Benedetto Croce (1906)

from “What is Living and What is Dead of the Philosophy of Hegel”

I: The Dialectic or Synthesis of Opposites

HEGEL is one of those philosophers who have made not only immediate reality but philosophy itself the object of their thought, thus contributing to elaborate a logic of philosophy. I believe, therefore, that the logic of philosophy (with the consequences ensuing from it for the solution of particular problems and for the conception of life) was the goal to which the main effort of his mind was directed. It was there that he found or brought to perfection and full value, principles of high importance which had been unknown to or hardly mentioned by previous philosophers, or insufficiently marked by them, and which may therefore be considered as his true discoveries.

Strange is the aversion to this conception of a logic of philosophy (for it is really very simple and should be accepted as irresistibly evident).

It is the idea, in other words, that philosophy proceeds by a method peculiar to itself, the theory of which should be sought and formulated. No one doubts that mathematics has a method of its own, which is studied in the logic of mathematics; that the natural sciences have their method, from which arises the, logic of observation, of experiment, of abstraction ; that historiography has its method, and that therefore there is a logic of the historical method; that poetry and art in general give us the logic of poetry and art, aesthetic ; that in economic activity is inherent a method, which is afterwards reflected in economic science; and that finally the moral activity has its method, which is reflected in ethic (or logic of the will, as it has sometimes been called). But when we come to philosophy, very many recoil from this conclusion: that it, too, from the moment of its inception, must have a method of its own, which must be determined. Conversely, very few are surprised at the fact that treatises on logic, while giving much space to the consideration of the disciplines of the mathematical and natural sciences, as a rule give no special attention to the discipline of philosophy, and often pass it over altogether in silence.

It is very natural that a logic of philosophy should be denied by those who, owing to lack of reflection or mental confusion or eccentricity, deny philosophy in general. For it cannot be claimed that the theory of an object should be recognised when the reality of the object itself is denied. If philosophy does not exist, then the logic of philosophy does not exist. Good-bye to both; enjoy such a position if it satisfy you. But if I have called this spectacle strange, it is because we too often see those very philosophers or philosophisers, as the case may be, showing themselves altogether devoid of the consciousness of this inevitable necessity. Some of them assert that philosophy must follow the abstract-deductive method of mathematics. Others see for it no other way of salvation than a rigorous adherence to the experimental method. They dream and extol a philosophy studied in the laboratory and the clinic, an empirical metaphysics and so on. Finally (and this is the latest fashion, which, if not new, is at least newly revived), we are now commended to an individual and fantastic philosophy, which produces itself like art. Thus, from the compasses to the bistoury, and from that to the zither! every method seems good for philosophy, save the method of philosophy itself, One single observation should suffice against such views: namely, that if philosophy is to provide the understanding, and be as it were the reflective consciousness of art and history, of mathematics and of the researches of natural science, of the practical and moral activity, we fail to see how it can do this by conforming to the method of one of those particular objects. He who, when studying- a poem, limits his study to the application of the poetical method, will feel in himself the creation of the poet, this or that particular work of art; but he will not thus attain to a philosophic knowledge of the poem. He who limits himself to mathematical thinking, when studying a mathematical theory, will be the disciple, the critic, the perfecter of that theory ; but he will not attain knowledge of the nature of mathematical activity. If the object of philosophy be not the production or the reproduction of art and mathematics and of the various other activities of man, but the comprehension (the understanding) of them all, this comprehension is itself an activity, proceeding by a method of its own, infused or implicit, which it is important to make explicit.

In any case the hope of understanding and of judging the work of Hegel is vain, if we do not always keep clearly before the mind that this problem which we have just enunciated was his main and principal problem, the central problem of the Phenomenology of Spirit, and of the new forms assumed by this book in the Science of Logic and in the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences. Almost all histories of philosophy, and even the special monographs concerning Hegel (for example, the recent and most ample monograph by Kuno Fischer), consist in a summary repetition of the contents of his books, so close as to repeat his divisions by sections and chapters. But a complete exposition of Hegel's thought, an inward and critical exposition, should, in the first place and in chief part, be devoted to his doctrine of the nature of philosophic enquiry, and to the differences between such enquiry and other theoretic and nontheoretic forms.

Above all, what should be made clear is the triple character that philosophic thought assumes in Hegel, in relation to the three spiritual modes or attitudes with which it is most readily confused. Philosophic thought is for Hegel: firstly, concept; secondly, universal; thirdly, concrete. It is concept, that is to say it is not feeling, or rapture, or intuition, or any other similar alogical Psychical state, incapable of exact demonstration. This distinguishes philosophy from theories of mysticism and of immediate knowledge; for these have at the most a negative significance, in so far as they recognise that philosophy cannot be constructed by the method of the empirical and natural sciences, i.e. of the sciences of the finite. They are, if you- will, profound, but with an "empty profundity", Hegel becomes ferociously satirical against mysticism, with its frenzies, its sighings, its raising the eyes to heaven, its bowing the neck and clasping the hands, its Paintings, its prophetic accents, its mysterious phrases of the initiates. He always maintains that philosophy should have a rational and intelligible form; that it should be, "not esoteric but exoteric," not a thing of sects, but of humanity. The philosophic concept is universal, not merely general. it is not to be confounded with general representations, as for instance, "house," "horse," "blue," which are usually termed concepts, owing to a custom which Hegel calls barbaric. This establishes the difference between philosophy and the empirical or natural sciences, which are satisfied with types and class-conceptions. Finally, the philosophic universal is concrete: it is not the making of a skeleton of reality, but the comprehension of it in its fullness and richness. Philosophic abstractions are not arbitrary but necessary, and are therefore adequate to the real, which they do not mutilate or falsify. And this establishes the difference between philosophy and the mathematical disciplines; for these latter do not justify their points of departure, but "command them," and we must, says Hegel, obey the command to draw such and such lines, in the belief that this will be "opportune" for the conduct of the demonstration. Philosophy, on the other hand, has for its object that which really is; and it must completely justify itself, without admitting or allowing any presupposition.'

And in order to elucidate this triple difference, according to which the true concept, ie. the philosophical concept, shows itself logical, universal, and concrete, it would be necessary to include in a complete exposition the minor doctrines, which are attached to the first and fundamental doctrine, some of which are of great importance, such as the resumption of the ontological argument (the defence of Saint Anselm against Kant), which maintains that in the philosophic concept, as distinct and different from mere representations of particulars, essence implies existence. Another is the review of the doctrine which regards the "judgment" as a connection of subject and predicate. That doctrine is based on something that is not clearly intelligible to thought, and is therefore inadequate to philosophy, of which the true form is the syllogism, in so far as that has the logical character of reuniting itself with itself; others, again, are the critique of the theory, which considers the concept to be a compound of "marks" (which Hegel calls the true " mark" of the superficiality of ordinary logic); the critique of divisions into species and classes ; the demonstration (which may have curative efficacy in our times) of the vanity of every logical calculus and not a few others besides.

But it is not my intention to offer in these pages a complete exposition of Hegel's system, nor even of his logical doctrine; but rather to concentrate all attention upon the most characteristic part of his thought, upon the new aspects of truth revealed by him, and upon the errors which he allowed to persist or in which he became entangled. For this reason, then, I set aside the various theses briefly mentioned above (from which it seems to me impossible to dissent, although I recognise too how necessary it is that they should be studied, since they form the often neglected ABC of philosophy), and I come without further ado to the point around which all the disputes have been kindled and against which his opponents have aimed their direct denials the treatment of the problem of opposites.

This is a problem whose terms must be clearly defined if we wish to understand its gravity and difficulty. The philosophic concept (which, as has been mentioned, is a concrete universal), in so far as it is concrete, does not exclude distinctions, indeed it includes them in itself. It is the universal, distinct in itself, resulting from those distinctions. As empirical concepts are distinguished into classes and subclasses, so the philosophic concept possesses its particular forms, of which it is not the mechanical aggregate, but the organic whole, in which every form unites itself intimately with the others and with the whole. For example, fancy and intellect, in relation to the concept of spirit or spiritual activity, are particular philosophic concepts; but they are not outside or beneath spirit, they are indeed spirit itself in those particular forms ; nor is the one separated from the other, like two entities each confined to itself, and external to the other, but the one passes into the other. Hence fancy, as is commonly said, however distinct it may be from intellect, is the foundation of intellect and indispensable to it.

Our thought however, in investigating reality, finds itself face to face, not only with distinct, but also with opposed concepts. These latter cannot be identified with the former without more ado, nor be considered as special cases of them as if they were a sort of distinct concepts. The logical category of distinction is one thing, and the category of opposition is another. As has been said, two distinct concepts unite with one another, although they are distinct; but two opposite concepts seem to exclude one another. Where one enters, the other totally disappears. A distinct concept is presupposed by and lives in its other, which follows it in the sequence of ideas. An opposite concept is slain by its opposite : the saying, mors tua vita mea applies here. Examples of distinct concepts are those already mentioned, of fancy and intellect. And to these others could be added, such as rights, morality and the like. But examples of opposite concepts are drawn from those numerous couples of words, of which our language is full and which certainly do not constitute peaceable and friendly couples. Such are the antitheses of true and false, of good and evil, beautiful and ugly, value and lack of value, joy and sorrow, activity and passivity, positive and negative, life and death, being and not-being, and so on. It is impossible to confuse the two series, distinct and opposites : so conspicuously do they differ.

Now, if distinction do not impede, if indeed it rather render possible the concrete unity of the philosophic concept, it does not seem possible that the same should be true of opposition. Opposition gives rise to deep fissures in the bosom of the philosophic universal and of each of its particular forms, and to irreconcilable dualisms. Instead of finding the concrete universal, the organic whole of reality which it seeks, thought seems everywhere to run against two universals, opposing and menacing each other. In this way, the fulfilment of philosophy is impeded; and since an activity which cannot attain to its fulfilment, thereby shows that it has imposed an absurd task on itself, philosophy itself, the whole of philosophy, is menaced with failure.

The seriousness of this impasse is the reason that the human mind has always laboured at this problem of opposites, without, however, always clearly realising what it has been doing. And one-of the solutions upon which it has relied in the course of centuries, has consisted in excluding opposition from the philosophic concept, and in maintaining the unreality of that perilous logical category. The facts, to tell the truth, proved just the opposite; but the facts were denied and only one of the terms was accepted, the other being declared "illusion"; or, what comes to the same thing, a merely quantitative difference was drawn between the two. This logical doctrine of opposites is contained in the philosophic systems of sensationalism, of empiricism, of materialism, of mechanism, or however otherwise they may be termed. Thought and truth appeared in them in turn, a secretion of the brain, or an effect of habit and association, virtue, a mirage of egoism; beauty, a refinement of sensuality; the ideal, some kind of voluptuous or capricious dream; and soon.

Another logical doctrine, which posits opposition as a fundamental category, has for centuries employed its force against this first doctrine. It is found in the various dualistic systems, which reassert the antithesis that the first, with a delicate sleight of hand, had caused to disappear. These systems accentuate both terms, being and not-being, good and evil, true and false, ideal and real, those of the one series being at variance with those of the other. Without doubt, the dualistic view retains its value against abstract monism: a polemical value due to its denial of the other's negation. But in itself, it is as little satisfactory as the other, because if the first sacrifices opposition to unity, the second sacrifices unity to opposition.

In thought both these sacrifices are so impossible, that we continually see those who maintain the one doctrine turning more or less consciously into maintainers of the other. The Unitarians surreptitiously introduce the duality of opposites, under the guise of the duality of reality and of illusion: an illusion with which they could no more dispense than with reality itself, so that they sometimes even say that the spring of life is in illusion. And the oppositionists all admit some sort of identity or unity of opposites unattainable by the human mind, owing to its imperfection, but necessary in order adequately to think reality. In this way, both become involved in contradictions, and come to recognise that they have not solved the problem which they had set themselves, and that it still remains a problem.

For "necessary illusion," or "necessary imperfection of the human mind," are mere words, to which, try as we will, we cannot give any meaning. We know only accidental and relative illusions, individual and relative imperfections. A reality other than the real, a mind beyond the human mind, we can neither conceive nor constitute a term in any comparison. Thus reality and mind show us both unity and opposition. And (as Leibniz said of philosophical systems) the Unitarians, in so far as they affirm the first, the oppositionists, in so far as they affirm the second, are right in what they affirm and wrong in what they deny. Hegel is never weary of admiring the virile firmness of the materialists and sensationalists and monists of every sort in asserting the unity of the real, and if, owing to the historical conditions in which his thought developed, he admired the dualistic forms less, and indeed never lost an opportunity of expressing his antipathy to them, on the other hand he never forgot that the consciousness of opposition is equally invincible and equally justifiable with that of unity.

The case, then, seems desperate; and no less desperate is the case of desperation. For, to declare the question insoluble would itself compel us to consider, whether, by that very declaration, we had not already cut the knot in favour of thought, that is to say, of hope. The casual observer of the history of philosophy sees a restoration of dualism follow every affirmation of monism, and vice versa: each unable wholly to strangle the other, but able to hold it in check for a time. It would seem almost as though, when man has satiated himself with the uniformity of monism, he distracts himself with the variety of dualism; and, when he is tired of this, he plunges again into monism, and alternates the two movements, thus tempering hygienically the one with the other. The casual observer, at every epidemic of materialism, says with a smile, Wait; now will come spiritualism. And when spiritualism celebrates its chiefest triumphs, he smiles in the same way and says, Wait; materialism will return in a little while! But the smile is forced, or soon vanishes, for there is nothing really cheerful in the condition of him who is ceaselessly tossed from one extreme to another, as by an invincible force beyond control.

Nevertheless, amid the difficulties which I have made clear, there is at ' the bottom of our souls a secret conviction, that this unconquerable dualism, this insoluble dilemma, is ultimately conquerable and soluble: that the idea of unity is not- irreconcilable with that of opposition, and that we can and should think opposition in the form of a concept, which is supreme unity. Ingenuous thought (which is usually called non-philosophical, but would perhaps be better called naively, or potentially, philosophical) is not embarrassed at the difficulty: it thinks at once both unity and opposition. Its motto is not mors tua vita mea, but Concordia discors. It recognises that life is a struggle, but nevertheless a harmony; that virtue is a combat against ourselves, but that it is nevertheless ourselves. It recognises that, when one opposition has been overcome, a new opposition springs from the very bosom of the unity, so there must be a new conquest, then a new opposition, and so on; but it recognises, too, that this is just the way of life. It knows nothing of exclusive systems: the wisdom of proverbs gives one blow to the hoop and another to the barrel, and gives advice now with optimistic, now with pessimistic observations, which deny and complete one another in turn. What is wanting to ingenuous thought, to potential philosophy? Implicitly, nothing. And so, amidst the smoke and the dust of the battles of science, we always sigh for the good sense, for the truth which each one can find immediately in himself, without recourse to the labourings, the subtleties, and the exaggerations of professional philosophers. But the sigh is vain! the battle has been joined, and there is no way to peace save through victory. Ingenuous thought (and this is its defect) cannot give the grounds of its affirmations: it vacillates before every objection; it becomes confused and contradicts itself. Its truths are not complete truths, because they are not found united, but merely placed alongside one another. It works only with juxtaposition, and fails in systematic coherence. Contradictions and doubts and the painful consciousness of antitheses are welcome; welcome is all conflict if through it we are to attain to the truth that is complete and secure in itself. Such truth, indeed, though it differs widely from the truth of ordinary and ingenuous thought in degree of elaboration, cannot but be substantially the same ; and it is certainly a bad sign when a philosophy is at variance with ingenuous consciousness. For this very reason it often happens that when people meet a simple and conclusive statement of philosophic truths, that may have cost the labours of centuries, they will shrug their shoulders and remark that the boasted discovery is indeed a very easy thing, plain and known of all men. Precisely the same thing occurs in the case of the most inspired creations of art, which are developed with such simplicity and naturalness that every one experiences the, illusion of having achieved, or of being able to achieve them himself.

If ingenuous thought give the hope and the indication of the possibility of the reconciliation of unity and opposition, another form of spiritual creation, of which all have experience, provides a sort of model. The philosopher has at his side the poet. And the poet, too, seeks the truth; the poet, too, thirsts for the real ; he too, like the philosopher, recoils from arbitrary abstractions, because he strives towards the living and the concrete : he too, abhors the mute ecstasies of the mystics and the sentimentalists, because it is what he feels that he utters and makes to ring in the ear in beautiful words, limpid and silvery. But the poet is not condemned to the unattainable. This very reality, torn and rent with opposition, is the object of his contemplation, and he makes it, though throbbing with opposition, yet one and undivided. Cannot the philosopher do the same? Is not philosophy, like poetry, knowledge? Why should this perfection, this power of solving and of representing unity in opposition, be wanting to the philosophic concept when it is in all respects analogous to aesthetic expression? It is true that philosophy is knowledge of the universal, and therefore thought; and that poetry is knowledge of the individual, and therefore intuition and imagination. But why should not the philosophic universal, like the aesthetic expression, be both at once difference and unity, discord and concord, discrete and continuous, permanent and ever-changing? Why should reality lose its true character when mind rises from the contemplation of the particular to the contemplation of the whole? Does not the whole live in us as vividly as does the particular?

And here it is that Hegel gives his shout of jubilation, the cry of the discoverer, the Eureka, his principle of solution of the problem of opposites: a most simple principle, and so obvious that it deserves to be placed among those symbolised by the egg of Christopher Columbus. The opposites are not illusion, neither is unity illusion. The opposites are opposed to one another, but they are not opposed to unity. For true and concrete unity is nothing but the unity, or synthesis, of opposites. It is not immobility, it is movement. It is not fixity, but development. The philosophic concept is a concrete universal, and therefore a thinking of reality as at once united and divided. Only thus does philosophic truth correspond to poetic truth, and the pulse of thought beat with the pulse of things.

It is, indeed, the only possible solution. It rejects neither of the two preceding, which I have called 'monism" and "dualism of opposites," but justifies both. It regards them as one-sided truths, fragments which await their integration in a third, in which the first and second, even the third itself, disappear, merged in the unique truth. And that truth is that unity has not opposition opposed to it, but holds it within itself; and that, without opposition, reality would not be reality, because it would not be development and life. Unity is the positive, opposition the negative; but the negative is also positive, positive in so far as negative. Were it not so, the fullness and richness of the positive would be unintelligible. If the analogy between poetry and philosophy be not satisfactory, if it be not sufficiently clear what is meant by a concrete concept, which as the logical form of development corresponds to intuition as its poetical form, we might say, now that comparisons and metaphors are more readily chosen from the natural sciences (sacrificing exactitude of analogy to aptness of comparison), that the concrete universal, with its synthesis of opposites, expresses life and not the corpse of life; it gives the physiology, not the anatomy, of the real.

Hegel calls his doctrine of opposites dialectic, rejecting, as liable to cause misunderstandings, the other formulae of unity and coincidence of opposites, because in these stress is laid only upon the unity, and not at the same time upon the opposition. The two abstract elements, or the opposites taken in and by themselves, he calls moments, a figure taken from the moments of the lever, and the word "moment" is sometimes also applied to the third term, the synthesis. The relation of the two first to the third is expressed by the word "solution" or "overcoming" (aufheben). And that, as Hegel intimates, means that the two moments in their separation are both negated, but preserved in the synthesis. The second term (in relation to the first) appears as negation, and the third (in relation to the second) as a negation of negation, or as absolute negativity, which is also absolute affirmation. If, for convenience of exposition, we apply numerical symbols to this logical relation, we may call the dialectic a triad or trinity, because it appears as composed of three terms; but Hegel never ceases putting us on our guard against the extrinsic and arbitrary character of this numerical symbolism, which is altogether unsuited to the expression of speculative truth. And indeed, to speak accurately, in the dialectic triad we do not think three concepts, but one single concept, which is the concrete universal, in its own inner nature and structure. More than that, in order to obtain this synthesis it is above all things necessary to define the opposition of the terms. And if the activity which defines the opposition be called intellect, and the activity which yields the synthesis reason, it is evident that intellect is necessary to reason, is a moment of it, is intrinsic to it; and this, indeed, is how Hegel sometimes considers it.

Whoever cannot rise to this method of thinking opposites can make no philosophic affirmation which is not self-contradictory and passes into its own contrary. This has already been exemplified in the discussion of the antithesis of monism and dualism. And it can be seen in the first triad of the Hegelian Logic: the triad which comprehends in itself all the others, and which, as is well known, is constituted by the terms being, nothing, and becoming. What is being without nothing? What is pure, indeterminate, unqualified, indistinguishable, ineffable being, i.e. being in general, not this or that particular being? How can it be distinguished from nothing? And, on the other hand, what is nothing without being, ie. nothing conceived in itself, without determination or qualification, nothing in general, not the nothing of this or that particular thing? In what way is this distinguished from being? To take one of the terms by itself comes to the same thing as to take the other by itself, for the one has meaning only in and through the other. Thus to take the true without the false, or the good without the evil, is to make of the true something not thought (because thought is struggle against the false), and therefore something that is not true. And similarly it is to make of the good something not willed (because to will the good is to negate the evil), and therefore something that is not good. Outside the synthesis, the two terms taken abstractly pass into one another and change sides. Truth is found only in the third; that is to say, in the case of the first triad, in becoming,, which, therefore, is, as Hegel says, "the first concrete concept."

Nevertheless, this error, which consists in taking the opposites outside the synthesis, is constantly reappearing. And against it there must always be directed the polemic which shows, as has just been shown, that outside the synthesis, the opposites are unthinkable. This polemic is the dialectic in its "subjective " or " negative" sense. But it must not be confused with the true and proper meaning of the doctrine of dialectic in its objective or positive sense, which may also be designated the logical doctrine of development.

In this negative dialectic the result is not the synthesis, but the annulment, of the two opposite terms, each on account of the other; and therefore the terminology, which we have explained above, also acquires, like the word "dialectic" itself, a somewhat different meaning. The intellect, in so far as it is not an intrinsic moment of reason and inseparable from it, but is, on the contrary, the affirmation of the separate opposites which claims to stand alone as ultimate truth, intellect, in this sense, becomes a derogatory and depreciatory term. It is the abstract intellect, the eternal enemy of philosophic speculation. It is, at bottom, reason itself failing of its own task. ,,it is not the fault of the intellect if we do not proceed further, but a subjective impotence of reason which permits that determination to continue in that state." The triad itself gives place to a quatriad of terms: two affirmations and two negations. Reason intervenes as negative reason, to bring confusion into the domain of intellect ; but if, in this negative capacity, it prepare and compel the positive doctrine, it neither produces nor states it.

The confusion between the merely negative aspect of Hegel's dialectic and its positive content has given rise to an objection to the Hegelian doctrine of opposites, which is the battle-charger so often mounted by his adversaries: a Brigliadoro or a Bayard so very old and broken down that I do not see how any one still succeeds in keeping his seat on it. It has been said: If being and nothing are identical (as Hegel proves or thinks he proves), how can they constitute becoming? Becoming, on Hegel's theory, must be a synthesis of opposites, not of identities, of which there can be no synthesis. a = a remains a, and does not become b. But being is identical with nothing only when being and nothing are thought badly, or are not thought truly. Only then does it happen that the one equals the other, not as a = a, but rather as o = o. For the thought which thinks them truly, being and nothing are not identical, but precisely opposite, and in conflict with one another. And this conflict (which is also a union, since two wrestlers, in order to wrestle, must lay hold of one another!) is becoming. It is not a concept added to or derived from the first two taken in their separation, but a unique concept, outside of which there are two abstractions, two unreal shadows, being and nothing, each by itself, which are, as such, united, not by their conflict, but by their common vacuity.

Another objection, which has also seemed triumphant, consists in observing that the concrete universal, with its synthesis of opposites,-the very mark of its concreteness-is not a pure logical concept, because it tacitly introduces in the representation of movement and of development an element of sense or intuition. But if the words are given their precise significance, sense and intuition should mean something particular, individual, and historical. And what is there in the Hegelian concept of the universal which we can show to be particular, individual, or historical? What can we separate out as such an element, in the way in which, for instance, we can distinguish the particular, individual, or historical element in the empirical concept of "oak," or of "whale," or of "feudal regime"? Movement or development has about it nothing of the particular and contingent. It is a universal. It has no sense-element ; it is a thought, a concept, the true concept exactly adequate to reality. Its logical theory is the concrete universal, the synthesis of opposites. But it may be that this objection was intended against the character which the concept possesses in Hegel's logic. There it is not something empty and indifferent, not a mere "recipient" ready to receive any content, but the ideal form of reality itself. And if, in this objection, "logic" is taken to be only an inconceivable abstraction, an abstraction which "is commanded," like that of mathematics, and "intuition " is taken to be the speculative concept, the criticism reveals, not a defect in Hegel, but his true glory. For it makes it clear that he has destroyed that false concept of a barren and formal logic as an arbitrary abstraction, and to the true logical concept he has given a character of concreteness, which can also be called "intuition," when intuition signifies, as we showed above, that philosophy must spring from the bosom of divine Poetry, matre pulchra filia pulchrior.

Philosophy, thus set in friendly relations with poetry, enters that state which in these days of Nietzschian phraseology is called "dionysiac." It is a state to terrify timid thinkers, who, however, in so far as they philosophise, find themselves, without knowing it, in the same condition. Thus our Rosmini, aghast at the dialectic of being and not being, exclaimed: "And even were it as true, as it is false, that being can deny itself, the question would always recur: what could move it to deny itself? What reason could be assigned for this alleged desire, on the part of being, to deny itself and to ignore itself? why, in short, should it make this mad effort to annul itself? for the system of Hegel does nothing less than make being go mad and introduce madness into all things. Thus he claims to give them life, movement, free passage, becoming. I do not know if a similar effort was ever made in the world, to make all things, even being itself, go mad." Probably Rosmini did not remember that the same description, though certainly in far better style, had been given by Hegel himself in the Phenomenology, when, having represented the movement of reality,-that process of coming into being and passing away which itself is without beginning and without end-he concluded with the words: "The true is the Bacchic delirium, in which not one of its components -is not drunk; and since each becomes immediately dissolved when the others withdraw,-that delirium is also simple and transparent repose." Reality seems mad, because it is life: philosophy seems mad, because it breaks up abstractions and lives that life in thought. It is a madness which is the highest wisdom, and the true and not metaphorical madmen are they who become mad with the empty words of semi-philosophy, who take formulas for reality, who never succeed in raising themselves to that clear sky whence they can see their work as it really is. They see the sky above their heads, unattainable by them, and are ready to call it a madhouse.

Another manifestation of this same irrational fear is the cry that, with such logic as this, the very base and rule of man's thought is taken from him-the principle of identity and contradiction. Proofs are cited in Hegel's frequent outbursts of ill-humour against this principle and in his saying that for it there should be substituted the opposite principle : that everything is self-contradictory. But things do not stand precisely in this case. Hegel does not deny the principle of identity, for otherwise he would have been obliged to admit that his logical theory was at once true and not true, true and false; that philosophically, being and nothing could be thought in the synthesis, and also, each in and for itself, outside the synthesis. And all his polemic, all his philosophy, would no longer have any meaning; it would never have been seriously accomplished; whereas, obviously, it is most serious. So far from destroying the principle of identity, Hegel gives it new life and force, makes it what truly it ought to be and what in ordinary thought it is not. For in ordinary thought, in semi-philosophy, reality is left divided, as has been seen, into two parts. Now it is the one, now the other, and when it is the one, it is not the other. And yet, in this effort after exclusion, the one passes into the other and both are fused in nothingness. It is these truly unthinkable contradictions that ordinary thought claims to justify and embellish by adducing the principle of identity. If attention be paid to the words of Hegel alone, we might say that he does not believe in the principle of identity; but if we look closer, we see that what Hegel does not believe in is the fallacious use of the principle of identity - the use made of it by those abstract thinkers who retain unity by cancelling opposition, or retain opposition by cancelling unity; or, as he says, the principle of identity taken as a "law of the abstract intellect." That fallacious use exists, because we are unwilling to recognise that opposition or contradiction is not a defect, or a stain, or an evil in things, which could be eliminated from them, far less a subjective error of ours; but that it is indeed the true being of things. All things are contradictory in themselves, and thought must think this contradiction. This establishes truly and firmly the principle of identity, which triumphs over opposition in thinking it, that is to say, in grasping it in its unity. Opposition thought is opposition overcome, and overcome precisely in virtue of the principle of identity. Opposition unrecognised, or unity unrecognised, is apparent obedience to the principle, but in effect is its real contradiction. There is the same difference between Hegel's method of thinking and the method of ordinary thought as there is between him who confronts and conquers an enemy and him who closes his eyes in order not to see him, and believing that he has thus got rid of him, becomes his victim. "Speculative thought consists in determining opposition as thought does, and in so doing it determines itself It does not, like representative thought, allow itself to be dominated by opposition into resolving its own determinations only in other determinations or in nothingness." Reality is a nexus of opposites, and is not rendered dissipated and discrete thereby. Indeed, it is in and through opposition that reality eternally generates itself Nor does thought, which is supreme reality, the reality of reality, become dissipated or discrete, but it grasps unity in opposition and logically synthesises it.

The dialectic of Hegel, like all discoveries of truth, does not come to drive preceding truths from their place, but to confirm and to enrich them. The concrete universal, unity in distinction and in opposition, is the true and complete principle of identity, which allows no separate existence, either as complement or rival to the principle enunciated in older doctrines, because it has absorbed the older principle into itself and has transformed it into its own flesh and blood.