Superphysics Superphysics
Section 3

Measure

by Hegel Icon
11 minutes  • 2271 words

§ 699

Abstractly expressed, in measure quality and quantity are united. Being as such is an immediate identity of the determinateness with itself. This immediacy of the determinateness has sublated itself. Quantity is being which has returned into itself in such a manner that it is a simple self-identity as indifference to the determinateness.

§ 700

But this indifference is only the externality of having the determinateness not in its own self but in an other. Thirdly, we now have self-related externality; as self-related it is also a sublated externality and has within itself the difference from itself-the difference which, as an externality is the quantitative, and as taken back into itself is the qualitative, moment.

§ 701

In transcendental idealism the categories of quantity and quality are followed, after the insertion of relation, by modality, which may therefore be mentioned here. This category has there the meaning of being the relation of the object to thought. According to that idealism thought generally is essentially external to the thing-in-itself. In so far as the other categories have only the transcendental character of belonging to consciousness, but to the objective element of it, so modality as the category of relation to the subject, to this extent contains relatively the determination of reflection-into-self; i.e. the objectivity which belongs to the other categories is lacking in the categories of modality; these, according to Kant, do not in the least add to the concept as a determination of the object but only express the relation to the faculty of cognition. The categories which Kant groups under modality — namely, possibility, actuality and necessity will occur later in their proper place; Kant did not apply the infinitely important form of triplicity — with him it manifested itself at first only as a formal spark of light — to the genera of his categories (quantity, quality, etc.), but only to their species which, too, alone he called categories. Consequently he was unable to hit on the third to quality and quantity.

§ 702

With Spinoza, the mode is likewise the third after substance and attribute; he explains it to be the affections of substance, or that element which is in an other through which it is comprehended. According to this concept, this third is only externality as such; as has already been mentioned, with. Spinoza generally, the rigid nature of substance lacks the return into itself.

§ 703

The observation here made extends generally to those systems of pantheism which have been partially developed by thought. The first is being, the one, substance, the infinite, essence; in contrast to this abstraction the second, namely, all determinateness in general, what is only finite, accidental, perishable, non-essential, etc. can equally abstractly be grouped together; and this is what usually happens as the next step in quite formal thinking. But the connection of this second with the first is so evident that one cannot avoid grasping it as also in a unity with the latter; thus with Spinoza, the attribute is the whole substance, but is apprehended by the intellect which is itself a limitation or mode; but in this way the mode, the non-substantial generally, which can only be grasped through an other, constitutes the other extreme to substance, the third generally. Indian pantheism, too, in its monstrous fantasies has in an abstract way received this development which runs like a moderating thread through its extravagances; a point of some interest in the development is that Brahma, the one of abstract thought, progresses through the shape of Vishnu, particularly in the form of Krishna, to a third form, that of Siva. The determination of this third is the mode, alteration, coming-to-be and ceasing-to-be-the field of externality in general. This Indian trinity has misled to a comparison with the Christian and it is true that in them a common element of the nature of the Notion can be recognised; but it is essential to gain a more precise consciousness of the difference between them; for not only is this difference infinite, but it is the true, the genuine infinite which constitutes it. This third principle is, according to its determination, the dispersal of the unity of substance into its opposite, not the return of the unity to itself — not spirit but rather the non-spiritual. In the true trinity there is not only unity but union, the conclusion of the syllogism is a unity possessing content and actuality, a unity which in its wholly concrete determination is spirit. This principle of the mode and of alteration does not, it is true, altogether exclude the unity; in Spinozism, for example, it is precisely the mode as such which is untrue; substance alone is true and to it everything must be brought back. But this is only to submerge all content in the void, in a merely formal unity lacking all content. Thus Siva, too, is again the great whole, not distinct from Brahma, but Brahma himself. In other words, the difference and the determinateness only vanish again but are not preserved, are not sublated, and the unity does not become a concrete unity, neither is the disunity reconciled. The supreme goal for man placed in the sphere of coming-to-be and ceasing-to-be, of modality generally, is submergence in unconsciousness, unity with Brahma, annihilation; the Buddhist Nirvana, Nibbana etc., is the same.

§ 704

Now although the mode as such is abstract externality, indifference to qualitative and quantitative determinations, and in essence the external and unessential elements are not supposed to count, it is still, on the other hand, admitted in many cases that everything depends on the kind and manner of the mode; such an admission means that the mode itself is declared to belong essentially to the substantial nature of a thing, a very indefinite connection but one which at least implies that this external element is not so abstractly an externality.

§ 705

Here the mode has the specific meaning of measure. Spinoza’s mode, like the Indian principle of change, is the measureless. The Greek awareness, itself still indeterminate, that everything has a measure — even Parmenides, after abstract being, introduced necessity as the ancient limit by which all things are bounded — is the beginning of a much higher conception than that contained in substance and in the difference of the mode from substance.

§ 706

Measure in its more developed, more reflected form is necessity; fate, Nemesis, was restricted in general to the specific nature of measure, namely, that what is presumptuous, what makes itself too great, too high, is reduced to the other extreme of being brought to nothing, so that the mean of measure, mediocrity is restored. ‘The absolute, God, is the measure of all things’ is not more intensely pantheistic than the definition: ‘The absolute, God, is being,’ but it is infinitely truer. Measure, it is true, is an external kind and manner of determinateness, a more or less, but at the same time it is equally reflected into itself, a determinateness which is not indifferent and external but intrinsic; it is thus the concrete truth of being. That is why mankind has revered measure as something inviolable and sacred.

§ 707

The Idea of essence, namely, to be self-identical in the immediacy of its determined being, is already immanent in measure; so that the immediacy is thus reduced by this self-identity to something mediated, which equally is mediated only through this externality, but is a mediation with itself — that is, reflection, the determinations of which are, but in this being are nothing more than moments of their negative unity. In measure, the qualitative moment is quantitative; the determinateness or difference is indifferent and so is no difference, is sublated. This nature of quantity as a return-into-self in which it is qualitative constitutes that being-in-and-for-itself which is essence. But measure is only in itself or in its Notion essence; this Notion of measure is not yet posited. Measure, still as such, is itself the immediate [seiende] unity of quality and quantity; its moments are determinately present as a quality, and quanta thereof; these moments are at first inseparable only in principle [an sich], but do not yet have the significance of this reflected determination. The development of measure contains the differentiation of these moments, but at the same time their relation, so that the identity which they are in themselves becomes their relation to each other, i.e. is posited. The significance of this development is the realisation of measure in which it posits itself as in relation with itself, and hence as a moment. Through this mediation it is determined as sublated; its immediacy and that of its moments vanishes; they are reflected. Measure, having thus realised its own Notion, has passed into essence.

§ 708

At first, measure is only an immediate unity of quality and quantity, so that: (1), we have a quantum with a qualitative significance, a measure. The progressive determining of this consists in explicating what is only implicit in it, namely, the difference of its moments, of its qualitatively and quantitatively determined being. These moments further develop themselves into wholes of measure which as such are self-subsistent. These are essentially in relationship with each other, and so measure becomes (2), a ratio of specific quanta having the form of self-subsistent measures. But their self-subsistence also rests essentially on quantitative relation and quantitative difference; and so their self-subsistence becomes a transition of each into the other, with the result that measure perishes in the measureless. But this beyond of measure is the negativity of measure only in principle; this results (3), in the positing of the indifference of the determinations of measure, and the positing of real measure — real through the negativity contained in the indifference — as an inverse ratio of measures which, as self-subsistent qualities, are essentially based only on their quantity and on their negative relation to one another, thereby demonstrating themselves to be only moments of their truly self-subsistent unity which is their reflection-into-self and the positing thereof, essence.

§ 709

The development of measure which has been attempted in the following chapters is extremely difficult. Starting from immediate, external measure it should, on the one hand, go on to develop the abstract determination of the quantitative aspects of natural objects (a mathematics of nature), and on the other hand, to indicate the connection between this determination of measure and the qualities of natural objects, at least in general; for the specific proof, derived from the Notion of the concrete object, of the connection between its qualitative and quantitative aspects, belongs to the special science of the concrete. Examples of this kind concerning the law of falling bodies and free, celestial motion will be found in the Encyclopedia. of the Phil. Sciences, 3rd ed., Sections 267 and 270, Remark. In this connection the general observation may be made that the different forms in which measure is realised belong also to different spheres of natural reality. The complete, abstract indifference of developed measure, i.e. the laws of measure, can only be manifested in the sphere of mechanics in which the concrete bodily factor is itself only abstract matter; the qualitative differences of such matter are essentially quantitatively determined; space and time are the purest forms of externality, and the multitude of matters, masses, intensity of weight, are similarly external determinations which have their characteristic determinateness in the quantitative element. On the other hand, such quantitative determinateness of abstract matter is deranged simply by the plurality of conflicting qualities in the inorganic sphere and still more even in the organic world. But here there is involved not merely a conflict of qualities, for measure here is subordinated to higher relationships and the immanent development of measure tends to be reduced to the simple form of immediate measure. The limbs of the animal organism have a measure which, as a simple quantum, stands in a ratio to the other quanta of the other limbs; the proportions of the human body are the fixed ratio of such quanta. Natural science is still far from possessing an insight into the connection between such quantities and the organic functions on which they wholly depend. But the readiest example of the reduction of an immanent measure to a merely externally determined magnitude is motion. In the celestial bodies it is free motion, a motion which is determined solely by the Notion and whose quantitative elements therefore equally depend solely on the Notion (see above); but such free motion is reduced by the living creature to arbitrary or mechanically regular, i.e. a wholly abstract, formal motion.

§ 710

And in the realm of spirit there is still less to be found a characteristic, free development of measure. It is quite evident, for example, that a republican constitution like that of Athens, or an aristocratic constitution tempered by democracy, is suitable only for States of a certain size, and that in a developed civil society the numbers of individuals belonging to different occupations stand in a certain relations to one another; but all this yields neither laws of measure nor characteristic forms of it. In the spiritual sphere as such there occur differences of intensity of character, strength of imagination, sensations, general ideas, and so on; but the determination does not go beyond the indefiniteness of strength or weakness. How insipid and completely empty the so-called laws turn out to be which have been laid down about the relation of strength and weakness of sensations, general ideas, and so on, comes home to one on reading the psychologies which occupy themselves with such laws.

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