For her who
in the winter could not wait
for love to bloom in spring
Should the highest principle contain the highest paradox in its taste? Being a principle that allows absolutely no peace, that always attacks and repels, that always anew would become unintelligible as soon as one had understood it? That ceaselessly stirs up our activity -- without ever exhausting it, without ever becoming familiar?Novalis
Just remember in the winter
far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed that with the sun's love
in the spring becomes the rose
In his Theoria motus abstracti, Leibniz first makes public mention of the principium rationis or the principle of reason: Nihil est sine ratione or "Nothing is without reason." While unknown to him (and to many), this principle which is used here for a rather esoteric and abstract work (an investigation on the conditions of the possibility of motion), this 'mighty' (grande) and 'noble' (nobilissimum) principle would have articulated a principle (grund) that has held ground for centuries since Plato and would continue to govern the way human beings think and act in our times.
The principle of reason says: Nothing is without reason. Inversely, this says that everything has a reason. Every being that exists, that is, would have a reason for its being, for its existing. To have a reason means to have a ground for its being, that is, to have a why. Played out in the human milieu, every action necessitates a reason for its enactment, a because of this or that. These two key words, why and because, point to the two formulations of the principle of reason which Leibniz saw.
In the Principle of Reason, Heidegger notes the two formulations as thus: the 'strict formulation' being the principium reddendae rationis or "the fundamental principle of rendering reasons" (the demand to answer the question 'why?') and the 'vulgar formulation' being nihil fit sine causa or "Nothing happens, that means, nothing becomes a being without a cause" (the inquiry in the question "because of what?") (Lecture 4, The Principle of Reason, 26). Both formulations point to a radical demand for reasons to be rendered or given so that anything and everything -- a statement, an action, an event, a being, the divine, etc. -- be intelligible and reasonable, that is, be accounted for. And when reasons and causes are rendered under the holding-sway of the 'powerful' principle, or when answers are given to the questions "why?" and "because?", the principle will then show its power, that is, it would then be proven that nothing indeed is without reason.
Heidegger notes this power:
the principle of reason is the Principle that pervasively bepowers everything insofar as reason, according to the strict formulation of the the fundamental principle, insists that each thing is, is a consequence of. . ., which is to say, by virtue of the express complete fulfillment of the demand of reason (Ibid., 28).And this power is also played out in our cognition or in the way we know the world as well:
...cognition is on the lookout for reasons to render. This happens inasmuch as cognition asks: Why does what is cognized exist, and why it is the way it is? In the "why?" we ask for reasons. The strict formulation of the principle of reason -- "Nothing is without rendering reasons" -- can be formulated this: Nothing is without a why" (Lecture 5, 34-35)In a word, as Heidegger suggests, nothing -- no being that is -- is 'without a why.'
Yet does this mighty and powerful principle hold absolutely over every 'thing'? What if what we are dealing with is not a being, has no being or cannot be pinned down to be merely a being . Would the ground-principle then still hold?
Does the child that plays in the sandbox have a ground for its playing ? Has the Triune God need of any cause to be Three? Does the lover need of any why to love the beloved?
To be continued.