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ON THE MULTIPLICITY OF CONSCIOUS BEINGS.
[A correspondent writes us that the exposition of the question, “Does Correlation of Forces presuppose conscious Beings?” in the October number (p. 433) of 1877, seems inconclusive as regards the demonstration of the “Multiplicity of conscious Beings.” The following supplement to that discussion is offered here :)
1. The one absolute conscious being knows himself; i. e., makes himself an object, and thus makes himself objective — i. e., creates.
2. This process of making objective necessarily involves the union of two incompatible or incongruent extremes: (a) the objectified, created object is, as such, passive, dependent: determined through another — i. e., through the ego, or determining; (b) and yet this object, in order to be self-object, or the self of the absolute, must be self-active, self-object: self-determining, and not passive and dependent. This can only happen through the object's becoming selfactive and creating its own nature — canceling its own passivity ; and this is a process of evolution or development — culture, in short.
3. Hence the consciousness of the absolute can be only through the independent consciousness of its object (corollary: hence there cannot be one God without two, which are one); and this independence cannot be primary, but must be a become (although through a process which has eternally become, and is always becoming - i.e., all its stages existing through all time) the “ eternally begotten Son” (hence it, the object, starts always as a determined, and makes itself a determining).
4. But since the object is given as a determined, and has to elevate itself to a self-determining in order that the divine self-consciousness may be (or, in order that any self-determining may be — or, in order that Being may be at all), it follows that its initial existence is manifold, because all determined-ness, all passivity, all finitude, is through external limitation, at first, and is thus qualitative; and, secondly, it elevates itself to independence only through making its external limit or otherness to be for it — i. e., a reflection of the first being — so that its dependence upon another becomes dependence upon itself, and it becomes a total and independent (in other words, its quality becomes quantity). The otherness of quality and finitude becomes repetition of self; hence otherness as it is found in quantity, and thus indifference. To restate this fourth position summarily, the form of objectivity in which the determinations are from without is that of finitude, and, hence, of multiplicity — that of things; and this stage is, and can be, canceled only into that of multiplicity of independent beings as its next phase.
5. Then the externality of quantity and multiplicity is a finitude,
again, which is impervious to all determination acting from without i: e., from the absolute — upon it. It can be removed only through the self-activity of the monads, or atomic ones, which, through their own energy, cancel in themselves the exclusiveness (or qualitative character) of their natures, and, by taking on the nature of others — i. e., causing the determinations of others within themselves — become generic, or species, in place of atomic individual. This is education, or culture — by which the individual, who has nothing at start of his own, determines himself in the forms of the race, or of the universal, and thus elevates himself to a reflection (or image) of the selfdetermining absolute. Thus it involves Free Will, or Freedom and Independence, and yet results in a free conformity to the absolute. It involves, also, Grace, or the spectacle of the universal, given free as object to the Individual, so that he may determine himself in conformity therewith.
6. Thus the universe always presents, and has presented, the process of the objective God (the Son) in all the degrees of evolution at all times: (a) the unconscious part called Nature — being the realm of necessity or determination from without (or excluding negation, or limitation); (b) the realm of spirit, or of rational beings, each individual of which annuls the external determinations of nature, and wills itself universal determinations — i. e., total determinations in their place.
The plurality of individuality remains. But the unity of the realized, Absolute Will, is attained — the unity of institutions (of Society, State, Church, etc.).
This is the Church as the great invisible unity of all men striving to realize in themselves the Absolute. In this Church the Absolute becomes adequately objective; not in the visible Church simply — i. e., in the living, bodily humanity — but in all intelligent beings living in the body and out of it; especially in the immortals growing perfect, after the body.
W. T. H.
POLYCRATES SENDS ANACREON FIVE TALENTS.
Two sleepless nights the sweet Anacreon spent
John ALBEE. New Castle, N. H., March, 1878.
In a previous number we have given some account of the rise and progress of the Clearing-up, and of the causes which have led to the predominance of Understanding in the intellectual life of modern times. Even that imperfect sketch may help to show that the study of history supplies the true light in which to view the relation of Christianity to the modern world, and that, to know the age we live in, we must know all time as one in the natural descent that links the present to the past. Looking upon the “ ages of faith,” we see a blending of light and shade, and the complex interaction of good and evil forces. The priest works upon the superstitious terrors of the ignorant, but his aim is the repression of barbarism. He uses craft, fraud, treachery — but he is contending against brute force. He builds up a spiritual tyranny — but violent disorders need violent remedies, and nothing short of tyranny could make itself heeded and respected in that confused and lawless time. Who wills the end must will the means; and if we acknowledge the immense services of the Medieval Church to the cause of civilization, we should
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remember that “had religion been more pure, it would have been less permanent, and that Christianity has been preserved by means of its corruptions." The Christian scholar will not borrow the rose-colored glasses of romancers or Pre-Raphaelites to look back lovingly on days that have had their trial and their failure. He will agree with the sagacious Milman that 6. Religion, to be herself again, must shake off, not merely the vices, but the virtues, of Medieval Christianity.” He must agree with the conviction of the Clearing-up that the Mediæval system fell from no mere corruption, if by that is meant a fungus growth of abuses that overlaid what at first was pure and faultless. In such a view the system itself escapes condemnation, for what is evil appears as foreign to it. Such a corruption would not have reached a vital part, and such a Church could have been reformed from within, by leaders like Gerson, D’Ailly, and Nicholas of Cusa. But it was a corrupt tree that brought forth that evil fruit ; corrupt in root as in branch. It was the ripened growth of false principles, and no decay of an original excellence, that brought the revolution of the sixteenth century. Yet, for the very reason that we admit in the Mediæval Church a long course of error and the final prevalence of evil over good, we must contend that this affords the Clearing-up no ground for sweeping inferences against Christianity; for our capital charge against the Medieval system is that it failed to comprehend, and, therefore, it perverted and misrepresented, the religion of Christ. Nor does it seem the part of wisdom to keep up, as some still do, a passionate outcry against the priest-craft and superstition of the past. The day of priest-craft and superstition is over for this modern cycle; the red rag that rouses the fury of a bull is not more powerless for actual harm; and whatever the sins of unenlightened ages, further denunciation of them at the present time seems superfluous. Indeed, denunciation is unphilosophic. Whatever the excesses of the objective principle, we should know them to be inevitable. There is a logic in life that exacts the extreme consequences of all principles of action. Man's education can only be through his own experience; he learns truth by means of error; and they who have marked in what strange ways the action of evil is the ministry of good, may bow in confidence to the ordering of One whose ways are not as our ways, and in whose sight a thousand years are as one day.
Again, looking at the Clearing-up, we see in it a like mingling of the true and the false. It asserted the rights of the subject — that is, it insisted that all that demands my acknowledgment shall commend itself to my judgment as reasonable. But the " subject" for which this supremacy was claimed was not self-conscious Reason, but the self-conscious individual ; not the universal Ego, but the finite, empirical Ego. Thus mistaking the abstract for the absolute, it took the reverse of wrong for right, and mere reaction against error for the establishing of truth ; and while it thought itself winning the freedom of human reason, it was only enthroning the individual above society, and founding in his contingent will and private opinion the constitution of the Rational. And yet, one-sided and merely antithetic as it inevitably was, the Clearing-up was the one thing needful for the progress of humanity. Mind could not expand and develop until it had wrested itself loose from the shackles of authority and struck for independence; and we who have entered upon our heritage of modern freedom must feel a burden of deepest gratitude to those who in darker days did victorious battle to deliver the minds and souls of men from tyranny and social wrong. So feeling, we shall have no denunciation of the Clearing-up to utter in the interests of religion or the State ; but we can see that the subjective movement has done its work; the reaction has run itself out; the negative has stretched itself to its ultimate tenuity. The lesson of history lies, in fact, in this nut-shell: the mediæval principle took us too far in one direction; the modern principle is taking us too far in the other. The age of belief maintained the rights of the object, and with such exclusiveness as to deny the rights of the subject; the age of understanding asserts the rights of the subject, and, with the same exclusiveness, denies the rights of the object. It is plain, then, that the one need of the present is a third principle that shall be comprehensive of subject and object; that shall include the