Jeffrey Wattles, 1992
the sections on the three attitudes of thought to objectivity, Hegel sets forth
a capsule history of philosophy in order to lead the reader up to the level from
which to comprehend the logic--the sequence of key concepts for grasping truth
in every domain of nature and finite spirit.
FIRST POSITION OF THOUGHT WITH RESPECT TO OBJECTIVITY [TRUTH]: METAPHYSICS
philosophy in its beginnings, all of the sciences, even the daily doing and
dealing of consciousness, lives in" "the belief that truth
is [re]cognized, and what the objects genuinely are is brought before
consciousness, through thinking about them."
"In this belief, thinking goes straight to the objects" (#26).
Excellent, as well as very limited, thinking can go on in this way; the
pre-Kantian metaphysics envisioned here (of Christian Wolff) is a product of
that level of thinking Hegel calls the understanding (Verstand) as
opposed to genuinely philosophic Reason (Vernunft) (#27). Metaphysics tried to think the basic determinations of
things, tried to think the Absolute via finite predicates, which were taken for
granted in their intelligibility, coherence, independence, and relevance by the
understanding (#28). Finite
predicates, however, are inadequate because they are (1) partial--none tells the
whole story, nor is the whole story (of the Infinite!) to be got by conjoining
them; (2) external--thrown up by the mere finite human intellect, picked up from
mundane affairs, not belonging genuinely to the Absolute itself; and (3) fitting
awkwardly with one another--think of the struggles to "reconcile,"
e.g., the mercy and justice of God (#29). The
objects of reason--soul, world, God--are treated as simply given and finished.
These themes are representations (images, suitable in picture-thinking or
story telling, characteristic of religious discourse, not philosophy) which are
sadly taken as the criterion which shall serve to judge the adequacy of thought
(#30). Representations seem at
first to provide stability for thinking, but they may be interpreted in many
different ways; indeed, they need to derive stability from thinking.
The irony of the [dogmatic] metaphysical sentence is that an
indeterminate representation serves as the subject of the sentence and as the
criterion of the [static] thought-determination which is [hopelessly] thrown up
to qualify it (#31). "This
metaphysics became dogmatism because, given the nature of finite
determinations, it had to assume that of two opposed assertions (of the
kind that those propositions were) one must be true, and the other false"
(#32). Metaphysics, beginning with
ontology, appealed to a mere list of basic categories . . . without regard for
the question of their truth or necessity [their appropriateness] (#33).
In rational psychology, the inappropriate question was raised of the
simplicity of the (materially-involved) soul (which is not the same as and
intellectually subordinate to Hegel's spirit)--the supposed key to its prospect
of immortality (#34). Metaphysical
cosmology traded in simplistic oppositions (#35).
[Be sure not to use this study aid as a substitute for the text.]
Natural theology, paradoxically, sought a ground for the existence
of God. The finite qualities
attributed to God became meaningless when raised to an infinite degree (#36).
(Remark: Metaphysical thinking gives only three, inadequate options
regarding the relation of the cosmos to God: (1) pantheistic identification, the
reduction of God to cosmos; (2) dualism between God and cosmos, which reduces
God to a sublime (and finite) beyond; and (3) affirming God as
transcendence, denying the appropriateness of the categories of the
understanding, such that God becomes finally meaningless.)
SECOND POSITION OF THOUGHT WITH RESPECT TO OBJECTIVITY [TRUTH]
brought in needed content from outer and inner experience, and it rejected
metaphysical pretensions (#37). Empiricism,
with paradoxical humility, elevates the certainties of perception to universal
notions (Vorstellung [in the singular]), principles, and laws (#38). Remark: Empiricism, happily, demanded that truth should be
conjoined to actuality and insight; unhappily, it did not reflect with the care
of the metaphysicians upon the categories it used. Addition: The method/process of empiricism is (1) rejoice in
perceptual access to infinite determinacy . . . which must be (2) analyzed,
destroying the integrity of its objects, and (3) relocating the essential again
in universal determinations of thought [what it decried in metaphysics], (4)
living in subjection to its objects as each a given, an absolute other
external to itself. Empiricism,
basing itself on perception, dissolves universality and necessity . . . also in
law, ethics, and religion (#39).
CRITICAL PHILOSOPHY (the philosophy of Immanuel Kant)
regarding theoretical reason, the quest for truth in science and metaphysics:
Like empiricism, critical philosophy denies that universality and
necessity may be located in the realm of the objects of understanding: it is the
understanding itself that contributes these features.
Even though critical philosophy affirms that it is possible for human
knowledge to achieve a certain kind of objectivity, that objectivity still
remains, in a wider sense, subjective by contrast with the thing-in-itself (the
ideal of objectivity which is declared to be unattainable).
[The in-itself is reality considered apart from the limiting conditions
of human understanding.] Addition:
the ambition of critical philosophy is to evaluate the human powers of cognition
before any actual cognition is underway (cf. the Remark to #10, p. 34).
The mind achieves coherent experience by applying its categories to unify
diverse inputs ("synthesize manifolds").
The unifying function, the "I" (or ego or transcendental unity
of apperception), is utterly indeterminate; it has no intrinsic relation to the
casually derived set of categories ascribed to it.
Indeed it is not the mere subjective ego but the Absolute that thus
operates to "introduce" universality and necessity--and why should we
deny these features to the objects themselves?
Do not be so concerned about the seeming loss of the being of
objects in a philosophy that portrays their unity as a function of mind; be more
concerned about the adequacy of the determinate concepts of things.
Objectivity is said to derive from the categories, which are said,
somewhat misleadingly, to be empty (since the categories have some content just
because they are determinate)--whose content is subjective [namely the
data of inner and outer perception].
Since the categories have their meaningful application only to the
manifold given in spatio-temporal perception, they cannot serve to know that
which is not thus presented: the in-itself, the Absolute.
Remark: the in-itself is posited by thought, which projects its
own self-identical emptiness as the "in-itself," which is, indeed, the
easiest, not the hardest, to know. [Hegel
uses some equivalences of his own here, going beyond Kant whose philosophy is
ostensibly being narrated: the Absolute (=God) = the in-itself = the system of
soul, world, and God.]
From what perspective is the pronouncement being made of the limited
character of the finite, conditioned process of empirical understanding?
From the perspective of Reason, whose true object, if it could only
attain it, would be the Absolute. The
in-itself is Reason's projection of its own abstract identity.
Given such an indefinite in-itself as the standard of Truth, of course
what is given in experience must be regarded as mere appearance.
Addition. The genuine
infinite is not merely something beyond, but sublates the finite.
[To sublate, the conventional translation ("recycle" would be
better) of Aufheben, means to negate/cancel and to preserve in a higher
synthesis.] For ordinary
consciousness (sense-perception plus understanding) the dependence of things on
what is outside them is external to what we take things to be: obviously
independent . . . . Their ground is
the universal divine Idea.
Reason becomes (interestingly and importantly) unhinged when it tries to
think the in-itself.
Errors arise: paralogisms ("the fallacy of four terms" in a
syllogism [ambiguously using a key term in an argument which has one meaning in
a premise and another meaning in the misleadingly derived conclusion]).
Teachings regarding the soul move from a phenomenological description of
experience to a metaphysical doctrine of a simple substance which is non-spatial
yet paradoxically related to space. Remark:
At least Kant weeded out some inappropriate thought-determinations from
philosophical psychology, but they were not inappropriate qua
Soul is both simple and self-differentiating.
The greatness of Kant's discernment of antinomies (contradictory
propositions) regarding the world (whether limited in space-time, whether matter
is quantized or continuous, whether cosmic necessity excludes the possibility of
freedom, whether the cosmos as a whole has a cause) is to show that
"everything actual contains opposed determinations in it."
But rather than accepting and unifying these oppositions, Kant rejected
the cosmological enterprise.
God, for Kantian reason, is the Ideal union of identity [one] and being:
the supremely real Essence . . . without determinations (which would introduce a
Kant miscriticises the proofs for God based on contingency and teleology.
The so-called proofs are really various journeys of the Geist
raising itself (which is an entirely normal movement) to God.
Remark: The starting point of the proofs, the conception of the world as
an aggregation of contingent facts or of linked purposeful relations [note the
(ecological) mutual adaptation of the system to permit the various parts to be]
is recycled by philosophy. I.e.,
after the thoughtful rising to the Ground of such a scattered world, the world
can no longer be conceived as being so scattered.
Second Remark: The attributes of Deity (substance, cause, purposive [even
trivially so], living) that may be inferred on the basis of the predicates used
in these proofs are important but not as crucial as Geist: God must be
conceived as substance and subject.
Kant relied on an obvious and correct distinction--"Noting can be
more obvious than that what I think or represent to myself is not yet actual
because of that"--in his critique of the ontological proof of the existence
of God [that One than whom none greater can be conceived must exist].
Kant missed the insight that the Concept has immediate relation to self
(=being). Faith preserves the
insight of the inseparability of the certainty of God upon thinking the thought
of God. [In other words, the very
experience of genuinely entertaining the thought of brings with it the
realization of the reality of God: there is no external comparing or verifying
that is meaningfully demanded if this "thinking" is appropriately
For Kant, Reason remains without determination; Kant asserts the
emptiness of the understanding regarding the unconditioned, the infinite.
regarding practical reason, the thinking about what one ought to do:
Acting in accord with practical reason is self-determination (not being
swayed to do something by inclination--some desire or fear) according to
universal laws--laws that clear and thorough thinking would recognize to be
binding on anyone in [essentially] the same situation, principles that involve
respect for every person. Genuine
reason (as opposed to the mere notions of the abstract understanding, whose
relation to "reality" remains always a matter of hypothesis that can
never be confirmed) is here functioning in its authentic function of determining
what is. Why should we believe that
reason has such power in rational freedom?
Because we experience ourselves as obligated beings, and the notion of
duty presupposes not only that we are part of nature, acquiring thereby a
certain inertia of resistance to what is rationally to be one, but also that we
are free, that we really have a choice about what to do--whether to act on mere
inclination or to act on principle. There
are, of course, objections to this affirmation, based on the facts of the
influence of natural causal factors on our behavior and on the heap of maxims
which allegedly guide our conduct but which cannot be deduced from the supreme
rational principle of morality.
An ethic based on "the mere principle that willing should be
self-consistent, and the demand that people should do their duty for the sake of
duty" (though it insightfully enfranchised free, self-determining reason
and was an advance over the prevalent theory of the pursuit of happiness)
remains unable to illuminate the specific realms of duty in our ethical life
[family life, the economic sphere, political participation, in which human
freedom is realized and duty is concrete].
[This is Hegel's familiar and controversial interpretation that Kant's
ethic is abstract and empty, without concrete implications for definite moral
decisions, resonates with his critique of the abstract "I" of Kant's
theoretical reason, allegedly projected as the indeterminate in-itself.]
reason in its capacity of judgment (regarding beauty and purposiveness):
Is there a faculty of the human mind that can unify the necessity of
theoretical reason with the freedom of practical reason?
Is there any experience in which we can find universality in an
undefinable yet certain bond with experienced individuals?
There is an intuitive capacity of judgment regarding art and the
purposiveness of organic nature.
This great idea of Kant's was not affirmed as the truth, but only as, on
the one hand, the achievement of the work of genius (for which no formula can be
provided) or of the recognition of aesthetic value (the beautiful or the
sublime) which the mind recognizes in a universally valid judgment (for which no
conceptual account can be given--beauty cannot be defined, unlike duty and the
theoretical principles of the understanding).
(What we find beautiful, for Kant, is that which, presented to the
senses, seems to suit our sense of order; what we find sublime we see as
transcending our powers (e.g., as physically overwhelming) but nonetheless as
inspiring, rousing our (moral) sense of dignity (superiority over the merely
The purposiveness that Kant recognizes in the organism was not the
external purposiveness of the happy and superficial "natural
theologians" who based arguments on the evidence that things work together
in wondrous ways. Hegel satirized
such observations with examples: the cork trees have their purpose in providing
stoppers for our wine bottles, the nose was providentially designed to support
the eyeglasses, etc. Rather the internal
purposiveness of "organs" in mutual relation within the organism: this
is the image of the true Concept.
Just at the point of reaching the most adequate concept, Kant
reverted--characteristic of the second attitude of thought toward truth
(objectivity)--to the idea that such judgments of purposiveness are merely
subjective: they are hypotheses. Thus
Kant retains his agnostic posture regarding the things in themselves.
A purpose that posits and realizes itself is the adequate concept of God.
Kant posits the supreme unification of the good and the actual merely as
a goal to be approached by infinite progression rather than as a
self-differentiating, self-orchestrating, self-fulfilling process.
Again and again he wavers between insight and timid failure to maintain
insight. He accepts science as
given, without any thoughtful transformation, and installs the principle of
inward freedom from all outward authority in the dangerous position of being
unable to determine the specific principles with which its freedom is
THIRD POSITION OF THOUGHT WITH RESPECT TO OBJECTIVITY: IMMEDIATE KNOWING
of Hegel's post-Kantian competitors was Jacobi, who taught an exalted immediate
knowledge of God, the intuition of faith, as transcending the limited range of
the Kantian categories of the understanding.
Hegel rejects the antithesis between such immediate knowledge of God and
philosophically handled categorial mediation; he affirms the validity of
Jacobi's immediate knowing, indeed, as the intuitive evidence for every step of
the philosophic path.
first two paragraphs comment on and extend the preceding position.
The thinking of a merely particular person is regarded as
alienated from truth (#61). The
categories come to be regarded as untruth (#62).
But immediate knowledge of truth is asserted and regarded as equivalent
to faith in God; but such knowledge is too indeterminate to be definitely
associated with the richly articulated teachings of Christian doctrine [Hegel
laments the modern tendency to relax propositional, doctrinal theology] (#63). Immediate knowing affirms that God (treated as representation)
is immediately combined with the certainty of God's being (#64).
knowing of the first importance for philosophy is not limited to God.
There is also an affirmation of the self-evident connection between
thought and being (in Descartes' intuition).
Unfortunately, when the affirmation is made regarding an immediate
intuition, there is often a tendency to take a slap at the mediating labor of
philosophy. Unfortunately, the same
kind of intuitive certainty is proclaimed for the reality of the body and the
external world [which are not thought in their truth] (#64).
When the standpoint of immediate knowing polemicizes against mediation,
it falls back into finitude, and the level of assertion of a fact of
as a matter of fact, we know that immediate recognition is generally the product
of much mediation (especially, of thinking) (#66).
All philosophers' doctrines of the primal [perhaps, immediate] knowledge
of human beings include the recognition of the need for education [i.e.,
learning, mediation] (#67). The experiential
claim to immediate knowledge affirms something (ironically) essential and
necessary, on account of the observed constant connection to what is bound up
with immediate knowing. The very rising
to the level of God-consciousness is a presupposed mediation (68).
The original connection that is affirmed in immediate knowing (#64) is a
paradigm of mediation though not with something external, but as its own process
toward a conclusion (#69). What is
immediate is the connection of two [elements], the Idea and Being, each
validated/mediated by the other.
and mediation should not, as in block-thinking, be regarded as mutually
exclusive (#70). Basing an
assertion on consciousness implies that the conscious individual who is
making the assertion becomes the criterion of what all people believe, insofar
as they are in touch with the common humanity.
Based on what is [evident] in consciousness (and it takes careful
phenomenological work to discern that), there must be some content
involved with the notion of God; on that basis, belief in God is denied to
conviction can baptize superstition, idolatry, and evil (#72).
One move to defend immediate knowledge of God is to say that immediate
knowledge is knowledge that God is, not knowledge of what God is;
but such a generalized God has minimal content (#73).
Immediate knowing reverts to a metaphysics of abstract identity and
forfeits the claim to know spirit--i.e., not an abstract, indefinite,
blur, but a self-articulating/distinguishing/recovering Infinite (#74).
As an isolated, one-sided claim, immediate knowing ha been shown, via
internal critique, to be false. But
as a phase of philosophy, it is involved in every step of the Logic
knowing is continuous with naive metaphysics regarding the inseparability of
thinking and being. God's essence implies God's existence, whereas immediately
known sensible things are perishing semblance (#76).
From the cogito (the intuitive and philosophically elucidated
[Cartesian] I think, science was developed. The (unfortunate) modern view is that finite mediations are
inadequate to reach God, hence faith is necessary; this view rejects philosophic
method and descends to "the untamed arbitrariness of imaginations and
assurances, to moral conceit and haughtiness of feeling" (#77).
The assumed antithesis between faith and philosophy must be put
aside--like all presuppositions and arbitrary assurances (on this point,
philosophy goes along with ancient skepticism), in order to begin thinking
Precise Conception and Division of the Logic.
the Logic three aspects of thinking are always present (#79): the labor
of the understanding with its clearly identified categories, the negative labor
of dialectic, showing the inadequacy, the perishing, of each of these categories
(#81), and the philosophic integration, which sustains their unity in the midst
of their opposition/perishing (#82). The
standards of clarity and rigor of the understanding are necessary at all levels
of thought (#80).
Doctrine of Being is the First Subdivision of the Logic.
is going on in the sequence of determinations [categories] here?
At first, they seem to have a certain independence, they seem each to be
something on their own; but the unfolding of their implications is such that
they pass over into other categories.
But in all this process the Concept itself is unfolding.
[The Concept means Begriff, grasping, synthesizing, precisely the
work of Kant's ego, the transcendental unity of apperception, the unifying
function that is presupposed in every unity we experience.
But Hegel's Begriff is the same function--to present it in
historical terms--transferred to God as cosmic Mind.]
One more description is given of the process in this first part of the Logic:
Being is deepening itself (#84).
older theology treated the predicates of God, the "names of God"; we
have here the metaphysical determinations of the Absolute--except the second
term of a classic triad, the negative moment, which emphasize difference and
hence finitude (#85).
abstract being simply is (#86); but at the same time, empty of predicates, it is
no-thing (#87). Nothing, however, is--just the same as being (#88).
[The reference to Buddhism in the Remark to #87, taken together with the
discussion of immediate knowing, ##63ff, indicates that there is experiential
import to what is being told here.] The
convertibility of being and nothing is the concept of transition itself, of
beginning, or of becoming (#88).
B. Being There
the following transition, does Hegel illicitly trade on the ambiguity of
"becoming," which he has defined in terms of transition on a purely
abstract level, but also carries connotations involving determinate, existing
things--the new theme? Or does he
avoid paralogism, the fallacy of four terms, or, more generally, the illicit
ambiguity--and he does seem to be aware of the danger--only by obfuscation, by
spinning his inwardly confident stream of words in such a way that the result
for an intelligent and honest reader is simply mystery or worse?
The [quality] of being/nothing is such that we should say that this
vibrant "unity" exists, "is there" (#89).
The Remark and Addition try to aid this transition by translating its
main point into an apparently different one: that the negation of prior moments
of this dialectic sequence acquires determinateness (and hence being-there,
existence) just by being specific negation, a negation that acquires content by
having negated such and such a set of categories.
(Such being-there is only in thought, it would seem, and the point of the
transition is lost. Or?
If Hegel only wants to trace the determinations that are implied
in any truthful encounter with nature or finite spirit, then this criticism
would miss his project.)
determinate, being-there has quality, and hence is something
(#90). (1) Pure being is (2)
limited in order to achieve determinate existence; hence two different moments
may be distinguished at the interior of being-there; these moments may be
regarded as mutually other (#91). [Just
now, when you are ready to throw this down in disgust, recall the ease with
which we accord greatness to Einstein, who tenaciously challenged ordinary
notions, such as simultaneity, in order to find a difficult-to-understand
structure within them. There are, by the way, those who regard this type of thinking
as what the new physics precisely involves.
The point is not that this text is definitive, whatever that might mean;
the point is to sustain the adventure with these conceptual linkings.]
Limited, determinate things can also undergo change--become other (#92).
Indeed, change can go on ad infinitum (#93)--but such an infinity
is not glorious but tedious (the "bad infinite"). A REAL INFINITE has no simplistic, block-thinking, opposition
to the finite. [READ the next to
last paragraph in the Addition to #94 and the Remark to the following paragraph.
This is one of the major points of the Hegelian philosophy.]
But something which, in changing, arrives only at itself, is genuinely
infinite [i.e., it preserves itself through change, negation]: being-for-itself.
initially, is immediacy, the One that excludes the Other from itself.
[Does this process of categories illuminate interpersonal relationships
and personal growth?] The One is
what it is by not being, or by being distinguished from, or by [here comes the
rhetoric of the movement of the Concept, the divine mind], by distinguishing
itself from ("repelling") the many which are outside it.
The many, in turn, prolong the mode of immediacy by each being a one
excluding its fellow ones (#97). But
excluding is relating and relating involves attraction.
Atoms [c.f. Whitehead's actual entities] are such ones.
Qualitative difference thus forms the foundation for numerical
distinctitude, quantity (#98). Hegel's
sequence from quality to quantity involves the thought that we can't start
counting things until we have identified them (qualitatively) as somethings.
A. Pure quantity
difference is, initially, merely quantitative difference: that which doesn't
really matter (#99; note the attack on positivism in the Addition,
paragraphs 4-5). The abstractive understanding, choosing its mode of analysis,
may regard quantity--which is a whole--either as continuous or as
is limited (#101); it has the numerical aspects ("moments") of
discreteness, "annumeration," and of continuity, "unit"
(qualitative) and extensive (quantitative) magnitudes are not mutually
exclusive; neither does quality reduce to quantity.
Quantitative change has qualitative implications (#103).
Hence, changing the degree of something is on the one hand trivial
("indifferent"), on the other hand, is a transition into the opposite
(#104). Quantity is an external
affair--units external to each other; the very notion of quantitative relation
is born: ratio. And ratio,
associated with determinacy (remember? #90) is measure (#106).
Measure is a quantitative sort of limit that governs a quality (e.g.,
"Don't go too far or you'll fall," morally or literally) (#107).
At first, it seems that measure can only effectively govern something
limited. In some situations a
measure incorporates some flexibility (in this case, Hegel wants to call the
measure a rule), but sometimes any change, any deviation from measure,
induces a qualitative change (#108). What
if quantitative increase passes beyond all limits?
Measure in the initial sense is destroyed.
However a new quality emerges, a new kind of measure.
The notion of qualitative change in a quantitatively endless sequence is,
for example, infinite progress; thus the governance of measure is restored as a
more sophisticated kind of measure is conceived (#109).
Now that the relation between quantity and quality has come to
light, especially, now, (to pick up threads from before, #94) a feature of a
self-relating Infinite, we have entered the domain of Essence.
The key difference between the sphere of being and that of essence is
that in the former relationship is merely implicit; in the latter, explicit:
Essence relates to its other without losing itself in the process (#111).
DOCTRINE OF ESSENCE
we ask what something really is, we are asking about its essence.
We mean, for example, what it really is--as opposed to what it seems to
be. The essence of a thing is thus
"opposed" to its outward appearance.
The two concepts of essence and appearance are each given in relation to
each other. Each one implies the
other. They are different, and yet
what each of them is, and is bound up with the other. This kind of logic is the logic of relation.
There are several such pairs of correlated concepts whose interrelation
is narrated in this section of the Logic.
is the Concept (the self-articulating and unifying function of mind) as posited
(#112). Think of the example of the Kantian thing in itself (whose
place in the conceptual scheme comes later: #124, Remark); in the discussion of
the second attitude of thinking to truth, Hegel emphasized that the in itself
was something posited: mind posits the in itself as such.
Or think of the Platonic form, manifested in its examples, the material
shadows of eternal patterns (or think of [universal] meanings which are
exemplified in particular things or facts).
The essence or universal "shines" in, or is present in the
example, the sensory individual. At
first glance, the essence is the essential, and the mere being which exemplifies
it is mere appearance. The Addition
to this paragraph sets forth the logic of infinity: God is the supreme example
of infinity. The tendency of
essentialist thinking is to set up God as Lord, as the supreme Beyond, and hence
as finite, albeit the greatest. Essence
is, first, and foremost, God. Essence also has its aspect of being simply identical with
itself; it is what it is (#113).
first movement is to come to recognize (A) ESSENCE AS GROUND OF EXISTENCE,
and the first step is to consider the interrelation between categories which the
reflective understanding usually tries to keep "clearly" separate.
Identity and Difference ("distinction"): Essence
is reflected into itself. In other
words, its identity is not the simplest immediacy of being; but it is what it is
in virtue of its not being its other (#115); hence it contains difference within
itself (#116). Once we can speak of
the essence of X, we can regard X as similar to ["equal" is the
mathematical concept, which is used in the translation; the Platonic concept of Gleich,
however, is the relation of similarity obtaining between the essence and the
example, and this concept is more relevant to this discussion.]
The similarity relation between the essence and X must be established by
some third something, which can relate or compare the two.
[Here we are on the verge of Plato's famous third man argument from the Parmenides,
which deduces a regress: once it is acknowledged that the similarity or equality
between two items is established only by a third, then the relation of
similarity or equality or bond between the third and the first two requires once
again to be established, say by a fourth, and so on.] (#117) We only pronounce those things the same (equal) which are not
the same (in some respects different, or unequal, or dissimilar).
Thus sameness and difference involve each other.
Now Hegel moves to a level on which characteristics of the relations
between categories become the protagonists in his narrative (#118).
Difference involves not-being-the other, not just any other, but its
other (#119). Next Hegel affirms
the thoroughgoing mutuality of essence and what it is the essence of.
(And by this move Hegel validates his mission of doing theology and
cosmology simultaneously.) Their
mutual involvement (#120) is called . . . "ground."
"Ground" is a strange name, at first glance.
What Hegel initially means by ground is the whole (#121):
universal totality. The term ground
only finds its justification in terms of its relation to the next
category, existence (#122). Existence
is the set of interrelated, mutually conditioning things [think in ecological
terms or of the Buddhist notion of dependent coexistence], which may be
considered as detached from the ground (#123) as things which
nevertheless have a certain substantiality to them inasmuch as they preserve
some relation to the ground (#124). In
the thing, the many properties (which are determinate in virtue of their
contrast with other properties) are possessed: the thing has properties
(#125). The material dimensions
involved in the properties of the thing coalesce in what, from the perspective
of the Aristotelian understanding of the thing as form-and-matter, is called the
matter of the thing, which is only intelligible in terms of the unity of form
(##126-29). The thing shines forth
in its properties: the thing is what appears.
To be even more adequate to conceptual process, we may say that the thing
is the shining forth, or appearance.
APPEARANCE (not mere appearance, as though opposed to
truth/reality, but manifestation of the cosmic Essence).
Essence (in its logical complexity that transcends being) must appear,
and it must be precisely essence which appears; i.e., essence is not something
which remains behind or beyond appearance [so there is no room for a
transcendent Creator] (#131). Rehearsing and deepening #123, (the totality of) that which
appears exists in virtue of form, which gives determinate integration to the
materials that go to make it up; but that form involves (1) the very ground
itself--(the divine or Cosmic) Essence and (2) finite relationships with other
finite things--influencing, causing, conditioning, determining, depending on,
opposing, on and on, without limit. Since
the cosmic Essence is not some reality held back behind things, what it appears as
is just the very system of mutually conditioning/determining appearances itself:
"the world of appearances" (#132).
The world of mutually determining manifestations is so related to itself
that it has its form in itself (not transcendent to itself) and its form is
identical with its content. In
other words, the form of this world is precisely its mutually conditioned
character (its "reflection into itself"); and its content is just this
system of mutually conditioning/referring manifestations. When form is not so related to content, it is outer form,
changeable and dependent on contingent factors (say, whether the manufacturer
achieves his purpose with the wood, whether the masses obey the law) (#133).
[Again, in order to get the full story told, it is necessary to recall
the perspective of less philosophically developed stages, and to insert the
resulting train of realization as a subplot, as follows.]
At the most immediate or naively obvious level, determination is
external, determination inherently involves relationship (i.e., to
something different, exterior, other). In
other words, material characteristics are determined by causal relations with
other "matters," and form might or might not obtain; or the animal,
say, to illustrate with ancient Greek notions, could die, losing the form (the
soul, life) that had informed it, made it a living being (#134).
takes the relation of whole and part as the prime example of simplistic
relation, since the two sides of the relation exclude each other: the vision of
the whole eclipses the view of the parts; the review of the parts annihilates
the vision of the whole (#135). [The
transition of the next paragraph is made in terms of the formal properties of
the previously discussed category pair. The
dialectical development of these properties leads to a set of properties that
are manifested in a new category pair. However,
because of the continuing theme of the interrelatedness of elements involved
(appearances/parts/forces), the transition to the new category pair cannot be
considered a mere formalism. It
remains true that Hegel's way of sequencing these topics so as efficiently to
encompass every region of what can be thought, and so as to show the
interrelation of physics, theology, and philosophy strains intelligibility.
It is also tempting to regard the Logic as "merely" a
weaving of categories; this would represent the second attitude of thought
toward truth, and would obscure the fact--I want to say--that it is cosmic
reality itself whose moments are being dissected before our eyes.]
In the previous category pair, each was the negative of the other,
indifferent to the turn to the other (but that very negative indifference is
already relation to the other). Force
and the expression of force ("utterance") manifest such a contingent
bond; on the one hand, force cannot be force unless it is activated; on the
other hand, it doesn't activate itself by itself.
Something must provoke it to function.
Without ignition, the rocket fuel will not explode.
Hence, force makes a poor God concept (Addition).
The world whole is itself a field of the interplay of forces engaging one
another (#136). Force cannot be force without utterance; hence its two sides
are distinguished merely as inner and outer (#137).
movement of force, in its expression, unifies the inner (ground) and the outer,
to make up the totality, the fulfilled content (#138).
Inner and outer have the same content; there is nothing unmanifest in the
essence (#139). At the same time,
they are opposed abstractions, and each can be regarded
("immediately") as having a monopoly on content (#140).
(The Addition applies this category pair to the discussion of ethical
character.) Look now what a
conceptually rich result we have: We have two dimensions in opposition; the
inner comes into (outer) existence through the expression of force; and the
content of these two opposed abstractions is their very identity.
This richness of the ground expressed in existence Hegel is ready to call
C. ACTUALITY (Wirklichkeit connotes also reality and also the
fulfillment of dynamic (Aristotelian) potentiality.) The inner essence, become one with the outer
existence, is actuality. Addition!
The actual is the rational; it does not include every random contingency,
taken (miscomprehended) outside its (necessary) connection to the whole, the
process of self-realizing reality here narrated (self-realizing, because
unlike a given force which requires external provocation in order to fire, we
are speaking of reality as a whole system here) (#142).
Actuality (reality) can be simply regarded as a blunt affirmative: what
it really is--i.e., as (abstract) identity, lacking the concrete determinations
of fully developed actuality, namely, as possibility.
[If someone says "Coke is the real thing," they are merely
affirming the actuality of Coke, not telling us anything about Coke.
Coke, thus affirmed, is merely the potentiality of the concretely
understood beverage.] (For a discussion of the poverty of mere potential, see
the Addition.) (#143) But something so empty is precisely inessential, accidental
(#144). Mere possibility and
contingency are the merely outward aspects of actuality, and their alienation
from actuality is due to their seeming to have only a contingent relation to
(rational) content. The Addition
the immaturity of the will that arbitrarily chooses X and could just as well
(possibly) choose not-X; but the point of philosophic science is not to exclude
the "contingent" from consideration, but to unfold its latent rational
content (#145). Possibility,
(immediately) merely presupposed as being-there, is the condition for something
else (for its own transcendence ("sublation," in which it is negated
and preserved on a higher level), for a fulfilled actualization) (#146).
When all the factors that condition the possibility of a thing [the Sache,
"matter," "thing in question," such as the burning of a
piece of coal] are present, the thing becomes necessary.
What are these factors? (1)
the thing itself must really be possible [the piece of coal is flammable]; (2)
cosmic process of the outward expression of the inner nature of the cosmos must
be such that fire can arise; and (3) the specific conditions themselves must
obtain [oxygen and heat must be present, etc.].
Addition: purposiveness is not evident in necessity; to portray God's
deeds as (merely) humanly inevitable implicitly makes God arbitrary. The discovery of Christianity is the infinite value of
subjectivity--in the human individual and in God. We are not to be overwhelmed by Necessity.
Indeed, our freedom is to recognize what happens to us as never unjust,
but always as a phase of the unfolding of ourselves (#147).
The event (Sache) itself (let us now insist on taking some human
action as an example), the surrounding conditions that are required for it, and
the activity of the agent are sufficiently separate that the necessity in
question seems external--a relation between external factors (#148).
Necessity, then, is contingent; and since that which is contingent
happens to be actual, its conditions are seen to have been fulfilled: it has
thus become necessary. Necessity
gathers together both the immediacy of what is and mediation, i.e., the fact
that the action (event, Sache) in question depends upon certain
we consider these sides of necessity as congealed, we see the thing as substantial
(#150). Substance is power manifesting itself in its accidents.
The Addition defends Spinoza, for whom God is (correctly but onesidedly)
understood as substance, from the charge of pantheism: instead, Hegel charges
Spinoza with failing to recognize that the cosmos of transient worldly things
(whose perishing inspires the vision of overwhelming Substance in oriental
thought) has its own actuality; for Spinoza, everything finite, such as a
person, is nothing but a mode of the one Substance, which may be regarded from
one point of view as nature and from another point of view as God (there are
infinitely many points of view/attributes of God; humans know only two) (#151).
Substance as power ("might") causes things and hence is relation.
(The relation of causality at this point, however, is not the secondary
causality of the billiard table but the primary causality of the First Cause;
but since the essence is nothing but what is available in existence, the logic
of primary causation and the logic of secondary causation are one.) (#152)
causes by functioning as the origin (original Sache--the word
"cause" is Ursache, primal/original thing) which posits an
effect (Wirkung). There is
no reason as yet to regard this causing as anything other than contingent,
"accidental" (in religious terms, creation was an act that God did not
have to do, chosen of God's own free will).
The Remark, taking rain and wet streets to illustrate causation, notes
the identity of cause and effect, that they have the same content (wetness), and
that the cause is only cause because of the effect; in other words, it is, qua
cause, the effect of its effect! Moreover,
in the cause/effect chain, each cause is preceded by another, and so on without
limit, and each effect has further effects, and so on without limit (#153).
The cause (taken as a thing) can only work its effect if the other thing
on which it works already exists. Initially,
this second thing is passive; but it reacts, and has a reciprocal effect on the
thing which first acted on it (#154).
active and reactive moments of the causal process are sides of one causal system
( #155). Its process of moments
that overcome their own one-sidedness is that system's (cause's) own doing: the
Cause is "for itself." The
Remark observes that reciprocal influence is the only way to describe historical
process and the organism, since a linear causal explanation is a simplistic
falsification (#156). The causally
interinvolved actualities both are independent of each other and have an
identical content (as causal influences); this level of necessity is not replete
(#157). The truth implicit in
necessity is found the Concept which includes the moments which it
distinguishes ("repels" from itself).
(Both "concept" and Begriff connote grasping, holding.)
Addition: Crude necessity seems hard; but genuine free action embraces
precisely what it necessary, what must be done (#158).
The Concept is the truth of being and essence; it comprehends both within
itself; it is the process of their identity.
[Cf. Parmenides' identification of thinking (the concept) and being
(which, when rationally understood, is essence).
We have come far enough to see that what Hegel is affirming is no
"subjective idealism." Since
the God of theism was presupposed as the first candidate for Essence, Hegel
cannot be accused of pulling mind out of a system of natural causes by giving a
rigged description of the latter (ala artificial intelligence.]
The Remark explains that thinking of necessity dissolves its
apparent hardness; a liberation emerges, not as a flight from the real, but as a
realization on various levels that one has to do with realities that are not
external to oneself; rather, one is part of a process that includes self and
"other": the mature character (the developed "I") identifies
with universal reality; the same realization is implicit in the feeling of love
and in the enjoyment of blessedness. The Addition explains that it was impossible to begin with
the Concept (defined as the unity of being and essence), which is the source of
the abstract moments that we have worked with thus far, since the question would
arise about the meaning of "being" and "essence" and how the
two should be understood to be one (#159).
SUBDIVISION OF THE LOGIC: THE DOCTRINE OF THE CONCEPT
Concept is the totality (#160) which unfolds itself (#161) in three phases
The Subjective Concept
A. The Concept as Such
concept contains three moments: universality, particularity (I prefer
"specificity"), and singularity (individuality) (#163); these aspects
are in every case bound up with each other in what is concrete (#164),
though they are first distinguished in the primal division (the etymological
meaning, in German of Urteil, translated as "judgment"; note that Teil,
part, can also refer to one of the (basic) elements in such a
B. The Judgment
this section we consider universality, specificity ("particularity"),
and singularity (or individuality) taken in combinations of two.
The various types of divisions/relationships between such combinations
are presented as types of judgment (sentence), which--and this is the main
interest--are associated with various ways of thinking.
judgment has following form: the subject is the predicate.
Subject and predicate are distinguished . . . and identified.
In the abstract form of judging, however, it seems that the
"ascription" of the predicate to the subject is contingent, not an
(internally necessary) affair of the process of the concept.
When the subject term is singular and the predicate term is the
universal, we have, for example, "This (rose) is red" or "God is
absolute Spirit" (#166 Remark and Addition; read the Addition to #172:
"we habitually ascribe only a very inadequate power of judgment to someone
who habitually frames only such judgments as 'this wall is green,' 'This oven is
hot', and so on." In formal
terms, a judgment of truth, beauty, or goodness, also applies a
"universal" to a singular; but the character of the universal in such
cases is so inwardly rich as to merit the term "concept.")
Everything is a union of singular and universal [fact and meaning].
Note that many uses of language are not judgments in this sense (#167).
From the finite standpoint of judgment, the singular and the universal
are "diverse as well as separable in principle" [the color could be
otherwise, the animal could die] (#168).
recognize the universal in the singular and the singular in the universal is to
go beyond the stage at which each is an isolated independent block; it is to
recognize that both singular and universal have determinateness, specificity
(particularity) (#169). The subject
has many determinacies, not only the one mentioned in the predicate, and the
predicate has many examples, not only the subject; only in terms of their
determinate content are they identical (#170).
When the dynamic of the judgment is thus understood as involving three
phases--singularity, universality, and specificity--then the structure
connecting three moments comes into view, which is mirrored in the syllogism of
traditional logic. The singular may
be associated with being, universal with essence; and the concept is the unity
of the two (#171).
rudimentary type of judgment pertains to immediate and (hence) sensible
qualities: e.g., "The rose is red."
Such a judgment is called "qualitative."
The main point about this type of judgment is that its correctness is
merely an external affair, not a matter of the subject corresponding truly (in
the favorable case) to the authentic concept of what it really is/is supposed to
type of judgment asserts that X is not Y--where X and Y have nothing to do with
one another, are "infinitely" remote from each other, e.g., "A
lion is not a table," (which is as vacuously true as "A lion is a
lion"); subject and predicate, e.g., body and soul, fall apart partly
(e.g., sickness) or completely (e.g., in death) (#173).
in its activity of reflection--associating things which are related, e.g., as
opposites--forms the next type of judgment, in which the predicate expresses an
oppositional/relational predicate (such as acid or base, positive or negative
(electrically), male or female, etc.) Sometimes
we speak today of "two place predicates": "X is useful,"
properly symbolized, should be put, "X is useful for Y."
"Useful" is not a predicate that stands on its own.
The activity of understanding in expressing such connections generates
judgments "of reflection" (#174).
is universality from the perspective of the understanding?
Universality is the product of the subjective activity of collecting
singular instances and determines them as "all."
When we affirm "All men are mortal" we imply that there is
something determinate about the individuals collected in the subject term that
validates the predicate. (On the
level of such empirical generalization, however, there is no [essential]
necessity to what is being affirmed [though, grasped more adequately, there is
necessity to judgments such as "All men are mortal," "Metals
conduct electricity"].) (#175).
about all Xs are more mature when it is recognized that predication is being
made, not simply about a collection, but about a kind or type: the plant, man,
are three types of judgment that are considered under the heading "the
judgment of necessity." (The
concept of necessity is one of the most important in Hegel's thought.)
(1) "Gold is a metal" has a "concrete" universal as
its subject; and its predicate is a determinacy that excludes other predicates.
But the same predicate applies to many things.
It is more scientific to express a judgment of causation in hypothetical
form: if X is gold, then X is a metal. Now
science, considering a particular class of objects, wants to know what in what
specific categories an example of that class might fall (see the Addition to
#230, p. 298). If we have a set of
such categories that are complete and mutually exclusive, then we can form (as a
judgment of necessity) a disjunctive judgment: S is either A or B or C (e.g.,
"A poem is either epic or lyric or dramatic") (#177).
of truth, beauty, or goodness are classified as judgments of the concept, thanks
to the conceptual richness required for such discrimination (#178).
Such a judgment is first simply (subjectively) asserted, hence vulnerable
to being opposed by a contradicting assertion; but the genuine judgment of the
concept is an unfolding of the object itself, showing its conformity to its
"determination and purpose" (which, for finite things, may or may not
be the case) (#179). The duality of
predication (subject and predicate) shows itself, in its mature forms, to
involve a more complex structure: the copula, "is," has become itself
a third, active theme in the following [extended] sense.
The terms of the judgment are no longer satisfactorily merely asserted by
the subjective judger. Rather the
object itself is to be shown to have, in its own articulation, the predicate in
question. The level of complexity
of the process of judging now involves not only singularity and universality but
also specificity, and as a three-termed process, it may be called a
C. The Syllogism
we think of the syllogism, the first example that comes to mind is Aristotle's:
"All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore Socrates is mortal."
There are forms of syllogisms that spiral around, reproducing the forms
of judgment once again. And again,
it is not the outer properties of the sentences that are crucial, but rather the
way in which singularity, universality, and specificity (particularity) are
understood to be associated/separated/connected. Everything that is has three phases: singularity,
particularity, and universality. In
this sense, everything is a concept, i.e., the grasping-together of these
aspects of what it is. Their mutual
relations may be diversely seen and associated with different modes of thought.
When something is understood in terms of these three phases, it is rationally
grasped. The point of dialectical argument is to show that it is not
merely the philosopher's arranging of paragraphs but the inherent dynamism
implicit in the theme itself that is active.
Hence the movement from subjectivity to objectivity, the deduction of the
reality/objectivity of the Idea, the proof of the reality of God, is achieved
singularity and universality figure in (syllogistic) thought abstractly (in
block thinking), the understanding is operating in a merely subjective manner,
choosing thus to associate terms (#182). The
simplest type of syllogism, the "qualitative syllogism," is used to
assert what is merely there: e.g., "This rose is red, red is a color,
therefore this rose is something colored."
Though such reasoning is hardly of value in philosophy, we do use it
implicitly in daily life: e.g., "when someone hears the creaking of a cart
in the street as he wakes on a winter's morning and is led by that to the
conclusion that it must have frozen quite hard" (#183).
Using contingent determinations, anything can be argued, or
"proven"; the lawyers can argue forever.
(Philosophy which contents itself with giving "good reasons" is
on this level.] (#184) One can ask
for (syllogistic) proofs to demonstrate the premises of a given syllogism; and
this demand can be repeated infinitely (#185).
The complex relations between the three terms (the singular, the
universal, and the particular) are such that each can serve as extreme and as
middle term (in terms of which the other two are unified) (##186-87). Sometimes the thinking expressed in syllogistic thought is
mathematical; but the axioms of mathematics are logical propositions whose proof
comes "from universal and self-determining thinking" (#188).
the understanding engages in rational thought, it produces "the syllogism
of reflection" in which the major premise--"all men are mortal,"
"all metals are conductors of electricity"--is based on (empirical)
induction, and, in fact, presupposes the conclusion--"therefore Caius is
mortal," "therefore copper does the same."
This type of scientific thinking "presupposes that observation and
experience are complete in a certain domain; but since finite experience is
never so exhaustive, the understanding moves forward to a new type of
"syllogism," asserting that whatever is of the same type will probably
have the characteristic thus observed in the sample.
(There is an analogy between the subject term of the conclusion
and the subject set in the premises.) The
instinct of reason, however, "surmises that this or that empirically
discovered determination is grounded in an object's inner nature or kind." [This is Hegel's--and Husserl's--answer to the problem of how
induction can be justified (can I KNOW that coal will burn tomorrow?)
Whitehead took this issue seriously too.] (#190)
the forest of complexities here, in which the types of syllogism are
distinguished by which phase (singular, universal, particular) is the
"middle term" [in terms of which the identity of the other two are
established] the translators find it necessary to save Hegel's logic by changing
his text: replacing "or" at one place by "and" (#192
Addition, p. 268). The upshot of
this development (##191-93) is that once we recognize the mutual mediation of
all three phases, we have reached the level of the concept--self-articulating,
positing its own phases, first, as independent moments, then in opposition to
one another, and, last, as identical-in-difference. This achievement, however, confronts us initially as a
(relatively immediate) object.
new level of conceptual development can be looked at, initially, as a kind of
summary or block or comparatively immediate . . . object.
The concept itself has developed to just such a level here.
The Absolute may be regarded simply as an object, Confronting
subjectivity, rousing fear, rather than the later of the truth that the Absolute
is also subjectivity, that universal subjectivity includes finite spirit, whose
true self is God, the Concept (#194). The
second Addition to #194 nicely summarizes the development of this section.
mechanism, the object, a block of sorts, finds itself in (mechanical) relation
to other . . . blocks--and there are external, "mechanical"
relationships, activities, etc., not only in nature, but also in human life;
human nature can even be conceived as a set of interacting substances (#195).
In a mechanical system, though each object is, in a way, independent,
each is passive/dependent/acted upon by the other objects, and so has its center
outside itself (gravitational attraction, desire) (#196).
In the (attractional) relating of a mechanical system, there is not only
the center of each object (taken by itself) but also a center which represents
the balancing point between the attracting objects; the system center [the
"relative center"] is not the same point as the center of the central
object [its "absolute center'] (#197).
The center of the earth is not the center of the earth-moon system.
[Similarly in theology, evolving Deity, not eternal Deity, is the
relative center of the God-man relationship.]
In mature, complex systems, each of the three terms functions to mediate
the others. For example, consider
the three part system of individual, civil society (the set of social and
economic institutions that provide for human needs), and the state (the level of
right, justice, government, law, and coherence on the stage of world history).
Physical and cultural needs mediate the relationship of the individual
and the state (what motivation would someone without needs have to participate
in collective organization?); at the same time the individual's activity is the
fulcrum [middle term] for the satisfaction of needs and the actualization of the
right (at the level of the state); one can also say that it is only within the
ordering matrix [middle term] of the state that individuals can function
satisfactorily in civil society (#198). Such
initially independent system-members must now be understood has relating to
their inwardly determined others. [This
transition is analogous to that between (1) the transitions in the category
pertaining to being--that simply is--where there was no intrinsic relation to a
specific other and (2) the polar relationships characteristic of the categories
pertaining to essence--what deeply is.] Once
B. Chemism [A term from a special science is used as a symbol for a type
of relation between conceptual moments since chemistry has much to do with
oppositions, such as acid and base, positive and negative electricity, etc. that
exemplify what is being articulated here.]
categories here exemplify opposition, but these categories have such conceptual
richness that these opposites strive to transcend their own opposition (#200) by
oscillating (#202) between the condition of opposition and a neutral product
(#201). [Acid and base = salt + water; each condition tends to shift
into the other; post-coital repose stills desire momentarily.]
The convertibility of the differentiated and undifferentiated states
overcomes the apparent externality or immediacy of each of them; the concept
becomes thus for itself. The initial definition of purpose is just this self-overcoming
of externality, immediacy (#203).
C. Teleology [from the Greek word telos, goal, end, purpose]
is initially defined in terms of a sequence of moments: (1) it is the inner
self-removal from merely outer determinacy [I have my own purpose, I am not a
plaything of outer, material contingencies.] (2) the purposive subject takes the
negation of determinacy so far as to regard that its purpose is not at all
realized in reality; its purpose is merely its own pure project, without
validation in the structure of reality. (3) purposive activity brings about the
real-ization of the purpose. But
(4) in this process, purpose is not losing itself, converting into its opposite,
but precisely upholding itself (#204). The
Remark to this paragraph emphasizes (1) that purpose is effective without (like
a mere cause) having an external relationship to its effect; (2) that
purposiveness is exemplified not only in an agent's use of means toward an end,
but also in the inner purposiveness, e.g., of the organism; (3) the process of
desiring shows a remarkable significance: on the one hand, a subject desires
what is outside. The desiring
subject has certainty about him/herself qua desiring subject and about the
object qua desired. The separation
of the object and the subject is precisely what is overcome in the process of
the accomplishing of the desire. The
thing desired has, thus, no substantial, enduring independence over against the
subject; and the subject's removal from the object is only temporary.
[This movement is observed in the beginning chapter of the Phenomenology
of Mind, and Hegel remarks that philosophical theories about independent,
enduring substantial Things and Subjects locked within their own subjectivity
fail to recognize such an elementary practical refutation of their own block
thinking.] (4) The negation of
immediate externality (characteristic of purpose) is shown in the "proofs
for the existence of God," which are, properly understood, ways of leading
the mind from its immediate, external level of seeing things.
the most elementary level, finite purpose is related to something presupposed as
outside it, which may or may not be successfully achieved, and for which one
must forage around for suitable means with which to bring about the intended
result. [Immature willing is an
arbitrary opting for, or striving toward, an indefinite multiplicity of outer
goods, which are simply taken as immediate needs or wants.]
It is possible to make observations about how intricately the universe
was designed so as to make human life possible, but there is a deeper concept of
purpose which is more adequate (#205).
unites subjective purpose with objectivity.
The quality of purpose differs according to the quality of the
relationship between the broadest level of purpose that we have and the
specific, restricted purpose that provides focus for the decision.
When there is a harmonious flow between our overarching purpose (in
life?) and the specific purpose enacted here and now, when the universal may be
said to specify itself, then the process of the Concept may be said to be most
fulfilled. Decision both opens our
activity and closes us off from the inwardness of deliberation (#206).
following process of achieving decision is considered merely subjective and
defective: the individual does the specifying [i.e., it is not
(universal) love but the headstrong, individualistic, perhaps contrary-minded
person who determines to do X (which may have aspects of nobility)]; the goal is
regarded as remote, and one turns outward toward it in a kind of
self-forgetfulness that amounts to losing one's true self (#207).
agent thus subjectively determined goes forth and wholly identifies with (gets
totally involved with, even becomes) the specific activity of pursuing that
object; and the agent and establishes power over the object in the process,
determining the external objectivity exclusively in terms of the value it aims
to actualize (in its "ideality").
For example, a person strives for self-mastery over bodily inclinations,
makes the body his instrument (#208).
and "chemical" aspects of process are subordinate aspects in the
prosecution of purpose. Rational
purpose works its way throughout the blind mechanism, etc. of daily external,
perhaps even apparently chaotic events. "The
cunning of reason" is to achieve its global goals through such mundane
methods (#209). As purpose realizes
itself in the conquest of the objective realm, the concept is comparatively
fulfilled (#210). That
realized purpose, however, becomes (merely) a stepping stone for further goals,
and so on. The goal of all this conceptual
evolution is to overcome the barriers/one-sidedness/exclusive
independence/dualism between the object and the subject.
But the independence of the object is overcome now, not only in virtue of
mechanical and chemical process, but also because the object is pervaded by
achieved purpose and finally because the object is merely a moment in an ongoing
purposive movement. This
transcendence of the opposition of subject and object is "the Idea"
[the concept together with its realization].
Addition: When purpose is projected finitely, its goal seems to be
outside of itself; infinite purposiveness undertakes activity as the unfolding
of what is already true. Purposive
activity cannot arise without the illusion of the remoteness of its goal;
neither can it be fulfilled until that illusion has been worked through (#211).
Idea is reality as what satisfies the concept.
["Idea" had been a technical term in Kant's philosophy: a
correlate of reason, such as God, the universe, or the soul, the very level of
reality that would satisfy reason if we could achieve cognition of things as
they truly are, beyond the oppositions engendered by finite constraints.]
From the standpoint of the Idea thus achieved we are supposed to
grasp the unity of the concept and objectivity.
Let us not go back to affirming existing things as Reality, forgetting
their co-involvement in universality and specificity, etc. What the things of objectivity really have been shown to be
is the concept (#213). The Idea is
the unity of subject and object, the ideal and the real, identity and
difference, the infinite and the finite, the soul and the body, essence and
being. Remark: For the
understanding (narrow-minded philosophizing), this involves elementary blunders,
contradictions. But the very
movement between regarding these things as unified and regarding them as
opposed/separate/etc. is itself the movement of the concept.
"Only in this way is the Idea eternal creation, eternal vitality,
and eternal Spirit." This
oscillation does not have an origin in time (the understanding would like to
tell a story about a creation once upon a time.)
The point is to see that these perspectives are movements of the concept,
generated by the concept, thus exemplifying its inner purposiveness.
[Hegel is working toward his conclusion: replacing the notion of the
Creator with the Concept: he is trying to think "creation" as the free
and necessary self-externalization of the concept.] (#214)
The image connoted by talking of the Idea as "the unity" of the
infinite and the finite, etc., is misleading, since "unity" connotes
"an abstract, quietly persisting identity," whereas the Idea is
process. The notion of
"unity" is also misleading, since one member of each pair prevails:
the infinite over the finite, and subjectivity over objectivity, etc.
is the Idea on the level of immediacy. the
singular, living being is an animated [ensouled] body.
[The term soul does not have the Platonic-Christian meaning of
potentially immortal character, but rather the Aristotelian-Greek meaning of the
principle of life as such: the presence of psyche is what differentiates
the living from the non-living.] On
the one hand, the soul is diffused throughout the body; thanks to the soul, the
members--organs--of the body are in vital, purposive, interrelation with each
other. At the same time, the living
being is mortal; the soul and body can separate.
Moreover, on this level of immediacy, mere life can attain the level of
sentience (perception) but not the duality and the overcoming of duality
involved in cognition (#216). The
vital process involves three three-fold stages (#217). In the first, the organism is regarded as a unit with the
properties of sensibility, irritability (the reactive, intuitive-immediate
responsive capacity of even the simplest organisms), and reproduction
(self-maintenance) [by definition a purposive capacity for Hegel, including
self-repair or self-healing] (#218). In
the second stage, the living organism is considered in its (triumphant) relation
to its inorganic environment, which it assimilates into itself (although in the
end, the inorganic processes, "the elementary powers of objectivity,"
are "continually ready to pounce, to begin their process in the organic
body, and life is a constant struggle against them" (#219).
The vital process involves sexual differentiation (#220); the individual
organism now has the aspect of something which is generated by the genus (the
concrete universal); but since the individual organism is not the enduring
universal, it perishes (#221). As
life frees itself from its immediate existence in the (dying) individual
organism, the universal comes into its own as free spirit.
[This seems to make sense only if the assumed background is the Christian
story of Easter and especially of the bestowal of the Spirit upon the believing
community on Pentecost--not, for Hegel, "upon all flesh."
Hegel, however, seems to expect that the "logic" of this will
be compelling even when he is making his formal remarks regarding the
significance of the death of any organism whatsoever.] (#222)
B. Cognition [here taken to involve cognition of the true and willing of
the level of cognition, the Idea is highly articulately realized, but there
remains a duality between cognition and the (presupposed) external universe
(#223). The reflection of finite
understanding comes on the scene (to tackle the cognition of the external
universe) full in the confidence of reason that cognition can be
achieved, that the alienation between subject and object can be overcome [cf.
Whitehead's talk of faith in cosmic Order] (#224).
The overcoming of the duality between subjectivity and objectivity
involves (1) the process of knowing, in which the subjectivity fills itself with
the truth of what is (for it) genuine reality: objectivity and (2) the
process of willing, in which subjectivity brings forth its noble purposes (the good)
upon the contingencies of the external world which are just waiting to be
the cognitive striving of the understanding [the second position of thought] the
external is regarded as material determined by applying the diverse categories
of the mind; but the categories remain external to the objectivity; the
in-itself cannot be known. Understanding does not recognize the activity of the concept
in its (to itself) apparently passive functions of "recognizing" what
is (#226). The understanding
proceeds by analysis, bringing forth and highlighting some abstract universal
predicate (and hence doing the reverse of its announced intention--to take the
concrete just as it is) (#227). Having
generated the abstract universals, the understanding then moves to the activity
of synthesis, in which these universal predicates are organized into
classifications, definitions, and theorems (#228). But this procedure is also deficient by the ideal standards
of knowledge held up by philosophy: first, a complex object is capable of being
given many definitions--why therefore should the particular definition proposed
be used? Second, this method
presupposes objects without showing their necessity: but only philosophy can
show that the organism is a legitimate and necessary category for science (over
against the reductionistic tendencies of biochemical science) or that the state
with its structure of legal necessity is a legitimate theme for science (as
opposed to the reductionistic, skeptical or critical tendencies of theorists who
want to see only raw power relations "behind" political structure)
(#229). The method of
classification aims for divisions that will be complete (include every member of
the set to be classified) and mutually exclusive (such that no member will
belong to more than one classification at a given level).
Moreover, classification is well done when it is based on what really
marks the region in question; "For example, the division of mammals in
zoology is mainly based upon the teeth and the claws, and this makes sense,
because the mammals distinguish themselves from one another through these parts
of their bodies . . . ." Following
the structure of the concept, tri-partite articulations are normal.
The Remark to this section contains one of Hegel's major comments in
philosophy of science. In geometry
the synthetic method is more perfectly adequate than in any other science; that
is the method of elaborating the relations of necessity that obtain among
abstract universals; the theme of geometry is space in abstraction from all
conceptual development--a sensory intuition, as Kant called it. In other sciences, the starting points are presupposed as
given, obvious, taken from elsewhere [for example in economics the initial
notion of scarcity involves a presupposition taken from psychology].
Moreover, the sciences begin along a certain path and then run into the
limits of that path (this happens also in geometry).
At these limits, many-sided Reality challenges the linear conceptions of
the understanding; such a point of invasion is identified as a contradiction by
the understanding; but it is just the moment where reason, the logic of the
whole, is beginning to be effective (#231).
comes a major transition: when mind pursues formal necessity (pertaining to the
understanding, e.g., in formal logic as studied today) and becomes engaged in
the higher necessities of the concept, the requirements are now only internal
requirements, the requirements of mind/thought itself, not the requirements to
be adequate to (correspondent with) something given from outside.
Now thought-determinations are an affair of self-determination . . . and
self-determination is the name of willing.
There is a bit of fuzziness in the transition, acknowledged by Hegel in
two ways: first, in the phrase "passes over"--just the term used in
the doctrine of being to describe the brute, non-self-comprehending conceptual
moves there; and, second, in the Addition which says, "This passage
consists, more precisely, in the fact that the universal in its truth must be
interpreted as subjectivity, as the Concept that is self-moving and active, and
that posits determinations" (#232).
willing, the Idea of the good is, initially, regarded as a merely subjective one
(the second attitude of thinking) which is to be carried out, made valid,
imposed upon a recalcitrant world that is on the one hand null and void because
it is merely a field for transformation by the activity of well-intentioned
purpose and on the other hand an external realm that has its independence from
the subject (#233). Thus, on the one hand, subjective purpose is something merely
accidental to the world which is to be modified by it; on the other hand, the
Idea of the good is what is essential [this is the
"contradiction"--which is vicious when the agent vacillates
uncomprehendingly between despair over the prospects of success or embarrassment
about "imposing" something on another and presumption or imperialism].
The Addition: "Whereas the task of intelligence is simply to take
the world as it is, the will, in contrast, is concerned to make the world
finally into what it ought to be."
The effort to think through the implications of morality also runs into
the "contradictions" of a many-sided reason-reality [regarding the
oscillating attitude of moral self-determination to the inclinations of the
animal-origin nature (with which either domination or unification may be
sought), regarding oscillating attitudes about the contradiction between the
(unknowable?) ideal of duty and duty as I am able imperfectly to grasp it here
and now, regarding oscillating attitudes about the need to posit God as the
guarantor of a final rational harmony that makes morality not absurd--versus the
need to determine duty and carry it out on my own].
The completion of the project of willing--the actualization of the
good--would destroy willing and duty: there would be nothing more to do.
Therefore finite willing requires that the final goal remain (though ever
approached) infinitely remote. Hegel
wants to culminate in a place where finite cognition and finite willing have
pursued their process sufficiently to transcend their own initial notions of
limitation and to find their unity. How
well does he convince us of this result? "The
will knows the purpose as what is its own, and intelligence interprets the world
as the Concept in its actuality." Once the process of purposive activity is realized as the
activation of what is already essentially actual, then the unhappiness of finite
striving is transformed (#234). The
truth of the good is that activity actualizes what the Concept already is, and
that it is the Concept primarily at work, eternally positing itself as purpose
and carrying forth the relevant activity. [To say that it is, first and foremost, the concept at work
is to appeal again to the cunning of reason; it is not designed to make obsolete
talk according to which human individuals are said to engage in activities.
Hegel wants to validate two levels of discourse about agency, and give a
leading emphasis to the level of the agency of the concept while (thereby
especially validating and) preserving the level of singular agency.] (#235)
C. The Absolute Idea
All truth is included in the Absolute Idea (God as the self-generating
process of thought determinations, including in the realms of subjectivity and
objectivity). The unity of theory
and practice (in terms of the unity of "the theoretical and the practical
Idea") and the unity of life and realization ("cognition"--which
cannot be limited to theoretical/scientific/philosophic achievement apart from
value-directed action). At this
level, we are expected to be able to experience thinking not just as "my
own" thinking, but thinking as Thinking (which occurs in me)--the
"mind of God" which, as Aristotle first said, is thinking of thinking.
[Philosophic reflection is thus given the status of God.] [If we want to
think of the Absolute Idea as a set of thought-determinations, we need to add
that each thought-determination contains all the previous ones and that the last
one generates the series.] (#236) Nothing,
logically speaking, is external to this inclusive process of
one rejoices at reaching such a culmination.
One next realizes that, defined thus briefly, it's quite abstract.
Finally, one realizes that the genuine interest and reality in the
Absolute Idea is the very concrete path which the Logic has traversed
(#237). Our method has been to
begin with the most abstract, immediate thought-determination, and then to
proceed analytically (merely unfolding the implications of one thought
determination in order to generate the next one) and synthetically (bringing in
new content, affirmed as identical with the content of the previous
thought-determination) at the same time (#238-39).
"Within Being the abstract form of the progression is an other
and passing-over into an other; within Essence [it is] shining within
what is opposed; in the Concept" the movement achieves the realization
of the identity between the singular and the universal [e.g., individual person
and humanity, individual thinker and (universal, "divine") Thinking,
immediate natural thing/fact and essential scientific
The spheres (the sets of thought-determinations) of Being and of Essence
each develop into each other, and so their conceptual unity never becomes static
(#241). Only at the end is it
obvious that the Absolute Idea, the true beginning, was present, implicit, in
the immediate beginning, mere being (#242).
Dialectical method and conceptual content are one in the Absolute Idea.
Hegel's Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline is a
three part work, of which we have surveyed the first part.
The next part is the philosophy of nature, the demonstration of nature as
a process identical to that which has been described as the abstractly
conceptual process of the network of meanings.
His conclusion is a transition to the philosophy of nature.
But it also expresses the highest ambition of Hegel's philosophy: to
supplant the concept of a Creator with the concept of Mind, come to
self-consciousness in philosophy. Hegel
calls nature the self-externalization of the concept. His claim is not merely that logical relations between
meanings are just as compelling when we are considering examples from the realm
of nature as when we are considering such relations in logical abstraction from
nature and finite spirit. His claim
is that the concept both necessarily and freely (since purpose is for-itself,
subjectivity). What kind of
transition is here? Is the
transition from the Absolute Idea to nature an abrupt transition, such as may be
symbolized by the notion of creation? No.
The relation is more intelligible than that.
Is it a transition in which finite understanding can discern an essence
(think of the Platonic affirmation about the way in which perceptual and lived
affairs reflect eternal ideas, "Time is the moving shadow of
eternity")? No. The
connection is even more intimate than that.
The Absolute Idea releases nature out of itself, and determines itself to
do so. From this perspective, the
need for religious representation has been transcended; the Creator has been
relocated as Mind, the Mind that encompasses its own actualization.