Theo-Logic: Hegel and Guénon in light of Böhmian dialectics


Den Satz des Widerspruchs zu vernichten ist vielleicht die die höchste Aufgabe aller höheren Logik

 (to destory the law of non-contradiction is perhaps the highest task of all higher logic)


                 - Novalis


Wem die Zeit ist wie Ewigkeit,

Und Ewigkeit wie die Zeit;

Der ist befreit 

Von allem Streit


                  - Böhme



Hegel and Guénon are without a doubt among the greatest of gnostics of modern times, although in many ways they represent two fundamentally opposing  paths or ‘pillars’ of the spiritual traditions of mankind. Hegel, with his undeniable tendency towards pantheism and his focus on history, could be said to represent the pillar of the (post-Christian) West, the ‘Heraclitian’ pole of immanence and movement, whereas Guénon (although he himself in many ways an apostate) sets out to propound a wisdom that is properly speaking pre-Christian, i.e. the ‘Parmenedian’ gnosis of the East, which remains firmly fixed in the ahistoricity of absolute transcendence. Having said this, it might be interesting to relate both of these thinkers to the theosophia of Jakob Böhme, who could in a certain sense be considered (in true Hegelian fashion) as a kind of means or ‘synthesis’ between both of these poles.


Now, obviously such a comparison has to take into consideration that Guénon, although certainly aware of the philosophus teutonicus, even mentioning him approvingly in several loci, seems not to have been influenced by him directly in any meaningful way, whereas Hegel was in many a ‘disciple’ of Böhme, whom he called ‘the first german philosopher’, and from whom he took not only the central ternary of Idea (or Concept, Begriff, Logos), Spirit (Geist) and Nature (a conceptual ternary that remains in Hegel a de facto  duality and which, as we venture to argue in the following, has to be complemented by the third term of the Grund) but also the dialectical method itself, which was in many ways already integrally contained in Böhme, although of course only in an implicit manner.


In fact, despite his obvious flaws, it is without a doubt the greatest achievement of Hegel to have explicated what was implicit in Böhme and to have ‘translated’ what he found in Böhme’s evocative and sometimes rather diffuse imagery into a veritable logic.[1] The central lesson Hegel learned from the teutonic philosopher is that nothing is immediately actual, everything has to become ‘realized’ and this realization is not accomplished in a simple passage from potentia to actus, from indetermination to determination, but by passing through the ‘crisis’ of mediation in which the immediate has to realize its ‘mediacy’ per ignem ad lucem, just like (according to Böhme) every irradiation has to pass first through the ‘narrow gate’ of contraction to realize its expansion such that the way to Heaven always leads through Hell.  


Every ‘actualization’ is thus realized not in two (potency – act) but in three steps and these are the three moments of the Hegelian dialectic, as the immediate/unmediated ‘being-in-itself’ (an-sich-sein) the mediating ‘being-for-itself (für-sich-sein) and the mediate/mediated ‘being-in-and-for-itself’ (an-und-für-sich-sein). Hegel was also the first to have coined the term Aufhebung[2] (which we will sometimes render as 'sublimation' in the followig)for this process and to have explicated the threefold sense of this word, namely as ‘overcoming’ or ‘subjugation’ (which is essentially implying a negation, such that a flame extinguished by water could, in this sense, be said to find itself aufgehoben by it), ‘preservation’ (like in the unfoldment of a tradition which is constantly developed without however negating the older elements, which are always aufgehoben in it, such that all tradition is indeed a dialectic) and ‘elevation’ (Erhebung, i.e. a ‘lifting up’).


The three moments are often rendered as thesis A, anti-thesis B and synthesis C (A-B) and while this schema is certainly not entirely without truth, it can quickly lead to a host of unnecessary confusions which we should dispel from the very beginning. It has often been pointed out that Hegel never actually uses these terms, instead of ‘anti-thesis’ for example we sometimes hear of the Gegensatz, which can be rendered as ‘opposition’ (or ‘anti-thesis’ for that matter), but should (in our opinion) be here understood more literally as that which is ‘posited’ (gesetzt) against (gegen) or before (vor) s.o/ and since the word ponere (from which ‘positing’, ‘position’, ‘postulate’ etc.) can be rendered in german as setzten, stellen and legen, we have to be aware that the Gegensatz is always also a Gegenstand (‘object’) and also closely related to the notion of Vorstellung (‘representation’, ‘conception’, or ‘imagination’, the last of which obviously plays a crucial role in Böhme’s theosophy). It is thus important not to conceive of the ‘object’ merely as an ‘objection’ (negation) to the subject; in conceiving of  myself I become object to myself, meaning I become gegenständlich – and not necessarily gegensätzlich – to myself, for this ‘objectification’ (the ‘conception’ of myself) does not inherently negate me; in fact the opposite is true, namely that only in conceiving of (or ‘reflecting on’) myself I really become aware of myself, such that this ‘positing’ (gegen-setzen) of the concept is not my negation but rather leads me to my affirmation.


As such the Subject A only becomes aware of itself as A by ‘reflecting itself’ in the Object B and realizing this knowledge in the synthetic act of knowing C in which Subject and Object find themselves mediated, so that the immediate A (an-sich) becomes the mediate C (an-und-für-sich) only by passing through the mediation of B (für-sich).


In terms of the Hegelian meta-myth this means that the  (yet ‘abstract’ or ‘empty’) Concept or Begriff A can only realize itself as the grasped (begriffen) Idea C by passing through Nature B, so that Spirit (A) ‘posits’ Nature (B) as its ‘being-other’ (anders-sein) or ‘outwardness’ (ausser-sein) and, entering in and through it in a process of ‘de-alienation’, realizes itself through the Aufhebung of the latter, thereby consummating its ‘coming-to-itself’ (A-B = C).


Already in this heavily simplified presentation we immediately see (from a Böhmian perspective) some inherent flaws, for not only is Nature merely seens as ‘means’ for the realization of the Idea that is ‘tossed aside’ (Hegel speaks of fallenlassen, literally ‘to let fall’ or ‘to drop’) like a larva once Spirit has ‘hatched’ from it in its fully actuality, but it is also seen as a mere ‘postulate’ of Spirit, such that its being is ultimately an illusory one, i.e. it has no ‘aseity’ being ‘principled’ and eventually ‘swallowed up’ by Spirit (in other words: Spirit conjures up Nature as its ‘otherness’ only to realize that it was Spirit after all!).


This tendency to turn Nature form a mere ‘object’ (Gegenstand) into an ‘objection’ (Widersatz) which is eventually to be negated, finds its strongest manifestation in the subject-philosophy of Fichte in which the Ich (Subject A) posits Nature, i.e. the Nicht-Ich (Object, or rather ‘Not-Subject’ B) only to ‘subject’ (aufheben) it again, thereby finding its affirmation (C). We thus see that in this dialectic the first sense of the word Aufhebung (as negation) clearly predominates while the latter two remain largely neglected: A negates itself by positing B (the not-A) and through the negation (Aufhebung) of this negation it finds itself affirmed (negatio negationis).


Indeed, from a Böhmean perspective this Fichtean Ich-Philosophie cannot but seem ‘satanic’, for the affirmation of the self via negation of the other (non serviam) [3] is precisely what characterizes the ‘bad subjectivity’ (falsche Subjektivität or Selbheit) of Lucifer and his fallen hosts. For Böhme the true subjectivity, our ‘veritable identity’, is, a contrario, only realized in our own Aufhebung:


This shoemaker asserted that it is the primary function of man, not to posit himself, but to sublimate himself (sich aufheben) in God and only in this affirmation of God will his (true) self be affirmed, out-spoken and posited by God (Baader, Fermenta cognitionis, VI).


Not only can the Subject never posit itself (in its true identity) nor can it posit its Object out of itself, as it were, ex nihilo, which is the fundamental error of all subjective idealism. However also Hegel’s ‘absolute idealism’, in which Subject and Object appears as the posited and not-yet-sublimated oppositionality (Gegen-Setzung) of the Universal Logos, can likewise not be fully satisfying, for it risks merely turning the Fichtian solipsism into a monism of Spirit (a solipsism in divinis).


In Böhme we find a very different picture. Firstly Nature is not posited by Spirit as its derivative ‘postulate’ but rather ‘aroused’ (as a ‘spirituous potency’) or ‘revealed’[4] (for the ‘speculation’ of Spirit in the mirror of its Idea stirs up the desirous Nature-Will); it is thus always already immediately present. Nature is in a sense co-eternal with Spirit (die ewige Natur) not as its equal but precisely as it ‘unequal’, its contrarium. To quote from the Gnadenwahl (chapter IX; cf. also Baader’s Speculative Dogmatik IV.15):


You must understand that the holy Life of God would not be manifested/revealed (offenbar) without Nature, but would be hidden in an eternal stillness. For the Love and Holiness of God were not revealed in their immediacy, but for their revelation there had to be Something that is not like it (or ‘equal to it’) but unlike it and had need for this Love and Grace for its ‘equalization’ (Ausgleichung). And this is the Will of Nature, which stands in its immediate (unmediated) plurality and contrariety/adversity (Widerwärtigkeit) and has need of the Love and Grace, so that its isolation/separation (Vereinzelung) may be transformed into unity (Einheit), its disintegrity (unlikeness) into integrity and its Pain into Joy. And in this transformation the holy, incomprehensible Life stands revealed in the Word (in ipso vita erat) as a co-working Life (or adjutor) in Nature.


Not only is Nature eternal – which is a crucial difference from Hegel who conflates Nature(natura naturans) and creature (natura naturata), i.e. the ‘holy life’ of divine Nature and the ‘unnatural nature’ of death and generation (Stirb und Werde!) in which ‘all things are in flux’ (panta rei), thereby identifying in a sense the very act of creation with the Fall and turning the positing of Nature into an alienation of God from Himself, which also inevitably leads him into pantheism, a heresy that Böhme with his notion of an eternal Nature (as logos ekthetos), placed, as it were, ‘in-between’ the abysmal Godhead (logos enthetos) and the (fallen) world, cannot be charged with  – but also is the ‘subduing’ of the Nature-Will not its ‘negation’ but its transformation, not only Aufhebung but also Erhebung (elevation) und Aufbewahrung (preservation), such that through its sublimation by Spirit, the ‘contractive’, desirous Nature (will to self) is changed into a World of Joy (Freudenreich), an infinite outflowing of Love and Blessedness, God’s Glory; His Kingdom, House and Corporality: the manifested or ‘outspoken’ Idea (Sophia), the Idea that has 'taken on nature' (prendre nature).


Instead of the Spinozian adage that omnis determinatio est negatio, we could thus rather (with Baader) propose that the true logic of the dialectic lies in the formula that omnis determinatio est positio. For Spirit (A) and Nature (B) posit themselves reciprocally and only in their ‘synthesis’, the manifest Idea (C), are they both fully realized. In fact it could be said that A and B are posited by C just like C results only from the synthesis of A and B[5], for C is not only the ‘term’ (i.e. end) but also the ‘middle’ (the centre, ‘heart’, or Grund), in which Spirit (by descensus) and Nature (by ascensus) meet and unify and this entering into the ‘ground’ is also their ‘foundation’ (Gründung) as well as the ‘finding’ of themselves in finding the other. However without a middle C as a reference there obviously cannot be any talk of a ‘higher’ principle A and a ‘lower’ principle B (just like a periphery is always periphery with regards to a centre and this central point is only ‘central’ when related to a periphery), so that C is not only term and middle but also ‘principle’ (i.e. beginning), positing A and B just as A and B posit C, so that in fact any ‘thesis’ A, B, C could be said to be cause and effect at once.


On the one hand the central point (Grund) that is the ‘principle’ (Begründung) of Being (like the luminous point that is concentrated in the womb of Non-being according to the kabbalistic doctrine of tzimtzum) is the ‘foundation’ or establishment of Spirit and Nature, on the other hand this middle point only emerges through the adversity or ‘tension’ of both (as their ‘equalization’), for as we have seen, the defined (‘differentiated’) point of Being cannot emerge from the ‘indifference’ of Non-being without mediation through the primordial ‘differentiation’ (Ur-Teilung) of Nature and Spirit and Nature and Spirit are only ‘posited’ in their self-identity by this very foundation.


This dialectical logic is thus not linear A – B – C (as in classical logic where premise A and premise B yield the conclusion C) neither spiraling (like that of Hegel* in which every term C immediately becomes a new thesis A)[6] but rather a closed circle in which movement (ascend – descend) and rest (equalization) coincide[7], such that all moments are in a sense ‘consubstantial’.


*[To be fair, Hegel too conceives of his logic as a true Ouroboros, ‘a circle that winds around itself, where the mediation winds the end back to the beginning’ (Logik II.504), a circle made up of circles (‘wheels within wheels’) in which every part constitutes its own whole. In fact this looping back of the end (synthesis C) into the beginning (thesis A) is the natural movement of all Hegelian dialectic, for the ‘result’ is already contained in the principle albeit only in an unmediated manner. It follows that Spirit is always only becoming what it already is. Ye, it seems to us the strongest interpretation of the Hegelian system to say that (by its circular nature) Spirit has always already become what it is and is what it’s becoming. Absolute Spirit is thus eternally ‘winding back into itself’; it’s always already standing at the finish line and it is only quoad nos, the ‘finite spirit’, that its progressive unfolding is increasingly revealed in the forms that it takes in its historical unfoldment (the ‘phenomenology’ of the Spirit). However that may be, by positing the mediatory process (B) as a temporal one (and not as Böhme as the eternal revelation of God to Himself) he cannot help but introduce some real ‘becoming’ into God in one way or the other (in a sense God is this becoming itself). The circle of Hegelian immanentism is a mere horizontal (which is also why he has to take the 'elevation' implied by Aufhebung as a mere 'progress' unfolding along the linear axis of history), whereas the Ouroboros of Böhme is eternally emerging from the dark 'root-principle' of Non-being through the central 'seed' of Being and spreading out into the multiple 'branches' and 'blossoms' of Universal Existence, from which it plunges itself back into its matrix (the analogy of the tree or flower is especially fitting for Böhme's system, for every plant grows into two directions at the same time, downwards (Demut) into the roots and upwards (Erhabenheit) into the branches or leaves and the branches can only grow upwards into manifestation if the roots grow downwards and 'conceal' themsevles in their 'humility' such that the life of the whole 'organism' is dependant on their mutual giving and receiving).]


Spirit needs Nature to become manifested and without Nature Spirit is but a ‘spectre’, an incorporeal shadow like the wandering shades that populate the Homeric Hades; conversely Nature needs Spirit to liberate it from its ‘wrath’, to ‘give it to itself’ and to reveal it in its Joy. As such both Spirit and Nature only are what they truly are in their union and mutual indwelling (‘tincturing’).


We are pointed here to the perennial image of the mirror and the ray of light: the ray can only be revealed in its reflection by a surface (light in itself is invisible) and the mirror can only be liberated from its darkness by reflecting the light. Thus the mirror has to realize its perfect ‘submissiveness’ or ‘humility’ (Demut) and turn upwards towards the light in ‘admiration’ (for, as Baader says, the ‘miracle’ is by definition the super-natural)[8] to offer itself as selfless receptacle (‘He must increase, I must decrease’ – Joh. 3:30).


The light on the other hand has to ‘stoop down’ towards the mirror in a free gift of itself, a kenotic ‘outpouring’, for ‘if the grain of wheat doesn’t fall into the ground (matrix) it remains alone and doesn’t bring fruit’ (Joh. 12:24). However in this descensus Spirits doesn’t lose any of its ‘sublimity’ (Erhabenheit) but rather ‘lifts up’  Nature, such that here too it is most eminently the case that ‘the humble (and only the humble!) will be exalted’ (Matt. 23:12).[9] Not only is Spirit is no way ‘depotentiated’ by its entering into Nature but it is precisely in this indwelling, its ‘going-forth-from-itself’ that it gains vita propria and finds its true selfhood[10] (‘Give [yourself], and it will be given to you’ for ‘He who loseth his life shall find it’  – Lk. 6:38, Matt. 10:39).  By entering into Nature the yet ‘abstract’ Idea takes shape (or ‘body’) and, in its manifestation, realizes its concreteness, so that the ‘foundation’ (Begründung) is always also a ‘vivification’ (Belebung) as well as a ‘corporalisation’ (Beleibung).


We are pointed here to the central idea that, for Böme, Life and Corporality, Leib und Leben, coincide (Vis ejus integra si conversus in corpus), and it is in this way that also Fr. Bulgakov says (cf. Unfading Light II.2.3) that every idea (or ‘possibility’) in the Divine Mind only finds its true fulfillment in its ‘sophianic corporality’, where it realizes its ‘concrete universality’ (konkrete Allgemeinheit) as Hegel might say, and ‘feels’ (empfinden) itself in its perfect self-conformity, i.e. its Beauty, such that every unspoken idea is driven by an eternal longing to feel and ‘taste’ itself in this ancestral beauty by entering into (or ‘grounding itself in’) the sophianic matrix, just like every instantiated being here in via is constantly aspiring to ‘fall upwards’ to this beauty as its entelechy. Such is the erotic dance of manifestation in which all things strive towards the ‘divine Heart’ (Grund) and to assume their ‘holy corporality’, the luminous wedding-garments of the celestial Sophia – Nulla idea sine corpora; such is the logic of all Christianity (the religion of Incarnation), which itself manifests in the Corpus Mysticum of the Church and her sacraments such that even in the holy liturgy the locus of manifestation of God is the Eucharistic Body (Leib – Laib).


To apply the dialectic which we have hitherto developed to more concrete terms, we could simply say that the Subject A can only know itself through the mediation of the Object B, the Object  B can only be manifested/revealed in its being-known by A and the knowledge is consummated in the act of knowing C. However it is clear that any ‘Subject’ always presupposes a reference to an Object and vice versa, so that only in the immediate act of knowing C Subject and Object find or ‘posit’ themselves in their selfhood. The distinction of Subject and Object as separated monads is thus always an abstraction with no basis in immediate apprehension (as the phenomenological critique of Cartesianism has likewise shown); knowledge is always ‘prior’, it is always mediated immediately [11], for every act of knowing is by its very nature ‘intellectual’, i.e. vertical[12], i.e. atemporal.[13]


In order for the Subject to know it cannot stay ‘self-centred’, locked away in its immediate self-identity, but has to go forth from itself, ‘throw itself out of itself’ (außer-sich-sein) in an ‘ecstatic’ salto mortale and lose itself (entfinden) to find itself (erfinden and empfinden) in the Object; the Object too cannot deny itself to the gaze of the Subject by staying locked away in its contractive desire of self-possession but has to offer itself in all its nakedness[14] to it, has to realize its own ‘nothingness’ (non sum), and only in this ‘givenness’ can it fulfill its mirroring function.


However by virtue of the cyclical dialectic of ascensus – descensus, it is not only the Subject that ‘posits’ (or rather ‘reveals’) the Object and thereby determines it (so that what is known in a corporal mode, i.e. by mediation of the pyscho-somatic faculties, appears to us in corporeal mode)[15] but also the Object that determines the Subject, so that knowledge is not consummated purely ‘in the Subject’ (as in a Cartesian ‘theatre of the mind’) but in a sense ‘in-between’ Subject and Object, in the ‘middle’, the Grund of their founding and finding, the locus of their mutual revelation, such that Aristotle is right when he calls knowing the ‘communal act’ of Subject and Object.[16]


Knowledge is thus always also a ‘passion’ and every knowing also a being-known, for the objects stream into the receptacle of the intellectus passivus and take shape there, which, as an unstained mirror, ‘gathers all things in her heart(-intellect)’ like Mary (Lk. 2:19), the humble handmaiden who ‘receives the Word’ (and here lies also the true mystery of the Annunciation, for in becoming a ‘hearer of the Word’ I have to retract myself, become a receptive locus of manifestation – fiat mihi secundum Verbum tuum – and by being a humble ‘co-worker’ in the manifestation of the Word, I myself become spoken or ‘posited’ by It).


Only God knows fully ‘active’ (in truth, it is only the Logos made flesh who makes Himself known, as the appearances after the Resurrection testify), for He is never observable (‘the eye/I by which we see, can never be seen’) but rather the Participable, such that all knowing is a participation in Him whom the Bhagavad Gita rightly calls ‘the only Knower’.  


We thus see that, in order to find themselves in their truth, a moment of ‘suspension’ is required , an ‘abnegation’ (abneget semetipsum) and mutual self-giving, so that we could say that the finding and foundation (Gründung) of both in the Grund always also requires an ‘annihilation’ (zu Grunde gehen), such that the centre C is not only the principal point from which all radii irradiate outwards but also that point of mutual attraction (the ‘weight of love’), the ‘void’ in which A and B ‘fall into’ and, upon meeting in their union, find themselves – not through the negation of the one or the other, nor in a pantheistic confusion or mixture of both, but precisely in their own affirmative self-identity, such that A is only truly and B is only truly B in their ‘synthesis’ C.


Böhme points us to this logic in a genius manner when calls the principle of knowing the Scienz (ziehen – scientia), i.e. the centrifugal Spirit-Will breaking up the egoic coagulation of the desire-centre by throwing itself out of itself in a radical rejection of its own selfhood, so that – in the Aufhebung of this ‘strive’ – the self-consuming wrath fire of the contractive Nature-Will is transformed into gift of self, the unlimited outflowing of Love and Blessedness. And this expansion of Spirit (which is also his ‘conceiving’ and conception, the eternal birthing of Himself in Himself) is its self-knowledge, for only in this ‘spreading out’ does it become fully intelligible to itself.


And here lies also the ‘key of gnosis’ (Lk. 11:52), for attaining to true knowledge I have to reject my false ‘opinions’ (Meinung, from mein, ‘mine’, ‘me’) and take the ‘leap of faith’ out of myself and into that darkness of  the ‘cloud of unknowing’ like Moses ascending the ‘mountain of theognosia’ (St. Gregory). And this leap out of myself is also a ‘taking heart’ (ein Herz fassen), i.e. a Begründung, for in this sacrificium intellectus[17], gnosis is consummated in the sacrifice.


In renouncing itself, knowledge (la gnose), in a certain manner, enters into the obscurity of faith, into that darkness in which, as St. John tells us, ‘the light shineth’. And it is only through this renouncement, this ‘passion’ [Gott leiden können, or Gottgelassenheit], that it can be transformed in its very nature, become what it is in converting itself to its Object and uniting with It (Borella, Problèmes de Gnose, II.3.2).


We see thus how the ‘logic of knowing’ is also a logic of love (cf. here), for loving means always the death of ‘me’; in loving the other I annihilate myself, become ‘void’ for him to ‘fall into’ (tomber amoureux) and by this mutual entering-into-each-other we both ‘find’ ourselves.


Thus it has rightly been said that ‘Love is the doorway to gnosis’ (Evagrius), for true knowledge of God requires this submissiveness (fiat mihi..), the salto mortale of faith, and in this effacement of myself, this offering myself in all my nakedness to the divine Gaze, I become receptacle (Vas spirituale) in which the knowledge of God (Sapientia Dei both as genetivus subjectivus and objectivus) can manifest itself, such that in speaking the divine Vowel the creaturely consonant is spoken too. For, as we have said, God is the ‘only Knower’ and as such he cannot ever become the ‘object’ of knowledge properly speaking, being that by which all is known. God can only be known in Himself by Himself and it is only in this gnosis, this Aufhebung of myself, that I too find my veritable identity; for by giving myself to God in this ‘objectivity’, this immolation of ‘me’ and by offering myself as object to the Supreme Subject, not only am I known by God, but I know God, know in God and myself in that Divine Knowing, such that ‘by becoming fully objective to the Absolute Witness, the self becomes most fully itself’, which is nothing other than the gnosis of the visio beatifica (cf. here).[18]


This dialectical logic is (as we tried to show in our last essay) perfectly exemplified in the story of Adam and Eve. Before the separation of sexes, Adam is in a sense ‘androgynous’ however only in his ‘immediacy’ (an-sich-sein), meaning that he is not so much a true or ‘actual’ androgyne but rather ‘sexless’ (neither man, nor woman), i.e. impotent. In his ‘sleep’ (which the Septuagint renders as ekstasis) he goes forth from himself and in this self-abandoning finds Eve (whose formation doesn’t mark a new act of creation on the part of God but rather a ‘differentiation’ or ‘revelation’ of what was already ‘immediately’ present in Adam) as his objectivity (für-sich-sein); the realization of the true angroyne now requires the Aufhebung of Eve, not through her ‘subjection’ but by way of loving union of both (as ascensus-descensus), and in this ‘synthesis’ (Begründung) the true androgyne emerges, not as ‘half-man, half woman’ (Venus Barbata) but as the ‘true man’ (just like in the hypostatic union, Christ is not half-divine and half-human but ‘true man and true God’), such that only in the androgyne are the male and female ‘tincture’ fully realized (‘posited’) as what they are meant to be (and, in virtue of the circular dialectic, the androgyne results from the conjunction of male and female in the first place).


We thus see that every true synthesis is by its nature ‘androgynous’, which immediately condemns the  error of conflating the  synthesis with some ‘hermaphroditic’ mixture/monster, like in conceiving the synthesis of being and nothing as becoming, which is not the ‘synthesis’ properly speaking but results precisely from a duality or ‘strive’ that is not yet aufgehoben (hence why it characterizes Böhme’s Third Principle, or more accurately the world ‘fall out of temperature’, in which the light and dark Principle stand in their adversity). The true synthesis (of light and dark, being and nothing etc.) should thus not to be searched in this grey twilight zone but rather in the ‘dazzling obscurity’ of the superessential Godhead, which, being beyond being and beyond all opposition, contains both in their supereminent truth.


And here we move to the very highest level and see that the logic developed is also that of non-duality, for even though we have spoken of the Grund as the ‘middle’ or ‘centre’ we should not conceive of this synthesis (for example of time and eternity, movement and rest) as a kind of ‘in-between-ness’ which is neither fully the one nor the other, but it is rather here, in this mutual indwelling, that there’s ‘time in eternity and eternity in time’ as Böhme says, such that the true sabbatical rest (the first and seventh day) lies in sublimated movement (the opus sex dierum) and here we see once more that the Infinite is not the negation of the finite but that, through its Aufhebung by and in the Infinite, the finite is revealed (‘given to itself’) in its truth (La fini n’est vraiment ‘fini’ qu’au sein de l’Infini) – ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and you will find the rest’ (Matt. 6:33), for in seeking only the Infinite, the finite in all its integrity will be added unto you.


In the end it seems to us that the logic we tried to expose here is neither ‘Hegelian’ nor ‘Böhmian’ but simply Christian, for it is the divine logic that underlies the whole Gospels, being both incarnational and profoundly trinitarian.  The Trinity is precisely that mediated (reflected or ‘reflexive’)[19] Oneness, the One-in-Three and Three-in-One, in which every Person find itself in losing itself in the other in the eternally closed circulum vitae (circumincession) of the divine Life. As St. Gregory tells us:


The One enters into movement because of íts fullness, the Two is transcended because the Godhead is beyond all distinction; Perfection is achieved in the Three, which is the first to overcome the compositeness of the Two. Thus the Godhead does not remain confined, nor does it spread out indefinitely (Oratio XXIII).


The One Essence becomes ‘objective’ (or ‘imagines’, i.e. becomes image) to Himself (as Father) in the Son or Logos (Concept) and this perfect image (Vor-stellung) of Himself, His emanatio, is also His perfect knowledge of (and ‘insight into’) Himself in which all duality (or ‘objectivity’) is expired in the imanatio of the Holy Spirit (Trinitas reducit dualitatem ad unitatem) such that this ‘found’ (gefunden and empfunden) One-in-Threeness (in which all three Persons are not ‘collapsed’ or negated again but  ‘posited’ in personas proprietas), the divine Tri-Unity (one, indivisible, incomposite) is in fact the highest truth of the One.




From these few observations it should already become clear that when some critics (esp. Thomists) have accused Böhme of introducing ‘potency’ into God (who is after all the actus purus plain and simple) this cannot seems but misguided. Böhme simply places himself at the higher level of the (yet unmediated) One, the Non-being (Mê on) of the Ungrund, i.e. the One ‘before’ it has ‘entered into movement’, to lay out his theogonic vision, whereas theologians take the actus purus essendi as their point of departure. Ironically it is exactly this neglecting of the supra-ontological (or mêontological) dimension for which scholasticism was criticized[20] by Guénon and it seems that introducing some concepts from the Guénonian mêontology can indeed help us in clearing up such misconceptions, which often stem from reading Böhme through the all too narrow lens of german idealism (which never surpassed the ‘ontological’ level strictly speaking). Instead of speaking about ‘potency’, which can in many ways be misleading, we might thus get some clarity by introducing the Guénonian notion of ‘All-Possibility’.


Now All-Possibility is certainly a notion that is hard, ye even almost impossible to conceive of, for the simple reason that is ‘beyond being’ and as such necessarily beyond thinking as such; it is thus important not to ‘reify’ it in any way for it presents in a sense but a ‘symbol’ to conceptualize the Infinite “under the minimum (amount of determination) required to render it actually conceivable to us“ (Guénon, The Multiple States, I).


The Infinite is by its very definition that which is not lacking in any perfection, meaning that it is not a mere ‘potential’ (i.e. something that is not yet what it can become) but contains all possibilities of manifestation and non-manifestation in a super-eminent manner, being ‘beyond all distinction’ (nirvishésha), i.e. the coincidentia oppistorum in which ‘absolute possibility is absolute actuality’, as already Cusanus noted. It is the pure unconditioned Principle, free of any limiting determination. In a sense one could thus say that for Guénon too omnis determinatio est negatio, for every conditioning or manifestation of Possibility is in some ways already a ‘descent into mâyâ’, not so much an ‘actualization’ in the proper sense of the word but rather a ‘depotentiation’, such that the manifestation (considered in itself) is always already ‘less’ than the unconditioned possibility.


However we have to keep in mind that contrary to the pantheistic confusions of Spinoza and others this negatio can never intrude on the integrity of the Infinite in any way (for “a limitation of total Possibility is properly speaking an impossibility“, ibid.);  all manifestations or ‘modifications’ of Possibility do not in any way ‘determine’ or ‘limit’ it (as it is in itself), such that it always stays immaculate by the becoming and un-becoming of the samsaric flux (kind of like in creating an image, my preconceived idea of this image isn’t in any way ‘negated’, while the image itself could be said in some way to represent an ‘determination’ or ‘limitation’ of the idea). We see thus that determination is always only real on the plane of the product not of the Producens and since, according to Guénon, the only really Real (because unconditioned) is the Supreme Principle, this renders all transitory modification ultimately illusory.


The first ‘determination’ of Non-being is pure Being, which is the actual principle of all manifestation or of ‘Universal Existence’ (and stays as such ever unmanifested).  Here too we could pick up on the imagery of the ‘luminous point’ emerging in the more-than-luminous darkness of the abyssal ocean of the Ungrund. However according to the viewpoint of the ‘metaphysical objectivism’ that Guénon and his followers subscribe to, this luminous point manifests by a pure logical necessity (which of course, from the standpoint of the unconditioned Principle, also coincides with the supreme freedom). Being corresponds merely to a possibility in Non-being and for the Absolute to be absolutely absolute it necessarily also needs to contain a ‘drop’ (bindu) or ‘point’ of the relative: Âtmâ in Mâyâ and Mâyâ in Âtmâ. As such Guénon tells us “that every possibility that is a possibility of manifestation must necessarily be manifested by that very fact, and that, inversely, any possibility that is not to be manifested is a possibility of non-manifestation“ (Op. cit. III).


This perspective obviously breaks decisively with the Böhmian one, for contrary to this logical ‘necessitism’ (which does in a sense away with all notions of the absolute contingency of the created and ironically approaches once more the Spinozian position) one has to stress with Böhme (and the perennial Tradition of Christian theology as a whole) that this rather ‘mathematical’ conception of manifestation remains blind to the central notion of will. As the Apostle says (Rom. 4:17): it is God who ‘calls things from Non-being to Being (ta mè onta ôs onta) and as such already the medieval schoolmen always maintained that the non-manifested possibilities (which are fully actual in the Divine Knowing) are not non-manifested because of their mere non-manifestabilty (which is a pure tautology; in fact the very notion of pure ‘non-manifestables’ arguably already limits God’s Omnipotence)[21] but that God, in a sense, ‘decrees’ what to manifest and what not (while always keeping in mind that the analogical introduction of will into the Godhead or Ungrund does not in any way imply ‘arbitrariness’, God being, as we already said, beyond the distinction of necessity and contingency as we understand it). 


The first stirring in the ineffible One is will: “Desire came upon that One in the beginning, that was the first seed of mind” (Rg-Veda, X. 129); which is the “I want to be many!” of the Chândogya Upanishad (VI.2), the “I want to be corporeal” even (Brahd. Upanishad, I.2). The denial of this volitional element in manifestation, in which every possibility merely manifest because of its inherent nature, obviously does away with all notions of ‘mediation’ (which is so crucial in the Böhmian system) as well, for, as we have seen, in the Böhmian vision all manifestation (especially the principal one, the ‘birth of God’ from Himself) does not simply pass from non-manifestation to manifestation, but has to pass through a ‘crisis’ (the ‘Yes and No’ – ‘To be or not to be!’) and the following Aufhebung of this contrarium


The incomprehensible, abyssal will of the Ungrund (the Father) ‘finds’ or ‘grasps’ (fassen) Himself in a comprehensible will, the Concept (Fassung), which is His Grund (the Son), resulting as we have seen from the ‘meeting’ or ‘marriage’ of Spirit and Nature in their ‘middle’ (from which we also once more see that the appearance of Spirit and Nature as such is only ‘founded’ once this primordial point of the Grund appears, while at the same time being in a sense the principle of the same point) and, through this nuptial Aufhebung, God goes forth in His Outspeaking (the radii irradiating from the luminous point), His ‘Voice’ or ‘Reverberation’ (The Holy Spirit), into the ‘outspoken Word’ (logos ekthetos), i.e. Sophia (the periphery), which manifests His great Joy and Glory.


This is not to introduce any real ‘becoming’ into the Ungrund (as Hegel inevitably does), which would obviously be absurd. The Ungrund being infinite it cannot ‘become’ anything except That what it already always eternally is ‘in itself’ by passing from the an-sich (A) to the an-und-für-sich (C), a mediation (B) which is of course strictly atemporal and eternally accomplished such that His Holy Life stood revealed from all eternity (just like the Son is eternally begotten from the Father). The divine will is already always what it wants (or ‘imagines itself’) to be: anima est, ubi amat, where it desireth there is its Heart (or Grund), and ‘the Home (Sophia) is where the Heart is’.


As such the ‘out-speaking’ or ‘utterance’ of Himself in His logos ekthetos (Sophia) is always also an entering-in-to-Himself, a return to the ‘still mystery’ of the Ungrund, so that there is an eternal Aufhebung from unity to multiplicity and from multiplicity to unity, ‘an incessant multiplication of the inexhaustible One and unification of the indefinitely Many‘ (Coomarasawamy). ‘God is the absolute One’, says Baader, ‘but unity is nothing static, inactive, but rather activity as uniens’, it is an eternal unification, eternal hierogamy where expansion and compaction, above and below meet (zusammen-fallen) in the centre of their circulation, an eternal birth, possessing a perpetual newness. In fact, according to the Böhmian, paradigm the true Unity (or rather Non-duality) is only realized precisely in the Aufhebung of duality, passing from the unqualified ‘Oneness’ of the an-sich to the non-dual an-und-für-sich (which are of course always strictly identical to one another: A = C). As such Baader even goes so far as to say that ‘He would not be the esoteric God if He were not the exoteric one and vice versa’, for His ‘out-speaking’ (Äußerung) is at the same time His ‘in-sight’ into Himself (Inne-werden).  


God, says Jakob Böhme in his Gnadenwahl, takes on nature through His ‘explication’ (Aufthun) in the Word … However, in His ‘utterance’ (Äußerung) or His ‘stepping into outwardness’ (in die Äußerlichkeit treten), He doesn’t step in any way ‘out of Himself’ (ent-äußert), like Hegel thought, but it is precisely only in this ‘utterance’ that He ‘realizes Himself’ (inne werden) as the truly Living One. One, says Böhme, has nothing to know, will or work, it has to duplicate itself, become two, and it is in this sense that Plato (and Jacobi after him) says that Love, as abundance (Überfluss) and richness, has desired an object to unite itself with[22] – not as if in this triplicity Oneness would emerge in the first place, but through this procession (Ausgang), the utterance into nature, this Oneness ‘actualizes’ or ‘realizes’ itself  (Baader, Vorlesungen über J. Böhme's Theologoumena). 


As paradoxical as it may sound, there is thus always also a reciprocal ‘conditioning’ between the esoteric and the exoteric God, or, in the Guénonian parlance, between the infinite Brahman and Ishvara, the ‘Divine Personality’, as the first of all determinations; a conditioning which Guénon would obviously deny, for Ishvara, even though “highest of the relatives” yet only ever stays exactly this: relative/conditioned (i.e. illusory), and is thus “in its entire being strictly nil” vis-à-vis the unconditioned Principle (Guénon, Man and his Becoming, I). While this radical non-proportionality can “from the purely metaphysical [or ‘mathematical’] point of view neither be discussed nor contested”[23] (The Multiple States, III) we have to keep in mind the circular ‘unmoved movement’ of this manifestation. As we have seen, the ‘unessential’ (mêontological), abyssal will, the ‘Eye’ or Magus (corresponding roughly to what Guénon calls Khien, the ‘active’ aspect of infinitude) contemplates His All-Possibility in the ‘mirror’ or Magia (the ‘passive perfection’ or Khouen). What the Magus sees in this mirror is His Idea, His ‘Concept’ (Fassung) of Himself, the ‘unspoken Word’ (logos enthetos). However, as long as the Word remains unspoken the will is restless and – like an artist ‘possessed’ by a sudden inspiration is driven to express it, to manifest it and to see it before him – even so the Ungrund goes forth from itself and manifests Himself in His Eternal Nature, Sophia, His Kingdom and Corporality as His ‘outspoken Word’, the ‘artwork’ in which the Divine Artificer finally takes His sabbatical rest.


As we have pointed out above, from a purely ‘logical’ perspective this ‘artwork’ (or Word) is of course always undeniably ‘less’ than the Idea (or Concept), similar to how silence (which eminently contains all possible sound) is, in this sense, always ‘more’ than the most beautiful harmony imaginable.


Just as Unity (Being) is nothing but metaphysical Zero (Non-Being) affirmed, so speech is nothing but silence expressed; but, inversely, metaphysical Zero (Non-Being), while being Unity unaffirmed, is also something more (and even infinitely more), just as silence, which is an aspect thereof in the sense we have just explained, is not merely the spoken word unexpressed, for there must also subsist within it what is inexpressible, that is, what is not susceptible of manifestation (for expression means manifestation, and even formal manifestation) and so of determination in distinctive mode (Guénon, The Multiple States, III).


The Idea is thus always ‘more’ than the Word (‘and even infinitely more’) because it contains this ineffable surplus of the inexpressible that always evades manifestation[24] – an experience that every artist will surely have made.[25] However while this ‘ideal’ is always ‘greater’ (because unconditioned), the actual artwork is in a sense ‘truer’, because it presents  or ‘confronts’ (vor-stellen) me with the truth of my idea and, in contemplating it, I reveal to myself who I really am as an artist. For, as already Hegel remarked, the absolute non-determinacy of the Concept/Thought really reveals nothing, only in the (outspoken or ‘determined’) Word, in hearing my own Voice, do I ‘realize’ (inne werden) what I am (as Goethe famously put it: Das Leben zeige jedem was er sei).


While the Word is thus ‘relative’ or ‘derivative’, being principled by the Thought and thus logical speaking ‘infinitely less than it’ (i.e. ‘strictly nil’) it also conversely reveals the Idea to itself, which remained hitherto ‘abstract’ and in a sense ‘unfulfilled’, pure form empty of content. In contemplating Himself (Idea), God manifests His Art (Word) and in beholding the manifestum He contemplates Himself (from which He manifest His Art, from which He enters into contemplation of Himself etc. ad infinitum, or rather: in aeternum). There is thus an eternal hungering, generating and consuming in one eternal Ouroboric cycle, ‘an eternal and immutable going out and coming in: out of Godhead into being, and from being into Godhead’ (Meister Eckhart), and in is this way that the Sufis say that the world is annihilated (‘dissolved’ or 'polarized') and generated (‘unified’) at every instant, for God is both Muhyi (‘The One who brings to life’) and Mumit (‘The One who puts to death’)[26] – ‘Every instant thou art dying and returning‘ (Rumi).


Again we touch here on the paradoxical notion that to ‘hear’ Himself in His eternal tranquility (an-und-für-sich-sein) He has to speak the Word (für-sich-sein) just as that very silence (an-sich-sein) is the Principle of all utterances.


‘The Heavens proclaim the glory of God’ and in this universal praise He hears (vernehmen) Himself in His eternal silence, just as, by hearing this silence, He eternally goes forth from it and enters into His Eternal Nature; He utters Himself audibly into that (uncreated) Heaven [the logos ekthetos] to realize Himself (sich vernehmen) in this out-speaking. Such is the identity and inseparability of the eternal inwardness and outwardness of God’s being” (Baader, Speculative Dogmatik, I.7)


His outspeaking (Äußerung) is His insight (Innerung, which is also an Er-Innerung: the ‘remembrance’ of what He is nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum) and the Three is the truth of the One, or, to paraphrase Guénon: ‘the Three (Non-duality) is the One affirmed’, not the negation but the potentiation of it, Vertiefung (‘deepening’) instead of ‘fall’ (similar to how the New Adam is not merely a restitution but an ‘elevation’ of the old one).[27]  


In the eternal silence of the unconditioned Ungrund there is nothing other than God; but precisely because He is ‘without other’ (nirvishésha) His Love doesn’t stand revealed, for Love is gift of self and thus presupposes an other that I can give myself to. Auch der Olymp ist öde ohne Liebe (‘Even Olympus is bleak without Love’), laments Kleist’s Zeus in Amphitreon and thus Spirit descents from the holy mountain of His Absoluteness and enters into Nature, and the descensus of Spirt is the ascensus of Nature, its ‘ascension’ (Erhebung) and ‘assumption’ (Aufhebung) – armor descendi elevat. The unity that is established (begründet) by Love is precisely that ‘affirmative unity’ we spoke about earlier, unity as sublimated duality. Duality without unity (or love) is strive and in unity without duality all love remains impossible (except the love of self, the inversion of love). Empedocles  is thus right when he posits Love (the drive away from ‘self’ and towards unification, the ‘falling into’ and ‘losing’ oneself in the other) and Strive (the drive towards particularity/atomization, the centering in self)[28] as the two primordial forces, all the while keeping in mind that love is strive overcome or aufgehoben, just as strive is but love rent asunder, for it is only in this fallen world, plunged in the ‘knowledge of good and evil’ (duality separated from unity), that these two forces manifest in their opposition (or Widerwärtigkeit), Creation being ‘an image of the eternal and immanent process of the Divine Life’ (Baader), in which the Divine Love eternally stands revealed and in which no strive ever entered (‘God is Light and there is no darkness in Him’ – Joh. 1:5).[29]


Now the One has nothing to will, know or work; meaning also: it has nothing to love. The ‘Eye’ of the Ungrund is blind, because, staring out into infinity, it doesn’t meet any ‘object’ (and in this sense it could be said that seeing everything is really equivalent to seeing nothing at all, just like silence is in a sense all possible sounds resounding at once). As the Brihadâranyaka Upanishad (II.4.14) states:


Where there is duality there one smells another, one sees another, one hears another, one speaks to another, one thinks of another, one knows another. But when where everything is the Self, there what should one smell and through what, what should one see and through what, what should one hear and through what, what should one speak and through what, what should one think and through what, what should one know and through what? Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known – through what, my dear, should one know the Knower?


Thus the One splits‘ itself into duality (Spirit and Nature, Yes and No) and, in the reconciliation (Aufhebung) of this duality by entering into the Grund, it finds and founds (begründen) itself as the all-mighty, all-wise, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-hearing, all-smelling, all-feeling, all-tasting God”, as the God ‚ “who in Himself is meek, friendly, gracious, merciful and full of joy, yea Joy itself” (Böhme, Aurora, III.24). He utters Himself into ‘differentiation’ (Schiedlichkeit), into the great harmony of His outspoken Word, spreading Himself out into an ‘infinite ocean of substance’ (St. Damascene), and through the Aufhebung of this utterance, the reabsorption of all multiplicity into primordial unity, the One Knower not only knows but ‘experiences’ Himself in His infinite Glory (as well as in the innermost ground and Ungrund of His eternal silence).


‘The Ungrund is an eye’[30], says Böhme, and we could add: The Ungrund is an I; this is the eternal unconditioned I (Non-being), the great AVM, and to conceive of itself it fashions a mirror for itself and in His Concept He realizes: I AM (Being); and through this Concept or Grund He goes forth from and out of Himself (äußern) into differentiation, the great harmony of His ‘World of Joy’ and in the resounding of the manifold sounds hidden in His abysmal silence He sees that: I AM THAT (Existence), from whence He returns to His eternal silence now (nunc aeternitatis) having found the ‘insight’ that I AM THAT I AM (that I am that I am that I am, ad infinitum).


We thus see that there cannot be any real distinction between Non-being and Being (in the sense that Guénon posits it, who almost 'hypostatizes' these concepts because his '(supr)a-theistic' position lack an ultimate Referent), for God being simply the Infinite, He is by definition the non-duality of Being and Non-being [31] and driving an unbridgeable chasm between Brahman and Ishvara seems, in this way, ultimately inadequate (however ‘logical’ it may seem from a purely metaphysical level). 


Certainly, Guénon might say that there is virtually nothing in which the Böhmian teaching contradicts his own exposition (at least in re) but that it ultimately comes down a question of viewpoint (or ‘interpretation’), Guénon placing himself on what he considers the ‘highest point of view’ presenting us with an advaitic interpretation whereas Böhme, with his focus on strive and love and his emphasis on will, could be said to give a more ‘tantric’ exposition (in fact the similarities between Kashmir Shaivism and Böhmian theosophy are quite astonishing and would warrant a separate study); two different perspectives that correspond to the respective sentiments of the ‘mathematician-turned-gnostic’ Guénon and Jakob Böhme who had himself ‘tasted’ the Mystery in all its fullness. Their disagreement then exhibit certain similarities to that of Evola and Guénon* (cf. Evola’s review of Man and his Becoming, as well as Guénon’s subsequent response to his criticism)[32] and we see in this opposition once more the fundamental differences of the ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ (id est ‘Faustian’, id est Christian) spirit.


*[Evola accuses Guénon of a “rationalism” in which “contingency, darkness, will, and indeterminacy have no place, and in which everything is already made and a higher order resumes all the elements“.  The true Infinity is, according to Evola, not “absolute indetermination” (which is but its “abstract hypostasis”, an “empty dream”) but potestas, “the power of being unconditionally what it wants” (or, in Baader’s terminology: Naturfreiheit, not Naturlosigkeit). He also reproaches Guénon for positing an  “unfillable abyss between saguna- and nirguna-Brahman; i.e. the “separation of the principle of a synthesis from what is synthetised, a separation which makes of the two terms something contradictory. While, in a consistent non-dualism, the universal is an ‘actuality’ which includes the particular as well as the ‘actuality’ of which the particular is the act and through which the universal becomes actual”.  For the Absolute, in manifesting, “does not find its negation but its affirmation”; its manifesting of itself should thus “no longer be regarded as the death and the contradiction of the infinite, and therefore as a form of non-being, a nothingness which darkens the pleroma (omnis determinatio negatio est), but instead as its action, its glory (!), that in which it testifies and asserts to itself its powerful freedom“. Guénon responds by charging Evola with an anti-metaphysical “voluntarism“  and asserts that “the Vedânta and the Tantras, for the one who understands them well, perfectly agree”, asking why Evola “endeavour(s) to find an incompatibility which does not exist between these various points of view”. Now, while the Evolian critique certainly approaches a Böhmian point of view we should not overestimate these convergences, for the Evolian notion of the “dominion over the object known“ falls again into the other extreme of  a Fichtian subjectionism.]


However Böhme would undoubtedly say that in rejecting the eternal Freudenreich of God as a ‘relative’ and ultimately negligible reality, thereby ‘abstracting’ one moment from the circulum vitae, he is walking a dangerous path. While for Guénon only the unmanifested possesses ultimately reality for Böhme the exact inverse is true.


For Boehme the primary locus of reality is precisely the realm of eternal manifestation; and in fact, to set one’s sight beyond that realm is to take the path of Lucifer which ends in Hell. In this optic, to deny the eternal world is to deny what God Himself has become: it is to reject Christ, the true God and Savior (Smith, Christian Gnosis, V).


In search of gnosis, Lucifer rejects Love and falls into the infernal abyss (Abgrund), for abstracting the One from its glorious irradiation is like depriving a flame of its light (a path that only can only end in the eternal darkness of the ‘wrath fire’) and it is in this way that Baader states that the principle of all evil is ‘abstraction’.


Ye, finally we may conclude that both Hegel and Guénon present in a sense a ‘loss of centre/middle’, an Entgründung; Hegel (like Adam) aims below it, falling into the sidereal realm of strive and becoming, where Guénon (like Lucifer) overshoots it, stripping God of His Love and Glory, thereby ‘decorporalizing’[33] Him and falling from Ungrund to Abgrund (this fall into non-manifestation being conceived of by Böhme precisely as a loss of corporality).  


Again we meet with a kind of Spinozian reductionism, for while the Spinozian pantheism is pure extensio without intensio, the Luciferian ‘gnosticism’ wants to posses only the central point at the negation of all peripheral ones. In his ‘angelism’ (the hatred of the ‘relative’, i.e. all 'lesser' realities than himself) Lucifer could thus be seen as the founding father of the ‘gnosis falsely so called’ (pseudonomou gnoseos) that the Church has condemned from the earliest time.


The Christian thus has to tread carefully neither to fall into the one or the other extreme. That we may walk the path of the righteous to the end, so help us God. Amen. 



[1] Although this also in many ways the greatest weakness of Hegel, for the ‘rational furor’ of his systematizing intellect lead him to exclude anything ‘supra-logical’, i.e. all true ‘verticality’ or ‘spirituality’ properly so called. The Hegelian panlogism is completely closed in on itself and has no place for the ‘ineffable’, which Böhme struggled so hard to put into words.

[2] In the following we will sometimes render Aufhebung as ‘sublimation’, which seems to be one of the common translations; it is clear however that this term does not carry the threefold meaning developed here and as such can only ever serve a ‘stand-in’ sign.

[3] We are pointed here to the deep theological truth that the ‘spirit of negation’ (der Geist der stets verneint) always does so, not merely because of its inherent desire to destroy, but also because it wants itself to create (starting by creating itself); as Fichte says: ‘the I posits itself’ (Das Ich setzt sich selbst).

[4] As Borella has argued (cf. La Charité profanée) this difference of ‘creation’ and ‘revelation’ is precisely what distinguishes the ‘triumphalist charity’ of progressivism from the true charity of the Christian Way. Indeed  the altruism of triumphalist charity is nothing but an externalized egotism, for it only ‘posits’ the neighbor to affirm itself. We might also note that the ‘satanic’ element of the Hegelian dialectic is also clearly present in Marxism and its mythos of eternal struggle, the Aufhebung of which has in practice always meant not the ‘elevation’ of the proletariat, but rather the violent ‘negation’ of the bourgeoisie.

[5] Another image of this logic is also given to us in the image of the ‘lightning’ or Schrack, which separates the two Principles (or ternaries) and ‘posits’ them in their distinctiveness (as well as effecting their ‘transformative equalization’), while at the same time ‘sparking’ from the friction of the two in the first place, such that it is (as the ‘fourth quality’) not only situated in the middle of the heptad but also marks the beginning of Böhme’s theogonic ‘seven-part circle’.

[6] see above

[7] These three moments of the circular ‘unmoved movement’ (ascend, descend, equilibrium) are related by Baader also to the divine utterance: ‘I am who was, who is, and who will be’ (YHWH), and in this we are given to understand the true nature of the ‘divine time’, God’s eternity in which movement and rest coincide, in which past and future eternally flow into each other to generate the eternal Now in its morning glory, an eternal spring-time that renews itself at every instant.

[8] Admiration (germ. Bewunderung), admiratio, mirare, miracle (Wunder); hence why every admiration is the love of the higher (the ‘super-natural’, i.e. that which is above my natural situs)  and in this way Plato is right when he states that all philosophy, the ‘love of wisdom’, starts from ‘wonder’ (thaumazo), for it is the erotic ascend towards the Idea (Sophia).

[9] This why Meister Eckhart say the creature that is ‘empty’ (of self-will) God cannot deny Himself to fill that emptiness (like sea flowing to the ‘lower place’, nature of humility according to the Tao te Ching). This dialectic obviously works also inversely, such that in ‘judging’ or denigrating the other (i.e. exalting myself above him) I am judged (cast down).   

[10] Nature is the principle of all selfhood as such, but it can only come to it-self in its selfless ‘abasement’ under Spirit, from which we also see that all ‘false subjectivity’ originates in a selfish uprising’ of the Nature-Will.

[11] Such is also the position every created being in the (post-lapsian) world finds itself in, being always already ‘posited’ outside of God; the true unmediated ‘indifference’ was only open to the first Adam in his primal innocence, for us however such an indifferentiation is illusory, we are all born ‘sons of perdition’, posited in our contrariety to God which we have to sublimate (or ‘subject’) ourselves by a free act of will (negate our negation) – ‘He who not with me is against me and whoever does not gather with me scatters’ (Matt. 12:20).

[12] As Zeno has famously shown, two points A, B cannot meet in a middle C without the intervention of verticality (for motion is impossible on the horizontal alone) just like every defined ‘point’ on a horizontal plane has ultimately to be defined or posited by such an vertical (or ‘intellectual’) act; this is the divine presence at the ‘heart’ of every being (which, for us, corresponds to the ‘person’), the creative act which rest on every creature and which all things participate in, ‘from the Hayoth and the Serafim down to the lowliest worm on earth’. However since all knowing of the external object (as consummated in the ‘middle’) immediately draws us out of ourselves (such that the ‘waking state’ could indeed be characterized as ‘ecstatic’ in nature), directing our gaze towards that ‘eye by which we see’, the ‘eye of the heart’ (ayn al-qalb) or the ‘seat of Brahman’ (brahmapura) a spiritual conversion is needed (metanoeite!), the extinction of all external objects (aphareisis panton), and only in this ‘knowing unknowing’ can we enter into the ‘secret treasury’ of the divine Bridegroom.

[13] Thus the circle (perennial symbol for eternity) is used by St. Dionysius to characterize the intellectual or noetic movement, whereas the psychic spiraling pertains foremost to reason or dianoia, the ‘dialectical reasoning’ which Hegel never manages to surpass.

[14] The relevance to the story of Genesis should be obvious. Here it is Adam who lovingly turns upwards towards God in ‘admiration’ and in this (‘mirroring’) ascension has his nakedness clothed by the splendor of the divine Face; it is only when he averts his gaze that he become ‘darkened’ and, in turning towards himself, ‘sees that he is naked’ and falls into shame (Gen. 3:7).

[15] Adam was called to be known (objective, passive) by God and in this humility he could exercise his active dominion over nature as ist the knower (subject); when he fell however he became object of nature.

[16] This seems also true of the hermeneutic act, for is it not that, in reading a text, the meaning is produced neither merely by (and in) the reader nor posited by the text alone, but emerges in the dialogue (or ‘dialectic’) of reader and text, in the space ‘between’ them.

[17] Let it be clear that we are not talking about a kind of credo quia absurdum here, for the knowledge we are referring to here is not the theoretical knowledge ‘that God is’ (Deum esse non creditur sed scitur) but the realization of this knowledge, which constitutes the true gnosis.

[18] We see that the annihilation, suspension or losing of myself in God is not an end in itself (like a certain strand of mysticism likes to think, for this ‘mystical confusion’ is nothing but a ‘mystification’ of our true being), but only a moment of transition, the abyssal suspension in the void between heaven and earth, the crisis before the resolution, the losing before the finding, the crucifixion that precedes all resurrection. Herein also lies the distinction between the ‘spiritual eroticism’ of true love, in which both partner are posited or given to themselves by the other and the false ‘trans-descendence’ of lust in which both are plunged into the Dionysian abyss of the ‘erotic death’ (Liebestod).

[19] Every awareness of self or self-consciousness is by its very nature reflexive, even the divine Mind, and this reflexive movement (which is eternally aufgehoben in the nunc stans of divine Gnosis) is the Trinitarian Life.

[20] It is not here the place to discuss whether this criticism is justified or not. In their treatments of Guénonian mêontology both Borella (cf. Problèmes de Gnose) and Chenique (cf. Sagesse Chrétienne) come to the conclusion that Guénon’s conception of the Infinite is essentially scholastic and doesn’t differ in any substantial way from that of St. Thomas (cf. De Veritate, II). .

[21] One might remark that even God cannot create a ‘square circle’ and while this is correct, it does not however limit His Omnipotence, for a square circle is not a ‘possibility of non-manifestation’ but simply a ‘non-possibility’.

[22] We see here once more that the primordial desire doesn’t stem in any way from some ‘lack’ in the One (which would be of course be impossible) but, on the contrary, from its abundance or Überfluss (literally: ‘flowing-over’).

[23] Böhme himself agrees with this when talking about Sophia as the ‘mirror-image’ of God; obviously this image is radically dependent on and relative to That which is reflected, however without this reflection (Vorstellung) God doesn’t attain to His Visibility (Beschaulichkeit) of Himself. In providing the mirror with His image He gives it ‘corporality’ and in taking on and entering into this corporality He becomes manifested and finds/feels (empfinden) Himself.

[24] Indeed, following Böhme, we could say that the Word not only reveals but also conceals, such that in a certain (quite Hegelian) manner, this ‘negation’ or ‘occultation’ is itself an integral aspect of the Word and what is ‘muted’ in the speaking of this Word is precisely God as the ‘darkness’ of the centrum naturae, the devouring ‘wrath fire’, which is eternally aufgehoben and transformed in the mild flame of light and love. We touch here on central idea of Böhme, namely that every manifestation (Begründung) requires a de-manifestation (Entgründung), every revelation an occultation or ‘abimation’ (namely the negation of a ‘false’ or ‘malefic’ manifestation). For a mirror that is completely transparent cannot reflects anything; every mirror is in need of its ‘obscure face’ in order to fulfill its function, the ‘backside’ which, in itself, is eternally concealed (this obscure face corresponds, according to Borella, to will, whereas the mirroring surface symbolizes intellect). As such I have to ‘negate’ my own will, ‘keep it down’ (zu Grunde halten), in order for God to ‘will in me’, I must ‘de-manifest’ my egoity in order for my ‘true self’ to become revealed and die in my old man (zu Grunde gehen) in order for the new man to manifest himself in me.

[25] However we have to keep in mind that God is not ‘an artist’ but the perfect Artist and what he wants to be, that He becomes, such that there is a perfect correspondence of idea and factum, or of type and archetype (hence the ‘beauty’ of the sophianic realm). The error of Hegel (as well as of Schopenhauer and others) lies precisely in positing this ‘non-adequacy’ of the Producer and his product thus turning God into a kind of tormented artist who never manages to express himself like he would wish to.

[26] As is the Logos, who is both the creative Principle (that of order and unification), as well as that of Judgment (i.e. discrimination and separation). Not only lies the true unity in sublimated duality (separation), but, as we have said before, every true order is precisely constituted in the hierarchical coherence (or ‘tension’) of heterogeneous elements (the prime symbol of which is likewise the ‘body’ and its harmonious interaction of different ‘members’ or ‘organs’).  

[27] Another numerical symbolism we might employ is that of the 1 and 10, the latter being essentially but a ‘potentiated’ (or ‘affirmed’) version of the former, whereas the 1 contains always already contains the 10 virtually, such that the ancients said that ‘the monas is the decad and the decad is the monas’. In the explication (or ‘evolution’) of the 1 into the 10 and the involution of 10 to one there is thus a constant flowing from rest (1) to movement (2-9) and from movement to rest (10).

[28] We see how both of these drives have a centripetal and a centrifugal dimension which are, however, inverted. The centrifugal drive away from me (illusory centre) is mirrored in the dispersive drive away (from the true Centre) into particularity, just as the centripetal self-centring is mirrored in the entering-into the unitive Centre or Grund. Only in this true Centre is the synthesis of the drive towards selflessness (to lose/dissolve oneself in universality) and selfishness (to posit oneself in one’s individuality) achieved, namely: selfhood realized in selflessness.

[29] This is a point that needs to be stressed emphatically, for Böhme the ‘negation’ (Tilgung) of the ‘obscure face’ of every manifestation doesn’t necessitate it’s prior actualization, just like the passage from strive to love, from darkness to light doesn’t require their ‘actual’ manifestation, but only their ‘possibility’, for it is not the actual ‘ignition’ (Entzündung) but the ‘ignitability’ (Entzündlichkeit), the poss inflammari, which is to be negated (getilgt or aufgehoben). As such the Fall is for Böhme (contrary to Hegel) in no way necessary.

[30] Or, more accurately: the will of the Ungrund, for the Ungrund in itself is neither an eye nor an ‘I’ nor anything else and nothing can be predicated of it.

[31] s.a.

[32] s.a.

[33] We should note that the other extreme, the Hegelian error, could rightly be called a decoporalisation too, for even if Hegel’s Spirit posits Nature eternally as its body and returns eternally to itself, this body of God is nothing but the ‘body of death’. 

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Comments: 3
  • #1

    Hegelian (Saturday, 06 February 2021 06:06)

    Hodgson on Hegel: “From my point of view, this interpretation of Hegelian holism as tantamount to a philosophy of immanence or a ‘mystical monism’ is a gross caricature.”

  • #2

    Hegelian (Saturday, 06 February 2021 06:13)

    Denouncing Hegel's "pantheism" without addressing his explicit riposte to this charge in 1829-31 is dishonest.

  • #3

    Hegelian (Saturday, 06 February 2021 06:22)

    "Whosoever slights Hegel today does so to his own intellectual detriment. The Roman Catholic theologian will miss a staunch ally in his battle against a theology built upon the Kantian Verstand." - Fr. Thomas Munson (1966)