26. The three aspects (20)  07/10/2000

On relationism, again

   In my preceding post relationism came onstage again, and would still do as an important topic hereafter, so I would like to explain it a bit more. (*1)

   The concept 'relationism' was actively used by Hiromatsu to characterize Marx's new viewpoint, which opposes to 'reification' or Verdinglichung. He explicated that concept:
   "Marx and Engels did not ever formulate the concept 'reification,' nor frequently used it. Yet referring to the way of their usage in their later works, we can easily notice that the word 'reification' designates the fact that social relations among people, which include the moments of the environment and their products, appear to us as relations among things, as the qualities of things, or as self-subsistent objects." (*2)

   Hiromatsu mentioned Buddhism as a classical example that keeps away from reification and sticks to relationism. Buddhism preaches that beings are nothing and that nothing is beings. It denies the substantial soul completely, not only after but also before one's death.
   Western civilization has a tradition of both physical and psychic substantialism, which is a refined reificationism into a philosophical view. And this substantialism is still a strong tide in religion and thought. (What is Christianity if there are no souls to save!?)

   What about relationship itself then? How did Hiromatsu define it?
   "When we argue on the priority of relations, it should get to the monism of relationship. Then 'relationship' can be regarded, in traditional terms, as transcendentaria (transcendent). It is impossible for us to define it. We are merely able to elucidate various phenomena in the world as the diverse forms, Gestalten, or Stationen a la Hegel of the primary [i.e., relationship--Taki], that is, as its being-forms." (*3) 

   It may be childish to criticize him simply for his comment on the impossibility of defining relationship, even if we do not accept that transcendent easily as a self-evident concept, nor as a legitimate posit like an undefined term in mathematics.


(*1) Relationism and the 'priority of relations to things' are practically the same thing, albeit used in different contexts. As for the latter, see The three aspects (3) dated 10/27/1999.

(*2) The Composition of the Reification Theory, Iwanami Shoten, 1983, chap. 2, sec. 1; see also op. cit., chap. 1, sec. 2.

(*3) The Forefront of Contemporary Philosophy, pp. 86-7.

27. The three aspects (21)  09/25/2000

The third aspect: the creation of meta-worlds (7)


A brief chronicle of Hegel's life

1770  Hegel was born in Stuttgart.

1801  Hegel arrived in Jena.
1801  T
welve Theses in the habilitation-process

The Difference

1802  Faith and Knowledge

1803  Schelling left Jena for Würzburg.

1806-07  The
Phenomenology of Spirit
1806  Hegel
accepted the rectorship of the gymnasium in Nürnberg. 
Science of Logic
Hegel accepted the chair at Heidelberg.
1818  Hegel went to Berlin.
1821  The Philosophy of Right

1831  Hegel died of cholera.


   As we see it, in his first important essay, The Difference Between Fichte's and Schelling's System of Philosophy, Hegel only showed us the basic cause of the Hegelian contradiction, but not its detailed mechanism. (*1)
His next important writing is Faith and Knowledge or the Reflective Philosophy of Subjectivity in Its Completed Forms as Kantian, Jacobian and Fichtean Philosophy (1802). While still we cannot find any explanations of the mechanism of the contradiction in it, Hegel gives us an enlarged description of the Absolute (the totality, the unlimited, the infinite):

  1. For our cognition the totality is the first and determines its parts (*2), as Jacobi (1743-1819) said (*3).
       We can easily accept this claim for we have looked over the language-words case as its example.  

  2. The infinite is absolute affirmation, and the finite or the determined is negation (*4),--according to Spinoza's definition of Substance (*5).
       Hegel and his contemporaries took it for granted that the infinite or the Absolute is God and therefore absolutely affirmative. Even for us this No. ii seems reasonable when we hold a viewpoint of relationism, which takes the determined (a part, a 'figure') as negation of, or as the different from, the infinite (the totality, a 'ground.') A 'ground' should be affirmative, if temporarily. (*6)

  3. The absolute is the absolute identity of the contraposed or the finite,--the idea chanted by Hegel alongside of Schelling (1775-1854).
       When taking up the problem of the identity of the contraposed, we often unphilosophically try to find some sameness of individuals as such, e.g., the sameness of a cat with a dog, or of love with hate, etc. But Schelling and Hegel mainly thought of the identity between different worlds (in our terms), e.g., between the unconditionally ideal and the unconditionally real (*7), the mind and the world, the soul and the body, the self and Nature (*8), etc.

   Those three points were not original to Hegel, but preconditions for his philosophy. 


(*1) cf. The three aspects (19) dated 06/28/2000. 

(*2) " . . . für diese [die Erkenntnis] müssen die Teile schlechthin durchs Ganze bestimmt, das Ganze das Erste der Erkenntnis sein." (Glauben und Wissen,
Suhrkamp Verlag, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, Bd. 2, S. 402) 

(*3) "Jacobi erkennt im Satze des Grundes seine Bedeutung als Prinzips der vernünftigen Erkenntnis, totum parte prius esse neccesse est [a literal translation: 'It is necessary that the total is prior to its part.'--Taki] . . .; oder das Einzelne ist nur im Ganzen bestimmt;" (ebenda, S. 335) 

(*4) " . . . der absolute Begriffe (ist) Unendlichkeit--an sich absolute Affirmation . . . " (ebenda, S. 351) 

(*5) "Das Unendliche definiert Spinoza (Ethik, p. I, Pr. VIII, Sch. I) als die absolute Affirmation der Existenz irgendeiner Natur, das Endliche im Gegenteil als eine teilweise Verneinung." (ebenda, S. 345) 

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

(*7) cf. Schelling, Vorlesungen über die Methode des akademischen Studiums (1803). 

(*8) " . . . die Gegensätze, die sich vorfinden, . . . als Geist und Welt, als Seele und Leib, als Ich und Natur usw." (Glauben und Wissen, Suhrkamp Verlag, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, Bd. 2, S. 302) 

Comments and suggestions are always welcomed.

e-mail : takin@be.to