23 | CR Book IX, Chapter 1 & 2

Chapter 1 - Oneness is only a tendency and not a fulfilment. As a
consequence, all separate units are excessively unstable since they are
held together by a self the only feature of which is that it is a contra-
diction. Whatever has been brought together excluding all else, thus
attempts to move apart again. Things are essentially vanishing, and
moving towards the annihilation of what is separate and definite in them.

The self is here understood as the character owing to which a thing
is more than the sum of its parts. It is often assumed that the self is at
the root of our self-maintaining and self-preserving impulses, and that it
tends to maintain itself, as far as it is concerned, as far as it is able, and
as far as its power goes. Yet, first of all, owing to the absence of clear
boundary lines, and owing to our inability to isolate the self, we cannot
give a very clear meaning to the sentence, "the self (unisolated and
unknown) maintains itself (i.e. an uncertain and varying mass of
objects regarded as 'mine')". Further, if the self, like all other things,
is not, in ultimate reality, isolated from reality as a whole, if it is
essentially united with it, it will strive apart, and there will be negative
attitudes of the self to itself, in which the self tends to destroy and
annihilate itself.

The self is itself only in connection with something else which is not
itself. It can be got at only in relation to the not-self. On all the levels on
which the self is something in addition to being, the self is one with its
own negation. In its separation and isolation, the self is incomplete. It
has an innate capacity, and need, to combine with something different
from itself. The self is found in co-existence and co-operation with its
own negation, because its own negation belongs to its very nature.

The temporary separation of things from the oneness of being is
bought at the price of contradictions, which develop from the fact that
the self is not all of one piece, that it is split. Because it is split off from
others, it is split in itself. For, on different levels of selfhood, its range
varies, and what belongs to it on one level, does not belong to it on
another. Some of the essential constituents of the self are thus both
external and internal to it. Their conflict therefore leads to a contra-
diction in the being of the self itself.

In this way, the self as an organism is essentially bound up with the
species, as a social organism with other members of the species in
communal life, and as a being with the totality of existence. Each of
these three aspects of the essential unity of the self with its own negation
leads into self-contradictory attitudes to itself, attitudes which are at
the very core of its essential nature.

Chapter 2 - In all organisms self-contradictory movements abound.
An organism maintains itself only by an essential relation to the species.*
It may negate its individuality in the interest of race preservation. If the
organism is inseparable from its specific environment, a conflict, a
maladaptation, between organism and environment operates as a contra-
diction within the organism itself. For instance, the contradiction, or
incompatibility, between the structure of sea plants and the land
conditions into which they were transferred, was responsible for the
development of a number of new features in land plants.

In each organism, further, the processes of living and dying
co-exist as essential aspects of life, thus forming a contradiction within

*Book II, Chapter 4