Edited by Omar K Neusser
This formation of the indefinite from the finite, of which we have a very clear example in the production of the series of numbers, is only possible on condition that the finite already contain the indefinite potentially, and even were the limits extended so far as to be lost to sight, so to speak— that is, to the point at which they escape our ordinary means of measurement— they certainly are not abolished thereby; by reason of the very nature of the causal relation it is quite obvious that the 'greater' cannot come from the ‘lesser’, nor the Infinite from the finite.
It cannot be otherwise when, as in the present case, we consider various orders of particular possibilities that are manifestly limited by the coexistence of other orders of possibilities, and thus limited by virtue of their own nature to such and such determined possibilities and no others, and not to all possibilities without restriction. If it were not so, the coexistence of an indefinitude of other possibilities not included in these, each of which is equally susceptible of an indefinite development, moreover, would be an impossibility and thus an absurdity in the logical sense of the word.4
The Infinite on the contrary, to be truly such, cannot admit of any restriction, which presupposes that it be absolutely unconditioned and undetermined, for every determination, of whatever sort, is necessarily a limitation by the very fact that it must leave something outside of itself, namely all other equally possible determinations.
Besides, limitation presents the character of a veritable negation; to set a limit is to deny to that which is limited everything that this limit excludes, and consequently the negation of a limit is properly the negation of a negation, that is to say, logically, and even mathematically, an affirmation, so that in reality the negation of all limit is equivalent to total and absolute affirmation.
That which has no limits is that of which nothing can be denied, and is therefore what contains everything, that outside of which there is nothing; and this idea of the Infinite, which is thus the most affirmative of all because it comprehends or embraces all particular affirmations whatsoever, can only be expressed in negative terms by reason of its absolute indetermination.
In language, any direct affirmation is in fact necessarily a particular and determined affirmation— -the affirmation of something particular— whereas total and absolute affirmation is no particular affirmation to the exclusion of others since it implies them all equally; and from this it should be easy to grasp the very close relation this presents with universal Possibility, which in the same way comprehends all particular possibilities.5
Footnotes by the author René Guénon
4: The absurd, in the logical and mathematical sense, is that which implies contradiction; it is therefore identical with the impossible, for it is the absence of internal contradiction that defines possibility, logically as well as ontologically. ↩
5: On the use of negative terms of which the real meaning, however, is essentially affirmative, see Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines , pt. 2, chap. 8, and Man and His Becoming , chap. 15. ↩
What Is Metaphysics? / Texts On ~