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The Principle of Reason [ 72-74 ]

The relationship of the rose to what the principle of reason says is, so it seems, two-fold.

The rose is indeed without why, yet it is not without a ground. "Without why" and "without a ground" are not equivalent. This is precisely what the cited fragment is first of all supposed to make clearer. Insofar as it is something, the rose does not fall outside of the orbit of the mighty Principle. Yet the way it belongs within this orbit is unique and thereby different from the way we humans, who also reside within the orbit of the principle of reason, belong there. Of course, if we were to jump to conclusions, we might be inclined to believe that the meaning of Angelus Silesius' fragment plays itself out in simply naming the difference between the ways according to which the rose and humans are what they are. What is unsaid in the fragment-and everything depends on this-instead says that humans, in the concealed grounds of their essential being, first truly are when in their own way they are like the rose-without why. We cannot pursue this thought any further here. For the moment we will only contemplate the words "The rose is without why"; we contemplate this in reference to the short, strict formulation of the principle of reason: Nothing is without a why.

What can we gather from this? This: the principium redderulae rationis does not hold for the rose and for all that is in the manner of the rose. The rose is without the seeking, peering-around rendering of the grounds on the basis of which it blooms. {The ground for the rose's blooming does not have, for the rose, the demand-character which requires of and for it the rendering of grounds. If it had this character, then that would mean that the rendering of the grounds of blooming as the grounds that rule the rose would belong to the blooming of the rose. But the rose blooms because it blooms. Its blooming is a simple arising-on-its-own.} At the same time we can justifiably assert that the principium redderulae rationis also holds for the rose. Namely, it holds insofar as the rose becomes an object of our cognition and that we require for ourselves some information about the manner in which , that is, by which reasons and causes, under which conditions, the rose can be what it is.

So, what's going on here with the prindpium reddendae rationis? It holds in the case of the rose, but not for the rose; in the case of the rose, insofar as it is the object of our cognition; not for the rose, insofar as this rose stands alone, simply is a rose.

We see ourselves faced with a remarkable state of affairs: something, like the rose, indeed is not without grounds and yet is without why. Something falls within the jurisdiction of the vulgarly formulated principle of reason. The same something falls outside the jurisdiction of the strictly formulated principle of reason. But for Leibniz and for all modern cognition, the jurisdiction of the principle of reason as strictly conceived is, as we saw in the previous sessions, just as broad , that is, unrestricted, as is the jurisdiction of the principle of reason