First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:41 am


III. Actants and Their Combinations

1) The whole of Nature, not just a part of it, should be equalivalent to an ever-becoming product. Nature as a whole must be conceived in constant formation, and everything must engage in that universal process of formation.

Everything that is in Nature must be viewed as something having already become. No material in Nature is primitive, for an infinite multiplicity of original actants is in existence (how these arise will be precisely the ultimate problem of the philosophy of nature).—These actants should together represent only one absolute product. In that case, Nature must combine them. Therefore, a universal compulsion toward combination must occur throughout the whole of Nature, for one cannot see how and why it should have limits; it is unconditional. So there is combination in every material, and no substance is primitive.

However, since every material differs from the others, each material is the product of a particular natural operation. These various natural operations must be deduced a priori in order to ascertain the possibility of a specific variety of material.

2) No material in Nature is simple. Since a universal compulsion toward the combination of elementary actants prevails in Nature, no actant can produce a form or shape for itself; every material has arisen by means of combination. There can be no objections to this from experience, since we will even deduce necessarily that there are indecomposable materials. [i]

3) All diversity of natural products can only derive from the various proportions of actants. All multiplicity of Nature is to be sought in the elementary actants alone; matter is everywhere one, only the proportions of the original combination are different. Since the compulsion toward combination occurs throughout the whole of Nature, the whole of Nature must originally suffuse each product. In each material all original actants are contained originally. But all original actants can only unite into the absolutely fluid, their individuality notwithstanding. However, the absolutely fluid can reveal its existence in no other way than through decomposition. It is indecomposable for sensation 0, for [94] all actants mutually cancel themselves in the fluid, such that none allow the others to come to any sensible effect. But the absolutely fluid is by its very nature the most decomposable, for there prevails in it the most complete equilibrium of actants that, consequently, is disturbed by the merest alteration.—It is further evident from this that the absolutely fluid is only decomposable, but is not composable.

Fire or heat-matter is familiar to us as the original phenomenon of absolute fluidity. [ii] Heat-matter seems to originate or to disappear where a merely quantitative decrease or increase of capacity takes place (enlargement or diminishing of the volume). The heat-matter appears as simple, and no duality has yet been perceived in it, or a decomposition into opposed actants, as e.g., with electricity. This is even the proof that in this most original of all fluidities the most complete combination appears yet unperturbed.

In contrast, the lightest contact of heterogeneous bodies produces phenomena of electricity (in galvanism, and in other recently presented experiments), and since heat as well as electricity is excited through friction (constantly repeated and intensified contact), it appears that in every repulsion of different bodies the absolute fluidity which permeates them all—(because it strives to liquefy everything)—is posited, both mechanically from equilibrium and dynamically from their original combination. The former furnishes the phenomenon of heat diffusion, the latter the phenomenon of excited electricity. Actually there is virtually no chemical process in which heat originates or vanishes that does not show traces of excited electricity; more exact analysis will here teach us much. This is not to speak of the fact that electricity expresses in many cases the same effects as heat, and that bodies are considered the same for both materials with respect to their power of conduction.

Meanwhile, it should particularly be taken into account that electrical experiments are conducted under highly complex circumstances; [95] therefore, in the electrical phenomena much can come to the fore that is not originally essential to electricity. Thus, for example, the Torricellian Vacuum does not glow, and electrical experiments conducted in a vacuum and in different media will consistently demonstrate different phenomena. Nevertheless, the galvanic experiments succeeded in nearly all media in which they have already been tried, and just as perfectly in a vacuum as in air itself.

Finally, what should be said of light?—Whether light is originally already split-up into a bunch of simple actants different from one another, whose total impression is white light (as according to Newton)—or whether light is originally simple (as according to Goethe), in any case the polarity of the colors in every solar image is proof of a duality prevailing in the phenomenon of light, whose cause is yet to be investigated. [iii]

4) No material can abandon the state of absolute fluidity unless some actant achieves preponderance. But no actant can achieve dominance unless another is subordinated to it, or is completely dissolved. Therefore, the greater the condition of fixity (solidity), the more apparently simple the substance (ores, metals, etc.). But no substance is simple. Every apparently simple (i.e., indecomposable) substance is the residuum of the universal process of formation, and although we lack the means to set its elements again in mutual independence, and to set free the actants subordinated to them, Nature might still have the means to accomplish this feat, and thus to take up these dead materials once more into the universal process of organization. Nevertheless, it is a priori demonstrable that there must be indecomposable substances in Nature, because the universal process of formation is only infinite to the extent that it continually turns back into itself. Even so, we must arrive at final products in this process, which Nature cannot further develop in the original direction, and with which, therefore, Nature is constrained to strike out on another path, and to cultivate them in the opposite direction.

[96] Here alone are the genuinely indecomposable substances recognized. They are materials that are only composable. It can already be concluded that, e.g., it is impossible for the soils to be indecomposable, and that the supposition will be confirmed that they are the debris of the great and universal process of combustion, which even now persists to some extent in the Sun and even on the surface of the Earth. [iv]

No composition of indecomposable materials takes place unless bound actants in them become free. Just as Nature makes the absolutely indecomposable substances composable through decomposition, so the absolutely indecomposable substances, conversely, are inserted once again into the universal circulation of matter through composition. The composition cannot proceed unless the original combination of constituent actants is again altered in such substances; and since all actions originally permeate every individual substance, Nature will possess the means wherewith to generate everything from everything.

Therefore, it is likely that in Nature the same antithesis exists in the great as is noted in the small, that is, that Nature on the one hand makes the indecomposable formative through composition, and the incomposable formative through decomposition. It is possible that on the stars as a whole, for example, the reverse process is underway, in contrast to that which takes place on the planets. If, according to universal experience, the indecomposable substances are those with greatest specific gravity, then it is to be expected that the most indecomposable substance lies at the center of every individual system. The illumination of the Sun betrays a continual process of combination; conversely, the same light that is developed in the solar atmosphere through such a process sustains a persistent process of decombination upon the dark planetary bodies; for neither vegetation nor Life is anything other than the constant awakening of slumbering activities, a continual decombination of bound actants.

[98] 6) We are now aware of two classes of natural products, including on one hand the absolutely incomposable, and on the other the absolutely indecomposable substances. But Nature can tolerate neither the former nor the latter, for Nature does not at all tolerate any final product, nothing permanent, fixed once and for all. The direction of all natural activity will aim toward mean products (from each of the two opposed classes), toward materials which are absolutely composable and absolutely indecomposable at once, and permanent processes will appear in Nature (as object), through which the incomposable is constantly decomposed, and the indecomposable constantly composed. These processes, because they are permanent, and also because their conditions constantly exist, will have the appearance of products. The question arises of what sort these products shall be.

7) These products should lie in the middle between the two extremes, the absolutely decomposable and the absolutely indecomposable. In order to be absolutely decomposable, such a product would have to approach the absolutely fluid, i.e., unify in itself all constituent actants in the most complete combination. In order to be absolutely composable, the actants in it would have to be continually pushed out of their combination; a constantly disturbed equilibrium of actants would have to exist, that is, it would have to approach the SOLID. But it cannot achieve either state.

There must be the greatest freedom (mutual independence) and the greatest linkage (reciprocal dependence) of actants to one another in this product. The question arises as to what the result of this will be.

First of all, every actant will inhibit the other from producing its original figure. But only various degrees of intensity of every actant are possible. Every actant will therefore be a different actant at every stage. At every stage, too, it finds its antagonists. The product will thus generally be equivalent to a series in which positive and negative magnitudes constantly succeed each other. But within this series the product cannot be inhibited, for it would be either = 1- 1 + 1 - 1, i.e., 0, or some positive actant [99] would have to gain preponderance. Neither of these alternatives can come to pass. Thus, the product cannot be at all inhibited, it must always only be conceived as in becoming.

(Thus, we have deduced here what type of product that product always in becoming would have to be, whose necessity we have deduced from the concept of an infinite activity of Nature. In it, that continual alternation of combining and decomposing processes will take place which we have demonstrated in Nature as universal and necessary.)

While the actants are decombined, left to itself each one will produce what it must produce according to its nature.To that extent, in every product there will be a constant drive toward free transformation.While the actants are continually combined anew, none of them will remain free with respect to its production. Thus, there will be compulsion and freedom in the product at once.

Since actants are constantly set free and recaptured, and since infinitely various combinations of them are possible (and in every combination a slew of various proportions are possible), then continually new and singular materials will be originally produced in this product. It is indeed possible to find the elements of these materials through the art of chemistry, but not the combination itself, that is, the proportion of the combination.

Since each actant is highly individual, and since each strives to produce what it must produce according to its nature, this will furnish the drama of a struggle in which no force entirely conquers the other nor completely submits to the other. The egotism of each individual actant must join itself to that of all the others; what is produced is a product of the subordination of all under one and one under all, i.e., the most complete mutual subordination. No individual potency could produce the whole for itself, but all together can produce it. The product does not lie in the individual, but in all together, for it is indeed itself nothing other than the external phenomenon or the visible expression of that constantly operating combination and decomposition of elements.

[100] The product, since it is a joint product composed of many different activities acting in concert, has the appearance of the accidental, and is a blind natural product, since only such a thing can come forth through this determinate original intensity of every individual actant, and with this determinate proportion of their unification. Thus, the contingent and the necessary are originally unified in it.

In every individual actant is an activity that strives to freely develop— according to its nature. Its receptivity for or restrictedness by all others, really lies in this tendency to free development of its own nature, because it cannot achieve the latter without the expulsion of all the others from its sphere. As foreign actants reach into its sphere, it is at the same time constrained to prehend the sphere of every other. Thus, a universal prehension by every actant of the others will take place. No actant can enter into this antagonism, for the development of them occurs according to its nature. The elements of such a whole will appear to have dressed up in another nature, so to speak, and their effect will appear to be completely different from that which they show outside of this antagonism. Yet the tendency lies in each one toward a development according to its nature, which will appear in this antagonism only as a drive. This drive will not be free in its direction; its direction is determined for it by the universal hierarchy; there is, as it were, a sphere circumscribed for it in advance, beyond whose limits it can never step and into which it constantly returns.

This sphere will again itself be infinite, however. Since it cannot at all end up in a product unless the actants maintain themselves in a state of mutual compulsion, and every individual actant strives against this compulsion, only after infinitely many attempts will the proportion of actants be found in which the greatest freedom of actants at the same time as the most perfect mutual bond is possible.

On the whole, we have no other expression for the proportion of actants than the configuration produced. Now, if the product produces all possible configurations by means of continual transitions, [101] and shuttles from proportion to proportion by way of imperceptible nuances, then a constant flowing of one form or configuration into another would exist in Nature; however, just for this reason nothing would be determinate or fixed, not for a minute something that would be a phenomenal product. [v]

However, the infinite activity of Nature that stirs in all individual actants should present itself empirically. Thus, it is necessary that that infinite product become fixed at every stage of becoming.

The product, however, is nothing other than productive Nature itself determined in a certain way; the inhibition of the product is, therefore, simultaneously an inhibition of Nature itself; but Nature itself is solely active. Therefore, it cannot be inhibited, unless this becoming-inhibited is itself, from another perspective, again to activity.



i. Thus there is no primal substance in Nature at all out of which everything has become—somewhat like the Ancients thought of the elements. The single genuine primal substance is the individual actant. Thus, there are also no originally indecomposable factors in Nature, i.e. really simple materials. No material in Nature is simple (the actants are not material). So if there are indecomposable materials, then these materials cannot really be simple materials; their indecomposability cannot be explained on the basis of their simplicity. If they are to be indecomposable, then some other reason for their indecomposability ought to be evident. We find this reason when we reflect on the fact that the absolute indecomposable is established as the antithesis of the absolute incomposable. The indecomposable is opposed to the absolute incomposable. This is only possible if it is itself the absolute composable. Indecomposability and absolute composability must thus always coexist if there is an indecomposable factor without there being a simple one.

ii. this being inimical to all shape, and for this reason the favorite being for shaping—the universal liquefying principle, and therefore the mainspring of all formation and of all productivity in Nature.

iii. What more than anything proves the affinity of light with electricity are the prismatic phenomena, such as Goethe has established in his contributions. From this I have concluded, and perhaps soon others will realize, that the Newtonian theory of white light as a composite of seven colored rays that become separated in the prism is wrong; that the prismatic phenomena have to do with something far higher than a merely mechanical or chemical decomposition of light.

That is, the colors of the prism do not show themselves in continuity when the experiment is precisely conducted; they are shown in continuity only under particular circumstances. Where these circumstances are lacking, i.e. as a rule, the colors of the prism are shown as opposed to one another— and distributed in opposite poles. The true structure of color formation is the following. In the middle, in the Indifference-point, as it were, the glimmer of white light is shown, and now on the margins of this glimmer—as it were, on the poles—the colors appear, and indeed just those colors that the eye has already distinguished as opposed, which, e.g., the eye of the artist has long since differentiated. Thus, here it seems that something far higher is at work. There is a manifest duality and polarity in the prismatic phenomena; therefore, the prismatic phenomena seem to belong in the class of electrical and autological phenomena.

iv. This supposition has been confirmed more strikingly since this was written.—There is no reason to consider, e.g. nitrogen, carbon, or phospohorus, to be absolutely indecomposable, that is, as actually simple. All of these substances are irreducible only on account of their great composability. Oxygen is doubtless the single really irreducible element—not as if it were simple, but for another reason that will be developed below. But even this material is also the most composable that we are aware of.

v. But an apparent product ought at least to present itself through the productivity of Nature.
Site Admin
Posts: 30188
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:30 am

Part 1 of 2

IV. Inhibition and Stages of Development

The PROBLEM arises: to specify how Nature could inhibit its product at particular stages of development, without ceasing to be active itself.


1) The development of the absolute product in which the activity of Nature would exhaust itself is nothing other than an infinite process of formation. The process of formation is nothing other than a configuring. The various stages of development are nothing other than various stages of formation or of configuring. Every individual natural product runs through all possible forms up to the point at which it is inhibited (this must be accepted); however, it does not achieve an actual production at any stage. Each formation is itself only the phenomenal appearance of a determinate proportion which Nature achieves between opposed, mutually limiting actants. For as many proportions of these actions as are possible, there are as many diverse shapes, and just as many stages of development. [i]

[102] Every stage of development has a peculiar character. [ii] At every stage of development formative Nature is restricted to a determinate—sole possible—form; it is completely bound with respect to this form, and in the production of this form it will show no freedom at all.

2) Now it may be asked how Nature, infinitely active, could be restricted to such a determinate shape. Nature contests the Individual; it longs for the Absolute and continually endeavors to represent it. It seeks the most universal [iii] proportion in which all actants, without prejudice to their individuality, can be unified. Individual products, therefore, in which Nature’s activity is at a standstill, can only be seen as misbegotten attempts to achieve such a proportion. The question is whether something may be found in Nature that might justify us in such a supposition.

A) If Nature had found or come across the true proportion for the unification of a multiplicity of actants, then it would have to be able to present them in a joint product, no matter how antithetical their natures may be. The proof that Nature has not struck upon such a proportion would be if a diremption of actants came to pass in the product, as soon as it has arrived at a particular stage of formation; or, since the joint activity of the actants reveals itself as formative drive, the proof would be that if, at a certain stage of formation, the formative drive stirring in the product separates into opposing tendencies, such that Nature would be constrained to develop its product in opposing directions. [iv]


Throughout the whole of Nature absolute sexlessness is nowhere demonstrable, and an a priori regulative principle requires that sexual difference be taken as point of departure everywhere in organic nature.

[103] a) It is first of all a mere supposition that the so-called cryptogamic vegetables, such as fungus, conifers, tremella, etc., are merely budding plants and consequently absolutely sexless; the impossibility of demonstrating sexual parts in these plants is not at all a proof of this hypothesis.

b) Sexlessness is equally as little demonstrated in the animal realm, for even in polyps, since the discovery of Pallas, one cannot doubt the sexual functions. Where there actually is sexlessness, there is yet an other, specific direction of the formative drive. The sexual drive and the technical drive are equivalent for most of the insects before they have passed through their metamorphoses. The sexless bees are also the only productive ones, and yet without doubt they are only the mediators through which the formation of the one queen bee is achieved (in which the formative drive of all the remaining bees seems to be concentrated). Most insects lose all technical drive after sexual development.

As for sexual difference itself, though a great multiplicity of types seems to prevail, in the end it is reducible to a few varieties. The separation into different sexes happens for different organisms at different stages of formation, and this is itself proof for the assumption that each organism has a level of formation at which that separation is necessary. Nature has either unified the opposing sexes in one and the same product and has developed simultaneously in different directions (as in many species of worms, where mating is always doubled, as well as in most plants), or Nature has distributed the opposed sexes into different stocks (individuals). Here the one-sided sexual division is again distinguished only at different stages of development.

Plants generally attain sexual development through metamorphosis, like the insects (even those whose flowers unify both sexes). The development of the sexes is merely the highest zenith of the process of formation, for it occurs by means of the same mechanism through which progressive growth gradually takes place.

[104] The same law reigns with the insects: in the first stage of their formation no sexual difference shows itself (e.g., in the condition of the pupa), and the metamorphoses through which they pass are determined almost exclusively for the sake of developing the sex in them, or the revolutions of their metamorphosis are only phenomena of sexual development itself. This is because as soon as their metamorphosis is completed, sexual difference appears, and with it the sexual drive.—In addition, with both flowering plants and insects this is the highest summit of formation that they are able to reach; for the flowers fall to the ground and the transformed insect dies as soon as fertilization is accomplished, without having expressed any other drive. [v]

The universal separation into opposed sexes must occur according to a determinate law, and indeed neither sex should be able to originate without the other simultaneously originating with it. We see that where both sexes are unified in one individual, they originate through one and the same formation. Therefore, the law which is observed in the latter must be extended over Nature as a whole.

Thus if, according to our principles, the production of various genera and species in Nature is only one production captured at different stages, then the formations of the opposite sexes in the same genus and species must be only one formation, one natural operation, such that the different individuals of the same genus amount to only one individual, but developed in opposite directions. The universally evident proportion which Nature maintains between both sexes corresponds with this, at least in the animal kingdom (for in the plant kingdom the observations are wanting), not, indeed, as if the individuals of both sexes were equal in number, but that Nature substitutes, for the smaller number of individuals of one sex, a higher intensity of the formative drive, and conversely, substitutes the lesser intensity of the formative drive in one sex through the number of its individuals. [vi]

[105] B) It must be demonstrated that the separation into different sexes is just the separation which we have furnished as the ground of inhibition in the productions of Nature. That is, it must be shown that Nature is actually inhibited in its productions by means of this separation, without on that account ceasing to be active.

1) From the moment of the diremption onward, the product no longer completely expresses the character of the stage of development at which it stood. It will not be a finished product, not a product upon which Nature could cease to work, although of course its further development is deranged by that separation and is then inhibited at this stage.[vii] Now, what kind of activity will Nature exercise in this product?

First of all, if the product either separates itself into opposite directions or strikes out in a one-sided direction, Nature, which can never cease being active, will pursue the formation of the product toward either both or one of these directions to the furthest point, such that the product distances itself in the direction away from the universal character of its stage of development as far as possible. In other words, Nature will drive the individualization of the product to the extreme in both directions. Therefore, the most acute moment of individualization in each organism is also the most intense moment of natural activity in it.

2) If the highest stage of individuality in both directions were achieved, then the organism could admittedly no longer be the object of natural activity, but instead means and instrument. [viii]

If the highest stage is reached, then both directions are to be viewed as opposed; they are related to one another as positive and negative magnitudes. However, neither the one nor the other of these directions could be the one wherein the activity of Nature exhausts itself, [ix] for the individual is everywhere opposed to the latter. [x]

The opposing natural activities that are operative in the product toward opposite directions always become more independent from one another; the more independent from one another they become, the more the equilibrium is disturbed within the determinate sphere of Nature [106] that they describe. [xi] If they arrive at the maximum point of mutual independence, then the greatest moment of disturbed equilibrium is also reached.

However, in Nature the highest point of disturbed equilibrium is one and the same with the moment of the reestablishment of equilibrium. Between the two no time elapses. Those antithetical activities must, therefore, combine [xii] themselves according to a necessary and universal law of nature. The product will be a mutual one, constructed from both of the opposed directions (of the formative drive); Nature will in this way return by a circular course to that point from which it had departed; the product will, as it were, turn back on itself and will have adopted once more the general character of its stage of development. [xiii]

From this moment forward, since the joint product is secured, Nature will abandon the individual, will cease to be active in it, or rather [xiv] it will then begin to exercise an antithetical effect upon it; from now on the individual will be a limit to its activity, which Nature labors to destroy.

The genus must appear as end of Nature, the individual as means—the individual expire and the genus remain—if it is true that individual products in Nature ought to be seen as unsuccessful attempts to represent the Absolute. [xv]

3) The joint product will [xvi] again run through the same stages of development from the fluidic forward, [xvii] up to that stage at which it must decide once more on one determinate direction, or split into two opposed directions, from which point forward Nature again adopts its previous mode of action.—(Let it be noted that there might be for each natural product a stage of formation at which—when the product has reached it (for many do not reach it)—opposed directions of the formative drive become unavoidable. This is an assumption to which we saw ourselves driven without initially being able to justify it. [xviii] It is enough that the supposition is necessary [107] in the context of our preceding investigations, although it is itself again a problem which we must subsequently solve. We must for the time being hold fast to the leading thread of our rationale and expect that in a decisive investigation of every problem remaining unresolved they will, at last, find their solution.)

We were only concerned for the moment to demonstrate inhibition as something necessary in the production of Nature. However, it would not be necessary if opposed directions of the formative drive were not necessary at every stage of development.

The difference of the sexes then, we assume, is the genuine and sole reason why (organic) natural products appear fixed. (But they are not in the least fixed. The individual passes away, only the species remains, but Nature never ceases to be active. However, since Nature is infinitely active, and since this infinite activity must present itself by means of finite products, Nature must return into itself through an endless circulation.) We cannot leave our last proposition without mentioning the consequences that flow from it. The most important CONCLUSION that proceeds from it is this: the variety of organisms is finally reducible just to the variety of the stages at which they separate themselves into opposed sexes. [xix]

For since organisms overall are to be seen as only one organism inhibited at various stages of development [xx] (this inhibition, however, being effected only through that separation), then all variety of organisms depends upon the various stages upon which that separation follows.—The formation of each organism will occur completely in step with the formation of all remaining organisms, up to the stage at which that separation occurs in it; the individual formation of every organism first begins with the development of the sex.

At which stage the separation happens can depend only upon the proportion of actants which is originally found in each organism. [xxi] Each organism thus expresses not only the character of a certain stage of development, but also a determinate proportion of original actants. It does not express this character completely, however, because [108] it could not be inhibited at that stage unless it divided itself into opposed directions. Now the joint entity that no single individual completely expresses, but all together express, is called the species. In organic natural products both species and individual are necessary. [xxii]

A new CONCLUSION from the foregoing is that organisms that are inhibited at the same stage of development must also be homogeneous with respect to their reproductive forces.

Therefore, in empirical research one justifiably utilizes the shared fertility of species thought to be distinct as a proof that they are merely variations of the same genus or species, and can even for the first time raise that unity of the reproductive force to a principle of the system of Nature.

It is assumed that each inhibited product is restricted to a determinate sphere of formation. But Nature organizes to infinity, i.e., each sphere to which Nature is limited must again contain an infinity in itself. Within every sphere other spheres are again formed, and in these spheres others, and so on to infinity. [xxiii]

This will give the impression of free directions of the formative drive within the general sphere of the species. [xxiv] Since in natural history (in the authentic sense of the word), one must ascend to the individual as it immediately came from the hand of Nature, one must assume that in the first individuals of each species those directions of the formative drive were not yet indicated, for otherwise they would not have been free. Then, every first individual of its species, although it would incompletely express the concept of its genus, would have been itself again genus in relation to the individuals produced later. (What Kant said very truly in his treatise on the races of humankind may serve to elucidate this: “[A]s to how the form of the first human stock may have been designed with respect to color, it is at this point impossible to guess; even the character of the Caucasian is only the development of one of the original natural predispositions which were to be met with among the rest of them [xxv]”6).

[109] The formative drive was free with respect to those directions because they were all equally possible; not, however, as if which of these directions it would take in any one individual were dependent on chance. There must, therefore, be an external influence on the organism in order to determine the organism toward one of these directions. Now that which is developed (but not, on that account, brought forth) through external influence is called germ or natural predisposition. Those determinations of the formative drive within the sphere of the general concept of the species, therefore, are able to be presented as original natural predispositions or germs, which were all united in the primal individual—(but such that the prior development of the one makes the development of the other impossible).

(That insufferable superficiality of explanation is hereby banished from a foundational science of Nature; i.e., as if the taxonomical differences in organic beings of the same kind were gradually impressed upon them solely through influences of external Nature, or even by art; while it is proven that in the organization of the species the disposition for such a characteristic constitution is originally laid already, and only has to wait for the developing influence of external causes.)

The organism indeed steps into a narrower sphere with the development of that original organic natural predisposition, but not, for that reason, out of the sphere of the concept of the genus itself or out of the sphere of its original stage of development; and since organic beings that are like one another with respect to their stage of development are also homogeneous with respect to their reproductive forces (above p. 43), then individuals of the same stage of development can be fertile together, as much as they may otherwise be different from one another in terms of taxonomy.

Therefore, they can be seen only as different variations or races of the same stock, not as various species. [xxvi] (These variations are the most widespread in the plant kingdom, where the productive interbreeding of apparently different species has been taken extraordinarily far, [xxvii] and where, even [110] for many organisms now existing, the original genus is no longer to be found. [xxviii]—In the animal kingdom the variation goes no less far in some species. [xxix] Variation extends not only to external characteristics, for example, the color of the skin, [xxx] as might at first glance seem to be the case with human beings (although that is itself again a product of a characteristic organization of this organ of secretion), but far more to the inner construction of the body, principally in the bony structure of the head, and also most likely to the construction of the brain itself. [xxxi])—

Since, however, those taxonomic differences are developments of the formative drive’s original tendencies dwelling in the organism itself, they will, once developed, also be continuously and unfailingly inherited through continuous generations within the same variety, without having need to develop all over again in each single individual of the same class. Individuals of different classes will produce a compromise formation which, only when it always mixes with the same class, finally passes over completely into the latter. [xxxii]

What is unfailingly transmitted is either so determined that it excludes all variety (as, e.g., the black color), or it permits Nature a wider playground, as does the white color, which admits of greater varieties. If this is so, then the variety cannot already be determined by the racial difference itself (e.g., the blond hair by the white skin color), for otherwise it would cease to be a variety. Just for that reason, it will not be inherited at the same time as the racial difference, but will appear rather as a sport of Nature; therefore, varieties do not establish diverse races, but only diverse sporting types. (As Kant notes in the previously mentioned treatise and in the treatise on the use of teleological principles.7)

Finally, the progressively narrowing limitations of organic formation (within the general sphere of the species concept) proceed primarily in the human species to infinity, and Nature appears to be truly inexhaustible in the multiplicity of always novel external as well as [111] internal characteristics which it packs into the same original form. [xxxiii]


1) “The product is inhibited at a determinate stage of development” does not mean that it absolutely stops being active, but that it is limited with respect to its productions; it cannot reproduce anything to infinity except itself. Since it is now perpetually active, it will be active only for itself, i.e., it will reproduce itself not only as individual but simultaneously as genus to infinity (growth and reproduction).

However, no organism can reproduce itself as genus which has not reached the stage of separation into opposed sexes. The propagation of plants and plantlike animals through buds or shoots is not reproduction, but only growth that can be driven to infinity by external influences.

Since each organism is limited to a determinate form, all of its activity must be directed toward the production and reproduction of this form. Therefore, the real reason why every organism reproduces only itself to infinity is to be sought in the original limitation of its formative drive, but not in some preformed seeds, for whose existence there is not a shadow of proof. The first [xxxiv] seeds of all organic formation [xxxv] are themselves already products of the formative drive. There is also no reason to assume that in such a seed all parts of the individual— to the infinitely-small (individually preformed)—are present, but only that in it a multiplicity of tendencies is contained, which, as soon as they (every single one) are set into activity,must develop according to the antecedently determined directions. (“Omnes corporis partes non actu quidem sed potentia insunt germini.” Harvey’s De gen. an.9) [xxxvi] For all multiplicity of organs and parts signifies [112] nothing other than the multiplicity of directions in which the formative drive is compelled to operate at this determinate stage of development. Therefore, all formation occurs through epigenesis. [xxxvii], [xxxviii]

2) The hope which so many natural scientists seem to have cherished— to be able to present the origin of all organisms as successive, and indeed as the gradual development of one and the same original organism—disappears from our point of view, for the universal product could not be inhibited at various stages without at the same time dividing itself into opposite sexes. [xxxix] As soon as there are opposed sexes in one organism all further formation is interrupted and it can only reproduce itself to infinity. [xl]

Further, the diversity of stages at which we now observe the organisms fixed apparently presupposes a peculiar proportion of original actants [xli] for each individual. It follows from this that Nature must have begun all over again with a totally new natural predisposition for each product that appears fixed to us. (It therefore remains a problem for the natural scientist to discover precisely these original natural predispositions, so that he does not reckon mere variations on an original plan as diverse species.) [xlii]

The assumption that different organisms have really formed themselves from one another through gradual development is a misunderstanding of an idea which actually does lie in reason. Namely, all individual organisms should together amount to one product. This would be thinkable only if Nature had had one and the same archetype for all of them, as it were, before its eyes.

This archetype would be the Absolute, that without internal difference in kind, in which individual and species coincide, which is now neither individual nor genus, but both at once. This absolute organism could not be presented through an individual product, but only through an infinity of individual products which, seen singly depart infinitely from the ideal, but taken in the whole are congruent with it. Now, that Nature expresses such an [113] absolute original through all organisms together could only be proven if it is shown that all diversity of organisms is only a difference of approximation to that Absolute, which would then be the same for experience, as if they were originally only various developments of one and the same organism.

Now since that absolute product nowhere exists (but always only becomes, and so is nothing fixed), the greater or lesser distance of an organism to it (as to the ideal) cannot be determined by means of a comparison with it. However, since in experience such approximations to a common ideal must show the same phenomenal aspect (which would provide various developments of one and the same organism), the proof for the first point of view is provided when the proof for the possibility of the latter is given. [xliii]

This proof could be pursued either through comparison of the similarities and increasingly graduated divergences, partly in the external construction of organisms, partly in the structure of their organs, which is the job of a comparative anatomy (anatomia comparata). By this means one would have to gradually come to a far more natural ordering of the organic system of Nature than has been possible through the previous methods. [xliv] But since the external shape is itself only a phenomenon of the original inner proportion of organic functions, [xlv] one would have to provide a comparative physiology (physiologia comparata) for the discovery of these proportions, a science not yet attempted. It would furnish a far simpler principle of specification than that according to the diversity of shape and organic structure, although the latter can at least serve as guide to the discovery of the former.

Before we can follow this idea further, which promises to lead us by the shortest path to the goal, a few necessary preliminary elucidations are required.

[114] a) Each organism is itself nothing other than the collective expression for a multiplicity of actants, which mutually limit themselves to a determinate sphere. This sphere is something perennially enduring—not something merely fading into the background as appearance—for it is that which originates in the conflict of actants, the monument, as it were, of those activities prehending one another; it is the concept of that change itself, which is the only enduring thing in the change. In all the lawlessness of the actants continuously jostling one another, there yet remains the lawful aspect of the product itself, which they (and no others) are constrained among themselves to produce; as a result, the perception of the organism as a product, in which what it is it is through itself—which is simultaneously cause and effect of itself, means and end—will be justified as in accordance with Nature. [xlvi]

b) Now this conflict of actants by which each organic being comes into existence (as the permanent expression of them) will express itself in certain necessary actions, which, since they necessarily result from the organic conflict, must be seen as functions of the organism itself.

c) Since these functions proceed necessarily from the essence of the organism, they will be common to all organic natures. [xlvii] All diversity in the organic realm of Nature could proceed from a variation in proportion of these functions in respect of their intensity.

d) But different proportions of these functions in terms of intensity could not occur if these functions generally stood in direct relation to one another, such that as the one increases in intensity the other must increase, and the converse; [xlviii] for in this way only the absolute intensity of the functions could increase to infinity, but their proportion [xlix] itself could not be altered. The functions then must stand in inverse relationship of intensity with one another, such that as the one is augmented in intensity the other diminishes, and conversely, as the one diminishes in intensity the other has to increase. In short, the functions must be opposed to one another [115] and reciprocally maintain each other in equilibrium, which in itself already corresponds with the concept of an organism.

e) In a single organism either one of these functions could be the dominant one; but in the degree that it is dominant, its opposed function must be supressed. [l] Or, these functions could maintain the equilibrium in one organism. However, since these functions are opposed to one another, such that the one excludes the other, then it is impossible that they be unified in one and the same individual. The one organism in which they were all unified would have to divide into many single individuals, as it were, and those various functions would have to be parceled out, so to speak, among these individuals. But these individuals must produce that organism once more through their collective action, and conversely, [li] the exercise of their functions must be possible only within this organism. They would relate simultaneously to the whole organism as cause and effect of its activity. That which so relates itself to the organism (as a whole) [lii] is called an organ. Where opposed functions are united in one organism, these functions must be split up into various organs. Therefore, the more the multiplicity of the functions increases in the organic domain of nature, the more complexly must the system of the organs develop (in part called “system of vessels,” which is completely wrong, for within the organism nothing is merely a vessel). [liii] Insofar as each organ exercises its special function, it would receive a life of its own (vita propria)—to the extent, however, that the exercise of this function is still possible only within the bounds of the whole organism, it would only receive a borrowed life, and it must be so in accordance with the concept of organization. If the manifold possible proportions of organic functions can be deduced a priori, the whole multiplicity of possible organisms would also be deduced, because the organic structure depends on this proportion. [liv]
Site Admin
Posts: 30188
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 4:26 am

Part 2 of 2

[116] f) Now we can understand the problem: to determine the various organic functions and their various possible proportions a priori.—If this problem is successfully solved, then a dynamically graded series of stages would not only be brought into Nature, but at the same time one will also have deduced the graded series of stages in Nature itself a priori, and what was formerly called natural history would be raised to a system of Nature.


Natural history has been, until now, really the description of Nature, as Kant has very correctly remarked. He himself uses the name “natural history” for a particular branch of natural science, namely, the knowledge of the gradual alterations which the various organisms of the Earth have suffered through influence of external nature, through migrations from one climate into the other, and so forth. However, if the idea set out above were put into practice, then the name “natural history” would get a much higher meaning, for then there would actually be a history of Nature itself; namely, as it gradually brings forth the whole multiplicity of its products through continuous deviations from a common ideal—thus far freely—but not forming them lawlessly because of this (because it still remains constantly within the bounds of its ideal)—and so realizes the Ideal, not indeed in the individual, but in the whole.

With reference to this, it can be asked which principle of ordering should also guide the mere “description of nature” (which would be related to natural history in the sense just explained, approximately as anatomy is related to physiology). Since the continuity of species (continuitas formarum) is not met with in Nature as long as one investigates it merely according to external characteristics, it must present the chain of Nature either with continual interruptions as before, as through comparative anatomy; or it must, finally, as has just been attempted, use that continuity of organic functions as principle of organization. The latter is the objective of the following task, in which all of the problems of the philosophy of nature may be readily united, and for which, accordingly, the most universal expression has been chosen.



i. Each formation is only the phenomenon of a determinate proportion of original actants. If evolution were complete, then this would be to the universal dissolution into simple actants. Every product, therefore, is to a determinate synthesis of actants.

ii. a peculiar inner quality.

iii. most complete.

iv. Neither of those opposed directions can fall outside of the general character of the stage of development, and yet neither completely expresses this character. If this were so, the product would not be able to separate into antithetical directions.—We know Nature first of all simply as organic or as productive. All of productive Nature is originally nothing other than infinite metamorphosis. It can never achieve determined and fixed shapes, i.e. fixed products, if the productive drive is not split into individual stages of development, or if the product does not separate into opposed directions just when it has reached a certain stage of formation. Now, if the separation into opposite sexes is just that separation which we assume as the reason for the inhibition of organic productions at a certain stage of development, then there must be no single product in Nature without an opposition of the sexes.

v. In earlier times the metamorphosis of the insects was taken to be a kind of miraculous event and the symbol of something higher. The contemporary study of nature seeks to explain this phenomenon, and in order to be able to explain it more easily it first strips it of the breadth that it actually has. They have transferred the “involution” or “preformation system” to this phenomenon of organic nature as well. Already in the worm every part of the butterfly is supposed to be there, imperceptibly small, and yet individually preformed.

I do not yet want to invoke here the general principle that no individual preformation, but only dynamic preformation exists in organic nature, and that organic formation is not evolution, but the epigenesis of individual parts.—Various organs, parts, etc., signify nothing but different directions of the formative drive; these directions are predetermined, but the individual parts themselves are not. Let me just remain with the present phenomenon and ask whether this phenomenon is explicable in terms of Preformation theory. It is alleged that this individual preformation has even actually been proved by a specimen from Schwammerdam, by means of which he showed that, already in the pupa, a few parts of the future butterfly are distinguishable. But it is quite conceivable that when one opens the cocoon immediately before the final metamorphosis, after everything is already prepared for it, one can find everything that would shortly come to light on its own. If this example is supposed to prove something, then one ought to be able to show already in the pupa in its first moment of formation—one even ought to be able to show already in the caterpillar, those parts as individually preformed. At the moment when those parts can be seen the metamorphosis is for the most part already accomplished. Therefore, that specimen proves absolutely nothing about the preexistence of parts before the metamorphosis.

One therefore has no proof at all for that assumption, but surely there are proofs against it. When the emergence of new parts is explained as an individual preformation, how does one explain the disappearance of the parts that were there before? Nothing is lost from the pupa, and yet one does not find in the butterfly the organs that were in the pupa. One would have to represent the caterpillar then by the burst shell—but then where is this shell?—Why is it not said as well that the blossoms of the tree have been individually preformed in it? What the blossom is in relation to the tree, the butterfly is in relation to the caterpillar. If need be, something can still be thought by “preformation” if an organ can be preformed in a seed, but how an organ could be contained in another cannot be conceived. I want to mention just a few things in order to exhibit this inconceivability. For example, the caterpillar nourishes itself through crude nourishment (from the hardest leaves). The butterfly sucks in ethereal nourishment—from the nectar of plants. Therefore, the organs which are designed to ingest the nourishment of the caterpillar must be totally different from those which conduct the fluid nourishment of the butterfly. Are the nutrient-channels of the butterfly supposed to have been preformed in the cruder ones of the caterpillar?

Another example. In the first days of its existence the pupa still needs the caterpillar’s organs of respiration—(air passages, openings over the whole surface); the pupa soon learns to do without these organs, and when the butterfly is developed up to a certain point one finds no more trace of them—but in place of them a completely different organ of respiration, unlike the former and differently constructed. Now was this one also preformed, and where was it?

That transition from one phase of the metamorphosis to the other is not at all just a partial alteration, but a total one. For example, in the butterfly the direction of circulation is the reverse of that in the caterpillar. In the latter, the main artery (which runs along the back) pumps the liquid to the head, while in the pupa and the butterfly it runs away from the head.—The unfolding of the wings, which follows soon after the final development of the butterfly, happens by means of a rapid and forceful development of the vascular system in the center, by an influx of liquid from the interior— not, as others have believed, through the mere expansion of the folded wings or through the pressure of the air forcing its way in from outside.5

All of these phenomena prove that the metamorphosis of insects does not occur by virtue of the mere evolution of already preformed parts, but through actual epigenesis and total transformation. Now, how should these phenomena be explained? They are at any rate not explicable other than in terms of the theory of the graduated series in all organic formation that has been presented; these phenomena prove a posteriori what we have proved a priori. They demonstrate

a) that every organic individual must run through all intermediate forms (s.vv.) up to that stage of development at which it becomes inhibited.

b) that the ground of all permanence and all fixity in organic nature is to be sought in the separation of the sexes.—For the insects before they are transformed are sexless, or rather just because they are sexless, they are transformed. If the sex in them was decided, then they would have already arrived at the stage of development to which they are determined. Conversely, as soon as the metamorphosis of the insects is through, the sex is developed, or rather the reverse; as soon as the sex is developed the metamorphoses stand still. The butterfly has no sooner left its final shell behind than it begins to exercise the sexual functions. It seems to have accepted this final stage of development only in order to propagate its race.—The drive which expresses itself in the metamorphoses tends toward the race, as the highest to which an organic being can accede. The same law that holds for the metamorphosis of insects holds also for plants.

vi. The formation of opposed sexes in most animal species is actually an interdependent one—also where they are distributed among different individuals; for example, the formation of the three types of bee is always one phenomenon, and precisely here that remarkable coexistence just mentioned enters, where the sexlessness of the productive bees is replaced by the intensity of the formative drive in the one queen bee.

vii. It will be shown below that the condition for an enduring activity is provided precisely in that opposition, since every condition for activity in Nature is a duality.

viii. This moment of acute individualization is really the first moment of complete sexual development— the complete separation of the product. But just at this instant,Nature is shown in its greatest activity. Vegetative nature glistens with the brightest and most distinct colors, and this interval is the genuine moment of culmination for the animal as well. Nature has now completed its work. The product has become what it could become, within its limitations. It has been driven to the highest point of its existence. It can therefore no longer be an object of Nature.—For what is the real objective of Nature?

While Nature does develop individuality, it is not really concerned with the individual—it is rather occupied with the annihilation of the individual. Nature constantly strives to cancel out duality and to return into its original identity. This striving is precisely the basis for all activity in Nature.— The duality which imposes upon Nature the compulsion to constant activity is, where it exists, as it were, against the will of Nature—as it is here. Nature did not intend the separation.— Nature leads the product in both directions only for the sake of letting it sink (back) into indifference, as soon as it reaches the apex of development. For Nature was not concerned with either the one or the other of those directions, its concern was for the sake of the common product that was divided into them. Therefore, as soon as the product has reached the highest point in both directions, it fosters the universal striving of Nature toward indifference.

ix. can be that point toward which Nature tends.

x. to Nature

xi. to which they are restricted.

xii. unify

xiii. We have departed from the assumption that all individual products of Nature can only be seen as abortive attempts to represent the Absolute. If the individual is only an abortive attempt, and Nature has developed it only under compulsion in order that by means of its construction Nature can achieve the collective product, then Nature does not have to tolerate it any longer as soon as it has ceased to serve as means. But as soon as the collective product is posited, the individual also ceases to be a means.

xiv. since it can never stop being active

xv. But is this really the case? This unimpugnable law of nature is most conspicuous, again, in the organisms which succeed to sexual development through perceptible metamorphoses. Flowers wilt, the transformed insect dies, just as soon as the genus is secured. The individual seems here almost to serve merely as a medium, only as a conduit, through which that organic vibration, the formative force (the spark of life) propagates itself.—But is this law of nature not also just as operative in the higher organisms, and does not the individual here too deceive us, seeming as if it were Nature’s end and not merely a means? We do not perceive as strongly in higher creatures that demise of organisms, after the point at which that peak of opposition is achieved, partly because it happens with very attenuated speed, and because the product that was a longer task for formative Nature is also a longer task for destructive Nature; partly because here the sexes are much more separated than at the lower stages. If one makes a general comparison of the proximity and distance between the sexes of various organisms, one finds that for the most long-lived organisms the sexes are the most separated, and on the other hand, the more ephemeral the product the closer the sexes are to each other. Where Nature seems to want to preserve the individual longer in one species, it breaks the sexes further asunder from one another, as it were, makes them flee from one another. How separated the sexes are in the higher animal species, how near in the flowering plants, where they are gathered in a single calyx (as in a bridal bed)!

In conclusion we may suggest that the separation of the sexes happens against the will of Nature, as it were, and that because individual products originate only by means of this separation, these products are abortive experiments of Nature.

xvi. wholly necessarily

xvii. for all formation takes the fluid as point of departure

xviii. That is, that such a diremption is necessary at each stage of development if the production is to be inhibited—this has already been proven. But we have not explained that diremption itself. It is thus a necessary supposition for us and is necessary in the context of our present investigation, although we are unable to explain it in itself. This explanation must be given subsequently, when our science is completely developed.

Still more cases of this kind will arise where we have to leave many things that must be postulated, for the time being, unexplained. It is to be expected at the outset that there will be, in the end, one universal solution for all of the problems that remain still unresolved.—There is no doubt only one opposition that splits into all of the individual oppositions of Nature. We have even already postulated this antithesis right at the start. But we still lack the intermediate steps in order to bring this antithesis (which divides itself into both sexes) into connection with that original opposition and thus to deduce it as necessary in Nature.

xix. Apparently paradoxical—but necessary.Nature is only one activity—therefore its product only one as well. Through the individual products it seeks to present just one—the absolute product. Thus its products can be distinguished only through the variety of stages. But many are already inhibited at the lowest level. The ones that stand at the higher stages must have had to pass necessarily through the lower, in order to succeed to the higher.

xx. One must not allow oneself to be led astray by the appearance of a lack of continuity. These interruptions of Nature’s stages only exist with respect to the products, for reflection, not with respect to the productivity for intuition. The productivity of Nature is absolute continuity. For this reason we will present that graduated series of organisms not mechanically, but rather dynamically; that is, not as a graduated series of products, but as a graduated series of productivity. It is but one product that lives in all products. The leap from polyp to man appears gargantuan to be sure, and the transition from the former to the latter would be inexplicable if intermediate members did not step in between them. The polyp is the simplest animal, and the stalk, as it were, out of which all other organisms have sprouted. Other reasons why the graduated series of organisms not only seems interrupted, but actually is, will be suggested below.

xxi. Until now it has been assumed that each organism designates a determinate stage of development. I can now propose, conversely, that the variety of stages alone constitutes the variety of organisms. But what then is the “stage of development” itself ? It is indicated by a certain shape. But this determinate shape is itself only a phenomenon. The real, which is its foundation, is the inner proportion of forces which is originally found in each organism.

xxii. First of all, this is really just a consequence of the necessity of opposite sexes—but ultimately because in each organism an absolute product ought to be fixed, i.e., that each product be simultaneously fixed and not fixed, but fixed as species (as stage of development), not as individual.

xxiii. The product is fixed. But to what extent? Each product of nature can split again into new products. Nature organizes, where it organizes, to infinity. The product is then limited to this determinate sphere of formation, to be sure, but within this sphere still narrower spheres can again be formed. Although the product is fixed as species, it is still not fixed in every respect.—If the productive drive does not any longer proceed from the center to the periphery, then it goes from the periphery to the center; i.e., when the sphere of formation is no longer to be expanded, then narrower spheres arise, in these still others, and so on to infinity.

xxiv. and therefore the multiplicity of species, or, more precisely expressed, of the variations in organic nature. In the concept of the “variation” something of chance is thought, a determination which is not already necessary through the general character of the stage of development.

xxv. in the original of the human species

xxvi. For example, the variety of human races proves absolutely nothing about the variety of human stocks. Rather, that they are fertile together proves that they are only deviations from one primeval original.

xxvii. Through the interbreeding of differently classified species one has completely transformed one into another, although just this transition is a proof that those differently classified species were only different variations of the same species.

xxviii. For example, the various species of grain are apparently varieties preserved through intermixing of various species of grass, whose original does not even exist anymore.

xxix. For example, from the hyena at one extreme to the Bolognese dog at the other, there is a continuum of variation. The variation of the wolf, the fox, etc., fall within this long series.

xxx. Indeed, this diversity of skin color also is not possible without an inner diversity of organization. It is now well documented that the black skin of the Negro derives from the fact that his skin is organized as an organ of secretion for the carbon of his blood—if the carbon is to be precipitated by the vaporous drying of the skin, then the skin must be organized in a particular way, which makes itself known in the blacks already just through the mere feeling of it.

xxxi. namely, according to the analogy of the shelled animals. The brain is, as it were, a shelled animal whose shell is the skull.—As the snail constructs its shell, so does the brain, in whose structure are large variations, according to this view; and it is in this respect that interesting things are expected from the procedures of Gall.

xxxii. With racial difference the product enters into a narrower sphere of formation. But can Nature here cease to form still further? Still smaller spheres are possible within the sphere of racial differences as well.To the crude eye that sees only the gross outlines, these finer nuances surely withdraw from view.

xxxiii. Most prominently, certainly, in the human species, where each form has a certain originality. Therefore Shaftesbury said, e.g. one could immediately distinguish ideal portraits from copies made by nature, because in the latter dwells a truth, i.e. such a precise determination, the likes of which are never achieved by art left to its own devices.8

Thus Nature does not cease to be productive in the individual, even when the species is fixed, until the individual as individual is completely determined. But this happens first with complete sexual development. In this moment the organism first fully enters the narrowest sphere of formation, e.g. the physiognomy fixes itself, is unchangeably determined.—But as soon as the product is driven to the peak of individuality, Nature ceases to work productively; it begins to work counterproductively and now sustains the individual solely to the extent that it struggles against its existence.

xxxiv. actually demonstrable

xxxv. e.g. the seed of the plant

xxxvi. It would lead me too far astray if I listed all of the reasons against the theory of individual preformation (reference to Blumenbach). Therefore, only a few of the principal reasons are listed:

1) Although as a rule in the production of the individual Nature expresses the original of the genus, it deviates from this as soon as it is compelled, e.g. as soon as any injury to the organism or any accidental lack is to be compensated.—So Nature here produces something whose production could not be calculated because it depends upon an accidental condition—something that also could not be individually preformed.

2) In particular, how are the reproductions of the lower animal species explicable?—Polyps are mutilated—dissected—rearranged—what is the life-principle of the seed here? Could it be the knife of the researcher?

3) Why, in all of the lower species, are the particular conditions of reproduction present only in young animals, with higher animals only those that are independent of the brain—or is there present a particular seed for every part?—Wild speculation. These reasons are already in themselves sufficient to defeat that system, not to mention the fact that preformation explains nothing.

I should say a few things about Blumenbach’s system of the formative drive, which takes the place of the preformation theory, but this too can only be touched upon briefly here, since up to now the only genuine basis for a decision about it, i.e. the physical evidence, was lacking, and which we can expect to come to only later in the system. So just this much about it:

We are agreed with Blumenbach in that there is no individual preformation in organic Nature, but only a generic kind. Agreed, that there is no mechanical evolution, but only a dynamical one, and thus that there is only a dynamical preformation.

xxxvii. through metamorphosis, or through dynamical evolution

xxxviii. As for the concept of the “formative drive,” it is the most genuine designation that was possible for the state of physics at the time—although, at the same time, it is to be highly recommended in that it is an ultimate principle of explanation and not reducible to higher natural causes.

When we investigate a priori what sort of activity it might be that occurs in organic formation, it is immediately apparent that it cannot be simple productivity, like that through which the product of the first potency—and likewise dead matter—consists. Further investigations will show that it can just as little be a productivity of the second potency, which, e.g. is operative in the chemical process. It will then be productivity of a still higher kind than the merely chemical. It is this higher productivity that can at any rate be designated “formative drive.”—The concept of the “formative drive” contains, 1) Freedom. Freedom is in the organic product because no simple productivity operates here, but a compound one, through which the appearance of freedom comes in the process of production. The individual action cannot produce anything in this antagonism that is in accordance with its nature; it is intensified to a higher productivity through the limitation in which it exists. However, 2) that freedom cannot be lawlessness. Although each individual action produces what it would not produce according to its nature alone, what it would necessarily produce if left to itself, then in this antagonism it cannot produce anything other than precisely that which it does produce.—To this extent, therefore, the product is again a necessary one. Thus, unification of freedom and necessity.

It is called “formative drive” to distinguish it from the concept of “formative force.” This concept is completely justifiable, not insofar as it would name the cause itself, but insofar as it is a name for the cause. Among other thinkers, the Brownians should not object to this concept at all, since it actually expressed far in advance what Brown proposed only afterward—namely, that organic formation happens only through the mediation of the process of excitability. It is just by this process of excitability that the product is elevated, becoming a product of a potency higher than the merely chemical. Therefore, in the following we will make use of his concept, as long as we are able to lead this concept back to natural causes.

Recapitulation: We were concerned at the beginning of our investigation to explain how a fixed product was conceivable. We have fully satisfied this task; for where before it was as if the organism itself pursued an unorganic—not productive—world,Nature is for us only productive, i.e. organic.

It has now been deduced how Nature can be restricted to individual products without ceasing to be productive. For

1) within that sphere Nature organizes always narrower spheres of formations—variations— varieties—and so on, to infinity.

2) Just in the separation of the formative drive into opposed directions is furnished an enduring dualism, and with it the condition of an enduring activity, since dualism is condition of all activity of Nature. This activity cannot stand still until the identity of the genus proceeds again from the duplicity of the sexes; but this can never happen due to the same law according to which the sexes have originally separated themselves.

It has been further demonstrated through our investigation that, in organic Nature, we give an account of only one product inhibited at various stages of development, as different as the individual products may be. Only the diversity of the stages of development constitutes the diversity of the organisms.—This inhibited relation of production at individual levels of development happens only, and exclusively, through the separation of the sexes.

xxxix. All organisms, as different as they may be, are surely, in terms of their physical origin, only various stages of development of one and the same organism; they may be presented as if they had arisen through the inhibition of one and the same product at various stages of development. However, what holds for diverse organisms in terms of a physical origin, cannot hold good when transferred to the historical origin. For example, when one goes back to the original condition of the Earth and asks how and through what mechanism organic Nature has first arisen, then it would not suffice to accept only one original product and let this one product bring forth the various organisms through its gradual development. For, in order to bring forth a new product, Nature would have to begin again from the start.

xl. Once inhibited, a being can only infinitely reproduce itself.

xli. forces

xlii. Moreover, it does not follow from this that the productivity of organic nature cannot be seen as one. In the original productivity of Nature all products lay concealed. As soon as determinate points of inhibition in Nature were furnished, they emerged from identity. But in Nature there was originally only one point of inhibition—and so organic formation began, without doubt, from one product. In that Nature fought against this point, it raised it to product, cancelled it as point of inhibition. But just as certainly as Nature is limited originally and through itself, just through the cancellation of the one point of inhibition a new one must arise, and thus at any rate one product contained the ground of the subsequent one. The product C could not arise before B, and this not before A had arisen.—The productivity was thus one, but not the product. It was just not one already fixed and present product that developed itself into various organisms, for it could not be fixed at all unless it was always inhibited in its formation.

xliii. If it is proven that one can view organisms as various developments of one and the same organism, then it is demonstrated that Nature has expressed in all of them one and the same original. That is, unity in the productivity is proven at least. It has been attempted for ages to adduce that proof in various ways through the desire to prove a continuity of forms in Nature. That continuity of forms, namely, expresses none other than just the inner affinity of all organisms, as common descendants of one and the same stock.

xliv. These differences that comparative anatomy discovers are really created by Nature itself. The conventional classifications do not exist in Nature and are only contrived as aids for thought. Severity of the Linnean method. Human being and bat, elephant and sloth in one class. This unnatural grouping-together is necessary as long as merely external characteristics count, e.g. whether the animal has teats, whether it has cloven or uncloven toes, how many teeth, etc.

xlv. How are these different functions related to that one principle with which we are familiar—to organic productivity? Are those functions perhaps themselves only different stages of productivity?

xlvi. The organism is 1) not mere appearance, not that which is known merely by its effects; 2) its activity is not at all directed to anything external, but is directed upon itself—it is its own object (new determination): it is, what it is, without any external effect.

xlvii. For example, if that alternation of expansion and contraction in the manifestations of irritability (pulsation) is a necessary condition of every natural product, every formation, then it cannot be lacking in any organism.

xlviii. In the organism everything is cause and effect.None of those functions can exist without the others— none can overstep the other. Distinction: positive and negative relationship of causality.—If A is cause of B, the inactivity of A is cause of the activity of B. Employing the concept of negative causal relation here, the increase of the one can be cause of the sinking of the other, and conversely. This would not be possible if they stood in direct relation to one another.

xlix. their relative intensity

l. The more the productivity has already passed into the product, or has materialized itself, the less the higher stages of productivity can be distinguished.

li. because everything in the organism is reciprocal

lii. and yet has its own individuality

liii. (For example, in polyps no organ is distinguishable.)—Therefore the affinity of comparative physiology with comparative anatomy.

liv. This omnipresent, all-penetrating productivity is the invisible medium, as it were, that permeates every organism and binds them to one another.
Site Admin
Posts: 30188
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Tue Jul 30, 2019 4:28 am


V. Deduction of the Dynamic Series of Stages

Problem. To deduce a dynamic graded series of stages in Nature a priori.


We have deduced in the preceding why it is necessary that the absolute product be inhibited at individual stages of development; we have also deduced how this inhibition itself occurs (III., IV.). However, it has not been shown how this inhibition could be permanent—how these individual natures which have torn themselves away from universal Nature, as it were, can maintain an individual existence, since all of Nature’s activity is directed toward an absolute organism.

Now, the problem, to deduce a dynamic graduated series of stages in Nature, presupposes the permanence of individual natures. We cannot succeed in the solution to this problem before another problem is solved, namely: how the individual is preserved in Nature at all.

Solution. Assume that the whole of Nature one organism, then within Nature nothing can come into existence which would not be joined to or subordinated to this universal organism, in short, nothing individual can remain in Nature.

Determined more precisely, our problem is this: How can any individual nature hold its own against the universal organism?

The universal organism operates absolutely by assimilation, i.e., it admits no production within its sphere that does not fit into it; it only allows that which joins itself to the absolute product to exist. [i]

[118] No individuality in Nature can, as such, maintain itself, unless it begins, just like the absolute organism, to assimilate everything for itself, to encompass everything within its sphere of activity. In order that it not be assimilated, it must assimilate; in order that it not be organized, it must organize.

In this act (of opposition) inner and outer are divided for it. It [ii] is an activity that works from the inner toward the outer. But how could this direction be distinguished otherwise than in opposition to another activity that operates on it as on an external factor? And moreover, how could the latter operate on it as on an external factor, if it did not oppose itself to the inclusion into that activity (strive against the indentification with the universal activity of Nature)?

By the same action through which it excludes the whole of external nature from its sphere, it also makes itself into an external thing in relation to the whole of Nature.

External nature (for it) will struggle against it, but only insofar as it once more struggles against external nature. Its RECEPTIVITY to external nature is conditioned by its ACTIVITY against it. Only insofar as it strives against external nature can external nature act upon it as upon an inner factor. [iii]

The external world can hardly be taken up into it except to the extent that Nature takes it in. The external world is as good as not even there for it— it has no reality for it, except to the degree that Nature directs its activity against it.

Its receptivity for the outer world is not only generally conditioned through its activity toward the outside, but the way in which the outer world acts upon it is conditioned through the mode of activity that it exercises toward the outside.

The external world does not act upon the inner factor as the external acts upon the external (dead thing upon dead thing). An external thing acts on an inner one only insofar as it engages negatively in its positive activity, or (what is the same) in the negative activity positively. But also conversely, the inner takes the outer into itself only because its activity in relation to it becomes positive or negative.

[119] Let us suppose that an external activity X acts upon the inner factor. One abstracts from all mechanical efficacy, for such a thing has not yet been deduced here, and an inner factor as such cannot be mechanically acted upon at all. We are talking about a dynamic activity.

In general, let it be noted that we expressly hold that there is to be an influence upon the inner factor AS SUCH. The effect which that external activity exercises according to its nature is = A. But with A it cannot act upon the inner factor as such, unless the latter opposes to it an activity = - A. In this - A lies the receptivity of the absolutely inner factor for the external activity = A.

(For example, let X be the activity of heat-matter. Its effect = A. In relation to this principle (the heat-matter) nothing is an inner factor other than what this principle produces in itself. The heat-matter also cannot exercise the effect A on an inner factor as such, except insofar as the proper activity of the inner factor in relation to the heat-matter as an external factor is = - A. Both effects (A and - A) are positive. They are only positive and negative in relation to one another insofar as they reciprocally hold the equilibrium. Conversely also, the activity = - A is extinguished without an external activity that is in relation to it = A, which keeps it in equilibrium and which is, as it were, its object. [iv])

The immediate effect which follows upon the effect = A in the inner factor, is the negative (i.e., not the negating, but the exact opposite of this effect = - A). (The heat-activity of its own body is A in relation to the external influence of heat-matter.)

Indirectly, through this activity = - A new transformations will be produced. If these transformations = Z, then Z will be the effect of both A and - A. [v] —That is, X cannot act on the inner factor as such with the effect A, except to the extent that the proper activity of the latter is in relation to the former = - A. Thus Z will also be determined in mode as well as in degree through the mode and degree of activity = - A.

[120] (To elucidate.—A poison acts upon the animal body. To what extent is it a poison, and why is it a poison? Is it a poison in itself? Hardly. For example, smallpox is a poison only once for each person; snake venom is not poisonous for the snake. Poison is not poison at all except to the extent that the body makes it so. For poison as poison the body has no receptivity, except to the degree that it is active against it. Poison does not attack the body, but the body attacks the poison. [vi] The ultimate effect of the poison = Z is determined in both mode and degree through the mode and degree of activity which the organism opposes to it. Therefore, it is really not an effect of the poison, but an effect of the activity - A.)

Conversely, however, the inner factor also exercises no activity = - A except to the degree that it has a receptivity for an activity = A. The activity of the inner factor = - A is thus itself again an effect of the activity of the external factor = A. Z will be indirectly determined in both mode and degree through the mode and degree of activity = A.

(The body will not be active against poison except to the extent that the poison is active against it. The form and the degree of its activity is determined through the form and degree of activity of the poison.)

Therefore A and A are reciprocally cause and effect of one another. [vii]

In the activity that the absolutely inner opposes to the external activity lies its receptivity for the outer, and conversely, its receptivity for the outer factor depends upon its activity. Neither the activity of the organism nor its receptivity can be purely known in themselves. The former is extinguished without an object against which it struggles, and conversely, nothing is an object for it except to the extent that it is active against it.


In the synthetical principles just proposed two antithetical propositions are united.

a) First principle. The activity of the organism is determined through its receptivity. [viii] The organic activity is, therefore, through and through [121] dependent upon the [ix] influence of external (material) causes. But matter can only act on matter, and only according to inexorable laws. Therefore, both the action of external causes on the organism and the functions maintained through it occur completely and entirely according to laws of matter. Matter acts on matter either through repulsive force (thrust) or through attractive force (gravity). The influence of external causes on the organism is explicable neither by the latter nor by the former type of effect alone, and neither is the activity of the organism animated by it—thus, it is explicable only from both taken together, or from the reciprocal action of both of those forces. This reciprocity produces what are called chemical phenomena. [x] The influence of external causes on the organism, as well as on the organic activity, is itself consequently of a chemical sort. All functions of the organism follow from chemical laws of matter, and life itself is a chemical process.


(This theory appears to agree with experience, as made evident by the following. [xi])10

“Organization and life are entirely dependent upon chemical conditions. Already long ago,Nature made the first chemical sketches in the so-called inorganic world for the formations which it produces in the organic. The universal natural operations and those processes which are constantly underway must be seen as the first rudiments of all organization. Everything is swallowed up in a single chemical process. The preservation of the air circulation, e.g., in a uniform proportion of mixture, is of the utmost importance for organic nature as a whole. Even the atmosphere, daily organized anew, already contains the first impulse to universal organization. The [122] meteorological phenomena are all without a doubt manifestations of processes through which they are always rejuvenated and replenished anew. That we do not know how to explain, for the time being, e.g., the aeration of water, and the disaeration, which seems to precede the rain, from our chemical knowledge, proves nothing against the assumption that both do not happen in a chemical way. Nature does not combine as the chemist combines. Nature and chemistry are related to one another like language and grammar.— Since the same substances in the atmosphere whose combination and decomposition also sustains animal and vegetable life are constantly combined and decomposed, the processes which always maintain the same chemical composition in the universal medium of life must be the first stirrings of universal organization. Even the perpetual maintenance of that proportion of factors in the whole through which the chemical bonding of both atmospheric substances never happens and is not permitted to happen, is not to be explained otherwise than from the perpetuity of constantly sustained chemical separation.

“Most of the indecomposable substances that are major components of organic matter also betray the strongest tendency toward combination in anorganic nature. None of these substances can be exhibited individually; one knows them either only in their combination with the absolutely fluid (as kinds of air), or in connection with solid substances. They thus stand in the middle between absolutely decomposable and indecomposable substances, and belong, like organic nature itself, to no one of the two types alone.

“The substances that are particularly active in organic nature are already conspicuous in anorganic nature, and conversely, the substances that in anorganic nature are the most efficacious are also the most active in organic nature. The heat-matter produced through a continually sustained phlogistical process in the animal body, extended everywhere, doubtless even in plants, flows through everything living. The electrical matter [123] gives the muscular system and the excitable plant fibers their elasticity. As a consequence of more recent observations, it is not impossible that a free development of light takes place in the eye. Plants draw the largest part of their substances from the ubiquitous water, the major components of animal matter are spread out in the atmospheric air. In the bones of animals the soils are hardened, and their veins conduct metallic content.11

The ground of all phenomena of organized bodies is, therefore, to be sought in organic matter, in the original diversity of its basic substances, in the peculiar proportion of their mixture—in the chemical alterations that are produced through external influences, also chemical, in them. The composition of organic matter proceeds to infinity because every organ organizes again into infinity, is again mixed and formed in a peculiar way, each distinguishing itself from the other by means of particular qualities.—But what is quality itself? If it were, according to the common notion, dead stuff, then the most complete composition of manifold substances would again require a new activity which sets everything in reciprocity and puts its dead forces into a free play. However, what appears to us as quality is itself already activity, and each particular quality is a particular degree of activity. Is it to be wondered at that a connection of such manifold qualities that is still, moreover, continually altered through the influence of alien actions (light, heat, etc.) brings forth such manifold and peculiar activities as we perceive in organic nature?

The explanation of organic shape only demands the unification of manifold activities which all lead toward production of an original figure. [xii] Since the tendency to equilibrium dwells originally in each material, and this tendency in matter is unconditioned, it will take up every form in which it achieves equilibrium. Every individual organic material will commit itself to this [124] peculiar form freely, as it were, because this is the sole condition of a possible equilibrium of forces.

Accordingly, all difference of organisms will also be reduced solely to the diversity of substances that are united or separated in them, and the diversity of their functions solely to the diverse chemical influences to which they are receptive. The debated question about the difference between plants and animals is easily answered, naturally from a chemical point of view.

The two major opposing processes of Nature have prospered to the point of permanence in plants and animals. All manifoldness of material in the world is reducible to its relation to that substance which in our atmosphere enchains the element of light, and whose general possession seems to be the world system’s luminous body. All materials are either burnt up, [xiii] or burning, or such as become combustible again. The major processes of Nature are combustion and decombustion processes, in the great—(therefore, the opposition between sun and planets)—as in the small. Organic nature is divided into both.

The animal destroys the atmosphere about itself, and preserves, increases and moves itself like the mobile, growing flame. The plant returns the power of combustion to the burnt, ubiquitous substance, and returns to the atmosphere that substance which makes combustion possible.—This difference between plant and animal is the original one, grounded in Nature itself, from which stem all other differences between them. This difference itself, however, again derives solely from the different chemical composition of animal and vegetable matter. This is why the plant, therefore, at least for the most part, lacks the substance that makes the animal capable of retaining that principle in itself.

[125] Thus animals as well as plants are permanent chemical processes which are sustained through external chemical influence. The external condition of life for plants is light, for the animal phlogistical material. All of their functions engage in that chemical process and proceed from it.”

The proposition: organic activity is determined through its receptivity, is consequently the principle of a physiological materialism.

b) Second principle. The receptivity of the organism is conditioned through its activity. If the receptivity of the organism is conditioned through its activity, then so is the action of matter upon it. No one can in any way experience the pure effect of any material as such, in—and on—the organism, for the effect is determined both in mode and degree through the activity of the organism. Matter cannot operate according to its forces freely and uninhibitedly in the organism. The connections of universal chemical affinity are dissolved by the organism, and new affinities are instituted.Whatever steps into the sphere of the organism adopts, from this moment forward, a new mode of action, alien to it, which it does not abandon until it is given back to anorganic nature. [xiv]


(This system too appeals to experience.

“The organic preserves itself in a wholly peculiar mixture, without example in the rest of Nature. Chemistry indeed names the major constituents of this mixture. But if these substances only, and only these substances in such a way, are active in organic nature (as chemistry can demonstrate), how could the great multiplicity of organic products proceed from the different proportions of mixture of these simple substances? The organic body retains its proper degree of heat in every temperature. Out of mere air and water the plant kingdom [126] produces— and indirectly through the plant kingdom the animal too—the most disparate materials, the likes of which can be brought forth through no chemical art. The chemical forces of external nature have, instead of making organic matter like dead matter, exactly the opposite power as long as life endures. As soon as life declines, the organic matter returns into the universal circulation from which it was previously withdrawn—it returns the more quickly, the less its elements were mixed according to the laws of affinity prevailing in dead nature, etc.”)12

Now, the cause that in part cancels and in part alters the chemical forces and laws of matter in the organism cannot once again be a material one, since each material is itself subjected to the chemical process—therefore, it must be an immaterial principle, which is rightly called vital force. [xv]

The proposition: The receptivity of the organism is determined by its activity is, therefore, the principle of a physiological immaterialism.

c) Neither one of these systems is true, for they reciprocally refute each other. Nevertheless there is in both something necessary; they are both true at once, or rather the true system is a third derived from both.

alpha) Where it expresses itself the principle of life is shown to be an activity that resists every infiltration of matter from outside, every impact of external force; but [xvi] this activity does not express itself unless it is excited by external impact. The negative condition of life is excitation through external influences. [xvii] Life, where it comes into existence, comes against the will of external nature (invita natura externa), [xviii] as it were, by a tearing-away from it. External nature will struggle against life; most external influences which one takes as life-promoting, are really destructive for life; for example, the influence of air, which is really a process of consumption—it is a continual attempt to subject living matter to chemical forces.

[127] beta) But this struggle of external nature preserves life, because it always excites the organic activity anew, rekindles the flagging contest. In this way, every external influence on the living which threatens to subject it to chemical forces becomes an irritant, i.e., it actually brings forth exactly the opposite effect which, according to its nature, it should produce. That reciprocal determination of receptivity and activity is really that which must be expressed through the concept of susceptibility, a concept that is exactly the synthesis which unifies those opposed systems [xix] (in its greatest generality—one should completely forget the “susceptibility” of Haller13).

The activity of life is extinguished [xx] without an object, it can only be excited through external influence. But this external influence [xxi] is again determined through the organic activity. [xxii] Therefore, no external activity acts in the organic body chemically, according to its peculiar nature, which is why chemical forces seem canceled with respect to it. [xxiii] But no activity can be canceled otherwise than through an opposed activity. This opposite activity lies in the organic body as in a closed system. At each moment the organic system establishes an antagonism against every external effect that holds the former in equilibrium. (For example, the living body retains its proper degree of temperature in the highest temperatures, not because the universal law of the communication of heat is canceled with respect to it (this is impossible), but because it maintains equilibrium with the forces impinging from outside through opposed operations—(e.g., by increasing the capacity of the fluids circulating in it, by accelerating processes that absorb much heat).)14 It is true that an external influence sustains organic activity, and that every such influence brings forth a determinate effect in the organic; but this effect is itself again a product of organic activity; e.g., of course opium acts as a narcotic, [128] but it has this effect not as opium; one would look in vain for the reason of this effect in its chemical constitution. The effect that it brings forth, it brings forth only indirectly, i.e., this effect is itself again an effect of organic activity. [xxiv] Generally expressed: Every external effect on the organism is an indirect effect.

(Therefore, no substance truly acts on the body chemically, but one does not at all need the fiction of a vital force on behalf of this idea; for either one understands by this a simple—original—force, like, e.g., attractive force: then it would have to operate just as universally as the latter. Or, if it is a composite force, then one must attempt a construction of it (e.g., if it proceeds from the antagonism that occurs in organic matter, then one would have to find a principle that continually sustains this antagonism and that keeps it from a chemical bonding of the elements, or that gives the chemical tendencies the peculiar direction which they take, e.g., in the animal body.) This could only be the function of a principle that does not enter into the chemical process itself, like, e.g., absolute matter, whose existence has been demonstrated in the foregoing, because this is absolutely incomposable, and because its conditions are present everywhere; where it is decomposed it must be composed anew in every moment. [xxv]

However, these presuppositions are not needed. The whole mystery rests on the opposition between inner and outer, which must be admitted if one admits anything individual in Nature at all.

[129] External nature will now struggle against every inner activity, i.e., against every activity which establishes itself at the central-point. The inner activity will itself be constrained to produce through this antagonism that which it would not have produced without it. The organic shape and structure is the single form in which the inner activity can assert itself against the outer, e.g., the form to which also belongs the manifoldness of individual organs, each of which adopts its particular function. Therefore, its formation is already itself an effect of that universal organic property of susceptibility (excitability through external influences) which is also found to be in agreement with experience. Conversely, the outer is, as it were, intensified to a higher kind of action through organic reaction, and precisely in this way the organic elevates itself over the dead.


The activity of the organism is determined through its receptivity, and vice versa. Neither its activity nor its receptivity is in itself something real; both obtain reality only in this reciprocal determination. [xxvi]

In addition, activity and receptivity are related to one another as opposed terms (+ and -). Thus, as the one factor increases, the other falls, and vice versa.

1) The beginning of life is activity; it is a tearing loose from universal Nature. But that activity is itself again receptivity, for receptivity is only the minus of activity.

Activity and receptivity arise simultaneously in one and the same indivisible moment, and precisely this simultaneity of activity and receptivity constitutes life.

Organic activity is not activity without external pressure. The external pressure against inner activity has precisely the opposite effect, however, in that it enhances activity, it decreases receptivity. [xxvii] The maximum of receptivity (which one [130] can assume at life’s beginning) passes over first into a minus, and finally into a minimum of receptivity (by virtue of the law of reciprocal determination). [xxviii] In the degree that activity rises, receptivity must fall, until both enter into the most complete reciprocal determination, where they maintain equilibrium with one another—which is then the noon of life, as it were.

However, that complete reciprocal determination is only momentary, the organic activity is on the increase, receptivity on the decrease, and then the wheel of life rolls over toward the other side. The organic activity will increase more and more toward the minimum of receptivity, but since receptivity, as long as it has a degree, is itself only activity, it passes over by virtue of the inviolable law of reciprocal determination from the minimum immediately into the maximum (absolute receptivity), as soon as it sinks below all degree; the highest activity is to the negation of all activity, the maximum of activity to the maximum of capacity. [xxix]

Life thus has two highest points between which it pulses, as it were, and from the one it passes over immediately into the other. The maximum of activity = the minimum of receptivity, but the minimum of receptivity = also the minimum of activity, that is, the maximum of receptivity, and so it is conceivable how each maximum in organic nature passes immediately into its opposite, the minimum, and the converse.

(Two observations can readily be made here.—First, concerning the transcendental significance of this natural law of the immediate transition from the minimum into the maximum, and conversely. For this is precisely the law of all activity, namely: that an activity which no longer has an object never reverts into itself, and likewise, that there is no longer an object for an activity that has ceased to revert into itself; that in this way the highest moment of all activity borders immediately on the dissolution of it. [xxx] Organic life begins in this way, with the reflection of an activity through an object, just as [131] the higher activity, and the object itself, falls within the point of reflection [xxxi] for the organic as for the higher activity. If this point lies infinitely far away [xxxii] then the activity is no longer reflected, it has no more intensity and dissipates into the infinite. If it lies infinitely near [xxxiii] then it has no more extension and disappears into itself. [xxxiv], [xxxv]

Secondly, this perspective offers analogies for use of a higher perspective on many other natural processes, e.g., through it the similarity of life with the process of combustion is first revealed. The effect of heat on the combustible body is the excitation of its activity, which one can think as repulsive force against heat—(heating)—and which, as soon as it has achieved the maximum, passes over immediately into the minimum. Therefore, the maximum of excitation or of activity in every phlogistical body is = to the maximum of capacity. This abrupt, sequential transition from the maximum of repulsive force (of activity) into the maximum of capacity (of receptivity) is really the phenomenon of combustion.)

2) From this follow a few fundamental laws of organic life.

a) it becomes evident that every stimulant only is a stimulant as far as it minimizes receptivity or enhances activity. It only is a stimulant because it produces its (real) opposite (activity).

b) however, since the function of the stimulant generally consists in the production of its opposite, it becomes evident that the stimulant can itself be of an antithetical kind, i.e., positive or negative, accordingly as it enhances or decreases the activity. A stimulant can only act positively at a certain degree of receptivity, [xxxvi] negatively only at a certain degree of activity, [xxxvii] because in the former case it ought to decrease the receptivity, in the latter decrease the activity. With a high degree of capacity for a negative stimulant the activity cannot be decreased by the stimulant, just as with a high degree of activity it cannot be increased through a positive stimulant. (Therefore, the phenomenon of desensitization to the stimulus through habit.)

[132] c) Let there be two individuals, the susceptibility of the one related to the other in a ratio of 1:2, and if both should be raised to the same height of activity, then the stimulus that acts upon both of them will have to have a ratio of 2:1 in terms of intensity; that is, the single susceptibility with double intensity of stimulus maintains equilibrium with the single intensity of stimulus with double susceptibility.

d) Finally, it becomes evident from this concept of stimulus (that it produces its opposite) why all stimulus [xxxviii] finally ends with the absolute exhaustion of susceptibility, and how Nature achieves its aim with respect to every organism.

Nature achieves its aim in precisely the opposite way than the way in which it attempted to achieve it; the activity of life is the cause of its own dissolution. It is extinguished as soon as it begins to become independent of external nature, i.e., unreceptive to external stimulus, and so life itself is only the bridge to death. [xxxix]

3) The task was to explain how the individual holds its own in Nature against the universal. [xl] We struck upon the solution that the individual only exists through the pressure of an external nature. Inner and outer, however, are only differentiated in an act of opposition; therefore, there must be a mutual opposition between the individual and its outer nature; i.e., if the former is, in relation to the latter, organic, the latter must be anorganic in relation to the former. Therefore: no organic nature, no anorganic. No anorganic, no organic.

But if organic and anorganic necessarily coexist, then the functions of the organism cannot be deduced otherwise than precisely in opposition to that anorganic realm.

Conversely too, if the functions of the organism are possible only under the condition of a determinate external world, the organism and its external world must again be of a common origin, i.e., they must be just one product. (That is, popularly expressed, there must be between both a “relative purposiveness.” Now, to explain this relative purposiveness [133] through a divine understanding [xli] that has fit the one to the other is the demise of all sound philosophy. For example, “how wise it is that oxygen is not present in pure form in the atmosphere, because otherwise the vital air would consume the animals as quickly as a flame.” However, if the atmosphere were pure oxygen, then the organisms of the Earth would have to be correlatively otherwise constituted (i.e., receptive to a purer air) quite necessarily and from the same cause which made the atmosphere pure oxygen. The reciprocal coming together of organic and anorganic nature can only be explained, therefore, from the common physical origin of both, that both are originally only one product.)

Nevertheless, they are opposed to one another. However, as opposed, they cannot unify themselves in any other way than by being in opposition to a third higher term common to both. In the act of opposition inner differentiates itself from outer. The organism and its outer world together have to be, in relation to an outer, once again an inner, i.e., again an organic being. This is thinkable only in the following way.—The organic presupposes an external world, and indeed an external world that exercises a determinate, permanent activity upon the organic. Now, this activity of the external world could indeed be an incited one, and the fact that it is permanent is not even explicable otherwise than by a continual excitation.[xlii]—Thus, the anorganic external world again presupposes another external world in relation to which it would be an inner. Now, since the activity of the original organic being is aroused only by the antithetic activity of its external world, this is again itself sustained through an external activity (in relation to it). Together with the external world that it immediately opposes to itself the original organic being would then be again jointly opposed to a third, i.e., again mutually an inner in relation to a third outer.

[134] The original organic being is immediately conditioned through its anorganic outer world; this does not bring us any closer to a third. It would have to be shown that the anorganic as such, according to its nature, cannot exist without an outer that has influence upon it, and the mode of this influence itself would also have to be determined. This is the object of the following investigation.



i. Nevertheless, one could think that the individual had torn itself loose, as it were, from the universal organism. Each organism a unique, singular world—status in statu—.

ii. activity of the product

iii. Dead matter has no external world—it is absolutely identical with its world.—The condition of an activity toward the outside is an influence from the outside. But conversely, the condition of an influence from outside is the activity of the product toward the outside. This reciprocal determination is of the highest importance for the construction of all living phenomena.

iv. At any rate, the organic body generates heat in itself, but its own heat-activity is extinguished without an outer factor which it excites and which is its opposite, its object, as it were. If the inner factor brings forth activity in the outer, this means just as well that it produces its opposite.

v. It is the effect 1) of A, for through the activity of A the activity (minus)A has first been excited; but 2) also of A, for only by means of this could A produce transformations in the interior.

vi. The concept of poison only has a meaning for the organic product, like so many others, e.g., the concept of contagion, disease, medicine, etc.—Every body can become a poison, for it is so only through the activity of the organism.—Boundary between medicine and poison. Kant: what absolutely cannot be assimilated. But even every excretion is a poison. However, this much is true: poison is only poison by virtue of the fact that the organism directs its activity against it, strives to assimilate it.

vii. conditioned through one another

viii. But not the reverse.

ix. direct

x. The merely chemical phenomena of matter already lie outside the merely mechanical, and are a dynamic source of movement in Nature.

xi. One will readily note that in the presentation the chemical system is idealized, but I found this necessary. (Up to this point original note.—Trans.) It would be quite natural to view the phenomena of life entirely chemically. With the great and important discoveries of chemistry which the chemical muse has spread through every brain, in particular the discoveries which have been made by means of chemistry in animal and vegetable nature, it is as if one would have come across them oneself without needing to come to this point of view in a scientific way. Least of all Reil, the chief defender of this chemical perspective, which he has presented in all of his writings, but without lending them the support of which this doctrine is capable.

xii. The explanation of organic shape only demands that peculiar chemical mixture that we presuppose in organic nature. A certain form is always inseparable from a certain mixture.—Proof in anorganic nature.—But even a priori. Matter cannot be compelled to take a determinate form, as in a determinate mixture, because that form is then the single condition under which an equilibrium of forces in that mixture is possible.

xiii. e.g., the soils

xiv. In another respect, however, the problem is possible and solved, because the expression for the construction of the inorganic product is also the expression for the construction of the organic product, for we are permitted to take the categories of the inorganic, but in a higher potency, in order to transfer them to the organic. There is only one expression for the construction of a product; there are only products of different potency.

xv. That which is a law of nature is, just for that reason, an inviolable law. That it also appears as if Nature can again cancel its own laws might stem from the fact that, when soberly viewed, that which you call laws of nature are not actual laws of nature at all, but rather imaginary projections of your own. One only needs to take a look at most of the previous textbooks on medicine to hear (on almost every page in manifold forms, sometimes openly, sometimes concealed) that laws of nature suffer exceptions. However, this derives merely from the fact that the objects are regularly obstinate enough not to want to submit themselves to the received theory. For example, if a disease is found which is unable to be explained in terms of the received systems—no sooner is this disease an ens sui generis which follows completely singular and idiosyncratic laws.—One has that principle (that laws of nature have exceptions) to thank for the fact that the organic being has lain there for so long like a sealed book and has been whisked away from the region of natural explanation as if by a magic wand. It is this principle which until now has made all theory in medicine impossible and has reduced this science to the shallowest empiricism. This principle is at the same time so opposed to the first laws of the understanding that one has to give it another twist. This twist is: the laws of nature cannot, certainly, be canceled—this is conceded—except through forces of nature itself. Then, for example, the law of gravity cannot be canceled (e.g. the Moon cannot fall to the Earth); but now if there were in nature a force which acted counter to it (something like a negative gravity) then it would not be gravity itself but only its effect that is canceled—here no law of nature would be infringed, for the natural law of gravity only holds where no opposed force offers resistance to it.—Such is the case with the phenomenon of life. Nature cannot cancel the chemical and physical laws, to be sure, other than by the counteraction of another force, and just this force we call vital force, because it was completely unknown to us until now.

Already in this deduction of the vital force lies the admission:

1) that it is contrived solely as an expedient of ignorance and a genuine product of lazy reason;

2) that through this vital force we take no steps forward, neither in theory nor in praxi:

a) not in theory. For either ) one assumes that it is simple, like, e.g. repulsive force—or in accord with the usual idea of gravity; in other words, this means: it has no empirical condition: then one does not realize why it does not act just as universally as those forces. Or one assumes ) it is composite, i.e., dependent upon empirical conditions: then one must be able to provide these empirical conditions—until these are provided it is a mere word.—What the reference to gravity means here is, first, that it is not so constituted that it would have no empirical condition; secondly, gravity acts according to very simple laws.We would like to believe in vital force as soon as those simple laws are set out to us, and the existence and all appearances of organic nature are explained by means of them, just as the existence and the appearances of the universe are explained from the law of gravity. The concept of vital force helps just as little

b) in praxis, as in theory. The entire medical art is reducible to action upon this completely unknown force—naturally, to acting upon it not according to determinate laws which would be created for us from its nature, but according to a blind empiricism.

xvi. in this lies the receptivity for external effect

xvii. Here the organism submits itself to the laws of every other natural thing; no natural object is set in motion or activity other than through an external cause.

xviii. in contradiction to Nature

xix. It indeed sounds paradoxical, but is no less true, that through the influences which are contrary to life, life is sustained.—Life is nothing other than a productivity held back from the absolute transition into a product. The absolute transition into product is death. That which interrupts productivity, therefore, sustains life.

That proposition can be generally expressed in this way: the external influences on the organism bring forth in it precisely the opposite effects from those which it should produce according to its nature. The external influences tend toward the destruction of the product, but precisely in this, tend toward fanning the flames of productivity. Through those external influences, the activity through which the organ reproduces itself is fanned ever anew, such that the same influences which are directly destructive for the organism are, indirectly through productivity, preservative for the product.—By this means and by this means only does the outer become irritant, and stimulant, for the organism. By irritant we understand, for the time being, nothing other than an effect which sustains life as productivity, by never permitting the transition into a product.

xx. would be extinguished

xxi. on the organism

xxii. Because it acts directly only on the productivity—and only mediately and indirectly on the product. If the organic body were a product, without being productivity, then the outer would act on it exactly as it works on the dead. That it acts upon it entirely differently derives from the fact that it does not act directly on the product, but only on the productivity.

xxiii. Excitability indirect affectability of the organism. It is immediately explained from this principle of indirect affectability why no external cause can act on the organism chemically unless one invokes a particular force that cancels the chemical force.

xxiv. That opium acts as a stimulant is explained by its chemical, or what is the same, its electrical constitution (which is why it also acts in galvanism)—but its mediate effect, i.e. the effect mediated through the activity of the organism, is narcotic, and this effect is, to be sure, chemically inexplicable, since it is indirect. Thus it is shown on the whole, that just the same materials which cause the most intense excitability (which must be explained from their chemical and electrical constitution), indirectly exhaust excitability (which is now certainly no longer explicable in terms of its chemical constitution). It is no wonder that chemical explanations want to go no further than this. The ultimate effect of external causes on the organism cannot be chemically explained any longer. One does not require for the explanation of this appearance a fantasy like the vital force; it is not needed because it is a completely false assumption that the sublimity of life-processes over the chemical can only be explained in terms of an immaterial force.

xxv. It was thus an overly hasty assumption which had been much too hastily interjected that there can be no matter that is inalterable through chemical life-processes, and that could not give to the chemical forces the particular direction that they take, e.g. in the animal body. For this reason I have proposed, in the treatise On the World-Soul, the hypothesis of an absolute matter (whose necessary existence in Nature is now proven) in opposition to the assumption that in order to explain that particular direction an immaterial principle is required. The hypothesis has been taken for an assumption— the possibility of such a substance has even been denied—for what reasons we will soon see. (Original note. See AA I,6 186–91.—Trans.)

xxvi. The activity of the organism = 0 without receptivity (for the organism should be neither pure productivity— activity through itself—nor pure product, but both at once)—but then receptivity is also only a minus of activity, thus not thinkable without activity.

xxvii. It does not act on an organism as it does on a dead thing, it acts as an irritant.

xxviii. This happens, however, with retarded velocity.

xxix. (In place of the last passage, the manuscript has the following.—Trans.) The organic activity increases, the receptivity sinks gradually always more toward the minimum. But receptivity is indeed itself the mediator of organic activity. Without receptivity no activity. So the law that the increase of activity the sinking of receptivity holds only to a certain limit. When this line is crossed, it is turned completely around. The minimum of receptivity passes over immediately into the maximum, by virtue of the inviolable law of reciprocal determination. This paradox is to be explained by reciprocal determination. A degree of receptivity is itself a condition of activity. Absolute negation of every degree of receptivity = absolute negation of activity, and so the highest activity is immediately the limit of activity.—Maximum of activity = Maximum of receptivity.

xxx. The intensity of the activity is in inverse relation to its extension. Expansion of activity without any resistance negation of all intensity.

xxxi. Only that which struggles against organic activity can be turned into an object—only unruly material can be formed.

xxxii. absolute activity

xxxiii. absolute receptivity

xxxiv. is a dead object

xxxv. Brown did not deduce the concept of excitability, but neither did he construct or explain it. He openly concedes: What excitability is, we do not know, and we also do not know how it is affected. However, if we do not know the latter, then our knowledge is empiricism through and through. When we do not know the laws of physics according to which excitability is affected, knowledge which is certainly impossible unless excitability is itself deduced from natural forces (i.e. to have constructed it physically), then our knowledge is—like all medical arts—only empiricism.—The fact that Brown knew nothing of how to set his theory in connection with physics (which is certainly excusable, since at that time the greater part of those physical discoveries were not yet made that have now been made)—was without doubt responsible for very many false conclusions of his system. That more, and very significant, false notions exist in his system will be proven in the following pages. I am not concerned here at all with the Brownian system: I speak here always only of the principles of this system, which Brown himself for the most part did not ground thoroughly and from which he did not always rightly reason.

xxxvi. e.g. a lesser degree of heat only in a northerner.

xxxvii. e.g. cold negative stimulant only on a southerner.

xxxviii. also even the one that sustains life.

xxxix. Nature seeks to transform the receptivity of the organism to the external world, which is a determinate one, into an absolute one—but in doing so its receptivity is instead increasingly lessened, and in the same relation by which activity increases. In this way the organism achieves always greater independence from the influences of external nature—but the more it is independent of them, the less it is excited by them. Now, however, this excitability is, through external influences and the receptivity to them, a condition of life and organic activity: thus organic activity is extinguished along with organic receptivity. In this manner Nature achieves its aim, but in a completely roundabout way—and indirectly through organic activity itself.

Life comes into existence in opposition to Nature, but it would dissipate of itself if Nature did not struggle against it. Life, to be sure, ultimately subtends Nature, but it does not support the external pressure, only the lack of receptivity for the external. If, from the outside, the influence contrary to life serves precisely to sustain life, then in the same way, that which seems most favorable to life (absolute insusceptibility to this influence) becomes the cause of its demise. The phenomenon of life is paradoxical even in its cessation.

As long as it is organic the product can never sink into indifference. If it is to support the universal striving toward indifference, then it must first sink to a product of a lower potency. As an organic product it cannot die, and when it does die it is really already no longer organic. Death is the return into universal indifference. Just for that reason the organic product is absolute, immortal. For it is an organic product at all, because indifference can never be reached by it. Only at the moment when it has ceased to be organic does the product resolve itself into the universal indifference. The constituents that were drawn from the universal organism revert into it once again, and since life is nothing other than an intensified condition of common natural forces, as soon as this condition has passed, the product falls back into the dominion of these forces. The same forces which have for a time maintained life finally destroy it too, and so life is not anything in itself, it is only the phenomenon of a transition of certain forces from that intensified condition into the usual condition of the universal.

The system whose standpoint I have now just developed takes a stand between two opposed systems: the chemical system knows the organism merely as an object or product, and allows everything to act upon it as object upon object, i.e., chemically; the system of vital force knows the organism only as subject, as absolute activity, and allows everything to act upon it only as activity. The third system posits the organism as subject and object, activity and receptivity at once, and this reciprocal determination of receptivity and activity, grasped in one concept, is nothing other than what Brown called “excitability.”

I have not only deduced the necessity of that reciprocal determination from the concept of the product (organic product), but I have also proven that the phenomena of life can only be completely constructed from this reciprocal determination. Thus I have to say that Brown was the first to understand the only true and genuine principles of all theories of organic nature, insofar as he posited the ground of life in excitability. Brown was the first who had had enough sense or fortitude to propound that paradox of living phenomena, at all times understood, but never articulated. He was the first who understood that life consists neither in an absolute passivity nor in an absolute activity, that life is a product of a potency higher than the merely chemical, but without being supernatural, i.e. a phenomenon submitted to no natural laws or natural forces.

It is a personal duty for everyone who realizes it to say this publicly, although, on the other hand, one must openly concede that the principle that Brown placed at the apex of his system was discovered more through a lucky groping than deduced in a scientific way, not to mention actually constructed.

a) Brown did not deduce the concept of excitability (as has already been said). It is at any rate to be deduced a priori, i.e. without any mediation by experience, in the most rigorous way from the concept of an organic product, and so it must be. Every science an a priori principle.

b) By far the fewest of Brown’s disciples have understood the scientific seeds which lie in his principles. There is one exception, Mr. Röschlaub, whose writings no one can leave unread if they have any sense at all for medicine as a science, principally his investigations in pathology, and particularly a few essays in his journal of medicine (where he explains himself far more clearly and precisely about many things).—I hear that it has been said here and there concerning these writings that they are too philosophical, too scientific. For me just the reverse is true. I would like to say rather that they are not scientific enough, and also that Mr. Röschlaub has not yet thoroughly recognized the genuine depth and force of the principles which he defends—at least in his investigations on pathology.

I cannot enter into how well these principles agree with the dynamic mode of explanation— certainly not with the chemical or even mechanical modes of explanation, with which Mr. Röschlaub still seeks to reconcile these principles (if he has not long since left those modes of explanation behind). This will be further developed below.

xl. or: to deduce the graded series in productivity

xli. as a third thing

xlii. By the fact that it is itself (the external world) held together by some force, it would be in a compelled condition. In the external world, which the organic presupposes, nothing can be accidental. This necessity in all alterations of the external world, this restriction to a determinate sphere of alterations, alone makes the the existence of the organic possible. Every activity that is not restricted loses itself in the infinite. The activity of the external world is also, therefore, restricted.
Site Admin
Posts: 30188
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Wed Jul 31, 2019 12:02 am



The nature of the anorganic must [i] be determinable through its opposition to the nature of the organic. [ii] Now, if we attribute to the anorganic the opposite of everything that we have ascribed to the organic, then we have the following determinations.

If in organic nature [iii] only the species is fixed, then in the anorganic exactly the contrary must occur, the individual is fixed. [iv] However, the individual is itself only determinable in opposition to the species; nothing truly individual will exist in anorganic nature .No reproduction of the species would occur through the individual. [v] The extremes will not meet in it, as in organic nature, but will flee from one another. On the one hand, the matter in it will dissipate into the absolutely indecomposable, and on the other, into the absolutely incomposable. But an immediate contact should be possible between anorganic and organic nature. There will be certain mediating substances in it, in which the indecomposable is joined with the incomposable (with the absolute fluid). These materials must be without any figure, however, for only the formless (the formable) can immediately flow into the organic (types of air, fluids in general). There will, therefore, be a multiplicity of materials [vi] in it, [vii] but between these materials a mere continguity and exteriority to one another will obtain. In short: anorganic nature is merely mass.

However, because no mutual interpenetration (no intussuception) is possible between them, these materials must [135] still be held together through some external cause or another; this would not be possible unless an external cause sustained a mutual tendency toward intussuception in these materials (where it would always remain only a tendency) down to their tiniest parts. It would have to be an external cause, because in these materials there cannot be any proper (organic) tendency to mutual intussuception.

This anorganic bulk would then again itself be an inner in relation to the outer which sustains that tendency, therefore, an organic being, [viii] i.e., an—if not actu still potentia—organic being that always becomes organized and never is organized (because it remains sheer tendency).

However, that which is an outer in relation to the organic is an anorganic thing. Therefore, that external cause would have to be again anorganic, i.e., itself again only a mass.

In that it is mass, i.e., a contiguous aggregate of external parts without actual connection, it requires once again another external cause which maintains, by its influence, the tendency to mutual combination in all of its parts, yet without ever coming into combination itself, and so on to infinity.

A fragment of mass should have an influence on another to infinity, [ix] such that its parts all have a common tendency toward one another; this influence must extend to the smallest parts of matter, or its intensity must throughout be proportional to the mass. [x]

Every influence is also necessarily determinate with respect to its intensity, or (because the degree of intensity of a cause is measured through the extension in which it acts) it can be effective only in a determinate space with a certain degree. This space can be imagined as large or as small as one likes, but it can reach a degree of expansion if it is expanded more and more, where the degree of effect of that influence would be an evanescent one.

[136] If, therefore, a mass is to influence a mass with a certain degree, then the spatial relationship of these masses to one another must be determined, i.e., they must be maintained in a certain proximity or distance to one another.

Now, to explain this spatial relationship two opposite systems can be thought. [xi]

First System.

1) Those masses are driven toward one another by an external impulse. That which drives them cannot itself belong to the anorganic mass. It would have to be the first in Nature. One would thus consider empty space to be filled originally with the simplest elements that no natural force has enough power to break down further.—These ultimate elements are in primal motion, and indeed they move in all directions, but only in straight unalterable directions (one is driven to this assumption through the analogy with visible substances, in which there is an original motion, e.g., of light, of positive electrical matter, among others).1

Now, cast one of those masses into any point of space that you like, let it be spherical; clearly it is infinitely larger than any of the atomic elements. The flow of primary particles meets with it, the flow is blocked. Since an infinite quantity strikes against the mass, it will achieve a certain velocity—but the elements are moved in all directions; to every flow another is opposed. Thus struck equally strongly from opposing sides the mass will come to rest. However, let the other large mass be set into space, then both serve reciprocally as a shield against the stream of atoms, each meets only one stream, each from the opposite side as the other; they will [138] be driven toward one another, and so gravitate to one another. Now, suppose that every mass originally has a unique motion by virtue of which it would move forward in a straight line; then out of both movements (the original and the transmitted) a third emerges, and the masses will move to a certain distance from one another in curved lines.

—In the second system we will speak of metaphysical objections to this doctrine. Here we will speak only of physical objections.—

“The atoms meet the masses like hailstones, i.e., only on the surface. But their gravitation toward one another should be directly proportional to the mass.”—If, however, every single atom of the mass had its element among the atoms of gravitational matter that meets it, and would have to meet it—if so, would the gravitational matter be met by the stream all the way to its uttermost parts? The possibility cannot be denied, since visible substances [xii] permeate bodies down to their smallest elements, like heat-matter (among others), and the hardest substances are transparent to many materials, e.g., light. Moreover, we are not suggesting that any body whatsoever is transparent to gravitational matter; rather, that every atom of the body is nontransparent to the gravitational matter; it is thus less a postulate than an objection.—“But then every body would have to finally increase in mass, and so become heavier.”—With what the blocked (by the impenetrability of the body) gravitational particles have an affinity we do not know; on the whole surface of the Earth, which is magnetic at every point, perhaps they have an affinity with magnetism. Perhaps they give an electrical constitution to all bodies, just as it might seem that the gravitational stream returns from the surface of the Sun as a stream of light. Supposing, finally—but finally for whom!—that the Earth, e.g., grows in mass; then every other mass grows in correllation.—“But the intensity of gravity!”—The quantity of movement is just as much the product of the velocity to the [139] mass, as of the mass to the velocity. The velocity of the streams, however, can be accepted as nearly infinite.— “But that law has limits, e.g., the light, as fast as it moves, has no moment of impact.” The velocity of the action of light, which can be expressed in determinate numbers, is incommensurable with the velocity of the action of gravity (as is proved in every lever).

Moreover, if the most primal affinity of all corporeal elements were the affinity to that principle, and if all other affinities were merely derived—and the final cause of gravity were also the final cause of all chemical affinity—then the gravitational stream would meet every single atom of every single body, which is not the case with light. (This grand thought is actually present in Lesage’s system. Indeed, he says in one passage: “Universal gravitation could not completely explain the appearances of affinities, one must well distinguish, therefore, the true chemical affinities which are not dependent on laws nor on the cause of universal gravity from the inauthentic so-called affinities that are only particular cases of the universal phenomenon of attraction or at least follow the same laws as the latter.” However—it only follows therefrom that the cause of gravity is not immediately the cause of chemical affinities. Lesage seeks the latter in a secondary fluid, the ether and its agitations, which are impressed on it through the gravitational principle.)

“But whence does this inexhaustible stream come, from what era does it derive, and what supports it continually?” Here the physicist must be permitted to complain about the general ignorance with respect to final causes—and so this system ends with the inexplicable, while within its bounds it explains as well as any other system and deduces as evidently as any other system all phenomena and the laws of universal gravitation.



i. merely for the time being
ii. 1) the position of the first section was totally hypothetical—for organic nature is not completely explained  as an antithesis. 2) Now the anorganic is to be deduced—but how? Merely from the opposition  to organic nature (we were only driven to anorganic nature as explanation of the organic).We  will be able to completely construct neither organic nor anorganic nature before we have brought  their construction back to a common expression. (Compare the Outline of the whole, p. 6f.)
iii. 1)
iv. e.g. minerals are here not species, but only individuals.
v. 2)
vi. which approach the mean between both extremes—the indecomposable and the incomposable—  more to the one, less to the other. Both extremes therefore separated, between these materials . . .
vii. generally
viii. which through that outer would be preserved in a compelled condition.
ix. (this is a condition of the anorganic world)
x. With respect to this tendency all materials of the Earth, e.g. are only one (we are not speaking at  all about cohesion here).
xi. It remains until now still undecided whether that cause through which the coherence of matter—  and that through which the proximity of masses to one another—is effected, is one and the same  cause. This will at any rate be shown, since it is indeed one gravity which gives all materials of the  Earth the tendency toward one another and maintains the whole, at the same time, at a determinate  distance from the Sun.
xii. Lesage can say that the visible (originally electrical) substances have in common with the invisible  substances (the cause of gravity) that they act in all dimensions in straight lines. The point from  which they depart is the central point of a periphery that is greater or lesser according to the relation  of the center’s intensity. For both, the law holds that its effect decreases inversely to the square  of the distance.
Site Admin
Posts: 30188
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Wed Jul 31, 2019 12:09 am


Second System.

2) A material principle of gravitation does not exist; the principle of gravity is an immaterial one, a basic force of all matter.

Since this theory of the Newtonians (for Newton himself was undecided) can have no physical grounds for itself, it must be metaphysical, which has just recently been maintained. [i]

We have the following:

For the construction of every material are required forces originally opposed. Matter’s filling of space can only be conceived as a repulsive force extending in all directions. However, if another force does not put a stop to this repulsion, then the matter would scatter itself into infinity, such that in every given space only an infinitely small quantum of matter would exist, or, because the repulsive force decreases in inverse relation to its expansion, only an infinitely small resistance would be encountered. That check, however, cannot occur through a repulsion coming in the opposite direction. For where there is direction—where there is a whence and a whither, there is already a restricted force. A second force, one specifically different from the first, must be accepted which acts in the absolutely opposite direction in relation to the repulsive force and which makes infinite expansion impossible—attractive force.

The attractive force is, therefore, a necessary one for all matter as such, by virtue of the sheer construction of its concept.

Since it first makes all matter possible as determinate occupation of space, and so also something palpable, it also contains the ground of contact itself. It must then precede contact, be independent of it, i.e., its action does not depend on contact; rather, it is action through empty space.

Since the repulsive force also acts beyond the surface of contact, it is a penetrating force.

The effect of attractive force at a distance can infinitely decrease to be sure, but it can never completely disappear. Its effect stretches to every part of matter throughout the whole cosmos to infinity.

[141] The universal effect of attractive force which it exercises on every part of matter to infinity is gravitation. The action of attractive force in a determinate direction is called gravity.

Universal gravitation is an original phenomenon, and the attraction of all matter within its field is real, not merely apparent, as if it were mediated by the impact of another material. If one assumes that this matter is not itself heavy, then no force will offer resistance to its repulsive force and it will scatter itself into all eternity. Since it is, nevertheless, only different in degree from the other material, it could become as heavy as any other material through gradual descent to deeper levels of matter, and conversely, the specifically heaviest matter could ultimately pass into that negatively gravitational matter, which is contradictory. Or, if it is supposed that it is heavy in itself, then one requires for the explanation of the possibility of such a thing, again, an original attractive force.

The following principal theses are contained in this system:

a) For the original construction of matter one requires original basic forces.—I assert, however, that one can succeed with this construction from original basic forces only in mechanics (in the broad sense of the word, i.e., insofar as one views matter merely as occupation of space in general). However, it does not make the formation of a single material conceivable because, in this case, one abstracts from all specific difference of matter and does not bring any other difference into view than the various degrees of its density (i.e., its occupation of space), as is also the case in Kant’s metaphysics of nature. In this work, Kant departs from the product, such as it is given in sheer occupation of space. Since the product as such offers no other multiplicity than the various degrees of extension, the product naturally also cannot be constructed otherwise than out of two forces whose variable relation gives various degrees of density. [142] Mechanics knows no other specific difference of matter, whose construction, then, may be just fine for explaining why a material has greater specific gravity than another, but not for making conceivable the productive power in matter. Therefore, these principles are in practice a dead weight for natural science.

(Incidentally, Kant handled the concept of matter solely analytically in his Dynamics, and limited himself to making conceivable the possibility of a construction of matter out of those two forces; it even seems that he held this to be impossible, according to a good many remarks.)

Our philosophy follows precisely the opposite course. It knows nothing of the product, it does not even exist for it. First and foremost, it knows only of the purely productive in Nature.—(The corpuscular philosopher has an infinitely great advantage over the so-called dynamical philosopher in that he brings something primally individual into Nature through his atoms, each of which has an original figure; it can be objected that it is impossible for these atoms, since they are themselves already products, to be first or ultimate things in Nature. Therefore, the philosophy of nature posits in their place simple actants, i.e., the ultimate in Nature, which are purely productive without being products—(hopefully, one has at least learned to think an activity without substrate and before all substrate by means of the transcendental manner of thinking). This pure productive power exists only ideally in Nature, to be sure, since simple factors can never be arrived at in the infinite evolution of Nature, and everything is still a product to infinity.)

Now, in order to explain how the productions of Nature are originally directed toward the development of a determinate product—to explain how every original actant is productive in a determinate way, which is revealed outwardly through the determinacy of figure—something negative [143] must be accepted in that infinitely productive activity. If, seen from the highest standpoint, all productive activity of Nature were only an infinite evolution from one original involution, it must be this negative factor (no longer a product) that inhibits [ii] the evolution of Nature, hinders it from reaching the end; in short, as we have shown above (p. 17), it is an originally retarding force.

To explain this retarding force—or, that Nature in general evolves with finite velocity, and so shows determinate products (of determinate synthesis) everywhere, seems to be the highest problem of the philosophy of nature. Only at the lowest standpoint, that of the perception of the product as sheer occupation of space, is that retarding force able to appear as attractive force. Moreover, this principle only serves to explain the finite, the determinateness in productions of Nature generally, not to explain how one natural object is finite in relation to another, e.g., the way the Earth gravitates toward the Sun. The former problem, to explain the finite in the productions of Nature generally, is already a transcendental problem (where one descends from the idea of Nature as a whole to the individual in it). But the latter, through which the Earth, for example, gravitates toward the Sun, is a purely physical problem, where one ascends from the individual in Nature to the whole; this ascent is, however, an infinite one, such that one is never constrained to force one’s way to the final term that makes Nature finite at all. This is because the problem is always a determinate one, namely, to specify how this determinate number of bodies have organized themselves into a common system, which certainly would not be possible without a final principle that inhibits the evolution of Nature generally, or that gives it a finite velocity. [iii]

Here we come upon the second thesis of the system, namely:

b) that the attractive force which belongs to the construction of every finite material is the same as the one that operates even outside of its sphere to infinity. For if it is thought that since this degree of [144] attractive force is applied in order to restrict the repulsive force to this determinate part of space, then it will exhaust itself in this repulsive force [iv] and will not exercise attractive effects on other materials outside of its sphere; a difficulty of the system that is irresolvable.

(All difference of degree would have to be supposed to lie only in the repulsive force, and to assume attractive force to be equal in every point of space, such that it would not be absolutely exhausted by any degree of repulsive force. This mode of representation cannot be made comprehensible, at least from Kant’s Dynamics, about which we will say more later.)



i. If the basic principle of this system can still be defended, then it must be defended as the principle  of the construction of matter in general, in short, by a proof snatched from metaphysics. Here  one can proceed in two ways, either, like Kant in his Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science by  an analysis of the concept of matter (I will present this proof below), or one can give a synthetic  proof from the original construction of matter from the antithetical activities that come together in  intuition and are unified. This is found in the System of Transcendental Idealism. This proof does not  belong in the philosophy of nature, which gives no such transcendental proofs—and what it cannot  prove physically it does not prove at all.
ii. retards

iii. This retarding principle is that which Kant calls “attractive force” in his construction of matter.  Now it becomes evident from the deduction of this retarding principle that it only serves to explain  how determination and bounds arise in the original and indeterminate productivity of Nature; it  serves to explain why the evolution of Nature occurs with finite velocity—but it does not explain  how it becomes absolutely fixed, which is actually the effect of gravity. That which Kant called attractive  force, and which we call retarding force, is a completely intransitive force, a force that is applied  merely to the construction of individual products—and exhausts itself in them. On the other  hand, gravitation is a transitive force, i.e. a force with which the product acts outside of itself.  I have two objections to Kant’s construction of matter: 1) that it holds only from the standpoint  of mechanics, where matter is already given as a product; 2) that it is incomplete, since that which Kant signifies by “attractive force” is a quite different force than gravitation; while the former is applied entirely to the construction of the product, the latter operates above and beyond the product. The attractive force for Kant still remains what it has always been—an unproven, and to that extent chimerical, principle.

iv. it will be applied merely to the construction of the product
Site Admin
Posts: 30188
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:03 am

Third Possible System.

3) If everywhere antitheses unite themselves into a third true system, it must also be possible here.

A material principle that effectuates gravitation through impact cannot be thought, because one has no category in natural science for such a principle (since it would have to be heavy and not-heavy at once [i]). For example, that an immaterial force draws the Earth to the Sun; again no comprehensible concept of this is possible.—(That is, we are far from denying that ultimately something like attractive force exists in Nature. However, we assert that every attraction in experience is a determinate and empirically determinable one.) [ii]

Of course there could be something material, empirically determinable, in the phenomenon of gravity, if gravity—(we do not speak at all here of the ultimate factor, that which holds Nature together, its most interior principle), if gravity (e.g., of the Earth to the Sun) were conditioned by the reciprocal specific constitution of materials of both masses.

[145] If there were, at the same time, something immaterial in this phenomenon, one would require no particular gravitational principle for its explanation aside from the universal specific constitution; rather, it could be said that all materials of the Earth gravitated to the Sun merely by virtue of a principle common to them—but in opposition to the materials of other planets of a specific constitution; although, perhaps this constitution itself would be maintained only through a material influence of the Sun, whose influence would then only be indirectly the cause of gravity. [iii]

It has been ascertained above that that which keeps together a mass as a mere aggregate of materials external to and contiguous with one another must be just such an influence of a mass outside of it which gives all parts a mutual tendency toward one another. This mutual tendency of all parts toward one another is not explicable other than by a common tendency of all parts toward unification in a third (because it always remains tendency after all, and never achieves unification), where their mutual tendency toward one another is only apparent, almost like the magnet gives an orderly position to the iron filings toward one another. This shared tendency to unification in a third is just the binding power which holds all the parts together. Now this third would have to be something necessarily outside of the mass, it would have to be, e.g., in the case of the Earth, the Sun. [iv] (According to the usual notion it is understood this way too, that is, that one and the same cause makes the parts of the Earth heavy with respect both to one another, and to the Sun.)

So, we should say that the Sun influences the Earth such that a shared tendency emerges in all the parts of the latter toward all parts of the Sun. How such a tendency is itself possible would then be a new problem whose solution can, for the time being, be indefinitely deferred. The Sun’s production, by its influence, of such a shared tendency in all parts of the Earth must be explained exactly as the shared tendency of all parts of the Earth toward one another would be explained; namely, through the influence of a third mass on the Sun, in relation to which, consequently, the Sun [146] together with the Earth (and its remaining satellites) amount to only one mass and are only held together among themselves by the shared tendency toward unification in a third. In the same way, all of the different substances of the Earth count as only one mass in relation to the Sun, through which the infinite attraction becomes apparent, since it is really always only the shared tendency to unification with a higher term which holds materials together among themselves, and, whether they exist only nearby and outside of one another or not, organizes them into one whole. [v]

Here we can conveniently abstract from whatever the final cause of this tendency (proceeding to infinity) of all materials toward one another may be. We only have to make out the following. The action which sustains that shared constitution must be capable of propagation. For example, if the mass A influences B, then in order that A and C indirectly gravitate toward one another, the influence of A on C must be able to be propagated through B. Further, it is inexplicable that all materials of the Earth have the tendency toward all parts of the Sun down to their final parts (i.e., to infinity) unless a shared constitution is to be accepted in all of them, with respect to which all of their remaining specific difference disappears and which is itself only a specific one in opposition to the materials of other planetary bodies. In the way that the parts of the Earth in relation to the Sun are related to one another, the parts of the Earth and the Sun are again related to one another in relation to a higher third, i.e., the parts of the Earth and the Sun must once more have a common constitution in relation to this higher term or belong to a common sphere of affinity, [vi] and so on to infinity. [vii]

[147] (Real chemical affinity should not at all be thought by this term (ultimately, chemical affinity and that higher affinity might surely have a common root); we are speaking here only of an affinity that has contiguity and exteriority as a consequence; for the problem was just how a plethora of matter, mere coexistence notwithstanding, could form into a unity.)

We might explain the fact that all parts of the Earth have one common constitution to infinity [viii] by saying that they were all together of a common origin, i.e., were precipitated from one and the same original synthesis, as it were. Moreover, we would have to make clear that the materials of the Earth have again one constitution in common with those of the Sun in the same way; that is, the Sun with all of its satellites is a common precipitate out of one higher compound, and so on to infinity.

(Or, it might be thought that all planetary bodies are only the fragments of one infinite mass, and the various materials on them are only fragments of this one mass to which they belong.—Since I mention this image only in passing, I can also invoke the unexplained fact that the mere contact of two different bodies communicates to them always (or for a long time at least) a common constitution, as one metal communicates to another in galvanism, and still more conspicuously, as the infinitely fertile magnet communicates to the iron, where, so to speak, a contagion is in play, which the ancients notably called the daimonic, because it operates like a spell.)—

Generally, if the gravitation of two masses toward one another lies in a principle common to them both, then this common principle must extend to infinity (as far as mechanistic division goes), because otherwise the proportion of the masses and of gravitation remains unexplained. One cannot doubt on the grounds of experience that in an infinite heap of matter a common [148] constitution of all parts to infinity is at all possible (for that it is necessary, might be proven a priori), for the magnet demonstrates polarity to infinity, e.g., as in the newly discovered magnetic serpentine stone. It cannot be denied that the magnetism of our globe penetrates down to the smallest particle. [ix]—(If one erects an iron rod in our hemisphere, perpendicular to the Earth, and leaves it for a while in this position, it receives the south pole on the end turned to the Earth, the north pole on the opposite end. The reverse will occur in the southern hemisphere. [x])— And yet, we would know nothing of magnetism unless two individual substances stepped out of this universal sphere of magnetism and formed a particular magnetism among themselves (why they do so is uninvestigated). [xi]

Now, since magnetism is distinguished from the universal force of attraction in all systems of physics and is accepted as an empirical and empirically determinable constitution of matter, can there not likewise be a still higher cause, and for that reason still far removed from the universal force of attraction, i.e., still an empirical determination of all matter of our Earth, which extends to every atom—a higher cause of its gravitation toward the Sun?

It has already been remarked elsewhere (On the World-Soul, p. 178) that the magnetism of the Earth, excited by the influence of the Sun, is the single glimmer of hope for also understanding the gravitation of the Earth toward the Sun as a material phenomenon. It was not because I believed that the cause of magnetism is identical with the cause of gravity (although it is very natural to suppose a connection between them), but because I recognized something analogous therein, a proper determination of all matter of our Earth to infinity, but still an empirical one.

It is also quite conceivable that because that empirical constitution of matter, which is the cause of gravity, goes to infinity, no body exists [149] to which one could first communicate this constitution (according to the assumption). It is necessarily the case that in searching for a constitution with experiments nothing can ever be discovered about the cause of gravity of our Earth toward the Sun or the parts of the Earth toward themselves by the empirical path.

Nevertheless, it could most likely be proven that gravity has empirical conditions generally, e.g., in our planetary system, since we are already familiar with universal phenomena that indicate such empirical conditions of attraction, as for example, the fact that all orbiting planets always turn the same side to their central planet. [xii] By gazing into the innermost construction of the heavens Herschel was brought to the thought that very manifold primary forces (not only one force) gave the universe its order. [xiii]—Even if the difference of the world regions, e.g., of the south and north, stops being merely a mathematical difference and one gradually comes to the idea that a physical cause acting universally throughout the whole solar system instituted it, [xiv] then why should attraction not finally also pass from a merely mathematical into a physical phenomenon? [xv]

The origin of gravity ought to be for the time being investigated historically, i.e., in the history of universal world formation. Now, here one has complete freedom to accept (as does Kant) the original condition of Nature as a universal dissolution of world substance into a cloudlike shape. By this means, one can accept the universe as in a certain way preformed, for in part, an infinitely manifold diversity is presupposed in the original elements, and in part, the densest elements are placed at determinate distances from one another (e.g., in the solar distance of the present system), [150] in order (as seeds) to insert matter into the first stirrings of universal affinity and to be able to concentrate it into central bodies. Nevertheless, it turns out no better for this system of the mechanical origin of the world than for the ancient Epicurean system with the clinamen of the atoms; for it can satisfactorily explain neither the beginning of centrifugal motion nor its regularity; why, for example, all planets have taken one and the same direction. Kant’s way of thinking about this is the following.3 First, the vertical motion of the particles falling toward the central point generally gets an obliquely deflected motion from the repulsive forces of matter, which alone bring an enduring life to Nature through their conflict with the forces of attraction. Through these forces of repulsion that are expressed, e.g., in the elasticity of gases, and so forth, the sinking elements are steered obliquely from the straight-line motion mutually by one another and the vertical fall strikes out into circular motions, which circumscribe the central point of the universal depression. [xvi]—Nevertheless, it is readily noticed that that regularity which is noted in the centrifugal motion of the planets does not at all dwell in these repulsive forces, and opposed oblique motions should have formed by virtue of its effect rather than movements in one determinate direction (e.g., from evening to morning). Now it might be thought that if vortices have formed around the midpoint of the depression at greater or lesser distances, in which every particle describes for itself a curved line, these particles could limit themselves by their movements among one another until they all proceeded in one direction; but it is here that chance is all-too-often brought in, [xvii] in that that equality of direction, at least in our solar system (the movements of comets excepted), presupposes a much more determinate and more powerful cause, which has been impressed upon them by this movement.

This is aside from the fact that nothing at all is to be established with mechanical explanations of the origin of the world when Nature [151] must be viewed as product to infinity; in which case its formation can only be of an organic kind throughout. [xviii] Since we find ourselves here in the realm of mere possibilities, we would like to present our thoughts in this regard as mere possibilities also, as long as we are joining our possibilities to actualities and are thus able to find our bearings upon this wide sea of opinions.

The question arises whether the origin of the world system ought to be thought more organically than mechanically, through an alternation of expansion and contraction, as happens with all organic formation. One could suppose that through one contraction the first beginning of formation happens, departing from one point, at once stretching through an immeasurably large part of space wherein the primal material of the world was prepared; that moreover, together with this universal appropriation which that one point exercises on the totality of matter, spread out in an infinite space, an opposite effect comes to pass; namely, that it thrusts heterogeneously constituted material from its sphere of formation, and that in such a way the universal process of formation began at many points simultaneously. Since no appropriation is at all possible without separation and both are really one operation in every organic formation, then one could imagine that that one point, in the relation by virtue of which it forms itself through appropriation, thrust whole masses away simultaneously with a violence that one can assume proportional with the first, still youthful and untried forces of Nature. Now, between the original and the expelled masses a common affinity must have taken place (because otherwise they never would have been able to contract toward a single point), but the original masses form a narrower sphere of affinity (in that they expell a part of their matter). If this is the case, however, then that formation of always narrower spheres of affinity has to proceed infinitely; and is not this process of organization that proceeds to infinity the origin of the whole world system?

[152] In order to follow this idea further, let us consider the first mass forming itself as the most original product, as a product that can splinter into new products to infinity, which is at any rate the property of every natural product. [xix]—(We could also allow all matter spread throughout cosmic space to pass first through this mass (like fire, as it were), so that the parts might acquire the shared constitution which later will be the cause of the universal tendency of all materials toward one another, although this hypothesis is not required.)—As the first product of Nature (according to the laws of all synthesis) that original mass will first of all divide into opposed factors, which are necessarily themselves products once more. In this way, three original masses will incipiently form the first projection of the universe, still present only in germ, but it is also only three masses that are able to form among themselves a system of gravitation; for if we posit two original masses that are equal to one another, they will reciprocally get closer to one another and pass into one mass (supposing that no centrifugal motion is impressed upon them which is also not yet deduced); or, if we suppose the two to be unequal, then the one will draw the other into its sphere and both will once more disappear together into one mass. [xx] If we suppose, on the contrary, three original masses, A, B, and C, where the one, A, is equal to the sum of the remaining two masses (according to the most probable calculations, the like actually happened in our solar system), then in such a system an equilibrium becomes possible; but in addition, that simultaneously indirect and direct reciprocal action that belongs to every closed system will be possible in it.While, for example, the effect of A upon B is disturbed by C, once more the effect of C upon A is disturbed by B, and in the same indivisible instant the effect of B upon C is again disturbed by A, where that circulation begins anew from the beginning, without one being able to say where it began or where it ends. (Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature, p. 185 - 4)

[153] (It can certainly be said that if Nature originates not through aggregation but through evolution, and if its components everywhere first spring from the product, then throughout the whole of Nature such a universal sundering of every unity into opposing factors must take place.—In galvanism that necessary triplicity is even now proposed as a law.)

The first masses in relation had to institute an antagonism of equilibrium as they formed, i.e., they had to separate themselves into their opposed factors, and retain only the shared principle of both. But was it any different with these two masses? (Let them be designated B and C.) Each of these factors is itself a product, each must again divide into opposed factors. If the factors of B are designated by a and b, then a and b were reciprocally opposed in relation to the lower sphere of formation which they enclosed, but were equal to one another in relation to their common principle that lay in B as in a higher sphere. It is also just the same with B and C. Both are reciprocally opposed to one another, but equal to each other in relation to the higher A, their common synthesis. But where will this splintering into opposing factors finally stop? [xxi]—And so we would know for the time being to what extent all of the matter of one system had a common constitution. That is, any two products of the same sphere of formation are opposed to one another, but equal in relation to the higher sphere of formation from which they are descended. [xxii] The common principle [xxiii] is neither in the one nor in the other (for they are opposed to each other), but clearly in both together, i.e., [xxiv] contained in their common synthesis [xxv]—(their sun, e.g., into which they will some day return)—. Therefore, through a completely necessary syllogism (that is, because we are able to think the universe under no other condition than as organized and organically produced) we have also deduced whence the universal duplicity in Nature comes; namely, it came into [154] Nature through universal gravitation (but gravitation is not its cause), and this is one of those actualities to which we can conjoin our first possibilities and on the basis of which we can reason so earnestly.

We assume then, that the universe brought itself forth from one mass, conceived in formation, to a system of three original masses, and from these produced itself by an infinitely progressive organization (or formation of always narrower spheres of affinity), by means of an always advancing explosion. Now if every body thrust from the central mass again became a central body that had to divide itself into opposed products, according to its nature and necessarily, then every system in the universe must be reducible to three original masses. That the system numbers more bodies, in the solar system infinitely more, must be explained from the unequal force by which the explosion occurs; this proposition has a generally valid ground for itself (i.e., analogy), even if it only receives confirmation through the observation of our solar system. [xxvi]

If one assumes that the bodies furthest from the central point were exploded by the first force of the Sun, then the three furthest planets of our solar system are apparently from a common explosion, but Mars, whose displacement from Jupiter is so relatively great, is from the second, less forceful explosion.— However, the distance between Jupiter and Mars is not made up merely by the space in between both, but by a still more conspicuous difference. [xxvii] The eccentricity of the motions must obviously decrease in inverse relation to distance from the Sun, because in relation to the greater distance the centrifugal motion impressed on a body through the explosion must always become weaker. The only exceptions are Mars and Mercury. The motion of Mars is more eccentric by far than that of Jupiter. According to the assumption, however, both are also from different explosions. The same force that acted on Mars is apparently not the same force that acted on Jupiter, but rather the one which has impressed the Earth and Venus with their centrifugal motion; therefore, [155] its centrifugal motion must also be weaker than that of the much closer Earth and Venus, such that among the three farthest planets the first (counted from the Sun outward) has the least eccentricity and the third the relatively largest.—Finally Mercury, which among them all has the greatest eccentricity, is without doubt from the final force of the Sun. (Although one must also take into account that the density of its mass and the great proximity of its centripetal force to the Sun must give it a great imbalance; for that its eccentricity is more a result of the imbalance of the latter than of the weakness of the former becomes evident from the velocity of its vibratory motion).—Yet another analogy contests, however, that the three planets of our solar system are from a common explosion; for when one compares the three most distant with the remaining nearer to the Sun, they are obviously superior in mass to them, but if one compares them among one another, then Jupiter is, e.g., superior to Saturn, where one cannot see a reason why this should be so, other than that all three have been exploded from one and the same force, where naturally the greater part of the mass had to underlie the centripetal force rather than the smaller. (To say with Kant that “Mars is smaller because the more powerful Jupiter withdrew too much matter from its sphere of formation,” is obviously to provide a circular explanation. For “Jupiter is superior to Mars through its force of attraction,” means precisely the same as “Mars is lesser in mass than Jupiter,” which is just what one wanted to explain.5) The same striking analogy is illustrated with the three closer planets, for among them Venus, closer to the Sun, has more mass than the Earth, the Earth more than Mars; why should this be so, unless one and the same force had thrown them out of the Sun? And finally Mercury (the last explosion) has the least mass; if two planets were visible closer to the Sun than it is, then the first among them would again have the greatest mass. [xxviii]—

[156] Since this view of the origin of the world seems sufficiently confirmed by the foregoing, I ought to linger momentarily in order to show how even more analogies agree with it. Such are, for example, the analogical difference in the densities of the planets; since apparently as to time, the less dense masses must be from the first explosion, and therefore are the most removed from the central body—(comets); how, further, the same materials must be (on account of the lesser effect of centripetal force on them) redirected at the last moment into the elliptical motion; and how the densities of the planetary bodies must decrease universally in inverse relation with the distance from the Sun. [xxix] Only two observations accord with our aim.

First, the origin of the centrifugal motion needs to be deduced particularly in view of its direction, neither from an immediate divine action with Newton, nor, with Kant, must it be left to chance; rather, it can be deduced from a cause dwelling in the central mass itself, which doubtlessly extends much further.

Second, it should be shown how the constant organic metamorphosis of the universe becomes explicable on this theory, since the universe really only endures in a continual alternation of expansion and contraction (for what is our duration compared to the periods that one solar system needs for its condensation?). [xxx]

Until now, we have brought only the formation of one system into view. We began the formation at one point of space and let it extend, admittedly, to an indeterminate size, but not infinitely far. This presupposition does not hinder us from assuming that such formations always occur from a common point outward, and that in this way the universe is conceived in infinite becoming (because a completed infinity is a contradiction). According to the laws of analogy we have to suppose that between those points strewn throughout infinite space at immeasurable distances from one another, where the first impulse to new formation happens (perhaps [157] by means of an infinitely quickening stimulus (like the electrical) through space), a reciprocal relationship will again appear to infinity, namely, a relation through gravitation. This already becomes conceivable (if a common cause of the first motion is also not to be assumed) because that central mass of new systems all form themselves through condensation out of a substance conceived in common solution, and simultaneously mutually exclude each other while they form themselves.—To accept a common central point of the whole universe from which all formation has departed would be to make the universe finite. [xxxi] If the world, however, is not infinite (but only becomes), and one assumes that one action (the first cause of universal motion) is propagated from one initial point outward toward all points that are capable of an independent formation, and so on to infinity, then at least that first point will be the central point of the incipient creation. Nevertheless, the original, independent formations will together have only an ideal center, because every single individual formed itself independently, i.e., through its own formation, and in the ratio that those formations progress, that center too (falling in empty space) will always be shifted to a new point. [xxxii]

Meanwhile, if we turn our gaze back to [xxxiii] one independent system (i.e., to one whole of systems which have all formed themselves from one pulsating point outward), then we will be able to view the individual systems that belong to it in three different conditions at once: 1) a few in the condition of greatest expansion, where the centrifugal motion impressed on them still keeps equilibrium to the centripetal tendency without loss; 2) while others are already in a median condition of contraction; and finally, 3) others are in the condition of highest contraction, near their collapse. [xxxiv]—Now, if it is asked in what relation these various conditions stand to their distance from the central point, [158] it is readily seen that the contraction must occur the fastest nearest to the midpoint; for example, between those places in the heavens where the stars seem pressed together toward one point closest to their center (perhaps, to the shared central point of all suns—for I will prove below that all worlds whose continuity with us is sustained by light belong to one system). In contrast, there are those places where the spaces between the stars are emptier at the farthest from the central point and systems of median expansion must exist in the middle between both, although the reversion of the system nearest the central point into its origin would bring the ruin of the others after it with accelerated velocity. [xxxv] If we suppose such a universal reversion of each system into its center, then according to the same law by which this system organized itself into one system at its first formation, each system will, revitalized, proceed again from its ruins; and so we have deduced at once the eternal metamorphosis running throughout the whole universe and the continuous return of Nature into itself (which is its genuine character). [xxxvi]

From the foregoing it can be effortlessly and completely derived that and why anorganic nature must organize itself into systems of bodies which are constrained through the combination of opposing motions to describe regular orbits around shared central points. [xxxvii] But we can conveniently spare ourselves from this elaboration in order to bring more important conclusions at once into view.


i. not heavy, because it first produces all weight; heavy, because otherwise one cannot conceive how  a certain direction could originally belong to this material at all.
ii. But to explain an individual attraction in Nature we cannot immediately pass to the ultimate term  which holds Nature together overall.We also would not call this ultimate factor “attractive force” because  this designation already presupposes false concepts and really only names the outward aspect of  the matter, but not the thing itself.According to our system, attraction will also be something merely  apparent—it is just that we do not allow it to act through impact. There is no “attractive force” in the  usual sense; but that there exists in Nature something like attractive force, we do not deny.
iii.  We have a determinate problem: to specify how a given number of bodies could organize themselves into a whole; thus the solution must also be not universal, but determinate.
To be sure, there must be one force that reigns throughout the whole of Nature and by which Nature is preserved in its identity; a force that we have not yet deduced, but to which we find ourselves driven for the first time. However, this force may be capable of infinitely many modifications and may be as various as the conditions under which it operates. The force—because we still lack the common expression for it—remains always a hypothesis. Nevertheless, to admit such a force does not entail that the phenomenon of gravity has no empirical meaning. This one force might admittedly be something immaterial indeed, but the conditions under which it operates could be material or empirical. For example (as mentioned above), if the gravitation of the Earth toward the Sun were conditioned through the specific reciprocal constitution of materials of both masses, then the condition of that force would indeed be material, but it could still be immaterial itself; i.e. a force that works immediately in matter just as soon as its conditions are furnished, without intervention of a particular material principle.
The empirical condition of gravitation of the two masses would, therefore, be the specific difference of both. But then what is to be thought under that “difference”? What is the condition of gravitation? Surely, no one will deny that between the superior and the subaltern planetary bodies (e.g. the Sun and the Earth) there is and must be a chemical difference. By what is this chemical difference conditioned? Without doubt by a higher difference—we speak here of the higher difference by which even the chemical is conditioned.
However, there is no other difference than that in relation to a higher third term, wherein the opposed terms are again unified. This will also be the case here. There will be a difference between the higher and the subaltern product, but this is a reciprocal one, as is said in the text. Both are reciprocally opposed to one another, but also opposed equally in relation to a higher third term—their common synthesis.
This explanation being assumed, the question is raised 2) how we come to the idea at all, or what reason do we have for positing precisely difference as the condition of gravitation—a question which we really ought to deal with first.
I cannot invoke here a universal natural law which says that only the heterogeneous seeks itself and the homogeneous flees itself.We became familiar with this law only in one single case until now—in organic nature, and so cannot yet presuppose it as a universal law of nature; but another reason leads us to assume it. The construction of the phenomenon itself compels us to assume it. For what is weight? Is weight thinkable within an absolute identity? Or does weight already presuppose diremption?—Every body must, indeed, have the degree of its weight in itself—but the cause of its weight outside of itself. If we think of a body in empty space (or all of matter in a clump), then  it is not heavy. A body, therefore, is only heavy insofar as it has a cause outside of itself which makes  it heavy.Weight already presupposes an original exteriority. The condition of weight is a juxtaposition.  How should this juxtaposition be explained? It cannot again be explained from the system of  gravity, for it is indeed the condition of all gravitation.We are driven here to an original exteriority,  which contains the ground of that derived one. This original exteriority, which is the condition of  the mechanical exteriority of bodies, can now be of a sheerly dynamical kind, i.e. it must be an original  difference. For there is a dynamical exteriority only where there is an original diremption.
The question whether we will ever be able to investigate this original difference at all, or  whether we can investigate only the difference that is the condition of gravitation, e.g. between the  Sun and the Earth, remains completely out of our purview. It is enough that it has been deduced  from the construction of the phenomenon itself that difference is its condition and is, namely, the  original difference through which even all mechanical exteriority is conditioned and first brought  forth. In order to apply this general proposition to the individual case and to make it clear: through,  e.g. the original difference between Sun and Earth, an action of the Sun upon the Earth will be  conditioned by which the Earth is compelled to fall toward the Sun—unless a force opposed to this  falling constantly hinders it.
iv. Thus it is shown that the cause through which an anorganic whole is held together (although it is  a mere contiguity and exteriority of the parts to one another) and the cause through which one  anorganic whole maintains relation to another whole, is one and the same cause.
v. We can now state the following two principles: 1) if an anorganic whole should gravitate toward  another, then all the parts of that whole can be mutually as different as can be in relation to one another—  however, in relation to the higher term toward which they gravitate they must be one. The  ground of their shared gravitation must lie in something common to all of them together (e.g. there  are specific differences of substances on the Earth, but the gravity toward the Sun is the same for  all of them). 2) If two anorganic wholes should gravitate in common toward a third term, then again  they must have something in common in relation to that higher third, something common in relation  to which their reciprocal difference entirely disappears. Opposed among one another they are  equal in relation to the third.
vi. I find this expression used already by Mr. Hofrath Lichtenberg. This excellent scientist brings to  our attention in his newest Novelties from Heaven that the effect of light on our Earth and its atmosphere  is already a proof of our submersion in a sphere of affinity and shell of the Sun which has  nothing to do with universal gravity.—Well, if the gravity of the Earth toward the Sun were already  itself an effect of it, 1) would all parts of the Earth belong to the higher sphere of affinity of the  Sun, and 2) would both the Earth and the Sun commonly belong to a still higher sphere of affinity?—(  Original note.—Trans.)
vii. Now, how should we designate this common element? This common element is just that which  manifests itself as gravity, and we have no other expression for it.We could call that common element  a common constitution—but then what is a constitution? We have not yet constructed a constitution  of matter at all. Nor do we know at all what the ground of specific difference is. For the  dynamical atoms through which we explained the qualities were merely ideal grounds of explanation.  We could say it this way: the Earth and the Sun belong to a common higher “sphere of affinity”—  but then what is affinity? We know just as little about that as we know about what a specific  constitution of matter is.
We will at any rate use this expression, but not in order to explain anything by it or to anticipate  an explanation, but just in order to be able to express ourselves at all.
viii. one determination in common
ix. The condition or cause of gravity is an empirical one. However, the ground of gravity must be a  common ground of all materials which belong to one whole, and this common principle must extend  to infinity. Now is such an empirical constitution common to all matter of the Earth, present in  every individual to infinity, at all thinkable?—The impenetrablility, the divisibility of matter certainly  goes to infinity—but these are not empirical, they are rather transcendental properties—but  gravity should be an empirical property. Can it be thought that such an empirical quality of all matter  of the Earth to infinity is a common one? For example, let that empirical property have its  ground in an opposition which extends in matter to infinity; can such an opposition be thought  that is still the same in the smallest parts of matter? Nothing from experience speaks against such  a possibility. The magnetism of the Earth, e.g. probably rests on an original opposition. Now, this  opposition apparently extends to infinity, for the Earth is magnetic to infinity.
x.  not only that. A simple perpendicular state gives polarity instantly to an unmagnetic iron rod. What an abyss of forces we gaze into here.
xi. Universal magnetism is independent of special magnetism; for the latter is first produced by and is efficacious by means of the former.—
If, in physics, one wants to explain the phenomenon of magnetic attraction immediately by a universal and abstract force of attraction, then every physicist would doubtless say that such an explanation is no explanation. This is because one sees that this phenomenon has empirical conditions, that it follows, e.g. only under the presupposition of an existing opposition.—The explanation of the phenomenon of gravity from such a universal force of attraction is tolerable in physics due to the fact that the empirical conditions are seen less here, although at least traces of them can be shown in the heavens.
Magnetism generally will be viewed as a phenomenon that has its empirical ground in matter. Likewise, magnetism is just as universal as gravity—for the Earth is, as has been remarked above, infinitely magnetic.
xii. Because we cannot search for this ground or this empirical condition of gravity in the matter of the  Earth in an empirical way, it does not follow that we cannot at all prove that gravity has empirical  conditions in our planetary system. Our assumption, as is well-known, is this: the force of gravity  is one, but its conditions are diverse, and as manifold as is the universe itself. There is not just one  force of gravity, rather there are only forces of gravity in the universe, e.g. our Earth can only gravitate  immediately toward the Sun and not toward a higher planet, and so on. Aside from the fact  that this assumption is perhaps a priori demonstrable, it can even be proven from actual phenomena  that not one force of gravity, but very different forces of gravity rule in the universe, or that the  one force of gravity acts under very different conditions—as stated; where, for example, the orbiting  planets always turn the same side to their central planet: a proposition that is proven by almost  all indications. One cannot explain this phenomenon from an abstract basic force inhabiting matter  as matter; however, this phenomenon illustrates something determinate and will, if pursued further,  provide great insights concerning the origin of the moons, their dignity, and the role that they  play in the universe.
xiii. Until now the phenomenon of attraction has been handled only as a mathematical problem. However,  even quite a few mathematical differences have a physical ground.
xiv. One of Franklin’s ideas,2 to which the phenomenon of magnetism had at first probably brought  him. An idea which now (according to a new notice) obtains great confirmation not only through  the great differences of the two hemispheres of our Earth, but also in the moon and two other planets.  (Original note.—Trans.)
xv. Yet another question is to be answered: if the condition of gravity is an opposition, ex hypothesi,  then this opposition must again be raised into a higher synthesis. Then our Sun and whole planetary  system would again be one in relation to the higher system—the common synthesis; and to  that extent, the condition will again be something common to all materials of the Earth and the  Sun.
Now, how should this common term be explained? How can the fact be explained that, in all  substances of the Earth, the condition of gravity is the same? One could imagine that all of them  together spring from one and the same original synthesis. We can say that all bodies of our planetary  system were all together precipitated out of one common synthesis, out of one higher composite,  in the same way that the condition of gravitation toward a higher system is the same for the  materials of our whole planetary system.—However, all of this is mere supposition, and nothing  whatsoever can be asserted about it when such an assertion cannot be proven from the history of the  formation of the world itself. We find ourselves led through the phenomenon of gravity, which we  otherwise cannot completely explain, to the investigation concerning the World System.
xvi. This is the general form of Kant’s explanation of centrifugal motion, through which the motion  and formation of masses is explained at the same time. Since the elements are steered to the side,  they cannot fall into the central point of attraction. So for circular motion generally. However, since  they are differently limited in their motions until they proceed in one direction, the motion of the  elements is impressed also upon the masses that are formed from them—and thus these proceed  in the same direction according to which they proceeded in the motions of their reciprocally limiting  elements.—(Thus the final cause is only attractive force.)
xvii. It can always be asked why the elements have limited themselves reciprocally precisely in this and  no other direction.
xviii. If nature had just formed itself mechanically (and this is at bottom the case according to Kant’s explanation),  then it would not be so much a product as mere mechanical aggregation from already existent  factors. If the world is merely mechanically aggregated, then, e.g. all specific difference must  already be presupposed. If, however, the world arose not mechanically, through aggregation, but  through organic development from one original synthesis, then, e.g. all qualitative difference in the  universe itself is already a product of the universal organism.
xix.  In general, the state of contraction and expansion is the state of productivity passing into product. That alternation does not only happen in organic nature, it happens also outside of organic nature— in the elementary phenomena, for example; but, as I have proven on another occasion, the elementary phenomena are not appearances of one product, but appearances of productivity itself, and are actually phenomena of restricted productivity. The original state of Nature was, according to the common conception, actually a state of pure productivity; it was that state where all products were still invisible and dissolute in the universal productivity. If this productivity is to pass into the product, then it must be duplicitous in itself, and here we find ourselves driven back again to our first postulate, to an original diremption as condition of all construction of matter. The deeper meaning in Kant’s construction of matter out of two opposing forces is just this, that the condition of all formation is an original duplicity.
Assuming this diremption, an alternation of attraction and repulsion was conditioned by the opposition. The point from which the formation began was determined by the original opposition itself. In that alternation of attraction and repulsion, Nature really seeks only to return out of difference, which is contrary to it, into indifference. That point will then be the original point of indifference. The first product will fall within this original point of indifference. This product is, necessarily, as the first product wherein the whole of Nature contracts itself, an absolute synthesis— a product that can splinter into new products infinitely.—(If one asks, by what that infinite splintering of the product into always new products is produced, then this can certainly not be explained otherwise than by assuming that the opposition which should cancel itself in the product is infinite. If the opposition were infinite, then it would indeed cancel itself in a finite product by virtue of the unconditioned striving of Nature to return into its identity—but it will cancel itself only in part— the opposition will arise always anew, and thus the first product and every subsequent product will divide itself ad infinitum into opposed products again.
An antithesis will necessarily arise again in the first product, for it is formed as homogeneous; the absolute opposition is canceled only in part.
xx. Two products by themselves would form no system. It is a necessary feature of any system that both a direct and indirect reciprocal action exist simultaneously. Each individual member of the whole acts in part immediately upon every other, in part indirectly through all the rest. Therefore, the simplest system must consist of at least three products, and we can expect in advance that the total system of gravitation and every single system of gravitation in this universal one will be reduced to three original products.
xxi. Nowhere, for the opposition is an infinite one, only to be canceled in an infinite synthesis.
xxii. and this is the common principle that belongs to them and which is the ground of their gravity.
xxiii. of both
xxiv. it is
xxv. and for this reason their gravitation is a common one.
xxvi.  We suppose that the universe brought itself forth from a central point outward, first to a system of gravitation of three masses, the simplest that is possible, and from there through a disintegration of every product into new products to infinity. Then, e.g. all suns would descend from a primal sun, and the planets which course around the sun would be offspring of the suns.—Here the question arises how one would have to think that mechanism of disintegration—or the mechanism of forces that have cooperated in that disintegration; in which circumstance it is to be foreseen that the forces that have acted with that disintegration will also be the forces that have impressed the planetary bodies with their motions (and that we here come nearer to the solution of our principal problem).
xxvii. namely, through the different eccentricity of their orbits
xxviii. We said that the universe brought itself forth from one original product by means of an always advancing  explosion. I urge the reader not to think of mechanical forces when I use this expression,  which begin to operate much later in Nature. The forces which acted in this explosion are without  doubt the original repulsive forces in Nature.
I cannot yet prove that which will be proven subsequently, i.e., that the cause which brought  the first opposition into the universal identity of Nature—the first condition of all motion into the  universal rest—is none other than the cause of magnetism. I assume also, then, that the first movements  of that opposition were magnetic movements, and assume that even the structure of individual  planetary bodies and, moreover, of our whole planetary system, leads us to this idea.
I have just recently presented the idea of Franklin (p. 84) that the differentiation of world regions  is probably not merely a mathematical one, but is instituted through a universally operative  physical cause. This physical cause can be none other than magnetism. It can be proven that magnetism  was already cooperative in the first formation of our Earth from the regularity of its structure,  which is still apparent enough in spite of the great catastrophies of time. Another great  confirmation of the cooperation of magnetism in the formation of planetary bodies is the great differences  of both hemispheres, not only on the Earth, but also on the moon and in other planets.
It is an extremely striking phenomenon that on the Earth the closer toward the north pole one  comes, the more compacted the masses become, so to speak; the closer to the south pole, the more  fragmented, as it were, since down to this pole the Earth is merely an island. This phenomenon is  striking when one realizes that the same phenomenon is apparent in every single magnet (and the  Earth is nothing other than a great magnet). In every single magnet the attractive forces of the  north pole are superior by far to those of the opposite pole (approximately as in the prismatic spectrum  the colors of the one pole are brighter and more forceful than those of the other).
Am I mistaken, or can this analogy even be transferred to our whole planetary system? Magnetism  operated throughout our whole solar system—and determined all poles, and without doubt  even the motion of the planetary bodies around their axes. The forces through which the planetary  bodies were impressed with their centrifugal motion cannot be derivative or subordinate forces, but  must belong to the original repulsive forces of Nature.We need not be in confusion on account of  the cause which, e.g. thrust the planets from their centrality.We also cannot accept that the effect is  disproportionate to the youthful, still untried forces of Nature conceived in their first development.
xxix. Our investigation also cannot be extended to the formation of the moon and other such objects.  This whole theory will obtain its full presentation elsewhere. (Original note.—Trans.)
xxx. Yet it is also to be assumed that many primitive or independent formations must be supposed to  exist in the universe, such that not all planetary bodies ultimately descended from one primal product,  for the reason given in the immediately following passages.
xxxi.  But this reason is no reason, since we can nudge back this central point infinitely (the point at which the absolutely first product of Nature exists, out of which all others have evolved). Incidentally, it is natural that our explanation can never have recourse to this first point of origin of formation, i.e. that there is no such thing for us at all. Just as our empirical consciousness is restricted to one part of the universe, all of our explanations can be related only to this part. The highest point to which our explanation can elevate itself is our solar system—system of planets. What holds for our system of planets holds also for the solar system, and if the latter is only an offspring of the sun, the former is also only the offspring of a central body.
xxxii. I will only make one remark, and it is that this theory of the origin of the world is at the same time a guiding thread for the whole history of the universe, for the history of its genesis and its gradual corruption. In addition, the existence of the universe will be a continual metamorphosis—the universe will consist only in an oscillation of expansion and contraction—it is just that our timespan has absolutely no relation to the period which just one solar system needs for its condensation.
xxxiii. the universe as to
xxxiv. From these different conditions the various forms and shapes of the star systems can be explained,  to which Herschel has principally drawn our attention. For example, the form of the Milky Way is  apparently completely different than the many star clusters which have a shapely spherical look and  which display an increasing densification and an increasingly intense light directed toward one  point. We should view these clusters as systems that are already in the state of contraction and near  their collapse.
xxxv. It is evident from this, that we must also think the duration of the universe as an organic one. The  duration of a system is nothing other than an oscillation of expansion and contraction—an eternal  metamorphosis.
xxxvi. I now state the results from our previous development.We began with the investigation into the  essence of gravity. We assumed that gravity had empirical conditions, and that not just one force  of gravity reigned throughout the whole universe. The origin of those empirical conditions was to  be investigated in the history of the origin of the world. Now we found here that the organization  of the universe into systems of gravitation has no other ground than the infinity of the opposition  which is to cancel itself in the universe—for every original product must fragment again into products  to infinity, where the higher product is necessarily the synthesis of the subordinate ones. This  assumption (namely, that the universe is nothing other than the development from one original  synthesis) was proven from the construction of our system of planets, for it can be proven from the  mere design of this system that it formed itself outward from the Sun as the central point.
xxxvii. from which comes that opposition extending to infinity which, according to our presupposition, is  itself the condition of gravity, and further, why this opposition is a particular one for every product,  and why gravity is also of a characteristic type for every product.
I close this investigation with the reminder that all of its propositions have a merely hypothetical  truth until the universal expression for the construction of a product in general is found; a problem  whose solution we approach only gradually, and through whose solution everything that we have  assumed until now is only then either confirmed or denied—but must be justified in any case.
Site Admin
Posts: 30188
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:03 am

Conclusions. [i]


a) The tendency that is produced in all parts of the Earth by the influence of the Sun is a tendency toward reciprocal intussusception.—(The product of this universal tendency must be something common to all parts of the Earth.—Before the matter is specially investigated this can be imagined as [159] universal magnetism, which would already itself be a product of, not cause of that universal tendency.)— But the action of gravity brings forth the mere tendency, it does not go beyond the tendency.—Now, if one assumes as certain based on experience that intussusception is actual, the possibility of which we have at least postulated above (p. 24), then, at any rate, the action of gravity will be the first impulse to all intussusception—(and so the cause of gravity is the ultimate which ensouls the whole of Nature, as Lichtenberg already surmised)—but if actual intussusception is to be achieved, then yet another particular action, different from the influence of gravity (but standing in connection with it) must be adduced.

b) PROBLEM: to discover this action.


alpha) Intussusception exists only in the chemical process. Now it is certain a priori that what is a principle of the chemical process in a determinate sphere, it is well to note, cannot again be a product of the chemical process of the same sphere (although it is itself again, without any doubt, a chemical product in a higher sphere of affinity). The principle of all chemical processes that take place between substances of the Earth cannot again, therefore, be a product of the Earth. A single principle must come forth among the principles of affinity that is opposed to all others, and by which the chemical process of the Earth is limited. This principle must be the mediating factor of all chemical affinities. All other materials must be chemically related precisely by the fact that they strive in common toward combination with this one.—This principle is that which we call oxygen, as is evident from experience (Ideas6). Oxygen cannot be a chemical product from the sphere of affinity of the Earth.

[160] Ordinarily, one refers to oxygen as an ultimate principle, and the chemical explanation that once reaches it (is reduced to it) has the right to remain silent.—But what is this oxygen itself? No one has thought about this question at all, and in this way has simply restricted the domain of the investigation. It becomes evident that one is justified in raising this question from the preceding.Oxygen is no longer a product of the Earth. Be that as it may; but in a higher sphere it must again step into the series of products. Oxygen is for us irreducible, and only insofar as it is so can it be the mediating factor of all chemical affinites of the Earth and limit the chemical process of the Earth. [ii] However, in a higher sphere it has an irreducible element to which it is itself reducible.—( Now do we see how indecomposable substances can exist in Nature without simple ones existing? See above.7 This is not the place to explain its generality.We restrict ourselves here to consideration of this one principle.)— Oxygen is by this means opposed to all other substances of the Earth; that is, all others combust with oxygen, while it burns with no other substance. However, it has already been noted elsewhere that the concept of combustion is a merely relative concept, from which it follows that in a higher sphere oxygen, or an element of it, must itself (if it is already a combusted substance) descend again into the category of combustible, i.e., chemically composite substances. [iii] It cannot be objected that oxygen is a chemical product of the Earth because we can liberate it from a plethora of substances. We are speaking of an original production of oxygen itself. [iv] The existence of oxygen in many substances of the Earth is rather proof of our theory that the Earth is a product of the Sun, by virtue of which a wholly novel view emerges of the specific difference of the materials of our Earth. All variety is reducible to the notion of that which is combusted; some are conceived in reduction—(the phenomenon of this reduction is vegetation; at the lowest stage the vegetation of metals which are maintained by the inner [161] glow of the Earth, at a higher stage the vegetation of plants)—others in permanent combustion—(the phenomenon of this permanent process of combustion is animal life). [v] It also follows necessarily from this that no substance on the Earth can come to light which was not either combusted or would be combusted, or was not combustible.

Beta) Supposing this, the following conclusions result.—Oxygen has the positive role in all chemical processes of the Earth. [vi] But oxygen is a principle alien to the Earth, a product of the Sun. The positive action in every chemical process must thus proceed from the Sun,must be an influx of the Sun. Therefore, aside from the action of gravity which the Sun exercises on the Earth, another chemical influence of the Sun on the Earth is postulated. Some phenomenon must be demonstrated in experience, however, through which that chemical action of the Sun on the Earth is represented: this phenomenon, I assert, is light.

THEOREM: The phenomenon of chemical action of the Sun on the Earth is light. [vii]

PROOF. We can succeed in this only through some intermediary theses.

1) For the time being, it must be asserted that if no chance is at all permitted to exist in Nature, then the luminous state of the Sun cannot be accidental to it; rather, it must be the source of light as necessarily as it is the central point of gravity in our system. Accordingly, all explanations will be excluded which permit the state of the Sun to depend upon something accidental or even merely hypothetical.

(For example, we cannot understand light as heat-stuff of higher intensity, and allow that the suns achieve the luminous state because (as the greatest masses of every system, and in gradual transition into a solid state) they have freed the most elastic matter by precipitation out of the common solute.—Nor can it be held that a fire rages in the suns, for on this basis it can neither be shown how the fires must arise on all suns, [162] nor by what means they are maintained. [viii]—The hypothesis of light as an atmospherical development of the sun would only be saved from contingency by the fact that one ascribes to the sun a pure oxygen atmosphere with a high degree of elasticity and views the suns generally as the most original abode of oxygen. The latter may indeed be proven for the sun of our system, but not for suns in general.)

With the abandonment of all hypotheses I therefore propose the following proposition: If the positive action in all chemical processes is an action of the Sun, then the Sun, in opposition to the Earth, is generally in a POSITIVE state. The same thing will hold for all suns; namely, that they are necessarily positive in opposition to their subalterns.

By virtue of their positive state, the suns must exercise a positive (chemical) influence on their subalterns, and the phenomenon of this positive influence (not the influence itself ), I assert, is light. (I could add to this that light that streams out in straight lines is generally a sign of a positive condition. For the time being, I can only prove this proposition through the analogy of positively charged light.—According to this, the suns would be positive points (for us) strewn throughout cosmic space, their light perhaps + E; so-called daylight, which one cannot even make conceivable through an accidental dissemination of sunlight in all directions, and through which dark planetary bodies are visible too—the dark bodies, points like the luminous bodies, appear as - E.) I assert only on the whole that light is the phenomenon of a positive state in general. Now all suns are necessarily in a positive luminous state, as the principles of all chemical affinity, and in opposition to their subalterns thus also necessarily in an original luminous state. (It is not necessarily the case that all stars’ relations to their subalterns is the same as that of the Sun to the Earth. The universal principle of affinities in various systems must also be different. Perhaps oxygen is even a principle of affinity only for the Earth and the planets resulting from a common explosion with it. The mediating factor is thus variable, but not the positive [163] relation of the suns themselves.)—Further, by light, obviously, only positive light is to be understood (as, e.g., with Hunter’s lightning experiment, only lightning that is positively charged is positive for the eye).

The light of the stars is positive only in opposition to our negative state. But the suns themselves are again subalterns of a higher system, so their light is negative in relation to the higher, positive influx which they themselves reflect in a luminous state.—It is just this that makes an infinite organization of the universe possible; that which is negative in relation to a higher becomes positive again in relation to a lower, and conversely. Light itself is originally a phenomenon of a negative condition, which presupposes a higher positive one as cause. A new world is opened up by this means, one to which only reasoning reaches, but not intuition. It is light which limits our intuition absolutely; what lies beyond light and the luminous world is for our senses a sealed book and buried in eternal darkness. The chemical action through which the Sun itself is again illuminated is only indirectly knowable for us.

(The assertion just presented should not be confused with an issue of Lambert’s, which questioned whether the central body of our system would have to be a dark body. The chief reason that he provided for this is that a self-illuminating body of such distinctive mass would have to become visible prior to all others. I suggest, however, that not only is the central body of our system dark for us, but also a whole universe beyond our system, and that all self-illuminating bodies belong only to one system and are altogether products of a common formation.)

These concepts granted, now I can demonstrate the following proposition in experience: light is the phenomenon of a chemical action of the Sun on the Earth.

The proof can be established most concisely when it is shown that certain experiences are capable of being deduced from that proposition a priori.

a) If oxygen has the positive role in all chemical processes, then bodies which are related to oxygen negatively must also be related to the luminous power of the Sun negatively.

[164] (The body which relates itself simply positively to the luminous power of the Sun must be absolutely canceled for the sense of sight, as if swept away out of the series of things, because only the negative relationship to that action gives it existence at all for this sense. Nevertheless, no phlogistical body is absolutely transparent, and conversely, every truly transparent body is related positively to oxygen.)

b) If light is a phenomenon of a positive action of the Sun, and active in every chemical process, then light must come forth where a transition from the absolutely negative into the absolutely positive state occurs.

(All phlogistical bodies are related negatively to oxygen. Every true process of combustion is, therefore, such a transition. Absolute opposition is part of the true process of combustion, i.e., the body must be absolutely uncombusted (e.g., nitrogen, soils, sulfur-alkali, etc. are not); further, only oxygen itself is related to phlogistical bodies absolutely positively, but not to an acid, where it is combined with a combustible substance.

CONCLUSION. There are only luminous phenomena where there is an absolute opposition.—Therefore, light that appears with combustion is neither a component of oxygenated air, nor of the body, but a direct product of the chemical influence of the Sun permeating everything and never at rest.—Thus the SUN, or rather its LIGHT, comes forth everywhere only WHERE a positive state is produced. The action of the Sun extends to every point of space, and the Sun is everywhere there is an illumining process.)

c) If the luminous power of the Sun acts positively in the chemical process, then bodies that combine with oxygen must cease to relate negatively to the luminous power of the Sun. [ix]

(The maximum of opacity is luster, the reflecting of light off the surface in a straight line; a minus of opacity is its reflecting in all directions, which only happens when the body begins to iridesce. But the colors intensify as the positive [165] condition of the body increases. The minimum of opacity, i.e., is relative transparency = the (relatively) highest degree of oxydation. The most opaque body is no sooner dissolved in acids than the luminous power also begins to permeate it. The same occurs when it is dry-combusted.)

RESULT: The action whose phenomenon is light acts positively in the chemical process. Many effects that have been ascribed to light actually belong to the influence whose phenomenon it is. [x] The fact that the greatest and most noble part of our planetary body is disposed toward light-processes does not indicate something accidental, but rather a universal, higher and more encompassing law of Nature. The action of light must stand in mysterious connection with the action of gravity which the central bodies exercise. [xi] The former will give the things of the world the dynamic tendency, the latter the static. But this can be proven a priori from the possibility of a dynamic (chemical) process in general, for no chemical process is at all constructible without a cause that acts chemically but which itself is not submitted to the chemical process (we will treat of this when the time is right).


a) If all materials of the Earth relate positively or negatively to that chemical action, then they will also relate this way RECIPROCALLY AMONG ONE-ANOTHER.

b) Two specifically different bodies will relate positively and negatively to one another reciprocally, and their qualitative difference can be expressed through this positive or negative mutual relation. [xii]

(With this we have deduced that there is something like electricity in Nature. [xiii] Expressed empirically, the proposition runs: all qualitative difference of bodies may be expressed through the opposite electricities which they adopt in reciprocal conflict. [xiv])

c) But the positive and negative relation of bodies generally is determined by their opposite relationship to oxygen. Thus [xv] the negative and positive relationship of bodies AMONG ONE-ANOTHER IS DETERMINED through their opposite relation to oxygen.

[166] Remark.

The principle first proposed by the author [xvi] that the electrical relation of bodies is generally determined through their chemical relation to oxygen remains true, although the conclusions drawn from it must be let go. That is, it is not because electricity itself is a product of oxygen (for which one can now no longer provide the electrical phenomena of light as a ground, since (p. 99) the source of light cannot at all be sought in oxygenated air), but because oxygen is overall the determinant of quality in the chemical process of the Earth, the electricity of bodies is determined through their relation to oxygen.

The proposition must be proposed as a principle of all theorizing about the electrical process, that in the ELECTRICAL process that body which is positive adopts the function that oxygen had in the PROCESS OF COMBUSTION. [xvii] If the body is only positive, insofar as it adopts the function of oxygen, i.e., insofar as oxygen is positive in relation to it, then conversely oxygen is positive in relation to it only insofar as it is negative in relation to this principle. Therefore, the positive body must relate negatively to oxygen (outside of the electrical conflict), i.e., be an uncombusted substance.—We can consider the following cases.

Either one posits two substances absolutely negative toward oxygen (i.e., absolutely uncombusted) in electrical conflict, except that they are heterogeneous and the one has more affinity for oxygen than the other; then according to the law proposed, the first must wholly necessarily become positively electrified.

(This case is really a totally pure case, because here the relationship of both bodies to oxygen is the same (namely negative), and they are opposed only within this relationship. [xxviii] The question arises, by what means one recognizes the absolutely uncombusted body that relates to oxygen absolutely negatively. Electricity itself provides this characteristic feature. A body that is a perfect conductor of electricity becomes, as soon as it is combusted, [167] an isolator of electricity. It must then be concluded that all bodies which isolate electricity are combusted, as little as it may be tolerated, incidentally, by the conventional chemical divisions, although it is beyond doubt the case with many bodies (like the resins, oils, soils, etc.). We need not repeat, as it has been elsewhere, that the concepts of combustion, of oxidation and deoxidation are overall extremely relative concepts.

The only [xxix] exception to the law that all combusted bodies isolate (electricity)  [xx] is water and all acids in a fluid state; but since they lose all conductivity at once in the liquid state, a still unexplained connection between conductivity and the fluid state is to be assumed. We can restrict the law proposed above, at least with respect to solid bodies, to bodies that are conductors of electricity (so that of two electrical conductors the one takes over the function of oxygen [xxi] which has most affinity with it. [xxii]) [xxiii]

[168] Or, if one posits two bodies in electrical conflict where one is a combusted substance which has a lesser affinity to oxygen, the other an absolutely uncombusted substance which then has greater affinity to oxygen, then the latter will take over the function of oxygen and be constantly positive. (E.g., any metal with any acid, soil, etc.)

Or finally, if two bodies are set in conflict which are both combusted substances, then here the law will reverse itself, the more combusted substance (which to that extent has a lesser affinity to oxygen) will take over the role of oxygen, i.e., be positive (e.g., the white band with the black; overacidic with common hydrochloric acid8).—In the electrical relation of isolating substances there will be a means to judge the degree of their oxydation, such that the one which is most constantly positive must also be the most oxidized.—Whether one must subsume glass under this law, so far as it is made of silica (which is perhaps the most combusted of all substances), or whether it is the same case as with, e.g., liver of sulfur, is uncertain (since sulfur is still the most persistently negative).

d) How is the electrical process distinguished from the genuine—(chemical)— process of combustion?

The sole difference is a consequence of the preceding, that is, that in the electrical process, the body which has most affinity to oxygen takes over the role which oxygen itself plays in the process of combustion, such that to this extent the electrical process is mediated by the chemical.

Also conversely, the process of combustion is mediated by the electrical process. The conditions of all processes of combustion are even the same as those of the electrical process. No body combusts directly or solely with oxygen; similarly, none becomes electrical solely or directly with oxygen. A third body is present in every combustion which takes over the function of oxygen and [169] through whose mediation oxygen is first destroyed—(This is water, in the conventional process of combustion, according to new discoveries. Incidentally, one needs only to think about the formation of alkalis through the combustion of vegetable bodies in order to be led to such a duplicity, or rather triplicity, in the process of combustion). [xxiv] The electrical process is not different in principle from the process of combustion. The possibility of both is conditioned through the same ultimate principle. The simplest electrical process begins with the conflict of two bodies, A and B, which touch or rub one another, and both are in themselves negative (in relation to oxygen), but A, as representative of the latter, [xxv] becomes positive in this conflict. However, there must be a maximum of the positive state for every body. As soon as this maximum is achieved, the body must pass over into the minimum, according to the universal law of equilibrium. But the maximum is reached when the body is driven into a luminous state [xxvi] (see above, p. 99). [xxvii] Therefore, the appearance of light is simultaneous with combustion (not just because light is a component of oxygenated air); i.e., with the transition from the maximum of the positive state into the minimum. As soon as the body is combusted (oxidized), it stops relating negatively to oxygen, but this negative relation is the condition of all positive function in the electrical process, so it passes immediately from the positive function over into the opposite (signaled by the isolating property and increased heat-capacity, both of which are really only one property). In the same way that the electrical process is the beginning of the process of combustion, the process of combustion (the ideal of all chemical process) is the end of the electrical process.

Now, however, if oxygen itself is again only the representative of a higher principle (just as the positive body in the electrical process is only a representative of oxygen), then an absolute disappearance of all dualism, i.e., a chemical process, will be necessary; if oxygen itself is set in direct conflict with the body, an immediate contact of the lower and higher spheres of affinity (to which that principle belongs), a transition from the one into the other [170] will occur. Oxygen will disappear as middle-term in the process and that higher substance [xxviii] will emerge.

Further, it becomes evident that the constitution of the body by virtue of which it is capable of being heated is one and the same as that by virtue of which it is capable of electricity (for the maximum of heating up passes over immediately, like the maximum of electricity, into the process of combustion, where the heat-isolating and electricity-isolating properties enter simultaneously).


Yet another question must be answered: how is the action of gravity related to the chemical action of the Sun upon the Earth?—We can determine two points of their mutual relationship.

The first is that the condition of both is a difference, but that the heterogeneity which is condition of the action of gravity is of a higher sort, and that the one which is the condition of chemical action is without a doubt determined through that higher heterogeneity. By virtue of the preceding we are not in a position to ascertain more precisely the relationship of these heterogeneities.

The second is that the action which the Sun, as cause of gravity, exercises upon the Earth, is determined by a higher action that is exercised upon the Sun, so it is not an action peculiar to the Sun; however, the action by virtue of which it is cause of the chemical process of the Earth is solely determined through the peculiar nature of the Sun. [xxix]



i. As I have shown in passing the organization of the universe into systems of gravitation is not  merely a mechanical one, but simultaneously a dynamical organization. The state of an enduring  activity in Nature is provided by that organization of the universe. There is an original opposition  which cancels itself in every product through gravity, which proceeds in the product to infinity—  and is met with in the smallest as in the largest parts.—This opposition must be thought as arising  again in every moment, and becomes for that reason ground of an enduring activity in Nature. We  will thus gradually deduce the whole dynamical organization of the universe from that organization  of the universe which is produced through the original repulsion and force of gravitation in  it—and this will now be undertaken.
ii.   just for that reason no longer a product of the Earth
iii. A body is combustible to us when it gives off light through disintegration by oxygen. But if we now think that beyond oxygen there is yet another substance that would stand in combination with light, then oxygen itself would indeed descend to the category of combustible substances.
Oxygen is the principle of combustion because no higher material stands above it, because it constitutes the boundary of our sphere of affinity—because opposed spheres of affinity contact one another in it.
Or, to be completely clear, if we think about an ideal extreme of combustion, then that material which is the most combustible in a given system, itself no longer flammable, will necessarily be the one through which all others combust. One can then view oxygen in relation to a higher system as the most combustible of all substances. In relation to the lower system it is necessary that precisely the most combustible substance must be the incombustible, because it has no other substance with which it could burn. Oxygen is therefore principle of combustion just because it constitutes the boundary of our sphere of affinity.
iv. Oxygen is only a simple principle in relation to the Earth.
v. If oxygen is the one fixed point beyond which the chemical process cannot go, then it will be principle  of all determination of quality. The division of matter into burnt and combustible or burning  and such as are conceived in reduction—is a completely true division.
vi. That which one can symbolically name “phlogiston” is conceivable only as the negation of oxygen.
vii. Light—i.e. what we call light—is merely a phenomenon, is not itself matter. I could prove this  proposition to which the course of our investigation has led us on other grounds as well. I will say  only this here: light is not at all a becoming matter—conceived in development—it is rather becoming,  productivity itself that propagates itself in light, the immediate symbol of universal productivity,  as it were. We have deduced productivity as the ground of all continuity in Nature. But light is  the symbol of all continuity. Light is the most continuous magnitude that exists, and it is the most  impoverished mode of thinking that treats light as a discrete fluid.
It follows from what has been said that I can just as little treat light as a merely mechanical phenomenon— as if the phenomenon of a vibrating medium (like Euler)—it is a wholly dynamic phenomenon.— It is remarkable to see how a few chemists who talk a lot nowadays about dynamical physics believe that one has given a dynamical explanation when one holds light rays to be vibrations of the ether. This mode of explanation is as little dynamic as the one that treats light as a discrete fluid.
viii. The most natural explanation indeed seems to be that the suns are burning bodies. The grand  image of a burning planetary body that becomes the source of life for a system of subordinate bodies  while it wrestles with the destroyer can impress the imagination indeed, but not the understanding.  But there is no necessity in this explanation. Indeed, Kant made an attempt, but it is not  satisfying by far. Instead of the many objections that can be made to this hypothesis, I suggest only  one: It is a very natural illusion (but a great one nevertheless) to believe that because the development  of light is bound up with combustion in the chemical process of the Earth, this is also the case  in the chemical process of the Sun. That the chemical process of the Earth is bound up therewith,  has its ground in the luminous state of the Sun—so this cannot again be explained from a process  of combustion.
ix.  Originally, all bodies of the Earth relate negatively to oxygen—so also toward the action of light. However, a body that is submitted to the chemical process stops relating negatively to that principle, thus also stops relating negatively to light, if light is that which we take it to be. Actually every body becomes transparent in the proportion to which it is permeated with oxygen.—Thus light must also be that which we take it to be—a phenomenon of the chemical action of the Sun. Only the minor premise is to be proven, as follows (see the text).
x. E.g. action of light on the organic body is not light itself, i.e. that which we call light, rather the action whose phenomenon it is.
xi. Namely, through the action of gravity indifference is always canceled again—the condition of  gravity reestablished again. But in light we see nothing other than this reestablishment of the opposition;  thus it is already clear here in what connection the chemical action might stand with the  action of gravity.
xii. Perhaps more clearly: their reciprocal positive and negative relation will be the most original appearance  of their qualitative difference, or: the qualitative difference of the bodies will be to the  difference of positive and negative state into which they reciprocally position themselves.
xiii. It is the single phenomenon in Nature that shows us such a positive and negative mutual relation,  into which two different bodies position themselves.
xiv. and the degree of their qualitative difference will be to the degree of electrical opposition which  they show in reciprocal conflict
xv. the difference of their electricity or
xvi. in the Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature. (AA I,7 165; and Ideas, 113.—Trans.)
xvii. by directly engaging in it, while in the electrical process it only indirectly engages in it.
xviii. i.e. we find a greater or lesser quantity of combustibility or of the body’s negative relation to  oxygen.
xix. actual
xx. for it is no exception to that law that in chemistry many nonconductive bodies can be counted  among the uncombusted bodies.
xxi. that one that is positive
xxii. This follows directly from the principle already ascertained, that in the electrical process that body  is +  which takes over the function of oxygen, and just this law (namely that the body is  which  has greater affinity with oxygen) is confirmed through galvanism, where, e.g. the body which has  the greatest affinity with oxygen excites the most forceful spasms. Volta found that by the mere contact  of two such bodies which act in the electrical process, electricity can be produced that always  has +  electricity related to oxygen, the other  electricity.
xxiii. The law that, of two bodies, the one which has the greatest affinity to oxygen becomes negatively  electrified, was abstracted merely from the isolators of electricity. Mr. Ritter, who has followed farthest  (of all who have noted it) the opposite relation of bodies in galvanism (determined by its opposite  relation to oxygen), discovered for electrical conductors precisely the opposite law.—(The  following laws proceed as results of Mr. Ritter’s galvanic experiments. Fluids, which contain oxidizable  components, e.g. alkaline salt and liver of sulfur solutions, are positive in galvanism with  solid oxidizable bodies, which are simultaneously conductors of electricity, e.g. all metals. Fluids, which  are already oxidized, like water and others, are negative with the same solid bodies. If these solid  bodies are set in conflict with one another, every time the one with greater affinity with oxygen becomes  positive, the one with lesser affinity becomes negatively electrified.)—Now, since the law  which the conductors follow is reversed when only one body is an isolator, it is natural to conclude  that the ground of this reversal must fall within the sphere of difference between conductor and  isolator themselves. The illusion resolves itself when one assumes all isolators as such are substances  which are combusted, not indeed absolutely, but still relatively, in relation to the bodies that are conductors  of electricity. (Original note.—Trans.)
xxiv. (According to SW the last sentence is struck out in the first edition, and the following inserted.—  Trans.) Every process of combustion begins with such a merely indirect invasion of oxygen into the  process. The process of combustion is also begun through a body that comes to light first as a representative  of oxygen. And so it is pretty certain that every chemical process comes to pass not  through a single, but through a double elective affinity.
xxv. of oxygen
xxvi. i.e. combusted
xxvii. It is evident, to mention it in passing, that the light which appears in the process of combustion is  of an electrical sort and the cause is to be ascribed to that which sustains universal electricity. The  body, when it is driven into a luminous state, is, as it were, completely dissolved into positive electricity.  Indeed, it is always the more combustible which becomes  —and when we consider that  the same opposition which goes into the original construction of matter is shown in electricity,  what then are all bodies at bottom? Nothing other than electricity.
xxviii. that higher principle.
xxix. (According to the SW the second paragraph is crossed out with the following remark.—Trans.)  doubtful
Site Admin
Posts: 30188
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:47 am


The previous course of our investigation was the following1:

“Nature is organic in its most original products, but the functions of the organism cannot be deduced otherwise than in opposition to an anorganic world. Excitability must be posited as the essence of the organism, by virtue of which alone [171] the organic activity is really hindered from exhausting itself in its product that, therefore, never is, but always only becomes.”

“If the essence of everything organic consists in excitability, then the agitating causes must be sought outside of it in a world opposed to the organic, i.e., an inorganic world. The possibility of an inorganic world in general and the conditions of this possibility must be deduced.”

“Moreover, if [lxxxii] the organism in general is possible only under the condition of an anorganic world, then all grounds of explanation of the organism must already lie in inorganic Nature. This nature is opposed to the organic. So how could the grounds of the organic lie in it?—It cannot be explained except by a preestablished harmony between both.—In other words: inorganic Nature must presuppose for its existence and endurance a higher order of things once again, there must [lxxxiii] be a THIRD which binds organic and inorganic Nature together again, a medium that sustains the CONTINUITY between both.”

Organic and inorganic nature must reciprocally explain and determine one another. (It is evident why all explanations which have been given of this or that individual must generally be incomplete by their very nature—the present system’s as well—and why explaining the whole of Nature in one swoop, as it were (as must be done), is possible only through a reciprocal determination of the organic and inorganic, to the mutual determination of which our meditation now advances).2



lxxxii. the productive product or

lxxxiii. be, as it were, a common natural soul through which organic and inorganic nature are set in  motion, there must
Site Admin
Posts: 30188
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature

Postby admin » Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:48 am

I. On the Concept of Excitability

We have posited excitability as the first property of the organism without being able to explain this property itself more clearly at the time. The only thing which we could do was to dissociate it into its opposed factors, organic receptivity and organic activity. It is now time to trace that property back to actual natural causes by the deduction of that which belongs to anorganic [172] nature generally, through which the organic must be determined (which we are now in a position to do).

(It has been shown that the formation of a universal system of gravitation is the essence of the anorganic, with whose gravitation the gradations of differences in quality run parallel (for such a system signifies nothing other than a universal organization of matter in always narrower spheres of affinity). Further, it has been shown that the specific forces of attraction are conditioned through an original difference in the world-substance; finally, it has been shown that a chemical action must operate upon every heavenly body, aside from the action of gravity, which proceeds from the same source as the latter and whose phenomenon is light, and that this action effects the phenomenon of electricity, and where electricity disappears, the chemical process toward which it genuinely tends (as cancellation of all dualism)).—

1) The essence of the organism consists in excitability. This means that the organism is its own object. (Only insofar as it is at once subject and object for itself can the organism be the most original thing in Nature, for we have determined Nature precisely as a causality that has itself for object. [i]) The organism constructs itself. But it constructs itself (as object) only under duress from an outer world. [ii] If the external world could determine the organism [iii] as subject then it would cease to be excitable. Only the organism as object is determinable through external influences, the organism as subject must be unreachable by them.

(The excitability of the organism presents itself in the external world as a constant self-reproduction. The organic distinguishes itself from the dead simply in that the existence of the first is not an actual being but rather a continual being-reproduced (through itself ), [iv] and that this continual being reproduced is an indirect effect of external, impinging influences, since conversely the dead (unexcitable) [173] cannot be determined to self-reproduction by impinging external influences but is destroyed by them.)

2) If (as need not be proven) organic activity really belongs to the organism only as subject, but organic activity is excitable only through external influences, then the organism as subject cannot be unreachable by external influences as we nevertheless assumed.—This contradiction cannot be resolved in any other way than this: the higher organism—(let this expression be permitted in place of the less understandable “organism as subject”)—is not affected directly through the external influences. [v] In short, the organism (taken as a whole) must ITSELF be the medium through which external influences act upon it. [vi]

3) “The organism should itself be the medium, etc.,” means [vii] (expressed more generally) nothing other than: there must be an original duplicity in the organism itself.

The organism is everything that it is only in opposition to its outer world. “There must be in the organism an original duplicity” means, therefore—it follows necessarily—precisely that the organism must have a dual external world.

4) I ask, however, how is it possible that the organism belongs to two worlds at once? It is possible in no other way, I answer, than if every anorganic world is itself really a DUAL world. But is this not so, according to what we have deduced as condition of possibility of an anorganic world? In every anorganic world a higher order is mirrored, a higher world. Where these opposing orders contact one another THERE activity exists. [viii]

5) The resources for the answer to the question have now been found. [ix]

The answer is the following:

If the organism is to be excitable (its own object, which presents itself externally as continual self-reproduction, opposed to the externally impinging influences), then something in the organism must be unreachable by the influences of its external world, or, as we have more closely determined it, something—a part of the organism exists (if we may be permitted to [174] express ourselves in this way) which is not at all directly receptive to the influences of its immediate external world. The unreachable part would have to possess a cruder organism (the latter an “organism of the organism”—it would be the one that is continually reproduced through the stimulation of the higher)—and only by virtue of this lower organism must the higher be connected with its external world. In a word: the organism in appearance must divide into opposed systems, a higher and a lower. [x] Only by means of the latter would the higher remain contiguous with its outer world.

6) How could the higher be removed from the influences of this external world otherwise than precisely by the influences of a higher world? Now, just as the higher system [xi] only connects with the (immediate) external world of the organism through the lower, the lower would have to connect with the higher order only by means of the higher organism. In short, every organization only is an organization insofar as it is turned toward two worlds at once. Every organization is a dyad. [xii]

7) That higher influence must be more closely determined. This alone is cause of excitability, for only by means of it is the organism stimulated to an activity opposed to the external influences.

a) How that influence [xiii] acts and what its nature is we will be able to determine by the shortest route by distinguishing it from the manner of action of the external influences on the organism and to their nature. [xiv]

The external influences act chemically on the organism according to their nature, insofar as the organism is viewed merely as matter (as product). However, the organism is never merely product (mere object). Therefore, the external influences do not act chemically on the organism. The question arises, by what could their chemical effect be inhibited?

The chemical effects must be inhibited by the opposing activity of the organism which we think in the concept of “excitability.” The organism itself is only stimulated to this activity by a higher cause. This cause must exercise an activity opposed to the chemical influences.—This is one provision.

[176] b) Further: the condition of that activity operating upon the organism is the duplicity in the organism itself. Only to the extent that there is an original duplicity in the organism itself is that cause operative upon it. There must, therefore, be a cause which is active at all only under the condition of duplicity. We only know chemical action as such a cause (which we have deduced as necessary in Nature above), and have designated it “active” only under the condition of a positive and negative reciprocal relation. Moreover, this chemical action must be thought to proceed from a higher order (since the action is the cause of excitability), because that which is a cause of the chemical process (in a determinate sphere) cannot again be a principle of the same sphere. [xv] Therefore, the universal chemical influence is identical with the cause of excitability.

c) However, the cause of excitability must work against the chemical influences so it cannot be identical with that universal chemical influence; this cause itself must be chemical in only one respect, but not chemical in another respect. The question arises whether and how this can be thought. [xvi]

We have characterized the activity which is cause of excitability as one whose necessary condition is duplicity. An activity whose condition is necessarily duplicity cannot be thought otherwise than as an activity whose tendency is chemical, because that duplicity is necessary only for the chemical process. The activity that is cause of excitability, then, has to be a chemical activity according to its tendency.—But that activity is extinguished in its product. If the tendency of that activity is the chemical process then it would have to be an activity that is extinguished in the chemical process, which is then to that extent not chemical.—The chemical activity is actually also extinguished [xvii] in the chemical process (where two bodies pass into one identical subject), for a chemical process is possible only between bodies that can be reciprocally subject and object. [xviii] Chemical activity is itself an activity that is chemical [177] only according to its TENDENCY, but which according to its PRINCIPLE must be called antichemical, because it is possible only under the condition of duplicity.

The cause of excitability is identical with the universal cause of the chemical process, namely, to the extent that the latter is chemical only according to its tendency but not its principle. [xix]

8) For the time being [xx] the entangled strife between the systems placed in conflict above (the chemical-phlogistical and the system of vital force) is hereby resolved at least in its major points.

a) Whether life is a chemical process or not will be decided in the subsequent investigation. If life is [xxi] a chemical process, how can the chemical process again be cause of life, or explain life? Therefore, the chemical system only gives us effects instead of causes (e.g., “animal-chemical elective attraction, animal crystallization,” and however else the incomprehensible terms are expressed3). Rather, if life is itself a chemical process, then surely both must still be explained and indeed explained from a common higher cause, from a cause which is itself subjected to no chemical affinity and cannot enter as component part— (as individual material)—into the chemical life processes. [xxii]—Now indeed the activity which is cause of the chemical process—(we are not yet speaking here about the conditions of the chemical process)—is in its principle not itself chemical. If one and the same principle is both cause of life and of the chemical process, then it still does not follow that life is a chemical process. For life certainly could be (and not only could be but rather is) only chemical in tendency [178] (precisely like that cause) as the advocates of vital force truthfully say— (to the extent that they persistently view life as something sublime, beyond the chemical, they infinitely tower over the chemical physiologists)—and this tendency is constantly inhibited, [xxiii] for which surely no vital force is required. Now, if we

b) wanted to assume a vital force (although to accept a fantasy is good neither for physics nor for philosophy), then nothing is in the least explained by this principle. [xxiv] In every force we think an infinity. No force is limited in any other way than by an opposite force. Now, let there be in Nature a particular vital force that is a simple force; then by this force a determinate product would never come to light, and when one posits something already negative in this force [xxv] in order to explain the determination of its production it ceases to be a simple force; one has to add its factors and thus be able to submit it to construction. [xxvi]


It was easy to foresee that from these two opposed systems [xxvii] a third, uniquely true, would have to come to light; but this third has not existed until now. The Brownian system, which one would at first take to be such a thing (because it is opposed to those two systems at once), is not this third system, at least if one only knows such a system as a truly physiological one that explains life from natural causes. [xxviii] The following will serve to further advance this insight.

In the concept of the organism (as has been shown in the first portion of this work) the concept of an immanent activity must necessarily be thought, an activity directed merely upon its subject, which is, however, simultaneously an activity directed to the outside. This [179] activity toward the outside (as an originally inner one) can be distinguished only by opposition to an external activity, i.e., it is necessarily at once receptivity FOR external activity. That activity, as a simultaneously immanent and outer-directed activity, can be apperceived precisely at the point at which the external resistance is met; and conversely, only at the point from which that external activity is reflected into itself is there resistance— that which does not fall within this point does not even exist for the organism.— Brown indicated this very well in his concept of excitability, but without being able to deduce this concept himself; that is, that the outer-directed organic activity is necessarily receptivity for an exteriority, and conversely, this receptivity for an exteriority is at once necessarily outer-directed activity.

However, since it is not enough for physiology to present this concept or to deduce it itself and instead a construction of it must be thought (i.e., reduction to natural causes, which Brown himself was not capable of explaining), one should consider how the world could not become an exterior thing (an external world in general) [xxix] for the organism (which is identical with it) except by the influence of a force that is an outer thing in relation to that world itself, i.e., a force from a higher order, where consequently the organism is only, so to speak, the medium through which opposed orders of affinity [xxx] come into contact. [xxxi]

It is thus not an activity of the organism itself but a higher activity that is cause of its excitability, acting through it as a means. Only the excitation can be explained (under the assumption of excitability) through the influences of its external world (which Brown calls the “stimulating potencies”), but not excitability itself. Those stimulating influences are only the negative conditions but not the positive cause of life (or of excitation) itself.—But after one has taken away all influences of external nature as stimulating potencies nothing remains as cause of excitability other than the action of a higher order, to which that nature itself is also an external thing; for by this means [xxxii] the dynamical organization of the universe as an infinite involution (as presented in the previous division), where system within system is dynamically [180] conceived, is demonstrated to be necessary in a new respect. [xxxiii]



i. that produces itself from itself. Organic nature differentiates itself from the dead precisely in that  it takes itself as object. The dead is never object for itself, but for an other. For example, this occurs  with collision, or indeed even with chemical operations, where two bodies certainly reciprocally become  objects for themselves—but here we have already posited two bodies. The problem is that  there should be duplicity in one and the same undivided individual, it should not be object for any  other, but solely for itself.—The organism is such a whole that constructs itself (a double view of  the organism—organism as subject and object).—This identity in duplicity is the one which Brown  expressed by the word “excitability,” but without making it clear.
ii. but which maintains that duplicity, and makes the sinking back into identity or indifference  impossible
iii. immediately
iv.  Viewed from the highest standpoint the existence of dead Nature too is surely a constant reproduction. However, the dead object does not exist through itself, but through the whole of Nature. Dead nature is unchangable. But the organism always perishes and always arises again. Every organic individual in every moment changes and is yet always the same.
v. rather, as has already been deduced earlier, only indirectly
vi. This will be made explicable through the galvanic phenomena. The irritable system is only the armor of the sensible, as it were—the chains in which it is bound.
vii. we continue to reason
viii. Every anorganic world is really only the mirror which reflects a higher world to us. For this reason, as soon as the link is dissolved through which the one world is bound to the other, the higher world comes forth—like light in the process of combustion. All activity in Nature takes place only on the border of two worlds (as we have already seen). As long as this boundary remains, activity is present; if it is canceled—and this happens precisely in the chemical process—then the condition of all activity is canceled as well.—That boundary can never be canceled in the organism as long as it is an organism (for I have already proven that the organic product cannot perish as organic).
ix. the question was, how the organism could itself be the medium of external influences.
x. In the crudest phenomenon this is shown through the so-called sensible and irritable system—but,  if the organism is duplicity to infinity, then that division too will go to infinity—there would also  have to be a duplicity in the nervous system.—Gall’s sensitive and vegetative man. But this is no  opposition, for the merely vegetative presupposes the sensitive as well.
xi. the higher organism
xii. (According to SW the last words are deleted in the manuscript.—Trans.)
xiii. through which the organism is armed, so to speak, against the influence of its immediate external  world.
xiv. Even this manner of action is not purely knowable, precisely because the organism already stands  under the influence of those higher causes. Therefore, we must ask how that influence would act  upon the organism if it were a mere product, without being productive.
xv. Everything in nature may be chemical except for that which is the cause of the chemical process.
xvi. The result to which the solution to this difficulty will lead us is of the utmost importance for our  entire science.
xvii. even itself
xviii. No chemical process without the existence of at least two heterogeneous bodies which themselves  become objective.
xix. (According to SW the last passage is stricken in the manuscript and is replaced by the following.—  Trans.) Thus, we have in the cause of the chemical process itself a cause which is antichemical  according to its nature and originally, i.e., which presupposes the opposite of that which occurs  in the chemical process.
xx. the illusion which lies in the proofs of chemical physics is naturally totally dissolved,
xxi. nothing other than
xxii. It remains to be seen whether now the point raised in an earlier text by the author, substantiated  with proofs, is better understood—whether the whole tendency of that text is now realized at all.  (So far, original note.—Trans.) Surely nothing remains to be said against this except that such a  principle is unthinkable—which in any case may also be true for many who, even in physics, are not  capable of thinking anything other than matter, the product.
xxiii. by what it is inhibited seems to be the important question to which galvanism will give the  answer.
xxiv. At first glance at least, there are the same conditions in the chemical process as in the vital  processes. Why it cannot be reduced to indifference, as in the chemical process, is the major problem  which already signifies that the vital process was indeed the final cause, but cannot be identical  with the chemical process in its whole construction.—Wanting to explain that there is no return  to indifference in the vital process by appeal to a vital force means absolutely nothing.
xxv. The organic formative drive is distinguished from every other force in Nature in that a standing  still is possible in it, the limitation to a particular production [it is drive to the extent that it is directed  to a determinate product]; conversely, every other force of Nature which is not proximately  or distantly related to the formative drive—(for there is one cause which gives its form to ALL forms  in Nature)—hastens into infinity, without rest and without an object in which it remains fixed.  (Original note, except for bracketed addition.—Trans.)
xxvi. Further, if life is a product of an unconditioned force, then the matter in which this force acts could  never cease to be alive—just as little as matter can cease to be heavy: at least there would only be an  infinite diminution in it, such that life (to infinity) would never 0.
xxvii. In contrast to these two systems, the chemical-physiological and that of the vital force, the system  of excitability is distinguished principally by the fact that it posits an original duplicity in the organism  itself. In contrast to those systems we can understand just what this implies. According to  the chemical system the whole organism, e.g., is subjected to the chemical process—there is nothing  inhibiting here—no limit—one does not see why the chemical process does not lose itself in  infinity and why the same organism always proceeds again from this process.
xxviii. the Brownian system is in principle such, but not in its execution.
xxix. other
xxx. orders
xxxi. Nature, to which the organism belongs, becomes an external world only by virtue of the fact that  the organism is snatched from Nature, so to speak, and is raised to a higher power, as it were. Dead  matter has no external world, it is absolutely identical and homogeneous with the whole whose part  it is. Its existence is lost in the existence of this whole. The organism alone has an external world  because there is an original duplicity within it.
xxxii. (through our construction of excitability)
xxxiii. Conversely, only through our efforts to connect the universal life of Nature—and even the individual  life of the organism—through its final cause to the construction of Nature itself, does our  theory gain inner necessity.—One has spoken for a long time about the connection of the phenomena  of life with those of light, electricity, and the like, without ever being able to completely  uncover this connection. The Brownians, who view this attempt of physics extremely one-sidedly,  do not notice that our explanation begins its account just from the point which they leave unexplained—  not the excitation, but excitability itself; but all of these hypotheses lack the inner necessity  which they can only achieve through their connection to the dynamic organization of the  whole universe.
Site Admin
Posts: 30188
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Return to Ancien Regime

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests