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Meditation XIV: Negation and the Apparent Limitation of God


Negation and the activity under limitation of God-immanent: Conflict—The Casual and Contingent—Position of Man—Monism and Freedom.

It is necessary to return to Negation before entering on the subject of Evil.

Nothing can be left outside the notion God, we have seen, without affirming the independent existence of something which is not God and is alien to His Being and activity. Negation, then, is only a moment in the externalising of Absolute Being—a moment in the creative energy—the “that without which not,” to use a Hellenic expression. Creation, as the othering or outering of God, is affirmation that involves negation. As an abstract, negation and the phenomenal in which it inheres is not God: it is non-being; but, as beënt and concrete, the negating phenomenal is God as “other”; for nothing can exist save God as a one eternal fact and process in the form of the “Many in the identity of the One”.

And yet, Negation or “the other” implies existence over against God, though emanating from God. This is the cosmic method—the way of the world. This negation is to be conceived, of course, like all else in the notion God, metaphysically: all we can say of it is that it is; and it must be within God as the Absolute Synthesis. God is, notwithstanding, infinite, because His limitations are within Himself.

The fact of negation, plants, in the cosmic whole, individua from the primordial actual to man. God's way of procedure in creation would seem to be the creation of an infinite number of individua each containing its relation to all else; these positive relations of each to each and to the Whole, being effected by the inherent nature of each individuum as “idea,” and not super-imposed; not instituted as if by an afterthought.

Through the negation it is (no less than through the fact of transcendental Absolute Being) that we are delivered from monistic Pantheism, which is atheism under another and sweeter name: in and through this negation the individual, as such, is saved: in and through this negation man is a free personality: in and through this negation he is a veritable subject, a “for-self,” in presence of a veritable object, which also is a “for-self”: in and through this negation alone, the casual and contingent are possible, nay inevitable. Phenomenon qua phenomenon is, accordingly, not God: it exists by virtue of its not being God, and yet as being, in fact and reason-form, God. It is the sense-mode, the modality of the divine idea; and, as such, the object of all “science” of nature. God does not lurk behind the phenomenon: He is in it. Nature is Absolute Being in the final moment of its creative mood.

It is the very fact of finitude and pluralism (which, in primary sentience, and always, besets us) that drives human reason, simply because it is reason and must take up experience dialectically or as a system, to search for a One. Without difference there could be no world: without a “One” everything would fly apart from every other. And when the reflective mind beholds the vision of the Infinite One in the Many, it is dazzled by the great light: the finite and many disappear from vision in the splendour: that which we sought to explain is even, for the moment, explained away, and the individual now seems to be naught; whereas the fact is that each individual, as planted in the One Whole, has its own unique character, idea or essence, and has to fulfil its own life and to discharge its own cosmic duty, whether it be a star or a star-fish, a molecule or a man.

We have seen, further, that it is out of the contemplation of each individual thing as a known that we make large affirmations regarding the Whole of things. Were our conclusions not based on epistemology, they would be speculative in the popular and disparaging use of that word. But we have found each concrete “thing” truly to be Being, Dialectic and Phenomenon: the determining moment we have found to be Essence or Idea, and the “Determinate” to be the concrete “thing” before us. The individuation of the idea takes place at the crisis of materialisation or phenomenalisation. At this point, or in this moment of the process, the idea commits itself to the Negation and is individuated: the Negation contains the principium individuationis: it is the principium individuationis: Being and not-being are there, and the concrete determinate as an individuum is a synthesis of affirmation (essence, idea) and negation through the modality. And now, but only now, can we speak of the presentation before us as a distinct entity “for itself”. What is true of the “thing” is true of the universe. Each particular is a “case” of the Universal. Bigness counts for naught in metaphysics.

It follows that each individual, then, as an individual, has its rights and duties and privileges, and has to fulfil itself in conflict with all other finite individuals: it has, in Spinoza's phrase, “to persist in its own esse”. The negation in each and every finite is, relatively to infinite Being, the basis of its individuality; while the essential nature of each concrete thing is the determining “idea”. The elements in which the idea concretely fulfils itself are a phenomenal or modal manifestation of itself; and at the same time, relatively to the “one” of idea, negation. All the elements, I say, in a complex “thing” are, relatively to the idea, the negation of the idea, resistant of the idea, and yet controlled so as to be the vehicle and true manifestation of the idea. This is what we mean by organism. In like manner, each “thing” in the vast system is, as conflicting with every other particular thing, relatively to it, negation and chaos, which it has to control to its own ends by selection and adaptation, if it would live. Thus at the roots of thought we always find that the existent is a teleological synthesis of opposites.

The “idea” of Man, we have seen, is the objective Will-dialectic itself become subjective and raising the conscious individuality to self-conscious Ego.2

The Casual and Contingent.

The conflict of the rights of each individuum in a world of infinite plurals thus tends to generate casualty and a certain anarchy, which God, as Dialectic Affirmer, as essence or idea in each and all, reduces to ends—the ordered world we see. Does, then, God succeed in effecting a harmony in and through the negation? Assuredly only partially on this man-plane of The Absolute. It is with difficulty that the “idea” can fulfil itself, because of the resistant negation within the concrete thing itself and the strife of individuals; and, as is patent to all, it does not always succeed either in the natural or the moral world. As a matter of fact, it would seem that this negation, which alone can make creation possible, always remains. What may be possible in the way of reduction to the harmony of the idea in the long time-evolution to which God in His finite activity has committed Himself, no man can say; but as yet and in the past, the anarchy is there unreduced. Hope and Faith may fill up the ghastly chasm between the world as man finds it and what may be called the “Absolute idea”; but no honest thinker can slur over the fact of apparent failure heretofore, if our criterion is to be absolute Truth, Goodness and Beauty, or the Ideal in any form. Evolution, properly understood, is indeed itself the proclamation of the fact that the world is a living, teleological world; and Evolution itself proceeds by strife, retrogression and failure.3

Needless to say that the noumenal moments in the externalisation are not themselves in Time: they do not follow each other. God is always a One in His externalisation—One with Purpose—the Absolute Idea. This is what we mean by the Timeless or Eternal. But the phenomenal externalisation is a real Time-Order, and God here works, and has to work, under time-conditions. True, since He was in the beginning as initiating Will, He is conscious of the end: the Dialectic teaches us so much; but the end is unattainable except through striving—the striving of God Himself through the striving of His creatures. God's method is the method of liberty, and liberty may pass into licence. Were it not so the world, including man, would be a fated and fateful machine. An element of chaos is in the universe, and this has to be reduced to the Absolute Idea; but this only through the fulfilment of the idea in each individuum—the positive relations whereby each enters into the Whole; for only by entering into the whole can it fulfil itself. If it were an isolated unit it would be little more than a bare mathematical point.

“How” it is possible that Absolute Being can contain in its initial Will the realised idea, and yet move into Time and the finite where the process of realisation is slow and laboured, we cannot tell; nor can we tell the “Why”. But the action of the subjective dialectic furnishes an analogy. To attempt to answer such questions is an attempt at the Synthesis of The Absolute—a task beyond a finite being. It is the given world, and the record of present experience that we have to interpret—Man's plane of Being.

The phenomenal, again, is the realm of science and within the mechanical (physico-chemical) conception; and beyond what the fact of Being and the Dialectic yield, I can know nothing of the inner process of Universal Mind in the evolution of nature, save what the phenomenal itself yields me. I am in the hands of the physicist. The process of Absolute Being as creative seems to be like that of man in the growth of knowledge, viz., A with a difference which gives A1 A2 and so forth. But we can say nothing regarding this till science has proceeded further in the completion of its task. Meanwhile it must keep within its own limits and not affect a philosophy at all. Whether he will or not, the man of science must take from metaphysics such fundamental explanation as there is. It gives him Being and Dialectic—a living and moving teleology and he will struggle in vain to throw these off.

I speak of God as immanent in this world of His externalisation. There are other worlds I do not doubt; that is to say other grades of Being, You, reader, and I are not the last word of God; and God be thanked for that. It is the modus existendi et operandi of the God of Man that I speak of. And if it be said that I demand of the reader that he shall modify his traditional view of God, I would reply, What does the evolution of this world, organic and inorganic, intellectual and moral, reveal to us save a progress through strife and failure and oppositions? What does the melancholy history of the human race reveal to us? And secondly, I would ask, Is the notion of God as presented by me truly different, save in its philosophic basis and technical expression, from the conceptions that have animated the great religions—not least the Christian Religion; and also those philosophies that attempt a synthetic view of the whole of experience? It is not my business to write an apologia pro Deo. The process in and of God is the process as we find it in Man and Nature. This is the way He mediates His ends. You and I and all things are contending with chaos along with God, in striving to fulfil the idea of our essential being. The impulses, feelings and emotions which in the animals are brought, so far, under the constraint of the reason in them are in man set loose; that is to say they are anarchic, and have to be reduced to the idea by man himself, with the help of God. This is the sphere of practical Ethics and of the spiritual life.

Let us conclude, then, that each determination or idea is striving to sustain itself and effect itself in the matter of its negation, that each mind-matter monad is negated by all others similarly striving, and we shall find in this conception the element of the casual and alogical in the cosmic system. The striving is the striving of God; but only as the idea of each, in and through His finite creatures—a striving towards the fulfilment of the “idea” in each whereby alone the harmony of the Whole can be ultimately reached. Each contains the possibility of the Whole.

All, then, is conflict and struggle: this is the plan of the externalisation: a conflict from the primal mind-matter monads up to man, as he knows to his cost. This struggle is intensified with every ascending category of existence. It is easier to find a perfect piece of metal than a perfect plant, and so on. To what End all this distressful agonising effort and constant failure? Reason can point to a solution only by first showing that the Objective Dialectic contains End or The Good, and thereafter, concluding as to the “character” of ends and their mediation by the honest interpretation of empirical facts. Of this again. The important point to emphasise here is that each individuum, while held bound to the throne of God (so to speak) by the immanent idea in it—the divine affirmation, is set free in so far as it is a concrete individuate to work its own brute will within the limits of its nature, whatever that may be. What we call free will in man might on lower stages of creation also be called (in a sense) free will. This is the character of the Negation—freedom to realise itself; this is to be an individuum.

What is the inevitable result? An element of the non-rational in things and a tendency to chaos, I have said; and this although constantly being controlled to order by the idea in each and in the whole, can never, under present conditions, be wholly obliterated. In Man as a personality we find this painfully illustrated. There is not only a struggle between individual persons, each seeking its own, but a struggle within each person between the idea and the negating elements whereby it is a concrete.

The concrete individuum, accordingly, in so far as it is a negation of the idea, acts arbitrarily and blindly for itself, and in opposition to the idea and the Whole; and its acts are not the operation of the idea, but (so to speak) outside it. They are not causal in the dialectic sense of the purposed. Accordingly, neither in a primordial actual nor in the highest actual we know, viz. Man, are they the acts of God: they oppose the divine affirmation in so far as the individual does not subsume the divine affirmation and effect a harmony. As opposed to the idea, the acts of the individuum are wilful and casual, and counter to the Will of God—the idea. Hence God is not the Author of Evil; but He is certainly the Source of it. Only in the idea and implicit ideal is God immanent in His fulness. He is the Source of Evil only in this sense, that His creative externalisation could not take effect, except under conditions of negation, finitude, chaos, evil. And God's work in His Universe, and man's work, is precisely the reduction of the negation to the affirmation, thereby overcoming it. God's life in the universe is, accordingly, an active and strenuous life; and He has thrown on self-conscious beings the responsibility and distinction of doing their share of the world-task.

Further, Time, or an immeasurable “one-after-the-other,” is within the externalisation. As externalisation, God exists as Motion, Time and Space. God is temporal and finite, as well as eternal and infinite; and the work He has to do has to be done in Time. It is a progressive and evolutionary work; and in so far as God is finite, He is not actualised fulfilled idea, but an actualising process. If there be a far-off End, an ultimate result of all this incessant conflict, it can only be either the re-absorption of the finite externalisation into Being-Absolute and, ipso facto, its annihilation, or such a reduction into union with the Absolute Idea as will leave the finite still finite, but now the perfected vehicle of the Divine.

If the absolute idea in the heart of Absolute Being is always a realised idea, then Absolute Being may go to sleep, so to speak, and live in a kind of mystic, idle and complacent contemplation of its own mysterious inner activity. This is not the conclusion to which analysis leads me, in my desire to be true to experience. I have to speak of the man-sphere of Being, and it seems obvious that Absolute Being, in finitising its inner nature as a world, involves itself in a constant struggle to maintain and effect its ideas. The Negation imposes this struggle; and I think we must admit that the aspect of Absolute Being presented to us as an actuality is a continuous immanent living process of intention and contention. If it be not so, Absolute Being in externalising itself neither thinks nor wills. The Whole is static—an unmeaning and helpless emanation, and we are driven into philosophic pessimism, and must preach the suicide of Humanity. On the contrary, we are in a living, moving world. God is working in Nature and Man. Man also is working in and through God for the realisation of ends in himself; and that for God and with God.

The bearing of our argument on what is called Evil is obvious enough. It brings Evil within the Divine Method. And Absolute Being as Creative Will, must have been conscious of all this as the necessary mode of its externalised life—the path which the Absolute Idea had to tread in order to fulfil itself in Time and Space, and reach the full manifestation of Itself, which must be a manifestation in and through individuals in whose idea the ideal is immanent.

Position of Man.

Is there no escape for man, then, out of all this? If for the highest functioning of God on this plane of His Being, viz., finite self-conscious mind, there be an escape, we can look on mere Nature, animate and inanimate, as nothing more than our field of activity and self-fulfilment. The answer is, as we have frequently seen, that in His highest creative effort, God has thrown the actualisation of the idea on the creature, and that physical pains, the difficulties, crosses and despairs of life are for man the chaos of oppositions which he, himself a finite god, has to use for the growth and fulfilment of himself as spirit. Without these oppositions, man could not find the conditions of a self-perfecting ethical process. In so far as he labours to actualise the idea of himself in himself and for himself, he works for God and God is with him, and the self-perfecting spirit will, after the dissolution of its present bonds by death (which kills the phenomenal negation), assuredly find a life with the God in whose likeness it has made itself.

However this may be, let us recognise the fact that God is operative in the idea only, and that the idea is ever striving to reduce the negation in the individual concrete to itself; but that so far as self-conscious minds are concerned, God leaves them to fight their own battle, and to effect their own conciliation with Him. Man has to take God and make Him his own. God assuredly is not unwilling that man should do so; the gates of His Temple are ever wide open to receive. In truth we are already in Him and of Him; we have only to open our eyes to see and our ears to hear. God, meanwhile, does not need to be fawned upon; He stands in need of no ritualistic expedients or ceremonial devices to conciliate a love which is ever there, and which He is ever pressing upon us by being ever present in us. In Scriptural and popular language, He runs to meet the penitent—the man who has for a time fallen below the idea; and falls on his neck. He rejoices that one more is saved from a world which is full of difficulties and sorrows—which, alas, could not be helped, if there was to be a world at all. It cannot but be that man, being doomed to so heavy a burden, should call forth the compassion of God, however we are to interpret that word in an Infinite Being. Man has, indeed, a right to claim it. Strange it would be if God were not a God of Love, and if Man who has to bear God's burden had to devise priesthoods and penances to appease His wrath! Man must not allow himself to be cowed by false notions of God, and in the name of religion to blaspheme His majesty and goodness. The only thing he has to fear is his own defection from ideals—the only sin he has to dread as unforgivable is the sin against the Holy Spirit, that is to say, the call of God within him which he may always hear if he will only listen. If he thinks he can do without God, he is mistaken.

It may be objected that my attempt to interpret experience, while honest enough, leaves difficulties and apparent contradictions unsolved. But my position is that man's “actual” necessarily contains contradictions: this is precisely the state of man or, as I would prefer to say, the state of God on this stage of His evolution—this plane of infinite Mind as finite mind. But it is in my right, if not also in my duty, to form some reasoned conception of the Absolute Whole in which I may find rest and which may adumbrate, if it does not actually yield, an explanation that may be rationally held as faith, if not demonstrable as knowledge. I think that my conception of the Absolute Synthesis is already given in my epistemology. Whether it be so or not, we are, as thinking beings, driven, in view of the contradictions in our experience, of the failures in nature, of misery, evil, death, and the seeming futility—nay, grotesque absurdity, of human life, to form some conception of the Absolute Whole which will contain the possibility, at least, of such a conciliation of things as shall enable us to remain loyal to the God whom we know in part, and give significance, nay, a solemn meaning, to Man—God's greatest, strangest, divinest and most deplorable work.

No doubt I may conclude that all explanation, even approximate and probable, is hopeless; but if so, then we add to the indictment against the God of this universe by protesting against this further aggravation of man's lot. Retiring into the scepticism of despair (which is far removed from the frivolous scepticism of the man of the world or the pitiful whining of the decadent minor poet), I must rend my garments and sit down in ashes. It is, doubtless, open to me to stand erect among the ruins of thought and to give myself, as stoutly as I can, to the work which I find lying to my hand. I am one of many beings forced into existence I know not how, and for what purpose I know not; but I have wants to supply, cravings to satisfy: il faut vivre. Let me attend to these and do my best to cheer my fellow passengers in the ocean-ship which comes I know not whence and seeks no haven; but which is doomed and foredoomed to storms and disasters, wreck and annihilation. This is for a virile sceptic a healthy attitude to life; and for the practical man it may suffice, because he does not question origins and ends, but accepts the authoritative interpretation of those who say they have solved the mystery. But to the theoretic mind, which is mind at its highest level of thought (and thought, let us remember, is the essential note of the man-being), such an attitude to life is nothing but a blind refuge from despair. If I cannot have knowledge, I must have a belief—a working theory which fits the facts on the whole and justifies the idealism and the Hope, Faith and Love and infinite aspirations with which I am, as a man, so unaccountably endowed. I desire to find some way of looking at human life which, while pointing to Faith and Hope as essential to its fulfilment, is yet rationally grounded in the nature of things, and not a mere subjective phantasy.

I do not speak of God Absolute—

The Power that fashioned Man

Measured not out thy little span

For thee to take the meting rod

In turn, and so approve on God

Thy science of Theometry.4

This Absolute (call it “The Absolute” or “Absolute Being”) is unknowable as the Fountain of all. I speak of that Absolute as revealed in nature and in the heart and mind of man—Man's Absolute. I am here within my rights.

Monism and Freedom.

All philosophical explanation tends to Monism. We have scarcely begun to think the ultimate thought of the world, before we find ourselves inevitably reducing all difference to a One. What I would emphasise is that the Monist who is strict and logical, and yet, somehow, satisfies himself as to the freedom or quasi-freedom of man, occupies a wholly untenable position. The One of origin and process and end appears in various forms; but they are all ultimately the same, whether called physical or metaphysical, material or spiritual. Absolute Will; Abstract Cause and the Causal chain; abstract persistent Force; a primordial generative egg unfolding itself according to necessary law; Absolute Ego unfolding itself as Dialectic; Infinite Being stretching out two correlated and inevitable arms—thought and extension, and evolving the world in necessary geometrical sequences and modes; finally, generative atoms or electrons evolving a universe as a necessary dynamical product—these are all monistic conceptions. And, whether they lean on the material and mechanical or on the spiritual, they must yield a dead universe; and to speak of the individual, whether molecule or man, in any sense in which the individual as such has a meaning, reveals, it seems to me, confused thinking. What, for example, of the self-conscious Ego? On a strictly monistic basis man's willing and thinking are in every movement as much determined as the planetary system. The universe is an automaton, and each part of it is an automaton, and man is only the most complex and wonderful of automatons. There is nothing to choose between the terms, Mechanism, Necessarianism, and Determinism (when this last is used as the euphemistic expression for the others). A dire iron fatalism is offered to us instead of a system of individua with freedom inherent in them according to the category of each in the ascending scale.

Whence, then, this irresistible tendency to the One and the cancelling of the individual? I have endeavoured to explain it in a previous Meditation. It lies in the necessity of the subjective dialectic. When I grasp the “imagined” Total (as I must also grasp each particular) as under the dialectic—the teleologico-causal notion in its prime moments of initiation (kinetic) mediating ground (formal and formative) and end—I inevitably grasp the beginning in the end and process, and the end in the beginning. It is a one movement, reducing all to the unity of apperception after a dialectic form.

And I find freedom in this very fact that the subjective dialectic—the “idea” of the man-being, is itself the very Form of Freedom grasping all experience; but not grasping itself. It is transcendental. It itself, by its very nature, is the standing protest against the One. But, it may be said, “When you reflect on yourself as subjective dialectic, are you not compelled to include it also in the One?” In a sense, Yes; because, as a matter of obvious fact, I am a part of the universal Whole—in it and of it. But within that Whole I occupy a unique position. As a matter of fact I am within the whole; but I do not grasp myself as involved in the one process of the whole. I cannot do so, if I try ever so hard, without contradicting my essential nature as given in reflective experience. This would be for the subjective dialectic to stultify itself, to affirm itself and negate itself by one and the same act. And when I imagine that I am bringing myself as pure dialectic (and consequently as Ego) within the series, I am, in fact, only bringing within the whole my own concrete man-nature, and, in the very act of doing so, affirming “that which affirms” as in its essence a free movement within and above that nature. My hand can grasp many things, but it cannot grasp itself. Given the free nisus which I call Will, and whose form is the dialectic, I recognise this as the idea or essence or “form” of the man-being, of the “notion” of Man; dominant, supreme and regulative in thought and consequent conduct. I start from this in my interpretation. The last and highest term of the necessary finite escapes from the series and turns round on the finite to explain it.

The free activity of the system of individua, again, contains, as its own very condition of freedom, the casual and contingent; it reveals the inevitableness of the casual and contingent generally in the world of time and space experience. And, though in less degree than in man, I find this contingent wherever life is to be found, in ascending degrees. The more of life and mind, the more of the casual and contingent.

Is there, then, no necessity at all? Assuredly there is. But it is not in the “negation” that makes creation possible, but in and of the Objective Dialectic whose product is the “idea” of each individuum and of the whole. In the idea contending with anarchic negation lies the necessity of each and all: and this necessity is just the freedom of each and all, for perseverance in suo esse, in the face of the anarchic and chaotic, is alone freedom. Man's idea or form is the objective will-dialectic become self-referent, and his perseverance in suo esse is his perseverance in the freedom of the dialectic in the face of an experience to him anarchic and resistant, but which he has to reduce to himself. Meanwhile, the quality and kind of esse (the idea) is fixed for all existences, and, consequently, the kind of activity; but the particular activities that flow from it are fluent and unstable. Negation, whereby the individuum is constituted, is resistance to the idea: freedom is the victory of the idea; and man puts the laurel crown of victory on his own head.

But the negation, it may be said, even if it be only resistance, must be itself a cause in the Cosmic Scheme and in the life of man. Yes, it is a cause qua resistance, but not in the true sense of cause, which is teleological; which is, in short, the Dialectic. True cause lies in the idea which is always itself the dialectic.

The thought of man will always seek to rest in Monism of some kind, if he leaves out of the calculation himself, the thinker, and fails to find as the very essence of thinking, and therefore of himself, a free Will-energy transcending the presentation and flux of things and shaping all to ends which are at once scientia and ground of ethical activity. If thinking or reason or self-conscious mind (call it what you will) be not specifically this, it can only be mechanism—the mechanism of reflex action and dynamic interactions—a merely attuitional existence at best subject to the necessity of co-action by that which is not itself.5

The subjective dialectic solves the problem of the opposition of the necessary and the free in the fact that it is this very dialectic which, primarily, freely moulds the empirical content of feeling to a harmonious end, which is The Good; just as the artist also solves the problem by freely moulding matter to a harmonious result, which is The Beautiful.

Again, if the reason of man be Will-energy, whose final moment is always End or Telos, Man is free. The liberty of indifference is a discarded doctrine; even the willing because “we will,” has for its end a motive—the satisfaction of the Ego as bare Ego. It is a free act but it is perverse: it is wilfulness, not will. It is the individual asserting its bare individuality. We find this in the first moment of the dialectic only. When consciousness is a theatre of conflicting emotions, man, in deliberating, is freely seeking End which is to dissipate the confusion. Willing in terms of the self-conscious end or idea is alone true freedom as opposed to wilfulness (which yet must be called a free act in a formal sense—an empty freedom). All other willing, even that which is good, is not free, but only the expression of the dominant impulse like the willing of an animal: and to this the term Volition or (better) Orection, or Conation, I have said, might well be confined. An impulse, though non-ethical, may yet, however, be free, if we deliberately subsume it as end of action. Again, a volition determined by a dominant evil passion is a venial offence compared with the subsumption of the evil passion itself, as conscious end: this is the note of the wicked will; and is personal sin. The scientific metaphysical conception of God as necessarily operating in all individua, and the antagonism of this conception to the possibility of free-will, presents a difficulty only if our cosmic theory contains the denial of individua. The denial of individua is monism; and, with the denial, all possible freedom is denied.

Free Will, in short, is the whole subjective dialectic—not any one moment in it; and this dialectic is precisely the plane which Man occupies in the evolution of Absolute Being as finite mind. It is reserved for him self-consciously to accomplish the truth and meaning of himself in and through the Universal—a process accomplished in and for lower beings through their positive relations and by the reason in them. That only is truly free which can propound and will its own end. Hence we may say that freedom, as opposed to the formal negation by the individual, is alone to be found in the necessity immanent in the ideal movement which we have to make our own; and this necessity is the process of God-immanent in us, fulfilling us for ourselves and for Him.

  • 1.

    It is scarcely necessary to say that this Meditation connects itself closely with the Meditations on Essence and Primordial Actuals in the First Book. See also Meditation V. in this Book, and App., Note 11.

  • 2.

    See Appendix 11. Note on Individuation.

  • 3.

    That the idea and the concrete phenomenal run on parallel lines, seems to me to be a baseless speculation. I prefer to take things as I find them. Let us grant that the determining idea is evidently striving to make the modal an adequate display of a spiritual fact, but let us also admit that it is resisted by the very conditions of its concreteness, in which is the Negation of itself. And, even if the idea succeeded in so reducing the negation as that the concrete whole should be adequate to the idea (as in Nature it often seems to do, and in our ideal imaginings always), it would be a conquest-a subjugation. The horses and the carriage would not be running alongside each other, but quite otherwise, if things are to get along at all; unless we introduce a new element as a controlling deus ex machina.

  • 4.

    Dante Rossetti.

  • 5.

    I do not slight, as some seem now to do, the traditionary argument for the freedom of man contained in the fact of moral responsibility. This means that if I act in presence of a moral idea, I owe it obedience as law, and that if I act in contradiction of it, I am conscious that it was open to me to have acted otherwise. The Ought thus involves freedom in the fact that it presumes responsibility and capability. This inferential argument for freedom has its place; but only as a support to the sole true demonstration of freedom, which is to be found in the analysis of that which constitutes man as differentiated from all other beings. Standing by itself, however, it is not adequate. To begin with, it sets up in man a distinction between the rational and the moral consciousness. Man-mind is a unity and the moral would have no existence were it not for the striving activity of will-reason in search of the truth of man's nature, just as it searches for the truth of things generally; which truth is the idea, and, as the ideal, contains in it the objective imperative Law which resides in all truth, simply because it is Truth. When in my self-conscious motive and consequent act, I deviate from the truth, my self-blame is, in its essence, the consciousness that I have fallen to a lower plane of Being and given the lie to my essential nature-the utterance of reason and of God in reason.