Back to the Darkest of All Things: Philosophical Lessons on the Dynamics of Matter and Ground, from Leibniz to Schelling Restricted; Files Only

Zorrilla Piña, Carlos (Summer 2021)

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This dissertation follows the evolution of the concepts of matter and metaphysical ground in the work of some of the most important thinkers of the tradition of ontological dynamics which originated in Classical German Philosophy. By ‘ontological dynamics’, what is meant are philosophical investigations whose conception of substance is given under the guise of force, and which therefore attempt to elucidate all existence in terms of the interplay of forces, and of the higher configurations for which these former provide the ground. From its beginning, the appeal to the notion of force in order to explain existence was motivated by the hope that it could provide the theoretical means for bridging the otherwise disparate poles of mind and matter. This would deliver philosophy from the threat of an irreconcilable substance dualism even while it grounded our cognitive approaches to the world around us. But the project of thematizing matter in dynamical terms and of thinking phenomenal appearances as grounded by substantial forces nonetheless led to questions concerning nature’s standing vis–à–vis the subject of knowledge, the status of space and time, the ultimate safeguard of natural regularity, the validity of metaphysical speculation, among others.

In exploring this set of issues, the exponents of ontological dynamics on whom this dissertation focuses are Leibniz, Kant, Herder, Baader, and Schelling. In the course of the dissertation, each of these thinkers’ attempts to provide a dynamical conception of matter is closely examined, both for the sake of its own merits, as well as with a view to the incitation for further refinement which it prompted in subsequent thinkers. In this vein, Schelling’s conception is presented as the culmination of a painstaking process to articulate a philosophically sound conception of matter. This is because, banking on the lessons of all the thinkers which preceded him, Schelling for the first time managed to provide an explanation of how, thanks to the relations of its constitutive forces, matter can intrinsically produce the various forms under which it manifests. Through such a substantiation of matter’s capacity for intrinsic formation, Schelling accomplished what none of his predecessors had: to provide a philosophical account in which nature autonomously rises from the lowest possible kinds of existence unto even the summit of consciousness.

Table of Contents

Introduction: 1

Matter, Ground, and the Dynamically Interior Side of Nature 1

i) Matter, Nature, and Consciousness 4

ii) Ground, Dynamics, and Interiority 9

iii) Methodology and chapter overview 17

Chapter I. Leibniz and the Roots of a Dynamical Conception of Matter 25

1. A New Conception of Substance 27

2. The Dynamical Conception of Matter 41

3. Phenomenalism and Interiority 48

4. Mathematization Beyond Empiricism 58

Chapter II. Kant’s Pre-critical Two-Force Dynamics 63

1. Kant’s Ambition to Synthesize Leibniz and Newton 64

2. The General Strategy of Kantian Dynamics and the Law of the Ratio 77

3. Kantian Pre-critical Dynamics 88

Chapter III. Kant’s Critical Two-Force Dynamics 98

1. The Role of Matter in the Critical Period 100

2. The Return of the Infinitesimal in Kantian Critical Dynamics 114

3. The Critical Ungrounding of Matter 118

4. The Critical Homogenization of Matter 129

Chapter IV. Dynamics Beyond Subjective Transcendentalism 151

1. The Flatness of Nature in Subjective Transcendentalism 152

2. Nature-philosophy and the General Framework of Schelling’s Construction 163

3. Fichte’s Egoic Identity and Schelling’s Nature-philosophy 169

Chapter V. Organicity and Diachronism in Herder 180

1. Genetic Considerations and the Importance of Diachronism 181

2. The Medium of Connection of Forces and the Graduated Series of Organizations 189

3. The Limit to the Recursion of Dynamic Media 198

Chapter VI. Baader’s Ground-laying Theory of Gravity 207

1. Baader’s Exhumation of the Third Principle of Dynamics 209

2. A Common Currency of Existence, or the Ultimate Lever of Nature 233

3. The Possibility of a Preponderance of Ideality 250

4. The Relativity of the Forms of Finitude and the Demand for a New Mathematization 259

5. A Light in the Dark? 278

Chapter VII. Schelling’s Potentiating Dynamics 284

1. Genesis, Synthesis, and the Axis of Schelling’s Construction 286

2. Identity Lost and Pursued through Finitude 311

3. Space, Gravity, and the Dimensional Categories of Physics 329

4. The Complex Mathematics of Schelling’s Imaginative Dynamics 359

5. Time, Light, and the Potentiation into Ideality 371

6. Dispelling the Darkness 403

Epilogue: Matters for Further Thought 409

i) The Fate of Nature-Philosophy and Ontological Dynamics 411

ii) Speculation, Empiria, Mathematics: an Exhortation 415

Bibliography 421

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