Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy
Part One: Greek Philosophy. Section Two

D. Scepticism.

Scepticism completed the theory of the subjectivity of all knowledge by the fact that in knowledge it universally substituted for Being the expression appearance. Now this Scepticism undoubtedly appears to be something most impressive, to which great respect is due from man. In all times as now, it has been held to be the most formidable, and, indeed, the invincible opponent of Philosophy, because it signifies the art of dissolving all that is determinate, and showing it in its nullity. Thus it might almost appear as though it wore held to be in itself invincible, and as though the only difference in convictions were whether the individual decided for it or for a positive, dogmatic philosophy. Its result undoubtedly is the disintegration of the truth, and, consequently, of all content, and thus perfect negation. The invincibility of Scepticism must undoubtedly be granted, only, however, in a subjective sense as regards the individual, who may keep to the point of view of taking no notice of Philosophy, and only asserting the negative. Scepticism in this way seems to be something to which men give themselves over, and we have the impression that we are not able to get within reach of anyone who thus throws himself entirely into Scepticism; another man, however, simply rests content with his philosophy, because he takes no notice of Scepticism, and this is really what he ought to do, for, properly speaking, it cannot be refuted. Certainly if we were merely to escape from it, it would not in reality have been defeated, for on its side it would remain where it was, and in possession of the field. For positive philosophy allows Scepticism to exist beside it; Scepticism, on the other hand, encroaches upon the domain of positive philosophy, for Scepticism has power to overcome the other, while positive philosophy cannot do the same to it. If anyone actually desires to be Sceptic, he cannot be convinced, or be brought to positive philosophy,[1] any more than he who is paralyzed in all his limbs can be made to stand. Scepticism is, in fact, such paralysis — an incapacity for truth which can only reach certainty of self, and not of the universal, remaining merely in the negative, and in individual self-consciousness. To keep oneself in individuality depends on the will of the individual; no one can prevent a man from doing this, because no one can possibly drive another out of nothing. But thinking Scepticism is quite different; it is the demonstration that all that is determinate and finite is unstable. As to this, positive philosophy may have the consciousness that it has the negation to Scepticism in itself; thus it does not oppose it, nor is it outside of it, for Scepticism is a moment in it. But this is true in such a way that this philosophy comprehends in itself the negative in its truth, as it is not present in Scepticism.

The relation of Scepticism to Philosophy is further this, that the former is the dialectic of all that is determinate. The finitude of all conceptions of truth can be shown, for they contain in themselves a negation, and consequently a contradiction. The ordinary universal and infinite is not exalted over this, for the universal which confronts the particular, the indeterminate which opposes the determinate, the infinite which confronts the finite, each form only the one side, and, as such, are only a determinate. Scepticism is similarly directed against the thought of the ordinary understanding which makes determinate differences appear to be ultimate and existent. But the logical Notion is itself this dialectic of Scepticism, for this negativity which is characteristic of Scepticism likewise belongs to the true knowledge of the Idea. The only difference is that the sceptics remain at the result as negative, saying, “This and this has an internal contradiction., it thus disintegrates itself, and consequently does not exist.” But this result as merely negative is itself again a one-sided determinateness opposed to the positive; i.e. Scepticism only holds its place as abstract understanding. It makes the mistake of thinking that this negation is likewise a determinate affirmative content in itself; for it is, as the negation of negation, the self-relating negativity or infinite affirmation. This, put quite abstractly, is the relation of Philosophy to Scepticism. The Idea, as abstract Idea, is the quiescent and inert; it only is in truth in as far as it grasps itself as living. This occurs because it is implicitly dialectic, in order to abrogate that inert quiescence, and to change itself. But if the philosophic Idea is thus implicitly dialectic, it is not so in a contingent manner. Scepticism, on the contrary, exercises its dialectic contingently, for just as the material comes up before it, it shows in the same that implicitly it is negative.

The older Scepticism must farther be distinguished from the modern, and. it is only with the former that we have to do, for it alone is of a true, profound nature; the modern more resembles Epicureanism. Thus Schulze of Göttingen has in recent times boasted of his Scepticism; he wrote an “Ænesidemus” in order thus to compare himself with that sceptic; and in other works, too, he put forward Scepticism in opposition to Leibnitz and to Kant. Nevertheless, he ignores entirely the true position of Scepticism as it has just been described, and instead of representing the true distinction which exists between his Scepticism and the ancient, Schulze recognizes nothing but Dogmatism and Scepticism, and not the third philosophy at all. Schulze and others make it fundamental that we must consider sensuous Being, what is given to us by sensuous consciousness, to be true; all else must be doubted. What we think is ultimate, the facts of consciousness. The older sceptics, indeed, allowed that men must direct their actions in accordance with this last, but to assert it to be the truth did not occur to them. Modern Scepticism is only directed against thought, against the Notion and the Idea, and thus against what is in a higher sense philosophic; it consequently leaves the reality of things quite unquestioned, and merely asserts that from it nothing can be argued as regards thought. But that is not even a peasants’ philosophy, for they know that all earthly things are transient, and that thus their Being is as good as their non-being. Modern Scepticism is the subjectivity and vanity of consciousness, which is undoubtedly invincible, not, however, to science and truth, but merely to itself, this subjectivity. For it goes no further than saying, “This is held by me to be true, my feeling, my heart is ultimate to me.” But here certainty is alone in question, and not truth; and, indeed, this nowadays is no longer called Scepticism. But the conviction of this individual subject expresses nothing at all, however high the matter which we talk of is supposed to be. Thus because on the one hand it is said that the truth is merely the conviction of another, and on the other hand personal conviction, which is also a ‘merely,’ is set on high, we must leave this subject alone, first on account of its high pretensions, and then on account of its lowliness. The result of the older Scepticism is indeed the subjectivity of knowledge only, but this is founded on an elaborately thought out annihilation of everything which is held to be true and existent, so that everything is made transient.

According to this, the function of Scepticism is wrongly termed the inculcation of proneness to doubt; nor can we translate skeyiς by Doubt, if Scepticism was also called by Sextus (Pyrrh. Hyp. 1. 3, § 7) ephectic (efektikh) because one of its chief points was that judgment must be suspended. Doubt, however, is only uncertainty, irresolution, indecision, the thought which is opposed to something held to be valid. Doubt proceeds from the fact of there being two; it is a passing to and fro between two or more points of view, so that we neither rest at the one nor the other — and yet we ought to remain at one point or another. Thus doubt in man is quite likely to involve a rending asunder of mind and spirit; it gives unrest and brings unhappiness with it; doubts, for instance, arise respecting the immortality of the soul and the existence of God. Forty years ago, much was written about this; in poetry, too, we found the situation of the doubter was a subject of the greatest interest; the unhappiness of doubt being depicted to us as in the “Messias.” This supposes a deep interest in a content, and the desire of the mind that this content should either be established in it or not, because it desires to find its rest either in the one or the other. Such doubt is said to betoken a keen and sharp-witted thinker, but it is only vanity and simple verbiage, or a feebleness that can never arrive at anything. This Scepticism has nowadays entered into our life, and it thus makes itself of account as this universal negativity. But the older Scepticism does not doubt, being certain of untruth, and indifferent to the one as to the other; it does not only flit to and fro with thoughts that leave the possibility that something may still be true, but it proves with certainty the untruth of all. Or its doubt to it is certainty which has not the intention of attaining to truth, nor does it leave this matter undecided, for it is completely at a point, and perfectly decided, although this decision is not truth to it. This certainty of itself thus has as result the rest and security of the mind in itself, which is not touched with any grief, and of which doubt is the direct opposite. This is the standpoint of the imperturbability of Scepticism.

Now what has to be considered even before treating of Scepticism itself, is its external history. As regards the origin of Scepticism the Sceptics say that it is very old, that is, if we take it in the quite indeterminate and universal sense, in so far as to say “Things are, but their Being is not true, for it likewise involves their non-being or they are changeable. For example, this day is to-day., but to-morrow is also to-day, &c.; it is day now but night is also now, &c.” Thus of what in this way is allowed to be a determinate, the opposite is also expressed. Now if it be said that all things are transient, things may in the first place be changed; however this is not only possible, but the fact that all things are transient really means when taken in its universality: — “Nothing exists in itself, for its reality is the abrogation of self, because things in themselves, in accordance with their necessity, are transient. Only now are they thus; at another time they are different, and this time, the now, is itself no more while I am speaking of it: for time is not itself fixed, and it makes nothing fixed.” This uncertainty in what is sensuous represents a long-standing belief amongst the unphilosophic public as well as amongst philosophers up to this time; and this negativity in all determinations likewise constitutes the characteristic feature of Scepticism. The Sceptics have also presented this position in an historic way, and they show that even Homer was a sceptic, because he speaks of the same things in opposite ways. They also count in this category Bias, with his maxim “Pledge thyself never..” For this has the general sense “Do not consider anything to be anything, do not attach yourself to any object to which you devote yourself, do not believe in the security of any relationship, &c.” Likewise the negative aspect of the philosophy of Zeno and Xenophanes is said to be sceptical, and further, Heraclitus, too, with his principle that everything flows, that everything is consequently contradictory and transient; finally Plato and the Academy are sceptical, only here Scepticism is not yet quite clearly expressed. All this may be taken as being in part the — sceptical uncertainty of everything; but that is not its real meaning. It is not this conscious and universal negativity; as conscious, it must prove, as universal, it must extend the untruth of the objective to everything; thus it is not a negativity which says definitely that everything is not implicit but is only for self-consciousness, and everything merely goes back into the certainty of itself. As philosophic consciousness Scepticism is consequently of later date. By Scepticism we must understand a specially constituted consciousness for which in some measure not only sensuous Being, but also Being for thought does not hold true, and which can then with consciousness account for the nullity of that which is asserted to be reality; and finally, in a general way, it not only annuls this and that sensuous fact or thought, but is adapted for the recognition in everything of its untruth.

The history of Scepticism, properly so called, is usually commenced with Pyrrho as being its founder; and from him the names Pyrrhonism and Pyrrhonic are derived. Sextus Empiricus (Pyrrh. Hyp. I. c. 3, § 7) says of him “that he went into Scepticism more fully (swmatikwteron) and clearly than did his predecessors.” He is earlier than some of the philosophers already considered; but because Scepticism is to be taken as a whole, Pyrrho’s Scepticism, even if it is merely aimed against the immediate truth both of the senses and of morality, must be taken along with the later Scepticism, which directs its attention rather against the truth as thought, as will be further shown on a closer consideration; for this last was the first, properly speaking, to make a sensation. As to the events of Pyrrho’s life, they appear to be as much a matter of doubt as his doctrine; for they are without any connection, and little is known for certain concerning them. Pyrrho lived in the time of Aristotle and was born at Elis. I shall not give the names of his instructors; Anaxarchus, a disciple of Democritus, is specially mentioned amongst them. We cannot discover where he really lived, for the most part at least. As a proof of how very much he was esteemed during his life, it is said that his native town chose him as head priest, and the town of Athens gave him the right of citizenship. It is finally stated that he accompanied Alexander the Great in his journey to Asia; and that there he had considerable dealings with magicians and Brahmins. We are told that Alexander had him put to death because he desired the death of a Persian satrap; and this fate befel him in his ninetieth year. If all this is to be accepted, since Alexander spent between twelve and fourteen years in Asia, Pyrrho must at the earliest have set out on his travels in his seventy-eighth year. Pyrrho does not appear to have come forward as a public teacher, but merely to have left behind him individual friends who had been educated by him. Anecdotes are told, not so much about the circumstances of his life as about the sceptical manner in which he conducted himself, and in them his behaviour is made to look ridiculous; in this the universal of Scepticism is set against a particular case, so that what is absurd shoots up as of itself into relationships which appear to be consistent. For because he asserted that the reality of sensuous things has no truth, it is, for instance, said that were he walking he would go out of the way of no object, no waggon or horse that came towards him; or he would go straight up against a wall, completely disbelieving in the reality of sensuous sensations and such like. They also said that it was only the friends surrounding him who drew him away from such dangers and saved him. But such anecdotes are evidently extravagant, because, for one thing, it is not conceivable that he could have followed Alexander to Asia at ninety years of age. It is also very clear that such stories are simply invented with the object of ridiculing the sceptical philosophy, by following out its principle to such extreme consequences. To the Sceptics sensuous existence undoubtedly holds good as phenomenal in so far as the regulation of ordinary conduct is concerned (infra, p. 343), but not in as far as it is held to be the truth; for even the followers of the New Academy said that men must not only direct their lives in accordance with rules of prudence, but also in accordance with the laws of sensuous manifestation (supra, pp. 319, 324).

After Pyrrho, Timon of Phliasis, the sillographist, became specially famous. Of his Silli, i.e. biting remarks respecting all philosophies, many are quoted by the ancients; they are certainly bitter and disdainful enough, but many of them are not very witty or worthy of being preserved. Dr. Paul collected them in an essay, but in it much is given that is meaningless. Goethe and Schiller certainly show more capacity in works of a similar nature. The Pyrrhonians hereupon disappear, — they seem in general only to have shown themselves in a more or less isolated way; for a long time after this we read in history of the Peripatetics, Stoics and Epicureans being confronted only by the Academicians and perhaps some of the older Sceptics who are mentioned likewise.

Ænesidemus was the first to reawaken Scepticism; he was of Cnossus in Crete, and lived in Cicero’s time in Alexandria, which soon began to compete with Athens for the honour of being the seat of Philosophy and the sciences. Subsequently, when the Academy lost itself in Scepticism, we see the latter, from which the former is all the same only separated by a thin partition, taking up a position of predominance as representing the purely negative point of view. But a scepticism such as that of Pyrrho, which does not as yet show much culture or tendency towards thought, but which is directed only against what is sensuous, could have no interest in the culture of Philosophy as it is found in Stoicism, Epicureanism, Platonism, &c. Thus it is requisite, in order that Scepticism should appear with the dignity pertaining to Philosophy, that it should itself be developed on its philosophic side; and this was first done by Ænesidemus.

However, one of the most celebrated of the Sceptics, whose works we still in great measure possess, and who for us is by far the most important writer upon Scepticism, because he gives us detailed accounts of this philosophy, is Sextus Empiricus, of whose life unfortunately as good as nothing is known. He was a physician, and that he was an empirical physician, who did not act according to theory but in accordance with what appears, his name tells us. He lived and taught about the middle of the second century after Christ. His works are divided into two parts: first, his — Pyrrhoniæ Hypotyposes, in three books, which give us somewhat of a general presentation of Scepticism, and secondly his books adversus Mathematicos, i.e. against scientific knowledge generally, and more especially against the geometricians, arithmeticians, grammarians, musicians, logicians, physicists, and moral philosophers. There were in all eleven books, six of which are actually directed against mathematicians, but the other five against the philosophers.

The distinction between the Academy and Scepticism was a matter as to which the Sceptics exercised themselves much. The New Academy really bordered so closely upon Scepticism, that the Sceptics had enough to do to dissociate themselves from it, and in the Sceptic school a long and important battle raged as to whether Plato, and subsequently the New Academy, belonged to Scepticism or not; 2 in the course of this we also see that Sextus did not really know what to make of Plato. The Sceptics are, on the whole, very careful to distinguish their own from other systems. Sextus (Pyrrh. Hyp. I c. 1, §§ 1-4) distinguishes three philosophies: “He who seeks an object must either find it or deny that it can be found, or persevere in the search. Now the same holds ,good with philosophic investigations; some assert that they have found the truth; others deny that it can be grasped; a third set are still engaged in search. The first, like Aristotle., Epicurus, the Stoics, and others, are the so-called Dogmatists; those who assert incomprehensibility are the Academicians; the Sceptics still continue to seek. Hence there are three philosophies: the Dogmatic, the Academic and the Sceptical.” For this reason, the Sceptics called themselves the seekers (zhthtikoi), and their philosophy the seeking (zhthtikh). However, the distinction between Scepticism and the New Academy rests in the form of expression only, and is thus not a great one: indeed it is founded only on the mania of the Sceptics to cut off and to shun any sort of assertive statement. Sextus (Pyrrh. Hyp. 1. c. 7, § 13; c. 10, §§ 19-20) says The Sceptic does not dogmatize, but only assents to the affections into which he is impelled, not of his own will, by the conceptions; thus, if for example, he is warm or cold, he will certainly not say, I seem not to be cold or warm. But if it be asked if the subject is as it appears, we allow appearance (faiesqai); yet we do not investigate the thing that appears, but only the predicate (o legetai) expressing its appearance. Thus, whether anything is sweet or not, we consider only as regards the Notion (odon epi tw logw); but that is not what appears, but what is said of what appears. But if we institute direct investigations respecting what appears, we do so not in order to destroy what appears, but in order to condemn the rashness (propeteian) of the dogmatists.” Thus the Sceptics endeavour to bring about the result that in what they say no expression of a Being can be demonstrated, so that, for example, in a proposition, they always set appearance in the place of existence. According to Sextus they say (Pyrrh. Hyp. I. c. 7, § 14; c. 28, § 206): “The Sceptic makes use of his propositions — for example, determine nothing (ouden orizein), not the more (ouden mallon), nothing is true, &c.not as if they really did exist. For he believes, for instance, that the proposition, everything is false, asserts that itself as well as the others is false, and consequently limits it (sumperigrafei). Thus we must similarly in all sceptical propositions recollect that we do not at all assert their truth; for we say that they may destroy themselves, since that limits them of which they are predicated.” Now, the New Academy of Carneades does not express anything as being the true and existent, or as anything to which thought could agree; the Sceptics thus come very near to the Academy. Pure Scepticism merely makes this objection to the Academy, that it is still impure. Sextus says (Pyrrh. Hyp. I. c. 33, §§ 226-233): “But clearly they differ from us in the judgment of good and evil. For they assert that something is good or evil,” that is to say, the former is the withholding of assent, and the latter the granting of it (supra, p. 315), “whereby they are convinced of its being probable that what of good is attributed to the predicate, is more likely to be good than the opposite.” Thus they have not elevated themselves to the purity of Scepticism, because they speak of existence, and not of appearance. But this is nothing more than a mere form, for the content immediately destroys that which in form appears to be an assertion. If we say: “Something is a good, thought assents to it,” and then ask, “But what is the good to which thought assents?” the content here is that it should not assent. Hence the form is, “It is a good,” but the content is that nothing should be held to be good or true. Thus the Sceptics also assert this: To the Sceptics “all conceptions are alike in trustworthiness or untrustworthiness in relation to the ground,” to truth. “But the Academicians say that some are probable, and others improbable, and amongst the probable, some again are to be preferred to the others.” Preference is thus one of the forms which the Sceptics also object to (infra, p. 345); for such expressions strike them as still too positive.

Now, speaking generally, the essential nature of Scepticism consists in its considering that to self-consciousness on its own account, there proceeds from the disappearance of all that is objective, all that is held to be true, existent or universal, all that is definite, all that is affirmative, through the withholding of assent, the immovability and security of mind, this imperturbability in itself. Hence the same result is obtained, that we have already seen in systems of philosophy immediately preceding this. Thus as soon as anything is held to be truth to self-consciousness. we find the result that to self-consciousness this truth is the universal reality, passing beyond itself, and in regard to this, self-consciousness esteems itself as nothing. But this external and determinate truth, as finite, is not implicitly existent, so that its necessity is to vacillate and give way. Then when this security disappears, self-consciousness itself loses its equilibrium, and becomes driven hither and thither in unrest., fear and anguish; for its stability and rest is the permanence of its existence and truth. But sceptical self-consciousness is just this subjective liberation from all the truth of objective Being, and from the placing of its existence in anything of the kind; Scepticism thus makes its end the doing away with the unconscious servitude in which the natural self-consciousness is confined, the returning into its simplicity, and, in so far as thought establishes itself in a content, the curing it of having a content such as this established in thought. “The effective principle of Scepticism,” Sextus hence tells us (Pyrrh. Hyp. I. c. 6, § 12, c. 12, § § 25-30), “is the hope of attaining to security. Men of distinguished excellence, disquieted through the instability of things, and dubious as to which should in preference be given assent to, began the investigation of what is the truth and what false in things, as if they could reach imperturbability through the decision of such matters. But while engaged in this investigation, man attains the knowledge that opposite determinations,” desires, customs, &c., “have equal power,” and thus resolve themselves; “since in this way he cannot decide between them, he really only then attains to imperturbability when he withholds his judgment. For if he holds anything to be good or evil by nature, he never is at rest, whether it be that he does not possess what he holds to be good, or that he thinks himself vexed and assailed by natural evil. But he who is undecided respecting that which is good and beautiful in nature, neither shuns nor seeks anything with zeal; and thus he remains unmoved. What happened to the painter Apelles, befalls the Sceptic. For it is told that when he was painting a horse, and was altogether unsuccessful in rendering the foam, he finally in anger threw the sponge on which he had wiped his brushes, and in which every colour was therefore mixed, against the picture, and thereby formed a true representation of foam.” Thus, the Sceptics find in the mingling of all that exists, and of all thoughts, the simple self-identity of self-consciousness which “follows mind as the shadow does the body,” and is only acquired, and can only be acquired through reason. “Hence we say that the end of the Sceptic is imperturbability in the conceptions and moderation in the affections which he is compelled to have.” This is the indifference which the animals have by nature, and the possession of which through reason distinguishes men from animals. Thus, Pyrrho once showed to his fellow-passengers on board a ship, who were afraid during a storm, a pig, which remained quite indifferent and peacefully ate on, saying to them: in such indifference the wise man must also abide. However the indifference must not be like that of the pig, but must be born of reason. But if to Scepticism existence was only a manifestation or conception, it was yet esteemed by it as that in respect to which the Sceptics directed their conduct, both in what they did, and what they left undone. The above-quoted (p. 336) anecdotes about Pyrrho are thus opposed to what the Sceptics themselves said on the subject: “We undoubtedly direct our conduct in accordance with a reason which, in conformity with sensuous phenomena, teaches us to live conformably to the customs and laws of our country, and in consonance with recognized institutions and personal affections.” But for them this had only the significance of a subjective certainty and conviction, and not the value of an absolute truth.

Thus the universal method of Scepticism was, as Sextus Empiricus puts it (Pyrrh. Hyp. I. c. 4, §§ 8-10; c. 6, § 12): “a power of in some way or other setting what is felt, and what is thought, in opposition, whether it be the sensuous to the sensuous, and what is thought to what is thought, or what is sensuous to what is thought, or what is thought to what is sensuous, i.e. showing that any one of these has as much force and weight as its opposite, and is hence equivalent as far as conviction and non-conviction are concerned. From this the suspension of judgment (epoch) results, in conformity with which we select and posit nothing, and thereby complete freedom from all mental emotion is attained. The principle of Scepticism is thus found in the proposition that each reason is confronted by another, which holds equally good. We do not, however, necessarily accept affirmation and negation as opposite grounds, but merely those that conflict with one another.” That which is felt is really existence for sensuous certainty, which simply accepts it as truth; or it is that which is felt in the Epicurean form., which consciously asserts it to be true. What is thought is in the Stoic form a determinate Notion, a content in a simple form of thought; both these classes., immediate consciousness and thinking consciousness, comprehend everything which is in any way to be set in opposition. In as far as Scepticism limits itself to this, it is a moment in Philosophy itself, which last, having an attitude of negativity in relation to both, only recognizes them as true in their abrogation. But Scepticism thinks that it reaches further; it sets up a pretension of venturing against the speculative Idea and conquering it; Philosophy, however, since Scepticism itself is present in it as a moment, rather overcomes it (supra, p. 330). As far as what is sensuous and what is thought in their separation are concerned, it certainly may conquer, but the Idea is neither the one nor the other, and it does not touch on the rational at all. The perpetual misunderstanding which those who do not know the nature of the Idea are under concerning Scepticism, is that they think that the truth necessarily falls into the one form or the other, and is thus either a determinate Notion or a determinate Being. Against the Notion as Notion, i.e. against the absolute Notion, Scepticism does not in anyway proceed; the absolute Notion is rather its weapon of defence, though Scepticism has no consciousness of this. We shall on the one hand see Scepticism use that weapon against the finite, and on the other, how it tries its skill upon the rational.

But though, according to this, Scepticism always expresses itself as if everything were in appearance only, the Sceptics go further than those who support the newer and purely formal idealism. For they deal with content, and demonstrate of all content that it is either experienced by the senses or thought, and consequently that it has something in opposition to it. Thus they show in the same thing the contradiction that exists, so that of everything that is presented the opposite also holds good. This is the objective element in Scepticism in its manifestation, and that through which it is not subjective idealism. Sextus (Pyrrh. Hyp. I. c. 13, §§ 32, 33) says: “Thus, for instance, the sensuous is set against the sensuous by our being reminded of the fact that the same tower when looked at near is square and when regarded in the distance looks round;” and hence the one assertion is as good as the other. This, indeed, is a very trivial example, but its interest lies in t thought that is present in it. “Or what is thought is set in opposition to what is thought. As to the fact that there is a providence,” which rewards the good and punishes the evil, “men appeal,” as against those who deny it, “to the system of the heavenly bodies; to this it is objected that the good often fare badly and the evil well, from which we demonstrate that there is no providence.” As to the “opposition of what is thought to the sensuous,” Sextus adduces the conclusion of Anaxagoras, who asserts of the snow, that although it appears to be white, regarded in relation to the reasons given by reflection it is black. For it is frozen water, but water has no colour and hence is black; consequently snow must be the same.

We must now consider further the method in which the Sceptics proceed, and it consists in this, that they have brought the universal principle that each definite assertion has to be set over against its ‘other,’ into certain forms, not propositions. Thus, in view of the nature of Scepticism, we cannot ask for any system of propositions, nor will this philosophy really be a system; just as little did it lie in the spirit of Scepticism to form a school, properly speaking, but only an external connection in the wider sense of the word. Sextus (Pyrrh. Hyp. I. c. 8, § 16, c. 3, § 7) hence says that Scepticism is no selection (airesiς) of dogmas, it is not a preference for certain propositions, but only that which leads, or rather which directs us (agwgh) to live rightly and think correctly; thus it is in this way rather a method or manner by which only universal modes of that opposition are shown. Now since what sort of thoughts reveal themselves is a matter of contingency, the manner and mode of grasping them is contingent likewise; for in one the contradiction appears thus and in another otherwise. These determinate modes of opposition, whereby the withholding of assent comes to pass, the Sceptics called tropes (tropoi), which are turned upon everything that is thought and felt in order to show that this is not what it is implicitly, but only in relation to another — that it thus itself appears in another, and allows this other to appear in it, and consequently that, speaking generally, what is, only seems; and this, indeed, follows directly from the matter in itself, and not from another which is assumed as true. If, for example, men say that empiric science has no truth because truth exists only in reason, this is only assuming the opposite of empiricism; likewise the truth of reason proved in itself is not a refutation of empiric science, for this last stands alongside of the former with equal rights as, and within the same.

Now since the sceptical doctrine consists in the art of demonstrating contradictions through these tropes, we only require to elucidate these modes. The Sceptics themselves, like Sextus, for example (Pyrrh, Hyp. 1. c. 14, 15) distinguish in these forms the earlier and the later: ten of them belong to the elder Sceptics, that is to say to Pyrrho, and five were afterwards added by the later Sceptics, and Diogenes Laertius indeed tells us (IX. 88) that this was first done by Agrippa. From a specification of these it will be shown that the earlier are directed against the ordinary consciousness generally and belong to a thought of little culture, to a consciousness which has sensuous existence immediately before it. For they proceed against what we call common belief in the immediate truth of things, and refute it in a manner which is immediate likewise, not through the Notion but through the existence which is opposed to it. In their enumeration, too, there is this same absence of the Notion. But the five others appear to be better, have more interest, and are manifestly of later origin; they proceed against reflection, i.e. against a consciousness which relates itself to the developed understanding, and thus specially against thought-forms, scientific categories, the thought of the sensuous, and the determination of the same through Notions. Now though the most part of these may appear to us to be quite trivial, we must still be indulgent towards them, for they are historically, and consequently really, directed against the form ‘it is!’ But without doubt it is a very abstract consciousness that makes this abstract form ‘it is’ its object and combats it. However trivial then and commonplace these tropes may always appear to be, even more trivial and commonplace is the reality of the so-called external objects, that is, immediate knowledge, as when, for instance, I say “This is yellow.” Men ought not to talk about philosophy, if in this innocent way they assert the reality of such determinations. But this Scepticism was really far from holding things of immediate certainty to be true; thus it actually stands in contrast to modern Scepticism, in which it is believed that what is in our immediate consciousness, or indeed, all that is sensuous, is a truth (supra, pp. 331, 332). As distinguished from this, the older Scepticism, the modes of which we would now consider further, is directed against the reality of things.

1. The Earlier Tropes.

In the earlier tropes we see the lack of abstraction appearing as the incapacity to grasp their diversitude under more simple general points of view, although they all, in fact, partly under a simple conception and partly in their difference, do in fact converge into some necessary simple determinations. From all alike, in relation to immediate knowledge, is the insecurity demonstrated of that of which we say ‘it is!’ Sextus Empiricus (Pyrrh. Hyp. I. c. 14, § 38) even remarks, that “all the tropes may be summed up in three: the one is the judging subject; the other that respecting which the judgment is made; the third that which contains both sides” — the relation of subject and object. If thought is developed farther, it embraces things in these more general determinations.

a. “The first trope is the diversitude in animal organization, according to which different living beings experience different conceptions and sensations respecting the same object. This the Sceptics conclude from the different nature of their origin, because some are brought into being through copulation and others without copulation” (from a generatio æquivoca): “but of the first some are hatched from eggs, and others come immediately living into the world, &c. Thus it is a matter of no doubt that this difference of origin produces opposite constitutions, temperaments, &c. The variety in the parts of the body, and particularly in those which are given to the animal for purposes of distinguishing and feeling, thus produces in them the greatest differences in conceptions. For instance, the jaundiced patient sees as yellow what to others appears white,” and as green, what to the latter seems blue. “Similarly the eyes of animals are differently constructed in different species, and have different colours, being pale, grey or red; consequently what is perceived thereby must be different.”

This difference in the subject undoubtedly establishes a difference in perception, and this last a difference between the conception and the nature of the object of perception. But if we say “That is,” we mean something fixed, maintaining itself under all conditions; whereas in opposition to this the Sceptics show that everything is variable. But if they thereby destroy similarity and identity for the senses, and consequently this universality, another steps in, for universality or existence rests simply in the fact of men knowing that, in the hackneyed example of the jaundiced man, things appear so to him, i.e. the necessary law is known whereby a change of sensation arises for him. But certainly it is implied in this that the first sensuous universality is not true universality, because it is one immediate and unknown; and in it as sensuous existence, its non-universality is rightly demonstrated within itself through another universality. As against the statement “This is blue because I see it as such,” which clearly makes sight the ground of its being asserted to be blue, it is quite fair to point to another who has immediate perception of the object and for whom it is not blue.

b. The second trope, the diversitude of mankind in reference to feelings and conditions, amounts very much to the same thing as in the first case. In respect to difference in constitution of body, the Sceptics discover many idiosyncrasies. As regards the proposition “Shade is cool,” for instance, they say that someone felt cold in the sunlight, but warm in shadow; as against the statement “Hemlock is poisonous,” — they instance an old woman in Attica who could swallow a large dose of hemlock without harm — thus the predicate poisonous is not objective, because it suits the one and not the other. Because such great bodily differences are present amongst men, and the body is the image of the soul, men must have a diversity of mind likewise and give the most contradictory judgments, so that no one can know whom to believe. To judge by the greater number would be foolish, for all men cannot be inquired of. This trope again relates to the immediate; if, therefore, what has to be done is merely to believe some statement inasmuch as it is made by others, undoubtedly nothing but contradiction takes place. But a belief like this, that is ready to believe anything, is, as a matter of fact, incapable of understanding what is said; it is an immediate acceptance of an immediate proposition. For it did not demand the reason; but the reason is, in the first place, the mediation and the meaning of the words of the immediate proposition. Diversitude in men is really something which now likewise appears in other forms. It is said that men differ in regard to taste, religion, &c.; that religion must be left for each to decide for himself; that each, from a standpoint of his own, must settle how things are to be regarded as far as religion is concerned. The consequence of this is that in regard to religion there is nothing objective or true, everything ends in subjectivity, and the result is indifference to all truth. For then there is no longer a church; each man has a church and a liturgy of his own, each has his own religion. The Sceptics more particularly — as those who in all times spare themselves the trouble of philosophizing, on some sort of pretext, and who try to justify this evasion — persistently preach the diversity of philosophies; Sextus Empiricus does this very expressly, and it may even be brought forward here, although it will appear more definitely as the first of the later tropes. If the principle of the Stoics, as it is in its immediacy, holds good, the opposite principle, that of the Epicureans, has just as much truth, and holds equally good. In this way, when it is said that some particular philosophy asserts and maintains certain propositions, the greatest diversity is undoubtedly to be found. For here we have the talk which we censured earlier (Vol. I. p. 16): “Since the greatest men of all times have thought so differently and have not been able to come to an agreement, it would be presumptuous on our part to believe we had found what they could not attain to,” and with those who speak thus, the timid shrinking from knowledge makes out the inertness of their reason to be a virtue. Now if the diversity cannot be denied, because it is a fact that the philosophies of Thales, Plato, and Aristotle were different, and that this was not merely apparently the case, but that they contradicted one another, this way of wishing in such statements of them to gain a knowledge of the philosophies, shows a want of understanding as regards Philosophy; for such propositions are not Philosophy, nor do they give expression to it. Philosophy is quite the reverse of this immediacy of a proposition, because in that the very knowledge that is essential is not taken into account; hence such men see everything in a philosophy excepting Philosophy itself, and this is overlooked. However different the philosophic systems may be, they are not as different as white and sweet, green and rough; for they agree in the fact that they are philosophies, and this is what is overlooked. But as regards the difference in philosophies, we must likewise remark upon this immediate validity accorded to them, and upon the form, that the essence of Philosophy is expressed in an immediate manner. As regards this ‘is’ the trope undoubtedly does its work, for all tropes proceed against the ‘is,’ but the truth is all the time not this dry ‘is,’ but genuine process. The relative difference in philosophies is, in their mutual attitude towards one another (see the fifth trope), always to be comprehended as a connection, and therefore not as an ‘is.’

c. The third trope turns on the difference in the constitution of the organs of sense as related to one another; e.g. in a picture something appears raised to the eye but not to the touch, to which it is smooth, &c. This is, properly speaking, a subordinate trope, for in fact a determination such as this coming through some sense, does not constitute the truth of the thing, what it is in itself. The consciousness is required that the unthinking description which ascribes existence to blue, square, &c., one after the other, does not exhaust and express the Being of the thing; they are only predicates which do not express the thing as subject. It is always important to keep in mind that the different senses grasp the same thing in contradictory ways, for by this the nullity of sensuous certainty is revealed.

d. The fourth trope deals with the diversitude of circumstances in the subject, in reference to its condition, the changes taking place in it, which must prevent our making an assertion respecting any particular thing. The same thing manifests itself differently to the same man, according as he, for instance, is at rest or moving, asleep or awake, moved by hatred or love, sober or drunk, young or old, &c. In the diversitude of these circumstances very different judgments are passed regarding one and the same object, hence we must not talk of anything as being more than a manifestation.

e. The fifth trope relates to the different positions, distances and places, for from every different standpoint the object appears to be different. In respect to position, a long passage appears to the man who stands at the one end to taper to a point at the other; but if he goes there he finds it to be of the same breadth at that end as it was at the other. Distance is likewise, properly speaking, a difference in the greatness and smallness of objects. In respect to place, the light in a lantern is quite feeble in the sunshine, and yet in darkness it shines quite brightly. Pigeons’ necks, regarded from different points of view, shimmer quite differently. In regard to motion in particular very different views prevail. The best known example of such is found in the course of the sun round the earth, or the earth round the sun. As the earth is said to go round the sun., even though the opposite appears to be the case, the former assertion is based on reasons. This example does not, however, come in here, but this trope will show that because one sensuous feeling contradicts another, existence is not expressed in it.

f. The sixth trope is taken from intermixture, because nothing comes within the scope of the sense alone and isolated, but only as mingled with something else; this admixture with something else, however, causes change, just as scents are stronger in the sunshine than in cold air, &c. Further, through the subject himself, this admixture comes in; the eyes consist of various tunics and humours, the ear has different passages, &c., consequently they cannot allow sensations — the light or the voice — to come to us in their purity, for the sensuous element comes to us first of all modified by these tunics of the eye and likewise by the passages of the ear. But if we are to express ourselves in this particular manner, the direct opposite might likewise be maintained , that the sensuous element there present is simply purified; the apprehending ear, for example, again purifies the voice that comes in bodily form from a soul.

g. The seventh trope is the cohesion, the size or quantity of things, through which they appear different; for instance, we see how glass is transparent, but loses this transparency when it is pounded, and thus has its cohesion altered. Shavings of goat’s-horn appear to be white, but the whole piece looks black; or Carrara marble ground into powder looks white, though the whole piece is yellow. The same holds good as regards quantity. A moderate portion of wine fortifies and exhilarates, a large quantity of it destroys the body, and the case is similar with drugs. If the quantity is not to be spoken of as the substance, it is still an abstraction that quantity and combination are matters of indifference as regards quality and disintegration; the change of quantity likewise changes the quality.

h. The eighth trope arises from the relativity of things, and is thus the universal trope of relationship. This relativity of everything existent and thought is a more inward, real determinateness, and all the tropes already mentioned really aim at it. “According to this trope,” says Sextus (Pyrrh. Hyp. I. c. 14, §§ 135, 136), “we conclude that since everything is in relation to something, we must withhold our judgment as to what it is on its own account and in its nature. But it must be remarked that we here make use of ‘is’ in the sense of appearance only. Relationship is used in two respects: first in relation to the judging subject,” and this difference we saw in the previous tropes, “and in the second place in relation to the object which is to be judged. like right and left..” Sextus, in the passage above (§§ 137, 140), argues as follows: “As regards what is set forth on its own account and separate from others, is it distinguished from the mere relative or not? If it were not different from it, it would itself be a relative. If it is different, it again is a relative. That is to say, what is different is related to something, for it is set forth in relation to that from which it is distinguished.” Relativity, generally, is present in what is absolutely predicated, for relationship is a relationship in itself and not to another. Relationship contains opposition: what is in relation to another is on the one hand independent on its own account, but on the other, because it is in relationship, it is likewise not independent. For if anything is only in relation to something else, the other likewise belongs to it; it is thus not on its own account. But if its other already belongs to it, its non-being also already belongs to it, and it is a contradictory as soon as it is not without its other. “I But because we cannot separate the relative from its other, we likewise do not know what it is on its own account and in its nature, and we must consequently suspend our judgment.”

i. The ninth trope is the more or less frequent occurrence of things, which likewise alters one’s judgment upon the things. What happens seldom is more highly esteemed than what comes to pass frequently; and custom brings about the fact that one judges in this way and the other in that way. Custom is thus made a circumstance which also permits us to say that things appear so and so to us, but not universally and generally that they are so. When men say of any particular things that” this is so,” circumstances may be instanced in which the opposite predicate is applicable to them also. If, for example, we remain at the abstraction of the man, does it really signify whether or not we have a prince? — No. States? — No. A republic? — No, and so on, for they are here and not there.

k. The tenth trope mainly concerns ethics and is related to manners, customs and laws. What is moral and legal is likewise not such; for what is here considered to be right is elsewhere held to be wrong. The attitude of Scepticism in this regard is to show that the opposite of what — is maintained as valid law holds equally good. As regards the ordinary understanding respecting the validity of this and that maxim, e.g. that the son has to pay the debts of his father, the ultimate and indeed only ground lies in its being said that this is true in its immediacy for it holds good as law or custom. As against this the Sceptics likewise prove the opposite, saying for instance, that the son has, indeed, to undertake the debts of the father by the law of Rhodes; but in Rome he does not require to do so, if he has renounced his claim on the paternal goods. As in the existence of what is determined, which is held to be true because it is, the opposite is shown to exist; so in the case of laws, if their ground is that they are in force, their opposite can be demonstrated. The natural man has no consciousness of the presence of opposites; he lives quite unconsciously in his own particular way, in conformity with the morality of his town, without ever having reflected on the fact that he practises this morality. If he then comes into a foreign land, he is much surprised, for through encountering the opposite he for the first time experiences the fact that he has these customs, and he immediately arrives at uncertainty as to whether his point of view or the opposite is wrong. For the opposite of what held good to him holds equally good. and he does not possess any further ground for his practice; so that since the one holds good equally with the other, neither holds good.

We now see in these modes that, properly speaking, they are not logical modes at all, nor have they to do with the Notion, for they proceed directly against empiricism. Something is by immediate certainty given out as being true, the opposite of this last is from some other point of view demonstrated to be equally true, and, thus its otherbeing is set forth as valid. The different modes in which the non-validity of the first and the validity of the otherbeing relate to one another, are ranged under the above heads. If we now classify these ten tropes in conformity with the plan indicated above by Sextus (p. 347), we find in the first four tropes the dissimilarity of the object to depend on the judging subject, because that which judges is either the animal or the man or one of his senses or particular dispositions in him. Or the dissimilarity depends on the object, and here we come to the seventh and tenth tropes, since first the amount makes a thing into something quite different, and then the code of morals in different places makes itself the only absolute, excluding and prohibiting any other. The fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth tropes finally deal with a union of both sides, or these all together contain the relationship; this is a demonstration that the object does not present itself in itself, but in relation to something else.

From content and form we see in these modes their early origin; for the content, which has only to deal with Being, shows its change only, takes up only the variability of its manifestation, without showing its contradiction in itself, i.e. in its Notion. But in form they show an unpractised thought, which does not yet bring the whole of these examples under their universal points of view, as is done by Sextus, or which places the universal, relativity, alongside of its particular modes. On account of their dullness we are not accustomed to lay great stress on such methods, nor esteem them of any value; but, in fact, as against the dogmatism of the common human understanding they are quite valid. This last says directly, “This is so because it is so,” taking experience as authority. Now through these modes this understanding will be shown that its belief has contingencies and differences within it, which at one time present a thing in this way and at another time in that way; and thereby it will be made aware that it itself, or another subject, with equal immediacy and on the same ground (on none at all), says: “It is not so, for it really is the opposite. — “Thus the signification of these tropes has still its value. Should faith or right be founded on a feeling, this feeling is in me, and then others may say: “It is not in me.” If one person’s tastes are to be accepted as authoritative, it is not difficult to demonstrate that another person’s tastes are utterly opposite, but Being is thereby degraded into seeming, for in every assurance such as that, the opposite holds equally good.

2. The Later Tropes.

The five other sceptical tropes have an entirely different character, and it is at once evident that they indicate quite another point of view and degree of culture as regards philosophic thought; for they pertain more to thinking reflection, and contain the dialectic which the determinate Notion has within it. Sextus Empiricus’ sets them forth as follows:

a. The first trope is the diversitude in opinions (apo ths diafwniaς), and that not among animals and men, but expressly among philosophers; of this matter we have just spoken above (pp. 349, 350). Sextus, and an Epicurean quoted by Cicero (Vol. I. p. 16), adduce the manifold nature of dogmas, and from this the conclusion is drawn that the one has just as much support as the other. Philosophers and others still make copious use of this sceptical trope, which is consequently in great favour: on account of the diversitude in philosophies, they say, Philosophy has no value, and truth is unattainable because men have thought about it in ways so contradictory. This diversitude in philosophic opinion is said to be an invincible weapon against Philosophy; but the category of difference is very barren, and we have said in the introduction (Vol. I. pp. 17-19) how it is to be understood. The Idea of Philosophy is to all philosophers one and the same, even if they themselves are not aware of it; but those who speak so much of this diversity know as little about it. The true difference is not a substantial one, but a difference in the different stages of development; and if the difference implies a one-sided view, as it does with the Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics, in their totality undoubtedly we first reach truth.

b. A very important trope is that of falling into an infinite progression (h eis apeiron ekptwsiς); by it the Sceptics show that the reason which is brought forward for an assertion itself again requires a reason, and this again another, and so on into infinitude; from this suspension of judgment thus likewise follows, for there is nothing which can furnish a solid foundation. Consequently no permanent ground can be pointed out, for each continues to press further and further back, and yet finally a cessation must be made. In more recent times many have plumed themselves on this trope, and, in fact, it is as regards the understanding and the so-called syllogism (supra, pp. 222, 223), a trope of great force. For if deduction from reasons is made the power of knowledge, we must, on the other hand, remember that by so doing we have premises which are quite ungrounded.

c. The trope of Relationship, the relativity of determinations (o apo tou pros ti), has already been found among those mentioned above (p. 353). It is that what is maintained shows itself as it appears, partly merely in relation to the judging subject and partly to other things, but not as it is in itself by nature.

d. The fourth trope is that of Pre-supposition (o ex upoqesewς): “When the dogmatists see that they are thrown back into the infinite, they put forward something as principle which they do not prove, but wish to have conceded to them simply and without proof:” that is an axiom. If the dogmatist has the right to pre-suppose an axiom as unproved, the sceptic has equally the right, or, if we choose to say so, equally no right, to pre-suppose the opposite as unproved. One is as good as the other. Thus all definitions are pre-suppositions. For instance, Spinoza pre-supposes definitions of the infinite, of substance, of attribute, &c.; and the rest follows consistently from them. Nowadays men prefer to give assurances and speak of facts of consciousness.

e. The last trope is that of Reciprocity (diallhloς), or proof in a circle. “That which is dealt with is grounded on something which itself again requires something else as its ground; now that which has been said to be proved by it is used for this purpose, so that each is proved through the other! When we would avoid infinite progression and the making of pre-suppositions, we use again that which was proved to prove its own proof. To the question, “What is the ground of the phenomenon?” the reply is “Power,” but this is itself merely deduced from the moments of the phenomenon.

Now Sextus shows (Pyrrh. Hyp. I. e. 15, §§ 169-177) in the following way that, speaking generally, all sceptical investigations pass into these five modes of reasoning; and from this it is likewise clear that Scepticism is not really a reasoning against anything from reasons which can be found, which quick-wittedness discovers in the particular object, but that it has a profound knowledge of the categories. (a) “The object before us is either one felt” (according to Epicurus), “or one thought” (according to the Stoics). “But however it may be determined, there always is a difference of opinion respecting it,” and specially of philosophic opinions. This is the first trope. “For some believe what is felt and others what is thought to be alone the truth,” i.e. the criterion; “others, however, again accept partly what is thought and partly what is felt. — “There consequently is a contradiction present here. “Now is it possible to harmonize this contradiction or not? If not we must withhold our judgment. But if it is to be solved, the question is, “How shall we decide?” What is to contain the criterion, the standard, the implicit? “I Is what is felt to be judged by what is felt, or by what is thought?” (b) Either side, individually considered as the implicit, passes, according to the Sceptics, into the infinite; but this is a description which must necessarily be proved on its own account. “If what is felt is to be judged by what is felt, it is allowed (since feeling is in question) that this sensation requires another sensation as its reason;” for the conviction of its truth is not without contradiction. “But if that which constitutes the reason is again a feeling, that which is said to be a reason must have a reason just as much; thus we go on into infinitude” — and here we have the second trope. The case is, however, similar if what is thought is the criterion, or if the implicit is made to rest on it. “If to what is thought is given the power of judging what is felt, this likewise, since it is that respecting which no harmony prevails, requires another as its ground. This reason is, however, something thought likewise, and it again requires a reason; thus this, too, passes into the infinite.” From effect men thus reach cause; nevertheless this too is not original, but is itself an effect; and so on. But if men thus progress into infinitude, they have no first original ground to stand on, for what is accepted as first cause is itself merely effect; and since they merely progress continually, it is implied that no ultimate is posited. The false belief that this progression is a true category, is also to be found in Kant and Fichte; but there is really no true ultimate, or, what is the same, no true first. The understanding represents infinite progression as something great; but its contradiction is that men speak of a first cause and it is then shown that it is only an effect. Men only attain to the contradiction and constant repetition of the same, but not to the solution of it, and consequently to the true prius. (,g) But should this endless progression not satisfy us — which the Sceptics indeed perceived — and therefore have to be put a stop to, this may happen by what is or what is felt having its foundation in thought, and, on the other hand, by likewise taking for the foundation of thought that which is felt. In this way each would be founded without there having been a progression into infinitude; but then that which founds would also be that which is founded, and there would merely be a passing from one to the other. Thus, in the third place, this falls into the trope of Reciprocity, in which, however, there is no more than there was before any true foundation. For in it each merely exists through the other, neither is really set forth absolutely, but each is the implicit only for the other, and this is self-abrogation. (g) But if this is avoided by an unproved axiom which is taken as an implicit fact, a first and absolute ground, this way of arguing falls into the mode of Pre-supposition — the fourth trope. But if an assumption such as this were to be allowed, it would also be legitimate for anyone to assume the contrary. Thus against the absolute assertion of idealism, “The Absolute is the I,” it is with equal force maintained that “The Absolute is existence.” The one man says in the immediate certainty of himself: “I am absolute to myself;” another man likewise in certainty of himself says, “It is absolutely certain to me that things exist.” Idealism did not prove the former, nor did it destroy the latter; it takes its stand alongside of it, and only bases its assertions on its own principle. Everything, however, then comes round to this, that because the ‘I’ is absolute, the ‘not-I’ cannot be absolute. On the other hand it may be said as justly: “Because the thing is absolute, the ‘I’ cannot be absolute.” If it is legitimate, Sextus further says, immediately to pre-suppose something as unproved, it is absurd to pre-suppose anything else as proof of that on whose behalf it is pre-supposed; we only require to posit straightway the implicit existence of that which is in question. But as it is absurd to do so, so also is the other a surd. Men set to work in the finite sciences in a similar way. But when, as in a dogmatism like this, a man asserts his right of pre-supposing something, every other man has equally the right of pre-supposing something. Consequently the modern immediate revelation of the subject now appears. It does no good for any man to affirm, for example, that he finds in his consciousness that God exists; since anyone has the right to say that he finds in his consciousness that God does not exist. In modern times men have not got very far with this immediate knowledge — perhaps not further than the ancients. (e) In the fifth place everything perceived has, according to the trope of Relationship, a relation to something else, to what perceives; its Notion is just that of being for another. The same holds good with what is thought; as the universal object of thou ght it likewise has the, form of being some thing for another.

If we sum this up in a general way, the determinate, whether it is existent or thought, is (a) really, as determinate, the negative of another, i.e. it is related to another and exists for the same, and is thus in relationship; in this everything is really exhausted. (b) In this relationship to another this last, posited as its universality, is its reason; but this reason. as opposed to that which is proved, is itself a determinate, and consequently has its reality only in what is proved. And for the reason that I really again consider this universal as a determinate, it is conditioned by another like the one that goes before, and so on into infinity. (g) In order that this determinate for which, as in consciousness, the other is, should have existence, this other must exist, for in this it has its reality; and because this its object is likewise for another, they mutually condition each other and are mediated through one another, neither being self-existent. And if the universal as the basis has its reality in the existent, and this existent its reality in the universal , this forms the Reciprocity whereby what in themselves are opposites mutually establish one another. (d) But what is implicit is something which is not mediated through another; as the immediate, that is because it is, it is, however, an Hypothesis. (e) Now if this determinate is taken as pre-supposed, so also may another be. Or we might say more shortly that the deficiency in all metaphysics of the understanding lies partly in (a) the Demonstration, by which it falls into the infinite; and partly in (b) the Hypotheses, which constitute an immediate knowledge.

These tropes thus form an effective weapon against the philosophy of the ordinary understanding, and the Sceptics directed them with great acuteness, sometimes against the common acceptation of things, and sometimes against principles of philosophic reflection. These sceptical tropes, in fact, concern that which is called a dogmatic philosophy — not in the sense of its having a positive content, but as asserting something determinate as the absolute; and in accordance with its nature, such a philosophy must display itself in all these forms. To the Sceptics, the Notion of dogmatic philosophy is in effect that something is asserted as the implicit; it is thus opposed to idealism by the fact of its maintaining that an existence is the absolute. But there is a misunderstanding or a formal understanding in considering that all philosophy that is not Scepticism is Dogmatism. Dogmatism, as the Sceptics quite correctly describe it, consists in the assertion that something determinate, such as ‘I’ or ‘Being,’ ‘Thought’ or ‘Sensation,’ is the truth. In the talk about idealism, to which dogmatism has been opposed,, just as many mistakes have been made, and misunderstandings taken place. To the criticism which knows no implicit, nothing absolute, all knowledge of implicit existence as such is held to be dogmatism, while it is the most wanton dogmatism of all, because it maintains that the ‘I’ the unity of self-consciousness, is opposed to Being, is in and for itself, and that the implicit in the outside world is likewise so, and therefore that the two absolutely cannot come together. By idealism that is likewise held to be dogmatism in which, as is the case in Plato and Spinoza, the absolute has been made the unity of self-consciousness and existence, and not self-consciousness opposed to existence. Speculative philosophy thus, indeed, asserts, but does not assert a determinate; or it cannot express its truth in the simple form of a proposition, although Philosophy is often falsely understood as pre-supposing an original principle from which all others are to be deduced. But though its principle can be given the form of a proposition, to the Idea what pertains to the proposition as such is not essential, and the content is of such a nature that it really abrogates this immediate existence, as we find with the Academicians. As a matter of fact, that which is now called a proposition, absolutely requires a mediation or a ground; for it is an immediate determinate that has another proposition in opposition to it, which last is again of a similar nature, and so on into infinitude. Consequently, each, as being a proposition, is the union of two moments between which there is an inherent difference, and whose union has to be mediated. Now dogmatic philosophy, which has this way of representing one principle in a determinate proposition as a fundamental principle, believes that it is therefore universal, and that the other is in subordination to it. And undoubtedly this is so. But at the same time, this its determinateness rests in the fact that it is only universal; hence such a principle is always conditioned, and consequently contains within it a destructive dialectic.

As against all these dogmatic philosophies, such criticism and idealism not excepted, the sceptical tropes possess the negative capacity of demonstrating that what the former maintain to be the implicit is not really so. For implicitude such as this is a determinate, and cannot resist negativity, its abrogation. To Scepticism is due the honour of having obtained this knowledge of the negative, and of having so definitely thought out the forms of negativity. Scepticism does not operate by bringing forward what is called a difficulty, a possibility of representing the matter otherwise; that would merely indicate some sort of fancy which is contingent as regards this asserted knowledge. Scepticism is not an empiric matter such as this, for it contains a scientific aim, its tropes turn on the Notion, the very essence of determinateness, and are exhaustive as regards the determinate. In these moments Scepticism desires to assert itself., and the Sceptic therein recognizes the fancied greatness of his individuality; these tropes prove a more cultivated dialectic knowledge in the process of argumentation than is found in ordinary logic, the logic of the Stoics, or the canon of Epicurus. These tropes are necessary contradictions into which the understanding falls; even in our time progression into infinitude and pre-supposition (immediate knowledge) are particularly common (supra, p. 363).

Now, speaking generally, this is the method of Scepticism, and it is most important. Because the sceptical conscience demonstrates that in all that is immediately accepted there is nothing secure and absolute, the Sceptics have taken in hand all particular determinations of the individual sciences, and have shown that they are not fixed. The further details of this application to the different sciences do not concern us here: this far-seeing power of abstraction is also requisite in order to recognize these determinations of negation or of opposition everywhere present in all concrete matter, and in all that is thought, and to find in this determinate its limits. Sextus, for example, takes up the individual sciences concretely, thereby demonstrating much capacity for abstraction, and he shows in all their determinations the opposite of themselves. Thus he sets the definitions of mathematics against one another, and that not externally, but as they are in themselves; he lays hold of the fact (adv. Math. III. 20-22) that there is said to be a point, space, line, surface, one, &c. We unquestioningly allow the point to rank as a simple unit in space, according to which it has no dimension; but if it has no dimension, it is not in space, and therefore is no longer a point. On the one hand it is the negation of space, and, on the other, inasmuch as it is the limit of space, it touches space. Thus this negation of space participates in space, itself occupies space, and thus it is in itself null, but at the same time it is also in itself a dialectic. Scepticism has thus also treated of ideas which are, properly speaking, speculative, and demonstrated their importance; for the demonstration of the contradiction in the finite is an essential point in the speculatively philosophic method.

The two formal moments in this sceptical culture are firstly the power of consciousness to go back from itself., and to take as its object the whole that is present, itself and its operation included. The second moment is to grasp the form in which a proposition, with whose content our consciousness is in any way occupied, exists. An undeveloped consciousness, on the other hand, usually knows nothing of what is present in addition to the content. For instance, in the judgment “This thing is one,” attention is paid only to the one and the thing, and not to the circumstance that here something, a determinate, is related to the one. But this relation is the essential, and the form of the determinate; it is that whereby this house which is an individual, makes itself one with the universal that is different from it. It is this logical element, i.e. the essential element, that Scepticism brings to consciousness, and on this it depends; an example of this s number, the one, as the hypothetical basis of arithmetic. Scepticism does not attempt to give the thing, nor does it dispute as to whether it is thus or thus, but whether the thing itself is something; it grasps the essence of what is expressed, and lays hold of the whole principle of the assertion. As to God, for example, the Sceptics do not inquire whether He has such and such qualities, but turn to what is most inward, to what lies at the ground of this conception, and they ask whether this has reality. “Since we do not know the reality of God,” says Sextus (Pyrrh. Hyp. III. e. 1, § 4), “we shall not be able to know and perceive His qualities.” Likewise in the preceding books (II. e. 4, sqq.), inquiry is made as to whether the criterion of truth a s fixed by the understanding is anything, whether we know the thing in itself, or whether the ‘I’ is to itself the only absolute certainty. This is the way to penetrate to reality.

In these ways the operations of Scepticism are undoubtedly directed against the finite. But however much force these moments of its negative dialectic may have against the properly. speaking dogmatic knowledge of the understanding, its attacks against the true infinite of the speculative Idea are most feeble and unsatisfactory. For this last is in its nature nothing finite or determinate, it has not the one-sided character which pertains to the proposition, for it has the absolute negative in itself; in itself it is round, it contains this determinate and its opposite in their ideality in itself. In so far as this Idea, as the unity of these opposites, is itself again outwardly a determinate, it stands exposed to the power of the negative; indeed its nature and reality is just to move continually on, so that as determinate it again places itself in unity with the determinates opposed to it, and thus organizes itself into a whole whose starting-point again coincides with the final result. This identity is quite different from that of the understanding; the object as concrete in itself, is, at the same time, opposed to itself; but the dialectic solution of this finite and other is likewise already contained, in the speculative, without Scepticism having first had to demonstrate this; for the rational, as comprehended, does, as regards the determinate, just what Scepticism tries to do. However, if Scepticism attempts to deal with this properly speculative element, it can in no way lay hold of it, nor make any progress except by doing violence to the speculative itself; thus the method of its procedure against the rational is this. that it makes the latter into a determinate, and always first of all introduces into it a finite thought-determination or idea of relationship to which it adheres, but which is not really in the infinite at all; and then it argues against the same. That is to say it comprehends it falsely and then proceeds to contradict it. Or it first of all gives the infinite the itch in order to be able to scratch it. The Scepticism of modern times, with which for crudity of comprehension and false teaching the old cannot compare, is specially noteworthy in this respect. Even now what is speculative is transformed into something crude; it is possible to remain faithful to the letter, and yet to pervert the whole matter, because the identity of the determinate has been carried over to the speculative. What here appears to be most natural and impartial is to have an investigation made of what the principle of a speculative philosophy is; its essential nature seems to be expressed thereby, and nothing is apparently added or imputed to it, nor does any change appear to be effected in it. Now, here, according to the conception of the non-speculative sciences, it is placed in this dilemma: the principle is either an unproved hypothesis or demands a proof which in turn implies the principle. The proof that is demanded of this principle itself pre-supposes something else, such as the logical laws of proof; these rules of logic are, however, themselves propositions such as required to be proved; and so it goes on into infinitude, if an absolute hypothesis to which another can be opposed is not made (supra, p. 362). But these forms of proposition, of consecutive proof, &c., do not in this form apply to what is speculative (supra, p. 364) as though the proposition were before us here, and the proof were something separate from it there; for in this case the proof comes within the proposition. The Notion is a self-movement, and not, as in a proposition, a desire to rest; nor is it true that the proof brings forward another ground or middle term and is another movement; for it has this movement in itself.

Sextus Empiricus (adv. Math. VII., 310-312), for example., thus reaches the speculative Idea regarding reason, which., as the thought of thought, comprehends itself, and is thus in its freedom at home with itself. We saw this (pp. 147-151) with Aristotle. In order to refute this idea, Sextus argues in the following way: “The reason that comprehends is either the whole or it is only a part.” But to know the speculative it is requisite that there should be, besides the ‘either ... or,’ a third; this last is ‘both ... and’ and ‘neither ... nor.’ “If reason as the comprehending is the whole, nothing else remains to be comprehended. If the comprehending reason is, however, only a part which comprehends itself, this part again, as that which comprehends, either is the whole (and in that case again nothing at all remains to be comprehended), or else, supposing what comprehends to be a part in the sense that what is comprehended is the other part, that which comprehends does not comprehend itself,” &c. In the first place, however, it is clear that by arguing thus nothing is shown further than the fact that here Scepticism in the first place brings into the relationship of thought thinking about thought, the very superficial category of the relationship of the whole and the parts, as understood by the ordinary understanding, which last is not found in that Idea, although as regards finite things the whole is simply composed of all the parts. and these parts constitute the whole, the parts and the whole being consequently identical. But the relationship of whole and part is not a relationship of reason to itself, being much too unimportant, and quite unworthy of being brought into the speculative Idea. In the second place Scepticism is wrong in allowing this relationship to hold good immediately, as it does in the ordinary and arid conception, where we make no objection to it. When reflection speaks of a whole, there is for it beyond this nothing else remaining. But the whole is just the being opposed to itself. On the one hand it is as whole simply identical with its parts, and, on the other hand, the parts are identical with the whole, since they together constitute the whole. The self-comprehension of reason is just like the comprehension by the whole of all its parts, if it is taken in its real speculative significance; and only in this sense could this relationship be dealt with here. But in the sense implied by Sextus, that there is nothing except the whole, the two sides, the whole and the parts, remain in mutual, isolated opposition; in the region of speculation the two indeed are different, but they are likewise not different. for the difference is ideal. Outside of the whole there thus undoubtedly remains another, namely itself as the manifold of its parts. The whole argument thus rests upon the fact that a foreign determination is first of all brought within the Idea, and then arguments against the Idea are brought forward, after it has been thus corrupted by the isolation of a one-sided determination unaccompanied by the other moment of the determination. The case is similar when it is said: “Objectivity and subjectivity are different, and thus their unity cannot be expressed.” It is indeed maintained that the words are literally adhered to; but even as contained in these words, the determination is one-sided, and the other also pertains to it. Hence this difference is not what remains good, but what has to be abrogated.

We may perhaps have said enough about the scientific nature of Scepticism, and we have concluded therewith the second section of Greek philosophy. The general point of view adopted by self-consciousness in this second period, the attainment of the freedom of self-consciousness through thought, is common to all these philosophies. In Scepticism we now find that reason has got so far that all that is objective, whether of Being or of the universal , has disappeared for self-consciousness. The abyss of the self-consciousness of pure thought has swallowed up everything, and made entirely clear the basis of thought. It not only has comprehended thought and outside of it a universe in its entirety, but the result, positively expressed, is that self-consciousness itself is reality. External objectivity is not an objective existence nor a universal thought; for it merely is the fact that the individual consciousness exists., and that it is universal. But though for us there is an object, yet this is for it no object, and thus it still has itself the mode of objectivity. Scepticism deduces no result, nor does it express its negation as anything positive. But the positive is in no way different from the simple; or if Scepticism aims at the disappearance of all that is universal, its condition, as immovability of spirit, is itself in fact this universal, simple, self-identical — but a universality (or a Being) which is the universality of the individual consciousness. Sceptical self-consciousness, however, is this divided consciousness to which on the one hand motion is a confusion of its content; it is this movement which annuls for itself all things, in which what is offered to it is quite contingent and indifferent; it acts according to laws which are not held by it to be true, and is a perfectly empiric existence. On another side its simple thought is the immovability of self-identity, but its reality, its unity with itself is something that is perfectly empty, and the actual filling in is any content that one chooses. As this simplicity, and at the same time pure confusion, Scepticism is in fact the wholly self-abrogating contradiction. For in it the mind has got so far as to immerse itself in itself as that which thinks; now it can comprehend itself in the consciousness of its infinitude as the ultimate. In this way Scepticism flourishes in the Roman world, because, as we saw (p. 281), in this external, dead abstraction of the Roman principle (in the principle of Republicanism and imperial Despotism) the spirit has flown from an existence here and now, that could give it no satisfaction, into intellectuality. Then because here the mind can only seek reconciliation and eudæmonism. inwardly through cultured thought, and the whole aim of the world is merely the satisfaction of the individual, good can only be brought forth as individual work in each particular case. Under the Roman emperors we certainly find famous men, principally Stoics, such as Marcus Aurelius and others; they, however, only considered the satisfaction of their individual selves, and did not attain to the thought of giving rationality to actuality through institutions, laws and constitutions. This solitude of mind within itself is then truly Philosophy; but the thought is abstractly at home with itself as dead rigidity, and as to outward things it is passive. If it moves it only moves while bearing with it a contempt of all distinctions. Scepticism thus belongs to the decay both of Philosophy and of the world.

The stage next reached by self consciousness is that it receives a consciousness respecting that which it has thus become, or its essential mature becomes its object. Self-consciousness is to itself simple essence; there is for it no longer any other reality than this, which its self-consciousness is. In Scepticism this reality is not yet an object to it, for to it its object is merely confusion. Because it is consciousness, something is for it; in this .opposition only the vanishing content is for the sceptical consciousness, without its having been comprehended in its simple permanence. Its truth, however., is its immersion in self-consciousness, and the fact of self-consciousness becoming an object to itself. Thus reality has indeed the form of a universal in existence or in thought, but in this its self-consciousness is really not a foreign thing as it is in Scepticism. In the first place it is not simple as immediate and merely existent, a complete ‘other,’ as when we speak of the soul being simple; for this last is the simple negative that turns back out of movement, out of difference, as the universal, into itself. In the second place this universal power that expresses that “I am at home with myself,” has likewise the significance of the Being, which, as objective reality, has a permanence for consciousness, and does not merely, as with the Sceptics, disappear; for reason in it alone knows how to possess and to find itself. This inwardness of mind at home with itself has built in itself an ideal world, has laid the foundation and ground-work of the intellectual world, of a kingdom of God which has come down into actuality and is in unity with it, and this is the stand-point of the Alexandrian philosophy.

Editor’s notes

1. As it is used here and shortly afterwards, “positive philosophy” has quite an opposite meaning from what we have just seen it to bear in two previous passages (p. 329), because speculation certainly stands in opposition to dogmatism; and at the same time we must in Hegel distinguish altogether this expression in its double significance from the positivism so prevalent in modern times, which, merely escaping from the necessity for thinking knowledge, finally throws itself into the arms of revelation and simple faith, whether it tries to call itself free thought or not.


Translated by E.S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson, published by K. Paul Trench, Trübner in 1894.

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