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Were there one individual of each kind in the world of experience, e.g., one horse, or if there were many horses absolutely alike, the Notion of the ideal horse—the perfect or consummate horse, could not, it might be said, suggest itself to finite reason, unless finite reason itself shared the specific determination of Being—the arche which had a horse for its telos. Every moment in the dialectic is in the other, and the telos is, consequently, in the differentiating or mediating process, as well as in the kinetic arche: if we shared in this movement of the universal, accordingly, we should be aware whether the concrete phenomenal horse fulfilled its design—its idea and its ideal as phenomenon, i.e., its Notion as a total concrete. Not sharing in the cosmic purpose, should we accept a horse, if it were the sole existent horse, as a perfected whole? Not necessarily. For we see a horse as an organism of a specific kind having certain obvious “ends,” and so far, we share in the original purpose to be achieved. If these purposes were awkwardly accomplished in the single horse of experience, we should be under the necessity of conceiving a fulfilment of these purposes in the creature before us which would more nearly approximate it to its telos. This would be the ideal horse to us—a horse of fact fulfilling the “notion” of a horse. As, however, there is a variety of horses differing in the characteristic features of a horse; some failing to fulfil one of the postulated ends of a horse, and others achieving, some one sort of excellence, others other sorts, we are largely helped to push on to an ideal conception; but that is all: only helped. In this process the ordinary concept—the e pluribus unum, is of value.

2. NOTE ON THE TERM “ONE” (page 53).

It is not the arithmetical unit nor the abstract point of mathematics which is the One of philosophy. Even the logical concept—the e pluribus unum, is not a unit; much less the metaphysical reality which we call the “idea” in and of a concrete whole; least of all the “Absolute Idea”—the one of Being and Dialectic in the many of individua. The ascending Categories of existence—the inorganic, organic, the vital, the conscious, the self-conscious—are not discontinuous, but a synthesis of Being and Thought continuity—a One.

And this is true also of individua and their relations to other things and themselves as growths. There is no discontinuity in the spiritual; and all is in very truth spiritual. It is in the modality of space, motion and time that discontinuity insists on troubling thought. Each monadic existence is certainly a definite determinate, but it is a determinate in and of and through Absolute Being. Absolute Unconditioned Being is Potentiality, but when it “Becomes” we are not to think of it in terms of space and motion; it is itself that it dialectically determines. Being immanent in things is simply Unconditioned Being immanent in its own conditionates which are within itself as all existence is. We have not presented to us God and the World but God as comprehending the Negation within Himself. To say that each individuum is a “for itself” and distinct down to its roots is not to say that it is separate in a spatial sense and independent. The necessities of its fulfilment as an activity demand the system of individua, and all are One in Being. The Dialectic also is a One of purpose in each for the Whole.


(1) The Absolute as Spheral Totality—(2) The Absolute as One of Fact and Process: Monistic Pantheism—(3) The Absolute as Sum of Experience—(4) The Absolute as Being-Absolute.

The naming of God as the Absolute Synthesis suggests to me the need of considering some of the modern uses of the word Absolute, regarding the presumed content of which there seems to be much variety of opinion.

(1) The Absolute in the Sense of Spheral Totality.

This Absolute embraces the whole orb not only of actual, but possible, Being—the All-One. It is spoken of as the “supremacy, unity and the all-embracing sole reality of the Absolute,”1 or, to put it otherwise, a supreme, one all-embracing sole reality which is The Absolute. This may be accepted; but it is vain to try to deduce out of this both experience and a coherent explanation of experience. That the fact of such an all-embracing One is possible to the intellectual imagination, and that it is indeed forced on it by the very nature of the dialectic, is beyond question. I think, indeed, I have unveiled its genesis in finite mind. It is the Empedoclean Sphaira. But such an Absolute has no content in its own right, and can have no content save that which is conveyed into it from the true Absolute or Actual of experience which, as a matter of fact, is a relative Absolute; that is to say, relative to the whole. “Man knows the All,” said Valentine Weigel, “in so far as he is the All.”2

We can affirm, nay, we are forced to affirm, The Absolute as All-One: but no more can be said. When we attempt to rationalise it, we purloin our categories and predicates from the true or actual Absolute of finite experience, thereby constructing a “somewhat” which is, and is not, these categories, as our mystic fancies and vague, super-subtle logicalities may suggest. (See all forms of Alexandrian neo-Platonism—not to speak of later developments.) Accordingly, to deduce experience and its explanation from the Absolute, in any sense in which that expression can be used, is to weave a web without threads. The Absolute itself has to weave its wonderful creation on the loom of Time.

The true Absolute, on the other hand, is the reasoned unity of the phenomenal presentation and the totality of experience as these rest in, and emerge out of, “absoluto-infinite Being”: in brief, it is our human Actual bedded in unconditioned Being, and conceived under the category of the quantitative and qualitative infinite as this is necessarily generated in the finite dialectic which we call reason. But this reason is itself only one plane of Being in the Absolute Whole: its experiences and products are true, veritable, real, actual as God Himself: but this only as a “moment” within a spheral movement which we can never grasp in its wholeness. The noumenal in the universal concrete of our experience and also that concrete itself; in other words, the sum of the Actual, is a known, or at least a knowable, Absolute. We may and do (nay, must) abstract the noumenal moments in the Actual, as prius and possibility and ground of all existence, and call it “God”; but we never have it as an abstract, but as a concrete. This Noumenal of implicates along with existence (or the phenomenal presentation) is The Absolute Synthesis or Actual or Notion—is, in short, the full God. God is finite as well as infinite.

When I go beyond this, and would speak of The Absolute as exhausting the matter and form of all that is or can be, the notion is necessarily an empty schema. The moment we depart from our own subjective record we are apt to fall into all sorts of aberrations and illusions. We have left Experience behind us and are engaged in an exercise of the dialectic imagination. For example: not content with the mere affirmation of the All-One, I deduce certain conclusions from the “All” and the “One,” and the Absolute then becomes—

(2) The Absolute as a One of Fact and Process; or Monistic Pantheism.

In presence of this conception, the Many almost disappears: individua are of little or no account—mere shadows on the wall. They are exercising grounds for the One—playthings of the Absolute. In the true Absolute, as yielded by the analysis of experience, we on the contrary, find the Many existing by as good a right as the One. If the constructive imagination, disporting in the reason-sphere, abstracts and contemplates the All-One, it cannot permit the terms or individua to count for anything at all in and for themselves. A one of fact or of process alone remains. Individuals are the non-significant atoms which feed the Saturnian maw of “The Absolute”. And it is evident that the conclusion is inevitable. Is it not also evident that we have been purloining the idea of the One as we found it in the concrete of our experience in happy union with its contraries, and conveyed it as an abstraction into a fictitious All-entity of our own making? Have we not converted the metaphysical One into the numerical one? And with this result, that individuality, freedom, personality, responsibility, and the duty of organisms to fulfil themselves all perish. I prefer to say that I simply know nothing about “Absolute Being” save the “That” of it, although I am, it may be, entitled to certain legitimate inferences as to it from the True Absolute. “Who can find out God?” His ways are not as our ways: they are not even summed up in the ways of the True Absolute, although these are in and of Him as a moment in the total of His Being: and His thoughts are not as our thoughts, although our Actual is contained as a moment and as truth within the full Orb.

I would illustrate further in order that my error, if I err, may be pointed out. I find in the True Absolute the Dialectic, i.e., the Teleologico-causal Notion—as prius and efficient of the externalisation as well as mediating ground; including, in the externalisation, the mind and conditions of man. I cannot see how Cause in which lies mediated purpose or end, can determine itself into the contradiction of a self-conscious existence which is itself free—a free Cause in relation to its own conditions, viz., I myself. I thereupon abstract this Causal Notion in all its given necessity and place it in the heart of the All-One. Nay, not content with this, I place the All-One under the causal category of the existent series as that emanates from Itself! The Conditioner becomes Him sell conditioned. It is then apparent that it is by dire inner necessity that Saturn devours his own children. He, or It, cannot help Itself, and thus we have a mechanical theory of the universe, none the less mechanical that it is in terms of Mind.

Nay, “absolute” knowledge of any one “thing” is impossible for a finite being; for this would carry with it knowledge of “The Absolute”: and this again means a knowledge of the total content of Absolute Mind by a finite mind. Does any one seriously believe that this is possible? That men of passionate intellect, vivid imagination, intense feeling and lofty idealistic impulse should dream of this apotheosis of finite mind we can understand. But it is a dream—the poetry of Mysticism. May such men never be wanting among us. The Vision they strain after is the sole absolute truth. They point to the ultimate goal of finite spirit.

The belief that it is possible to know the Totality of the actual and possible as a coherent Whole rests on the presumption that we are outside and above the conditioned, whereas we are inside it. What Professor A. S. Pringle Pattison calls the “specular outlook of Deity” is not for us. But to conclude that, because we cannot know each thing in all its relations to the Whole, and the Whole in all its relations to each thing, we cannot be said to “know,” is, surely, absurd. God is not such a bungler as some metaphysicians would make Him out to be. There are degrees of knowledge according to the stage of Being occupied by the knower. Even a snail is aware of the object truly within its possible range: a higher knowledge sublates the experience of the snail.

What we do know is “The Many,” and it declines to be crushed out in the interests of a One of process—be it a real or a dialectic process. It is “The Many” we are interested in, and “The One” in The Many. To cancel the former in the interests of the latter is to ignore facts; and if facts should yield to me, seeking for truth and truth alone, a contradiction, why, then, I must accept the contradiction as the last word of Thought in this my sphere of universal Being. And when I further find, in the sphere of sentient life and moral evil, that the fact of an inherent contradiction—the moment of Negation, alone explains what is painfully visible to all, I am confirmed in the modesty of my intellectual attitude.

The conclusion we come to is that the conception of absolute totality as the all-embracing Real of fact and process so comprehended as to reveal the harmony and How of differences, the meaning of the Finite in the one continuum of infinite Being, and the conciliation of contradictions in the sphere of the phenomenal, is beyond the power of finite reason. But it is not beyond our power to attain such a thought-comprehension of the Whole as shall so reveal the harmony of the Whole for knowledge and the subservience of contradictions to Ends (and their consequent transformation into mere contraries) as shall more than justify a Philosophy. We can know much, for there is possible to us a Dialectic synthesis of experience. Outside this, we are slaves of the intellectual imagination.

(3) The Absolute as Sum of Experience.

The Absolute may also be presented to us as the Sum of things and their relations real or logical (or both) as a system—in other words, “Experience” as an all-embracing system. And inasmuch as the world holds together, it is assumed that all contradictions in the diverse of experience—intellectual and moral—are conciliated. The Absolute is Perfect. Have I a right to say this? Sitting in my study, I indulge in the conception of an All-One which yet I find existing as finitude, and as parts in relation, which to my mind are contradictory. But there can be no contradictions in the Real, otherwise it could not exist as a system of experience: therefore the Absolute as Total resolves all these and is itself totus teres atque rotundus. Then, if all contradiction disappears in the perfect Absolute, the contradictions as presented to me cannot be the ultimate reality of things, but only “appearance,” or it may be quasi-reality. Thus I start with the statement, as known fact, of the faith in which most of us have been brought up, and use this presumed fact as a criterion of all experience, and as exposing its non-reality as tested by the Absolute. Why? Because, grant my definition of the Absolute, It can have for its content no contradictions that are not reconciled.

Thus “The Absolute” (i.e., Infinite Being comprehending the totality of things) is perfect, and, as perfect, contains the conciliation of all differences. Certain writers of eminence affirm that they know this, and lead off with this a priori conception. But is it not evident that the Finite is within the Absolute and constitutes its manifestation, and that we have, in this finite (or on this plane of finite mind), contradiction and evil which are not conciliated. And unless we take the view of experience which the Dialectic compels us to take, viz., that it is a teleological system in which God as Creator mediates some End in the only way in which that mediation is possible in finite terms, we have no ground for saying that the Absolute is Perfect; but quite the contrary. It is a merely formal expression. Translate it into real terms—its content, and we are compelled to say that the Absolute is notoriously imperfect. And yet I cling to the “faith” instilled into my childhood that Absolute God is absolutely perfect and that, if we could comprehend all, we should see that it was so. A Scottish boy has for his answer to his first serious questionings the “absolute decrees” and has impressed on him the mysteriousness of the “way” whereby God effects His absolute idea which is and must be absolutely good, although it seems to be evil. And even now it is, to the eye of Faith, a harmony to the pious peasant woman as she bends in sore tribulation over her dead child.

Now I do not know why it should be thought necessary to demonstrate that the knowledge of a finite being within a Totality called The Absolute cannot itself be absolute in the sense of equating itself with the Whole. But while admitting this, there surely must be a defect in the philosophical interpretation which would find in this fact a gateway to universal scepticism as to distinctions intellectual and ethical which actually exist. We may dare to say that the Absolute ultimately (nay, even now) reconciles all existence so as to bring it into harmony with “The Idea”; but meanwhile on this plane of Being the distinctions which our thought makes between error and truth, good and evil, are just as real as the finite reason that makes them. They are the steps by which we rise. The facts of experience—the contents of The Absolute do not exist for the mere purpose of being cancelled in order that the Totality may collapse into a numerical One in which there will be death. Alone through contraries and apparent contradictions can there be Life and Thought.

Pantheism affirms Being, or Mind, as anima Mundi. If the above new Absolute be Pantheism there is then mind of some sort—probably anima Mundi, which, though sentient, is only mechanically active among the totality of parts—not creative and teleological. Nor can it, according to this Pantheism, be accurately said that the totality of existence is even an emanation from that which is other than itself. The Whole merely exists as a dynamic fact, and that is all. And yet not all: for the sentient Absolute THING, as sentient, feels that which is not itself: otherwise it could not be sentient. Where, then, does the Content come from? Suppose we drop the question, we must at least admit that the sentient THING, pervading the relations of its own content, feels the contradictions and its own process of conciliation, and that its life is a continuous conciliation of eternally emerging and conflicting contradictions—a miserable existence indeed.

Or, The Absolute in question is a merely mechanical system of things and relations in which there is no sentience—the contradictions and diversities in which are being constantly conciliated after the manner of the operation of a mechanical contrivance—an ingenious logical machine made by a Chinaman.

I make no pretension to criticise the eminent propounder of the above Absolute: it is merely as a student desiring information that I make the above remarks, and in no polemical spirit. I may not understand it; but in so far as I do understand, it seems to me a most unsatisfactory interpretation of man's experience and his cosmic position. The only world of human experience which could equate itself with a perfect Absolute would be the silent sleep of achieved unity.

The true Absolute can contain (I have in the text tried to show) only what we see, or may see, in the whole as the unified result of our experience (percipience and thought); and, as so conceived, it embraces the ultimate Ground of the possibility of all things, our attitude towards which is agnostic. “It must be essentially impossible,” says Professor Pringle Pattison, “for a finite being to realise the manner of the Absolute Life”. Our knowledge begins with the Becoming and Begotten, viz., Being-Absolute as passing and passed into the Concrete of Experience.

And what do I find in that experience? I find the Noumenal Universal which enter into the ascending stages of concrete subject-object, viz., Being-Absolute, Being immanent; and the Objective Dialectic, this is to say, Will-initiation, and mediating ground (formal and formative) both moving towards, and both containing in their notion, Telos or End. There are three supreme Ends or Ideals, again, which are revealed by this dialectic, when it finds its way into Man, viz., Truth, Goodness, Beauty. A little thought shows me that these words have no meaning save through their contraries—Error, Evil, Ugliness. That is to say, through their contraries alone are they possible as achieved Ends in me, and consequently in The Absolute as here and now living. This is the Method in or of The Absolute as creative. I thus see in the teleological comprehension of the world to which my Epistemology has compelled me, the meaning and elucidation of contraries—the golden thread which runs through all and conciliates all. Can I, a finite being, expect more than this? Is not this an interpretation of experience? Is it not a Synthesis of the Many?

(4) Being-Absolute.

Sometimes we find ourselves speaking of “The Absolute” in another sense, viz., Being Absolute and unconditioned. And with reason; for Being-Absolute or Unconditioned is involved in our Absolute Synthesis. It is the object of Pure Feeling. It is felt, and subsequently affirmed, as non-finite or unconditioned ultimate ground, to be “known” only as Potentiality. Potentiality and Actuality correlatively involve each other: in the world of thought each is a reality. This non-finite Timeless Ground we are (I have tried to show) driven to affirm, just as we are driven to affirm The Infinite in its other meanings; but at the point of affirmation we here again stop. The former is the underlying but living possibility, the latter the vanishing apex, of all experience—they are the termini of thought which loses itself in the Beginning and also in the End. While Being-Absolute is necessarily affirmed as in itself Being-Potential, we can affirm nothing of it save that which it reveals as immanent in the finite and determined, and those negative attributes mediated through the finite which, as negations of negations, are positive. The percept “Being-Absolute,” accordingly, contributes nothing to the explanation of things. It is merely a necessity of Feeling and of Thought; and is, as such, part of the content of the human spirit. Ultimate reality or God is the Absolute Synthesis, and the Absolute Synthesis or Notion contains Being-Absolute as ground-moment of the whole. It reveals itself as immanent in the world we know. It loves the finite and lives the finite, and gives to the finite all of reality and meaning that it can have. Being-Absolute, as one with its own Identity, is simply the one of all possibility.

In brief, as I have again and again said in my Epistemological Meditations, Man is within a system and of it, and outside it he cannot get by any beating of his wings. Is an ultimate philosophy, then, impossible? Not so; provided we accept the fact that the ultimate for finite reason lies within a sphere relative to the Great Whole, in presence of which Whole we bow with reverence—a reverence not born of ignorance, but of knowledge. The impulse to pursue Truth posits ultimate Truth; but it does not posit its attainment here and now any more than the pursuit of any other ideal, æsthetic or ethical, posits its attainment here and now. Are truth and goodness thus for man illusions? Far from it: they are very God as immanent—the idea as opposed to the Negation. We men are only scaling Olympus, on whose summit high Jove sits majestic, but not wholly inscrutable. Every stage of existence is within its own sphere true and good in its potencies and purpose, and each ascending movement takes the lower with it into a higher evolution in which it is not cancelled, but illumined. And the great God Himself receives the whole into His all-producing, all-conciliating Being, every part entering into the final consummation of the Divine activity or Absolute Idea, whatever that may be. Nay, The Absolute God Himself could not, in His own nature, as immanent, realise Truth, if He did not also realise the possibility and fact of Error; He could not realise Goodness if He did not also realise the possibility and fact of Evil. The words Truth and Goodness would have no significance—they would denote a mere static condition which by man was unnameable and to God unmeaning. Were it not so, the whole process of the Divine externalisation would be a futile amusement, an everlasting pastime.

If I say that “The Absolute system is a perfect system,” I pause to ask, What are my grounds for saying so? And I fail to find them. On the contrary: Of Absolute Being as Potential and Ground, which Epistemology yields us, I can say nothing; but of the said Absolute Being as externalised and presented to my experience (and ipso facto revealed to itself); in other words, of the Absolute Synthesis, I cannot affirm perfection without shutting my eyes to facts. The reverse is the case. That this Absolute System, however, is truly a rational system both experience and the Dialectic compel me to affirm; and I see also that a system consisting of individua, differences, oppositions, contradictions, and imperfections, must, if it be truly a “system,” in some way reconcile these. I find the ultimate conciliation of all proclaimed in the final moment of the Dialectic. But as things exist here and now, they are not reconciled, and I am unable to reconcile them; but under the idea of End I can interpret them. And yet there remains the unreconciled outside. On this stage of its Time-evolution Absolute Being seems to have plunged into difficulties: there is an element of Chaos. This stage of its evolution is therefore, if an inevitable, yet a passing stage. But it is only a Teleological interpretation of the facts which entitles me to say that that which is now unquestionably imperfect is moving towards The Good which is Perfection. Meanwhile, the finite life of The Absolute is a very real life in which all distinctions are real distinctions. It is only through the stern reality of antagonism and evil that Harmony and The Good, it would appear, can be generated. It is in the great world as it is in the moulding of my individual spirit. The Absolute can accomplish its Ends only thus. To make a perfect rose it has to use soil and manure and stand the buffeting of winds and rains. If the far-off Good were possible for the finite externalisation without the realities of difference, the conflict of opposites and the labour of ideals, the externalisation would have been from the first Good; or, rather, a Neutrum, neither Good nor Bad. We men are born into a system which is on its way.


Hegel says that the Absolute idea is the “union of the Notion with its reality”. That is to say, that the Notion as Thought is fulfilled in the realising of that thought as an existent and fulfilled world—which is the “Objective Idea”. If that be so, the Idea as subjective unrolls itself into a world which is its Other or Object, and thus attains to itself. Is this Subjective Idea, then, to be called Absolute Spirit? Not, if we take account of Time; for Absolute Spirit arises only in the objective fulfilment of the Idea—it is the end not the beginning. If this be so, then the Idea as subjective is reduced to mere Potentiality, and a potentiality, moreover, which is not Beënt! For if Being is to be found anywhere in the Hegelian system, it can only be (I say it with all submission) in the fulfilment of the Idea—the Whole. To find God in the Hegelian system we must affirm Him as Immanent Process in its totality—in which case He Himself would seem to be the result of a process: or, we must take Hegel's words that the end is the beginning. In the latter case, the beginning must already be Absolute Spirit holding in itself the process of its own realisation—that is to say, it is empty form with the potentiality of the possible in it.

It, accordingly, seems to me that if we are to find a starting point for the Hegelian Dialectic, it does not emanate out of Spirit at all but out of Being-potential, and that it merely gives us the evolved logical process constitutive of the Real of creation. Here, again, a difficulty presents itself. The logical evolution is either the whole of Reality or it is merely constitutive of Reality. If it is the whole of reality, it does not explain sentience, it throws no light on the mysterious “that” of things: it ignores Feeling. If, again, it be merely constitutive of Reality, Reality is outside it in a very real sense, and it fails to account for that.


If Being = Nothing there can be no interplay whereby Becoming may be generated. In the first reflective contemplation of the sensible universe a man exclaims, “All is Being”. There are no differences in the thought “Pure Being”; consequently he adds, “All is One in so far as all is Being”; a tautology. Inasmuch as the beholder is himself a dialectic, he next says, “Whence,” and it is this that yields the notion of “Becoming”. All, he says, must have become out of that which is not-Being, i.e., out of Nothing. So said the seer of Genesis. He then asks, and must ask, “How?” and then “Why?” or “For what purpose?” These are the inevitable questions of the subjective dialectic. Now, the “Whence” of Being out of Nothing yields the Notion “Becoming”. He fixes his thought on this, and now finds that it and not “Being” is the initial fact and thought to a “reason”. If he keeps his gaze steady, he next finds that Becoming is itself Being. This at least; but as he looks again in order to name what he sees, he says, “Becoming not only is Being, but it is itself out of pre-supposed Being”. “Becoming” is after all then, not the first but the second; for, it is ultimate unknowable Being on its way to its own determination.

What of “Nothing” now? The fact is that when he saw, or thought he saw, that Nothing was prius of Being, he was already in the grip of his own sense-imagination. The Being he saw was already determined. A confused chaotic mist it might be, but it was determined; and he had lost hold of the evasive Universal pure Being. But now he finds that All is Being—a One Whole, a Whole One—the first and last word of thought.

Being, then, is first and last; and now we are driven back to contemplate “Becoming” as second moment, viz., Being as unfolding itself out of its own identity, and we find in that the Objective Dialectic (as nisus in Absolute Being)—the beginning of self-conditioning whereby a world may exist. The whole Objective Dialectic is there at once and I, a subjective dialectic, am at home with it.

And yet the fact of Negation remains; but it is, surely, to hypostatise it if we call it Nothing and identify it with Being. The “Other,” and all others in so far as they are not the One, contain the negation of the One. The negation of the One is involved in being an “other”. By virtue of this negation they are in themselves and for themselves. But A and B so far from taking to themselves “nothing” in order that they may be A and B are distinctions and unique characterisations of and within Absolute Being, and thus hold Absolute Being, and more. They are more than Being, I say, not less; and by this “more” it is that they sist themselves in the universe of things. The determination accordingly is not Negation (still less Nothing) but contains negation. The negation is in and through the affirmation, not the other way about. A is; and, further, as A it is not B. Thus we have Negation; but it is a form or process whereby the isness of A is (not constituted but) established—signed and sealed. Thus we should not say “determination is negation,” but determination contains Negation. As a moment in a process Negation is, and has, Being; but only as a moment.

For, Negation is not “non-Being” affirmed by God along with Being in order to effect distinctions and pluralities; it is the condition of finitisation—the condition of difference and is, as such, the arrestment of the affirmation, and truly denies the affirmation (and God as in the affirmation), in the interests of bare, blank individuality. Negation is not simply the device whereby the rays that emanate from the central sun are differenced from one another: it blocks the free course of these rays in the act of their effecting an “each for itself”. Were it otherwise, the negation would be a mere tool or device in the hands of God, and we should have a monistic Pantheism. The Negation is the conditio sine qua non of creation and (if we may say so) is in earnest with God. The individual, in so far as it is Negation, gathers itself up into its soleness and antagonism to all else. It is a barren reflection into itself, and, with stupid persistence, it says, self, self, self. It is the stolid unmeaning singular. But as containing the “idea” of itself, the individual is also in outgoing positive relations to God and all else. As Negation the individual denies everything; as Affirmation, the positive of the idea, it opens itself to all influences and mingles with the universal.

In short, the Negation is not within the dialectic movement, save as implicit in affirmation: it is thus that it is within the Absolute Synthesis. Negation is not an act, but a fact within the totality generated by the movement of Absolute Being out of its own identity.

God in His Wholeness—Absolute Being, Dialectic and the Other—is not, consequently, an identity of Himself and the Negation; but only of Himself and the Other (Natura in its most comprehensive sense) in which Negation the abstract atom is. Negation is a sub-moment in a process; “nothing” is simply “nothing”. Negate Negation and you have Being, it will be said. Not so; you have only affirmation, unless you first construe negation as “nothing”: in other words, think it as beënt “something”.

The ultimate form and fact of The Absolute is Identity in Difference, we are told. Be it so; but difference does not involve “nothing,” but only “negation” of Being involved in determination of Being—a turn of the hand, so to speak, whereby the finite is made possible. Absolute Being does not pass into the negation of Itself, but only of its own absolute unconditionedness. It cannot effect itself as a many in any other way. It is that without which there can be nothing but Unconditionedness and Soleness, Silence and Death.

In determining a world, Being absolute and unconditioned remains as Fons and Source; but, in so far as determined, it is immanent in its own determinate which floats, so to speak, in the ocean of the Absolute Unconditioned. In short, Being immanent contains in its notion Being Absolute as ground and possibility of itself. There is no separation. And there is no contradiction; but there is opposition—opposition which gives a centre of resistance to Being now immanent in the individual—a centre of resistance. The individuum has now to work out its own life, which will be a blundering and calamitous life save in so far as it subsumes the immanent idea in which reside its positive and universal relations.

Each thing or predicate is (we are told) “because” it is “not”. Not so, I respectfully demur. Each thing is, and, as determined or affirmed it is not anything else—not even God. But the “not” is not the causal ground of its specific being but only the condition. It is in the identity of A as establishing itself that the “not” is to be found concealed.

6. NOTE ON HEGEL (page 183).

With Hegel the first (and last) is Absolute Spirit or Ego (Personality). The form of this is “Notion” or Thought and, as such, constitutes the Absolute Idea. The Absolute Spirit determines itself in a progressive evolution of notions which is Logic: which also is the Absolute Idea explicated. If, then, we can realise to ourselves Absolute Spirit as so determining itself, we have not only the Logic of the Universe, but also the comprehension of Absolute Spirit in all its reality as an object of contemplation, nay, of knowledge. The externalisation or Natura (in the widest sense of the word) is merely “The Other” of the Absolute Idea in its explicated notions. Every idealist must find himself in close sympathy with this conception. But it seems to me that Hegel, by a kind of coup d'esprit (if we may so say), reaches the First and Last, which is Absolute Spirit. I cannot see how a catena of evolving notions—“Absolute Idea” has anything necessarily to do with an Absolute Subject at all. I do not see how they lead me beyond themselves to a subject save by translating the term Idea into “thought in and by a subject”—the vulgar meaning of the term. The chain of notions may just be there as ultimate explanation of experience; and that is all. [So it seemed to Heraclitus when he said The Absolute is Flux.] That they should be in an infinite Ego which so determines itself is not given in the fact of their being the ultimate of experience. They hang in the air, and the transition from their concrete totality to Absolute Ego as determining them, savours of Dogmatism. I cannot logically connect with the pure Hegelian Dialectic what we welcome in the Philosophy of Religion, namely this: “God is Absolute Spirit who is there not only in our thought, but as existent Person”. And again (quoted by Hutchison Stirling on p. 145 of The Categories), the “Christian God is not merely the known God but the absolutely Himself-knowing God, and not merely conceived, but rather absolutely actual, Personality”.

7. NOTE ON MYSTICISM (page 205).

God immanent as Feeling, Emotion, Love, is a subject which seems capable of being handled only by the Mystic or the Poet. But we cannot, as thinkers, be content with their utterances, although we must give them their due place in realising to ourselves the total notion of God.

God, we said, is the Absolute Synthesis: He is The All and The One; and what we may find in Him as immanent in things are only moments in His total Being, which, in its Absoluteness, is quite beyond our reach. It is for this very reason that many men, as I have previously said, and these not the least thoughtful, resile from all attempts to define “That” which can receive from a finite reason no ultimate definition, and would fain rest permanently in the vague feeling of Universal Being producing and sustaining all, in presence of which the Whole is but an outflow and reflow of almost passive activities. The mystic says, with Browning, “only in meditation the mystery speaks to us”. And to a large extent, every thinker sympathises with this receptive and adoring attitude of mind. At the same time, I would point out that the feeling and thought of Absolute Being evolving all out of Itself as eternal efflux and reflux, while Itself all in all, when closely questioned, show that the mystic, while holding by the incomprehensible and ineffable, yet silently assumes much as to the nature of the Being in which his mind floats. In the first place, that which occupies his high meditation has all the (negative and positive) attributes which we have assigned to Being; secondly, it is the implicit of all and it moves out of itself to become explicit as a universe, i.e., it is immanent in the Negation of itself; further, as immanent, it moves according to a certain process which may be more or less clearly apprehended: it is the beginning and the end, for the process is instinct with the end or idea which is in the beginning, although its final purposes are not made visible in their fulfilment here and now; and, above all, this Being is sentient, and capable, therefore, of an infinite hidden joy. Look closely at the mystic conception, and you will find it to contain implicitly all these characters. And what have we been doing in the past Meditations but endeavouring, on the basis of a criticism of knowing, to affirm these things? The mystic, who, I grant, is alone on the right track, cannot yet, with a wave of his shadowy hand, wipe out the attempt to perceive what he himself vaguely feels but indolently declines to realise in thought, while taking credit to himself for superiority to vulgar anthropomorphic prejudices.

Nay, more, when we consider the grave question—Does God Feel?—in other words, Does God love His creation? the mystic can have no doubt about it; for it is Being, Feeling, Love Universal, which constitutes his formless creed.

It is, certainly, not easy to satisfy a thinking man that God feels, and goes out with desire and love to His creation. It has too anthropomorphic a ring. And yet much depends on this; for it really involves the question, Is God, i.e., Absolute Being as creative energy, merely pure dialectic, or is He also an ethical God? The Formal moment of the great concrete must not be allowed to swallow up the Real. We find Feeling, and the ideal immanent in Feeling, in all creatures; and this is Divine Love.

The Trinity.—Speaking from the mystical point of view, we may say that (to use old and venerable forms) Absolute Being is the Father, inscrutable source, and immanent in all; the Will-Dialectic is the Logos; Feeling as sustained by Being and moulded by the Dialectic to ideas ethical and æsthetic in nature and man is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not an act, but the issue of the fact of Being and the act of the Will-Dialectic: consequently it is of the Father and the Logos. It is the Spirit of Truth—the Divine Breath that animates the world—the sole “Comforter,” for it is that by which man lives.


Professor James criticises severely the attempt of theologians in the past to systematise the attributes of God, and goes so far as to say, if I understand him rightly, that all thought on such a subject is wasted energy in so far as it has no “cash value” for daily life. In other words, it matters not what we think God to be unless we can show the significance of our thought in relation to actual or possible conduct. My reply to this is, that I can never tell beforehand how knowledge of the Divine Nature may affect my conduct in this or that direction, any more than I can tell how the mathematics of the infinite or the physics of the molecule or of the ether may ultimately affect the conduct and the well-being of man. Am I, then, to shut off by an arbitrary act all scientific speculation? Professor James is the last man in the world to desire to extinguish the noble rage to “know,”—the supreme function of man, and to call a halt until we have decided whether further knowledge would be “useful” or not. Besides, knowledge, if it be knowledge of the truth—nay, if it be only a genuine pursuit of the Truth, always must, by affirming God, or even a god, determine the plane on which a man lives; and life is conduct.

All will concur with Professor James in thinking that the scholastic discussions regarding the inner nature of God-Absolute are futile. On the other hand, while we have found that Absolute Being defeats all attempts to discriminate its characters, the metaphysics of all experience yields us God as creative and immanent, and points also with unwavering finger to His nature, in so far as that is revealed in His immanence. As immanent He has brought Himself within the range of man's thought. Thus far, then, I may hope to be out of the direct line of the arrows of Professor James's invective. But I would put in a word even for what he calls the “metaphysical monster” of the scholastic theologian. James himself accepts the fact of a “vital conversation with the unseen divine”. There is here presumed that, away from the finite and its shapes and petty interests, there is an unseen—an infinite—a Ground in which all that is finite may find rest. We ask what precisely is this? The attempt to answer is not a mere freak of the human mind—a deliberate making play with adjectives, but an earnest and pathetic effort of the spirit of man to know something of the All-Being all-embracing and all-abiding. If scholasticism may be said to have failed as a speculative system, the attempt has at least exhausted a line of inevitable inquiry and left behind it the awe and mystery that invests the thought of God—a thought which has in it the power to lift every man who feels it out of his finite pre-occupations, and to bring him into contact with the Sole Reality. Does not this affect life? And if it affects life, it passes into every act I perform, including the humblest trading transaction.

This suggests to us to advert again to the question of the moral attributes of Absolute Being. These may be merely an attempt to put in fit language the ethical ideals of man himself; but as long as we do not speak of them as “properties” of God as if He were a “thing” we are supremely right in regarding them as verities within His activity. Assuredly they are the truth of God as manifested on this plane of His infinite life. This is the Divine mode of working, here and now, within our sphere of the Absolute. If in man as conditioned, virtue, goodness, wisdom, are the sum of his endeavour, in God as conditioning and source, they must be in an eminent sense living. God surely is in the law of life which He imposes. When I say He is just, I mean that, according to His eternal counsels, Justice works out for the realisation of the Divine life in its moment of finitude. But in presence of the thought of Absolute Being in se and a se “I lay my hand on my mouth”.

Even the thinking Agnostic who speaks of the “primal mystery” has his God. It is the irrelevance of anthropomorphic categories as applied to God that makes him relegate the question of God to the unknowable. God as Being and Thought held by reason, and felt (as S. Augustine says) to be “interior intimo meo; superior summo meo” he is unable to realise.


If The Absolute in the sense of the concrete Totality is an immanent necessity through and through, it is a waste of time to talk of man as self-fulfilling and self-directing. There is no use blinking the fatalistic outcome of pure Monism in its bearing on man's life. Philosophers have need to beware of “inadequate ideas” as much as the “man in the street”. The monist, when he sees clearly, must hand himself over to Calvin and preach predestination, the absolute decrees, and the doctrine of arbitrary grace. Spinoza tried to wipe out teleology and consequent ideals, and yet he had himself to posit an ideal—a better and a best under the phrase “fulness of Being”.

Principal Caird, in his Philosophy of Religion, clings to the notion of The Absolute in the sense of The Total as an organism in which Man exists, without due consideration, I think, of the facts of experience. Some are so enamoured of The One (unlike God who loves difference) that they fail to see that an organic one without substantive parts is a contradiction in terms. That a “thing” is its organising idea, we may accept: it does not follow that the parts “are not,” simply because their truth or reality, here and now in a special organism, is attainable only in and through the whole—that is to say, by each sacrificing its individuality to the whole whereby alone it truly attains to itself in the specific complex thing before us. As a general statement, this is true of all organism; and even also of inorganic nature itself wherever, in any whole, there is more than an ultimate unit. It is the way of the world. It would seem to follow that the multitude of individuals which make up this world of experience “are not” in themselves, but that each attains to itself only by being “not itself” as an isolated individual—as denying itself in the absolute whole. Now this rings true as a general statement. But note that we know nothing of difference save as phenomenal difference. Being and the Dialectic, determining this or that, are universals and yield no difference except to thought. In the experience of subjective mind the fact of difference, as difference, finally emphasises its own individuality in the affirmation of Ego-hood. The determining idea in each thing is a One; and it is governing. As a concrete determinate it gathers round it its vassals—the various elements or reals which go to make it phenomenally possible. When the phenomenal dissolves, the idea vanishes: when the idea vanishes, the phenomenon also dissolves into its parts which now enter into new combinations. The individua in an organism do not derive their entity from the organism as such: they are always themselves. In short, it is the positive or affirmative in each individuum that carries with it its relation to all else, and its efficiency as constitutive of a higher organism, and, finally, of a coherent world.

True, the individuum cannot be itself except in so far as it is not other things; but the negation of all else is formal cause only—the ground of its possibility and does not constitute it. The existence of A is not through the negation of B. This holds of all units or individua, whether parts of an organism or outside an organism. It is incorrect, therefore, to say that the individua “are not” for themselves. In and for themselves they are; it is only in so far as they enter into an organism that they “are not” (for themselves alone but) for the organism: the idea of the organism controls them, subordinates them to itself, while yet leaving them in isolated individuality. In this sense only can they be said to be and not to be. The dialectic resolves the contradiction for thought. It is through the “not” of all else that any one individuum is possible; but it is not the “Not” which constitutes the individuum itself: this is a synthesis of affirmation and negation. It is through the positive as prius (to use Time-language) that the negative is affirmed as ground of the possibility of the positive. “A” is A and not B; but it is the affirmation “A is A” that carries in it the Not B, C, etc. So the “idea” of an organism does not determine the parts of an organism “for themselves,” but only selects them and determines their relation to the idea, and to one another as servants of the idea. The harmony is a harmony of diversity, of mutually negating individua subdued to a unity of purpose. The part or individuum is, all the while, an in se and per se, and does not, when sacrificing itself to an organic whole, commit suicide. If all the parts did that, what would become of the whole? The individuum can fulfil itself for itself, we have seen, only through “the other”; and it may be said that it is in the interests of its own fulness of being that it gives itself away.

The being of the individuum, then, does not consist in its ceasing to be. Its function in an organism is to cease to be for itself alone: it has to fulfil itself in its positive relations; that is all. It does not negate itself, but only its own negation of the Whole and of the One of Being. To be itself, it must go out of itself; to find itself, it must lose itself: otherwise there would be no organised world. An army engaged in a campaign is not an “organism,” but an “organisation” instinct with one purpose to which each man must sacrifice himself, if the army is not to become a rabble. But each soldier is also himself a one of organism, and in sacrificing himself to the whole he works for himself; that is to say, for his own personality and its worth and dignity in his own eyes. The attainment of this is possible only through sacrifice of all that is unworthy in him; but he does not thereby sacrifice his true self—his own personality and worth; on the contrary, he gains them. A machine-made army will be defeated in the struggle of nations. So in the strife of life generally: I sacrifice even my will to the larger Will of God and so take the Will of God and my will into identity, but I am thereby myself greater, stronger, more of a personality than ever. Whether God has thereby made me His I may not know; but I do know that I have made God mine. And in every ethical act which I achieve I make God mine. If this be so, the Absolute Synthesis is not explained by the word Organism save in the sense in which we call an army an organism. A philosophy fails which does not find such a point of view as shall include all experience, and does not crush out the most insistent part of that experience in a fanatical prostration under the Juggernaut car called “The One,” and that in the sense of a unit!

In so far as man is merely an individual he is negation or naught, and in so far as the One cancels his individuality he is naught; in so far as he is a merely attuitional individual subject he can live only through the “other”; in so far as he is a self-conscious Ego, the “other” is of infinite dimensions including God Himself. But in the largest sweep of life possible for him, he can never commit suicide. The Ego stands firm and unshakable as the centre of his universe.


All are familiar with questions of casuistry. Those serious cases that paralyse action fall under the conflict of duties—the impossibility of fulfilling one moral law without breach of another. The moral situation thus created is itself confirmation of the supremacy of law in the ideal that is to be found in Harmony or Justice alone. Moral rules (as Burke, I think, has said) must sometimes give way to the principles on which they rest. All questions arising out of a conflict of duties are due to the weakness or the intellectual impotence of finite man, and the difficulty of adjusting to the ideal standard varying circumstances as they arise.

In point of fact, not only at each stage of moral progress, but at every hour of each day, a man is, more or less consciously, determining for himself Law as Harmony or the Ideal; and the fluent relations of men and things and even the idiosyncrasies of ourselves and others have to be taken into account. So subtle, indeed, are these relations and so incalculable the ramifications of every act, that it is impossible to draw up a manual of moral tactics. Happily so; for if it were possible, we should, by enforcing it, produce a race of moral pigmies.

Further, if experience teaches that a particular virtue, exclusively pursued, passes over into evil, this, again, is evidence that Harmony under the regulation of the Will-dialectic is the final truth of our nature—the ideal and standard of all ethical activity. And as regards the various virtues, Aristotle, in seeking the mean, is simply reconciling opposites, finding the harmony that defines the virtue.

It seems to me to be a morbidity of mind that dwells on the contradictions, intellectual and moral, that beset man, and in the name of these contradictions would arrest thought, and even sap moral and religious foundations. I am not sure that I understand the position, but I should like to make a few remarks on the assumption that I do. How could there be a world save in finite modes? How could there be finite modes save as different and, by the very fact of difference, contrary and opposite? The conditions of Time and Space and the very nature of the act of knowing prevent a man seeing things whole: that is all. It is no new doctrine that all man's science is, and must be, partial. My business is to adapt my conditions to the purpose of my existence as a self-conscious being alone can do, recognising that without these conditions a self-conscious being—a will-reason would die of atrophy.

We may construct a fiction called a Perfect Absolute and find that from this universal point of view there is neither good nor evil, cause nor effect, and, I suppose, neither man nor beast. They all pass into a conciliating One or Total. Difference vanishes and we have nothing left but a vacuous “somewhat” which cannot be named—verily the “night in which all cows are black”. But suppose The Absolute is “Being” which loves to live in difference and can have the sense of living only when involved in differences and oppositions, and who has poured out these differences and oppositions as the very mode of his finite life; who becomes, meanwhile, conscious of Himself as The One in those infinite differences which are his manifestation as finite reality; that the differences have consequently all the reality of Himself as finitised and are the way (the only possible way) whereby he can unfold his Being; suppose this, I say—Suppose, in short, that existence is a committal of Absolute Being to imperfection, as the only way of subserving a final Perfection in the sum of individuals, are we not then nearer the true reading of Experience than by interpreting the whole into a chaotic futility—the only alternative? The Absolute, whether of necessity or not, comprehends Time and Space. Each plane of its evolving contains its own truth—not a “relative” truth in the banal sense of that term, but a “moment” in the total life of God.

It seems to follow from the point of view to which I am adverting that—

(a) Self-realisation and Altruism are incompatible moral ideals. But suppose that by a study of man we can show that the former is attainable only through the latter properly defined—how does the argument stand then? Again—

(b) Justice has no “absolute worth” where there is no private property. First, I would remark that property rights are a very small part of Justice, which has to do with the claims of conflicting personalities in their whole range and in the most subtle hourly relations; and that, of course if there are no personalities, Justice vanishes. So Gravitation has no “absolute worth”; for it cannot exist where there are no bodies.

(c) If by saying that Morality is “empirical” it is only meant that it arises out of the relations of beings to their own constitution, their fellow-beings and their environment, what then? The moralities have “absolute worth” within these life-conditions. The physiological process by which a plant grows has no absolute worth outside the plant.

What is the worth of anything in totally different life-conditions? Nothing at all, it may be. What is the worth of Light outside a visible universe?

(d) One virtue, we are told, will be of more absolute worth than another at different times. True. The religious idea, primitive engineering skill in providing for the material wants of a starving city, self-sacrificing courage will all have their turn of dominancy according to the urgent pressure of circumstance. In certain crises of a nation's life heroism is of more worth than piety, if we have to choose. If I wish to know the relative worth of virtues, I must think of them in quiet hours. Their relative worth in an ideal harmony—the teleological conception of Man—is precisely their absolute worth. But there are times when one virtue must be emphasised in order that all the rest may be conserved.

Man seeks and must seek for the Law of his nature which resides in the Ideal of it. Plato is of more “absolute worth” within the universe than a cut-throat burglar.

(e) What, then, about ethics from the point of view of The Absolute? I answer, If The Absolute contains man, it contains the ideal of man as a verity—the ideal of body as well as the ideal of mind. The Absolute cannot ignore its own Content—least of all if it be a creative Absolute. Of old time we have heard that God's ways are not as our ways; and if we speak of Absolute God, this is true; but if we speak of God as immanent in His own Content, His ways are precisely our ways. But it is difficult to find them out. It is not required of any man that he should be such a devoted worshipper of the letter as to hold that in God's eyes all men are alike guilty. If this be true, then it is high time we set ourselves to find out what God would have of us: and this is the aim of Ethics.

Law—Moral Law—the Imperative has always been the same since finite reason appeared on the planet. The real of the Law, the Content, and, consequently, the Moral Ideal has had a history. And when we say that Ethics has a history, we do not take the restricted view of the evolution of the ethical in racial types or in successive epochs of human endeavour. We mean that it has a history now and to day in every child and in every man. In the midst of difficulties, apparent contradictions and deflections, each is seeking and affirming Law. Were there not these difficulties and deflections, the ethical life would not arise. Man would be an automaton; and you could not call Aurelius virtuous, nor good, nor bad. The absoluteness of moral distinctions is affected by historical development precisely to the extent to which the absoluteness of astronomy is affected by the misconceptions incident to historical development.

There was a time when celibacy was held in higher honour than the domestic virtues, and also when the unjust man who saved the life of a citizen received the civic crown, while the just man pursued his lowly unregarded way. What is all this but to say that men take limited views because of their limitations, and that the larger ideal view to which philosophy tries to attain and which harmonises all and gives to us absolute ethics, is slow of coming—not that it is nonexistent. So with ultimate physics. The absolute truth in the sphere of nature, of the ethical, and the æsthetic is in the idea, that is to say, in the immanent purpose of God-creative. Even were we never on earth to reach it, it would still be. The universal dialectic affirms it.

And as to individual men here and now, while the ideal and the Law in the ideal are unattainable, each has fulfilled himself when he has striven to realise his ethical possibilities. God is not a hard taskmaster.

When we talk of Ethics in their relation to a fiction called “The Perfect Absolute,” are we not guilty of a grave error? If there be such an Absolute it must stand in some relation to its own content of differences and oppositions. These latter do not exist within the Absolute merely for the purpose of being annulled in the interests of a smooth perfection—a dead-alive sentience, or a somnolent balanced experience. They constitute the realities of the Content, and it is these that we have to interpret. This is philosophy; above all, ethical philosophy. The Absolute we can alone know is precisely these differences. It is the Immanent Absolute (or God) that is our field of interpretation; and that our Dialectic tells us is Teleological.


Being and Dialectic are the universals of Reality and of Form respectively.

One of the fundamental principles of interpretation which pervade past Meditations is the fact of Negation. It is necessary to the explanation of the “many”. It is not to be regarded as a positive substantive moment in the objective dialectic, but as implicit in the moment of affirmation or “determining-so,”—the idea. The “idea,” which seeks to fulfil itself as “end,” fulfils itself as a concrete, we said, in terms of the sense categories, and as fulfilled it is a “determinate” or “actual”. It is in the moment of End fulfilled as a phenomenal determinate that the positive idea as essence and the negation that gives individuality meet. Thus we say that the individual is a synthesis of affirmation or idea, and of negation. The negation is thus a constitutive principle of activity contained in the affirmation and enters into the method of the universe.

The positive “idea” or affirmation finds its vehicle of utterance in a spatio-motor world which is thus as “Being” a reality, just as the “Antigone,” e.g., is a reality; and as phenomenon is a true revelation of the meaning of God. Implicit in the possibility of its existence, however, is negation.

Individuals or monads thus constitute the universe and their positive relations effect a One in the Many—not merely the sustaining One of Being but the formative One of dialectic and purpose. And, as individuals, each monad resists all others and also the universal One. Each contends for its own bare individuality and thus the universe is movement,—life, strife, failure, success, and a slow and painful evolution in Time of the Absolute Idea. According to the grade of Being of each is the activity and the resistance of each to the idea in it (which is God immanent) and to the Universal One. This attitude of the individual to the One I have called Cosmic Sin.

When the objective dialectic becomes self-referent and self-conscious in, or as, a finite being, we have Man. We call his individuality by the name Ego. The peculiarity of this evolution is that Ego is not achieved as a “determinate” in and through the phenomenal, but is conscious mind affirming itself as a determinate and eo actu constituting Ego. In short, the will-dialectic in sentient mind or subject extricates itself in the act of affirming sentient mind or subject and constitutes self-conscious subject.

Mind in affirming itself and thus raising itself to Ego carries the affirmed sentient mind and all its possible content with it into the new evolution. This is the “matter” of the activity of the Ego, the nerve and constitutive energy of which is the Will-dialectic. Thus two things happen: the Ego as an individual is, as the most intense of all individuals, pure negativity and at the same time through its constitutive will-dialectic presides over the whole matter of sentient subject and directs that matter to the ends of truth, goodness and beauty. It seeks the One in the sentient Many. Thus it is by its very nature both pure negativity and necessary universality.

  • 1.


  • 2.

    I put my own emphasis on this.