Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 13r

13.6.6 The cognition of absolute truth – God is a Proclean ‘syllogism’ (continued)

The philosophy of Cusanus was the last major reworking of Neoplatonism before Hegel completed its development. Cusanus is the link between Proclus and Hegel and both the former were equally important to the latter. Even though Cusanus wrote repeatedly in different ways that God, the ultimate principle, cannot be known, echoing both Plotinus and Proclus on the first hypostasis, he used the Trinity to substantially build on Proclus’ blurring of the gap between the ultimate principle and what could be known. He brought the One into the second hypostasis as the first element of Proclus’ triad Being, Life, Intelligence which he made the basis of his philosophy as Hegel, following him, did with his.

Now, not only could God be seen as can the One by the returning soul in its final stage prior to re-unification with its source, the ultimate principle itself ‘sees’ – it is no longer a principle that simply generates all else. ‘He’ is now an active participant in his own process. He mirrors it, his ‘seeing’ is his being. He is now both hidden and ‘visible’.

Where Cusanus substantially developed Proclus’ position on the limits of knowledge, he still remained, however, ambivalent. Hegel completed this historically protracted development in the Neoplatonic drive for knowledge, arguing that God – the entire process – can be fully cognised.1 To do this, despite his claim to Christianity – he was not consistent, as I have argued, with Christian and Trinitarian doctrine – he philosophised on the basis of Cusanus’ adaptation of Proclus’ triad, using the One as he did with the Trinity – as metaphorical, prose-poetic devices. Now, nothing was beyond Being.

In order to close the circle of Neoplatonic knowledge, Hegel also recognised and employed another profound development by Cusanus – the focus on concepts in their contradictory relations. What was for Cusanus the detailed study of coincidentia oppositorum was for Hegel the study of the flowing development of concepts in their dialectical relations. Hegel’s emphasis on concepts and the complexity of their development is at the heart of his claim to ‘science’.

For Cusanus, the primary way in which the ultimate principle can be known is in the act of ‘seeing’.2 Education in the humility of learned ignorance (openness to the dialectic) and the speculative potential of coincidentia oppositorum can only take us up to the wall of Paradise, wherein the ultimate principle exists.3 But ‘seeing’ takes us within because our vision of the triune God is God’s vision of himself – one ‘eye’ ‘sees’ itself.4 In Neoplatonism, to ‘see’ is to ‘know’ beyond conceptualisation – to understand the infinite ‘incomprehensibly’. It is the unity of lover/loving/loved, of knower/knowing/known.

This unity is that of intellectual intuition which Cusanus described as ‘perfect knowledge’ and which he defined as the coincidence of

being something one in which are all things and being all things in which there is something one5

The difference between knowledge of the ‘sensible’ world and that (intuitive) of the intellectual is like the difference between knowing that something is and why it is.6 This is clearly not ‘the immediate knowledge of the Absolute’ that Hegel was so critical of in his Phenomenology but is consistent with the ‘mindful’, ‘pure intuition or pure thinking’ that he most valued – an intuition that enables one ‘to apprehend the spiritual bond unifying all the details’ (see 9.4).

Cusanus philosophised on how we can have knowledge of God and attain the ‘pure intellectual life’7 of theosis  – which he defined as ‘knowledge of God and His Word and intuitive vision8 – by becoming his ‘sons’9 in the next life10

if we have accepted the Divine Word Himself, then there arises in our rational spirit the power of sonship. …It is as if the intellect were a divine seed – the intellect whose power in the believer can reach such heights that it attains unto theosis. …that is, unto the ultimate perfection of the intellect – in other words unto the apprehension of truth, not as truth is bedarkened in figurativeness and symbolisms and various degrees of otherness…but rather as truth is intellectually visible in itself. …if faith is present, ascent even unto being a son of God is not forbidden.11

Further, Cusanus explored the relationship between Concept and concept, between Word and word

Every corporeal utterance is a sign of a mental word. The cause of every corruptible mental word is an incorruptible word, viz., a concept. Christ is the incarnated Concept of all concepts, for He is the Word made flesh.12

He philosophised on how we should use words to attain the ‘mind’ of the teacher ‘while in this world’. The following paragraphs from De Filiatione Dei show how he ‘surmised’ we can have knowledge of God by this means

Hence, since the mastery which we seek and in which the happiness of our intellectual life consists is the mastery of true and eternal things: if our intellectual spirit is to become a perfect master, so that within itself it will possess eternally the very delightful intellectual life, then its study must not cling to temporal shadows of the sensible world but must use them, en passant, for intellectual study—as schoolboys use material and perceptible writings. For their study is not of the material shapes of the letters but rather of the rational signification of those letters. Likewise, they use in an intellectual way, not in a sensory way, the vocal words by means of which they are taught, so that by means of these vocal signs they attain unto the mind of their teacher.13

Just as the mental word is the source of the vocal word but is not contracted to it though signified by it, so the ineffable Word is the source of the mental word though not contracted to it yet likewise signified by it. The mental, intellectual word is the reception of the ineffable Word

the One is, in a way that cannot be participated in, the Fount of intelligible beings and is all that which they are. (By comparison, the mental word is the fount of the vocal [word] and is all that which [the vocal word] is; and the mental word is signified by the vocal word without there being any intermixing or dividing of the mental word, since the mind cannot be either participated in, or in any way attained unto, by the vocal word.) But the intellectual [i.e., mental] word is itself the intellectual reception of the ineffable Word. Therefore, every intellectual word remains free from all contraction to the sensible. Now, that which the intellectual is it has intellectually from the Ineffable. If the Ineffable is given a name by the intellect, then this [name-giving] is done in an unrestricted manner, since the intellectual mode, in turn, is not restricted to sensibly contracted things.

 Therefore, the Ineffable can in no way either be named or attained unto. Hence, a non-relational name—whether “being” or “deity” or “goodness” or “truth” or even “power” or any other name whatsoever—does not at all name God, who is unnameable. Rather, a non-relational name speaks of the unnameable God by means of various intellectual modes. In this way the Ineffable is effable, the Incapable of being participated in is capable of being participated in, and the Transcender of every mode is modifiable. Consequently, God is the Beginning, which is above the one and above mode; [yet,] in the one and in its modes He exhibits Himself as [therein] able to be participated in. Therefore, I surmise that the pursuit by which we attempt, while in this world, to ascend unto the attainment of sonship, is perhaps possible with the aid of something else, so that my speculation deals with the one and its modes.14

Just as words of the sensory world can signify those of the ‘mental’, these in turn can carry us to participation in the ineffable. Cusanus is not simply philosophising about a problem experienced by mysticism. No written or spoken word can fully convey our ‘mental’ content. In speaking or writing a word we have to thereby limit or bound our mental content in order to express it. It is an unavoidable constraint of the sensory world which mystics and artists with words give great consideration to.

Our knowledge of God is an inward process of self-knowledge and self-realisation – of a world, of a universe, within

the intellect is actually an intellectual universality of all things… (As such, the intellect) does not behold temporal things temporally, in constant succession, but beholds them in an indivisible present. For the present, or the now, that enfolds all time is not of this sensible world, since it cannot be attained by the senses, but is of the intellectual [world]. Likewise, [the intellect] does not at all behold quantities in their extended, divisible materiality but beholds them in an indivisible point in which there is the intellectual enfolding of all continuous quantity. Moreover, [the intellect] does not [then] behold differences-of-things in a variety of numbers but beholds [these things] intellectually in the simple unit, which enfolds every number.15

The words of Cusanus

Now, knowing occurs by means of a likeness. But since the intellect is a living intellectual likeness of God, then when it knows itself it knows, in its one self, all things. Now, it knows itself when it sees itself in God as it is. And this [seeing] occurs when in the intellect God is the intellect.16

are echoed in those of Hegel

I only know an object in so far as I know myself and my own determination through it, for whatever I am is also an object of my consciousness…I know my object, and I know myself; the two are inseparable.17

God, ‘understandable truth’, exists only in that knowing18

Now, we call that which is the object [of the intellect] truth. Therefore, my God, since You are understandable Truth, the created intellect can be united to You.19

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Notes

1. It is fundamentally on this point – that Hegel argued that the entire system (‘God’) can be conceptually cognised, that he warrants the description ‘the consummate Neoplatonist’. In making this claim, he brought development within Neoplatonism to an end.
2. ‘in the name “Theos” there is enfolded a certain way-of-seeking whereby God is found, so that He can be groped for. “Theos” is derived from “theoro,” which means “I see” and “I hasten.” Therefore, the seeker ought to hasten by means of sight, so that he can attain unto God, who sees all things. Accordingly, vision bears a likeness to the pathway by means of which a seeker ought to advance. Consequently, in the presence of the eye of intellectual vision we must magnify the nature of sensible vision and construct, from that nature, a ladder of ascent.’, Nicholas of Cusa, De quaerendo Deum (‘On Seeking God’), op. cit., I,19, 315
3. ‘every concept reaches its limit at the wall of Paradise. …You are free from all the things that can be captured by any concept.’, Nicholas of Cusa, De visione Dei (‘The Vision of God’), op. cit., 13,52, 704
4. Hegel quoted Eckhart: ’The eye with which God sees me is the eye with which I see him; my eye and his eye are one and the same. In righteousness I am weighed in God and he in me. If God did not exist nor would I; if I did not exist nor would he.’ In Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. I, 347-348
5. Nicholas of Cusa, De filiatione Dei (‘On Being a Son of God’), 1445, in A Miscellany of Nicholas of Cusa, Trans., Jasper Hopkins, The Arthur J. Banning Press, Minneapolis, 1994, 341-358, 3,70, 349
6. ‘Therefore, [in that state] the intellect perceives all things intellectually and beyond every sensible, distracting, and obscuring mode. Indeed, it beholds the entire sensible world not in a sensory manner but in a truer, viz., intellectual, manner. For this perfect knowledge is called intuition because between the knowledge of that world and the knowledge of this sensible [world] there is something like the difference which there is between knowledge received by sight and knowledge received by hearing. Therefore, the more certain and clear is the knowledge produced by sight than is the knowledge (of the same thing) effected by hearing, the much more does intuitive knowledge of the other world excel the knowledge which there is of this [present world]—just as knowing why something is can be called intuitive knowledge, since the knower looks into the reason for the thing, and knowing that something is [can be said to come] from hearing.’, Ibid., 6,89, 358
7. Ibid., 3,71, 350
8. Ibid., 1,52, 341
9. ‘sonship is nothing other than our being conducted from the shadowy traces of mere representations unto union with Infinite Reason…to this [intellectual spirit] God will not be other than it or different or distinct; nor will Divine Reason be other or the Word of God other or the Spirit of God other. For all otherness and all difference are far beneath sonship.’, Ibid., 3,68-69, 348
10. He described this philosophising as ‘a surmise of sorts (although a very remote one) about theosis’ Ibid.
11. Ibid., 1, 52-53, 341-342
12. Nicholas of Cusa, De docta ignorantia (‘On Learned Ignorance’), op. cit., III,11,247
13. Nicholas of Cusa, De filiatione Dei (‘On Being a Son of God’), 2,60, 345
14. Ibid., 4,77-78, 352-353
15. Ibid,. 6,87-88, 357
16. Ibid., 6,86, 356
17. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Introduction: Reason in History, op. cit., 47
18. ‘God exists only in knowing, in the element of the inner life.’, Hegel, Aesthetics – Lectures on Fine Art, vol. I, op. cit., 543
19. Nicholas of Cusa, De visione Dei (‘The Vision of God’), op. cit., 18,82

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

John Pilger’s film ‘The Coming War on China’

The_Coming_War_On_China

I highly recommend John Pilger’s film ‘The Coming War on China’. The experimentation by the US capitalist class on the Marshall Islanders, initiated by the former’s atomic tests between 1946 and 1958 on Bikini Atoll and the mockery, documented in the film, they made of the Islanders’ suffering, as with the same experimentation the US capitalist class made on the Japanese they bombed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, itself makes the greatest mockery of the unjustified posturing and war crime charges against Bashar al-Assad by their agents and other representatives of Western capital regarding the recent gassing in Syria.

A criticism of Pilger’s documentary: he fails to address (as pointed out by one of his interviewees) the incompatibility and contradiction between the economic and political structures of China and the capitalist West. In particular, the economic (and hence, political) developments within China (of necessity) are and will be the voice of the future while the economic and political structures of the capitalist West, in the violent process of capitalism’s passing, as did feudalism, of the past.

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Image

The agents of capital and their flood of lies

By Mike Whitney Source: Unz Review “Our U.S. Army contacts in the area have told us this is not what happened. There was no Syrian ‘chemical weapons attack.’ Instead, a Syrian aircraft bombed an al-Qaeda-in-Syria ammunition depot that turned out to be full of noxious chemicals and a strong wind blew the chemical-laden cloud over […]

via Syria: Where the Rubber Meets the Road — Desultory Heroics

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Stephanie March, ’Australian soldiers caught up in Islamic State chemical attack in Mosul’, ABC, 20.04.17

Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 13q

 

13.6.6 The cognition of absolute truth – God is a Proclean ‘syllogism’ (continued)

For the Neoplatonist, as discussed (4., 10.7, 10.9.1, 11.3.11.8, 13.6.5.1), there are two types of knowledge, discursive, that which separates and ‘unified’ or speculative. Plotinus believed that the intellectual object is the activity of thinking itself. Knowing that object, that activity of knowing, equates to (Divine) Mind’s knowing (itself). In the activity of knowing, the object must be diverse. The activity is driven by difference and the knowing is perspectival. Thinking is movement – Divine Mind gives birth to objects as the embodiment of its outgoing creative power and in its contemplative recollection of and desire to unite with the One.

Hegel believed that every content is something that thought has given to itself and Cusanus also believed that we know through our productive intellectual activity, a reflection of God’s activity. Cassirer wrote

Cusanus sets up and defends his basic view of knowledge, when he explains that all knowledge is nothing but the unfolding and explication of the complication that lies within the simple essence of the mind 1

Cusanus described that process

the mind both distinguishes all things and unites all things, [doing so] by means of a marvellous two-way progression in which (1) Divine and Absolute Oneness descends by stages in and through intelligence and reason and (2) the perceptible-contracted oneness ascends through reason unto intelligence.2

For the Neoplatonist, true knowledge is not only the knowledge of God, it must be an intellectual system – what Hegel described as ‘science’. He wrote in his Phenomenology that

knowledge is only actual, and can only be expounded, as Science or as system3

Redding noted the centrality of prose-poetic devices to Hegel’s ‘science’

Hegel employs forms of expression for the presentation of his own philosophical thought that are redolent with the type of imagistic and figurative locutions supposedly at home in religion. Moreover, the actual imagery employed seems to refer to the type of trinitarian version of Christianity that can seem antithetical to those forms of Christian thought that lent themselves to the sort of “demythologization” characteristic of the enlightenment attitude to religious doctrine. Such factors as these make it easy to portray Hegel’s philosophy as a type of irrationalist mysticism, or at least as a disguised theology with a content from revealed religion, and thus aligning him more to the spirit of the Counter-Enlightenment than the Enlightenment.4

Cassirer points to the roots of this in German culture

In the mystical theology of the fifteenth century two fundamental tendencies stand sharply opposed to each other; the one bases itself on the intellect; the other considers the will to be the basic force and organ of union with God. In this dispute, Cusanus sides emphatically with the former. True love of God is amor Dei intellectualis; it includes knowledge as a necessary element and a necessary condition.5

On the extent of possible knowledge, Armstrong wrote

Plotinus insists…that the One or Good is beyond the reach of human thought or language…Language can only point the mind along the way to the Good, not describe, encompass, or present It. As Plotinus himself says (VI.9.3), “strictly speaking, we ought not to apply any terms at all to It; but we should, so to speak, run round the outside of It trying to interpret our own feelings6

Proclus was consistent with Plotinus on this, but, with his henads, he also began to blur what was ‘god’ and where the limits of knowledge lay. Dodds wrote

(Prop. 115 [Every god is above Being, above Life, and above Intelligence]) seems to make it plain that whereas Plotinus puts ‘all the gods’ within nous (V.1.4), the divine henads are to be placed in the first of the three traditional ‘hypostases’ and not (as Vacherot, Simon and others assume) in the second. But it must be admitted that Pr. is himself responsible for a good deal of the confusion which exists on the subject, in that he frequently speaks of such entities as Eternity, Time, the (a word in Greek), and even the sensible world as ‘gods’, and of gods as ‘intelligible’, ‘intellectual’ or ‘intra-mundane’.7

Cusanus wrote that human reason cannot comprehend the infinite but it does proceed in finite steps on the basis of the entities it creates – ‘conjectures’, ‘surmises’ or ‘symbolisms’

as God is the Creator of real beings and of natural forms, so man is the creator of conceptual beings and of artificial forms that are only likenesses of his intellect, even as God’s creatures are likenesses of the Divine Intellect8

The ‘mind’ is the form of a world of conjectures – aids that we use towards a truth beyond reason. Truth is enfolded in infinite ‘Mind’. Our concepts share in that truth as never-ending approximations as they unfold – we can only know truth in its ‘otherness’. Just as we are unable to know the absolute truth of God, so we are unable to know the world with ultimate precision.

It would seem clear-cut, as Hopkins tells us, that for Cusanus we cannot know God, the Absolute – we cannot attain the complete knowledge Hegel claimed his philosophy gives us. But we are dealing with a highly philosophical mysticism in which nothing is simple or, as Hegel would put it, nothing is to be judged by the method of Verstand, by the method of mere analysis and what seems to be so.

Neoplatonism is a dialectically functioning whole of intertwined constructs conceptually centred on the process ‘God’. Recognising these aspects enables one to explore beyond the literal, surface meaning of Cusanus’ words, to how he advised we can know God, and to understand the ways in which Hegel developed on that method to attain knowledge in his own philosophy.

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Notes

1. Cassirer, The Individual and the Cosmos in Renaissance Philosophy, op. cit., 57
2. Nicholas of Cusa, De coniecturis (‘On Speculations’), op. cit., 1,4,16, 170
3. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit. 13
4. Paul Redding, ‘Some Metaphysical Implications of Hegel’s Theology’, paper given to the conference Hegel and Religion, University of Sydney, September 14-15, 2010, 1
5. Cassirer, The Individual and the Cosmos in Renaissance Philosophy, op. cit., 13
6. Armstrong in Plotinus, Enneads, op. cit., vol. I, xv
7. Dodds’ Commentary in Proclus, The Elements of Theology, op, cit., 161
8. Nicholas of Cusa, De beryllo (‘On [Intellectual] Eyeglasses’), op. cit., 7, 794

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 13p

 

13.6.6 The cognition of absolute truth – God is a Proclean ‘syllogism’

Neoplatonism, from its outset, was a school of amalgamation and development.1 The same explicative process that the relation between infinity and finitude underwent can be seen in conceptual development – from Plotinus’ ‘impressions’ (a term Cusanus also used) to Cusanus’ concepts in their coincidental relationships to Hegel’s full development of concepts in their dialectical relationships and in the degree to which God/Absolute Truth can be known. Where Plotinus emphasised the One’s unknowability by normal cognition Proclus, while consistent with him also more systematically explored the potential for knowledge up to the first hypostasis with his henads, beginning with Being (Prop. 138), the first element of his secondary triad.

Cusanus, despite Hopkins’ assertion that he believed ‘human minds…will never—not even in the next life—be able to discern God’s nature as it is in itself’2 was ambivalent about the extent to which we can acquire knowledge (which I will soon address) while Hegel claimed to have closed the gap of cognition, reducing the One to a prose-poetic device that functioned entirely within the Proclean triad. Differences between Hegel and his predecessors are not fundamental but developmental.

Again, particularly in relation to what can be known/cognised, the language of Neoplatonism, redolent with prose-poetic devices, should never be taken literally. Hopkins himself gave three examples where it appears Cusanus contradicted himself but, from his mystical point of view, was consistent

Nicholas’s terminology is quite fluid. No example of this fluidity is more striking than is his language of coincidentia oppositorum: (1) God, says Nicholas, is the Coincidence of opposites; (2) opposites coincide in God; and (3) God is beyond the coincidence of opposites. However, Nicholas does not understand different things by these three different statements. On the contrary, he regards them as interchangeable. Accordingly, their apparent surface-meaning is not the same as their deeper true-meaning. Because God is the Coincidence of opposites, He may be called by opposing names, as in the case of Motion and Rest. Because opposites coincide in God, there is no opposition in Him, and, thus, all names to which other names are opposed may be denied of Him. Because God is beyond the coincidence of opposites, He is ineffable, and no names, whether positive or negative, at all befit Him.3

The same mystical reasoning applies to Cusanus’ assertion that we can’t know absolute truth and Hegel’s that we can. They were ultimately arguing the same thing – their philosophies describe Neoplatonic emanation and return, from infinite unity to division and finitude, to return and resolution in the unity of an infinity of finite perspectival minds in a cultus.

Rather than being, as Buhle wrote of Cusanus’ God, a logical concept4, or as Jaspers wrote, an ‘intellectual object’ that can only be seen ‘without seeing’5, it is, for both Cusanus and Hegel a ‘logical’, Neoplatonic process

the process of constituting…distinctions within himself. It is his nature and his concept eternally to make these distinctions and at the same time to take them back into himself6

Of ‘logical’, Redding wrote

it is clear that Hegel means something quite different by the term ‘logic’ than is meant in the ‘formal’ logic dominant in contemporary philosophy, but exactly what it is committed to beyond that is far from clear.7

In fact, it is quite clear that its meaning and what is committed to are theological – neither Cusanus nor Hegel separated faith from reason (an obvious contradiction in terms blithely accepted in academic philosophy) and for both, God is what God does.8

For the Neoplatonist, ‘mind’ (not only the power of perception, understanding and reasoning but of imagining) performs its operations in order to know itself. In performing those operations it not only knows itself but, as an image of eternal unfolding Being, as the mirror of God’s ‘Mind’, it knows the immanent God itself

when, as best it can, the human mind (which is a lofty likeness of God) partakes of the fruitfulness of the Creating Nature, it produces from itself, qua image of the Omnipotent Form, rational entities, [which are made] in the likeness of real entities. Consequently, the human mind is the form of a surmised [rational] world, just as the Divine Mind is the Form of the real world.9

and, for the Neoplatonist

the more subtly the mind contemplates itself in and through the world unfolded from itself, the more abundantly fruitful it is made within itself, since its End is Infinite Reason. Only in Infinite Reason will the mind behold itself as it is10

For Cusanus, our ‘minds’, again as images of God, are not only an Absolute Oneness, but triune

just as the First Beginning of all things, including our minds, is shown to be triune (so that of the multitude, the inequality, and the division of things there is one Beginning, from whose Absolute Oneness multitude flows forth, from whose Absolute Equality inequality flows forth, and from whose Absolute Union division flows forth), so our mind (which conceives only an intellectual nature to be creative) makes itself to be a triune beginning of its own rational products.11

Hegel rebadged this

We know, in terms of our own spirit, that first of all we are able to think without this antithesis or cleavage within us, that secondly we are finite spirit, spirit in its cleavage and separation, and that thirdly we are spirit in the state of sensibility and subjectivity, of return to self – [which is] reconciliation, innermost feeling. Of these three, the first is the realm of universality; the second, the realm of particularity; the third, that of singularity. These three realms are a presupposition that we have taken up as our definition.12

Hegel wrote that Böhme had the idea that the Trinity is in everything13, which Magee repeated14 – although he also wrote that Hegel never expressed indebtedness to Böhme15 and, most importantly, that Böhme’s Trinity functions differently to that of Hegel16. I contend that developments in Neoplatonism on this subject were the inspiration for both Böhme and Hegel17.

The nature of the relationship between ‘mind’ and God, embodied in the concluding and culminating words in Hegel’s Encyclopaedia – his quotation from the Metaphysics 1072b18-30 resonates in the words of Cusanus

mind uses itself insofar as it is the image of God. And God, who is all things, shines forth in mind when mind, as a living image of God, turns to its own Exemplar and assimilates itself thereto with all its effort. In this way the mind beholds all things as something one and beholds itself as an assimilation of that one. By means of this assimilation it makes concepts of that one thing which is all things. (In this way it makes theological speculations.) In the one thing which is all things it very tranquilly finds rest as in the goal of all its concepts and as in the most delightful true being of its life. About this mode [of being], enough could never be said18.

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Notes

1. ‘Heir to the great philosophies of the ancient world, those of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics, (Plotinus) borrowed from all of them the insights which he needed, but without surrendering at any point the dominant influence of Platonism. Eclectic in appearance but powerfully unified by the strength of a single pervading impulse, his system has, by various channels often obscure and often indirect, come to be and remained one of the guiding forces in the thought of the West, whether Christian or secular, from Augustine and Scotus Eriugena to Dean Inge and Bergson. He is the last great philosopher of antiquity, and yet in more than one respect, and notably in the stress which he places on the autonomy of spirit, he is a precursor of modern times.’ Henry, in Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., xlii
2. Hopkins in De Deo abscondito (‘On the Hidden God’), op. cit., Note 1, 308
3. Hopkins, Nicholas of Cusa: Metaphysical Speculations: volume two, op. cit., 59-60
4. See 13.4.1
5. Jaspers, The Great Philosophers, op. cit., 139
6. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. III, 171
7. Redding, Continental Idealism: Leibniz to Nietzsche, op. cit., 150
8. Hegel famously wrote that philosophy is the service and explication of God – ‘philosophy is theology, and one’s occupation with philosophy…is of itself the service of God.’, Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. I, 153, 152, 84; ‘(The subject of the theology of coincidence) is God’s activity – by telling what God does, it tells what God is, for God is hidden except as God reveals Godself.’, Bond in Nicholas of Cusa, Nicholas of Cusa, Selected Spiritual Writings, op. cit., 35
9. Nicholas of Cusa, De coniecturis (‘On Speculations’), op. cit., 1,1,5, 164-165
10. Ibid., 1,1,5, 165
11. Ibid., 1,1,6, 165. ‘In God all things are present in a trinity – and so too in our mind. Our mind is composed of modes of apprehending.’, Nicholas of Cusa, Idiota de mente (‘The Layman on Mind’), op. cit., Chapter title, 532. ‘Modes of apprehending’ is one of Cusanus’ expressions Hegel used: ‘the absolute Idea alone is being, imperishable life, self-knowing truth, and is all truth. It is the sole subject matter and content of philosophy. Since it contains all determinateness within it, and its essential nature is to return to itself through its self-determination or particularisation, it has various shapes, and the business of philosophy is to cognise it in these. Nature and spirit are in general different modes of presenting its existence, art and religion its different modes of apprehending (my italics) itself and giving itself an adequate existence. Philosophy has the same content and the same end as art and religion; but it is the highest mode of apprehending (my italics) the absolute Idea, because its mode is the highest mode, the Notion.’, Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 824. To repeat the point made at 11.3.11, this quotation exemplifies Hegel’s application of the Neoplatonic metaphor of ‘shape’ to the ultimate category in his Science of Logic.
12. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. III, 273
13. ‘(Böhme’s) sole thought is the Trinity: it is the universal principle in which and through which everything is, and it is indeed that principle in such a way that everything has this Trinity within it, not just as a Trinity of representation but as real. The rest of his thought is then the explication of the Trinity…For him this trinity is the universal life, the wholly universal life in each and every individual; it is the absolute substance.’, Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1825-6, op. cit., vol. III, 96.
14. ‘(In writing of Böhme, Hegel wrote that he perceived the Trinity in everything and) not as a Trinity pertaining to the ordinary conception, but as the real Trinity of the Absolute Idea. (LHP 3:196) Hegel notes that Böhme regards the Trinity as “the absolute Substance” (LHP 3:212)’, Magee, Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition, op. cit., 49
15. ‘Hegel never once says anything that would indicate that he is indebted to Böhme or that Böhme in some way influenced him.’, Magee, ‘Hegel’s Reception of Jacob Boehme’, op. cit., 589
16. ‘As we shall see, Böhme’s Trinity works differently from Hegel’s’, Ibid., 550. I will soon more thoroughly discuss Magee’s position on the relationship between Hegel, Böhme and Hermetism.
17. Beck implied that Böhme and Hegel knew of or were at least influenced by Cusanus: ‘When Meister Eckhart ascribed (in accordance with his view of the Trinity) a tension within the Godhead to which God himself owes his being, when Nicholas of Cusa made God the coincidence of opposites, they set a pattern which Böhme accepted and Hegel rationalised by seeing the Absolute as itself a dialectic process’, Beck, Early German Philosophy: Kant and his Predecessors, op. cit., 156; ‘There is general agreement among scholars as to the intellectual streams that coalesce to form theosophy: medieval German mysticism, alchemy, Paracelsism, and Kabbalism.’, ‘Jacob Boehme and Christian Theosophy’, Glenn Alexander Magee, Chapter 16, in Glenn Alexander Magee, Ed., The Cambridge Handbook of Western Mysticism and Esotericism, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2016, 1012
18. Nicholas of Cusa, Idiota de mente (‘The Layman on Mind’), 7,106, 560

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

The issue is not Trump, it is not Assad, it is the irresolvable crisis of capitalism

Source: Moon of Alabama On this day one hundred years ago the U.S. joined World War I. Last night the U.S. attacked a Syrian government airport in an openly hostile and intentional manner. The strike established a mechanism by which al-Qaeda can “request” U.S. airstrikes on Syrian government targets. It severely damaged the main support […]

via Syria: New U.S. Air Support On Request Scheme For Al-Qaeda — Desultory Heroics