Ilyenkov
DIALECTICAL LOGIC
Part One - From the History of Dialectics

### 5: Hegel – Dialectics as Logic

Hegel’s solution of the problem of the subject matter of logic has played a special role in the history of this science. In order to understand the Hegelian logic it is not enough just to clarify the direct sense of its propositions. It is more important and difficult to consider the real subject matter through the fanciful turns of Hegel’s style. It is about this that we shall now speak, which will also give us a chance to understand Hegel critically, and to restore for ourselves an image of the original from its distorted presentation. Learning to read Hegel in a materialist way, as Lenin read him and advised reading him, means learning to compare his representation of the object critically with the object itself, at every step tracing the divergence between the copy and the original.

It would be an easy task if the reader had the two objects of this comparison - the copy and the original - ready-made before him. The copy exists. But where is the original? We cannot take the existing logical consciousness of the scientist as the original, for this consciousness itself must be tested for its logicality, and itself presupposes a critical analysis of existing logical forms from the standpoint of their correspondence with the real requirements of the development of science. And for an understanding of the real forms and laws of theoretical cognition Hegel’s Science of Logic, despite all its faults associated with idealism, can offer more than the ‘logic of science’.

The true logic of science is not given to us directly; it still has to be dug out and understood, and then converted into a consciously applied instrument for working with concepts, into a logical method of resolving problems that do not admit of solution by traditional logical methods. That being so, critical study of the Science of Logic cannot be reduced to a simple comparison of its propositions with those of the logic by which scientists are consciously guided, accepting it as irreproachable and admitting of no doubts.

So comparing the copy (the science of logic) with the original (with the actual forms and laws of theoretical understanding) proves to be quite a difficult matter. The difficulty is that Hegel’s presentation of the subject matter (in this case thought) has to be compared critically not with a ready-made, previously known prototype of it, but with an object whose outlines are only beginning to be traced out for the first time in the course of a critical surmounting of the idealist constructions. This reconstruction is feasible if the structure of the optics through which Hegel examined the object of his investigation is clearly understood. This distorting lens, while a magnifying one (the system of the fundamental principles of Hegelian logic) enabled him to see exactly, although in an idealistically distorted form, the dialectic of thought, which is the logic that remains invisible to the eye not philosophically equipped, and to simple common sense.

It is important, first of all, to understand clearly what the real object was that Hegel investigated and described in his Science of Logic, so as to find the critical range immediately in regard to his presentation. ‘That the subject matter of logic is thought, with that everyone agrees,’ Hegel stressed in his Shorter Logic. Later, quite naturally, logic as a science received the definition of thinking about thought or thought thinking about itself.

In that definition and the conceptions expressed by it there is still nothing either of the specifically Hegelian or of the specifically idealist. It is simply the traditional ideas of the subject matter of logic as a science, quite clearly and succinctly expressed. In logic the object of scientific comprehension proves to be thought itself, while any other science is thinking about something else. In defining logic as thinking about thought, Hegel quite accurately indicated its sole difference from any other science.

The next question, however, arises from that and requires a no less clear answer. But what is thought? It goes without saying, Hegel replied (and one again has to agree with him), that the sole satisfactory answer can only be an exposition of the heart of the matter, i.e. a concretely developed theory, a science of thought, a ‘science of logic’, and not an ordinary definition. (Compare Engels’ view in Anti-Duhring: ‘Our definition of life is naturally very inadequate.... All definitions are of little value. In order to gain an exhaustive knowledge of what life is, we should have to go through all the forms in which it appears, from the lowest to the highest.’ And later: ‘To science definitions are worthless because always inadequate. The only real definition is the development of the thing itself, but this is no longer a definition.’

In any science, however, and therefore in logic too, one has to mark everything out in advance and outline its contours, if only the most general boundaries of the object of investigation, i.e. to indicate the field of the facts to which the given science must devote its attention. Otherwise the criterion for their selection will be unclear and its role will be tyrannous and arbitrary, taking only those facts into consideration that confirm its generalisations, and ignoring everything else as allegedly having no relation to the matter or to the competence of the science concerned. Hegel gave such a preliminary explanation, not concealing from the reader exactly what he understood by the word ‘thought’.

This is a very important point, and everything else hangs on proper understanding of it. It is no accident that the main objections to Hegel, both justified and unjustified, have hitherto been directed precisely at it. Neopositivists, for example, unanimously reproach Hegel with having inadmissibly broadened the subject matter of logic by his conception of thought, including in the sphere of examination a mass of ‘things’ that one cannot call thought in the usual and strict sense; above all the concepts traditionally referred to metaphysics, and to ‘ontology’, i.e. to the science of things themselves, the system of categories (the universal definitions of reality outside consciousness, outside subjective thinking understood as the psychic capability of man).

If thinking were to be so understood, the Neopositivist reproach must really be considered reasonable. Hegel actually understood as thought something at first glance enigmatic, even mystical, when he spoke of it as taking place outside man and apart from man, independently of his head, and of ‘thought as such’, of ‘pure thought’, and when he considered the object of logic to be precisely that ‘absolute’ superhuman thought. Logic in his definition must be understood even as having a content that ‘shows forth God as he is in his eternal essence before the creation of Nature and of a Finite Spirit’.

Such definitions are capable of confusing and disorienting at the very start. But of course there is no such ‘thought’ as some superhuman force creating nature, and history, and man himself and his consciousness from itself somewhere in the Universe. But is Hegel’s logic then the presentation of a non-existent subject? Of an invented, purely fantastic object? In that case, how are we to rethink his constructions critically? With what, with what real object, must we compare and contrast his strings of theoretical determinations in order to distinguish the truth in them from the fallacy? With the real thinking of man? But Hegel would reply that in his Science of Logic it is a matter of quite another object, and that if empirically observed human thought is not like it, that is no argument against his logic, for criticism of a theory only makes sense when the theory is compared with the same object as it represents, and not with another one; and it is impossible to compare logic with the acts of thinking actually taking place in people’s heads because people think very illogically at every step, even elementarily illogically, let alone according to a logic of a much higher order, of the kind that Hegel had in mind.

When you point out to a logician, therefore, that man’s real thinking does not occur as it is depicted in his theory, he could reasonably reply that it was so much the worse for this thinking and that the theory did not need to be adapted to the empirical but that real thought must be made logical and brought into harmony with logical principles.

For logic as a science, however, a fundamental difficulty arises here. If it were only permissible to compare logical principles with logical thought, did that then not wipe out any possibility whatsoever of checking whether or not they were correct? It is quite understandable that these principles would always be in agreement with thoughts that had previously been made to agree with them. After all, it only meant that logical principles agreed with themselves, with their own embodiment in empirical acts of thought. In that case, a very ticklish situation was created for theory. Logic had in mind only logically immaculate thinking, and logically incorrect thinking was not an argument against its schemas. But it consented to consider only such thinking as logically immaculate as exactly confirmed its own ideas about thought, and evaluated any deviation from its rules as a fact falling outside its subject matter and therefore to be considered solely as a ‘mistake’ needing to be ‘corrected’.

In any other science such a claim would evoke consternation. What kind of a theory was it that consented to take into account only such facts as confirmed it, and did not wish to consider contradictory facts, although there must be millions and billions such? But surely that was exactly the traditional position of logic, which was presented by its devotees as standing to reason, and which made logic absolutely unself-critical on the one hand and incapable of development on the other.

That, incidentally, was where Kant’s illusion originated, the illusion that logic as a theory had long ago acquired a fully closed, completed character and not only was not in need of development of its propositions but could not be by its very nature. Schelling also understood Kant’s logic as an absolutely precise presentation of the principles and rules of thinking in concepts.

Hegel had doubts about the proposition that it was the rules of logic that prevented understanding of the process of the passage of the concept into the object and vice versa, of the subjective into the objective (and in general of opposites into one another). He saw in it not evidence of the organic deficiency of thought but only the limitations of Kant’s ideas about it. Kantian logic was only a limitedly true theory of thought. Real thought, the real subject matter of logic as a science, as a matter of fact was something else; therefore it was necessary to bring the theory of thought into agreement with its real subject matter.

Hegel saw the need for a critical reconsideration of traditional logic primarily in the extreme, glaring discrepancy between the principles and rules that Kant considered absolutely universal forms of thought and the real results that had been achieved by human civilisation in the course of its development. ‘ A comparison of the forms to which Spirit has risen in the worlds of Practice and Religion, and of Science in every department of knowledge Positive and Speculative - a comparison of these with the form which Logic, that is, Spirit’s knowledge of its own pure essence - has attained, shows such a glaring discrepancy that it cannot fail to strike the most superficial observer that the latter is inadequate to the lofty development of the former, and unworthy of it.

Thus the existing logical theories did not correspond to the real practice of thought, and thinking about thought (i.e. logic) consequently lagged behind thinking about everything else, behind the thinking that was realised as the science of the external world, as consciousness fixed in the form of knowledge and things created by the power of knowledge, in the form of the whole organism of civilisation. In functioning as thinking about the world, thought had achieved such success that beside it thinking about thought proved to be something quite incommensurable, wretched, deficient, and poor. To take it on faith that human thought had really been and was guided by the rules, laws, and principles that in the aggregate constituted traditional logic was to make all the progress of science and practice simply inexplicable.

Hence there arose the paradox that the human intellect, which had created modern culture, had come to a standstill in amazement before its own creation. Schelling had also expressed this amazement of the ‘spirit’, and it was just at this point that Hegel began to differ with him.

Hegel considered that the rules by which the ‘spirit’ was actually guided, contrary to the illusions that it had created on its own account (in the person of professional logicians) and had set out in the form of textbooks of logic, could and must be brought out and set forth in the form of a concept, quite rationally, without shifting everything hitherto not comprehended onto ‘intuition’, i.e. onto an ability that was from the very outset something quite different from thought. Hegel’s posing of the matter played a special role because it, for the first time, subjected all the main concepts of logical science, above all the concept of thought, to careful analysis.

At first glance (and people usually proceed from such a ‘first glance’, adopting it absolutely uncritically from everyday usage), thought represented one of man’s subjective psychic abilities along with others like intuition, sensation, memory, will, and so on and so forth. By thinking was also understood a special kind of activity directed, unlike practice, at altering ideas, at reorganising the images that were in the individual’s consciousness, and directly at the verbal shaping of these ideas in speech; ideas, when expressed in speech (words, terms) were called concepts. When man altered real things outside his head, and not ideas, that was no longer considered thinking, but at best only activities in accordance with thought, according to the laws and rules dictated by it.

Thought was thus identified with reflection, i.e. with psychic activity in the course of which a person gave himself an account of what he was doing, and how, and became aware of all the schemas and rules by which he acted. The sole job of logic then proved, quite understandably, to be simply the ordering and classifying of the corresponding schemas and rules. Every individual could discover them for himself in his own consciousness because, even without any study of logic, he was guided by them (only not, perhaps, systematically). As Hegel justly put it, ‘such logic had no other business than could be done through the activity of simple formal thought, and so it certainly produced nothing that one could not otherwise have done just as well’.

Everything we have said also applied fully to Kant, which is why Hegel said that ‘the Kantian philosophy could not have any effect on the treatment of the sciences. It left the categories and methods of ordinary knowledge quite undisturbed’. It only introduced order into the schemas of existing consciousness, only built them into a system (in so doing, true, it came up against the facts of a mutual contradiction between the various schemas). So the Kantian logic appeared as a kind of honest confession of existing consciousness, of its systematically expounded self-consciousness, and nothing more; or rather, of its conceits - an exposition of what existing thought thought of itself. But just as it was a blunder to judge a person according to what and how he thought of himself, so it was impossible to judge thinking by its self-opinion; it was much more useful to examine what it was really doing, and how, possibly even without giving itself a proper evaluation of it.

Having thus posed the problem Hegel proved to be the first professional logician who resolutely and consciously threw aside the old prejudice that thought was presented to the investigator only in the form of speech (external or internal, oral or written). The prejudice was not accidental; thought could only look at itself from the side, as it were, as an object different from itself, only insofar as it had expressed itself, embodied itself in some external form. And the completely conscious thought that all the old logic had in view really assumed language, speech, the word, as its outward form of expression. In other words thought achieved awareness of the schemas of its own activity precisely through and in language. (This circumstance had in fact been recorded in the very name of logic, which is derived from the Greek logos, word.) Not only Hegel and the Hegelians, incidentally, spoke of this, but also some of their opponents in principle, like Trendelenburg, who noted that traditional (formal) ‘logic becomes conscious of itself in speech and so in many respects is a grammar absorbed with itself’.

Let us note in passing that all schools of logic, without exception, having ignored Hegel’s criticism of the old logic have shared this old prejudice to this day as though nothing had happened. It is most outspokenly professed by Neopositivists, who directly identify thought with linguistic activity and logic with the analysis of language. The most striking thing about this is the self-conceit with which they project this archaic prejudice as the latest discovery of twentieth century logical thinking, as the manifestation to the world at long last of the principle of the scientific development of logic, as an axiom of the ‘logic of science’.

Language (speech) is, nevertheless, not the sole empirically observed form in which human thought manifests itself. Does man really not discover himself as a thinking being in his actions, in the course of actually shaping the world around him, in the making of things? Does he really only function as a thinking being when talking? The question is surely purely rhetorical. The thought of which Hegel spoke discloses itself in human affairs every bit as obviously as in words, in chains of terms, in the lacework of word combinations. Furthermore, in real affairs man demonstrates the real modes of his thinking more adequately than in his narrations of them.

But, that being so, man’s actions, and so too the results of his actions, the things created by them, not only could, but must, be considered manifestations of his thought, as acts of the objectifying of his ideas, thoughts, plans, and conscious intentions. Hegel demanded from the very start that thought should be investigated in all the forms in which it was realised, and above all in human affairs, in the creation of things and events. Thought revealed its force and real power not solely in talking but also in the whole grandiose process of creating culture and the whole objective body of civilisation, the whole ‘inorganic body of man’ (Marx), including in that tools and statues, workshops and temples, factories and chancelleries, political organisations and systems of legislation.

It was on that basis that Hegel also acquired the right to consider in logic the objective determinations of things outside consciousness, outside the psyche of the human individual, in all their independence, moreover, from that psyche. There was nothing mystical nor idealist in that; it meant the forms (‘determinations’) of things created by the activity of the thinking individual. In other words, the forms of his thought embodied in natural materials, ‘invested’ in it by human activity. Thus a house appeared as the architect’s conception embodied in stone, a machine as the embodiment of the engineer’s ideas in metal, and so on; and the whole immense objective body of civilisation as thought in its ‘otherness’ (das Idee in der Form des Anderssein), in its sensual objective embodiment. The whole history of humanity was correspondingly also to be considered a process of the ‘outward revelation’ of the power of thought, as a process of the realisation of man’s ideas, concepts, notions, plans, intentions, and purposes, as a process of the embodying of logic, i.e. of the schemas to which men’s purposive activity was subordinated.

The understanding and careful analysis of thought in this aspect (investigation of the ‘active side’ as Marx called it in his first thesis on Feuerbach) was still not idealism. Logic, furthermore, by following such a path, thus took the decisive step toward genuine (‘intelligent’) materialism, toward understanding of the fact that all logical forms without exception were universal forms of the development of reality outside thought, reflected in human consciousness and tested in the course of millennia of practice. In considering thought in the course of its materialisation as well as in its verbal revelation Hegel did not go beyond the bounds of the analysis of thought at all, beyond the limits of the subject matter of logic as a special science. He simply brought into the field of view of logic that real phase of the process of development of thought without understanding which logic could not and never would be able to become a real science.

From Hegel’s standpoint the real basis for the forms and laws of thought proved to be only the aggregate historical process of the intellectual development of humanity understood in its universal and necessary aspects. The subject matter of logic was no longer the abstract identical schemas that could be found in each individual consciousness, and common to each of them, but the history of science and technique collectively created by people, a process quite independent of the will and consciousness of the separate individuals although realised at each of its stages precisely in the conscious activity of individuals. This process, according to Hegel, also included, as a phase, the act of realising thought in object activity, and through activity in the forms of things and events outside consciousness. In that, in Lenin’s words, he ‘came very close to materialism’.

In considering thought as a real productive process expressing itself not only in the movement of words but also in the changing of things, Hegel was able, for the first time in the history of logic, to pose the problem of a special analysis of thought-forms, or the analysis of thought from the aspect of form. Before him such an aim had not arisen in logic, and even could not have. ‘It is hardly surprising that economists, wholly under the influence of material interests, have overlooked the formal side of the relative expression of value, when professional logicians, before Hegel, even overlooked the formal aspect of the propositions and conclusions they used as examples.’

Logicians before Hegel had recorded only the external schemas in which logical actions, judgments and inferences functioned in speech, i.e. as schemas of the joining together of terms signifying general ideas, but the logical form expressed in these figures, i.e. the category, remained outside their sphere of investigation, and the conception of it was simply borrowed from metaphysics and ontology. So it had been even with Kant, despite the fact that he had nevertheless seen categories precisely as the principles of judgments (with objective significance, in his sense).

And since logical form, about which Marx spoke in the first edition of Das Kapital, was understood as a form of activity realised equally well in the movement of verbal terms and in the movement of the things involved in the work of the thinking being, there then for the first time only, arose the possibility of analysing it specially as such, of abstracting it from the special features of its expression in some partial material or other (including those which were linked with the specific features of its realisation in the fabric of language).

In logos, in reason, Sage und Sache, i.e. myth and fact, or rather legend and true story, were equally expressed in the logical aspect (in contrast to the psychological-phenomenological). (Incidentally, play on words, for example, was very characteristic of Hegel, puns however that threw light on the genetic relationship of the ideas expressed by the words. Sage is legend, myth, hence ‘saga’, a legend of high deeds (cf. bylina, the form of Russian epic); Sache is a broad capacious word signifying not so much a single, sensuously perceived thing, as the essence of the matter, situation, the point, the actual state of affairs (or things), i.e. everything that is or was in the matter itself (cf. Russian byl’, meaning a true story, fact, what really happened). This etymology is used in the Science of Logic to express very important shades of meaning, which sound as follows in Lenin’s translation and materialist interpretation: ‘"With this introduction of Content into logical consideration", the subject becomes not Dinge but die Sache, der Begriff der Dinge [i.e. not things, but the essence, the concept of things], not things but the laws of their movement, materialistically."

Considered as the activity of the thinking being in its universal form, thought was also fixed in those of its schemas and moments as remained invariant in whatever special material the relevant activity was performed and whatever product it put out at any one instant. In the Hegelian view it was quite irrelevant how, precisely, the action of thinking took place or takes place, whether in articulated vibrations of the ambient air and their identifying signs or in some other natural, physical substance. ‘In all human contemplation there is thought, just as thought is the general in all conceptions, recollections, and on the whole any mental activity, in all wishes, desires, etc. All these are only further specifications of thought. While we so conceive thought, it itself appears in another aspect than when we only speak; we have intellectual power over and above any other abilities, like contemplation, imagination, will and the like.

All the universal schemas being depicted in the activity of the thinking being, including that directed toward immediately intuited or represented material, must therefore be considered not less as logical parameters of thought than the schemas of its expression in language, or in the form of the figures known in the old logic. Thought in the broadest sense of the word, as activity altering images of the external world in general expressed in words (and not the words in themselves), the thought that really ‘effects everything human and makes humanity human’, as a capacity that creates knowledge in any forms, including that of the contemplated images, and ‘penetrates’ into them, and hence not simply the subjective, psychic act of using or treating words, was the subject matter of logic, the science of thought.

Thought, in fact, included the human ‘determination of sensation, intuition, images, ideas, aims, obligations, etc., and also thoughts and concepts’ (‘thoughts and concepts’ here have the meaning of the old, purely formal logic). Thought in general thus ‘appears at first not in the form of thought but as feeling, intuition, imagination - forms that are to be distinguished from thought as form’. The thought-form as such appears to us only in the course of thinking about thought itself, i.e. only in logic.

But before man began to think about thought, he had already to think, though still not realising the logical schemas and categories within which this thinking took place, but already embodying them in the form of the concrete statements and concepts of science, engineering, morals, and so on. Thought was thus realised at first as activity in all the diversity of its outward manifestations. The thought-form here was ‘sunk’ into the material of concrete thoughts, sense images, and ideas, was ‘sublated’ in them, and was therefore counterposed to conscious thinking as the form of external reality. In other words, thought and the thought-form did not appear at first to the thinking being as forms of his own activity at all (of his ‘self’ - das Selbst), creating a certain product, but as forms of the product itself, i.e. of concrete knowledge, images and concepts, intuition and representation, as the forms of tools, machines, states, etc., etc., and as the forms of realised aims, wishes, desires, and so on.

Thought could not ‘see’ itself otherwise than in the mirror of its own creations, in the mirror of the external world, which we knew through thought-activity. Thought, as it appeared in logic, was thus the same thought as had been realised in the form of knowledge of the world, in the form of science, engineering, art, and morality. But it was far from the same thing in form, because ‘there is a difference between having sensations and ideas, determined and penetrated by thought, and having thoughts about them’.

Neglect of this very important distinction led the old logic into a dual error. On the one hand it only defined thought as ‘a subjective, psychic capability of the individual’ and therefore counterposed to thought so understood the whole sphere of ‘intuition, ideas, and will’ as something existing outside thought and having nothing in common with it, as the object of reflection existing outside thought. On the other hand, in not distinguishing in form between the relative strength of the two revelations of thought mentioned above, it could also not say how the thought-form as such (‘in and for itself’) was differentiated from the form of intuition and representation, in the shape of which it had originally appeared and was hidden, and consequently confused the one with the other, taking the form of the concept for the form of intuition, and vice versa.

Hence, too, it came about that, under the form of concept, the old logic considered every kind of idea or notion whatsoever, insofar as it was expressed in speech or in a term, that is to say, the image of intuition or contemplation held in consciousness by means of speech, which recorded it. As a result, too, the old logic embraced the concept itself only from the aspect from which it was really not distinguished in any way from any notion or intuitive image expressed in speech, from the aspect of the abstract and general, which was really just as common to the concept as to the notion. Thus it came about that it took the form of abstract identity or abstract universality for the specific form of the concept, and could therefore only raise the law of identity and the principle of contradiction in determinations to the rank of absolute, fundamental criteria of the thought-form in general.

Kant also took that stand, understanding by concept any general notion insofar as it was fixed by a term. Hence his definition: ‘The concept is... a general image or representation of that which is common to many objects, consequently a general idea, provided that it can be included in several objects.’

Hegel himself required a more profound solution of the problem of the concept and of thinking in concepts from logic. For him a concept was primarily a synonym for real understanding of the essence of the matter and not simply an expression of something general, of some identity of the objects of intuition. A concept disclosed the real nature of a thing and not its similarity with other things; and not only should it express the abstract generality of its object (that was only one of the moments of a concept, relating it to notion), but also the special nature or peculiarity of the object. That was why the form of the concept proved to be a dialectical unity of universality and particularity, a unity that was also revealed through manifold forms of judgment and inference, and came out into the open in judgments. It was not surprising that any judgment destroyed the form of abstract identity and represented its self-evident negation. Its form was: A is B (i.e. not-A).

Hegel distinguished clearly between universality, which dialectically contained the whole richness of the particular and the singular within itself and in its determinations, and the simple abstract generality, identicalness, of all the single objects of a given kind. The universal concept expressed itself the actual law of the origin, development, and fading or disappearance of single things. And that was already quite another angle on the concept, much truer and deeper, because, as Hegel demonstrated with a mass of examples, the real law (the immanent nature of the single thing) did not always appear on the surface of phenomena in the form of a simple identicalness, of a common sign or attribute, or in the form of identity. If that were so there would be no need for any theoretical science. The job of thought was not limited to empirically registering common attributes. The central concept of Hegel’s logic was therefore the concrete-universal: he brilliantly illustrated its distinction from the simple, abstract universality of the sphere of notions in his famous pamphlet Wer denkt abstrakt? (Who thinks abstractly?). To think abstractly meant to be enslaved by the force of current catchphrases and clichés, of one-sided, empty definitions; meant to see in real, sensuously intuited things only an insignificant part of their real content, only such determinations of them as were already ‘jelled’ in consciousness and functioned there as ready-made stereotypes. Hence the ‘magic force’ of current catchphrases and expressions, which fence reality off from the thinking person instead of serving as the form of its expression.

In this last interpretation logic finally became a real logic of understanding of unity in variety, and not a scheme for manipulating readymade ideas and notions; a logic of critical and self-critical thought and not a means of the uncritical classification and pedantic, schematic presentation of existing ideas.

From premises of that kind Hegel concluded that real thought in fact took other forms and was governed by other laws than those that current logic considered the sole determinations of thinking. Thought had obviously to be investigated as collective, co-operative activity in the course of which the individual, with his schemas of conscious thinking, performed only partial functions. In fulfilling them, however, he was constantly forced at the same time to perform actions that would not fit in, in any way, with the schemas of ordinary logic. In really taking part in common work he was all the time subordinating himself to the laws and forms of universal thought, though not conscious of them as such. Hence the ‘topsy-turvy’ situation arose in which the real forms and laws of thought were expressed and understood as some kind of external necessity, as an extra-logical determination of the action; and on the sole ground that they were still not revealed and realised by logic, not acknowledged as logical interpretations.

As can easily be seen, Hegel criticised traditional logic, and the thinking appropriate to it, by the same ‘immanent procedure’ that was one of his main conquests, namely, he counterposed to the assertions, rules, and basic propositions of logic not some kind of opposing assertions, rules and basic propositions but the process of the practical realisation of its own principles in real thought. He showed it its own image, pointing out those of its features that it preferred not to notice and not to recognise. Hegel required only one thing of thinking in accordance with logic, namely uncompromising consistency in applying the principles adduced. And he showed that it was the consistent application of these principles (and not departure from them) that in fact led inevitably, with inexorable force, to negation of the principles themselves as one-sided, incomplete, and abstract.

That was the very critique of reason, from the standpoint of reason itself, that Kant had begun; and this critique (self-criticism) of reason and its circumscribing logic led to the conclusion that ‘the nature of thought is itself dialectics, that as understanding it must fall into the negative of itself, into contradiction. . .’. Kant had actually reached a similar conclusion; and whereas before him logic could be unself-critical out of ignorance, now it could maintain its precarious position only if it quite consciously rejected facts unacceptable to it, only by becoming consciously unself-critical.

The historically unavoidable defect of Kantian logic was that it pedantically schematised and described a mode of thought that led to a bringing out and sharp formulation of the contradictions contained in any concept but did not show how they could and should be resolved logically without shifting this difficult task onto ‘practical reason’, onto ‘moral postulates’, and other factors and abilities lying outside logic. Hegel, however, saw the main job facing logic after the work of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling, as precisely in finding, bringing out, and indicating to thought, the means of intelligently and concretely resolving the contradictions into which it inevitably fell when consciously guided by the traditional, purely formal logic. That, too, was the real distinction between Hegel’s conception of thought and logic and all preceding ones.

Hegel also suggested that a contradiction should be resolved as well as disclosed, and resolved by the same logical thinking as had brought it out when a definite concept was being developed.

He treated both the origin and the mode of resolution of logical contradictions differently. Like Kant he understood that they did not arise at all through the negligence or carelessness of individual thinking persons but unlike Kant he understood that they could and must be resolved and must not always be preserved as antinomies. But so that it could resolve them thought must fix them sharply and clearly in advance, precisely as antinomies, as logical contradictions, as real, and not imaginary, contradictions in determinations.

Dialectics, according to Hegel, was the form (or method or schema) of thought that included the process both of elucidating contradictions and of concretely resolving them in the corpus of a higher and more profound stage of rational understanding of the same object, on the way toward further investigation of the essence of the matter, i.e. in the course of developing science, engineering, and ‘morality’, and all the spheres he called the ‘objective spirit’.

This conception immediately brought about constructive shifts in the whole system of logic. Whereas Kant’s ‘dialectic’ was only the final, third part of logic (the doctrine on the forms of understanding and reason), where it was a matter actually of the statement of the logically unresolvable antinomies of theoretical cognition, with Hegel it appeared quite another matter. With him the sphere of the logical was divided into three main sections or aspects, i.e. three main directions were distinguished in it, as follows:

1. the abstract or rational;

2. the dialectical or negatively reasonable;

3. the speculative or positively reasonable.

In the empirical history of thought (as in any given, historically achieved state of it) these three aspects appeared either as three consecutive ‘formations’ or as three different but closely related systems of logic. Hence we got the illusion that they could be depicted as three different sections (or ‘parts’) of logic, following one after the other.

Logic as a whole, however, could not be obtained by a simple uniting of these three aspects, each of which was taken in the form in which it had been developed in the history of thought. That called for critical treatment of all three aspects from the standpoint of higher principles, those historically last achieved. Hegel characterised the three ‘moments’ of logical thought that should constitute Logic as follows.

1. ‘Thought as understanding remains stuck in firm determination and does not get beyond differentiation of the latter; such a limited abstraction applies to it as existing and being for itself.’ The separate (isolated) historical embodiment of this ‘moment’ in thought appeared as dogmatism, and its logical, theoretical self-awareness as ‘general‘, i.e. purely formal logic.

2. ‘The dialectical moment is the own self-abolition of such ultimate determinations and their transition into their opposites.’ Historically this moment appears as scepticism, i.e. as the state in which thought, feeling bewildered among opposing, equally ‘logical’ and mutually provoking dogmatic systems, is powerless to choose and prefer one of them. Logical self-awareness, corresponding to the stage of scepticism, was distinguished in the Kantian conception of dialectics as a state of the insolubility of the antinomies between dogmatic systems. Scepticism (Kant’s type of ‘negative dialectic’) was higher than dogmatism both historically and in content because the dialectic included in reason or understanding was already realised, and existed not only ‘in itself’ but ‘for itself’.

3. ‘The speculative or positively reasonable conceives the unity of determinations in their opposition, the affirmation that is contained in their resolution and their transition.’ Hegel also saw systematic treatment of this last ‘moment’ (and correspondingly critical rethinking of the first two from the angle of the third) as the historically pressing task in logic, and therefore his own mission and the aim of his work.

When critically rethought in the light of the principles only now elicited, the ‘moments’ considered ceased to be independent parts of logic and were transformed into three abstract aspects of one and the same logical system. Then a logic was created such that, when thinking was guided by it, thought became fully self-critical and was in no danger of falling into either the dullness of dogmatism or into the sterility of sceptical neutrality.

Hence, too, there followed the external, formal division of logic into (1) the doctrine of being,(2) the doctrine of essence, and (3) the doctrine of the notion (concept, idea).

The division of logic into the objective (the first two sections) and the subjective coincided at first glance with the old division of philosophy into ontology and logic proper; but Hegel stressed that such a division would be very inexact and arbitrary because, in logic, the opposition between the subjective and the objective (in their ordinary meaning) disappeared.

His position on this question calls besides for a thorough commentary since superficial criticism of his conception of logic and its subject matter has so far been primarily that his position ignored the opposition (contrast) between the subjective and the objective (between thinking and being) and therefore casuistically produced specifically logical schemas of thought for the ontological determination of things outside thought and, on the contrary, universal definitions of the reality outside thought for schemas of the logical process, thus committing two sins: (a) hypostatising logical forms, and (b) logicalising reality.

If the original sin of Hegelianism had really been a simple, naive blindness in relation to the contrast between thought and reality, between the concept and its object, then Kant’s dualism would have been the apex of philosophical wisdom. In fact, however, Hegel’s ‘error’ was not so simple, and was not in the least characterised by the evaluation cited above. Hegel saw the difference and, what is more important, the contradiction (opposition) between the world of things outside consciousness and the world of thought (the world in thought, in science, in concepts), and was much more acutely aware of it than his naive critics among the Kantians; and in any case he ascribed much greater significance for logic to this opposition than, say, positivists do (who, especially in a logic, directly identify the concept and the object of the concept).

The point is quite another one; and another understanding of it follows from the specifically Hegelian conception of thought, and thus also from Hegel’s solution of the problem of the relation of thought and the world of things.

That is why, when Hegel formulated a programme for the critical transformation of logic as a science, he posed the task of bringing it (i.e. thought’s awareness of the universal schemas of its own work) into correspondence with its real object, i.e. with real thought, with its real universal forms and laws.

The last-named do not exist in thought simply or even so much as schemas and rules of conscious thinking, but rather as universal schemas of objective thinking that are realised not so much as a subjective psychic act as the productive process that created science, technique and morality.

In defending the objectivity of logical forms so understood, Hegel of course was right in many respects; and his critique of the subjective idealist interpretation of the logical (Hume, Kant, Fichte) is topical in the struggle against many of their present-day successors, in particular Neopositivists. As social formations science and technique (‘the materialised power of knowledge’ as Marx defined it) exist and develop of course outside the individual’s consciousness. But, according to Hegel, there was no other consciousness than that of the individual, never had been, and never would be; and the logical forms of development of science and technique really stood in opposition to the consciousness and will of the individual as quite objective limits to his individually performed actions, even as limits dictated to him from outside.

‘According to these determinations, thoughts can be called objective, and they can also be taken to include the forms that are considered for the present in ordinary logic and are looked upon only as forms of conscious thought. Logic here coincides with Metaphysics, with the science of things conceived in thought...’

In this conception of the objectivity of thought-forms there was as yet, of course, no facet of the specifically Hegelian, i.e. objective, idealism. One cannot reproach Hegel with having allegedly extended the boundaries of the subject matter of logic impermissibly so that it began to embrace not only thought but things. Hegel (and Kant, too) did not in general speak just about things as such; he had in mind exclusively things comprehended in thoughts. It was in that sense that he asserted that ‘in logic thoughts are so conceived that they have no other content than that belonging to the thought itself and produced through it’. In other words logic had in mind not things but those of their determinations as were posited by the action of thought, i.e. scientific determinations.

Thus, what Hegel affirmed within the limits of consideration of pure thought was much more rigorous and consistent than the logic before him; and he justly reproached it precisely for not having been able to confine itself rigorously within the bounds of its own subject matter, and for having imported into it material not assimilated by thought and not reproduced by thought-activity.

His requirement of including all the categories (the subject matter of the old metaphysics and ontology) in logic in no way meant going beyond the limits of thought. It was equivalent to a demand for a critical analysis to be made of the thought-activity that had engendered the determinations of the old metaphysics, and for those thought-forms to be brought out that both logic and metaphysics had applied quite uncritically and unconsciously, without clearly realising what they consisted of. Hegel had no doubt that ‘thought-forms must not be used without having been subjected to investigation’ and that ‘we must make the thought-forms themselves the object of cognition’. But such an investigation was already thought, and the activity taking place in those very forms was the act of applying them. If we looked on logic as investigation (cognition) of thought-forms, he wrote, this investigation ‘must also unite the activity of thought-forms and their critique in cognition. The thought-forms must be taken in and for themselves; they are the object and the activity of the object itself; they themselves inquire into themselves, must determine their limits and demonstrate their defects themselves. That will then be that activity of thought that will soon be given separate consideration as dialectics. . .

The subject matter of logic then proved to be those really universal forms and patterns within which the collective consciousness of humanity was realised. The course of its development, empirically realised as the history of science and technique, was also seen as that ‘whole’ to the interests of which all the individual’s separate logical acts were subordinated.

And inasmuch as the individual was involved in the common cause, in the work of universal thought, he was continually forced to perform actions dictated ‘by the interests of the whole’ and not confined to the schemas of ‘general’ logic. He would naturally not realise his actions in logical concepts, although these acts were performed by his own thinking. The schemas (forms and laws) of universal thought would be realised unconsciously through his psyche. (Not ‘unconsciously’ in general, but without logical consciousness of them, without their expression in logical concepts and categories.)

In this connection Hegel introduced one of his most important distinctions between thought ‘in itself’ (an sich), which also constituted the subject matter, the object of investigation, in logic, and thought ‘for itself’ (für sich selbst), i.e. thought that had already become aware of the schemas, principles, forms, and laws of its own work and had already worked quite consciously in accordance with them, fully and clearly realising what it was doing, and how it was doing it. Logic was also consciousness, the expression through concepts and categories of those laws and forms in accordance with which the process of thinking ‘in itself’ (an sich) took place. In logic it also became the object for itself .

In logic thought had consequently to become the same ‘for itself’ as it had earlier been only ‘in itself’.

Hegel therefore also formulated the task of bringing logic into line with its real subject matter, with real thought, with the really universal forms and laws of development of science, technique, and morality.

In other words he wanted to make the subjective consciousness of thought about itself identical with its object, with the real universal and necessary (objective) forms and laws of universal (and not individual) thought. That also meant that the principle of the identity of the subjective and the objective must be introduced into logic as the highest principle, i.e. the principle that the real forms and laws of thought must be delineated in logic exactly, adequately, and correctly. The principle of the identity of subject and object signified nothing more, and did not signify any ‘hypostatisation’ of the forms of subjective thought, because one and the same thought was both object and subject in logic, and it was a matter of the agreement, coincidence, and identity of this thought (as consciously performed activity) with itself as unconsciously performed productive activity, or as activity hitherto taking place with a false consciousness of its own actions.

In defending the objectivity of logical forms Hegel of course stood head and shoulders above (and closer to materialism) than all those who up to the present have reproached him with having ‘hypostatised’ logical forms in order to defend their version of the identity of thought and object as a purely conventional principle, as the principle of the identity of sign and thing designated, of the concept and that which is thought in it. Hegel was 100 per cent right in his critique of the subjective idealist version of the logical and of its objectivity (as merely the agreement of all thinking individuals, as merely the identity - read equality of all the schemas by which each Ego taken separately operated). His critique not only hit at Kant, Fichte, and Schelling, but also strikes all today’s Neopositivists.

(Marx, incidentally, also defined the categories of political economy as ‘objective thought-forms’: ‘They are the socially valid, and therefore objective thought-forms....’)

Thus the statement that there was no difference for logic between the subjective and the objective did not mean anything else on Hegel’s lips than an affirmation that logic must consider, within itself, within its own theory, and link together in one system, literally all the logical schemas of thought activity, beginning with the categories and finishing up with the figures of judgments and conclusions. And within it there must be room both for those schemas that prior to Kant were considered simply determinations of things outside consciousness and for those that were usually considered to be ‘specific’ to consciousness and had allegedly no relation to things outside the mind.

Hegel did not dream of repudiating the differences between the categorial schemas given in the determinations of categories and the figures of formal logic, of course; but he did require them to be explained and disclosed within logic itself and not to be presumed in advance, uncritically borrowed from the old metaphysic and its corresponding logic. He required the one and the other to be included in logic in critically rethought form.

‘The relation of such forms as concept, judgment, and conclusion to other forms like causality, etc., can only be discovered within logic itself.’

Hegel thus did not include the determinations of things as they existed outside the mind or in everyday consciousness in logic at all, but solely those determinations that appeared to the mind in science, and in theoretical consciousness, that were ‘posited’ or formulated by thought itself. And since science was the realised force (faculty) of thought, materialised mental, theoretical labour, he also saw primarily ‘objectified’ determinations of thought in the determinations of things.

The requirement of including all categories in logic was therefore equivalent to requiring a critical analysis to be made of those activities of thought that were materialised or objectified in the concepts of the old metaphysic, and to requiring disclosure of the logic of thought that was earlier realised in the form of various schemas of the universe, and so to requiring a critical understanding of all the categories that the old logic had taken over quite uncritically from ontological systems.

Hegel thus did not go outside the framework of the subject matter of logic at all but only beyond the limits of the notions of earlier logicians about these limits. While remaining within the boundaries of the investigation of thought, and only of thought, he nevertheless saw more within those boundaries than previous logicians, and saw those logical (universal) schemas of developing thought that the old logic had not considered universal at all and had therefore not included in the theory. Logic thus proved to be pinned to discovery and investigation of the objective laws governing the subjective activity of individuals, and those forms in which, whether or not the individuals so wished it, or whether or not they realised it, they were forced, insofar in general as they thought, to express the results of their subjective efforts.

That is in what Hegel saw the true difference between the real laws of thought and the rules that the old logic had promoted to the rank of laws. Man can break rules, unlike laws, and does so at every step, thus demonstrating that they are not laws. Because laws cannot be broken, they constitute the determinateness of the object, which cannot be omitted without the object itself, in this case thought, ceasing to exist.

And if man thinks, then his activities are subordinated to law and cannot overstep its bounds, although he may at the same time break the rules in the most flagrant way. A law can be ‘broken’ in one way only, by ceasing to think, i.e. by escaping from the realm that is governed by the laws of thought and where they operate as inexorably as the law of gravitation in the world of spatially determined bodies. But for man such a ‘way out’ is equivalent to overstepping the bounds of human existence in general.

Hegel also showed that the real development of determinations, i.e. the real forward movement of thought, even in the simplest cases, not to mention the process of development of science, technique, and morality, took place precisely through breach (or removal) of all the rules that had been established for thought by the old logic, through their dialectical negation. But the constant negation of the rules established by conscious thought for itself got out of control, was not aware of itself, and proved to be a fact outside thought, although it took place within the latter. Thought had this fact ‘in itself’ but not ‘for itself’.

But as soon as this fact was recognised as a universal and necessary logical thought-form, it was also transformed into a fact of consciousness, a fact of conscious thought, and the latter became consciously dialectical. Previously it had only been so ‘in itself’, i.e. despite its own consciousness of itself. But now it became ‘for itself’ precisely what it had previously been only ‘in itself’.

The subject matter of logic consequently could not merely be the forms that had already been realised or apprehended, and had already been included in existing consciousness (in textbooks of logic and metaphysics). It was impossible to grasp them ready-made, or to classify them. They had to be brought out in the very course of reasoning about them, in the course of actual thinking about thought.

And when Kant considered the forms of thought as some ready-made object, already depicted (realised, comprehended), his logic represented only an uncritical classification of existing notions about thought.

But if logic was to be a science, it must be a critical, systematic investigation that did not accept a single determination on faith, and unproved by thought, i.e. without being reproduced by it quite consciously. In this investigation criticism of the thought-forms known to cultivated thinking was only possible and thinkable as self-criticism. The schemas, rules, forms, principles, and laws of this thought were here subjected to criticism not by comparing them with some object lying outside them, but solely by bringing out the dialectic they included in themselves and which was discovered immediately as soon as we began in general to think, rigorously and fully realising what we were doing and how we were doing it.

In that way, too, the very identity of the forms of cultivated thought with the forms of the unconsciously performed actions of the intellect must be carried out, actions to which thought had had to submit during the historical process of its realisation in the form of science, technique, art and morality. Logic was nothing else (or rather should be nothing else) than the proper apprehension of those forms and laws within which the real thinking of people took place. The identity of thought and the conceivable, as the principle of the logical development and construction of logic, signified nothing more.

It was merely a matter of this, that the schemas of cultivated thought (i.e. of the processes taking place in the consciousness of the individual) should coincide with those of the structure of the science in the movement of which the individual was involved, i.e. with the ‘logic’ dictated by its content. If the schema of the activity of a theoretician coincided with that of the development of his science, and the science was thus developed through his activity, Hegel would attest the logicality of his activity, i.e. the identity of his thinking with that impersonal, universal process which we also call the development of science. Logic recognised the activities of such a theoretician as logical also when they were even formally not quite irreproachable from the standpoint of the canons of the old logic.

Hegel therefore began to consider all the categories (of quality, quantity, measure, causality, probability, necessity, the general and the particular, and so on and so forth) in quite a new way. For him they were not at all the most general determinations of the things given in intuition or contemplation or in direct experience to each individual, not transcendental schemas of synthesis directly inherent (i.e. inborn) in each individual consciousness (as Kant, Fichte, and Schelling had in fact treated them). It was impossible to discover these thought-forms in the separate consciousness taken in isolation, within the individual Ego. They were there at best only ‘in themselves’, only in the form of unrealised tendencies and so not brought to awareness. Categories were only discovered and demonstrated their determinations through the historically developing scientific, technical, and moral ‘perfecting’ of the human race, because only in it, and not in the experience of the isolated individual, did thought become ‘for itself’ what it had been ‘in itself’.

Categories themselves, in the individual’s own experience (were revealed in action, in processing of the data of perception) not in the whole fullness and dialectical complexity of their composition and connections but only in abstract, one-sided aspects. It was therefore impossible to derive them from analysis of the experience of the isolated individual. They were only discovered through the very complex process of the interaction of a mass of single minds mutually correcting each other in discussion, debate, and confrontations, i.e. through a frankly dialectical process that, like a huge centrifuge, ultimately separated the purely objective schemas of thought from the purely subjective (in the sense of individual, arbitrary) schemas of activity, and as a result crystallised out logic, a system of determinations of purely universal, impersonal, and featureless thought in general.

Categories were therefore also universal forms of the origin of any object in thought, gradually depicted in the aggregate scientific consciousness of humanity. They were universal determinations of the object as and how it appeared in the eyes of science, in the ether of ‘universal thought’. Hegel consented to call determinations of things only those determinations that had been developed by science, by active thought. They were, therefore, none other than thought-forms realised in concrete material, determinations of thought embodied in the object, i e. in the scientific concept of the external thing. Hegel, therefore, and only therefore, also spoke of the identity of thought and object and defined the object as a concept realised in sensuous, physical material.

The determinations of categories, naturally, could also function as determinations of things in the contemplation (experience) of the individual; not of every individual, however, but only of those who in the course of their education had mastered the historical experience of humanity, and ‘reproduced’ in their individual consciousness the path taken by human thought (of course, only in its main, decisive features and schemas). Categories were the forms of organisation of this experience (described by Hegel in his Phenomenology of Mind ).

Categories were thus universal forms of the reconstruction, reproduction, in the consciousness of the individual of those objects that had been created before him by the collective efforts of past generations of thinking beings, by the power of their collective, impersonal thought. In individually repeating the experience of humanity, which had created the world of spiritual and material culture surrounding him from the cradle, this individual also repeated that which had been done before him and for him by the ‘universal spirit’, and so acted according to the same laws and in the same forms as the impersonal ‘universal spirit’ of humanity. That means that categories appeared at once as universal schemas of the scientific formation of the individual consciousness, rising gradually from the zero level of its erudition to the highest stages of spiritual culture at the given moment, and as schemas of the individual mastery (reproduction) of the whole world of images created by the thought of preceding generations and standing opposed to the individual as a quite objective world of spiritual and material culture, the world of the concepts of science, technique and morality.

This world was the materialised thought of humanity, realised in the product, was alienated thought in general; and the individual had to de-objectify, and arrogate to himself, the modes of activity that were realised in it, and it was in that the process if his/her education properly consisted. In the trained mind categories actually functioned as active forms of a concept. When the individual had them in his/her experience, and made them forms of his/her own activity, he/she also possessed them, and knew and realised them, as thought-forms. Otherwise they remained only general forms of the things given in contemplation and representation, and counterposed to thought as a reality existing outside it and independently of it.

With this was linked the naive fetishism that directly accepted the available concepts and notions of science about things, the norms of morals and justice, the forms of the state and political system and the similar products of the thinking of people who had objectified their own conscious activity in them, for purely objective determinations of things in themselves. It accepted them as such only because it did not know that they had not been created without the involvement of thought, and did not know how, moreover, they were produced by thought. It could not reproduce or repeat the process of thought that had brought them into being and therefore, naturally, considered them eternal and unalterable determinations of things in themselves, and the expression of their essence. It believed quite uncritically, on trust, everything that it was told about these things in the name of science, the state and God. It believed not only that these things appeared so today in the eyes of the thinking person but also that they were really so.

Hegel’s conception of thought (in the context of logic) thus of necessity also included the process of the ‘objectification of thought’ (VVergegenständlichung oder Entäusserung des Denkens), i.e. its sense-object, practical realisation through action, in sensuous-physical material, in the world of sensuously contemplated (intuited) things. Practice, the process of activity on sense objects that altered things in accordance with a concept, in accordance with plans matured in the womb of subjective thought, began to be considered here as just as important a level in the development of thought and understanding, as the subjective-mental act of reasoning (according to the rules) expressed in speech.

Hegel thus directly introduced practice into logic, and made a fundamental advance in the understanding of thought and in the science of thought.

Since thought outwardly expressed itself (sich entäussert, sich entfremdet, i.e. ‘alienates itself’, ‘makes itself something outside itself’) not only in the form of speech but also in real actions and in people’s deeds, it could be judged much better ‘by its fruits’ than by the notions that it created about itself. Thought, therefore, that was realised in people’s actual actions also proved to be the true criterion of the correctness of those subjective-mental acts that were outwardly expressed only in words, in speeches, and in books.