First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:35 am

First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature
by F.W.J. Schelling
translated and with an introduction and notes by Keith R. Peterson
A volume in the SUNY Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Dennis J. Schmidt, editor
© 2004 State University of New York





• Acknowledgments
• Abbreviations
• Translator’s Introduction
o The Primacy of the Postulate
o From Postulate to Deduction
o Transcendental Deductions and The Idea of Nature
o Logogenesis, Construction, and Potency in the Philosophy of Nature
o Conclusion
o Works Cited
• Translator’s Note
• Title Page of Schelling 1799 Edition
• Foreword to Schelling 1799 Edition
• Outline of the Whole
• First Division
o I. The Unconditioned in Nature
o II. The Original Qualities and Actants in Nature
o III. Actants and Their Combinations
o IV. Inhibition and Stages of Development
o V. Deduction of the Dynamic Series of Stages
• Second Division
o First System
o Second System
o Third Possible System
o Conclusions
• Third Division
o I. On the Concept of Excitability
o II. Deduction of Organic Functions from the Concept of Excitability
o III. The Graduated Series of Stages in Nature
o Appendix to Chapter III
o IV. General Theory of the Chemical Process
o V. The Theater of the Dynamic Organization of the Universe
• Introduction to the Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature, or, On the Concept of Speculative Physics and the Internal Organization of a System of this Science (1799)
o §1. What we call Philosophy of Nature is a Necessary Science in the System of Knowledge
o §2. Scientific Character of the Philosophy of Nature
o §3. Philosophy of Nature is Speculative Physics
o §4. On the Possibility of Speculative Physics
o §5. On a System of Speculative Physics in General
o §6. Internal Organization of the System of Speculative Physics
• Appendix: Scientific Authors
• Notes
• English-German Glossary
• German-English Glossary
• Page Concordance
• Index
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Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:35 am


What becomes a consuming and compelling passion for us often starts off with an air of contingency—so the genesis of this translation project. A seminar on German Idealist Philosophy of Nature, directed by David Farrell Krell at DePaul University, supplied the first incitements to this work in an atmosphere conductive to the growth and flourishing of rare ideas and inspirations. For this inspiration, along with much encouragement and translation advice, I am indebted to David Krell. Peter Steeves and Will McNeill read a version of the Translator’s Introduction, and I have benefitted from their comments. Daniel J. Selcer was kind enough to read large parts of the manuscript and provided many valuable observations. Iklim and Gordon Viol provided priceless translation advice along the way. I am, of course, solely responsible for all defects that may remain. Finally, I am deeply grateful to Dicle Türkoglu for her tireless and determined support, and to Ela Hayal who, while her Dad was involved in the last stages of the work, slept just as much as she should have.
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Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:36 am


AA: Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Werke: Historisch-kritische Ausgabe. Edited by Hans Michael Baumgartner, Wilhelm G. Jacobs, and Hermann Krings. Stuttgart: Fromann-Holzboog, 1976ff. Cited by series, volume, and page number (e.g., AA I,7 301).

SW: F.W. J. Schelling, Sämmtliche Werke. Edited by K. F. A. Schelling. 14 vols. Stuttgart: J. G. Cotta’scher Verlag, 1856ff. Cited by volume and page number (e.g., SW III 301).
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Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:37 am

Part 1 of 2


Since its critical and programmatic inception in the eighteenth century and acme in the nineteenth, the philosophy of nature (Naturphilosophie) has been defined in part negatively as the critique of mechanistic, materialistic, and deterministic science. Such critique was needed primarily because, on the one hand, mechanistic accounts threatened the Enlightenment ideal of free subjects, and on the other hand, because the reductivism of these accounts betrayed the complexity of nature. Positively, philosophy of nature focused on dynamical, organic, synthetic, and holistic accounts of the natural world, integrating human beings into that world rather than severing them from it. It becomes clear from an attention to recent trends in evolutionary and developmental biology, cosmology, ecology, critical theory, and science studies that many of the critical methods and programmatic aspirations of classical nature philosophy are once more on the rise today. A reevaluation of the philosophy of nature of F. W. J. Schelling (1775–1854) in light of these developments seems no less than obligatory.

In addition, the critical apparatus that the philosophy of nature brought to bear on the modern scientific project demanded not merely a theoretical or epistemological shift, but a reformulation of the relation between human beings and nature, often entailing novel political or ethical commitments. Early philosophy of nature met opposition in part because its ethical and political interests— not just its allegedly wild and “unverifiable” analogizing—were thought to have invalidated its “scientific” claims. Today, however, the traditional alliance between value-neutrality and objectivity, or the relationship between power and knowledge, the practical and theoretical domains, has been definitively shown to be not only theoretically untenable but politically dangerous. 1 If all knowledge, including scientific knowledge, is always “local” and always conditioned by competing interests, then there can no longer be the same prejudices against the kinds of accounts a philosophy of nature can provide, as a reading of many recent developments in science itself would indicate.2

A revitalized philosophy of nature would perhaps aim to tie together the wide range of disparate pursuits mentioned above, showing their implicitly and explicitly shared assumptions, and in a Schellingian spirit would raise the questions that are so often not even acknowledged by scientific theorists. Schelling’s methodological and ontological insights are indispensable as points of reference for reconsidering a unified view of nature and the genuine philosophical problems involved in rethinking the natural world and humanity’s deep connections with it. It is hoped that this translation of what is possibly Schelling’s most important text in nature philosophy will contribute to a revitalization of the project of a philosophy of nature, and—by providing a wide audience the opportunity to read Schelling himself—at least the prospect of a reevaluation of this important phase both in Schelling’s thought and in the history of philosophy and science.

While it may be tempting to explore the litany of excoriating criticisms of the philosophy of nature from Schelling’s own time to the present,3 I will not do so here. I would like to note that the received opinion regarding nature philosophy, well articulated by Bernard Cohen, seems no longer to ring true: “It has become a tradition among those who talk glibly about science that the romantic Naturphilosophie of Schelling and his followers represents the lowest degradation of science and that only by completely freeing themselves from that nightmare were modern biology and medical science able to resume their scientific progress. The incident has been used by empiricists as a moral to warn us against speculative philosophy in the natural sciences.” More recently, historians and researchers have asked how and to what extent the school of Naturphilosophie had an impact on the history of science, and the same could be asked about its influence on later naturalistically minded, transcendental philosophers.4 Both of these are important questions to be taken up in their own right if the full significance of the philosophy of nature is ever to be acknowledged.

Schelling always stood out among his contemporaries—he was accused of being too rational for the Romantics (e.g., Novalis, the Schlegels) and too romantic for the Rationalists (the Kantians, fideists, skeptics, and commonsensists). Schelling’s proteiform work has not received the same attention as that of his two brood mates at the Tübingen seminary—G.W. F. Hegel and Friedrich Hölderlin—and it is evident that both historically and, I would suggest, in principle, Schelling has no true disciples.However, despite—or perhaps because of— its enormous variability and range, many influential thinkers have reached into the churning depths of the Schellingian corpus and extracted some choice sustenance for themselves (among them Paul Tillich, Jürgen Habermas, and Martin Heidegger, to name a few contemporary voices), and the same occurred in and around Schelling during the years when he was producing his powerful tracts in the philosophy of nature. Something resembling a school of Naturphilosophie emerged, and his ostensible influence on such reknowned figures as Henrik Steffens (1773–1845), Johann Ritter (1776–1810),Lorenz Oken (1779–1851), Hans Christian Ørsted (1777–1851), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), and others was always refracted through each personality such that a particular shade or emphasis of the teaching was predominant, and his precise ideas (such as they were) were seldom adopted verbatim. Even during the years of his occupation with topics in the philosophy of nature, Schelling himself undergoes a rather distinct shift in emphasis with the publication of his “Presentation of My System of Philosophy” (1801). Here it becomes apparent that while from 1796 to 1800 he understands his Fichte-inspired transcendental philosophy and self-styled nature philosophy to be two independent but mutually necessary philosophical sciences, after 1800 he increasingly understands them as two facets of a single system of “absolute identity.” The work translated here was composed and published in 1799, and so belongs to the first phase; therefore, in this introduction I will only discuss the themes and emphases of this early period.5

Upon leaving the Tübingen Stift in 1796, the precocious, then twenty-one- year-old Schelling relocated to Leipzig, where he immersed himself in the most current scientific literature, including in his syllabus of study chemistry, physics, mathematics, natural history, and physiology. The first published product of this immersion was the text Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (1797), Schelling’s first comprehensive attempt to redirect the course of scientific theorizing, and somewhat of a departure from the Kantian and Fichtean themes with which he had been preoccupied until this time. More reflection on empirical researches led to the more grandly synthetic text On the World-Soul in 1798, which won Schelling great acclaim, including the admiration of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and as a result an invitation to a professorship at Jena in the same year. Exclusively as an accompaniment to his lectures on the philosophy of nature in Jena in 1799, Schelling published his First Outline for a System of the Philosophy of Nature, as well as a separately issued Introduction to the Outline, in which he presents his most systematic treatment of the topics explored in the earlier treatises, plus some wholly new theories treating organic life and its relation to the inorganic, and to nature as a whole. In Germany the text of the Ideas was issued, with amendments, a second time (1797, 1803), and On the World-Soul went through three editions in Schelling’s lifetime (1798, 1806, 1809), but the Outline, being essentially a reference work for lectures, was never reissued. Nevertheless, the First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature provides perhaps the most inclusive exhibition of Schelling’s early thought and method in the philosophy of nature, displaying both its extraordinary strengths and, it must be admitted, some profound weaknesses. In the next section I will explore the genesis and development of Schelling’s project of nature philosophy, with special reference to Immanuel Kant’s transcendental philosophy, as well as its persistent epistemological, ontological, and scientific themes.

The Primacy of the Postulate

In striving to achieve an architectonic unification of systematic knowledge, Kant asserts that the “ideas” that reason possesses of God, the soul, and freedom are necessary for the ultimate unification of philosophy, which would include scientific and ethical knowledge. Schelling of course follows Kant in this aspiration, and will ground such a unification of knowledge in the unified practical aims of reason itself. The genuine significance of Kant’s assertion of the “primacy of the practical” (the legitimate, practical employment by reason of the ideas) requires a brief sketch of the nature of transcendental philosophy and of the problem of synthesis. Kant’s formulation of the problem is familiar: “How are a priori synthetic judgments possible?” he asks, and his response entails the renowned “transcendental deduction of the categories of the understanding” in the first Critique. Universal and necessary judgments, such as those of mathematics, are possible according to Kant’s analysis because the structure of the human cognitive apparatus is such that (in a judgment of experience) it synthesizes a concept and an intuition, subordinating the part to the whole, the conditioned to the condition. In theoretical or speculative philosophy the categories, such as cause and effect, are “deduced” and their necessity justified. More relevant for practical philosophy, even if often overlooked, is Kant’s deduction of the “pure concepts of reason,” or the ideas mentioned above. In speculative reason, scientific ideas like that of “unity” receive a justification and objective validity insofar as they are indirectly related to experience by means of the understanding’s categories; even formal knowledge remains disorganized unless an idea of the “system” regulates the organization of knowledge. The case is somewhat different with an idea such as “freedom.” It turns out not only to have a certain status within theoretical philosophy in its “practical employment,” but it becomes the very synthetic anchor of practical reason itself, underlying both the theoretical and practical use of reason (as the very possibility of “critique”), and is justified by means of the deduction of the “fact of reason” in the second Critique. It was this implicit assertion of the unity of theoretical and practical philosophy that J. G. Fichte (interpreter of Kant and Schelling’s philosophical mentor) and Schelling endeavored to make the basis of systematic philosophy.6

For Fichte and Schelling, it was obvious that Kant had successfully legitimated the claim to a priori synthetic knowledge; what Kant failed to do epistemologically was provide an account of synthesis in general, that is, an account of the fundamental relation between thought and the world, or representations and objects. A brief look at much of Schelling’s philosophical exertion in the years 1794 to 1796 reveals a more general statement of and characteristic solution to the problem of synthesis. He will conclude that the real solution to the problem of synthesis is to be found in practical, rather than theoretical, philosophy. Even for the philosophy of nature this solution retains its definitive significance.

The discussion of the “postulate” in Schelling is meant to emphasize the deliberate collapse of theoretical into practical philosophy, or the mediation of all theory by practice, typical of the post-Kantian tradition. This is critical with reference to Schelling’s philosophy of nature, because unless it is seen as an attempt to reground science itself in the soil of practical philosophy, it will be (and has been) viewed at best as merely another narrative, myth, or story about nature, and at worst a collection of speculative, bizarre, and “unverifiable” theories. For Schelling, nature philosophy is not merely another “representation” of a nature to which human beings maintain only a distant and instrumental relation. For him, the first postulate of philosophy must express the dynamic synthesis of self and world, subject and object, as an ontological unity from which both terms are derived. Self and world are of one substance, and we will continue to misunderstand ourselves and undervalue the natural world unless this ontological identity is expressed philosophically.

In “On the Possibility of a Form of Philosophy,”7 taking Kant as his point of departure, and Fichte’s opposition between the self and the nonself as an indispensable principle, Schelling notes that the problem of synthetic judgments implies the opposition between the manifold of the “given” and the unity of the self.8 For there to be synthesis at all, there must be two distinct terms. For synthesis to occur, the two terms must be unified by means of a common term or medium. Because the common term cannot stem from one of the two opposites, there must be a “prior” unity within which the understanding and the manifold of sense are themselves synthesized. This prior unity is called the “absolute I.” The synthesis of an empirical I with an opposed empirical multiplicity, a synthetic judgment, is a function of the cognitive faculty or understanding. Both terms are conditioned by definition and cannot find the ground or reason for their opposition within themselves, so they must be “preceded” by an unconditioned. The empirical synthesis in a judgment of experience depends on a transcendental (logical and ontological) synthesis in the absolute. Kant shows by the transcendental deduction of the “concepts of reason” that the ideas of freedom and a divine being can be regulatively employed for practical purposes, that is, to keep us from mechanism and fatalism, but can provide no constitutive knowledge. Epistemology and ontology, or form and substance, are kept rigorously distinct—this is what keeps critique from becoming “dogmatic metaphysics.” For Schelling, however, the simple fact that we have an idea of the absolute, the whole or totality, means that we are, in some sense to be determined, the Absolute. Likewise, if our experience is characterized in terms of a separation of subject and object, and knowledge consists in the reunion of these two terms, then we must contain the unity of these two terms in ourselves (given that nothing can act on the mind “from without”).9 Where Kant had only set out to show how the understanding determines an indeterminate “given” content, Schelling argues that this purely formal account of synthesis leaves the substance or material of the world out of account. It also means that we cannot eschew ontology or metaphysics, but must pursue it with renewed vigor. A new ontology becomes indispensable for the solution to the problem of synthesis in knowledge, as well as the problem of transcendental freedom.

If theoretical reason necessarily seeks the unconditioned (as Kant also held), then it must also admit that the endeavor which produces a synthesis in each act of knowing, a reunion of subject and object, ultimately demands the affirmation of such a unity as principle. That is, this endeavor is the symptom of a desire to achieve a state in which synthesis is no longer necessary. If synthetic activity is to eventuate in a “thesis” or affirmation of unity, the opposition between subject and object must be eliminated. Historically, Schelling remarks, either the object has been considered absolute and envelops the subject (which he considers Spinozism), or the subject is treated as absolute and is both content as well as form, a “subject-in-itself ” (Fichte’s idealism). Because theoretical philosophy deals exclusively with the relations between a subject and an object (conditioned factors), the annihilation of this opposition cannot come to pass through theoretical means. Therefore, this passage from synthesis to thesis is at the same time the transition from theoretical to practical philosophy. If theoretical philosophy seeks to apprehend the unconditioned, but is unable to realize it, that is, to know or prove it solely theoretically, it must become an object of action; the idea itself “demands the act through which it ought to be realized.” 10 Kant showed that reason is compelled to go beyond its proper limits, ending up in dialectical paralogism and antinomy (the false problems of “dogmatic metaphysics”). The only way to avoid dialectical illusion is to resort to the doctrine of regulative or problematic ideas, and to turn the constraint felt in the positing of ideas to his advantage by situating it in the moral law or “fact of reason.” Schelling, even more explicitly than Kant, submits theoretical to practical reason; there is not merely a “practical employment” of the ideas of theoretical reason, as for Kant, but practical reason is itself the primary form of reason. The first principle of philosophy—if all of philosophy is to be deduced from certain a priori principles, a Fichtean premise—must be both theoretical and practical at once.11 This first principle must necessarily take the form of a postulate, because only the postulate expresses a theoretical principle with a practical force.

“The first issue of philosophy, to act freely upon oneself, seemed to [me] as necessary as the first postulate of geometry, to draw a straight line. Just as little as the geometer proves the straight line should the philosopher attempt to prove freedom.”12 The postulate is that which cannot be demonstrated or proved because it is that assumption or principle with which a science must begin. It differs, however, from the “theorem” or “axiom” in that it cannot merely be theoretical, since it must provide the foundation for all philosophy (theoretical and practical). Schelling urges that philosophy cannot be reduced to “abstract principles,” and that he wants “to prove that true philosophy can start only from free actions, and that abstract theorems as the core of this science could lead only to the death of all philosophy.”13 The theory of the postulate must be more than an epistemological meditation on the first principle of philosophy, for he “believes that humanity was born to act, not to speculate, and therefore that his first step into philosophy must announce the arrival of a free human being.”14 This notion has obvious antideterministic implications, and is immediately relevant to the philosophy of nature and its critique of mechanism. “What is caught up in mere mechanism cannot step out of the mechanism and ask: how has all this become possible?”; “That I am capable of posing this question is proof enough that I am, as such, independent of external things; for how otherwise could I have asked how these things themselves are possible for me, in my consciousness?”15 In this critique of mechanism Schelling implies a merely negative concept of freedom—freedom as independence and spontaneity— which he ultimately finds inadequate and reformulates in terms of his own uniquely positive conception.

If the idea of freedom is the sine qua non for philosophy, then the relationship of the postulate to the idea is revealed as a mutually dependent and constitutive one. The idea is sufficient, constitutive, reason for endeavor; it is not merely a regulative condition but a genetic, compulsory element. The idea will be expressed not merely “by a theoretical but by a practical capacity; not by a cognizing, but through a productive, realizing power; not through knowledge but through action.”16 Schelling capitalizes on Kant’s theory of the ideas by making the idea the locus of intersection of ontology and ethics; ontological because the power through which reason postulates the ideas is none other than a mode of absolute causality as such; ethical because philosophy cannot begin unless, like the geometer, one draws the line of freedom in a postulate. Determinism in natural causality and in ethics is forestalled by this first postulate of philosophy, the exercise of “transcendental freedom.”

In the treatise “On the I as Principle of Philosophy” Schelling then devotes more attention to this problem of freedom. The subject’s freedom can no longer be thought of as a mere noumenal spontaneity, since the “thing-initself ” has been rejected. The question of freedom necessarily involves the possibility of genuine causality through reason. Schelling insists that the “absolute freedom of the absolute I,” or the pure self-affirmation of being, has never been a question, since being realizes itself by absolute causality—being is infinite power. The problem has always been to think of an empirical subject as free, which Kant called its “transcendental freedom”: “[T]he freedom of the empirical I cannot possibly realize itself, because the empirical I as such does not exist through itself, through its own free causality.”17 As empirical, it could never theoretically affirm the sheer absolute reality of the I, but is under the standing obligation to (practically) produce it. Through the demand to produce this reality, it intuits the causality that is the genetic source of this very productivity.18 But such a demand can be made only upon an empirical self that is itself not absolute freedom (because it is not a pure unity), but also “whose causality does not differ from the absolute causality in quality, but only in quantity.”19 The argument takes the typical form “not without”:20 no transcendental freedom without absolute freedom, no empirical realization without absolute positing or affirmation. Reason is obliged, if it postulates, to affirm the reality of the causality by means of which reason itself can determine the will. We might say that Schelling develops a critical ontology adequate to the Kantian practical philosophy.

From Postulate to Deduction

In subsequent studies Schelling takes this practical and ontological ground of philosophy and develops it along two lines: transcendental and natural philosophy. The practical demand of philosophy (that philosophy be defined by freedom, that is, absolute causality or potency) entails that the philosopher regard neither objects in Nature nor categories in the mind as ultimates, and that each domain receive a “genetic deduction” in its own right from the first principle of philosophy or absolute substance, understood as “pure activity” or “pure productivity.” Inspired by Fichte’s move to explain the categories by means of analyzing the activity of the thinking subject, Schelling insists that this activity is the real medium of both transcendental and natural philosophy. In transcendental philosophy the ideal necessary conditions of experience are seen to be engendered through the play of activities, both free and necessary, in the thinking subject. Transcendental philosophy begins with the ideal or subjective element and explains the objective on this basis. In the philosophy of nature the real necessary conditions of objects are seen to be engendered through essential forces in the material world. “Forces” are the empirical manifestation of nature’s “productivity” or activity, and all matter, organic or inorganic, is composed of a play of forces, both free and constrained. Nature philosophy begins with the real or objective side, as Schelling will advance in the Introduction, and considers even reason itself to have “developed”21 from nature. In the Introduction he says that

what we call “reason” is a mere play of higher and necessarily unknown natural forces. For, inasmuch as all thinking is at last reducible to a producing and reproducing, there is nothing impossible in the thought that the same activity by which Nature reproduces itself anew in each successive phase, is reproductive in thought through the medium of the organism.22

The subjective and objective “halves” of philosophy are shown to be two different expressions of the ontological ground of activity. “Activity” is univocal being itself. In the System of 1800 Schelling says that “it cannot be said of the I [or of natura naturans] that it ‘exists,’ precisely because it is being itself. The eternal act of self-consciousness, existing beyond time, which we call I, is that which gives existence to all things, and thus itself requires no other being to support it; bearing and supporting itself, rather, it appears objectively [in Nature] as eternal becoming, and subjectively as infinite productivity.”23 In the introduction to the Ideas, Schelling asserts that philosophy

is nothing other than a natural history of our mind. From now on all dogmatism is overturned from its foundations. We consider the system of our representations, not in its being, but in its becoming. Philosophy becomes genetic; that is, it allows the whole necessary series of our representations to arise and take its course, as it were, before our eyes. From now on there is no longer any separation between experience and speculation. The system of Nature is at the same time the system of our mind, and only now, once the great synthesis has been accomplished, does our knowledge return to analysis (to research and experiment).24

This genetic philosophy of becoming will “deduce” the necessary structures of thought as well as the categories of nature; the former in transcendental philosophy, the latter in nature philosophy. The categories adduced in each case will have a logical and, in some cases, more than logical necessity.What we are compelled to assert derives from the constraint of the real. This notion of necessity or constraint is unfortunately one of the most obscure parts of Schelling’s philosophy.

For example, there is a purposive interconnection of cause and effect exhibited to us by an organism. Schelling takes the “regulative idea” of the organism from Kant’s third Critique and gives it a constitutive sense. The organism is an existence “for itself,” it organizes itself, and every part presupposes the whole (in contrast to the “aggregate” which lacks such a systematic interconnection of parts, as well as a power of self-organization). Form is really inseparable from matter, and we have no choice but to think of an organism as an independent whole; we do not arbitrarily impose the form of purposiveness on individual units of matter disorganized in themselves—we are compelled to think of an organism as purposive. To be sure, purposiveness is conceivable only in relation to a judging intellect, and only in relation to an intelligence can anything be called purposive. But “at the same time, you are no less compelled to concede that the purposiveness of natural products dwells in themselves, that it is objective and real, hence that it does not belong to your arbitrary, but to your necessary representations.”25 Thus just as the separation between representation and object is resolved by establishing their mutual dependence and deducing them from a common source, there is a reciprocal dependence between the judgment of organization and purpose and the actual existence of organized beings—neither can exist without the other, and both derive from a common source. Our feeling of constraint informs us of this reality. Schelling argues that both mechanism (in causal series) and teleology depend implicitly on an idea of Nature as an organized and organizing whole. In the introduction to the Outline he argues that this idea is at the root of all investigation into Nature, and, as the first postulate of nature philosophy, it is an “involuntary” and necessary postulate. Materialism and mechanism occupy the standpoint of reflection, and cannot think life. Only a philosophy of nature that transcends the standpoint of separation, of mechanism, can think both the life in nature and the freedom in humanity:

As long as I myself am identical with Nature, I understand what a living nature is as well as I understand my own life; I comprehend how this universal life of nature reveals itself in the most manifold forms, in measured developments, in gradual approximations to freedom. However, as soon as I separate myself, and with me everything ideal, from nature, nothing remains to me but a dead object, and I cease to comprehend how a life outside me could be possible.26

In the Ideas, although Schelling asserts that “this absolute purposiveness of the whole of Nature is an idea which we do not think arbitrarily, but necessarily,” he does not explicitly define the “secret bond that couples our mind to Nature,” or the nature of this necessity.27 Not until the introduction to the Outline does he return explicitly to this idea. I will devote some attention to it since all of the problems that define the philosophy of nature, and that it sets out to solve, can be localized in the theory of the idea.With it Schelling is able to affirm the primacy of practical philosophy—since ideas must be postulated—and as a result dispense with determinism a priori; with the theory of the idea he relies on a new ontology, since both the postulating subject and the world “opposed” to the subject derive from the same source; with this theory he takes the Kantian doctrine of regulative ideas to a new level, and pushes Kantian “deduction” to its limit. Before its complete articulation in the Introduction, however, in the next text devoted to philosophy of nature—a book much praised by Goethe—Schelling arrives at a temporarily suitable conception of the original unity of real and ideal. He names this text On the World-Soul, a Hypothesis of the Higher Physics towards the Explanation of the Universal Organism. Hypothesis here clearly means “postulate,” and the “Universal Organism is what constitutes nature as a whole. Key portions of this text are devoted to the question of the nature of organism and organization, and how the system of nature is an expression of the system of thought. In accord with precisely the same logic that provoked Schelling to postulate a prior unity from which representations and objects flow, here he argues that organism is prior to mechanism and explains it. In short, “the world is an organism, and a universal organism is the very condition (and to that extent the positive factor) of mechanism.”28 Schelling will only be able to demonstrate the dependence of mechanism on organism by explicitly executing a deduction of this necessary relation, in addition to the inductive evidence for such a relation provided in this text.

Schelling’s understanding of “induction” and “deduction” is specific. He calls his approach in On the World-Soul “inductive,” but it means more than the inference of a rule or concept from a case and comparative observation. Induction entails an ascent from the conditioned to the causal condition, from objects to the a priori principles of the production of objects, and it is precisely Schelling’s aim to show that mechanism cannot give a complete account of these conditions, neither for organic phenomena nor for the inorganic. The mechanically simple cannot be shown to ground the dynamically complex, but the complex is the ground of the simple. In the first part of the text dealing with inorganic nature, Schelling successively discusses the material phenomena of light, combustion, air, electricity, and magnetism, showing that the allegedly more basic phenomenon would itself not be possible without the more complicated; for example, the polarity in electrical processes cannot be understood unless it is acknowledged that magnetic polarity is already operative throughout nature as a whole. Moreover, at a more fundamental level, a principle (cause, ground) of polarity reigns throughout nature, from which specifically polar materials (electrical or magnetic) derive. Part 2 of the text is an ascent to the conditions of organic life, since it has been acknowledged that the inorganic does not provide the principles of explanation for the organic. As he articulates it in the Outline, Schelling’s aspiration is to show that the primary forces of nature, both in the inorganic and organic realms, although superficially diverse, are at bottom conceivable as substantially identical: “To be sure, there must be one force that reigns throughout the whole of Nature. . . . But this force may be capable of infinitely many modifications and may be as various as the conditions under which it operates.”29 In On the World-Soul he employs a classical formulation to describe the relation between this omnipresent power and the empirical phenomenon: “[T]he universal principle of life individualizes itself in every individual living being (as if in a unique world) according to the different degree of its receptivity.”30 Although with reference to “life” here specifically, Schelling conceives fields of virtual powers (like the electromagnetic) to be omnipresent throughout the cosmos, manifesting themselves where the conditions are suitable. For Schelling, even every movement implies some degree of sensibility, and therefore some form of sensibility must permeate the entire cosmos, making the world a single organic whole.31

Deduction, in contrast to induction, will begin with a priori conditions and descend to the conditioned. Schelling notes that the Outline adopts this procedure (these distinctions are already evident in the two parts of the Ideas as well). Since this method characterizes transcendental philosophy after Kant and reflects an athletic appropriation of Kantian principles, I will spend some time unpacking this notion of deduction or “construction” with reference to the “idea of Nature” which becomes thematic in the Introduction.
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Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:37 am

Part 2 of 2

Transcendental Deductions and The Idea of Nature

It is typical of Kantian critical method to sidestep the question of the truth or falsity of a claim, and instead to examine the assumptions that support it. “Transcendental deductions,” wherever they occur, aim at the demonstration of the “right to possession” of a claim or knowledge, or at demonstrating the legitimacy of this knowledge, vindicating its employment or possession in the face of the critical objection that such a claim rests on an arbitrary, illegitimate presupposition or “foundationalist” assumption. Deduction, as a method, is the complementary odd half of the critical project. If critique forces thought to reveal its own presuppositions, then deduction is there to show that we must begin with at least some assumptions to which we have a “right.” In a juridical deduction (Kant’s model), there are two questions that are to be answered. The question of right (quid juris) can be settled separately from the question of fact (quid facti), and questions in the form “How is x possible?” are questions of right. Dieter Henrich remarks that deduction is defined by “the process through which a possession or a usage is accounted for by explaining its origin, such that the rightfulness of the possession or usage becomes apparent. . . . In a state of doubt about the rightfulness of our claim to be in the possession of genuine knowledge, it seeks to discover and to examine the real origin of our claim and with that the source of its legitimacy.”32 The task of deduction is then precisely to show that the only assumptions that are made are those that are necessary, or “indispensably necessary,” and not “arbitrary.”

Without this complementary method one remains at the level of analysis, which indeed takes off from the conditioned to search for its conditions, but which cannot itself guarantee the truth or necessity of just those premises it finds and clings to when confronted by antinomy. Moreover, deduction not only shows that the revealed “presupposition” is necessary, but also that it has a “synthetic” character, earning it the moniker “transcendental” (i.e., related to objects, but not derived from experience of objects). Kant tells us that “the explanation of the manner in which concepts can thus relate a priori to objects I entitle their transcendental deduction; and from it I distinguish empirical deduction, which shows the manner in which a concept is acquired through experience and through reflection on experience, and which therefore concerns, not its legitimacy, but only its de facto mode of origination.”33 The Critique provides these transcendental deductions, and most often the “source” of the legitimacy of such claims is found in the “nature” of the understanding or of reason. Schelling uses this strategy to show that thought is compelled or constrained to think the reality of purposive organisms, as shown above, and to think of nature as an organized whole by means of the “idea of Nature,” as shown below.

After Kant it was incumbent upon anyone following in his footsteps to justify the existence of the branches of science they pursue within the system of philosophy, since Kant argued that he had shown exhaustively which faculties and categories are necessary not just for thought and experience, but by extension, for science as well. In the definitive Introduction to the Outline, Schelling deduces the possibility of a “speculative physics,” or Naturphilosophie. Speculative physics would be shown to be possible (i.e., legitimate) as a science if it could somehow be demonstrated that in our investigations into nature we already employ certain ideas or acts of the mind, and that without these conditions natural science itself would not have achieved anything thus far.34 For speculative physics as a science to be possible, one must consider the idea that serves as a principle or a rule for organizing knowledge in that science—the idea of the unconditioned whole. For Schelling, mechanistic physics cannot claim to be a science at all because it treats nature as fragmentary, and does not seek the ground of phenomena. Only the unconditioned can be a final ground and sufficient reason. The idea of nature involves the philosophical postulate of nature’s autonomy and autarchy (analogous to reason’s own), and through it the turn from nature’s “products”—conditioned things, objects of mechanistic physics—to the “final ground” of these products, an unconditioned “productivity,” is accomplished.

The deduction proceeds in two stages: Schelling first shows that certain ideas are already employed in natural science, and then he argues that the ideas are not arbitrary or regulative, but constitutive and necessary. He suggests that the very nature of experimentation as employed in the natural sciences betrays the existence of necessary a priori conceptions in the minds of the experimenters, for example, the idea that nature is a whole is inevitably assumed. By showing that experimentation would not be possible without the employment of an idea of Nature, nor the idea itself without the actual existence of a selforganizing Nature, the possibility of natural science is deduced from the actual behavior of scientists and the acts of the mind involved in human knowledge. Ultimately the deduction will be successful if all of the “necessary” phenomena of nature can be deduced from a first principle, and in turn confirm the legitimacy of this first principle when the science is complete. The deduction of Schelling’s natural science differs from Fichte’s deductions in the Wissenschaftslehre in that the latter, according to Fichte, can achieve perfect completeness, while all other sciences (such as nature philosophy) must remain incomplete because a measure of freedom is involved in the first principles of these sciences. Schelling recognizes this incompleteness of his nature philosophy when he speaks of “intermediate links” (“necessary” phenomena) in development, and admits that it is the task of speculative physics only to show the need for them where they have not yet been discovered, not to enumerate them exhaustively. Thus, natural philosophy is, in a sense, incomplete, and relies on “experiment” to fill in the gaps; but this is a necessary incompleteness, since “the complete discovery of all the intermediate links in the chain of nature, and therefore also our science itself, is an infinite task.”35

In his consideration of experimental practice, he says that to know is to know the “principles of possibility” of a thing, the conditions under which and by means of which it was produced, its genesis. It would be impossible to know natural objects if it were not possible for human beings to “invade” nature by means of freedom. Nature can be “compelled to act under certain conditions” that do not exist, or at least not in a pure form, in nature. Such an “invasion” is an “experiment.” But experiments are not random: “every question [put to nature in an experiment] contains an implicit a priori judgment; every experiment that is an experiment, is a prophecy: experimenting itself is a production of phenomena. The first step, therefore, toward science, at least in the domain of physics, is taken when we ourselves begin to produce the objects of that science.”36 Experimentation produces the “necessary” in phenomena, and in effect transforms the a posteriori (some aspect of the experienced) into the a priori (a universal condition of experience). The natural philosopher learns to see all things as necessary insofar as they have their final ground in the principles according to which the unconditioned productivity of nature operates. Construction is the deduction of the unconditioned conditions of natural productivity, and also the reproduction of these conditions in thought. Therefore, “construction by means of experiment is, after all, an absolute self-production of the phenomena.”37

What are “produced” then are a priori principles, such as the idea of polarity, that is, condition of the theories of electricity and magnetism. As universal and a priori, the nature of polarity can never be found in the objects of nature, and so our knowledge of this regularity is not originally produced by means of experimentation on things. We already know that things will behave in certain ways when submitted to certain experiments: this is the element of “prophecy.” Schelling treats polarity, for example, as the “final cause” of phenomena, which itself cannot be phenomenal. We must then “put it into nature, endow nature with it” in our interpretations. This is the result of the first stage of the deduction. The postulation of these final causes is already part of experimental practice. As he moves to the second stage of the proof, he must ask whether these ideas are necessary.

He considers the objection that anything “put into nature” in this way is clearly hypothetical, and that a science founded on such a principle therefore must be hypothetical.38 Schelling answers the objection by admitting that the hypothetical nature of the science “would be possible to avoid in only one case, i.e., if that presupposition [of Nature’s wholeness] itself were involuntary, and as necessary as Nature itself.”39 Again, Schelling notes that one does not choose to view an organism as something purposive; one is forced to think this way, compelled; therefore it is not a merely “regulative” idea:

You feel yourself constrained in your judgment; you must therefore confess that the unity with which you think it is not merely logical (in your thoughts), but real (actually outside you). . . . Or, if it rests with your choice whether or not to impose the idea of purposiveness on things outside you, how does it come about that you impose this idea only on certain things, and not on all, that further, in this representing of purposeful products, you feel yourself in no way free, but absolutely constrained?40

As already mentioned, this apparent fact of compulsion in thought proves that something real corresponds to it, for if our perceived reality is entirely constructed by ourselves it would follow that we would not be compelled to think of it in one way rather than another.41 Therefore, the idea of purposiveness is one that legitimates the project of a philosophy of nature to investigate “nature as subject” (as autonomous productivity) and not only view “nature as object.” Schelling believes himself to have demonstrated both the inevitability and the necessity of the idea of nature as an organic whole. It remains to be shown specifically what is implied in this idea.

I have mentioned that the idea of nature as a whole entails an essential duality.Nature is both conditioned and unconditioned at once, natura naturata and natura naturans, product and productivity. Thus a perpetual dialectic between the productivity of nature and its products is implicit within the idea of nature, an idea forced on us by the constraint to conceive nature in a certain way, even while acting (thinking) freely or spontaneously. One can never hold that the productivity of nature, the final cause of all things, is identical to the sum of its products, since this would amount to holding fast the dynamic movement or “oscillation” between nature insofar as it is productive and nature insofar as it is product. This universal duplicity of principles maintains nature in continual activity, and thus universal duality must also be a principle of the explanation of nature, “as necessary as the Idea of nature itself.” But this “deduction of all natural phenomena from an absolute hypothesis” means that “our knowing is changed into a construction of nature itself, that is, into a science of nature a priori.”42What in Kant was called “transcendental deduction” becomes (by way of Fichte) the method of construction, and what Schelling calls an “absolute hypothesis” no longer has the character of the speculative, Kantian regulative idea possessing “objective validity” and only an indirect “objective reality.” The first postulate of nature philosophy expresses the reciprocal presupposition of an actually organized nature and its idea, or the identity of real and ideal.

All of these provisions culminate in the theory of construction. It emphasizes the element of “causality through freedom” involved in postulating or positing the idea, and reciprocally concerns the structures or principles of experience that are necessary in order for one to be able to think and experience nature at all. Nature produces (freely), but this production can occur only according to necessary regularities. The idea of the whole is “involuntary”—a necessary or “absolute” presupposition that does not spring from the relativity of our knowledge but from the real constitution of the cosmos. For Kant the notion of the regulative idea or of the reflective judgment entailed a deep tie to his theory of freedom: we must understand the realm of appearances as necessitous, but there is some amount of interpretation respecting the causes assigned to phenomena (an empirical or intelligible character). This indeterminacy is a space opened up by the regulative judgment, which is interpretive and merely guided by the idea of system. Schelling goes beyond this to show that there must be a real content that forces thought to think, otherwise our judgments would be arbitrary. For Schelling to think a whole is to think constitutive self-production, and to think self-production is to think a whole. Through experiment one is led to lawfulness, through lawfulness to the whole, through the whole to self-production. This means that we do not merely translate, through knowing, the experience of objects into the necessity of thought, but that nature is necessary “in itself ”: “It is not that we know nature [as a priori], but that nature is a priori, that is, everything individual in it is already determined through the whole or through the Idea of nature in general.”43 Thus the philosophy of nature is at once an epistemology, an ontology, and an eminently practical philosophy (in the Kantian sense, meaning “pertaining to freedom”).

Logogenesis, Construction, and Potency in the Philosophy of Nature

From the dualism of productivity and product implicit in the idea of nature, Schelling attempts to derive an entire graduated series of increasingly complex stages in the evolution of nature. From simple qualities to inorganic forces, from light to organic sensibility, he shows that, as in transcendental philosophy, construction is not designed to trace an actual, empirical or experiential awareness of development, but is the extraction of the necessary from the contingent in a deductive development. It is the determination of necessary “conditions of possibility” of the experience of an objective world and a justification of their legitimacy. In natural philosophy and its graduated series of stages Schelling sketches the categories of natural ontology and epistemology, deploying the least number of concepts needed to provide an account of the world and experience. Hermann Krings calls this a “logogenesis.”44 Since construction reveals the “necessary,” and the necessary is such because the real compels thought, then Schelling can also sometimes say that nature “constructs itself.” For example, the “dynamical process” is nothing other than the “selfconstruction of matter.”45

If, as has been mentioned many times, it is Schelling’s objective to define the set of concepts necessary for us to be able to think experience and nature at all, and to furnish a genetic account of both the subject and the object from a single source, it is obvious that he cannot be satisfied with the inventory of concepts supplied by Kant because they are strictly subjective. He deduces such categories as the understanding possesses in the 1800 System, but a deduction of “objective” categories is needed as well. He calls the phenomena of gravity, magnetism, and electricity the “categories of physics,” precisely in resonance with Kantian usage.To have a complete system of the categories of experience, we need to uncover not only the subjective but the “objective” categories that are also “conditions” of our experience of things or objects in nature. The simple Kantian dualism between the synthetic, form-bearing subject and the unknown content-in-itself to be informed must be superseded by an account of both a form and content of spirit as well as a form and content of nature. Just as we cannot experience an object that does not occupy space or time (as Kant asserted), we also cannot experience an object that is not involved in the operation of gravitational, electromagnetic, and chemical forces. If Kant’s critique of Sir Isaac Newton is to have any force, then it is not enough to say (as does Kant) that space is a “form of intuition,” but the specific nature of space and the matter that fills it (e.g., dynamical rather than atomic) must be tied to our deduction of categories. It is in Schelling’s variously executed “construction of matter” that these categories are deduced.

Schelling’s dialectic is driven by the persistent attempt of the (absolute) subject to become an object for itself, making its way to higher powers of subjectivity or inwardness in the process.46 Thought is necessarily and inherently synthetic, and begins with a genuine opposition of factors; either something is opposed to thought itself or there are two factors contesting in thought. From these initial factors a dialectic ensues that necessitates a third synthetic moment, and this new whole can itself be treated as one factor or product at the next level or stage of development.We obtain the image of nested spheres of activity or “products.” A product consisting of two simple “factors” can itself become one of two factors constituting another product or sphere of activity, and so what is a mere factor for one stage of development could itself be a product from the perspective of an earlier stage. Schelling sought not only to think organic life as a single unfolding continuum, but also Nature as a whole, including the inorganic realm. The organic and the inorganic could be unified only if at bottom both realms were constituted by the “same” forces. The dialectic of forces in the inorganic realm, specifically the “construction of matter” out of chemical, electrical, and magnetic forces, must in some sense be contained or be implicit in the organic realm. In the “General Deduction of the Dynamical Process, or on the Categories of Physics” (1800), written after the System and appearing in the first issue of his Journal of Speculative Physics, Schelling takes to its furthest development the basic construction of matter and force that he has approached in various ways since 1797. The “Dynamical Process” names the perpetually active “self-constructing of matter recapitulated at diverse levels,” and a deduction of the dynamical process will be equivalent to the complete construction of matter itself. In it “we distinguish various moments in the construction of matter that we allow it to pass through,” but we do not have to think that “Nature actually passes through these moments in time, but only that these moments are dynamically—or if this is more meaningful—metaphysically grounded in Nature.”47 Since “all genuine construction is genetic,” it is necessary to think of “moments” analytically where in Nature itself (from an ontological standpoint) there is unity and no temporal sequence. From the dynamical extension of space itself into three dimensions (length, breadth, depth) as a consequence of the dialectical interaction of fundamental forces, Schelling deduces or constructs the categories of gravity, magnetism, electricity, and the chemical process as forms as fundamental to our apprehension of objects as is space itself. Magnetism, for example, because it must necessarily be conceived as a duality in identity and a unification of polar opposites, is the “form” or category of physics under which length itself must be thought, and magnetism is the conditioning factor of all length. This means that magnetism is a universal function or power of matter, and is not bound to any particular substance in nature (in contrast to the representation of a “magnetic fluid,” a notion current at the time). Magnetism is an expression of the synthesis of repulsive and attractive force in one and the same body, and Schelling even holds that every magnet, because it is a synthesis of opposites, is “a symbol of Nature as a whole.”48 Magnetism is itself a product of force relations, and constitutes matter as such (not any specific material); only the addition of a further determination through “negative conditions” makes this matter a specific body or object.

According to the central tenet of natural philosophy’s critical epistemology, in contrast to mechanical and atomistic philosophy, the main objects of investigation are dynamical forces or productivity, and not static objects or products. The static object is always secondary with respect to the forces and powers (“functions” or “factors”) that generate and maintain it. Thus there is unity at the level of production and diversity at the level of products in nature. Nature is conceived to be in perpetual becoming, while being is “becoming suspended.” A major problem for nature philosophy emerging from these ontological theses is then the nature of permanence. It is no longer the task of philosophia naturalis to solve the problem of hylomorphic “substantial change,” but to explain how products appear to be permanent at all in this continual flux. Schelling’s preferred figure to characterize the product of nature is the whirlpool:

A stream flows in a straight line forward as long as it encounters no resistance. Where there is resistance—a whirlpool forms. Every original product of Nature is such a vortex, every organized being. E.g., the whirlpool is not something immobilized, it is rather something constantly transforming—but reproduced anew at each moment. Thus no product in Nature is fixed, but it is reproduced at each instant through the force of Nature entire. (We do not really see the subsistence of Nature’s products, just their continually being-reproduced.) Nature as a whole co-operates in every product.49

“Products” are specifically the result of a production through a relation of forces, and will constitute the ground of an existing body (matter), from which a determinate body is formed.50 If each product is a relatively “permanent process,” the continual reproduction of its own substance and processes, and yet all products are suffused by the powers of nature as a whole, what are the factors that distinguish one product from another? One product is specifically different from another not only in its material composition, but in the relation and proportions of its constitutive forces among themselves (and the former depends on the latter). As in his earlier essays on transcendental philosophy where the self, in striving to preserve its identity, “imitates” the absolute as far as it can by exercising “absolute causality,” all of the vortical existents are preserved in their existence by their striving to express the whole, in increasing individualization, to approximate a single perfect organism, a single archetype.51 On the other hand, Schelling speaks often of the tendency of nature to return to a state of indifference, where no strife exists, where all individuality, therefore, is eliminated. He repeatedly insists that the “individual exists, as it were, against the will of nature.”52 The perfect balance of these two tendencies is expressed in the preservation of the genus or species at the expense of the individual. On a larger scale, what a species expresses of the whole is not a particular mixture of materials and forms, but a certain proportion and intensity of primary organic functions. It is through the continuity of organic functions that the whole diversity of the natural world is connected and forms a single whole organism.

In contrast to the school of comparative anatomy and the old natural history, Schelling establishes a “comparative physiology” of organic functions. Just as “speculative physics” is a science of the fundamental powers of matter, he endeavors to establish a science of the various degrees and proportions of essential powers that belong to all organic beings. Through these diverse expressions in various proportions, nature as a whole achieves the realization of its ideal of unity in plurality. Just as Jean-Baptiste Lamarck oriented his system of zoology with attention to the basic functions of reproduction, circulation, and sensation, rather than to structure or external form, Schelling defines every organism as a permanent process by attending to its specific proportion of reproductive force, irritability, and sensibility. Every organism is defined, not primarily by its external form (although its form and organs will follow from the disposition of its powers), but by the particular proportion of forces active within it. All organic beings are suffused with all three powers, and yet plants, for example, have a preponderance of reproductive force while sensibility in them approaches zero. Mammals, in contrast, have a preponderance of sensibility but produce few offspring, their reproductive power narrows to a capacity to reproduce only the organism itself through growth, assimilation, and maintenance.

The order of the powers of matter I have presented is also one of decreasing extensity and inversely proportional intensity. Light (or chemical process) reaches everywhere, electricity is less widely distributed, and only a few bodies are magnets (although magnetic force permeates the entire cosmos). The organic functions are isomorphic with the inorganic. Force of reproduction is positive, expansive, and the most widely distributed. Irritability is reactive and designates the juxtaposition of inner and outer worlds, and is less widely distributed. Sensibility is the synthesis of the two because it is the source of movement and cause of life’s reproduction of itself and of its reactions to the world. Because these powers are dialectically related however, and because they are all modifications of a single omnipresent power of nature, neither the second nor the third in each group is absent from the the manifestation of the first. In a sense, the third is there from the beginning. This is the reason why Schelling analyzes these powers in the Introduction in the opposite order, elucidating their dialectical genesis more explicitly. Magnetism is the first power of inorganic nature because its factors are in a state of unity: in one and the same being opposite factors are expressed, a unity in difference. In electricity these poles are separated into different bodies, independent products in their own right, and here two products are opposed in the electrical process; they are in a state of explicit difference. In the chemical process two initially separate products are seen to recombine, to achieve an “intussusception” and unification, or return to a state of “indifference.” The dialectical formula is repeated in the organic. Sensibility is, therefore, the stage of unity in difference, irritability that of explicit differentiation, and reproductive drive the stage of return to unity or indifference. Provocative statements based on these parallels (or “analogies”), such as “sensibility in the organic is the higher power of magnetism in matter,” always attract the most ridicule in negative receptions of the philosophy of nature. While some followers of Schelling abused the method of analogy, Schelling was committed to its employment in a determinate form. It is the notion of “potency” that allows Schelling to present these structural repetitions in a determinate concept.

To achieve a unified view of nature means to reduce the domains of inorganic and organic nature to a single expression, and Schelling can do this by employing his ontological and dialectical methods. The distinctions between products are drawn on the basis of their limited expression of universal powers. One could argue that univocal being expresses itself as a whole in each being, but each being receives univocal being only to the degree that it is able. Being is not unevenly distributed into substance and property or quality; this substance-predicate model is rejected along with the primacy of static objects. Being is expressed in processes whose material conditions facilitate the expression of greater or lesser degrees of intensity. Schelling therefore understands the powers of reproductive force, irritability, and sensibility as isomorphic with chemical process or light, electricity, and magnetism, respectively, and the former are nothing other than the latter “raised to a higher power.”53 In his much later lectures On the History of Modern Philosophy Schelling notes that the idea of “potency” is more determinate than the idea of “analogy.” In speaking of light, he says it “is obviously an analogy in the extended world for spirit or thought, and if we reduce this indeterminate concept of an analogy to a determinate concept, then light is nothing but spirit or thought at a lower level or at a lower potency.” 54 Here analogy is to be distinguished from potency. As Kant held, for example, analogy does not entail a similarity between things, but only a likeness in the relations between things.55 But just as Schelling goes beyond Kant’s regulative idea to a positive ontology, he uses the indeterminate concept of analogy as a means to indicate where a determinate concept of potentiation may be thought. There is a likeness of relation or proportion of one power to another (e.g., reproductive drive is most extensive in the organic as chemical process is in the inorganic), but there is also an ontological community that the concept of analogy does not imply. It is the determinate conception of a difference in intensive quantity of being that produces a qualitative difference within the structure of dialectical development, driven by the endeavor of Nature as subject to become object to itself. He uses this concept to show that organism and the inorganic are not essentially opposed. One cannot simply oppose mechanism by developing a “philosophy of organism,” but must seek the common expression of both. For Schelling the opposition between the inorganic and organic realms of nature is merely apparent, and in closing the Introduction to the Outline he notes that the attempt to reduce one to the other is futile, and a false problem. They are not opposed at all; the organic is nothing but a “raising to a higher power” of the inorganic forces. The word Potenzierung names Schelling’s original and powerful concept for conceiving this identity in diversity.


For the philosophy of nature, universal nature is a whole, a living organism, and every individual in nature is an expression of this whole. All things in nature are conjoined by virtue of a universally omnipresent but virtual power that manifests itself in various modes, depending on the material conditions of its manifestation. Every individual is defined not as a static formed substance, but as an enduring process or contest of forces restricted to a particular sphere of activity. The play of forces within every limited sphere obeys a regularity and logic that is necessarily dialectical, and in accord with which their expressions in products, of whatever type, can be situated in a graduated scale of development that indicates the intensity or degree of evolution (emanation) of the powers of nature manifest in a particular being. Schelling’s philosophy of nature is dynamic and genetic, but the processes it describes are “static geneses,” the expression of virtual powers in actual materials, and not the historical description of a genesis from actual term to actual term. As Krings notes, Schelling’s philosophy of nature may be thought of as a logogenesis, not a real genesis. Construction, or the deduction of the categories necessary to think and experience the natural world, is the method employed to span the depths and heights of the graduated series in nature. It is often overlooked that the method of construction I have described also involves, in the act of postulating, the engagement of human freedom in transcending mechanism from the start. Not only epistemological and ontological, the philosophy of nature is an expressly ethical project.

It is hoped that the appearance of the following text in English for the first time will not only contribute to the current Schelling revival that has been gradually gaining momentum among philosophers and theorists in the English- speaking world, but will also provide a valuable resource for those interested in holistic metaphysics, environmental philosophy, ecology, and the sciences of complexity and self-organization.

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Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von. System of Transcendental Idealism (1800). Trans. Peter Heath. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1978.

Smolin, Lee. The Life of the Cosmos. New York: Oxford UP, 1997.

Treder, H.-J. “Zum Einflu von Schellings Naturphilosophie auf die Entwicklung der Physik.” Natur und geschichtlicher Proze : Studien zur Naturphilosophie F. W. J. Schellings. Ed. H. J. Sandkühler. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1984. 326–34.
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Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:37 am


This translation is based on volume 7 (2001) of the historical-critical edition published by the Schelling Commission in affiliation with the Bayern Academy of Sciences (1976ff.). The translation preserves the sometimes abrupt and unpolished quality of the original lecture text and manuscript notes, while it also endeavors to be acceptable to the English reader’s sensibility. A perfect compromise was not always possible. I have preserved Schelling’s use of emphasis and liberal employment of the em dash. To add clarity to an often obscure course of argumentation, the chapter headings have been supplied by the translator and are derived in all cases directly or indirectly from the introductory “outline of the whole” provided by Schelling himself. Numbers in brackets indicate the critical edition (AA) pages; for corresponding SW page numbers the reader may consult the page concordance.

All endnotes are my own. Footnotes to the main text, unless marked “Original note,” derive from a handwritten manuscript used by Schelling in the Jena lectures, unfortunately destroyed during the Second World War. However, they were included as footnotes in the Sämmtliche Werke edition. On the grounds of a directive provided by Schelling himself regarding the fate of this manuscript (“Hardly to be used, best if eliminated,” AA I,7 11), the editors of the critical edition of Schelling’s works decided to distance these remarks from the first edition text and have placed them in a separate section of their edition. Nevertheless, I believe these explanatory notes, supplements, elucidations, and clarifications are indispensible for a greater understanding of the text and of enormous benefit to the reader, and I have chosen to follow the earlier edition and include them as footnotes to the main text, which otherwise follows the critical edition.

I have benefited from the 1867 translation of the Introduction to the Outline by Thomas Davidson, which appeared in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy (vol. 1, no. 4). It has provided me with generous resources both here and in the translation of the Outline itself. The translation of the Introduction presented here (following the translation of the Outline) may be considered a thoroughly revised version of the Davidson translation. Bracketed page numbers in that text refer to the SW edition of Schelling’s works, since the critical edition of this text is not yet available.

An appendix containing a few biographical details about the numerous now-famous or now-forgotten scientific figures and philosophers to whom Schelling refers throughout the two texts and notes has been added for the reader’s convenience.
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Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:38 am

Erster Entwurf
e i n e s S y s t e m s

Zum Behuf seiner Vorlesungen

von F.W.J. Schelling

Jena und Leipzig

bey Christian Ernst Gabler




The same demands cannot rightfully be made upon a treatise that has been written solely and exclusively to serve as a guide for lectures—like the one before you—as upon a text which was primarily intended for the public at large.

This treatise may surely be called a first outline, because no attempt of its kind has previously existed—for no one has yet ventured for dynamic philosophy what has been done for the mechanistic philosophy by Lesage.1—But the title has another sense as well.

The author has too lofty a notion of the magnitude of his undertaking to announce in the present treatise anything more than the first outline, let alone to erect the system itself.

Thus, I ask but one thing: that the reader remember, in levelling a judgment, that all of the facts are not yet in. The reader should pass judgment least of all on what “philosophy of nature” or “speculative physics” means for the author (for those who do not know already); rather, if he must pass judgment, let him await my explanation, which will follow shortly in a certain treatise On the Foundation and the Inner Organization of a System of Speculative Physics.—For now, the following outline may take the place of an introduction.

March 20, 1799
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Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:39 am



First Division. Proof that nature is organic in its most original products.

I. Because to philosophize about nature means as much as to create it, we must first of all find the point from which nature can be posited into becoming (pp. 13–15).

In order for a real activity to come to be out of an infinite (and to that extent ideal) productive activity, that activity must be inhibited, retarded. But because the activity is originally an infinite one, it cannot result in finite products, even when it is inhibited; and even if it should result in finite products, these can only be merely apparent products; i.e., the tendency to infinite development must lie once again in every individual; every product must be capable of being articulated into products (pp. 15–19).

II. III. Thus the analysis can not be permitted to stop at any one thing that is a product; it can only cease with the purely productive. But this absolutely productive character (which no longer has a substrate, but is rather the cause of every substrate) is that which absolutely blocks all analysis; precisely for that reason, it is the point at which our analysis (experience) can never arrive. It must be simply posited into Nature, and it is the first postulate of all philosophy of nature.—It must be that which is insurmountable in Nature (mechanically and chemically); such a thing is thought to be nothing other than the cause of all original quality (p. 19). Such an absolutely productive character is designated by the concept of the simple actant.1—(Principle of a dynamic atomism)—(pp. 20ff.).

If the absolute analysis were to be thought as actual, then, because an infinite product evolves in Nature as object, there would have to be an [68] infinite multiplicity of simple actants, thought as the elements of nature and of all construction of matter (pp. 20–22).

(Here we must at once recall that this absolute analysis in nature can never be reached, that those simple actants are therefore only the ideal factors of matter.)

Yet these simple actants cannot be distinguished from one another in any other way than by the original figure that they produce (a point we owe to the atomists). Yet because absolute evolution does not eventuate due to the universal compulsion toward combination that holds Nature together as product (pp. 28–29), these fundamental configurations cannot be thought as existent (contra the atomists). [i] Therefore they have to be thought as selfcanceling, as interpenetrating (cohesion, pp. 25ff.). The most original product of this interpenetration is the most primal fluid—the absolute noncomposite, and for that reason the absolute decomposite. (A look at caloric, electrical, and luminous phenomena from this point of view (pp. 29ff.)).—Such a principle would entail the cancellation of all individuality—hence also of every product—in Nature. This is impossible. Hence there must be a counterweight in Nature, by means of which matter disappears from the other side into the absolutely indecomposable. However, this in turn cannot exist except by being at the same time the absolutely composable.2—Nature cannot lose itself in either extreme. Nature in its originality is therefore a mediator on the basis of both (pp. 32–33).

The state of configuration is therefore the most original in which Nature is viewed.—Nature a product which passes from figure to figure—in a certain order to be sure, through which, however, [69] it cannot result in determinate products without absolute inhibition of the formation.—I demonstrate that this is conceivable only if the formative drive splits in opposite directions, which on a lower level will appear as differentiation of the sexes (pp. 35–36).

Proof that by this means the permanence of various stages of development in Nature is assured (pp. 39ff.).

Yet all these various products one product that is inhibited at sundry stages. They are deviations from one original ideal. Proof on the basis of the continuity of the dynamic graduated series of stages in Nature (pp. 48ff.); on that basis we discern the fundamental task of all nature philosophy: TO DERIVE THE DYNAMIC GRADUATED SEQUENCE OF STAGES IN NATURE.

IV. Individual products have been posited in Nature, but Nature implies a universal organism.—Nature’s struggle against everything individual.

Deduction of the necessary reciprocity of receptivity and activity in everything organic (which will be presented below as “excitability”) (p. 56), and the cancellation of this reciprocity in the opposed systems

a) of chemical physiology, which posits mere receptivity (no subject) in the organism, and

b) of the system that posits in the organism an absolute activity (mediated by no receptivity)—an absolute life force (p. 60).

Unification of the two systems in a third (pp. 61ff.).

If, however, receptivity is necessarily posited in the organism as the mediator of its activity, there lies within the organism itself the presupposition of a world that stands opposed to it—an anorganic3 world that has a determinate effect on the organism.—This world, however, precisely because it is a determinate (unalterable) world, has to be subject itself to an external effect (it must be, as it were, in a state of compulsion), in order that it may form, together with its organic world, once again through some kind of commonality, something interior. [70] This would have to be derived from the conditions of an anorganic world in general.

Second Division. Deduction of the conditions of an anorganic nature.

Deduction of the possibility of sheer contiguity and exteriority (p. 71). Because such a thing is conceivable only as a tendency toward penetration, a cause is postulated that sustains this tendency.

a) Deduction of universal gravity (pp. 71–72). Opposed systems,
the mechanical and
the metaphysical system of attraction (pp. 73–78).

A third system on the basis of the other two: a system of physical attraction derived from the theory of universal cosmic formation (pp. 78–93).

b) With universal gravitation, the tendency toward universal intussusception4 in Nature is founded. Accepted as a hypothesis, namely, that there is real intussusception, the action of gravity would be only the first impulse toward it; thus another, different action would be adduced to it in order to make it actual.—We are required to demonstrate such a thing in Nature (p. 194).

Proof that the principle of all chemical process of a determinate sphere is not in turn a product of the same sphere, but of a higher sphere. (Deduction of oxygen) (pp. 94–96).—Conclusion that the positive action in every chemical process within the lower sphere must take its point of departure from the higher one.

Proof that, in the part of the universe that is known to us, light is a phenomenon of such a dynamic action, exercised by celestial bodies of a higher order on subaltern bodies. (Combustion a transition of opposed spheres of affinity into one another) (pp. 96–100).

[71] c) Deduction of a relation in all terrestrial substances that is opposed to that action—electrical relations of bodies.

Distinction between the electrical and chemical processes. The principle that immediately intervenes in the one is the mediately determining principle of the other (pp. 102–104).

d) Relation of the action of gravity to chemical action (p. 104).

Third Division. Reciprocal determination of organic and anorganic nature.

I. The supreme concept by which the interconnection of the organism with an anorganic world is expressed is the concept of excitability.—Duplicity, which is thereby posited in the organism, and a derivation of the same from the general organization of the universe (pp. 105–108).

Complete unification of the opposed systems wherein the organism is posited either as mere object or mere subject in a third system, which posits the organism as excitable (pp. 108ff.).—Derivation of a cause of excitability, the condition of which is duplicity, a cause which in its tendency is chemical, and which precisely for that reason cannot originally be chemical; thereupon a grounded and complete determination of the possibility of a higher dynamic process (the same as the life process), which, although not itself chemical, nevertheless has the same cause and the same conditions as the chemical process (p. 113).

[72] II. Derivation of individual organic functions from the concept of excitability.

a) Because excitability presupposes duplicity—the cause of the former cannot be the cause of the latter. Thus a cause is postulated that no longer presupposes duplicity—a cause of sensibility, as the source of organic activity (pp. 116–117).

b) Determination of the activity whose source is sensibility, and the conditions of this activity (in Galvanism)—irritability (p. 125).

c) Extinction of this activity in the product—force of production, with all its offshoots (nutrition, p. 125, secretion, pp. 126–130, growth, p. 130, technical drive (animal instincts in general), pp. 130–139. —Metamorphosis, reproductive drive, pp. 138–140).

III. Consequences of the preceding.

a) That the organic functions are subordinated, one to another, in such a way that they are opposed with regard to their appearance (their coming to the fore), both in the individual and in the whole of organic nature.

b) That by this opposition (because the higher function is repressed by the surfeit of subordinate functions) a dynamic sequence of stages in Nature is founded.

c) Demonstration of this dynamic sequence of states (p. 141f.) on the basis of:

aa) a reciprocal determination of sensibility and irritability (pp. 142–147);

bb) a reciprocal determination of sensibility and force of production (p. 147f.);

cc) a reciprocal determination of irritability and force of production (pp. 147–148), throughout organic nature.

Conclusion: that it is one and the same product that, beginning from the highest stage of sensibility, ultimately dissipates in the reproductive force of plants.

d) Demonstration that the same dynamic sequence of stages prevails in universal and anorganic nature as in organic nature (pp. 149–159).

[73] General schematic of this sequence of stages

Organic / Universal / Anorganic Nature
Formative drive / Light / Chemical Process
Irritability / Electricity / Electrical process
Sensibility / Cause of magnetism? / Magnetism? [ii]

e) Supreme problem of the philosophy of nature: What cause brought forth the first duplicity (of which all other opposites are the mere progeny) out of the universal identity of Nature? (p. 158).

(APPENDIX TO III: Theory of illness, derived from the dynamic sequence of stages in Nature, pp. 158–172.)

IV. Not only the subordinate functions of the organism but also the general forces corresponding to them (electricity, chemical process) presuppose an original heterogeneity—the solution of that problem (What is the cause of the original heterogeneity?) is thus at the same time a theory of chemical process, and vice versa.

Universal theory of the chemical process (pp. 172–187).

a) Concept of the chemical process (pp. 172–174).

b) Material conditions of the chemical process.—Demonstration that in the chemical as well as in the electrical process only one opposition prevails (pp. 174–179).

c) Inasmuch as all chemical (and electrical) process is mediated by a first heterogeneity, the latter has for universal nature the same function that sensibility has for organic nature.—Complete demonstration that MAGNETISM is for universal [74] Nature what sensibility is for organic nature, that all dynamic forces of the universe, such as sensibility, are subordinate to it—that magnetism, like sensibility in organic nature, is universal in anorganic nature (and canceled, wherever it is canceled, only for appearance).—Conclusion: the identity of the ultimate cause of sensibility and magnetism (p. 184).

d) Complete construction of the chemical process and of all dynamic process (pp. 184–187).

aa) inasmuch as an intussusception between heterogeneous bodies is possible only insofar as the homogeneous is itself sundered in itself, no homogeneous state can be absolute; rather, it can only be a state of indifference. In order to explain this, we must suppose that in the universe there is a universal effect that propagates itself from product to product by means of (magnetic) distribution, which would be the universal determinant of all quality (and we must therefore suppose that magnetism is universal) (p. 186).

bb) Further, in order to bring heterogeneity into the particular dynamic sphere, and thereby the possibility of canceling the dynamic state of indifference, we must suppose a communication between the higher and the lower spheres of affinity (through the medium of light, p. 186). By means of the lower sphere, the external condition of the dynamic process (heterogeneity) is given; by means of the higher sphere, the inner condition (the diremption5 in the homogeneous itself ) is given.

V. The dynamic organization that we have now derived presupposes the universe as its scaffolding.

Deduction of the forces by which (presupposing an original duplicity in Nature) the evolution of the universe is conditioned—

Deduction of the expansive force,
of the retarding force,
and of the force of gravity, which alone (in their independence from one another) make Nature possible as a determinate product for every moment of time and space, and which alone make possible a real construction of matter (pp. 186–192).



i. If one considers nature as object to be real, and as having originated not by evolution but by synthesis  (and we have no alternative from the empirical standpoint), atomism is necessary, whether it  be mechanical or dynamic.—In the transcendental view to which speculative physics ultimately  elevates itself, everything is entirely transposed.
ii. Since the subordinate forces in universal Nature, as in the organic, already presuppose an original  heterogeneity, then a cause that brings forth heterogeneity (from homogeneity) is postulated, in  whose place is situated, as merely hypothetical, the cause of universal magnetism.
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Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:41 am

[75–76 blank]



I. The Unconditioned in Nature

The subject which is to be the object of philosophy in a given instance must be viewed, in a word, as unconditioned. The question arises as to what extent unconditionedness might be ascribed to Nature.

1) First of all, we must try to secure the concept of the unconditioned. To this end, however, we are in need of a few principles that are assumed as well known from transcendental philosophy.

FIRST PRINCIPLE. The unconditioned cannot be sought in any individual “thing” nor in anything of which one can say that it “is.” For what “is” only partakes of being, and is only an individual form or kind of being.—Conversely, one can never say of the unconditioned that it “is.” For it is BEING ITSELF, and as such, it does not exhibit itself entirely in any finite product, and every individual is, as it were, a particular expression of it.

ELUCIDATION. What is asserted by this principle obtains universally overall and for the unconditioned in every science. For although only transcendental philosophy raises itself to the Absolute Unconditioned in human knowledge, it must nevertheless demonstrate that every science that is science at all has its unconditioned. The above principle thus obtains also for the philosophy of nature: “the unconditioned of Nature as such cannot be sought in any individual natural object;” rather a principle1 of being, that itself “is” not, manifests itself in each natural object.—Now, since the unconditioned cannot be thought under the predicate of being, it obviously follows that as principle of all being, it can participate in no higher being. For if everything that “is” is only, as it were, the color of the unconditioned, then the unconditioned itself must everywhere become manifest through itself—like light that requires no higher light in order to be visible.

[78] Now, what is this being itself for transcendental philosophy, of which every individual being is only a particular form? If, according to these very principles, everything that exists is a construction of the spirit, then being itself is nothing other than the constructing itself, or since construction is thinkable at all only as activity, being itself is nothing other than the highest constructing activity, which, although never itself an object, is the principle of everything objective.

Accordingly, transcendental philosophy knows of no originary being. [i] For if being itself is only activity, then the individual being can only be viewed as a determinate form or limitation of the originary activity.—Now being ought to be something just as little primary in the philosophy of nature; “the concept of being as an originary substratum should be absolutely eliminated from the philosophy of nature, just as it has been from transcendental philosophy.” The above proposition says this and nothing else: “Nature should be viewed as unconditioned.” [ii]

Now Nature itself is, according to general consensus, nothing other than the sum total of existence; [iii] it would therefore be impossible to view Nature as an unconditioned, if the concealed trace of freedom could not be discovered in the concept of being itself. [iv] Therefore we assert: every individual (in Nature) is only a form of being itself; being itself however absolute activity. For, if being itself is to activity, then the individual being cannot be an absolute negation of activity. Nevertheless, we must think the natural product itself under the predicate of being. However, viewed from a higher standpoint, this being itself is nothing other than a continually operative [v] natural activity that is extinguished in its product.—Originally, no individual being at all (as an accomplished fact) is present for us in Nature, for otherwise our project is not philosophy, but empirical investigation.—We must observe what an object is in its first origin. First of all, everything that is in Nature, and Nature considered as sum total of existence, is not even present for us. To philosophize about Nature means to create Nature. Every [79] activity perishes in its product, because it reaches only to this product. Thus we do not know nature as product. We know Nature only as active—for it is impossible to philosophize about any subject which cannot be engaged in activity. To philosophize about nature means to heave it out of the dead mechanism to which it seems predisposed, to quicken it with freedom and to set it into its own free development—to philosophize about nature means, in other words, to tear yourself away from the common view which discerns in nature only what “happens”—and which, at most, views the act as a factum, not the action itself in its acting. [vi]

2) We have answered the first question (how unconditionedness may be ascribed to Nature) through the assertion that Nature has to be viewed as absolutely active. This answer itself drives us to the new question: how can Nature be observed as absolutely active, or more clearly expressed: in what light must the totality of Nature appear to us, if it is absolutely active? [vii]

The following principle must serve us in answering this question.

SECOND PRINCIPLE. Absolute activity cannot be exhibited by a finite product, but only by an INFINITE one.

ELUCIDATION. The Philosophy of Nature, so that it does not degrade into an empty play with concepts, must demonstrate a corresponding intuition for all of its concepts. Therefore, the question arises how an absolute activity (if there is such a thing in Nature) will present itself empirically, i.e., in the finite.

—Possibility of the exhibition of the infinite in the finite—is the highest problem of all systematic science. The subordinate sciences solve this problem in particular cases. Transcendental philosophy has to solve the problem in its greatest universality.—This solution will doubtless eventuate in the following result.

The illusion that surrounds the entire investigation concerning the infinite in all sciences issues from an amphiboly in this concept itself.—The empirically infinite is only the external intuition [80] of an absolute (intellectual) infinity whose intuition is originally in us, but which could never come to consciousness without external, empirical exhibition. The proof of this is that this intuition comes to the fore precisely when the empirically infinite series lying before the imagination is obliterated (“I blot it out, and you lie fully before me”2). If, that is, the finite can be intuited only externally, then the infinite can not even be presented in external intuition otherwise than through a finitude which is never complete, i.e., which is itself infinite. In other words, it can only be presented by infinite becoming, [viii] where the intuition of the infinite lies in no individual moment, but is only to be produced in an endless progression—in a progression, however, which no power of imagination can sustain. Therefore, reason determines either to obliterate the series, [ix] or to assume an ideal limit to the series which is so far removed that in practical employment one can never be compelled to go beyond it (as the mathematician does when he assumes an infinitely large or small magnitude).

But now, how must one represent an infinite series if it is only the external exhibition of an original infinity? Are we to believe that the infinite is produced in the series through aggregation, or rather ought we to represent any such series in continuity, as one function running to infinity?—The fact that in mathematics, infinite series are composed of magnitudes, proves nothing on behalf of that assumption. The originally infinite series, of which every individual series in mathematics is an imitation, does not arise through aggregation, but through evolution, through evolution of a magnitude already infinite in its point of origination which runs through the entire series. The whole infinity is originally concentrated in this one magnitude. The succession in the series signifies only, as it were, the individual inhibitions [x] which continually set bounds to the expansion of that magnitude into an infinite series (an infinite space), and which moreover happens with an infinite velocity and would permit no real intuition.

[81] The genuine concept of an empirical infinity is the concept of an activity [xi] that is infinitely inhibited. But how could it be inhibited to infinity if it did not flow into infinity and if it did not deposit its whole infinity in every individual point of the line that it describes?

CONSEQUENCES FOR THE PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE (which are at once to be seen as the response to our second question above).

FIRST CONSEQUENCE. If Nature is absolute activity, then this activity must appear as inhibited ad infinitum. [xii] (The original cause of this inhibition must again only be sought IN ITSELF, since Nature is ABSOLUTELY active).

SECOND CONSEQUENCE. Nature EXISTS nowhere as product; all individual productions in Nature are merely apparent products, not the absolute product that always BECOMES and never IS, and in which the absolute activity exhausts itself. [xiii]

According to the first principle, an original duality must simply be presupposed in Nature. For it permits of no further derivation, because it is the only condition under which an infinite is finitely presentable at all, i.e., the condition under which a Nature is at all possible. Through this original antithesis in itself, Nature will now be for the first time truly whole and complete in itself. [xiv]

Since Nature gives itself its sphere of activity, no foreign power can interfere with it; all of its laws are immanent, or Nature is its own legislator (autonomy of Nature).

Whatever happens in Nature must also be explained from the active and motive principles which lie in it, or Nature suffices for itself (autarchy of Nature).

They are both contained in the proposition: Nature has unconditioned reality, [xv] a proposition which is precisely the principle of a philosophy of nature.

[82] The absolute activity of Nature should appear as inhibited to infinity. This inhibition of the universal activity of Nature (without which “apparent products” would never once come to be) may be represented, at any rate, as the work of opposed tendencies in Nature. (Let one force be thought, originally infinite in itself, streaming out in all directions from one central point; then this force will not linger in any point of space for a moment (thus leaving space empty), unless an energetic activity opposing (retarding) its expansion did not give it a finite velocity. [xvi]) However, as soon as one undertakes to carry out the construction of a finite product from these opposed tendencies, one encounters an irresolvable difficulty. For if we let both coincide at one and the same point, then their effects toward one another will reciprocally be canceled, and the product will be to 0. Precisely for this reason, it must be assumed that no product in nature can be the product in which those opposed activities absolutely coincide, i.e., in which Nature itself attained rest. One must, in a word, simply deny all permanence in Nature itself. One has to assume that all permanence only occurs in Nature as object, while the activity of Nature as subject continues irresistably, and while it continually labors in opposition to all permanence. The chief problem of the philosophy of nature is not to explain the active in Nature (for, because it is its first supposition, this is quite conceivable to it), but the resting, permanent. Nature philosophy arrives at this explanation simply by virtue of the presupposition that for Nature the permanent is a limitation of its own activity. [xvii] So, if this is the case, then impetuous Nature will struggle against every limitation; thereby the points of inhibition of its activity in nature as object will attain permanence. [xviii] For the philosopher, the points of inhibition will be signified by products; every product of this kind will represent a determinate sphere which Nature always fills anew, and into which the stream of its force incessantly gushes.

[83] However, when one asks (and this is the principal question), “how is it at all possible to view all of these individual products in nature as only apparent products?” we find the following answer. Evidently every (finite) product is only a seeming product, if again infinity lies in it, i.e., if it is itself again capable of an infinite development. If it engages in this development, then it would have no permanent existence at all; every product that now appears fixed in Nature would exist only for a moment, gripped in continuous evolution, always changeable, appearing only to fade away again. The answer given above to the question, “how could Nature be viewed as absolutely active?”, is now reduced to the following PRINCIPLE:

Nature is absolutely active if the drive to an infinite development lies in each of its products.

With this the course of our further investigations is marked out. That is, to begin with, the question arises, “How must a product that is capable of an infinite development be constituted, and is such a product really found in Nature?”— Let it be noted that with this question we respond at the same time to another which must definitely be answered, namely: Why is the tendency to infinite development in such a product just maintained, and why, as fixed, does it seem oblivious to this tendency and not lose itself in the infinite?

REMARK. The proposition that the whole—the infinite—mirrors itself in each individual being in Nature, has been heard in transcendental philosophy more than in the philosophy of nature. The former science also has exactly the same difficulty to explain: How opposed activities coincide in the intuition of the finite without reciprocally canceling each other. It will have to be denied that they coincide in any product absolutely; one will assume that spirit does not have an intuition of itself in any individual product—that it has no intuition of itself in unity, but rather in the infinite keeping apart of its opposed activities from one another (which are only unified at all by virtue of this holding apart). It must be assumed that just for this reason each individual intuition is only apparently individual, and that actually the intuition of the whole universe is contained in every individual. The originary strife of self-consciousness—which is for transcendental creation [84] precisely what the strife of the elements is for physical creation— must, like self-consciousness itself, be infinite; therefore, it cannot end in any individual product, but only in a product that always becomes and never is, and is created anew in each moment of self-consciousness.—In order to unify absolute opposites, the productive imagination enlarges their reciprocal cancellation into an infinite series; the finite is brought into being only through this infinite extension—this infinite nudging back of absolute negation.



i. of no being in itself.

ii. The philosopher of nature treats nature as the transcendental philosopher treats the self. Thus Nature itself is an unconditioned to him. This is not possible, however, if we proceed from objective being in Nature. In philosophy of nature objective being is as little something originary as in transcendental philosophy.

iii. and to that extent Nature would be understood as object.

iv. if the trace of a loftier concept, the concept of activity, did not lie in the concept of being itself.

v. uniformly operative

vi. In the usual view, the original productivity of nature disappears behind the product. For us the product must disappear behind the productivity.

vii. productive

viii. by letting-become

ix. When the series is obliterated, nothing remains except the feeling of an infinite tendency in ourselves— this tendency now emerges in intuition, and the above expression of the poet should be considered in this regard. From this it becomes clear that originally all infinity lies in ourselves.

x. through reflection

xi. tendency

xii. otherwise no empirical presentation of it is possible.

xiii. Productivity is originally infinite; thus even when a product comes to be, this product is only an apparent product. Each product is a point of inhibition, but the infinite still “is” in each point of inhibition.

xiv. and so it should be.

xv. Nature has its reality by virtue of itself—it is its own product—a whole, self-organizing, and organized by itself.

xvi. Kant’s repulsive and attractive forces—which is merely the mechanical expression for something higher.

xvii. Or rather, it becomes permanent only in that it is a limit for the productivity of Nature.

xviii. Example: a stream flows in a straight line forward as long as it encounters no resistance. Where there is resistance—a whirlpool forms. Every original product of nature is such a whirlpool, every organism. The whirlpool is not something immobilized, it is rather something constantly transforming— but reproduced anew at each moment. Thus no product in nature is fixed, but it is reproduced at each instant through the force of nature entire. (We do not really see the subsistence of Nature’s products, just their continual being-reproduced.) Nature as a whole co-operates in every product. Certain points of inhibition in Nature are originally set up—consequently, perhaps there is only one point of inhibition from which the whole of Nature develops itself—first of all, however, we can think infinitely many points of inhibition—at each such point, the stream of Nature’s activity will be broken, as it were, its productivity annihilated. But at each moment comes a new impulse, as it were, a new wave, which fills this sphere afresh. In short, Nature is originally pure identity—nothing to be distinguished in it. Now, points of inhibition appear, against which, as limitations to its productivity,Nature constantly struggles. While it struggles against them, however, it fills this sphere again with its productivity.
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Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:41 am

II. The Original Qualities and Actants in Nature

A product is only an apparent product if infinity lies in it once more, i.e., if it bears the capacity for an infinite development. This capacity cannot occur in it, however, without there originally being an infinite multiplicity of unified tendencies in it.

A. The question arises, by what means do these tendencies manifest themselves in Nature at all?

THEOREM. The most originary points of inhibition of Nature’s activity are to be found in the ORIGINAL QUALITIES.

PROOF.—Our science has an ineluctable demand to fulfill: that it accompany its a priori constructions with corresponding external intuitions, since otherwise these constructions would not have meaning for us anymore; no more than the theory of color for those born sightless. Now, it has been asserted in the preceding that an absolute activity can appear empirically only under infinite negations. Infinite negations of one and the same original activity must be discovered in Nature through analysis.

An unconditioned would have to reveal itself in these negations. No positive external intuition of the unconditioned is possible, however. Thus, at least a negative presentation of it has to be sought in external experience.

Now, we have determined the unconditioned as that which, although it is principle of all being, yet itself never “is.” Every external being is a being in space. Therefore, something has to come to the fore in experience [85] which, although itself not in space, is yet principle of all occupation of space. [i]

1) It should not itself be in space.—What is in space can also be affected by physical force; it is mechanically [ii] or chemically destructible. Thus a principle that is not itself in space must, admittedly, not be liable to being overpowered either mechanically or chemically. Nothing of the kind is discovered in experience except for the original elements (principles) of all quality.

2) It should be principle of all occupation of space.—Accordingly, it must be that which, if the (mechanical) division of matter proceeds to infinity, preserves every little piece of matter, no matter how small, for further division; in short, it must be that which makes the infinite divisibility of matter possible. [iii]

Now, if the infinite divisibility of matter were impossible, then one would, finally, have to reach a part in the division of any material which one could not recognize any more as a part of that material, i.e., no longer as homogeneous with the material itself. Since, therefore, the divisibility of matter proceeds to infinity, then every material must remain infinitely homogeneous as far as it is divided. Infinite homogeneity, however, is recognized solely in the permanence of qualities, thus the permanence of qualities is the condition of the possibility of mechanical division to infinity; accordingly, the principles of the qualities are also the principles of the occupation of space itself.

The originary qualities are thus the most originary negative presentations of the unconditioned in Nature. Now, since the unconditioned is everywhere to absolute activity, but absolute activity can only appear empirically as an infinitely inhibited activity, then the most original points of inhibition of the activity of Nature are determined for us by the original qualities.

CONCLUSIONS. 1. The divisibility of matter must be finite in one respect, simply due to the fact that it is infinite in the other.

The atomist is mistaken only in that he assumes mechanical atoms, i.e., the finitude of mechanical divisibility. [86] In every concrete space no part must be the absolute smallest, just as in mathematical space. What IS in space is in space by means of a continually active filling-up of space; therefore, in every part of space there is moving force, so also mobility, and thus infinite divisibility of each part of matter, no matter how small, from all the remaining ones. The original actants, however, ARE not themselves in space; they cannot be viewed as parts of matter. [iv] Accordingly, our claim can be called the principle of dynamic atomism. For us, every original actant is just like the atom for the corpuscular philosopher; truly singular, each is in itself whole and sealed-off, and represents, as it were, a natural monad. [v]

2. Each quality is an actant of determinate degree, for which there is no other measure than its product.

a. It is action in general, thus not itself matter. If it were itself matter— stuff, as the popular chemistry expresses it, then it would even have to be presentable in space. However, only its effect is presentable in space, the action itself is prior to space (extensione- prior).—(Why has chemistry not presented any of its substrates purely—isolated from all material?)—Action is just as little something merely inhering in original matter (the atoms, as the atomist teaches) as is figure, nor is it something that results from the collective action of atoms. For, if they do not have any qualities themselves, how is such a thing produced through their collective action?

b. Quality is action, for which one has no measure other than its own product. This means that the actant itself, abstracted from its product, is nothing. Indeed, it is nothing other than the product itself viewed from a higher perspective. One cannot expect to be able to take a look into the interior of that actant itself and determine the magnitude (the degree) of the action, as if by means of mathematical formulas. All attempts to do this have until now led to nothing real. Our knowledge does not reach beyond the product, and no other expression [87] for the magnitude of the action can be given than the product itself. The philosophy of nature has nothing further to do than recognize the unconditionally empirical in these actants. Empiricism extended to include unconditionedness is precisely philosophy of nature. [vi]

NOTE. With the preceding we have brought the construction of matter in general to completion. Since the identity of a material is ascertained only by the permanence of its qualities, its identity in no way differs from the latter; every material is thus nothing other than a determinate degree of action, no material is originally mechanically aggregated; for were it so, then—presupposing infinite divisibility— it would have to be dissoluble into nothing and originally constructed from nothing. Therefore—(ne res ad nihilum redigantur funditus omnes 3)—if matter should, for anyone, arise mechanically, it must aggregate out of atoms (an assumption which envelops one in a slew of other troublesome consequences).

However, let no one believe, on this account, that we have already deduced the specific difference of matter, or that we wanted to deduce it. Although every material is a determinate degree of action, this action can nevertheless be highly composite, as, according to Newton, white light is composed of seven simple ones, and these seven perhaps of other simpler actants. It is, in fact, truly nonsense to want to explain the infinite multiplicity of material in the world through various degrees of one and the same—simple—action. Does it follow from this that the original qualities are to be viewed as simple actants, that even every—also derived—quality is likewise a simple actant? If this were to be demonstrated, how is it that in experience not one original quality is found nor can be found?—Yet what are philosophical reasons for, where experience speaks loudly against them? If that opinion were grounded in truth, then the difference of qualities would have to run completely parallel to the difference of specific gravities and densities; the inspection of a table of the latter will convince one of the contrary. And how does one ultimately wish to explain those entirely peculiar—not by virtue of specific gravity and density, but peculiar through their most intimate mixture [88]—products of nature in their organic operations? Or do we believe that here too Nature does nothing other than decrease and increase density and specific gravity?

Finally, it must be remarked here that since our science takes off from an unconditioned empiricism as principle, one can by no means speak of a transcendental construction, but solely of an empirical construction of matter. How is matter in general originally produced? Precisely this will become clear through our following investigations.

B. Qualities Actants, this proposition is demonstrated. In all of these individual actants one and the same original activity of Nature is inhibited. This is not thinkable unless these actions, presented collectively, strive toward one and the same product; for all natural activity aims toward an absolute product. For this to happen, it is required that various actants are able to combine themselves in one and the same collective product; in short, that there should be composite actants. They cannot combine themselves, however, without having reciprocal receptivity for one another. One actant must be able to prehend the other. For two different actants, there must be one common point in which they unite—(this point will be named—at a much lower level to be sure—the chemical product).

Since an infinite multiplicity of actants together ought to exhibit one absolute product, the PROBLEM is presented: find the point in which this infinite multiplicity of diverse actants can be unified in Nature. [vii]

The qualification must necessarily be added that in this circumstance the individuality of no actant would cease to exist. Otherwise, the multiplicity would be annihilated. The unity should not be achieved at the cost of the multiplicity. The multiplicity should remain, and yet a collective product result, which holds that infinite multiplicity together.

(It may be noted that if one such product actually arises in Nature, [viii] in this respect matter is also dynamically [89]—although not divisible—actually divided to infinity, since no individuality is to be extinguished in that whole. The importance of presupposing the endurance of each individuality in this product will be shown below.)

SOLUTION. The two actions restrict themselves reciprocally, through interaction, to the mutual effect. (Only this mutual effect is the tertium in which they are able to rest. [ix] There is, again, no other expression for the interaction of the two than this effect.)

Now, the striving of all original tendencies aims generally

a) toward the filling-up of space; their prehension of one another is thus a striving toward the filling of a collective space, such that in every part of a given material, no matter how small, all tendencies would still be met with. (From this one sees in passing what dynamic divisibility is really like. That is, the quantity of material is completely unimportant; in the largest as in the smallest part of the same material the same tendencies must be met with. Therefore, even through a mechnical division carried to infinity, universal homogeneity can never be reached. It can also be seen here that a composite actant does not come into being in Nature originally, but already through particular natural operations, the likes of which we perceive in chemical suffusions. [x]) Through this striving toward the occupation of a common space, such a space would have to be actually continually filled anew.—Therefore, rest [xi] is not an absolute negation of movement, but rather an uniform tendency toward the filling-up of space, and the perseverance of matter itself to a constant being-reproduced.— Further, the filled space is only the appearance of a striving whose principle is not itself in space. Space is thus filled, as it were, from inside out, a very important concept. (The inner in contrast to the outer is always called that which is principle of the occupation of space.) If that striving toward the filling-up of a common space were heralded in experience [90] by a resistance to the cancellation of the shared occupation of space, this would give the phenomenon of connection— cohesion. The force with which that cancellation would be resisted would be called the cohesive force. [xii]

REMARK. The cohesive force is thus a composite force, not a simple one like the attractive force.—There are difficulties to the customary explanation of cohesion through mere attractive force, since, in the majority of the materials we know, the relation of the cohesive force of their smallest parts to the square of their distance would have to be completely different than it should be according to the law of universal attraction. This is not to mention the fact that this hypothesis presupposes atomistic conceptions, and the diversity of cohesive forces under this presupposition would be nearly inexplicable.—Further, in relation to the universal attractive force, all matter spread throughout infinite space, balled-up into planets is to one material; that universal attraction extends to infinity, and with respect to it no space can be thought of as empty. [xiii] Conversely, cohesion strives against the universality of the attractive force, for it constantly individualizes and leaves the space outside the sphere within which it alone works empty (unoccupied by its force). Genuine cohesion occurs only within an individual body. Therefore, it must be strictly distinguished from adhesion, and from that special kind of attraction which occurs between different materials, e.g., in the contact of water and glass.

b) Further, each tendency is a completely individual and determinate one, i.e., a striving to fill space in a determinate way. This is betrayed through determinacy (individuality) of figure. In Nature there is a continual determination of figure from the crystal to the leaf, from the leaf to the human form. Therefore, we consider the atomist correct in that he attributes to the elements originary figure (leaving aside the fact that he needs originary figures of atoms for the possible construction of specifically different materials); we assert only that for the original actants it is never a matter of the production of these original [91] figures, nor can it be; we assert that, therefore, these original shapes nowhere exist in Nature, because no simple actant is to be met with in Nature (which, to be sure, we are here not yet able to prove).

Now if, however, every actant is limited through the inifinity of all the remaining ones, then all together they mutually derange each other in their productions, and none is allowed by the others to achieve the production of the originary figure, i.e., they reduce themselves reciprocally to formlessness. [xiv]

The shapeless the fluid. The fluid (at least of the second order, which owes its fluidity to a higher principle) is—not the absolutely formless ( the [x] of the ancient Greek physicists), but rather that which is receptive to every form, formless ([x]) for just this reason. The fluid must generally be defined as a mass wherein no part is distinguished from another by figure. From this definition, at least, all others previously sought can be derived, insofar as they are correct. Absolute continuity, the complete absence of friction in all fluids, and the fundamental laws of hydrostatics can be deduced in this way. The major principle is the equivalence of actions (accordingly also the attractions) in the fluid in all directions. [xv]

Accordingly, the most original and most absolute combination of opposed actions in Nature must generate the most original fluidity, which, because that combination constantly runs ahead of itself (the actus of organization is constantly underway), presents itself as a universally extended entity that simply works against nonfluidity (solidity), and continually endeavors to liquefy everything in Nature.

(This principle is called the principle of heat, which is, consequently, no simple substance, no material at all, but always only the phenomenon of constantly diminished capacity (of original actants for one another), and is therefore proof of the steadily enduring process of organization in Nature.—New theory of heat according to these basic principles.)

[92] Now, if there were nothing in Nature that preserved the balance with the fluidizing principle, then the whole of Nature would resolve itself into a universal continuity. The individuality of the original actants, however, strives against this universalization. The individuality of all actants ought to be maintained in the absolute product together with the most complete combination.

Since everything in Nature—or rather, here just that absolute product— is conceived continually in becoming, then it will neither be able to achieve absolute fluidity nor absolute nonfluidity (solidity). This will furnish the drama of a struggle between form and the formless. That product always in becoming will be conceived continually in the leap from the fluid to the solid, and conversely, in the return from solid to fluid.

It will run through all possible forms within the sphere that it comprehends since that struggle (between form and the formless) is endless, and it will transform itself into all forms like an ever-changing Proteus.

This Proteus will draw all qualities into his circle, gradually assimilating them, as infinitely manifold as they may be, and, as it were, throughout infinitely many attempts, seek the proportion in which the universal unification of all individual actants of Nature in one collective product is attainable. However, through this drive to unite everything individual in Nature in itself, a certain circle of possible forms will also be determined for it in advance. One will therefore be tempted to believe that with all the various forms through which it metamorphoses, creative Nature has in mind a common ideal operative in it to which the product gradually approximates itself; the various forms to which it commits itself will themselves appear only as various stages of development of one and the same absolute organism.



i. Is, nevertheless, principle of all being in space or of all occupation of space.

ii. mechanically infinitely divisible.

iii. The concept of infinite divisibility is necessarily contained in the concept of matter or the concept of the occupation of space.—How does it happen that matter, although divided to infinity, does not disappear for us but still remains a substrate? What is the substrate of matter supported by, and through what does divisibility become possible?

iv. They are the constituent factors of matter. So, if “atomism” designates a theory which assumes something simple as constituent of matter, then the true philosophy is nonetheless atomism. However, since it only asserts a dynamic simple constituent of matter, it is dynamic atomism. Each original quality is for us an actant of a determinate degree, and every such actant is—truly singular.— No individuality is to be attributed to matter without such original unities, which are not the unities of a product, but of productivity.

v. In brief, our opinion is this: If the evolution of Nature were ever complete (which is impossible), then after the general decomposition of each product into its factors nothing would be left other than simple factors, i.e. factors which are no longer themselves products. Therefore, these simple factors can only be thought as originary actants, or—if it is permissible to express it this way—as originary productivities.

Our opinion is thus not that there are such simple actants in Nature, but only that they are the ideal grounds of the explanation of quality. These simple actants do not really allow of demonstration— they do not exist; they are what one must posit in Nature, what one must think in Nature, in order to explain the originary qualities. Then we need only prove as much as we assert, namely, that such simple actions must be thought as ideal grounds of explanation of all quality, and we have provided this proof.

“What is indivisible cannot be material, and conversely; it must lie beyond matter. But beyond matter is pure intensity—and this concept of pure intensity is expressed through the concept of action.— It is not the product of this action that is simple, but the actant itself abstracted from the product, and it must be simple in order that the product may be divisible.” (Cf., the “Introduction to the Outline” [below p. 208; SW III 292—Trans.])

The philosophy of nature assumes, 1) with atomism that there is an original multiplicity of individual principles in Nature—it brings multiplicity and individuality into Nature with it.— Each quality in Nature is a fixed point for it, a seed around which Nature can begin to form itself. However, our atomism does not assume these principles as actual material parts, but as original and simple activities. 2) The philosophy of nature is in agreement with dynamic physics in that the ground of qualities does not itself consist again in material bits—every actant is pure activity, not itself matter once again; it is not in agreement with dynamism in that it does not allow all diversity of matter merely to consist in a variable relation of attractive and repulsive force (through which mere difference of density originates).

The philosophy of nature is therefore neither dynamic in the accepted sense of the word, nor atomistic, but is a dynamic atomism.

(We have posited simple actants of indeterminate, i.e., of infinite multiplicity in matter, as ideal ground of explanation. This basis of explanation is ideal because it presupposes something ideal, namely, that Nature has unfolded itself into simple factors.—If we proceed further down this path we shall arrive at an atomistic system. However, this system, on account of its insufficiency, will finally just drive us back to the dynamic system).

[vi] Quality is originally absolutely inconstructible, and it must be, because it is the limit of all construction by virtue of which every construction is a determinate one. All previous attempts to construct qualities have been incapable of leading to anything real for this reason. The atomist believed himself able to express qualities through figures, and assumed, therefore, an actual shape in Nature for each quality.—We have moved beyond this mode of construction.—With so-called dynamic philosophy the attempt is made to reduce qualities to analytical formulas, and to express them by means of the variable relations of repulsive and attractive force. Indeed, Kant has nowhere genuinely ventured to construct the specific (qualitative) diversity of matter out of his two basic forces. A few who wished to apply his dynamic principles have gone further. I will name only Eschenmayer here, rather than all of them. (One ill-conceived attempt to construct the qualities and series of degrees of qualities according to Kantian principles is to be found in his “Principles from the Metaphysics of Nature” and his “Investigation,” which try to derive the magnetic phenomena a priori. In any case, it is to be recommended for the sake of understanding the first principles of Kant’s dynamics).

Very diverse—and in part strange—manners of thinking concerning the concept of dynamical philosophy still generally prevail, and I think it necessary, therefore, to say something in general here regarding the concept of dynamical philosophy.

Many believe that dynamical philosophy consists in the fact that one assumes no particular materials for the explanation of natural appearances; e.g. who denies the materiality of light, or the existence of a galvanic fluid?—a dynamical philosopher. Only there is a bit more to it than that— one cannot get off the hook so easily. Others believe that dynamical philosophy consists in tracing everything back to the basic forces (repulsive and attractive force). The latter are, at any rate, closer to the matter at hand. All original, i.e. all dynamic natural phenomena, must be explained from forces which reside in matter also at rest (for Nature is movement while also at rest; this is the foremost fundamental principle of dynamic philosophy)—therefore, those appearances, e.g. the electrical, are not appearances or effects of determinate individual materials, but rather alterations of the subsistence of matter itself; and, if one lets matter consist in repulsive and attractive force—(as one does at the standpoint where Nature is viewed only as product and not as productivity, i.e. as I call it, at the standpoint of mechanism, which must let matter so originate)—if one generally lets matter consist in repulsive and attractive force, then those appearances are, at any rate, only alterations in the relation of these basic forces.

All these effects also appear at the lowest level of their appearance (in the chemical process) as, at any rate, alterations—of cohesive force, of density, of specific gravity, i.e. as alterations of those basic forces. However, this is only the farthest, lowest level of their appearance—and those alterations in the relation of the basic forces cannot again be explained from such alterations. For appearance, every dynamic process is to its farthest extent an alteration in the relation of the basic forces—but the question is by what means these alterations have been produced, and this has not been answered by any previous research; and that question lies far higher—and yet deeper, and ultimately in the construction of matter. I want to make another remark regarding the impossibility of constructing qualities mathematically, or of submitting them to calculus.

One has transferred the familiar laws of mechanics to the dynamic appearances and wished to give them a higher, dynamical meaning. For example, it is a well-known law of mechanics that the single force does equal work in doubled time as with doubled force in a single unit of time. However, this law, applied dynamically, does not hold true. Let us take, e.g., two completely equal pieces of iron, the one in the focal point of a concave mirror, the other in unconcentrated sunlight. Let us say the force of light in the focal point is to a thousandfold of that outside of the focal point, and that the time in which the metal melts in the focal point one minute. Then, according to that law, the single force will do equal work in 1000fold time to 1000fold force in a single unit of time, i.e., if the iron in the focal point will melt in one minute, outside the focal point it will melt in 1000 minutes, which is absurd.

vii. The dynamical philosophy cannot even arrive at this problem, and we can discern here the difference between dynamical and atomistic philosophy quite clearly. Nature is given as product to the atomist only through its constituents; to the dynamical philosophy, in contrast, the constituents are given through the product. The dynamist, therefore, does not ask how the product originates from these constituents; for the product precedes the constituents; the atomist on the contrary asks how the product emerges from these constituents (because to him the constituents precede the product).

viii. i.e. if nature is such a product

ix. In and for itself each actant, as highly individual, excludes the other from its sphere. They are thus only able to meet in a third.

x. But how the actants unify themselves—permeate each other, is still unexplained here, and is a special problem. (The dynamical philosopher does not even have to inquire about that, as was said; because he never has to allow the actants to separate themselves. He does not need to explain how they penetrate each other, but only by what means they are held together, how the absolute separation— the absolute evolution—may be hindered.)

xi. of matter

xii. With this said, what the cause of the force of cohesion would be remains unexplained. It will be the force through which the actants in Nature bind themselves.

xiii. Space, emptied of matter, is at least filled by that force.

xiv. The most original product of Nature is, therefore, the formless or the fluid.

xv. That is, because the original actants in the fluid nullify one another reciprocally.—For the dynamical philosopher the formless is the original, because it is that which comes nearest to pure productivity. In the pure productivity of Nature there is yet no determination, thus also no form. The nearer Nature is to pure productivity the more formless, the nearer to the product, the more formed.

The atomist distinguishes the fluid of the first and the second order, or the absolute and the relative fluid. The fluidic in general will be explained here as that wherein no part is distinguished from another by means of figure. A few of Kant’s disciples explain the fluid as that wherein the attractions in all directions are equal. Let’s consider that 1) if an individual particle is drawn to direction A, then it will be just as strongly drawn in the opposed direction—these opposing attractions therefore cancel themselves; there is thus within this space no attraction to overcome, and each individual particle within this whole can be moved in all directions without resistance. Hence the relative mobility of parts.—Further 2) with equal force of attraction in all directions the spherical shape is necessary because this produces the greatest contact of particles among one another and the smallest amount of empty space. 3) If all attractions cancel themselves among one another, no figure can be produced—which is our definition; but if there is no figure, then there is also no rigidity, no friction, which is necessary according to the laws of hydrostatics. If there were friction in a fluid mass, then an impulse could not propagate itself in all directions equally, which is a fundamental law of hydrostatics. Therefore, we understand the equal height of water in both channels of a bent pipe having unequal masses. Enough concerning the concept of the fluid in general. The concept of the absolutely fluidic, of the most original product of Nature, primarily concerns us here.
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