of its activity i. e. of all empirical conscious 
ness, lies in an impulse or stimulus from without 
a mere somewhat of which we can predicate the very 
minimum of attributes. It is only/<?// as opposing : and 
this is the first stage or grade of theoretical conscious 
ness : Sensation. But in the perpetual antithesis in 
the self-opposition which is the radical act of conscious 
ness the mere limitation of Ego by non-Ego is con 
fronted by the underlying activity of the Ego which 
re-asserts the limitation as its own act. Thus while we 
are, as it were, impressed, we re-act against that impres 
sion we set it forth before us, as ours, and free ourselves 

1 Cf. the description of mind as a bundle of impressions. 
K 2 

132 PROLEGOMENA. [xi. 

from its immediate incumbency and oppression. Instead 
of mere sentiency or feeling, we have a perception (or 
intuition) of it. 

It would be out of place, here, to try to write the 
interpretation of that marvellous and difficult piece of 
dialectic the Wissenschaftslehre ; a theme to which 
Fichte returned again and again up to his death, ever 
modifying details, selecting new modes of exposition, 
and gradually, perhaps, changing the centre of gravity 
of his system. It will be sufficient to note the two 
purposes which it keeps in view. On the one hand it 
is a systematic theory of the categories. It begins, 
as we have seen, with the three co-ordinates of all 
reflection, identity, difference, and reason why ; it pro 
ceeds to the co-relative principles of activity and 
passivity ; to condition, quantity, &c. And its work 
is to show how these forms naturally emerge in the 
recurrent antithesis which arises in consciousness, and 
how again they are brought together by the over 
mastering Absolute thesis into a synthesis, from which 
the same process re-appears. How much this corre 
sponds in general conception to the Hegelian Logic is 
obvious, and Fichte has the merit of the original 
suggestion. With this however he conjoins what 
Hegel has relegated to his Psychology an evolutional 
or developmental theory of the mental powers. We 
have already seen how sensation is forced by the latent 
intelligence to rise into perception (Anschauung) : the 
line of psychological development is carried on by 
Fichte through imagination to understanding and 
reason. Hegel s work is far more complete, definite, 
and detailed : but that need not keep us from giving 
due homage to the suggestive sketch of the originator 
of the conception . 

1 Especially given in the Grundriss des Eigenthiimlichen der Wiss. 


But the theoretical consciousness is not all ; and as 
we already know, the practical Ego is supreme over it. 
In it lies the key to the mystery of the stimulus the 
shock from the unknown which awakened the activity 
of the Ego. The non-ego is only a mass of resistance 
created by the Ego so that it may be active; only 
a stepping-stone on which it may walk ; a spring-board 
from which it may bound. Only so much reality has 
the non-ego; the reality of something which may be 
shaped, made, made use of. Call the something which 
the stimulus (Anstoss] pre-supposes, the thing-in-itself 
(after Kant) : and if you ask How are things-in-them- 
selves constituted, you get from the Wissenschaftslehre 
the answer: They are as we should make them 1 . 
Or, as it is said in another place : My world is object 
and sphere of my duties and absolutely nothing else 2 : 
if you ask whether there is really such a world, the 
only sound reply I can give is : I have certainly and 
truthfully these definite duties, which take the form of 
duties towards such, and in such, objects ; and it is only 
in a world such as I there represent and not elsewhere 
that I can perform these duties which I cannot conceive 

This is a grand word : and yet we feel that, in the 
intensity of intellectual consecutiveness and moral in- 
flexibleness, we have lost some elements to which Kant 
had given their place in the philosophy of life. The 
third of Kant s three Criticisms is conspicuous by its 
absence from the Fichtean field of view, and has no 
recognition in this scheme of the universe : and the 

(Werke, i. 331). Of course Fichte goes through a corresponding 
deduction of the emotional or moral nature. Schelling .System des 
transcend. Idealismus] works out the deduction still more at length. 

1 Fichte, Werke, i. 286. 

2 Ibid. ii. 261. 

134 PROLEGOMENA. [xi. 

great conception of the natural world as an organism, 
in which natural man is only a part, and all is con 
trolled by an autonomous principle of life, has been for 
the while allowed to drop. Even more than in Kant 
religion tends to be an epilogue or appendix to morality : 
and God is identified with the moral order of the 
world. It is customary to speak of Fichte s idealism as 
ethical, or as subjective : and so long as these words 
are understood, no harm is done. But to call it sub 
jective does not mean that Fichte was so far beside 
himself as to believe the world was only a picture or 
a function of his individual brain. It means that he 
throws the weight too much on the side of subjectivity. 
The Absolute is, for him in his first stage, described as 
an Absolute Egoand thereby the natural world seems 
to be left without God : and subjective duty has too ex 
clusively thrown on it the weight of certifying objective 
existence. The world, as we shall see, and have indeed 
indirectly gathered from Kant, is too good and worthy 
to be the mere block of stone out of which our duties are 
to be hewn. And similarly, to call Fichte an ethical 
idealist is only to name him right, when we add that 
his were idealist ethics. The world is not here merely 
that social decorum may be maintained, and that puri 
tanical virtue may pronounce that all is so well, that 
thenceforth there shall be no cakes and ale, nor ginger 
be hot in the mouth. The friend of the two brothers 
Schlegel, and their remarkable wives, Dorothea and 
Caroline, touched hands with a social group *, which, for 
good and for ill, had emancipated itself from all codes 
except that which bids 

To thine own self be true : 
Thou canst not then be false to any man. 

1 It is perhaps hardly necessary to say that the state of affairs 
alluded to, which has its literary memorials in F. Schlegel s Lucinde, 


To him, as to Kant, morality presented itself as 
autonomy, as the dignity and grace of human nature in 
freest development; but to him, more than to Kant, 
there commended itself the ideal of a city of reason, 
a thoroughly socialised community 1 , in which the 
welfare of each would be an obligation on all, and the 
machinery of government would be so marvellously 
self-corrective that all would do right and all fare well. 
Fichte s place in the annals of philosophy depends 
on his academic treatises of 1794-98, and on his more 
popular works from the first date down to 1808. In 
a study of the philosopher as a whole it would be 
necessary to go beyond these dates, and take account 
of the displacement which a development of thought, 
which there is no good reason to suppose other than 
gradual, made in the scale of his earlier views. But for 
our purposes that is out of the question. In justice, 
however, it must be added that some things that seem 
inadequately treated, some shortcomings in catholicity 
of mind, would appear in another light if the later 
writings not published till after Hegel s death were 
duly taken into account. But even at the close of the 
century the advancing thought of Germany was seeking 
other leaders. 

and in the warm defence of that book by Schleiermacher, was only 
a passing experiment in which a high-strung idealism amid a lax 
society sought for truth at all costs and dared a noble lie. 

1 In the Geschlossener Handelstaat (of 1800), the classical docu 
ment of characteristic German Socialism in its earlier and idealist 



SCHELLING and Hegel had been fellow-students at 
Tiibingen ; where, besides the ostensible lessons of the 
class-room, they had drunk gladly of the springs of 
thought Lessing had set running, had felt the hopes 
and the fears of the struggle republican France 
waged against the German powers, and had seen that 
Kantian criticism contained within it a fire which 
would burn up the hay and stubble of old theology. 
Hegel, five years the elder of the two, had passed 
through his college career in a very creditable but by 
no means brilliant way. Among his fellows he had 
gained the reputation of a quiet, and rather reflective 
mind, which, however, under an old-fashioned exterior, 
breathed a deep impassioned zeal for that higher life 
of which the nobler spirits among the young then, as 
now, longed to accelerate the advent. Schelling, 
singularly gifted with speculative ability, literary art, 
and the receptivity of genius to catch and string 
together the theories that rose to the top in science and 
letters, had already made his mark as a philosophic 
writer, while his senior compatriot, leading the in 
conspicuous life of a private tutor, was only working up 
and widening his ideas. Schelling s first essays in 
metaphysics trod the same lines as Fichte; but in 1797 

SC HE LUNG. 137 

(when he was aged 22) appeared his Ideas towards 
a Philosophy of Nature. A year later he was lecturing 
at Jena, in friendly association with the Schlegels, and 
with Fichte, who, however, soon quitted the place. In 
1800 appeared the System of Transcendental Idealism, 
and in 1801 the Exposition of my System ; followed in 
1802 by Bruno, and in 1803 by the Lectures on 
University Studies. Brief periods of academic teaching 
at Wurzburg, Erlangen, and Munich, and after 1841 at 
Berlin, broke the silence which set in after his Inquiries 
into the nature of human liberty in 1809 ; but little 
certain was known to the outside public of the final 
standpoint till the publication of his collected works 

An involuntary touch of sadness falls upon the 
historian as he surveys Schelling s career. Seldom 
had a thinker s life begun with better promise, and 
more distinguished performance ; seldom had a nobler 
inspiration, a more liberal catholicity of mood, guided 
and propelled the intellectual interest ; seldom had 
expectation of greater things yet to come followed 
a writer s traces than was the lot of Schelling. On 
one hand, a lively and active appropriation of the 
results of scientific discovery, at least in its more sug 
gestive advances: on the other, a mastery of words and 
style which fitted him to hold his own amongst the 
literary leaders ; and, again, a sympathy, that seemed 
to be religious, with the movement which sought lucem 
ex oriente, and wisdom from the treasures of the world s 
purer youth. And yet in the main the net result, 
oblivion more complete than has ever befallen a great 
thinker. At first, one is inclined to pass on with the 
remark that even books and thinkers have their fates, 
and that some momentary forgetfulness let the tide slip 
unused. But it is possible to be less oracularly- 

138 PROLEGOMENA. [xil. 

obscure : and without detracting from the splendid 
faculty and great achievement of Schelling to note 
some of the causes of his lapse into a mere episode. 

In the first place, though his conception is of a system, 
his performance is only a succession of fragments. The 
nearest approach to an encyclopaedic exposition of his 
ideas is found in his popular Lectures on the Studies of 
a University. More than once he starts on the task of 
exposition, but lets it break off about the middle. 
Again, at each new occasion, the features of his scheme 
of thought have slightly altered, and not merely does 
his philosophy profess at first to present two distinct 
sides, but these two sides of the shield vary. Thirdly, 
the interest in scientific novelties, always disposed to 
seek the curious, the far-reaching and suggestive, more 
than the sounder generalisations, tends as time goes 
on to fasten too greedily on the miraculous and 
mysterious night-side of nature, on magic powers and 
mystic discernments a path which descends to the 
abyss of a positive/ i.e. a quasi-materialistic, theosophy. 
The matter-of-fact rationalists (both the Catholics in 
Bavaria, and the Protestant theologian Paulus, once 
a friend, but latterly his bitterest foe) regard him as 
a crypto-catholic, the advocate of medieval obscurantism 
so hateful to true enlightenment. Even his literary art 
renders him suspected : for there is an old quarrel 
between philosophy and fiction; and grave-eyed wisdom 
is jealous of her gipsy rival. Ill-advised indications of 
a sense of lofty superiority to the average teacher 
increased the numbers and the venom of his opponents. 
Nor is it perhaps beneath the dignity of history to 
suggest that his first wife, Caroline, with all her 
wonderful attractions of intellect and character, and 
notwithstanding all that she had been to Schelling in 
encouragement and counsel, was too clever and too 


critical not to sow many jealousies, and to add through 
the female line to the ranks of those with whom he 
stood suspect. 

But perhaps the real reason of Schelling s failure was 
a certain excess of objectivity. Fichte had drawn 
attacks down by an abnormal subjectivity which would 
fain reform the surroundings wherever he went. 
Schelling stood more apart animated by an immense 
curiosity, a boundless interest in all the expanse of 
objective existence ; but withal he seemed not to have 
his heart deeply set and pledged to a distinctively 
human interest. His first love is the Romance in 
nature ; and when he turns to history it is by preference 
to ages far remote. His ideal of philosophy is to see it 
achieve its work by the instrumentality of Art. Religion 
seems to culminate for him in a mythology. Reflection 
and speculation are to him always somewhat of a disease 
--whence philosophy is to carry us almost magically 
if possible to rest again in the primeval unity of life. 
It is only an instrument towards a great end and that 
end a godlike, even if you like a religious, Epicurean 
life. From such a standpoint it would be easy, in youth, 
to relapse into naturalism ; it would be equally easy, in 
later life, to fall into supernaturalism. Philosophy at 
least as Hegel understood it is merely neither : but 
the life, which never can quite cease to be an effort, of 
idealism. And so Schelling could not earn the con 
fidence which only goes to those who are felt to be 
fellow-fighters with those they lead. 

With Schelling occurs the confluence, into the main 
current of philosophy, of streams of idea and research 
which had already exercised a stimulative effect on the 
tone and products of the higher literature of Germany. 
As early as 1763 (at the very date Kant let the 
English and Scotch empiricists shake him out of his 

140 PROLEGOMENA. [xii. 

rationalist dogmatism) Lessing in a couple of pages 
On the reality of things outside God threw doubts on 
the tenability of the ordinary deistic arrangement of his 
day, which set God there and man and his surroundings 
here, each side, for the time at least, undisturbedly 
enjoying his own. Lessing read Leibniz by the light of 
Spinoza, and Spinoza by the light of Leibniz : and, if 
he emphasised the absolute right to the completest 
individual self-development on one hand, he no less 
declared on the other that nothing in the world is 
insulated, nothing without consequences, nothing without 
eternal consequences. I thank the Creator that I must, 
must the best, he adds (1774). Of his conversations 
on these high topics with Jacobi, we have already 
spoken. While Spinoza and Leibniz were either de 
cried, or what is worse misunderstood, by the estab 
lished masters of instruction, they were welcomed by 
a more sympathetic and, with all its drawbacks, more 
appreciative study from the non-academic leaders of 

Amongst these one of the most interesting and in 
fluential was Herder. Herder, who had been amongst 
Kant s students in 1763, and who has expressed his 
admiration of his then teacher, came as years passed by 
to consider himself the appointed antagonist of the 
Kantian system. The two men were mentally and 
morally of different types : and in Herder s case, a sense 
of injury, in the end, positively blinded him to the 
meaning no less than to the merits of a doctrine he had 
decreed to be pernicious. In Herder s opinion, the 
Kantian system laboured throughout from the fault of 
a dead logical formalism and abstractness : it inhabited 
a sort of limbo, cut off alike from the fresh breath of 
nature and the growing life of history, and from the 
eternal spirit of divine truth : it undermined (so his 

xii.] HERDER. 141 

experience at Weimar 1 indicated) the traditional faith, 
and inspired its adepts with a revolutionary super 
ciliousness to all dogma. Its cut-and-dried logicality, 
its trenchant divisions and analyses were obnoxious to 
his poetically-fervid, largely-enthusiastic, and essentially- 
historical soul. Man in his concrete completeness, in 
his physical surroundings and his corporeal structure, 
in his social organisation, in his literary and artistic 
life, above all in his poetry and traditions of religion- 
was the theme of his studies ; and he looked with dis 
trust on every attempt to analyse and disintegrate the 
total unity of humanity by a criticism first of this, and 
then a criticism of that side of it, carried on separ 
ately. Ossian had been an early favourite of his ; and 
the twilight that hovers with the haze of pensive myth 
around the figures of that visionary world hangs with 
a charm and a confusion around the ultimate horizon of 
Herder s ideas. 

In 1774 and 1775 Herder wrote and wrote again an 
essay (published 1778) for a prize offered by the Berlin 
Academy on the subject of Sensation and Cognition 
in the human Soul/ Its fundamental points are that 
no psychology is possible, which is not at every step 
a distinct physiology : that cognition and volition are 
only one energy of the soul : that all our thought has 
arisen out of and through sensation, and in spite of all 
distillation still contains copious traces of it * : that there 
are not separate faculties of thought, but one divine 
power, which unifies all the broad stream of inflowing 
sensation, one energy, and elasticity of the soul, 
which reaches its height through the medium of 
language. What is material, what non-material in 

1 He held posts of large general superintendence over church and 
school affairs at Weimar. 

142 PROLEGOMENA, [xii. 

man, I know not/ he says ; but I am in the faith that 
nature has not fastened iron plates between them/ 
* Man is a slave of mechanism (but a mechanism dis 
guised in the garb of a lucid celestial reason) and fancies 
himself free/ Self-feeling and fellow-feeling (a new 
phase of expansion and contraction) are the two ex 
pressions of the elasticity of our will : they vary directly 
with each other : and love therefore is the highest 
reason a proposition, adds Herder, for which if we 
will not trust St. John, we may trust the undoubtedly 
more divine Spinoza, whose philosophy and ethics turn 
wholly upon this axis/ 

Herder s great work, however, which, side by side 
with Lessing s Education of the Human Race, and with 
Kant s Idea for a Universal History, helped to constitute 
that conception of history, as philosophy in concrete 
form, which appears in Schelling, Schlegel, and Hegel, 
was the Ideas for a Philosophy of History. It is the 
pendant and contrast to Kant s three Criticisms, with 
which it is nearly contemporaneous (1784-91). Even 
in history Kant emphasises the work of intelligence, of 
reason : and puts the intelligently-organised state if 
possible, the world-commonwealth, when war shall be 
transformed into merely stimulating competition, as the 
final triumph of the reason. To Herder, while on the 
one hand the nature-basis is all-essential, and must 
form the foundation of any genetic explanation of 
spiritual phenomena, the ideal of humanity presents 
itself rather as a free development of the many-sided 
individual a development tempered by the association 
of the family and the claims of friendship. In Kant s 
view of civilisation, natural reason by its indwelling pre 
suppositions works out the end of culture: Herder, on 
the contrary, allows himself to introduce but only in 
and from the dim background a supernatural aid to 

XII.] HERDER. 143 

actualise the germs of rationality latent in man s nature. 
Yet, though at the first step into history the Godhead 
appears, and a deified humanity looms ahead as the 
consummation of the process of evolution, the develop 
ment between these two extreme poles is homogeneous 
and indeed one. The same law governs it throughout : 
Ethics is only a higher physics of the imind. Man is 
from the first endowed with tendencies which, through 
the medium of society and tradition, carry him on to the 
double end, so hard to combine, of humanity and happi 
ness/ humanity and religion/ But, for this training 
of the spirit he is prepared by a special natural endow 
ment of the body : and Herder can go so far as to say 
that in order to delineate the duties of man, we need 
only delineate his form. Developing under the in 
fluence of cosmic and geographical conditions, and 
formed of the same protoplasm and on the same type 
as other animals, man possesses an unique organisation, 
a definitely proportioned mechanism, which is his dis 
tinctive and permanent specific character. General 
identity of plan and condition prevails for man and 
animals ; but Herder keeps back from the Darwinian 
inference which interprets the graduated diversity of 
type as indicating that man is the phase reached pro 
tempore in the gradual slide along which the contin 
uous change of environment carries the unstable types 
which earlier environments have helped to form. For 
Herder s conception of nature there are fixed differences 
beyond which research cannot go ; and we shall see that 
both Schelling and Hegel accept this reservation. 

Herder, finally, struck a blow in the war that was 
waged after Lessing s death between the friends and foes 
of Spinozism. H is little book God ( 1 787) is a vindication 
of Spinoza against Jacobi s attack. Antiquarian accuracy 
it can lay no claim to : the picture of Spinozism, one- 

144 PROLEGOMENA. [xil. 

sided at the best, is further vitiated by an interpretation 
of the doctrine which leavens it to indistinctness with the 
ideas of Leibniz and Shaftesbury. It was a grand but 
it was also an audacious vision of Spinozism which 
found it not inconsistent with a fundamental theism on 
one side and with the poetry of nature on the other. 
Yet Herder had the merit of being perhaps the first to 
pierce the hard logical shell of rationalism under which 
Spinoza had lain hidden, and to reveal the mystic 
passion for God which so quaintly called itself amor 
erga rem infinitam et aeternam. Spinoza/ says Herder, 
was an enthusiast for the being of God/ Even where 
he translates Spinoza s terms into too ample equivalents, 
he does service by teaching men that the vapid inanities 
they associate with terms like substance, mode, cause, are 
inadequate to interpret the intensity of meaning they 
had for the philosopher. To remove the seals which 
rendered both Leibniz and Spinoza a mystery for the 
world was to prepare the way for Schelling and 
Hegel \ 

It is under the aegis of Spinoza and Leibniz that 
Schelling begins his first characteristic work, the Ideas 
towards a philosophy of Nature. In these thinkers he 
found first proclaimed as the fundamental standpoint of 
philosophy the unity of the finite and the infinite, of the 
real and the ideal, of the absolutely active and the 
absolutely passive. They differed indeed in this, that 
whereas this unity is pre-supposed by Spinoza as in 
finite and absolute substance, of which all separate 
existence, body or mind, is only a modus, it is taken by 
Leibniz as the universal characteristic of every in 
dividual being. Every monad and the human soul is 
the typical monad is at once finite and infinite, real 
and ideal, active and passive. But whether as under- 
1 See notes and illustrations in vol. ii. p. 420. 


lying substance, or as unity of reality both hold the 
cardinal doctrine that the absolute (the Object of 
philosophy) is the unity and unification the identity 
of what outside it appears as two sides or orders of 
being, the real and the ideal. To philosophise, there 
fore or to see things in the absolute is (not as Hegel s 
malicious joke puts it 1 , to look at them in the night 
when all cows are dark, but) to see them in the intense 
light that proceeds from the identity of the Spirit within 
us with the Nature without us. 

Fichte had caught hold of this standpoint. He had 
seen that the original antithesis which confronts us, and 
the conjunction (synthesis) of its members, presupposed 
a still more fundamental and indeed absolute thesis, 
an aboriginal and active unity. That antithesis is the 
opposition of ego and not-ego ; that synthesis is every 
act of knowledge and will, by which each of these 
powers is in turn limited by the other. Such a synthesis 
(volition or cognition) would be impossible unless on 
the fundamental thesis (or hypothesis) of a unity, or 
identity, which gives rise to the antithesis and has the 
power of overcoming it. Such an original unity is what 
he calls the absolute Ego. I am what I know and will, 
and what I know and will is Me. Such is the equation 
(briefly written, 1 = 1) which identifies subject and 
object (of knowledge and will). But the associations 
clinging to the terms Fichte used gave this thought 
a one-sided direction. The / is opposed to the Thee/ 
and the Them, and the //. The thing or non- 
ego is depreciated as compared with the thinker and 
wilier. It is postulated ad majorent gloriam of the Ego : 
in order that I may work out the full fruition of my 
being. It is what I ought to make out of it. It is 
nothing but what it will be or will be if I do what 

1 Hegel, Werke, ii. 13. 


I ought to do. The identity of the two sides therefore 
is left as * the object of an endless task, an absolute 
imperative/ The Absolute is not yet : it is only the 
forecast of a postulated result. 

If this be what Fichte teaches, and be called sub 
jective idealism, then for Schelling the first thing is to 
quit the house of bondage. Let us leave out of view 
the Ego, with its misleading associations, and begin 
with the two fields which are known to us, the fields of 
Nature and Spirit. Nature not Matter is the one 
side: Mind or Spirit the other. Each of them furnishes 
the object of one branch of philosophy a philosophy 
of Nature, on one hand, and a transcendental idealism 
on the other. The former is new, and more especially 
Schelling s own proper continuation of Kant : the other 
partly a continuation of Fichte s work. But as they are 
both philosophy, they must coincide or meet. The whole 
philosophy may therefore call itself a philosophy of 
Identity ; but, for the while, it will present itself under 
the two aspects of a philosophy of Nature, conceived as 
the blind and unconscious, a philosophy of Mind and 
history, as the free and conscious product of intelli 
gence ] . 

1 See notes and illustrations in vol. ii. p. 392. 



WHAT is meant by a philosophy of Nature ? To 
philosophise on Nature/ says Schelling, means to lift 
it up out of the dead mechanism in which it appears 
immersed, to inspire it, so to speak, with liberty, and to 
set it in free process of evolution : it means, in other 
words, to tear ourselves away from the vulgar view 
which sees in Nature only occurrences, or at the best 
sees the action as a fact, not the action itself in the 
action V There is in short a process in nature parallel 
in character to what Fichte had exhibited for conscious 
ness. The natural world is no longer subordinated, but 
to appearance co-ordinate : and evolution or develop 
ment, exhibited under the logical title of a deduction/ 
is the common law of both. The real order and the 
ideal order of the world are equally the work of an 
infinite and unconditioned activity, which never quite 
exhausts itself in any finite product, and of which every 
thing individual is only as it were a particular expres 
sion/ The nature which we see broken up in groups 
and masses, and individual objects, is to be explained as 
a series of steps in a process of development : the steps 
in a single continuous product which has been arrested 

1 Schelling, Werke, iii. 13. (References always to the first 

L 2 

148 PROLEGOMENA. [xm. 

at several stages, which presents distinct epochs, but 
nevertheless all approximations, with divergences, to 
a single original ideal. 

In Nature, as in Mind, the most typical phenomenon 
is an original heterogeneity, duplicity, or difference, 
which, however, points back to a still more fundamental 
homogeneity, unity, or identity. This primary unity or 
ground of unification does not indeed appear to sight ; 
the soul of Nature/ the anima mundi, nowhere presents 
itself as such in its undivided simplicity ; but only as 
the perpetually recurring re-union of what has been 
divided. But though unapparent, the absolute identity 
is the necessary presupposition of all life and existence, 
as of all knowledge and action. It is the link or 
copula which perpetually reduces the antithesis to 
unity, and the heterogeneity to homogeneity, and the 
different to redintegration. To this fact of antithesis, 
presupposing and continually reverting to an original 
unity, Schelling gives the name Polarity/ It is impos 
sible to construe the main physical phenomena without 
such a conflict of opposite principles. But this conflict 
only exists at the instant of the phenomenon itself. Each 
natural force awakes its opposite. But that force has no 
independent existence : it only exists in this contest, 
and it is only this contest which gives it for the moment 
a separate existence. As soon as this contest ceases, 
the force vanishes, by retreating into the sphere of 
homogeneous forces V Polarity, therefore, is a general 
law of the cosmos. 

A ceaseless, limitless activity, therefore, as the basis 
or groundwork of ail, for ever crossing, arresting, and 
limiting itself: an eternal war, which, however, is 
always being led back to peace, a process of differenti 
ation which rests upon, is the product of, and is for ever 

1 Schelling, Werke, ii. 409. 

xill.] ORGANIC NATURE. 149 

forced back to integration, is the perpetual rhythm of 
the natural universe. It is a process in which can be 
traced three grades, stages, or powers * (first, second, 
and third, &c.). By its more generally descriptive name 
it is called Organisation. Organism/ says Schelling, 
is the principle of things. It is not a property of 
single natural objects; but, on the contrary, single 
natural objects are so many limitations, or single modes 
of apprehending the universal organism V The world 
is an organisation ; and a universal organism itself 
is the condition (and to that extent the positive) of 
mechanism 2 . Mechanism is to be explained from 
organism : not organism from mechanism/ The essen 
tial of all things is life : the accidental is only the kind 
of their life : and even the dead in Nature is not utterly 
dead, it is only extinct life.* 

But if the conception of an organism be thus the 
adequate or complete idea of Nature as a whole, that idea 
is only realised as a third power supervening on, and 
by means of two subordinate or inferior ranges or 
powers. The first stage is that occupied by the 
mathematical and mechanical conception of the world, 
the bare skeleton or framework which has to be clothed 
upon and informed with life and growth. This first 
power in the world-process of antithetical forces, 
under the control of, and on the basis supplied by, the 
original thetic unity ,/hich synthetises them, is Matter. 
In Matter we have the equilibrium and statical indiffer 
ence of two opposing forces one centrifugal, accele 
rating, repulsive, the other contripetal, retarding, 
attractive which, working under the synthetising unity 
supplied by the force of universal gravitation, build up 
in their momentary arrests or epochs the various 
material forms. In this first power we have as it 

1 Schelling, Werke, ii. 500. 2 Ibid. ii. 350. 

150 PROLEGOMENA. [xill. 

were the scheme or machinery through which organisa 
tion will work: the outward and abstract organism. 
And the essential feature of this construction or 
deduction of matter is that it does not take material 
atoms and build them into a world, but deduces the 
properties of matter as issuing from the play of opposing 
forces, and as due to the temporary syntheses resulting 
from the presence of unity making itself felt in the 

A second and higher power is seen in the physical 
universe as it presents itself to the sciences of electricity, 
magnetism, and chemistry. If the former briefly be 
denominated the mechanical, this is the chemical world. 
The law of polarity is here especially prominent : the 
neutrality or indifference of parts is replaced by an 
intenser antithesis and affinity : and the return from 
heterogeneity to homogeneity takes place with more 
striking and even sudden effect. Here, matter, even as 
inorganised, has a certain simulacrum of life and sensi 
bility : there is in it the trace of a spirit which emerges 
above the mere contiguity and juxtaposition of mechan 
ical atoms. The atomic theory shows itself less and less 
adequate as an attempt to represent the whole pheno 
mena of inanimate matter, and the material universe is 
already charged with sympathies and antipathies which 
are full of the promise and the potency of the organic 

The mechanical theory of the universe, in the ordinary 
sense, which deals with the mathematical formulation of 
the laws of planetary movement, had been the work of 
the seventeenth century. The eighteenth century had 
seen attempts to explain the status quo of the planetary 
system as a resultant from the evolution of an ele 
mentary molecular state of the cosmic mass. With the 
close of the eighteenth century there appeared a group 


of new sciences dealing with subtler energies of matter, 
with electricity, galvanism, and above all with the 
connexions of chemical, electric, and magnetic science. 
The ideas thus suggested embraced with some gener 
ality under the title Polarity threw light backward 
upon the old mechanical conceptions, and gave them 
a decidedly dynamic character. Even the tranquil rest 
of geometrical figures came to be explained as a meeting 
point and transition moment of opposite forces. But 
these ideas produced an even greater effect on biology. 
Here, too, the need of a special vital force to explain 
life and organisation disappeared : organism was but 
a higher stage, a completer truth of mechanism : and 
both found their explanation in the antithesis and syn 
thesis of forces, or in differentiation and integration of 
what has recently been termed an idee-force. In this 
direction, so far as Schellingwas concerned, the obvious 
stimulus came from the programme sketched by Kiel- 
meyer at Stuttgart in 1793, in a lecture on the 
proportions of organic forces. According to Kielmeyer 
there are three types of force in the animal organisa 
tion, sensibility, irritability and reproduction *. The 
last of these is the basic force which builds up and 
propagates the animal system. With irritability, or 
contraction in response to external stimuli material 
adaptation to environment a higher level of animal 
life is reached. But the highest of all forces in the 
living being is sensibility. In this same order may we 
reasonably conceive that the plan of nature proceeds. 
Her first products show little beyond that reproductive 
power which makes broad and high the pyramid of life. 
But as the creature acquires increasing heterogeneity 
and a comparatively independent position, it plays the 
part of a re-agent against stimuli, and a source of move- 

1 Compare vol. ii. 360 and 429. 

! 5 2 Pff LEG OMEN A. [xill. 

ments. Lastly, it not merely responds to, but assimi 
lates and appropriates the impression into a sensation : 
it internalises the external, and carries within itself by 
means of the sensibility an ever-increasing picture of 
the world around it. 

The idea of Evolution or Development, thus intro 
duced by Schelling into philosophy as a governing 
principle in the study of matter and of mind, is not to 
be confused either with the oilier use of these terms 
or with their current applications to-day 1 . By evolu 
tion (or development) and involution (or envelopment) 
the earlier speculation on biology had denoted the 
view that the organic germ contained in parvo all that 
the matured organism showed in large. As the mature 
bulb of the healthy hyacinth shows, when cut open, 
to the naked eye, the stem and flowers that will issue 
from it next spring; so in general the seed can be 
treated as a miniature organism needing only an increase 
of bulk to make it fully visible in details. Growth is 
thus not accretion, but explication and enlargement of 
a microscopic organism subsisting in the germ. 

Evolution, in the present time, and especially since 
Darwin, means something more than this. It implies 
a theory of descent of the variety of existing organisms 
from other organisms of a previous age, less individual 
ised in forms and functions. From comparatively 
simple and homogeneous creatures there have issued 
in the course of ages creatures of more complex, more 
highly differentiated structure; and this process of 
gradual differentiation may be conceived as going on 
through an all but infinite period. At one end we may 
conceive matter, just endowed with the faculties of life 
and organisation, but in a minimal degree ; at the 
other end of the developmental process, creatures which 
1 See notes and illustrations in vol. ii. p. 424. 


have organised within themselves powers, maximal 
both in range and variety. The result (so far as we 
at present go) is a genealogy of organism which, to 
quote Darwin, pictures before us a great tree of life 
which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust 
of the earth and covers the surface with its ever 
branching and beautiful ramifications/ 

Even Buffon, seeing how naturally he could regard 
the wolf, the fox, and the jackal as degenerate 
species of a single family/ concluded we could not go 
wrong in supposing that nature could have with time 
drawn from a single being all other organised beings/ 
Erasmus Darwin (1794) had insisted on the power of 
appetency in the organs of a living creature to create 
and acquire new structures which it handed down to 
its posterity. G. R. Treviranus 1 in his Biology (1802-5) 
had noted the influence of environment, and Jean 
Lamarck in his Philosophic Zoologique (1809) had 
after assuming that nature created none but the 
lowest organisms maintained that need and use (or 
disuse) can so effectively modify a creature that it may 
even produce new organs, and give rise by imper 
ceptible degrees to a variety of creatures as widely 
divergent as they now appear. E. g. The giraffe owes 
its long neck to its continued habit of browsing upon 
trees. And gradually it had become recognised by 
speculators on this subject that, as Mr. H. Spencer wrote 
in 1852, by small increments of modification any amount 
of modification may in time be generated/ Finally, in 
1859, Darwin, with an ample resource of illustrative ex 
amples, enforced the doctrine that the existing fauna and 

1 Every inquiry into the influence of general nature on living 
beings/ says Treviranus, must start from the principle that all living 
forms are products of physical influences which still go on at the 
present time and are altered only in degree and direction. 

154 PROLEGOMENA. [xin. 

flora of the earth represent the result of a struggle for 
existence, protracted during vast ages, in which those 
creatures have been preserved (selected to live) which, 
among all the variously-endowed offspring of any kind, 
were best fitted to appropriate the means of subsistence 
in the circumstances in which they for the time found 
themselves placed. The circumstances of life on the 
globe are perpetually varying from place to place and 
time to time : progeny never exactly reproduce their 
parents, and diverge widely from each other : hence each 
form of life is perpetually sliding on from phase to phase, 
and only those survive which are best adapted to the 
new conditions of life. 

So far as Darwinism is an attempt to show that the 
classes of plants and animals are not a mere juxta 
position and aggregation, but are to be explained by 
reference to a single genetic principle, it is in harmony 
with the Evolution taught by Schelling and Hegel. 
Both alike overthrow the hard and fast lines of divi 
sion which semi-popular science insists upon, and 
restore the continuity of existence. Both regard 
Nature as an organic realm, developing by action and 
re-action within itself, living a common life in thorough 
sympathy and solidarity, and not a mere machine in 
which the several parts retain without change the 
features and functions impressed upon them at creation 
by some supernal architect. But they differ in other 
points. Ordinary Darwinism, at least, talks as if cir 
cumstances and organism were independent originally, 
and only brought as it were, incidentally, in contact 
and correlation. It fails to keep hold of the fact of 
which it is abstractly aware that the two act upon 
and modify each other because they are members of 
a larger organism. It forgets, in short, what Schelling 
so thoroughly realised, that the organic and inorganic, 


ordinarily so called, are both in a wider sense organic. 
It wants the courage of recognising its own tacit pre 

But the characteristic difference between the evolution 
theory of to-day and that meant by the philosophers 
is different from this, though connected with it. The 
assertion/ says Schelling, that the various organisms 
have formed themselves by gradual development from 
one another, is a misconception of an Idea which really 
lies in reason Y And Hegel no less decidedly asserts 
that Metamorphosis (as the term was then applied, 
e. g. by Goethe, to what we now call Evolution) really 
exists as a fact only in the case of the living individual, 
not in the supposed or theoretical continuity of the 
species. It is an awkward way both ancient and 
modern speculative biology have had of presenting the 
development and transition of one physical form and 
sphere into a higher one as an outwardly-actual produc 
tion, which, however, in order to make it clearer, has 
been thrown back into the darkness of the past V Yet 
notwithstanding these and even later protests, there is 
a great charm for many minds in the evolutionist 
picture, e.g., of the horse of to-day as the literal 
descendant through nearly fifty great stages (called 
species) from some creature of the eocene age, which 
gradually transformed itself in consequence of innate 
instability or variability of construction and in obedience 
to changes in its environment. But whatever value 
there may be in these as yet hypothetical aids to the 
imagination in grasping and unifying the variety of 
organic life, they run on another line from the philo 
sophical evolution. That evolution is in the Idea, the 
Notion. It is the fluidity of terms of thought that is 

1 Schelling, Werke, iii. 63. 
8 Hegel, Encyclopaedic, 249. 

156 PROLEGOMENA. [xm. 

here sought, not of the kinds of things, except in 
a secondary way. And above all, philosophy does not 
deal with a problem in time, with a mere sequence ; 
if it deals with a history of nature, the agents of that 
history are powers and forces and powers which are 
ideal no less than real. 

A nearer approach to the philosophic conception is 
to be found in the views which modern physiology 
takes of the nature of organic structure and function l . 
In the simplest phases of protoplasm, the apparently 
homogeneous mass is really undergoing a series of 
changes, and indeed only exists as such, because it is the 
ever- renewed resultant of two correlated processes, a 
movement up (anabolic change) by which dead matter 
is assimilated and built into it, and a movement down 
(katabolic changes) by which its composing elements 
are disintegrated and left behind, with accompanying 
liberation of energy. Protoplasm or living matter is 
the incessantly formed and re-formed thin line on 
which these two currents for the moment converge, 
a temporary crest of white foam, as it were, raising 
itself on the Heraclitean wave of vicissitude, where all 
things flow on and nothing abides. But wherever 
protoplasm arises and maintains itself on this border 
line of ascending and descending states, it exhibits the 
three well-known properties of assimilation, contrac 
tility, and sensitiveness. Protoplasm, placed as it were 
in the mean between these two processes, is or has the 
synthetic power which governs them and keeps them 
in one. It is no mere chemical substance, undergoing 
composition and decomposition, but rather, if looked at 
from the somewhat speculative standpoint of molecular 
physics, a kind of intricate movement or dance of 

1 See e. g. Professor Michael Foster s article on Physiology in the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica. 


particles, a shape or form* instinct with the power 
of producing and reproducing itself, and, ultimately, 
in some highly differentiated phases (nerve-system), 
with a power of producing and reproducing a world of 

A philosophy of Nature is only half a philosophy. 
Its purport is to set free the spirit in nature, to release 
intelligence from its imprisonment in material encase 
ments which hide it from the ordinary view, and to 
gather together the disjecta membra of the divine into 
the outlines of one continuous organisation. It seeks 
to spiritualise nature, i.e. to present the inner idea,\ 
unity, and genetic interdependence of all its pheno 
mena : to delineate natura formaliter spectata not as 
a logical skeleton of abstract categories, but in its 
organisation and continuous life. There remains the 
problem of what Schelling calls Transcendental 
Idealism : called transcendental to avoid confusion 
with the vulgar idealism which supposes the world to 
be what it calls a mere idea or phantom of the mind. 
Schelling s is on the contrary an Ideal-Realism : it 
materialises the laws of intelligence to laws of nature 1 . 

We need not in details consider the genesis of 
Reality from the action of the Ego. Substantially it 
is the same as that given by Fichte. An activity, 
which is at once self-limiting and superior to all limit, 
rises through stage to stage, from sensation and intuition, 
to reflection and intelligence, till it becomes the con 
sciousness of a world of objective reality. Give me, says 
the transcendental philosopher, a nature with opposing 
activities, of which the one goes to infinity, and the 
other endeavours to behold itself in this infinity, and 
from that I will show you intelligence arising with the 
whole system of its ideas 2 . In the first phase the 

1 Schelling, iii. 352, 386. 2 Ibid. iii. 427. 

158 PROLEGOMENA. [xill. 

ideal-real world arises by the synthetic action of the 
productive intuition/ Ideas, as it were, live and 
move : they grow and build up : causality is neither 
a category nor a schema, but an intelligent form 
which is also a force an idee-force/ They are (in 
the Hegelian sense) Ideas/ i.e. neither merely ob 
jective nor merely subjective, but both at once. But 
such an ideal world is outside and beyond conscious 
ness : it belongs to the same region as that higher Ego 
where there is no distinction between the Ego I am 
and the Ego I know. To follow the movement in this 
region needs a combination of mental vision and visual 
intellect, which Schelling has called the Intellectual 
Intuition/ It is a power which rising above the 
materialism of sense yet retains its realism ; which, 
while intellectual, is free from abstractness. It is 
synthetic, and widely different from mere logical 
analysis. It is, in short, analogous to the artistic 
genius : it creates a quasi-objectivity, an ideal-reality, 
without which the mere words of the speculator are 
meaningless. By means of this organ/ philosophy 
can freely imitate and repeat the original series of 
actions in which the one " act " of self-consciousness is 
evolved V 

But the productive intuition* is, as Kant would 
say, blind : it is unconscious in its operation : and it 
is only after an arrest, a Sabbath when it surveys and 
judges its work, that it begins to realise itself through 
a process of analysis and reflection which elicits and 
fixes the categories that have been operative in it. By 
this abstraction intelligence rises out of mere pro 
duction to intelligent and conscious production, i.e. to 
volition, where it has an ideal and realises it. With 
volition and voluntary action, objectivity is to appear- 

1 Schelling, iii. 397. 


ance further certified and fortified. It is as active, i. e. 
as free, and even moral, agents, that we set forward 
categorically the reality of the world. So, too, Fichte 
had declared. But, as Schelling reminds us, with this 
intensified assertion of a law and an ideal to which the 
real must and shall correspond, with the declaration 
that the realm of absolute consistency and ideal truth 
of reason is the true and real for ever and ever we 
come across the fundamental antithesis of the Is and 
the Ought/ of the objective and subjective, of uncon 
scious necessity and self-conscious freedom. With an 
attempt to get a philosophy of history, i. e. of man and 
mind as the culminating truth of things, we see our 
selves confronted with the opposition of fatalism and 
chance. On one hand history is only possible for 
beings who have an ideal in view, one persistent aim 
and principle which their work and will is the means 
of realising. And yet it is an ideal which only the 
series of generations, only the whole race, can realise. 
Man s license to do or to refrain rests upon a larger, 
latent, divine necessity which constrains it. What 
human agents by their free choice determine and carry 
out, is carried out, in the long run, by the force of an 
everlasting and unchanging order, to which their 
wills seem but a mere plaything. But that man s free 
agency should thus harmonise with the constrained 
uniformities of nature is only possible on the assump 
tion that both are phenomena of a common ground, or 
basis of identity, of an absolute identity, in which 
there is no duplication, and which for that reason, 
because the condition of all consciousness is duplica 
tion, can never reach consciousness. This ever- Un 
conscious, which, as it were the everlasting Sun in the 
spirit-kingdom, is hidden in its own undimmed light, and 
which, though it is never an object, still impresses its 

160 PROLEGOMENA. [xm. 

identity on all free objects, is simultaneously the same 
for all intelligences, the invisible " root " of which all 
intelligences are only the "powers/ and the everlasting 
mediator between the self-determining subjective in us 
and the objective or percipient, simultaneously the 
ground of the uniformity in freedom, and of the free 
dom in uniformity of the objective 1 . To rise to the 
sense of this Absolute Identity, as common basis of 
harmony between the Ought and the Is/ is to 
recognise Providence : it is Religion. 

But this Absolute is never in history completely 
revealed we cannot see free action coincide with 
predetermination. Thus if History as a whole be 
conceived as a continuous and gradual self- revelation 
of the Absolute/ God never t s, if ts means exhibition 
in the objective world : if God were, we should not be 2 / 
Nor is the Absolute so revealed in Nature. Yet, even 
as the apparent contingency of human action throws 
us back on an everlasting necessity which is yet 
freedom, so the apparent uniformity of natural order 
shows us in organic life the traces of a free self- 
regulating development. To apprehend the truth at 
which both seem to point we want an organ of intelli 
gence which shall unite in itself the conscious activity 
of free production with the unconscious instinct of 
natural creation. Such an organ is found in the 
aesthetic power of genius, in the Artist. The artistic 
product is the work of two intimately-conjoined prin 
ciples : of the art (in the narrower sense) which can 
be taught and learned, and is exercised consciously 
and with reflection, and of that poesy in Art/ the 
unconscious grace of genius which can neither be 
handed down nor acquired, but can only be inborn 
by free gift of nature. In the work thus brought to 
1 Schelling, iii. 600. * Ibid. iii. 603. 


birth there is something definite, precise, and capable 
of exposition in finite formulae: there is also something 
which no prose can ever explicate, something which 
tells us of the infinite and eternal, which ever reveals 
and yet conceals the Absolute and Perfect. Art, thus 
springing from imagination, the one sole power by 
which we can think and conjoin even the contradictory/ 
gives objectivity and outward shape to that intellectual 
intuition by which the philosopher subjectively (in his 
own consciousness) sought to realise to himself the 
unity of thought and existence. 

To the philosopher/ Schelling concludes, Art is 
supreme, because it as it were opens to him the Holy 
of Holies, where in everlasting and original unity there 
burns, as it were in one flame, what is parted asunder 
in nature and history, and what in life and conduct, 
no less than in thinking, must for ever flee apart. The 
view the philosopher artificially makes for himself of 
nature is for Art the original and natural. What we 
call nature is a poem which is locked up in strange and 
secret characters. Yet could the riddle be disclosed, 
we should recognise in it the Odyssey of the mind, 
which, strangely deceived, in seeking itself, flees from 
itself: for through the sense-world there is a glimpse, 
only as through words of the meaning, only as through 
half-transparent mist of the land of imagination, after 
which we yearn. That splendid picture emerges, as it 
were, by the removal of the invisible partition-wall 
which sunders the actual and the ideal world, and is 
only the opening by which those figures and regions 
of the world of imagination, that but imperfectly 
glimmer through the actual, come forward in all 
their fulness. Nature is to the artist no more than 
it is to the philosopher, viz. the ideal world as it 
appears under constant limitations, or only the im- 



perfect reflex of a world which does not exist outside 
him, but within him/ 

If it is Art alone, then, which can succeed in making 
objective and universally accepted what the philosopher 
can only exhibit subjectively, it may also be expected 
that philosophy, as it was in the infancy of science born 
and nourished by poetry, and with it all those sciences 
which were by it carried on towards perfection, will 
after their completion flow back as so many single 
streams into the universal ocean of poetry from which 
they issued. Nor is it in general hard to say what will 
be the means for the return of science to poetry: for 
such a means has existed in mythology before this, 
as it now seems, irrevocable separation took place. 
But as to how a new mythology, which cannot be the 
invention of the single poet, but of a new generation, 
as it were representing only a single poet, can itself 
arise, is a problem, the solution of which is to be 
expected only from the future destinies of the world 
and the further course of history 1 . 

1 Schelling, iii. 628. 



THUS far Schelling (aetat. 25) had gone in 1800. Two 
sides of philosophy had been alternately presented as 
complementary to each other ; and now the task lay 
before him to publish the System itself which formed 
the basis of those complementary views. To that task 
Schelling set himself in 1801 (in his Journal for Specu 
lative Physics) : but the Darstellung meines Systems 
remained a torso. The Absolute was abruptly shot 
from the pistol : but little followed save a restatement 
in new terms of the Philosophy of Nature. Meanwhile 
Hegel, who had inherited some little means by his 
father s death, began to think that the hour had struck 
for his entrance into the literary and philosophical arena, 
and wrote in the end of 1800 to Schelling asking his 
aid in finding a suitable place and desirable surround 
ings from which to launch himself into action. What 
answer or advice he received is unknown : at any rate 
in the early days of 1801 he took up his quarters at 
Jena, and in the autumn he gave his first lectures at the 
University. Gossip suggested that Schelling, left alone 
(since Fichte s departure) to sustain the onset of respecta 
bility and orthodoxy upon the extravagances of the new 
Transcendentalism, had summoned his countryman and 
old friend to bear a part in the fray. And the rumour 

M 2 

1 64 PROLEGOMENA. [xiv. 

seemed to receive corroboration. The two friends 
issued conjointly a Critical Journal of Philosophy, which 
ran through two years. So closely were the two editors 
associated that in one article it seems as if the younger 
had supplied his more fluent pen to expound the ideas 
of his senior. 

The influence of Hegel is to be seen in the Bruno, or on 
the Divine and Natural Principle of Things, published in 
1802. It is a dialogue, in form closely modelled after 
the Timaeus of Plato, dealing with the old theme of the 
relation of art (poesy) and philosophy, and with the 
eternal creation of the universe. It presents philosophy 
as a higher than Art ; for while Art achieves only an 
individual truth and beauty, philosophy cognises truth 
and beauty in its essence and actuality (an undfur sich). 
Philosophy itself Bruno (the chief speaker of the 
dialogue) does not profess to set forth, but only the 
ground and soil on which it must be built up and 
carried out : and that soil is the Idea of something 
in which all antitheses are not so much combined, as 
rather one, and not so much superseded, as rather not 
at all parted/ a unity, in which unity and antithesis, 
the self-similar with the dissimilar, are one 1 . From 
such a standpoint it is not wonderful that in the finite 
understanding (Verstand}, compared with the supreme 
Idea and the way in which all things are in it, every 
thing seems reversed, and as if standing on its head, 
exactly like the things we see mirrored on the surface of 
water V 

This supreme Unity is essentially a trinity : an 
Eternal, embracing infinite and finite; an eternal and 
invisible father of all things, who, never issuing forth 
from his eternity, comprehends infinite and finite in one 

1 Schelling, iv. 231, 235, 236. 2 Ibid. 244. 


and the same act of divine knowledge. The infinite, again, 
is the Spirit, who is the unity of all things ; while the 
finite, though potentially equal to the infinite *, is by its 
own will a God suffering and made subject to the con 
ditions of time 2 . This trinity in unity (which is the 
Absolute) is by logic a mere science of understanding 
rent asunder : and the one Subject-object of philo 
sophy becomes for reflection and understanding the 
three independent objects which such a logical philo 
sophy calls respectively the Soul (erewhile the infinite), 
the world (once the finite), and God (the eternal unity). 
Opposing and separating the world of intelligence from 
the world of nature, men have learned to see nature 
outside God, and God outside nature, and withdrawing 
nature from the holy necessity, have subordinated it to 
the unholy which they name mechanical, while by the 
same act they have made the ideal world the scene of 
a lawless liberty. At the same time as they defined 
nature as a merely passive entity, theysupposed they had 
gained the right of defining God, whom they elevated 
above nature, as pure activity, utter " actuosity," as if the 
one of these concepts did not stand and fall with the 
other, and none had truth by itself 3 . 

The problem therefore of philosophy is on one hand 
to find the expression for an activity which is as repose 
ful as the deepest repose, for a rest which is as active as 

1 In things thou seest nought but the misplaced images of that 
absolute unity ; and even in knowledge, so far as it is a relative 
unity, thou seest nought but an image only drawn amiss in another 
direction of that absolute cognition, in which being is as little 
determined by thought as thought by being. 

2 Schelling, iv. 252. See further, iv. 327 : The pure subject, 
that absolute knowledge, the absolute Ego, the form of all forms, 
is the only-begotten Son of the Absolute, equally eternal with him, 
not diverse from his Essence, but one with it. 

3 Schelling, iv. 306. Cp. for actuosity, notes in vol. ii. 396. 
Spinoza, Cogit. Met. ii. ii, speaks of the actuosa essentia of God. 

1 66 PROLEGOMENA. [xiv. 

the highest activity 1 / On the other hand ; to find the 
point of unity is not the greatest thing, but from it also to 
develop its opposite, this is the proper and deepest secret 
of art V The world as it first presents itself labours 
under a radical antithesis : it offers a double face, body 
and soul, finite and infinite. But to an absolute philo 
sophy, or that high idealism which sees all things in the 
light of the Eternal, the two sides are not so separate 
as they first appeared. Each is also the whole and one, 
but under a phase, a Differ enz* a preponderating aspect 
which disguises the essential identity of both. Behind 
mind, as it were, looms body : through body shines 
mind. The ideal is but a co-aspect with the real. The 
difference of nature and spirit presupposes and leads 
back to the indifference of the Absolute One. Wherever 
in a thing soul and body are equated, in that thing is an 
imprint of the Idea, and as the Idea in the Absolute is 
also itself being and essence, so in that thing, its copy, 
the form is also the substance and the substance the 
form 8 . 

Thus/ so Bruno concludes, we shall, first in the 
absolute equality of essence and form, know how both 
finite and infinite stream forth from its heart, and how 
the one is necessarily and for ever with the other, and 
comprehend how that simple ray, which issues from the 
Absolute and is the very Absolute, appears parted into 
difference and indifference, finite and infinite. We 
shall precisely define the mode of parting and of unity 
for each point of the universe, and prosecute the universe 
to that place where that absolute point of unity appears 
parted into two relative unities. We shall recognise in 
the one the source whence springs the real and natural 
world ; in the other, of the ideal and divine world. 

1 Schelling, iv. 305. 2 Ibid. iv. 328. 

3 Ibid. iv. 306. 


With the former we shall celebrate the incarnation of 
God from all eternity ; with the latter the necessary 
deification of man. And while we move freely and 
without resistance up and down on this spiritual ladder, 
we shall, now, as we descend, see the unity of the divine 
and natural principle parted, now, as we ascend and 
again dissolve everything into one, see nature in God 
and God in nature V Such was the programme which 
Schelling offered. Hegel accepting it, or perhaps 
helping to frame it made two not unimportant changes. 
He attempted in his Phenomenology to lead up step by 
step to, and so warrant, that strange position of idealism 
which claims to be the image of the Absolute. He tried 
in his Logic to give for this point of view a systematic 
basis and a filling out of the bare Idea of a Unity, 
neither objective nor subjective, neither form nor 
substance, neither real nor ideal, but including and 
absorbing these. He tried, in short, to trace in the 
Absolute itself the inherent difference which issued 
in two different worlds, and to show its unity and 
identity there. 

A System of philosophy, and a philosophy of the 
Absolute! The project to the sober judgment of 
common sense stands self-condemned, palpably beyond 
the tether of humanity. For if there be anything agreed 
upon, it is that the knowledge of finite beings like us 
can never be more than a comparatively poor collec 
tion of fragments, and can never reach to that which 
and such is the supposed character of the Absolute is 
utterly un-related, rank non-relativity. But in the first 
place, let us not be the slaves of words, and let us not 
be terrified by unfamiliar terms. After all, a System 
is only our old friend the unity of knowledge, and the 
Absolute is not something let quite loose, but the 

1 Schelling, iv. 328. 

1 68 PROLEGOMENA. [xiv. 

consummation and inter-connexion of all ties. It is no 
doubt an audacious enterprise to set forth on the quest 
of the unity of knowledge, and the completion of all 
definition and characterisation. But, on the other hand, 
it may perhaps claim to be more truly modest than the 
self-complacent modesty of its critics. For ordinary 
belief and knowledge rest upon presuppositions which 
they dare not or will not subject to revision. They too 
are sure that things on the whole, or that the system 
of things, or that nature and history, are a realm of 
uniformity, subject to unvarying law, in thorough inter 
dependence. They are good enough, occasionally, to 
urge that they hold these beliefs on the warranty of 
experience, and not as, what they are pleased to call, 
intuitions, a priori ideas, and what not. But to base 
a truth on experience is a loose manner of talking : 
not one whit better than the alleged Indian foundation 
of the earth on the elephant, and the elephant erected 
on the tortoise. For by Experience it means experi 
ences ; and these rest one upon another, one upon 
another, till at length, if this be all that holds them 
together, the last hangs unsupported, (and with its 
superincumbent load), ready to drop in the abyss of 

This transcendental/ absolutist, l a priori* philo 
sophy, which stands so strange and menacing on the 
threshold of the nineteenth century, is after all only, 
as Kant sometimes called it, an essay to comprehend 
and see the true measures and dimensions of this much- 
quoted Experience. All knowledge rests in (not on) 
the unity of Experience. All the several experiences 
rest in the totality of one experience, ultimate, all- 
embracing, absolute, infinite, unconditioned ; universal 
and yet individual, necessary and yet free, eternal, and 
yet filling all the nooks of time, ideal, and yet the 

xiv.] THE ABSOLUTE. 169 

mother of all reality, unextended, and yet spread 
through the spaces of the universe. Call it, if you like, 
the experience of the race, but remember that that 
apparently more realistic and scientific phrase connotes 
neither more nor less (if rightly understood) than normal, 
ideal, universal, infinite, absolute experience. This is 
the Unconditioned, which is the basis and the builder 
of all conditions : the Absolute, which is the home and 
the parent of all relations. Experience is no doubt 
yours and mine, but it is also much more than either 
yours or mine. He who builds on and in Experience, 
builds on and in the Absolute, in the System a system 
which is not merely his. In his every utterance he 
claims to speak as the mouth-piece of the Absolute, 
the Unconditioned ; his words expect and require 
assent, belief, acceptance ; they are candidates (not 
necessarily, or always successful) for the rank of 
universal and necessary truth : they are dogmatic 
assertions, and even in their humblest tones, none 
the less infected with the fervour of certainty. For, 
indeed, otherwise, it would be a shame and an insult 
to let them cross the lips. 

It is the aim of the Absolute a priori philosophy to 
raise this certainty to truth : or, as one may rather say, 
to reduce this certainty to its kernel of truth. It seeks 
to determine the limits not of this absolute and basic 
experience (for it has no external limits) but in this 
experience : the anatomy and physiology of the Abso 
lute, the correlations and inclusions, the distinctions 
and syntheses in the unconditioned field. It examines 
the foundation of all knowledge. But if this be the 
phrase we must be on our guard against a misappre 
hension of its terms. The foundations are also know 
ledge : they are in all knowledge and experience, its 
synthetic link and its analytic distinctions. We must 

170 PROLEGOMENA. [xiv. 

not shrink from paradoxes in expression. The house 
of knowledge, the world of experience, is as self-centred 
and self-sustaining, and even more so, than the planetary 
system. It is a totality in which each part hangs upon 
and helps to hold up the others, but which needs no 
external help, resting and yet moving, self-poised and 

We may be spared, therefore, verbal criticism on 
the Absolute and Unconditioned. The Absolute, and 
Infinite, and Eternal is no mere negation : the only 
pure negation is NOT, and even that has a flaw in its 
claim. It is perfectly true and it can only be babes 
and sucklings that need to be reminded of the fact 
that none of us realises and attains the ne plus ultra 
of knowledge and that all our systems have their day, 
have their day and cease to be. The coasts of the 
Happy Isles of philosophy where we would fain arrive 
are covered only with fragments of shattered ships, and 
we behold no intact vessel in their bays V So too the 
whole earth is full of graves ; and yet humanity lives 
on, charged with the attainments of the past and full 
of the promise of the future. Let us by all means be 
critical and not dogmatic : let us never entirely forget 
that each utterance, each science, each system of ours 
falls short of what it wanted to be, and for a moment 
at least thought it was. But let us not carry our critical 
abstinence into dogmatic non-intervention : or, if so, 
let us silently accept the great renunciation of all 
utterance henceforth. System we all presuppose in 
our words and deeds, and should be much hurt if our 
defect in it were seriously alleged : the Absolute we 
all rest in, though amid so many self-imposed and other 
distractions we feel and see it not. The philosopher 

1 Hegel, Werke, i. 166. 


proposes for his task or rather the philosopher is one 
on whom this task forces itself as for him the one 
thing inevitable to determine what is that system and 
what that Absolute, or, if the phrase be preferred, the 
philosopher traces to its unity, and retraces into its 
differences that Experience that felt, known, and 
willed synthesis of Reality, that realised ideal world 
on which and in which we live and move. He does 
not make the system, nor does he set up the Absolute. 
He only tries to discover the system, and to construe 
the Absolute. 

It may be said that the best of philosophers can do 
no more than give us a System and an Absolute. Un 
doubtedly that is so. Each philosophy is from one 
point of view a strictly individualist performance. It 
is not, in one way, the Absolute truth, which it promises 
or hopes to disclose. The truth is seen through one 
being s eyes; and his measure/ as Protagoras might 
have said, is upon it. Yet it is still the Absolute, as 
seen through those eyes ; it is still in a marvellous 
measure that truth, that absolute truth, which the 
actual generations garble/ For both the artist and 
the philosopher, if they create, only re-create or imitate ; 
if they are makers, they are still more seers : and their 
power of imitation J and of vision rests on their capa 
city to de-individualise themselves of their eccentricities 
and idiosyncrasies, and to bring out only that in them 
which is the common truth of all essential thought 
and vision. In proportion as they purge themselves of 
this evil subjectivity are they true artists and philoso 
phers. They are both and so, too, is the religious 
genius idealists : but the test of the value of their 
idealism is its power of including and synthetising 
reality. That is their verification : that, and not their 
concord with this or that opinion, this or that theory of 

172 PR OLE G OMEN A . 

individuals or of groups. Not that the views either of 
groups or individuals are unimportant. But often 
they are but frozen lumps in the stream, temporary 
islands which have lost their fluidity, and which imagine 
themselves continental and permanent. 

Truth, then, reasoned truth, harmonious experience, 
abs"olute system7~is~the themejrf philosophy. Or, in 
Hegelian language, its theme is the Truth, and that 
Truth, God. Not a sum, an aggregate, or even what 
is ordinarily styled a system, of truths : but the one 
and yet diverse pulse of truth, which beats through all : 
the supreme point of view in which all the parts and 
differences, occasionally standing out as if independent, 
sink into their due relation and are seen in their right 






THE eighteenth century it has been often said was 
a rationalising, unhistorical, age : and, in contrast, the 
nineteenth has been declared to be par excellence the 
founder and the patron of the historical method. In 
the one, the tendency governing the main movement 
of European civilisation was towards cosmopolitan and 
universal enlightenment. A common ideal, and, because 
common, necessarily rather general and abstract, perhaps 
even somewhat vulgarly utilitarian, pervaded Western 
Europe, and threw its influence for good and evil on 
literature and art, on religion and polity. It grew out 
of a revulsion, in many ways natural, from the religious 
extravagances of the century-and-a-half preceding, 
which had led prudent thinkers to reduce religion to 
a reasonable minimum, and to reject all things that 
savoured of or suggested enthusiasm, fanaticism, and 
superstition. In politics the same one type or system 
of government and laws was aimed at, more or less, 
in all advancing states. National peculiarities and 
patriotism were looked at askance, as unworthy of the 
free humanity which was set forward as the end of 
all training. To simplify, to level, to render intelligible, 
and self-consistent was the task of enlightenment in 

176 PROLEGOMENA. [xv. 

dealing with all institutions. To remove all anomalies 
and inequalities, to give security for liberty and to 
facilitate the right to pursue happiness : , was the chief 
watchword of this movement. Its questions were Is 
religion, Is art and science, Is political organisation, 
a source of happiness? Are poetry, and a belief in 
divine things, and abstruse knowledge, upon the whole 
for human advantage and benefit? Only such civili 
sation can be justified as, taken all in all, is a blessing ; 
if not (cried some) we may as well cling to the happiness 
of the barbarian. 

That these are important questions, and that the 
purposes above-mentioned are in many ways good, is 
clear. But before we can answer the questions, or 
decide as to the feasibility of the aims, there are some 
things to be brought and to be kept in view. And 
these things were not as a rule brought and kept in 
view. It was assumed that the standard of adjudication 
was found in the averagely educated and generally 
cultured individual among the class of more or less 
advanced thinkers who asked the questions and set 
up the aims. That class, already denationalised by 
function, forming a commonwealth or rather a friendly 
fraternity throughout the capitals of Europe, had cut 
itself off from the narrower and the deeper sympathies 
of the national life. Forming a sort of mean or middle 
stratum in the social organisation, they tended to ignore 
or despise equally the depths below them and the 
heights above. They took themselves as the types of 
humanity, and what their understandings found accept 
able they dubbed rational : all else was a survival 

1 We hold, says the American Declaration of Independence (1776), 
these truths to be self-evident ; that all men are created equal : that 
they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights : 
that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, &c. 

xv -] THE AUFKLARUNG. 177 

from the ages of darkness. They forgot utterly that 
they were only a part, a class, a member in the social 
body : and that they could only be and do what they 
were and did, because what they were not and did not 
do was otherwise supplied. It takes all sorts of people 
to make a world: but each class and the order of 
literature and intelligence is no exception tends to 
set itself up as the corner-stone (if not something more) 
of the social edifice. What is more : in such a loose 
aggregate as the intelligent upper-middle class, the 
individual tends more and more to count as something, 
detached and by himself, to be an equal and free unit 
of judgment and choice, to be emancipated from all the 
bonds which hold in close affinity members of a group 
whose functions are unlike each other s, and yet de 
cidedly complementary. Such a class, again- though 
there are of course conspicuous exceptions is, by the 
stress of special interests, removed from direct contact 
with nature and reality, and lives what in the main may 
be styled an artificial life. 

When such a class asked what were the benefits of art 
or religion, it thought first of itself; and it looked upon 
art and religion and the same would be true of philo 
sophy and science, or of political sanctions as merely 
objective and outward entities, foreign to the individual, 
yet by some mechanical influences brought into con 
nexion with him,- as one might apply to him a drug 
or a viand. But clearly to a person of practical aims, 
bent on conveying information and enlightenment, bent 
on making all men as like each other as possible in the 
medium range of cultivation which he thinks desirable, 
the utility of some of these things is questionable and 
limited. It is only a little modicum of religion, of art 
and of science, which can be justified by its obvious 
pleasure-giving power; and it is easy to point the thesis 

1 7 8 PROLEGOMENA. [xv. 

against enthusiasm in these regions, by reference to the 
disastrous wars fanned by religion, to the license that 
has followed the steps of art, and to the lives wasted 
in the zeal for increasing knowledge. In his ideal of 
human life such a practical reformer will tend to sup 
press all that bears too clear a trace of natural, infra- 
rational, non-intelligent kindred, all that ties us too 
closely to mother earth and universal nature. 

But if this was the dominant tone of the literary 
teachers who had chief audience from the public ear, 
there was no lack of dissentient voices who appealed 
to nature, who loved the past, who set sentiment and 
imagination above intellect, and who never bowed the 
knee to the great idols of enlightened middle-class utili 
tarianism. Even in the leaders of the enlightening 
host amongst the chiefs of the Aufkldrung there is 
a breadth and a depth of human interest which sets 
them far above their average followers, and which should 
prevent us from joining without discrimination in the 
depreciatory judgments so often passed on the eighteenth 
century. The pioneers in the great emancipatory move 
ment of modern times should not be allowed to suffer 
from the exaggerations and haste of their more vulgar 
imitators still less refused the meed of gratitude we 
owe them. But when their ideas were violently trans 
lated into reality, when the levelling, unshackling process 
was set at work by vulgar hands, the shortcomings of 
their theories were made to show even greater than 
they were : and inevitable reaction set in. Even the 
revolutionist himself has come to admit that fraternity 
at that time came badly off in comparison with liberty 
and equality 1 . But these drawbacks were accentuated 
when the cosmopolitan reform-movement, by its haste 
and intolerance, awakened the spirit of national jealousy. 
1 Louis Blanc, History of the Revolution^ vol. i. 


The deeper instincts of life rose in protest against the 
supposed superiority of intellect : the heart claimed its 
rights against the head : the man of nature and feeling 
was roused up to meet the man of reasoning and criti 
cism. The spirit of war evoked those energies of 
human nature some of them not its least valuable 
which had slumbered in times of easy-going peace. 
The days of adversity and humiliation taught men that 
the march of literary culture is not the all-in-all of life 
and history. 

It was made apparent, practically at least, that intel 
ligence, with its hard and fast formulae, its logical 
principles, its keen analysis, was not deep enough or 
wide enough to justify its claim to the august title of 
reason. To be reasonable implies a more comprehensive, 
patient, many-sided observation than is necessary to 
prove the claim to mere intelligence. To be intelligent 
is to seize the right means to execute a given or 
accepted end it is to be quick and correct in the 
practice of life, to carry out in detail what has been 
determined on in general. Understanding plays upon 
the surface of life and deals with the momentary case : 
and its greatest praise is to be fleet in the application 
of principles, apt to detect the point on which to direct 
action, correct in its estimate of means to ends. Clear 
sighted, prudent, and direct, it is the supreme virtue 
in a given sphere : but the sphere must be given, and 
its end constituted in the measured round of practical 
life, its system complete : or, understanding is bewildered 
before a hopeless puzzle. Understanding is the im 
provident cynic might say a certain animal-like saga 
city (such cynical philosophers were perhaps Hobbes 
and Schopenhauer 1 ) a mere power of carrying out a 

1 Hobbes, Leviathan, Part I. chaps. 2 and 3; and elsewhere. 
Schopenhauer, Welt als Wills, Book I. 6. 

N 2 

i8o PROLEGOMENA. [xv. 

given rule in a new but similar case, and of doing so, 
perhaps, through a long chain of intermediate links 
and means. 

But there are more things in heaven and earth than 
are heard of in the philosophy of the logical intellect. 
The subtilitas naturae 1 far surpasses the refinements 
of the practical intellect : and if the latter is ever to 
overcome or be equal to the former, it must, so to 
speak, wait patiently upon it, as a handmaiden upon the 
hands of her mistress. Such a trained and disciplined 
intellect which has conquered nature by obedience is 
what the philosophers at the beginning of this century 
called reason*. It is in life as much as in our mind. 
It comes not by self-assertion, by the attempt to force 
our ends and views on nature, but by feeling and 
thinking ourselves in and along with nature. Or, briefly, 
it breaks down the middle wall of partition by which 
man had treated nature as a mere world of objects 
things to be used and to minister to his pleasure- 
but always alien to him, always mere matter to be 
manipulated ab extra. Yet even to get full use and 
enjoyment out of a thing it is well to be in closer 
community with it, and on terms of friendly acquaint 
ance. The function of this fuller reason cannot be 
performed without something analogous to sympathy 
and imagination. Sympathy, which realises the inner 
unity of the so-called thing with ourselves: imagi 
nation, which sets it in the full circumstances of those 
relationships which the practical intelligence is inclined 
to abstract from and to neglect. Yet only something 
analogous to sympathy and imagination : if, as may 
well be the case, we attach to these terms any association 
of irregular or mere emotional operation. The imagi- 

1 Bacon, Novum Organum, i. 10. 

2 See notes and illustrations in vol. ii. p. 400. 


nation in question is the scientific imagination the 
power of wide large vision which sets the object fully 
in reality, and is not content with a mere name or 
abstract face of a fact a name which represents a fact 
no doubt, but represents it, as many such agents or 
deputies do, in a hard and wooden spirit. The sym 
pathy in question is the transcending of the antithesis 
between subjective and objective; not a fantastic or 
fortuitous choice of one or a few out of many on whom 
to lavish locked-up stores of affection, but the full 
recognition of unity as pervading differences, and re 
ducing them to no more than aspects in correlation. 

What has been said of sympathy and imagination, as 
the allies and ministers of reason, might be extended and 
applied to humour, to wit, to irony. These also it may 
be said and with the same qualifications are essential 
to a philosopher in the highest sense. The humour, 
viz., which strides over the barriers set up by institu 
tion and convention between the high and the humble, 
and sees man s superficial distinctions overpowered by 
a half-grim, half-jubilant Ananke, which notes how 
human proposal is overcome, not without grace, by 
divine and natural disposal, how the deep inner identity 
in all estates breaks triumphantly through the fences 
of custom and deliberate intention. The wit, which 
upsets the hardened fixity of classes and groups, flits 
from one to another, shows glimpses of affinity between 
remote provinces of idea, and all this, without laboured 
and artificial search for analogies, though to the slower- 
following practical mind, hampered by its solid limits, 
these leaps from province to province seem paradoxical 
and whimsical. The irony, which notes the tragi 
comedy of life under its apparent regularity of prose, 
which detects the vanity of all efforts to check the 
flux of vitality and make the volatile permanent ; which 

1 8 2 PRO LEG OMEN A . [x v. 

contrasts the apparent with the real, the obviously and 
officiously meant with the truly desired and willed, 
and shows how diplomatically-close design is dissipated 
in a jest, or the soul bent on many years of enjoyment 
is plunged into torment. Thus, in a way, imagination, 
sympathy, wit, humour, irony and paradox are elements 
that go to the making of a philosopher : but in the 
serenity of reasoned wisdom they lose their frolic 
some and fantastic mood, and fill their minor place 
with sober cheer. Wedded to the lord of wisdom, the 
Muse of poesy and wit loses her sprightly laugh and 
her dancing step, becoming a subdued, yet gracious 
matron, who, with her offspring, sheds gleams of bright 
ness and warmth and colour in the somewhat austere 
household. Yet still the free maiden of poesy, in the 
open fields where the shadow of reflective thought has 
not yet fallen, has the greater charm ; and a certain 
jealousy not unfrequently reigns between the married 
sister and the virgin yet untamed. 

But though poetry and the allied arts of words were 
very helpful to philosophy witness the services which, 
though in widely different ways, Goethe and Schiller 
rendered to the higher thinking of Germany even 
more stimulative and fruitful was the research into 
nature and history. Nature and history : but they lie 
closer together than the conjunction suggests. It is 
true that in recent times we have been forcibly taught 
to separate civil from natural history, if we have not 
even been further taught that the latter is an improper 
application of the term. But when Aristotle said that 
Poetry is more philosophical than History he was 
probably not restricting his remark to the story of 
nations and states ; even as when Bacon set history 
as the field of memory beside the fields of imagination 
and reasoning, he was not solely referring to the records 


of the human past. The distinction between natural 
and civil history is no doubt for practical education 
a distinction of supreme importance. But it is so, 
because in this scholastic phase the conception of both] 
under these comprehensive names, was superficial and 
abstract. Natural history meant only the classificatory 
description of animals, plants, and minerals: civil 
history the tale composed to string together the succes 
sion of human actions on the public and national field 
of life. 

We have seen in an earlier chapter the advances which 
Lessing, Kant, and above all Herder, made in this 
direction \ Emphasising in their several ways the great 
dictum of Spinoza that human passions, and the whole 
scheme of human life, are res natumles, quae communes 
naturae leges sequuntur, they gave to history a higher, 
more philosophical, more scientific scope than what 
the name used to connote. Neither in Spinoza himself, 
nor in these his followers, did this insistence on the 
unity of nature at all lead them to neglect the difference 
almost equivalent, it may be said, in the end to an 
imperium in imperioby which rational man marks 
himself off to a special kindred with the divine 2 . We 
have seen too what Schelling did to show that history, 
if in one aspect it be the product of free human volitions, 
is, in another and as he thought a superior aspect, the 
realm subject to a divine or natural necessity. The 
whole tendency of this epoch of thought the tendency 
which entitles it above all to the name of speculative is 
its impulse to over-ride this distinction between Nature 
and History; to over-ride it, however, not in the sense of 
simply ignoring or denying it, but of carrying it up into a 

1 See Chapter XII. 

Ct. Ethica, iv. 37, Schol. I. contrasting renttn externarum com- 
munis constitutio with ipsa hominis natura, in se sola considerata. 

j8 4 PROLEGOMENA. [xv. 

unity which would do justice to both, without exclusively 
favouring either, and hardly without clipping both of any 
extravagant claims. The distinction remains, no longer 
an abrupt division, but now tempered and mellowed 
by the presence of a paramount unity. Nature now has 
a real history : no longer a mere factitious aggregate 
of classified facts, it is the phenomenon of a latent 
process/ due to a latent schematism/ and a form 
or principle of organisation. Classification does not 
cease : but it ceases to be an end in itself, and becomes 
only subordinate or auxiliary to a higher scientific end. 
The main theme is to construe the complete cycle of 
life-change and the complete organisation of life-state 
from the evidence pieced out and put together from 
the various orders, classes, and species of living 
creatures. And on the other side the mere tale or 
narrative of history, with its gossip of personalities, 
and its accidents of war and intrigue, tends to become 
insignificant in the presence of the great popular life, 
in its deep and subtle connexion with agencies of 
nature hitherto unsurmised, in its dependence upon 
necessities arid uniformities which envelope or rather 
permeate and constitute the human will. It is not 
indeed that the force of great personalities has come 
to be treated as a quantity we may neglect. The force 
of the great leader, of the genius, of the hero, is not 
less admirable to the wise philosophical historian 
to-day than it ever was to his story-telling predecessor. 
But he flatters himself that he understands better, and 
can better take account of, the conditions which make 
the genius and the hero possible. Achilles still counts 
for more than a thousand common soldiers, and Homer 
himself is not merely the composite image by which 
a long tradition has fused into a dim pictorial unity the 
countless bards who sang for ages on the isles of 


Greece and the coasts of Ionia. Yet we feel sure that 
Achilles did what he did, because of the race he sprang 
from, the inspiration he felt around him, the companion 
ship in body and spirit of his peers. We feel that the 
hero derives his strength from earth and air, from the 
spiritual and material substance in which he draws his 
breath. True, we cannot explain him, as if he and 
his heroisms were a mere product of mathematical and 
mechanical forces. But where we once recognise that 
behind the single visible deed and agent there is a 
spiritual nature an underlying agency which, unper- 
ceived, keeps the hearth-fire of public life burning in 
the celestial temple of Vesta, we can at least see that 
though genius is a marvel and a mystery, yet it is 
according to law, and no mere will-o -the-wisp. 

But when we say that the actions and sayings even 
of the foremost individuals are to be comprehended only 
in the light of universal forces and laws, there is an 
error which is only too ready to substitute itself for the 
truth. It soon appears for example that, among the 
general causes which control the development of civili 
sation and the acts of individuals, the economical con 
dition is of great and prominent effect. And, above all, 
it is easily measurable, and subject to palpable standards 
(such as statistics of exports and imports, &c.). It was 
natural therefore that a school of historico-social philo 
sophers should arise who maintained that the economical 
state of a given society was the fundamental principle 
or form of its life, of which all other phases of its civili 
sation, religious, aesthetic, &c., were only variable 
dependent functions. This view, which comes out in 
the socialist theory of Marx, is clearly the exaggeration 
or abstract statement of a partial truth into a pseudo- 
complete theory. The truth is one which found ex 
pression as early as Plato. It is this: that in the 

1 86 PROLEGOMENA. [xv. 

economical system of a society we find the first and 
somewhat external or mechanical suggestion of the 
organism to which the state is yet to grow. In the 
economic law of reciprocity there is a certain faint 
image of the principle of social organisation or political 
life. But when we go beyond, and interpret this first 
phase to mean the original foundation, we are stating 
a figment which has a plausibility only when by the 
economic state we mean a great deal more than abstractly 
economic facts include. And this again arises because it 
is really impossible to carry out thoroughly the abstrac 
tion of one aspect of social life from the others. There 
are no purely economic facts which are independent 
of other social influences, of ideals, e.g. moral or 
aesthetic, ideals which nobody would call economic, 
though they never quite part company from economical 

So again there is occasionally a tendency to magnify 
the influence of what in the narrowest sense may be 
termed political systems. Forms of government, and 
titles of sovereignty are regarded as forces to which 
individuals even the highest must bow. But here 
again the exaggeration of a principle need not tempt 
us to rush with Tom Paine into the opposite extravagance 
that government and state-power are superfluities, or 
quasi-ornamental additions to a social fabric, which can 
do without them and, like other beasts of low organ 
isation, can, when shorn of them, reproduce them with 
ease. And thus though we may dissent from the view 
that laws and constitutions are omnipotent, we may 
admit that in them the central unity and controlling 
principle of social life finds its dominant expression 
in great outlines. We shall not agree with him who 
said Let who will make the laws of a nation if I may 
make its ballads : because we know that the nation 



will in the end have the chief voice in determining 
what are to be its ballads no less than its laws. We 
shall not quite accept the dictum that the intellectual 
class which formulates ideas and sets up programmes 
of ideals gives the real lead to the process of civilisation ; 
for we shall remember that real ideas are not formed 
by individuals, but are the slow work of concrete 
experience in the so-called inorganic masses, finding at 
length utterance through the lips of those appointed 
to that end by the natural and divine order. Yet we 
shall, on the other hand, see that the high things of 
the world are dependent on the lowly: that a song- 
maker is sometimes not less potent than a legislature : 
that pecuniary conditions are effective in the sanctuaries 
of religion and the high places of art : and that the 
noblest ideas of great thinkers draw their strength and 
life through roots that run unseen through very humble 

La Raison, says Leibniz, est V enchainement des verite s 1 . 
Truth linked into truth, and so made truer : truth, with 
which all things harmonise and nothing cries dissent : 
truth, which is neither the prerogative of the mere 
demos, nor of the intellectual aristocracy, but of that 
rarer unity which, when they can exercise several and 
mutually-tendered self-abnegation, is the real spirit of 
both : truth, thus conceived, is that king of life, that 
sun of Reason which lighteth every man. Truth to 
use again the language of Leibniz, which is not merely 
the^ aggregate of monads, but the monad of monads, 
their mutual penetration and corrective completion, in 
that Idea-reality where they retain their individuality, 
but retain it in the fullness and fruition of the absolute 
which each essentially or implicitly is. This kingdom 
of suffering and yet triumphant truth is the true age of 
1 See the Discours preliminaire to the The odicJe. 

1 8 8 PR OLE GOME N A . 

Reason not outwardly-critical, individualistically-re- 
forming, mere intellectual and abstract intelligence, 
but intelligence, charged with emotion, full of reverence, 
reverent above all to the majesty of that divinity which, 
much disguised, and weather-beaten, like Glaucus of 
the sea, resides in common and natural humanity. This 
is the Reason of German idealism at the commencement 
of the century. To the clear-cut dogmas of the abstract 
intellect it savours of mysticism. If it is friendly to 
distinctions and constantly makes them, it is the pro 
nounced enemy of hard and fast separations. Begin 
where you like, the reason of things, if you allow it 
to work, carries you round till you also see identity 
where you only saw difference, or effects where you 
only looked for causes. You begin, as the inductive 
logician, with the belief that the process is from the 
known to the unknown. You start with your basis 
of fact, as you called it. The nemesis of things forces 
you to admit that your facts were partly fictions which 
waited for the unknown to give them a truer and fuller 
reality. You talk at first of induction, as if it were a 
single and simple process, which out of facts builds 
up generalities and uniformities. You learn as you 
go on that the only induction that operates, except in 
cases which have been artificially simplified by supposing 
half the task done before you apply your experimental 
methods, is an induction of which the major part is 
deductive, and where your conclusion will be recurrently 
made your premiss. Your induction only works on 
the basis of a hypothesis, and must itself be linked in 
the concatenation of truths, a concatenation which is 
also a criticism and a correction. 



THIS new idealism which conjures by the name of 
Reason is a different thing from the pseudo-idealism 
of Jacobi, as it is from the rationalism/ so-called, of 
the mere intellectualist. Its ideal is not a desperate 
refuge from the hard and bitter reality, only to be 
reached by the plunge of faith, which seems rather the 
leap of despair : not a mere other- world, always other, 
longed for, presaged, beheld in dreamy vision, but 
unperceived by the clear light of intelligence : clutched 
at, but elusive of every effort. It is not won by turning 
the back on reality and flying on the wings of morning 
faith to the better land and the presence of the divine : 
but by persistence in unfolding, expanding, adjusting, 
re-combining, and fortifying those parliaLglimpses of 
the unseen which occur in every vision of the seen. 
It is true the ideal is, in a way, always an other world : 
but not a mere other world ; it is another, and yet not 
another, but the same, seen, if you like to say, trans 
figured, idealised. But idealisation, if so applied, means 
not an addition here and a subtraction there made in 
reality, from some source outside from some indeter 
minable Whence (Whence indeed should such additions 
come?). It does not mean a correction of faults and 
failures in the real, at the will of an artist who is 
dissatisfied with his subject-model and would mend it 

I9 o PROLEGOMENA. [*vi. 

out of other faces and forms stored up in memory or 
sketch-book. This idealism does not in that sense 
idealise (so as to falsify). It means complete reality; 
absolute, systematic, unconditioned reality: nowhere 
fragmentary, nowhere referring outside, but completing 
itself in all its members. It means to quote the 
Hegelian term-seeing all things in the Idea their 
notion (or ideality), i. e. their unifying grip/ reflecting 
itself in their objectivity, and their reality completing 
itself in art, religion, and philosophy to that ideal which 
to the non-artistic, non-religious, non-philosophic mood 
is only dimly suggested and partially supposed. Still 
less is it an idealism which, as popularly understood, 
turns reality and historic fact into mere ideas. 

But, as perhaps may have been apparent, to call 
this way of thought idealism need not keep us from 
acknowledging that the same philosophy is also realism. 
If it insists, so to say, on the idealism of what we 
sometimes call material nature, it no less insists on the 
realism of what is supposed immaterial mind. The 
mental or spiritual world loses its unsubstantial intangi- 
bleness, its mere supposedness, its ideal or merely- 
ideal character. To the older, and we may say vulgar, 
view the mind or soul was a mere thought, something 
of which all that could be seen were certain acts or 
phenomena. It was a mere idea, which one could 
pretty well get on without so long as he kept, as the 
phrase was, to the phenomena phenomena without 
reality. How vague and aery again was the subject-matter 
of morals ! A few virtues and vices, confessedly general 
descriptive titles, a talk about will and conscience, all 
of them merely several predicates of an unknown, 
spoken of, postulated, but unproducible. Compared 
with this mere supposedness the spiritual world in 
Schelling and Hegel acquires the reality of a quasi- 


organism (really supra-organic), growing and constituting 
itself, and making room in it for a host of human 
relationships. The abstract faculties of mind get reality 
(not indeed sensible) : the intangible notions of morals 
become almost palpable : the kingdom of mind becomes 
a real pendant to the kingdom of nature. And, on the 
other hand, the kingdom of nature gets its ideality 
recognised : its unity and continuity made effective in 
an Idea which embraces, co-ordinated and systematised, 
its disparate and unconnected portions. 

This new Idealism, if it led men back from the 
historical world to nature, was yet hardly in all respects 
a pupil of Rousseau. Not Back from civilisation and 
artificiality to nature and the freedom of the woodland/ 
was its cry : but rather Remember that man always 
rests on and grows out of nature, always has his ideals 
made directly or indirectly visible in physical (sensible) 
structures; and that, when culture turns away from 
sense and nature to some supposed higher, it is really 
entering on a path which leads to abysses. Its voice, 
in fact, was much like the longing expressed in Schiller s 
Gods of Greece ; it wished man more godlike and the 
divine more human. But instead of backward, its 
motto was forward : or back to nature, only to resume 
the true starting-point, and retreat from a path of 
civilisation whose end is perdition. Man also was 
nature 1 if he is never mere nature, i. e. the nature 
unexalted to its truth but he brought to expression, 
and might bring to ever clearer and fuller expression, 
a something which was in infra-human nature, but 
which nature elsewhere had failed adequately to present. 

1 Cf. Spinoza s remark on Body, Eth. III. pr. 2 Schol. : Etenim 
quod corpus possit, nemo hucusque determinavit ; hoc est neminem 
hucusque experientia docuit quid corpus ex solis legibus naturae 
quatenus corporea tantum consideratur possit agere, &c. 


Thus the relation of Man to Nature was apparently two 
fold. On one hand, the physical world was essentially 
a world of reason and intelligence though of intel 
ligence petrified 1 . So far Hegel agreed with Schelling. 
But, on the other hand (and here Hegel took up the 
great paradox of Fichte), man s place in the universe 
is to fulfil the promise and implication of Nature to the 
full reality of Spirit, to fulfil it by law and morality ; 
but (here he completes Fichte by the help of Schelling) 
also in higher measure, by art, religion, and science. The 
world of intelligence and reason which man constructs 
as an ethical, artistic, and religious being, is the full 
truth of the natural world, the higher meaning, and 
fuller, more consistent, and complete reality of the 
sensible: and it is so, because the lord of Nature is 
one with the lord of the human soul. The new way 
of philosophy therefore, if it could be ever charged with 
saying that the so-called real things of ordinary life 
were only ideas, or mental images, meant that, as taken 
by the unthinking or imperfectly thinking perception, 
they were something of which all that could be said 
was to describe their relations to something else, of 
which in turn the same remark might be made; so 
that as far as they went reality was never with us, 
but only an assurance (soon to be proved vain) that 
it was next door 2 . On the contrary in its use of the 
term Idea what this idealism asserted rather was that 
the objects of Nature in their prima facie apprehension 
were not yet an Idea : if, i. e., an Idea is a mental or 
spiritual reality which explains and completes itself, 
instead of sending us on endless fool s errands else- 

1 See vol. ii, notes and illustrations, p. 392. 

2 Schopenhauer s well-known description of this recurrent throw 
ing back of the responsibility of reality on something else is here 
suggested ( World as Will and Idea, 17). 


where, is a concept which is exactly adequate to 
reality, and has gathered in it the power of reality. 

The new idealism is not subversive of realism, but 
includes it and makes it the reality it professed to be. 
It may therefore, as Schelling proposed l , be called 
an ideal-realism, or a real-idealism. If any body likes, 
he may even, if he is no Greek scholar, call it Monism ; 
but in that case he had better begin by admitting to 
himself that any Monism, _which_can^_stand its ground 
and serve for an explanation of .the universe, will not 
exclude Dualism. All is indeed one life, one being, 
one tRolughTjn&ut a life, a being, a thought, which only 
exists as it opposes itself within itself, sets itself apart 
from itself, projects its meaning and relations outwards 
and upwards, and yet retains and carries out the power 
of reuniting itself. The Absolute may be called One : 
but it is also the All; iFljTaTOrie which makes and 
overcomes difference : it is, and it essentially is, in the 
antithesis of Nature and Spirit, Object and Subject, 
Matter and Mind ; but under and over the antithesis 
it is fundamental and completed unity. Monism, literally 
understood, is absurd for it ignores, what cannot be 
ignored, the many : and Dualism, which is offered 
sometimes as a competitive scheme, is not much better ; 
unless we understand the Dualism to be no fixed 
bisection, but an ever-appearing and ever-superseded 
antithesis which is the witness to the power and the 
freedom of the One, which is not alone, but One and 
All, One in All, and All in One. 

The central or cardinal point of Idealism is its refusal 
to be kept standing at a fixed disruption between Subject 
and Object, between Spirit and Nature. Its Idea is 
the identity or unity (not without the difference) of 

1 See p. 157 (chap. xiii). 

194 PROLEGOMENA. [xvi. 

both. In its purely logical or epistemological aspect 
one can easily see that, as Schopenhauer was so fond 
of repeating, There is no Object without a Subject and 
no Subject without an Object 1 . The difficulty arises 
in remembering these excellent truisms when one of 
the correlatives is out of sight, and the other seems to 
be independent and to come before us with a title to 
recognition apparently all its own. When the Subject 
figures as the individual consciousness, encased, it may 
perhaps be added, in an individual body, and the Object 
as a thing apparently out there in a world beyond all 
by itself, then the lapse from this rudimentary idealism 
becomes easy. In the practice of life and business, 
each of us, self-conscious and autonomous subject as 
he may be, comes to rank in the estimate of others, 
and ere long to some extent in his own, as also a part 
of the aggregate of objects. All reality and substance 
seem as it were to slide over into the object-side. The 
conscious subject counts as a mere onlooker or the 
passive spectator of a performance that goes on in 
an outside field of event, yet that outside is his own 
object-mind ; his mind counts as a mere idea, or rather 
as a succession of ideas, i. e. of mental pictures with a 
certain meaning in them. A little step more and the 
very subject-mind itself is turned into an object. There 
stands indeed according to the ordinary introspective 
psychology as it were in one corner, or at one loop 
hole of vision, a mind looking on, observing and 
criticising another thing which is also called a mind ; 
but the mind observing can only reflect or register, 
and the mind which is observed is very much thing-like, 
apparently acted upon by other things, and acting upon 
them in turn. This object-mind, a real among other 

1 Satz vom Gntnde, 16 : Welt als Willc und Vorstellung : Ergan- 
zungen. Cap. i. 


reals, in relations of cause and effect with them, does 
not, if we can trust the words of those who tell about 
it, see itself, but lies open to the inspection of this 
other mind, represented by the psychological observer, 
who is good enough to report to us something of its 
blind and dark estate. Its re-actions, he informs us, 
exhibit a remarkable peculiarity. They are equivalent 
to states of consciousness : and even to acts of will 
and knowledge. As when a violin is touched in certain 
ways by the bow, you get a musical note, so when 
certain agents come in contact with this peculiar real, 
they elicit a re-action, termed sense or idea. 

To distinguish in this manner between mental 
passivity and activity is natural and right. The basis 
of all consciousness and mental activity is an original 
division, a judgment or dijudication of self from self. 
But, once the dijudication made for such ends, it is 
a mistake to forget its initiation and lose sight entirely 
of the fact that the observing mind is also the active, 
and that the object-self is not merely in relation to the 
subject-self, but in a higher unity is identifiable there 
with. Still the thing is done, habitually done. We 
all profess this faith of ordinary realism in our first 
reflections upon ourselves. And the effect of the 
oblivion is that we seek elsewhere for the initial activity, 
which we have abstracted from and lost sight of. The 
receptive passive mind, called subject still, but now 
become a subject in the sense of the anatomist, has 
to be set in motion, to be impinged upon or impressed. 
The psychical event which you call knowledge, and 
which no doubt means knowledge, the mental state* 
which you observe or, it may even, if your authority 
is a particularly obstinate and intransigeant realist, be 
the molecular change in brain cells, requires an ante 
cedent event to account for it. The origin of the 

O 2 

196 PROLEGOMENA. [xvi. 

movement which issued in the given psychical or 
molecular change is sought in a self-subsistent thing 
which out there gives rise to a series of movements 
which in here result in a sensation. Or, a thing some 
how produces an attenuated image of itself in the 
brain, or in the mind ; for, in this mythological tale of 
psychical occurrence, accuracy is unattainable, and one 
must not seek to be too precise. In any case the 
relationship between thing and idea is conceived after 
the analogy of the nexus of cause and effect, or original 
and copy ; and the verbal imagination of the analogical 
reasoner is satisfied. What Hegel, after Schelling, 
teaches, on the other side, is that the process of sense- 
impression and the manipulations to which it is subjected 
by intellect presuppose, for their existence and their 
objective truth, a Reason which is the unity of subject 
and object, an original identity uniting knowledge to 

But the same defect of unphilosophic consciousness 
has another phase which philosophy has to remember. 
Popular language speaks of things, of things here and 
things there, which act upon each other and upon the 
so-called mind : i. e. on this imagined and supposed 
passive mind. For things, a more scientific concep 
tion has been substituted that of forces ; which, 
whether attached to atoms or not, are asserted to 
be the real sources of the change and event which 
fill the world of our experience. And as, according to 
some psychologists, the mind is only a vacant ground 
or space with more or less narrow limits of room, on 
which the entities called ideas are for that reason 
forced into more or less close relationships, without 
any nearer or more essential tie ; so, too, the mind is 
apt to be treated by others only as a battle-field or 
wrestling-ground of opposing forces. Here the atom- 


forces, as in the other case the atom-ideas, are, it is 
assumed, merely and purely independent : and yet such 
is the force of a limited environment shall we say, 
in more popular language, the force of space and 
time ? that they must meet with one another, must, 
as it were, form associations, connexions, relationships. 
Great, verily, is the force of juxtaposition. Space and 
time, because they are essentially limiting, correlating, 
defining, weld links which the great prophet of this 
empirical school has not scrupled to call insoluble, 
ineradicable, inseparable. Space and time, says his 
great successor, are infinite. But they are infinite only 
in the sense that they can never be exhausted: they are 
everywhere, and for ever : but as real they are only 
here and now. Time can precede time, and space fade 
away into remoter space : but every space and every 
time is finite, defining, limiting, relative, and synthetic. 
And, if we look closer, space and time may come to 
seem the visible, ghostly, abstract outline on one 
hand stiffening and bodying-out the ideal synthesis of 
thought and intelligence, on the other, faintly repro 
ducing or fore-casting the real synthesis of organisation 
and living nature. 

In saying this we give the reasonable interpretation of 
association* : so far at least as association is supposed 
to be brought about by juxtaposition in time and space. 
Time and space, as Kant might say, give the schema 
the sensible and visible reflex of the eternal and 
universal thought-relation : they are a priori because 
they are in the physical world the primitive, the first 
phase and the lowest manifestation of that unity which as 
we know it in nature and mind always blends with sense, 
or displays itself in sensible forms. They are the first 
stamp of reality, of real Nature : with them we are in 
Nature, but it is an abstract shadowy nature. They mark 

198 PROLEGOMENA. [xvi. 

the ascent (which only from the mere logician s stand 
point shall we call the descent) of the abstract (pure) 
idea into the element of multiplicity, of opposition, of life 
and consciousness. In the psychical and intellectual 
world, again, as it rises to more perfect ideality (as it 
elicits more meaning from crude fact) they lose their 
prominence ; they sink into the powers of memory and 
imagination, which build up past and future into the 
unity of the ever present, until in their consummation 
they leave as their residual product the abstract element 
of pure thought : a thought which claims the attributes 
of universality and eternity, which claims, i. e., to merge 
or submerge in it all space and all time ] . 

It is evident therefore that if an associationist theory, 
like that of Hume, proposes to explain the actual field 
of mental life by elements given in it, and by no other, 
it can only do so on certain assumptions, which may 
be summed up in the proposition that the mind the 
real mental space and time even (and not its supposed 
image ) is at once subjective and objective, at once 
real and ideal, at once the field of operation, the force 
which directs operations, and the mind which is aware 
of itself and its acts. To say, as Hume appears to do, 
that an unintermittent long-established custom breeds in 
us certain irresistible and essential habits of thought, 
can only refer to an unexplained and unnoticed duplica 
tion of the self. There is here one self, which is only 
a bundle of fragments, of ideas intrinsically separate 
and only incidentally connected by outside pressure, 
which enter into ties, peradventure necessary or indis 
soluble, though not due to inner affinity. And there is 
another self which is a self-same unity, dividing and 
growing, or assimilating, acted upon but only because 
it solicits action, and in a way controlling the process 
1 See later, chapter xxvi. 


going on within it. The difficulty for the investigator 
is to realise that these two selves are one. No amount 
of ingenuity will ever succeed in honestly showing 
unity to be the mere resultant even should it be 
a fictitious or phenomenal unity of the collisions and 
fortuitous attachments or detachments of different and 
independent reals. The reals which behave in such 
a way as to engender unities, to cause syntheses, are 
reals in a mind ; and the mind must not merely, as it 
were, flow around them, but have them fluid members 
of itself. If they are reals, they are ideal-reals. You 
must begin with an ideal-unity which is also a real- 
unity, in which variety can play and by which it is 

Forces/ no less than things/ are terms of thought, 
names of reality indeed, but inadequate because due to 
an abstraction and leaving their correlatives out of 
sight names of momentary elements seized in the flux, 
and made with more or less success to indicate moments 
and factors or aspects in the total sum and power of 
reality. Explanation by permanent and separate forces 
labours under the same disadvantages as that by things. 
Science, grown more self-critical, begins to see that in 
forces, &c., it has names and formulae which are not 
the full reality, but only useful (if useful) abstractions. 
Neither things nor forces, though called real, are so in 
the full sense. Hume said, and said not untruly, 
though with some relish of paradox, that we never 
had any real impression or idea of power and force. 
The statement should be taken along with another 
that what we mistake for power in things is only our 
own want of power to overcome a suggested association, 
or to break a customary train of ideas. Lotze, again, 
has remarked that the supposed consciousness of power 
exerted in voluntary movement is confused with a feeling 

200 PROLEGOMENA. [xvi. 

of work done, or inertia overcome. Whatever may 
be the truth about the psychological experience, there 
can be no doubt for the epistemologist that the so- 
called perception of force is an interpretation of one 
aspect of experience which, with a certain amount of 
arbitrary arrest and simplification, renders it intelligible 
and real by means of an antithesis and correlation. 
Force in fact only exists, or arises, in relation or oppo 
sition to a counter- force : action and re-action are 
always equal and opposite, says the mathematical 
formula. Two forces are as little independent as an 
up and a down, or as a west and a north ; force solicits 
force, and force only is in so far as it is solicited. The 
soliciting can only solicit because it is solicited. In 
other words, it is not enough to say that the forces 
which thus confront each other are correlatives. The 
relationship must be carried up a stage higher : the 
forces themselves get their pseudo-real character, only 
so long as they are kept apart forcibly or by inertia. 
Carry out their implications : and they re-unite (not 
however to the loss of all distinction) in a higher idea, 
an intelligible unity which, by its division and return to 
unity, makes possible and real their contention. It is this 
carrying-out of implications to their explicit truth which 
is at the root of Schopenhauer s playing fast and loose 
with the distinction between force and will. But with him 
the two terms are taken up vague and indefinite, in the 
haze of popular conception or want of conception, and 
are without effort or justification identified : whereas 
in Hegel, there is, on the lowest estimate, an attempt 
made to trace the somewhat intricate steps which 
mediate the metamorphosis. 

The new idealism thus maintains the organic and 
even supra-organic nature of thought and being. The 
world of experience, when taken in its reality and 


fullness, is an organism which lives and knows and wills, 
and which is life, action, knowledge ; its own means 
and its own end. The subject acting, living, knowing 
is action, knowledge, life. In the ordinary organism 
there is a subject of functions, a being in relation to an 
inorganic world. In the world-organism (if the in 
adequate name is still to be retained) there is no outside 
world, no inorganic or extra-organic thing. In the 
world-organism the organ and its environment is com 
bined in one, re-united : the plant or animal is not 
without its place, and its place is not without plant or 
animal. They are not merely in correlation, but 
essentially and actually one. Quid prosunt leges sine 
moribus ? asks the moralist : but in the Absolute or 
the supra-organic Idea, law and morality are not apart : 
the necessity is also freedom : the law is not severed 
from its phenomenon. Such an organism which is 
life, thinking, will, is what Hegel calls the Idea : an 
organism which is completely organic, with no mere 
matter : and that Idea is the foundation of his Idealism. 
Conceived under its conditions, the forces which are 
sometimes represented as struggling with each other on 
the field of man s life, are no longer independent ; 
still less completely separable forces. They are the 
inner division by which the spirit re-establishes and 
makes secure its unity : their antagonisms are the 
breath of life. And they have their relations in their 
common service, building up one life. They form a 
certain hierarchy of organisation ; in which however 
the higher or more developed does not merely super 
vene upon the cruder, but in a way supersedes it, and 
yet contrives to retain its worth and its real truth. 



WHEN modern philosophy took its first steps, it was 
disdainful and depreciatory to the past, both Medieval 
and Old-Greek. Bacon and Hobbes, Descartes and 
Spinoza, be their other differences what they may 
all echo the same disparagement. Like Wordsworth s 
Rob Roy, they cry 

What need of books ? 
Burn all the statutes and their shelves. 

We ll show that we can help to frame 
A world of other stuff. 

On this iconoclastic age supervenes the attempt of 
Leibniz to combine in one all that was good in the new 
corpuscular philosophy with all that was precious in 
the old Platonic idealism as expanded by Aristotle. So, 
at the later philosophic crisis towards the close of the 
eighteenth century, the somewhat destructive and revo 
lutionary tendencies of Kant and Fichte lead up by a 
natural revulsion and complement to the reconstructive 
systems of Schelling and Hegel. In them the conser 
vative instinct comes to supplement the defects of the 
radical go-ahead. Instead of tossing the past away to 
the winds, and crying out Ecrasez rinfdme, instead of 
throwingmedievalism behind, breaking all the restrictions 
on individual liberty which feudal Europe had created 
to secure and safeguard the communities that housed its 


early freedom, the new spirit of the time saw that the 
problems of modern life were not solved by merely 
throwing overboard as encumbrances and refuse all 
checks and forms. On the contrary, the reflective 
mind saw that forms and checks so-called there must 
be, and that the art of statesmanship, though it could 
not entirely consist in copying the old, had still to work 
in some way after the analogy of the old methods : i. e. 
to do under new circumstances what would solve the 
same requisites, as the old constitution had done for its 
time. The change is well illustrated by the attitude 
towards state organisation shown by William von Hum- 
boldt at different epochs of his life. 

People talk glibly of the Historical Method, and 
what it has done for us. To hear what is sometimes 
said it might be supposed that this was the method that 
had been always habitual in history, but which in these 
latter days had been applied to other topics, and had 
proved its value on the new ground by achieving 
results that had hitherto been mere desiderata. This 
however is pretty nearly to reverse the true state of the 
case. It was long till history came to have any method 
worthy of the name. In most of those who figure as 
great historians the object had been to tell a good tale, 
to keep the thread of events distinct, to subordinate 
incidents to the main issue, to portray personal and 
public character and its influence on events. History 
was practised we may even say more as an art than 
as a science. If it dealt with causes, it dealt with 
individual, concrete, living causes, not with cold, dead 
abstractions of forces, laws, or tendencies. If it did 
not altogether ignore the suggestions of a quest for 
principles to be found in Thucydides and Polybius, it 
was much more enamoured of the art of Livy and 
Tacitus, or even of the naivete" of Herodotus. Of such 

204 PROLEGOMENA. [xvn. 

history who has not felt the power ; who has not 
admired the genius that reconstructs the men and 
circumstances of the past, and makes them live over 
again their deeds, and again in the end yield the palm 
to inevitable fate ! But it was not from such history 
that the historical method arose. 

The historical method was the product of the new 
conception of nature and mind in their mutual relations 
which has been already noted. To estimate the labours 
of thinkers towards this view of history would be an 
interesting but complex inquiry. Leibniz in particular 
by his principles of development, of continuity, of 
s general analogy, should have made two things for ever 
clear. And these two results that might have been 
supposed secure were, first, that the present existence 
(which at first seems to be alone real) is only a narrow 
transition line between a past and a future, a line of 
points intersecting a complex movement or development; 
and secondly, that all development is of something 
which is essentially infinite, which requires nothing 
external, no fillip from circumstances or from an 
external providence, to set it going, but is in itself 
a synthesis of active and passive force in a something 
at least analogous to an Ego. The first principle is 
embalmed in Leibniz s maxim : The present is laden 
with the past, and full of the future : and the second, in 
the maxim the Monads have no doors or windows. In 
virtue of the first, the existent (of this instant) is only 
a stage or grade, rooted in what has been, and insignifi 
cant unless in reference to what is to come. In virtue 
of the second, all development is from within, and pre 
supposes therefore that the developing individual in 
cludes within it a great deal which a cursory view 
would at first sight assume to be without it, and only 
accidentally in contact with it. It might indeed be well 


to add a third principle what Leibniz has sometimes 
called the Law of Continuity the law that, as he says, 
distinct and noticeable perceptions are the resultants of 
an infinite* number of insensible or little perceptions. 
But continuity proper is not this : continuity proper or 
identity is a pure idea. The visible or sensible dis 
continuity reposes on, and is to be explained by, an 
invisible or ideal continuity. Each body, for instance, 
in nature, appearing to have a separate existence of 
its own, is only a stage isolated or insulated in a con 
tinuing process : and that process, binding, as it does, 
past to future, is the process of a Mind. Onine Corpus, 
wrote Leibniz in 1671, est mens momentanea seu carens 
recordatione. Every physical and material object is an 
intelligence, but an intelligence which neither looks 
before nor after, but is limited for itself to the mere 
instant : an intelligence which has no history. Yet to 
the intelligent observer it has a past, it has a memory, 
it bears in it the traces of its antecedent. Yet to read 
that book of memory, to decipher the insensible per 
ceptions which are buried beneath the momentary 
present, beneath its unspiritual reality, and to knit 
present with past and future, is the work of an intelli 
gence, in and to whom the material discloses its store 
of meaning, or in whom it is re-spiritualised. In other 
words, the presupposition of this historical method is 
the ideal continuity of being, transcending and absorb 
ing the differences of time. 

But the teaching of Leibniz even more perhaps 
than that of Spinoza fell on an evil age : if it was not 
actually choked with thorns, it found a soil with little 
depth, and its brief verdure was soon followed by 
a fearful withering. Anxious as Leibniz was to com 
mend his theories to all men, and not least perhaps to 
win the suffrages of some illustrious and intelligent 

206 PROLEGOMENA. [xvil. 

women he was led to present them under forms and 
phrases which were to each correspondent specially 
familiar. And the natural consequence was not absent. 
The forms of accommodation were what told : they 
stuck, and the truth they were meant to convey slipped 
away : the Leibnitian theory was re-interpreted into the 
doctrines it had been meant to supersede. As with 
Spinoza, so with Leibniz, a keen apprehension of his 
meaning came first to the thinkers on the border-land 
of literature and philosophy, to Lessing and Herder, 
and found an appreciative welcome in the more academic 
systems first from Schelling and Hegel. Above all, 
this theory of petites perceptions so closely bound up 
(as was to be expected) with his mathematical discoveries 
in the Calculus, is what marks him as having a finer ear 
for the secret harmonies and principles of existence 
than the coarser organs of popular philosophy could 
catch up or appreciate. 

In order/ says Leibniz, to get a clearer idea of the 
little perceptions which we cannot distinguish in the 
crowd, I am accustomed to employ the example of the 
roar or noise of the sea which strikes us upon the shore. 
To hear this sound, as we do hear it, we must hear the 
parts which compose this total, i.e. the sounds of each 
wave, though each of these little sounds only makes 
itself perceptible in the confused assemblage of all the 
others together, (that is to say, in that same roar,) and 
would not be noticed if this wave which causes it were 
alone. For we must be a little affected by the move 
ment of that wave, and we must have some perception 
of each of these sounds, however small they may be ; 
otherwise we should never have the perception of 
a hundred thousand waves, since a hundred thousand 
zeros would never make anything. . . . These little 
perceptions are of greater efficiency by their conse- 


quences than we suppose. It is they which form that 
Je ne sais quoi, those tastes, those images of sensible 
qualities, clear in the assemblage, but confused in the 
parts ; those impressions made upon us by surrounding 
bodies which envelop the infinite, that nexus which each 
being has with all the rest of the universe. It may 
even be said that in virtue of these little perceptions the 
present is big with the future and laden with the past, 
that everything conspires together: and that in the 
least of substances, eyes as piercing as those of God 
could read the whole sequel of the things of the 

These insensible perceptions, further, mark and 
constitute the same individual, who is characterised by 
the traces or expressions which they preserve of the 
preceding states of that individual, thus forming the con 
nexion with his present state. These may be known 
by a superior spirit, though that individual himself 
should not feel them, i. e. though express memory 
should no longer be there. But these perceptions also 
supply the means of rediscovering that memory, at 
need, by periodic developments, which may one day 
happen. ... It is also by these insensible perceptions 
that I explain that admirable pre-established harmony 
of mind and body, and even of all monads or simple 
substances, which takes the place of the impossible 
influence of one upon another. . . . After this, I should 
add but little if I said that it is these small perceptions 
which determine us in many conjunctures without our 
thinking of it, and which deceive the vulgar by the 
appearance of an indifference of equilibrium, as if we 
were entirely indifferent whether we turned, e. g., to 
right or to left. 

I have remarked also that in virtue of insensible 
variations two individual things could never be per- 

208 PROLEGOMENA. [xvil. 

fectly alike, and that they ought always to differ more 
than numero. And with this we have done once for all 
with the empty tablets of the mind, a soul without 
thought, a substance without action, the void of space, 
the atoms, and even parcels not actually divided in 
matter; we have done with pure repose, entire uni 
formity in a portion of time, of place or of matter, . . . 
and a thousand other fictions of philosophers which 
come from their incomplete notions, fictions which the 
nature of things does not suffer, and which our ignorance 
and the little attention we have for the insensible lets 
pass, but which could never be rendered tolerable, 
unless we confine them to abstractions of the mind 
which protests that it does not deny what it puts aside 
and considers out of place in any present consideration. 
Otherwise, if we took it quite in earnest, to mean that 
things which we do not perceive do not exist in the soul 
or body, we should fail in philosophy as in politics by 
neglecting TO nu<p6v f insensible steps of progress : 
whereas an abstraction is not an error provided we 
know that what we put out of sight is still there. 

This was the conception which Bacon had shadowed 
out, which Leibniz had presented under many names 
and with many applications, as the olive-branch between 
Plato and Democritus ; it now became through philo 
sophical and extra-philosophic acceptance a current 
maxim in the general field of knowledge. Nature 
assimilated to history, and history assimilated to nature: 
freedom built upon necessity, and efficient causes rounded 
off, though not entirely merged, in final. It is the 
recognition of law, order, causality in the psychical 
world, yet not of mere so-called natural law ; and there 
fore without reducing it to a merely physical and 
material world. It is in fact the new method which 
is inevitable and necessary, as soon as it is manifest 


that life, organisation, development is the underlying 
truth and central notion of things. You look at the 
world at first, let us say, as a mere collection of separate 
things in varying degrees of juxtaposition : and all that 
you think of doing to them, either by way of theory 
or practice, is to put them together, to link them closer, 
or separate them more widely. You do so from outside 
by an arranging force; for they are assumed to be 
purely passive, waiting to be touched, each set in its 
place from which it can only be moved by a push 
or a pull. This is the method of mathematics or 
mechanics. It shows the dexterity of the agent or of 
the expositor : but you feel that it is artificial, and 
arbitrary. 1 1 is analytic or synthetic but not auto-analysis 
or auto-synthesis. The director of the movement (we 
may call it construction ) may no doubt have the real 
secret : he may work the things well and fairly, and 
unite or divide them according to inner affinities ; but 
we cannot, as matters stand, be sure of this. The 
things, in fact, he deals with have been already emptied 
of all life and peculiarity of their own : they are alike 
in quality, only differing by a more or less, a difference 
which at any moment may be altered by an act of 
subtraction or addition. No doubt you can build up 
what are called systems compounds of a kind in this 
way : but they do not really hang and grow together ; 
they are only prevented from breaking up by the 
absence of any empty place to which the parts may 
withdraw. Bit holds up bit ; but how all the bits have 
found themselves so caged up without exit is a mystery. 
Absolute neutrality or indifference of each part to 
others, and yet absolute equilibrium * in the total 
composite, such is the situation. 

1 Of course the term equilibrium may be used loosely to mean 
a great deal more than this, how much will depend on the context. 


210 PROLEGOMENA. [xvil. 

The chemical method (taking chemistry as a type of 
the sciences like optics, electricity, &c.) is a revelation 
of a different state of affairs. The elements of things 
are here seen to be unique and incomparable ; yet in 
each there is a latent sympathy ready to break out 
when the proper occasion arrives. Bring two things 
together, and their affinity suddenly, in the proper 
circumstances, leads to their complete fusion : a product 
arises which, when formed, hardly betrays its origin and 
composition. In a way this is the converse of the 
mechanical or mathematical method. In it was no 
fusion, no inner mixture : each part after composition 
lay beside the other, and their union was only in the 
ideas of the onlooker. It was mere juxtaposition 
still, though now closer: an abnormally keen eye 
would still have been able to descry the dividing lines 
and measure the gaps. At least mere mechanical physics 
tends so to conceive it. Here, on the contrary, there 
is union but only at the moment of fusion : once that 
is accomplished, the result is apparently simple, and 
bears no suggestion of being a compound. In the 
mechanical union the result is exactly equal to the 
sum of the elements which go to make it : in the 
chemical there is something positively new, something, 
i. e., of which the premises gave no indication and made 
no promise. 

Either of these methods, of these conceptions of 
existence works well in a certain region. But both 
of them only do their work on a certain hypothesis, 
or with a certain abstraction. The mechanical method 
supposes that objects are all qualitatively alike, differing 
only in quantity or weight : all therefore entirely com 
parable with each other, and capable of being substituted 

These quasi-mathematical analyses have great fascination : their 
apparent simplicity imposes upon us. 


for each other in an equation. Where this assumption 
holds good, the method of addition and division, the 
method of the calculus does its work . The chemical 
method works on another assumption, the assumption 
of a number of qualitatively-differenced elements, of 
elements which also are, so to speak, set on edge against 
some, and ready to leap into the arms of others. If 
the observer in the first case had the game entirely 
in his own hand, could build up and separate at his 
pleasure, could determine results a priori-, he is here 
baffled by the unexpected, and can only wait and 
watch to learn a posteriori the behaviour of the bodies 
possessed of this occult and non-predictable affinity. At 
the best he can only formulate what he observes, try 
to classify it, ascertain any common principles running 
through it, any serial recurrences, or the like : and that 
is all that chemical philosophy can achieve. Chemical 
affinity the fact that certain elements combine in certain 
ways, and refuse to enter into certain alliances is a 
great fact : but to a priori reasoning or abstract syllo 
gising it is an entire inexplicability, one of the accidents 
in the universe which must be reckoned with, but 
cannot be understood. 

It is probably evident that, if we want to get a 
comprehension of the life and concrete reality of things, 
neither of these methods will quite answer the purpose. 
With the first alone, if it could be universally carried 
out, the universe would be thoroughly explained : every- 

1 The distinction, it will be observed, lies between the method of 
mathematical physics and that of physics which has learned some 
thing from the researches of electricity or chemistry. If the method 
or principles of chemistry are thus said to be reduced to those of 
physics, this is because the conceptions of physics have been re 
volutionised from the side of chemistry, &c., and even of biology. 
This tendency of modern science is precisely in the line indicated 
by Schelling and Hegel. 

P 2 

212 PROLEGOMENA, [xvil. 

thing would be exactly equivalent to some sum or 
multiple of every other : there would be no mystery, 
nothing unique, and strictly individual. Given time, 
we could find a formula for every reality, and a predicate 
exactly fitted to any subject. Yet even mathematics 
has to confess the existence of irrationals, surds, infinite 
series, and the like. For our unities and standards 
are always arbitrary, artificial, and one-sided, and fall 
short of the subtlety of nature. Even our simpler 
types of surfaces the circle and the square remain 
irreducible to each other: and we only avoid the collision 
by the remark that practically and with any required 
amount of exactness the discrepancy between the two 
can be adjusted. If we turn to the chemical method, 
again, there is a nearer approach to actuality in the 
recognition of the presence of something more than 
mere composition and juxtaposition. It is not that 
there is something which is not juxtaposition : but rather 
it is much more than mere juxtaposition. There may 
be degrees of this something more : but it is only to 
a gross or abstract view that it is not present at all. 
Mere cohesion even shows a unity in things juxta-posed. 
Mere contact is contagious : it infects. When a violin 
has been played on frequently by a tyro/ says G. H. 
Lewes, its tone deteriorates, its molecules become 
re-arranged, so that one mode of vibration is more 
ready than another 1 . Toute impression/ he quotes 
from Delbceuf, laisse une certaine trace ineffacable/ 
So-called chemical composition is only a conspicuous 
instance, with peculiarities, of this alteration in state 
produced by what, from the mechanical standpoint, are 
called inner molecular displacements. But to recognise 
a fact is one thing : to give its explanation is another. 
Yet, on the other hand, to recognise the fact is to note 

1 Problems of Life and Mind, iii. p. 58. 


an important point which had been omitted by the 
mechanical construction of things. There the result 
could hardly be called new : it was exactly equal to its 
constituent elements : and the equation was transparent. 
And it was transparent because the whole process, 
analysis and synthesis, was not a work or process of the 
observed thing, but the work of the observing mind : 
it makes the (artificial) unities, numbers them, and adds 
them or subtracts. But with the chemical result, though 
it also is equal to its elements, there is something 
new. Water, no doubt, is oxygen and hydrogen, but 
here, at least, there is no doubt that the plus sign 
unduly simplifies the relationship, and rather indicates 
or represents a nexus than accurately defines it. And 
yet, there is nothing in water which was not, in some 
shall we say mysterious ? way, in the oxygen and the 
hydrogen. Chemical physics, therefore, brings out 
clearly, or comparatively clearly, something which the 
ordinary and coarser simplicity-loving theory is obliged 
and is able to neglect : it realises the virtue that lies 
in juxtaposition, and shows that the mere outer change 
of quantity goes with a deeper inward and qualitative 
one. The result does more than sum up and condense 
what was spread out in extension and dispersed in 
parts before : it brings out or reveals something which 
previously was unsurmised. Always, in a liberal 
interpretation of the maxim, it is true that Ex nihilo 
nihil fit: but here, especially, the effect actually dis 
closes what was but was latent or unperceived in the 
premises. The maxim, to be fairly treated, must be 
read backwards as well as forwards. 

But we must go a step further if we wish the full 
explanation. If the premises are to be adequate to 
support the conclusion, they must be restated in terms 
which hint at the conclusion which in a way contain 

214 PROLEGOMENA. [xvil. 

it, but contain it in potentiality and promise, not in 
act. This is the method of development, which is the 
method that is applicable to full concrete reality, not 
like the others to parts abstracted from or insulated 
in reality. So long as you deal with these selected 
bits of fact abstracted from their surroundings, subject 
to strict observation or strict experiment, you can apply 
a comparatively simple and straightforward method. 
You are dealing with abstracted, mutilated, prepared 
fact. You are guided in these cases by the canons 
of identity and difference : you add and subtract, or 
subtract and add ; and that is all. You use what are 
called the rules of experimental method. But these 
canons do not directly apply except by happy acci 
dent to the real world, where antecedent and con 
sequents are not separate and tabulated, as the logical 
canons, the rules of formal logic, require. In dealing 
with this concrete reality, a much more complex method 
is needed, a method which has to blend induction with 
deduction, and to start from both ends in the series 
of causation at once. You can apply observation or 
experiment, only when the issues have already been 
extremely simplified and narrowed down : when the 
question has been rendered so definite that it is next-door 
to the answer, and the removal of a slight partition-wall 
will as it were make the two one clear space. Where 
observation and experiment are available, indeed, is 
where the general outlines and principles of the subject 
are settled, where the scheme of reality is defined in 
large, but a variety of minor issues still remains to 
be settled. Unless this general framework is fixed, 
neither observation nor experiment, with their canon 
of identity and difference, are of any avail. These 
methods, therefore, only apply in sciences which are 
in principle or substantially complete, though admitting 


of possibly infinite extension in details and particulars. 
Where the science is yet to constitute, i. e. in dealing 
with the kinds of real things in their completeness, 
and not as viewed in some definite aspect, induction 
and deduction must go hand in hand and help each 
other at every step : and if they, as they must, have 
recourse to experiment and observation, it will be at 
first in a very unsatisfactory and tentative way. 

Such is the way the contrast between the simplicity 
belonging to an artificial method dealing with picked 
instances, and the complexity that real concrete organic 
nature demands, presented itself to J. S. Mill as he 
advanced in his inquiry. The only complete method 
for the investigation of unsophisticated nature, not yet 
mapped out and defined in general departments, is the 
deductive-inductive method in which induction and 
deduction separately have a subordinate place, using 
induction in the narrow sense the term has been 
hitherto allowed to bear. And that sense, it may be 
added, is, as in some passages of Aristotle, little else 
than a reverse of syllogism, or to speak more accu 
rately, it is a syllogism which goes up to generals instead 
of descending from them. It is like the syllogistic 
deduction formal and abstract in character. The 
(deductive) syllogism assumes the existence of major 
premises of general propositions which in the last 
resort, if they are real bases, must be primary and true, 
or self-evident facts. But a critic, like Mill, had little 
difficulty in showing that a general truth rests upon 
and presupposes the very particular conclusions which 
it is used to establish. Unless every singular is true, 
the universal which embraces or unifies them cannot 
really be true. Therefore the conclusion is really im 
plied and presupposed in the principles of its premises. 
But, unfortunately for the application and supposed 

2 1 6 PR OLE GO MEN A . [xvil. 

sequel of this not unjust remark, a similar remark may 
be made on the ordinary exposition of the inductive 
method. Induction, it is said, infers from or on a basis 
of single facts. But if a single truth is really, i. e. 
unconditionally true, it is indistinguishable from the 
universal. If it is really true once, it is true for ever. 
The assertion of the individual proposition as true, if it 
can be supported (and unless it be true, what basis 
can it afford for the general conclusion ?) implies the 
truth of the universal it is sometimes used to establish. 
The inductive logician tells us to build on singular and 
definite facts, on truths of definite and individual expe 
rience: but a definite or determinate truth rests upon 
universality (indeed is a universal), and cannot be 
found unless we have already found the special total 
or organism of truth in which it forms a part. Indi 
viduals and universals presuppose each other, and do 
not, as the first impression leads us to think, stand 
apart as two unconnected termini, from either of which, 
if we happen to be so located, we can without road or 
railway make a legitimate passage to the other. 

If it be urged, as it may naturally be, that on this 
showing there is no solid or absolute* starting-point at 
all, the contention may be conceded. The only fixed 
and steady points in knowledge are points hypotheti- 
cally fixed, certified, that is, for the time and in the 
circumstances we employ them. But in the open field 
or rather in the wilderness of knowledge, where 
the ground of fact is not staked off, and the unexpected 
may always turn up, the only test of truth is the 
corroboration given by the consilience of paths initiated 
from different points : it is only by an undesigned 
coincidence in the results of independent operations 
that you can succeed in orienting yourself. You begin 
your road at two ends, and you meet: you locate or 


fix your point by drawing its co-ordinates to two direc 
tion-lines taken anyhow at first, and only in formed 
science diverging at a fixed angle. And in the abso 
lute your direction-lines cannot be supposed fixed : you 
can only gradually adjust them to each other as you 
proceed. Intelligence, says Aristotle, is a principle, 
a beginning ; and intelligence, he says again, supplies 
beginnings 1 . Science, in the technical sense, only 
comes into operation, or, in other words, deduction 
and (in the narrower sense used by Mill, and proceed 
ing by pure observation and experiment) induction only 
find a way, where beginnings and principles have been 
set up, where an approximate order or provisional 
system has been established. And if logic, in its 
stricter sense, is the method of sciences already made 
and in their essentials constituted, then logic can be 
asked to do no more than to provide a theory of such 
formal processes. If it traces the path which leads 
from the known to the unknown/ if it always proceeds 
on the hypothesis of a given knowledge, then such 
induction or deduction (from certain and approved 
singular facts, or from certain and approved general 
truths) fully satisfies the practical need of the scientific 
reasoner. But if Logic be, as it sometimes is, and may 
very reasonably be, taken in the wider sense of an 
epistemology, a theory of the nature and origin of 
knowledge as a whole, and not of mere inference or 
syllogism ; if it does not merely ask how we can satis 
factorily get from one piece of knowledge (we are 
supposed to have) to another (not yet supposed to be), 
but how we come to have knowledge at all ; then its 
problem must go behind the rudiments of vulgar induc 
tion and deduction. It must ask what, so far as one 
can see, Mill and his mere followers have never seriously 

1 Eth. vii. 7 o vovs apxn 6. 6 vovs kar>. ru 

218 PROLEGOMENA. [xvn. 

asked at all what induction is, what are its relations 
with deduction, and what is the place of either in the 
process of knowledge. And as the process of know 
ledge is the path to reality, it must also ask about the 
nature of this goal, reality and truth. It is all very 
well for the narrower Logic to formulate in terms the 
methods actually employed in sciences : to state in 
abstract canons what is there seen in life and action. 
But a Science of Logic an epistemology (and a genuine 
epistemology cannot claim to be anything short of an 
ontology) must face the fact of science itself must 
ask how the ideas of the knower must or otherwise 
they are not knowledge embrace and contain the 
reality of the known. The other and narrower Logic 
is and will remain a theory of forms of reasoning 
a transcript in fainter terms of the procedure of science 
in any given step it takes upward to generals or down 
ward to particulars : but the logic which deals with 
knowledge as such, in its systematic entirety, the 
transcendental Logic, in short, must have a real value, 
an invincible relation to reality. The formal Logic 
the logic of Mill and Hamilton must be carried back 
to its principles, to its first step : and that first step 
which will also be the last step, and the inspiring 
principle of every intermediate step, is that of Intelli 
gence (Aristotle s Nous), of which the products or 
manifestations are Xo yot, i. e. definite conceptions, cate 
gories, formulations of rules and principles of definite 
range, determinations or special types of unity. 

Mill really faced the problem of method to better 
effect when he came to deal with a class of questions in 
which he was really interested, and which moreover 
have for epistemological purposes the advantage of 
being as yet unreduced into the rank and file of dis 
ciplined science. These questions are those dealing 


with man, his mental and moral nature, and history. 
Even its advocates or patrons occasionally admit that 
there is no accepted idea of what Sociology is or does. 
Its name at least expresses a longing towards a unity, 
or a presentiment that there is some underlying unity 
and common method in the group of what are loosely 
called the moral, or the historical, or the social and 
political sciences. But sociology is, as most people 
will allow, the name of a science unrealised the felt 
and consciously-apprehended need of a science, and 
the dissatisfaction with the existing state of knowledge 
in certain departments. And undoubtedly it was with 
problems of social science, problems of politico- 
economic and socio-ethical or socio-religious matters, 
that Mill s interests were mainly engaged. Like his 
master in this department, Auguste Comte, he wanted 
to carry into the topics which he was chiefly bent upon 
that scientific precision which they by pretty general 
admission lacked, and which revolutionary movements 
had shown they greatly needed. But he could not 
help seeing that the induction* of dynamics and 
physics was not exactly the instrument he was in search 
of. Theory and hypothesis here demanded a much 
larger share in the process than in the more mathe 
matical sciences. Causes and effects in reality here 
rolled round into each other, instead of remaining 
calmly fixed, one set here, and the other there. Of 
course even here i. e. in organic and concrete sciences 
it is possible to introduce observation and experi 
ment, no doubt, with greater effort and constraint, but 
still not altogether impracticable. But the artificial 
and mutilative character of such experimentation is 
felt here in a way different from its pressure in other 
cases. And what is more important, to institute an 
experiment or set on foot a scientific observation (and 

220 PROLEGOMENA. [xvn. 

to observe means to watch a definitely restricted natural 
process with a view to answer some question about it), 
presupposes as we have already seen a tolerably 
definite provisional theory as to the general lie of the 
country to be investigated. Only when the country 
has been reasonably well mapped out in provinces and 
provided with some system of roads, can these problems 
of detail questions to be answered Yes or No be 
profitably put. And it is in some parts of the historical 
sciences at least somewhat premature to put questions 
requiring a categorical reply. There is only the vague 
malaise of felt difficulty to guide us. We do not, in 
many cases, know what it is that we want to know ; for, 
it demands a good deal of wisdom and trained art to 
put the proper or reasonable question, so much so, 
indeed, that to succeed in formulating your question 
fully is equivalent or nearly equivalent to being able to 
answer it. The value of observations and experiments 
which are ways of putting nature to the question and 
it may be to the torture depends entirely upon the 
knowledge and the command of general ideas possessed 
by the observer and experimenter. And the same may 
be said of the reduced and tabulated conspectuses of 
the results of many observations and experiments which 
are called Statistics. Their value depends on the truth 
and breadth of view which presided at their collection 
and arrangement . 

The historical or genetic method is the method of 

1 Statistics only define and primarily for the imagination the 
general laws and principles on which they rest. The clear-cut 
mathematical form strikes and catches on, where a more universal 
statement sounds vague and glides off. Hence, as one says, they 
may prove anything. The fact is, they prove nothing. They only 
illustrate in diagrammatic form the theory which presided at their 
collection. To emphasise the fundamental nature of ethics for human 
development you need only say that conduct is three-fourths or 


Science in general, but considered and employed under 
a limited aspect. And under its more comprehensive 
aspect it may be called though no name is unimpeach 
ablethe method of development. Now the essence 
of the idea of development as was clearly shown by 
Leibniz is the refusal to admit external interference, 
and the resolve to let a thing explain itself by itself. 
It does not, like the mechanical method, manipulate 
the thing from outside try to add it up out of factors 
or items fashioned and fabricated after some external 
standard. Nor does it, like the chemical, look at the 
result as an inexplicable alteration, due apparently to 
a mere stroke of combination or disintegration yet not 
obviously reducible to a mere equivalent of its ele 
ments. On the contrary, it recognises in the object 
a certain independence or originality, yet also the 
presence of an immanent law which does not wait for 
the outsider to put it together, but constructs itself, 
as it were, after a plan of its own. There is in the 
so-called object, though we do not at first sight recog 
nise it, the same originative principle both analytic and 
synthetic, as we own in thought. The object is in 
a true logic a process, a self-completing process, and 
not merely an object, mechanical, or other object. It 
changes, grows or decays, while we observe, unless for 
brief instants we cut it off from its connexions and 
arrest its development. And our observation, if truly 
scientific, must be sympathetic with its process of 
change. It is neither a mere thing to be explained and 
construed ab extra : nor a mystery of sudden trans 
formation to be passively accepted ; but a growth, 
a history, to be sympathetically watched and under 
stood, understood, because it follows the same order 

(as to some minds the precision rises with the denominator of the 
fraction) $ of human life. 

222 PROLEGOMENA. [xvil. 

as the movement of our own thought in the process of 
knowledge. Similia similibus cognoscuntur^ . 

One sometimes hears it asked by paradoxical critics 
at which end a history should begin. And to ordinary 
dogmatic recklessness, paradoxical the question may 
well seem. Begin at the beginning, no doubt, is the 
vulgar reply ; which in this case is understood to mean 
from the earliest point in date (that, of course, being 
easily ascertained, and a thing known to all men). 
But, so Plato long ago well raised the difficulty which 
will always confront us, are we to go from the begin 
nings, or towards the beginnings ? And it does not 
quite solve the question to say that we are to begin 
with what is known : for under that word the same 
difficulty re-appears. Can you really know one end 
without the other ? To the vulgar partisan of historical 
method, its precept means Go to the earlier, if you wish 
to understand the meaning, the value, and the elements 
constitutive of the later and subsequent. Begin with 
origins, with the earliest elements, the phases that first 
appear ; and thus you will get light to see the later as 
they really stand. That this is a common interpretation 
of the historical method is notorious. To explain 
Homo sapiens, one is told to study the ape, the 
nearest analogue of his lost or missing progenitor : to 
understand the contemporary horse, go to eohippus, 
or hipparion, or however his early prototype may be 

1 The resolute misinterpretation as it often seems of the maxim 
that like is known by like, is a curious chapter in the history of 
Logic. All knowledge is based upon, or, to speak more simply, is 
the identity of differents : of differents, which in knowledge are 
identified, of identity which in knowledge is put under difference. 
And yet the ordinary meaningless talk on this matter seems to 
assimilate knower and known to two separate things (or persons^, 
who casually and, we may add, inexplicably know each other : which 
is mythology, perhaps, but not epistemology. 


at present named and recognised. And in all this there 
is a truth or least a half-truth. But let us equally 
recognise the other half of the truth. If past throws 
light on present, present throws not less light on past. 
You propose, let us say, to write a history of Greece. 
A wordy philosophy, wise in its own conceit and in fine 
phrases, will advise you to approach the subject without 
prepossession or prejudice. So far, good. But what 
is meant by the absence of prepossession or prejudice ? 
Not a blank openness to impression, not a mere pas 
sivity ; but if passivity at all, a wise passivity : if open 
ness, the openness of the trained judge. 

The advice, so often associated with Francis Bacon, 
to get rid of all false pre-conceptions, of all idola, is one 
which it is easy to mistake in an over-zeal to follow it. 
That mere negation of prejudices which we call childish 
innocence is no match for the craft by which Nature 
seeks to keep or disguise her secrets. The free con 
sciousness, the unbiassed mind, is not the easy result 
of one great act of renunciation, but the work of con 
tinued self-discipline, self-conquest, self-realisation. If 
you are not to impose upon the thing a pre-conception 
alien to it, neither must you rashly give yourself away 
to the thing, or to the first whims which accident puts 
upon you as the thing. What seems a fact or thing is 
only a candidate for the post of thing or fact : and its 
credentials need to be examined, and compared with 
other evidences. To detect a fact, therefore, is only 
possible for a tried and tested consciousness which by 
patience and self-mastery has won the key of interpre 
tation. What Bacon apparently meant though, as 
often happens, in his eagerness to combat a prevailing 
folly, he sometimes overshot himself in statement was 
to insist on the eternal wedlock of the mind and things, 
of things and the mind, as the sole and sufficient 

224 PROLEGOMENA. [xvil. 

condition for the reality of knowledge and truth. The 
mind may not presume to do without things, or things 
to domineer the mind ; or the result is a windy and 
frothy vanity. And the wedlock is eternal : in his own 
eloquent words, the mind itself is but an accident to 
knowledge 1 / an d he might have added, so also are 
things : for, as he says, the truth of being and the truth 
of knowing is all one : only in the bond of knowledge 
are things true and real, being otherwise only perma 
nent possibilities/ or possibilities barely even permanent 
or not even possibilities. Yet he scarcely realised that 
his due rejections and exclusions and negations were 
a fundamental constitutive element in those facts of 
which he habitually emphasises only the positive side. 

He therefore who would understand or would write 
the history of Greece must really in his studies 
begin at both ends both at the Greece of to-day, and 
at the Greece of Solon, or what earlier period may be 
taken as the start of Greek history. With perhaps the 
least qualified dogmatism, one may assert that he will 
begin with the Greece of to-day ; or if he deals solely 
with Ancient Greece he will begin with the full blaze of 
Hellenic civilisation which still has a pale reflection in 
the modern world, and gradually work back to the 
beginnings. It is no doubt customary to begin Greek 
history, say, with the Homeric Age, and work down 
wards, as it is customary to begin a formal treatise on 
geography with the general features of the earth s 
shape and surface. But that beginning represents 
really the temporarily accredited and accepted result 
of a process which, starting from the other end, 
has worked backwards to commencements or origins. 

1 Bacon : In Praise of Knowledge (a mere leaflet of much sig 
nificance towards estimating his true grandeur). On the Conjugium 
of Mens and Universus see Novum Orgcinum, distrib. op. 


And the teacher, in particular, will do well not to 
imitate too slavishly the method of the formal treatise. 
A day may come or may have come for example, 
for Greek history to start from periods long anterior 
to the supposed or traditional date of the wars around 
the wall of Troy. But when it does so, it will have 
done so by more thoroughly ransacking the Greece of 
to-day : and so disclosing the secrets of what is termed 
pre-historic Greece. Then, conversely, when modern 
diggings on Greek soil reveal the features of an earlier 
than what was erewhile to older historians its earliest 
past, the reconstruction of that early people s life 
reflects a new light on the directions and the limitations 
of its subsequent civilisation. We see better into the 
reality of Homer, and even of Demosthenes into their 
ideal glory and their historical limitations, when we 
explore the cradle in which their race s life was erst 
fostered, and the rock out of which they and nature 
hewed them. And this is no peculiarity of Greece. 
The deepest research into the social institutions which 
control the England of to-day is the best propaedeutic 
for the study of Anglo-Saxon times ; and the same is 
true vice versa. 

Nor, again, is the truth of the proposition confined 
to what we ordinarily mean by history. The Greek 
poet has said Art had to wait on and welcome chance, 
and chance to wait on Art : or as we may paraphrase 
it, if every invention and discovery is in a measure 
a lucky chance, it is a luck that only falls to the wisely 
prepared head and hand. The casual event falls as 
a germ of new construction or theory only on an intelli 
gence ready to welcome it, prepared with its complement 
in the spirit of an idea, eager to take shape. The means 
again, in the arts and crafts, is not only a means to 
something else ; it is also a means to its own end, 


226 PROLEGOMENA. [xvil. 

to realise or perfect itself. The rude tool of the savage, 
for instance, is not merely a means to supply his wants : 
it is also a means towards completing and improving 
itself, and towards perfecting itself by constructing an 
ampler tool, which supersedes it, because it can do all 
and more than all the work of the earlier, or can do it 
more economically. All progress that deserves the 
name is an incessant and continuous revision of a first 
step : a re-adaptation of an old instrument : a repeated 
and unending self-correction. It is only a partially- 
true symbol of human advance to speak of it as a line : 
unless we add, by another piece of symbolism, that the 
line is only the protracted or extended phase in which 
the form of time drags out for us the magnified and 
organised point-nucleus. It is a truth which we are 
only too ready to forget or discount that the savage 
(and he bears with justice both epithets, the noble 
savage/ and the brute barbarian ) is not something 
left happily behind us, in the onward march of civilisa 
tion ; but that he is, however much we may fancy him 
suppressed and superseded, still present, at least 
ideally in the finest products of humanity, and may 
hap only too likely as the Russian is said, when 
scratched, to betray his original Tartar breed to burst 
out on provocation into a grim reality. The Pullman 
car of to-day retains within it for the archaeologically- 
trained eye the rudiments of the primitive wain of the 
primitive nomade : and the careful study of either end 
of the scale will not merely throw a marvellous light on 
the excellencies or the defects of the other, but will 
probably also tend in the impartial observer to moderate 
the self-gratulations of modern advance. For it is only 
those whose view ranges within narrow limits that are 
over-impressed by the magnitude of the advance made 
in the last new thing. 


If progress were but the addition of bit to bit, of new 
bits to what is already there, or if we could change 
this, and leave that unchanged, as the word perhaps 
verbally means, and as many people at any rate seem 
to understand it, progress might indeed seem an easy 
thing, and to be undertaken with a light heart. For, it 
would appear as if we could lose nothing, and might 
probably (indeed, as enthusiasm and forgetfulness of 
the merits of the past are in certain periods ready to 
urge, must certainly) gain. But it is a more serious 
matter when we realise that we must move altogether, 
if we really are to move at all ; i. e. really are to make 
progress, and not merely change, so to speak, from one 
foot to rest on another. For progress, if it be what it is 
expected to be, and what it must be if it does what it is 
expected to do is an organic, and not merely a me 
chanical or chemical change. A mechanical change is 
only a nominal or formal change : a chemical is more 
than change ; but in organic change, that which changes 
also abides, and the new is not merely other than the 
old, and not merely a re-arrangement of the old, but the 
old transmuted, the same yet not the mere same 1 . 
Progress in short is always the unity of differentiation 
and integration. It must not be an externality, nor 
a mere dead product of a transformation scene, but 
a continuous growth, inwardly digested, made part and 
parcel of the collective life, which it has thereby 
rendered more full, real, and not merely made less 
intense at the cost of some extension. In true progress, 
which is only another name for true growth, nothing is 
quite lost, but only changed, retained in a richer shape 
and a fuller reality. How far such progress is possible, 

1 The said mere same is not really the same at all. Nobody in his 
senses predicates sameness except where he also sees differences : 
or, the term always implies relation. 

Q 2 

228 PROLEGOMENA. [xvil. 

except in limited and finite spheres : how far progress 
in one involves necessarily deterioration in another 
and how, therefore, progress is not attributable to the 
Absolute, are questions we need not here discuss. 
But so far at least we may go as to say that a progress 
which does not follow the natural law of development 
and carry on into the future the worth and substance 
of the past, is not a progress which any general en 
thusiasm ought to be spent upon. 

Development then has two faces, one to the future 
and another to the past. And what is called the 
historical method is apt to emphasise only one of the 
two aspects, just as, it may be added, practical con 
siderations are often likely to produce an opposite 
but equally partial bias in favour of the future. The 
historical method in incapable hands is liable to lead to 
unprofitable sighs, not unaccompanied by a certain 
luxury of tears over the lowly hole of the pit it may 
even be the filth and brutishness, out of which so much 
of noble humanity (for thither the interest of develop 
ment always reverts) has been dug ; and in empty heads 
the practical, the vulgarly-utilitarian satisfaction is liable 
to equally vain fits of self-applause on our magnificent 
progress. But both the self-depreciation of him who 
loiters regretfully round the beggarly rudiments, and 
the self-laudation of glorious improvements looking 
derisively on less glorious days, are unworthy of the 
reasonable and scientific spirit. The philosophical 
method does not allow itself to be imposed upon by the 
lapse of time, and insists that in a sense the past 
contained the present that, as the poet says, the child 
is father of the man. Not indeed contained in any 
grosser or more delicate mechanical way. The coming 
development does not necessarily lie prefigured if we 
had the proper microscope to see it as a germ in the 


first and original state. That may be, or may not be. 
Yet prefigured it is by the law of its structure, or in 
the intelligible unity by which only can its existence 
be understood and construed. 

But if this be the method of real development, in the 
growth of nature, and the progress of history, it is also 
the method of that supreme product of historical pro 
gress, the spirit and system of philosophy. Thought, 
also, the culminating stage in which the spirit of man 
becomes conscious of itself and of its universe, will 
move or grow on the same lines as that of which it is 
the comprehension and theory. It will begin at the two 
ends, and each beginning will complete and presuppose 
the other. Nature will suppose and yet lead up to 
Spirit or Mind : Spirit or Mind will throw light on the 
mystery of Nature : Being will point to knowledge or 
Idea ; and Idea show itself the basis of Being. Or, 
if we consider the triple division of the philosophic 
system, as it runs in Hegel s Encyclopaedia, we can 
see how misleading it may be to take that one order as 
absolute. To understand it thoroughly we must begin 
with each of the three in turn : so as thus to realise 
that each does not except figuratively succeed the other, 
but that in each an aspect of the whole truth is pre 
sented which had been put by the other parts somewhat 
in the background. In each part there is a definition 
and a revelation of the Absolute. But each is also, as it 
were, a projection, a perspective view, a condensed or 
expanded image of the other. In each the Absolute is 
one and whole, in some more veiled, more restricted, 
and more meagre than in others ; but the veil, and the 
restriction, and the emptying, are self-imposed : and for 
that reason the veil is really transparent, the restriction is 
negatived, and the emptying is not only a self-humilia 
ting but a self-ennobling irony the irony of the Absolute 



THE difference between the conceptions of reality 
held by Aristotle and Plato respectively is that where 
Plato said Being, Essence or Substance (<>vaia\ Aristotle 
said Activity (eWpytia). To be is to act, to be active. 
To the outsider the plain man of philosophic legend, 
it seems at first that a thing must be before it can do : 
that you must have an agent before you get an action. 
And, in a way, Aristotle admits this not quite satisfac 
tory criticism. Every activity presupposes, he allows, 
a power to act, a potentiality : every actual presupposes 
an implicit or a mere possibility. Existence seems, 
as it were, to be doubled ; or the mere surface-being is 
turned into a subject which has a predicate. But if 
the existence is to be real, it has to include both 
elements, and with the latter or the actuality, as its 
crown. Nor is this all. The possibility which issues 
forth in action may be fairly called self-realisation. 
That is to say: A the hypothetical agent acts, does 
sor" ?thing : and in so doing, seems to go forth and 
beyond itself, to externalise itself. Or, A is acted upon, 
and thus seems to be diminished. But what it ex 
ternalises, or puts forth, is after all what it ts : it puts 
forth itself: and, on the other hand, if it be a patient, 
it is no less an agent and self-limitative. What a 


thing really is, is what it makes itself be : what it allows 
itself to be made, that it really is. Yet further, if the 
word self-realisation be taken in its fullness of meaning, 
if there be really a self, and it be realised, then this 
self-realisation, which is the truth or more developed 
conception of being, seems to imply or postulate in it a 
self-consciousness, an awareness of the process of com 
pleted being, completed in its return from utterance of 
possibility to self-fruition or in its re-assumption of itself. 
To us, of course, as beings aware of what we do and 
achieve, this is simple enough : but it is also true of 
things, that we only understand them, in so far as we 
put them in, or invest them with, the same activity and 
apperception of activity as we are familiar with in our 
own experience. The veriest materialist cannot help 
speaking of things as agents, as behaving, as having 
a function. He would, no doubt, if he were to be 
cross-examined, refuse to identify himself with the 
primitive anthropomorphism, or at least zoomorphism of 
the natural man who sees the river run and the clouds 
sweep the sky; and he would probably mutter some 
thing referring to people who cannot see when they 
ride a metaphor to death. Still less, perhaps, would he 
be inclined to adopt the spiritualistic or animistic hypo 
thesis of philosophising physicists, like Fechner, who 
would accredit even the plants at our feet, and the stars 
in the sky, with souls, or soul-like centres of their life. 
But, however he may shrink from what we may call 
the ontological consequences of his language, there is 
no doubt that for him the meaning of the world -its 
reality and truth, is obtained by an interpretation in 
terms which, rigidly employed, imply their environment 
by a self-consciousness to which they are relative. 
Take from him the tacit assumption (which he often 
finds it difficult to realise just because it is the founda- 

232 PROLEGOMENA. [xvin. 

tion of all his language) that reality is in the last resort 
a self-conscious reality, and his words become meaning 
less, or what he might think worse, metaphorical. 

To Bacon, who, though not without a strong specu 
lative impulse, approached philosophic dicta from the 
standpoint of an average intelligent Englishman (and 
it is on that account that his remarks are often so 
instructive), it seemed a grave fault of the Stagirite to 
define the soul, that most noble substance/ by words 
of the second intention. Without substance a solid 
something as basis of act and event the reality of the 
soul seemed likely to fare badly. Behind conscious 
ness he, like many others, felt there must be a some 
thing of which consciousness is the state, act, or pre 
dicate and attribute. The thinking must come from 
a thinker. There must be a permanent subject of 
thought a persistent substance which does not dis 
appear when thinking for the nonce stops. And think 
ing is according to common experience very liable to 
stops and interruptions. Both Bacon and Locke felt 
that without this refuge to fall back upon, personal 
identity was in a bad way, or personality itself little 
better than a delusion. And therefore when Aristotle, 
and his modern followers, treated soul and mind as 
essentially definable by the terms activity, self-realisa 
tion, it has been freely urged against them that they 
are tampering with the pearl of great price which 
all our hopes and aspirations fondly guard. 

And this is a subject on which there is inevitably 
a good deal of misunderstanding. And the misunder 
standing will probably last so long as one set of writers 
flaunts over it that blessed word Personality as a 
holy, a sacrosanct thing, like the visionary cross with 
its inscription In hoc signo vinces : and as another set 
treats it as a mere fetish, under which is hidden nothing 

xvili.] PERSONALITY. 233 

better than stock or stone, or a heap of old bones. 
Perhaps some concessions might well be made on 
both sides. And the first of them would be to try to 
come to some clearer understanding what the term 
in question means. And, on that point, if we follow 
the example of Aristotle and examine popular usage, 
to see if it can help us to any consistent use of the term, 
we shall find that by personal as opposed to real we 
mean something peculiarly attached to the individual, 
of which he cannot divest himself as of other outward 
things, though it also is an outward thing 1 . The person 
in this narrowest sense means the body ; and if the 
epithet is further extended it still expresses what is 
directly manipulated through the members of the living 
agent, and is more or less closely attached to it. Yet 
if it means the body, we must be careful to add that 
it is the body, regarded not as such but as the 
representative, the outward manifestation, the insepar 
able sign or symbol of a spirit, an intelligence and 
a will. The person is the visible or tangible pheno- 
menon of something inward, the phase or function 
by which an individual agent takes his place in the 
common world of human intercourse and interaction 
his peculiar and definite part in the general or universal 
world and field. 

Personality thus mingles or unifies in it an universal 
and an individual aspect or element : it hints that the 
universal work always has in reality an individually- 
determinate tone, that nothing in the world, even if 
it be called the same, is really and actively the same. 
Si duo idem faciunt, non est idem quod faciunt. Thus, 

1 The legal use of the distinction between real and personal is 
only partly logical/ and largely retains traces of the larger logic of 
life and history. Yet, roughly speaking, personal property is what 
we can, so to speak, carry on our backs or in our pockets. 

234 PROLEGOMENA. [xviil. 

what separates personality from individuality is simply 
that in the narrower or abstracter use of the latter term 
there is an absence of the due subordination of all 
individuality to universality, and of all universality to 
individuality. Personality, in short, is an individuality 
which is not a mere freak, not merely different from 
other things, but also in itself charged with a universal 
meaning or function. Yet even this is not enough 
to describe it. It is the individuality of an intelligence : 
the flesh and blood, and, in a secondary degree, the 
outward things, stamped with intelligence. Every 
member of a kind, every natural existence, has this 
double character; this convergence or union of universal 
and individual. In being this individual object, it is at 
the same time a universal, and vice versa. But in the 
attribution of personality there is involved something 
beyond what is common to all creatures. And that 
something, we may first of all say, is this. Whereas in 
the case of other things the individuality is distinctly 
subordinate, and each is reckoned primarily by its kind, 
in the case of persons we can almost declare that the 
universality is subordinate to the individuality. This 
union of individuality and universality in a single 
manifestation, with the implication that the individuality 
is the essential and permanent element to which the 
universality is almost in the nature of an accident, is 
what forms the cardinal point in Personality. And one 
can understand, when the distinction is thus put, the 
obvious and palpable antagonism in which the view 
stands to the central principles of Spinoza . 

1 See Spinoza, Cogitata Metaph., Pars II. cap. 8: Nee fugit nos 
vocabulum (Personalitatis scilicet) quod theologi passim usurpant ad 
rem explicandam : verum quamvis vocabulum ncn ignoremus eius 
tamen significationem ignoramus : quamvis constanter credamus, in 
visione Dei beatissima Deum hoc suis revelaturum. For Hegel, it 

xvill.] PERSONALITY. 235 

We speak of a man as a Personality when we wish 
to note the fact that he is no mere manufactured article, 
the representative of a common type, with nothing to 
choose between him and a thousand others, but that he 
is, as it were, one of a thousand, one Whom nature 
printed and then broke the type, that he has in the 
highest sense distinction/ the nobility of nature s own 
patent. Other things exist, so to speak, for the sake of 
their kind, and for the sake of other things ; a person, 
in the strictest sense, is never a mere means to some 
thing beyond, but always at the same time an end in 
itself or himself. Other things are mere examples in 
illustration of a law that rides superior to them and over 
rules them : the person is a law unto himself. He has 
the royal and divine right of creating law of starting 
by his exception a new law which shall henceforth 
be a canon and a standard. For in such a personality 
when he claims his full rights there is the visible 
immanence of the divine and universal or there is 
the visible unity of the eternal and the temporal. He 
rules as the natural king, the great ruler whose judg 
ment and authority are better than the complex code 
of common laws : he guides as the artistic genius who 
sees truth steadily in a single intuition and in that 
single picture sees it whole l . 

But when we ask if such a personality is found in the 
field of actual experience and history, there arises a 

may be noted, Person, so far as he uses the term at all, bears its 
restricted legal and juridical sense. A person is a free intelligence, 
which realises that independence by appropriating an external thing 
as its sign and property. It probably belongs therefore to a world 
in which people count rather by what they have than by what they 
are ; the world of law where rights and duties tend to oppose each 
other. This is not the highest kind of world for human beings. 

1 This one may call the Platonic ideal of the State, where Equity 
rules supreme in the incarnate spirit of wisdom, a guide adapting 

236 PROLEGOMENA. [xviil. 

divergence of opinions. It is at any rate matter of 
common experience that there is a good deal of unjusti 
fied identification of the self with the universal identi 
fication in which the universal suffers violence and is 
taken by force. There are only too often cases where 
the personal interest is allowed to disguise itself under 
a semblance of zeal for the common good, and that 
even without conscious intent or act of deception. No 
good and noble deed, Hegel has said, can ever be done 
without faith in its goodness, and zeal for its attain 
ment : without a holy passion and fervour of devotion, 
which exceeds the cold service of duty rendered for 
duty s sake \ But it is equally true and equally to be 
remembered that this interference of personal passion 
and disinterested interest has defaced the noblest causes 
and made flow endless torrents of fanaticism and per 
secution. A personality in which the universal was 
perfectly incarnated in the individual would be in truth 
a God amongst men. And it is probably a more likely 
occurrence that where the individual as such arrogates 
to himself the privilege of the universal, there should be 
seen not the deeds of the god, but the ebullitions of the 
beast that is in man. 

A personality, then, in popular language, and per 
haps also in popular philosophy, is the living and 
conscious individual in whom general forces, truths, or 
ideas become real, active, efficient forces, truths, and 
ideas. And the importance of the conception resides 
in the safeguard thus supposed to arise, which will 
prevent the realities of the world from being dissipated 

its measures to circumstances, not tieddown to the inflexible letter 
of one law in an incoherent and imperfect code. See the Politicus, 
p. 294 ; Phacdrus, p. 275 ; and compare Aristotle s Wise man whose 
conduct is not Kara \6yov, but ficra \6yov. 
1 See e. g. Encyclopaedia, 475. 


away into the endless and restless flux of the terms 
of thought, 

La bufera infernal che mai non resta. 

To such a common frame of mind ideas, truths, forces 
are vacant, ghostly forms, devoid of true life and 
reality : to get such they need blood and flesh to clothe 
them, to give them substance and power. Now Hegel, 
no less than those who offer this criticism, regards 
ideas (in the ordinary sense of that term), truths and 
forces, also as abstractions which need something to 
make them powers in the real world of nature and the 
ideal world of mind. Hegel, like Schelling, has a 
sublime contempt for mere universals. But as to the 
something else, there is a divergence of view. Two 
well-known answers are given by the popular philo 
sophy known as materialism or spiritualism : two 
systems which are probably not so wide apart as the 
contrast of their names might imply. According to the 
former, thinking, ideas, truths, goodness and beauty 
are special functions (the grosser materialists say 
secretions) of a special kind of matter of something 
which is accessible to ordinary mechanical and chemical 
tests, but which exhibits also, in certain cases, the 
exceptional phenomena of consciousness. Here the 
essential reality is a something, permanent and essen 
tially indestructible, something which no man has 
seen, nor indeed can see, but which is called Matter. 
The spiritualistic philosopher (as distinguished from 
the idealist] regards as the essential realities in the 
universe what he calls spirits. What these are, also, 
nobody has as yet (any more than in Kant s time 1 ) 
given any very authoritative account, but so far as the 
quasi-scientific expositions in regard to them throw 

1 See his Dreams of a Spirit-seer, illustrated by Dreams of Meta 
physics. (JVerke, ed. Ros. und Schub. Bd. VII. p. 38 sqq.) 

238 PROLEGOMENA. [xvui. 

any general light on the subject, we may say that they 
suggest only a differently-constituted matter, a matter 
e. g. of less or more dimensions than that we are most 
familiar with. 

Now the advocate of spiritual reality, who protests 
most strongly against the injury done to personality by 
reducing it to something fluid and not fixed, something 
in process and not in persistent substance, seems mostly 
to lean to a quasi-spiritualistic hypothesis, or to the so- 
called higher materialism. He is an advocate of what 
we may describe as the soul-thing, of a permanent, (he 
would even hold, an absolutely permanent) substance 
or substratum of psychical reality which, no doubt, 
exhibits certain properties, but is always more than any 
one, or any mere series of its phenomena. It has been 
said, indeed, by one who spoke with authority that he 
that will save his soul shall lose it, and he that will 
lose it shall find it. But this has always been a hard 
saying, which has been as far as possible explained 
away by exegesis. Yet its moral import is not so very 
far removed from its philosophical equivalent. The 
true life is not that of self-seeking pleasure, but the life 
spent in the service of truth and love, the life dedicated 
to impersonal interests, and ideal good. So also the 
reality of the human soul as we first know it lies not in 
itself, but in its transfiguration, its purification, and 
liberation to higher forms of being. The Soul, in its 
first avatar in each of us, is after all of the earth, 
earthy, unless it continue on that path of growth and 
development on which it has entered. It is as Aris 
totle said, and said well, the first actualisation J the 

1 It is perilous and misleading (said the ancient Graiae, who dwell 
on the way to the Hesperides of philosophy) to interpret an old 
system by the language of modern (and especially German) idealism. 
It is much worse, replied Perseus, not to interpret it at all, but to 

xvm.] TnE PERSONAL SOUL. 2 39 

proximate ideality of an organic body. In soul organic 
body carries out its promise : in soul we, the observers, 
or untrained psychologists, note our first awareness of 
mental life in its organic environment. But there are 
other grades, other heights of achievement, yet set 
before the principle of life, which is more than mere 
life and mere soul: or soul contains a germ which 
must bear higher fruit. To be itself, or to become all 
that it in promise and potency contains, it must dis 
possess itself of what clings to it and possess itself of 
what is its own ; and so transmute its first phase into 
one more adequate. The soul is, as Hegel has said, 
the awakening of mind from the sleep of nature 1 : it is 
nature gathering itself out of its absorption in its dis 
persion, the breath of life and feeling striving through 
the scattered members of the material world, and find 
ing itself at first half-asleep, a pervading, unifying 
current that flows through and makes continuous the 
various portions of the universe. It is the earliest real, 
felt unity in which the logical or synthetic pulse as 
yet purely potential in Nature, and only surmised by 
science re-appears in the actual concrete world. And 
as the earliest, it is, like first loves, what one clings to 
hardest as our prime and fundamental differentia. 
Here at least we are something a centre of being, and 
not a mere centreless expanse of extension : something 
emerging from the world of silence and of night- 
something in which each feels 

I am not what I see, 
And other than the things I touch. 

And that something we would not lose, at any cost. 
But the only way not to lose it, is to use it as a stepping- 

repeat its magic ipsissima verba, carefully Latinised, as if they 
belonged to a cabinet of fossils. 
1 Encyclopaedia, 387, 389. 

240 PROLEGOMENA. [xvili. 

stone to higher things. The metaphor, indeed, like 
metaphors in general, must not be pressed too far. 
For it is more than a stepping-stone and it is never 
left behind as a mere dead self: there is 

Nothing of it that doth fade 
But doth suffer a sea-change 
Into something rich and strange. 

And that richer result into which it is transformed is 
the consciousness of a self, and the intelligence which 
wills and knows. 

If it be asked in what respects the result is richer, 
the answer is as follows. The soul, this first ente- 
lechy is exclusive, and it is immersed in its natural 
limits of organic life. It has yet to go through the 
school of self-detachment, the process of erecting itself 
above itself* ; and of thus extending its view and its 
range of control over a wider field of objects. Gradu 
ally it attains to the rank of a consciousness before 
which is unrolled the spectacle of a world of objects 
set over against it, and even of a world within it ; itself 
as an object deposed to the rank of something to be 
surveyed. As such, it seems almost to have left all 
immersion in corporeity completely behind, and to 
have completely divested itself of any limitation. It 
floats freely above the real psychical life out of which 
it emerged a detached but somewhat shadowy self, 
not burdened by any restrictions of nature or circum 
stance. As such a mere Ego, or logical self as the 
mere theatre on which the play of ideas takes place, it 
surveys its real psychical self far below ; it finds itself 
as a strange sort of thing, and says This was me (which 
however is not exactly the same as / am I, 1 = I). 
Yet it was a great step to have thus ceased to be 
absorbed in its qualities, to be the mere breath of life 
and feeling, stirring in its several affections and modifi- 


cations. In order to get forward, it was necessary to 
recoil a little : to save itself and that must mean to get 
itself in fuller and richer being the mind had, as it were, 
to measure and realise the full depth of its nonentity, 
and to surrender all that it had hitherto clung to as its 
own. In an attitude of reflection upon itself it fancies 
that it is the empty room, the tabula rasa, on which 
experience is to write itself: but in its secret heart it 
retains the faith and acts upon it, that it is the power of 
intelligent and intelligible unity which makes the writing 
intelligible, if it does not even itself play the writer. 
What it now seems to find what fills up its conscious 
ness, presumed empty and merely receptive, it gradu 
ally recognises to be its very and original own. 
Through labour and experiment it fills up the vacant 
form (the passive half of itself to which it deposed 
itself) of consciousness ; and thus, as an intelligent 
self, a true mind, it has for itself and realises as in 
itself all the life and reality which in its earlier stage 
of soul it only was and felt itself naturally to be. But 
on this stage of free intelligence it is no longer bound 
up with its natural being in such a way as to feel itself 
a fixed and restricted centre, sunk in the living 
environment so as to see no further, and to deem itself 
in its seclusion the permanent reality, the exclusive 
fact. It is no longer exclusive and self-concentrated, 
but inclusive and all-embracing. It is no longer a mere 
consciousness a mere receptive and synthetic unity of 
apperception but a reason and a mind. And a reason 
and a mind already refuse to be narrowed and con 
fined by the same limits as seem appropriate to the 
soul. In the province of free self-realised intelligence 
we at least seem to occupy a ground on which others 
can equally come, to have nothing peculiar or merely 
individual. In Knowledge, which is reasoned percep- 

242 PROLEGOMENA. [xviil. 

tion, and in Will, which is reasoned impulse, there is 
a king s highway, a public forum, where souls meet 
and converse and perform a collective work ; and in 
both mere, i. e. essentially restricted, individuality is at 
a discount 1 . 

Such would be the course of development if we 
looked at it only in the inwardness or subjectivity of 
psychical, conscious, and intelligent life. But an analo 
gous or parallel development may be observed if we 
look at man as an active, i. e. a practical and moral 
being, a being who makes Nature his own, stamps it 
with his title of possession, and who gives to his fellow 
ship with other souls an objective, outward existence in 
the forms and institutions of social life. Here too his 
first achievement is the affirmation of his individuality, 
the distinction in outward and tangible shape of the 
Mine from the Thine : the creation of property, and 
the projection of himself in a world of mutually- recog 
nised personalities. As the individual soul in the inner 
life, so the personal being with its property is the 
solid, insoluble basis of the life in public the field of 
social ethics. The same instinct, which in its dread of 
dissolution clings to the perpetuity of the inner nucleus 
of soul, upholds the other as containing the stable and 
eternal security of all social well-being. The immor 
tality of soul in the inner world : the sacro-sanctity of 
property in the outer. But if these postulates are to 
be permitted, if individuality and personality are to 
abide, they must, in the one case as in the other, bow 
to the law of development, the law of history and of 
life. They must correct themselves, re-adjust them 
selves, include what they excluded, and re-combine 
their elements, transmute themselves into what we 

1 The above is an attempt to give a very condensed synopsis of 
Hegel s Philosophy of Mind (Encyclopaedia). 


have, after Hegel, called their truth : must redintegrate 
themselves with suppressed correlatives, and carry out 
their implications of larger unity. The soul, exclusive 
and fast-clad in its mere organic vestment, in which it 
is as yet only the name and form of intellectual life, has 
first of all to retract itself into the bare abstract con 
sciousness, or mere self, on which the masses of reality 
stream, to fill its vacant rooms and empty forms up with 
ideas. So too the person that close concretion or 
coalescence of mind with material that identification 
of self with its clothes/ its property and all it can 
vulgarly be said to own, is only an aspect of truth 
which tends to be over-estimated when it is reflected 
upon, and must notwithstanding be over-ridden and 
merged. Withdrawing itself from its clothing of earth 
and water, and even perhaps from its inner mansion of 
flesh and bone, personality floats in the free air as the 
impersonal personality of conscience, the ethereal 
realm where pure practical reason rules. In that 
ether where morals reign absolutely is the home of 
the categorical imperative, of the Stoical law of duty, 
of the conscience which, here at least, has might as it 
has right. It too, like its parallel, consciousness, in 
the inner mental life, has, or seems to have, all its 
fulfilment from without. As even Kant admits, it is 
itself a vacant form ; yet a form of such influence as to 
impress on whatever comes within its range an obliga 
tion to be universal and to be uniform. Here too, as 
in the parallel stage, it was of inestimable importance 
that mind should, in the socio-ethical sphere, see itself 
supreme in its innermost dignity and personality, 
the personality which lies within, even though that 
supremacy were at first no better than as a law, a form, 
a category, recognised as authoritative and imperative. 
For conscience, like the field of consciousness, is after 

R 2 

244 PROLEGOMENA. [xvm. 

all only a quasi-passive self a remarkable property or 
endowment, a sort of innate principle or idea by which 
the mind was seen to be distinguished in a unique way 
from all things else. To realise once for all the fact 
that consciousness and conscience form an absolute 
tribunal from which there can be no appeal : that the 
synthetic unity of apperception in the theoretical, and 
the autonomy of the rational wilP in the practical 
sphere, are the ultimate and final a priori , this is a 
great thing to do, even though it only expands and 
defines the Cartesian principle of clear and distinct 
ideas, and will remain as Kant s title of honour in the 
history of philosophy. He thus fenced off or conse 
crated the sanctuary of the mental and moral life. 

But it was not enough to set apart the sacred prin 
ciple, the central hearth-fire of truth and goodness. If 
at an earlier stage, earlier, i.e. in this logical analysis, 
the formal was wholly sunk in the material, if i. e. the 
mere series of legal formulae in their hard and brittle 
outlines were absolutely identified without doubt or 
hesitation with the morally and socially good ; the 
formal side, or mere spirit and will of good, the abstract 
principle of morality, is now invested with an equally 
undue prominence. The actual or concrete ethical 
community be it family or state, or other social organ 
isation is animated and maintained by a spirit which 
transcends and includes alike the outward shell of 
civil law and the inward law of conscience. For, 
curiously enough, as it may seem at first, both conscience 
and civil legislation assume the form of imperative 
and definite commands laws political or civil, and 
laws moral. Both fall therefore into an inflexibility, 
a rigorous and mechanical hardness in their enounce- 
ments. Both worship the idol of what men call logic, 
i. e. of formal consistency and formal uniformity, to 


an excess which sometimes issues in fantastic irregu 
larities. Their several maxims of legal conformity and 
of duty for duty s sake are in first appearance excellent: 
but a further reflection shows that the Law covers a 
good many inconsistent or at least unrelated laws 
within its code, and Duty is often sadly to seek in 
presence of the collisions between what offer themselves 
as prima facie duties in any given case. The amplest 
code of laws that ever existed will always leave lots of 
loop-holes for negligence and villainy, and would never 
work for an instant, were it not for ever supplemented 
by the spirit of faith and love, by social piety and 
political loyalty, by the thousand ties of sentiment and 
feeling which really vivify its dry bones. So too the 
abstractions of the conscientious imperative, of the law 
of duty, of the moral tribunal, of the man within the 
breast, and of the dignity and beauty of human nature, 
would effect nothing unless they could always tacitly 
count on the support of recognised and authoritative 
social law and usage. Outward rests upon inward ; 
and rules direct feelings. 

Here, again, as in the purely intellectual or cognitive 
sphere, it is evident that the spirit of man has its 
source of life neither in its abstract self-hood (in 
consciousness and conscience) nor in its mere natural 
environment and organic endowment (in sense-affections, 
and social law and usage), but in the unity of both, 
a unity which transcends either. Both individual and 
society live and grow, because they are continuous 
and one : because they presuppose an ideal unity or 
a living Idea at the root of their being, as their inner 
and essential guiding-principle, at once constitutive 
and regulative of their action. The machinery of 
language supplies to the intellectual sphere a sort of 
sensible meeting-ground and common field in which 

246 PROLEGOMENA. [xvm. 

the development of knowledge becomes possible : and 
the same purpose is subserved in the social sphere 
by the machinery of ethical and political forms and 
institutions. These are the field, the home of freedom, 
as the other are of knowledge. It is in these collective 
and objective structures that we get the expression 
of the law of human development : the visible sign, 
viz. of the essentially universal nature of the individual. 
The individual in these attains his relative truth : for 
they show the weakness of the individuality of the mere 
individual. They show that his exclusiveness, his 
quasi-originality, is only an appearance : confronted, 
no doubt, by an appearance of an opposite character, 
as if the originality and the reality lay in the environ 
ment and the collective body. They point therefore 
beyond and behind both foci to a common centre or 
inclusive unity of life. 

But they do not destroy personality and individuality : 
they only transform it and made it a more adequate 
and consistent representation of reality, by giving in 
it a place to factors or moments which, though always 
effective, were not recognised as constitutive elements, 
and treated only as externally interfering agencies. 
It may be a question, of course, how far it is wise to 
retain the term after its meaning has thus been altered 
by expansion and redistribution of elements. On the 
whole it seems impracticable and it would be unde 
sirable, perhaps, even if it were more feasible to be 
too hard and fast in our use of denotations. It is hardly 
the province of philosophy to coin new terms in which 
to deposit the results of her researches. A term no 
doubt particularly if, as the phrase runs, it be luckily 
discovered, or judiciously selected may save the ex 
penditure of thought. But it is hardly the business 
of philosophy to encourage economy in this direction. 

xvm.] FORMAL AND REAL. 247 

Much more is it the perpetual task of philosophy to 
counteract the ossification that sets in in terms, to 
re-interpret the meaning which is absorbed in these 
counters of thought/ and make them once more 
sterling money for the market of life. What, for 
instance, is the work of Aristotle s Ethics, but to set 
free the genii which the black magic of every-day 
intercourse has incarcerated in the non-significant 
Greek term Ew&u/iow a ? Like our own Happiness, it 
flits from lip to lip, little better than a mere name, 
which is still prized, but except for a few synonyms 
that are equally vague with itself is attached to things 
which a little reflection shows it cannot truly denote. 
Aristotle seeks we may say to define it. But the 
phrase definition* seems barely applicable to the 
complex process thus implied, a process of which 
definition, as ordinarily understood, is only one small 
portion. For to define happiness, is to reconstruct 
the conception. Or, to be more accurate, it is really 
to construct it or reproduce in consciousness its con 
struction. As it stands, the thing to be defined is a 
name and a thing, of which certain relations to other 
things soon begin to show themselves, which is more 
or less similar to one thing, and more or less to be 
distinguished from another. To mark it off from these 
co-terminous things, and to show how they are related 
to it on different sides, this would be what we may 
perhaps call strict, or formal, or nominal, or mere 

Now whatever be the other uses of such definitions 
and they are serviceable at the outgoing in any branch 
of enquiry, they are not precisely the work we expect 
a philosopher to do for us. And assuredly it is not 
Aristotle who would stop short at that sort of defi 
nitions. We find accordingly that for the purpose of 

2 4 8 

PR OLE G OMEN A. [xvn I . 

realising what happiness the common name for human 
goo d_means, he is obliged to bring into the field 
the whole system of his thought in its cardinal notions 
of Energy, Soul, &c. Aristotle here as elsewhere re 
traces the path of thought which carries us from mere, 
vulgar, inadequately-apprehended happiness (he follows 
the same process in his treatment of pleasure, friend 
ship c. to take only ethical examples) to true, essential 
and completely-apprehended happiness, or, to use 
Hegel s technical phrases, from happiness as it is 
an-sich (in or at itself) or as it is fur-sich (for or to 
itself), to happiness as it is an-und- -fur-sick. In so 
defining happiness Aristotle is thus obliged to bring 
in his conceptions of man and of society, of human life 
and its powers, of natural and acquired faculty, of mind 
in its relations to nature ; and if not to expound, at 
least to employ, his fundamental categories of philo 
sophical thought. Such a machinery can hardly be 
called less than a construction, i.e. a re-construction 
by conscious effort of the latent but actual concatenation 
of the elements in the fact. 

In this case we traverse the distance which separates 
mere happiness from true happiness, from happiness 
imperfectly or abstractly conceived to happiness ade 
quately and concretely conceived. Of course when 
we say real or true happiness, we use these terms 
as they are used within the ordinary range of human 
speech. An ultimate and absolute in truth and reality 
is for us at any given time only a comparatively or 
relatively ultimate and absolute. It is that which, so 
far as we can see and think (all philosophising pre 
sumably goes on under this stipulation, tacit or express), 
gives an expression, an interpretation, a meaning and 
a construction to reality which leaves no feature un 
recognised, no contradiction unsolved, no discord 


unreconciled, which leaves nothing outside and alien 
to it, and suppresses without acknowledgment nothing 
that has ever been recognised within it. It is, if you 
like so to call it, the completest, or (if you are really 
in earnest with your philosophising and have carried 
it on to what for you is the end) the complete formula 
of the Absolute of that which in a transcendent sense 
is, is all, is the infinite and eternal one. Yet, after all, 
it is a formula. But here that undying adversary of 
all thought steps in and says A mere formula. And 
to that we must here as elsewhere rejoin : No, not a 
mere formula. A mere formula would be not even 
a formula, a formula only in name and with no 
reality which it served to formulate. It is a real and 
true formula, if it be a formula at all, and not some 
thing which merely swaggers about under that title. 
Nay more, if it be a true and real formula, it is the 
truth and the reality in its day and generation, until 
at least a truer truth and a more real reality shall have 
been discovered. Let us by all means be modest : 
but there is a false humility which becomes no man 
and is the guise of hypocrisy or insincere sincerity. 
Let us in other words never assume that we are 
the men, and that wisdom will die with us : but equally 
let us hold fast the faith of reason that what we know 
as true and real can never be false, i. e. utterly false, 
however much it may turn out one day to be sur 
mounted. And, on the other hand, let us equally 
remember that in the mere and abstract commence 
ment the unreal and the untrue, as we must perforce 
style it by contrast with the (pro tempore) truth and 
reality there is no utter and sheer error or unreality. 
It has always been felt to be one of the most loveable 
sides of Aristotelianism this recognition of the reason 
ableness of all actual fact, or of the truth latent in 

250 PROLEGOMENA. [xvin. 

the honest, though narrow and ill-defined judgments 
of the mass. 

Thus, coming back to personality, let us admit that 
the mere personality which at first sight seemed only 
worth rejecting, is an element, at least, in true person 
ality, or is a part which, because an organic member 
and no mere mechanical part, is full of traces and indi 
cations which involve and postulate the whole. The 
true personality and the true individuality of being is 
something which presupposes for its completeness the 
social state the organic community. It is no doubt 
familiar to us that, according to an old but never quite 
dormant view, the collective community is but the aggre 
gate or congeries of individuals. But the individuals 
whose aggregation makes the community are themselves 
products of the social union. Complete, all-round, har 
monious personality, it is sometimes said, is the highest 
fruit to be yielded by social development. Or, as the 
last century would have preferred to put it, the main or 
sole aim of the State is furtherance towards Humanity 
to the stature of the perfect man. And these are true 
sayings, but perhaps only half true. If all must grow 
so that one and each may grow, so and not less must 
each one grow so that the all the commonwealth of 
reason and the kingdom of God may be more and 
more present, may come. And that kingdom only 
comes when All is in Each, and Each is in All : and 
when, without loss or diminution, each is each and all is 
all. Then and not till then does personality become 
true and infinite, free and harmonious individuality, 
which is in the same instant universality. The monad 
to use the language of the great Idealist who did not 
find individuality at all incompatible with universality 
never ceases to be a monad : it is eternal and in 
destructible, an absolute centre of being. The monad 


in its individual measure expresses or envelops the 
Infinite or Absolute: it is, i.e. under a subjective limi 
tation, identical with the absolute, a concentration or 
condensation of it into an impenetrable, i. e. literally an 
individual, point, but a point which is in the psychical 
or intellectual world never entirely carens recordatione, 
or oblivious of its essential totality. But if the monad 
expresses the Absolute, it no less concords or sym 
pathises in harmonious development with all its con 
geners, the other monads : so that while it neither 
interferes with them, nor suffers violence from them, it 
yet exists and acts in an ideal identity, that is, in a real 
fellowship, with them. Again, the monad has what may 
be called its side of passivity, but passivity here does not 
mean mere passivity, but rather the essential limitation 
due to its special and peculiar stand-point a limitation 
which in the higher orders of being becomes transparent 
or is transcended. How far Leibniz succeeds in recon 
ciling this apparent contradiction how far even any one 
can reveal the mystic indwelling of universal and indi 
vidual in each other, this is a serious question in its 
place : but it is only bare justice to Leibniz to say that 
he at least never failed to emphasise both aspects of 
reality, and that if one moment is predominant and 
fundamental in his work it is not the monad, but the 
Monad of Monads. If necessity be the right word 
to express the relation of the Universal Law to the 
individual being and to affirm that the individual is not 
a loose self-supporting unit (and Leibniz, far from think 
ing so, always uses in its stead the phrase inclinat, non 
nccessitat 1 , to emphasise the immanence of law, or the 
autonomy of every completed being), then Leibniz is not 

1 See especially in the Theodicee, part I. 43 seqq. Cf. Nouv. Ess. 
II. 9, incline sans necessiter: I. 13, La ntccssite ne doit pas etre con- 
fondue avec la determination. 

252 PROLEGOMENA. [xvm. 

less, but more necessitarian than Spinoza. His differ 
ence from Spinoza, in fact, lies mainly, if not solely, in 
his clearer recognition of the transcendence, no less 
than the immanence, of the Absolute, which Spinoza 
has somewhat veiled under the apparent insignificance 
of the difference between natura naturans and natura 
naturata. Yet the Monad of Monads is no supra- 
mundane, or merely transcendent God. 

But if we further ask whether such personality is 
attainable in the world of experience and describable in 
terms of thought whether there be any actual and 
visible agent possessed of this true personality, as we 
have agreed to call it, we are in face with a higher stage 
of the problem of personality. And that question in other 
words brings us back to where we began. A true and 
real personality, a complete individuality is something 
which so transmutes all that we are most accustomed 
to call by that name that it is hardly any use clinging to 
it, unless to protest against the danger of mistaking 
such expansion and transmutation to be only a blank 
negation. Yet to cling to it too much involves a danger 
for the true recognition of that transcendent s univer 
sality. All human personality, all natural individuality 
is, as Lotze has eloquently pointed out l , something 
which falls far short of what it professes to be. But in 
the general failure to unite the universal with the 
particular, or the fact with the idea, there are degrees ; 
and we can at least affirm so much as this that the truest 
individuality and the most real personality is not that 
which is least permeated by thought, but that in which 
thought has had the largest share. Individuality is 
something more than a mere sum of general qualities; 
that is certainly the fact ; but it is not less the fact, that 
for us an individuality and personality is more perfect 
1 Microcosmus, Book IX. chap. 4. 


and true in proportion as more general function and 
universal character coalesce into harmony and power 
in it. Assert then the initial presence and virtue of 
individuality and personality in the human soul : but 
remember that it has this virtue, not for what it is, but for 
what it promises and may reasonably be expected to be, 
and that, to realise the promise, it has to behave inclu 
sively, rather than exclusively, gather up into itself and 
make its own all content, rather than set itself up in 
reserve and isolation. 

We have seen that the social organisation, animated 
as it is by the moral idea, is rather the arena on 
which the true union of mind and matter, of idea and 
nature, of thought and fact may be worked for, than 
itself the fruition of such an effort. All-important is the 
State ; all-important the ethical idea which pervades it. 
But the world of freedom the ideal world so far made 
actual is not what it promised to be. Is it not/ said 
Plato, the nature of things that the actual should always 
lack the perfection of theory ? In the visible world 
the State, indeed, rules supreme : it is/ as Hegel might 
say in the words of his great predecessor in political 
theory, that Leviathan or mortal God to whom under 
the immortal God we owe our welfare and safety. But 
there is something in the State which the State in its 
palpable reality cannot adequately express. If it is 
highest in the hierarchy of this world, the lowest in the 
ideal kingdom of the Absolute is higher than it. Above 
the State as the embodiment and the guarantee of the 
moral life, there is the realm of Art, Religion, and 
Philosophy. In them man s craving for individuality 
and personality finds a satisfaction it could never hope 
for below them : they at least restore the truth and 
reality of man s life and of the universe in a measure far 
exceeding what even morality could do. 

254 PROLEGOMENA. [xvin. 

If we ask then what Art, Religion, and Science have 
to show of Personality or true realised individuality, the 
answer is briefly as follows. Had it not been that 
august names have spoken of imitation as the essence of 
Art-work, we should hardly have deemed it possible that 
men should speak of Realistic Art. Yet here, as in 
Religion and in Science, the epithet is introduced to 
guard against a misconception of the province of 
Idealism. All Art, all Religion, all Science, are and 
must be idealistic : but they can never be as the 
familiar phrase puts it merely idealistic, i. e. visionary, 
fantastic, unreal. All of them, in other words, may be 
said to show us the light that never was on sea or 
land the heavenly city the eternal truth of things. 
But they must, on their peril, show it here and now, and 
not in a pretended or other world. They must no less 
than law and morality work in terrestrial materials, and 
not with superfine celestialities. Mentem mortalia tan- 
gunt. It is out of the oldest and commonest realities of 
life and death that the poet and the painter make the 
melodies of heaven sound in our ears, and gladden us 
with the rays of the empyrean. It is out of the hard rock 
of the real that the artist s rod must strike the well- 
spring of the ideal. So too, in like manner, a religion 
must show the Divine, but show Him immanent : an 
immanence which, on one hand, shall not drag Godhead 
down to the level of casual reality, nor on the other set 
Him far off in lonely transcendence. 

The aesthetic faculty, awakened as it is by the 
natural response of man s perceptions to the harmonies 
of existence, to the spontaneous coherency of its many 
parts in a united whole, and stimulated by the creative 
work of human art, which moulds even the naturally 
discordant or unconnected into a concordant expression 
(sometimes it may be, as in handicraft, only to satisfy 


human needs), lifts us above the imperfections and 
fragmentariness of things, above our selfish interest in 
them, into a frame of mind where they are seen whole 
and perfect, and yet one and veritably individual. In 
its supreme or comprehensive phase it does not deal 
merely with the beautiful, nor merely with the beautiful 
and sublime. All true art, whether it awakes awe or 
admiration, laughter or tears, whether it melts the soul, 
or steels it to endurance, has a common characteristic ; 
and that is to raise the single instance, the prosaic or 
commonplace fact, into its universal, eternal, infinite 
significance. It frees the fact from the limitations which 
our distractions, our practicality, our temporary hopes 
and fears, have deeply stamped upon it. It is still, 
after art has dealt with it, to all appearance a single fact : 
but it now has the universe behind it and within it. It 
carries us away from the incompleteness, the pressure 
of externals, the solicitude for the future and the regrets 
for the past, into a self-contained, self-satisfying totality, 
into freedom and leisure, rest which is not stolid, and 
action which involves no toil. Such a result is partly, as 
was said, the gift of common nature, which speaks peace, 
comfort, joy, self-possessed fruition for all her children 
when their sense is open and free : partly it comes 
through those select ones among these children who 
have a larger perception of the meaning and inner 
truth of her works, and who can by a sensible recon 
struction, which if it is fair and successful will only 
bring out more clearly the unity and harmony which 
deeper insight detects, help others to see and enjoy 
what they have felt and rejoiced over. Such are the 
poets in the widest sense the makers, the seers, who 
in verse, in music, in picture and sculpture who, in 
human lives, it may be even in the conduct of their 
own, show us how divine a thing is nature and 

256 PROLEGOMENA. [xvm. 

humanity : show "us the secret and unheard harmonies 
that to the full-opened ear absorb and transmute the 
lower discords of life and vulgar reality. It is they 
who give immortality and divinity, who make heroes 
and demigods *. Or, if they may not be said to make 
them, they half-reveal and half-construct the ideal figures 
which stand high and beneficent in the history of the 
world. And by those who thus half-construct, and half- 
reveal, are meant not merely the single artists in whom 
the process culminates to final outline and publicity, but 
the many-voiced poesy of the collective human heart 
which out of its myriad elemental springs constitutes the 
total figure, the august image of the hero, and the saint, 
lending him from its plenitude all that his abstract self 
seemed to want. It is on the tide of national and 
human enthusiasm that the individual artist is lifted up 
to realise the full significance of his ideal figure, and 
his imaginative craft can only be inspired by the vigour 
and warmth of the collective passion for noble ends and 
high action. 

Nowhere it would seem is the ideal of personality 
and many-sided individuality more adequately realised. 
Here, at last, the whole truth of life, the indwelling of 
individual and universal in one body, seems to be 
realised. But it is realised in an ideal. It is if we 
analyse it a synthesis of three elements ; partly in the 
material reality which serves as bodily vehicle ; partly 
in the conception and technique of the artist ; partly in 
the general mind which inspires both the material and 
the form with its own larger life. It is as its name 
implies an artificial product a synthesis of elements 
which tend to fall apart. Technique varies, conceptions 
lose their interest, the tone of general culture alters, 

1 See the well-known passage in Wilhelm Meistjrs Lehrjahre, Book 
II. chap. 2. 


and materials are dependent on locality. When that 
happens, the work of art is left high and dry : no longer 
a living God, but a dead idol, still wondrous, but speak 
ing no more its human language. 

So it is with the heroic figures who rise into the 
purer air of universal history. They also so far as 
they live with a personal power are works of art : 
works of real-idealism. For all history which deserves 
the name, and is not mere abstract dry-as-dust 
chronicle (as to the possibility of which utter aridity 
there may be legitimate doubts), is a work of fiction or 
invention, of reconstruction. It seeks to understand 
its characters. But to understand them it is not (and as 
historical art cannot be) content with a mere reference 
to motives acting on them from outside. It seeks to 
understand them with and in their times to see in 
them the full measure of contemporary life and thought 
which elsewhere has found so meagre expression. Such 
is the artistic completion of personality in the ideal, 
whether in what is called history, or what is called art. 
It exaggerates a truth, because it loses sight of the 
background. And that background, which helps to con 
stitute such ideal personality, is no constant element. 
The centuries and generations as they roll contribute 
their varying quota to set, as they say, the historical 
character in its true light, in its fulness and truth of 
reality. And thus this personality of the great leaders 
of human life is only an image and a sign a fruit 
of development, no bare fact which remains unchanged 
and always the same. It is rather a personification 
than a personality. It incarnates the living spirit who 
is universal and eternal in the limits of a sensuously- 
defined individual, and indeed incarnates there only so 
much as the generation it speaks to can see of complete 
truth. It is only after all a vehicle of truth ; though 


258 PROLEGOMENA. [xvill. 

a nobler vehicle than social and personal ethics can 

As it is felt that the treasure of the idea that the full 
power of spiritual life cannot be adequately stored in 
the earthen vessels of mortality, the consummation of 
personality is forced to recede into the invisible if it 
would be still conceived as attainable. True person 
ality/ says Lotze, Ms with the Infinite. What here is 
fragmentary, is there a rounded total, a perfect unity : 
He alone is absolutely self-determining, self-explain 
ing : is all that He means to be, and means all that He 
is. In a sense, philosophy does not hesitate to counter 
sign all this. But, in adopting it, philosophy must 
reserve the right of noting the danger and the am 
biguity of such language. Religion does well, philo 
sophy may say, in thus insisting upon the dependence 
of all appearance on one Absolute reality ; but it is well 
also not to forget that all appearance is also the appear 
ance of that reality or Absolute. And in so saying, be 
it added, philosophy assumes no essential superiority to 
religion. Religion in its fulness, and apart from any 
theories that may grow up under its wing, is more than 
theory, more than mere philosophy: it is the consum 
mating unity of life the enthusiasm and supreme 
power of life, its consecration and divinisation by its 
assured immanence in the eternal and universal. It is, 
in short, as was long ago said of it, the true life, the 
light which is the light and life of men ; and its inspiring 
principles are faith, hope, and love. But when unas 
sisted religion proceeds to set before itself the meaning 
and lesson of its life, when it proceeds to formulate a 
theory of the world and set out a scheme of world- 
history, it trespasses on the field of knowledge, and 
is amenable to the criticisms of the reflective spirit the 
spirit of philosophy. And that criticism briefly is to the 


effect that the religious theory in its ordinary form is 
an imperfect interpretation of the religious experience. 
Nor is this to derogate from the prerogative of the 
friends of God. It is only to criticise the formulae and 
phrases of dogmatic theology a theology, however, 
which is as old as religion itself, and which takes 
different forms from age to age, and from one level of 
thought to another, always in its measure translating 
religious reality, truth, or experience into the categories, 
na ive or artificial, simple or complex, of the science (it 
may be the pseudo-science) of the time. Philosophy, 
therefore, is the criticism of the science of God that is 
of theology as it is the criticism of other sciences. 
For criticism philosophy always is : always the reflec 
tion upon fixed dogma, and the discussion of it till 
it becomes sensible of its defects, and stands upon 
another and higher plane. And to some it may seem 
that this is the sole function which philosophy can 
legitimately undertake. Yet, as Aristotle remarked, 
the good critic must know what he criticises/ He 
must not merely reflect upon it from outside, but deal 
with it from the plenitude of experience, from the 
abundance of the heart. If he be a critic then, he 
cannot be a mere critic, but also an agent in the work 
of reconstruction. Or, if we put the thing otherwise; 
though, as Fichte said (p. 28), philosophy is a different 
thing from life, the true philosopher can never be 
a mere philosopher, but must, if he is to reach the 
height of his vocation, have also entered into the full 
experience of reality, into the whole truth of life. His 
philosophy will then not be outside of religion and 
aesthetic perception. In its comprehension of all grades 
and forms of reality and truth, goodness, holiness, 
beauty, will have their place. He also will be among 
the theologians. 

s 2 


And when the philosopher deals with personality in 
this high, this supreme sphere, he will submit that the 
truth of personality is subordinate to the truth of spiri 
tuality. He will argue that by sticking too closely and 
fixedly to personality we are running a risk of bringing 
down the divine to the level of the human. If, with 
Dante, he can say that in its very heart the Light 

Mi parve pinta della nostra effige ; 

he will undoubtedly add with Dante 

Oh quanto e corto 1 dire e come fioco 
Al mio concetto ; 

or, with the first philosophical theologian who inter 
preted the experience of Christian life, he will rise 
from the historical Jesus to the inward witness of 
the Spirit. 



ARISTOTLE, who saw into the nature of abstract 
entities, remarked that the mind was nothing before 
it exercised itself 1 . The mind, and the same will 
turn out true of many things else where it is at first 
unsurmised ; is not a fixed thing, a sort of exceedingly 
refined substance, which we can lay hold of without 
further trouble. It is what it has become, or what 
it makes itself to be. This point, that To be ^ To 
have become, or rather to have made itself, is an axiom 
never to be lost sight of in dealing with the mind. It 
is easy to talk of and about conscience and freewill, as 
if these were existing things in a sort of mental space, 
as hard to miss or mistake as a stone and an orange, or 
as if they were palpable organs of mind, as separately 
observable as the eye or ear. One asks if the will is 
free or not, as glibly as one might ask whether an 
orange is sweet; and the answer can be given with 
equal ease, affirmatively or negatively, in both cases. 
Everything in these cases depends on whether the will 
has made itself free or not, whether indeed we are 
speaking of the will at all, and on what we mean by 
freedom. To ask the question in an abstract way, 
taking no account of circumstances, is one of those 

1 De Anima, iii. 4. 


temptations which lead the intellect astray and pro 
duce only confusion and wordy war as a good deal 
of so-called popular metaphysics has done. The mind 
and its phenomena, as they are called, cannot be dis 
sected with the same calmness of analysis as other 
substances which adapt themselves to the scalpel : nor 
is dissection after all more than a part of the scientific 
process, subject to the control of the synthesis in 

The ordinary metaphysician makes his own task easy 
and his thoughtful reader s a burden, by plunging too 
lightly in medias res. He wants patience often, per 
haps, because he thinks too much of his reader s 
impatience at analysis to unravel the tangled mass 
which human experience, when first looked at, presents. 
He is apt to catch at any end which promises to effect 
a temporary clearance. True philosophy, on the con 
trary, must show that it has got hold of what it means 
to discuss : it has to construct its subject-matter : and 
it constructs it by tracing every step and movement in 
its construction shown in actual history. The mind is 
what it has been made and has made itself; and to see 
what it is we must consider it not as an Alpha and 
Omega of research, as popular conception and language 
tend to represent it, but in the stages constituting 
its process, in the fluidity of its development, in the 
elements out of which it results. We must penetrate 
the apparent fixity and simplicity under which it comes 
forward, and see through it into the process which 
bears it into being. For, otherwise, the object of our 
investigation is taken, as if it were the most unmis 
takable thing of sense and fancy, as if everybody 
were agreed that this and no other were the point in 

But in this matter of stability and the reverse, there 


is a broad distinction between the natural and the 
spiritual world. In Nature every step in the organisa 
tion, by which the Cosmos is developed, has an inde 
pendent existence of its own : and the lowest formation 
confronts the highest, each standing by itself beside 
the other. Matter and motion, for example, are not 
merely found as subordinate elements entering into the 
making of a plant or an animal. They have a free 
existence of their own : and the free existence of matter 
in motion is seen in the shape of the planetary system. 
So, too, chemical or electrical phenomena can be 
observed by themselves, operating in spheres where 
they are untrammeled by the influence of biological 
conditions. It seems, at least at first sight, to be 
different in the case of mind. There the specific types 
or several stages in the integrating process of mental 
development seem to have no substantive existence in 
the earlier part of the range, and to appear only as 
states or factors entering into, and merged in, the 
higher grades of development. This causes a peculiar 
difficulty in the study of mind. We cannot seize 
a formation in an independent shape of its own : we 
must trace it in the growth of the whole. Mental 
fusion and coalescence of elements is peculiarly close, 
and hardly leaves any traces of its constituent factors \ 

1 A philological parallel may make this clearer. The Indo- 
German, says Misteli (Typen des Spmchbaucs, p. 363), embraces or 
condenses several categories in a single idea in a way which though 
less logical is more fruitful ; for in this way he procures graspable 
totals with which he can work further, and not patch-work which 
would crumble away in his hands. Our He includes four grammatical 
categories, which work not separately, but as a whole : third 
person, masculine gender, singular, nominative ; whereas the Magyar 
o is the vehicle only of one category, the third person, which 
is either determined as singular by the context, or as plural by the 
addition of k: gender in these languages does not exist : and as sub 
ject again o is specially interpreted from the context. The unification 

264 PROLEGOMENA. [xix. 

Sensation, for instance, in its purity, as mere sensation, 
is apparently something which we can never study in 
isolation. All the sensation which we can, in the 
strictly psychological (as opposed to the physiological) 
mode of study, examine, i. e. which we can reproduce 
in ourselves, is more than mere sensation : it includes 
elements of thought, and probably of desire and will. 
This, of course, makes the difficulties of so-called intro 
spection : difficulties so great and real that they have 
provoked in natural reaction a set against introspection 
altogether, and the adoption of the external observation 
(physiological or so-called psycho-physical) employed 
in the objective sciences. And hence when we accept 
the name, such as intellect, conscience, will, &c., as if 
it expressed something specially existent in a detached 
shape of its own, we make an assumption which it is 
impossible to justify. We are reckoning with paper- 
money which belongs to no recognised currency, and 
may be stamped as the dealer wills. The consequence 
is that the thing with which we begin our examination 
is an opaque point, a mere terminus a quo, from which 
we start on our journey of explication, leaving the 
terminus itself behind us unexplained. 

The constituents of mind do not lie side by side 
tranquilly co-existent, like the sheep beside the herbage 
on which it browses. Their existence is maintained in 
an inward movement, by which, while they differentiate 
themselves, they still keep up an identity. In our 
investigations we cannot begin with what is to be 
defined. The botanist, if he is to give us a science of 
the plant, must begin with something whose indwelling 
aim it is to be itself and to realise its own possibility. 

of the four categories makes He an individual and a word ; the 
generality and isolation of one category makes o an abstract and a 


He must begin with what is not the plant, and end with 
what is ; begin, let us say, with the germ which has the 
tendency to pass into the plant. The speculative science 
of biology begins with a cell, and builds these cells up 
into the tissues and structures out of which vegetables 
and animals are constituted. The object of the science 
appears as the result of the scientific process: or, 
a science is the ideal construction of its object. As in 
these cases, so in the case of thought. We must see it 
grow up from its simplest element, from the bare point 
of being, the mere speck of being which, if actually no 
better than nothing, is yet a germ which in the air of 
thought will grow and spread ; and see it appear as 
a result due to the ingrowing and outgrowing union of 
many elements, none of which satisfies by itself, but 
leads onward from abstractions to the meeting of 
abstractions in what is more and more concrete. The 
will and conscience, understanding and reason, of man 
are not matter-of-fact units to be picked up and exam 
ined. You must, first of all, make sure what you have 
in hand : and to be sure of that is to see that the mind 
is the necessary outcome of a course of development. 
The mind is not an immediate datum, with nothing 
behind it, coming upon the field of mental vision with 
a divinely-bestowed array of faculties ; but a mediated 
unity, i. e. a unity which has grown up through a com 
plex interaction of forces, and which lives in differences 
through comprehending and reconciling antagonisms. 

If the mind be not thus exhibited in its process, in 
the sum and context of its relations, we may mean 
what we like with each mental object that comes under 
our observation: but with as much right another 
observer may mean something else. We may, of 
course, define as we please : we may build up succes 
sive definitions into a consistent total : but such a 

266 PROLEGOMENA. [xix. 

successful arrangement is not a real science. Unless 
we show how this special form of mind is constituted, 
we are dealing with abstractions, with names which we 
may analyse, but which remain as they were when our 
analysis is over, and which seem like unsubstantial 
ghosts defying our coarse engines of dissection. They 
are not destroyed : like immaterial and aery beings 
they elude the sword which smites them, and part but 
to re-unite. The name, and the conception bodied 
forth in it, is indeed stagnant, and will to all appear 
ance become the ready prey of analysis : but there is 
something behind this materialised and solidified con 
ception, this worn-out counter or sign, which mere 
analysis cannot even reach. And that underlying 
nature is a process or movement, a meeting of ele 
ments, which it is the business of philosophy to unfold. 
The analyst in this case has dealt with ideas as if they 
were a finer sort of material product, a fixed and assail 
able point : and this is perhaps the character of the 
generalised images, which take the place of thoughts in 
our customary habits of mind. But ideas, when they 
have real force and life, are not hard and solid, but, as 
it were, fluid and transparent, and can easily escape 
the divisions and lines which the analytical intellect 
would impose. Perhaps some may think that it is 
unwise to fight with ghosts like these, and that the best 
plan would be to disregard this war of words alto 
gether. But, on the other hand, it may be urged that 
such unsubstantial forms have a decided reality in life : 
that men will talk of them and conjure by their 
means, with or without intelligence ; and that the best 
course is to understand them. It will then be seen 
that it is our proper work as philosophers to watch the 
process, by which the spiritual unity divides and yet 
retains its divided members in unity. 


Even in the first steps we take to get a real hold of 
an object we see this. To understand it, we must 
deprive it of its seeming independence. Every indi 
vidual object is declared by the logician to be the 
meeting of two currents, the coincidence of two move 
ments. It concentrates into an undecompounded unit, 
at least such it appears to representative or material 
thought, two elements, each of which it is in turn 
identifiable with. The one of these elements has been 
called the self-same (or identity), the universal, the 
genus, the whole : while the second is called the differ 
ence, the particular, the part. And by these two points 
of reference it is fixed, by two points which are for 
the moment accepted as stationary. What has thus 
"been stated in the technical language of Logic is often 
repeated in the scientific parlance of the day, but with 
more materialised conceptions and in more concrete 
cases. The dynamic theory of matter represents it as 
a unity of attraction and repulsion. A distinguished 
Darwinian remarks that all the various forms of 
organisms are the necessary products of the uncon 
scious action and reaction between the two properties 
of adaptability and heredity, reducible as these are to 
the functions of nutrition and reproduction V The 
terms action and reaction are hardly sufficient, it may 
be, to express the sort of unity which is called for : but 
the statement at least shows the reduction of an actual 
fact to the interaction of two forces, the meeting of two 
currents. The one of these is the power of the kind, 
or universal, which tends to keep things always the 
same : the other the power of localised circumstances 
and particular conditions, which tends to render things 
more and more diversified. The one may be called 
a centripetal, the other a centrifugal force. If the one 
1 Hackel, Nattirliche Schopfungs-Geschichtc, p. 157. 

268 PROLEGOMENA. [xix. 

be synthetic, the other is analytic. But such names are 
of little value, save for temporary distinction, and must 
never be treated as permanent differences which 
explain themselves. The centre is relative, and so is 
the totality. 

Thus it is that the so-called Evolutionist explains the 
origin of natural kinds. They are what they severally 
are by reason of a process, a struggle, by alliances and 
divisions, by re-unions and selections. They are not 
independent of the inorganic world around them : it has 
entered into their blood and structure, and made them 
what they are. To understand them we must learn all 
we can of the simpler and earlier forms, which have left 
traces in their structure : traces which, without the 
existence of such more primitive forms, we might have 
misunderstood, or have passed by unperceived. And, 
again, we learn that our hard and fast distinctions are 
barely justified by Nature. There, kind in its extreme 
examples seems to run into kind, and we do not find the 
logically-exact type accurately embodied anywhere. Our 
classifications into genera and species turn out to be in 
the first instance prompted by a practical need to 
embrace the variety in a simple shape. But though 
perfectly valid, so far as we use them for such ends, 
they tend to lead us false, if we press them too far. 

And when we have seen so much, we may learn the 
further lesson that the variety of organisation, animal 
and vegetable, is only the exhibition in an endless detail 
by single pictures, more or less complementary, more or 
less inclusive of each other, of that one vital organisa 
tion in principle and construction which we could not 
otherwise have had presented to us. In a million lessons 
from the vast ranges of contemporary and of extinct 
life there is impressed upon the biological observer the 
idea of that system of life-function and life-structure 


which is the goal of biological science. The interest in 
the mere variety whether of modern or of primeval 
forms of life is as such merely historical ; its truer use 
is to enable the scientific imagination to rise above local 
or temporary limitations. And thus in the end the 
records and guesses of evolution in time and place serve 
to build up a theory of the timeless universal nature of 
life and organisation. 

And what is true of Nature is equally true of the 
Mind. For these two, as we have already seen, are not 
isolable from each other. Neither the mind nor the 
so-called external world are either of them self-subsistent 
existences, issuing at once and ready-made out of 
nothing. The mind does not come forth, either 
equipped or un-equipped, to conquer the world : the 
world is not a prey prepared for the spider, waiting for 
the mind to comprehend and appropriate it. The mind 
and the world, the so-called subject and so-called 
object/ are equally the results of a process: and it is 
only when we isolate the terminal aspects of that 
process, and in the practical business of life forget the 
higher theoretical point of view, that we lose sight of 
their origin, and have two worlds facing each other. 
As the one side or aspect of the process gathers feature 
and form, so does the other. As the depth and inten 
sity of the intellect increases, the limits of the external 
world extend also. For the psychical life is just the 
power which maintains a continuing correlation between 
the body and its environment, and between the various 
elements in that environment. It is the unity in which 
that correlation lives and is aware of itself. It is 
the subject-object, which sets one element against 
another, and gives it quasi-independence. The mind of 
the savage is exactly measured by the world he has 
around him. The dull, almost animal, sensation and 

270 PROLEGOMENA. [xix. 

feeling, which is what we may call his mental action, is 
just the obverse of the narrow circumference that girdles 
his external world. The beauty and interest of the 
grander phenomena of terrestrial nature, and of the 
celestial movements, are ideally non-existent for a being, 
whose whole soul is swallowed up in the craving for 
food, the fear of attack, and the lower enjoyments of 
sense. In the course of history we can see the intellect 
growing deeper and broader, and the limits of the 
world recede simultaneously with the advance of the 
mmd. This process or movement of culture takes 
place in the sequence of generations, and in the variety 
of races and civilisations spread over the face of the 
world. But here too, the higher science, not resting in 
the merely historical inquiry, takes no interest in the 
medium of time, and merely uses it to supply material 
for the rational sequence of ideas *. 

The objective world of knowledge is really at one 
with the subjective world : they spring from a common 
source, what Kant called the original synthetic unity 
of apperception/ The distinction between them flows 
from abstraction, from failure to keep in view the whole 
round of life and experience. The subjective world 
the mind of man is really constituted by the same 
force as the objective world of nature : the latter has 
been translated from the world of extension, with its 
externality of parts in time and space, into an inner 
world of thought where unity, the fusion or coalescence 
of all types and forms, is the leading feature. The 
difficulty of passing from the world of being to the 
world of thoughts, from notion to thing, from subject 
to object, from Ego to Non-ego, is a difficulty which 
men have unduly allowed to grow upon them. It grows 
by talking of and analysing mere being, mere thought, 

1 See above, pp. 155, 198. 


mere notion, or mere thing. And it will be dispelled 
when it is seen that there is no mere being, and no 
mere thought : that these two halves of the unity of ex 
perience the unity we divide and the division we unify 
in every judgment we make are continually leaning 
out of themselves, each towards the other. But men, 
beginning as they must from themselves, and failing to 
revise and correct their stand-point till it became an 
dpxf) ai/uTro&Tor, argued from a belief that the individual 
mind was a fixed and absolute centre, from which the 
universe had to be evaluated. In Hegel s words, they 
made man and not God the object of their philosophy 1 . 
So that Kant really showed the outcome of a system 
which acted on the hypothesis that man in his indi 
vidual capacity was all in all. Hegel, on his own 
showing, came to prove that the real scope of philo 
sophy was God ; that the Absolute is the original 
synthetic unity from which the external world and the 
Ego have issued by differentiation, and in which they 
return to unity. 

If this be so, then there is behind the external world 
and behind the mind an organism of pure types or 
forms of thought, an organism which presents itself, in 
a long array of fragments, to the senses in the world of 
nature, where all things lie outside of one another, and 
which then is, as it were, reflected back into itself so as 
to constitute the mind, or spiritual world, where all 
parts tend to coalesce in a more than organic unity. 
The deepest craving of thought, and the fundamental 
problem of philosophy, will accordingly be to discover 
the nature and law of that totality or primeval unity, 
the totality which we see appearing in the double 
aspect of nature and mind, and which we first become 
acquainted with as it is manifested in this state of dis- 

1 Hegel s Werke, vol. i. p. 15. 

272 PROLEGOMENA. [xix. 

union. To satisfy this want is what the Logic of Hegel 
seeks. It lays bare the kingdom of those potent shades, 
the phases of the Idea which embodies itself more 
concretely in the external world of body, and the inward 
world of mind. The psychological or individualist con 
ditions, which even in the Kantian criticism sometimes 
seem to set up mind as an entity parallel to the objects of 
nature, and antithetic to nature as a whole, have fallen 
away. Reason has to be taken in the whole of its actuali- 
sation as a world of reason, not in its bare possibility, not 
in the narrow ground of an individual s level of develop 
ment, but in the realised formations of reasonable know 
ledge and action, as shown in Art and Life, Science 
and Religion. In this way we come to a reason which 
might be in us or in the world, but which, being to 
a certain extent different from either, was the focus of 
two orders of manifestations. 

To ascertain that ultimate basis of the world and mind 
was the chief thing philosophy had to see to. But in 
order to do this, a good deal of preliminary work was 
necessary. The work of Logic, as understood by Hegel, 
involves a stand-point which is not that of every-day 
life or reflection on experience. It presupposes the 
whole process from the provisional starting-point which 
seems at first sight simplest and universally acceptable, 
upwards to the unhypothetical principle which though 
at a long distance it involves and leads up to, or pre 
supposes. We all know Aristotle s dictum Ei/ rots 

alaOrjTo is ra I orjrd e orif : Nihil IH intcllectu quod HOH priUS 111 

sensu. The fact of sense and feeling is the fact of ex 
perience : or rather the fact and reality of experience 
is the underlying truth which the expression of it in 
terms of sense and perception inadequately interprets. 
Even in the principles of sensation there is judgment, 
thought, reasoning : but it needs eliciting, re-statement, 


opening up, and explanation. The Phenomenology of 
Mind is, as Hegel himself has said, his voyage of dis 
covery. It traces the path, and justifies the work of 
traversing it, from the ill-founded and imperfect cer 
tainties of sense and common-sense, up through various 
scientific, moral, and religious modes of interpreting 
experience and expressing its net sum of reality, till it 
culminates in the stand-point of pure thought/ of 
supreme or absolute consciousness. It is certainly 
not a history of the individual mind : and equally little is 
it a history of the process of the intellectual development 
of the race. In a way it mixes up both. For its main 
interest is not on the purely historical side. It indulges in 
bold transitions, in sudden changes of scene from ancient 
Greece and Rome to modern Germany, from public facts 
and phases of national life to works of fiction (compare 
its use of Goethe s Faust and his version of Rameau s 
Nephew}. It lingers for historical accuracy and pro 
portion unduly over the period of Kant and Fichte, 
and reads Seneca by the light of the Sorrows of Wcrther. 
For its aim is to gather from the inspection of all ways 
in which men have attempted to reach reality the 
indication of their several content of truth, and of the 
several defects from it, so as to show the one necessary 
path on which even all their errors converge and which 
they serve to set out in clearer light. 

Hegel s philosophy is undoubtedly the outcome of 
a vast amount of historical experience, particularly in 
the ancient world, and implies a somewhat exhaustive 
study of the products of art, science, politics, and re 
ligion. By experience he was led to his philosophy, 
not by what is called a priori reasoning. It is curious 
indeed to observe the prevalent delusion that German 
philosophy is the high priori road, to hear its pro 
fundity admired, but its audacity and neglect of obvious 

274 PROLEGOMENA. [xix. 

facts deplored. The fact is that without experience 
neither Hegel nor anybody else will come to anything. 
But, on the other hand, experience is in one sense only 
the yet undeciphered mass of feeling and reality, the yet 
unexpounded psychical content of his life ; or, taken in 
another acceptation, it is only a form which in one 
man s case means a certain power of vision, and in 
another a different degree. One man sees the idea 
which explains and unifies experience as actuality : to 
the other man it is only a subjective notion. And even 
when it is seen, there are differences in the subsequent 
development. One man sees it, asserts it on all hands, 
and then closes. Another sees it, and asks if this is all, 
or if it is only part of a system. An appeal to my ex 
perience is very much like an appeal to 4 my senti 
ments or my feelings : it may prove as much or as 
little as can be imagined : in other words, it can prove 
nothing. The same is true of the appeal to conscious 
ness, that oracle on whose dicta it has sometimes been 
proposed to found a system of philosophy. By that 
name seems meant the deliverances of some primal and 
unerring nucleus of mind, some real and central self, 
whose voice can be clearly distinguished from the mere 
divergent cries of self-interest and casual opinion. 
That such discernment is possible no philosophy will 
seek to deny : but it is a discernment which involves 
comparison, examination, and reasoning. And in that 
case the appeal to consciousness is the exhortation to 
clear and deliberate thinking. While, on another 
side, it hints that philosophy does not in the end- 
deal with mere abstractions, but with the real concrete 
life of mind. And if an appeal to other people s experi 
ence is meant, that is only an argument from authority. 
What other people experience is their business, not 
mine. Experience means a great deal for which it is 


not the right name : and to give an explanation of what 
it is, and what it does, would render a great service to 
English methodologists. 

There are, however, two modes in which these 
studies to discover the truth may appear. In the one 
case they are reproduced in all their fragmentary and 
patch-work character. They are supposed to possess 
a value of their own, and are enunciated with all the 
detail of historic incident. The common-place books of 
a man are, as it were, published to instruct the world 
and give some hint of the extent of his reading. But, 
in the other case, the scaffolding of incident and 
externality may be removed. The single facts, which 
gave the persuasion of the idea, are dismissed, as in 
teresting only for the individual student on his way to 
truth : or, if the historical vehicle of truth be retained at 
all, it is translated into another and intellectual medium. 
Such a history, the quintessence of extensive and deep 
research, is presented in the Phenomenology. The 
names of persons and places have faded from the 
record, as if they had been written in evanescent inks, 
dates are wanting, individualities and their biographies 
yield up their place to universal and timeless principles. 
Such typical forms are the concentrated essence of end 
less histories. They remind one of the descriptions 
which Plato in his Republic gives of the several forms 
of temporal government. Or, to take a modern instance, 
the Hegelian panorama of thought which presents only 
the universal evolution of thought, that evolution in 
which the whole mind of the world takes the place of all 
his children, whether they belong to the common level, 
or stand amongst representative heroes, may be 
paralleled to English readers by Browning s poem 
of Sordello. There can be no question that such 
a method is exposed to criticism, and likely to excite 

T 2 


misconception. If it tend to give artistic completeness 
to the work, it also tantalises the outsider who has 
a desire to reach his familiar standing-ground. He 
wishes a background of time and space, where the forms 
of the abstract ideas may be embodied to his mind s eye. 
In most ages, and with good ground, the world has 
been sceptical, when it perceived no reference to 
authorities, no foot-notes, no details of experiments 
made : nor is it better disposed to accept provisorily, 
and find, as the process goes on, that it verifies itself to 



THE order and concatenation of ideas/ says Spinoza, 
is the same as the order and concatenation of things V 
The objective world at least of acts and institutions 
develops parallel with the growth and system of men s 
ideas. In the tangled skein which human life and 
reality present to the observer, the only promising clue 
is to be found in the process by which in histor^he 
past throws light on the present and gets light in 
return. There in the stream of time and in the 
expanses of space the condensed results, the hard 
knots, which present life offers for explanation, are 
broken up into a vast number of problems, each pre 
senting a different aspect, and one helping towards 
a fairer and clearer appreciation of another. 

The present medium of general intelligence and 
theory in which we live embraces in a way the results 
of all that has preceded it, 01 all the steps of culture 
through which . -e world has rLen. But in this body 
of intellectual be* ofs and ideas with which our single 
soul is clad, in ihis common soil of thought, the 
several contributions of the past have been half or even 
wholly obliterated, and are only the shadows of their 
old selves. What in a former day was a question of 
all-engrossing interest has left but a trace : the complete 
1 Eth. ii 7. 

27 8 PROLEGOMENA. [xx. 

and detailed formations of ancient thought have lost 
their distinctness of outline, and have shrunk into 
mere shadings in the contour of our intellectual 
world. Questions, from which the ancient philoso 
phers could never shake themselves loose, are now 
only a barely perceptible nuance in the complex questions 
of the present day. Discussions about the bearings of 
the one and the many/ puzzles like those of Zeno, 
and the casuistry of statesmanship such as is found in 
the Politics of Aristotle, have for most people little 
else than an antiquarian interest. We scarcely detect 
the faint traces they have left in the burning questions 
of our own age. We are too ready to forget that the 
past is never altogether annihilated, and that every 
step, however slight it may seem, which has once been 
taken in the movement of intellect, must be traversed 
again in order to understand the constitution of our pre 
sent intellectual world. To outward appearance the life 
and work of past generations have so completely lost 
their organic nature, with its unified and vital variety, 
that in their present phase they have turned into hard 
and opaque atoms of thought. The living forces of 
growth, as geologists tell us, which pulsed through the 
vegetables of one period are suspended and put in 
abeyance : and these vegetables turn into what we call 
the inorganic and inanimate strata of the earth. 
Similarly, when all vitality has been quenched or 
rendered torpid in the structures of thought, they sink 
into the material from which individuals draw their 
means of intellectual support. This inorganic material 
of thought stands to the mind, almost in the same way 
as the earth and its products stand to the body of a man. 
If the one is our material, the other is our spiritual 
substance. In the one our mind, as in the other our 
body, lives, moves, and has its being. 


But in each case besides the practical need ; which 
bids us consume the substance as dead matter, and 
apply it to use, there is the theoretical bent which seeks 
to reproduce ideally the past as a living and fully deve 
loped organism. This past/ says Hegel, is traversed 
by the individual, in the same way as one who begins 
to study a more advanced science repeats the preliminary 
lessons with which he had long been acquainted, in 
order to bring their information once more before his 
mind. He recalls them : but his interest and study 
are devoted to other things. In the same way the 
individual must go through all that is contained in the 
several stages in the growth of the universal mind : 
but all the while he feels that they are forms of which 
the mind has divested itself, that they are steps on 
a road which has been long ago completed and levelled. 
Thus, points of learning, which in former times tasked 
the mature intellects of men, are now reduced to the 
level of exercises, lessons, and even games of boyhood : 
and in the progress of the schoolroom we may recognise 
the course of the education of the world, drawn, as it 
were, in shadowy outline 1 . 

The scope of historical investigation therefore is this. 
It shows how every shading in the present world of 
thought, which makes our spiritual environment, has 
been once living and actual with an independent being 
of its own. But it also reveals the presence of shades 
and elements in the present which if our eyes had 
looked on the present alone we should scarcely have 
suspected : and it thus enables us to interpolate stages 
in development of which the result preserves only rudi 
mentary traces. And, when carried out in a philo 
sophical spirit, it shows further, that in those formations, 
which are produced in each period of the structural 
1 Phenomenologie des Geistcs, p. 22. 

2 8o PROLEGOMENA. [xx. 

development of reason, the universe of thought, or the 
Idea, is always whole and complete, but characterised 
in some special mode which for that period seems 
absolute and final. Each form or dimension of 
thought, in which the totality is grasped and unified, 
is therefore not so simple or elementary as it may 
seem to casual observers regarding only the simplicity 
of language : it is a total, embracing more or less of 
simpler elements, each of which was once an inferior 
total, though in this larger sphere they are reduced 
to unity. Thus each term or period in the process 
is really an individualised whole, with a complex inter 
connexion and contrast included in it: it is concrete. 
No single word or phrase explains it : yet it is one 
totality, a rounded life, from which its several spheres 
of life must be explained. But when that period is 
passing away, the form of its idea is separated, and re 
tained, apart frpm the life and mass of the elements which 
constituted it a real totality ; and then the mere shading 
or shell, with only part of its context of thought, is left 
abstract. When that time has come, a special form, 
a whole act in the drama, of humanity has been trans 
formed into an empty husk, and is only a name. 

The sensuous reality of life, as it is limited in space 
and time, and made palpable in matter and motion, is 
however the earliest cradle of humanity. The environ 
ment of sense is prior in the order of time to the 
environment of thought. Who, it may be asked, first 
wrought their way out of that atmosphere of sense into 
an ether of pure thought ? Who first saw that in sense 
there was yet present something more than sensation, 
that the deliverances of sense-perception rest upon and 
involve relations, ties, distinctions, which contradict its 
self-confidence and carry us beyond its simple indi 
cations ? Who laid the first foundations of that world 


of reason in which the civilised nations of the modern 
period live and move ? The answer is, the Greek 
philosophers : and in the first place the philosophers 
of Elea. For Hegel the history of thought begins with 
Greece. All that preceded the beginnings of Greek 
speculation, and most that lies outside it, has only a 
secondary interest for the culture of the West. 

But many heroes lived before the days of Aga 
memnon/ The records of culture no longer begin with 
Greece. Even in Hegel s own day, voices, like those 
of the poet Riickert (in his habitation -exercise), 
were heard declaring that the true fountain of European 
thought, the real philosophy, was to be sought in the 
remoter East. Since the time of Hegel, the study of 
primitive life, and of the rise of primitive ideas in 
morals and religion, has enabled us to some extent 
to trace the early gropings of barbarian fancy and 
reason. The comparative study of languages has, on 
the other hand, partly revealed the contrivances by 
which human reason has risen from one grade of 
consciousness to another. The sciences of language 
and of primitive culture have revealed new depths in 
the development of thought, where thought is still 
enveloped in nature and sense and symbols, depths 
which were scarcely dreamed of in the earlier part of 
the present century. Here and there, investigators 
have even supposed that they had found the cradle of 
some elements in art, religion, and society, or, it may 
be, of humanity itself. 

These researches have accomplished much, and they 
promise to accomplish more. They help us perhaps 
to take a juster view of the early Greek thinkers, and 
show how much they still laboured under conditions 
of thought and speech from which their struggles have 
partly freed us. But for the present, and with certain 


explanations to be given later, it may still be said that 
the birthday of our modern world is the moment when 
the Greek sages began to construe the facts of the 
universe. Before their time the world lay, as it were, 
in a dream-life. Unconsciously in the womb of time 
the spirit of the world was growing, its faculties 
forming in secresy and silence, until the day of birth 
when the preparations were completed, and the young 
spirit drew its first breath in the air of thought. A 
new and to us all-important epoch in the history of 
thought begins with the Greeks : and the utterances 
of Parmenides mark the first hard, and still somewhat 
material, outlines of the spiritual world in which we 
live. Other nations of an older day had gathered the 
materials : in their languages, customs, religions, &c., 
there was an unconscious deposit of reason. It was 
reserved for the Greeks to recognise that reason : and 
thus in them reason became conscious. 

For us, then, it was the Greek philosophers who 
distinctly drew the distinction between sense and 
thought, and who first translated the actual forms of 
our natural life into their abbreviated equivalents in 
terms of logic. The struggle to carry through this 
transition, this elevation into pure thought, is what 
gives the dramatic interest to the Dialogues of Plato 
and keeps the sympathy of his readers always fresh. 
Socrates, we are told, first taught men to seek a general 
definition : not to be content with having like Pytha 
goreans their meaning wrapped up inseparably in 
psychical images and quasi-material symbols. He 
taught them to refer word to fellow word, to elicit the 
underlying idea by the collision and comparison of 
instances, to get at the content which was identical 
in all the multiplicity of forms. He taught them, in 
brief, to think : and Plato carried out widely and deeply 


the lesson. The endeavour to create an ideal world, 
which, at its very creation, seems often to be trans 
formed into a refined and attenuated copy of the 
sense-world, meets us in almost every page of his 
Dialogues. In Aristotle this effort, with its concomitant 
tendency to give sensible* form to the ideal, is so far 
over and past; and some sort of intellectual world, 
perhaps narrow and inadequate, is reached, the 
logical scheme in which immediate experience was 
expressed and codified. What these thinkers began, 
succeeding ages have inherited and promoted. 

In the environment of reason, therefore, which en 
compasses the consciousness of our age, are contained 
under a generalised form and with elimination of all 
the particular circumstances, the results won in the 
development of mind and morals. These results now 
constitute the familiar joints and supports in the frame 
work of ordinary thought: around and upon them 
cluster our beliefs and imaginations. During each 
epoch of history, the consciousness of the world, at 
first by the moutlj of its great men, its illustrious 
statesmen, artists, and philosophers, has explicitly re 
cognised, and translated into terms of thought, into 
logical language, that synthesis of the world which 
the period had practically secured by the action of its 
children. That activity went on, as is the way of 
natural activities, spontaneously, through the pressure 
of need, by an immanent adaptation of means to ends, 
not in conscious straining after a result. For the con 
scious or reflective effort of large bodies of men is 
often in a direction contrary to the Spirit of the 
Time. This Spirit of the Time, the absolute mind, 
which is neither religious nor irreligious, but infinite 
and absolute in its season, is the real motive principle 
of the world. But that Spirit of the Time is not always 

284 PROLEGOMENA. [xx. 

the voice that is most effective at the poll, or rings 
loudest in public rhetoric. It is often a still small 
voice, which only the wise, the self-restrained, the 
unselfish hear. And he who hears it and obeys it, 
not he who follows the blatant crowd, is the hero. 
It is only to a mistaken or an exaggerated hero-worship, 
therefore, that Hegel can be said to be a foe. Great 
men are great : but the Spirit of the Time is greater : 
their greatness lies in understanding it and bringing 
it to consciousness. The man, who would act inde 
pendently of his time and in antagonism to it, is only the 
exponent of its latent tendencies. Nor need the syn 
thesis be always formulated by a philosopher in order 
to leaven the minds of the next generation. The 
whole system of thought, the theory of the time, 
its world, in short, influences minds, although it is not 
explicitly formulated and stated : it becomes the nursery 
of future thought and speculation. Philosophy in its 
articulate utterances only gives expression to the silent 
and half-conscious grasp of reason over its objects. 
But when the adaptation is not merely reached but 
seen and felt, when the synthesis or world of that 
time is made an object of self-consciousness, the ex 
position has made an advance upon the period which 
preceded. For that period started in its growth from 
the last exposition, the preceding system of philosophy, 
after it had become the common property of the age, 
and taken its place in their mental equipment. 

Each exposition or perception of the synthesis by 
the philosopher restores or re-affirms the unity which 
in the divided energies of the period, in its progressive, 
reforming, and reactionary aspects, in its differentia 
ting time, had to a great extent been lost. By the 
reforming, progressive, and scientific movement of 
which each period is full, the unity or totality with 


which it began is shown to be defective. The value of 
the initial synthesis is impaired ; its formula is found 
inadequate to comprehend the totality : and the differ 
ences which that unity involved, or which were im 
plicitly in it, are now explicitly affirmed. But the 
bent towards unity is a natural law making itself felt 
even in the period of differentiation. And it makes 
itself felt in the pain of contradiction, of discord, of 
broken harmony. And that pain which is the sign 
of an ever-present life that refuses to succumb to the 
encroaching elements is the stimulus to re-construction. 
Only so far as pain ceases to be pain, as it benumbs, 
and deadens, does it involve stagnation : as pain proper, 
felt as resistance to an inner implicitly victorious 
principle, it stimulates and quickens to efforts to make 
life whole again. The integrating principle is present 
and active. There is then an effort, a re-action; the 
feeling has to do something to make itself outwardly 
felt: the implicit has to be actually put in its place, 
forced as it were into action and set forth * : and the 
existing contrasts and differences which the re-forming 
agency has called into vigorous life are lifted from their 
isolation and show of independence, and kept, as it 
were, suspended in the unity 2 . The differences are 
not lost or annihilated : but they come back to a centre, 
they find themselves, as it were, at home: they lose 
their unfair prominence and self-assertion, and sink 
into their places as constituents in the embracing or 
ganism 3 . The unity which comes is not however the 
same as the unity which disappeared, however much 
it may seem so. The mere notion the inner sense 
and inner unity has put itself forward into the real 
world : it is no longer a mere subjective principle, but 
as moulded into actuality, into the objective world, 
1 Gesetzt. 2 Aufgehoben. 3 Idee: Ideeller Weise. 

286 PROLEGOMENA. [xx. 

it has become an Idea. (Begriff is now Idee.} For 
the Idea is always more than a notion : it is a notion 
translated into objectivity, and yet in objectivity not 
sinking into a mere congeries of independent parts, 
but retaining them ideally united by links of thought 
and service in its larger ideal-reality. It is all that 
the object ought to be (and which in a sense it must 
be, if it is at all), and all that the subject sought to 
be and looked forward to. 

The mind of the world moves, as it were, in cycles, 
but with each new cycle a difference supervenes, a 
new tone is perceptible. History, which reflects the 
changing aspects of reality, does and does not repeat 
itself. The distinctions and the unity are neither of 
them the same after each step as they were before 
it : they have both suffered a change : it is a new scene 
that comes above the horizon, however like the last it 
may seem to the casual observer. Thus when the 
process of differentiation is repeated anew, it is repeated 
in higher terms, multiplied, and with a higher power 
or wider range of meaning 1 . Each unification however 
is a perfect world, a complete whole : it is the same 
sum of being ; but in each successive level of advance 
it receives a fuller expression, and a more complexly- 
grouped type of features 2 . Such is the rhythmic 
movement, the ebb and flow of the world, always 
recurring with the same burden but, as we cannot but 
hope, with richer variety of tones, and fuller sense of 
itself. The sum of actuality, the Absolute, is neither 
increased nor diminished. The world, the ultimate 

1 Potenz. 

2 Nicht nur die Einsicht in die Abhangigkeit des Einzelnen vom 
Ganzen ist allein das Wesentliche ; ebenso dass jedes Moment selbst 
unabhangig vom Ganzen das Ganze ist, und dies ist das Vertiefen in 
die Sache. (Hegel s Leben, p. 548.) 


reality of experience and life, was as much a rounded 
total to the Hebrew Patriarchs as it is to us : without 
advancing, it has been, we may say, in its expression 
deepened, developed, and organised. In one part of 
the sway of thought, however, there is a harder, narrower, 
insistance (by practical and business minds) on the 
sufficiency of a definite principle to satisfy all wants 
and to make all mysteries plain, and a disposition to 
ignore all other elements of life : at another, there is 
a fuller recognition of the differences, gaps, and con 
tradictions, involved in the last synthesis, which 
recognition it is the tendency of scientific inquiry, of 
reforming efforts, of innovation, to produce: and in 
the last period of the sway, there is a stronger and 
more extended grasp taken by the unity pervading 
these differences, which is the work appointed to 
philosophy gathering up the results of science and 
practical amendments. 

To this rhythmical movement Hegel has appropriated 
the name of pialectic^ The name came in the first 
instance from Kant, but ultimately from Plato, where 
it denotes the process which brings the many under 
the one/ and divides the one* into the many/ But 
how, it may be asked, does difference spring up, if we 
begin with unity, and how do the differences return 
into the unity? In other words, given a universal, how 
are we ever to get at particulars, and how will these 
particulars ever give rise to a real individual ? Such is 
the problem, in the technical language of the Logic of 
the Notion/ And we may answer, that the unity or 
universal in question is either a true and adequate or 
an imperfect unity. In the latter case it is a mere 
unit, amid other units, bound to them and serving to 
recall them by relations of contrast, complement, simi 
larity. It is one of many, a subordinate member in 


a congeries, and not the One. If, on the contrary, it be 
a true Unity, it is a concrete universal, the parent 
of perpetual variety. The unity, if it be its genuine 
shape which is formulated by philosophers, is not mere 
monotony without differences. If it is a living and 
real Idea, containing a complex inter-action of prin 
ciples : it is not a single line of action, but the organic 
confluence of several. No one single principle by 
itself is enough to state a life, a character, or a period. 
But as the unity comes before the eye of the single 
thinker, it is seldom or never grasped with all its 
fulness of life and difference. The whole synthesis, 
although it is implicitly present and underlies experi 
ence and life as its essential basis, is not consciously 
apprehended, but for the most part taken on one side 
only, one emphatic aspect into which it has concentrated 
itself. And even if the master could grasp the whole, 
could see the unity of actuality in all its differences, 
(and we may doubt whether any man or any philoso 
pher can thus incarnate the prerogative of reason,) 
his followers and the popular mind would not imitate 
him. While his grasp of comprehension may possibly 
have been thorough, though he may have seen life 
whole through all its differences, inequalities, and 
schisms, and with all these reduced or idealised to their 
due proportions, into the unity beyond, the crowd who 
follow him are soon compelled to lay exclusive stress 
on some one side of his theory. Some of them see the 
totality from one aspect, some from another. It is 
indeed the whole which in a certain sense they see : 
but it is the whole narrowed down to a point. While 
his theory was a comprehensive and concrete grasp, 
including and harmonising many things which seem 
otherwise wide apart, theirs is abstract and inadequate : 
it fixes on a single point, which is thus withdrawn from 


its living and meaning-giving context, and left as an 
empty name. Now it is the very nature of popular 
reasoning to tend to abstractions, in this sense of the 
word. Popular thought wants the time and persever 
ance necessary to retain a whole truth, and so is con 
tented with a partial image. It seeks for simple and 
sharp precision : it likes to have something distinctly 
before it, visible to the eye of imagination, and capable 
of being stated in a clear and unambiguous formula for 
the intellect. And popular thought the dogmatic 
insistence on one-sided truth is not confined to the 
so-called non-philosophic world : just as, on the other 
hand, the inclusive and comprehensive unity of life and 
reality is seen and felt and recognised by many and 
felt by them first who have no claim to the technical 
rank of philosophers. Popular thought is the thought 
which skims the surface of reality, which addresses 
itself to the level of opinion prevalent in all members 
of the mass as such, and does not go beyond that into 
the ultimate and complex depths of experience. 

Thus it comes about that the concrete or adequate 
synthesis which should have appeared in the self- 
conscious, thought of the period, when it reflected upon 
what it was, has been replaced by a narrow and 
one-sided formula, an abstract and formal universal, 
a universal which does not express all the particulars. 
One predominant side of the synthesis steals the place 
of the total : what should have been a comprehensive uni 
versal has lowered itself into a particular. Not indeed 
the same particular as existed before the union : because 
it has been influenced by the synthesis, so as to issue 
with a new colouring, as if it had been steeped in a fresh 
liquid. But still it is really a particular : and as such, 
it evokes a new particular in antagonism to it and ex 
hibiting an element latent in the synthesis. If the first 

290 PROLEGOMENA. [xx. 

side of the antithesis which claims unduly to be the 
total, or universal, be called Conservative, the second 
must be called Reforming or Progressive. If the first 
step is Dogmatic, the second is Sceptical. If the one 
side assumes to be the whole, the other practically 
refutes the assumption. If the one agency clings 
blindly to the unity, as when pious men rally round 
the central idea of religion, the other as tenaciously 
and narrowly holds to the difference, as when science 
displays the struggle for existence and the empire of 
chance among the myriads of aimless organisms. 
They are two warring abstractions, each in a different 
direction. But as they are the offspring of one parent, 
as they have each in their own way narrowed the 
whole down to a point, it cannot but be that when 
they evolve or develop all that is in them, they will 
ultimately coincide, and complete each other. The 
contradiction will not disappear until it has been 
persistently worked out, when each opposing member 
which was potentially a total has become what it was 
by its own nature destined to be. And this disappear 
ance of the antithesis is the reappearance of the unity 
in all its strength, reinforced with all the wealth of new 

Thus on a large scale we have seen the law of 
growth, of development, of life. It may be called 
growth by antagonism. But the antagonism here is 
over-ruled, and subject to the guidance of an indwelling 
unity. Mere antagonism if there be such a thing- 
would lead to nothing. A mere positive or affirmative 
point of being would lead to no antithesis, were it not, 
so to speak, a point floating in an ether of larger life 
and being, whence it draws an outside element which 
it overcomes, assimilates and absorbs. A bare national 
mind only grows to richer culture, because it lives in 


a universal human life, and can say Nihil humani a me 
alienum puto. So too the mere unit is always tainted 
with a dependence on outside : or it is always implicitly 
more than a mere unit : and what seems to come upon 
it from outside, is really an enemy from within, and it 
falls because there is treason within its walls. The 
revolution succeeds because the party of conservative 
order is not so hard and homogeneous as it appears. 
So, too, it is the immanent presence of the complete 
thought, of the Idea, which is the heart and moving 
spring that sets going the pulse of the universal move 
ment of thought, and which reappears in every one of 
these categories to which the actualised thought of an 
age has been reduced. In every term of thought there 
are three stages or elements : the original narrow 
definiteness, claiming to be self-sufficient, the antagon 
ism and criticism to which this gives rise, and the 
union which results when the two supplement and 
modify each other. In the full life and organic unity 
of every notion there is a definite kernel, with rigid 
outlines as if it were immovable : there is a revulsion 
against such exclusiveness, a questioning and critical 
attitude : and there is the complete notion, where the 
two first stages interpenetrate. 

U 2 



THE ordinary logic-books have made us all familiar 
with the popular distinction between Abstract and 
Concrete. By a concrete term they mean the name of 
an existence or reality which is obvious to the senses, 
and is found in time and place ; or they mean the 
name of an attribute when we expressly or tacitly 
recognise its dependence upon such a thing of the 
senses. When, on the contrary, the attribute is forcibly 
withdrawn from its context and made an independent 
entity in the mind, the term expressing it becomes in 
the usual phraseology abstract. Any term therefore 
which denotes a non-sensible or intelligible object 
would probably be called abstract. And there is some 
thing to be said for the distinction, which, though 
unsuccessful in its expression, has some feeling of the 
radical antithesis between mere being and mere thought. 
It is true, that in the totality of sense and feeling, in 
the full sense-experience, there is a concrete fulness, 
as it were, an infinite store of features and phases 
waiting for subsequent analysis to detect. In the real 
kind of actual nature there is an inexhaustible mine 
of properties, which no artificial classification and 
description can ever come to the end of. Every quality 


which we state, every relation which we predicate, is 
a partial and incomplete element in this presupposed 
reality, this implicit concrete ; and as such is abstract, 
and comparatively unreal. It is something forcibly 
torn out of and held apart from its context. But on 
the other hand the concrete reality is not at first real, 
but implicit : it becomes really concrete only as it re- 
embraces, and re-constitutes in its totality the elements 
detected by analysis. But the popular distinction 
forgets this, and gives the title and rank of concrete to 
what very poorly deserves the name, viz. to the yet 
undiscerned reality denoted by a substantive name. Yet 
there can be little doubt that the popular use of these 
terms, or the^ popular apprehension of what constitutes 
reality, for that is what it comes to, is sufficiently 
represented by the ordinary logic-books. So that, if 
the whole business of the logician lies in formulating 
the distinctions prevalent in popular thought, the 
ordinary logic is correct. 

Now the popular logic of the day, the logic which 

has long been taught in our schools and universities 

has three sources. In the first place, but in a slight 
degree, it trenches upon the province of psychology, 
and gives some account of the operation by which 
concepts or general ideas are supposed to be formed, 
and of the errors or fallacies which naturally creep into 
the process of reasoning. This is the more strictly 
modern, the descriptive part of our logic-books. But, 
secondly, the logic of our youth rests in a much higher 
degree upon the venerable authority of Aristotle. That 
logic, within its own compass, was a masterpiece of 
analysis, and for many centuries maintained an ascen 
dency over the minds of men, which it well deserved. 
But it was not an analysis of thought or knowledge as 
a whole, and it treated its subject in fragments. It 

294 PROLEGOMENA. [xxi. 

gave in one place an analysis of science and in another 
an analysis of certain methods, which could be observed 
in popular discussions and practical oratory. As Lord 
Bacon remarked, it did little else than state and, it 
may be, exaggerate the rationale of argumentation. A 
high level of popular thought it unquestionably was, 
which Aristotle had to investigate, a level which 
many generations of less favoured races were unable to 
reach. But there were defects in this Logic which 
fatally marred its general usefulness, when the limited 
scope of its original intention had been lost sight of. 
The thoughts of Greece, it has been said, were greatest 
and most active in the line of popular action for the 
city and the public interest, in the discussions, the 
quibbles, the fallacies, and rhetorical arts of the 
barber s shop and the agora/ The aim of such 
exercises was to convince, to demonstrate, to persuade, 
to overcome ; it might be for good and truth, but also 
it might not. And accordingly the Logic of Aristotle 
has been said to have for its end and canon the power 
to convince and to give demonstrative certainty. There 
is some ground, it may be, for this charge. The ancient 
logician seems to luxuriate in a rank growth of forms of 
sophism, and in an almost childlike fondness for variety 
of argumentative method. He seems resolved to trace 
the wayward tricks of thought and its phases through 
every nook and cranny, to exhaust all the permutations 
and complications of its elements. But let us be just, 
and remember that all this was in the main a specula 
tive inquiry for the sake of theory. It developed the 
powers of judgment and inference, just as the modern 
research for new metals, new plants, or new planets, 
develops the powers of observation. Both have some 
value in the material results they discover : but, after 
all, the mental culture they give is the main thing. And 


2 95 

the talents quickened by deductive research are no whit 
less valuable than those owed to the other. Forms 
are essential, even if it be possible to make the terrible 
mistake of regarding them as all-important to the ex 
clusion of matter. 

And then, this is not the whole truth. There is a per 
fectly serious Greek science Mathematics a science 
of many branches : a science which, from Plato down 
wards, always stood in alliance with the studies of 
philosophy. Now, it might be said, perhaps with 
ground, that the conception of mathematical method 
too much dominated all attempts to get at the rationale 
of science, and led to the supremacy of syllogism. It 
would be fairer perhaps to put this objection in another 
shape. We should then say that the logic of Aristotle, 
the Analytics is too much restricted to dealing 
with the most general and elementary principles of 
reasoning. But this is not in itself a fault. It becomes 
a fault only where there is no growth in philosophy 
when it is merely handed on from master to pupil ; 
and where there is a tendency to put philosophic 
doctrine to immediate use. To expend the whole energy 
of intellect in laying bare the general principles, the 
fundamental method, of knowledge and inference, is 
precisely what the founder of a science has a duty to 
do. But the beginning thus made requires development 
and development which is fruitful must proceed by cor 
rection and antithesis, no less than by positive additions. 
It was not given to Aristotle s logic to be so carried on. 
His logic, like his system in general, had no real suc 
cessor to carry it on in the following generation : and 
when in the less original ages of early Byzantine rule 
it again found students, it had become a quasi-sacred 
text which could only be commented on, not modified 
and developed. From the great Exegetai of Greece it 

296 PROLEGOMENA. [xxi. 

passed westward to Boethius and eastward to the 
Syrian and Persian commentators in the early centuries 
of the Caliphate. From these, and from other inter 
mediaries, it may be, it finally culminated in the work 
of the Latin Schoolmen of the later Middle Ages. But 
the very reverence which all these expositors felt for 
the text of the Philosopher rendered true development 

Then ; on the other hand, the lust of practical utility 
caused a grave misconception of what logic can do. 
For Aristotle, logic is a scientific analysis of the modes 
of inference ; its uses are those which follow intrinsi 
cally from all noble activity freely and zealously prose 
cuted. But with the death of Aristotle the great days 
of knowledge for the sake of knowledge and divine 
wisdom were over. The Stoics into whose hands the 
chief sceptre of philosophy, directly or indirectly, passed 
never rose above the conception of life as a task and 
a duty, and of all other things, literature, science, and 
art, as subservient to the performance of that task. The 
conception is an ennobling one : but only with a relative 
or comparative nobility. It ennobles, if it is set beside 
and against the view that life is a frivolous play, a sport 
of caprice and selfishness. But it darkens and narrows 
the outlook of humanity, when it loses sight of life as 
a jy> a self-enlarging and self-realising freedom, of 
life as in its supreme phase e^copta or the enjoyment 
of God. To the Stoic, therefore, and to the dominant 
Christian theory which entered to some extent on the 
Stoic inheritance logic, like the rest of philosophy, was 
something only valuable because ultimately it helped 
to save the soul. 

It thus sunk into the position of an Organon or instru 
ment. To the Stoic, for instance to Epictetus its 
value was its use to establish the doctrines of the Stoic 


faith, by confuting the ill-arranged and futile inferences 
on which were founded the aims and approvals of 
ordinary worldly life. To the Christian, again, it 
served as a method for putting into systematic shape 
(under the guidance of certain supreme categories or 
principles also borrowed from Greek thought) the 
variety of fundamental and derivative aspects which suc 
cessive minds, pondering on the power and mystery of 
the Christian faith, had set forward as its essential 
dogmas. It thus helped to build up (out of the leading 
ideas of Greek metaphysics, and the principles emerging 
in the earliest attempts to formulate the law of Christ) 
that amalgam of the power of a divine life with the 
reflective thought of the teachers of successive genera 
tions, which constitutes the dogmatic creed of Christen 
dom. Such a reconstruction in thought of the reality 
which underlies experience (in this case the experi 
ence of the Christian life), is inevitable if man is to be 
man, a free intelligence, and not a mere animal-like 
feeling. But its success is largely, if not entirely, 
dependent on the value of the logic and metaphysics 
which it employs : and it would be a bold thing to say 
that the subtle, abstract, and unreal system of Neo- 
Platonist and Nee-Aristotelian thought was an organon 
adequate to cope with the breadth and depth, latent 
if not very explicit, in the fulness and reality of the 
religious life. 

Yet even as an Organon, Logic had to sink to a lower 
rank. As traditionalism grew supreme, and religion 
ossified into a stereotyped form of belief and practice, 
logic had less to do as an organiser of dogma. It 
sank, or seemed to sink (for it would be rash to 
speak too categorically of an epoch of thought so far 
removed from modern sympathy and understanding 
as the age of the Schoolmen), into a futile (and as it seems 

298 PROLEGOMENA. [xxi. 

occasionally almost a viciously-despairing) play with 
pro and contra, into a lust of argumentation which in 
masters like Ockam comes perilously close to scepticism 
or agnosticism. More and more, Scholastic thought, 
which, at one time, had been in the centre of such 
intellectual life as there was, came to be stranded on 
the shore, while the onward-flowing tide spread in 
other directions. These were the great days of logical 
sway, when it seemed as if logic could create new 
truth : as if forms could beget matter. So at least ran 
an outside rumour, which was probably based on some 
amount of real folly. But the more important point 
was that the old logic had lost touch with reality. 
New problems were arising, which it was without 
a profound reconstruction quite incapable of solving. 
Of these there were obviously two not unconnected 
perhaps, but arising in different spheres of life. There 
was the revival of religious experience, growing especi 
ally since the thirteenth century with an ever-swelling 
stream in the souls of men and women, till it burst 
through all bounds of outward organisation in the 
catastrophe of the Reformation. Luther may have 
been historically unjust (as Bacon afterwards was) to 
the blind heathen master/ as he called Aristotle : but he 
was governed by a true instinct when (unlike the com 
promise-loving Melanchthon) he found the traditional 
system of logic and metaphysics no proper organon for 
the new phase of faith and theory. So, too, the new 
attempts at an inception and instauration of the sciences 
grew up outside the walls of old tradition, and were 
at first perhaps discouraged and persecuted as infidel and 
heretical, and were, even without that burden, pursued 
at much hap-hazard and with much ignorance both in 
aims and methods. Intelligent onlookers, especially 
if inspired by an enthusiasm for the signs of an age 


happier for human welfare could not but see how 
needful it was to come to some understanding on the 
aims and methods of the rising sciences. 

This want, which he keenly felt, Francis Bacon tried 
to satisfy. He pointed out, vaguely, but zealously 
and in a noble spirit, the end which that new logic had 
to accomplish. Bacon, however, could not do more 
than state these bold suggestions : he had not the 
power to execute them. He imagined indeed that he 
could display a method, by which science would make 
incredible advances, and the kingdom of truth in a 
few years come into the world. But this is a sort of 
thing which no man can do. Plato, if we take his 
Republic for a political pamphlet, had tried to do it 
for the social life of Athens. What Plato could not do 
for the political world of Greece, Bacon could not do 
for the intellectual world in his time : for as the 
Athenian worked under the shadow of his own state, 
over-mastered even without his knowledge by the 
ordinances of Athens, so the Englishman was evidently 
enthralled by the medieval conceptions and by the 
logic which he condemned. What Aristotle had for 
ages been supposed to do, no philosopher could do 
for the new spirit of inquiry which had risen in and 
before the days of Bacon. That spirit, as exhibited in 
his great contemporaries, Bacon, as he has himself 
shown, could not rightly understand or appreciate. He 
failed, above all, to recognise the self-corrective, tenta 
tive, and hypothetical nature, of all open inquiry. But 
one need not for this disparage his work. It showed 
a new sense of the magnitude of the modern problem : 
it set prominently forward the comprehensive aim of 
human welfare : and by its conception of the forma * it 
kept science pledged to a high ideal. But Bacon could 
only play the part of the guide-post : he could not 

300 PROLEGOMENA. [xxi. 

himself lay down the road. And negatively he could 
warn against the belief that mathematics could generate 
or do more indeed than define the sciences. The spirit 
of free science, of critical investigation, of inductive 
inquiry, must and did constitute its forms, legislation, 
and methods for itself. For no philosopher can lay 
down laws or methods beforehand which the sciences 
must follow. The logician only comes after, and, 
appreciating and discovering the not always con 
spicuous methods of knowledge, endeavours to gather 
them up and give them their proper place in the grand 
total of human thought, correcting its inadequacies by 
their aid, and completing their divisions by its larger 
unities. Or rather this is a picture of what English 
logic might have done. But it does not do so in the 
ordinary and accepted text-books on the subject. What 
it does do, is rather as follows. To the second and 
fundamental part which it subjects to a few unimportant 
alterations, i. e. to the doctrine of terms, propositions, 
and reasonings, it subjoins an enumeration of the 
methods used in the sciences. 

To the rude minds of the Teutonic peoples the 
logical system of Aristotle had seemed almost a divine 
revelation. From the brilliant intellect of Greece 
a hand was stretched to help them in the arrangement 
of their religious beliefs. The Church accepted the 
aid of logic, foreign though logic was to its natural 
bent, as eagerly as the young society tried for a while 
to draw support from the ancient forms of the Roman 
Empire. So with the advance of the Sciences in 
modern times some hopeful spirits looked upon the 
Inductive Logic of Mill in the light of a new revelation. 
The vigorous action of the sciences hailed a systematic 
account of its methods almost as eagerly as the strong, 
but untaught intellect of the barbarian world welcomed 



the lessons of ancient philosophy. For the first time 
the sciences, which had been working blindly or in 
stinctively, but with excellent success, found their 
procedure stated clearly and definitely, yet without any 
attempt to reduce their varied life to the Procrustean 
bed of mathematics, which had once been held to 
possess a monopoly of method. The enormous influ 
ence of the physical sciences saw itself reflected in 
a distinct logical outline: and the new logic became 
the dominant philosophy. Such for a while was the 
proud position of the Inductive Logic. Enthusiastic 
students of science in all countries, who were not 
inaccessible to wider culture, used quotations from Mill 
to adorn and authorise their attempts at generalisation 
and theory. A period of speculation in the scientific 
world succeeded the period .of experiment, in which 
facts had been collected and registered. A chapter on 
Method became a necessary introduction to all higher 
scientific treatises. In our universities methodology 
was prodigally applied to the study of ancient philo 
sophy. And so long as the scientific epoch lasts in its 
one-sided prominence, so long the theory of inductive 
and experimental methods may dominate the intellec 
tual world. 

But the Inductive Logic hardly rose to the due sense 
of its situation. It has not held to the same high ideal 
as Bacon set before it. It has planted itself beside 
what it was good enough to call the Deductive Logic, 
and given the latter a certain toleration as a harmless 
lunatic, or an old pauper who had seen better days. 
Retaining the latter with certain modifications, although 
it has now lost its meaning in the changed outlines of 
the intellectual world, Inductive Logic adds a method 
ology of the sciences, without however founding this 
methodology upon a comprehensive analysis of know- 

302 PROLEGOMENA. [xxi. 

ledge as a whole, when enlarged and enlightened by 
the work of the sciences. Hence the two portions, 
the old logic, mutilated and severed from the Greek 
world it grew out of, and the new Inductive or specially- 
scientific logic, not g6ing beyond a mere classification 
of methods, can never combine, any more than oil 
and water. And the little psychology, which is some 
times added, does not facilitate the harmony. 

But Inductive Logic should have adopted a more 
thorough policy. There can only be one Logic, which 
must be both inductive and deductive, but exclusively, 
and in parts, neither. To achieve that task however 
Logic must not turn its back indifferently on what it 
calls metaphysics, and it must rise to a higher con 
ception of the problems of what it calls psychology. 

In these circumstances the ordinary logic, in its 
fundamental terms, is more on the level of popular 
thought, than in a strictly scientific region, and does 
not attempt to unite the two regions, and examine the 
fundamental basis of thought on which scientific methods 
rest. The case of Concrete and Abstract will illustrate 
what has been said. To popular thought the sense- 
world is concrete : the intellectual world abstract. And 
so it is in the ordinary logic. To Hegel, on the con 
trary, the intellectual interpretation of the world of 
reality and experience is a truer and thus a more 
concrete description of it than that contained in a series 
of sense-terms. Now the difference between the two 
uses of the term is not a mere arbitrary change of 
names. When the philosopher denies the concreteness 
of the sense-world, and declares that it, as merely sen 
sible, is only a mass of excluding elements, a manifold/ 
and in the second instance a series of abstractions, 
drawn out of this congeries by perception, the change of 
language marks the total change of position between 


the philosophic and the popular consciousness. Reality 
and concreteness as estimated by the one line of thought 
are the very reverse of those of the other. A mere 
sense-world to the philosopher is a world which wants 
unity, which is made up of bits imperfectly adjusted to 
each other, and always leading us to look for an ex 
planation of them in sources outside them. The single 
things we say we perceive, the here and the now 
we perceive them in are found, upon reflection and 
analysis, to depend upon general laws, on relations 
that go beyond the single, on what is neither here nor 
now, but everywhere and timeless. The reality of the 
thing is found to imply a general system of relations 
which make it what it is. Sense-perception in short is 
the beginning of knowledge : and it begins by taking up 
its task piecemeal. It rests upon a felt totality : and to 
raise this to an intelligible totality, it must at first only 
isolate one attribute at a time. 

The apprehension of a thing from one side or aspect, 
the apprehension of one thing apart from its con 
nexions, the retention of a term or formula apart 
from its context, is what Hegel terms abstract/ 
Ordinary terms are essentially abstract. They spring 
from the analysis of something which would, in the first 
stage of the process, in strictness be described not as 
concrete, but as chaos : as the indefinite or manifold 
of sensation. But the first conceptions, which spring 
from this group when it is analysed, are abstract : they 
are each severed from the continuity of their reality. 
To interpret our feeling, our experience as felt, we 
must break it up. But the first face that presents 
itself is apt to impress us unduly, and seems more real, 
because nearer feeling : on the other it is more unreal, 
because less adequate as a total expression of the felt 
unity. In the same sense we call Political Economy 

304 PROLEGOMENA. [xxi. 

an abstract science, because it looks upon man as 
a money-making and money-distributing creature, and 
keeps out of sight his other qualities. Our notions in 
this way are more abstract or more concrete, according 
as our grasp of thought extends to less or more of the 
relations which are necessarily pre-supposed by them. 
On the other hand, when a term of thought owns and 
emphasises its solidarity with others, when it is not 
circumscribed to a single relation, but becomes a focus 
in which a variety of relations converge, when it is 
placed in its right post in the organism of thought, its 
limits and qualifications as it were recognised and its 
degree ascertained, then that thought is rendered con 
crete. A concrete notion is a notion in its totality, 
looking before and after, connected indissolubly with 
others : a unity of elements, a meeting-point of opposites. 
An abstract notion is one withdrawn from everything 
that naturally goes along with it, and enters into its 
constitution. All this is no disparagement of abstrac 
tion. To abstract is a necessary stage in the process 
of knowledge. But it is equally necessary to insist on 
the danger of clinging, as to an ultimate truth, to the 
pseudo-simplicity of abstraction, which forgets alto 
gether what it is in certain situations desirable for a 
time to overlook. 

In a short essay, with much grim humour and quaint 
illustrations, Hegel tried to show what was meant by 
the name abstract/ which in his use of it denotes the 
cardinal vice of the practical habit of mind. From 
this essay, entitled Who is the Abstract Thinker l ? 
it may be interesting to quote a few lines. A murderer 
is, we may suppose, led to the scaffold. In the eyes 
of the multitude he is a murderer and nothing more. 
The ladies perhaps may make the remark that he is 

1 Wer denkt abstrakt? (l^ermischte Schriften, vol. ii. p. 402.) 


a strong, handsome, and interesting man. At such 
a remark the populace is horrified. " What ! a murderer 
handsome ? Can anybody s mind be so low as to call 
a murderer handsome? You must be little better your 
selves." And perhaps a priest who sees into the heart, 
and knows the reasons of things, will point to this 
remark, as evidence of the corruption of morals pre 
vailing among the upper classes. A student of character, 
again, inquires into the antecedents of the criminal s 
up-bringing : he finds that he owes his existence to ill- 
assorted parents ; or he discovers that this man has 
suffered severely for some trifling offence, and that 
under the bitter feelings thus produced he has spurned 
the rules of society, and cannot support himself other 
wise than by crime. No doubt there will be people 
who when they hear this explanation will say " Does 
this person then mean to excuse the murderer ? " In 
my youth I remember hearing a city magistrate com 
plain that book-writers were going too far, and trying 
to root out Christianity and good morals altogether. 
Some one, it appeared, had written a defence of suicide. 
It was horrible ! too horrible ! On further inquiry it 
turned out that the book in question was the Sorrows of 

By abstract thinking, then, is meant that in the 
murderer we see nothing but the simple fact that he is 
a murderer, and by this single quality annihilate all the 
human nature which is in him. The polished and 
sentimental world of Leipsic thought otherwise. They 
threw their bouquets, and twined their flowers round 
the wheel and the criminal who was fastened to it. 
But this also is the opposite pole of abstraction. It 
was in a different strain that I once heard a poor old 
woman, an inmate of the workhouse, rise above the 
abstraction of the murderer. The sun shone, as the 



severed head was laid upon the scaffold. " How 
finely," said the woman, " does God s gracious sun 
lighten up Binder s head ! " We often say of a poor 
creature who excites our anger that he is not worth 
the sun shining on him. That woman saw that the 
murderer s head was in the sunlight, and that it had 
not become quite worthless. She raised him from the 
punishment of the scaffold into the sunlit grace of God. 
It was not by wreaths of violets or by sentimental 
fancies that she brought about the reconciliation : she 
saw him in the sun above received into grace. 



INDUCTION and Experience are names to which is 
often assigned the honour of being the source of all our 
knowledge. But what induction and experience consist 
in, is what we are supposed to be already aware of; and 
that is it may be briefly said the concentration of the 
felt and sense-given fragments into an intimate unity. 
The accidents and fortunes that have befallen us in 
lapses of time, the scenes that have been set before and 
around us in breadths of space, are condensed into 
a mood of mind, a habitual shading of judgment, 
or frame of thought. The details of fact re-arrange 
themselves into a general concept ; their essence gets 
distilled into a concentrated form. Their meaning 
disengages itself from its embodiment, and floats as 
a self-sustaining form in an ideal world. Thus if we 
look at the larger process of history, we see every 
period trying to translate the sensuous fact of its life 
into a formula of thought, and to fix it in definite 
characters. The various parts of existence, and exist 
ence as a whole, are stripped of their sensible or factual 
nature, in which we originally feel and come into 
contact with them, and are reduced to their simple 
equivalents in terms of thought. From sense and 
immediate feeling there is, in the first place, generated 
an image or idea which at least represents and stands 
for reality ; and from that, in the second place, comes 

X 2 

308 PROLEGOMENA. [xxn. 

a thought or notion proper, which holds the facts in 

The phenomenon may, perhaps, be illustrated by the 
case of numbers. To the adult European, numbers and 
numbering are an obvious and essential part of our 
scheme of things that seems to need no special ex 
planation. But the experience of children suggests 
its artificiality, and the evidence from the history of 
language corroborates that surmise. If number be in 
a way describable as part of the sense-experience, or 
total impression, it certainly does not come upon us 
with the same passivity on our part as the perception of 
taste or colour, or even of shape. It postulates a higher 
grade of activity. As Plato says, it awakes the intelli 
gence : it implies a question and looks forward to an 
answer : it is thus the first appearance of what in its 
later fullness will be called Dialectic/ To put it 
otherwise : Numbering can only proceed where there is 
a unit, and an identity : it implies a one, and it implies 
an infinite repetibility of that one \ It thus postulates 
the double mental act, first of reducing the various to its 
basis of identity, and, secondly, of performing a synthesis 
of the identical units thus created. In the highly artificial 
world in which we live all this seems simple enough. 
The products of machinery, articles of furniture, dress, 
&c., &c., are already uniform items : and the strokes 
of a clock seem almost to invite summation. But in 
free nature this similarity is much less obviously 
stamped on things : and the products of primitive art 
of literal manu-facture display an individuality, an 
element of personal taste, even, which is necessarily 
lacking in things turned out by machinery. Thus it 
was necessary, before we could number, to reduce the 
qualitatively different to a quantitative equality or com- 
1 See vol. ii. p. 190, (Logic, 102). 

XXI1 -] NUMBER. 3 9 

parability. There are indeed some instances, in that 
nearest of things to us, the human body, which might 
help. There is the obvious similarity of organs and 
limbs which go in pairs, and which might easily suggest 
a dual, as, so to speak, a sensuous fact amongst other 
facts. Again, there is the hand and its five fingers, or 
the two hands and the ten fingers. The five or ten, as 
a whole naturally given, suggest a grouping of numbers 
in natural aggregates. The fingers, again, (and here 
we may keep at first to the fingers proper, minus the 
thumb,) may be without much ingenuity said to give us 
a set of four, naturally distinct, yet naturally alike, and 
needing, so to speak, the minimum of intelligence to 
create the numerical scale from one to four. It is by 
them, indeed, that Plato, it may be unconsciously, 
illustrates the genesis of number. Here in short you 
have the natural abacus of the nations, but one re 
stricted, first, perhaps to the group 1-4, secondly to the 
group i-io. 

We have seen how the dual was, in certain instances, 
almost a natural perceptive fact. But when it is so 
envisaged, it is hardly recognised as number strictly so 
called. It is only a fresh and peculiar sensuous at 
tribute of things : a thing which has the quality of 
duplication, not a thought which is the synthesis of 
two identical units. It is a sort of accident, not part 
of a regular system or series. So again with the plural, 
which may appear in several shapes before it is as 
signed to its proper place as a systematic function of 
the singular. If the Malay, in order to say the king 
of all apes has to enumerate one after another the 
several sub-species of ape, or if to express houses he 
has to reduplicate the singular, to insert a word mean 
ing all or many, we can see that the conception of 
number is for him still in the bonds of sense. It is not 

310 PROLEGOMENA. [xxil. 

a synthetic category, but only a material multitude. 
But in other cases the plural proper is almost con 
founded with the so-called collective/ It is not an 
unfamiliar fact in Greek and Latin that the plural has 
acquired a meaning of its own, not the mere multiple 
of its singular; as also that the collective term is 
occasionally used as an abstract, occasionally as the 
more or less indeterminate collection of the individuals. 
Such plurals and such collectives represent a stage of 
language and conception when the aggregate of singu 
lars form a uniquely-qualified case of the object. And 
the peculiarity of them is seen in the way the plurality 
is immersed in and restricted to the special class of 
objects : as e. g. when in English the plurality of 
a number of ships is verbally stereotyped as against the 
plurality of a number of sheep, or of partridges (fleet, 
flock, covey). In such instances the category of 
number is completely pervaded and modified by the 
quality of the objects it is applied to. So, in the 
Semitic languages, the so-called broken plural is 
a quasi-collective, which grammatically counts as a 
feminine singular (like so many Latin and Greek 
collectives) : and whereas the more regular plural is 
generally shown by separable affix, this quasi-collective 
plural enters the very body of the word by vowel- 
change, indicating as it were by this absorption the 
constitution of a specifically new view of things. On the 
other hand, it may be said, there is in this collective 
a trace of the emergence of the universal and identical 
element through the generalisation due to the con 
junction of several similars all acting as one l . 

In a true plural, on the contrary, it is required that the 
sign of number be clearly eliminated from any peculiari 
ties of its special object, and be distinctly separated 

1 See Max Miiller in Mind, vol. i. 345. 


from the collective. And similarly the true numeral 
has to be realised in its abstractness, as a category 
per se. And to do this requires some amount of 
abstraction. In Greek, for example, we meet the dis 
tinction between numbers in the abstract, pure numbers 
(such as four and six), and bodily or physical numbers 
(such as four men, six trees) \ The geometrical aspect 
under which numbers were regarded by the Greeks, 
e. g. as oblong or square numbers, bears in the same 
direction. But another phenomenon in language tells 
the tale more distinctly 2 . Abundantly in Sanscrit and 
Greek, more rarely in Zend and Teutonic, and here 
and there in the Semitic languages, we meet with what 
is known as the dual number, a special grammatical 
form intended to express a pair of objects. The witty 
remark of Du Ponceau 3 concerning the Greek dual, 
that it had apparently been invented only for lovers 
and married people, may illustrate its uses, but hardly 
suffices to explain its existence in language. But 
a comparison of barbarian dialects serves to show that 
the dual is, as it were, a prelude to the plural, a first 
attempt to grasp the notion of plurality in a definite 
way, which served its turn in primitive society, but 
afterwards disappeared, when the plural had been 
developed, and the numerals had attained a form of 

1 Pure number is apiOpos ftovaSitcos : applied number is apiOfios 
<pvaiKos or acu/KiTi/foy. Aristotle, Metaph. N. 5, speaks of dptOftds 
irvpivos jj "yfjivos. But this is only Greek idiom : as we say Greek 
history instead of History of Greece/ or vice versa, when we 
translate Populus Romanus by people of Rome. Aristotle is 
speaking of proportions or amounts of fire or earth in the 
compounds of these elements. 

3 See L. Geiger, Ursprung und Entwickelung der menschlichen 
Sprache und Vernunft (vol. i. p. 380). And Gabelenz ( Die me- 
lanesischen Sprachen ) in the Abhandlungen der Sachsischen Gesell- 
schaft der Wissenschaften (VIII), 1861, pp. 89-91. 

3 Memoire sur le systeme grammatical, &c. p. 155. 

312 PROLEGOMENA. [xxil. 

their own. If this be so, the dual is what physiologists 
call a rudimentary organ, and tells the same story as 
these organs do of the processes of nature. 

The language of the Melanesian island of Annatom, 
one of the New Hebrides, may be taken as an instance 
of a state of speech in which the dual is natural. That 
language possesses a fourfold distinction of number in 
its personal pronouns, a different form to mark the 
singular, dual, trial, and plural : and the pronoun of the 
first person plural distinguishes in addition whether the 
person addressed is or is not included in the we-two/ 
we-three, or we-many of the speaker 1 . The same 
language however possesses only the first three numerals, 
and in the translation of the Bible into this dialect it 
was necessary to introduce the English words, four, 
five, &c. The two facts must be taken together : the 
luxuriance of the personal pronouns and the scanty 
development of numerals in such languages are two 
phenomena of the same law. The numeral four to 
these tribes is said to bear the meaning of many or 
several. Another fact points in the same direction. 
In many languages, such as those of China, Further 
India and Mexico, it is customary in numbering to use 
what W. von Humboldt has called class-words. Here 
it is felt that an artificial unity has to be created, 
a common denominator found, and all reduced to it, 
before any summation can be carried out. Scholars 
and officials, in Chinese, can only be classed under the 
rubric of jewel or dignity : and animals or fish by 
tails/ as if thereby only could one get a handle to hold 

1 Cf. nous and nous autres. The same distinction is found in some 
American languages. There is a dual in the language of the Green- 
landers ; but it is not, however, used when a natural duality seems to 
call for it, but in cases when, though there might have been several 
things, only two are actually found. 


them and count them. (The idiom still lingers in 
western languages : as in English, heads of cabbage, or of 
cattle : or German, seeks Mann Soldaten.) So in Malay, 
instead of five boys the phrase used is boy five-man : 
in other words, the numerals are supposed to inhere as 
yet in objects of a special kind or common occurrence 1 . 
And among the South Sea Islanders the consciousness 
of number is decidedly personal : that is to say, the 
distinction between one and two is first conceived as 
a distinction between I and we two/ Even this 
amount of simplification surpasses what is found 
amongst some Australian tribes. There we find four 
duals : one for brothers and sisters : one for parents 
and children : one for husbands and wives : and one 
between brothers-in-law 2 . Each pair has a different 
form. We thus seem to see to what early language is 
applied : not to designate the objects of nature, but the 
members of the primitive family and their interests. 
The consciousness of numbers was first awakened by 
the need of distinguishing and combining the things 
that belonged to and specially interested men and 
women in the narrow circle of barbarian life 3 . It is 
not altogether imaginative in principle, though it may 
be occasionally surmise in details, to connect the rise 
of grammatical forms with the temperament and char 
acter of the people, and therefore with its social 
organisation. If the Bantoo or Caflfir languages of 
Southern Africa instead of a single third personal 

1 W. von Humboldt, Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues, 
p. 423 (ed. 1841); Misteli, Typen des Sprachbaues (1893). 

2 Capt. Grey, Vocabulary of the dialects of S. W. Australia, pp. xxi 
and 104 (1840). 

3 The sharp distinction between the first and second personal 
pronouns and the third : the want of any apparent connexion in 
the Indo-Germanic languages between the first and second persons 
singular and the plural form seems to point in the same direction. 

314 PROLEGOMENA. [xxn. 

pronoun and third personal termination to the verb 
use the separate forms corresponding to the ten class- 
prefixes of the nouns, it must be in accordance with the 
general spirit and system of these tribes. The various 
plural forms, if they persist, will reflect contemporary 
modes of life. 

Numbers were at first immersed in the persons, and 
then, as things came to be considered also, in the 
things numbered. The mind seems to have proceeded 
slowly from the vague one to definite numbers. And 
the first decided step was taken towards an appre 
hension of numbers when two was distinguished from 
one, and the distinction was made part of the personal 
terminations. The plural was a further step in the 
same direction : the real value of which, however, did 
not become apparent until the numerals had been sepa 
rately established in forms of their own. When that 
was accomplished, the special form of the dual became 
useless : it had outlived its purpose, and henceforth it 
ceased to have any but that poetical beauty of old asso 
ciation which often adorns the once natural, but now 
obsolete growths of the past. When the numerals were 
thus emancipated from their material and sensuous 
environment, quantity was translated from outward 
being in its embodiments into a form of thought. At 
first, indeed, it was placed in an ethereal or imagi 
native space, the counterpart as it were of the sensuous 
space in which it had been previously immersed. It 
became a denizen of the mental region, as it had been 
before a habitant of the sense-world. 

The mind was informed with quantity in the shape of 
number : but it does not follow from this, that the new 
product was comprehended, or the process of its pro 
duction kept in view. Like all new inventions (and 
numeration may fairly be classed under that head), it 


was laid hold of, and all its consequences, results, and 
uses estimated and realised by the practical and defining 
intellect. In one direction, it became, like many new 
inventions in the early days of society, a magic charm, 
and was invested with mystery, sacredness, and mar 
vellous powers. But the intelligent mind, the under 
standing, resolved to make better use of the new 
instrument : and that in two ways, in practical work 
and in theory. On the one hand it was applied prac 
tically in the dealings of life, in commerce, contracts, 
legislation, and religion. On the other hand, the new 
conception of number, which common sense and the 
instinctive action of men had evolved, was carried out 
in all its theory : it was analysed in all directions, and 
its elements combined in all possible ways. The result 
was the science of arithmetic, and mathematics in 
general. Such consequences did the reflective under 
standing derive from the analysis of its datum, the 
fact of quantity freed from its sensuous envelope. 

The general action of understanding, and of practical 
thought, is of this kind. It accepts the representative 
images which have emerged from sensation, as they 
occur : and tries to appreciate them, to give them 
precision, to carry them into details, and to analyse 
them until their utmost limits of meaning are explored. 
Where they have come from, and where they lead to, 
the process out of which they spring, and which fixes 
the extent of their validity, are questions of no interest 
to the understanding 1 . It takes its objects, as given in 
popular conception, as fixed and ultimate entities to be 
expounded in detail. 

We have taken number as one example of the trans 
ference of a sensible or sense-immersed fact into a form 
of thought: but a form which is still placed in a supe- 

1 Cf. vol. ii. Notes and Illustrations, p. 400. 

316 PROLEGOMENA. [xxil. 

rior or mental space. One advantage of taking number 
as illustration, is that numbered things are distinguished 
from numbers in an emphatic and recognised way. 
Nobody will dispute that the abstraction, as it is called, 
has an existence of its own, and can be made a legiti 
mate object of independent investigation. But if the 
process be more obvious in the case of the numerals, 
there must have been a similar course of development 
leading to the pronouns, the prepositions, and the 
auxiliary verbs to what has been called the formal 
or pronominal or demonstrative* element, the con 
nective and constructive tissue of language. Whether 
these pronominal roots form a special and originally- 
distinct class of their own, or are derived from a trans 
mutation of more material or substantial elements, is 
a question on which linguistic research casts as yet no 
very certain light. It is true that on the one hand 
etymology is mainly silent on the origin of pronouns, 
numerals, and the more fundamental prepositions (i. e. can 
not refer them to roots significant of qualitative being) : 
and one need not lay much stress on remarks, like that 
of Gabelenz l , that in the Indo-Chinese languages the 
words for /, five, fish have a like sound, as do those for 
thou, two, ear, or that / am, originally means / breathe. 
In all languages though with immense diversities of 
degree, this formal element has attained a certain inde 
pendence. And in many instances we can more or less 
trace the process by which there grew up in language 
an independent world of thought : we can see the 
natural existence passing out of the range of the senses 
into spiritual relations. Before our eyes a world of 
reason is slowly constituting itself in the history of 
culture : and we, who live now, enter upon the inherit 
ance which past ages have laid up for us. 

1 Die Sprachwissenschaft, p. 168. 


There is, however, a difference between the way in 
which these results look to us now, and the way in 
which they originally organised themselves. The child 
who begins to learn a language in the lesson-books and 
the grammars finds the members of it all, as it were, 
upon one level : adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and 
verbs confront him with the same authority and rank. 
This appearance is deceptive : it may easily suggest 
that the words are not members in an organism, in and 
out of which they have developed. And this organism 
of thought has its individual types, expressed in the 
great families of human speech. Its generic form (as 
drawn out in a logical system) appears in different 
grades, with different degrees of fullness, in Altaic and 
Dravidian from what it does in Malay, or in Chinese, 
and these again have their own predominant categories 
as compared with those used in the American or 
African languages, or in Indo-Germanic and Semitic. 
If the Altaic languages e.g. are wanting in the verb 
proper, and manage with possessive suffixes and nouns ; 
if the Semitic tenses display a poverty which contrasts 
with their wealth in Greek ; and yet each group per 
forms its function, we may infer that each speech has 
a complete organism, though it does not bring all its 
parts to adequate expression. All this distinction of 
parts of speech/ of forms, prefixes and suffixes, &c., is 
part of the life of language, embodying in more or less 
distinct organs the organisation of thought in the indi 
vidual form it reached in that speech-type. Thus in 
Chinese there are strictly speaking no isolated words, 
nouns, or verbs: there are only abstract parts of 
a concrete sentence; and grammar in Chinese there 
fore has no accidence (no declensions, conjugations, 
&c.) but only syntax. Yet it is these abstract frag 
ments which exist and seem to have independence and 

31 8 PROLEGOMENA. [xxil. 

inherent meaning: whereas the unity in which they 
cohere to form a concrete context is the fleeting 
sentence of the moment. At the opposite extreme, 
again, the Mexican family of languages tend to incor 
porate relations to subject and object with the verb, in 
such a degree that the word almost becomes a sentence. 
Facts like these suggest that a science of the forms of 
language, in proportion as it generalises, tends to 
approach logic; and that logic will have a converse 
tendency to elevate to an unduly typical position the 
grammatical form of the languages with which the 
logician is best acquainted. 

If these points were remembered, there would be 
less absurd employment of the grammatical categories 
of one group of languages to systematise another. 
Greek and Sanscrit grammar plays sad havoc with the 
organism of a Semitic tongue, and it is not less out of 
place as a schema for delineating e.g. South African 
dialect. Isolated words even in an Indo-Germanic 
language even, we may say, in such a language as 
English are still fractional, and do not get life and 
individuality except in their context. And it needs but 
a little experience to show how various that individuality 
may be. It needs perhaps still more meditation to 
realise that it is in this individuality that the real life of 
language lies : in the words said and written to express 
the thought of a personality. But, first, because lan 
guage has its material and mechanical side, and 
secondly, because in civilised countries it further 
acquires a more stereotyped mechanism in written and 
printed language, its parts tend to gain a pseudo- 
independence. It is one aim of a philosophical dic 
tionary to restore the organic interconnexion which in 
the mere sequence of vocables in juxtaposition is apt 
to be lost. What we call the meaning of a word is 


something which carries us beyond that mere word, 
which restores the connexions which have been broken 
off and forgotten. In the form of a dictionary, of 
course, this can only be done piece-meal : but if each 
piece is done thoroughly, it can hardly fail to bring 
out certain comprehensive connexions. The mere 
word seems a simple thing; and one is at first dis 
posed to get rid of its difficulty by substituting a so- 
called synonym. But a deeper study reveals the fact 
that an exact synonym is a thing one can no more 
find than two peas which are absolutely indistinguish 
able. A synonym is only a practical pis alter. But 
every word is really as it were a point in an infinitely 
complex organic life, with its essence or meaning 
determined by the currents to and fro which meet 
in it. 

Words as we see them prima facie in a printed page 
do look separate entities. They stand, one here and 
another there, in a quasi-extension, with marks of 
direction and connexion pointing from one to another, 
but of connexion apparently extraneous to the more 
solid points which are represented by nouns and verbs, 
or names of substances, actions, and attributes. Results, 
as they are, of that practical analysis which the need of 
writing down language has led to, they are treated as 
complete wholes, which by the speaker are forced into 
certain temporary connexions. But this is an illu 
sion which, because a thing changes its relationships, 
assumes that it can exist out of all relationships what 
ever. Every word of Language is such an abstraction, 
isolated from its context. But amid these contexts 
there are certain similarities : identical elements are 
detected : and these identical elements are the common 
names of language, the terms of general significance. 
In all cases, however, what an utterance of language 

3 20 PROLEGOMENA. [xxil. 

describes or expresses is a definite individual event 
or scene, conceived as a concrete of several parts. 
Each separate vocable is a contribution to the total : 
a step towards the real redintegration of the whole 
out of its several parts. But the total itself the 
content of fact in any single sentence is only an 
abstraction, a part of the universe which human inter 
est and need have isolated from the comprehensive 
scope of things. Thus, in two degrees, we may say, 
the picture produced in the sentence falls short of the 
truth of things. Each statement is an arbitrary or 
accidental cutting out of the totality: each element of 
the cutting is dependent on that abstraction, and rela 
tive to it. But as in a given group of speech, the 
same sets of circumstances will naturally be selected, 
and tend to recur again and again, the terms which 
describe them will acquire a certain association with 
the objects, and will come to be called the common 
names of these agents, acts, and qualities. They denote 
or represent the things and acts, conceived however 
in certain aspects and relations, and not in their entirety 
and totality of nature. 

In this product of intellectual movement above the 
limits of sensation we have the representation 1 as 
Hegel calls it, on which the Understanding turns its 
forces. We have one product of the organic whole of 
thought taken by itself as if it were independent, set 
forth as a settled nucleus for further acquaintance : and 
this one point discussed fully and with precision, 
elaborated in all detail and consequence, to the neglect 
of its context, and the necessary limitations involved in 
the notion. The process of name-giving may illustrate 
this tendency in human thought to touch its objects 
only in one point. The names given to objects do not 

1 Vorstellung, as distinguished from Begriff.* 


embrace the whole nature of these objects, but give 
expression only to one striking feature in them. Thus 
the name of the horse points it out as the strong or 
the swift : the moon is the measurer or the shining 
one ; and so in all cases. The object as expressed 
in these names is viewed from one aspect, or in one 
point: and the name, which originally at least corre 
sponds to the conception, meets the object, properly 
speaking, on that side only, or in that relation. The 
object is not studied in its own nature, and in its total 
world, but as it specially enters the range of human 
interest, and serves human utilities. One can at least 
guess why it should be so : why a name should, in 
logical language, express an accidens and not the 
essentia of the object. For the investigation of primi 
tive language seems to show that words, as we know 
them in separate existence, are a secondary formation : 
and that the first significant speech was an utterance 
intended to describe a scene, an action, a phenomenon, 
or complex of event. In point of time, the primary 
fact of language is an agglomeration or aggregate, we 
may call it either word or clause (Xd yo $-, in short) 
which describes in one breath a highly individualised 
action or phenomenon. The spirit or unifying prin 
ciple in this group might be the accent. Such a word- 
group denotes a highly specialised form of being : and 
if we call it a word, we may say that the earliest words, 
and the words of barbarous tribes, are ingeniously 
special \ But it would be more correct to say, that in 
such a group the elements of the scene enter only from 

1 Thus in Malay, there are about twenty words for strike, according 
as it is done with thick or thin wood, downwards, horizontally, or 
upwards, with the hand, with the fist, with the ilat hand, with a club, 
with the sharp edge, with a hammer, &c. (^See Misteli, Typen des 
Sprachbaues, p. 265.) 


a single aspect or in a single relation. Accordingly 
when disintegration begins, the result is as follows. 
The elements of the group, having now become inde 
pendent words held together by the syntax of the 
sentence, are adopted to denote the several objects 
which entered into the total phenomenon. But these 
words, or fragments of the word-group, represent 
the objects in question from a certain point of view, 
and not in their integrity. The names of things there 
fore touch them only in one point, and express only 
one aspect. And thus, although different names will 
arise for the same thing, as it enters into different 
groups, in each case the name will connote only 
a general attribute and not the nature of the thing. 
These names are in the Hegelian sense of the term 
abstract/ In popular phraseology, they are only 
signs of things : i. e. not symbols (though they may 
have been in some cases symbolic in origin), for in 
a symbol there is a natural correspondence or sensible 
analogy to the thing symbolised, but something insti 
tuted/ due to an understanding or convention. 



THE compensating dialectic whereby reason, under 
the guise of imagination, overthrows the narrowness of 
popular estimates, makes itself observed even in the 
popular use of the terms abstract and concrete. Terms 
like state, mind, wealth, may from one point of view be 
called abstract, from another concrete. At a certain 
pitch these abstractions cease to be abstract, and become 
even to popular sense very concrete realities. In the 
tendency to personification in language we see the same 
change from abstract to concrete : as when Virtue is 
called a goddess, or Fashion surnamed the despot of 
womankind. In such instances, imagination, more or 
less in the service of art and religion, upsets the narrow 
vulgar estimates of reality. But it upsets them, so to 
speak, by giving to the abstraction (through its creative 
power) that sensuous concreteness which the mere 
abstract lacks arid which the ordinary mind alone 
recognises as real. It stoops to conquer. Such 
a representation is, as Hegel says 1 , the synthetic com 
bination of the Universal and Individual : synthetic/ 
because not their free, spontaneous, and essential unity, 
but the supreme product of the artistic will and hand, 
which, rather than let the universal perish by neglect, 

1 Werke, ii. 529, 555. 

Y 2 

3 2 4 PROLEGOMENA. [xxill. 

build for it, the eternal and omnipresent, a temple 
made with hands/ In mythology we can see the 
same process : by which, as it is phrased, an abstract 
term becomes concrete : by which, as we may more cor 
rectly say, a thought is transformed into, or rather stops 
short at, a representative picture. The many gods of 
polytheism are the fixed and solidified shapes in which 
the several degrees of religious growth have taken 
a local habitation and a name : or they bear witness 
to the failure of the greater part of the world to grasp 
the idea of Deity in its unity and totality apart from 
certain local and temporary conditions. So, too, terms 
like force, law, matter, the abstractions of the mere 
popular mind are by certain periods reduced to the 
level of sensuous things, and spoken of as real entities, 
somewhere and somehow existent, apart from the think 
ing medium to which they belong. Such terms, again, 
as property, wealth, truth, are popularly identified 
with the objects in which they are for the time and 
place manifested or embodied. 

In these ways the abstract, in the ordinary meaning, 
becomes in the ordinary meaning concrete. The dis 
tinction between abstract and concrete is turned into 
a distinction between understanding and sense, instead 
of, as Hegel makes it, a distinction in the adequacy and 
completeness of thought itself. Thought (the Idea), as 
has been more than once pointed out, is the principle 
of unification or unification itself: it is organisation 
plus the consciousness of organisation : it is the unifier, 
the unity, and the unified, subject as well as object, 
and eternal copula of both. An attempt is at first made 
in two degrees to represent the thought in terms of the 
senses as a sort of superior or higher-class sensible. 
When the impossibility of that attempt is seen, common 
sense ends by denying what it has learned to call the 


super-sensible altogether. These three plans may be 
called respectively the mythological, the metaphysical, 
and the positive or nominalist fallacies of thought. In 
the mythological, or strictly anthropomorphic fallacy, 
thought is conceived under the bodily shape and the 
physical qualities of humanity, as a separate unifying, 
controlling, synthetic agent, through whose interference 
the several things, otherwise dead and motionless, 
acquire a semblance of life and action, though in reality 
but puppets or marionettes : that is to say, it is identi 
fied with a subject of like passions with ourselves, a 
repetition of the particular human personality, with its 
narrowness and weakness. The action of the Idea 
is here replaced by the agency of supposed living 
beings, invested with superhuman powers. In the 
metaphysical or realist fallacy we have a feeble ghostly 
reproduction of the mythological. The living personal 
deity is replaced by a faint scare-crow of abstract deity. 
The cause of the changes that go on in nature is now 
attributed to indwelling sympathies and animosities, to 
the abhorrence of a vacuum, to selection, affinity, and 
the like : to essences and laws conceived of as somehow 
existent in a mystic space and time. In the positive 
or nominalist fallacy, the failure of these two theories 
begins to be felt : and the mind, which had only heard 
of unifying reason under these two phases and is mean 
while sure of its sense-perceptions, treats the objective 
synthesis as a dream and a delusion. Or, at best, it 
regards the synthesis as essentially subjective as a com 
plementary idealising activity of ours which ekes out the 
defects of reality, and brings continuity into the discon 
tinuous. Our thought (it is only our thought) is but 
an instrument, distinct from us and from the reality : 
yet acting as a bridge to connect these two opposing 
shores a bridge however which does not really reach 

32 6 PROLEGOMENA. [xxm. 

the other side, but only an artificial image, which simu 
lates to us, and will for ever simulate, the inaccessible 
reality. This last view is the utterance of the popular 
matter-of-fact reason, when in weariness and tedium it 
turns from the attempt to grasp thought pure and simple, 
and instead of reducing the metaphysical antitheses to 
the transparent unity of comprehension, relapses into 
mere acceptance of a given reality. 

In some of these cases the full step into pure thought 
is never made. The creations of mythology, for example, 
display an unfinished and baffled attempt to rise from 
the separation of sense to the unity and organisation of 
thought. The gods of heathenism are only individuals 
and individuals only meant to be, and by the act of faith 
and devotion set forth as reality before the worshipper : 
but they are individuals in which imagination embodies 
a unified and centralised system of forces or princi 
ples. They mean the powers of nature and of mind, 
but the sceptre in their hands is only a sign of power 
attributed by the believer ; and far away, encompassing 
alike them and him, is the great relentless necessity. 
In other cases there is a relapse : when the higher stage 
of thought has been attained, it is instantaneously lost. 
Terms which are really thoughts are again reduced to 
the level of the things of sense, individualised in some 
object, which, though it is only a representation or sign, 
is allowed to usurp the place of the thought which it 
but partially and by extraneous institution embodies. 
The intuition of the sensuous imagination at every step 
throws its spells on the products of thought, and turns 
them into a representative picture, which in popular use 
and wont occupies the place of the notion. Instead of 
being retained in their native timelessness, the terms of 
the Idea are brought under the laws of Sense-perception, 
under the conditions of space and time. 

xxiii . J RRPRESENTA TIONS. 327 

The term representation/ which Hegel employs to 
name these picture-thoughts or figurate conceptions, 
corresponds to the facts of their nature. A represen 
tation is one of two things : either a particular thing 
sent out accredited with general functions, or a universal 
narrowed down into a particular thing. Thus, as it has 
been seen, a general name implies or connotes a uni 
versal relation or attribute, but confines it to denote 
a particular object or class. Swift/ for example, was 
an epithet tied down to express the horse. In the first 
instance we may suppose the name to be a sort of 
metaphor : differing only by its simplicity and frequency 
of suggestion from those endless epithets, which in 
Norse or Arabic poetry veil and adorn the object which 
they are meant to designate. That is, we conceive the 
object as an embodiment or representation of the quality, 
as an eagle is the emblem of strength : only in the 
latter case we distinguish between the object and its 
metaphorical signification. In the second place, how 
ever, the object of experience is allowed completely to 
coincide with the aspect discriminated by the selective 
epithet, and we can no longer in ordinary thought 
separate the imaging object from the general relation 
which it images forth. This is the level of thought to 
which Hegel appropriates the term representation/ 
It includes under it the three fallacies of thought 
already noted : and saves the trouble of compre 
hending the reality. In the Hegelian sense, a repre 
sentation is abstract ; because it solidifies, hardens, and 
isolates the term of thought, makes it a particular, and 
never rises above the single case to the general notion 
embodied in it. 

The world of representative thought is a world of 
independent points in juxtaposition, which we arrange 
as seems best to us. It lies in an undefinable border- 

328 PROLEGOMENA. [xxin. 

land between us and things. It is a would-be, but not 
an actual, reality. It is not like a true Idea the unity 
of subjective and objective : but only a make-believe. 
We have put it there, and yet we credit it with an 
effective existence. When our mind moves amongst 
these picture-thoughts, it can only institute external 
relations between the terms. A judgment, in that case, 
is interpreted to mean the conjunction of two terms, 
which at once step into the rank of subject and predicate 
by means of the copula. A sentence is an arrangement 
of words ab extra in conscious or unconscious con 
formity with the rules of grammar. The world of 
knowledge, or the Idea, as a whole is turned into 
a plane surface with its typical terms, the members 
of the organism of reason, like dots put in co-ordina 
tion and juxtaposition, not spontaneously affected 
towards each other. Even if they are not embodied 
and reduced to a sensuous level of existence, they are 
held to be originally separate and unconnected. How 
they all came into being, and whether they do not all 
by gradations and differentiation proceed from one root, 
are questions neither asked nor answered. 

The level of representative thinking thinking i. e. 
which is not the grasp (Begriff] of the reality, but only 
the apprehension of something which stands for and 
represents it is the level on which we all come, more or 
less, to stand in our non-philosophic moments. It is, in 
essentials, the realm of what Plato called &>a, the level 
of consciousness which fails to rise to see the unity of 
essence in the many single goods and beauties, which 
holds its knowledge (such at is) at the mercy of acci 
dents, not bound by the conclusions of reasoning, the 
realm which is not without reality, but an immature 
and uncertain reality. It is, in essentials, the same as 
what, as opposed to intellectus, Spinoza styled imaginatio. 



Imagination, to Spinoza, is an understanding under the 
bondage of particular passions and temporary interests, 
which loses sight of the great bond of being or Substantia, 
and fixes its glance on the parts in subordinate and 
infra-essential relationships : which is always finite, 
i. e. never really comprehensive and self-sustaining in 
its view, but always limited by a tacit reference to some 
thing outside itself. The Representation is the idea, 
in the loose and inexact use of that word, which goes 
with the phrase mere idea, i. e. a mere mental image, 
which is not the reality, though it is believed to do duty 
for and to represent it *. Yet it is not a mere thought : 
rather its whole aim and meaning is to refer to reality, 
to suggest it, to bring it nearer us. Its fault is that it is 
an imperfect, partial, one-sided, or even one-pointed 
idea. It is really an instance and phase of the ignava 
ratio, to which a date or name serves as a TTOU o-rco of 

At Kilne there was no weathercock, 
And that s the reason why. 

Such representation/ according to Hegel, is, e. g., the 
mode of intelligence accessible to those who cling to 
the mere, or abstractly, religious mood, and who cannot 
or will not rise to the comprehension of their creed. 
Its facts or dogmas present themselves to such a 
restricted conception as the parts of a picture or the 
stages of a history, in visible or imaginatively-constru- 
able space, and in a succession of times. The essence 
of religion, of course, for Hegel as for other exponents 
of its inmost nature, is a feeling of certitude or faith 
which transcends the gulfs and separations of the secular 
consciousness, which sees with the believing soul the 

1 Hegel s Werke, ii. 431 : Wobei das Selbst nur reprasentirt und 
vorgestellt 1st, da ist es nicht wirklich : wo es vertreten 1st, ist es 
nicht. Cf. ib. 416. 

330 PROLEGOMENA. [xxill. 

inner peace, the absolute harmony of the true reality. 
Pectusfacit theologum. The sense of utter dependence 
on God, incomplete identity with the sense of absolute 
independence in God that strength of faith is the very 
life of religion. But when religion seeks to give an 
intelligent expression of her faith, when she tries to give 
a reason acceptable to the outside world, she is apt, 
unless specially trained in the high things of the spirit, 
to base her creed not on the rock of ages, but on the 
signs and miracles of the times. She has tried to 
theorise the faith : but, although her faith may be sound 
and true, the religious spirit, unless it be also the spirit 
of wisdom and reasoned truth, runs a risk of falling into 
the fallacy of Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. She descends 
therefore to the region of representation : she uses the 
language of sense and analogy ; she presents the spiri 
tual under the guise of the natural. Yet in her heart of 
hearts these things are only a parable, they are but 

Flesh and blood 
To which she links a truth divine. 

Hegel in the introduction to his lectures on the Philo 
sophy of Religion is reported to have given the follow 
ing characteristics of representation/ (a) It is still 
trammeled by the senses. Thought and sensation 
strive for the mastery in it. Thought is bound fast to 
an illustration : and of this illustration it cannot as 
representative thought divest itself: the eternally 
living idea is chained to the transient and perishable 
form of sense. It is metaphorical and material thinking, 
which is helpless without the metaphor and the matter. 
(b) Representative thought envisages what is timeless 
and infinite under the conditions of time and space. It 
loses sight of the moral and spirit of historical develop 
ment under the semblance of the names, incidents, and 
forms in which it is displayed. The historical and philo- 

xxill.] PICTURE- THINKING. 3 3 1 

sophical sense is lost under the antiquarian. Repre 
sentative thought keeps the shell, and throws away the 
kernel, (c) The terms by which such a materialised 
thought describes its objects are not internally con 
nected : each is independent of the other ; and we only 
bring them together for the occasion by an act of subjec 
tive arrangement 1 . 

The thing the so-called subject of the properties, of 
which it is really no more than the substratum affords 
no sufficient ground for the unity of the properties 
attached to it. The substratum or subject of the propo 
sition is given, and we then look around to see what 
other properties accompany the primary characteristic 
for which the name was applied. But the term of 
popular language is not a real unity capable of support 
ing differences ; it is only one aspect of a thing, a single 
point fixed and isolated in the process of language by 
the action of natural selection. And so, to ask how the 
properties are related to the thing, is to ask how one 
aspect, taken out of its setting, is related to another 
isolated aspect : which is evidently an unanswerable 
question. Science is right in rejecting the thing* of 
popular conception. If a is a, and nothing more, as the 
law of Identity informs us, then it is for ever impossible 
to get on to b, c, d, and the rest. The union between 
the thing divided or defined, and its divided or defining 
members, is what is termed extra-logical ; in other 
words, it is not evident from what is given or stated 
in the popular conception. That union must be sought 
elsewhere, and deeper. 

And when we step in to overcome the repugnance 
which the point of conception, or what is supposed the 
subject, shows against admitting a diversity of predicates, 
when we force it into union with these properties : or 

1 Philosophic der Religion, i. p. 137 seqq. 

33 2 


when we try to remove the separation which leaves the 
cause and effect as two independent things to fall 
apart ; our action, by which we effect a unification of 
differences, may, from another and a universal point of 
view, be said to be the notion, or grasp of thought, 
coming to the consciousness of itself. Thought, as it 
were, recognises itself and its image in those objects of 
representative conception, which seem to be given and 
imposed upon the intellect. The two worlds, which the 
understanding accepts as each solid and independent, 
the world of external objects or conceptions, and the 
world of self, meet and coincide in the free agency of 
thought, developing itself under a double aspect. It is 
the original synthetical unity of apperception (to quote 
Kant s words), from which the Ego or thinking subject, 
and the manifold or body and world, are simultaneously 
differentiated. Thus, on the one hand, we ourselves no 
longer remain a rigid unity, existing in antithesis to the 
objects presupposed or referred to by representative 
thought : and on the other hand the so-called thing 
loses its hardness and fragmentary independence, as 
distinguished from our apprehension of it. Our action, 
as we incline to call it, which mends the inadequacies of 
terms, is from a philosophic point of view, the notion 
itself coming to the front and claiming recognition. 
The process of thought is then seen to be a totality, 
of which our faculties, on the one hand, and the existing 
thing, on the other, are isolated abstractions, supposed 
habitually to exist on their own account. To view 
either of these systems, the mental, on the one hand, 
and the objective world, on the other, as self-subsistent, 
has been the error in much of our metaphysics, and in 
the popular conceptions of what constitutes reality. 
The idealism of metaphysicians has been often as narrow 
and insufficient as the realism of common sense. An 


adequate philosophy, on the contrary, recognises the 
presence of both elements, in a subordinate and forma 
tive position. Representations may be compared to the 
little pools left here and there by the sea amongst the 
rocks and sand : the notion, or grasp of thought, is the 
tidal wave, which left them there to stagnate, but comes 
back again to restore their continuity with the great sea. 
In our thinking we are only the ministers and inter 
preters of the Idea, of the organic and self-developing 
system of thought. 

The difference between a representative conception 
and a thought proper may be illustrated by the case of 
the term Money/ Money may be either a materialised 
thought, i. e. a Representative Conception, or a Notion 
Proper. In the former case, money is identified with 
a piece of money. It is probably, in the first instance, 
embodied in coins of gold, silver, and bronze. In the 
second place, a wide gulf is placed between it and the 
other articles for which it is given in exchange. If 
other things are regarded as money, they are generally 
treated on the assumption that they can in case of need 
be reduced to coinage. The conception of money by 
the unscientific vulgar considers it separately from 
other commodities : and the laws which forbade its 
exportation gave a vigorous expression to the belief 
that it was something sui generis, and subject to con 
ditions of its own. The scientific notion of money 
modifies this belief in the peculiarity and fixity of 
money. Science does so historically, when it can point 
to a time and a race where money in our sense of the 
word does not exist, and where barter takes the place 
of buying and selling. Science does so philosophically, 
when it expounds what may be called the process of 
money, the inter-action or meeting of conditions to 
which the existence of money is due. The notion of 


money, as given in the Ethics of Aristotle, says that it 
is the common measure of utility or demand. When 
we leave out of sight the specific quality of an object, 
and consider only its capacity of satisfying human 
wants, we have what is called its worth or value. This 
value of the thing, the psychological fact which is left, 
when all the qualities marking the objective thing are 
reduced to their social efficiency is the notion, of 
which the currency is the representation, reducing 
thought to the level of the senses, and embodying the 
ideality of value in a tangible and visible object. So 
long as this idea of value is kept in view, the cur 
rency is comprehended : but when the perception of 
the notion disappears, money is left a mere piece of cur 
rency, the general notion being narrowed down to the 
coinage. Thus the notion of money, like other notions 
in their ideal truth, is not in us, nor in the things 
merely : it is what from a minor point of view, when 
we and the things are regarded under the head of want 
or need, may be called the truth of both, the unity of 
the two sides. Thus considered, money falls into its 
proper place in the order of things. 



!T is ; in my view ; all important/ says Hegel 1 , to 
apprehend and express the True not as Substance, but 
equally much as Subject. Substance, as Spinoza 
defines it, is that which is in itself and which is con 
ceived through itself, something which does not need the 
conception of something else by which its concept may 
be formed 2 . Substance, in other words, is something 
which serves to explain itself, which is causa sui. The 
mind, looking out on the wide world of mutable and 
manifold objects, finds its rest in the great calm of 
a something at their base, the eternal nature which, 
itself unmoved, is the one foundation, complete and 
sufficient, of all things, a res aeterna et infmita, which 
can feed the mind with joy alone 3 . These words suggest 
only an object a transcendent object the basis of an 
objective order. They seem to leave little for the con 
templating subject to do save to discern it and, so dis 
cerning, to rest in it and to love. They seem to leave 
substance a mere datum, a far-off all-embracing end in 
which the variety of human effort can find a central 
object and a final close. Yet, in the end it appears 4 
that this Res aeterna loves himself with an intellectual 

1 Hegel, Werke, ii. 14. 2 Spinoza, Eth. Def. 3. 

3 Spin. De intell. Em. \. 10. * Spin. Eth. v. 35. 

336 PROLEGOMENA. [xxiv. 

love, and this love is identified with the love of man to 
God, so far at least as man s mind, considered sub 
specie aeternitatis, can be said to explicate Deity. 
From this conclusion it might be said that Spinoza 
rises above the mere category of substance : God is no 
longer the mere foundation of things the absolute 
object of all objects. He rises in human spirit (regarded 
in its eternal significance) to the rank of a true subject. 
He is not merely known as the True ; but He himself, 
living and moving in the essential spirit of man, knows 
himself and acquiesces in his infinite beatitude. But if 
this be the legitimate inference to be drawn from the 
closing sections of the Ethics, it is not the view ordinarily 
suggested by the mention of Spinoza s doctrine. That 
doctrine, on the contrary, seems, as it first confronts us, 
and as it has taken its place in history, to omit the 
subjectivity which had found so decided a recognition 
in the commencement of Cartesianism. In the cogito 
ergo sum so much at least is clearly stated : true being 
the true is not merely known, but itself knows ; not 
a mere object, but a subject : a subject-object, or, an 
Idea. It is to be admitted, indeed, that Descartes 
hardly remains at this altitude, but he touches it for 
a moment. Even when he finds in the conception of 
God a security for truth and reality, and thus seems to 
base these on a one-sidedly objective standard, he 
regards God as, on the other hand, the truth and 
reality postulated and presupposed by the structural 
system of our ideas. God such seems the tendency 
of his so-called proof is the inevitable prius and 
presupposition of our thought and being : He makes us 
know, as much as He is ultimately the object known: He 
is the unity and the creator of subject and object. 

But it is hardly possible to get in philosophy the full 
recognition of the antithesis between subject and sub- 

xxiv.] SPINOZA. 337 

stance and the inclusion of both in the fuller Idea, till 
after the time of Kant. Kant himself is, in essentials, 
the antithesis of Spinoza, but it is not till Fichte that 
the full force of that antithesis is expressly recognised. 
With Hegel, the two opposite points of view are equally 
insisted on : the immanence and the transcendence of 
the True, the Real, the Absolute : or, in other words, 
the unity in it of subject and object, or of thought and 
existence. Or, in the words of the religious spirit, though 
heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, 
He dwells in the spirit of the righteous, and is not far 
from any one of us. The truth is not the correspond 
ence or agreement of an idea with a further reality 
which it represents. Such an idea or representation 
is a projection which has escaped from our hands, 
which has slipped from our grip, and which, while 
owning its mere vicarious character, at the same time 
beckons us on to seek a reality we can never find. 
The representation J is in a way objective it is set 
over against us: but yet it is not truly objective, not 
self-subsistent and self-possessed. Its objectivity is 
the objectivity of a name : a quasi-objectivity, which 
requires to be dipped in the living waters of intelligence 
before it can really exist and act. It seems, to the 
untrained observer, to point only outwards to the real 
object which it copies or designates : to a deeper re 
flection, it is seen to point equally inward to the mind 
which informed it and projected it. Thus the knowing 
subject, and the known object, with the representation 
which acts as a perpetual mediator to connect and yet 
not unify the one of these terms with the other, all 
at last take their place, reduced and transfigured, in the 
unity of the Idea. 

According to the Spinozist point of view, thought, it 
might seem by a sort of miracle, dispels the mists that 


338 PROLEGOMENA. [xxiv. 

envelop and bewilder it, sees through the multeity of 
modes, and the isolated pictures of imagination, to 
the true reality, one, infinite and eternal. Before that 
august vision of absolute wholeness the only attitude 
of a finite mind would seem to be resignation, worship, 
reverence, deeply shading into the submission of 
absorption. For in it intellect and will are declared 
to have no place *. With such a statement, we get 
that first aspect of religion which has found its most 
imposing representative in the faith of Islam. In every 
religion there must, however, be more than this : or 
it would fail to do what all religion essentially does. 
Sheer dependence Schlechthinnige Abhangigkeit (as 
Schleiermacher has named it) can never be the whole 
burden of a religious teacher s message. Always at 
least in the background there is a contradictory 
element in apparent discrepancy with the first the 
deification of the worshipper. And as the Ethics of 
Spinoza like every complete system of speculative 
truth deals with a problem parallel to, if not even 
identical with, that of religion, its initial definitions and 
main programme must never let us forget the tacit pre 
suppositions worked out to explicitness, as they are 
partly, in its conclusion. When Intellect and Will are 
denied to the DeiisNatura Substantia, it is meant that 
the Absolute is and has more than intellect and will 
can well name, and that in Him (or Her, or It, for the 
pronominal distinctions of gender matter nothing here), 
the separation of will from intellect is a fallacy which 
can have no place. What Spinoza casts out are the 
lower passions, the affections of weakness ; these as 
such, i. e. as elements of weakness, can have no place 
in Him. But in God, as in the free man who most 
resembles God, and in whose love He loves himself, 
1 Eth. i. 17 schol. 


there is but that also in terms we cannot fathom- 
abundance of joy the joy of infinite self-realisation. 

Partly by the complementary theory of Leibniz, partly 
by the antagonist theories of Kant, the way had been 
prepared for setting forth, and in fuller outline, the 
implications so tardily admitted by Spinoza. It was 
only by a misuse or mal-extension of a word that 
Herder s God a God who is Force and the Force of 
Forces could be supposed an advance upon Spinoza. 
There is in Force an analogue of Life ; but it is life in 
dependence, life not self-centred, always going forth, 
and when it goes forth dissipated. It is as it were 
pushed from behind, and is lost in what comes after it. 
If a Force of Forces means anything, it means some 
thing more than Force: it means a master of force, 
a force-controller and force-adjuster, a unity and 
principle of forces. And Substance, as Spinoza under 
stood it, is more than this variability, this deification 
of instability. It is the unity in which the variety and 
disparity of existence, the multiplicity of vicissitude, is 
merged and lost, only again to issue from it, and yet 
not leave it behind, in the infinitely-various modes of 
its two great and conspicuous attributes of conscious 
ness and extensionality. If Hegel then sought to go 
beyond Spinoza, he sought to find a formula which 
would lose nothing that Spinoza had reached, but 
would at the same time bring out what Spinoza had 
left an implication, or noted in a partial rectification. 
As in religion, besides the utter dependence on God 
(so that, God failing, I perish), there must be also an 
absolute union, complete reconciliation complete as 
culminating in unity and identity (so that God shall 
not be God, unless I am I): so it is in philosophy. 
The Absolute cannot merely be, and be far away the 
last goal in which the variety of life is made one, and 

z 2 

340 PROLEGOMENA. [xxiv. 

the turmoil of the passionate existences laid to rest. 
The Soul which is (as some of the medieval Christians 
would say) still in itinere, a wayfarer, is such because 
its glance is turned on outward circumstances : but 
country is no accident : the soul even here carries 
with it that patria, which is the heavenly/ in its 
longings, and has it, even while yet on pilgrimage, in 
that strong possession of all things by itself, which 
the theologian styles Faith. This goal determines 
the pilgrimage, fixes its direction, gives progress to 
its steps. 

In the myth-loving language of Plato (and of Words 
worth in his Platonic ode) the Soul has in other spheres 
of being dwelt with the gods and seen the secret of the 
world : it is itself one of the immortals, and as it is 
here and now, is in a land of exile. At the morning of 
birth, the living sample of humanity has left his original 
glory behind; and a deep forgetfulness only short of 
absolute cuts it off from his every-day consciousness. 
In his present reality he finds himself in a land of 
darkness, fast bound in a hollow of the rock, looking 
out only on the ghostly images that flit across his 
prison wall, cast there by the objects that move between 
his back and the light of a mysterious fire behind him 
and them. Such is his natural estate, as it meets the 
bodily eye : the estate of the lowly savage, whom 
superstition and ignorance seem to hold as their cap 
tive for ever. But, though his high home and his 
glory of other days have left no conscious memory in 
the soul, asleep and imbruted in its fleshly house, they 
have not departed without leaving a trace behind. For 
forgetfulness is not blank non-existence. The sample 
of humanity inherits the birthright of his fathers he 
has hopes and fears, duties and rights, which are his, if 
he can mature himself to take possession of them. He 

xxiv.] THE PLATONIC MYTH. 341 

suffers from the pains of growth, from the sense of 
disparity between what he is and what he may and 
should be from the noble uneasiness and dissatisfac 
tion of a being who feels if he does not know his 
infinite potentialities. For these potentialities other 
wise they have no title even to that name are also 
actualities, yet actualities which protest their own in 
completeness, and crave imperiously for what they 
lack. What he has is his right, but his right only in 
so far as it is also his duty. It is as such, and only as 
such, that he still retains the soul in all its prerogatives : 
as the right, which is the duty, of knowledge. Such 
a pre-figured and promised, but yet to be realised, 
possession is what Plato has called Eros, or Love. 
But it is a Love whose wings are at first invisible, and 
who often seems rather to crawl among ignoble things 
than to soar in the free fresh air. 

The process of experience has been by Plato called 
Anamnesis or Recollection. But Recollection is not 
always an easy, and never a merely passive, process ; 
and sometimes the forgetfulness seems so deep that no 
extraneous stimulus can at all move it. We have seen 
already one of these stimuli which rouse the sleeping 
sense the mystery of numbers : and there are many 
others. But, we have also learned, that in the psychical 
sphere items of memory are not, as reckless fancy puts 
it, stored up in compartments, sorted and arranged, 
ready to be pulled out. The process of recollection 
is a complicated affair : an affair of give and take, of 
comparison and selection and rejection, of construction 
and reconstruction. You cannot haul up ready-made 
memories from the mine. And this perhaps was some 
times forgotten by Plato ; it certainly has been by more 
than one of his commentatprs. You may, no doubt, call 
up ideas from the vasty deep : but they come by laws 

34 2 PROLEGOMENA. [xxiv. 

and principles of their own. Even when they come, 
which they sometimes do unexpectedly, they come as 
an echo of the calling mind. Recollection involves 
intellectual process : as Kant said, the synthesis of 
imagination reposes upon the synthesis in the concept. 
Yet and this is the point which Plato s title of 
Anamnesis accentuates unless the soul had been such 
as to be affected in this way (the words are those of 
Aristotle), unless the soul had been implicitly intellectual 
in tone and faculty, it would not have grasped the 
presented universe under the categories which it uses. 
There is, says Aristotle, in the barest act of sensation 
a congenital power of judgment ; there is, says Plato, 
an eye of the soul a natural virtue of intelligence, 
which can never be put into it, and must always be 
presupposed in any theory of its processes. 

There are, therefore, no innate ideas, says Cudworth 
in explanation of Plato, if these ideas mean formed 
and completed products of knowledge. All ideas in 
this sense begin and grow within the range of experi 
ence, and the history of their growth or development 
in literature and art can be at least approximately 
traced. We can trace, that is, the successions and 
connexions of the various types of beauty, or goodness : 
can show how the idea at one time dwelt in one of its 
aspects, at another in a different one. We can observe 
the variation, and it may be the progress, in men s con 
ception of God. But it is another matter when we 
seek to explain these ideas themselves out of other 
elements, heterogeneous to them. When that question 
is asked, then with Plato we seem, in the absence of 
any theory of origins, obliged to own that it is by the 
Beautiful that beautiful things come to be beautiful. 
The M6raacrt9 fls XXo yews the crossing of essential 
boundaries which Aristotle forbids to science, still 


raises its eternal barrier in the logical, if it cease to 
hold good (as has been suggested) in the physical 
sphere. In the totality which we call the world and 
experience of reality there are, so to say, ultimate and 
irreducible provinces. The utmost that philosophy, 
i. e. science, can do with these is to co-ordinate them, 
to show their mutual filiations, adaptations, and har 
monies, to note their inadequacies and discrepancies. 
They are not all of equal rank, perhaps ; they have to 
yield to each other, it may be in turn : but none of 
them can be arbitrarily expunged from the totality, and 
none of them shown to be a mere phase of others. To 
do that is to strip the universe of its variety and it 
may be added of its beauty and its interest. If it be 
a false philosophy that does it, there is a good deal 
of false philosophy abroad. There is a lust of ex 
planation which is never content till it has found an 
equation for everything, till it has expressed every 
thing in terms of the common-place, till it has emptied 
everything of all that made it individual and real, and 
turned it into an abstract, identical (as only abstracts 
can be) with some other abstract. Such abstractions 
are of course useful, and therefore need no excuse, 
when restricted to a special sphere. So long, that is, 
as we remember that it is an abstraction we are making, 
and that we are arbitrarily simplifying the real natural 
problem, no harm is done by these artificial construc 
tions ; and they are important steps in a larger process. 
But what is correct and useful within a range whose 
limits we can define, becomes dangerous when carried 
beyond all bounds. Its approximate truth then becomes 
misleading error. 

It is these irreducible elements these great provinces 
in human experience, in reality, in the system of 
reason that correspond to the more important of what 

344 PROLEGOMENA. [xxiv. 

are known as Platonic ideas. As ultimate constituents 
of the actual world they are in the narrower sense 
inexplicable. One does not amount to an exact sum 
of some others, nor is one got from another by the 
simple process of subtraction. But if they cannot be 
explained, by being reduced to multiples of some one 
basis, they can be comprehended in the respective 
implication and explication they exhibit with their co- 
realities. They can be correlated, reduced, and unified : 
we may even say, they can be identified ; but if we use 
such a term, we must mean that there is some totality 
beyond and above them in which they all find a place 
and all are harmonious ; in which all when brought to 
their Truth are really one and the same. This birth 
right of human nature in all ages and countries this 
central essence of man s spirit is the realm of Platonic 
ideas. They are the great elements, or constituent 
members, of humanity and of reality : the framework 
of his mind and of the world. How in each case they 
may be wrought out in detail, to what degree they may 
here be evolved, and there stunted, is a matter of 
historical research. And, in a sense, even it is not 
wrong to try to trace them one to another : to explain 
them, as the phrase is, one by another. For they are 
essentially connected : they are members of one system : 
they are unified and harmonised in a way for which 
even the word organism is wholly insufficient. They 
are the poles and lines on which the tent of human life, 
of intelligent life, is stretched : but they are also the 
invisible ties which bind together the earth and heavens, 
and all that is therein. 

These ideas therefore are immanent in man : for they 
are the basis of human nature. But to name, to dis 
entangle them, to measure out their bounds and describe 
their connexions that is no easy work. And that is 

xxiv.] PLATONISM. 345 

the work of Platonic recollection. That is the process 
of historical experience. But it is a small thing for 
Plato to say that these ideas are innate in man. What 
he is more concerned to make clear is that in the 
possession or vision of these eternal forms, the human 
soul is a partner of the gods, a citizen of the heavens. 
In less mythical language, man, as an intelligent, artistic, 
moral, and religious being, is not a mere accidental 
on-looker on the surface of things, but near their central 
and abiding truth. The forms of his mind, to speak 
after the manner of Kant, are the objective essences 
of the real world of experience. Degrees there may 
be in the reality which they possess less or larger 
measures of truth to full experience but true and real 
they are : never mere falsity or emptiness. To estimate 
the amounts of that reality is a problem Plato often 
tried. At one time it seems as if the Good were in his 
estimate the form of forms, the real of reals : but when 
we look closely, we see that it is a goodness which is 
synonymous with real reality or perfect being. At 
another time truth, i. e. reality, seems to be lord of all : 
at another, beauty : and again he seems to confess his 
inability to lay down the order of precedence in this 
hierarchy. Of one thing only he is perfectly clear : and 
that is the unreality, the non-entity of the sense-world 
as merely perceived, and the true being of the world of 
reason. But he has no doubts as to the central truth 
that in the good, the true, and the beautiful, there is 
a higher reality a more far-reaching and deep-piercing 
influence than in all the mere variety of sensation, the 
mere multitude of sensible fact. 

What Plato has sometimes called the act of remi 
niscence, what he has sometimes called the instinct 
of Love, is also known to him as the process of Dialectic. 
For reminiscence has to watch and wrestle with the 

346 PROLEGOMENA. [xxiv. 

inertia of oblivion, has to set the imagined beside the 
real, and to correct percepts by concepts, concepts by 
percepts, has to brace up its energies, and to advance 
not by mere pressing onward, but by tacking and zig 
zagging through contrary difficulties finally realise 
itself. And love too is a battle, where the craving for 
union has to measure its force with the instinct of inde 
pendence, where selfishness and self-surrender seek 
a reconciliation, and where in the close, if the close be 
love, each is self-retained only as self-abandoned, and 
each rises to a higher union in which lower selfhoods 
are absorbed. Even so in the course of Dialectic. It 
is the art which divides and conjoins, which unifies and 
distinguishes : the art of asking and answering. To 
Plato it appears in the main as an action of the in 
telligent subject : but an action which, as he hints, is 
almost a natural instinct, which through discipline has 
become an art. In the hands of its typical artist, it 
proceeds, or seems to proceed, as if unconscious of its 
principle and end. Socrates has, as he professes, no 
overt conception of the result : he has no knowledge of 
the positive conclusion to be reached. It is the Logos 
the logic of reality which sustains the movement. 
Abandoning any subjective humour of carrying the 
argument to a preconceived end ; one is swept on by 
the current of real logic the reason in things. The 
dogma we have set up and seemed to see before us, 
will, if we are dispassionate, carry us on beyond itself, 
and suggest aspects calling for recognition and accept 
ance. If only we refrain from arresting the movement 
of criticism, a course to which prudence, ease, custom, 
and every form of the ignava ratio counsel us, truth 
will reveal itself in us, and by us. It is because other 
aims, personal and particular, are so ever-present with 
us, that speculative free inquiry seems so hard. It is 

X XIV.] PL A TON ISM. 347 

we who insist on closing up the door, not the truth 
that is reluctant to show itself. 

Truth, then, is self-revelation or development. Not 
a result which is to be accepted, bowed to, and reve 
renced : but the result issuing (and only valuable as 
issuing) from a process in which we and objectivity are 
fellow-workers. The truth may no doubt be presented 
as Spinoza does present it in definitions, stating the 
net result as fundamental fact. Fundamental fact it is ; 
but as so stated, as Substance, it comes as a stranger, 
almost as an enemy : the great vision, suddenly offered 
to untrained eyes, overwhelms and alarms the living 
sense of self, of personality. Hegel wishes to show it 
as a friend, as our very own, as Subject (but not merely 
subject). It is for this that philosophy runs through 
its cycle and returns into itself. Man points to nature 
and nature to man : universal to individual : thought to 
things: the self to God, and God to the human soul. 



REPRESENTATIVE conceptions, besides being the 
burden of our ordinary materialising consciousness, are 
also the data of science, accepted and developed in 
their consequences. Because they are so accepted, as 
given into our hand, scientific reasoning can only insti 
tute relations between them. Its business as thus 
conceived is progressive unification, comparing objects 
with one another, demonstrating the similarities which 
exist between them, and combining them with each 
other. The exercise of thought which deals with such 
objects is limited by their existence : it is only formal. 
It is finite thought, because it is only subjective : it 
begins at a given point and stops somewhere, and never 
gets quite round its materials so as to call them truly its 
own. Each of the objects on which it is turned seems 
to be outside of it, and independent of it. Each point 
of fact, again, when it is carried out to its utmost, meets 
with other thoughts which limit it, and claim to be 
equally self-centred. Such knowledge creeps on from 
point to point. To this thinking German philosophy 
from the time of Kant and Jacobi applied a name, 
which since the days of Coleridge has been translated 
by l Understanding 1 . This degree or mode of thinking 

1 Verstand. 


not a faculty of thought is the systematised and 
thorough exercise of what in England is called Common 
Sense/ In the first place, it is synonymous with prac 
tical intelligence. It takes what it calls facts, or things, 
as given, and aims only at arranging and combining 
them and drawing from them counsels of prudence or 
rules of art. Seeing things on a superficies, as it were 
so many unconnected points, here itself and there the. 
various things of the world, it tries to bring them into 
connexion. It accepts existing distinctions, and seeks 
to render them more precise by pointing out and sifting 
the elements of sameness. Its greatest merit is an abhor 
rence of vagueness, inconsistency, and what it stigmatises 
as mysticism : it wishes to be clear, distinct, and prac 
tical. In its proper sphere, and it has an indis 
pensable function to perform even in philosophy : 
wherever, that is, it is unnecessary to go into the 
essential truth of things, and one has only to do good 
work in a clearly defined sphere, the understanding 
has an independent value of its own *. Nor is this true 
merely of practical life, where a man must accommodate 
himself to facts : it is equally applicable in the higher 
theoretic life,--in art, religion, and philosophy. If 
intelligent definiteness does not make itself apparent in 
these, there is something wrong about them. 

It is only when this exercise of thought is regarded 
as a ne plus ultra, and its mandates to restrict inves 
tigation by the limits of foregone conclusions find 
obedience, that understanding deserves the reproachful 
language which was lavished upon it by the German 
philosophers at the close of the last century. The 
understanding is abstract : this sums up its offences in 
one word. Its objects, that is the things it deals with 

1 Die Vernunft ohne Verstand ist Nichts ; der Verstand doch 
Etwas ohne Vernunft. Hegel s Leben, p. 546. 



and believes utterly real, are only partly so, and when 
that incompleteness is unrecognised, are only abstrac 
tions. Both in its contracted forms, such as faith and 
common sense, and in its systematic form, the logical 
or narrowly-consistent intellect, it is partial and liable 
to be tenacious of half-truths. Only that whereas in 
feeling and common-sense there is often a great deal 
which they cannot express, whereas the heart is often 
more liberal than its interpreting mind will allow the 
reverse is true of the logically-consistent intellect. The 
narrowness of the latter is, in its own opinion, exactly 
equal to the truth of things : and whatever it expresses 
is asserted without qualification to be the absolute 
fact. Its business is, given the initial point (which 
is assumed to be certain and perspicuous), to see all 
which that point will necessarily involve or lead to. 
For example, Order may be supposed to be the chief 
end of the State. Let us consider, says the intelligent 
arguer (without wasting time on abstruse inquiries as 
to what Order is or means, and what sort of Order we 
want), to what consequences and institutions this con 
ception will lead us. Or, again, the chief end of the 
State is assumed to be Liberty. To what special forms 
of organisation will this hypothesis (also assumed a 
self-evident conception) lead ? Or we may go a step 
further. It is evident, some will say, that in a State 
there must be a certain admixture of Order and Liberty. 
How are we to proceed what laws and ordinances 
will be necessary, to secure the proper equilibrium of 
these two principles ? The two must be blended, and 
each have its legitimate influence. 

These are examples of the operation of Understand 
ing. It can only reach a synthesis (or conjunction), 
never a real unity, because it believes in the omni 
potence of the abstractions with which it began : but 



must either carry out one partial principle to its conse 
quences, or allow an alternate and combined force to 
two opposite principles. Its canon is identity: given 
something, let us see what follows when we keep the 
same point always in view, and compare other points 
with the one which we are supposed to know. Its 
method is analytic : given a conception in which popu 
lar thought supposes itself at home, and let us see all 
the elements of truth which can be deduced from it. 
Its statements are abstract and narrow : or, in the 
words of Anaxagoras, one thing is cut off from another 
with a hatchet 1 . In its excess it degenerates into 
dogmatism, whether that dogmatism be theological or 

The fact is that the Understanding, as this analytic, 
abstract, and finite action of mind is called, the 
thought which holds objective ideas distinct from one 
another, and from the subjective faculties of thought 
as a whole, that this Understanding is, when it 
claims to be heard and obeyed in science, not suffi 
ciently thorough-going. It begins at a point which is 
not so isolated as it seems, but is a member of a body 
of thought : nor is it aware that the whole of this body 
of thought is in organic, and even more than organic, 
union. It errs in taking too much for granted : and in 
not seeing how this given point is the result of a pro 
cess, that in it, in any thought or idea, several tenden 
cies or elements converge and are held in union, but 
with the possibility of working their way into a new 
independence. In other words, the Understanding 
requires, as the organon and method of philosophy, 
to be replaced by the Reason 2 , by infinite thought, 

On ov Kex&piffTai d\\rjAuv ra cv T$> kvi Koa^a ov5t a.TTOK(KoiiTai 

Simplic. Phys. fol. 383 (ed. Diels, p. 176). 

352 PROLEGOMENA. [xxv. 

concrete, at once analytic and synthetic. How then, 
it may be asked, can we make the passage from the 
inadequate to the adequate ? To that question the 
answer may be given that it is our act of arbitrary 
arrest which halts at the inadequate : that in complete 
Reason, which is the constituent nature both of us and 
of things, the Understanding is only a grade which points 
beyond itself, and therefore presupposes and struggles 
up to the adequate thought. In other words, it is 
Reason which creates or lays down for behoof of its 
own organisation the aims, conditions, and fixed entities, 
the objects, by which it is bound and limited in its 
analytic exercise as understanding. Reason, therefore, 
is the implicit tendency to correct its own inadequacy : 
and we have only to check self-will and prejudice so 
far that the process may be accomplished. 

The movement is not at one step : it has a middle 
term or mean which often seems as if it were a step 
backward. Progress in knowledge is usually described 
as produced by the mode of demonstration or the mode 
of experience. Formal Logic prefers the first mode 
of describing it : Applied Logic prefers the -second. 
Either mode may serve, if we properly comprehend 
what demonstration and experience mean. And that 
will not be done unless we keep equally before us the 
affirmative and the negative element in the process. 
The law of rational progress in knowledge, of the 
dialectical movement of consciousness, or in one word 
of experience, is not simple movement in a straight 
line, but movement by negation and absorption of the 
premisses. The conclusion or the new object of know 
ledge is a product into which the preceding object is 
reduced or absorbed. Thus the movement from faith 
(which is concentrated and wholly personal knowledge) 
to open and universal knowledge, which is capable of 



becoming the possession of a community, truth and not 
merely conviction, must pass through doubt. The pre 
misses from which we start, and the original object with 
which we begin, are not left in statu quo: they are 
destroyed in their own shape, and become only mate 
rials to build up a new object and a conclusion. It 
is on the stepping-stones of discarded ideas that we 
rise to higher truth : and it is on the abrogation of the 
old objects of knowledge that the new objects are 
founded. Not merely does a new object come in to 
supplement the old, and correct its inadequacies by the 
new presence : not merely do we add new ranges to 
our powers of vision, retaining the old faculties and 
subjoining others. The whole world alike inward 
and outward, the consciousness and its object is 
subjected to a thorough renovation : every feature is 
modified, and the system re-created. The old perishes: 
but in perishing contributes to constitute the new. 
Thus the new is at once the affirmation and negation 
of the old. And such is the invariable nature of intelli 
gent progress, of which the old and not a few modern 
logicians failed to render a right account, because they 
missed the negative element, and did not see that the 
immediate premisses must be abolished in order to 
secure a conclusion, even as the grapes must be 
crushed before the wine can be obtained. 

This is the real meaning of Experience, when it is 
called the teacher of humanity: and it was for this 
reason that Bacon described it as far the best 
demonstration V Experience is that absolute process, 
embracing both us and things, which displays the 
nullity of what is immediately given, or baldly and 
nakedly accepted, and completes it by the rough 
remedy of contradiction. The change comes over both 

1 Novunt Organum, Book I. 70. 

A a 

3 54 PROLEGOMENA. [xxv. 

us and the things : neither the one side nor the other 
is left as it was before. And it is here that the 
advantage of Experience over demonstration consists. 
Demonstration tends to be looked upon as subjective 
only (constringit assensum, non res} : whereas Expe 
rience is also objective. But Experience is more than 
merely objective : it is the absolute process of thought 
pure and entire ; and as such it is described by Hegel 
as Dialectic, or Dialectical movement. This Dialectic 
covers the ground of demonstration, a fragment of it 
especially described and emphasised in the Formal 
Logic, and of Experience, under which name it is 
better known in actual life, and in the philosophy of 
the sciences 1 . 

Dialectic is the negative or destructive aspect of 
reason, as preparatory to its affirmative or construc 
tive aspect. It is the spirit of dissent and criticism : 
the outgoing as opposed to the indwelling : the restless 
as distinguished from the quiet: the reproductive as 
opposed to the nutritive instinct: the centrifugal as 
opposed to the centripetal force : the radical and pro 
gressive tendency as opposed to the conservative. But 
no one of these examples sufficiently or accurately 
describes it. For it is the utterance of an implicit 
contradiction, the recognition of an existing and felt, 
but hitherto unrecognised and unformulated want. 
Dialectic does not supervene from without upon the 
fixed ideas of understanding : it is the evidence of 
the higher nature which lies behind them, of the 
dependence on a larger unity which understanding 
implicitly or explicitly denies. That higher nature, the 
notion or grasp of reasonable thought, comes forward, 
and has at first, in opposition to the one-sided products 
of understanding, the look of a destructive agent. If 

1 Phenomenologie des Getsfes, p. 67. 


we regard the understanding and its object, as ultimate 
and final, and they are so regarded in the ordinary 
estimation of the world, then this negative action of 
reason seems utterly pernicious, and tends to end in 
the subversion of all fixity whatever, of everything 
definite. In this light Dialectic is what is commonly 
known as Scepticism ; just as the understanding in its 
excess is known as Dogmatism. But in the total 
grasp of the rational or speculative notion, Dialectic 
ceases to be Scepticism, and Understanding ceases to 
be Dogmatism. 

Still there can be no doubt that the Dialectic of 
reason is dangerous, if taken abstractly and as if it 
were a whole truth. For the thoughts of ordinary men 
tend to be more abstract than their materials warrant. 
Men seek to formulate their feelings, faith, and con 
duct: but the rationale of their inmost belief, their 
creed, is generally narrower than it might be. Out 
of the undecomposed and massive substance, on which 
their life and conduct is founded, they extract one or 
two ingredients : they emphasise with undue stress one 
or two features in their world, and attach to these 
partial formulae a value which would be deserved only 
if they really represented the whole facts. Hence 
when the narrow outlines of their creed are submitted 
to dialectic, when the inlying contradictions are ex 
posed, men feel as if the system of the world had sunk 
beneath them. But it is not the massive structure of 
their world, the organic unity in which they live, that 
is struck by dialectic : it is only those luminous points, 
the representative terms of material thought, which 
float before their consciousness, and which have been 
formulated in hard and fast outlines by the under 
standing. These points, as so defined and exaggerated, 
are what dialectic shakes. Not an alien force, but the 

A a 2 

35 6 PROLEGOMENA. [xxv. 

inherent power of thought, destroys the temporary 
constructions of the understanding. The infinite comes 
to show the inadequacy of the finite which it has made. 

In philosophy this second stage is as essential as the 
first. The one-sidedness of the first abstraction is 
corrected by the one-sidedness of the other. In the 
Philosophy of Plato, as has been noted, the dialectical 
energy of thought is sometimes spoken of under the 
analogy of sexual passion the Love which, in the words 
of Sophocles, falls upon possessions and makes all 
fixed ordinance of no account, and finds no obstacles 
insuperable to its strong desire. But Love, as the 
speaker explains, is a child of Wealth and Want : he 
is never poor, and never rich : he is in a mean between 
ignorance and knowledge 1 . Thus is described the 
active unrest of growth, the inquietude poussante, as 
Leibniz called it, the quickening force of the nega 
tive and of contradiction. 

At the word contradiction there is heard a mur 
mur of objection, partly on technical, partly on material 
grounds. There are, it is said, other ways of getting 
from one idea to another than by contradiction : and it 
is not right to give the title to mere cases of contrast 
and correlation. Now it may be the case that the rela 
tions of ideas are many and various. In particular 
there is to many people a decided pleasure in the 
mere accumulation of bits of knowledge. In their 
mental stock there are only aggregates, conjunctions 
due to accidents of time and place, associations and 
fusions which do not reach organised unity. In all of 
us, perhaps, there are more or less miscellaneous collec 
tions of beliefs, perceptions, hopes, and wishes, in no 
very obvious connexion with one another. An united 
self, one, harmonious, and complete, is probably rather 

1 Plato, Symposion, 203. 


an ideal of development than a fact realised. There 
are in each two or three discordant selves, among 
which it might sometimes be difficult to select the 
right and true one (for that will depend on the momen 
tary point of view). The deeper consciousness may go 
on entirely independent of the train of the more super 
ficial ideas : the world of reality may glide past without 
touching the world of dream or of fiction : our business 
part may live in a region parted off from our religion 
by gulfs inscrutable. In all these cases there cannot 
be said to be any contradiction. 

But Hegel speaks of the essential progress of know 
ledge, and of that true self or real mind which has 
attained complete harmony the self and mind that is 
implicitly or explicitly Absolute. In such a mind where 
the finite has passed or is passing into the infinite, in 
a mind that is really becoming one and total, its parts 
must meet and modify each other. At each phase, 
if that phase is earnest, self-certain, and real, it claims 
to be complete, and can brook no rival. The bringer 
of new things must appear as an enemy : for the old 
system, however imperfect as a mere form, has behind 
it the strength of an infinite and perfect content : it is 
more than it has explicated : but as it (from its imper 
fection and honesty) identifies itself with its form, it is 
resolved to resist change. Progress then must be by 
antagonism : it cannot be real progress otherwise, but 
only the mere shifting of dilettante doubt and dilettante 
toleration. Both new and old are worth something, 
and they must prove their value by neither being lost, 
but both recognised, in a completer scheme of things. 

Yet there is a difference in the measure of contra 
diction at different stages of thought. It is always 
greatest when there is least to be opposed about. 
The more meagre an idea, a creed, a term of thought, 

358 PROLEGOMENA. [xxv. 

the more violent the antitheses to it. The more 
abstractly we hold a doctrine, the more readily are we 
disposed to sniff opposition. And as in more concrete 
belief, so in the more abstract terms of thought. They 
seem so wide apart like Is and Is not and yet, 
taken alone, they are really so ready to recoil into one 
another. As thought deepens, contradiction takes a 
more modified form. The relativity of things becomes 
apparent : and what were erewhile opposed as contra 
dictory, turn out as pairs of correlatives, neither of 
which is fully what it professed to be, unless it also is 
all that seemed reserved for the other. Lastly, and in 
the full truth of development, progress is seen to be not 
merely a sudden recoil from one abstraction to another, 
nor merely a continual reference to an underlying 
correlative, but the movement of one totality which 
advances by self-opposition, self-reconciliation, and self- 
reconstruction. In this stage, the weight and bulk of 
unity keeps the contradiction in its place of due sub 
ordination. But both elements are equally essential, 
and if the unity is less palpable in the abstract begin 
nings, and the divergence less wide at the close, at 
neither beginning nor close can either be absent. 

But if we merely look at the differentiation or nega 
tion involved in the action of reason, we miss the half 
of its meaning : and the new statement is as one-sided 
as the old. We have not grasped the full meaning 
until we see that what, as understanding, affirmed 
a finite, denies, as dialectic, the absoluteness or ade 
quacy of that finite. Both the partial views have a right 
to exist, because each gives its contribution to the 
science of truth \ If we penetrate behind the surface, 
if we do not look at the two steps in the process 
abstractly and in separation, it will be seen that these 

1 Cf. Dante, Farad, iv. 130. 


two elements coincide and unite. But we must be 
careful here. This coincidence or identification of oppo- 
sites has not annihilated their opposition or difference. 
That difference subsists, but in abeyance, reduced to 
an element or moment in the unity. Each of the 
two elements has been modified by the union : and 
thus when each issues from the unity it has a richer 
significance than it had before. This unity, in which 
difference is lost and found, is the rational notion, 
the speculative grasp of thought. It is the product of 
experience, the ampler affirmative which is founded 
upon an inclusion of negatives. 

We began with the bare unit, or simple and un- 
analysed point, which satisfied popular language and 
popular imagination as its nucleus : the representation 
which had caught and half-idealised a point, moment, 
or aspect in the range of feeling and sensation. In this 
stage the notion or thought proper is yet latent. In 
the first place, the nucleus of imagination was analysed, 
defined, and, as we may surmise, narrowed in the 
Intellect. And this grade of thought is known as the 
Understanding. In the second place, the definite and 
precise term, as understanding supposes it, was sub 
jected to criticism : its contradictions displayed ; and 
the very opposite of the first definition established in 
its place. This is the action of Dialectic. In the third 
place, by means of this second stage, the real nature 
or truth was seen to lie in a union where the opposites 
interpenetrate and mould each other. Thus we have 
as a conscious unity, conscious because it, as unity, 
yet embraces a difference as difference what we started 
with as an unconscious unity, the truth of feeling, faith, 
and inspiration. The first was an immediate unity : 
that is to say, we were in the midst of the unity, sunk 
in it, and making a part of it : the second is a mediated 

360 PROLEGOMENA. [xxv. 

unity, which has been reached by a process of reflec 
tion, and which as a conscious unity involves that 

Reason, then, is infinite, as opposed to understand 
ing, which is finite thinking. The limits which are 
found and accepted by the analytic intellect, are limits 
which reason has imposed, and which it can take away : 
the limits are in it, and not over it. The larger reason 
has been laying down those limits, which our little 
minds at first tend to suppose absolute. Let us put 
the same law in more concrete terms. It is reason, 
the Idea, or, to give it an inadequate and abstract 
name, Natural Selection which has created the several 
forms of the animal and vegetable world : it is reason, 
again, which in the struggle for existence contradicts 
the very inadequacies which it has brought into being: 
and it is reason, finally, which affirms both these 
actions, the hereditary descent, and the adaptation 
in the provisionally permanent and adequate forms 
which result from the struggle. 

The three stages thus enumerated are therefore not 
merely stages in our human reason as subjective. 
They state the law of rational development in pure 
thought, in Nature, and in the world of Mind, the 
world of Art, Morals, and Science. They represent 
the law of thought or reason in its most general or 
abstract terms. They state, mainly in reference to the 
method or form of thought, that Triplicity, which will 
be seen in those real formations or phases to which 
thought moulds itself, the typical species of reason. 
They reappear hundreds of times, in different multiples, 
in the system of philosophy. The abstract point of the 
Notion which parts asunder in the Judgment, and 
returns to a unity including difference in the Syllo 
gism : the mere generality of the Universal, which, 


by a disruption into Particulars and detail, gives rise to 
the real and actual Individual : the Identity which 
has to be combined with Difference in order to furnish 
a possible Ground for Existence : the baldness and 
nakedness of an Immediate belief, which comes to the 
full and direct certainty of itself, to true immediacy, 
only by gathering up the full sense of the antithesis 
which can separate conviction from truth, or by real 
ising the Mediation connecting them : all these are 
illustrations of the same law really applied which has 
been formally stated as the necessity for a defining, 
a dialectical, and a speculative element in thought. 
The three parts of Logic are an instance of the same 
thing: and when the Idea, or organism of thought, 
appears developed in the series of Natural forms, it is 
only to prepare the kingdom of reason actualised in 
the world of Mind. The Understanding, on the field 
of the world, corresponds, says Hegel , to the concep 
tion of Divine Goodness. The life of nature goes on 
in the independence and self-possession of all its parts, 
each as fixed and proud of its own, as if its share of 
earth were for ever assured. The finite being then has 
his season of self-satisfied ease : while the gods live in 
quiet, away from the sight of man s doings. The dia 
lectical stage, again, corresponds to the conception of 
God as an omnipotent Lord : when the Power of the 
universe waxes terrific, destroying the complacency of 
the creatures and making them feel their insufficiency, 
when the once beneficent appears jealous and cruel, 
and the joyous equanimity of human life is oppressed 
by the terrors of the inscrutable hand of fate. The 
easy-minded Greek lived for the most part in the 
former world: the uneasy Hebrew to a great extent in 
the latter. But the truth lay neither in the placid 
1 See in the Logic (vol. ii. p. 145). 


wisdom of Zeus, leaving the world to its own devices, 
nor in the jealous Jehovah of Mount Sinai: the true 
speculative union is found in the mystical unity of 
Godhead with human nature. In this comprehensive 
spirit did Hegel treat Logic. 

This Triplicity runs through Hegel s works. If you 
open one, the main divisions are marked with the 
capitals A, B ; C. One of these, it may be, is broken 
up into chapters headed by the Roman numerals I, II, 
III. Under one or more of these probably come 
severally the Arabic numerals i, 2, 3. Any one of 
these again may be subdivided, and gives rise to 
sections, headed by the small letters a, b, c. And, 
lastly, any one of these may be treated to a distribution 
under the three titles a, 0, y. Of course the division 
is not in each case carried equally far: nor does the 
subject always permit it: nor is Hegel s knowledge 
alike vigorous, or his interest in all directions the 






THE English reader may probably be taken to be 
familiar with the conception of Logic as the Science of 
the Form of Thought. He may also have heard this 
explained as equivalent to the Science of Thought as 
Thought, or of Thought as Form, or of Formal Thought. 
But, probably, also, he brings to the lesson no very high 
estimate of form as such. In the old language of Greek 
philosophy, transmitted through the Schoolmen of the 
West, and still lingering in the phraseology of Bacon 
and Shakespeare l , Forms and substantial forms were 
powers in the world of reality. But a generation arose 
which knew them not : to which they were only belated 
survivals of the past. The forms had lost connexion 
with matter and content, and had come to seem some 
thing occult, transcendent, and therefore, to a practical 
and realistic age, something fantastic and superfluous. 
Yet it may be well to recall that the same author who 
has put on record his view that forms are only mental 
figments, unless they be fully determinate in matter/ 
has equally laid it down that the so-called causes of 
vulgar philosophy the matter and the agent are only 

1 E.g. formal in Hamlet, iv. 5. 215; informal in Measure for 
Measure, v. 236. 

366 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvi. 

* vehicles of the form. Thus spontaneously did Bacon 
reconstruct the Aristotelian theory of the interdepend 
ence of form and matter, that form is always form of (or 
in) matter, and that matter is always for form. 

The relativity of form and matter, or of form and 
content, is indeed almost a commonplace of popular 
discussion on logical subjects. But like other uncritical 
applications of great truths, this is both carried beyond 
its proper bounds, and is not carried out with sufficient 
thoroughness. There cannot it is said be a formal 
logic, because every exercise of thought is internally 
affected or modified by the material the subject-matter 
with which it deals. It is implied in such an argu 
ment that the subject-matter finds no difficulty in 
existing by itself, but that the thought is a mere 
vacuity or un-characterised something which owes its 
every character to the said matter. But a subject- 
matter which has content and character has therefore 
form : it is already known, already thought. And as to 
this thought, which is said to approach its matter with 
a self so blank, so impartial, so neutral what is it? 
It is a thought or a thinking which has never as yet 
thought, which is only named thought by right of 
expectation, but is itself nothing actual. Of such 
fictitious thought there can hardly be a science. 

On the other hand, that may be easily called a formal 
logic, which is much more than formal : and that may 
be called material, which is only a species of formal. 
Great indeed is the virtue of names, to suppress and 
to replace thought. When forms hang on as myste 
rious names after their day is passed when they are 
retained in a certain honour, while the real working 
methods have assumed other titles ; then these forms 
become purely formal and antiquated. Thus the Logic 
of Aristotle seemed in its unfamiliar language to a later 

xxvi.] FORM AND MATTER. 367 

generation to be purely formal and superfluous. It was 
only another side of the same mistake when the new 
forms the forms efficient and active in matter, were 
not recognised as formal, but were boldly styled material : 
and the Logic which discussed such matter-marked 
forms was called a material Logic. 

The phrase Matter of Thought, like its many con 
geners, is a fruitful mother of misconceptions. Caught 
up by the pictorial imagination, which is always at hand 
to anticipate thought, it suggests a matter, which is not 
thought, but is there, all the same, lying in expectation 
of it. It suggests two things (for are there not two 
words, and a preposition or term of relation between 
them ?). But there are not two things. This matter 
is just as much a nonentity as the aforesaid thought : 
a matter of thought is a thought matter, matter, 
thought once, and possibly to be thought again. 

All this talk about the Relativity of form and matter 
is insincere, and semi-conventional. It is (like the well- 
known antithesis between Matter and Mind, of which 
indeed it is only a variation) a halting between two 
views. That which it chiefly leans to, is that there can 
be no form without matter, though there may well be 
matter which is not yet formed. At the best it goes no 
further than to admit or assert that besides the one there 
is also the other. It establishes a see-saw, and is proud 
of it. This is Dualism. Its maxim is, Don t forget 
that there is an Other. You have explored the One : 
you have perhaps done well. But there is also and 
always the Other. The second view is not the mere 
negation of this dualism. That there is a dualism is 
a fact which it acknowledges *. All life and reality i 
manifested in dualism in antithesis : but the life an 
the reality is one. Mind Getst actualised and intel- 

1 Encycl. 574 (Philosophy of Mind, p. 196). 

368 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvi. 

ligent experience is the one ultimate and essential 
reality \ In the face of its unity, mere matter is only 
a half-truth, and mere thought is only another. The 
reality, the unity, and the truth, is matter as formed, 
nature as reflected in mind. In the reality of experi 
ence there is always the presence of thought : and 
thought is only real when it is wedded with nature in 
the truth of man s mind. So far Bacon and Hegel 
coincide. Man in so far as he is Mind and of course 
Mind in its fullness is not merely subjective nor merely 
objective, but absolute is the measure of all things, 
the central and comprehensive reality. Such a man 
and such a mind is, we need hardly add, not the man 
in the street, nor the man in the study : but the infinite, 
universal, eternal mind in whom these and all others 
essentially have their being. Such truth of Man such 
Mind is the Absolute : it is sometimes named God : it 
is the ideal of all aspiration, and the fountain of all truth. 
Logic, says Hegel 2 , is the science of the Idea in 
the medium of mere thought. It exhibits the truth in 
one partial aspect, or shows one appearance of the total 
unity of the world, the aspect it would wear if we could 
for a moment suppose the reality of Nature to vanish 
out of sight, and the ideality of Mind reduced to a ghost. 
It dissects the underlying organisation the scheme of 
unification which the world of mental or spiritual 
experience presents in all its concreteness. And it does 
so because it exhibits the last result of the ever clearer 
and clearer experience which Mind achieves as it comes 
to see and realise itself. The logical skeleton is the 
sublimated product of a rich concrete experience. It 
has been a curious delusion of some who were probably 
satisfied by a casual glance at Hegel s Logic, especially 
in its earlier chapters, to suppose that the Logic was 

1 Encycl. 377. 2 Logic, vol. ii. p. 30. 



meant to be the absolute beginning : and that pure or 
mere thought was the congenital endowment of the 
heaven-born philosopher 1 . To Hegel, on the contrary,^ 
Logic was an abstraction from a fuller, more concrete 
reality. He did not indeed suppose that the symbolical 
conception of Movement in its popular pictorialness 
would be an adequate substitute or representative for 
thought ; but he knew that the energy of mental develop 
ment was the fact, and the truth, of which becoming* 
is a meagre, abstract phase. 

Logic, then, is not the Science of mere or pure^K 
thought, but of the Idea (which is co-terminous with 
reality) of the Mind s synthetic unity of experience- 
looked at, however, abstractly, in the medium of pure 
thought. Just so, Nature-philosophy is the same Idea, 
as it turns up bit after bit distracted, fragmentary, and 
more or less mutilated, in the multiplication, the time 
and space division, of physical phenomena. But as 
science requires us to go from the simple to the more 
complex, as the truth has to prove itself true, by serving 
in its conclusion as the corroboration of all its premisses 
or presuppositions ; so the system of philosophy begins 
with the Logic. Yet it can only begin there, because it 
has already apprehended itself in its completeness : and 
it can only move onward because it is the concentrated 
essence the implicit being of all that it actually and 
explicitly is. It may appear to emerge from a point : 
but that point has at its back the intellectual unity 
of a philosophy which embraces the world. It pre 
supposes the complete philosopher who shall be the 
complete organ of absolute intelligence, of universal and 
eternal Spirit. 

1 The criticisms of A. Trendelenburg, in his Logische Unter- 
suchungen, rest on such assumptions. Trendelenburg, says Hart- 
mann, means low-water mark in German philosophy. 


370 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvi. 

* A satisfactory Logic then presupposes or implies 
a complete system of philosophy. No doubt, for a logic 
which deals with the minor problems of ratiocination or 
formal induction, all that is needed is a certain general 
acquaintance with popular conceptions, and with the 
results or methods of physical science. But if logic 
takes its business seriously, it must go behind these 
presuppositions. It must trace back reasoning to its 
roots, fibres, and first principles. And to do that it is 
not enough to put at the front a psychological chapter. 
Far from helping, psychology in these matters is much 
more in need of being helped itself. Till it has learned 
a little of the puzzle of the one and the many, the same 
and the diverse, being, quality, and essence, psychology 
will be as little use to Logic as blind guides generally 
are. Nor need this prevent us from saying that when 
psychology has thoroughly learned these mysteries, it 
will give fresh life and reality to the logic which it 
touches upon. The principles of Logic lie in another 
field 1 , and are deeper in the ground, than obvious 
psychological gossip. 

If Logic then deals with form, it deals with a form of 
forms the form of the world, of life, and of reality. It 
is a form, which is a unity in diversity, an organism, a 
form which is infinitely manifold, and yet in all its 
multiplicity one. Logic is the morphology of thought, 
of that thought which in Nature is concealed under 
the variety and divisions of things, and which in the 
theory of mental and spiritual life is resumed into a 
complete biology of the world-organism. The problem 
of Logic then demands an abstraction an effort of self- 
concentration an effort by which the whole machinery 
of the sensible universe shall be left behind, and the 

1 See above all Bradley s Principles of Logic, and Bosanquet s 
Logic, &c. 

xxvi.] THE FORM OF THOUGHT. 37 ! 

accustomed clothing of our thoughts be removed. To 
move in this ether of pure thought is clearly one of the 
hardest of problems. 

Like Plato, we may occasionally feel that we have 
caught a glimpse of the super-sensible world unveiled ; 
but it disappears as the senses regain their hold. We 
can probably fix a firm eye on one term of reason, and 
criticise its value : but it is less easy to survey the 
Bacchic dance from term to term 1 , and allow them to 
criticise themselves. The distracting influence of our 
associations, or of outside things, is always leading us 
astray. Either we incline to treat thoughts as psycho 
logical products or species, the outcome of a mental 
process, which are (a) given to us from the beginning, 
and so a priori or innate, or which (b) spring up in the 
course of experience by mutual friction between our 
mind and the outside world, and so are a posteriori or 
derivative. Or disregarding the subjective side of 
thoughts, we act as if they were more correctly called 
things : we speak of relations between phenomena : we 
suppose things, and causes, and quantities to form part 
of the so-called external universe, which science ex 
plores. The one estimate of thought, like the other, 
keeps in view, though at some distance, and so as not 
to interfere with their practical discussions, the separate 
and equal existence of thoughts and things. The 
psychologists or subjectivists of logic scrutinise the 
world within us first of all, and purpose to accomplish 
what can be done for the mind as possessing a faculty 
of thought, before they turn to the world of things. 
The realists or objectivists of logic think it better for 

Das Wahre ist der bacchantische Taumel, an dem kein Glied 
nicht trunken ist ; und weil jedes, indem es sich absondert, ebenso 
unmittelbar sich auflOst, ist es ebenso die durchsichtige und ein- 
fache Ruhe. Phenom. des Geistes, p. 35. 

B b 2 

372 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvi. 

practical work to allow thought only the formal or 
outside labour of surveying and analysing the laws of 
phenomena out of the phenomena which contain them. 
Neither of them examines thought the original syn 
thetic unity in its own integrity as a movement in 
its own self, an inner organisation, of which subject 
and object, the mind and the things called external, are 
the vehicles, or, in logical language, the accidents. 

If it is possible to treat the history of the English 
Constitution as an object of inquiry in itself and for its 
own sake, without reference to the individuals who in 
course of time marred and mended it, or to the setting 
of events in which its advance is exhibited, why not 
treat the thought, which is the universal element of all 
things, of English Constitution, and Italian Art, and 
Greek Philosophy, in the same way, absolutely, i. e. 
in itself and for its own sake? When that is done, 
distinctions rigidly sustained between a priori and 
a posteriori become meaningless because now seen to 
belong to a distinction of earlier and later in the history 
of the individual consciousness. There is at best only 
a modified justification for such mottoes and cries, as 
Art for Art s sake, or Science must be left free and 
unchecked, or The rights of the religious conscience 
ought always to be respected : but there can be no 
demur or limitation to the cry that Thought must be 
studied in Thought by Thought and for the sake of 
Thought. For Art, and Science, and Religion are 
specialised modes in which the totality or truth of things 
presents itself to mankind, and none of them can claim 
an unconditioned sway : their claims clash, and each 
must be admitted to be after all a partial interpretation, 
a more or less one-sided interpretation of the true 
reality of the world. Thought on the other hand is 
unlimited : for it exists not merely in its own abstract 


modes, but interpenetrates and rules all the other 
concrete forms of experience, manifesting itself in Art 
and Religion, not less than in Science. And thus when 
we study Thought, we study that which is in itself anc 
for itself, we study Absolute Being. On the other 
side it must be noted that in Logic it is Absolute Being, 
only when and as it is thought, which we study. The 
two sides, Being and Thought, must both come forward : 
and come in unity, although in some phases of the 
Idea the thought-element, in others the being-element 
is more pronounced. 

Thought, too, is Being. An old distinction of the 
Stoics, which not inaptly represents popular views on 
this matter, set on one side 6Va, existences (which were 
always corporeal, whether they were the things we 
touch and feel, or the words and breathings by which 
we utter them), and on the other side the meanings or 
thoughts proper or o-?7^aii/o>em (which were incorporeal). 
These Xe/crd, as they were otherwise called, were to the 
Stoics the proper sphere of Logic. In the sense there 
fore which the Stoics and popular consciousness give to 
being, the object of logic does not possess being. It 
is not corporeal. It cannot however be said to be in 
the sphere of non-being. It is rather a part of reality 
of concrete being which can be considered apart, as 
if it stood alone. Alone it does not stand. And yet it 
holds a position so fundamental, is the same theme 
again and again repeated under endless variations, is 
so obviously the universal of things that it may pro 
perly form the subject of independent study. 

It is, moreover, a part of Reality, which may well 
claim to stand for the whole. It is, so to say, the score 
of the musical composition, rolled up in its bare, silent, 
unadorned lineaments; the articulated theme, besides, 
and not the mere germinal concept, of all the variety of 



melody. But it is only laid up there in abstracto, 
because in the soul of the composer it had already 
taken concrete form, due to his capacity and training, 
his mental force, his art and science. It is there that 
the score has its source. But secondly, the musical 
work exists in the performance of the orchestra : in the 
manipulations of the several instruments, in the notes 
of the singers, in all the diversity of parts which make 
up the mechanism for unfolding the meaning or theme 
that unreality, that mere thought, which to the stricter 
Stoic might be said to have no vnapfrs, or bodily subsist 
ence. And there are still people who will be disposed 
to assert that it is only in the multitude of notes of 
violin, trombone, flute, &c., that the music is real : 
though perhaps these hardy realists do not quite mean 
what they say. For what they probably mean, and 
what is the fact, is that the music exists as a complete 
reality in those who have ears and minds capable of 
comprehending and enjoying it : in those who can re 
unite meaning and theme to execution and orchestra 
tion : and we may even add that it is more and more 
real, in proportion to the greater power with which 
they can bring these two into one. 

We shall rather say then that thought points to 
reality, and that mere nature seeks for interpretation : 
that mere thought and mere being both seek for re 
union. Yet if in the complete reality we thus dis 
tinguish two elements, we may follow Hegel in setting 
the pure Idea first. It is no doubt in a way true that, 
as has been said, Hegel may be often read most easily 
if we first begin with his concluding paragraphs. In 
psychology and ethics the fundamental principles have 
assumed a more imposing, a larger, a more humanly- 
interesting shape, than they bear in the intangible out 
lines of Logic. There they are written in blacker ink 


and broader lines than in the grey on grey. But after 
all, it is only for those who have grasped the faint yet 
fixed outlines that the full-contoured figure speaks its 
amplest truth. The true sculptor must begin with a 
thorough study of anatomy. For those therefore who 
do not care merely for results, it is indispensable to 
begin or at least to turn back to the beginning to 
the Logic. No doubt the full tones of the heard and 
sounded harmony are the true and adequate presentation 
of the composer s purpose : but they will be best 
comprehended and appreciated by those who have 
thoroughly grasped the score. 

In Logic, so regarded, thought is no longer merely 
our thought. It is the constructive, relational, unifying 
element of reality. Without it reality would not articu 
lately be anything for us : and such thoughts seem to be 
its net extract, its quintessence, its concentrated mean 
ing. But really they are only the potent form of reality. 
Or, more exactly, in its limits, under its phases, must 
come all reality if it is to be part and parcel of our 
intelligent possession, our certified property. Such a 
thought is the frame-work, the shape-giver of our 
world, of our communicable experience. It is the 
formative principle of our intelligent life, as it is the 
principle through which things have meaning for us, 
and we have meaning for and fellowship with others. 
It is not so rich as religion and art, perhaps it does not 
have the intensity of feeling and faith : but it is at the 
very basis of all of these, or it is the concentrated 
essence of what in them is explicated and developed. 
Humanity in these its highest energies is more than 
mere thought more than mere logic : but it is still at 
the root thought, and it is still governed by the laws 
and movement of this higher logic. For this is a logic 
which is no mere instrument of technical reasoning, for 

376 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvi. 

proof or disproof: no mere code of rules for the evalua 
tion of testimony. It is a logic which deals with a 
thought or an Idea in thought-form which is the 
principle of all life and reality: the way of self-criticism 
which leads to truth : a thought which is at home in all 
the phases and provinces of experience. 

Under the same name, Logic, therefore, we find 
something quite different from what the example of 
Aristotle and his ancient and modern followers had 
accustomed us to \ Under the auspices of Kant and 
his Transcendental logic there has emerged the need 
of something more corresponding to the title. For 
the word itself was not used either by Aristotle or the 
Stoics. Neither the Analytics and Topics of the one, 
nor the Dialectic of the other, exhaust the conception 
of the science, or, to put it more accurately, they are 
only inceptions of a science, the fulfilment of which 
was reserved for a later time. Bacon and Locke, 
Descartes and Spinoza, all the thinkers of modern 
Europe call for a deeper probing of the logical 
problem : for a grasp of it which shall be more worthy 
of its conventional name, Logic, the theory of Reason. 
And we may even say that what is wanted is a unifica 
tion of the problem of the Organon with that of the 
first philosophy, a unification of Logic with Meta 
physics : a recognition that the problem of reason is 
not merely the method of reasoning, but the whole 
theory as to the correlations of perception and concep 
tion, of thinking and reality. 

This conception of Logic as the self-developing 
system of Thought pure and entire, is the distinctive 
achievement of Hegel. I cannot imagine/ he says, 
that the method which I have followed in this system 
of Logic, or rather the method which this system follows 

1 Prantl, Geschichte der Logik, i. 87. 


in its own self, is otherwise than susceptible of much 
improvement, and many completions of detail : but I 
know at the same time that it is the only genuine 
method. This is evident from the circumstance that 
it is nothing distinct from its object and subject-matter : 
for it is the subject-matter within itself, or its inherent 
dialectic, which moves it along 1 / 

But how is this universe of thought to be discovered, 
and its law of movement to be described ? From times 
beyond the reach of history, from nations and tribes 
of which we know only by tradition and vague con 
jectures, in all levels of social life and action, the 
synthetic energy of thought has been productive, and 
its evolution in the field of time has been going on. 
For thousands of years the intellectual city has been 
rearing its walls : and much of the process of its for 
mation lies beyond the scope of observation. But 
fortunately there is a help at hand, which will enable 
us to discover at least the main outlines in the system 
of thought. 

The key to the solution was found somewhat in the 
same way as led to the Darwinian theory concerning 
the Origin of Species. When the question touching 
the causes of variation and persistence in the natural 
kinds of plants and animals seemed so complex as to 
baffle all attempts at an answer, Darwin found what 
seemed a clue likely to lead to a theory of descent. 
The methods adopted in order to keep up, or to vary, 
a species under domestication were open to anybody s 
inspection: and those principles, which were consciously 
pursued in artificial selection by the breeder, suggested 
a theory of similar selection in free nature. In study 
ing the phenomena of thought, of which the species 
or types were no less numerous and interesting than 

1 Wissenschaft der Logik, i. p. 39. 

378 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvi. 

those in organic nature, it was perhaps impossible to 
survey the whole history of humanity. But it was 
comparatively easy to observe the process of thought 
in those cases where its growth had been fostered con 
sciously and distinctly. The history of philosophy 
records the steps in the conscious and artificial manipu 
lation of what for the far greater part is transacted 
in the silent workshops of nature. Philosophy, in 
short, is to the general growth of intelligence what 
artificial breeding is to the variation of species under 
natural conditions. In the successive systems of phi 
losophy, the order and concatenation of ideas was, as 
it were, clarified out of the perturbed medium of real 
life, and expressed in its bare equivalents in terms 
of thought, and thus first really acquired. Half of his 
task was already performed for the logician, and there 
remained the work, certainly no slight one of showing 
the unity and organic development which marked the 
conscious reasoning, and of connecting it with the 
general movement of human thought. The logician 
had to break down the rigid lines which separated one 
system of philosophy from another, to see what was 
really involved in the contradiction of one system by 
its successor, and to show that the negation thus 
given to an antecedent principle was a definite negation, 
ending not in mere zero or vacuity, but in a distinct 
result, and making an advance upon the previous 
height of intelligence. 

To say this was to give a new value to the history 
of philosophy. For it followed that each system was 
no mere opinion or personal view, but was in the main 
a genuine attempt of the thinker to give expression to 
the tacit or struggling consciousness of his age. Be 
hind the individual who is often unduly regardless 
of his contemporaries and predecessors, and who writes 


or thinks with little knowledge or sympathy for them, 
there is the general bearing and interest of the age, 
its powerful solidarity of purpose and conception. The 
philosopher is the prophet, because he is in a large 
part the product of his age. He is an organ of the 
mind of his age and nation ; and both he and it play 
a part in the general work of humanity. 

On the other hand, it is dangerous to insist too 
forcibly on the rationality of the history of philosophy. 
For it may be taken to mean probably only by blinded 
or wooden commentators that each step in the evo 
lution and concatenation of the logical idea is to be 
identified with some historical system, and that these 
systems must have appeared in this precise order. And 
this would be to expect too much from the impotence 
of nature which plays its part in the historical world 
also : as that on one side forms part of the Natural. 
There is Reason in the world and in the world of 
history ; but not in the pellueid brightness and distinct 
outlines proper to the Idea in the abstract element of 
thought. It may take several philosophers to make 
one step in thought ; and sometimes one philosopher of 
genius may take several steps at once. There may 
even be co-eval philosophies : and there may be philo 
sophies which appear to run on in independent or 
parallel lines of development. It may well be that 
Hegel has underestimated these divergencies, and that 
he has been too apt to see in all history the co-oper 
ation to one dominant purpose. But these errors in 
the execution of a philosophy of history, and especially 
of the history of philosophy, should not diminish our 
estimate of its principle \ 

1 See Encydop. 549 (Philosophy of Mind, pp. 148 seqq.). It is, of 
course, quite another question to be answered by intelligent research 
how far in particular cases Hegel has accurately studied a thinker, 

380 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvi. 

At first this process was seen in the medium of time. 
But the conditions of time are of practical and particular 
interest only. The day when the first leaves appear, 
and the season when the fruit ripens on a tree, are 
questions of importance to practical arboriculture. But 
botany deals only with the general theory of the plant s 
development, in which such considerations have to be 
generalised. So logic leaves out of account those points 
of time and chance which the interests of individuals 
and nations find all-important. And when this element 
of time has been removed, there is left a system of 
the types of thought pure and entire, embalming the 
life of generations in mere words. The same self- 
identical thought is set forth from its initial narrowness 
and poverty on to its final amplitude and wealth of 
differences. At each stage it is the Absolute : outside 
of it there is nothing. It is the whole, pure and entire: 
always the whole. But in its first totality it is all but 
a void : in its last a fully-formed and articulated world, 
because it holds all that it ever threw out of itself 
resumed into its grasp. 

In these circumstances nothing can sound higher 
and nobler than the Theory of Logic. It presents 
the Truth unveiled in its proper form and absolute 
nature. If the philosopher may call this absolute 
totality of thought ever staying the same in its 
eternal development, this adequacy of thought to its 
own requirements by the name of God, then we may 
say with Hegel that Logic exhibits God as He is in His 
eternal Being before the creation of Nature and a finite 
Mind l . But the logical Idea is only a phantom Deity 

and faithfully interpreted him. Some of his critics in this line 
appear to mistake philology which is a highly important authority 
in its own field for philosophy : and will no doubt go on doing so. 
1 Hegel s Werke, iii. 33. 


the bare possibility of a God or of absolute reality 
in all the development of its details. 

The first acquaintance with the abstract theory is 
likely to dash cold water on the enthusiasm thus 
awakened, and may sober our views of the magic 
efficacy of Logic. The student on his first approach 
to the Science/ says Hegel, sees in Logic at first only 
one system of abstractions apart and limited to itself, 
not extending so as to include other facts and sciences. 
On the contrary, when it is contrasted with the variety 
abounding in our generalised picture of the world, 
and with the tangible realities embraced in the other 
sciences, when it is compared with the promise of 
the Absolute Science to lay bare the essence of that 
variety, the inner nature of the mind and the world, 
or, in one word, the Truth, this science of Logic in 
its abstract outline, in the colourless cold simplicity of 
its mere terms of thought, seems as if it would perform 
anything sooner than this promise, and in the face of 
that variety seems very empty indeed. A first intro 
duction to the study of Logic leads us to suppose that 
its significance is restricted to itself. Its doctrines are 
not believed to be more than one separate branch of 
study engaged with the terms or dimensions of thought, 
besides which the other scientific occupations have 
a proper material and body of their own. Upon these 
occupations, it is assumed, Logic may exert a formal 
influence, but it is the influence of a natural and spon 
taneous logic for which the scientific form and its study 
may be in case of need dispensed with. The other 
sciences have upon the whole rejected the regulation- 
method, which made them a series of definitions, axioms, 
and theorems, with the demonstration of these theorems. 
What is called Natural Logic rules in the sciences with 
full sway, and gets along without any special investi- 


gation in the direction of thought itself. The entire 
materials and facts of these sciences have detached 
themselves completely from Logic. Besides they are 
more attractive for sense, feeling, or imagination, and 
for practical interests of every description. 

And so it comes about that Logic has to be learned 
at first, as something which is perhaps understood and 
seen into, but of which the compass, the depth, and 
further import are in the earliest stages unperceived. 
It is only after a deeper study of the other sciences 
that logical theory rises before the mind of the student 
into a universal, which is not merely abstract, but 
embraces within it the variety of particulars. The 
same moral truth on the lips of a youth, who under 
stands it quite correctly, does not possess the significance 
or the burden of meaning which it has in the mind 
of the veteran, in whom the experience of a lifetime 
has made it express the whole force of its import. In 
the same way, Logic is not appreciated at its right 
value until it has grown to be the result of scientific 
experience. It is then seen to be the universal truth, 
not a special study beside other matters and other 
realities, but the essence of all these other facts to 
gether 1 / 

1 Wissenschaft der Logik, i. p. 43. 



ACCORDING to the strict reasonings of Kant in his 
Criticism of Pure Reason, and the somewhat looser 
discussions of Mr. Spencer in his First Principles 
a science of Metaphysics or theory of the Infinite, 
Absolute, or Unconditioned is impossible. As a result 
of the criticism by Kant, Jacobi claimed the Absolute 
for Faith : and Spencer banishes the Absolute or Un 
knowable to the sphere of Religion to be worshipped 
or ignored, but in either case blindly. As we have 
already seen, Hegel does not accept this distribution 
of provinces between religion and philosophy. There 
is only one world, one reality : but it is known more 
or less fully, more or less truly and adequately. It 
is presented in one way to the sensuous imagination : 
in another to the scientific analyst: in a third to the 
philosopher. To the first it is a mere succession or 
expanse of pictures, facts, appearances: and outside 
it somewhere, but not here, there is a land, a being 
of perfect wholeness and harmony. To the second 
it is an unending chain of causes^and effects, of one 
thing simplified by being referred to another till at last 
a mighty all-explaining nullity, called an Ultimate 
Cause/ is presumed to linger, eternally unperceived 
at the infinitely-distant end of the scries. To the third 

384 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvil. 

everything is seen in connexion, but not a mere unilinear 
connexion : each, when studied, more and more com 
pletes itself by including those relations which seemed 
to stand outside : each fully realised, or completely 
invested with its ideal implications, is seen no longer 
to be an incident or isolated fact, but an implicit infinite, 
and a vice-gerent of the eternal. Philosophy thus 
releases both ordinary and scientific knowledge from 
their limitations; it shows the finite passing into the 
infinite. And Hegel, accordingly, purposes to show 
that this unfathomable Absolute is very near us, and 
at our very door : in our hands, as it were, and 
especially present in our every-day language. If we 
are ever to gain the Absolute, we must be careful not 
to lose one jot or tittle of the Relative \ The Absolute 
this term, which is to some so offensive and to others 
so precious always presents itself to us in Relatives : 
and when we have persistently traced the Proteus 
through all its manifestations, when we have, so to 
speak, seen the Absolute Relativity of Relation, there 
is very little more needed in order to apprehend the 
Absolute pure and entire. One may say of the Absolute 
what Goethe 2 says of Nature: She lives entirely in 
her children : and the mother, where is she? 

It is a great step, when we have detected the Rela 
tivity of what had hitherto seemed Absolute, when 
a new aspect of the infinite fullness of the world, the 
truth of things, dawns upon us. But it is even a greater 
step when we see that the Relativity which we have 

1 Cf. Herbart s maxim, Wie viel Schein, so viel Hindeutung auf 
Sein. (Hauptpunkte der Metophysik.} 

2 Die Natur (1780) : Sie lebt in lauter Kindern : und die Mutter, 
wo ist sie? . . . . Sie ist ganz und doch immer unvollendet. . . . 
Sie verbirgt sich in tausend Namen und Termen, und ist immer 


thus discovered is itself Relative. And this is one 
advantage of first studying the value of the categories 
of ethics and physics on Logical ground. On the 
concreter region of Nature and Mind ; the several 
grades and species into which reality is divided have 
a portentous firmness and grandeur about them, and 
the intrinsic dialectic seems scarcely adequate to 
shaking the foundations of their stability. They 
severally stand as independent self-sustaining entities, 
separate from each other, and stereotyped in their 
several formations. But in the ether of abstract Idea, 
in the fluid and transparent form of mere thoughts, the 
several stages in the development of the Absolute, the 
various grades of category, clearly betray their Rela 
tivity, and by the negation of this Relativity lead on 
to a higher Absolute. 

To the practical man, so long as his reflection does 
not go deep, the concepts on which his knowledge 
and faith are built seem eternal, unshifting rock, parts 
of the inmost fabric of things. He accepts them as 
ultimate validities. To him matter and force, cause 
and effect, distinctions between form and content, whole 
and part, quantity and quality, belong to the final con 
stitution of the world. (And so, in a sense, they do.) 
If he ever overcome the absoluteness which popular 
thought attributes to the individual things of sense 
and imagination, and show their relativity, he does 
so only to fall under the glamour of a new deception. 
Causes and matters, forces and atoms, become new 
ultimates, new absolutes, of another order. Fictions 
or postulates of the understanding take the place of 
the figments of imagination. The ordinary scientific 
man labours especially under the metaphysical fallacy: 
he realises abstractions in their abstractness. As against 
this it is the business of the logician to show how such 

c c 

386 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvii. 

terms are to be interpreted as steps in a process of 
interpretation containing so much that others of 
simpler structure have handed on, and themselves 
presupposing by implication a great deal they fail 
properly to explicate. Thus, the logician evinces at 
one blow the relativity of each term in its mereness, 
abstractness, or false absoluteness, and the ideal abso 
luteness which always carries it beyond itself, and 
makes it mean more than it says. 

The natural mind always hastens to substantiate the 
terms it employs. It makes them a fixed, solid found 
ation, an hypostasis, on which further building may 
be raised. If such pseudo-absolutising of concepts is 
to be called metaphysics, then logic has to free us 
from the illusions of metaphysics, to de-absolutise 
them, to disabuse us of a false Absolute. The false 
Absolute is what Hegel calls the Abstract : it is the 
part which, because it succeeded in losing sight of its 
dependence, had believed itself to be a whole. Logic 
shows in the phrase of Hegel that each such term 
or concept is only an attempt to express, explicate, or 
define the Absolute J : a predicate of the Absolute, but 
falling short of its subject, or only uttering part of the 
whole truth of reality. But while Logic shows it only 
to be an attempt, and therefore in an aspect relative, 
it equally shows its ingrained tendency to complete 
itself, to carry out to realisation its ideal implication, 
shows, in short, that e. g. force is more than mere 
force, that thing-in-itself is not properly even a thing ; 
that a veritable notion (Begriff) or grasp of a thing 
is more than a mere (subjective) notion, &c. Thus the 
true Absolute is not the emptiest and most meagre of 
abstractions, what is left as a residual after the relative 
in all its breadth and length has been cut out of it ; 

1 Logic (Encyclop.} 85, 87, 112, 194, &c. 


it is the concretest of all being, the whole which 
includes without destroying all partial aspects. Yet as 
it includes them, it shows itself their master and more 
than master: making each lose and win in the other, 
till all are satisfied in unity, and no shade of individuality 
is utterly lost in the totality of the Universal. 

Accordingly, Metaphysics and Logic tend to form one 
body. For the distant and transcendent Absolute, 
which was the object of older Metaphysics, was sub 
stituted an Absolute, self-revealing in the terms of 
thought. Being is deposed from its absoluteness, and 
made the first postulate of thought. Former Meta 
physics had dashed itself in vain against the reefs 
that girdle the island of the supersensible and noumenal, 
the supposed world of true Being: and the struggle 
at last grew so disastrous that Kant gave the signal 
to retreat, and to leave the world of true Being, the 
impregnable Thing-in-itself, to its repose. His ad 
vice to metaphysicians 1 was that, while scientific re 
search continued to concentrate the attack of analysis 
upon single experiences conforming to certain con 
ditions, they should investigate these conditions of 
possible experience or foundations of objectivity. In 
other words, he turned observation to what he called 
Transcendental Logic. It was by means of this sug 
gestion, understood in the widest sense, that Hegel 
was led to treat Logic as the science of ultimate reality. 
He had to show how these conditions when carried 
out in full gave the Unconditioned. He attacked 
the Absolute, if we may say so, in detail. The Ab- 
solute, as the totality, universe or system of Relativity, 

1 Metaphysic is, in Kant s usage, ambiguous. It means () a sup 
posed science of the supersensible or unconditioned reality; (6) a 
study of the conditions or presuppositions the Kantian a priori of 
some aspect of Experience, e. g. a Metaphysic of Moral rules. 

C C 2 

3 88 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvn. 

lays itself open to observation by deposing itself to 
a Relative. It possesses the differentiating power of 
separating itself as an object in passivity, from itself 
as a subject in action, of deposing itself to appearance, 
of being for itself, and also in and for itself. And thus 
Thought is the active universal, which actualises itself 
more and more out of abstraction into concreteness. 

Hegel, then, solved the problem of Metaphysics by 
turning it into Logic. The same principle, Thought, 
appeared in both : in the former as a fixed and passive 
result, showing no traces of spontaneity, in the latter 
as an activity, with a mere power of passing from object 
to object, discovering and establishing connexions and 
relations. The two sciences were fragments, unintelli 
gible and untenable, when taken in abstract isolation. 
This is the justification, if justification be required, for 
Hegel s unification of Logic and Metaphysics. The 
Hegelian Logic falls into three parts: the theory of 
Transitory Being : the theory of Relative Being : and 
the theory of the Notion. The first and second of these 
in his Science of Logic are called Objective Logic ; 
they also might be described as- Metaphysics. The 
third part is more strictly on Logical ground. Or 
perhaps it is best to describe the whole as the Meta 
physics of Logic. 

The Logic of Hegel is the Science of Thought as an 
organic system of its characteristic forms, which in their 
entirety constitute the Idea. These forms or types of 
thought, the moulds in which the Idea confines itself in 
its evolution, are not unlike what have been otherwise 
called the Categories. (Of course the foreign word 
Categories does not commend itself to Hegel) \ They 

1 His usual term is Denk-bestimmungen, the several expressions 
or specific forms of the unification which thought is. The term 
Categories has been identified by Kant with his list of Stammbegriffe, 


are the modifications or definite forms, the articulated 
and distinct shapes, in which the process of Thought 
ever and anon culminates in the course of its movement. 
The Infinite and Absolute at these points conditions 
itself, and as so conditioned or differentiated is appre 
hended and stamped with a name. They specify the 
unspecified, and give utterance to the ineffable. They 
are the names by which reason grasps the totality of 
things, the names by which the truth (or God) reveals 
itself, however inadequately. From one point of view 
they constitute a series, each evolved from the other, 
a more completely detailed term or utterance of thought 
resulting by innate contradiction from a less detailed. 
From another point of view the total remains per 
petually the same ; and the change seems only on the 
surface. The one aspect of the movement conceals the 
Absolute : the other puts the Relative into the back 

What then are the Categories? We may answer: 
They are the ways in which expression is given to the 
unifying influence of thought : and we have to consider 
them as points or stations in the progress of this unifica 
tion, and in the light of this influence. These Categories 
are the typical structures marking the definite grades in 
the growth of thought, the moulds or forms which 
thought assumes and places itself in, those instants 
when the process of thought takes a determinate form, 
and admits of being grasped. The growth of thought, 
like other growths, is often imperceptible and impal- 

and by Mill with his classes of nameable things, with some critical 
remarks on Aristotle s use of the word. That use-to denote the 
elements of predicable reality, what Grote called ens is probably 
not so rhapsodical as Kant, with his new-born zeal for the contrast 
of sensibility and intellect, was inclined to suppose. A real history 
of the Category-theory would be almost a history of philosophy. 
Perhaps the name might be more sparingly used. 

390 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvil. 

pable. And then, unexpectedly, a condensation takes 
place, a form is precipitated out of the transparent 
medium. A new concept, a new grasp of reality, 
emerges from the solution of elements : and a name is 
created to realise the new shade of the Idea. These 
thought-terms are the world of Platonic forms, if we 
consider his form of Good as corresponding to the 
Idea of Hegel. For if we look carefully into this 
mystic word Good which plays so brilliant a part in 
ancient philosophy, we shall see that it only expresses 
in a more concrete and less analytic form, as ancient 
thought often does, the same thing as so many moderns 
love to speak of as Relativity, and which is also implied 
in Aristotle s conception of an End. To see things sub 
specie boni which Plato describes as the supreme 
quality of the truth-seeker who is to guide men into 
uprightness, or into conformity with the true nature of 
things, is to see them elevated above their partial 
self-subsistence into the harmony and totality of that 
which is always and unvaryingly its real self. The 
Good is the sun-light in which things lose their 
earlier character (which they had in the days of our 
bondage and ignorance) of mysterious and perplexing 
spectres of the night. In the light of the Good, things 
are shorn of their false pretence of self-subsistence and 
substantiality, deposed by comparison with the perfect 
and unspotted, and as it were stung into seeking 
a higher form of being by struggle. And this is the 
abstract moral way of looking. But to see them in the 
form of Good means also that they are seen to be more 
and better than we thought, that they are not con 
demned to inadequacy, but bear in them the witness 
and revelation of infinity and absoluteness. And this is 
rather the faith of religion and the vision of art. And 
the form of Good is only a brief and undeveloped 


vision of an Absolute, which is the form of Relativity/ 
Relativity elevated into an Absolute. 

A Category is often spoken of as if it were the highest 
extreme of generalisation, the most abstract and most 
widely applicable term possible. If we climb sufficiently 
far and high up the Porphyry s tree of thought, we may 
expect,^ thought the old logicians, to reach the summa 
genera or highest species of human thought. Nor 
have modern logicians always refrained from this 
byway. But these quantitative distinctions of greater 
and less, in which the Formal Logic revels, are not 
very suitable to any of the terms or processes of 
thought, and they certainly give an imperfect descrip 
tion of the Categories. The essential function which 
the Categories perform in the fabric of thought and 
language is, in the first place, to combine, affirm, demon 
strate, relate, and unify, and not to generalise \ Their 
action may be better compared to that fulfilled by those 
symbols in an algebraical expression, which like plus 
and minus denote an operation to be performed in the 
way of combining or relating, than to the office of the 
symbols which in these expressions denote the magni 
tudes themselves. 

To the student of language the Categories sometimes 
present themselves as pronominal, or formal roots, 
those roots which, as it is said, do not denote things, but 
relations between things. He meets them in the in 
flections of nouns and verbs ; in the signs of number, 
gender, case, and person : but, as thus presented, their 
influence is subordinate to the things of which they are, 
as it were, the accidents. He meets them in a more 

1 Generalisation is only one small aspect of thought, with speciali 
sation as its, at least as important, pendant. To read certain logics, 
one might think the all-comprehensive virtue of truths were to be 
general, not to be true. 

392 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvii. 

independent and tangible shape in the articles, pro 
nouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and numerals, and in 
what are called the auxiliary verbs. In these apparently 
trifling, and in some languages almost non-existent 
words or parts of words, we have the symbols of rela 
tions, the means of connexion between single words, 
the cement which binds significant speech together. 
There are languages, such as the older and classical 
forms of Chinese, where these categorising terms are, 
as it were, in the air : where they are only felt in 
accent and position, and have no separate existence of 
their own. But in the languages of the Indo-European 
family they gradually appear, at first in combination, 
perhaps, with the more material roots, and only in the 
course of time asserting an independent form. Origin 
ally they appear to denote the relations of space and 
time, the generalised or typical links between the parts 
of our sense-perceptions : but from there they are after 
wards, and in a little while, transferred into the service 
of intellect. These little words are the very life-blood 
of a language, its spirit and force. It is in these cate 
gories, as they show themselves in the different linguistic 
families, that a nation betrays its mode and tone of 
thought. The language of the Altaic races, e.g., ex 
presses activity only as a piece of property, an appro 
priation of a substance, and knows no true distinction 
of noun and verb : the Semitic Tongues in their tense- 
system perhaps betray the intense inwardness of the 
race : whereas the immense inflectionalism of the Indo- 
European seems not unconnected with his greater 
versatility and energy. Complete mastery in the mani 
pulation of these particles and forms is what makes 
an idiomatic knowledge of a language, as distinct from 
a mere remembrance of the vocabulary. And philo 
sophy is the recognition of their import and signifi- 



cance. Thus in Greek philosophy the central questions 
turn upon such words as Being and not-Being : Becom 
ing : that out of which : that for the sake of which : the 
what-was-being : the what is : the other : the one : the 
great and small : that which is upon the whole : what is 
according to each : this somewhat : &C. 1 And again in 
Modern Philosophy, how often has the battle raged about 
the meaning of such words as I : will : can : must : be 
cause : same and different: self: &c. ! 

1 ov and ju/) ov ; TO yiyvu^fvov : TO l ov : TO ov evf/ta : TO ri ?/v 
elvat : TO TI iaTi : 9a.T(pov : <tv : TO p.^a KCU TO /u/cpov : TO /tad 5,\ov : 
TO Ka6 tKaarov : ru5e TI. 



LOGIC, as it is understood in these pages, is the criti 
cal history of the terms of thought by which reality, the 
sum of experience, the world, is described or expressed. 
It is the philosophical criticism of the concepts, or 
elements of conception, by which we define or develop 
the Totality, the Absolute. It describes the constitu 
tion of the intellectual realm, by and in which we give 
body, coherence, unity, and system to reality. It is 
the self-developing organisation of the thoughts by which 
we think things, and by which things are what they are. 
It is the ripe fruit of the experience of the ages of 
humanity, and it therefore bears in itself a principle of 
growth. But if it be a fruit, it is a fruit which can 
watch its own growth, which reflects upon its own life. 
Its three parts show the main stages of its development, 
beginning with the least adequate and most abstract or 
general description of reality. 

The first part of Logic, the theory of Being \ may be 

1 Being (das Seyn) probably conveys much more to an English 
reader than is here meant or wanted. It is Being, where the dis 
tinction between essence and appearance has not yet emerged or 
been thought of. If being = TO 6v, then essence (Weseri) = rb OVTM 
ov, the being which underlies and yet includes appearance. Wescn 

BEING. 395 

called the theory of unsupported and freely-floating 
Being. We do not mean something which is, but the 
mere is/ the bare fact of Being, without any substratum. 
The degree of condensation or development, where 
substantive and attribute, or noun and verb, co-exist, 
has not yet come. The terms or forms of Being float 
as it were freely in the air, and we go from one to 
another, or to put it more correctly one passes into 
another. The terms in question are Is and Not : 
Become : There is : Some and Other : Each : One : 
Many : and so on through the terms of number to 
degree and numerical specificality. This Being is 
immediate : i.e. it contains no reference binding it with 
anything beyond itself, but stands forward baldly and 
nakedly, as if alone ; and, if hard pressed, it turns over 
into something else. It includes the three stages of 
Quality, Quantity, and Measure. The ether of Is* 
presumes no substratum, or further connexion with 
anything : and we only meet a series of points as we 
travel along the surface of thought. To name, to 
number, to measure, are the three grades of our 
ordinary and natural thought : so simple, that one is 
scarcely disposed to look upon them as grades of 

has more right to the substantival "vocable of Being : Seyn is little 
better than an Is or Be. 

In writers of Locke s time, Being seems to mean a reality, an 
actually existing object, e.g. Clarke : < There has existed from eternity 
some one unchangeable and independent Being. What the sub 
stance or essence of that Being is, we have no idea. Essence, says 
Locke, may be taken for the very being of anything, whereby it is 
what it is. Of course Aristotle long ago noted Being as one of the 
terms with variety of implication ; and his own fluctuation about 
ovffia is an obvious illustration of this. 

In the translation of the Logic, IVesen is occasionally rendered by 
Being (e. g. Supreme Being) ; Seyn, by existence. Seyn here means 
so little that one can hardly find any word of sufficiently minimal 
content for it. 

396 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvui. 

thought at all. And yet if thought is self-specification, 
what more obvious forms of specifying it are there than 
to name (so pointing it out, or qualifying it), to number 
(so quantifying it, or stating its dimensions), and to 
measure it ? These are the three primary specificates 
by which we think, the three primary dimensions of 
thought. Thought, in so determining, plays upon the 
surface, and has no sense of the interdependence of its 
terms. And if we could imagine a natural state of con 
sciousness in which sensations had not yet hardened 
into permanent things, and into connexions between 
things, we should have something like the range of 
Immediate Being. Colours and sounds, a series of 
floating qualities, pass before the eye and the ear : 
these colours and sounds are in course of time counted: 
and then, by applying the numbers to these qualities, 
we get the proportions or limits ascertained. When 
this process in actual life, the advance from the vague 
feelings which tell us of sweet, cold, &c., by means 
of a definite enumeration of their phenomena, to the 
rules guiding their operation, is reduced to its most 
abstract terms, we have the process of Being. It 
would be the period when a distinction between things 
and their actions or properties has not arisen. The 
demonstrative pronouns and the numerals are among 
the linguistic expressions of Being in its several stages. 
Perhaps too we may illustrate it by the so-called im 
personal verb which has hardly reached the stage of 
verb proper, having no subject : or by the name which 
still fluctuates between the stage of substantive or 

The first sphere was that of Being directly confronting 
us, and using the demonstrative pronouns first of all. 
The second is Relative or Reflective Being : and in 
this we have to deal with the relative pronouns. The 



surface of Being is now seen to exhibit a secondary 
formation, to involve a sort of permanent standard in 
itself, and to be essentially relative. The mere quality, 
when reduced to number, is seen to be subjected to 
a certain measure, rule, sort, or standard : and this 
reflex of itself always haunts it, modifying and deter 
mining it. Thus instead of qualities, we begin to speak 
of the properties of a thing : we have, as it were, two 
levels of Being, in intimate and necessary connexion, 
where there was only one before. At first it was but 
a mere surface-picture, one thing here and another 
there : a this and a that ; one, now, and another, then. 
This, it might be, was round, and that square : now, it 
was bright, and then, it was dull : here was a head, and 
there was a limb. But the comparison of quality with 
quantity, measuring one by the other, gave rise to the 
conception of something permanent, a true nucleus 
amid the changes. The fact, previously single, is now 
become double : the mere event is now a phenomenon, 
a temporary and outward manifestation of something 
inner. We now see each that is, in the halo of what it 
has been, or will be: the passing modification in the. 
light of the permanent type. But as yet the permanent 
and the passing are separate, and only throw light on 
each other : A explaining itself by B and B by A. We 
have apparently two facts ; neither of which can 
however stand by itself and therefore refers us to 
the other. But to get a real rest in this incessant 
round of mutual reference of one to another we must 
take a higher stand-point. 

In this sphere of Relativity the terms expressive of 
things come in pairs : such as Same and Different, 
Like and Unlike : True Being and Show or Semblance : 
Cause and Effect : Substance and Accident : Matter 
and Form : and the like. If we compare mere Being 

398 PROLEGOMENA. [xxvni. 

to the cell in its simple state, we may say that in the 
second sphere of Logic a nucleus has been formed, 
that a distinction has sprung up between two elements, 
which are still in closest interconnexion. We have 
penetrated behind the seeming simplicity of the surface : 
and in fact discovered it to be mere seeming in the light 
of the substratum, cause, or essence, upon which it is now 
reflected. In immediate Being one category, or specifi 
cate, or dimension of thought passes over into another, 
and then disappears : but in mediated Being one category 
has a meaning only by its relation to another, only by its 
reflection on another, only by the light which another 
casts upon it. Thus a cause has no meaning except in 
connexion with its effect : a force implies or postulates 
an exertion of that force : an essence is constituted by 
the existence which issues from it. Instead of is/ 
therefore, which denotes resting-upon-self, or connexion- 
with-self, the verb of the second sphere is has/ de 
noting reference, or connexion-with-something-else : 
e.g. the cause has an effect : the thing has properties. 
Instead of numerals, come the prepositions and pro 
nouns of relation, such as which, same, like, as, by, 
because. The only conjunction in the first stage or 
Being was And/ mere juxtaposition ; and even that 
conjunction was perhaps premature, and due to reflec 
tive thought, going beyond what was immediately before 
it, and tracing out connexions with other things. The 
first stage, as we have seen, treated of the terms of 
natural thought present in the action of the senses : the 
second stage that of Essential Being deals with 
scientific, reflective, or mediate thought. What, why, 
are the questions : comparison and connexion the 
methods : the establishment of relations of similarity, 
causation, and co-existence, the purpose in this range of 
logical method. Its categories are those most familiar 


to science in its reflective and comparative stage. It is 
the peculiar home of what are known as Metaphysical 
subtleties. The natural but delusive tendency of rea 
soning is to throw the emphasis on one side of the rela 
tion, and to regard the other as accessary and secondary. 
Contrasts between essentia and existenlia : substantia and 
modi: cause and effect : real and apparent : constantly 

If the first branch of Logic was the sphere of simple 
Being in a point or series of points, the second is 
that of difference and discordant Being, broken up in 
itself. The progress in this second sphere ofEssenh a 
or Relative being consists in gradually overcoming 
the antithesis and discrepancy between the two sides 
in it the Permanent and the Phenomenal. At first 
the stress rests upon the Permanent and true Being 
which lies behind the seeming upon the essence or 
substratum in the background, on which the show of 
immediate Being has been proved by the process in 
the first sphere really to rest. Then, secondly, Exist- - 
ence comes to the front, and Appearances or Phenomena 
are regarded as the only realities with which science 
can deal. And yet even in this case we cannot but 
distinguish between matter and form, between the 
phenomena and their laws, between force and its 
exercises : and thus repeat the relativity, though both 
terms in it are now on the whole transferred into the 
range of the Phenomenal world. The third range of 
Essential Being is known as Actuality, where the two 
elements in relation rise to the level of independent 
existences, essences in phenomenal guise bound 
together, and deriving their very characteristics from 
that close union. Relativity or correlation is now 
clearly apparent in actual form, and comprises the 
three heads of Substantial Relation, Causal Relation, 


PROLEGOMENA. [xxvill. 

and Reciprocal Relation. In this case while the two 
members of the relation are now indissolubly linked 
together, they are no more submitted to each other 
than they are independent. According to Reciprocity 
everything actual is at once cause and effect : it is 
the meeting-point of relations : a whole with inde 
pendent elements in mutual interconnexion. Such 
a total is the Notion. 

This brings us to the third branch of Logic, the 
theory of the Notion, or Grasp of Thought 1 . The 
theory of Causality, with which the second branch 
closed, continued to let the thought fall asunder into 
two unequal halves always however in relation or 
connexion with each other. But in the present part of 
the Logic the two halves are re-united, or in their 
difference their identity is also recognised. Instead 
of a cause of a thing (which is separate from it in order), 
we have a concept which is its principle of unity, its 
universal in which it is individualised. Instead of 
incessant and endless Relativity, we have Development. 
By development is meant self-specification, or self- 
actualisation : the thing is what it becomes, or while 
it changes it remains identical with itself. The Cate 
gory or Development is the category or method of 
philosophic or speculative science: just as Being 
corresponded to natural thought, and Relativity or * 
Reflection to metaphysical and realistic science. 
According to the law of Development diversity and 
unity both receive their due. Mere unity or Being 
reappears now as Universality or Generality. Mere 

1 No doubt, as Dr. W. T. Harris remarks, Notion (used by Dr. 
Stirling) is a quite insignificant rendering of Hegel s Begriff: for 
which he proposes Self-activity. But, as he admits, that is just Hegel s 
way : he coins brand-new the old terms, and forces us, if we will 
follow him, to think full meaning into them. 


diversity, or the relativity of essence, re-appears as 
Particularity, or the speciality of details. And the union 
of the two is seen in the Individualised notion or real 
object. In other words, the true thought which really 
grasps and gets all round its object, which is a real 
whole, is a Triplicity : it is first seen all as the ground 
or self-same, the possibility secondly, all as the exist- . 
ence in details, and difference, the actuality or con 
tingencyand thirdly, all as the self-same in difference, 
and the possible in actuality. Every object in its 
full reality is an innate movement ; and to grasp it 
wholly we must apprehend it as such a self-evolving 
and self-involving unity of elements, in each of which 
however it is whole and entire. Thus the Notion 
embraces the three elements or factors of universal, , 
particular and individual. These three elements first 
rise to independence and get their full significance or 
explication in the syllogism^ with its three terms and 
judgments, exhibiting "TITe various ways in which any 
two of these elements in thought are brought into unity 
by means of the third. This adequate form is a system 
or organic unity which contains in itself the premisses 
of its conclusion or the means to its realisation, which 
is a process within itself, and when complete and self- 
supporting perforce gives itself reality. 

The Notion or Begriff is where Hegel makes his 
special mark on Logic. Schelling, even, following on 
Kant, had (like Schopenhauer after him) lauded the 
merit of the Intuition at the expense of the mere notion \ 
and expressed himself surprised at Hegel s use of the 
word. But what Hegel wants first to insist upon is 
that the Intuition or Perception (Anschauung) is built 
upon the Notion that it is only because there is a uni 
versal principle in its details that the individual reality 
1 See vol. ii, Notes and Illustrations, p. 408. 


of the percept is assured. That we can elicit a notion 
from a perception is only possible because it is impli 
citly dominated by a universal. Secondly, Hegel wishes 
to note (as elsewhere) that the full adequate notion, 
the notion as self-explaining and self-constituting, is 
all that is meant by the object. Thus the Notion 
or Subject Causa Sui when it is fully realised in 
the plenitude of its elements or differences, when 
each element has scope of its own, is the Object the 
actual and individualised total of thought, or syllogism 
in reality. This objective world or Object appears 
in three forms. An Object is either a mechanical, 
a chemical, or a teleological object. The terms mechan 
ical and chemical are not to be understood in the 
narrow sense of a machine or chemical compound. 
They are to be taken in an analogical sense, just as 
J. S. Mill speaks of a chemical or geometrical method 
of treating social problems. The object or realised 
notion is mechanical, when the unification of the mem 
bers in the totality comes or seems to come from without, 
so that the whole or universal they form is external 
and almost indifferent to the particulars, and only 
arranges them. An object is chemical, when the con 
nexion or genesis of the compound from its factors is 
not evident : when the elements are as it were lost, 
and only give rise to a fresh particular. An object is 
.teleological, when the universal is, though not distinctly 
conceived as realised, still always as tending to be 
realised by the particulars. And in each of these graces 
the object comes more and more to be seen to be a self- 
enacting, self-legislating being; more and more a due 
pendant to the subject-notion. Modern science is a 
vehement opponent of teleology : and with justice, so 
far as in teleology, means and end fall apart. But it 
is mistaken in supposing itself to return to the mechan- 


ical point of view. On the contrary its success is most 
generally secured by rising to the point of view given 
by the Idea of Life, and by looking upon the objective 
world as an Organism, that is, as the notion in objec 
tivity, soul indissolubly united with body. But even 
the Idea of Life, in which we enter the third stage of 
the notion, is defective as a representation of the truth 
of Objectivity : for body and soul must part. The 
conception of an Organism or living being is too crude. 
Reality is no doubt well described as alive : the 
Absolute well defined as Life. But here again Life 
is taken in a higher than its sense of mere Life : it is 
life as intelligent and volitional energy. If the uni 
verse the Absolute ean be said to be living, it must 
be said also that it is more than Living. Such a life 
such existence is what Aristotle has called 6^pla and 
cvepyfia of the highest in man. It is mental and spiritual 
life. In its consummation it is the Idea the absolute 
Idea the totality which is and is aware of itself, the 
developed unity of the Notion with Objectivity. This 
unity thus presented is what lies implicit to our per 
ception in Nature : and thus the Idea, as developed in 
Logic, forms the prologue and presupposition to the 
Philosophy of Nature. 

d 2 



IF there be one thing which, more than another, 
distinguishes Modern Philosophers from the Ancient 
Philosophy of Athens, it is the desire to discover 
a First Principle of certainty, a handle by which they 
may get hold of and set in due order the perplexed 
mass of reality. They find themselves born to an 
inheritance of tradition, a mass of belief and lore 
which overwhelms where it does not support. The 
long watches of the Middle Ages had been a time of 
preparation even if the cerebration had been some 
what unconscious. The mind had been by discipline 
trained to freedom. As it worked amid the material 
and tried to order it and defend it the intellect grew 
to recognise its lordship over the load of authority. 
Overt revolts indeed against coercion by decrees and 
by canons of dogma had never been wanting even in 
the quietest of the so-called ages of faith. But it 
is not in the loudest outcry or the most rampant dissent 
that progress shows its most effective course. The 
catholic and orthodox tradition equally bears witness 
to a movement to emancipation, to self-centred intel 
ligence. Such an emancipation however cannot be 
complete and self-realised without a sharp and painful 
wrench at the moment of mental birth. The great 


word of disruption, of self-assertion, of defiance to the 
past and to the dominant, must be said : and, as human 
beings are constituted, it will be said in a tone of 
acerbity for which neither the revolutionist nor the 
reactionary are severally alone responsible. 

Thus to hear the brave words and the bold defiance 
hurled out by the thinkers of the sixteenth and seven 
teenth centuries, one might fancy they, like Archimedes, 
sought a supernal vantage-ground from which they 
could move the world. Yet, unlike the material earth, 
the intellectual globe is a burden we each carry with 
us, which we find upon us when if ever we begin 
to shake ourselves out of the slothful unconsciousness 
of our merely vegetative life. For though we all carry 
it, we do not all feel its weight. In some individuals 
and in some ages there is so accurate a proportion 
between the inner power and the outer pressure 
that the load of belief and custom is but a well-fitting 
garb, almost a second nature. To others there is a felt 
disproportion, a sense of superincumbent clothes and 
uncongenial, unnatural trappings. Out of such struggles 
to be free, grow, occasionally, philosophers, and refor 
mers. To the former the burden is the burden of 
the unintelligible : to the latter the burden of the un 
bearable and intolerable. To the philosopher the 
removal of the burden consists in such a re-adjustment 
of the intellectual world that it shall be no longer 
a foreign thing, but bone of his bone and flesh of his 
flesh. But, to re-adjust and to re-organise, one must 
stand back from the objective : one must cast it forth, 
and look about for a clue to an exit from the maze of 
confusion. The given and subsistent is put on pro 
bation : not rejected, but for the moment declined : 
not denied, but asked to present its credentials l . This 
1 Cf. p. 9 o. 

406 PROLEGOMENA. [xxix. 

is the fTroxjy of the sceptical schools of later Greece ; 
the invitation to doubt addressed by Descartes to his 
own soul. It is the protest against that vulgar precipi 
tancy which in primitive and modern credulity is ready 
to give itself away to any doctrine which has the voice 
and the garb of outward authority. Or is it the assertion 
of the royal and inalienable sovereignty of the Subjec 
tivity to be certain of whatever claims to be objective and 
true : the assertion that what is true must be seen and 
experienced to be true. Or it is, in another way, the 
principle of Socrates : that the beginning of knowledge, 
the first step in the way of wisdom, is to know that 
you know nothing to realise the absolute supremacy of 

It is in short the same demand as Augustine s. There 
is indeed a wide gulf of temperament and circumstances 
dividing the bishop of Hippo from the mathematician 
Descartes and the rationalist Spinoza. But in the cry 
for the knowledge of God and my Soul as the first, 
the indispensable, the sole knowledge : as the one 
knowledge which binds the finite and the infinite 
together, the knowledge on which turns the truth of 
science, and the reality of experience, the great thinkers 
of these diverse ages are at one 1 . They turn their 
backs upon the external that they may find rest in the 
truly internal, on the inner certainty, which is not a 
mere subjective but a very objective also : not a mere 
anima mea, but in close unity therewith Dcus meus. 
This is perhaps more explicit in Spinoza, in some points, 
than in Descartes, and in many respects more decisively 
put by Augustine than by either. But this is what is 
really meant by the initial concentration of suspense : 
this is what is sought when a Principle is sought. 

1 Augustin. Soliloq. i. 7. Deum et animam scire cupio. Nihilnc 
plus ? Nihil omnino. 


Nothing short of this unity of subjective and objective 
in an Absolute we may say Ego, is a principle. 

But principles like other terms are sometimes 
lightly taken ; and can be in the plural just as in 
lower levels of religion and society there can be gods 
many and lords many. Nor in a way wrongly. For, as 
has been before pointed out, a principle is the unity 
of beginning and end : it is only caught hold of by 
approaching from different directions : it loses its life 
and power when cut off from the many organs by 
which it distributes itself so as to grasp reality. If 
it be essentially one, it is not a bare unit : it cannot, 
without injury, be reduced to utter simplicity, and 
accepted in the shape of a single term. And yet this 
is what almost inevitably happens to every so-called 

Like a deus ex machina, or a trick of the trade, it 
is applied to unloose every knot, and to clear any 
difficulties that arise. But a principle of this stamp 
possesses no intimate connexion or organic solidarity 
with the theory which it helps to prop. It is always 
at hand as a ready-made schema or heading, and can 
be attached to the most incongruous orders of fact. 
Thus in the works of Aristotle, the principle of End 
or Activity has sometimes seemed to be applied to 
whatever subject comes forward, and like a hereditary 
official vestment to suit all its wearers equally well 
or equally ill. What is true on the whole is not 
always true of each : the <a<9oXou never quite equals 
the Kaff CKCHTTOV. The modern principle of Utility is 
equally flexible in its application to the problems of 
moral and social life. It costs no trouble to pronounce 
the magic word, and even such as are of weaker 
capacity may make something out of such a formula. 
But an abstract formula, which is equally applicable 

408 PROLEGOMENA. [xxix. 

to everything, is not particularly applicable to anything. 
While it seems to save trouble, and is so plain as to 
be almost tautological (as when the worth of a thing 
or act is explained to mean its utility), it really suggests 
fresh questions in every case, and multiplies the diffi 
culty. Having an outward adaptability to every kind 
of fact, the principle has no true sympathy with any : 
it becomes a mere form, which we use as we do a 
measuring- rod, moving it along from one thing to another. 
We are always reverting to first principles as our last 
principles also. Even Aristotle, when he remarked 
that an object had to be criticised from its own princi 
ples and not from general formulae, saw through the 
fallacy of this style of argument. 

This is like asking for bread and getting a stone. 
The philosopher, who ought to take us through the 
shut chambers of the world, merely hands us a key 
at the gate, telling us that it will unlock every door, 
and then the insides will speak for themselves. But 
we would have our philosopher do a little more than 
this. Not being ourselves omniscient, we should be 
glad of a guide-book at the least, and perhaps even 
of the services of an interpreter to explain some pecu 
liarities, some startling phenomena, and sights even 
more unpleasant than those which appalled the spouse 
of the notorious Bluebeard. Or, dropping metaphor, 
we wish the formula to be applied systematically and 
thoroughly. When that is done the formula loses its 
abstractness ; it gains those necessary amplifications 
and qualifications, as we call them, without which no 
theory explains much or gives much information. And 
thus, instead of fancying that our initial formula 
contains the truth in a nutshell, we shall find that 
it is only one step to be taken on the way to truth, 
and that its narrow statement sinks more and more 


into insignificance, as its amplified theory gains in 

But an adequate principle must have other qualities l . 
What has been said up to this point, only amounts 
to a condition, that our principle must cease to be 
abstract and formal, and must become concrete and 
real. What we want, it may be said, is a Beginning. 
But a beginning is not exactly the same thing as a 
principle: a beginning is to a large extent a matter 
of choice and convenience, a matter depending on 
the state and prospects of the beginner; and the main 
point is not where we should begin, but that we should 
be thorough in our treatment. It is otherwise, how 
ever, in the present case. For the skill of the expositor 
simply lies in the exactitude with which he reproduces 
the spontaneous movement of growth in his object. 
His art is celare artem: to retire, as it were, into the 
background, and seem to leave the object to expound 
itself. In a dramatic work it is no doubt the hand 
of the dramatist that seems to set the whole of the 
characters in motion, that weaves destinies and snips 
the thread of life. And yet in a perfect work of dra 
matic art everything must seem to flow on by a necessity 
of character, a consecution of inner fate. The true 
artist dare not act or allow the deus ex machina. So every 
genuine work of science which is more than a com 
pilation, a school-book, a bundle of notes, and contri 
butions toward a subject must be a self-determined 
unity a self-justifying scheme in which the personality 
of the worker enters into and is absorbed in the system 
of his work. 

1 A Principle, says Herbart (Psychologie ats Wissenschaft, Einl.\ 
should have the double property of having originally a certainty of 
its own, and of generating other certainty. The way and manner in 
which the second comes about is the Method. 

410 PROLEGOMENA. [xxix. 

If this is generally true, it is above all a canon to 
rule the logician. He at least must follow the Logos 
and the Logos alone. His theme must be a law unto 
itself: all its movements must be freely and nobly 
objective. For his subject-matter is at least an organism, 
and develops according to an inward law. But it is 
even more than an organism : it must not merely 
develop, as organisms do, not merely live and grow 
but know that it develops and as it were will its own 
development and in that harmony of being, willing, 
and knowing, be essentially one. In Hegelian language 
it must not merely be implicit an sick or fur uns 
the subject of a change which it undergoes and feels, 
but without definitely realising, the subject of a change 
which we (the historians) perceive. It must also be 
fiir sich : aware of its modifications, an agent in bringing 
them about : and yet withal in so looking forth and 
willing, be self-possessed, and self-enjoying. 

The principle of Hegelianism is the principle of 
Development, the principle of the Notion but a Notion 
which is objective as well as subjective the Idea. 
That principle then determines the beginning of Logic. 
We must know the whole course of growth and history 
before we can say where is the true commencement. 
It must be that out of which the end can obviously 
and spontaneously issue. In a sense, it must implicitly 
contain the end. It must show us the very beginning 
of thought, before it has yet come to the full conscious 
ness of itself, when the truth of what it is still lurks 
in the background and has to be developed. We must 
see thought in its first and fundamental calling. As 
the biologist, when he describes the structure of a plant, 
rests upon the assumption of a previous development 
of parts, in an existing plant, which has resulted 
in a seed, but begins with the seed from which the 


plant is derived : so the logician must begin with a point 
which in a way presupposes the system to which it 
leads. But in its beginning this presupposition is not 
apparent : and in fact, the presupposition will only 
appear when the development of the system is complete. 
The first step in a process, just because it is a step, 
may be said to presuppose the completed process. 
Thus the beginning of Logic presumes the fullest 
realisation of Mind, as the beginning of botany can only 
be told by one who knows the whole story of the plant. 
It is from this circumstance that Hegel describes philo 
sophy as a circle rounded in itself, where the end meets 
with the beginning, or says that philosophy has to 
grasp its original grasp or conceive its concept. In 
other words, it is not till we reach the conclusion that 
we see, in the light thus shed upon the beginning, what 
that beginning really was. From the general analogy 
of the sciences we should not expect that the beginning 
of thought would be full-grown thought, or indeed seem 
to the undiscerning eye to be thought at all. In many 
cases, the embryonic organism shows but little simi 
larity to the adult, and occasionally a violent abruptness 
seems, on cursory glance, to mark off one stage of 
a creation s growth from the next. Who that knew not 
the result could in the seed prefigure to himself the 
tree ? The beginning is not usually identifiable with 
the final issue, except by some effort to trace the pro 
cess of connexion. The object of science only appears 
in its truth when the science has done its work. 

The beginning of philosophy must hold a germ of 
development, however dead and motionless it may seem. 
But it must also to some extent be a result, the result 
of the development or concentration of consciousness ; 
of the other forms of which it is the hypothetical found 
ation, or, of which it is (otherwise viewed) the first 

412 PR OLE COM EN A. [xxix . 

appearance. The variety of imaginative conception, 
and the chaos of sense, must vanish in a point, by an 
act of abstraction, which leaves out all the variety and 
the chaos, or rather by an act of distillation, which 
draws out of them their real essence and concentrated 
virtue. This variety, when thoroughly examined and 
tested, shrivels up into a point : it only is. Everything 
definite as we call it, the endless repetitions of existence, 
have disappeared, and have left only the energy of 
concentration, the unitary point of Being. 

We may describe the process in two ways. We may 
say that we have left out of sight all existing differ 
ences, that we have stripped off every vestige of 
empirical conceptions, and left a residue of pure thought. 
The thought is pure, perhaps, but it is not entire. In 
this way of describing it, pure thought is the most 
abstract thought, the last outcome of those operations 
which have divested our conceptions of everything real 
and concrete about them. But thus to speak of the 
process as Abstraction would be to express half of the 
truth only : and would really leave us a mere zero, 
or gulf of vacuity. In the beginning there would then 
be nothing the mere annihilation of all possible and 
actual existence. And it is certainly true that in the 
beginning there can be nothing. On the other hand, 
and secondly, there is affirmation as well as negation 
involved in the ultimate action by which sense and 
imagination pass into thought. They are not left be 
hind, and the emptiness only retained : they are carried 
into their primary consequence, or into their proximate 
truth. They are reduced to their simplest equivalent 
or their lowest term in the vocabulary of thought : 
which is Being. The process which creates the initial 
point of pure thought is at once an abstraction from 
everything, and a concentration upon itself in a point : 


which point, accordingly, is a unity or inter-penetration 
of positive and negative. This absolute self-concen 
tration into a point is the primary step by which Mind 
comes to know itself, the first step in the Absolute s 
process of self-cognition that process which it is the 
purpose of Logic to trace, so far as it is conducted 
in the range of mere thought. 

The bare point of Being and nothing more is the 
beginning in the process of the Absolute s self-cognition : 
it is, in other words, our first and rudimentary apprehen 
sion of reality, the narrow edge by which we come in 
contact with the universe of Reason. For these are 
two aspects of the same. The process of the self- 
cognition or manifestation of the Absolute Idea is the 
very process by which philosophers (not philosophers 
only) have built up the edifice of thought. What the 
one statement views from the universal side or the 
totality, the other views in connexion with the several 
achievements of individual thinkers. Of course the 
evolution of the system of thought, as it is brought about 
by individuals, leaves plenty of room for the play of 
what is known as Chance. The Natural History of 
Thought or the History of Philosophers has to regard 
the action of national character upon individual minds, 
and the reciprocal action of these minds upon one 
another. The History of Organic Nature similarly 
presents the dependence of the species upon their sur 
roundings, and ofone species upon another in the medium 
of its conditions. Gradually Physical Science reduces 
these conditions to their universal forms, and may try 
to exhibit the evolution of the animal through its species 
in all grades of development. So in the Science of the 
development of this Idea the accidents, as we may 
call them, disappear: and the temporary and local 
questions, which once engrossed the deepest attention, 


fade away into generalised forms of universal applica 
tion. Philosophy, as it historically presents itself in the 
world, is not an accidental production, or dependent on 
the arbitrary choice of men. The accident, if such there 
be, is that these particular men should have been the 
philosophers, and not that such should have been 
their philosophy. They were, according to their several 
capacity for utterance, only the mouth-pieces of the 
Spirit of the Times, of the absolute mind under the 
superficial limitations of their period. They saw the 
Idea of their world more clearly and distinctly than 
other men ; and therein lies their title to fame : but 
really their words were only a reflex, an almost in 
voluntary and necessary movement, due to the pressure 
of the cosmical reason. The great philosophers are, 
like all men in all estates, and according to their 
measure, the ministers of the Truth, apostles charged 
to bring about that consummation of the times in which 
reality is more fully apprehended and more adequately 
estimated. Necessity is laid upon them to consecrate 
themselves to the service of the Idea, and to devote 
their lives to the noble but austere work of speculation 
the work which seeks sine ira et studio to reconstruct 
that city of God which is the permanent, if it often be 
the hidden, foundation of human life. 



THE antithesis between thought and being, between 
idea and actuality, between notion and object, is almost 
a commonplace of criticism. Between the ideas of the 
subject and objectivity a great gulf seems to yawn fixed 
and impassable. Thinkers, like Anselm and Descartes, 
have (it is asserted) attempted by a trick which cheated 
themselves to get from the notion to the object. But 
as Kant is supposed to have for ever shown these 
decepti deceptores are now universally discredited \ Yet 
the same Kant had shown that the things of ordinary 
experience are only ideas or appearances in conscious 
ness. These latter ideas, however, were verified by the 
necessity of interdependence in which they stood, as 
given by sense. From the notions which Anselm and 
Descartes proposed to invest with objectivity, there was 
absent the feature of sense-perception. They were 
not limited and real ideas, but synthetic laws, general 
and abstract aspects of reality, modes of .conception. 
They were not definite and individualised things, but 
terms or conditions for all concepts and realities. They 
were forms, forms essential to the explication of 
reality and never mere parts of reality. 

1 What he did show was that these Ideas were not objects in the 
vulgar sense of reality, or things. 

416 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

With such forms or thought-terms/ such abstrac 
tions, Logic (a la mode de Hegel] has to deal. And in 
dealing with them it has to counteract this popular 
distinction (which Kant inclines toward) which sets up 
an insuperable division between thought and being, 
between reality and syllogism, between is and is 
known. Certain of these denominators which thinking 
employs to describe reality the popular mind wholly 
identifies with reality. That being is a thought, that 
force and thing are only modes of conception, sounds to 
the untrained intellect only a verbal quibble. Things, 
beings, are there out there, it says : force is ultimate 
reality/ It is perhaps ready to allow that substances 
are only mental figments : but it is more doubtful about 
causes, and inclines to assume them to be in outside 
nature, and to generate a real necessity in things. On 
the other hand, it has little doubt that concepts and 
syllogism are only our ways of looking at reality, the 
reality of substances and phenomena, with quality and 
quantity : that final cause is a mere subjective principle 
of explanation : and that ideas and knowledge are alto 
gether additions superinduced on a real world. 

Now what the Logic shows is that, on one hand, all 
these terms are ideal and regulative ; and on the other 
that they are real, because constitutive of reality. 
Showing or shall we say, reminding us that being 
is after all a form of thought, it shows us that know 
ledge, at the other end, contains or implies reality. It 
is the business of logic as a fundamental philosophy to 
dispel the illusion that sensations are fixed reality: 
that causes and effects are an absolutely real order; 
whereas concepts and sciences and still more aesthetic 
and moral principles are not. Its doctrine is that all 
our thought-terms, the most vulgar and the most 
delicate, are, as we may put it, symbolical of reality : 


explications and manifestations of it. Absolutely real 
if that means utterly unideal none of them are. On 
the other hand, absolutely ideal, if that means utterly 
unreal none of them are either. If you call them 
real, their reality is that of thought. If you call them 
ideal, it is an ideality of a real. Being is not a fixed and 
solid substratum, a hard rock of reality, on which we 
may build our relations and further determinations. 
It also is a thought : it also lives in relation, and 
becomes more real by further determination \ But 
the habit comes natural to the majority to attribute 
essential and independent reality (total reality) to the 
thought-modes it is familiar with in practice : whereas 
the modes familiar to more advanced intelligence are 
put aside as merely ideal. 

Thus in proportion as Logic insists on the reality of 
idea, it insists also on the ideality of being. Being is 
after all a thought : when separate from the relations of 
experience, a very poor thought. A supreme being* even 
is a thought. And the question of questions for Logic is 
what degree of reality, what amount of truth does each 
.result of unification express. Is it self-consistent and 
complete, or does it imply further elements, and if so, in 
what direction does it suggest and receive completion ? 
But at the best the reality of a logical term is an 
abstract or formal reality, and consists in its power to 
interpret, to expound, to define the Absolute. Its more 
concrete and material reality it has in Nature and in 
Mind. There however Philosophy has in a further 
measure to repeat its earlier lesson and show that 
Nature is not without its ideal aspect, and that Mind is 
founded on physical reality. 

All science tends to carry us over the hard lines of 

1 Cf. the controversy between Schiller and Goethe as to idea and 
observation, quoted by Whewell, Scientific Ideas, i. 36. 

E e 

41 8 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

separation which practical interests treat as if ultimate 
disruptions. The sciences of Nature, for instance, 
in their completed circle must carry us from the inor 
ganic to the organic : must in some way make a path 
from the lifeless to the alive. The science of thought 
has a corresponding task. It has to show that the 
incommensurability between thought and being, or 
between the idea and actuality, disappears on closer 
examination. When we trace the development of 
thought sufficiently far, we see that Being is an imper 
fect or inadequate thought, certainly not adequate to 
the Idea, but not for that reason generically differing 
from it. The fixity of Being as more than, and 
superior to, mere Thought is a habit of mind, due to 
the same worldly-minded immobility as leads us all 
to believe (and, within the limited practical range, to 
believe rightly) that the earth is solidly at rest, notwith 
standing all the demonstrations of the Copernicans. 
But Thought has not deposited all its burden, or 
uttered all its meaning in Being. Being is the veriest 
abstraction, the very rudiment of thought meagre as 
meagre can be. It is on one side the bare position or 
affirmation of thought : on the other hand it is the 
very negation of thought, if thought be only possible 
under difference. For a mere Is* is a mere inde 
scribable without-difference. There is no such thing as 
mere Being : or mere Being is mere nothing : mere 
Being is not. 

The first category of Ontology is that of Being. It is 
the merest simplicity and meagreness, with nothing 
definite in it at all : and for that very reason constantly 
liable to be confused with categories of more concrete 
burden. It denotes all things, and connotes next to 
nothing. It does not however mean something which 
has being ; it does not mean definite being : still less 


.] MERE BEING. 419 

does it mean permanent and substantial being. Ordinary 
language certainly uses being in all these senses. But 
if we are to be logical, we must not mix up categories 
with one another : we must take terms at their precise 
value. Mere Being then is the mere Is/ which can 
give no explanation or analysis of itself: which is in 
describable in itself: which is an Is and nothing more. 
The simplest answer to those who invest Being with so 
much signification, is to ask them to consider the logical 
copula. ( Every school-boy knows that the Is of the 
copula disappears in several languages : that it is far 
from indispensable in Latin : that in Greek e. g. the 
demonstrative article serves the same purpose. In 
Hebrew too the pronouns officiate for the so-called 
substantive verb : and the same verb probably does not 
exist in the Polynesian family of languages, where its 
place is supplied by what we call the demonstrative 
pronoun \ In the copula, which according to M. Laro- 
miguiere, as quoted by Mr. Mill, expresses only un 
rapport special entrele sujetet Vattribut? we encounter the 
mere undeveloped and unexplained unifying of thought, 
the very abstraction of relativity 2 . 

1 The use of the substantival form Being for the verbal (participle, 
infinitive, or indicative) suggests an idea of permanence and sub 
stance, or essence. So potentiality seems much more real than may 
or can. And yet the phrase He knows Swa/m is only equivalent to 
He can or may know (Svvarai or li/Se xTcu). 

2 When it is said that : It is strange that so profound a thinker as 
Hegel should not have seen that the conception of definite objects, 
such as a dog and cat, is prior no less in nature than in knowledge 
to the conception of abstract relations, such as is and is not? it is dif 
ficult to say what the writer meant. Had he ever heard of geometry ? 
Both in nature and in knowledge (i. e. in the natural process from 
sense to thought) chairs and tables are prior to lines and surface. 
The mathematical point and line are abstractions, i. e. thoughts, 
and no image of sensuous reality. It is also true that the ordinary 
conception of the sun s movements was prior no less in nature than 
in knowledge to the theory of the earth s rotation. And no doubt 


420 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

In the beginning, then, there is nothing and yet that 
nothing is. Such is the fundamental antithesis of 
thought : or the discrepancy which makes itself felt 
between each several term of thought and the whole 
Idea of which they are the expression. Being is the 
term emphasised as absolute by understanding: then 
the dialectical power, or the consciousness of the whole, 
steps in to counteract the one-sided element. In other 
words, thought, the total thought, asks what is Being, 
mere and simple ; and answers mere nothing 1 . The one 
aspect of the point is as justifiable as the other. In other 
words the two aspects are indissoluble : they are in one. 
The term Unity/ applied to the relation of Being and 
Not, may perhaps mislead : and it is therefore better to say 
that the two points of view are (as Mr. Spencer puts it) 
at once antithetical and inseparable/ An unrelated 
being, an absolute (i. e. separate and transcendent) 
reality is an Unknowable, i. e. an ineffable, an unspeak 
able of which we can legitimately predicate a not- , 
leaving imagination to fill up the blank after the hyphen. 
A mere Not, with no substratum which it negatives, is 
mere Being : and a mere Being, which has no sub 
stratum, is a mere Not. The movement upward and 
the movement downward are here illustrated : and it is 
evident that they are the same movement 2 , the same 

Hegel, sedate though his boyhood was, had made the acquaintance of 
dog and cat in his pre-logical days : as of balls and windows before 
he was turned upon Euclid. See Hansel s Letters, Lectures^ &c., 
p. 209. 

1 As Being to ordinary unthinkingness seems to mean a great deal 
it cannot expound, so the mind full of the mystic depths of time and 
space is disgusted to find them turn so empty and shallow when it 
would set forth its wealth. See Augustin. Confess, xi. 14. 

2 This may be illustrated by saying that to affirm is the same 
energy of thought as to deny, and that the difference lies in the terms 
related by the judgment. In themselves, the one act is as empty or 
meaningless as the other. 


unrest, only differentiated as up and down by some 
termini not yet explicitly brought into view. Each Is 
and Not as it seeks to differentiate itself, to make 
itself clear ; passes into the other. In fact, the very 
vocation, calling, or notion of Being and Nothing, is not 
Being and Nothing, but the tendency of each to pass 
into the other. Their truth, in short, is not in them 
selves, but in their process, and that process by which 
the one passes into the other is To become. Try to 
get at mere Being and you are left with Nought : of 
mere Nought you can only say it is. The two 
abstractions have no truth except in the passage into 
one another: and this passage or transition is To 
become/ Take reality apart from what it leads on to, 
and from what it has come from, apart from its end or 
purpose and from its cause, take it as mere being: 
then this being in its supposed singleness and self- 
subsistence is really annihilated : stat magni nominis 
umbra-, but it is the name of nothing. True being 
is always on the way to or from being: to stop is 

This unity or inseparability of opposite elements in 
a truth or real notion is the stumbling-block to the 
incipient Hegelian. The respectable citizens of Germany 
were amazed, says Heine, at the shamelessness of 
J. G. Fichte, when he proclaimed that the Ego produced 
the world, as if that had cast doubts on their reality ; 
and the ladies were curious to know whether Madame 
Fichte was included in the general denial of substantial 
existence 1 . If easy-going critics treated Fichte in this 
way, they had even better source for amusement in 
Hegel. That Being and Nothing is the same was a 
perpetual fund for jokes, too tempting to be missed. 

1 Heine, Ueber Deutschland (Werke), v. 213. 

422 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

Now, in the baldness, and occasionally paradoxical 
style, of Hegel s statements, there is some excuse for 
such exaggerations. Being and Nothing are not merely 
the same: they are also different: they at least tend 
to pass into each other. In the technical language 
of logicians, the question is not what being denotes, 
but what it connotes. The word Ms had, it may be, 
originally a demonstrative meaning, a pronominal 
force, which in course of time passed from a local or 
sensuous meaning to express a thought. No doubt 
4 is and is not are wide enough apart in our appli 
cation of them as copula of a proposition : but if we 
subtract the two terms and leave only the copula 
standing, the difference of the two becomes inexpres 
sible and unanalysable. In both there is the same 
statement of immediacy or face-to-faceness : that two 
things are brought to confront each other, united, as 
it were, without producing any real or specific sort of 
union. If Thought be unifying, Being is the minimum 
of unification : if Thought be relating, Being is the 
most abstract of relations. So abstract, indeed, that its 
relativity is completely lost sight of: so utterly one, 
that it vanishes in a point. And just because it 
is (as it seems) out of relations, it must be nothing. 
No doubt, between the two terms Being and not-Being 
a difference is meant; when they are employed, a 
difference is thrown into them ; and then they are not 
the same : but if we keep out of sight what is meant, 
and stick to the ultimate point which is said, we shall 
find that mere being and mere nothing are alike inappre 
hensible by themselves, and that to institute a difference 
we must go out of and beyond them. Perhaps some 
approach to the right point of comprehension may be 
made, if we note that when two people quarrel and 
can give no reason or further development to their 

XXX.] 76- AND BECOMES. 423 

opposite assertions, the one person s Ms is exactly 
equal (apart from subsequent explanations) to the other s 
Ms not. The mere Is and Is not have precisely 
the same amount of content: a mere affirmation or 
assertion, which is mere nothing, because connecting, 
where there is nothing to connect. 

The truth of is then turns out become : nothing 
is: all things are coming to be and passing out of 
being. This illustrates the meaning of the word truth 
in Hegel. It is partly synonymous with concrete, 
partly with the notion. With concrete : because to 
get at the truth, we must take into account a new 
element, kept out of sight in the mere affirmation of 
being. With notion : because if we wish to compre 
hend being, we must grasp it as becoming. For 
truth lies in transcending the first or merely given. 
We have to go forward, and to go backward, as it 
were : forward from being, backward to being : we 
look before and after. The attempt to isolate the mere 
point of being is impossible in thought : it would only 
lead to the representation of being, i.e. the notion 
of being would be arrested in i^g development, and 
identified probably with a sensible thing, i.e. with 
something, and some concrete thing said to be. 

If being, however, is truly apprehended as a passage 
from the unknown to the known, or as emergence 
from bare vacuity, then it implies a definiteness, 
which we missed before. Somewhat has become: or 
the indeterminate being has been invested with defi 
niteness and distinct character. Mere being (mere Is) 
is nothing : to be something is must be not something 
else. The second step in the process to self-realisation 
therefore is reached : Being has become Somewhat ; 
which is more, because it professes less. The fluid 
unity or movement from is to is not, and vice versa, 

424 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

has crystallised : and There is is the still imperfectly 
unified result precipitated. By this term we imply the 
finitude of being, imply that a portion has been cut 
off from the vague, and contrasted with something else. 
In the ordinary application of the word, Being is espe 
cially employed to denote this stage of definite being 1 . 
Thus we speak of bringing something into being : by 
which we mean, not mere being, but a definite being, 
or, in short, reality. Reality is determinateness, as 
opposite to mere vagueness. To be real, it is necessary 
to be somewhat, to limit and define. Whatever is 
anything or is real, is eo facto finite. Even an infinite 
therefore to be real must submit to self-limitation. 
This is the necessity of finitude : in order to be any 
thing more and higher, there must come, first of all, 
a determinate being and reality. But reality, as we 
have seen, implies negation : it implies limiting, dis 
tinction, and dependence. Everything finite, every 
somewhat/ has somewhat else to counteract, narrow, 
and thwart it. To be somewhat (esse aliquid) is an 
object of ambition, as Juvenal implies : but it is only 
an unsatisfactory goal after all. For somewhat always 
implies something else, by which it is limited : whereas 
mere being, just because it is nothing, is free from the 
check of an other. 

This, then, is the price to be paid for rising into 
reality, and coming to be somewhat: there is always 
somewhat else to be minded. The very point which 
makes a somewhat/ as above a mere nothing/ is 
its determinateness : and determinateness, as at first 
determinateness from outside, a given and passive 
determinateness, is also a negation and limit. Now 
the limit of a thing is that point where it begins to 
be somewhat else : where it passes out of itself and yields 

1 -naaa ovaia Soxei r65e TI orjfAaivciv f Ar. Cat. 5). 


to another. Accordingly in the very act of being deter 
mined, somewhat is passing over into another : it is 
altering, and becoming somewhat else. Thus a some 
thing implies for its being the being of somewhat else : 
its being is as it were only to be beside something 
else, it is finite, and alterable, a this with a that 
always in the neighbourhood. Such is the character 
of determinate being. It leads to an endless series 
from some to an other, and so on ad infinitum : every 
thing as a somewhat, as a determinate being, in reality, 
presupposes a something else, and that again has some 
third thing; and so the chain is extended with its 
everlasting And, And, And, (as in the children s way 
of telling a story). Somewhat-ness is always vexed 
by the fact that it is not somewhat else : and for that 
very reason, ceasing to be the primary object, it becomes 
somewhat else itself; and the other term becomes the 
somewhat. And so the same story is repeated in 
endless progression, till one gets wearied with the 
repetition of finitude which is held out as infinite. 

Thus in determinate being as in mere being we see 
the apparent fixity resolved into a double movement 
the alteration from some to somewhat else, and vice 
versa. But a movement like this implies after all that 
there is a something which alters : which is alterable, 
but which alters into somewhat. This somewhat which 
alters into somewhat, and thus retains itself, is a being 
which has risen above alteration, which is independent 
of it because including it : which is for itself, and not 
for somewhat else. Thus in order to advance a step 
further from determinate and alterable being, we have 
only to keep a firm grasp on both sides of the process, 
and not suffer the one to slip away from the other. 
We must not merely say, but energise the unity of the 
two antithetical yet inseparable elements we are 

426 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

naturally disposed to take and leave only as One and 
an Other. Something becomes something else : in 
short, the one side passes on to the other side of the 
antithesis, and the limitation is absorbed. The new 
result is something in something else : the limit is taken 
up within : and this being which results is its own limit, 
i. e. no restrictive limit at all, but self-imposed character 
istic and definiteness. It is Being- for-self: the third 
step in the process of thought under the general category 
of Being. The range of Being which began in a vague 
nebula, and passed into a series of points, is now 
reduced to a single point, self-complete and whole. 

This Being-for-self is a kind of true infinite, which 
results by absorption of the finite. The false infinite, 
which has already come before us, is the endless range 
of finitude, passing from one finite to another, from 
somewhat to somewhat else, until satiety sets in with 
weariness. The true infinite is satisfaction, the in 
clusion of the other being into self, so that it is no 
longer a limit, but a constituent part in the being. Such 
inclusion in the unity of an idea, of elements which are 
realistically separate, is termed ideality. 3 The antithesis 
is reduced to become an organic and dependent part. 
It still exists, but as no longer outside and independent. 
Thus in determinate being the determinateness is found 
in somewhat else : in being-for-self the determinateness 
is self-realisation. Being-for-self may be shortly ex 
pressed by one or each*: as determinate being 
a, or an, or by some : and Being simple has no 
nominal equivalent. As some 1 is always fractional 
or partial, each* is always a whole or unit. Mere 
Being has not the consistency of any noun or pronoun : 
it is the bare (impersonal) verb. 

But each for self* expresses the sentiment of an 
armed neutrality with implicit leanings to universal 


war, the bellum omnium contra omnes. Each is self- 
centred, independent, resting upon self, and not minding 
anything else, which is now thrown out as indifferent 
into the background. Each is centripetal ; anything 
else is for it a matter of no moment. If determinate 
being was something to be explained by something 
other, this is or professed to be self-explanatory, and 
rests upon itself. It seems purely affirmative, and 
promises to give a definite unity. But we cannot free 
thought from negation in this sphere, any more than 
in the earlier. We may, if we like, assert the absolute 
self-sufficingness, primariness, and unalterability of each; 
but a very little reflection shows the opposite to be 
true. The very notion of each is exclusiveness towards 
the rest : a negative and, as it were, polemical attitude 
towards others is the very basis of Being-for-self. One 
after one, they each rise to confront each, each exclud 
ing each, until their self-importance is reduced to be 
a mere point in a series of points, one amongst many. 
When that is clearly seen, their qualitative character 
has disappeared : and there is left only their quantity \ 
The negative attitude of each to each forms a sort of 
bond connecting them. If to the reference which con 
nects we give the name of attraction, then we may say 
that the repulsion of each against each is exactly equal 
to their mutual attraction. And thus, in the language 
of Hobbes, the universal quarrel is only the other side 
of the general union in the great Leviathan : repulsion, 
in the shape of mutual fear, is the principle of attraction. 
Thus each for self is repeated endlessly : instead of 
the atom or unit we have a multitude, utterly indifferent 
to what each is for itself. The mere fact that it is, 
entitles it to count, and so constitutes quantity. 

1 Hence the disparaging sense in which the term individual may 
be used. 

428 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

Here we may shortly recapitulate the categories of 
Quality or Being Proper. It forms three steps or 
grades : those of indeterminate being : determinate 
being : self-determined being : or if we speak of them 
as processes, we have becoming : alteration : attraction 
and repulsion \ From the extreme of abstraction and 
concentration thought, under the form of Being, passes 
on to greater determinateness and development. The 
fixity of mere Being is seen to imply a distinction 
of elements, and a dependence of one upon the other : 
where the is and is not part from each other 
sufficiently to let us distinguish them. This is the 
stage of finitude : when we say that there is somewhat, 
but there are others, and imply that any one has an 
end, a limit, a negation in its nature. These words 
describe the finite scene, a fragmentary being which 
makes an advance upon indeterminateness, but loses 
its wholeness and is always and necessarily leading on 
to something else. It is the revulsion from the vague 
and yet unspecified universal to definite and limited 
particulars. In the third stage the limit is uplifted and 
included in the particular, which now contains its 
negation in itself, is (by accepting its dependence) 
independent, is its own ground, and may be called an 
individual. But an individual, again, implies an aggregate 
of ones, or a multitude. This being-for-self is an 
individual or atom : it is the basis of those higher 
developments known as subjectivity and personality. 
These are, as it were, higher multiples of it. 

This first sphere of thought, apparently so abstruse 
and unreal in its abstractions, had to be thus narrowly 
discussed because it presents all the difficulties and 
peculiarities of Hegel in their elementary form. They 

1 These latter terms being used in a metaphorical sense. 


are clearly the fundamental problems of ancient Greek 
philosophy of that first or fundamental philosophy 
which discusses Being and its intrinsic attributes or 
accidents. Modern superficiality has sometimes re 
proached these old thinkers (who, forsooth, knew no 
language but their own ) for their tiresome insistence 
on this problem of Is and Is not. Compared, indeed, 
with what are called topics of interest, e. g. the Soul 
and the Hereafter, or the origins of the Cosmic process, 
tiresome such inquiry is. But it is the bitter lesson 
of experience that till such fundamentals are at least 
critically surveyed, the interesting topics will still (and 
in more than one sense) belong to the Unknowable. 
Herbart not less than Hegel sees it is the prime 
business of philosophical criticism (i. e. of philosophy) 
to examine thoroughly those primary notions on which 
the whole structure of thought rests. It is on the 
comprehension of the radical limitations latent in the 
seemingly simplest terms of thought, that the profoundest 
problems of human interest ultimately turn. 

Thus, in the first place, the process of Being, as seen 
in the light of the whole system of Logic, shows that 
reality is truly known only as a trinity, or perhaps 
rather as a duality in unity. This is the Notion or 
Grasp of Being. First, reality seems an unspecialised 
and self-centred being, and that by itself is mere 
nothing : a mere universal. Second, it appears a special 
ised and differentiated being of some and other: a 
mere particular, limited by other particulars, and so 
finite. Third, as a combination of the two earlier 
stages : as wholeness with determinateness, as unity ; 
and so an individual which is the true or complete and 
authentic character of ail being. In the metaphysics 
of Being these three elements follow, one after another : 
but in the logic of the notion they interpenetrate, 

430 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

and each of them is the others and the total. The 
truth or the notion of being takes it in Being-for-self 
as a universalised particular or as an individual. 
In the second place : the sphere of mere Being is that 
of mere identity : that of determinate being is the 
sphere of otherness, difference : that of self-determined 
being is the sphere of well-grounded existence. 
Thirdly : the first sphere may be illustrated by the 
freedom of indeterminateness, expressed by the word 
may : the second by necessity or determinateness, 
expressed by the word must : and the third, by the 
freedom which even in its determinateness is self- 
determining, expressed by the word will. Fourthly: 
these steps illustrate the meaning of the Hegelian 
technical terms setzen : aufheben : an sich : fiir sick : 
Idealitdt: Realitdt. Thus Determinate Being or some 
what is an sich or implicitly (by implication) somewhat 
else : and the process of determinate being is to lay it 
down or express (setzen} it as such. When this ex 
plicitly-stated other or limit is included in the Being, 
and reduced into a unity with somewhat in each Being- 
for-self, it is said to be aufgehoben uplifted, as it 
were, so that it is no longer a separate existent, but is 
still an efficient element. As being partly this, and 
partly that, now one, and now an other, which limits 
and is limited, determinate being is Realitdt. The 
characteristic of reality is externality of its parts, which 
are thus left side by side quasi-independent : that of 
ideality is unity and solidarity of function. When the 
mutual dependence of elements is tightened till it 
becomes equivalent to unity and totality, these elements 
are seen in their Ideality (Idealitdt}. Such a total has 
the others in it as elements (Momente) ; they are there 
ideally (ideeller Weise\ as it were (in the loose analogical 
use of that term) organically : that is, they are denied the 


privilege, which their total has, of being-for-themselves. 
They do not enjoy the benefit of their own being, though 
their presence is felt. Fifthly : Being-for-self is absolute 
negativity; i.e. the negation of negation. Determinate 
being was a negation of Being mere and simple : Being- 
for-self is the negation of this, and so a return to true 
affirmation, as including the element of negation. 

Being seemed to describe a complete reality. But 
its latent limitation has become explicit. It only 
retains itself by a self-assertion which leaves it a 
mere abstract unit, or atom, a unit with nothing 
in it to be united, and where it matters not whether 
it be somewhat or other. The quality of Being, 
in which all qualitative attributes are lost and sunk, 
is Quantity: the characteristic of which is to be 
a matter of no importance to Being, as it originally 
presents itself. In other words, whilst Quality is 
identical with Being, while Being means qualitative- 
ness, and the Being of a thing means its quality, or 
constitution ; Quantity is external to Being, and a thing 
is, while its quantity undergoes all sorts of variation. 
At least this is true within certain limits : for quantity 
is not an ultimate category any more than quality. But 
for the present the truth of quality is quantity ; or, in 
other words, if a thing is to be anything definite it 
must ultimately rest on a solid atom : must be a 
unit and amenable to measurement. First come quali 
ties, such as sweet, green, and the like : these seem to 
be truth and reality to the senses and the natural 
mind : and in their universality are represented by 
the abstract terms of qualitative being. The first step in 
the progress of knowledge consists in seeing that quality 
presupposes quantity. Number, in short, is the proxi 
mate truth to which the vague qualitative distinction of 
a, some, and each is to be reduced. The qualitative 

432 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

differences of sounds are reduced to relations or ratios 
of number : and so are the other data of sensation. 
We see this truth recognised in the Atomic School, 
which may be taken to represent the summing-up of 
that period of thought which begins with the Being 
of Parmenides, and the Becoming of Heraclitus. 
When Democritus says that, although bitter and sweet 
are conventional distinctions, yet in reality there is 
only atoms and void 1 , he is introducing a distinction 
between real and apparent. But again the irregular and 
sporadic appearances of species of quality are replaced 
by a gradual and regular series of quantities. With 
mere Being you have a conception quite unfit for 
describing the manifold reality. But by breaking up 
the whole Being into a countless number of atoms of 
being, you get the means of establishing an equation 
between a given sensible and some multiple of the 
atomic unit. Thus Atomism, with its many bits of 
being and its interfluent non-being in which they can 
unite, replaces the total and complete universe of being 
and its attendant shadow of unreality, the world of 
opinion. Still the Is not clings to the Is: if each atom 
seems complete, they are subject to a necessity which 
forces them by negation, i. e. by the void (as Atomism 
figuratively calls the repulsion of the atoms) to meet 
each other and form apparent unities. Before a step 
could be made to higher problems, it was necessary to 
see that the proximate truth of the qualitative world,- 
or world of sense proper (Idia ato-fyo-is), is in its simplest 
terms a quantitative world, or world of common sen- 
sibles (KOIVO. aur&r}Ta) f universalised sensibles, number 
and quantity. 

The sphere of quantity need only be briefly sketched. 

1 v6fj.y J\VKV not vo/jia) iriicpov crty Se dropa nal Kevuv. Democritus 
ap. Sext. Empir. adv. Math. vii. 135. 



It has its three heads : (i) quantity in general, the 
universal and vague notion of quantitativeness, the 
mere conception of reality as the Great and the Little, 
or the More and Less 1 : (2) Quantum, or defined 
quantity, expressed in the shape of a number : and 
(3) the quantitative ratio or degree, which is the indivi- 
dualisation or self-determination of numbers, or their 
application to one another, which gives the real 
meaning and value of numbers. The fundamental 
antithesis, which we found in quality, comes before 
us here more definitely as the opposition of many 
ones in one number. In every quantity there are the 
two elements: the one, unity or solidarity, which 
renders a total number possible, and the many or 
multiplicity, which gives it real body and character. 
By this quantitative law, reality must always be both 
Continuous and Discrete. Thus when I regard a line 
as consisting of a number of points I treat it as 
a discrete quantity: as many in one. When, on 
the other hand, I regard the line as the unity of 
these points, it becomes a continuous quantity. These 
distinctions are not so trivial as they may appear: 
they lie at the bases of paradoxes like those by which 
Zeno disproved the ordinary representations of motion, 
and when a M.P. informs the House of Commons that 
it is impossible to divide 73/. is. 6d. by i/. 25. 6d., he 
is, like Zeno, and perhaps more unconsciously, for 
getting that these quantities are not merely continuous 
but discrete. 

The Pythagoreans, according to the tradition of 
antiquity, philosophised number. In it they found 
the reality, or the principle of things, the character 
istic feature which dominated existence, and by which 

1 Aristotle s p.a\\ov Kal rJTrov : see Metaph. i. 6 TO pfya /tal rti 


434 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

the world in all its multiplicity could be made coherent 
and intelligible. They saw it composed of two elements : 
a limit or limiting, and an unlimited : the latter as it 
were a dark ground, measureless and endless, on which 
definiteness was gradually marked out. Such a limiting 
principle would be e. g. the unit of number. But the 
full definiteness of number only comes out when a 
numerical scale is fixed on, in which each number bears 
a definite ratio to what goes before and what comes 
after. Each number in such a scale is really a multiple 
of its unit : a product of its unity into its multeity, of 
the monad into the indefinite duad. It is this view of 
each number, as the product of its prime unit with 
the ratio, which comes explicitly to the fore in Degree, 
or quantitative ratio. Each so-called quantitative state 
ment is thus a ratio between a given quantity in the 
object and an assumed standard or unit of number. 

These implications latent in quantitative order or 
determination come out in mensuration. If quantitative 
or numerical precision is to have a real basis, it 
presupposes the existence of a qualitative atom or 
unit which shall be the Measure. Measure is therefore 
the truth and the unity of quantity and quality : each 
refers forward and backward to the other, and both 
lead up to or imply a modulus, or standard unit. Such 
a standard unit may seem, at first sight, to be a matter 
of arbitrary choice and imposition. There seems to be 
no ultimate reason for taking the foot or the cubit as 
unit of measurement : and if the original foot or cubit 
be the king s limb, it is easy to say that the whole 
thing is conventional and artificial. But it is evident 
on further reflection, first that the foot or the pace is 
the natural and primitive measurer of lengths of space 
for the human being, and secondly that the particular 
foot which is imposed as the measure is taken as being 


normal and typical. So too it is partly arbitrary choice 
which fixes upon the starting-point for the scale of 
temperatures : but here also the range from freezing- 
point to boiling-point of the commonest of liquids affords 
a sufficient standard from which naturally to carry on 
the scale above or below it. 

What happens is therefore that what is the rule, the 
standard, we may also say, the test of being, is the 
natural mean or average. The measure presents itself 
as the permanent and regular proportion of quantity 
and quality. It is the amount or quantity at which 
things settle down in equilibrium and produce the 
quality or characteristic feature of the object. To say 
that Measure is the supreme category or the truth of 
being of that superficial being which merely is of the 
mere fact of perception is to say that the prime or 
governing feature of reality, its obviously dominant 
characteristic in this sphere, is a self-imposing harmony 
and proportion. It naturally arranges itself defines 
and describes itself in rhythmic series, in regular scales, 
in symmetrical schemes. All things are in geometrical 
proportion, self-defined and uniformly graded. Such 
a conception and category of reality may be said to be 
peculiarly Greek. The doctrine of the Mean is well 
known as a principle of their popular Ethics. But the 
Mean is an average which is regarded as a Normal, 
a regular and permanent mode of being which is equi 
valent to a standard. The rule is given by the logic of 
facts and of nature. There is in it an apparent opti 
mism a belief that what is predominant and funda 
mental is right : a doctrine of immanent symmetry and 
order. The mere habitual custom is as such held to be 
the right and good. It is true, no doubt, that Prota 
goras came to point out that this Measure was not 
inherent in things, but came from Man, the measure of 

F f 2 

436 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

all things : and that the later philosophy had to show 
how the conception of reality should be re-construed, 
if the objectivity of Measure and symmetry in the 
universe were still to be maintained. Still even with 
this correction the belief remained down to the Stoic 
School that being is essentially self-ordering : that 
Nature is immanent proportion. 

The Measure thus emerging as the Mean, which 
stands out as the permanent background or recurrent 
same amidst varying extremes, is set against these di 
vergencies and used to measure them. It has to serve 
as a denominator for all of these : or each of these 
differences has a definite ratio to it. For that purpose 
it must be so graded or present such a scale that the 
smallest difference from it that exists may be measured, 
estimated and defined in terms of it. It is here out 
of place to consider how this can be accomplished, 
how mensuration in any case is solved as a problem of 
scientific determination. What is more important is to 
note the fact that appearances everywhere start up to 
testify to the incompatibility of the two elements in 
measure, to their tendency to fly away from each 
other. It is only within certain ranges that quantity 
and quality change proportionately to each other. The 
colour spectrum, the scale of musical notes, the series 
of chemical combination, the order of the planets, all 
are found in experience up to some point to follow 
a symmetrical order, and exhibit a measure. But after 
that point is reached, a sudden change or transition 
occurs. There is a break in the continuity of being : 
without warning, a new series of physical manifestation, 
having a new rule or measure, emerges by a sort of 
catastrophe. So also, it is only to a certain portion 
of the process of physical order in the human body 
that psychical changes are found to correspond. 


Everywhere the correspondence or harmony or pro 
portion of immediate fact has its breaks, its sudden 
emergencies into a new range of being. 

It is on the repeated evidence of this fact the dis 
continuity of immediate being, the inexplicable gulfs 
which separate its ordered provinces from one another, 
that we rise to the distinction of two orders or grades 
of being: a double aspect of reality. The primitive 
consciousness is, we may suppose, confined to one level 
of being, one world. And so long as the facts remain 
within limits there is no need to go further. The 
measure is the rule. But the uniformity breaks down 
abruptly 1 : the rule has its inevitable exceptions : it is 
no law or principle, but only the factual majority within 
a fixed range. Thus the measure, to fulfil all that is 
expected of it, and be a full expression or definition of 
reality, must go beyond a mere measure : must become 
the essence, or rather give place to the essence. In 
order to explain the irregularity and want of measure 
which turns up if we exceed the narrow provinces of 
being, we are forced on the conception of a being, one 
permanent and the same, set in relation, antithetical but 
inseparable, to an other being, manifold, changing, and 
different. The undying rhythm, the ceaseless symmetry 
retreat into the further region the world beyond : while 
the older surface-being, as set against it, comes to be 
a mere phenomenon or appearance, a derivative and 
dependent something, which has its roots of being in 
the underlying law and essential reality. But the two 
planes are still in intimate connexion, in a correlation 
which becomes more and more palpable as its impli 
cations are disclosed and realised. 

This change from Measure to Essential Being is one 

1 Thus, the sharp break at death suggests the reference of vital 
phenomena to a substantial soul. 

438 PROLEGOMENA. [xxx. 

which Greek philosophy seems to exhibit in the step 
from Pythagoreanism to Platonism. Plato himself has 
noted the passage from what have been called the 
mathematical to the metaphysical categories, and in 
sisted on the essential and higher truth to which mathe 
matics only point. Mathematical terms give the supreme 
definiteness to the world of being; they show it as in 
its several compartments a world immanently ordered 
and measured. As in Greek Art, all seems to be fully 
brought to the surface : as the image suggests no 
further and deeper meaning, but affords an absolute 
identity of aspect and purport; so the natural and semi- 
popular philosophy of Greece was satisfied for its ethics 
with the proportionate, the becoming, the beautiful. 
Plato however passes beyond the surface, and reflects 
the apparent fact on a deeper permanent reality behind. 
That reality is still, in name, only the form or shape J 
only the regular and permanent type only the 
measure. But it is called the really real, the OVTM &/, 
the being of being. In it the truth is clear, transparent, 
one and systematic, which in the sensible or immediate 
world is obscure, confused, multiple. It is the key to 
explain the difficulties and irregularities of the first and 
visible scene. Yet even Plato never for a moment 
forgets the essential correspondence of the two realms, 
however he may insist upon their separation, and how 
ever hard he may find it to explain how being can be 
duplicated, how the one can be many and yet not cease 
to be one, how appearance has part in reality. 

This indeed is not a difficulty confined to Plato. It 
is, after all, the same antithesis as we found in the 
beginning : the Is which lapses into the Is not. It now 
becomes the play of positive and negative of perpetual 
relativity : of a known dependent on an unknown, 
and an unknown interpreted by a known : an essence 


guaranteed by its show or seeming and a Schein which 
supposes permanent Sein. How can a thing be, and 
yet not be true ? How can pleasures seem and not be 
real ? Aristotle, taking up the Platonic antithesis of 
true and apparent being, carries it on into greater 
detail. Matter and form : possibility and actuality : are 
amongst his cardinal pairs of correlatives. But he is 
anxious to maintain their essential relativity : to show 
that reality only is and maintains itself as the unity of the 
two poles of universal and particular, reason and sense, 
or as a syllogism and a development. So far as he 
succeeds in doing this, Aristotle rises above the cor 
relational view of reality into the comprehension of it 
as a unity, which carries itself through difference into 



THE coherence and consistency of being was, it 
appeared in the last chapter, only to be maintained by 
assuming it to fall into two planes, or orders, always 
however relative to each other. The need of a measure 
forced itself upon even the superficial student. In the 
ordinary business of economical life one commodity of 
common use or of general acceptability steps into the 
place of a common measure. At first it is no more than 
one amongst many, a more suitable and convenient 
means of discharging the task of mensuration. But 
gradually it draws away into a world of its own, and 
acquires in common estimation a unique and peculiar 
dignity. It becomes a commodity of a higher order 
than the common, and is even treated as if it had 
intrinsic and inherent worth, apart from all relations of 
exchange. In a further stage it rises to rank as an 
invariable and almost supersensible standard, which 
amid all the fluctuations of currency tends to remain 
unchanged. One loses sight of the movement out of 
which it grew and in which it exists the social give 
and take, the interaction of individual needs and 
general opinion. 

The characteristic feature of this sphere of thought 
is the perpetual antithesis of terms. And its tragedy is 



the result of the tendency to separate the terms, and 
treat them as independently real. It matters not how 
often this error may be detected. Each side of the 
antithesis no doubt reflects itself upon the other. But 
we as constantly fail to note that reflection. Even 
the philosopher who most loudly preaches relativity 
falls into the common trap, and speaks of relatives as 
ultimate and absolute. He talks of an Unknowable, as 
if it could be without a Known (or Knowable) : whereas 
no such term fully manifests itself. Each term owes 
its distinct existence to its correlative : each gives itself 
over to the other, and invests it with meaning and 
authority. Accordingly when even the ordinary mind, 
which takes these categories as they are given, is asked 
what each means, it can only reply by referring to the 
other. A cause is that which has an effect. The 
dialectic in the nature of thought, its self-revising 
self-conscious nature which was concealed in the First 
Part of Logic, where one term, when carried to its 
extreme, passed over into another, is made obvious in 
the Second Part, where each term postulates and even 
points to its correlative, and, however it may be contra 
distinguished, cannot be thought without it. Thus, 
force is a meaningless abstraction without the correla 
tive expression or utterance of force : and matter means 
nothing except in its distinction from, and yet reflection 
on, form. These, it may be said, are simple and tauto 
logical statements. They are principles, however, 
which every day sees disregarded. Have they, for 
example, been remembered by those theorists who tell 
us that everything is ultimately reducible to matter, or 
who propose to improve upon that theory by explaining 
that matter is after all only another name for force ? 
Forgetting how this reduction is made, they are dealing 
with abstractions or mental figments, and losing their 

44 2 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxi. 

way in an endless maze of metaphysics. Do those who 
speak so confidently of laws of nature as something real 
and effective ever reflect that the two terms are more or 
less relative to each other, and that there is some latent 
metaphor in the phrase ? Or if they prefer to speak of 
laws of phenomena, on which word is the accent to be 
laid ? Those who thus speak of matter and force, 
really speak of a matter which is formed and form- 
possessed, capable of determining its own form, and of 
a force which can rule its own exertions : and for such 
conceptions the words in question are scarcely adequate 
representatives. They use the language of the Second, 
to express notions which properly belong to the Third 
branch of Logic. 

The whole range of Essence or Relativity exhibits 
a sort of see-saw : while one term goes up in impor 
tance, the other term goes down. The several 
antitheses, too, have their day of fashion, and give 
place to others. Those inquirers who speak of the 
phenomena of nature shrug their shoulders at the very 
mention of essences : and the practical man, whose 
field is actuality, acquires a very pronounced contempt 
for both abstractions. One class of investigators glories 
in the perpetual discovery of differences, and stigmatises 
the seekers after identity and similarity as dreamers : 
while the latter retort, and name the specialisers em 
piricists. One intellect considers an action almost 
solely by its grounds or motives : another almost solely 
by its consequences. Some console themselves for 
their degradation by piquing themselves on what they 
might have been : others despise these would-be 
minds for what they practically are. What a wealth 
there lies in each of us, which our nearest friends know 
nothing of, and which has never been made outward ! 
But in this mode of thought, it is the persistent de- 


lusion, misleading science no less than metaphysics and 
the reflective thinking of ordinary life, to suppose that 
either of two relative terms has an existence and value 
of its own. In Germany paper-money is sometimes 
known as l Schein or Show. That term marks its 
relativity to the gold or silver currency of the realm : 
and it would be as absurd to pay with Austrian paper- 
money in Persia, as to take one term of Essence apart 
from its correlative. The disputes about essences, about 
matters and forces, about substance, about freedom and 
necessity, or cause and effect, are generally aggravated 
by a forced abstraction of one term from another on 
which its meaning and existence depend. 

The essence may be roughly defined as that measure 
or standard which corresponds to the variation of 
immediate being, and yet remains identical in all 
variation. Or, if we like, we may say that this imme 
diate being, which, as derivative, may now be called 
existence *, has its ground in the essence. The essence 
is the ground of existence : and essence which exists is 
a thing/ Such an existing essence or thing subsists in 
its properties ; and these properties are only found in the 
thing. Thus the essence, when it comes into existence 
as a thing, turns out to be a mere phenomenon or 
appearance. Such briefly stated is the development of 
essence proper into appearance. 

With the idea of essential being a permanent which 
yet changes, there emerge the problems connected 
with the double aspect of relation as identity and 
difference, the favourite categories of reflection. 
These terms indeed the popular logician would fain 
avoid as savouring of pedantic accuracy, and prefers 
the psychological titles of similarity and contrast. 

1 Existence, as opposed to Dasein, should thus imply the emergence 
into efficient being from a state of quietude or passive latency (Wesen). 

444 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxi. 

These, he tends to insinuate, are unique experiences, 
direct feelings, beyond which it is impossible to go 
in analysis. The logician, on the other hand, must 
insist on dealing with the more radical phase of the 
terms. And he must note their essential interdepend 
ence and their intrinsic contradictoriness. Abstract 
sameness, or sameness which does not presuppose 
a tinge of difference, is a fiction of weak thought, 
which wishes to simplify the subtlety of nature. 
Identity is a relative term, and for that very reason 
presupposes difference : and for the same reason 
difference presupposes identity and is meaningless 
without it. The whole dispute about Personal Iden 
tity/ as it descends from one English psychologist to 
another, is enveloped in the obscurity which springs 
from failure to grasp the logical antinomy on which 
the question turns. When I feel that my friend whom 
I have not met for years is still the same, should I 
take the trouble to express myself in this manner, 
unless with reference to the difference betwixt Then 
and Now? If I remark that two men are different, 
would the remark be worth making or hearing unless 
there was some identity which made that difference all 
the more striking ? The essence is, in short, the unity 
of sameness and difference : and when so apprehended, 
it is the ground by which we explain existence. The 
essence, ground, or possibility, is at once itself and not 
itself: if it is self-identical, it is for the same reason 
self-distinguishing. If it is to be itself, it can only be so 
by negativing what in it is other than itself. The 
affirmation of self implies the negation of the other of 
self, the redintegration (though not the blank absorp 
tion) of the other in it. This is the crux which lies 
in Ex nihilo nihil fit : what exists must not be other 
than the essence (the effect not more than the cause), 


and yet unless it is other and different, there has been 
no passage from essence to existence. 

The tendency to identify, and the tendency to dis 
tinguish, alternate both in scientific thought and in 
general culture. But whichever prevail for the moment, 
it is only as a re-action and a protest against the one 
sided predominance of the other. And thus both ulti 
mately rest upon and presuppose a ground of existence 
which is neither mere sameness nor mere difference. 
It is only when the two tendencies meet and inter 
penetrate that science accomplishes its end, and dis 
covers the ground of existence. In the first instance 
the world presents to incipient science the aspect of 
mere identity and of mere difference. Likeness is 
confounded with sameness, and unlikeness with diversity. 
The popular and the infant minds do not draw fine 
distinctions. Things to them are either the same or 
different : one point of sameness may in certain con 
ditions obliterate whole breadths of difference ; and 
tiny divergence may make as nothing all the many 
points of agreement, purely and simply, i. e. abstractly. 
But the process of comparison, setting things beside 
each other, teaches us to refine a little, and speak of 
things as Like or Unlike. One thing is like another 
when the element of identity preponderates : it is 
unlike, when the difference is uppermost. Thus while 
we distinguish things from one another, we connect 
them. From mere variety, and mere sameness, we 
have risen, secondly, to distinctions of like and unlike. 
But, thirdly, this distinction of same and different is in 
the thing itself. Everything includes an antithesis or 
contradiction in it : it is at once positive and negative. 
One can only be virtuous, so long as one is not utterly 
virtuous . To be a philosopher, implies that you are 
As Aristotle says, The brave man stands his ground, yet fearing : 

446 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxi* 

not wholly or merely a philosopher. The rational 
animal is so, because of an inherent irrationality, and is 
so, only as rising upon and superseding it. Every 
epithet, so to speak, by which you describe any reality, 
presupposes in it the negative of the quality. Not 
only does every negation presuppose an attempted or 
surmised affirmation, but an affirmation is always, it 
may be said, a re-affirmation against an incipient doubt. 
Every stage of reality involves the presence of anti 
thetical but inseparable elements : every light implies 
a shadow to set it forth. The epithet of each real is 
only a potiori. While it retains itself, it must lose itself. 
Its positivity is only secured by its self-negation and its 
identity is based upon its self-distinction. Every pro 
position which conveys real knowledge is a statement 
that self-sameness is combined with difference. Every 
such proposition is synthetical : it unites or identifies 
what is supposed to be implicitly different, or differen 
tiates what seemed only identical. Here we have that 
coincidentia oppositorum, which is the truth of essence. 
Thus, e. g. the essence of the Self is the contradiction 
between its self-centred unity and its existence by 
self-differentiation into elements. 

Essence, thus comprehended as the unity of identity 
and difference, as that which is and is not the same, is 
the Ground, from which an Existence comes as the Con 
sequent. Or, otherwise expressed, the ground is the 
source of the differences, the point where they con 
verge into unity, and whence they diverge into exist 
ence. Everything in existence has such a ground : or, 
as it is somewhat tautologically stated in the common 
formula, a sufficient ground. On that account, it is no 
great matter to give reasons or grounds for a thing, and 

(cf. Tolstoi : Siege of Sevastopol} . If he does not fear, brave is not 
the word for him. 


no amount of them can render a thing either right or 
wrong, unless in reference to some given and sup 
posedly fixed point. For the ground only states the 
same thing over again in a mediate or reflected form. 
It carries back the actual fact to its antecedent : and 
thus deprives it of its abruptness or inexplicability, by 
showing you it was there implicitly ; and therefore as 
you accepted the ground you cannot complain of what 
but serves to continue it. To refer to the ground is to 
say there is really nothing new : and as you raised no 
objection before, you need raise none now. 

The Existent world a world of existents, each con 
ditioning and conditioned is popularly described as a 
world of Things. These Things are the solid hinges 
on which turns our ordinary conception of change and 
action. They act, and exhibit properties. Being is 
partly substantive, partly adjective. The Thing itself 
is the ground of its properties : i. e. each thing is 
looked upon as a unity in which different relations con 
verge, or an identity which subsists through its chang 
ing states. This is the side emphasised in ordinary life, 
when a thing is regarded as the permanent and en 
during subject, which has certain properties. But a 
little science or a little reflection soon turns the tables 
upon the thing, and shows that the properties are 
independent matters, which, temporarily it may be, 
converge or combine into a factitious unity which we 
term a thing. But these very matters cannot be in 
dependent or whole, just because they interpenetrate 
each other in the thing. The thing, which from one 
point of view seemed permanent, and the properties, 
which from another point of view seemed self-subsistent 
matters, are neither of them more than appearance. 
For they must be at one, and at one they cannot be. 
And if we reduce the various matters to one, and speak 

448 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxi. 

of Matter in general, we have a mere abstraction a 
something which only becomes real by being stamped 
with a special form. Mere Matter like mere Thing 
(thing in itself) is a knowable Unknowable. 

In this way we pass from the talk about essence, 
things, and matter into an other range of the sphere of 
relativity. We no longer have one order of being 
behind or in the depth, and another referring back to 
it. We now speak (as Mill does) of Phenomena : not 
phenomena of an unknown, but, simply disregarding 
the background, we find all we want upon the surface. 
For neither is thing more real than property, nor 
essence than existence. Each is exactly equal in reality 
to the other, and that reality is its relation to the other. 
The thing and the essence with their claim to truth 
disappear. Nothing truly is : but only appears to be. 
The semblance (Scheiri) may refer to an essential. But 
the appearance (Erscheinung) only refers to another 
appearance, and so on. The phenomenal world is all 
on one level : as was the world of immediate being. 
But, there, each term of being presented itself as inde 
pendent : here, nothing is independent nothing ever 
really is, but only represents something else, which is 
in its turn representative. Yet even here there is a 
pretence of hierarchy in existence. In the pheno 
menon a certain superiority is attributed to its Law. 
But the conception of Law is hard to keep in its pro 
per place. Either it assumes a permanency even were 
it but a permanent possibility as contrasted with the 
coming and passing phenomenon : and then it is apt 
to be confounded with a real Essence. Or, on the 
other hand, it comes to be looked on as a mere way 
of colligating phenomena, as a mere appearance in 
the variety of appearance (as it were an iris in the 
rain-drops) a phenomenon of a phenomenon. Such 

xxxi.] FORM AND CONTENT. 449 

a distinction between the phenomenon and its law, 
therefore, is and must be illusory, or itself only an 
appearance. As such it is described as the difference 
of Form and Content : two terms, which are incessantly 
opposed, but which more than most antitheses reveal 
when pressed the hollowness of their opposition. For 
true or developed Form is Content, and vice versa. 

Instead however of this practical identification of the 
law of the phenomenon with the duly-formulated phe 
nomenon itself, it is more natural to emphasise the 
discordance of the two aspects of reality, and yet to 
acknowledge their essential relativity. This essential 
relativity in the phenomenon has a threefold aspect : 
the relation of whole and parts; of force and the 
exertion of force ; of inward and outward. The relation 
of whole and parts tends to explain by statical compo 
sition : the relation of force and its exertion, by dyna 
mical construction. According to the former the parts 
are constituted by their dependence upon and in the 
whole, and yet the whole is composed by the addition 
of the several parts together. Each extreme is what it 
is only through the other. Only those parts can make 
up a whole, which somehow have the whole in them : 
and to become the whole, they must contrive to wholly 
obliterate their partitional character. A better exhi 
bition of the inner unity and the difference between 
form and contents is seen in the relation of a force to 
its exertion. Here the contents appear under a double 
form : first, under the form of mere identity, as force, 
secondly, under the form of mere distinction, as the 
manifestation of that force. Yet a force is only such in 
its utterance or manifestation, while in that utterance, 
if abstracted from the force it carries forth, all energy 
has been superseded. This separation of content and 
form, or of content as developed in two forms, appears 

450 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxi. 

still more clearly in the third relation : that of outward 
and inward. This is a popular distinction of very wide 
application in reference to phenomena. But neither 
outside nor inside is anything apart from its correlative. 
If the elements implied in the conception of phenomena 
are to have full justice done them ; it must be expanded 
so as to give expression to these two phases, to include 
the outward and the inward. But at first only by 
reverting to something like the old distinction of essence 
and existence, an essence however which is existent 
or phenomenal, and an existence which stands inde 
pendent, though in correlation. Such being is Actuality 
being, i. e. which is what it must be, and must be 
what it is. 

Actuality, though it comes under the general head of 
Essence, tends to pass away into another sphere. Here, 
as elsewhere, we see that the general rubric of a sphere 
is only partially applicable to some of its subordinate 
sections. In essence proper there were, or were 
assumed to be, two grades of being a real or essential, 
and an unessential or seeming : or being was regarded 
(contradictorily) both as ideal (as one thing) and real 
(as having several properties). In Appearance or 
Manifestation the aspects of being are supposed to lie 
on a level ; but they are always a pair of aspects, 
one side of which is entirely dependent for its expla 
nation on a reflection from the other, e. g. whole and 
parts, the favourite category for explaining the larger 
unities. But in the category of actuality there is 
nothing so merely potential, so unessential as mere 
essence recognised : and each actual is something firm 
and self-supporting which does not, like a phenomenon, 
merely borrow its reality from its antithesis or corre 
lative. Thus we have, in a way, got back to the 
characteristics of immediate being : only, as we find it, 



we have this affirmation of the self-subsistence of reals 
contradictorily accompanied with the conviction of their 
necessary interdependence. It is a reflective (or corre 
lated), not an immediate reality. There is no other 
world of being to have recourse to for explanation now : 
nor can we play back and forward from aspect to aspect 
of a reality which never comes forward itself, but only 
as a reflection on or from another. The world of 
reality is a self-contained world : its parts and phases 
are each hard realities : and for that reason they bear 
hard upon each other in the bond of necessity. 

The total actuality falls naturally in our conception 
into three elements. We separate first the central fact 
the nucleus of the business, the concentrated reality 
in reality : the fact in its mere identity and inner 
abstractness : the ultimate drift or inner possibility of 
things. Then we turn to the rest of the concrete fact 
all without which the fact would not be itself the 
detail and particularity: this we treat as a sort of 
materials or passive conditions from which the real fact 
is to be produced, on which it is dependent and which 
precede it in time. Lastly, in order to get back the 
unity of the fact from these two unconnected elements, 
we refer to some agency which puts them together. 
The End or thing to be realised (so to speak) has to 
be brought out by a motive agency (efficient cause) 
which imposes the form (or general character) on the 
matter and makes these one. By this analysis, however, 
we have only put asunder what is one experience and 
introduced a mechanical (external) unifier needlessly. 
The name of conditions is given to the particulars or 
details, considered apart from the rest of the fact, and 
hypothetically invested with an existence anterior to it, 
with the implication, first, that they are self-subsistent, 
and secondly, that they to some extent involve the rest 

G g 2 

452 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxi. 

of it. Again, the general fact, the fact in its mere 
nominal or abstract generality or essence, its mere 
possibility, does not exist separately: every fact when in 
thought completed has its so-called conditions not out 
side it, but as constituent elements, aspects, or factors 
in it. Lastly, the so-called agency is the active element 
itself in the act, an aspect or factor in the totality : the 
aspect which keeps actuality together as a self-energis 
ing fact a Thathandlung and not a mere Thatsache (to 
quote Fichte s phrase). Our practical and technical 
habits, where the agent is other than his materials and 
aims, lead us to draw the same distinctions in the realm 
of total Nature : they are aspects useful in ordine ad 
hominem which we, without due modification, apply in 
ordine ad universum. 

It is originally in our practical operations that the 
distinctions of necessary and possible emerge, with 
a view to the accomplishment of our desires and pur 
poses. That is necessary which is required and needed 
if some bare plan is projected and is to be actualised : 
it is the condition or conditions without which the end 
cannot be attained. It is an epithet of the means. 
Possible, on the contrary, is an epithet of the end or 
plan, and denotes that there are means for its attain 
ment, without however always specifying that this is 
known of the present or given instance. It is clear that 
everything as regards the application of these terms 
will depend on the definiteness with which the plan is 
conceived, both in itself so to speak and in its relations 
with the rest of the circumstances. On the other hand, 
when a result emerges without being included in the 
purpose, and without any means having been employed 
for attaining it, it is said to be a chance, accident, or 

These terms are applied by analogy to the uses of 


theoretical explanation. Just as in will you have 
a general aim to begin with, which becomes more and 
more determinate as it moves forward in the volitional 
process to execution ; so in the attempt to understand 
the world you suppose it first of all the mere shadow or 
phantom of itself, a promise and potentiality of things 
to come : a next-to-nothing, which however you credit 
with a magic wealth of potential being. So much 
indeed may this possibility be emphasised that nothing 
more is needed: it is possible, and, without a thought of 
difficulties and counteractives, you could swear that it 
is actual 1 . Being removed above this solid land of 
actuality, cut off from the ties and bonds of conditions, 
it fancies itself moving in its vacuum ; and being free 
from all bonds of actuality fancies itself actually free, or 
self-disposing, whereas it can only claim this liberum 
arbitrium indifferentiae, so long as it remains bare and 
powerless possibility a mere may-be, which, apart from 
all conditions, would exist only by a mere contingency, 
or freak of chance. This mere potentiality being only 
an ante-dated, presupposed, and hypothetical actuality 
being only a substance or substratum must be 
raised out of its supposititious existence into reality by 
means of appropriate conditions. These conditions 
are necessary to its resuming its place or reaching 
a place in actuality. Thus each object becomes actual 
or real from a presupposed possibility by means of an 
external necessity. As in the former case the possi 
bility was identified with power, and conditions were 
left out of sight as comparatively unimportant : so here 
the possibility taken to lie at the root of the thing is 
made a mere susceptibility, which would be nothing 
actual unless stimulated and necessitated from outside. 

1 Put into Greek, the mere Iz Se xercu (licet, or forsitaii] is taken as 
equivalent to (possum). 

454 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxi. 

This necessity in the very heart of actuality (which 
is its characteristic to the reflectional mode of mind) 
thus arises from the separation and hypostatisation of 
its elements into independent powers which are so far 
in stress and opposition. This is the climax of meta 
physics if metaphysics be the investiture of the 
dynamic factors of the notion with the power and 
character of supposed agents or forces. It appears 
in three phases, with the three categories of substance, 
cause, and reciprocity. To the first, reality is regarded 
as dominated by its mere underlying potentiality : the 
reality of the mere superficial contingents is controlled 
by the necessity of its latent or substantial being. To 
explain event or incident, here, is merely to bind it to 
the generic nature or the intrinsic doom, which unex 
plained and inexplicable manifests itself in an extrinsi- 
cally fluctuating appearance of facts : e. g. the single 
crime is explained as the product of social conditions. 
Under the conception of Causality, each thing is a mere 
might-be which owes all its actuality to a definite 
antecedent or cause, an antecedent termed for the 
moment unconditional, but anon reduced to depend 
ence on further conditions. The effect is as a fact : but 
would not have been so unless for an earlier fact i. e. 
unless the effect in a supposed earlier stage of its 
growth had been helped on by certain conditions or 
circumstances to acquire actual and full being in the 
effect. And cause and conditions can change places, 
according to what we happen to regard as the central 
nucleus or inner possibility of the effect. Lastly, the 
conception of reciprocity recognises that causality is 
rather an arbitrary simplification of reality into strands 
of rectilinear event ; it remembers that Substance em 
phasises the dependence of each non-independent 
element on the supposed totality which they grow from, 


and doing so, it lays down the reversibility and essen 
tial elasticity of the causal relation. The cause in 
causing re-acts upon itself, and the effect is itself 
a cause of the effect, active as well as passive. The 
dependence in short is all-environing : nowhere is there 
any loop-hole to escape from necessity. Motives act 
on purpose, and purpose acts on motives : the stone 
hurls back the hand that hurled it. 

Explanation is thus baffled and thus forced to re 
cognise its own limitations. The simplest fact is 
beyond all the powers of explanatory science to do 
full justice to : for to know fully the flower in the 
crannied wall after this method of explanation would 
involve endless multiples of action and re-action. The 
antinomy between necessity and contingency arose by 
following out the antithesis, so natural to us, between 
selfsame and different, essence and existence, substance 
and accidents, till they were invested with a right to 
independent place and function. But the separation 
of the abstract receptacle of possibility, self-same and 
essential, from the equally abstract conditions which 
fill it up and make it actual, is only the great human 
instrumentality of comprehension, which however is 
not reached until each thing is realised and idealised 
as an individual, which has universality and has par 
ticularity, but never either alone. Its universality is 
possibility its particularity the aspect of contingency : 
but these aspects are in submission to an inclusive 
unity. The real when ill known seems contingent; 
when somewhat better known it seems necessary by 
external (physical) compulsion; in its truth to intelli 
gence, the real is a self-active, a causa sui, or it is 
necessary by that self-determination which is the freedom 
of autonomy. 

The view of the world under the category of actuality 

45 6 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxi. 

(Reality), and as dominated by the law of causality, 
is the culminating stand-point of scientific or reflective 
realism. It began with a mere descriptive science, 
naming and qualifying the successive aspects of being, 
with description which passed through numeration into 
the definiteness of measurement. But all such deter 
mination was found to imply the existence of a per 
manent reality, or at least to involve the reference of 
one reality to another, outside of it, and yet not 
independent of relations to it, which had to make part 
of its nature. To the scientific realist the sum of fact 
presents itself independent of consciousness, as a com 
plicated mass of real elements governed by laws and 
subject to necessities. Each thing or state of a thing 
is explained by reference to something outside it, which 
is its cause, and measured by something inside it which 
is its unit or atomic standard. Alternately the refer 
ence, and the unit are designated arbitrary (contingent) 
and necessary (essential): i.e. they are sometimes 
considered as only a way of looking at reality 1 and 
sometimes as inevitable implications and conditions 
of reality. 

All this is Objective Logic : or, so far as it does 
not realise its implications, it is Metaphysics. Its terms 
of thought 2 are in practice treated as elements of 
a reality which is what it is, apart from thought-con 
ditions, apart from consciousness. As Hegel exhibits 
them in their interdependence, they hint their underlying 
thought-nature, which in their empirical applications 
is hardly apparent. For to the realistic stand-point 
mind and subjectivity are left out of account as only 
passive onlookers. The realist may no doubt speak 
of a Subject : but he means a real, a corporeal self, 

1 Herbart s Zufdllige Ansichl, or contingent aspect. 
a Denkbestimmungen. 


an actual amongst other actuals. If he speaks of mind 
and will, such mind and will are parts and ingredients 
in a general scheme of causes and effects ; they are 
points of transition through which passes the moving 
stream of event. They also are things and substances. 
They are agents and patients, always both, no doubt 
but the chief circumstance to note is that they are 
actuals, and that even knowledge and will are regarded 
as species of action and motion. 

When Protagoras laid down his maxim that Man 
is the measure of all things, he stated, apparently in an 
ambiguous manner, that the fact of measure (and all 
that mensuration implies), and (we may add) the ex 
istence of correlation in actuality, presupposed for 
their explanation the assumption of Mind and sub 
jectivity. Mind thus became the basis of all actuality 
which claimed to be objective claimed, in short, 
to be actual. The truth and objectivity of the ob 
jective lies in the subjective; Mind is its own measure, 
i. e. the absolute measure, and it is self-relation. So 
Kant had taught and Fichte enforced. The basis of 
objectivity is the subjective; but a subjective different 
from that so-called by the plain man or by the naive 
psychologist. By the subjective he does not, as the 
plain man, understand the compound of body and soul, 
the living and breathing organism amid outer objects 
nor, as the psychological idealist does, a psychical 
process, a series or bundle of states of consciousness, 
always contrasted with a reality, the reality outside 
consciousness. It is true that his language resembles 
the language of psychology: as Herbart and others 
have said, that is to be expected, for he talks of mind 
and consciousness. But the consciousness he speaks 
of is a unity that includes all space and all time : it 
is one and all-embracing, infinite, because not as indi- 


vidual (psychological) consciousness set in antithesis 
to reality, as the other half of the duality of existence. 
It is consciousness generalised Bewusstsein uberhaupt 
an eternal, i. e. a timeless consciousness, an universal 
i. e. not a localised, mind : a necessary Idea, but with 
an inward self-regulating necessity. Such a conscious 
ness Fichte called the Absolute Ego : but as we saw 
before, the adjective transforms the substantive. Such 
a consciousness, which is absolute self-consciousness, 
is the Idea : no psychical event, but the logical con 
dition and explanation of reality whether physical or 
psychical. The Idea is the presupposition of epis- 
temology, but of an epistemology which claims to occupy 
the place of old usurped by metaphysics. Metaphysics 
has no higher category than actuality : transcendental 
logic shows that actuality rests in the Idea, reality 
conceived and conception realised. 



THE distinction between the psychical or psychological 
idea and the logical concept has been more than once 
alluded to. The idea or representation is under 
psychical form exactly equivalent to the undigested and 
passively accepted thing to which we give the title of 
physical or external. It is the ideal, in the sense of 
the psychical, pendant to the real : and hangs up in the 
mental view in the same way as the real object to the 
physical perception. It is in brief the. crude object, 
considered not as existing, but as a state of conscious 
ness it is a reduplication in inner space of the thing 
in outer space. If we cannot say it is altogether mytho 
logical, we must however note that it is simply a psy 
chical reflex, which has an existence only through 
abstraction, and is neither more or less than the object 
apprehended without comprehension. 

The concept or notion is more than an image, and 
less than an image. An idea-image is symbolical of 
the unanalysed totality of the thing. But the notion 
is in the first instance due to an analysis, and 
secondly, a reconstruction of the thing. It takes 
up the thing in its relations : it thinks it, i. e. it 
abstracts and mutilates it, and artificially recombines. 
It implies analysis and synthesis. It produces a sort 
of manufactured thing : a mental construction. But 

460 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxn. 

the construction as contrasted with the passivity that 
says first A and then B and a connexion of them 
has the traces of subjective or mental violence about it : 
for violence there is in the act of comprehension. We 
have however got together in unity what actuality in 
the process of history let fall asunder, and could only, 
at the best, show as independent reals held against their 
will in ubiquitous relations of reciprocity. But the 
unity in which the individual sets the universal and the 
particular is an imported unity, which though it gives 
place and explanation to the elements of reality, seems 
to impose its synthesis upon reality. So far the concept 
is subjective only. It is an ample explanation including 
the facts, but not quite self-explanatory. We conceive, 
and judge, and reason : but all this is alien to the 

But there is a counterpart almost in antagonism to 
this. There is a concept, i. e. a grouping of existence 
into totals mediated by necessary links, which presents 
itself as embodied in things : and this embodied concept 
is the objective world. That world, apart from our 
interpretation and conception, offers itself as a synthesis 
of universal, particular and individual. It groups itself 
into systems, mechanical, chemical, and teleological. 
But in all of these there is lacking the evidence of the 
inward and subjective principle of unification. The 
unity is external, the members are held in a vice : their 
unity is given as a fact : it follows through certain laws 
and does not reveal itself. There is a want of per 
spicuity of connexion : logic the need of inner expla 
nation in short, is not satisfied by this logic of facts. 
It is rather a realm of necessity than of freedom. It 
wants life ; wants true self-activity. As in the sub 
jective notion, the facts resented the hand of the logician 
(for here is the sphere of logic proper in the old 


Aristotelian sense), and refused to show themselves in 
the simple and transparent transitions of his argument: 
so the objective synthesis of the members of a mechani 
cal system, or of a kingdom of means and ends, lacks 
the freedom and lucidity of inner movement which 
logical insight demands. Objectivity the logic of fact 
is a syllogism of necessity, so hardened and fixed 
that the necessity of the conclusion is more obvious 
than the self-determination by the syllogism. 

The third stage of the Notion shows the union of the 
pellucidity and ideality of the syllogistic progress with 
the necessity and reality of the objective order. Here 
actuality and the concept are at one. At first as a mere 
fact or more fact than idea. Life, organic life, is no 
doubt development : a totality which is in all its parts, 
and where parts have their being in the total. But life 
as such, the so-called vital principle, does not emancipate 
itself to a true universal : it is immersed in its par 
ticulars. Intellectual life, on the contrary, the form 
of consciousness rises independent and distinct from 
the totality of life. Psychology follows Biology. But 
as such under the form of intellect and will it has an 
antithesis no less fatal to its absoluteness than the 
opposite one-sidedness of life. There is to put it in 
language more familiar to the present day there is an 
analogue of life in all nature ; and all reality, even the 
rock and the crystal, has its life-history. There is, 
properly speaking, no mere inorganic reality : organic 
life is universal. And then, going a step further, we 
attribute to all reality something analogous to a soul, or 
a consciousness. We talk, in rash moods, of mind- 
stuff* and feelings, even in molecules. But as Spinoza 
has reminded us, terms like Will and Intellect have 
about them something finite, because they imply an 
antagonism to an object : they are predominantly sub- 

462 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxil. 

jective. The reality in its final truth must be a subject- 
object: the adequacy of thought and being, the equation 
of real and ideal, the intellection which is life. And 
this is called Absolute Idea. It is natural to translate 
such an equation, when made a result, into a mere blank. 
And a blank it would be, if we suppose all that has gone 
before obliterated, and only the result left. Then, in 
the coincidence of opposites, we have only a zero of 
a gulf of negation. A life which is consciousness may 
seem to fade away like a vague ideal with no reality. 
A consciousness which is life can be no consciousness 
at all. The is and the is known dare not coincide or 
they perish both. 

A categorical proposition, says Hegel, can never 
express a speculative truth. That is to say : the subject 
over-rides the predicate, or the predicate makes you 
ignore the subject. The affirmation keeps out of sight 
the negation. To say that life is consciousness makes 
us forget that the very assertion would not and could 
not be made, unless also life were other than conscious 
ness. In its full proportion of meaning, therefore, the 
proposition must imply a return to unity through dif 
ference, to identity through otherness. Affirmation, 
fully realised, is re-affirmation through negation. Cog 
nition is but recognition deepened by contrast. This 
law which governs or rather which is logic ; the 
principle of identity through contradiction must not 
be lost sight of in the supreme struggle of thought. 
The Idea is the unity of life and consciousness : but it is 
a unity in which they are (aufgehoben) not a zero in 
which they utterly collapse. 

We may illustrate in two ways. In the first we may 
compare the Ei/epya of Aristotle. That is his formula 
of reality. Nominally it only means activity and 
actuality : and sums up the metaphysical formula for 


what really is, the hard fact of being. But through it 
there glimmers the meaning of consciousness. It not 
merely is, but it means what it is. Energy of Soul is 
the end of life the supreme fulfilling of desire, and 
consummation of tendency. As such it is, and feels that 
it is. It is the virtuous deed, which is its own reward. 
But Aristotle seems sometimes to fall from that identifi 
cation of being and consciousness. The world of praxis 
parts from the world of Theoria. In that case the 
activity is a mere activity the outward shell of action : 
and then, as a supplement or complement to the abstract 
result of the activity the consciousness of achievement 
gets a distinct position as Pleasure: and the activity, 
now no consummation, but only a means to an end, get 
its completion from this arbitrarily abstracted shadow 
of reality . 

The second illustration may come from Mr. Spencer. 

1 We can think of Matter only in terms of Mind. We 
can think of Mind only in terms of Matter. When we 
have pushed our explorations of the first to the utter 
most limit we are referred to the second for a final 
answer : and when we have got the final answer of the 
second we are referred back to the first for an interpre 
tation of it. Beyond this see-saw indeed we cannot go, 
so as to leave it behind : but in reality we transcend it. 
The Mind that is in terms of Matter is partly the region 
of psychic event, partly the world of science, art and 
religion. And psychic event is always antithetical to 
physical reality. But the spiritual world already in 
cludes the antithesis of psychical and physical, and 
including it keeps it as a principle of life and conscious 
ness. The supreme or absolute mind does not indeed 

1 Cf. the quaint phrase by which Eth. x, TfAetoF r^v k 
sinks below Eth. i, T\OS 17 fvepytia, 

464 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxil. 

rise above Physis and Psyche so as to have no an 
tagonism : but it is the unity of antitheses. 

What those who crave for something higher than 
this rest in unrest, this life in consciousness and con 
sciousness in life, want, would destroy the very condition 
of reality. Still philosophising, they would be above 
philosophy. They want an objective reality in which 
they may still their beating hearts, a repose which 
ever is the same and yet is not annihilation : to sink 
into the great sea of being, and leave consciousness 
with its radical division behind. Such a craving philo 
sophy, in Hegel s han^ds, has no power of satisfying. 
It cannot, in the sensetwhich Jacobi and Schelling used 
the words, reveal Being. It cannot get at the That 
except by means of the What, and is the eternal anti 
thesis and correlation of these two. It will always be 
rational and logical for it is its function to think being: 
and it will re-affirm that an unthought and a-logical 
being is a mere name, which in the language of humanity 
at least has no meaning, whatever it may stand for in 
the Volapuk of imagined gods. To go beyond this 
correlation of Being and Thought is therefore no 
advance, but a relapse into the Natura Naturans, which, 
in its abstract completeness, is, but dare not be any 
thing. Philosophy therefore in its supreme Idea is still 
the Evepyeia of epu , and not bare OiV/. For it mere 
Being is always Nothing. And to be actual it must 
live in antithesis and live victorious over antithesis. 
It follows the law of humanity (Und das heisst ein 
Kampfer seiri) which can only exist in warfare as 
a church militant, but for continuous existence must 
also be a church triumphant. Like religion and art, it 
sometimes craves for utter union in the fullness of 
Being. Such a fullness is the unspeakable and the 
vain, which we may picture as the apathy of Nirvana ; 


but which is the absorption of Art, Religion and Philo 
sophy, the cease of consciousness and an abyss. We 
may call it it matters not Being. 

These stages of the Notion must be examined in 
somewhat fuller detail. The subjective notion is the 
effort at the comprehension (at first subjective) of the 
two correlated elements into which actuality as such 
has been seen to fall and to fall again and again with 
out end. It brings out, or explicates (and with some 
opposition to the divisions of reality) the unity which 
was presupposed by the antagonist and inseparable 
reals. Hitherto we have had two things or aspects in 
relation and move from one to the other by an act of 
reflection. But to get two points in relation, they must 
belong to or exist in a unity. The divided reality of 
cause and effect must, if it is to be intelligible, submit to 
a unification of its elements. It is comparatively easy 
to get on if we are always allowed to have one foot on 
solid ground, and can move the other. Give us a 
standing-point, and explanation is simplified. But to 
get a notion of things is, it may seem, to transcend them, 
or get beneath them, and take a stand-point outside 
actuality which shall unify them. If we added to 
immediate being a further element to explain it, it may 
be said we now superadd a third to explain the two 
others. Over and above the different and related 
elements, there is assumed to be a unity. And at first 
it is certainly such a superimposed element, added to 
the facts, and regarded as our way of looking at them, 
as a subjective notion or grasp, holding together what 
is in itself reluctant to be unified. 

The three aspects or factors in a Concept are the 
Universal, the Particular, and the Individual. These 
are what Hegel calls the moments or vanishing 
factors of the notion. They are vanishing/ because 


466 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxil- 

in their logical mobility they form a pellucid union : if 
they are distinct, yet they refuse to be independent of 
one another. Or, we may say, each in its truth is the 
meeting-ground and unification of the two others, thus 
forming a sort of cycle of perpetual movement. And in 
this way we may see that the addition of the third has 
really been a simplification : it has made two one. 
For the Unit which welds together is not a tertium quid, 
but simply the explicit statement and assertion of the 
truth implied in the antithesis, which was yet insepara 
bility, of the two others. And for the same reason, 
neither mere universal nor mere particular nor mere 
individual are full reality, when taken apart. One can 
understand how Hegel could speak of the Bacchante- 
like intoxication J of the concept. It may be illustrated 
by the following utterances in which a modern psycho 
logist labours to express the complex unity of mental 
fact. First we are told that a nervous shock/ e. g. the 
awakening caused by a sudden blow, or a simple sensa 
tion (so-called), is the ultimate unit of consciousness. 
And if this were all, it would correspond to the qualities 
of immediate being, which we can suppose measurable : 
we should get a science of purely empirical psychology 
based on psychical atoms. But, immediately after, it 
appears that the relational element is never absent 
from the lowest stage of consciousness. Accordingly, 
besides feelings, there must be relations between feel 
ings. And that means a good deal : especially if we 
also note the proposition that, in truth, neither a feeling 
nor a relation is an independent element of conscious 
ness/ Evidently you cannot have either without both, 
and it seems difficult to have both when neither is 
independent. Nor does it mend matters to learn that 
a relation is a momentary feeling : for that only 
seems a way of implying that it is, and yet is not, 


a feeling. Such are the difficulties that beset the 
sincere attempt to comprehend. The fixed points of 
explanation stagger under the burden of truth ; and 
their unsteadiness shows that they lack the full founda 
tion. Yet that foundation it must be repeated is not 
something extra : it is the underlying unity which gives 
life to the relativity of the separates. 

For the peculiarity of the Notional stand-point is that 
it insists on thorough comprehension. The usual 
explanation refers us from a later to an earlier, from 
a strange to a familiar, from a complex to a simple, 
from compound to elements. It keeps analysis and 
synthesis, induction and deduction apart. To compre 
hend is, on the other hand, to light up earlier by later and 
later by earlier, and carry both into their unity. It 
does not merely refer existence to its ground, pheno 
menon to law, or effect to cause; because beyond 
these it has still to reveal the unity of nature which 
carries on one of these into the other. Thus, the 
explanatory method in Social Science may either refer 
us to the simple elements or parts out of which the 
total is composed, or to an earlier stage in the same 
institution s life. The analytical sociologist does the 
former : the historical the latter. Neither really faces 
the problem. For if the whole is made up of parts, it 
is made up of parts which have been characterised by 
the whole. If the later has come from the earlier, that 
only shows that the nature of the earlier was inade 
quately ascertained. Development which implies a 
permanent which changes, an identity which is also 
different, is thus more than mere reference to an 
antecedent ; because the antecedent must also figure as 
a simultaneous. Cessante causa, cessat et effectus. But 
here, in the concept (or Xoyos) or syllogism, the perma 
nent exists as the may we call it consciousness 

H h 2 

468 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxn. 

which binds together the elements of reality, as the 
life and the history, which is ideally continuous through 
real changes, and is a real unity through the distinctions 
of appearance. 

Such a comprehension e. g. of the State would show 
that though it must have a universal aspect, a parti 
cular, and an individual, yet these are not severally 
identifiable with the divisions of sovereign, executive, 
and people, but that in each of the latter the three 
moments of the notion must appear, and that e. g. the 
people is not mere people, but also executive and 
sovereign, just as the sovereign is no mere sovereign, 
but also executive and of the people. The same may be 
illustrated in the so-called individual. A man in his 
special department and sphere of action may very likely 
lose the sense of his wholeness and his integrity, 
perhaps in more senses than one ! He may reduce 
himself to the limits of his profession. But in so doing 
he becomes untrue, or, in Hegelian parlance, abstract : 
he fails to recognise the universality of his position. 
All work, however petty, which is done in the right 
spirit, is holy. 

One place performs, like any other place, 
The proper service every place on earth 
Was framed to furnish man with : serves alike 
To give him note, that through the place he sees 
A place is signified he never saw. 

It is a false patriotism, for example, which is incon 
sistent with the spirit of universal brotherhood : and 
there is something radically wrong with the religion, 
on the other hand, which cannot be carried into act 
amid the pettiness of ordinary practical interests. The 
universal, again, is not a world beyond this world of 
sense and individuals : if it were so, it would itself be 
a mere particular. It is rather the world of sense 


unified, organised, and, if we may say so, spiritualised. 
And an individual which is merely and simply indivi 
dual is an utter abstraction, which is quite meaningless, 
and in the real world impossible. Or, if we prefer to 
express the same thing in connexion with the mind, 
sensation apart from thought is an inconceivable ab 
straction. Sensation is always alloyed with thought, 
and we can at the most suppose pure sensation to exist 
amongst the brutes. The mere individual opens out 
and expands : and in that expansion we see the uni 
versal : (sensation is thought in embryo). But, on the 
other hand, the developed universal concentrates itself 
into a point : (thought returns into the centre of feeling). 
The same process of particular, individual and uni 
versal, which thus goes on under the apparent point of 
the notion, is more distinctly and explicitly seen, with 
due emphasis on the several members, in the evolution 
of the notion into the Judgment and the Syllogism. 
The judgment is the statement of what each individual 
notion implicitly is, viz. a universal or inward nature in 
itself, or that it is a universal which individualises 
itself. The judgment may, therefore, in its simplest 
terms be formulated as: The Individual is the Uni 
versal. The connective link, the copula is/ expresses 
however at first no more than a mere point-like contact 
of the two terms, not their complete identity. By 
a graduated series of judgments this identity between 
the two terms is drawn closer, until in the three terms 
and propositions of a syllogism the unity of the three 
factors of the notion finds its most adequate expression 
in (subjective) thought. 

It may be a question how far syllogisms as they are 
ordinarily found are calculated to impress this synthesis 
of the three elements upon the observer. The three 
elements there tend to bid each other good-bye, and are 

470 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxil. 

only kept together by the awkward means of the middle 
term, and the conjunction therefore/ In these circum 
stances it becomes easy to show, that the major premiss 
is a superfluity, not adding anything to the cogency of 
the argument. But under the prominence of this 
criticism of form, we are apt to let slip the real question 
touching the nature of the syllogism. And that nature 
is to give their due place to the three elements in the 
notion : which in the syllogism have each a quasi- 
independence and difference as separate terms, while 
they are also reduced to unity. The syllogism expresses 
in definite outlines that everything which we think, or 
the comprehension which constitutes an object, is a 
particular which is individualised by means of its uni 
versal nature. As always, thought refers to reality; 
and a notion has to be carried out into objectivity. But 
as Aristotle complained, matter is recalcitrant to form. 
The objective appears at first only as an opposite, and 
instead of revealing, it rather obscures and condenses 
the features of subjectivity. 

Objectivity, or the thought which has forgotten its 
origin and stands out as a world, may be taken in three 
aspects : Mechanical, Chemical, and Teleological. That 
is to say, the mode in which groups or systems naturally 
present themselves in the objective world, is threefold. 
The contradiction which stands in the way of compre 
hending objectivity comes from the fact that it contains 
subjectivity absorbed in it. In other words, the object 
is at once active and passive ; as thought and subjec 
tivity it should be its own synthetiser, as objectivity it is 
necessitated to interdependence, and the subjectivity, 
at this stage, is in abeyance. Consequently, either 
the two attributes co-exist, or they cancel each other, 
or they are in mutual connexion. 

(i) In the first case the objects are independent, and 

xxxii.] OBJECTIVITY. 47 

yet are connected with one another. Such connexion is 
an external one, due to force, impulse, and outward 
authority. The principle of union is implied : but the 
objects are mutually determined from without. The 
more, for example, an object acts upon the imagina 
tion, the more vehement is the reaction of the mind 
towards it. (2) But if the object is independent, as has 
been allowed, then the determination from without 
must really come from within. Thus desire is a turn 
ing or bent towards the object which draws it. The 
desiring soul leans out of itself. It gravitates towards 
a centre: and it is its own nature to be thus cen 
tripetal. The lesser objects of themselves draw closer 
around the more prominent object. (3) But if this 
gravitation were absolute, the objects would lose their 
independence altogether, and sink into their centre. 
Accordingly if the independence of these objects is to 
remain, there must be, as it were, a double centre, the 
relative centre of each object, and the absolute centre 
of the system to which it belongs. In each of these 
three forms of mechanical combination, the objects 
continue external and independent. A mechanical 
theory of the state regards classes as independent, 
seeks to produce a balance between them, separates 
individuals and associations from the state, and,^ in 
short, conceives the state as one large centralising 
force with a number of minor spheres depending upon 
it, but with a greater or less amount of self-centred 
action in each of them. 

The fact is that an object cannot really be thought 
as thus independently subsistent. Its real nature is 
rather affinity, a tendency to combine with another : 
it requires to receive its complement. Every object is 
naturally in a state of unstable equilibrium, with a ten 
dency to quit its isolation and form a union. This 

472 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxil. 

theory, which is called the Chemical theory of an 
object, regards it as the reverse of indifferent : as in 
a permanent state of susceptibility. When objects 
thus open and eager for foreign influences combine, 
there results a new product, in which both the con 
stituents are lost, so far as their qualities go. The 
qualities of the constituents are neutralised. A man s 
mind, for example, prepared by certain culture, meets 
a new stimulus in some strange doctrine, and the result 
is a new form of intellectual life. But at this point 
the process, which such a form of objectivity represents, 
is closed : all that remains is for the product to break 
up one day into its constituent factors. There is no 
provision made for carrying it on further. Hence if 
we are to have a self- regulating system of objectivity, 
we must rise above the Chemical theory of objects. 
And to do that, the first course is to look at the 
objective world as regulated (though not immanently 
constituted) by the Notion. 

The Notion as regulative of objectivity, as inde 
pendent and self-subsistent, but as in necessary con 
nexion with Objectivity, is the End, Aim, or Final 
Cause. According to this, the Teleological and practical 
theory of the Universe *, the object is considered as 
bound to reproduce and carry out the notion, and the 
notion is looked upon as meant to execute itself in 
reality. The two sides, subjective and objective, are, 
in other words, in necessary connexion with each 
other, but not identical. This is the contrast of the 
End and the Means. By the Means is meant an 
object which is determined by an Enfi, and which 
operates upon other objects. (i) The End is originally 
subjective : an instinct or desire after something 

1 Teleology meaning here not an immanent teleology, such as 
.is found in organism. 


a feeling of want and the wish to remedy it. It is 
confronted by an objective mass, which is indifferent 
to these wishes : and manifests itself as a tendency 
outwards, an appetite towards action. It seizes and 
uses up the objective world. (2) But the End in the 
second place reduces this indifferent mass to be an 
instrument or Means : makes it the middle term be 
tween itself and the object. (3) But the means is only 
valuable as a preparation to the End regarded as 
Realised, which thus counts as the truth of the thing. 
These are the three terms of the Syllogism of Teleo 
logy: the Subjective End, the Means, and the End 
Realised. It is the process of adaptation by which 
each thing is conceived as the means to some end, 
and which actively transforms the thing into something 
by which that end is realised. In the last resort it 
presents us with an objective world in which utility or 
design is the principle of systematisation : and in which 
therefore there is an endless series of ends which 
become means to other and higher ends. After all is 
done, the object remains foreign to the notion, and is 
only subsumed under it, and adapted to it. We want 
a notion which shall be identifiable with objectivity 
which shall permeate it through and through, as soul 
does body. Such a unity of Subjective and Objective 
the Motion in (and not merely in relation to) Objec 
tivity is what Hegel terms the Idea. 

The first form of the Idea is Life, taking that as 
a logical category, or as equivalent to self-organisation. 
The living, as organisms, are contrasted with mere 
mechanisms. The essential progress of modern science 
lies in its emphasis on this aspect of the Idea : which 
includes all that the teleological period taught about 
adaptation, and only sets aside the externality of means 
to ends there found. The savant of the last century 

474 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxn. 

and the beginning of the present dealt with the object of 
his inquiries as a mechanical, chemical, or teleological 
object. The modern theorist tends to see the world 
as one self-evolving Life. According to the naturalist 
of last century, kinds of animals and plants were 
viewed as convenient, and perhaps arbitrary arrange 
ments : according to the moderns, these kinds represent 
the grades or steps in the life of the natural world. 

What, then, is the nature of the process which we 
call Life ? Is it adequately or definitely defined as 
a continuous adjustment of internal to external rela 
tions ? Or is it a good deal more than anything the 
word correspondence implies? According to Hegel 
it is nothing so simple, but a syllogism with three terms, 
and a syllogism moreover which permutates its terms 
and premisses. There is, in the first place, the term, 
which is also a process, of self-production. The living 
must articulate itself, create for itself limbs and members, 
and keep up a perpetual re-creation of morphological 
and structural system of parts. Secondly, there is the 
assimilation of what is external to the living individual. 
If there is to be life, spiritual or bodily, there must be 
a physiological intus-susception of foreign elements. 
Without this the first term or process is impossible. 
Thirdly, there must be a term or process of Reproduc 
tion or generation by which the living being passes itself 
on as a new unit. All life, mental or bodily, involves 
Reproduction. These are the three terms of the pro 
cess of vitality. 

But such a life, considered as merely organic, the 
life studied in Biology, is only a fragment. The truer 
life is in the genus, not in the individual : the conscious 
ness, the sensation which inwardly unifies the diversity of 
organic processes. The universal has become the medium 
in which the Idea exists : it exists no longer in immediacy. 

xxxil.] LIFE AND IDEA. 475 

The mere natural life gives place to the life of the Spirit. 
The life of the Spirit has the double form of Cognition 
and Will : the theoretical and the practical action of 
the Idea : or Truth and Goodness. In short, the Idea 
divides into two halves, which yet remain the same at 
bottom : Reason and the World : but yet there is 
reason in the world. The action of the Idea, or its 
process at this stage, is to bring these two terms into 
connexion, and show their ideal unity. Beginning with 
Reason, it goes on to discover reason in the World. 
Truth consists in the adequacy of object to notion. Such 
adequacy is the Idea : and an object which thus corre 
sponds with its notion is an ideal object. The ideal 
man is the True Man. Truth is the revelation of 
rationality from the objective world : and Cognition is 
the name for that process. On the other hand, Good 
ness \s the realisation of rationality in the objective 
world : and the Will is the name for that process. 
Truth proceeds from the Objectivity : Goodness from 
the Subjectivity. But truth can only proceed (analyti 
cally) from the objective world, in so far as it is produced 
(synthetically) by the subjectivity. And, on the other 
hand, when the good is realised in objectivity, it is sub 
mitted to the process of Cognition. 

With the unity of Life and Consciousness, the Abso 
lute Idea, we reach the supreme effort of Logic. 
In Bacon s words, the truth of being and the truth of 
knowing is all one (cf. p. 224). That is the absolute 
condition of comprehending reality: the principle of 
Absolute Idealism, so far apart from its psychological 
wraith, and yet compelled to employ the same language. 
But after all it is Logic, i. e., only the supreme logical 
condition of the reality of the physical and psychical 
world. And it gains reality at the cost of the disruption 
of its elements : it lets the Is slip from the Is known 

476 PROLEGOMENA. [xxxn. 

the est from the cogitatur Being from consciousness. 
Or, in less mysterious language, fundamental philosophy, 
or Logic, gives place to the concreter system of Philo 
sophy the Philosophy of the Outward and of the 
Inward actuality, of Nature and Mind. 

The reader of the Divina Commedia may hardly need 
to be reminded that, at each of the grander changes of 
scene and grade in his pilgrimage, Dante suddenly finds 
himself without obvious means transported into a new 
region of experience. There are catastrophes in the 
process of development : not unprepared, but summing 
up, as in a flash of insight, the gradual and unperceived 
process of growth. There is birth and death in the 
spiritual world : and such are moments of sudden 
lapse, abrupt conversion, when the waters of Lethe 
close around, and thereafter all things are new. There 
are such moments of accumulated and abnormal inten 
sity also in the Hegelian philosophy when a new cycle 
of idea suddenly appears. Such are the epochs of 
change at the great crises from Being to Essence, and 
from Essence to Notion. There is a revulsion, a sharp 
turn of the path which dialectic can enforce but cannot 
smooth away, on that path which dialectic indeed, as 
opposed to the old logic of identity, shows not to be 
a mere smooth continuity. All development is by 
breaks, and yet makes for continuity. 

This is again exemplified in the passage from Logic 
to Physics. The reality which presents itself to the 
philosopher as Nature is a world of reason but, as it 
stands, it only lives as some speechless work of art. It 
is, so to speak, the picture on the wall the reflection 
that is cast by the fuller reality of experience. Reason 
here is in the garb of sense-perception. Nature is the 
silent image the tableau vivant which becomes intelli 
gent, speaking, and real, in the observing and compre- 

xxxii.] LOGIC AND NATURE. 477 

bending mind. It is the statue of Condillac, not yet 
invested with the minimum of sensibility and conscious 
ness. Nature is or shows all that the Idea contained, 
but contained only in possibility, as a logical condition 
of reality. It shows it in reality and that is a reality 
spread through endless times and spaces. Its unity, its 
meaning, its continuity are broken up into fragments. 
Yet as Nature, i. e. in its structural unity, and not in the 
dispersion of things and elements, it is all a unity of 
development and has a life-history written in its organism 
for intelligence to read and to reconstitute, on the as 
sumption that all its accident and irregularity is but the 
inevitable imperfection of reality as given in parts and 




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BINC -CT. UAR1B1977 



B Wallace, William 

2918 Prolegomena to the st 

E5W32 of Hegel 1 s philosophy 




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