IN dealing with Experience or the Object, each plane of mind must be content to exhaust its own possibilities and accept its own limitations.
Knowing is a one act, but it consists, as we have seen, of many moments from Feeling upwards; and all these moments are always present. Knowing, in the narrower sense, is the Dialectic movement in several moments, but we may, for shortness, speak of it as in four prime moments, viz.:—
- (1) Will or Kinetic initiation with implicit empty form of End.
- (2) Mediating ground (Negation and Formal Cause).
- (3) Determining-so (Formative Cause).
- (4) The End attained, viz., The Determinate.
The Sensate in attuition is, through this dialectic, raised to a Percept. And the process is ever repeating itself in order to reduce to dialectic unity the complex of our experience. The End is in each moment, and each of the first three moments is in the End.
To deal with the moments of the Dialectic as separate rational entities is illegitimate; for we then put them side by side as distinct, though concurrent, “principles”; thereby making pure reason, or the dialectic, consist of pigeon-holed forms of knowing and being, instead of being an organic one whole of movement.1
And not only is it illegitimate to abstract from each other the moments of the Dialectic, but it is even illegitimate to abstract the prior moment of Sense generally from that of the Dialectic. Let us recall that as the deliverance to Sense is objective reality, so the Dialectic is objective reality, which becomes for us in and through the inner activity of subjective dialectic or Will-reason. Through this dialectic as objective, the realitas-phenomenon is an Actual: and through it also it becomes for us an Actual; which from the subjective point of view we call the Notion. The dialectic and the real “given” being a concrete one in all presentation, there can be no conflict between Sense and Knowing. In the former moment of mind, the object delivers Being and the a posteriori categories to subject; in the latter, the object further yields to the activity of the subjective dialectic, the dialectic which is in Nature, and is in us because it is in Nature; by which word I here mean the absolute system of externalisation including man as culmination of the system. The a priori is not over against the a posteriori. Nature as the phenomenal is that in which the Dialectic is; and the Dialectic is that by which Nature exists as it exists.
“Determining-so” as Essence.
Now, the moments of the one dialectic in grasping things suggest inevitably the old questions of Being and Essence and Existence, which have been adverted to as our argument has advanced. Just as we see that the dialectic is a one-movement in several moments resting in, and emerging out of, Absolute Being as immanent, so the “actual,” as concrete totality, is always a One in which we distinguish moments.2 If we keep this in mind, we shall avoid the discussion of these moments as if they were distinct entities in themselves. And yet, we have to emphasise each in turn in order to see its place in the whole.
Hellenic and mediaeval discussions on “Essence” are not so trivial as it is the modern fashion to think. My course of thought has led me, unwittingly, into the midst of them, and it is possible that some may now choose to part company with my argument.
I see the explanation of these discussions, and the justification of them, in one of the moments of the Dialectic as I interpret it. The moment in the process which we should identify as “essence” is “determining-so”: the attained End is the concrete “determinate”.
Being, then, is, under such a conception, One, unique in all things, and sole ultimate reality: essence is the determination of Being as difference; and the concrete before us is this determination as effecting itself in the negating or finite phenomenal (matter)—the determinate. Being absolute, as determining, passes into, and is caught by, its own negation, and constitutes the “determinate”; i.e., “existence,” as we have it in presentation. The whole movement is the dialectic in rebus.3
Essence, accordingly, is the positive mediating “form” and ground of the determinate or existent; and is, ipso facto, Idea. But, manifestly, Essence, as Idea, is already presupposed in the Will-initiation seeking End. Again, the concrete resultant, the determinate in its fulness, i.e., the Notion or Actual, contains Being and the whole dialectic.
The essence or idea of a simple individuum, accordingly, is the “determining-so” of Being; and the essence or idea of a complex actual is that “determination” whereby individual determinates are organised into a one-whole. It dominates parts and subordinates and regulates them to an end.
We can see, know and affirm only the fact of Essence or Idea; and if it were possible to do more and we could know it, we should, doubtless, see in it all the properties of the concrete determinate, simple or complex, lying concealed, and evolving themselves into the phenomenal “many” of the existent “determinate”. That which logically and really flowed from the essence would be properties4 of or in the “thing”. The essence, idea, or end would be the source; all else the consequence. The determining idea becomes “essence” in the crisis of “becoming”in Quantity, etc. In the modality, and by virtue of the negation in the modality, the concreting of the idea effects itself, and is then to be called “essence” as the spiritual moment in the “thing”. Till this is accomplished the “idea” may be called a “thinking” but not a “thought”. The axe-stroke on a tree trunk is not a stroke till it has encountered the negation of the tree.
All essence individuates itself in phenomenon, and this is at once the negation and revelation of essence or idea.
Since we cannot, however, know essence per se, we can say nothing about it per se more than has been said. So of Being Universal. We know differences, and consequently determinations of Being or essences, only in and through the phenomenal concrete in which they present themselves to us on our plane of Being.
Essence, accordingly, is a universal to be known in its particularity or uniqueness only phenomenally, i.e., in its modality. Each thing in its presentation is a single complex; in presence of the subjective dialectic it falls to pieces into distinctions. There is, for example, Universal Being differentiated, and thereupon, and eo actu, individuated in and through its negating and affirming phenomenal characters. What then? We have before us a complex presentate which contains entity, quiddity and individuation. But the entity is the quiddity, and the quiddity is, in the sense-world, the phenomenal individuation—the fulfilled “determinate”. If I take the elements of this concrete separately and begin to talk about them, I am involved in fruitless verbal disputations. Note that it is only in the Will-dialectic itself as object to thought that we become aware of essence in its purity: there is no distinction, at this point, between a “thing” and its essence: the “thing” is its form or essence.
The isolation of abstracts as entities or quasi-entities has always been a fruitful source of eristic controversy. Not only the universe as a whole, but each “thing” is given to us as a concrete; and our business is to distinguish the fundamental universals in it, but always with close reference to the complex unity before us. You wish to see Being? There it is in the phenomenon. You wish further to see Essence? There it is in the phenomenon as Being determined thus or thus.
[I hold that there is nothing “speculative” in what I have been saying. It is the analysis of the moments of the Dialectic that compels me to reconsider and restate, from my own point of view, certain scholastic questions.]
It would appear, then, that a “thing” is Absolute Unconditioned Being determining itself thus or thus in endless differentiations, and that the sensible qualities are not by themselves the “thing,” but that by which the thing cosmically fulfils itself as an existent in Quantity, Quality, etc.: that is to say, as it exists in the sphere to which man belongs; which is also God's sphere as finite. The qualities or properties, static and dynamic, of a thing (summed up in the a posteriori categories) are thus the “modes” of essence on the plane of Sense: in other words, the way in which things exist and make themselves known to sentient beings that belong to the one same continuous system within the Absolute Whole. Thus when I look abroad, I see essences spread out before me as God's modality of quantity, quality, relation, motion, etc., and the mode is just as real as essence is; more real, we may say, because it is essence fulfilled. I ought not to allow myself to be blinded to that great Reality by designating what I have in sense-presentation as predicates, adjectives, or accidents of Being. They themselves are, as modality of Mind-universal. Relatively to determining or essence, they have to be designated as predicates, etc., but their reality is not thereby impeached; their truth, as the truth of God, is not thereby invalidated. We ourselves perversely insinuate invalidity into these words (as also into “relatedness”), and then say that that which they denote has invalidity. Is it not so? I have no right to call predicates quasi-realities: than essence and its predicative modes there is no other reality. This is reality; or, to adhere to our own terminology, “actuality”. What would I have to satisfy my craving for reality? Predicates subsisting separately and flocking together to constitute a thing! I cannot so break up the concrete before me without stultifying myself. The predicates, moreover, would have no bond of union. I exist on the dialectic plane and I must subsume experience dialectically, and in the one whole dialectic.
If we are to refine our distinctions, we should say that determining-so is “idea,” while the term “essence” is strictly applicable only to the idea as ground of the determined-so or determinate; but I cannot legitimately abstract the determining idea or essence or form (call it what you will) from the concrete and call it the “thing in itself”—a nude abstract, etc., which I clothe. Note the ultimate consequences of such a procedure: nothing less than the banishing of God from His world into a sphere called The Unknowable: in short, agnosticism is the consequence. I must not usurp the name and notion “Thing” for only one element of the concrete determinate: this alone, in its concreteness of essence and modality, is the “thing”. God is always there.
And yet even the idea, the spiritual essence—the pure form, is not, like Being-universal, a se: essence, however pure of phenomenal conditions, is manifestly not a se, because it is a determinatio essendi universalis. But it alone of all known existences may be said to be per se. All else we know of it is to be found in its phenomenal individuation, i.e., as a concrete, and when we would speak of the “essences” of things as per se, we illegitimately isolate that which is given to us as only one moment in the concrete notion: logomachy and disputation are thereupon inevitable. Notwithstanding, the questions put by the Greeks and pursued by the Schoolmen were by no means idle, and, I submit, they are not obsolete.
The above brief statement of the dialectic in things will show that a metaphysic, which is disturbed by any possible mechanical or chemico-atomic theory of the sensible world, has deserted its own standpoint, or has failed to go to the roots of things; so, a theology is based on sand which is afraid of physico-scientific truth. It is the thought that is in the concrete thing—the universal—that metaphysic deals with, and the ultimate statements of physical science a thousand years hence are no more to it than any one “thing” here and now. In the sphere of the phenomenal (Quantity, Quality, etc.), the dynamical categories are triumphant, but this phenomenal itself has its ground and possibility and law in that which is not seen.
Now more clearly appears what I meant to convey when I said some time ago the “phenomenon is, and is not”. Essence, or determination of Being, finds its fulfilment as a determinate or individuum in the crisis of concretion; that is to say, in and through the phenomenal. These sense-categories contain the “Not”; they are the Mode of Negation; negation is inherent in their possibility. Abstractly viewed, these categories are “not”; but, as concretely given, they are; for Being is in the negation and in the mode of the negation, which we call sense-qualities. As will appear in the sequel, the more correct form of expression is that the Negation is within Absolute Being as creative. Our abstraction of the elements of what is given in the presentate, viz., mode, negation, being, is illegitimate. Consequently, that kind of treatment-of the modality of Universal Being (the sense-categories), which gives it an illusory character and calls it mere appearance, is fundamentally false, for it rests on the abstraction of one element in the given beënt determined and dialectised concrete—an abstraction which is nothing real, but only a logical fiction.
It is the function of Physics—not of Metaphysics—to know God as displayed in phenomena: the function of Metaphysics is to reveal phenomena as in God. The Physicist who does not realise God is an atheist: the Metaphysicist who disparages the phenomenon, throws contempt on the method of God and is an acosmist.
Through the modal only (then let us say) the negation of Universal Being can arise; but Being and the Dialectic are there all the while. The term modal I use, it will be seen, as a single word whereby to denote the a posteriori categories (sense-predicaments), and Dialectic is a single term whereby to denote the a priori categories—offspring of pure reason in its Will-energy—the Reason in the world and institutive of the world.
The Imperfection of the Finite.
As essence or idea each individuum is perfect; but as immersed in the negation of the sense-phenomenal (in order that it may be an individuum) it is eo actu imperfect; for it is “being” now involved in limitations and in the struggle to maintain itself against all other individua, while at the same time fulfilling itself in and through them. But while we may say this much, we are not allowed to separate idea or essence from phenomenal individuation. We have all things as concretes. If we hold to this, we escape the unintelligibility of crude dualism, and at the same time preserve the reality and actuality of the phenomenon—the “Yes” in the “Not”.
The Reality of Individua.
It will be seen that what I have just been saying is in harmony with my interpretation of the word “Notion” (the subjective name of the objective “actual”). All that is presented to me is a composite or complex; the Notion is the total of each thing—metaphysical and physical. Each of the elements of any complex is as much an individuum or determinate as the total thing is. In existing as they do for the total thing as an organism (more or less), they do not thereby part with their own individuality. That they should exist for “the other” is possible only if first they exist “for themselves”. There is an integration, and there must be something to integrate. The parts are all subject to the organising idea or form of the complex thing and obey that idea. In short, they stand to the idea in the same relation as beënt negating modality stands to Absolute Being dialectically determining a universe. They are, relatively to the essence or idea, “matter”.
And as to “Relation” the same line of argument holds: All things are concretes and all concretes contain relata. But the very term “relation” implies that things that are non-identical retain, in their union, a non-identity; otherwise there could be no difference, and the word “relation” would be unmeaning. There would be only a numerical one. The truth is that the union is a new identity, which is an identity that contains more of difference and reality than before: so the world is built. The new identity has its “idea” which determines the mode of union of the differences, and so on for ever. And just as the idea of an element is the form or being-determination or essence, determining its sense-characters; so the idea of a complex is the “form” (or idea) of the complex determining the elements into a unity which is a union—a many which is a “one”.
So speaks the Dialectic, it appears to me.
CERTAIN CONCLUSIONS THAT SEEM TO INVOLVE A WORLD-VIEW.
These remarks carry with them a certain world-view, viz., Being, dialectically determining itself into determinates.
(a) Essence and Matter.—It is in the crisis of the idea passing into the determinate that we use the term “essence”. Each given determinate is the Telos of a process, the first moment of which is objective Will that contains the end. Thus each thing is an interwoven concrete; and a Nemesis overtakes us if we hold the strands apart. Phenomenon, for example, if it is held apart, at once becomes unreality, or rather Nothing (non-being); and, in like manner, the ground of all, viz., Being-determining, if held apart, escapes us and seems to lose itself in the air, as if it were a fiction more illusory even than phenomenon. This is the inevitable result of an objective dualism; and such a dualism resists all attempts at resolution. We have two independent res, it is said, and how can one act on the other? But what do we truly have presented to us? On the attuitional plane of mind, nothing save spatio-motor modes being (the real, empirical or attuitional): on the reason plane of mind, we have Being dialectically determining itself into determinates, in and through, and as, spatio-motor modes (which are thus as real as their ground); in other words, we have the concrete actual. If spatio-motor modes of Being are all we have for matter, how does this affect our conception of Man?
(b) The Body of the Man-mind.—It cannot be said that there is less of universal Dialectic in a stone than in a man, but there is less of Being, and there is no conscious mind. We arrange the scala naturae according to the mind that is in each grade—first as unconscious, and, thereafter, as Feeling, as Conscious and, finally, Self-conscious. At a certain stage in the evolution of Absolute Being it begins to determine itself as finite mind, recipient to the extent of its range and potency of the “other,” and “implicitly” referring all to an inner one of feeling. Of this I have said enough. I refer to it now only to say, that when we come to man and speak of his mind and body, we are apt to forget that he is only the supreme term in an infinite series which is in its method and process One throughout. The “body” of man, like all body, can be nothing save the phenomenal or spatio-motor mode of mind, i.e., Being determining itself and becoming a determinate; and, as a concrete determinate, finding such a full expression (a modal expression) of the essence as is adequate to the subtlety and wonderfulness of that which is expressed. The whole evolving process is consummated in the human body. Just as the visible world is God in His essences writ large, so the body of man is individual self-conscious mind writ large. The body, i.e., the phenomenal determinate of mind, is the other or “not” of mind and yet it is mind—the two being an inseparable concrete. This phenomenal determinate is, as beënt negation, subject to the processes and “laws” (mechanical and chemical) of the negation; and, so far as it is negation, it resists mind, which yet, whether as unconscious, conscious, or self-conscious, compels it to be its vehicle. We know that, in an absolutely healthy state, the body of man is the happy and easy vehicle of mind; but it has its own individual ends and laws because of the negation inherent in the mechanism, and thus resists mind or the idea. This body-involvement explains much of our incompleteness as “minds”.
There would seem to be no other way of creating a finite world save through the negation of the One of Being, and this again is inconceivable save as resistance to The One, and the conflict of each with all.5 Body and mind act and re-act on each other as a matter of fact; but the how of the union and interpenetration will be solved only when I can see how the determining idea becomes a phenomenalised “determinate” and so deduce the finite from the infinite: which will be never. If I could, by an arbitrary act, expel mind out of a human body it would still be a dynamical organism so long as it retained vitality, but it would not be a man; any more than it would remain an organism if I, furthermore, expelled vitality, but, by injecting some chemical ingredient, enabled it to maintain its shape.
(c) The One in the Many.—If it be accepted that Being finds its fulfilment, as essence or idea, in and through the phenomenal, we have here the simplest case of the One in the Many. Essence in relation to the “many” (the sensible properties and elements) of its manifestation is a potential energy initiating and sustaining the quantitative and qualitative conditions—the modality of its concrete life; and these, if it is truly to live, must be reduced to itself as essence or idea. Essence or idea, in brief, passes into the “many” that it may “live” as a finite; and it moulds the “many” into being a harmonious expression and vehicle of its own essential being—its idea. The end of its energy is, in brief, particulars governed and unified by a “one” which is itself. This many in one and one in many is the Actual as presented to us.
The determination or essence of an individual then, is revealed by its predicates, not concealed; but the individual is more than “manifold and different qualities reflected into unity”.6 For, a specific determination of Being, i.e., essence or idea, is the necessary mind-element in the concrete of a thing, and gives and sustains the unity. So the Dialectic compels me to say. As in the simple individuum, so in the complex: the “how” of the relation of the individua to the one of essence or idea is a secret. Qualities exist for the idea or “one,” but the idea or “one” does not annihilate their individuality. The individuum exists “for itself,” in existing for the “other” of the idea; and the idea finds itself in the “other” of its modality. There is a seeming contradiction here; but the only way of solving it is to accept the utterance of the dialectic which tells us that the “thing” is always a mediated one in many and a many in one. The actuality before us is neither the idea (or “one”) nor the individual characters; but the idea as unfolding itself through the individua and the individua as for the idea. Again “one” is not a single unit, nor yet mere unity: this is the language of attuition and the phenomenal. The One of metaphysic means one in many: without the many there could be no “One”. Our difficulties seem to arise out of our dwelling on the phenomenal relations; we refuse to accept the metaphysical or thought solution which is the Dialectic in its one-whole movement.
(d) Subject and Predicates.—In like manner we are in the habit of talking of a “subject and its predicates,” and unwittingly insinuate the heresy that the subject is itself a phenomenal “somewhat” or “thing” on which predicates are piled. The Dialectic will not admit this for a moment. The “subject” is metaphysical, for it is the essence; and the predicates are merely its unfolding in the modality of predicates and their relations. Logically to abstract these predicates and then puzzle ourselves as to how they are related seems to me a kind of disloyalty to the plane of mind which we occupy.
It would appear, then, that the question of man's body and mind is only one aspect of a much larger question—the relation of universal Being-Mind to its Body, viz., to the universe of Quantity, Motion, Quality, etc. By what subtle process does the real-reality become the modal reality? and how does the modal reality, once effected, re-act on the real-reality, its own ground and possibility, resisting—nay, sometimes defeating, the Spirit? Who can tell? The fact of Negation, however, is unquestionably there.
Remarks suggested by the preceding paragraphs.
(1) Method.—It may be regarded as an anachronism thus to allow myself to introduce echoes of Aristotle and the Schoolmen into present-day philosophy. It is, however, a blunder to suppose that philosophy, which is simply thought on experience, sheds the thoughts of the past as if they were dead leaves. Philosophy in a very vital sense is continuous, and we cannot break with the past. But, while the Aristotelian and the Schoolman pursue truth by contemplating long and steadily the “object” till it breaks itself up into its elements and reveals the universals in it, it seems to me that there is still another, and, if not a better, certainly a complementary, method; and that is the contemplation of the “subject” as sentient, and then in its pure activity. My method has been to look fixedly at the feeling and knowing, rather than at the felt and known. The matter of all speculative thought is subject-object, and I have emphasised subject. The subject is seen to be the continuity of the object in self-referent individuals. The Method is Epistemological.
(2) Knowing and Known.—Let us contemplate Objective Being, and, in and out of Absolute Being, we may see emerging the pure nisus of Will which proceeds dialectically to determine an object for itself and for the knowledge of those who can “know”. This act of “determining” is essence or idea; the determinate is the particular thing—the idea involved in the many, and having now reached its telos in the concrete presentation to sense and reason. The method of knowing is the method of the known.
(3) Mechanism.—I cannot see that the doctrine of forms and qualities (Essence or Idea and Phenomenal exhibition) is antagonistic to a mechanical theory of the world, if by the “world” we mean the world of sense. It is through the quantitative and qualitative and the mechanical generally that essence affirms itself as a concrete actuality. Nay, the physicist, in all departments of inquiry, will do well to hold stringently by the mechanical conception, if he is to reveal (so-called) material processes; and this even in the department of biology. But he must not so stretch the idea of mechanism as to affect to explain anything save the world of sense. The idea, essence, differentiate, or form of a thing, as “universals,” whereby the thing is and exists, is the aim of philosophical investigation; but it is only as materialised that we can search for, or find it, as a concrete. And it is to this essence as phenomenalised that Science applies itself; for this, we are dependent on physical investigation; and, in scientific phraseology, we call it the “law” in the thing whereby it exists as it phenomenally exists. No metaphysic can yield it.
Thus the essence or determination and the phenomenal determinate are a concrete, and we cannot separate them save in thought. This concrete is the ipsissima res: not either the idea or essence nor yet the phenomenal or spatio-motor process or law (so-called).
(4) Truth of the Object.—I look at the complex whole presented to me and everywhere I find “matter,” i.e., the modes of Sense—the phenomenal. I do not find solid matter, for what do I know of so-called matter save phenomenal presentations in quantity, quality, motion, relation and resistance? Were I merely an attuent being, I would stop here, my activities being a mere reaction against the phenomenal environment with a view to my self-persistence; the individual tending to persist and struggle for existence, simply because it exists. I continue, however, with the eye of Reason, to look at the phenomenal object as in subject, and it reveals itself to me as Being and Dialectic,—a determination of Being (idea or essence) and a determinate which is the realised telos of external activities in terms of Sense. If the sensible be the phenomenal expression of spiritual facts and processes, they are the sense-truth of the object—the truth, that is to say, of the spiritual reality on this plane of universal Being in which I find myself. They are the modal exposition of God by Himself. They are truth. I, a self-conscious organism, am also an “object” in the cosmic whole and in true continuity with it as a sense exhibition of Being-Mind.
(5) Justification of Pluralism.—The “oneness” revealed by the inner and unseen facts and processes of mind on the one hand and the sense-presentation of these facts on the other hand, might be regarded as yielding not a pluralistic, but a monistic, view of all experience; but there emerges also the fact of Negation in the determinate whereby it is constituted an individual—ultimately a twice-affirmed individual in the form of self-consciousness which contains self-affirmation or Ego. Thus what appears to be a pluralistic monism is, in fact, a Monistic Pluralism. There is a contradiction in the words I grant, but I have to accept it. The Universal One cannot pass into self-determination, save as determinate individua from the atom to man; on the other hand, the individua can never liberate themselves from the One without dissolving into nothing. And yet the so-called contradiction is held in the One of Being and the Dialectic, and so resolved. It is thereby transmuted into an Opposite or Contrary.
(6) Ontological Deduction impossible.—An ontological deduction of nature and finite mind is, and must be, a mere play of the imagination—an aesthetic exercise. I have reached the utmost bound of a possible philosophy when I have found the thought-modes and thought-forms of actuality as given. Being with its modality and dialectic I accept, as the last word; and I await further revelations: which, however, will not be on this plane of The Absolute that I at present occupy. It is true that ultimate philosophy may be called the Logic of the Real, but the Real itself, viz., Being and all its modes, are for ever a mystery, except in so far as revealed here and now. Being and Dialectic give the unity and universality into which all difference is resolved, in which all difference is held. It is this conception which gives to man the only God he will ever find; for it points, with unwavering finger, to the One out of which the diverse emanates and in which it ever reposes in conciliation.
(7) Matter:—Matter, we have said, is the modality of Being and Dialectic (infinite and universal) presented to us, and called by us sense-phenomenon (summed up as a posteriori categories). Infinite Mind satisfies itself in this modal manifestation, and speaks to finite mind in and through its modality. Independent “matter” is an impossible thought. Nobody ever either felt it or saw it. It is the living God that sustains His own modality. In each and all, Mind is, and is fulfilling itself in all we see as an infinite pluralism of identities till self-identity is reached in man. Matter, then, is merely idea or essence in phenomenal terms; but these phenomenal terms have their own processes by virtue of the negation of the idea—by virtue, in other words, of the fact of individuality or finitude. And yet, the phenomenal is, as an abstract, naught and not; it is the idea revealing itself as physical process—the only way in which man can be aware of the import of the idea. The idea as in phenomenal terms is the object of sense and physics; and the phenomenal terms apprehended as idea (Being and Dialectic) are mind and metaphysics.
Thus all creation is vital: that is to say, there can be no dead “thing”; for there is determining idea everywhere in ascending scale.
In the earlier Meditations we found Being-immanent in each presentate and in the Whole, but only as static. This was the realitas-phenomenon on the attuent plane; but now we find that the presentate is “dialectically determined” Being, which, as essence or idea, is “ground” relatively to its phenomenal characters; and, further, we find that while epistemology compels us to affirm this essence, its own distinctive and particular nature and significance is knowable only as phenomenon, i.e., as matter and its processes or laws.
(8) Objective Being-Mind.—Universal Being and the emerging Dialectic constitute Mind-objective. This fact has not been introduced by me dogmatically in an external and mechanical and supra-mundane fashion to explain experience: it is found in experience. If we look long enough at subject-object, it reveals itself as implicit there. I have to receive and subsume the world of experience so, and not otherwise. The world is a concrete synthesis.
I do not, however, mean to say that the Whole (including man) is a system of thought-determinations. Far from it. By “thought,” in its specific sense, I mean the active Dialectic. The “Whole” is Absolute Being which determines itself dialectically, in so far as it is determined, into a world. But, Thought or Dialectic can never yield the Real and Feeling: it is the mere servant of Being which, in manifesting itself, does so dialectically as a determined somewhat—the pluralistic system; and, as system, a One. It is Being I feel and know as Reality—Being the eternal source of all Reality, including the Dialectic. Being, dialectically determined, is Actuality.
See Metaphysica Nova at Vetusta, pt. iii., c. 5.
I say moments not principles because I do not see clearly the meaning of the word “principles” in relation to these moments, unless I were to use it as synonymous with Principia.
The Aristotelian schoolmen (but not Aristotle himself) would say that “primal matter” is a real entity per se, although encountered only in composite bodies. I can find nothing but beënt Negation as in modal shapes; and (so-called) “matter” is merely the sense-mode in which this beënt Negation resides as the possibility of finitude.
It would be better to reserve the term “accidents” for the superficial modifications caused by environment, giving a large interpretation to this word: they may be said to be adventitious. There are two kinds of accidents,—those that come from within and yet are not properties, e.g., a hornless cow so generated and born; and those that come from without, as in a cow whose horns have been cut off (privative).
The problem of the universe accordingly as a practical problem is Harmony; and Harmony is also the personal problem for all men.
Professor A. S. Pringle-Pattison, p. 177 of Scottish Philosophy.