21. The three aspects (15)  04/10/2000

The third aspect: the creation of meta-worlds (2)

   Before we investigate the origin and the mechanism of the Hegelian contradiction and its following movement, it would be better to see the result of them; as when it is hard to reason out the culprit in a detective story, we had better think who got a profit from the murder.

   In The Phenomenology of Spirit, for example, 'consciousness' passes through several stages: sense-certainty--this, perception--thing, understanding--force, etc. Each stage, which is a being-form of spiritual substance, possesses wholeness in its sphere and makes its own world.
   For instance, the first stage, where everything is 'this,' is "the sensible world as itself real actuality" (*1); in the second one everything appears as a thing, and so on.
   We find the wholeness of each stage in Hegel's Logic, too. Everything is 'being,' then 'nothing,' and 'becoming,' etc., each of which also makes its own world.

   Those worlds have generated from the preceding as the products of its contradiction and the following movement. Then how should we, new millennium philosophical students, call the process without incurring a harsh criticism even from logical positivists? 
   When we ask this question ourselves, we have a sense of deja vu--a similar logic of self-production and self-objectification. That is metalanguage, more precisely, its some aspects. 
   (The word 'metalanguage,' incidentally, first appeared in 1936 on the authority of Random House Dictionary.)

   Metalanguage is a language used to describe or analyze another language (an object language). The latter may be a natural language (e.g., English, German, etc. in daily use) or a formal, artificial language. 
   When you explain the grammar of English in English, both meta- and object languages are the same English, but they each belong to a different order.
   Just in an ordinary conversation too, we sometimes use metalanguage: "What do you mean by 'he's clever'?"

   Now, the example of explaining English (an object language) grammar in English (a metalanguage) attracts our attention. Where did this metalanguage come from? Naturally, from our ordinary English, the object language. We got the metalanguage as if it had copied from the object one at the very moment we took the latter as our research object.
   That meta- or higher order language is, in a sense, richer than its object language for the former should have more semantic categories than the latter does; or else the higher order language could not give predicates, such as 'right' or 'wrong,' to the expressions of the lower order one.
   However such added richness must have been included in the lower order language already; so your explanation of English grammar in English (metalanguage) can be fully understood by those who only know the ordinary English (lower order language). And in case you use newly coined terms with the explanation, you are expected to give their definitions to them. The new terms, too, are merely efficient abbreviations for the expressions of the lower language.
   Further, when you think of English, you do not represent to you the first order English, the second, the third, etc., but single English.

   The characteristics above of metalanguage are, we think, common to the Hegelian process of successive stages. So we call those stages 'meta-worlds.' The Hegelian contradiction and its dialectical movement may be about the logic of the metaworld or 'meta-movement.'
   Smart people would here jump the gun: "The cause of language having the meta-structure has originally stemmed from the fact that consciousness or the world has the same structure." But we had better first see whether the young Hegel has really gotten the idea of the metaworld or something like that. 


(*1) " . . . die sinnliche Welt als selbst reelle Wirklichkeit." (Phänomenologie des Geistes, Suhrkamp Verlag, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, Bd. 3, S. 119)

22. The three aspects (16)  04/20/2000

The third aspect: the creation of meta-worlds (3)

   In his first published writing, The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's System of Philosophy (1801), Hegel wrote:
   "The Kantian philosophy needed to separate its spirit from its letter, and to let the pure speculative principle stand out from the rest . . . " (*1) And "the principle of speculation" is "the identity of the subject with the object." (*2)
   "We have the daringly expressed, genuine principle of speculation if we abide by Fichte's principle . . . ." The principle of the Fichtean system is "the pure thinking on oneself, that is, the identity of the subject [i.e., the thinking I--Taki] with the object [the thought I] in the form of 'the I = the I'." (*3)

   'The I = the I' is not the same formula as formal logic uses, i.e., 'A = A,' which is merely the law of identity, let alone a meaningless tautology. Fichte's formula shows that the former I as the subject posits itself as the object, that is, 'positing itself' (Sich-selbst-Setzen). (*4)
   Accordingly, "'the I = the I' is identity and doubleness at the same time." (*5)
   The young Hegel thought that this principle as absolute identity must have been carried out entirely, and that it was, however, limited in many ways in original Fichte's system.
   Hegel wanted that I to include both the pure, transcendental consciousness and the empirical consciousness or the not-I, Nature, that is, the whole world in our wording "as ideal factors." (*6)

   Roughly speaking, with 'the I = the I' he first had his own philosophical formula: the world posits itself into doubleness, still holding identity. (Which we call the metaworld.) He continued to use the formula, 'the I = the I,' in his main works. (*7)

   It may not a too farfetched way for us to get the idea of 'meta-' from metalanguage, for we find the following sentences in his later work (1807):
   "We see . . . language as the existence of Spirit. . . . Language is Self, which separates itself from itself, and which as the pure 'I = the I' becomes an object to itself . . . " (*8)


(*1) "Die Kantische Philosophie hatte es bedurft, daß ihr Geist vom Buchstaben geschieden und das rein spekulative Prinzip aus dem Übrigen herausgehoben wurde, . . . " (Differenz des Fichteschen und Schellingschen Systems der Philosophie, Suhrkamp Verlag, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, Bd. 2,  S. 9)

(*2) " . . . das Prinzip der Spekulation, die Identität des Subjekts und Objekts . . . " (ebenda, S. 10)

(*3) "Das reine Denken seiner selbst, die Identität des Subjekts und des Objekts, in der Form Ich = Ich ist Prinzip des Fichteschen Systems, und wenn man sich unmittelbar an dieses Prinzip . . . allein hält, so hat man das kühn ausgesprochene echte Prinzip der Spekulation." (ebenda, S. 11)

(*4) " . . . Ich = Ich, das absolute Sich-selbst-Setzen . . . " (ebenda, S. 57)

(*5) "Ich = Ich ist Identität und Duplizität zugleich, es ist eine Entgegensetzung in Ich = Ich." (ebenda, S. 55)

(*6) z. B. " . . . im Gründe ist gar keine Synthese möglich [im Fichteschen System--Taki]; die Synthese ist nur alsdann möglich, wenn die Tätigkeiten des Sich-selbst-Setzens und des Entgegensetzens als ideelle Faktoren gesetzt sind." (ebenda, S. 58)

(*7) z. B. Phänomenologie des Geistes, Suhrkamp Verlag, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, S. 479, 482, 494, 572, 579, 586, 586, 588; Wissenschaft der Logik, ebenda, Bd. 5, S. 269, Bd. 6, S. 407; Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften, ebenda, Bd. 8, S. 183, 183, 186, Bd. 9, S. 49, 49, Bd. 10, S. 213, 213, 213, 213, 213, 214, 216, 217

(*8) "Wir sehen . . . die Sprache als das Dasein des Geistes. . . . Sie ist das sich von sich selbst abtrennende Selbst, das als reines Ich = Ich sich gegenständlich wird, . . . " (Phänomenologie des Geistes, Suhrkamp Verlag, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, Bd. 3, S. 478 f.)

23. The three aspects (17)  05/01/2000

The third aspect: the creation of meta-worlds (4)

   We inferred that the Hegelian contradiction has its roots in the 'meta-structure' of the world (*1), and reported that the young Hegel recognized that structure in Fichte's 'the I = the I' as the identity of the subject and the object. (*2)
   So far, our orientation may be right, for Hegel wrote as follows:
   "The consciousness that a purely formal appearance of the Absolute is a contradiction can generate, only when speculation starts from reason and 'A = A' as the identity of the subject and the object." (*3)

   But is there anything worth at all bringing forward a new coinage, the 'metaworld'? Apart from Hegelianism and metalanguage, what is it? And could it have any impact on the contemporary intellectual scene?
   Maybe we should lend substance to the new word here to make its debut successful.

   People ordinarily live in their everyday world. It is sensuous: it is full of colors, sounds, feels and so on. It also gives us various emotions and values: A 85 mm Planar f/1.4 lens before me has an mysterious air. 
   (According to legend among cameraphiles, 'Wahrheit' dwells in the room between its first element and the second one. A 35mm Summicron? They believe in 'Wunder' in it.) 
   When, for example, we read some scientific article in a magazine or take lessons in science, however, the world that appears before us is quite different from the everyday one. Atoms, molecules, energy, the mathematical relations between them, etc., that is, the scientific world is there. (*4)
   Besides, men of religion teach us religious (Christian, Buddhistic, etc.) worlds. When you see a man throwing his whole body onto the ground in Tibet, you should not think he is mad. He just lives in another world than ours.
   And it goes without saying that a lot of ideologies and philosophical thoughts have produced their unique version of a worldview.

   Happily, every sphere above lives up to its self-important name, 'world':
1) Each of them possesses everything its own way. The scientific world, for example, has a color, e.g., red of the everyday world, as an electromagnetic wave of some 700nm wavelength, and vice versa.
2) There are indigenous laws in each sphere, which make an autonomous world of it: "Too much eating ice cream makes stomach trouble," "v = 9.8 t," "Those who do wrong go to hell," etc.

   While autonomous, those worlds are not unrelated to, but produced from each other. It is said that the scientific world is the result of abstraction and the exactness of the everyday world; the latter is, reversely, the effect of the physical and chemical reaction in our brain of the former world. Even the existence of god can be proved by human reason, or he is simply a product of our imagination; to men of religion a human being is just a creature of God, etc.
   In short, those pluriworlds are the 'metaworld' to each other and we, in fact, experience the plurality of the world everyday,--or are you purely a greedy animal, a holy man, or a mad scientist? (*5)


(*1) cf. The three aspects (15) dated 04/10/2000.

(*2) cf. The three aspects (16) dated 04/20/2000.

(*3) " . . . das Bewußtsein . . . , das die rein formale Erscheinung des Absoluten der Widerspruch ist,--ein Bewußtsein, das nur entstehen kann, wenn die Spekulation von der Vernunft und dem A = A als absoluter Identität des Subjekts und Objekts ausgeht." (Differenz, Suhrkamp, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, Bd. 2, S. 41)

(*4) To make the matter simple, we suppose the classic natural science before Planck and Einstein.

(*5) My essay, The Genesis and Structure of Worlds, argues on the metaworld thematically. Especially,  '1. The Layering and contracting of worlds.'

24. The three aspects (18)  05/11/2000

The third aspect: the creation of meta-worlds (5)

   Some people would say, "Certainly we have a lot of worldviews today. But it is not because there are indeed a lot of worlds, but just because of so many viewpoints. We change a point of view according to a situation and depict the same thing differently."

   However, when we inquire the logical status of that "same thing differently" depicted, can we see any difference between that 'same thing' and Kantian thing in itself? We cannot accept such 'same thing.'
   The facts of the case is that, when one judges if different depictions are of the same thing, he/she tries to find out if each of them correspond with the same one in some world: for instance, a cultural anthropologist would judge that the terrible Demon that burned and killed a native in a wood was a stroke of lightning, if he/she heard a crash of thunder over the wood in that night; because he/she would then realize as a modern scientist that both the killing and the crash of thunder correspond with the same space-time point of the physical universe.

   Further it should be pointed out against such 'same-thing-theory' (*1) that so-called different depictions cannot overlap each other precisely or essentially.
   For this example, imagine a boy who looks at a red flower before him. The color red (a depiction in the everyday world) is at the spot that is a meter ahead of him. 
   The counterpart of that color of the scientific world is not merely the electromagnetic wave of some 700nm wavelength, but the complex of the physical process: a reflection of the electromagnetic wave on the surface of the flower, its entrance into the boy's eyes, and the electrical excitement in his brain. The place where this process happens is a rather roomy space, which contains the surface of the flower, the interval between the flower and the boy, and his body.
   So the place where the color red of everyday world exists does not overlap the scientific one, even if they correspond with each other.

   As for the young Hegel, he was thinking of works of art, religion and speculation as the cases of positing-oneself, i.e., the metaworld in our wording. (*2) Labor as Man's or society's objectification of itself had not yet occurred to his mind at the point of The Difference (1801).


(*1) That theory has typically been presented as the thesis of the 'one-over-another depiction on the same thing' by Shozo Omori, a Japanese analytic (ordinary language school) philosopher.

(*2) z.B. "Die Kunst, drückt sich Fichte aus, macht den transzendentalen Gesichtspunkt zu dem gemeinen, indem auf jenem die Welt gemacht, auf diesem gegeben ist: auf dem ästhetischen ist sie gegeben, wie sie gemacht ist. Durch das ästhetische Vermögen ist eine wahre Vereinigung des Produzierens der Intelligenz und des ihr als gegeben erscheinenden Produkts,--des sich als unbeschränkt und zugleich als Beschränktheit setzenden Ich anerkannt, oder vielmehr eine Vereinigung der Intelligenz und der Natur, . . . " (Suhrkamp, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, Bd. 2, S. 91)
   "Diese Anschauung des sich selbst gestaltenden oder sich objektiv findenden Absoluten kann gleichfalls wieder in einer Polarität betrachtet werden, insofern die Faktoren dieses Gleichgewichts, auf einer Seite das Bewußtsein, auf der anderen das Bewußtlose überwiegend gesetzt wird. Jene Anschauung erscheint in der Kunst mehr in einen Punkt konzentriert und das Bewußtsein niederschlagend,--entweder in der eigentlich sogenannten Kunst als Werk, das als objektiv teils dauernd ist, teils mit Verstand als ein totes Äußeres genommen werden kann, ein Produkt des Individuums, des Genies, aber der Menschheit angehörend, - oder in der Religion als ein lebendiges Bewegen, das als subjektiv, . . . vom Verstand als ein bloß Inneres gesetzt werden kann, das Produkt einer Menge, einer allgemeinen Genialität, aber auch jedem Einzelnen angehörend. In der Spekulation erscheint jene Anschauung mehr als Bewußtsein, . . . " (ebenda, S. 112 f.)

25. The three aspects (19)  06/28/2000

The third aspect: the creation of meta-worlds (6)

   Now, after a good rest, our next task is to elucidate the mechanism of the Hegelian contradiction. It is, however, very heavy, of course. I too wish to write: "I have discovered a truly remarkable proof, but the hard drive space of the server computer is too small to reserve it."
   But today 1 gigabytes memory costs only ten dollars. Even a laptop can have a 20 gigabytes hard drive, which, if data are all texts, matches a small library. With recent developments in the field of IT and the Internet, the way of studying philosophy should also be changed radically in the 21st century.

   To return to our subject: what did Hegel think about the cause of contradiction in The Difference (1801), which was the start point of Hegelianism? He insists there:

  1. The Absolute (i.e., Truth or God--Taki) is to be constituted for our consciousness. This is the task of philosophy. But it is a contradiction, because the Absolute should be reflected and posited for that; i.e., our reflection should put limitations on the Absolute with concrete determinations, while the Absolute is absolutely limitless. (*1)
  2. The mediation of this contradiction is philosophical reflection (i.e., philosophical thinking--Taki) as reason, which bears the relation to the Absolute. Philosophical reflection is reason as long as it has that relation. It negates all beings or the limited by dint of making them be related to the Absolute; at the same time, however, just for the sake of their relation to the Absolute, they have their existence. (*2)

   We can easily observe in No. i that Hegel only adduced  an abstract, though fundamental, reason for the cause of contradiction at the starting point of his philosophy: the limitless Absolute should be limited to be recognized. 

   But in The Difference he had already got a precondition for the Hegelian contradiction, that is, the relational worldview. Because the limited beings in No. ii are all the being-forms of the Absolute, each limited being is a whole in its own way. (*3) Still, that whole is merely part of the Absolute ( the real totality) in regard to the latter. (*4)
   The relation of that part to the totality, which is showed in No. ii, is just the same as is in language seen by structural linguists; each element or part (simply put, a word) of language is given its meaning from the totality of language; the being of an element is not grounded on itself, but on the totality. (*5)

   Hegel's relationism was a thoroughgoing one. Substantialism, which presupposes things that are grounded on themselves, was completely denied:
   "By this [i.e., reason's] relation [to the Absolute] a reason's work [i.e., each knowledge or the limited] perishes, and only the relation exists and is the sole reality of cognition." (*6) 
   "[The limited or] a product [which includes both the subject and the object] has no existence except amid production, is not posited as a self-supported being, nor as  an existent before, independent of, production." (*7)


(*1) "Das Absolute soll fürs Bewußtsein konstruiert werden, [das] ist die Aufgabe der Philosophie; da aber das Produzieren sowie die Produkte der Reflexion nur Beschränkungen sind, so ist dies ein Widerspruch. Das Absolute soll reflektiert, gesetzt werden; damit ist es aber nicht gesetzt, sondern aufgehoben worden, denn indem es gesetzt wurde, wurde es beschränkt." (Differenz, Suhrkamp Verlag, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, Bd. 2, S. 25)

(*2) "Die Vermittlung dieses Widerspruch ist die philosophische Reflexion. . . . die Reflexion hat als Vernunft Beziehung auf das Absolute, und sie ist nur Vernunft durch diese Beziehung; die Reflexion vernichtet insofern sich selbst und alles Sein und Beschränkte, indem sie es aufs Absolute bezieht. Zugleich aber eben durch seine Beziehung auf das Absolute hat das Beschränkte ein Bestehen." (ebenda, S. 25 f.)

(*3) z.B. "In dieser Organisation [von Erkenntnissen--Taki] ist jeder Teil zugleich das Ganze, denn er besteht als Beziehung auf das Absolute." (ebenda, S. 30)

(*4) z.B. "das Absolute, weil es im Philosophieren von der Reflexion fürs Bewußtsein produziert wird, wird hierdurch eine objektive Totalität, ein Ganzes von Wissen, eine Organisation von Erkenntnissen." (ebenda, S. 30)

(*5) Cf. The three aspects (6) dated 12/03/1999.

(*6) " . . . durch diese Beziehung vergeht aber ihr Werk, und nur die Beziehung besteht und ist die einzige Realität der Erkenntnis." (ebenda, S. 30)

(*7) " . . . in jenem [Realismus] das Subjekt als Produkt des Objekts, in diesem [Idealismus] das Objekt als Produkt des Subjekts gesetzt wird; . . . das Produkt keinen Bestand hat als nur im Produzieren, nicht gesetzt ist als ein Selbständiges, vor und unabhängig von dem Produzieren Bestehendes." (ebenda, S. 49)

Comments and suggestions are always welcomed.

e-mail : takin@be.to