Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 12b

12.3 The philosophies of Hegel and Proclus

In addition to my previous discussions of their Neoplatonism, of their belief that theology (for them, philosophy) is the science of the gods (Proclus) or of the Godhead (Hegel), of their obsession with triadic structures (a late antique Neoplatonic tendency), of the importance to Hegel of Proclus’ triad of triads Being/Life/Intelligence and of their perspectivism, there are numerous other points of similarity between the two that amply justify Feuerbach’s description of Hegel as ‘the German Proclus’.

12.3.1 Neoplatonists are not philosophers

Magee wrote the best first sentence I have read in philosophy

Hegel is not a philosopher. He is no lover or seeker of wisdom – he believes he has found it. Hegel writes in the preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit, “To help bring philosophy closer to the form of Science, to the goal where it can lay aside the title of ‘love of knowing’ and be actual knowledge – that is what I have set before me” (Miller, 3; PG 3 [sic]).1

While I certainly don’t agree that Hegel wasn’t a philosopher, Magee made a very important point which hinges on the difference between the literal translation of ‘philosophia’ – between its traditionally accepted meaning (and a highly admirable approach to life) – and, in my view, what amounted for Hegel to Neoplatonic teleology.

Chlup points out that

Eastern Neoplatonism…(attempted) not to capture all things all at once in their complexity, but rather to analyse this complexity into a network of exactly defined relations.2

As evidenced particularly in his Elements of Theology, Proclus hardened the unsystematic art, fluidity and passion of Plotinus into systematic, almost scholastic law

Proclus’ emanational model is similar to that of Plotinus, but differs in being formalised and brought to greater precision. In his thought the cycle of remaining, procession and reversion becomes a universal pattern working at all levels of reality and helping to explain all relations between (metaphysical) causes and their effects.3

In a system in which every intelligence is its own object,4 in which the true is the whole5 and the modes of ascent analogy and negation,6 Proclus’ Elements of Theology sets out a doctrine of categories and in On the Theology of Plato, as in the development in the Science of Logic from being and nothing to the culmination in Absolute Idea, the closer a concept stands to the One, the more it embodies multiplicity

In the primal levels of reality multiplicity is present secretly and without separation, while in the secondary levels it is differentiated. The closer a term stands to the One, the more it hides multiplicity within itself (PT III 9, 39.20-4)7

Proclus meticulously externalised his system, with the ultimate aim of achieving harmony between the psychic ‘reality’ inside and the metaphysical ‘reality’ outside by a progressive process of cognition

it was no longer accessible by introspection only, but was perceived as objective reality ‘out there’ to which one needs to attune oneself. The decisive task became to come to know the structure of this reality as precisely as possible. Only in this way could the soul be brought into accord with the order of the universe, linking up with the gods by means of it. Hence the characteristic passion of eastern Neoplatonism for painstaking conceptual distinctions mapping the outer zone lying between man and the One.8

The principles Limit (peras) and the Unlimited (apeiria) work together at the heart of existence

For Proclus, Limit and the Unlimited represent a sort of basic ‘interface’ between the One and the lower levels….Limit is always tied to the Unlimited (PT III 8, 31.18-32.7)…All that exists needs to depend on these two primal principles: it needs to be limited while possessing an indefinite potency.9

Hegel used the Trinity as a metaphor to illustrate his equally fundamental concern for these two principles and how they worked creatively together – most broadly, the infinite (God) required the Son to live in the world (the infinite become incarnate infinite-finite) so that, upon his death and resurrection, the infinite (God) could be ‘reconciled’ with the finite (humanity), thereby finding completion in Spirit’s cultus on earth.10

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Notes

1. Magee, Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition, op.cit., 1
2. Chlup, Proclus, An Introduction, op. cit., 21
3. Ibid., 65
4.Every intelligence in the act of intellection knows that it knows: the cognitive intelligence is not distinct from that which is conscious of the cognitive act.
For if it is an intelligence in action and knows itself as indistinguishable from its object (prop. 167), it is aware of itself and sees itself. Further, seeing itself in the act of knowing and knowing itself in the act of seeing, it is aware of itself as an active intelligence: and being aware of this, it knows not merely what it knows but also that it knows. Thus it is simultaneously aware of the thing known, of itself as the knower, and of itself as the object of its own intellective act.’ Proclus, The Elements of Theology, op. cit., Prop. 168
5. ‘(Proclus believed that) every single level of reality is divided into sub-layers in a way that mirrors the structure of reality as a whole. Proclus sums this up in one of the most fundamental rules of late Neoplatonist metaphysics: “All things are in all things, but in each according to its proper nature.” Chlup, Proclus, An Introduction, op. cit., 91
6. ‘In the next place, if the one is neither intelligible nor intellectual, nor in short participates of the power of being, let us survey what will be the modes of leading us to it, and through what intellectual conceptions Plato unfolds as far as he is able, to his familiars, the ineffable and unknown transcendency of the first. I say then, that at one time he unfolds it through analogy, and the similitude of secondary natures; but at another time he demonstrates its exempt transcendency, and its separation from the whole of things, through negations.’ Proclus, On the Theology of Plato, op. cit., Bk. II, Ch. V; ‘All that is immediately produced by any principle both remains in the producing cause and proceeds from it.
…In so far, then, as it has an element of identity with the producer, the product remains in it; in so far as it differs it proceeds from it. But being like it, it is at once identical with it in some respect and different from it: accordingly it both remains and proceeds, and the two relations are inseparable.’ The Elements of Theology, op, cit., Prop. 30
7. Chlup, Proclus, An Introduction, op. cit., 91
8. Ibid., 274
9. Chlup, Proclus, An Introduction, op. cit., 77-78; ‘Hence it is not wonderful, if that which is primarily being, though it is neither bound nor infinity, subsists from both these, and is mixed, superessential natures themselves not being assumed in the mixture of it, but secondary progressions from them coalescing into the subsistence of essence. Thus therefore being consists of these, as participating of both, possessing indeed the uniform from bound, but the generative, and in short, occult multitude from infinity.’ Proclus, On the Theology of Plato, op. cit., Bk III, Ch. IX
10. ‘the truth is the unity – the implicit unity – of divine and human nature, of infinite and finite.’; ‘Because the concept of religion entails the unity of subjective consciousness and its object, namely God as absolute essence or spirit, when the concept of religion becomes objective to itself, this unity of finite and infinite consciousness comes fully to expression. For this reason, Christianity is the “consummate” or “absolute” religion.’; ‘the understanding persists in finitude. Indeed, even in the case of the infinite, it has the infinite on one side and finitude on the other. But the truth of the matter is that neither the finite nor the infinite standing over against it has any truth; rather both are merely transitional.’ Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. III, Hodgson, 30 and 163 and Hegel, 281

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Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 12a

Hegel and Proclus

12.1 Academics on Hegel, Neoplatonism and Proclus

The response of academics to the influence of Proclus the Follower on Hegel is exemplary of that by them to the profound relationship between Hegel and Neoplatonism generally. Despite their repeated and clearest acknowledgement of that influence and relationship, the former within the latter, their analysis of them, setting out the debt Hegel owed to both Proclus and Neoplatonism and how he further developed Neoplatonism on the basis of that debt is still lacking.

On the pervasive influence of Neoplatonism on the German idealists, Redding wrote, with a gross understatement

It is common within recent accounts of the emergence of German Idealism to find stressed the impact of Spinozism on the generation to which Schelling and Hegel belonged, but it is less common (my italics) to find discussion of the neoplatonic aspects of their thought, despite the fact that this was commonly noted in the 19th century. …Both early Schelling and Hegel were clearly attracted to Plotinian thought, and especially the particular role Plotinus had given to the processes of life.1

and

With Proclus (the) dialectic of the one and the many had reached the most developed phase capable of antique thought, but with Fichte, this neo-platonic dialectic was now reproduced at the level of individual, actual consciousnesses.2

While the direct connection of Neoplatonic dialectic to Fichte is correct, Redding’s interpretation of it is erroneous. The Neoplatonic dialectic of the one and the many always functioned at the level of individual, actual (whatever that means) consciousness. The individual consciousness and soul is the focus of Plotinus’ system – Neoplatonic perspectivism is built on this. Fichte is simply one more philosopher who never acknowledged his profound debt to Neoplatonism, who claimed the fruits of Neoplatonic philosophy, which he rebadged, as his own great invention.3

Of the influence of Neoplatonism on Hegel specifically

in contrast to Aristotle, Hegel’s ‘theology’ insists on the ‘incarnation’ of God in man, symbolised in the divinity of Jesus. Thus Hegel might be said to have been a Christian Aristotelianised Platonist, but his is a form of Christianity in which…there is no ‘transcendent’ place for the God of Augustine.4

Findlay correctly wrote of Hegel, in his Foreword to the Encyclopaedia Logic no less

Those who are unwilling to see Hegel as an ontologist and First Philosopher, or as a theologian in the sense of Aristotle or Proclus, will never be able to make more than a partial use of his brilliant insights5

and Redding noted that Feuerbach described him as ‘the German Proclus’6 writing

Hegel showed clear features of the type of thought found in the Platonism of late antique philosophers like Plotinus and Proclus…Importantly it was these neo-platonist, and especially Proclean features, that would be central to Hegel’s understanding of Christianity, and especially the doctrine of the trinity7

The influence of Proclus on Hegel was both direct and indirect. Cusanus, who was also of the greatest importance to Hegel – a direct influence on him that has never been acknowledged by any academic – and whose philosophy bears so many similarities with Hegel’s had made a study of the philosophy of Proclus.8 Most important of all, as I have argued (11.3.4ff.), Proclus’ Being/Life/Intelligence triad provided the basic structure of Cusanus’ De docta ignorantia, recurring in that of Hegel’s non-Christian Trinity.

Where is Redding’s or any other academic’s thorough explication of these ‘important’, ‘clearly observed’ features of Neoplatonic and Proclean thought, these direct influences so ‘central to Hegel’s understanding of Christianity, and especially the doctrine of the trinity’?

Yet, with the decline of that stage of capitalist ideology known as ‘post-modernism’, there has been a small but growing recognition in academia of the immense philosophical and cultural importance of Neoplatonism – but even with that recognition, rather than acknowledging and analysing the direct influence of Neoplatonism on Hegel (for example), the acknowledgement is understated and the analysis is primarily of the relationships between him and those philosophers to whom he responded (particularly Kant, Fichte and Schelling) – all influenced by Neoplatonism – with Neoplatonism contained, like a dangerous philosophical tiger in an academic cage, in a secondary position.

It has been my intention throughout this thesis to argue for the direct relationship between Hegel and Neoplatonism and key Neoplatonists and to argue that his philosophy is Neoplatonism’s consummate achievement.

12.2 Hegel on Neoplatonism and Proclus

For Hegel, Neoplatonism was the ‘greatest flowering of philosophy’9 and the consummation of Greek philosophy, which brought it to a close

So Greek philosophy has the thinking that determines itself within itself. It develops itself into a totality of the idea (the world spirit does nothing by half measures). Its consummation10 comes in Neoplatonic philosophy, with which the history of Greek philosophy draws to a close.11

Again, noting that Neoplatonism incorporated all earlier forms of Greek philosophy, Hegel wrote

The third [epoch of the first] period takes the shape of Alexandrian philosophy (Neoplatonism, but likewise Neo-Aristotelian philosophy too). The consummation of Greek philosophy as such, it established the realm of noumena, the ideal realm. This philosophy therefore incorporated all earlier forms of philosophy within it.12

and continued by stating that Proclus was the culmination of this consummation

Plotinus lived in the third century and Proclus in the fifth. By choosing to regard Proclus as the culmination of this philosophy, the entire period of Greek Philosophy then amounts to about one thousand years.13

There could not be clearer statements of the superlative regard which Hegel held for Neoplatonism and particularly Proclus.14

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Notes

1. Redding, ‘Mind of God, Point of View of Man, or Spirit of the World? Platonism and Organicism in the Thought of Kant and Hegel’, op. cit., 9,10. Also see 1.2
2. Redding, ‘Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion’, op. cit., 13
3. It is interesting that in a discipline that prides itself on honesty and ‘the love of wisdom and truth’, that holds honesty and ‘the love of wisdom and truth’ to be at its basis, there is so much dishonesty and pretence.
4. Redding, ‘The Metaphysical and Theological Commitments of Idealism: Kant, Hegel, Hegelianism’, op. cit., 18-19
5. Findlay in G.W.F.Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, op. cit., xxvi
6. ‘the Neoplatonic characteristics of Hegel’s thought came to be widely acknowledged during the nineteenth century, Feuerbach, for example, describing Hegel as “the German Proclus” (PPF: 47),’ Redding, Continental Idealism: Leibniz to Nietzsche, op. cit., 137
7. Redding, ‘Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion’, op. cit., 6
8. ‘The real rediscovery of Proclus started in the Italian Renaissance, mainly thanks to Marsilio Ficino who followed Proclus’ influence in his Platonic commentaries and even composed, in imitation of Proclus, a Christian Platonic Theology on the immortality of the soul. Before Ficino, Nicolaus Cusanus had already intensively studied Proclus in translations. Proclus continued to enjoy wide interest at the turn of the 18th century. Thomas Taylor (1758–1835) translated all of Proclus’ works into English (reprinted by the Prometheus Trust [London]) and tried to reconstruct the lost seventh book of the Platonic Theology.’ Helmig and Steel, ‘Proclus’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy op. cit.
9. ‘The revival of the ancient Greek philosophy was tied to the decline of the Roman Empire, which was so vast, wealthy, and splendid, but inwardly dead; the greatest flowering of philosophy, the Alexandrian philosophy, emerged only then.’ Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1825-6, op. cit., vol. I, 69
10. Hodgson in his Editorial Introduction to volume III of Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion explained Hegel’s use of the concept ‘consummate’, which Hegel also, consistently, applied to his Neoplatonic version of Christianity: ‘Christianity is the “consummate” religion in the sense that the concept of religion has been brought to completion or consummation in it; it simply is religion in its quintessential expression.’ Hodgson in Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. III, 4. In referring to Hegel as the consummate Neoplatonist I use ‘consummate’ in the same sense – his philosophy brought Neoplatonism to completion and in so doing, is the most developed instance, the highest achievement of it’
11. Ibid., 162-163
12. Ibid., 202
13. Ibid.
14. Redding wrote in his Stanford Encyclopedia article on Hegel that ‘Plato, and especially Aristotle, represent the pinnacle of ancient philosophy’, ‘Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’, contradicting this elsewhere, referring to ‘what for Hegel was the most developed form of Greek philosophy, late-antique neo-platonism’, Redding, ‘Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion’, op. cit., 13; Helmig and Steel wrote ‘In his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, in the chapter on Alexandrian Philosophy, Hegel said that “in Proclus we have the culminating point of the Neo-Platonic philosophy; this method in philosophy is carried into later times, continuing even through the whole of the Middle Ages. […] Although the Neo-Platonic school ceased to exist outwardly, ideas of the Neo-Platonists, and specially the philosophy of Proclus, were long maintained and preserved in the Church.”’, ‘Proclus’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, op. cit.

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Reply to Jason 1

Max Dupain, ‘Sunbaker’, 1937, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Max Dupain, ‘Sunbaker’, 1937, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Hi Jason,

thank you very much for your reply. There are two points regarding your first comment that I want to respond to.

The first, concerning the manner of the guards’ speech to the tethered boy in the first video is that the reason why they spoke as they did was because they knew they were being recorded.

In the Four Corners show on the ABC the guards several times referred to the cameras, asking if they were recording or telling the others that they were recording.

The second is with regard to what I might have brought from my own life to my perception of the abuse documented on those videos.

Because I believe that everything should be questioned and have lived to do so in areas that most interest me, I have, and immediately, come up and lived my life against basically the same authoritarianism meted out to those boys.

I have obviously made no secret on my blog of the bitterness I have felt as a result of some of those experiences, which have affected me very seriously in ways that you are not aware of and which have underlined to me the depth of petty, vicious, vindictive authoritarianism in this culture.

The same authoritarianism documented on the latest Four Corners.

It is why I call this culture a convict culture.

And I have given a great deal of thought to expressing, to releasing that bitterness.

Not only do I see it as a necessary step towards moving beyond it, that bitterness is aligned with an entirely justifiable call for accountability, not only with regard to myself but far more importantly where the impact of mysticism on Western culture is concerned (as I have often posted about), with regard to the most gross and deliberate failure in social responsibility by generations of ideologues, careerists, supremacists and assorted hacks.

They should be held to account so that the lessons of their failure can be addressed.

Even in how some of these people address mysticism now (a subject they would never go near prior to the decline of po-mo, itself suffused with mysticism) I see the words of Marx and Engels being borne out.

While they bathe daintily, weave cobwebs and crack fleas on the spiritual shoreline, they dare not acknowledge its revolutionary content, once Marx and Engels had stood the dialectics of Neoplatonism on a material basis – the content that now foretells the fall of the exploitative class they serve.

I do not and would not use the experience of the boys in the videos (or that of anyone else) as proxies or as a proxy for my own issues. That would be dishonest.

Having to think about my issues in relation to ‘authority’ and class domination has, however, given me a far greater sensitivity to and awareness of how ‘authority’ and domination are manifested, and how much damage they result in.

I have also come to recognise the depth of authoritarianism in sunny Australian culture – it functions through ‘decent,’ ‘laid-back,’ ‘nice’ and particularly through ‘egalitarian.’

The dictum is ‘Salute without question these concepts as they are interpreted in the dominant culture and you may be one of us.’

If this is ugly, the ugliness is not mine.

Best wishes as always,

Phil red-star

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Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 11d

11.3.9 Core Neoplatonic metaphors Hegel used

11.3.9.1 Emanation and return (including elevation and introversion)

The metaphor of an outgoing stream of consciousness and its return to unity underlies Hegel’s philosophy and he illustrated this with further metaphors in his discussion of it

To philosophical cognition, the progression (of consciousness) is a stream flowing in opposite directions, leading forward to the other, but at the same time working backward, so that what appears to be the last, founded on what precedes, appears rather to be the first – the foundation.1

Hodgson expressed it in a slightly different way

the rise of finite consciousness to the absolute is at the same time the return of absolute spirit to itself.2

Plotinus also drew on the metaphor of a fluid gushing from Intellectual-Principle, writing of life being

poured copiously throughout a Universe, engendering the universal things and weaving variety into their being, never at rest from producing an endless sequence of comeliness and shapeliness, a living pastime.3

11.3.9.2 Light

‘Light,’ ‘the activating and animating agent in Nature’4 is no less a mystical, spiritual concept for Hegel than it is for Plotinus – it is ‘simply Thought itself.’5 Light, the sun, is a

pure force, an intensive life which holds itself within itself, the celestial sphere which has withdrawn into itself…in whose flux and reflux every distinction is extinguished.6

In his two Logics, touted by academic ideologues and careerists as masterpieces of the most rigorous conceptual reason, Hegel’s mysticism when writing of ‘light’ is undeniable

Essence…is Being…a seeming or reflected light – Essence accordingly is Being thus reflecting light into itself. The Absolute is the Essence.7

one pictures (Hegel’s appropriate italics) being to oneself, perhaps in the image (my italics) of pure light as the clarity of undimmed seeing8

and for added prose poetic effect, he equated the dispersal of Light with Christ’s crucifixion

Pure Light disperses its (God’s) unitary nature into an infinity of forms, and offers up itself as a sacrifice to being-for-self9

11.3.9.3 Mirror10

Inwood wrote that for self-consciousness to develop, another is required as a mirror, reflecting oneself.11 Hodgson expanded

(For Hegel) Reality is…a mirror of consciousness; but consciousness is also a mirror of reality. ‘Speculation’ (from the Latin speculum, ‘mirror’) involves a relationship of double mirroring in which a reversal in the flow of meaning occurs – from object to subject as well as from subject to object. The condition of possibility for this reversal is that subject and object, self and world, participate in, are moments of, of an encompassing whole, which Hegel calls variously ‘truth,’ ‘actuality,’ ‘the universal,’ ‘the absolute,’ ‘spirit’ – or ‘God.’12

11.3.9.4 Sight13

The spiritual activity of ‘seeing’ (which equates with knowing) is the culmination of the Neoplatonic process. As previously argued (8.5), Hegel’s recognitive theory of Spirit finds completion in a cultus comprised of perspectival Subject-Objects, all simultaneously seeing/knowing ‘mirror’ and ‘eye.’

Once again indicative of his concentrated prose poetic style, Hegel brought the metaphors of emanation, light, mirror and sight together in his illustration of the Neoplatonic vitalism of idea, also drawing on Plotinus’ One as the source which remains present within itself

all the emergent components in the living individual and their systematic arrangement proceed from the one idea, because all these particulars are simply mirror and images of this one vitality. They have their actuality only in this unity, and all their distinctions or diverse characteristics together are themselves just the expression of the idea and the form contained within it. So the idea is at once central point and periphery, the light source that in all its diffusion does not come outside itself but instead remains present and immanent within itself.14

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Notes

1. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. I, note 115, 227
2. Hodgson, ‘Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion,’ op. cit., 236
3. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., III.2.15
4. Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, op. cit., 106
5. Ibid., 93
6. Ibid., 87. Plotinus made frequent use of the metaphor of light to express the unity of subject and its object of contemplation: ‘shining down upon all, the light of godlike Intellection’; ‘The only reasonable explanation of act flowing from it lies in the analogy of light from a sun…the One shines eternally, resting upon the Intellectual Realm’ Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., I.6.5 and V.3.12 
7. Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, op. cit., 162
8. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 93. Hegel’s discussion of being and nothing in this section is metaphorical.
9. Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 420
10. See also 8.5 and 9.5, 10.3 and 11.3.5,6,7
11. Inwood in Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics, xix
12. Hodgson, ‘Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion,’ op. cit., 234-235. As previously quoted, Plotinus wrote of the relationship between subject and object ‘In the pure Intellectual…the vision and the envisioned are a unity; the seen is as the seeing and seeing as seen.’ Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., V.3.8 
13. See also 8.5 and 10.3. Exemplifying the significance of ‘sight’ in philosophy, Geary noted that ‘Idea’ comes from the Indo-European root weid, meaning ‘to see,’ that ‘intuition’ derives from the Latin in (at) and tueri (to look) and ‘speculate’ derives from the Latin speculari (to watch, examine or observe). Geary, I Is an Other, The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World, op.cit., 42
14. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1825-6, op. cit., vol. I, 175; Plotinus wrote ‘The only reasonable explanation of act flowing from it (the Good) lies in the analogy of light from a sun. The entire intellectual order may be figured as a kind of light with the One in repose at its summit as its King: but this manifestation is not cast out from it – that would cause us to postulate another light before the light – but the One shines eternally, resting upon the Intellectual Realm; this, not identical with its source…is seeing, self-knowing, the primal knower.’ Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., V.3.12

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Marx acknowledges his debt to mysticism – and its potential

NGC 7635: The Bubble Nebula

NGC 7635: The Bubble Nebula

‘I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker…The mystification which the dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general forms of motion in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be inverted, in order to discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.

In its mystified form, the dialectic became the fashion in Germany, because it seemed to transfigure and glorify what exists. In its rational form it is a scandal and an abomination to the bourgeoisie and its doctrinaire spokesmen, because it includes in its positive understanding of what exists a simultaneous recognition of its negation, its inevitable destruction; because it regards every historically developed form as being in a fluid state, in motion, and therefore grasps its transient aspect as well; and because it does not let itself be impressed by anything, being in its very essence critical and revolutionary.’

Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1, Postface to the Second Edition 1873, Penguin, London, 1982, pp. 102-103

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Contra sacerdotes latentes

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Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 11b

11.3 Hegel’s speculative thinking and his poetic imagination

‘Speculative,’ dialectical philosophy cannot be other than poetic because it is the attempt to most accurately explicate the processes of the world – for the idealist, those of the ‘inner world’ of consciousness, for the materialist, those of the objective world of matter, which subsumes consciousness.

Hegel exemplified his recognition of that challenge when he wrote in his Philosophy of Nature

We have now to make the transition from inorganic to organic Nature, from the prose to the poetry of Nature.1

The poetry of nature for him was that of Life (the capitalisation indicates Hegel’s mystical understanding of the concept) which

can be grasped only speculatively; for it is precisely in life that the speculative has an existence. …Wherever inner and outer, cause and effect, end and means, subjectivity and objectivity, etc., are one and the same, there is life.2

and, I add following Hegel, there also is poetry.

He wrote in his Lectures on Fine Art that poetry, the most spiritual of the arts, is the point at which art dissolves into ‘the prose of scientific thought’ and that speculative thinking is akin to the poetic imagination

(Poetry) abides by the substantive unity of outlook which has not yet separated opposites…there is none of the Understanding’s dissection of that living unity in which the poetic vision keeps together the indwelling reason of things and their expression and existence3

Not only is the subject matter of poetry ‘the infinite wealth of the spirit’4 and of spiritual connectedness, as Magee and others have commented, the real power behind dialectic is imagination, which facilitates the utterance of what is inward.

In ‘The Earliest System-Programme of German Idealism,’ written in 1796 or 1797 (ten years before he published his Phenomenology of Spirit) in Hegel’s handwriting and generally considered to be the expression of his views, Hegel wrote of philosophising as an aesthetic act and that great philosophy is a genre of poetry – ‘the art of philosophy’

I am now convinced that the highest act of reason, that in which it embraces all ideas, is an aesthetic act and that truth and goodness are siblings only in beauty. The philosopher must possess just as much aesthetic power as the poet. Men without aesthetic sense are our literal-minded philosophers. The philosophy of spirit is an aesthetic philosophy. …

First of all I shall speak here of an idea which, so far as I know, has never occurred to anyone else – we must have a new mythology, but this mythology must be in the service of ideas, it must be a mythology of Reason.5

Responding to the creative vitalism of Neoplatonism, Hegel wrote

the poet is required to give the deepest and richest inner animation to the material that he brings into his work6

and that

in poetry the…rational is expressed…as vitalised, manifested, animated, all-determining, and yet at the same time expressed in a manner which lets the all-embracing unity, the very soul of the vitalisation produce its effect7

Hegel thought that both poetry and philosophy are a self-making (for the materialist, they are the product of the world reflecting on itself). The purpose of both is the liberation of the human spirit – synonymous with spirit’s coming to know itself as self-creative and self determining through artistic presentation. In his Lectures on the History of Philosophy Hegel wrote that philosophy is thinking which is at the same time a ‘making’. As such

it is like poetry in being creative of that which is supremely beautiful; it is like poetry in being an activity whose product is itself.8

In writing of a poetical work of art, Hegel summarised his philosophy

It is now clear that every genuinely poetical work of art is an inherently infinite [i.e. self-bounded] organism: rich in matter and disclosing this matter in a correspondent appearance; a unity…a whole…which closes with itself into a perfect circle without any apparent intention; filled with the material essence of actuality…creating freely from its own resources in order to give shape to the essence of things9

In his Phenomenology of Spirit he referred to the source of this as

the many-named One. This One is clothed with the manifold powers of existence and with the ‘shapes’ of reality as with an adornment that lacks a self10

11.3.1 Speculative philosophy and metaphor

Not only was Jaspers correct to argue that metaphors are necessary to ‘speculative’ cognition, they are unavoidable – our language is full of them and our mutual understanding depends on them. Barfield wrote

Every modern language, with its thousands of abstract terms and its nuances of meaning and association, is apparently nothing, from beginning to end, but an unconscionable tissue of dead, or petrified, metaphors…A man cannot utter a dozen words without wielding the creations of a hundred named and nameless poets.11

Geary wrote that metaphors are ‘entombed in even the simplest words’12 and he quoted Emerson from his essay ‘The Poet,’ in which Emerson described language as ‘fossil poetry’

language is made up of images or tropes, which now, in their secondary use, have long ceased to remind us of their poetic origin.13

Philip Wheelwright thinks that ‘three-fourths of our language may be said to consist of worn-out metaphors.’14

Metaphors appeal to the senses, particularly sight – itself a fundamental metaphor of mysticism. They allow thought greater abstraction and, as Verene noted, they always point to what is not present in the literal sense of words.15

11.3.2 Hegel and metaphor

Redding said that Hegel came out of an idealist tradition in which truth can be expressed in metaphorical and imagistic ways.16 I will argue not only that the use of metaphor was a major device in Hegel’s philosophical method but that he based his philosophy on a metaphor – just as Plotinus built his philosophy on the simile of a sculptor.17

Verene wrote

To the logical mind, the Understanding in Hegel’s terms, tropes are improper forms of speech because they are imprecise. Logic attempts to exclude all such figurative meanings. But from the standpoint of dialectic and Reason, tropes allow thought to enter into new stages of consciousness. Tropes are not arbitrary because the translatio presupposes the discovery of a similitudo that makes the transfer possible.18

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Notes

1. Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, op. cit., 270
2. Ibid., 274
3. Hegel, Aesthetics – Lectures on Fine Art, vol. II, op. cit., 973, 975
4. Ibid., 972
5. Verene, Hegel’s Recollection: A Study of Images in The Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 25-26
6. Hegel, Aesthetics – Lectures on Fine Art, vol. II, op. cit., 998
7. Quoted in Lauer, ‘Hegel as Poet,’ op. cit., 8
8. Ibid., 13
9. Hegel, Aesthetics – Lectures on Fine Art, vol. II, op. cit., 996
10. Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 419
11. Owen Barfield, Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973, 63, quoted in James Geary, I Is an Other, The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World, HarperCollins e-books, Pymble, Australia, 2011, 46
12. Ibid., 49
13. Ibid., 50
14. Ibid., Cited in Philip Wheelwright, The Burning Fountain: A Study in the Language of Symbolism, Bloomington and London, Indiana University Press, 1968, 181
15. Verene, Hegel’s Recollection: A Study of Images in The Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 24
16. Interview of Paul Redding on ‘Philosopher’s Zone,’ ABC Radio National 27.10.13
17. ‘The vivid images and metaphors used by (Plotinus) apparently did not just act as illustrations of mental concepts, but served rather to attune the mind to nondiscursive modes of grasping reality.’ Chlup, Proclus, An Introduction, op. cit., 180. Geary wrote that ‘a simile is just a metaphor with the scaffolding still up,’ Geary, I Is an Other, The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World, op.cit., 36
18. Verene, Hegel’s Recollection: A Study of Images in The Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 22-23

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 11a

Hegel, prose poet

11.1 Language is the ‘mind’s’ perfect expression

In his Philosophy of Mind Hegel wrote that the body is only the ‘mind’s’ first appearance, while language is its perfect expression.1 In his Science of Logic he wrote

The forms of thought are, in the first instance, displayed and stored in human language.2

He believed we cannot think without words (although as previously noted, he also wrote we are thinking all the time, including in sleep3) and that words give our thoughts their highest and truest existence which only becomes definite when we objectify them

(The existence of words) is absolutely necessary to our thoughts. We only know our thoughts, only have definite, actual thoughts, when we give them the form of objectivity4

For Hegel, what cannot be expressed in language has no reality. Such is the power of ideology and so strong the Siren call of possible joys in pandering to it that Hegel’s assertion regarding the necessity of language to thought and reality itself has been accepted almost unanimously.

But Hegel’s equating expression in language with reality is no less flawed than was his philosophical forebear’s banishing of poets from his ideal state in defence of fundamentally the same ‘rational principles’ – Plato, one of the most influential poets in the West being among those to suffer exclusion.

I will argue that Hegel was, as the consummate Neoplatonist, a great prose poet, that he employed a range of poetic devices to convey the content and meaning of his philosophy which always functions beyond the separation and definition of the Verstand he was so critical of and that Hegel’s philosophy can be neither fully understood nor appreciated without according it that recognition.

Not only did Lauer write

it is no more strange to entertain the notion of Hegel as poet than it is to consider the harsh things that Plato had to say about poetry and the poets and at the same time to claim that Plato himself is to be numbered among the greatest of the poets5

Hegel noted that

Plato philosophised in a mythological way. People praise him for making many things accessible in the form of representational images.’6

Franke wrote of Hegel’s philosophy

Since the rational is coextensive with language and all it can express, this means that what is not expressible in language simply has no reality. Yet Hegel’s writings also provocatively show the limits of this position and point to another possibility, a possibility of infinite difference, of something…that would remain forever inexpressible to Logos.7

11.1.1 The German language has many advantages

Benz wrote that the German language of the High Middle Ages did not reflect

the scholastic development of philosophy, theology, and the sciences – (it) was essentially poetic. …a language of images, allegories, parables (and) not a language of abstract concepts and philosophical and logical  terms.8

He stated that the great spiritual revolution in Germany was provoked by the ignorance of Latin of the German Dominican nuns to whom Eckhart, as the prior of the Dominican order, had to give sermons – he was compelled either to attempt to translate his abstract theology in Latin into the poetic imagery of the German of his time or to create a new terminology of abstraction improvised in German.

It was to this poetic richness of the German language that Hegel referred in his Preface to the second edition of his Science of Logic

German has many advantages over other modern languages; some of its words even possess the further peculiarity of having not only different but opposite meanings so that one cannot fail to recognise a speculative spirit of the language in them: it can delight a thinker to come across such words and to find the union of opposites naïvely shown in the dictionary as one word with opposite meanings, although this result of speculative thinking is nonsensical to the understanding.9

a thought he repeated

It is a delight to speculative thought to find in the language words which have in themselves a speculative meaning; the German language has a number of such.10

Central to his dialectic and exemplifying the above is the verb aufheben and its noun Aufhebung – concepts rich in contradictory meaning (to sublate, to lift or raise up, to seize, to retain, to preserve, to reverse [a judgement], to put an end to) and he drew on these meanings, in relation to both concepts and things, at the same time.

He wrote of sublation

To sublate, and the sublated (that which exists ideally as a moment), constitute one of the most important notions in philosophy. …‘To sublate’ has a twofold meaning in the language: on the one hand it means to preserve, to maintain, and equally it also means to cause to cease, to put an end to. …what is sublated is at the same time preserved; it has only lost its immediacy but is not on that account annihilated. …Something is sublated only in so far as it has entered into unity with its opposite11

11.1.2 The sound of speech

Hegel regarded poetry as the most perfect art because it is the means for the richest expression of spiritual freedom. He thought of poetry as the articulation of inner life and ideas in language, particularly when spoken – the art of sound as speech.

When the poet attended to ‘the choice, placing, and sound of words,’12 the result would be the most perfect art given expression by ‘the freest, and in its sound the most perfect instrument the human voice, which unites in itself the character of wind and string instruments’.13 Küng quoted Bloch – ‘Hegel’s language proves to be Luther’s German set to music’14

Hodgson wrote

(With regard to his speculative philosophy, Hegel) is not offering empirical descriptions but imaginative constructions. For this purpose the medium of oral lectures was ideally suited, and it is notable that Hegel was reluctant to constrain the fluidity of speech through publication.15

11.2 On the importance of feeling to philosophy

Hegel criticised the Enlightenment for its lack of ‘old fashioned’ religious feeling and he argued for the importance of ‘feeling.’ In ‘The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason’ (1822) he wrote ‘Only in the region of feeling can the impulse to truth take refuge.’16 In Lectures on the Philosophy of World History he wrote

the Christian…worships truth in symbolic form…the philosopher…immerses himself in eternal truth through rational thought. …the feelings themselves are one and the same.17

Hegel would have endorsed Lauer’s words

philosophy cannot dispense with emotion, not only in the sense that the human spirit’s relation to truth is emotional but also in the sense that only when significant truth is allied to beauty is it genuinely compelling, because authentic philosophy is an activity of whole human persons18

I will argue in this chapter that Hegel built his use of words and language so that a feeling for the Absolute becomes knowledge of it – as did Plotinus.

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Notes

1. Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, op. cit., 147
2. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 31
3. ‘it is also inadequate to…(say) vaguely that it is only in the waking state that man thinks. For thought in general is so much inherent in the nature of man that he is always thinking, even in sleep. In every form of mind, in feeling, intuition, as in picture-thinking, thought remains the basis.’ Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, op. cit., 69
4. Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, op. cit., 221
5. Quentin Lauer, ‘Hegel as Poet’ in History and System: Hegel’s Philosophy of History, Ed., Robert L. Perkins, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1984, pp. 1-14, 1
6. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1825-6, op. cit., vol. I, 284
7. William Franke, A Philosophy of the Unsayable, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 2014, 26
8. Ernst Benz, The Mystical Sources of German Romantic Philosophy, Trans., Blair R. Reynolds and Eunice M. Paul, Pickwick Publications, Eugene, Oregon, 2009, 8. Eckhart introduced new philosophical and theological terms into German. Benz wrote that it was with him that philosophical speculation in German began, further developed by Jakob Böhme. ‘All the ontological terms, for example, Sein, Wesen, Wesenheit, das Seiende, das Nichts, Nichtigkeit, nichtigen, all the terms such as Form, Gestalt, Anschauung, Erkenntnis, Erkennen, Vernunft, Vernünftigkeit, Verstand, Verständnis, Verständigkeit, Bild, Abbild, Bildhaftigkeit, entbilden, all the concepts such as Grund, Ungrund, Urgrund, ergründen, Ich, Ichheit, Nicht-Ich, entichen, Entichung, are the creations of German mystical speculation’ Ibid., 10
9. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 32
10. Ibid., 107
11. Ibid.
12. Hegel, Aesthetics – Lectures on Fine Art, vol. II, op. cit., 969
13. Ibid., 922
14. Hans Küng, The Incarnation of God: An Introduction to Hegel’s Theological Thought, Trans., J.R.Stephenson, Crossroad, New York, 1987, 193
15. Peter C. Hodgson, ‘Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion,’ in Beiser, Ed., The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy, op. cit., 230-252, 232
16. Hegel in Hodgson, Ed., G.W.F.Hegel, Theologian of the Spirit, op. cit., 164
17. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Introduction: Reason in History, op. cit., 45
18. Lauer, ‘Hegel as Poet’ in History and System: Hegel’s Philosophy of History, op cit., 13

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 10b

10.7 Hegel and Plotinus rejected propositions of the understanding from their speculative philosophy

Hegel rejected from his philosophy those traditional tools of reason that are employed to test the worth and validity of concepts – the proposition of the understanding (Verstand), the use of predication and the formal syllogism – and he did so all for the same reason – that they deny the unity-in-difference and the principle of negation which are the engine of the conceptual openness and poetry of his Neoplatonic system, the mysticism of which neither he nor his ideological proponents would or could ever acknowledge.

For Hegel, the propositional language of the understanding, of Verstand is inadequate for the expression of the complexity of philosophical Truth. Dialectic, pre-eminently exemplified in poetry, is essential to philosophical demonstration. Hegel believed the proposition of the understanding is an empty form because it distinguishes between, separates subject and predicate resulting in a meaning other than what was intended. Such a proposition denies the complexity of the experience of consciousness (the process of freedom, reconciliation and truth), giving something that is one-sided

One difficulty which should be avoided comes from mixing up the speculative with the ratiocinative methods, so that what is said of the Subject at one time signifies its Notion, at another time merely its Predicate or accidental property. The one method interferes with the other, and only a philosophical exposition that rigidly excludes the usual way of relating the parts of a proposition could achieve the goal of plasticity.1

Hegel echoed Plotinus who asked rhetorically

What, then, is Philosophy?

Philosophy is the supremely precious.

Is Dialectic, then, the same as Philosophy?

It is the precious part of Philosophy. We must not think of it as the mere tool of the metaphysician: Dialectic does not consist of bare theories and rules: it deals with verities…Dialectic…has no knowledge of propositions – collections of words – but it knows the truth and, in that knowledge, knows what the schools call their propositions…it leaves petty precisions of process to what other science may care for such exercises.2

10.8 Proclus and Cusanus on propositions

Proclus, follower and systematiser of Plotinus, sought to structure the unsystematic presentation of his master’s philosophy in the two hundred and eleven propositions of his Elements of Theology and men with interests as diverse as Kepler and Coleridge responded equally to the same speculative Neoplatonic dynamism of his writing, which pushed beyond the linguistic constraints of mere propositions of the understanding

His language flows like a torrent, inundating its banks, and hiding the dark fords and whirlpools of doubts, while his mind full of the majesty of things of such a magnitude, struggles in the straits of language, and the conclusion never satisfying him, exceeds by the copia of words, the simplicity of the propositions.3

The most beautiful and orderly development of the philosophy which endeavours to explain all things by an analysis of consciousness, and builds up a world in the mind out of materials furnished by the mind itself, is to be found in the Platonic Theology of Proclus.4

Cusanus also believed that speculative thinking focuses on what functions beyond the constraints of propositions of the understanding, of ratio. Jaspers wrote of his philosophy

Whatever may be formulated in a proposition, in a word, is for this very reason not yet the point which thinking strives to attain – a point beyond the formulation, the ‘absolute ground,’ ‘being itself,’ ‘what precedes being.’ And even these expressions are only signs.5

10.9 Hegel’s ultimate concepts – beyond predication

10.9.1 God

‘God,’ to which all roads lead in Hegel’s philosophy, was for him the most perfect concept – the ‘most perfectly real.’ Hegel believed that predication is not appropriate to God because it cannot grasp God in his thinking. Verstand’s definition of God by the use of determinate predicates amounts only to a list of particular, rigid characteristics which remain unresolved contradictions.

God’s determinateness is not constituted by a predicate or a plurality of predicates…(because) each determinate content has become just as immovable, just as rigidly for itself, as the natural content was to begin with …The predicates do not correspond to the reality of the concept…the concept in itself is real, wholly free totality, free totality present to itself.6

Plotinus also wrote that God has no qualities, but is simple and single – that no name is apt to it. Proclus argued that while what is around the One (the henads) can be predicated, the One cannot. Cusanus also argued that God cannot be predicated and he did so using words very similar to those of Hegel – what displayed for the latter the rigidity and separation of Verstand in relation to Vernunft did so for the former those of ratio (understanding/discursive reason) in relation to intellectus (intellect/intellectual vision)

just as God transcends all understanding, so, a fortiori, [He transcends] every name. Indeed, through a movement of reason, which is much lower than the intellect, names are bestowed for distinguishing between things. But since reason cannot leap beyond contradictories: as regards the movement of reason, there is not a name to which another [name] is not opposed.7

10.9.2 Absolute

Hegel thought the aim of philosophy is cognition of the Absolute. He famously mocked in his Phenomenology of Spirit the Absolute in which

the A = A…(where) all is one. To pit this single insight, that in the Absolute everything is the same, against the full body of articulated cognition, which at least seeks and demands…fulfilment, to palm off its Absolute as the night in which, as the saying goes, all cows are black – this is cognition naïvely reduced to vacuity.8

How did Hegel position this concept in his ‘full body of articulated cognition’? To repeat, Engels observed that Hegel had absolutely nothing to say about his own Absolute Idea,9 with which he concluded the lengthy development of his categories in his Science of Logic. Magee also made an excellent point when he wrote that Hegel’s system embodies, realises the Absolute rather than describes (or, as I would write, defines) it – that for Hegel, simply to give the Absolute voice is to give it being.10

Where is the criticism in academia of Hegel’s posturing hypocrisy on this issue? The ideology of the dominant class is at stake, and the silence of the unspeakable reigns supreme behind cloistered walls. Not only did Hegel write that the concept ‘Absolute’ is devoid of predicates11 and is synonymous with that of ‘God,’12 he many times equated ‘God’ with his conflation of the One in his overlay of the Christian myth on his Neoplatonic philosophy. An example

God is One, in the first instance the universal.

God is love and remains One, [subsisting] more as unity, as immediate identity, than as negative reflection into self.

God is spirit, the One as infinite subjectivity, the One in the infinite subjectivity of distinction.13

To give a developmental account (‘exhibiting’ or ‘self-exposition’ to use Hegel’s words14) of the ‘Absolute’ as Hegel did – at great length – is not to define it – which Hegel did as little as those he mocked or criticised. A process, even in its complex totality, is not a definition.

Magee wrote

Hegel takes over the idea of an Absolute from Schelling, including the idea that the Absolute transcends the distinction between subject and object.15

This is incorrect. As I have argued previously, Plotinus was the first to use, and repeatedly, ’Absolute’ as a noun – long before Cusanus and the German idealists who were inspired by him – including in his tractate ‘Nature, Contemplation, and the One,’ translated by Creuzer in 1805 (Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit was first published in 1807), and Hegel took over that idea from Plotinus, as he did the transcendence of the distinction between subject and object and much else besides.

Hegel theorised his Absolute consistent with his conflation of the Neoplatonic hypostases in his ‘reason-world’ – Plotinus’ second hypostasis

the process of its own becoming, the circle that presupposes its end as its goal, having its end also as its beginning16

For Hegel, this ‘reason-world’ is a systemic whole in which Mind or Being becomes conscious of itself. In the ‘unanalysable’17 beginning there is absolute identity which develops into a dialectically self-differentiating unity of ‘mutually antagonistic’18 elements eventually resulting in the sublation of the distinction between subject and object (between subjects/objects). Philosophy gives a ‘rational,’ dialectical account of the nature of the Absolute. All of this is explained by Hegel’s conflation of the Neoplatonic hypostases.

Plotinus wrote that a defined One would not be the One-Absolute (Absolute One) because the Absolute is prior to the definite19

this Absolute is none of the things of which it is the source – its nature is that nothing can be affirmed of it – not existence, not essence, not life – since it is That which transcends all these.20

10.9.3 Spirit

Hegel’s discussion of Spirit or consciousness is thoroughly Neoplatonic – it is One21 which through the process of producing itself, of self-differentiation and the positing of distinctions makes itself its own object, thereby gaining knowledge of itself. It is the process of the divine’s coming to self-consciousness in mankind. As with ‘God’ and ‘Absolute,’ it is

an eternal process (my italics) of self-cognition in self-consciousness, streaming out to the finite focus of finite consciousness, and then returning to what spirit actually is, a return in which divine self-consciousness breaks forth. The community is a process of eternal becoming.22

Hegel wrote

Spirit is consciousness that has Reason…by passing through a series of shapes (Spirit must) attain to a knowledge of itself.23

Again, utterly Neoplatonic. The simile of the sculptor shaping and perfecting his soul24 resonates through the Enneads and Western culture – specifically, Soul is shaped in its passage through Intellectual-Principle in its return to the One.

Shaping Soul through Reason’s thinking is the activity of Intellectual-Principle – Intellectual-Principle is the sculptor

The Intellectual-Principle is in one phase the Form of the Soul, its shape; in another phase it is the giver of the shape – the sculptor, possessing inherently what is given – imparting to Soul nearly the authentic reality25

10.9.4 Concept/Notion (using Miller’s and Wallace’s translations)

Hegel wrote in his Science of Logic that it is essentially only Spirit that can comprehend the Notion as Notion because it is Spirit’s ‘pure self.’26

As Plotinus described the creative energy of his second hypostasis, ‘boiling over with life’27 in its self-differentiating, so Hegel described Notion as the vital, boundless activity of its self-differentiating. As Plotinus wrote of Intellectual-Principle’s being at rest and in motion28 – a ‘stationary wandering’29 within itself, Hegel wrote of Notion pulsating within itself but not moving, inwardly vibrating yet at rest.30 For both, what characterises this activity – ‘the very heart of things (that) makes them what they are’31 – is its vital, divine nature.

10.9.5 Absolute Idea

Absolute Idea is the culmination of Hegel’s Science of Logic. It is the identity of the theoretical and practical Idea, God as divine thought thinking itself, embodied in the ‘mind’ of the philosopher – the union of subject and object.

This same union of subject and object occurs at the conclusion of the Enneads. Findlay wrote that ‘the Absolute Idea is defined by Hegel as the eternal vision of itself in the Other.’32 Plotinus wrote

In this seeing, we neither hold an object nor trace distinction; there is no two. The man is changed, no longer himself nor self-belonging; he is merged with the Supreme, sunken into it, one with it33

Magee writes that Absolute Idea ‘is understood to “contain” all the preceding categories, as, in effect, (Absolute’s) definition.’34 Such a claim, even though it is putting Hegel’s view, should not go without criticism. It is the attempt to impose a complete definition on a process which is without end in which such a definition has no part. The same provisional and inadequate definition of the Absolute by the categories in their dialectical development should apply no less to ‘Absolute Idea.’

The Neoplatonists, like the sorcerer’s apprentice, summoned forth a magnificent power – they gave expression to how the world (for them, in consciousness) works. Hegel took this to the highest point of development within Neoplatonism and Marx, having stood this philosophy ‘on its feet,’ applied it in its correct material orientation. But these greatest dialecticians all made the same error in seeking to impose the products of their own consciousness, their own volition on infinitely greater processes prior to it – from the soaring conclusion of the Enneads to that of the Science of Logic, from the Prussian state to communism.

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Notes

1. Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 39
2. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., I.3.5
3. Quoted by Thomas Taylor in his Introduction to Proclus, On the Theology of Plato, op. cit.
4. Quoted by E.R.Dodds in his Introduction to Proclus, The Elements of Theology op. cit., xxxiii
5. Jaspers, The Great Philosophers, op. cit., 140
6. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. III, 185-186
7. Nicholas of Cusa, De docta ignorantia (‘On Learned Ignorance’), op. cit., I,76,40
8. Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., Preface, 9
9. Frederick Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy, Part I: Hegel, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1886/ludwig-feuerbach/ch01.htm
10. Magee, Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition, op. cit., 98
11. Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 351
12. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. I, 118
13. Ibid., vol. III, 78
14. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 530
15. Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, op. cit., 160
16. Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., Preface, 10
17. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 75
18. Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, op. cit., 23
19. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., V.3.12
20. Ibid., III.8.10
21. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Introduction: Reason in History, op. cit., 52
22. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. III, 233
23. Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 265
24. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., I.6.9
25. Ibid., V.9.3
26. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, op. cit., 618
27. Plotinus, Enneads, Trans., A.H.Armstrong, op. cit., vol. VI, VI.5.12
28. ‘(Intellect) is both at rest and in motion; for it moves around Him (the Good). So, then, the universe, too, both moves in its circle and is at rest.’ Ibid., vol. II, II.2.3
29. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., VI.7.13. Plotinus also wrote of the ‘static activity’ of Intellect. Armstrong op. cit., vol. II, II.9.1
30. Hegel, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, op. cit., 100
31. Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, op. cit., 232
32. Findlay in Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, op. cit., Foreword, xi
33. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., VI.9.10
34. Magee, The Hegel Dictionary, op. cit., 99

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist 9c

9.5 God is cognised in a perspectival community

A perspectival cultus is Neoplatonism’s end point. In it, the divine as eternal, infinite all-knowing lives amongst (with a Christian patina, is reconciled with) the multitude of a community, finite in their lives and knowledge.

The recognitive intersubjectivity in this cultus has, as previously discussed, its basis in the relation between subject and its object in consciousness.

The object is the subject’s means of self-completion. By uniting with it after a dialectical process in consciousness, the subject attains self-knowing. Knowing becomes perspectival in society where all, with different points of view, are subjects/objects in relation to others.

In his Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel sets out the development, from a phenomenological ‘we’ watching the drama of consciousness unfold to thinking of ourselves as belonging to the recognitive structure of a community which is ultimately, on the basis of recollection, historical.

In recognising and knowing myself in others, and they in me and others again, we all attain self-completion (self-knowing) as a unity of finite perspectives that is a plurality neither holistic nor atomistic, but one in which our differences are reconciled.1

God’s process is our process, in our individual consciousness and in the cultus – this is so because God is within all. Both God and we find fulfilment in the perspectival community

God…beholds in this Other himself, recognises his likeness therein and in it (my italics) returns to unity with himself…it is the Holy Spirit which proceeds from the Father and the Son, reaching its perfect actuality and truth in the community of Christians; and it is as this that God must be known if he is to be grasped in his absolute truth2

Plotinus’ primary aim was the same as Hegel’s – to move his readers to seek liberation from their ‘petty egos’ by returning to the unity-in-diversity of the divine All.

The spiritual universe Intellectual-Principle contains all ‘minds’ – forms or intellects which are ‘shadows’ of the universal or divine Mind and which mirror the whole of Intellect’s unity-in-multiplicity, but from their own individual perspective.3

Plotinus used the metaphor of viewing a painting to illustrate his perspectivism (Cusanus was to use the same idea for the same purpose in De visione Dei and De coniecturis)

Consider, even, the case of pictures: those seeing by the bodily sense the products of the art of painting do not see the one thing in the one only way4

He described the activity of a multiplicity in unity which, with a Christian overlay, became Hegel’s cultus – what is, in effect, a cultus of self

Self-intellection – which is the truest – implies the entire perception of a total self formed from a variety converging into an integral; every single unity in this variety is self-subsistent and has no need to look outside itself…Consciousness, as the very word indicates, is a conperception, an act exercised upon a manifold5

For Proclus, while the unparticipated knows all unconditionally, subsequent intelligences are perspectival

intellection embraces all things perpetually, and in all intelligences, but in each it delimits all its objects by a particular character. So that in the act of cognition and in the content known there must be some one dominant aspect, under which all things are simultaneously known and by which all are characterised for the knower.6

Cusanus maintained this position, adapted to Christianity – while God is infinite and omnivoyant (not bound to space and time), we are finite and restricted to perspectives. All viewing an icon of God will have the impression that they alone are being looked at by it, even though they view it from different positions.7 While all of our sights differ, their source Absolute Sight is perfect Sight.8

Of looking at a face he wrote

you contemplate the face not as it is [in itself] but in its otherness, according to your eye’s angle, which differs from [that of] all the eyes of other living beings. Therefore, a surmise (conjecture, speculation) is a positive assertion that partakes – with a degree of otherness – of truth as it is [in itself].9

Another device he used was to compare intellect in relation to truth to an increase in the angles of a polygon in relation to a circle – even if the former was comprised of an infinity of angles it could never equate with the latter.10

Cusanus described the perspectival Christian cultus in which all ‘minds’ partake of Divine Mind differently

For ‘church’ bespeaks a oneness of many [members] – each of whom has his personal truth preserved without confusion of natures or of degrees; but the more one the church is, the greater it is; hence, this church – [viz.] the church of the eternally triumphant – is maximal, since no greater union of the church is possible.11

Casarella wrote that the notion of perspective distinguishes Cusanus’ mysticism from that of Eckhart and from pantheism, and that he developed the concept ontologically in De visione Dei and epistemologically in De coniecturis

our knowing occurs always from a certain viewpoint, one that could be replaced by another one, and hence…it is intrinsically perspectival. The human mind never fully grasps reality…It remains a coniectura.12

9.6 Hegel’s perspectival community – the kingdom of God

As ‘minds’ in Intellectual-Principle are ‘aspects’ of the hypostasis’ unity-in-multiplicity, Hegel thought that every individual is an aspect of the Idea and that

It is only in (individuals) altogether and in their relation that the notion is realised. The individual by itself does not correspond to its notion.13

Put another way,

the relationship of men to (the world spirit) is that of single parts to the whole which is their substance.14

Hegel’s goal was the overcoming of dissonance and fragmentation through a communal and perspectival ‘unity of consciousness’ among people. This community, built on the negation (the return to unity of Father and Son with the crucifixion of Christ) of negation (God’s diremption in sending Christ into the world) was to embody a transfigured subjectivity of Spirit.

Founded on reconciliation and the consciousness of the unity of divine and human, of infinite and finite, this church was to generate the principles of political and civil life out of itself. Both God and mankind needed this cultus for self-completion

God achieves self-knowledge or self-consciousness in the community, i.e. in man’s knowledge of him. Thus God is not complete and fully formed independently of the world and of mankind15

Hodgson summarised this, writing of ‘the universal divine human being, the community.’16 Hegel’s kingdom of God was, with the overlay of Christian mythology removed, Plotinus’ ‘kingdom’ of Intellectual-Principle.

9.7 The cultus is the site of freedom

The freedom of reason, synonymous with self-knowledge, is central to Hegel’s philosophy – as it is to the other Neoplatonists. For Hegel, existence as free and rational beings depends on mutual recognition of each other as free and rational. In the cultus

This freedom of one in the other unites men in an inward manner (my italics), whereas needs and necessity bring them together only externally. Therefore, men must will to find themselves again in one another.17

Plotinus wrote that freedom is the activity of Intellectual-Principle’s unity-in-multiplicity where ‘minds’ are both independent and united ‘in an inward manner,’ and that the proposals emanating thence are the expression of freedom. He wrote that the contemplating intellect

is utterly independent; it turns wholly upon itself; its very action is itself; at rest in its good it is without need, complete, and may be said to live by its will; there the will is intellection…Will strives towards the good which the act of Intellectual-Principle realises.18

9.8 Flight of the alone to the Alone – a priesthood of philosophers

Plotinus’ search for the divine within himself and his doctrine of salvation from the world which he more than once referred to as a ‘flight’ seems to have been a result of disenchantment with aspects of the world. The Enneads concludes

This is the life of gods and of the godlike and blessed among men, liberation from the alien that besets us here, a life taking no pleasure in the things of earth, the passing of solitary to solitary.19

The Sage, having gone through a complex process of reasoning, is inward-oriented. Armstrong referred to this as the ‘flight of the alone to the Alone’.20

Of Proclus and the ‘late’ Neoplatonists, Chlup stated that they

(assumed) the role of priests and theologians besides that of philosophers. …they saw the endangered Hellenic cultural tradition as something to be treasured and admired21

Hegel, too, repeatedly wrote of thought taking flight into an ideal world22 and Hodgson well expressed Hegel’s motivating disenchantment

Our age is like that of the Roman Empire in its abandonment of the question of truth, its smug conviction that no cognitive knowledge of God can be had, its reduction of everything to merely historical questions, its privatism, subjectivism, and moralism, and the failure of its teachers and clergy to lead the people. It is indeed an apocalyptic time23

Hegel set out his ‘solution’ – a perspectival community of philosopher priests, isolated from the world

Instead of allowing reason and religion to contradict themselves, we must resolve the discord in the manner appropriate to us – namely, reconciliation in the form of philosophy. How the present day is to solve its problems must be left up to it. …

Religion must take refuge in philosophy. For the theologians of the present day, the world is a passing away into subjective reflection because it has as its form merely the externality of contingent occurrence. But philosophy, as we have said, is also partial: it forms an isolated order of priests – a sanctuary – who are untroubled about how it goes with the world, who need not mix with it, and whose work is to preserve this possession of truth. How things turn out in the world is not our affair.24

The Neoplatonists emphasised the social nature of thought and creativity25 and all had the same concern for resolving the conflicts of their time in a religious community on the basis of Neoplatonism or, in the case of Cusanus and Hegel, Neoplatonism garbed in the Christian fable.

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Notes

1. Redding wrote of ‘a “circular” intersubjective structure within which two self-consciousnesses recognise both their identity or like-mindedness, their “we-ness,” and their difference and opposition, their “I-ness.”…It is recognition of self in an objective yet intentional other which is the key to the reconciliation of opposites’ Redding, Hegel’s Hermeneutics, op. cit., 114, 127
2. Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, op. cit., 12
3. John Dillon, ‘Plotinus: an Introduction,’ The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., xcv
4. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., II.9.16
5. Ibid., V.3.13. The root of ‘conscious’ is the Latin ‘conscius’ – knowing with others or in oneself.
6. Prop. 170 (‘Every intelligence has simultaneous intellection of all things: but while the unparticipated Intelligence knows all unconditionally, each subsequent intelligence knows all in one especial aspect.’) in Proclus, The Elements of Theology, op, cit., 149
7. Nicholas of Cusa, De visione Dei (‘The Vision of God’), 1453, in Nicholas of Cusa’s Dialectical Mysticism, Text, Translation and Interpretive Study of De Visione Dei, Trans, Jasper Hopkins, The Arthur J. Banning Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1988, 679-736, Preface, 3,4, 680-682
8. Ibid., I, 8, 683
9. Nicholas of Cusa, De coniecturis (‘On Speculations’), op. cit., 57, 190
10. ‘the intellect is to truth as [an inscribed] polygon is to [the inscribing] circle. The more angles the inscribed polygon has the more similar it is to the circle. However, even if the number of its angles is increased ad infinitum, the polygon never becomes equal [to the circle] unless it is resolved into an identity with the circle. Hence, regarding truth, it is evident that we do not know anything other than the following: viz., that we know truth not,’ Nicholas of Cusa, De docta ignorantia (‘On Learned Ignorance’), op. cit., I, 10, 8
11. Ibid., III, 261, 149
12. Peter J. Casarella, Ed., Cusanus, The Legacy of Learned Ignorance, The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C., 2006, 83
13. Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, op. cit., 275
14. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Introduction: Reason in History, op. cit., 52
15. Michael Inwood in Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics, Trans., Bernard Bosanquet, Ed., Introduction and Commentary, Michael Inwood, Penguin, England, 2004, 190
16. Peter C. Hodgson in G.W.F. Hegel, Theologian of the Spirit, Fortress, Minneapolis, 2007, 136
17. Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, op. cit., 171
18. Plotinus, The Enneads (Abridged), op. cit., VI.8.6
19. Ibid., VI.9.11
20. Plotinus, Enneads, Trans., A.H.Armstrong, William Heinemann, London, 1966-1988, Vol. VII, 345. Armstrong added in the note ‘These last words, in the common translation “flight of the alone to the Alone”, are the only words of Plotinus at all generally known and remembered.’ A damning indictment of Western philosophers.
21. Chlup, Proclus, An Introduction, op. cit., 186
22. ‘Philosophy, then, is the reconciliation of the decay that thought has initiated, a reconciliation taking place in an ideal world, one into which thought takes flight when the earthly world no longer satisfies it.’ Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy 1825-6, op. cit., vol. I, 68; ‘(When a people’s) best times are past and decay sets in…satisfaction resides then in the ideal realm. Spirit flees from the present and seeks a locus that is not present-day existence but instead a world apart from it, and that is the locus of thought. These are the times when we see philosophy come on the scene for a people.’ Ibid., 272-73. Just as Hegel tied Neoplatonism, which he believed to have been the consummation of Greek philosophy and the greatest flowering of philosophy to the decline of the Roman Empire, so he considered, consistently, his own Neoplatonic philosophy in relation to the entirety of philosophy and his time; ‘in the development of the state itself, periods must occur in which the spirit of nobler natures is forced to flee from the present into ideal regions, and to find in them that reconciliation with itself which it can no longer enjoy in an internally divided reality’ Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Introduction: Reason in History, op. cit., 143
23. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, op. cit., vol. III, Editorial Introduction, 23
24. Ibid., 161-162
25. ‘Cusanus consistently emphasises that man’s creativity is not exercised simply on his own individual behalf and that his thoughts are not conceived in solitude, but rather that both the active and contemplative life are conducted in relationship to the needs and contributions of other men.’ Pauline Moffitt Watts, Nicolaus Cusanus, A Fifteenth-Century Vision of Man, E.J.Brill, Leiden, 1982, 231

Contents of Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist posts

Contents of ‘Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist’ posts

Plotinus (204/5-270), Anonymous, white marble, Ostiense Museum, Ostia Antica, Rome

Plotinus (204/5-270), Anonymous, white marble, Ostiense Museum, Ostia Antica, Rome

Proclus (412-485)

Proclus (412-485)

Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) From a painting by Meister des Marienlebens (Master of the Life of the Virgin), located in the hospital at Kues (Germany)

Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464). From a painting by Meister des Marienlebens (Master of the Life of the Virgin), located in the hospital at Kues (Germany)

Jakob Schlesinger, ‘Bildnis des Philosophen Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’, Berlin 1831, Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin

Jakob Schlesinger, ‘Bildnis des Philosophen Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’ (1770-1831), Berlin 1831, Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin

Contents

Preface

Epigraphs

Introduction

1. Hegel and capitalist ideology

1.1 Hegel and Western supremacism

1.2 Paul Redding and Hegel’s Neoplatonism

2. The criticism by Hegel and Plotinus of their societies

3. Hegel and subjectivity

4. Hegel’s Reason

5. Hegel’s Neoplatonic world of God the self

6. Key elements in the Neoplatonism of Hegel and Plotinus

6.1 Plotinus’ phenomenology of spirit

6.2 Movement and rest

6.3 A life of creative dynamism

6.4 Plotinus’ sculptor

6.5 Emanation and return

7. Hegel conflated the Neoplatonic hypostases

7.1 in the philosophy of Plotinus

7.2 in the philosophy of Proclus

7.3 and in his own philosophy

8a/8. Subject and object

8.1 What is Neoplatonic thinking?

8.2 In knowing its objects, subject knows itself

8.3 How is the subject to know itself? Distinction, desire and possession

8.4 Hegel’s application of this Neoplatonic distinction

8.4.1 consciousness and its other, self-consciousness

8.4.2 The ‘I’ and its other, ‘Not-I’

8.4.3 God and his other, Christ

8.4.4 ‘Mind’ and its other, itself

8.4.5 being and its other, nothing

8b/8.5 Hegel’s recognitive theory of Spirit and his Neoplatonic cultus

8.6 God loves himself in his collective other

9a/9. Hegel’s cognition of God

9.1 What is cognised?

9.2 God is a Neoplatonic process

9.3 Plotinus and Cusanus: impressions become concepts

9b/9.4 Hegel’s Intuition

9c/9.5 God is cognised in a perspectival community

9.6 Hegel’s perspectival community – the kingdom of God

9.7 The cultus is the site of freedom

9.8 Flight of the alone to the Alone – a priesthood of philosophers

10a/10. Concepts, propositions, predication and the speculative sentence

10.1 Hegel, philosopher of concrete concepts

10.2 Hegel’s concepts are spiritual, religious and open

10.3 Speculative exposition preserves the dialectical form

10.4 Neoplatonic concepts are always dynamic

10.5 The importance of negation

10.6 Hegel used his concepts mytho-poetically

10b/10.7 Hegel and Plotinus rejected propositions of the understanding from their speculative philosophy

10.8 Proclus and Cusanus on propositions

10.9 Hegel’s ultimate concepts – beyond predication

10.9.1 God

10.9.2 Absolute

10.9.3 Spirit

10.9.4 Concept/Notion

10.9.5 Absolute Idea

11a/11. Hegel, prose poet

11.1 Language is the ‘mind’s’ perfect expression

11.1.1 The German language has many advantages

11.1.2 The sound of speech

11.2 On the importance of feeling to philosophy

11b/11.3 Hegel’s speculative thinking and his poetic imagination

11.3.1 Speculative philosophy and metaphor

11.3.2 Hegel and metaphor

11c/11.3.3 Hegel’s ‘Trinity’ – symbolism and allegory within a Neoplatonic metaphor

11.3.4 The Christian Trinity and Neoplatonism

11.3.5 Proclus’ triad: Being, Life and Intelligence

11.3.6 Hegel on Proclus’ triad

11.3.7 Hegel’s Neoplatonic Trinity

11.3.8 The Trinity is a metaphor that points to a truth beyond itself

11d/11.3.9 Core Neoplatonic metaphors Hegel used

11.3.9.1 Emanation and return (including elevation and introversion)

11.3.9.2 Light

11.3.9.3 Mirror

11.3.9.4 Sight

11e/11.3.10 Hegel infused the Trinity with Neoplatonic symbolism

11.3.10.1 God as a symbol for unity and difference

11.3.10.2 Christ as a symbol for unity in difference

11.3.10.3 Christ as a symbol for emanation

11.3.10.4 Christ as a symbol for mystery

11.3.10.5 Christ as a symbol for the unity of divine and human

11.3.10.6 Christ as a symbol for the unity of infinite and finite

11.3.10.7 Christ as a symbol for the unity of eternal and in time

11.3.10.8 Christ as a symbol for the journey of the soul

11.3.10.9 Christ as a symbol for the process of spirit and self-cognition

11.3.10.10 Christ as a symbol for contradiction

11.3.10.11 Christ as a symbol for the process of negation

11.3.10.12 Christ as a symbol for recollection

11.3.10.13 Christ as a symbol for the means of return and unification

11.3.10.14 The Holy Spirit as a symbol for the return to unity in knowledge

11.3.10.15 The rose and the owl face each other

11f/11.3.11 The Phenomenology of Spirit and the Logic unite in the Enneads

11g/11.3.11.1 The Phenomenology of Spirit and the Enneads

11.3.11.2 The Phenomenology of Spirit: theatre of the ‘mind’

11h/11.3.11.3 The Science of Logic and Neoplatonism

11i/11.3.11.4 The Science of Logic is a theology

11j/11.3.11.5 With what does the Science of Logic begin?

11k/11.3.11.6 Being, being and nothing

11l/11.3.11.7 God: conceptual and categorial

11m/11.3.11.8 Metaphor and prose poetry

12a/12. Hegel and Proclus

12.1 Academics on Hegel, Neoplatonism and Proclus

12.2 Hegel on Neoplatonism and Proclus

12b/12.3 The philosophies of Hegel and Proclus

12.3.1 Neoplatonists are not philosophers

12c/12.3.2 The reconciliation of faith and ‘reason’

12d/12.3.3 The retreat into a philosophy of subjectivity – ‘ancient’ becomes ‘modern’

13a/13. Hegel and Nicholas of Cusa

13.1 The use of Neoplatonism

13.2 Philosophers who didn’t acknowledge those who influenced them

13b/13.3 ‘Cusa’s direct influence on Modern thought is small; an immediate common-bond is scarcely confirmable.’

13c/13.4 A Neoplatonist must never be acknowledged as the initiator of modern Western philosophy

13d/13.4.1 Hegel knew of Cusanus, in detail

13e/13.4.2 Some more writing on Cusanus that Hegel read

13f/13.5 What the academics refuse to acknowledge in Hegel they incorrectly attribute in Cusanus

13.6 Parallels between Hegel and Cusanus

13g/13.6.1 Both Hegel and Cusanus sought to reconstruct the grounds of philosophy and theology and the relationship between them

13h/13.6.2 Hegel followed Cusanus in structuring his Neoplatonism on Proclus’ triad of triads

13.6.2.1 Further discussion of Proclus’ triad

13.6.2.2 Proclus and Cusanus

13.6.2.3 Cusanus and Hegel overlaid the Christian Trinity on Proclus’ triad, exploring its theological and philosophical potential

13.6.2.4 How successful were both in bringing their treatment of the Trinity into sync with Proclus’ triad?

13i/13.6.3 Their philosophies are the world-valuing, intellectual mysticism of Neoplatonism

13j/13.6.4 The God of Hegel and Cusanus

13k/13.6.5 Infinity and the finite

13l/13.6.5.1 ‘Understanding’, ‘reason’, finitude and infinity

13m/13.6.5.2 The fundamental notion in philosophy, conflation and the Proclean triad

13n/13.6.5.3 Measure, circles, spheres and God

13o/13.6.5.4 The use to an absolute idealist of the historical Christ and of Christianity

13p/13.6.6 The cognition of absolute truth – God is a Proclean ‘syllogism’

13q/13.6.6 The cognition of absolute truth – God is a Proclean ‘syllogism’ (continued)

13r/13.6.6 The cognition of absolute truth – God is a Proclean ‘syllogism’ (continued)

13s/13.6.6 The cognition of absolute truth – God is a Proclean ‘syllogism’ (continued)

13t/13.6.6 The cognition of absolute truth – God is a Proclean ‘syllogism’ (continued)

13u/13.6.6 The cognition of absolute truth – God is a Proclean ‘syllogism’ (continued)

13v/13.6.6 The cognition of absolute truth – God is a Proclean ‘syllogism’ (continued)

13w/13.6.6 The cognition of absolute truth – God is a Proclean ‘syllogism’ (concluded)

14a/14. Magee on Hermeticism, Böhme and Hegel

14.1 Magee’s misrepresentation of the Hermetica

14b/14.2 But wait! Shockingly, there’s more!

14c/14.2 But wait! Shockingly, there’s more! (continued)

14d/14.2 But wait! Shockingly, there’s more! (continued)

14e/14.2 But wait! Shockingly, there’s more! (continued)

14f/14.3 The influence of Neoplatonism

14g/14.4  If not the Hermetica, what is the source for God as process?

14h/14.4 If not the Hermetica, what is the source for God as process? (concluded)

15a/15. Conclusion

15b/15. Conclusion (continued)

15c/15. Conclusion (continued)

15d/15. Conclusion (continued)

15e/15. Conclusion (concluded)

Complete thesis with choice of colours for the title page:

‘Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist’ A

‘Hegel the consummate Neoplatonist’ B

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