Janko Stojanow

ON THE ABSOLUTE RATIONAL WILL

(SUBLATION OF ’S PHILOSOPHY)  

G.W.F. Hegel

An Online book

                                                         

 

 

I. Sublation of Hegel's philosophy

 

 

 

 

The science of philosophy has always needed - but seldom had, - philosophers having the will to make it an integral part of actual life. It is no accident that in the culture of modern civilization the rank and importance of philosophy as such compared to the ones it used to have in ancient Greece and even during Hegel's lifetime are much lower. Its very name - love of wisdom, - is defective and so is its first principle “Cognise yourself,” which Hegel developed through and through wholly and completely in his great science of philosophy. According to him, not only is this principle the supreme beginning of the Absolute, which reveals itself in the total process of its self-development, but it also has in itself its result - the Absolute Spirit.  Hegel claims that the True “is the process of its own becoming, the circle that presupposes its end as its goal, having its end also as its beginning; and only by being worked out to its end, is it actual."(1) Therefore, we cannot develop a preceding philosophy until we examine and develop its highest, initial, first principle, but on the other hand, in order to cognise its principle, we have to cognise the whole preceding philosophy perfectly. That is the reason that he who searches for truth and right and sets himself the task of criticizing and sublating Hegel's philosophy is up against an extraordinary difficult task. Firstly, because Hegel's philosophy is still not understood. Secondly, every attempt to present his philosophy briefly is doomed to failure, for only in the totality of development of its principle does a philosophy attain to its result. 

Already during Hegel's lifetime philosophy was not organically woven into the spiritual culture of his time. It ceased to have whatever practical significance. According to the absolutely authoritative account of Hegel himself: “With the Fichtian philosophy a revolution took place in Germany. The public had penetrated as far as the philosophy of Kant, and until the Kantian philosophy was reached the interest awakened by Philosophy was general; it was accessible, and men were curious to know about it, it pertained to the ordinary knowledge of a man of culture. Formerly men of business, statesmen, occupied themselves with Philosophy; now, however, with the intricate idealism of the philosophy of Kant, their wings droop helpless to the ground. Hence it is with Kant that we first begin to find a line of separation which parts us from the common mode of consciousness; ... With Fichte the common consciousness has still further separated itself from the speculative element therein present. ... In this way since Fichte's time few men have occupied themselves with speculation. ... Even less than Fichte did Schelling attain to popularity, for the concrete in its nature is directly speculative.”(2) The same holds true still more in respect of Hegel as well, because he achieved substantially more than them: he made philosophy a science. But not at all is the general public familiar with the truly scientific form of philosophy - the Hegelian form of absolute objective idealism. 

While it is true that Hegel's philosophy contains in itself the principles of all the previous philosophies and is still the highest one, the fact remains that not only has a thorough and speculative examination of a philosophy to recognise the affirmative element in it but it also has to show up the defect of that philosophy. Hegel expresses the strongest conviction that spirit is the highest determination of the absolute. He grasps that the supreme goal of the absolute thinking itself thought is to achieve itself as an Absolute Idea. Much as we can admire the fact that he examines the true on its own account, the deficiency of his philosophy is that he fails to treat the true in its living concrete interconnection with the good. Notwithstanding his full consciousness of the practical, he omits to respect the truly greater authority of the universal practice of thousands of human generations; practice which is the true realization of the absolute right, and in-and-through which God manifests himself to himself and takes possession of himself. Cognition and material actuality are equally important moments of the absolute, so that the latter is as much Spirit and absolute knowledge about itself as it is Will and absolute Right over itself. Hegel, however, is first and foremost interested in absolute cognition and knowledge with the result that his practical philosophy never attains the highest degree of philosophical speculation.

  In his inaugural address to the university youth - delivered at Heidelberg in October 1816 and at Berlin two years later, - Hegel expresses his credo. He points out clearly in it that he divorces from the political actuality of his time and consequently he does not want philosophy, “the world-spirit to be so much busied with the objective spirit that it could not turn within and concentrate itself within itself.”(3) According to him philosophy is a manifestation of a higher inner life and higher spirituality. Despite the fact that there exists external political actuality, which is important to the world-spirit, to Hegel himself more important is the pure science, the free rational world of the spirit. He regrets that “ ... the distress of our time, already mentioned, and the interest of great events in the world, has repressed, even among ourselves, a profound and serious preoccupation with philosophy and frightened away more general attention to it.”(4) He hopes that “alongside the political and other interests bound up with our everyday life, science as such, the free rational world of the spirit may flourish once more.”(5) Hegel, to whom “the history of philosophy is itself scientific, and thus essentially becomes the science of philosophy”(6), fails to appreciate the history of the World Political Will, does not acknowledge the latter and still does not know that it is even more important than the history of pure Spirit and the pure Spirit itself.

Paradoxically enough, this is one of the main reasons for the deep crisis of modern philosophy. The latter cannot see further than the sphere, in which it sealed itself hermetically. As we have seen above in Hegel's inaugural lecture, even during his lifetime philosophy suffered a substantial defeat; the latter - as Hegel witnesses above, - began with Kant, Fichte and Schelling. It must have been absolutely depressive and dispiriting. Hegel expresses the low spirits of his epoch in the preface of The Philosophy of Right. Stating that philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give instruction as to what the world ought to be, he continues as follows: “As the thought of the world, it appears only when actuality is already cut and dried after its process of formation has been completed. The teaching of the concept, which is also history's inescapable lesson, is that it is only when actuality is mature that the ideal first appears over against the real and that the ideal apprehends this same real world in its substance and builds it up for itself into the shape of an intellectual realm. When philosophy paints its grey in grey, then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy's grey in grey it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.”(7) Hegel expresses the substantial of the Spirit of his and - it seems to me, - our epoch as well. 

Nonetheless, he apparently failed to realize that the actual role of intellectualistic philosophy in the real world – a role, which he perfectly described, - is only the developed result of the very first principle of philosophy: “Cognise yourself.” The latter is defective and fated to fail; it is at the beginning of the immanent and inevitable decline of classical philosophy itself. It cannot be otherwise as long as philosophy considers itself to be only love of wisdom for the end, the final result, is only the developed beginning of philosophy as such. Philosophy cannot be excellent enough until it has practical application and plays an active role in the world we live in. Today its sacred fire is burning only in the University lecture-halls; unquestionably, the latter are little islands amidst the boundless ocean of life, which does not need the science of philosophy and has completely forgotten about the latter.

Fortunately, the time has come for us to understand the need  to develop political philosophy as an absolutely practical science. The task of our time is to develop the science of philosophy - i.e. Hegel's objective idealism, - and raise it to a higher level, which is to become the standpoint of our time. Then and only then and in so far as Hegelian Spirit serves the Will is it important and significant, and therefore, has practical application. Philosophy has always claimed to be the queen of all the sciences and has not yet understood that it cannot even be prima unter pares. It can only serve them. Without question its speculative method and speculative Reason deserve to be the universal principle of the rational free actuality but only inasmuch as it abandons its majestic regal pose and acknowledges that it is only a moment of a truly higher whole and humbles itself to its serving role, for the practical is higher in comparison with the theoretical and the spiritual and contains them in itself. Meanwhile a new science called politologia has been developed but as the latter has not been based upon the science of philosophy, it failed to become a speculative science.  

There is no doubt that the free scientific philosophising is an organic moment of the actual political freedom; political philosophy is to become a speculative science of the absolute Right and Freedom of Will. To become universal practical wisdom - this is the greatest task and deed of the science of philosophy today. The Rational Will of Man is predestined to acquire the method of speculative philosophy, to make it his own as well as to have it as a substantial moment of hisr practical activities. This is the task, which we have to set ourselves: to make philosophy a practical applied science that requires the highest degree of education of Rational Will. In its free self-determination the latter acts in accordance with the universal principles of state constitutions and political ruling and it is absolutely necessary that the scientific philosophical cognition of truth helps to develop the political actuality.  

And precisely this is the aim that we set ourselves and want to achieve: to develop the science of politovolia, - i.e. the science of Political Will as the totally practical universal Rational Will of the Absolute, - as a practical science par excellence, which is based upon the highest degree of philosophical speculation and is infinitely more important than cognising philosophy, but only because it is the immanent organization of practical Rational Will, and its principle “Will yourself” is infinitely more important than “Cognise yourself” - the principle of Hegel's science of philosophy as well as each intellectualistic philosophy.

Beyond question, Hegel's philosophy is brilliant. Neither before him nor after him was philosophy so speculative or reached the highest spheres of speculation. Hegel elevated philosophy to the point of being a science and every succeeding philosophy is faced with the necessity of containing Hegel's philosophy as sublated if it wants to be scientific. For this reason, we have to examine closely first and foremost what the criteria of a true refutation of a philosophy are. We can find them in the introduction of Hegel's Lectures on the History of philosophy as well as in The Science of Logic and The phenomenology of spirit; they are clearly defined there. In the introduction to his Lectures on the History of Philosophy Hegel says: “...every single philosophy, taken by itself, has been, and still is necessary, so that no philosophy has perished; all are retained ...Further we must notice in this connection that no philosophy has been refuted; and yet all of them have been. But what is refuted is not the principle of a philosophy, but only the claim of one principle to be final and absolute and, as such, to have absolute validity. The refutation is the reduction of one principle to be a specific factor in the whole. Thus the principle as such has not disappeared, but only its form, its form of being final and absolute.”(8) We cannot but agree with Hegel that true refutation of a philosophy “consists in pointing out its defect; and it is defective because it is only the universal or principle; it is only the beginning. If the refutation is thorough, it is derived and developed from the principle itself, not accomplished by counter-assertions and random thoughts from the outside. The refutation would, therefore, properly consist in the further development of the principle, and in thus remedying the defectiveness.”(9)

The majority of post-Hegelian philosophers failed to apply in their works that fundamental truth as well as the whole truth to which Hegel raised philosophy. No other philosopher has been criticized as much as Hegel; true, it is easy to criticize and negate, but it is extremely difficult to sublate a great and true philosophy like Hegel's. Yet this and this alone was the task of the whole post-Hegelian philosophy: to sublate his philosophy i.e. to recognize it as thoroughly true, as a standpoint to which philosophy had to raise of necessity, and to show that the principle of his philosophy is not the highest one but a subordinated moment of a higher principle. Discovering this higher principle turned out to be too strenuous a task for all post-Hegelian philosophers. Given the fact that Hegel's terminology is extremely difficult and obscure, it is not surprising that they failed to apprehend his philosophy and to develop it further. But it was not Hegel who put obstacles in their path; this obscurity, or precisely speaking, speculativity is the very nature of the absolute. Hegel was the philosopher who exalted philosophy to such a fascinating degree of excellence.   

Hegel, who knew what a true philosophy is and what is true in philosophy, wanted to originate a philosophical scientific system built on the principle “Cognise yourself” and he reached his goal marvellously well. He made philosophy a speculative science through and through; and there used to be speculative philosophers before Hegel but none of them except Aristotle was as speculative as Hegel. We acknowledge that Hegel's philosophy is entirely true and at the same time we cannot but set ourselves the task of our time: i.e. to sublate and develop this philosophy. In other words, we make it our aim to show that the principle of Hegel's philosophy is insufficient and defective, to show that it is only a moment of the genuinely higher principle “Will yourself” and in so doing, to develop the very science of philosophy on the basis of this new principle. Since - as Hegel himself says, - philosophy “resembles a circle of circles”(10), the goal we want to reach here, is to show that his philosophy is only a circle of the science of Political Will: the science of politovolia - a science, which we will examine in more details in chapter five. In it we introduce the concept of politovolia and explain the etymology of the word. Politovolia is infinitely more than being a science only and that is the reason we do not use the category “politologia”, which is well known. Being the practical Rational Will the politovolia is as much a living self-organizing deed, which masters itself as a scientific system as it is a scientific system, which develops and carries itself into practice as a living deed; it is the absolutely actual.

While Politovolia is the absolutely necessary, philosophy itself as a science is insufficient and unsatisfactory. As early as its very beginning in ancient Greece philosophy gets rid of material life. All ancient philosophers retired into private life dedicated to truth, knowledge and spirit and did not want to be a part of the energy of actual life. They exerted great influence on the entire further development of philosophy. Aristotle admits that philosophy is nothing else but cognition for the sake of cognition: “That it is not a science of production is clear even from the history of the earliest philosophers ...since they philosophised in order to escape from ignorance, evidently they were pursuing science in order to know and not for any utilitarian end. And this is confirmed by the facts; for it was when almost all the necessities of life and the things that make for comfort and recreation had been secured, that such knowledge began to be sought. Evidently then we do not seek it for the sake of any other advantage; but as the man is free, we say who exists for his own sake and not for another's, so we pursue this as the only free science, for it alone exists for its own sake.”(11) This quotation is extremely important; it expresses the credo of all philosophers who think that the aim of philosophy is truth. The principle “Cognise yourself” started its victorious march in ancient Greece. From the very beginning it manifests itself as withdrawal of philosophers from the material actuality of the absolute; the ancient Greek philosophers were the ones who developed the idealistic philosophical doctrine based on the principle mentioned above. Hegel's philosophy is the developed result of this principle, because he united the principles of all philosophies, which preceded his own one; he united them as aspects of the supreme principle “Cognise yourself” and thus reduced them to moments of the Absolute Idea.

We aim at revealing the dialectic of the principle “Cognise yourself”, which in and through itself reduces itself to its true form as a subordinate moment of a higher principle. Hegel frequently says in his Lectures on the history of Philosophy that each stage of philosophy - i.e. the philosophy of each great philosopher, - is necessary; it is a step forward, but at the same time, it also has its defective side and that is what the following epoch has to accomplish, and really accomplishes: to indicate the defective character and the one-sidedness of the preceding philosophy, to sublate the latter, and in so doing, to advance to a newer and higher principle. This is exactly what we have to do if we want to express the need of our time. We set ourselves the task of bringing out the defect of Hegel's philosophical system, its deficiency of material actuality; we aim at developing the principle of his philosophy. The latter investigates the reason and the self-consciousness, the cognition, the principle of the absolute “Cognise yourself”; his philosophy is the product of work of brilliant scientific value. This hard work of the spirit is absolutely necessary; it has had to be done.

All the same, a meticulous examination will show us, that Hegel's is not the highest principle of the absolute. It is essential to examine what he acknowledges and what he throws away and does not bear in mind. Taking into consideration Hegel’s great idea that the principle (the beginning) of a philosophy contains in itself the whole further development of the philosophical system as its result, we say that it is precisely the beginning of Hegel's philosophy – the principle “Cognise yourself,” - that is to be examined. In his philosophy, Spirit discovers something great, supreme, true - the very itself, and so much is it delighted with itself that stays where it is and does not go further. The very fact that Hegel puts Aristotle's Logic in the basis of his system - and develops Logic as a speculative science par excellence, - speaks volumes. Hegel wants “to re-kindle the spontaneity of the Notion in such dead matter”(12) as Aristotle's Logic, i.e. in his philosophy the thought of thought is totally preoccupied with itself. 

Hegel presents us too one-sided a picture; thought becomes so self-conceited that it proclaims itself to be the highest. It subordinates everything else to itself; it is the truth and the supreme ruler of the world. The concept usurps the rights of the good. That deforms the good so much that Hegel has no other alternative but abide by his pure epistemological principle and define Will as a special way of thinking. The latter is essentially the substance of will. In § 23 of his Philosophy of Right Hegel says: “The will is then true, or rather truth itself, because its self-determination consists in a correspondence between what it is in its existence (i.e. what it is as objective to itself) and its concept; or in other words, the pure concept of the will has the intuition of itself for its goal and its reality.”(13) It is beyond doubt that his Philosophy of Right is in a sense a repetition of his logic. His philosophy is a thorough examination of Reason, self-consciousness, Spirit; for him, Will is nothing more but manifestation of Reason. Notwithstanding his wonderful thoughts about conscience, family, civil society and state in this book they all can be found in his earlier works. One is left with the impression that time and time again Hegel applies his logic in all possible fields of human practice. Hegel admits it in the preface of The Philosophy of Right: “This compendium is an enlarged and especially a more systematic exposition of the same fundamental concepts which in relation to this part of philosophy are already contained in a book of mine designed previously for my lectures - the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences (Heidelberg, 1817)…Since I have fully expounded the nature of speculative knowing in my Science of Logic, in this manual I have only added an explanatory note here and there about procedure and method....It will be obvious from the work itself that the whole, like the formation of its parts, rests on the logical spirit.”(14)  In his opinion nothing could be more natural than application of his philosophical method of speculative cognition everywhere in his works: “For since it is the absolute form, the Notion that knows itself and everything as Notion, there is no content that could stand over against it and determine it to be a one-sided external form.”(15), i.e. in everything Reason finds and cognises itself through itself.

The Notion, which as life, soul is only in itself, becomes for itself in the thinking itself thought. That is why Hegel begins the first paragraph of his Philosophy of Right as follows: “It is the concept alone (not the mere abstract category of the understanding which we often hear called by the name) which has actuality, and further that it gives this actuality to itself. All else, apart from this actuality established through the working of the concept itself, is ephemeral existence, external contingency, opinion, unsubstantial appearance, falsity, illusion, and so forth.”(16) Hegel subordinates everything to the great principle “Cognise everything”, which derives from ancient philosophy, but reaches its consummate form in Hegel's philosophy, i.e. in its development philosophy finds itself necessarily reaching that principle, but - contrary to what Hegel asserts, - it is not the highest principle of the absolute. It cannot genuinely comprehend the Will in its truth and right. It cannot express the infinite wealth of Will entirely. All the same, Hegel does not yet feel the need to overcome and sublate that principle. Overcoming and sublating the latter has been the great task of all generations after Hegel.

The starting point of his philosophy is the result of the whole previous self-development of philosophy; a result, which Hegel expressed brilliantly saying that the absolute is spirit. That is why Hegel’s concept is the absolute beginning of objective idealism. Hegel is absolutely right to say that only from the point of view of the higher can be comprehended the lower and he does explain the great deed of the absolute, - the world, - from what according to him is the highest point of view: the one of self-consciousness. The great task of our time is to show that this is as much true as it is not. There is no denying the fact that self-consciousness serves as a basis for the objective idealism and Hegel founded the speculative logic on it. Without question he made philosophy a science. His philosophy attains to the concept, which realizes itself, to the thinking itself thought and to the absolute Idea as self-knowing truth. Never has philosophy been so speculative. The comprehension of Hegel's deed demands incredibly hard work of Spirit; it demands the great dedication of the ancient philosophers, to whom - as Hegel says, - philosophy was not a run from one lecture to another but their life-work. 

Yet, Hegel's philosophy - notwithstanding the fact that it is knowledge about the Absolute Idea, about the absolute truth, - is still not the absolutely true. Although we find a very considerable number of great speculative ideas about the Good and the Volition, we cannot but bring out the defective character of Hegel’s philosophy. Hegel himself is fully aware of the fact that his notion of Will is not equal to the task. It is no accident that the last book published by Hegel was The Philosophy of Right. It is no accident that - as he says in the introduction of this book, - he feels the need to develop psychology: “The proof that the will is free and the proof of the nature of the will and freedom can be established only as a link in the whole chain [of philosophy]. The fundamental premises of this proof are that mind to start with is intelligence, that the phases through which it passes in its development from feeling, through representative thinking, to thinking proper, are the road along which it produces itself as will, and that will, as practical mind in general, is the truth of intelligence, the stage next above it. These premises I have expounded in my Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences and I hope by and by to be able to elaborate them still further. There is all the more need for me by so doing to make my contribution to what I hope is the deeper knowledge of the nature of mind in that, as I have said in the Encyclopaedia, scarcely any philosophical science is so neglected and so ill off as the theory of mind, usually called ‘psychology.’”(17) But the concept of Will has never been examined thoroughly and with all the attention it deserves - neither before Hegel nor after him. No other notion is as extremely indeterminate as the notion of Will, although it is used in both psychological and ethical doctrines. 

And even in modern times psychology - which Hegel wanted to develop in accordance with the spirit of his principle “Cognise yourself”, - is a cognitive science only. It is true that at the beginning of the XX century the concept of Will was one of the central notions of psychology; but the fact remains that later, - with the development of cognitive psychology, with the interweaving of psychology and sociology, and with the introduction of mathematical and experimental methods of examining the complex of qualities and characteristics of personality as such, the Will was put aside. 

As far as Hegel is concerned, he does not examine Will in any active sense, i.e. Hegel does not examine the latter on its own account as the absolute, which within itself has itself for itself. According to him the Will is only practical spirit, which has its own ends and interests but Hegel does not deal with them. He has no time to examine them; he is occupied with the total realization of the principle “Cognise yourself” without regarding the material actuality. As the thinking itself thought intelligence attains its goal – the identity of thought with its general object, - and is the self-knowing truth, the self-cognising reason, i.e. the final result of the development of theoretical spirit is the mutual self-penetration of the objective and subjective reason. The Will is automatically given a subordinated role; true Will is simply practical Reason: “Theoretical intelligence appropriates the immediate determinateness, and in that it has now completed the acquisition, it is within its possession, it is being posited implicitly, through the last negation of immediacy, that for intelligence the content is determined through intelligence. As the free Notion, thought is now also free in respect of content. Intelligence, knowing itself to be the determinant of the content, which is determined as its own no less than as being, is will.”(18)

It was Anaxagoras who called the purpose νους (reason); Hegel does not go beyond this determination. In his philosophy the purpose (the end) is only a Notion. It cannot be otherwise; for he subordinates everything to the principle “Cognise yourself”. Thus from the very beginning Hegel calls the purpose a Notion; the latter is an immanent determination of Spirit, which is the whole truth and the highest determination of the Absolute. Hegel forgets about the Will; he is not able to examine the absolute from the standpoint of everyday practical Will. Therefore, we have to examine all those notions – e.g. purpose, Will, in-and-for-itself, - which Hegel does not examine and which he takes as a matter of course, as something that does not deserve to be examined. These notions as well as the irrational part of the soul are precisely what have to be examined now. Hegel still cannot see that they possess and express the infinite wealth of the absolute; he does not look closely at them at all, although he himself asserts in the introduction of Lectures on the History of Philosophy that “the proper task of philosophy is precisely to investigate what is presupposed as familiar, what everyone thinks he knows already.”(19)

It is remarkable that Hegel called Aristotle's categories δυναμις (possibility, potentia) and εντελεχεια (entelechy, actuality) respectively in-itself and for-itself. By making them his own, Hegel succeeded in making a tremendous advance in philosophy and raised the latter to a higher level. It is true that he constantly makes the best use of them everywhere in his works (for example, he speaks about the being in itself, the being for itself, the in-and-for-itself existing notion); however, the fact remains that Hegel fails to examine them, because the very principle of his philosophy is defective. He discovered them so as to be able to determine the Absolute infinitely better. As a matter of fact every great philosopher does everything in his power to assist the latter, which in and through the philosopher manifests the infinite power of its urge to reveal itself to itself and to come into possession of itself. These great categories have had to be explored further, to be examined thoroughly in order to develop the principle of his philosophy; for they go beyond that principle. In themselves they contain the necessary further development of Hegel's principle “Cognise yourself” since they have in themselves the sublating power of the Absolute to refute it and, in so doing, to remedy its defectiveness.  

And defective Hegel's philosophy is; he examines only the ideal side of the Absolute. Developing Aristotle's forms, - potency (in-itself) and actuality (for-itself), - he only examines how they exist for the cognition, not per se, i.e. never does he examine how the Absolute possesses itself. Never does he undertake a meticulous examination of the infinite wealth of these categories. Hegel uses the categories in-itself and for-itself continuously as categories of his speculative philosophy so as to reach the goal of his time. He uses them in the way he needs them; and he needs them only as categories of the self-cognising Reason. Hegel is a stranger to the idea that these categories - and countless other, which he uses in his speculative Logic time and again, - belong to the sphere of property, possession and ownership, i.e. Hegel is not yet aware about the fact that they belong to a sphere that expands the Absolute beyond the boundaries of cognition. But it is of supreme importance to say that the Absolute cannot attain to its true and complete reality and cannot be grasped in its Truth until these categories are developed in their totality, for they reveal the undeniable fact that in the process of its self-development  the objective Absolute enters in possession of itself and becomes a subject which actually wills - and possesses, - itself. As a result, the acting - willing as well as thinking, - material subject attains to its  highest circle of  absolute property and lives in the realm of its Absolute Rational Will.

However, Hegel does not speak so. His is only a cognitive philosophy. Being is an essential category in his philosophy. Everywhere in his works he writes about being - the being in itself, the being for itself, the being in-and-for-itself, i.e. he examines the Absolute from the point of view of the cognising spirit only. He does not treat the absolute per se as it has itself in-and-for-itself. The categories in-itself and for-itself belong to a sphere in which cognition is not interested and which it cannot attain to as long as it is preoccupied with itself. In Hegel's philosophy they do not yet express the Rational Will of the Absolute as well as its absolute right to possess, use and dispose of itself only implicitly, for Hegel does not know it yet. Whenever he regards the Absolute Idea and the Absolute Spirit in his logic, he uses all the possible categories that belong to the sphere of Will and the determinate forms of its self-possession, such as the urge (and its desires, inclinations, purposes) to own, to possess property and many more. Hegel is not yet aware that this is neither accidental nor arbitrary, but the actual way in which the Absolute enters in possession of itself; what is in itself must become for itself, i.e. must take possession of itself. All these categories are immanent aspects of the Absolute; they are the manifestation of a higher principle of the Absolute, which Hegel is not yet aware about. According to him “The unity of thought with itself is freedom, the free will. Thought, as volition merely, is the impulse to abrogate one's subjectivity, the relation to present existence, the realizing of oneself, since in that I am endeavouring to place myself as existent on equality with myself as thinking. It is only as having the power of thought that the will is free.”(20)

Hegel made "Cognise yourself" a principle of his philosophy. In his philosophy, the Absolute grasps itself as Spirit and its standpoint is that the purpose of Reason is the true; beyond question, this is the developed result of his principle. The very principle does not allow us to go beyond that determination. Of course, being the most speculative philosopher ever in the history of philosophy, Hegel must have known that his principle is still not the highest purpose, the highest beginning-end of the Absolute, for he expressed only the urge of the latter to attain to the standpoint from which it grasps itself as Absolute Idea and Absolute Spirit. It was an absolutely necessary standpoint of the absolute in the time of Hegel. Like Aristotle, Hegel speak about the absolute purpose as a directed towards itself activity, and like Aristotle, he fails to regard the purpose as absolute material activity, being in total possession of itself. For this reason, the fundamental categories that Hegel discovered reveal as much as they still hide. Hegel failed to comprehend the fact that they express the eternal actual self-possession of the Absolute and are unconditionally greater than being just pure determinations of the Absolute Spirit presented in his philosophy. 

True, in its self-development the Absolute occupies Hegelian standpoint, but it cannot stop at it. The Absolute is urged to overcome and refute this standpoint, for it is impelled towards development, since it presents the contradiction of being only implicit and yet not desiring so to be. What Hegel's standpoint expresses only implicitly now has to be expressed explicitly. This internal contradiction of the concrete is the Volition of the Absolute, which strives for development. Willing to reveal its total self-possession as well as the complete reality of its self-ruling, now the Absolute  negates its only cognitive form and sinks into the depth of its consummate material actual life. It has the urge of Volition to develop itself, to unfold its own content, to enter in possession of the latter and in consequence it overcomes and refutes Hegel's principle, the result being that it contains in itself both Hegel's principle and philosophy as sublated. The Absolute goes beyond its Hegelian circle, in which it is grasped as Truth and Spirit only and posits itself as a living material unity of Spirit and Will, i.e. as the total material actuality (εντελεχεια) of the principle “Will yourself.”

Thus, not only do these great Aristotelian categories - δυναμις (possibility, potentia) and εντελεχεια (entelechy, actuality), which Hegel called in-itself and for-itself, respectively, - determine the Reason, the Spirit, but within themselves they also express the sphere of property and self-possession of the Rational Will of the Absolute. Hegel is the philosopher of the Absolute Spirit, not the Absolute Rational Will. The latter is still hidden in the great - as much Aristotelian as Hegelian, - categories above. But what is hidden has to come and has come into existence, making a tremendous new advance in its self-development. The Absolute has the urge to take possession of its content, to master itself, to posit itself as Absolute Will which is in total possession of itself in-and-for-itself, and this task it is carrying out now.

It is beyond doubt that Hegel uses all these categories of possession and property - in-and-for-itself, at home with itself, et cetera, - without noticing that he needs them and uses them successfully only because the Absolute is in possession of itself and possesses the whole process of its self-development. They are not simply categories of the self-cognising Reason as he thinks; they are infinitely greater. They are immanent categories of the supreme principle of the Absolute “Will yourself,” i.e. they belong to a greater circle which contains in itself the preceding circle of Hegel's only cognitive philosophy as sublated. True, the Absolute wills to cognise itself, but only to come into complete self-possession and to rule itself. The development of plants, animals and the human species is only the unfolding of what they already have in themselves.    

Hegel omitted to attain to this higher principle. Paradoxically enough, in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy Hegel quotes Aristotle, according to whom Socrates made the virtues (the practical, the Will) knowledge. Aristotle opposed his views to Socrates' ones; in his way of thinking the virtues exist only with the action, the soul, the heart. Notwithstanding his highest possible appreciation of Aristotle's point of view, Hegel abides by his purely cognitive principle and determines the Will as self-knowing intelligence, but not as thinking Volition or as a willing thought, which wills to cognise itself and cognises itself so as to come into possession of itself and rule itself. Hegel cannot see that what he calls objective determinations of thought are objective determinations of the Will as well. This is the deepest dialectical contradiction of the Absolute, but Hegel is not aware of it; he fails to attain to it. Although he says that everything is a concept, he unconsciously uses categories, which belong to the sphere of the Will; they are absolutely necessary. 

And since the end (the purpose) is precisely what Hegel calls a concept, he naturally says - and actually nothing else can be said, - that the concept has the urge (the drive, the impulse) to develop itself, or else that the Absolute Idea has the urge to advance. In no way does he regard these categories - to have, urge and countless more, which are similar to these two, - as categories of the Will, i.e. Hegel does not yet know that Will is as absolute and objectively existing as thought is. Despite the fact that he cannot - and nobody can, - but use the categories of Will, he generously gives the thought everything and leaves nothing for the Will. To a certain degree, however, it is amazing that Hegel - the philosopher who is equalled by no one in knowledge of dialectics and speculative thinking, - is not able to see the dialectics of his own principle, which from and trough itself passes over into its opposite, the Will. He does not have any time to examine it; he is in the hurry to develop his philosophical system based on the principle “Cognise yourself”.

Since Hegel fails to recognize the Good as higher than the concept and as a higher moment of the absolute, which sublates in itself the principle of thinking itself thought, he cannot go beyond the idea that Spirit is the highest determination of the Absolute. He is not aware that the true exists only together with the good and for the good; he subordinates the Will to the thought, and the good to the concept. The truth of the matter is that none of his predecessors knew that the good is the truly higher end of the absolute and contains the true as totally sublated in itself. Even the great Aristotle, who examined the good, the welfare at considerable length in his work On the soul, omitted to determine the Good as an end of the wanting itself wanting i.e. of the Will. Aristotle was the first to define the absolute as the thinking itself thought; he says that theory is the supreme good. In his Politics Aristotle discusses a very considerable number of ideas regarding practical philosophy, for example, people’s urge to welfare and satisfaction of their needs and passions as well as their infinite thirst for acquiring wealth, but he fails to see them as manifestation of the absolute Volition, which alone is the absolute urge to take possession of itself. Nonetheless, we cannot expect Aristotle to have done that; the concept of Will was not known in the philosophy of Ancient Greece. Ancient Greek philosophers did not know yet that it is the actual Good - not cognition for the sake of cognition, not Spirit, - that is the end (the purpose) of the Absolute Rational Will. 

Today the pure and impartial examination of Will shows that man cognises, because he wants to be prosperous and work for the welfare of his family and the society, that cognition is subordinated to the right and the good. The supreme purpose of the Absolute is not pure cognition but practical activity. I want to know because I want to put into practice my practical purposes. I (everyone is I) want to be a farmer, a worker, an engineer, a politician and that is the reason why I study agronomy, turnery, electronics or political sciences; I want to take possession of the world I live in, to make it my own. Man wants to cognise the structure of the atom in order to build atomic power plants. He wants to enter into possession of nature, to come into possession of its force, elements, energy and that is the reason he cognises it. We are free and voluntary agents of the absolute I, which wants to reach its goals, to carry out the Good and attain to prosperity and welfare. 

The Will has never been examined systematically. The practical Will has not yet found its true right in philosophy and cannot find it there. Being faced with the necessity of freeing itself from the shackles of cognising philosophy, of Spirit, Will frees itself and passes over into the circle of the science of politovolia, which raises the banner of freedom, the banner of the principle “Will yourself.” The whole of philosophy - as Hegel says, - really resembles a circle of circles. But he did not and could not attain to the idea that in its highest circle Spirit passes over into the higher circle of the Will, in which the Spirit is only a subordinated moment of the Will. In other words, Freedom contains in itself Truth as sublated, and Will sublates Spirit. The Truth exists only together with the Good and for the Good, for the needs, the purposes, the desires, the urges of the Good and that is the reason why the circle of the Good has the circle of the true as totally sublated in itself, i.e. nothing is forgotten, nothing is lost. 

The philosophy of totally practical universal Rational Will contains in itself the whole speculative content of Hegel's philosophy. We cannot divide cognition from taking into possession; dividing them, we regard them as abstract moments of the absolute. Cognition is a moment of the Absolute, which constantly enters into possession of itself and, therefore, takes possession of its own Spirit. But this spiritual property of the Absolute is neither the highest moment nor the totality of the latter. It is only a moment of the Absolute; on their own account cognition, knowledge and Spirit are one-sided and not half speculative enough. In thought the “I” has itself as a spiritual property of itself, but this is not the true and rightful way of existence of the Absolute.

 Only as the eternally having itself Good the “I” is in possession of itself in its totality. The Will, the urge to the Good is not a product of the thought as Hegel asserts, but an immanent urge of the Absolute to its highest Good. The Will is not only the self-knowing intelligence, but it has the latter, the truth, the Spirit, as its own moment and therefore as sublated. In other words, the Absolute goes beyond the circle of pure thought in order to make its way into the circle of everyday practice, in which not only does everybody strive for knowledge, but for welfare as well. The “I” wants to cognise itself, but only to satisfy the needs of its welfare. This urge is eternal and immanent; in all the historical epochs up to now man has strived not only for knowledge, but prosperity and welfare as well.

Rational Will is the prime cause of the world. It is the supreme, whose purpose is the Good: the power that rules the world. The whole world-history is a history of its coming to self-possession. The Absolute, God, cannot will anything else but himself, his own Will. We are free when we will the Will of the Absolute. Thought is only a moment of the Absolute coming into self-possession of its Rational Will, which is the thinking willing of itself. The Will is the higher principle, the moving, which actually needs the thinking but has power over the latter and uses it to attain in-and-through-it its highest act of entering into self-possession. The Absolute is the entering into possession of what has already come into the possession of itself. But what is only in possession of itself - the animal, - is still subordinate to the supreme power, it still does not have reason, and thus, is not yet in possession of the rational. Only cognising itself, making itself a master of its spiritual property, the Absolute uses this property to come into possession of itself, to materialize the good, to put it into practice through law, ethics and a political system. The whole history of mankind is a manifestation of the Rational Will of the Absolute, the Will to cognise, to come into possession of itself and to rule itself.

But Hegel does not think so. Commenting upon Aristotle's thought of thought, he says: “It is only in thought that there is present a true harmony between objective and subjective; that constitutes me. Aristotle therefore finds himself at the highest standpoint; nothing deeper can we desire to know.”(21) It is strange that Hegel should write that we cannot want to cognise anything whatever deeper, especially as he is the philosopher who in his inaugural lecture at Heidelberg expressed his infinite faith in the power of Spirit. However, the fact remains that Hegel appreciates Aristotle's greatness and power of spirit. He deservedly admires Aristotle's thought of thought, which constitutes one of the greatest stages of development of Hegel's Absolute Idea. It is true that in Hegel's philosophy the latter attains to its highest standpoint and knows itself as absolute Spirit, which is its only true existence.

Yet today we can no longer occupy Hegel's standpoint. The Rational Will, which possesses the infinite power of the Absolute, wills to overcome the standpoint of Hegel's philosophy in order to come to deeper possession of itself. As a spirit I am only inasmuch as I know myself, as a will only inasmuch as I possess myself. “I will that” is the truly higher standpoint. Knowledge does not have another purpose but to serve the will, which wills to come into the possession of its highest good, in other words, to serve the “I” who wants to have himself. I have - namely I have, - occupies a higher standpoint than I know and contains in itself the latter as sublated. I have what belongs to me; I possess myself - this principle is the absolutely necessary self-development of Hegel's I know myself. It is a speculative refutation of the latter. Thus the absolute rational Volition reaches a higher stage of development as a totality of determinations of its self-possession. 

Hegel did not yet know that the Will is a truly higher moment of the Absolute and contains in itself the concept, the Reason, the Spirit, as sublated because “Will yourself” is a higher principle of the absolute rational will in comparison with “Cognise yourself.” Consequently he did not raise his Absolute Idea to the higher unity of Reason and Will; a unity in which the Absolute Idea becomes the Rational Will of the Absolute. The concept and the Volition reveal themselves as moments of the infinite contradiction of the united and speculative Absolute, in which reaching its totality either of them passes over into its opposite, so that the concept totally wills itself and unhesitatingly wants to possess itself, to materialize and rule the material actuality of the Absolute, and the Volition is through and through wholly and completely rational and thinks itself in order to come into possession of itself. Man is the thinking itself thought as well as the willing itself Will. 

There is no denying that Hegel respects and acknowledges opinions expressed by the public at large, but he limits his acknowledgement to thinking only: “The business of philosophy is only to bring into explicit consciousness what the world in all ages has believed about thought.  Philosophy therefore advances nothing new; and our present discussion has led us to a conclusion which agrees with the natural belief of mankind.”(22) It is absolutely true, but Hegel expresses half the truth; he regards only the thought. As a matter of fact the public at large goes beyond Thought. The profound conviction of the general public is that cognition and knowledge serve the practice, the welfare. We learn not for the sake of learning, our aim is not cognition for the sake of cognition, but to prepare ourselves for our practical life. We will to carry out into practice the knowledge we acquire and master, and in so doing, to attain to welfare. Cognition has a purpose and this purpose is essentially practical. Not knowledge, but welfare is the higher moment; the latter contains in itself the former as sublated. I want to know to want; Will and Spirit are inseparable. Paraphrasing Descartes now we can say: “I will, therefore, I possess and rule myself.”

But what made it possible that Hegel's philosophy is the most speculative one in the history of philosophy in spite of the fact that he based it only on the principle “Cognise yourself”? Why does every succeeding philosophy have to contain of necessity  Hegel's philosophy in itself? 

Let us answer these questions. It is true that Hegel's philosophy lacks the principle of will “Will yourself”. His philosophy is only a system of the most speculative thinking itself thought, and yet - quite surprisingly, without suspecting it, - Hegel examines the Volition, uses it in his own way. In his philosophy the concept is Volition as well. Hegel does not speak so, he does not express himself in this way, and yet at the very beginning of his philosophy Hegel premises that the concept realizes itself, carries itself into practice and has the energy to reach its purpose, i.e. at the very beginning Hegel attributes all the attributes of Volition to the concept. Hegel does not yet fully understand the directed toward itself activity of the absolute, which is a concept as much as it is a Volition, i.e. in and through the activity of its purpose the absolute wills to know its concept as much as it knows how to get in possession of its Will. 

But Hegel neither regards the Absolute Will as equivalent to the Absolute Reason nor is capable of uniting Will and Reason speculatively; it seems to him that this unity of Will and Reason is impossible. He thinks that feelings, desires, inclinations and urges are immanent moments of the animals as well as man but man and man alone has the higher, has thinking reason, and owing to the latter, he cognises the absolute and rules over his purely animal urges. It must have been difficult in the extreme for Hegel to acknowledge that not only is Volition essentially equivalent to practical Reason, but it also contains the latter in itself as sublated. The purpose of practical Reason is to serve the Volition, i.e. Volition, which Hegel despises, is absolutely equal to the concept and, therefore, to cognition, Reason, Spirit. Only in their speculative unity do the concept and the Volition attain to the highest form of the absolute - the Rational Will. The principle “Cognise yourself” is only a moment of the absolute; it does not express the absolute ultimate end of the latter. “Will yourself” is the absolute true and rightful ultimate principle of the absolute for the time being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 NOTES

1. Hegel, PHENOMENOLOGY OF SPIRIT, 1807, trans. A.V. Miller, 1977, Oxford University Press, page 10, paragraph 18

2. Hegel, Lectures on the history of philosophy, translated by E. S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson, volume 3, Medieval and modern philosophy, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 1995, pages 504-505, page 521

3. Hegel’s Introduction to the Lectures on the History of Philosophy, translated by T. M. Knox and A. V. Miller, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1987, page 1

4. Ibidem, page 2

5. Ibidem, page 1

6. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, translated by E. S. Haldane, in three volumes, Volume 1, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 1995, page 6

7. Great books of the western world, volume 46, Hegel, The Philosophy of Right, translated by T. M. Knox, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, London, 1971, page 7

8. Hegel’s Introduction to the Lectures on the History of Philosophy, translated by T. M. Knox and A.V. Miller, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1987, pp. 94, 95

9. Hegel, PHENOMENOLOGY OF SPIRIT, 1807, trans. A.V. Miller, 1977, Oxford University Press, page 13, paragraph 24

10.Hegel, LOGIC, Part One of the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL SCIENCES, 1830, trans. William Wallace, 1873, Ed. J. N. Findlay, 1975, Oxford University Press, paragraph 15, page 20

11. The works of Aristotle, translated into English under the editorship of W. D. Ross, volume VIII, Metaphysica, second edition, Oxford, At the Clarendon Press, 1966, p. 982b

12. Hegel, SCIENCE OF LOGIC, 1812, trans. A.V. Miller, 1969, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., page 575

13.Great books of the western world, volume 46, Hegel, The Philosophy of Right, translated by T. M. Knox, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, London, 1971, page 17

14. Ibidem, page 1

15.Hegel, SCIENCE OF LOGIC, 1812, trans. A.V. Miller, 1969, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., page 839

16. Great books of the western world, volume 46, Hegel, The Philosophy of Right, translated by T. M. Knox, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, London, 1971, page 9

17. Ibidem, page 12-13

18.Hegel’s Philosophy of Subjective Spirit edited and translated with an introduction and explanatory notes by M. J. Petry, volume 3, Phenomenology and psychology, D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht: Holland /Boston: USA, 1979, page 229

19. Hegel’s Introduction to the Lectures on the History of Philosophy, translated by T. M. Knox and A.V. Miller, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1987, page 71

20.Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, volume 3, Medieval and modern philosophy, translated by E. S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 1995, page 402

21. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, volume 2, Plato and the Platonists, translated by E. S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 1995, page 150

22.Hegel, LOGIC, Part One of the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL SCIENCES, 1830, trans. William Wallace, 1873, Ed. J. N. Findlay, 1975, Oxford University Press, paragraph 22, page 35

 

 

 

II. On the Absolute Material Entelechy - Next Section

 

 

 

 

Janko Stojanow

ON THE ABSOLUTE RATIONAL WILL

(SUBLATION OF HEGEL’S PHILOSOPHY)

(an online book published on 29.10.2001 Copyright © 2001 Janko Stojanow)

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

   

Preface Philosophy of the Absolute Rational Will

Introduction 

I. Sublation of Hegel's philosophy

II. On the Absolute Material Entelechy

III. On Aristotle's concept of Will 

IV. On the Absolute Rational Will 

V. Political Will - the totally practical universal Rational Will

Conclusion   

 

FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF ABSOLUTE RATIONAL WILL    

Preface to the further development of the Philosophy of Absolute Rational Will

            1. On the Absolute Rational Will                                        (Published on 5.05.2002)

            2. On the Soul                                                                       (Published on 16.06.2002)

            3. On Property                                                                         (Published on 5.02.2003)  

            4. Sublation of Hegel's philosophy                                         (Published on 28.08.2002)

            5. WILL YOURSELF                                                             (Published on 10.09.2002)

             6. A Copernican Revolution in Philosophy                            (Published on 19.10.2002)

             7. The totally practical universal Philosophy                        (Published on 26.12.2002)

 

 

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Copyright © 2001 Janko Stojanow. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

 

 

(SUBLATION OF ’S PHILOSOPHY)

G.W.F. Hegel

 

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PHILOSOPHY OF THE ABSOLUTE RATIONAL WILL