The absolute flux of the world of appearance passes into bare and simple difference through its relation to the simplicity of the inner being, the simplicity apprehended by understanding. The inner being is in the first instance merely the implicit universal. This implicit simple universal, however, is essentially absolute universal difference as well; for it is the outcome of the change itself, or change is its very nature. But change, when planted in the inner reality as it [change] truly is, forthwith is taken up into that reality as equally absolute universal difference at peace with itself, and remaining at one with itself. In other words, negation is an essential moment of the universal; and negation or mediation in what is universal is universal difference. This difference is expressed in the law, which is the stable presentment or picture of unstable appearance. The supersensible world is in this way a quiescent “kingdom of laws”, no doubt beyond the world of perception-for this exhibits the law only through incessant change – but likewise present in it, and its direct immovable copy or image.
This kingdom of laws is indeed the truth for understanding; and that truth finds its content in the distinction which lies in the law. At the same time, however, this kingdom of laws is only the preliminary truth and does not give all the fullness of the world of appearance. The law is present therein, but is not all the appearance present; under ever-varying circumstances the law has an ever-varying actual existence. Thereby appearance continues to keep one aspect which is not in the inner world; i.e. appearance is not yet in very truth established as appearance, as that whose independent being has been done away with. This defect in the law has to be brought out in the law itself. What seems defective in it is that while it no doubt has difference within it, it contains this in a merely universal indeterminate way. So far, however, as it is not law in general, but a law, it has determinateness within it; and as a result there are found an indeterminate plurality of laws. But this plurality is rather itself a defect; it contradicts the principle of understanding, for which, since it is consciousness of the simple inner being, truth is the inherently universal unity. It must, therefore, let the many laws coalesce into a single law, just as, e.g., the law by which a stone falls, and that by which the heavenly bodies move have been conceived as one law. When the laws thus coincide, however, they lose their specific character. The law becomes more and more abstract and superficial, and in consequence we find as a fact, not the unity of these various determinate laws, but a law which leaves out their specific character; just as the one law, which combines in itself the laws of falling terrestrial bodies, and of the movements of celestial bodies, does not, in point of fact, express both kinds of laws. The unification of all laws in universal attraction expresses no further content than just the bare concept of the law itself, a concept which is therein set down as existing. Universal attraction says merely that everything has a constant distinction for anything else. Understanding pretends by that to have found a universal law which gives expression to universal reality as such; but, in point of fact, it has merely found the conception of law itself, although in such a way that it at the same time thereby declares all reality to be in its very nature conformed to law. The idea of universal attraction has, therefore, to this extent great importance, that it is directed against that unthinking way of representing reality, to which everything appears in the shape of accident and chance, and for which determinateness, specificity, takes the form of sensuous independence.
In contrast, then, with determinate laws stands universal attraction, or the bare conception of law. In so far as this pure conception is looked on as the essentially real, or as the true inner being, the determinateness characterizing the specific law itself belongs still to the sphere of appearance, or rather to sensible existence. But the pure conception of law transcends not merely the law, which, being itself a determinate law, stands contrasted with other determinate laws, but also transcends law as such. The determinateness, of which we spoke, is itself strictly a mere vanishing moment which can no longer come forward here as an essential entity (Wesenheit), for it is only the law which is the truth here: but the conception of law is turned against the law itself. That is to say, in the law distinction itself is immediately apprehended and taken up into the universal, thereby, however, making the moments, whose relation it expresses, subsist as mutually indifferent and inherently real entities. These parts of the distinction found in the law are, however, at the same time themselves. determinate aspects. The pure concept of law, as universal attraction, must, to get its true significance, be so apprehended that in it, as the absolutely single and simple, the distinctions which are present in law as such, return again themselves into the inner being, qua bare and simple unity. This unity is the inner “necessity” of the law.
The law is thereby present in a twofold form. In one case it is there as law in which the differences are expressed as independent moments; in the other it is in the form of a simple withdrawal into itself, which again can be called Force, but in the sense not of repressed force [spoken of above], but force in general, or the concept of force, an abstraction which absorbs the distinctions involved in what attracts and is attracted. In this sense, e.g., simple electricity is force; the expression of difference falls, however, within the law; this difference is positive and negative electricity. In the case of the motion of falling bodies force is the simple element, gravity, which has the law that the magnitudes of the different factors in the motion, the time spent, and the space traversed, are to one another in the relation of root and square. Electricity itself is not difference per se, is not in its essential nature a twofold entity consisting of positive and negative electricity; hence it is often said it has the law of being so and so in the way indicated, or again, that it has the property of expressing itself in this fashion. This property is doubtless the essential and peculiar property of this force, i.e. it belongs to it necessarily. But necessity is here an empty phrase; force must, just because it must, duplicate itself in this manner. Of course, if positive electricity is given, negative electricity is inherently necessary; for the positive element only is by being related to a negative; in other words, the positive element in its very self involves difference from itself, just in the same way as the negative does. But that electricity as such should break itself up into parts in this way – this is not in itself a necessity. Electricity qua simple force is indifferent to its law – to be in the form of positive and negative; and if we call the former its notion and the latter its being, then its notion is indifferent to its being; it merely has this as a property, which just means that this is not per se necessary to it. This indifference takes another form when it is said that to be positive and negative is involved in the definition of electricity, or that this is neither more nor less than its notion and its essence. Its being in that case would mean its existence in general. But in that definition the necessity of its existence is not contained; it exists either because we find it, i.e. its existence is not necessary at all, or else it exists through other forces, i.e. the necessity of its existence is an external necessity. But in that the determinateness of being through another is what the necessity consists in, we are back again to the plurality of determinate laws, which we have just left in order to consider law, as law. It is only with the latter that we can compare its notion as notion, or its necessity. This necessity, however, has in all these forms shown itself to be just an empty phrase.
There is still another way than that just indicated in which the indifference of law and force, or of notion and being, is found. In the law of motion, e.g., it is necessary for motion to be broken up into the elements time and space, or again, into distance and velocity. Since motion is merely the relation of these f actors, motion, the universal, has in this way certainly distinct parts in its own self. But now these parts, time and space, or distance and velocity, do not express in themselves this origination from a single unity. They are indifferent the one to the other. Space is thought of as able to be without. time, time without space, and distance at least without velocity – just as their magnitudes are indifferent the one to the other, since they are not related like positive and negative, and consequently do not refer to one another by their very nature. The necessity of partition into distinct factors, then, we certainly do have here; but not the necessity of the parts as such for one another. On that account, however, that first necessity too is itself a merely delusory false necessity. For motion is not itself thought of as something simple or as bare essence, but as, from the first, divided into elements; time and space are in themselves its independent parts or its real elements: in other words, distance and velocity are modes of being, or ways of thinking, each of which can very well be without the other; and motion is consequently no more than their superficial relation, not their true nature. If it is represented as simple essence or as force, motion is no doubt gravity; but this does not contain these distinctions at all.
The distinction is, then, in both cases no distinction of an inherent or essential kind. Either the universal, force, is indifferent to the division into parts, which is found in the law, or else the distinctions, the parts of the law, are indifferent to one another. Understanding, however, does have the notion of this distinction per se, just by the fact that law is in part the inner being, the inherent nature, but is at the same time something distinguished within the notion. That this distinction is thereby inner distinction is shown by the fact that law is bare and simple force, or is the notion of that distinction, and thus is a distinction of the notion. But still this inner distinction falls to begin with only within understanding, and is not yet established in the fact itself. It is thus only its own necessity to which understanding gives expression – the distinction, that is to say, is one which it makes only so as at the same time to express that the distinction is not to be a distinction in the nature of the fact itself. This necessity, which is merely verbal, is thus a rehearsal of the moments which make up the cycle of necessity. They are no doubt distinct, but their distinction is at the same time explicitly stated to be not a distinction of the fact itself, and consequently is itself again straightway cancelled and transcended.
This process is called Explanation. A law is expressed; from this its inherently universal element or ground is distinguished as force; but regarding this distinction, it is asserted that it is no distinction, rather that the ground has entirely the same constitution as the law. For example, the particular occurrence of lightning is apprehended as universal, and this universal is expressed as the law of electricity; the explanation thereupon merges the law in force as the essence of the law. This force is, then, so constituted that, when it finds expression, opposite electrical discharges appear, and these again disappear into one another. In other words, force has exactly the same constitution as law; both are thus declared to be in no way distinct. The distinctions are pure universal expression or law and pure force; but both have the same content, the same constitutive character; thus the distinction between them qua distinction of content, i.e. of fact, is also again withdrawn.
In this tautological process understanding, as the above shows, holds fast to the changeless unity of its object, and the process takes effect solely within understanding itself, not in the object. It is an explanation that not only explains nothing, but is so plain that, while it makes as if it would say something different from what is already said, it really says nothing at all, but merely repeats the same thing over again. So far as the fact itself goes, this process gives rise to nothing new; the process is only of account as a process of understanding. In it, however, we now get acquainted with just what we missed in the case of the law – absolute change itself: for this process, when looked at more narrowly, is directly the opposite of itself. It sets up, that is. a distinction which is not only for us no distinction, but which it itself cancels as distinction. This is the same process of change which was formerly manifested as the play of forces. In the latter we found the distinction of inciting and incited force, or force expressing itself, and force withdrawn into itself; but these were distinctions which in reality were no distinctions, and therefore were also immediately cancelled again. We have here not merely the naked unity, so that no distinction could be set up at all; the process we have is rather this, that a distinction is certainly made, but because it is no distinction, it is again superseded.
Thus, then, with the process of explaining, we see the ebb and flow of change, which was formerly characteristic of the sphere of appearance, and lay outside the inner world, finding its way into the region of the supersensible itself. Our consciousness, however, has passed from the inner being as an object over to understanding on the other side, and finds the changing process there.
The change is in this way not yet a process of the fact itself, but rather presents itself before us as pure change, just by the content of the moments of change remaining the same. Since, however, the notion qua notion of understanding is the same as the inner nature of things, this change becomes for understanding the law of the inner world. Understanding thus learns that it is a law in the sphere of appearance for distinctions to come about which are no distinctions. In other words, it learns that what is self-same is self-repulsive, and, similarly, that the distinctions are only such as in reality are none and cancel one another, or that what is not self-same is self-attractive. Here we have a second law, whose content is the opposite of what formerly was called law, viz. the invariable and unchanging self-identical distinction; for this new law expresses rather the process of like becoming unlike, and unlike becoming like. The notion demands of the unreflective mind to bring both laws together, and become conscious of their opposition. Of course the second is also a law, an inner self-identical being; but it is rather a self-sameness of the unlike, a constancy of inconstancy. In the play of forces this law proved to be just this absolute transition and pure change; the selfsame, force, split into an opposition, that in the first instance appeared as a substantial independent distinction, which, however, in point of fact proved to be none. For it is the selfsame which repels itself from itself, and this element repelled is in consequence essentially self-attracted, for it is the same; the distinction made, since it is none, thus cancels itself again. The distinction is hence set forth as a distinction on the part of the fact itself, or as an absolute (objective) distinction; and this distinction on the part of the fact is thus nothing but the selfsame, that which has repelled itself from itself, and consequently only set up an opposition which is none.
By means of this principle, the first supersensible world, the changeless kingdom of laws, the immediate ectype and copy of the world of perception, has turned round into its opposite. The law was in general, like its differences, self-identical; now, however, it is established that each side is, on the contrary, the opposite of itself. The self-identical repels itself from itself, and the self-discordant sets up to be selfsame. In truth only with a determination of this kind is distinction inner distinction, or immanent distinction, when the like is unlike itself, and the unlike like itself.
This second supersensible world is in this way the inverted world (verkehrte Welt), and, moreover, since one aspect is already present in the first supersensible world, the inverted form of this first. The inner being is, thereby, in its character of appearance completed. For the first supersensible world was only the immediate raising of the world of perception into the element of universality. It has its necessary counterpart in this world of perception, which still retains as its own the principle of change and alteration. The first kingdom of laws dispenses with this principle, but receives it in the form of an inverted world.
By the law of this inverted world, then, the selfsame in the first world is the unlike of itself, and the unlike in the first is equally unlike to itself, or it becomes like itself. Expressed in determinate moments, this will assume the form that what by the law of the first is sweet, is, in this inner, inverted reality, sour; what is there black is here white. What, by the law of the first, was north pole in the case of the magnet, is, in its other supersensible inner world (viz. in the earth), south pole; “while what was there south pole is here north pole. Similarly, what by the first law is in the case of electricity the oxygen pole becomes in its other supersensible reality hydrogen pole; and conversely, what is there the pole of hydrogen becomes here the pole of oxygen. To take another sphere of experience: revenge on an enemy is, according to the primitive immediate law, the supreme satisfaction of injured individuality. This law, however – that of standing up against one who does not treat me as a substantial self, showing him that I am a substantial being, and even doing away with him as a reality – this law is transmuted by the principle of the other world into the very opposite, the reinstatement of myself as the true reality through the removal of the alien hostile being is turned into self-destruction. If now this inversion, which is brought out in the punishment of crime, is made into a law, it also is again only the law of a world which has an inverted supersensuous world standing in antithesis to itself, where that which is despised in the former comes to honour, and that which in the former is honoured meets with contempt. The punishment which, by the law of the former, disgraces a man and annihilates him, turns round in its inverted world into the pardoning grace which preserves his being and brings him to honour.