On Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Nature’ : A Free Reflex of Spirit — part forty.

David Proud
28 min readOct 19, 2023

‘The Awakening’

by Louise Colet (1810–1876)

Winter is over

The earth regains its youth

My love, do you not feel the warm breeze

that caresses us?

Do you not smile as the sun

warms our souls

and quickens our spirit?

Do you not welcome

the mist that disperses the tearful and

bitter days of yore?

No more sad dreams!

Oh let us live in empyrean serenity

whose happy hours will chase away

those long and somber days.

The air is perfumed,

The billowing clouds form intoxicating shapes

Do you not respond to their allure?

Do you not hear whispers

that penetrate your soul and your senses?

The treetops shiver in the woods

the waves and the breezes, all sigh softly.

All of these voices murmur in one voice

to our hearts, saying ‘love one another’.

My love, let us celebrate nature!

Her awakening will revive us!

‘Réveil’

Le vieil hiver vient de mourir,

La terre a repris sa jeunesse;

Ami, ne sens-tu pas courir

Un air tiède qui nous caresse?

Ne sens-tu pas que tout sourir,

Et que le soleil qui s”enflamme

Donne plus de chaleur à l’âme,

Plus d’intelligemce à l’esprit?

Ne sens-tu pas, avec la brume

Qui se dissipe au firmament,

Fuir ces jours passés lentement

Dans les pleurs et dans l’amertume?

Plus de triste rêve ! oh! coulons

Dans un ineffable bien-être

Les jours heureux qui vont renaître

Après des jours sombres et longs.

Du parfum de l’air, des nuages

Qui plus légers flottent au ciel

Sortent d’enivrantes images;

N’entends-tu pas leur doux appel?

N’entends-tu pas des bruits intimes

Qui pénètrant l’âme et les sens?

Les bois frissonnent dans leurs cimes

L’onde et las brise ont des accents.

Ces voix, dans un même murmure.

A notre coeur disent d’aimer;

Ami, saluons la nature

Dont l’eveil vient nous ranimer!

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‘Portrait of Smeralda Bandinelli’, between circa 1470 and circa 1475, Sandro Botticelli

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, (1770–1831). ‘Philosophy of Nature’. ‘Physics’.

Separation.

‘The dissolution of the neutral body initiates the reversion to the particular chemical form, i.e. through a series of partly particular processes, to the form of undifferentiated bodies. On the other hand, each and every separation of this kind is itself inseparably linked with a combination, while the processes classified as involved in the course of combination also contain the other moment of separation (§ 328). In order to assign each particular form of the process and each specific product to its proper place, it is necessary to consider the concrete agents, as well as the concrete products of the processes. Abstract processes in which the agents are abstract, such as the action of nothing but water on metal; or purely gaseous interactions etc., certainly contain the totality of the process in an implicit manner, but they do not make an explicit display of its moments’.

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

Empirical chemistry is principally concerned with the particularity of substances and products and as it groups these in accordance with superficial and abstract determinations their particularity remains disordered and within this grouping it brings together metals, oxygen, hydrogen and so on, metalloids, formerly known as earths, sulphur, and phosphorus, and situates them upon the same level as simple chemical bodies and the great physical diversity of these bodies at once gives rise to the incongruities of this sort of classification however and their chemical origin or the process by which they are created manifests a similar lack of homogeneity. A similar chaos reigns where processes are assigned to a certain stage regardless of their degree of abstraction or concreteness and were scientific form to predominate here then each product has to be assessed according to that stage of the concrete and fully developed process which essentially gives rise to it and from which it derives its particular significance.

In order to do this it is equally essential to distinguish between the various stages of abstraction or reality within the process and furthermore animal and vegetable substances belong moreover to quite another natural order, the chemical process is so inadequate an expression of their nature that it tends mainly to destroy it and can merely make intelligible their relapse into death. And these substances should principally serve to counteract the sort of metaphysics which prevails in both chemistry and physics at least in Hegel’s day and that utilises thoughts or rather confused concepts such as the immutability of substances in all circumstances and categories such as composition and subsistence on the strength of which bodies are supposed to be formed from such substances.

In general it is allowed that when chemical substances combine they lose the properties which they have in separation and yet it is also in general claimed that they are the same things with or without these properties so that both the things and the properties are not primarily the product of a process. A metal is an undifferentiated body and its affirmative determination is so constituted physically that it manifests its properties in an immediate manner and bodies that are further differentiated may not be presupposed in this way however and one is therefore unable to see how they comport themselves within a process for it is only from their place within the chemical process as a whole that they derive their primary and essential determination.

The empirical and completely specific particularity of a body may also be determined by means of its relation with all other particular bodies but this knowledge may only be obtained by reiterating the entire litany of the body’s relation to all agents and in this connection it is most surprising to find the four chemical elements of oxygen and so on regarded as substances and put on the same level as gold, silver, and sulphur and so on treated in fact as if they had an independent existence like that of gold and sulphur and so on or as if oxygen had an existence like that of carbon. Their place within the process indicates the degree of subordination and abstraction by which they are quite evidently distinguished in kind from metals or salts hence it is unwarranted to place this genus on a level with concrete bodies its place has already been determined.

Water and air are the two elements which belong to the internal division of the abstract middle term whereby on being abandoned as a middle term they become the means by which the real extremes of the syllogism assume the existence of their original differentiation which is primarily merely implicit, and when this moment of differentiation assumes determinate being for itself in this manner it constitutes the completely abstract moment of a chemical element. The word element is usually taken to mean a basic substance or substantial principle but the chemical elements are rather the extreme limits of differentiation and here as everywhere the chemical process has to be taken in the completeness of its totality.

The isolation of particular parts and formal and abstract processes gives rise to the chemical process in general being abstractly represented as nothing but the action of one substance upon another and as a consequence of this many other phenomena such as the abstract neutralization in which water is produced and the abstract separation in which gas is developed are inclined to be considered as by-products or accidental consequences of the whole or at the very least as merely connected with it in an external way and not as the essential moments of its relationships, and a complete exposition of the totality of the chemical process as a real syllogism would require moreover that it should be explicated as a triad of intimately inter-relating syllogisms and these syllogisms should not merely connect their termini however, they would have to be made explicit as activities which negate their determinations and exhibit the interrelationship of combination and separation knit together in one and the same process.

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‘Northern Lights’

Destination outward bound I turn to see the northern lights behind the wing Horizons seem to beckon me Learned how to cry too young, so now I live to sing

The northern lights are in my mind They guide me back to you Horizons seem to beckon me Learned how to cry too young, so now I live to sing

You know it’s hard away from you Travelling roads and passing through It’s not for money and it’s not for fame I just can’t explain, sometimes it’s lonely

Marking the space between the days Early hours pass away I sing to you of northern lights I sing for you of northern nights

Past or future, here or there Shelter comes in words from you, so talk to me I hear your voice, it comforts me In morning dreams I take your hand, you walk with me

The northern lights are in my mind They guide me back to you Peace enfolds the still night air Home again I look for you and find you there

Destination homeward now Take the easy way, bring me down Making the hard way now I see Hard to be really free, I’m missing you near me

Marking the space between the days Early hours pass away I sing to you of northern lights I sing for you of northern nights

The northern lights are in my mind They guide me back to you The northern nights are in my eyes They guide me back to you

The northern lights are in my mind They guide me back to you The northern nights are in my eyes They guide me back to you

The northern lights are in my mind They guide me back to you The northern lights are in my mind They guide me back to you The northern lights are in my mind They guide me back to you

Renaissance — ‘Northern Lights’ :

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Portrait of a Courtesan’, after Caravaggio, (1571 –1610)

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‘In general, the chemical process is in fact life; in it the individual body in its immediacy is sublated as well as produced. Consequently, the Notion is no longer an interior necessity, but makes its appearance. On account of the immediacy of the corporealities which enter into the chemical process however, it is generally encumbered with division. Its moments therefore appear as external conditions, and that which separates out here, disintegrates into mutually indifferent products; fire and activation die out in the neutral body, within which they do not revive. The beginning and end of the process are not identical, and it is this which constitutes the finitude of the chemical process, and separates and distinguishes it from life’.

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

‘In order to explain some chemical phenomena chemistry has had occasion to use the determination of teleology, the phenomenon of an oxide being reduced to a lower degree of oxidation so that part of it may become more highly oxidized by combining with the effective acid is an instance of this whereby in this realization of itself the Notion manifests the beginnings of a spontaneous self-determination that is not therefore determined solely by the external conditions present. There is certainly an appearance of animation here but it is lost in the product and if the products of the chemical process spontaneously renewed their activity,they would be life and hence to some extent life is a perenniating chemical process.

The determinateness of any species of chemical body is identical with the nature of the body’s substantiality thus here we linger still in the realm of fixed species whereas in living being the determinateness of the species is not identical with the substantiality of an individual for albeit the individual is finite in its determinateness it is also and equally infinite. In the chemical process the Notion only manifests its moments interruptedly. One side of the entirety of the chemical process contains fixed determinateness having being through its lack of differentiation, the other the tendency to have being as an opposition to that within it, an opposition in which this determinateness then falls away, and this quiescent being and this tendency are different from one another however and the totality is only posited implicitly or within the Notion and the unity in which both determinations are at once present does not attain existence. As existing, this unity is the determination of life and it is towards this that nature drives for life is implicitly present within the chemical process but the inner necessity there is not yet an existent unity.

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‘Over the Border’

I’ve seen them lilting

All at the yowe milking

Lassies a lilting

All at the dawn o day

Noo there’s moaning

On ilka green loaning

The floo’ers of the forest

Are a wede away

The courting gate’s idle

No lad flings his bridle

Over the yoke stoupe

And comes seeking May

Woe’s hard but we misses

Our lads softest kisses

The flowers of the forest

Have gone right away

Doul and wae tae the order

Sent our lads over the border

The flowers of the forest are all gone away

The wind blows over the border

The burn flows over the border

The bird flies over the border

Hope lies over the border

If the gates and the borders

And the states and their orders

If the gates and the borders

Were a wede away…

Pull down the walls…

The wind blows over the border

The burn flows over the border

The bird flies over the border

Love lies over the border…

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Anne Carr, Countess Of Bedford’, c.1638, Sir Anthony van Dyck

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‘The chemical process itself is so constituted however, that it posits as negated these immediate presuppositions forming the foundation of its externality and finitude. Within it, the properties of bodies appearing as the results of a particular stage are changed by the process from one stage to another, so that these conditions are reduced to products. In general therefore, the chemical process posits the relativity of the immediate substances and properties. Corporality which subsists as being indifferent is posited as a mere moment of the individuality therefore, and the Notion is posited in the reality which corresponds to it. This concrete unity with self, which brings itself forth from the particularization of the different corporealities into a whole, and by its activity negates the one-sided form of its self-relatedness and leads the moments of the Notion back into unity while dividing and particularizing itself into them, is the organism. The organism is therefore the infinite self-stimulating and self-sustaining process’.

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

And so now the transition from inorganic to organic nature has to be made, from the prose of nature to its poetry … it was Hegel who said that, isn’t it beautiful? (Although for me it is primarily women who are the poetry of nature). It reminds me of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

‘I now return with my narrative once more to the sea. I there saw yesterday the haunts of the sea-snails, the limpets, and the crab, and was highly delighted with the sight. What a precious glorious object is a living thing! how wonderfully adapted to its state of existence, how true, how real (seyend)! What great advantages I now derive from my former studies of nature, and how delighted I am with the opportunity of continuing them! But, as this is a matter that admits of being communicated, I will not excite the sympathy of my friends by mere exclamations’.

- ‘Italian Journey’, October 9, 1786.

In the chemical process bodies do not change superficially, all aspects of them change, and every property of cohesion, colour, lustre, opacity, ring, transparency and so one is effaced and even specific gravity which seems to be the profoundest and simplest determination fails to hold out and it is precisely in this flux of accidents within the chemical process that the relativity of the apparently indifferent determinations of individuality is realized as essence, the body displays the transience of its existence, and this its relativity is its being, and if one wants to say what a body is one’s description of it will only be complete once the whole cycle of its changes has been presented for the true individuality of the body does not exist in anyone of its states and is only exhausted and displayed by the full cycle. It is precisely because totality of shape is merely particular, that it is unable to survive and as the individual body is finite it receives its due and fails to endure hence there are metals which run through the whole series of colours when they are oxidized or neutralized by acids and which are also able to form neutral transparent salts for salts in general are the annihilation of colour.

Brittleness, compactness, smell, and taste also disappear, this is the ideality of the particularity which manifests itself in this sphere and the bodies traverse the whole cycle of such possible determinations. For instance as a reguline metal, copper is red, copper sulphate is a blue crystal however, the precipitate of copper hydrate is mountain blue, and there is a muriatic copper oxide which is white. Other copper oxides are green, dark grey, and reddish brown and so on, and azurite is yet another colour and so on and the reaction varies according to the agent and the chemical body is merely the sum of its reactions. As a consequence the totality of reactions is merely present as a sum not as an infinite return of the body into itself and the body maintains its determinateness in all the reactions in which it enters into relations with other bodies in synsomation, oxidation, and neutralization but it maintains only the implicit being of its specific nature, not its existence.

Iron is always implicitly iron but it is also only implicitly so for its mode of existence changes and here our concern is with the preservation of existence however not with the preservation of implicitness or more exactly our concern is that implicitness should be in existence or rather that existence should be implicit and the cycle of particular reactions constitutes the universal particularity of the body, however the existence of the particularity is merely implicit it is not universal, it is only in the process of fire that activity is immanent and as an individual moment of life and the activity of this moment it merely hastens to extinction.

It is here however that the immediate shape containing particular determinations becomes extinct so that the transition takes place by which the implicit universality of determinateness is also posited within existence and this is organic being in its self-conservation by which it acts and reacts upon the most diverse powers so that although it is differently determined in each reaction it still maintains itself as a single unity and the implicit being of this kind of specific determinateness now also exists, and forms and breaks relationships.

It does not neutralize itself in these relationships however but maintains itself within the process that it determines together with its other and where infinite form is still materialized within shape as the soul of individuality it is reduced to a unity which is not in itself infinitely free form but which exists as an enduring being. Infinite form conflicts with this quiescence however, for it is restlessness, movement, and activity, and it is only as such that it comes forth as what it is in and for itself and the persistence of its moments in shape in which each can exist as an independent matter is certainly also an occurrence of infinite form within existence but here its unity is not yet in possession of the truth of its being.

The chemical process now manifests the dialectic by which all the particular properties of bodies are drawn into transitoriness however, it negates the immediate presuppositions which are the principles of its finitude hence it is solely the being-for-self of infinite form which endures, the pure incorporeal individuality which is for itself, and for which material subsistence is simply a variable. The chemical process is the highest expression of inorganic being for it annihilates itself within it and demonstrates that its truth is nothing but infinite form.

Hence it is through the sinking away of shape that the chemical process constitutes the transition to the higher sphere of the organism in which infinite form assumes the reality of its nature. And so infinite form is the Notion which here reaches reality and this transition is the raising of existence to universality. And so Nature has here reached the determinate being of the Notion and the Notion is no longer merely implicit and submerged within the extrinsicality of its subsistence. This is the free fire as purged of all materiature and as materialized in determinate being and the moments of that which subsists are themselves raised into this ideality and do not fall back into limited subsistence but have their being solely within it and it is thus that we have objective time, an imperishable fire, the fire of life and Heraclitus also said that the soul was of fire and that dry souls are the best.

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‘Last Post’

I’d like to think of angels

We discussed a happy end

A place with lemon slicesOn a shore with violins

Five star waiters

Crates of kill cow wine on a night of steaming sin

It’s out there, somewhere

I would bet your missing shoe

And my geiger counter too

Wishing you

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Addendum — Unity and structure in Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature part two

Structure and Nature. Mechanics. It has been observed that Newtonian mechanics rests up on the assumption that ‘the material world is composed of equal particles, whose essential properties would belong to each and every particle even as a single particle in empty space’ as Gideon Freudenthal put it. In the ‘Mechanics’ section Hegel was concerned to show how this mechanical world-view is inadequate in so far as it treats reality as if it were made up of self-subsistent atomistic units in this way and against this he wants to demonstrate that the systematic unity of things cannot be reduced to a plurality of distinct and independently existing elements. Mechanism by itself cannot do justice to this fundamental insight of his metaphysical system,and Hegel’s insistence that we pass on to a less atomistic outlook should be seen as part of his endeavour to demonstrate that the structure of things is holistic in character.

Drawing on his prior account of space as self-externality (Außersichsein) Hegel begins by describing matter in space as an atomistic plurality of many ones that stand outside one another.

‘The primary or immediate determination of nature is the abstract universality of its self-externality, its unmediated indifference, i.e. space. It is on account of its being selfexternality, that space constitutes collaterality of a completely ideal nature; as this extrinsicality is still completely abstract, space is simply continuous, and is devoid of any determinate difference’.

— ‘Philosophy of Nature’

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‘Portrait présumé de Marguerite de Valois’, Jean Carrachyo, (1568–1607)

As in the ‘Science of Logic’ Hegel contends that this plurality is upheld by repulsion that acts between the many ones and thereby keeps them apart and the fact that all units of matter repel each other in this way is the result of matter’s tendency towards absolute difference, however it is also the case that this tendency towards absolute difference is opposed by a tendency towards absolute unity as the many seek to come together in the one and this tendency is accounted for on the grounds that though spatially separated from each other the units of matter are in actual fact qualitatively identical and so try to realize this identity by forming a continuous unity and thereby overcoming their spatial separateness and in this way repulsion gives way to attraction.

‘Matter maintains itself against its self-identity and in a state of extrinsicality, through its moment of negativity, its abstract singularization, and it is this that constitutes the repulsion of matter. As these different singularities are one and the same however, the negative unity of the juxtaposed being of this being-for-self is just as essential, and constitutes their attraction, or the continuity of matter. Matter is inseparable from both these moments, and constitutes their negative unity, i.e. singularity. This is however still distinct from the immediate extrinsicality of matter, and is therefore not yet posited as being a centre, a material singularity of an ideal nature, i.e. gravity’.

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

And so as Hegel had contended in the Logic the dialectic of the one and the many gives rise to the seemingly opposed moments of attraction and repulsion, which tend towards continuity and discreteness respectively.

‘It is an ancient proposition that the one is many and especially that the many is one. We may repeat here the observation that the truth of the one and the many expressed in propositions appears in an inappropriate form, and that this truth is to be grasped and expressed only as a becoming, as a process, a repulsion and attraction — not as being, which in a proposition has the character of a stable unity’.

- ‘Science of Logic’

However the argument in the Logic is that that these two moments in actual fact require one another and so cannot be in complete opposition, attraction requires repulsion since without the many generated by repulsion there could be no corresponding drive towards oneness, and thus no attraction.

‘The relation of attraction to repulsion is such that the former has the latter for presupposition. Repulsion provides the material for attraction. If there were no ones there would be nothing to attract; the conception of a perpetual attraction, of an absorption of the ones, presupposes an equally perpetual production of them’.

- ‘The Science of Logic’

Conversely, repulsion requires attraction, as otherwise the many would disperse into infinite space and lose any relation to one another including the relation of repulsion.

‘If repulsion is thus taken merely by itself, then it is the dispersion of the many ones into somewhere undetermined, outside the sphere of repulsion itself; for repulsion is this, to negate the inter-relatedness of the many: the absence of any relation between them is the determination of the many taken abstractly. But repulsion is not merely the void; the ones, as unrelated, do not repel or exclude one another, this constitutes their determination. Repulsion is, although negative, still essentially relation. . . . But this moment of relation is attraction and thus is in repulsion itself; it is the negating of that abstract repulsion according to which the ones would be only self-related affirmative beings not excluding one another’.

- ‘Science of Logic’

The outcome of all this is that repulsion and attraction turn out to be correlative concepts and both moments must be balanced in a unity and in the ‘Philosophy of Nature’ the argument is presented that the unity of attraction and repulsion constitutes gravity

‘Matter is spatial separation. By offering resistance it repels itself from itself, and so constitutes repulsion, through which it posits its reality and fills space. The singularities, which are repelled from another, all merely constitute a unit of many units; they are identical with each other. The unit only repels itself from itself, and it is this which constitutes the sublation of the separation of being-for-self, or attraction. Together, attraction and repulsion constitute gravity, which is the Notion of matter. Gravity is the predicate of matter, which constitutes the substance of this subject. Its unity is a mere should, a yearning; this is the most afflicted of efforts, and matter is damned to it eternally, for the unity does not fulfil itself, and is never reached. If matter reached what it aspires to in gravity, it would fuse together into a single point. It is because repulsion is as essential a moment as attraction, that unity is not attained here. This subdued, crepuscular unity does not become free; yet since matter has as its determination the positing of the many within a unit, it is not so thick as those would-be philosophers who separate the one from the many, and are therefore refuted by matter. Although the two unities of repulsion and attraction are the inseparable moments of gravity, they do not unite themselves in a single unity of an ideal nature. As we shall see later, this unity reaches the first being-for-self of its existence in light. Matter searches for a place outside the many, and since there is no difference between the factors which do this, there is no reason for regarding one as nearer than the other. They are at the same distance on the periphery, and the point sought is the centre; this extends to all dimensions, so that the next determination we reach is the sphere. Gravity is not the dead externality of matter, but a mode of its inwardness. At this juncture, this inwardness has no place here however, for matter, as the Notion of that which is Notionless, is still lacking in inwardness’.

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

Gravity involves a unity of attraction and repulsion because gravity entails a balance between these two apparently opposed moments for while on the one hand the units of matter remain ultimately distinct and self-subsistent on the other hand they are attracted towards a common centre of gravitational attraction, in which they would unite into one and conversely, while matter is drawn towards a centre in which it would converge, on the other hand the moment of repulsion keeps it from ever reaching this centre.

Hegel says of the centre of gravitational attraction:

‘Its determinateness is essentially different from a mere order or arrangement and external connexion of parts; as determinateness in and for itself it is an immanent form, a self-determining principle in which the objects inhere and by which they are bound together into a genuine One’.

- ‘Science of Logic’

And furthermore:

‘[The unity of gravity] is a mere should, a yearning; this is the most afflicted of efforts, and matter is damned to it eternally, for the unity does not fulfil itself, and is never reached. If matter reached what it aspires to in gravity, it would fuse together into a single point. It is because repulsion is as essential a moment as attraction, that unity is not attained here’

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

So gravitation involves a compromise between attraction and repulsion and between the opposed tendencies of matter towards the many and the one and once the forces of attraction and repulsion achieving a balance in gravitation has been explained we then proceeds to an account of the solar system in which the different bodies are interrelated in an external way whereby this structure of the solar system is compared to that of the syllogism in which the moments of universal, particular, and individual form a unity:

‘In the syllogism which contains the Idea of gravity, this Idea is the Notion disclosing itself in external reality in the particularity of bodies, and at the same time in the ideality and intro-reflection [Reflexion-in-sich] of these bodies, displaying its integration into itself in motion. This contains the rational identity and inseparability of the moments which are otherwise taken to be independent. In general, motion as such only has significance and existence when there is a system of several bodies, which are variously determined, and so stand in a certain relationship to one another. The closer determination of this syllogism of totality, which is in itself a system of three syllogisms, is given in the Notion of objectivity’.

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

Using this model of the syllogism the three moments of universal, particular, and individual are compared with the three elements of the solar system characterized as the central body, the dependent bodies, and the relative central bodies.

‘So far we have had two bodies in celestial motion. As subjectivity and determinateness of place in and for itself, the central body had its absolute centre in itself. The other moment is the objectivity confronting this determinedness in and for itself, i.e. the particular bodies which have a centre not only in themselves but also in another. Since these bodies are no longer the body which expresses the abstract moment of subjectivity, their place is certainly determined, for they are outside it; their place is not absolutely determined however, the determinateness of the place being indeterminate. The various possibilities are realized by the body as it moves in the curve. Each place on the curve is in fact indifferent to the body, which demonstrates this by simply moving in them around the central body. In this primary relationship, gravity has not yet unfolded into the totality of the Notion; for it to do so, it is necessary that the particularization into many bodies by which the subjectivity of the centre objectifies itself, should be further determined within itself. Firstly we have the absolute central body, secondly the dependent bodies with no centre in themselves, and thirdly relative central bodies. The whole gravitational system is complete only if it includes these three types of body. It is said that there must be three bodies present in order to decide which body is moving, as when we are in a boat, and the shore is moving past us. Determinateness could be said to be already present in the plurality of planets; but this is a simple plurality, not a differentiated determinateness. If only the sun and the earth are under consideration, it is a matter of indifference to the Notion which of them moves. Tycho Brahe concluded from this that the sun moved about the earth, and the planets about the sun, and although this tends to make calculations more difficult, it is just as feasible. It was Copernicus who hit upon the truth of the matter; astronomy was providing no real reason when it explained this by saying that it is more fitting that the earth should move about the sun because the sun is larger. If mass is also brought into consideration, the question of the larger body having the same specific density also arises. The law of motion remains essential. The central body represents abstract rotatory motion; the particular bodies simply move about a centre, without independent rotatory movement. The third mode in the system of free motion is movement about a centre combined with a rotatory motion which is independent of this centre’.

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

In real terms these are the sun the comets and satellites and moon and the planets and these bodies make up the completed totality of the solar system and they correspond to the moments of the Notion:

‘As it constitutes the third sphere, the planet concludes and completes the whole. This quadruplicity of celestial bodies forms the completed system of rational corporeality. It is necessary to a solar system, and is the developed disjunction of the Notion. These four spheres between them show forth the moments of the Notion within the heavens’

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

Hence we refer back to the abstract relationship of the categories in the Logic while giving his account of absolute mechanics but M. J. Inwood (we have encountered him before where I have explained how he just isn’t getting it) has dismissed Hegel’s endeavours to draw an analogy between the structure of the syllogism and objective structures such as the solar system and the state as ‘simply elaborate nonsense’. At one level, of course the drawing of such analogies was just part of the programme begun by Plato in the ‘Timaeus’ (see my article On Plato’s Timaeus: ‘The World Soul’) of showing how various natural phenomena correspond to some rational ordering and for Plato that ordering was based on the forms while for Hegel it is based upon the categories. Hence in the Timaeus Plato endeavours to establish the rationality of there being five elements on the grounds that there are five regular solids to which these elements correspond and likewise Hegel attempts to establish the rationality of there being three components of the solar system, the central body, the dependent bodies, and the relative central bodies, on the grounds that the Notion has three components, the universal, particular, and individual, to which they can be correlated and in this way Hegel believes he can establish that there is some kind of rational pattern and order of things.

As he says elsewhere:

‘If, for example, three natural realms are identified, the mineral, the vegetable, the animal, then in this series we see foreshadowed a universally necessary articulation in accordance with the Concept [Begriff], without abiding by the mere idea of an external purposefulness. Even in the multiplicity of products within these three realms, sensuous observation divines a rationally ordered advance, in the different geological formations, and in the series of vegetable and animal species. Similarly, the individual animal organism — this insect with its subdivisions into head, breast, belly and extremities — is envisaged as an inherently rational articulation, and in the five senses, although at first sight they may seem to be just an accidental plurality, there is likewise found a correspondence with the Concept’.

- ‘Lectures on Aesthetics’

But it is a mistake to think that the tracing of such patterns is all that Hegel about for at a deeper level Hegel’s aim in referring back to the categories of the Logic is to suggest that only those natural phenomena which display an indivisible unity in fact correspond to the structure of the notion and his account of the solar system in syllogistic terms reflects his preoccupation with the notional model and this model treats the individual as an irreducible totality in so far as it exemplifies a universal substantial form that cannot be broken up into a plurality of mutually independent qualities. The point is that the solar system consists of no more than a plurality of externally related elements and so represents a mere collection or compound of different entities which fail to manifest any such universal substantial form.

‘Primarily, the solar system is a number of independent bodies, which maintain themselves in this relation, and posit an external unity within another’.

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

As a consequence the overarching unity of the universal is missing in the structure of the solar system and the sun that corresponds to this moment of universality is merely the centre of an externally related plurality that fails to display a substantial unity and hence it follows that Hegel treats the relatedness of material bodies as only the first intimation of how the universal realizes itself in nature, and how unity is exemplified within the natural world and this emergence of form within matter becomes more explicit as we have seen in the last twenty articles on the ‘Physics’ section.

‘Gravity, which is the substance of matter, no longer has the self-externality of matter external to it when it is developed into totality of form. The form appears first in its differences in the ideal determinations of space, time, and motion, and in accordance with its being-for-self, as a determinate centre outside self-external matter. In developed totality however, this extrinsicality is posited as determined solely by the totality; this is the juxtaposition of matter, outside of which it has no existence. It is in this way that form is materialized. Looked at in the opposite way, matter has itself attained implicit determinateness of form in this negation of its self-externality in the totality, which was formerly merely the centre which it sought. Its abstract and subdued being-in-self, general weightedness, has been resolved into form; it is qualified matter, or physics’.

- ‘Philosophy of Nature’

‘Portrait présumé de Marguerite de Valois’, Jean Carrachyo, (1568–1607)

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Dedicated to my lovely One. Songs of separation are not for us. Forever attracted together forever 💕

Donna Lewis — ‘I Love You Always Forever’:

Feels like I’m standing in a timeless dream

Of light mists of pale amber rose

Feels like I’m lost in a deep cloud of heavenly scent

Touching, discovering you

Those days of warm rains come rushing back to me

Miles of windless summer night air

Secret moments shared in the heat of the afternoon

Out of the stillness

Soft spoken words

Say it, say it again

I love you always forever

Near and far closer together

Everywhere I will be with you

Everything I will do for you

I love you always forever

Near and far closer together

Everywhere I will be with you

Everything I will do for you

You’ve got the most unbelievable blue eyes I’ve ever seen

You’ve got me almost melting away

As we lay there under blue sky with pure white stars

Exotic sweetness a magical time

Say it, say it again

I love you always forever

Near and far closer together

Everywhere I will be with you

Everything I will do for you

I love you always forever

Near and far closer together

Everywhere I will be with you

Everything I will do for you

Say you’ll love, love me forever

Never stop, never whatever

Near and far and always and everywhere and everything

Say you’ll love, love me forever

Never stop, never whatever

Near and far and always and everywhere and everything

Say you’ll love, love me forever

Never stop, never whatever

Near and far and always and everywhere and everything

Say you’ll love, love me forever

Never stop, never whatever

Near and far and always and everywhere and everything

I love you always forever

Near and far closer together

Everywhere I will be with you

Everything I will do for you

I love you always forever

Near and far closer together

Everywhere I will be with you

Everything I will do for you

I love you always forever

Near and far closer together

Everywhere I will be with you

Everything I will do for you

THE END OF THE SECOND SECTION OF THE ‘PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE’, ON PHYSICS.

Coming up next:

Section 3: ‘ORGANICS’.

To be continued …..

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David Proud

David Proud is a British philosopher currently pursuing a PhD at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, on Hegel and James Joyce.