Guest post from Michael Burns. – APS
In section 1.0 Gabriel sets the stage for the rest of his essay and begins to lay out the stakes of the confrontation between Schelling and Hegel. He begins with a set of reflections on the nature of totality in philosophical thought, an in particular the problem of ‘naïve ontic monism’, in which an attempt to reduce the world to one domain fails precisely ‘because it cannot account for its own theory building process, its own operation of singling out a sub-set of the world and arranging its elements in a particular (and therefore contingent) manner’(15).
In opposition to this ontic monism, Gabriel notes the necessity of accepting some form of ontological monism, which:
draws on the fact that the various forms of representing the world occur within the world such that the world must be capable of ontological doubling: it replicates itself within itself’ (16).
For Hegel, this doubling is always an inner doubling which occurs in reflection, and thus being ‘becomes the proper name of a disjunction into being and appearance’ (16).
Gabriel then goes on to argue that another problem in speaking of a domain of all domains is a linguistic one, as ‘there is no way to refer to the domain of all domains within ordinary (propositional) language (17). While I won’t waste time spelling out an argument we have all read, Gabriel eventually concludes that the nothingness which is the world itself becomes a something in our ‘constant activity of naming the void, and this void is what remains outside of any apophantic environment, and avoids capture by any cosmological model (17).
From here Gabriel goes on to outline the way in which the difference, or gap, between language and the paradoxical domain of all domains generates philosophical discourse as such, and further, that the threat of absolute indeterminacy created by this gap is what leads to ‘mythological narrations of the origin of the world’ (18). Following this Gabriel begins to introduce the way in which this mythological problem opens up a debate between Schelling and Hegel. According to Gabriel (via Manfred Frank):
Whereas Hegel claims that being is an aspect (Moment) of reflection which eventually becomes fully transparent within the root-and-branch self-referential notion, Schelling maintains that reflection depends on and is thus necessarily secondary to what he calls ‘unprethinkable being’ (20).
So while Hegel thinks of being as something accessible, or thinkable, through reflection; Schelling thinks that reflection itself ‘indicates the brute fact of existence, which is per se inexplicable in logical terms (20). This is where mythology becomes crucial for Schelling, as it allows him to denominate this brute fact of existence, which is incapable of being accounted for in logical terms (as Hegel believes it can be). Contra Hegel, Schelling maintains that there is always an unprethinkable remainder to every logical system, and that the mythological allows us to speak of what Hegel falsely identifies as the immediacy of being. From here Gabriel furthers this distinction between Hegel and Schelling by outlining the implications for thinking subjectivity.
Because in these opening pages Gabriel does little more than provide some introductory remarks which help to emphasize the implications of the debate he sets out between Hegel and Schelling in the chapter (and himself and Meillassoux in the final pages); I won’t say much else, as I’m sure much of the debate and discussion will occur in the coming sections where he puts this argument in motion. The only thing I will say is that I was quite resistant to Gabriel’s insistence on mythology as something that could provide intelligibility in a way that reflection, thinking, poetry (or mathematics, which comes up in his brief reference to Badiou and Meillassoux) is incapable of, but on the second read through I’m already finding this position much more enticing, and I will be curious to see which side of the upcoming Hegel v. Schelling debate everyone falls on.