Book I: Metaphysics of Knowledge.

Chapter I: The Spiritual Principle in Knowledge and Nature.

§ 35.

The necessity, therefore, of getting rid of the antithesis in question forces itself upon us: and it is natural that the way of doing so, which at first sight most commends itself to us, should consist in treating the mind and its work as a secondary result of what had previously been opposed to it as operations of nature. The weakness of such a method is twofold. In the first place there is the objection upon which we have already dwelt and which may be put summarily thus: that nature is a process of change, and that the derivation of a consciousness of change from such a process is impossible. Secondly, such an explanation of the work of the mind, if nothing is known of it otherwise, is an explanation of it by the inexplicable. It is taking nature for granted, and at the same time treating that as a result of nature which is necessary to explain the possibility of there being such a thing as nature. For nature, as a process of continuous change, implies something which is other than the changes and to which they are relative. As a system of related elements it implies a unity, through relation to which the elements are related to each other. But with the reduction of thought or spirit or self-consciousness to a result of nature, if such reduction were possible, we should be eliminating the only agent that we know as maintaining an identity with itself throughout a series of changes, or as a principle that can unite a manifold without cancelling its multiplicity. In so explaining the spirit we should be rendering the basis of our explanation itself inexplicable. (§ 35 ¶ 1)