Edward Caird's Hegel



IT is the peculiar strength of the modern time that it has reached, a clear perception of the finite world as finite; that in science it is positive-i.e., that it takes particular facts for no more than they are; and that in practice it is unembarrassed by superstition-i.e., by the tendency to treat particular things and persons as mysteriously sacred. The first immediate awe and reverence, which arose out of the confusion of the absolute and universal with the relative and particular, or, in simpler language, of the divine with the human, the ideal with the real, has passed away from the world. The artist and the poet, indeed, still keep up the confusion or identification; it is their work to give

"To one brief moment caught from fleeting time
The appropriate calm of blest eternity."


But we no longer take the artist or poet as a prophet; we cannot seriously and permanently worship the objects which he makes us admire. Whenever the evanescent light "that never was on sea or land" fades away from them, we are obliged to see that it never was there, and to treat the things and beings on which it fell as merely individual things and beings, like the things and beings around them. We are unable to believe in a God who is here and not there, in an ideal which is a happy exception. And the poet's vision, therefore, will necessarily become to us a dream, if it is not conceived as pointing to something more universal, of which he does not speak. The scientific sense, which has gradually communicated itself even to many of those who are not scientific, forces us to see in particular things not ideals, but merely examples of general classes, and to regard them all as connected to each other by laws of necessary relation, in such a way that they are ipso facto deprived of any exceptional or independent position. How can we treat anything as deserving of praise or worship for itself, if, to explain it, we have to look, not to itself, but to its conditions and causes! And when science bids us treat everything in this manner, how can there be anything left to reverence? "Zeus is dethroned, and Vortex reigns in his place." (Aristophanes, "Nubes" 381, 828)

Nor can we count it a more respectable worship when we are told to adore the unknown, which always lies at the end of every finite series of causes and effects, so long as no reason is given to suppose that what lies beyond our knowledge is other than a continuation of the chain that lies within it. The undeveloped terms of an infinite mathematical series have no preference over those that have been ascertained, and we cannot find any special reason for admiration in the fact that the series cannot be completed. An endless stream of finites is the negation of all worship, and it does not matter whether we regard its endlessness or the finitude of its parts. To find an object of reverence, we must be able in some way or other to rise to an original source of life, out of which this manifold existence flows, and which, in all this variety and change, never forgets or loses itself.

A world of endless determination is a prosaic world, into which neither poetry nor religion can enter. To rise to either, we must find that which is self-determined,-we must have shown to us a fountain of fresh and original life. When we have found that, the multiplicity of forms, the endless series of appearances, will begin to take an ideal meaning, because we shall see in them the Protean masks of a Being which is never absolutely hidden, but in the perishing of one form and the coming of another is ever more fully revealing itself. It is by this suggestion of such a self-revealing unity that Goethe at a touch gives poetic life to the picture of change which modern science has set before us -

"In the floods of life, in the storm of deeds,
Up and down I fly, Hither, thither weave,
From birth to grave, An endless weft,
A changing sea Of glowing life.
Thus in the whistling loom of Time I ply,
Weaving the living robe of Deity."

The great question of philosophy is whether such a unity in totality, such a self-determined principle of infinite change, can in any sense be verified, or made an object of knowledge. And this for us is so difficult a question, just because the modern consciousness of the natural world, as an interconnection of phenomenal causes, is so clear and precise. No longer is it possible, as it once was, to intercalate the ideal, the divine, as it were surreptitiously, as one existence in a world otherwise secular and natural. Under the acknowledged reign of law, the world is a connected drama in which there is no place for episodes. Hence we can find the ideal anywhere, only by finding it everywhere; we can see anything higher in the world than contingent and finite existences, only by recasting our view of it as a whole; we can get beyond the scientific conception of phenomena in their connection as causes and effects, only by transforming that conception itself, by awakening science to a new consciousness of its presuppositions, and by leading it through this consciousness to a reinterpretation of its results. It no longer avails to assail finite science from the outside, in the way of finding exceptions to its laws, or phenomena that it cannot explain. A long discipline has taught it to regard such exceptional or residual phenomena simply as the means of correcting and widening its ideas of law. If it is assailable at all, it is from the inside, in its fundamental conception of law itself, -in its idea of that universal necessity under which it reduces all things.

Now the great idealistic movement of Germany was, in its essence, an attempt to find a basis of this kind. Kant, its first representative, asked where a place can be found for "God, freedom, immortality," consistently with the universal reign of law in the natural world- in other words, consistently with the necessary connection of all objects of experience in space and time. Nor did he seek to find such a place by questioning the universality of this necessary interdependence of all things and events; rather he reasserted it, and finally confirmed it, by the proof that such universality is the precondition of all intelligible experience. Objects, things, and events - a world of experience - exist for us, and can exist for us, only in so far as our sensitive impressions are determined and related to each other according to universal principles. Objectivity and universality are equivalents of each other, and to say that an object might exist which was not definitely determined as to its quality and quantity, or definitely related to all other objects in space and time both in its persistence and in its changes, is to use words without meaning. If we could imagine such an object-or, what is the same thing, if we could imagine a series of impressions or perceptions which yet it was impossible to bring under the general laws of the connection of experience-we should be conceiving of something inconsistent with the very existence of experience. If there were such objects, they could not be objects for us.


While, however, the reign of law is thus determined to be absolute for all objects of experience, and while the principle of rational empiricism, that there exists a universal and unchangeable order of things, is thus raised from a presumption to a certitude, it is just here, at the point where the last possibility of escape from the necessity of nature seems to be closed up, that Kant finds the means of deliverance. This order of nature, which seems to shut us in, is no foreign necessity to which we are subjected. It is we who forge our own chains. It is our own understanding that prescribes the law of necessary connection for its objects, as it is our own sensibility that supplies the forms of time and space under which they appear to us. In so far, therefore, as the general framework or systematic form of the whole goes, it is we who make the nature by which we fear to have our freedom, our spiritual life, or independent self-determining energy, extinguished. And as it is just this general systematic form in which lies the necessity from which we are shrinking, it may be said in strict truth that we are afraid of our own shadow, - of that which the unconscious working of our own minds has created. What we took for "things in themselves," independent forces by which we were controlled, are really phenomena-things winch exist only for us, and which exist, even for us, only by the activity of our own thought.

It is true, indeed, that we too form, in one point of view, a part of this phenomenal world; we are present to ourselves as objects existing, like other objects, in space and time, and going through changes which are determined according to necessary laws. But this phenomenal presence to ourselves is not our whole being. I am not merely one object among many other objects in the world of which I am conscious; I am the conscious self without which there would be no world of objects at all. A conscious being, as such, cannot simply reckon itself among the things it knows, for while they exist only for it, it also exists for itself. It not only has a place among objects, but it is the subject for which they exist. As such it is not one of the conditioned substances in time and space, whose changes are to be explained by the things that condition it; it is the principle in relation to which such conditioned things exist, the cause of the necessity to which they are subjected.

It is not in time and space at all, for these are but the forms of its perceptions - forms which cling to its objects as objects, but cannot be applied to it, the subject for which these objects exist. The source of the categories - the principles of necessary connection in experience - cannot be brought under the categories. The thinking self cannot be subjected to the forms of sense under which the phenomenal world is presented to it. Even if we could say nothing else about it, we could at least deny of it all the predicates that are by their very nature determinations not of a subject, but of an object. But can we say nothing else! Is the subject a mere unity to which knowledge is referred, and which, therefore, is not only exempted from all the determinations of objects, but is void of all determination of its own? Can we say only that it is free in the negative sense, that that necessity of relation which belongs to phenomena, as such, cannot be predicated of it, seeing it determines other things, but not itself? Or can we go on to show that it is free in the positive sense, that it determines itself, and can we follow it in this self-determination, and trace out the forms in which it manifests its freedom? The answer, Kant holds, is given by the moral consciousness, which is a consciousness of ourselves as universal subjects, and not as particular objects. This is shown by the fact that conscience ignores all external determination.

It is the consciousness of a law that takes no account of the circumstances of the phenomenal self, or of the necessary conditions under which its changes take place. In thinking of ourselves as under this law, we necessarily regard ourselves as free-as the authors, and the sole authors, of our actions; we abstract from all the limits of nature and necessity-from all the impulse of desires within, and all the pressure of circumstances without us. For this law is a "categorical imperative" that listens to no excuses, but with its "Thou oughtst, therefore thou canst," absolutely throws upon ourselves the responsibility for our own deeds. Such a law we might be disposed to treat as an illusion, because of its direct contradiction to our empirical consciousness of ourselves, if we had no other consciousness of ourselves; but our previous examination of the empirical consciousness has already obliged us to refuse to apply to the subject the knowledge which we have of ourselves as objects of experience. The necessity of nature is thus taken out of the way by the proof that the knowing self is not a natural phenomenon, and the moral consciousness finds nothing to resist its absolute claim to belief and obedience. The "primacy of practical reason" is thus established, and a place is found for the freedom of spirit, without any doubt being cast upon the necessity of nature.

And with this freedom come, according to Kant, the other elements of our higher consciousness-immortality and God. For the primacy of the practical reason involves that the necessity of nature is somehow harmonized with the law of freedom, however little it may be possible for us to comprehend this harmony. Hence the phenomenal self-the subject of feeling and desire -must conform itself to the real or noumenal self; and the pure self-determination of the latter must determine also the whole nature of the former. But we are not able to represent this to ourselves except as a gradual process of transformation of our sensuous nature by our freedom, - a process of transformation which, because of the essential difference of the two, can never be completed; and thus the moral law postulates the immortality of man as a subject, who is at once natural and moral. In like manner we are compelled, in accordance with the primacy of practical reason, to suppose that the whole system of phenomena which we call nature is in harmony with the purely self-determined life of spirit; in other words, we are obliged to assume a correspondence of happiness, or our state as natural beings determined from without, with goodness, or our state as moral beings, who are determined only by themselves from within; and this, again, leads us back to God as the absolute Being, in whom, and by whom, the two opposite worlds are brought to a unity.

Thus, then, Kant finds a way of reconstructing the spiritual, without prejudice to the natural, world. For if, on the one hand, the world of nature is treated as phenomenal, while the world of spirit is regarded as the real, and the only real, world; yet, on the other hand, the phenomenal world is recognized as the only world of knowledge, while the real world is said to be present to us merely in faith. Now faith is essentially a subjective consciousness, which cannot be made objective; for to make anything objective is to conceive it as a one thing among others in space and time, and determined in relation to the others by the law of necessity. So much is this the case, that we are not able to represent to ourselves the law of freedom except by thinking of it as if it were a law of nature. For what is the law of freedom t It is that we should be determined only by the self; but the self is nothing in particular; it is the unity to which all knowledge is referred; its only essential character is its universality. Hence, to be determined by the self is to be determined by the idea of universality. To find out what is morally right, we have only to ask what actions may be universalized, and the moral law may be expressed in the formula: "Act as if by your action the maxim or rule which it involves were about to be turned into a universal law of nature."


Without following Kant any further, it is possible now to point out what are the merits and what are the defects of his philosophy, viewed as a reconciliation of nature and spirit, or of experience and that higher rational consciousness which is expressed in religion and philosophy. Its main merit is, that it shows that experience rests on something which, in the ordinary sense, is beyond experience; or, what is the same thing in another point of view, that it brings out the relativity of being to thought,-of objective reality to the conscious self for which it is. In this point of view-in so far as it shows that reality as known is phenomenal, or essentially related to consciousness, the Kantian argument is irresistible. Its weakness lies in this, that it does not carry the demonstration to its legitimate result; it still retains the idea of a "thing in itself," out of relation to thought, even where it regards such a thing as problematical; and it admits the idea of a subjective affection, in relation to which the thinking self is passive, though it confesses that it is only by the reaction of the thinking self that such an affection can be turned into an object of knowledge.

Through the rift of this proton phendos there creeps into the system an absolutely irreconcilable dualism, which yet Kant is continually attempting to heal. Sense and understanding, necessity and freedom, the phenomenal and the real self, nature and spirit, knowledge and faith, are pairs of opposites that he can never either separate or reconcile. He cannot separate them, for his whole philosophy starts from the proof that nature is phenomenal, and must be referred to that which is not itself natural; and, on the other hand, he necessarily conceives the noumenal - that which is set up against the phenomenal - as the absolutely real, and as determining, and in a sense including in itself, the phenomenal. Yet he cannot reconcile them; for he has assumed, to begin with, that there is in the object as opposed to the subject, in sense as opposed to spirit, a foreign element which can never be exorcised or completely assimilated, although both in knowledge and in action it may be partially subdued and subordinated. The antithesis has thus no higher unity beyond it, which can bring its antagonistic members to a final reconciliation; and that reunion of these members, therefore, which is, after all, necessary to the system, must remain a postulate or requirement, which cannot be realized- which can even be seen to be incapable of realization. The result of Kant, therefore, seems to be to put the very problem to be solved for the solution, - to show the equal necessity of two elements, which are each of them proved to have no meaning except in relation to the other, while yet this relation is conceived as purely negative, and therefore- since a purely negative relation is no relation at all-as absolutely impossible.


It was perhaps just because a consciousness of this truth - that a relation, even if negative, always implies a unity beyond it - was wanting to Kant, that he could admit the necessary relation of physical and metaphysical reality to each other, while yet denying the possibility of reaching more than an external harmony between them. Yet it is clear, to consider only Kant's first principle, that is, to say that existence means existence for consciousness, implies not merely that there is a relation between consciousness on the one side and existence on the other (in which case the relation would exist, not for the conscious being himself, but for some one else), but it implies also that consciousness transcends the dualism between itself and its object. It means, in short, that though, within certain limits, we oppose the subject to the object, the consciousness to that of which it is conscious, yet that from a higher point of view this antagonism is within consciousness; or, to put it from the other side, that consciousness, as such, overreaches the division between itself and its object.

And the same reasoning must be applied to all the other contrasts which in the system of Kant spring out of this fundamental opposition-the contrasts of necessity and freedom, of nature and spirit, of phenomenal and noumenal. A philosophy that would work out the true lesson of the Kantian idealism must not weaken or slur over any of these oppositions; but as little can it deal with them as absolute oppositions, or, what is the same thing, treat the two terms as both standing on the same level, as if the one were as comprehensive as the other. For if it does so, it must necessarily end by contradicting the premises from which it starts, by refusing to admit any relation between terms, whose relation was the very starting-point of the whole reasoning.

One who, like Kant, refers nature to spirit, necessity to freedom, the phenomenon to the noumenon, must he prepared, to explain the former out of the latter; in the language of Hegel, to show that spirit is the truth of nature, that freedom is the truth of necessity, that the noumenon is the truth of the phenomenon, i.e., that in spite of their relative opposition, there is a point of view from which the former term in each case includes the latter, as the whole includes the parts. Or, to take the example already given, he must show that consciousness, though it may be primarily regarded as the subject of knowledge, is not simply opposed to the object, but necessarily includes it in itself.

To gather to a point what has just been said, Kant proves that the system of nature and necessity is not independent of intelligence, but exists only for it. But the intelligence is not only consciousness, but self-consciousness - not only theoretical, but practical. It not only is determined, and so apprehends itself as belonging to the world of nature, but it determines itself, and so is conscious of itself as belonging to a world of its own-a world of freedom. And this world of freedom it is obliged to conceive as the reality, of which the other is merely the phenomenon. What Kant, however, does not perceive, is that, on his own showing, these two worlds are essentially relative to each other, so that either, taken apart from the other, becomes an empty abstraction. He has, indeed, proved that existence unrelated to a conscious self is such an abstraction. But it is clear that the pure self, in its universality-as opposed to all the matter of the desires-is equally abstract. To will the self, and only the self, is to will nothing at all.

Self-consciousness always implies consciousness of something else than self, and could not exist without it. Self-determination, therefore, though it may be relatively opposed to determination by the not-self, cannot he absolutely opposed to it, for with the not-self the self also would disappear. But if this be true, the world of intelligence and freedom cannot be different from the world of nature and necessity; it can only be the same world, seen in a new light, or subjected to a further interpretation. And this new interpretation must show that the necessity of nature is itself explicable as a necessary element or factor in the manifestation of the principle of the free life of intelligence. Not, indeed, that the point of view of Kant, from which the two kingdoms of necessity and freedom seem to be in extreme opposition to each other, is to be entirely rejected. On the contrary, that opposition forms a necessary stage in thought and reality. The drama of human life is the struggle of freedom with necessity, of spirit with nature, which in all its forms, within and without us, seems to the purely moral consciousness to wear the guise of an enemy. But the possibility of the struggle itself, and of a final victory in it, lies in this, that the enemy exists in order to be conquered; or rather, that the opposition is, in its ultimate interpretation, an opposition of spirit to itself, and the struggle but the pains that accompany its process of development.


There are two bypaths in following which it is possible to lose the full meaning of the thought just expressed. On the one hand, it is possible to dwell on the higher reality of spirit in such a sense as not to leave due place for the lower reality of nature: it is possible to emphasize Kant's demonstration of the phenomenal character of the world of experience, till that world is reduced to a mere semblance or appearance, and to exaggerate his assertion of the noumenal character of the world of intelligence, till the pure abstract consciousness of self is identified with the absolute. On the other hand, it is possible to insist on the unity, which is presupposed in all the opposition and antagonism of the nature and the spirit, till the opposition and antagonism itself is reduced to an illusion; it is possible, in other words, to treat all differences as mainly accidental shiftings of the external mask under which the absolute identity is hidden, and to regard all conflict and antagonism as but the play of shadows, - "such stuff as dreams are made of," - while the one reality is the external repose of the infinite substance in itself. These two byways of interpretation, which are the natural results of a partial apprehension of the full problem stated by Kant, were followed by Fichte and Schelling, respectively. Fichte, following the way of a one-sided idealism, reduces nature to a mere negative condition, which spirit-by some incomprehensible act - lays down for itself.

To attain consciousness of itself, the absolute ego must limit itself, and by this self-limitation it gives rise to a non-ego, which, howover, is quite as much a part of itself as the limited ego, with which alone it is consciously identified. The infinity of the ego, however, reappears as an impulse to strive against this self-made limit, and by continual removal of it to a greater and greater distance, to approximate to that pure consciousness of itself which it can never attain, because in doing so it would at once cease to be conscious at all, and so cease to be. This is the strange enchanted round, within which the speculation of Fichte circles, seeking an outlet in vain. In the attempt to reduce nature to a nonentity-a self-created object of thought-and to make spirit all in all, he turned the life of spirit itself into something shadowy and spectral, - a conflict with a ghost that could not be laid. To the strong, almost ascetic spirit of a Fichte, rejoicing in stern self-command to put nature beneath his feet, and regarding the world but as an arena for the moral athlete to win his victories over himself, such a theory might commend itself by its apparent exaltation of the ego at the expense of the non-ego.

But we need not wonder that the sympathetic imaginative genius of Schelling soon broke away from it, to assert that the intelligence could find itself in nature as well as in itself: or that he sought to substitute for Fichte's principle that "Ich ist Alles," the wider principle that "Alles ist Ich " i.e., that it is one ideal principle which manifests itself in the natural and the spiritual world alike. Unfortunately, in correcting Fichte's over-statement of one of the two sides of the Kantian philosophy, Schelling fell into an equal over-statement on the other side. In opposing a subjective idealism which found reality only in the self, he was led, by gradual but necessary steps, to reject idealism altogether, and to seek the real in a coequal unity of nature and spirit, which gave no preference to the one above the other as a manifestation of the absolute.

But to say that the absolute equally manifests itself in nature and spirit, is almost equivalent to saying that it does not manifest itself at all; for if the distinguishing characters of mind and matter are treated as unimportant, and their identity alone is insisted on, what distinctions can be of importance? The absolute unity becomes necessarily a pure "indifference," as Schelling called it, an absolute which rests in itself and withdraws itself from all contact with the intelligence, and which can be apprehended, if at all, only in a Neoplatonic ecstasy of immediate intuition. In this way Schelling, though content for a time, with Hegel, to speak of the absolute as spirit or reason, gradually withdrew from these words all their fullness of meaning, until it became necessary and just for Hegel to reassert against him the primitive lesson of Kantian philosophy, that "the absolute is not substance but subject" i.e., that the unity, to which all things are to be referred and in which they must find their ultimate explanation, is the unity of self-consciousness.


When, however, Hegel thus rejected both these partial solutions of the Kantian problem, solutions which really involve the omission of one or other of its elements, and when he again restated the problem itself in all its fullness, he could no longer, like Kant, escape from its difficulties by an alternation between intelligible and phenomenal reality, or between the spheres of reason and faith. For him it was necessary to show that the kingdoms of nature and spirit are one, in spite of all their antagonisms; nay, it was necessary for him to show that this antagonism itself is the manifestation of their unity. The freedom that belongs to man as a rational and moral being could no longer be saved by lifting it, as it were, into another world, a "topos noetos," out of the reach of physical necessity; it must be shown to realize itself in and through that necessity itself. "Out of the eater must come forth meat; out of the strong, sweetness." What had been regarded as absolute opposites or contradictories, mind and matter, spirit and nature, self-determination and determination by the not-self, must be united and reconciled, and that not by an external harmony, but by bringing out into distinct consciousness the unity that lies beyond their difference, and gives it its meaning.

To do this, indeed, was to break with all the ideas of logical method that had hitherto ruled the schools; it was to treat as ultimately pliant and evanescent the most fixed distinctions of the old metaphysics. Yet it was not to be done, as it had often been done by mystics like Boheme and intuitionists like Jacobi, by simply rejecting the claims of the logical understanding to lay down any law for the higher matters of the spirit. Such a resource was not permitted to one who, like Hegel, declared that self-consciousness itself was the ideal unity, by which, or in reference to which, the world must be explained. In a philosophy that acknowledged such a principle, the movement of thought, by which the most fixed distinctions of the understanding were dissolved and its most absolute oppositions transcended, must be a logical movement, and it must be conscious of its own logic. Its "reason," to use a common distinction, must not be set against its "understanding," but must include and satisfy it.

If its higher philosophical or religious truth was not brought down into the region of common-sense, at least it must gain a clear conscience toward common-sense by fulfilling all its reasonable demands, and leaving it no excuse to deny the rationality of that which transcended it. Especially must such a philosophy be ready to meet on its own ground that higher kind of common-sense called science; it must be scientific, even if it was necessary for it to be something more. It is this that makes Hegel so vehement in his opposition to all those who, like Schelling, lay claim to a special immediate vision or intellectual intuition of truth from which the mass of men are excluded. To those who quote the Scripture that "God giveth truth to his beloved in sleep,"(Psalms 77.2) he is ready to assume the skeptical attitude of rationalism, and to point out that "what is given to men in sleep is for the most part dreams."

Yet it is not in the interest of rationalism that Hegel speaks, but in the interest of that ideal truth which rationalism denies. But it is his inmost conviction that there are not two truths, but one, and that that is no secure path to a higher kind of knowledge, which begins by a quarrel with the facts of life and the ordinary consciousness of these facts. As the late Professor Green has said, that "there is no other genuine enthusiasm of humanity than one which has traveled the common highway of reason -the life of the good neighbor and honest citizen-and can never forget that it is only on a further stage of the same journey;" so, in Hegel's view, philosophy can permanently vindicate that highest synthesis which lifts thought from the finite to the infinite, only when it has fully recognized and done justice to the finite consciousness with which it starts. The claim of special inspiration is an anachronism for the modem spirit which demands that the saint should also be a man of the world, and that the prophet should show the logical necessity of his vision. For "a man's a man for a' that," and, however sensuous and rude his consciousness of himself and of the world may be, it is, after all, a rational consciousness, and it claims the royal right of reason to have its errors disproved out of itself. And a philosophy which does not find sufficient premises to prove itself in the intelligence of every one, and which is forced to have recourse to mere ex cathedra assertion, is confessing its impotence.


But this resolve to bring together poetry with prose, religion with experience, philosophy with the science of the finite, the "vision and the faculty divine" with common - sense and the natural understanding, obviously entails upon speculation a harder task than it has ever before encountered. Dualism in some form or other has for centuries lightened the task of philosophy by a sort of double book-keeping or division of labor, by which the hardest contrasts and antagonisms of life were evaded. Even for Kant, who brings the two worlds face to face, there is still a "great gulf fixed" between them, and moral freedom moves safely in a vacant " kingdom of ends," where it never comes in contact with any necessity of nature. But for Hegel, all such devices to keep the peace, so to speak, between heaven and earth-to put some interval of separation "between the pass and fell incensed points of mighty opposites" are vain and fruitless. If the Kantian principle, that self-consciousness or self-determining spirit is the ultimate reality of things, is to be maintained, it must be shown to be a principle capable of explaining the phenomenal world. That very necessity of nature, from which Kant sought to find an escape for man's higher life, must be shown to be the means of realizing it.


How this is possible we shall consider afterwards; for the present it need only be remarked, that it is just Hegel's determination to avoid all shifts and subterfuges, - to encounter fairly all the difficulties of the spiritual or ideal interpretation of life, and to work out that interpretation faithfully even in those spheres which an ideal philosophy has not usually ventured to touch, -that forces him to deal with the problem of the reconciliation of opposites. It is no freak of an over-subtle logic, " trying for once in a way to stand on its head," that leads him to ask whether, beneath all the antagonisms of thought and reality, even those that have been hitherto conceived to be absolute contradictions, there is not a principle of unity, which in its development at once explains the opposition, shows its relative character and its limits, and finally dissolves it.

This question was, in fact, forced on him by the gradual transformation of the Kantian philosophy in Fichte and Schelling. Their speculations made it manifest that the idealism of Kant could be maintained, only if self-consciousness were found to be a principle adequate to the explanation of that which is the very opposite of self-consciousness-i.e., only if spirit could be shown to be the reason, of nature, and mind to be the key to matter. And the apparent breach with common-sense which is involved in Hegel's denial of the law of contradiction as ordinarily understood, was the direct result of the very strength of common-sense in Hegel himself, which would not let him be content without bringing his highest spiritual consciousness into relation with the teachings of the ordinary understanding, and demanding that in one way or another the difference between the two should be brought to a definite issue.