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The Panentheism of Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (1781-1832)

From Transcendental Philosophy to Metaphysics

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Benedikt Paul Göcke

The book provides the first analysis of Karl Christian Friedrich Krause’s system of philosophy and his panentheism in English. Karl Christian Friedrich Krause has bequeathed to us a system of philosophy which is little recognised in contemporary philosophy. This is both surprising and unfortunate, because Krause’s philosophical system has much to offer: Through transcendental reflection on the nature of the human, Krause understands God as the one infinite and unconditioned reality, and the ultimate necessary condition of knowledge. God makes humanity, nature, and reason ultimately comprehensible as the essential categories of the divine Essence. God is thus the single, primary, object of science that is already logically presupposed even before His discovery. Science presupposes theology, and theology is best read as panentheism.

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8. The Case for Panentheism

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8.  The Case for Panentheism

With the analysis of the properties of God as such, which turned out to be the transcendental and transcendent categories to which all finite beings are subordinated, the first task of the synthetical-descending part of science is complete: the transcendental categories have been recognized as transcendent categories and have been read off or deduced from the fundamental intuition of God as such. The intuition of what God as such is, however, is not the whole content of the synthetical-descending part of science. Krause now turns to the analysis of the intrinsic constitution of the principle of science and analyses the essence of God in so far as the constitutive parts of God, and their relations amongst each other, and to the whole they constitute, are considered. That is to say, analogously to the science of the ego, Krause investigates what Essence is in itself.

8.1  Unity and difference

After we have treated Essence as Essence, as such, we change our perspective and analyse Essence, in itself. The reason is that although the analysis of God as such has shown that God is the unity of unity and difference, and that because of this He is the one Being and the one primordial being, the unity and difference of God’s essentialities that are constitutive of the unity of unity and difference so far have remained unanalysed. By analysing God in Himself, Krause is interested in analysing how the unity of God as such is related to the unities and distinctions of the essentialities in and through which God as such is recognized as the unity of unity and difference. As we will see, in Krause’s system of philosophy, the analysis of God, in Himself, entails panentheism.

According to Krause, the first insight of the intrinsic constitution of God, acquired with immediate certainty in the fundamental intuition of God, is that God is difference and opposition in Himself, where Krause’s word for the fact that there is fundamental difference in God is ‘contra-essentiality’ or ‘oppositional-essentiality’ (Gegenwesenheit). This opposition of essentialities is ‘found unconditionally [in Essence] itself, and cannot be mediately proven or demonstrated’ (Krause 1828: 390). Because the ← 113 | 114 → opposition of essentialities is constitutive of the highest principle of science, in so far as the constitutive parts of this principle and their relation to the whole is considered, and is directly read off the intuition of God, it is not only unreasonable to attempt to derive it from the unity of what God is, as such and as a whole, but entirely unscientific: ‘It is therefore a non-scientific undertaking to want to demonstrate opposition or difference from the intuited unity of unity and difference [Einerleiheit geschauten Einheit]’ (Krause 1828: 391). Just as Essence as such is the one, self-same, whole, Essence, so Essence in itself is the opposition of essentialities. Because the opposition of essentialities that God is in Himself is a two-term relation, in which ‘the first, as this and as such, is what the second, as such, is not, and vice versa’ (Krause 1828: 391), the conclusion can be drawn that God as such and in so far as He is a whole, is not a part of this relation of opposition. For God is the one infinite object of science who, by definition, can have nothing outer (as this would entail the need for a higher principle of unity in virtue of which God would be related externally to this something to which He would be opposed). As Krause (1828: 391) argues: ‘In this regard, it is evident that opposition is not thought in God, as if God himself were opposed to another outside Himself. For because opposition as such has the thought of otherness and the thought of duality, opposition cannot be something God, as such, is subordinated to, because God has nothing either the same or dissimilar outside Him.’

Because God as such is not part of the relation of opposition, this, however, entails that the elements constitutive of the opposition cannot be thought of in opposition to God as such either, for then they would have to be thought of as existing apart from Orwesen: ‘But each of the two [elements of the opposition], so also the two [collectively], are not opposed as members of the same opposition against Orwesen as such. […] They are not the one and Orwesen the other’ (Krause 1828: 392). This would be tantamount to trying to think of constitutive parts of a whole that are not related to the whole they constitute. As a consequence, according to Krause, it must be said that Orwesen, the highest principle of science, is ‘in itself both the one and also the other’ (Krause 1828: 392).

Because Orwesen as such is not an element of any opposition, it follows that denial (Verneinung) and negation (Negation) of Orwesen can be completely ruled out. For denial and negation only admit of being found in an ← 114 | 115 → opposition in which the one is not what the other is. As a consequence, because opposition in Essence is intuited as a positive property of God, Krause can deduce negation from affirmation, by the analysis of otherness as a relation in which the one is what the other is not. As Krause (1828: 391) says: ‘Here, then, we find in the affirmation of the same essentiality both the negation, or the no; the not that is one of these contra-essentialities, which the other is not.’ Therefore, nothing is negated of God as such through the denial and negation which follow from the opposition of essentialities that is intuited as being constitutive of the essence of God in Himself. For God, because He is both elements of this opposition in Himself, is the wholly positive of which nothing is denied as such through this opposition. As Krause (1828: 392–393) states: ‘It is, therefore, impossible to agree when Hegel asserts that the absolute idea, which following his own explanation is God, might be another [ein anderes] to itself. For, in contradiction with this assertion, Essence itself is not wholly other than itself, because Essence is unconditioned unity of essentiality. But it is known that Essence in itself and under itself two essences, which are opposed in opposition to one another [gegeneinander gegenheitlich].’ If we think of Orwesen as the Absolute, then what Krause means is that, on the one hand, the Absolute, considered as such, is without opposition while, on the other, the opposition of essentialities is part of the intrinsic constitution of the Absolute that, because as such it cannot be opposed to what constitutes the opposition, has to be each of the constituting elements of the opposition in itself: ‘The opposition is thought as opposition of Essence itself, not even as on Essence but as opposition in Essence’ (Krause 1828: 391).

Let us determine the opposition of essentialities more closely before we turn to the unity of opposition. Krause argues that ‘the two juxta-posed contra-essentialities [are] of the essentiality of Essence itself. Essence itself is them in itself. But Essence is its essentiality’ (Krause 1828: 394). Because the essentiality of Orwesen is ‘the unity of essentiality and, thereby, original-unity-of-essentiality, selfhood, wholeness, and original-unity-of-positivity, directedness and comprehension’ (Krause 1828: 394), it follows that each of the two relata constitutive of the opposition of essentialities is adequately referred to as selfhood, wholeness, directedness, and comprehension. In Krause’s words: ‘And the elements of the opposition of essentialities are thus united within and in one another [mithin ineinander ← 115 | 116 → und miteinander] according to their essentiality, and therefore they are also united to selfhood and to directedness, and also to wholeness and comprehension; in one unity’ (Krause 1828: 394). That is to say, the two relata of the relation of opposition are not to be distinguished from one another in so far as they are essentialities of Essence, that is, in so far as they are categorial determinations of the Absolute: ‘They also are and have the whole essentiality of Essence as such, and thereby they are fully equivalent to one another’ (Krause 1828: 395).

However, although each of the essentialities constitutive of the opposition in Orwesen, at the end of the day, is fully equivalent to the other, there has to be some difference between them, that is, there has to be something ‘through which these two are distinguished from one another’ (Krause 1828: 395). Krause argues that the immediately certain recognition of the different categories provides the key for further analysis of this relation of opposition constitutive of God in Himself.

Based, then, on the assumption that the constitutive elements of this opposition are the essentialities of God, Krause further determines this relation of opposition, paradigmatically concentrating on selfhood and wholeness, and argues that because the opposing essentialities are formally determined to be that which the other essentiality is not, it is legitimate, by substitution, to argue ‘that which the one is is however not the other, which is selfhood. However, that which is the second, and is not the first, is wholeness’ (Krause 1828: 395).

Because of the equivalence of the essentialities of God, because of the unity of the principle of science as such, the opposition between selfhood and wholeness cannot be thought of without, at the same time, recognizing their unity. In Krause’s words: ‘Their opposition therefore consists in the relation of difference, in which wholeness and selfhood are each in each of these two [elements of the opposition]. In one of the two essentialities, therefore, the relation of wholeness to selfhood is that of the essential proprium (Alleineigenwesenliche), so that selfhood is the determinant. However, in the other of these two essentialities, the relation of selfhood to wholeness is that of the essentially dominant [Alleineigenwesenliche], so that wholeness is the determinant’ (Krause 1828: 395).

Because selfhood and wholeness are the relata of the relation of opposition that was recognized with immediate certainty to be constitutive of the ← 116 | 117 → essence of God in Himself, and because, due to the unity of the divine being, they are also united with each other in so far as, at the end of the day, every category is united with every other category – God, so to speak, is the one Category – there has to be a principle or ground in virtue of which they are so united as constitutive elements of God in Himself. That is to say, God in Himself, as a whole that is constituted by its parts, can be distinguished from the opposition of the constitutive parts found within Him, as a whole, precisely as the principle in virtue of which there is a unity of difference in God Himself that is what constitutes God as a whole and as such.

The reason is as follows: because God as such cannot be part of any relation of opposition, God in Himself is each of the opposing elements. Because there is no opposition without unity, there needs to be a principle in virtue of which this unity is possible. Now, God as such cannot be identified with this principle because this presupposed a logical distinction between God as such and this relation of opposing, which cannot obtain because there is nothing outside of God. Therefore, this principle in virtue of which there is unity in God has to be God, considered in Himself, in so far as He is not only the opposition but also the principle of the unity of the opposition, and in this way can be distinguished from the opposition with which He is yet always already united.

In so far as Orwesen is in itself distinguished from the two contra-essentialities and is the principle in virtue of which there is a unity in difference constitutive of God as a whole, Krause refers to this principle as Urwesen; designating that in virtue of which ‘the whole as whole is distinguished from its parts’ (Krause 1828: 310). Expressed in Krause’s purely scientific language, this knowledge runs as follows: ‘Therefore, because the pure and self-same intuition of essence, and its highest structure, have so far been wanting on this earth, we can, in the vernacular languages, as well as in their further development in scientific languages, give a sufficient description of this fundamental knowledge […]. Nevertheless, a definite, brief, linguistically self-conscious [sprachgeistgemässe] description of the same is necessary for science. I have, therefore, studied the German language in its root words, and have thereby found the following designations: “essence”, “intuition of essence”; “essentiality of essence itself”, “as one”, “self”, “whole” Essence. I designate Essence with the genuine German word “or” [or], and therefore call it according to its one, same, whole essence: Orwesen. I call the ← 117 | 118 → opposites: “anti”, “anti-ness”, and therefore “Contra-Essentiality”, “anti-Essentiality”. The essence itself, however, as prior to and above its parts, I designate with “original” [ur] as Urwesen’. Consequently, I call Essence prior to itself and above itself “Urwesen”’ (Krause 1890: 42).

To be clear, Urwesen is neither the one nor the other contra-essentiality, nor Orwesen itself but, because it is neither the one nor the other opposition, but the principle of their union, it stands exactly in relation of opposition and unity to each of the two opposing essentialities. In Krause’s words: ‘The thought of Essence as Urwesen must not be confused with the thought Orwesen. For Essence as Orwesen is the two opposed essentialities in and under itself [ist diese Nebengegenwesen inunter sich]. But Essence as Urwesen is not what the two contra-essentialities are, although as a qualification of Orwesen as such, it is on the same level of analysis’ (Krause 1828: 393).

If Orwesen is considered, then there can be no talk of opposition because nothing is in opposition to Orwesen: Orwesen is everything in itself. However, if the inner structure of the Absolute is explicated, then Urwesen refers to the ‘whole essence [that] is prior to and above everything that God is in, under, and through Himself’ (Krause 1828: 310). Precisely because of this, Urwesen, as the whole, can be opposed to, and united with, the parts constitutive of Orwesen: ‘Urwesen unites with the one, and Urwesen unites with the other of the two juxtaposed [nebengeordneten] contra-essentialities’ (Krause 1828: 394). We see here a familiar pattern: Krause provides determinations of Orwesen, distinguishes from these a higher element in virtue of which, due to the unity of the divine being, the unity of the distinguished items is established, such as to constitute the whole, and then binds each element with another on the ground of unity, and, again, as being related to the higher unity as its principle. If this did not happen, then the unity of the essentiality of Essence would be abolished, because in such a case Orwesen would no longer be thought of as the unity of that which Orwesen is.

8.2  The world as the unity of reason and nature

The contra-essentiality which is immediately read off the intuition of God consists in the contra-essentiality of the categories of selfhood and wholeness in so far as on the side of selfhood, selfhood dominates and on the side of wholeness, ← 118 | 119 → wholeness dominates. That Orwesen in itself is the opposition consisting of selfhood and wholeness, and also, as Urwesen, is the principle of their unity, the whole, is known with immediate certainty as well as an entailment of the unity of unity and difference that defines the principle of science.

At this point, Krause leaves the synthetic part of science and draws on the results of the analytic-ascending part of science because we have ‘to see whether we find independent intuitions [Selbeigenschauungen] or intuitions [Intuitionen] which all correspond to the gathered insights’ (Krause 1828: 396). Krause thus is interested to bring together the prima facie different conceptual schemes that are deployed, on the one hand, in the analytical-ascending part to analyse the transcendental constitution of the ego and, on the other, in the synthetical-descending part of science to analyse the essence of God.

On the one hand, Krause concentrates on the transcendental constitution of the ego in itself and reminds that ‘we became conscious of ourselves in the distinction between mind [Geist] and body [Leib], and in the unification of this distinction as human beings’ (Krause 1828: 396). Furthermore, in the analytical-ascending part of science, the ego became conscious that it is part of reason as a rational mind, part of nature in virtue of having a body, and as human, part of the unity of nature and reason. The ego did this in such a way that it recognized that reason and nature, although in opposition, cannot be fully distinguished conceptually and ontologically, and are also united with one another as that which constitutes humanity. In addition, in the analytical-ascending part of science it was recognized that the world is the union of all finite essences, and that reason, nature, and their union: humanity, constitute the world because there is no finite entity that could not be subordinated to reason, nature, or humanity. As Krause says: ‘As regards […] the intuition of the world, this is ordinarily determined as the graspable totality [Inbegriff] of all finite things, or as the whole [das Ganze] of all finite beings, or as the aggregate [Gesamtheit] of things. So the world is not conceived originally as a whole, prior to and above all parts, but only as a united whole [Vereinganzes] of the finite. […] So by the word “world” is denoted both infinite nature in its manner, and infinite reason in its manner, as well as infinite humanity in its manner. For even though these three essences, each of their kind, admits of infinity in certain respects, they are nevertheless finite, […] because each one of them, as such, is nothing which every other one is, as such’ (Krause 1828: 305). ← 119 | 120 →

On the other hand, in the synthetical-descending part of science, the ego discovered that in God Himself there is opposition and unity that can be addressed as opposition and unity of selfhood and wholeness which are opposed to one another, but also, due to the unity of the divine being, are united with one another as selfhood-wholeness-unity. Based on these two insights, the one concerning nature, reason and humanity, and the other concerning selfhood, wholeness, and selfhood-wholeness-unity, Krause identifies reason with selfhood, nature with wholeness, and humanity with selfhood-wholeness-unity. The opposition of essentialities in Orwesen that is intuited with immediate certainty in the synthetical-descending part of science, according to Krause, corresponds to the opposition between nature and reason, as it is known in the analytical-ascending part of science.

Reason distinguishes itself through selfhood, and nature through wholeness. More exactly: selfhood and wholeness are united and distinguished in the same way in which nature and reason are also to be found united and differentiated. Selfhood is the predominating element on the side of reason, and wholeness on the side of nature. In Krause’s words: ‘[We find] that, in reason, selfhood is the dominant element in the relation of selfhood and wholeness, […] in nature, however, wholeness dominates in the relation of selfhood and wholeness’ (Krause 1828: 398).

Because selfhood is another way to express the idea of unconditionality, and wholeness another way to refer to infinity, it follows that the realm of reason is the realm of the unconditioned and the realm of nature the realm of the infinite. As a consequence, humanity is constituted by the overlapping of unconditionality and infinity, which according to Krause is indeed the case: ‘This is manifested […] in the fact that all individual minds thoroughly know themselves in their own essence [selbwesenlich], and lead an independent life opposed to one another, in that each one independently determines itself […] freely […]. In contrast to this bodies are mutually dependent. They arise in the wholeness of the whole species and live and form themselves in this wholeness’ (Krause 1828: 398). In so far as human beings belong to reason, they are, in other words, unconditioned, which is to say: free. In so far as human beings belong to nature, they are part of an infinite chain of causes and effects that is regulated by the principle of sufficient reason and thus stand, always already, in a larger causal connection with all other natural essences in the infinity of space. ← 120 | 121 →

Because Krause identifies selfhood with reason, and nature with wholeness, it follows that Krause also has to identify the principle in virtue of which there is a unity and distinction of nature and reason – which, in other words, is that in virtue of which the world exists – with the principle of unity in difference that we discovered above and which Krause refers to as Urwesen.

8.3  The case for panentheism

It was recognised in the synthetical-descending part of science that Orwesen in itself is an opposition of essentialities and the unity of these opposing essentialities. The elements of this opposition have been identified as selfhood and wholeness. However, selfhood is reason, and wholeness is nature. If nature and reason are a united, they constitute humanity. Through the body, human beings are part of the whole that is nature. And, through reason, they are part of the realm of the unconditioned and therefore are capable of determining themselves feely. In the same way in which wholeness and selfhood are united and cannot factually be separated, so nature and reason cannot be distinguished from one another. Rather, nature is found in reason and reason in nature. Nature is in reason in so far as reason facilitates the imitating of nature in imagination. And reason is in nature in so far as nature is a rational and harmonic whole.

However, if selfhood is nothing other than reason, wholeness nothing other than nature and the unity of selfhood and wholeness nothing other than humanity itself, and if the world is the union of reason, nature, and humanity, then it is immediately obvious that panentheism is true, because, in this case the world is nothing other than a part of the intrinsic constitution of Orwesen or the highest principle of science itself. For the world is the synthesis of nature and reason, and their synthesis, humanity, that in the fundamental intuition of God all have been identified as being constitutive of the intrinsic nature of God Himself, as a whole.

Expressed in the language of the synthetic part of science, Krause formulates the thesis of panentheism as follows: ‘Orwesen in itself is the opposition of essentiality and the unity of essentiality. So, Essence, in itself, is two essentialities, reason, and nature. […] In reason, wholeness is determined by selfhood, but in nature selfhood is determined by wholeness. Orwesen ← 121 | 122 → is in itself the opposition of the essentialities of reason and nature. But: Orwesen is also Urwesen as the higher unity of the distinctions in Orwesen. Urwesen is distinguished from the opposition of nature and reason, that is: Urwesen stands against reason […] and against nature […]. However, as the principle of their unity, Urwesen is also united with reason and nature. And Urwesen is also united with the union of reason and nature, that is, humanity. Or, in other words: Orwesen, in itself, is also unity of unity and difference’ (Krause 1828: 399/400).

Because Orwesen is the one infinite principle of science, it follows that Krause’s philosophy is a panentheistic philosophy of science, or panentheism for short: ‘It is found in the intuition of Essence that Essence, as the one, also as such, or in itself, under itself, and through itself is everything, is also the epitome [Inbegriff] of everything finite. Therefore, this insight would have to be done according to the saying that the One is, in itself and through itself, also everything. And, because it is known in the intuition of Essence that God is also everything, in and through Himself, so the organic system of science can indeed be called panentheism’ (Krause 1869: 313). As Ureña (2007 20) states ‘The principle of Krause’s system is neither being nor Nothing, neither Becoming or Happening, nor Doing, nor the ego, nor the indifference of subject and object, but the thought: God or Essence [Gott oder Wesen]. […] God is proven as the ground and presupposition of the ego, of its thinking and its thoughts. Therefore, God Himself is the principle of the system. And, the knowledge of the essentialities of God is the knowledge of the essentialities of nature, reason, and humanity, as well as the subordinated and corresponding principles of science, that all are grounded in the knowledge of the essentialities of God.’

As Orwesen, the Absolute cannot be distinguished from the world, because such a distinction, in which Orwesen were involved, would imply that it is not the one, self-same, whole, principle of science. Nevertheless, Krause distinguishes Orwesen in itself from the opposition of essentialities and their union – that is, from the world – in so far as God in Himself is also the principle of unity and difference: Urwesen, in this respect, is that in virtue of which the world is constituted. That is, in so far as Orwesen is not thought as Orwesen but as an essence which is distinguished from the opposition lying within it, Orwesen is considered as Urwesen. In so far as we think the Absolute as Orwesen, we think the Absolute as such. But ← 122 | 123 → if we direct the glance on the inner structure of the Absolute, we have to distinguish the Absolute as Urwesen from the opposition constitutive of its being a whole.

The Absolute as Urwesen is therefore set in opposition and unity to the world, where the world is an inner determination of the Absolute as Orwesen. Based on this, it becomes understandable, on the one hand, in what sense it is justified ‘that the world is outside God, as Urwesen. For, as I distinguish God from the world, as prior to and above the world, that is, as Urwesen, so God is distinguished from the world. God as Urwesen is sharply distinguished [abgegrenzt] from the whole world. Therefore, the world is thought as outside and under God as Urwesen’ (Krause 1828: 310). On the other, because Orwesen itself cannot be opposed to anything, the following picture is yielded: If we consider the Absolute as such, then everything is in the Absolute, and the absolute is everything through itself.

Krause now is in a position to determine the ambivalent relation of God to the world: ‘Through this, the fundamental distinction between the following two propositions is proven: “The world is outside God”, and “The world is outside God as Urwesen”. The first proposition is fundamentally false, because “outside [Orwesen]” is not thinkable, in that the infinity and unconditionality of God would be denied through the slightest exterior. But the other proposition: that the world might be outside God and under God, in so far as God is Urwesen, expresses a fundamental essentiality of God’ (Krause 1828: 310). Furthermore, ‘In this way the old dispute about the relation of God to the world, whether God is an essence outside the world, and the world is an essence outside divine essence or not, is satisfactorily resolved. For it is shown by the distinction of Essence from itself, as Urwesen, that God as Orwesen, as one, self-same, whole, essence, is neither outside, nor above, nor on, nor in, the world. But God, in Himself, under Himself, and through Himself, is also the world. Also that God as Urwesen is outside and above the world, and the world outside of it as Urwesen. And finally, God is also united as Urwesen, with the world, united with reason, with nature and with the united essence of both, also as with humanity’ (Krause 1828: 401).

Through this dialectic within Orwesen, Krause has succeeded in explaining how God, as the one infinite being, is in itself everything, without having to be identified with a definite, finite being. On this, see also Schelling’s ← 123 | 124 → requirement on the one subject: ‘Just as there is one and the same subject that lives in the different limbs of an organism, it must be only one subject that passes through all the moments of the system. But it is not the case that the members through which it goes, are also one thing. But this one subject must go through everything and remain in nothing. For it would remain if life and development were held in check. To pass through everything and be nothing, namely, not be so that it could not be otherwise – this is the requirement’ (Schelling 1967: 237).

8.4  Krause’s panentheism and Creatio ex nihilo

Christian theology implies that the world was created by God out of nothing, and that God could have not created the world.31 Krause’s panentheism implies the negation of both theories: the world is not created out of nothing. Nor could the world have not existed. Krause here would have agreed with Whitehead: ‘[God] is not before all creation but with all creation’ (Whitehead 1978: 343). This, however, does not seem to be a disadvantage of Krause’s panentheism. Monotheism in general has a problem in making plausible creatio ex nihilo before the Court of Reason: ‘If reason is to be capable of a consistent metaphysics (in the sense of the last thought about the whole of ← 124 | 125 → life and reality), then the monotheism of the theology of the schools is at least problematic. For it does not provide a sufficient answer to the relationship between the absolute and the finite, but conceals its embarrassment in the thought of creation; a theological crisis product’ (Müller 2006: 244).

Let us come to the first thesis: God created the world out of nothing. A first problem with this thesis is that the knowledge expressed in it is inconceivable. We cannot imagine what it means that the world is created out of nothingness, because we cannot imagine the requisite nothingness. As Rundle (2004: 110) states: ‘However, I suspect that our attempts at conceiving of total non-existence are irredeemably partial. We are always left with something, if only a setting from which we envisage everything having departed, a void which we confront and find empty, but something which it makes sense to speak of as having once been home to bodies, radiation, or whatever.’ Therefore, it is unclear what it means to say that the world was created out of nothing. Fichte has already rejected the concept of creatio ex nihilo and understood it as the ‘absolute fundamental error of all false metaphysics and the doctrine of religion’ (Fichte 1971: 479) because ‘a creation does not admit of being thought properly; as that which one really thinks means, and no one has ever thought it’ (Fichte 1971: 479). A second problem is that, in Krause’s system, nothing can be outside Orwesen, and everything that is is in Orwesen. On the ground of the infinity and unconditionality of Orwesen there is therefore, in principle, no ‘space’ in which there could have been nothing.

Furthermore, Krause rejects creation out of nothing because the world, according to Krause, is not created at all, and therefore cannot be created out of nothing. For the world is the unity of all finite beings, and, as such, a part of the inner essentiality of Orwesen itself. The world is the unity of nature, reason, and humanity, which is known with immediate certainty in the synthetical-descending part of science, as being constitutive of the essence of Essence in itself. It is necessary, therefore, that Orwesen exist exactly when the world exists. Logically, therefore, the existence of the world is a necessary condition for the existence of Orwesen, as the non-existence of the world is sufficient condition for the non-existence of Orwesen. That the world might once not have been, and that it might one time not be, would mean that Orwesen would once not have been, and one time would not be. However, because Orwesen is unconditioned and infinite, the latter case cannot arise. ← 125 | 126 →

That the world necessarily exists when Orwesen exists, and that the world, for this reason, cannot be freely created by a God outside the world, implies that the world, as such, is eternal – of the same essence as Orwesen itself. Because Orwesen is eternal, the world is also eternal. Krause is here in line with the recent debates in the philosophy of religion. As Peters (2007: 285) states: ‘Panentheists reject creatio ex nihilo. They prefer the idea of continuing creation, creatio continua, to emphasize the shared temporal relationship between the world and God. […] This further implies that the world must have existed backwards in time just as long as God has. And, the world will continue to exist into the future as long as there is a God. According to panentheism, God loses aseity, loses independence. The world and God are mutually inter-dependent. […] Panentheists believe that everything in the world is connected to everything else, and everything is connected to God. God’s being and the being of the world are inseparable.’

If the eternity of Orwesen and the eternity of the world are understood to be such that the existence of a first time when the world began to exist contradicts the eternity of the world, then, on Krause’s system, it cannot be the case that there was a first time, when the world began to exist. As Griffin (2014: 13) says, ‘by saying that the world is in God, panentheism is distinguished from all forms of theism, according to which our world was created ex nihilo in such a way that the very existence of a realm of finite beings is wholly contingent upon a divine decision. Panentheism, by contrast, holds that the existence of the world is integral to the divine existence.’ Panentheists address the history of the actual world as the history of the self-transformation of God and accept that a world exists if and only if God exists.

8.5  Summary

The analysis of God as such has shown that God is the self-same and whole essence whose essentialities are the material and formal categories of all being and knowing. The question of what God or Essence is, in Himself, has shown in a first step that God is in Himself the highest contra-essentiality and the highest unity of essentiality. In a second step it was shown that the opposing essentialities selfhood and wholeness are synonyms to nature and reason, and that the world as the union of nature, reason, and humanity, therefore is a constitutive part of Orwesen that in Himself can be ← 126 | 127 → understood as distinct and united with the world as the principle in virtue of which the world exists, that is, as Urwesen. The truth of panentheism, on Krause’s account, therefore follows with immediate certainty from the fundamental intuition of God and is what is presupposed by the very idea of there being a highest principle of science in virtue of which the unity of unity and difference we see in the world is possible and actual. That is, whoever assumes that there is an ultimate ground of the being of the world, according to Krause, cannot escape a panentheistic conclusion in which the one principle of the world holds within it every determination of being and knowing.

Krause’s diagram, again, is a useful heuristic device to illuminate the structure behind his argument:

If we conceive of Orwesen as o, then the analysis of Orwesen, in itself, begins with the recognition that there is an opposition of essentialities i and e. Because Orwesen cannot be in any opposition, the opposition between i and e is an opposition in the essence of Orwesen itself. Since, however, because of the unity of the divine being, the relata of the opposition have to be united themselves, ä, and have to be united in so far as they constitute the intrinsic nature of Orwesen, there has to a principle of unity, u, that Krause calls Urwesen, in virtue of which this is possible and actual. Urwesen, u, is both separated from i, ä, and e, as well as united with each of them, ü, a, ö. Now because selfhood and wholeness are reason and nature, because humanity is the union of reason and nature, and because the world is the ← 127 | 128 → union of nature, reason, and humanity, we can, in a first step, let i refer to reason, e to nature, and ä to humanity and then will be able to see that the world is an intrinsic determination of Orwesen. When, in a second step, we consider Urwesen, u, to be the principle in virtue of which the world exists, we immediately see that as the principle of the world Urwesen is both separated from and united with the world: u, ü, a, ö. All of this, even the distinction between Urwesen and the world is an intrinsic and essential determination of the one divine being, Orwesen.


31 On the thesis of creatio ex nihilo in the medieval tradition see Baldner and Carroll (1997). For a classical theistic defence of the thesis that the world was created by God out of nothing (aus dem Nichts), see Copan and Craig (2004). It is doubtful whether the thesis of creatio ex nihilo must necessarily be part of the Christian faith. At least this was not always the case in the primitive Christian Church. Griffin draws together the results of the study written by Mays (1994) as follows: ‘As May shows, the doctrine of creation out of absolute nothingness – according to which the creation of our world was the beginning of finite existents as such – was an innovation, adopted by some theologians (Theophilus, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Irenaeus) near the end of the second century in response to Marcion’s gnostic theology, which said that our world was created out of evil matter. The best way to fight this idea, they thought, was to deny that the world was created out of anything. Although Hermogenes, a Platonic Christian theologian, warned that this innovation would lead people to blame God for the world’s evils, these innovators went boldly […] forward. The doctrine of creation out of absolute nothingness soon became the standard Christian doctrine’ (Griffin 2004: 37f). For an argument that panentheism is consistent with creation ex nihilo, cf. Clayton (2005).