ABSOLUTE, THE (from the Latin absolutus= loosened, removed from other things; Greek καθαὐτό= self-existing, by itself):

A philosophic term indicating a being or substance free from contingency and external determination. It is defined by the philosophers in various ways. Spinoza defines it as the causa sui, the cause of itself; Kant as the Ding an sich, the thing in itself; Fichte as the gänzlich Unumschränktes, the completely unlimited; Schopenhauer as das An-nichts-Geknüpfte, the unconnected; Spencer as "the Unknowable." The opposite idea is that of the relative, the conditional, the determined. From Aristotle down, the notions of Deity and of The Absolute are identified with each other in philosophy; for Deity is universally conceived as the uncaused cause of all other existences, as the causa prima, as the first, unpreceded source of all existence (Aristotle,"Metaphysics," ii. 2, xii. 7 et seq.; "Physics" viii. 5; Maimonides, "Moreh Nebukim," i. 69). This first cause is called in Arabic by two synonymous terms, illah and sabab, which are reproduced in the philosophic Hebrew by the terms, also synonymous, and . The Absolute forms the limit of the conceivable, the highest point of related thought.

The pyramid of logical thinking must pause or reach its summit at the crowning point; a regressus in infinitum, that is, a pushing of thought beyond this last reach of mental ability, is impossible. According to Maimonides (l.c., lxviii.) and the other Arabic-Jewish philosophers, this highest attainable goal of thought is identical with God and The Absolute. The classical representative of German philosophic romanticism, Schelling, approaches very closely in his views to the Arabic-Jewish conception of The Absolute, in which the thinking subject and the thought-object become one.

L. S.
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