October 29, 2005

J. B. Robinet, 1735-1820

A little-known French philosopher who was among the first to explore the temporal unfolding of the Great Chain of Being.
“The active power seems to be making efforts to raise itself above the extended, solid, impenetrable mass to which it is chained.... In is evident that matter is only the organ through which the active principle brings its faculties to play. The former is an envelope which modifies the action of the latter, one without which it would perhaps act more freely, but also without which, perhaps, it could not act at all, and without which it assuredly could not render its activities sensible. Does it not, once more, seem that the active power grows and perfects itself in being, in proportion as it raises itself above matter?... At first it would be but the smallest portion of being. By a multiplication of efforts and progressive developments, it would succeed in becoming the principal part. I am strongly inclined to believe that this force is the most essential and the most universal attribute of being—and that matter is the organ whereby this force manifests its operations. If I am asked to define my conception of such a force, I shall answer, with a number of philosophers, that I represent it to myself as a tendency to change for the better.” (Vue philosophie de la gradation naturelle des formes de l'etre, 1768)

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