Grains of sifting sand drift through space, flowing past each other, slipping down and piling in the bottom of hour shaped glass. Clicking hands cyclicly trace the edges of geared faces. The Earth’s shifting shadow falls across the sky. Lunar fades to solar and back again. Time, existence, being & becoming. Change. This, the truth of the world which we occupy, yet manages to maintain itself in a state beyond this defining alteration, as all truths must; existing as equally valid regardless of the moment. Truth-Eternal, all knowledge must find its way to this stability.
“Please note that these tinctures are all either poisonous or illegal. I only include them for reference. Use them at your own risk” - S. Connnolly
Science, often taken for granted as the method by which dreams are brought into being, seems to defy the inconsistency by which we are surrounded. Standing solid inside the flow, what can be the relation between truth and time? How can we reveal the real? To meet with this properly atheistic possibility it is necessary to recount the philosophically recorded history.
Four possibilities Exist
Concept is eternity (parmenides/spinoza)
Concept is eternal and relates to 1. Eternity
1.a. outside time (plato) 1.b. inside time (aristotle)
2. Time (kant)
Concept is time (hegel)
Concept is temporal (there is no eternal truth)
Plato is too often taken for an ignoramus unlike parmenedes whose proposition that the concept is eternity leaves no room for time, he is well aware that our meaningful verbilizations or logik¹ that elucidate idea happen in time. However since the concept is essentially unchanging it must be something other than time read change. Plato finds that the concept is therefore related to something other than itself and something outside time; Eternity, truth, knowledge, concept. This relation is achieved in a double non-temporal spacial relation between concept in time and the entity revealed by its meaning in eternity. Word rises through meaning into eternity, the world of ideas, where the entity falls into changing reality through meaning in ‘word’. It is only through this relation that eternity is accessible, and without eternity there would be no truth, man could not rise above change. Anthe word was god.
This represents a model of theological Knowledge, fits with all monotheism that would declare a transcendence, and with slight modification polytheism as we will see with Aristotle.
With the removal of the eternal circle from the temporal circle a gap is created and two interpretations of knowledge become possible. First Mystical knowledge, where the silent space beyond the limit of the temporal circle becomes essential. Being is revealed through ecstasy, music etc, rather than discourse. Things can only be said about temporal entities, and things that can be said exhaust these entities, total knowledge can be obtained of the temporal, but the limit beyond which is god, about which only their ineffability can be said.
Second, there are no limits and so there is nothing beyond to be known. Everything is temporal and there is no true knowledge. Knowledge is always related to time and change so there can nevere be episteme, only doxa. It is however possible to say that Absolute knowledge exists in this system, but it forever remains an ideal. Humanity always learns, but philosophy can never be a road to real wisdom with either of these.
Absolute knowledge can be obtained without relations to eternity with single closed circles in the systems of Spinoza and Hegel.
For now, the consequences of a Platonic system of absolute Theological knowledge through a system in relation to eaternity outside time.
No events in the world avoid contingency and so no true knowledge can be had of them. True science can only exist in knowing God’s design and creative will. Science relating to our temporal world can only be known to the extent of its geometric elements, those that are related to space God exists in space outside of time. A circle, a square etc. nothing here can be claimed about forces Science then can only be related to this eternity and man can only prove their existence in relation to this eternity. That is an eternal idea in God. Thus absolute knowledge relating to eternity makes absolute knowledge relating to the temporal an impossibility. In this Christian Theology proves exemplary; for what matters to a Christian is whether or not their temporal existence ends with salvation or damnation. The significance of free choice. Here it must happen outside time where doxa reigns, so as not to be contingent on a past which determines the future. Word brings humanity into relation with eternity and so only “speaking” being may be free.
...Plato says in his well known myth: the soul chooses its destiny before birth.²
... the idea of the Angel who decides once and for all, …, for or against God, and becomes a “virtuous” angel or a forever “fallen” Angel or devil³
Platonic eternity is a transcendental absolute unique one whose being is devoid of any change. A purely geometric theory that excludes all corporeal movement and can only explain “angelic” existence.
Aristotle finds that the concept is eternal and related to something other than itself, but Aristotle finds eternity in Time rather than outside of it. For plato where real entities change and their conceptions do not, these conceptions must be related to something outside time. Aristotle reasons that while real entities all change their species does not and so the species is eternal even though it is placed in time. So Absolute knowledge for Aristotle exists in that the Temporal world implies eternity.
...Plato forgot that in Heracleitus river there are permanent eddies⁴
The axis of the eddies, a closed circular model of time that returns eternally. Repeated through plants, to animals and throughout the Cosmos. Everything has a same structure. A polytheistic theology where absolute knowledge exists through the pattern which repeats.
... the symbol of the the theistic System is valid for every System that defines the Concept as eternal and related to something other than itself, …⁵
This system includes a supreme god that maintains the order of the cosmos, and thereby makes conceptual knowledge possible, but it excludes the creativity of this God in the eternity of the return. And so, while being able to explain historical and biological existence, leave no room for freedom of God, let alone man. As there is no place outside time, humanity undergoes history but does not create it. There is no transcendent free act and man is no different than animal.
The naive visionary perfected what parmenides began. of course Spinoza is simply absurd madness and maddening absurdity. A dizzying circular logic that is every bit as closed as the truth. For Spinoza too there is no reflection. No, being for Spinoza, as for Hegel, is reflection upon itself. Infact Ethics is able to explain everything except Spinoza existing in time to write it.
...Hegel becomes God by thinking or writing the Logik, or,..., it is by becoming god he thinks or writes it. Spinoza, on the other hand, must be God from all eternity in order to think or write the Ethics.⁶
Spinoza Knew that for one to know anything they must know everything. And so it is in Spinoza’s creation of a systematic idea of total knowledge that his study remains instructive. It would not be in absolute error to view Hegel's work as adjusting Kant’s synthesis to facilitate an explanatory power as astounding as the Ethics in time.
What Kant adds to philosophy is that it takes time to think, thereby revealing the temporal nature of human knowledge and the absurdity of Spinoza. “Temporal reality always precedes the concept that appears in time as my knowledge.” For Kant the concept is still related to something other than itself time, he finds the single circle of Spinoza/Hegel in the Trancendental I. That is the concept as being that reveals itself to itself. For Kant Trancedental refers to that which makes experience possible, and since all experience happens in the domain of the temporal it may just aswell be read as that which makes the temporal possible. Any Trancendental entity would have to exist before or outside time, a priori, or before temporal taken as temporal. The relation of the concept to eternity produces this Trancendental I as a product of the Transcendental synthesis. This transcendental synthesis is eternity, God, and the concept is externally related to it. The eternal concept is applied to time to schematize it a priori, and so Absolute knowledge is the totality of relations between the eternal concept and time.
without intuition the concept is empty; without the concept intuition is blind.⁷
Human consciousness stems from two elements, the concept and intuition. The human I is empty and must have, manifold, content given to it from elsewhere. Human thought is insufficient for the to be True Knowledge, the object which is thought to exist must also exist independently of the act of thinking it. Any concept possessed by a being which is not god must therefore be relational. The revelation of the Spinozian absurdity. Relational here, Knowledge remains Theological, but Kant’s thought differs from Plato, his relation is to time rather than Eternity. God for Plato is the manifold, Eternity, the universe of ideas completely divorced from our own spacio-temporal world. Eternity for him, develops itself in this world which is given to us; it is in no way produced by our merely eternal concept, it is only related. This mean our absolute knowledge is knowledge of transcendent god, far different than knowledge this god would have of themself.
Kant demonstrates this is impossible, our knowledge must be schematized, temporalized for it to be in our world. This is why Plato’s system can only explain an Angelic intelligence whose thought does not rely on temporalization. For this, and with his synthesis, Kant gains an explanation of movement and forces in space. Space being an infinite cluster of identically different points absent of any character. Time as a dynamic conception of matter. All Knowing becomes a synthesis of identification of the diverse. Identification of A to B, or rather the change of A into B; Time as the whole of all identifications. Transcendental I, the origin of schematized categories, which relates concepts to time makes human thought possible. Temporalized concept then is always empirical, doxa. That schematization of concept happens a priori, placing it beyond what can be known. The eternal Theological circle remains hypothetical in Kant. We are left with the unclosed circle of skepticism, with its ill defined limits, we meet the impossibility of an absolute geometric understanding of the world.
And the truth remains “blank” - according to the definition of the Devil in “Le Puits de saint claire” It is also the “eternal task” of Kantian criticism⁸
Free will for man in Kant, as in plato, remains outside time in the Trancendental I, but where for Plato it is an Angeli decision for or against God, for Kant it is a single extra temporal act in which fallen man repudiates their sin.
None so far have been able to give an explanation of the concrete world in which humanity lives, nor the history they create with temporal free acts. What then can Hegel want, desire, other than to give account of the fact of history which man knows themselves to create. To find ... what Being must be in order to exist in such a World. A course which he pursues with the only serious path left, finding that the Concept itself is Time. His Science, summarily “Time is the concept itself which is there in empirical existence” and from this condensed formula we develop the brilliance of history as universal.
To begin, Being is revealed to itself by empirically existing discourse where Time realizes itself as Universal History. A historical time which exists only through man. Without man there can only be space, as man is the concept which is there in spacial and empirical existence. This is, Identifying the Concept and Time is understanding history as the record of human discourse which reveals being.
In pre-hegelian philosophy time flows from past to future across the present, but for Hegel the future has primacy. The future flows by way of the past into the present which is annihilated to move into the future. This movement is stimulated toward and by the future as creative human desire. Differing from animal desire not in that it is a presence of absence, such as the absence of water inducing thirst, but that human desire is a desire for desire. A desire for recognition. A desire directed at an entity that does not yet exist. While animal desire remains on a level where everything it creates returns to the earth on its death.
Time lasts only as long as History lasts-that is as long as human acts accomplished with view toward social recognition are carried out.⁹
Desire could be represented as a hole, an empty nothingness in the space of the present, by which the future takes its place. Desire related to nothingness, a future of nothingness, for it is only by negating the real, the given, that a reality other than the current can take its place, ceasing to be and coming into being as real past. This process is what gives quality to the present.
Time annihilates this World by causing it at every instant to sink into the nothingness of the past.¹⁰
For a moment to be historic it must be possible for the subject who desires to realize the desire. As an example: Caesar talking a walk at because of insomnia would not be historic, but Caesar taking this walk and plotting to take over Rome is historic because he imagines a future he will enact. Caesars past work and fights make this project possible, where as for a random person dreaming of world domination ot a megalomaniac these thoughts would not be historic even if identical because they lack the history which is the past already accomplished action that the future relies upon to become manifest in the present. ¹¹
As the only speaking being in the world, he is logos (or Discourse) incarnate, Logos become flesh and thus existing as an empirical reality in the natural world.¹²
Time is something and not Nothingness because it is the negation of space, the negation of something other than Time. Only that which really exists, that which resists, can truly be negated, and so real space must be filled with matter from the natural world. ... empirical existence of time in the world is human desire.¹³ Desire that realizes it is man’s Being. A non natural desire which essentially transforms the World through their works and fights. A desire directed at another desire for the sake of recognition. Bloody fighting for prestige, the relation of Master and Slave. It is only man that creates and destroys essentially in terms of ideas they form of the future. Work leads to historical evolution which proceeds towards a homogeneous state of Universal Knowledge in which complete man can be realized. The universe and being must be that man so conceived is possible and can be realized.
In chapter VII of the phenomenology, hegel says that all conceptual understanding (Begreifen) is equivalent to a murder.¹⁴
While concept, essence, is embodied in a sensible entity its meaning lives, but when passed into concept that meaning or essence dies. That which is a concept does not eat, drink or live and exists in a realm distinguished from sensible reality. To give a name or to define is to commit murder, as it is a thing’s mortality, its duration, its finitude, which allows it to be conceptualized, that allows us to separate its essence from it into word. That is to say that if any entity were to exist outside of time it could not be separated into concept.
The Universe of Discourse (the World of Ideas) is the permanent rainbow which forms above a waterfall: the waterfall is the temporal real which is annihilated in the nothingness of the past.¹⁵
Conceptual Knowledge implies memory, and here Hegel makes Kant’s theory more precise. Memory as an internalization of the objective real affected by the concept which reveals the real but is in me. Memory exists only where there is time. For Kant, Time is a passive mediation and the way things are is only by chance; where for Hegel it is an active mediation of the negation of the given through fighting and work. A dialectical movement that actively negates the given, transformative creation. Man reveals Being in the concept because by understanding the given they can see how things could be and can make the given conform to that vision. A Concept-Project which is transformative through free will and free action, conscious and voluntary. as time, as man as spirit. That is, Kant’s a priori concept is schema and passive intuition which allows man to conform to being. Hegel’s a priori concept is an actionable project, a dialectical movement, through which man can make given being conform.¹⁶
Being has a trinitary structure as synthesis/totality which unites Thesis/Identity and Antithesis/negativity as the creation of Time/History through the negation of existing being. Being attained from subtracting being for being to create “Being”. A Being that is the remembrance of Being, a Being that is what remembers Being. Being and Concept are a process of Logos and Discourse which produce truth. Speech is where concept biomes detached from being in-word concept. And this is ...the key to understanding the whole system. The Real is a remembrance of what persists after the annihilation, its essence or meaning, realized each instant. In word essence exists as much as in that which it conceptualises, and it is this work that Temporalizes Space as world time. Man and Concept are work and Time. The Real reveals itself in dialectical truth as synthesis. Reality is created by work on a project, and to Hegel the real world is a living Being.
To assert, as Hegel does, that all understanding is dialectical and that the natural world is understandable is to assert that this World is the work of a Demiurge, of a creator God conceived in the image of working man.¹⁷
... for Hegel this end of history is marked by the coming of Science in the form of a book - that is , by the appearance of the Wise Man of Absolute Knowledge in the world.¹⁸
For Hegel there is a single circle of absolute knowledge that is completed a single time, an end of history which is the end of the duration of the living Being that is the world. The World's mortality. Logos becomes flesh becomes man, only on the condition of being willing and able to die¹⁹ As Hegel says in the Encyclopaedia it is only Finite being which dialectially overcomes itself. Transitions into concept, the final moment of history, which marks the coming of Eternity, the death of collective humanity, Man become God.
And this is what Hegel is going to explain in the text of the Second Stage of the Second Section of the Second part of chapter VIII²⁰
¹ “Logos indicates not only the lexical word, but means of making ideas known, as well as ideas themselves, the phenomena to which ideas respond, and the rules that govern both phenomena and ideas.” p.94 (Haxton 2003)
⁴114 (4::3) (Kojève 1980)
⁵121 (Kojève 1980)
⁶120 (Kojève 1980)
⁷P.117 (Kojève 1980)
⁸109 (Kojève 1980)
¹⁰ (Kojève 1980)
¹¹P. 136 footnote 25 (Kojève 1980)
¹²139-40 (Kojève 1980)
¹³P.144 (Kojève 1980)
¹⁴ P.140 (Kojève 1980)
¹⁵P.142 (Kojève 1980)
¹⁶142 Foot note 33 (Kojève 1980)
¹⁷P.146 (Kojève 1980)
¹⁸148 (Kojève 1980)
¹⁹148 (Kojève 1980)
²⁰P.149 (Kojève 1980)
Heraclitus. 2003. Fragments. Penguin.
Kojève, Alexandre. 1980. Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Cornell University Press.