Hegel’s Science of Logic

Highlighted text is Lenin's underlining. The ® accesses Lenin's annotations.

The Doctrine of the Notion
The Idea of the Good

§ 1765

The Notion, which is its own subject matter, being determined in and for itself, the subject is determined for itself as an individual. As subjective it again presupposes an implicit otherness; it is the urge to realise itself, the end that wills by means of itself to give itself objectivity and to realise itself in the objective world. ®

In the theoretical Idea the subjective Notion, as the universal that lacks any determination of its own, stands opposed to the objective world from which it takes to itself a determinate content and filling. But in the practical Idea it is as actual that it confronts the actual; but the certainty of itself which the subject possesses in being determinate in and for itself is a certainty of its own actuality and the non-actuality of the world®; it is not only the world's otherness as an abstract universality that is a nullity for the subject, but the world's individuality and the determination of its individuality. The subject has here vindicated objectivity for itself; its immanent determinateness is the objective, for it is the universality that is just as much absolutely determined; the formerly objective world, on the contrary, is now only something posited, something immediately determined in various ways, but because it is only immediately determined, the unity of the Notion is lacking in it and it is, by itself, a nullity.

§ 1766

This determinateness contained in the Notion and in the likeness of the Notion, and including within it the demand for an individual external actuality, is the good. It comes upon the scene with the worth of being absolute, because it is within itself the totality of the Notion, the objective that is at the same time in the form of free unity and subjectivity.®

This Idea is superior to the Idea of cognition already considered, for it possesses not only the worth of the universal but also of the out-and-out actual. ® It is an urge in so far as this actuality is still subjective, positing its own self and not having at the same time the form of immediate presupposition; its urge to realise itself is, strictly speaking, not to give itself objectivity this it possesses within itself but merely this empty form of immediacy. Hence the activity of the end is not directed against itself in order to adopt and appropriate a given determination and by sublating the determinateness of the external world to give itself reality in the form of external actuality. ® The Idea of the will as explicitly self-determining possesses the content within itself. Now it is true that this is a determinate content and to that extent something finite and limited; self-determination is essentially particularisation, since the reflection of the will into itself as a negative unity in general is also individuality in the sense of the exclusion and presupposition of an other. Nevertheless, the particularity of the content is in the first instance infinite through the form of the Notion, whose own determinateness it is; and in this content the Notion possesses its negative self-identity, and therefore not merely a particular, but its own infinite individuality. Consequently, the above-mentioned finitude of the content in the practical Idea is tantamount to the latter being in the first instance the not yet realised Idea; the Notion is, for the content, something that is in and for itself; it is here the Idea in the form of objectivity that is for itself; on the one hand, the subjective is for this reason no longer something merely posited, arbitrary or contingent, but an absolute; but on the other hand, this form of concrete existence, being-for-self, has not yet the form of the in-itself as well. What thus appears in respect of form as such, as opposition, appears in the form of the Notion reflected into simple identity, that is, appears in the content as its simple determinateness; thus the good, although valid in and for itself, is some particular end, but an end that has not to wait to receive its truth through its realisation, but is already on its own account the true.

§ 1767

The syllogism of immediate realisation itself requires no detailed exposition here; it is altogether the same as the syllogism of external purposiveness considered above; it is only the content that constitutes the difference. In external as in formal purposiveness, it was an indeterminate finite content in general; here, though it is finite too, it is as such at the same time as absolutely valid content. But in regard to the conclusion, to the realised end, a further difference comes in. The finite end in its realisation, all the same, gets no further than a means; since in its beginning it is not an end already determined in and for itself, it remains even when realised an end that is not in and for itself. If the good again is also fixed as something finite, if it is essentially such, then notwithstanding its inner infinitude it cannot escape the destiny of finitude a destiny that manifests itself in a number of forms. The realised good is good by virtue of what it already is in the subjective end, in its Idea; realisation gives it an external existence; but since his existence is determined merely as an intrinsically worthless externality, in it the good has only attained a contingent, destructible existence, not a realisation corresponding to its Idea. Further, since in respect of its content the good is restricted, there are several kinds of good; good in its concrete existence is not only subject to destruction by external contingency and by evil, but by the collision and conflict of the good itself. From the side of the objective world presupposed for it, in the presupposition of which the subjectivity and finitude of the good consists, and which as a different world goes its own way, the very realisation of the good is exposed to obstacles, obstacles which may indeed even be insurmountable. ®

§ 1768

In this way, the good remains an ought-to-be; it is in and for itself, but being, as the ultimate abstract immediacy, remains also confronting is in the form of a not-being.

§ 1769

The Idea of the realised good is, it is true, an absolute postulate, but it is no more than a postulate, that is, the absolute afflicted with the determinateness of subjectivity. There are still two worlds in opposition, one a realm of subjectivity in the pure regions of transparent thought, the other a realm of objectivity in the element of an externally manifold actuality that is an undisclosed realm of darkness. The complete elaboration of the unresolved contradiction between that absolute end and the limitation of this actuality that insuperably opposes it, has been considered in detail in the Phenomenology of Spirit. ®

§ 1770

As the Idea contains within itself the moment of complete determinateness, the other Notion with which the Notion enters into relation in the Idea, possesses in its subjectivity also the moment of an object; consequently the Idea enter here into the shape of self-consciousness and in this one aspect coincides with the exposition of the same.

§ 1771

But what is still lacking in the practical Idea is the moment of consciousness proper itself; namely, that the moment of actuality in the Notion should have attained on its own account the determination of external being.

§ 1772

Another way of regarding this defect is that the practical Idea still lacks the moment of the theoretical Idea. That is to say, in the latter there stands on the side of the subjective Notion — the Notion that is in process of being intuited within itself by the Notion only the determination of universality; cognition knows itself only as apprehension, as the identity on its own account indeterminate of the Notion with itself; the filling, that is, the objectivity that is determined in and for itself, is for it a datum, and what truly is is the actuality there before it independently of subjective positing. For the practical Idea, on the contrary, this actuality, which at the same time confronts it as an insuperable limitation, ranks as something intrinsically worthless that must first receive its true determination and sole worth through the ends of the good. Hence it is only the will itself that stands in the way of attainment of its goal, for it separates itself from cognition, and external reality for the will does not receive the form of a true being; the Idea of the good can therefore find its integration only in the Idea of the true. ®

§ 1773

But it makes this transition through itself. In the syllogism of action, one premise is the immediate relation of the good end to actuality which it seizes on, and in the second premise directs it as an external means against the external actuality. ®

§ 1774

For the subjective Notion the good is the objective; actuality in its existence confronts is as an insuperable limitation only in so far as it still has the character of immediate existence, not of something objective in the sense of a being that is in and for itself; on the contrary, it is either the evil or the indifferent, the merely determinable, whose worth does not reside within it. This abstract being that confronts the good in the second premise has, however, already been sublated by the practical Idea itself; the first premise of the latter's action is the immediate objectivity of the Notion, according to which the end communicates itself to actuality without meeting any resistance and is in simple identical relation with it. Thus all that remains to be done is to bring together the thoughts of its two premises. To what has been already immediately accomplished by the objective Notion in the first premise, the only addition made in the second premise is that it is posited through mediation, and hence posited for the objective Notion. Now just as in the end relation in general, the realised end is also again merely a means, while conversely the means is also the realised end, so similarly in the syllogism of the good, the second premise is immediately already present implicitly in the first; but this immediacy is not sufficient, and the second premise is already postulated for the first — the realisation of the good in the face of another actuality confronting it is the mediation which is essentially necessary for the immediate relation and the accomplished actualisation of the good. ®

§ 1775

For it is only the first negation or the otherness of the Notion, an objectivity that would be a submergence of the Notion in the externality; the second negation is the sublating of this otherness, whereby the immediate realisation of the end first becomes the actuality the Notion is posited as identical with itself, not with an other, and thus alone is posited as the free Notion.

§ 1776

Now if it is supposed that the end of the good is after all not realised through this mediation, this signifies a relapse of the Notion to the standpoint occupied by it before its activity — the standpoint of an actuality determined as worthless and yet presupposed as real. This relapse, which becomes the progress to the spurious infinity, has its sole ground in the fact that in the sublating of that abstract reality this sublating is no less immediately forgotten, or it is forgotten that this reality is in fact already presupposed as an actuality that is intrinsically worthless and not objective. ®

§ 1777

This repetition of the presupposition of the end consequently assumes this character, that the subjective bearing of the objective Notion is reproduced and made perpetual, with the result that the finitude of the good in respect of its content as well as its form appears as the abiding truth, and its actualisation appears as a merely individual act, and not as a universal one. As a matter of fact this determinateness has sublated itself in the actualisation of the good; what still limits the objective Notion is its own view of itself, which vanishes by reflection on what its actualisation is in itself. Through this view it is only standing in its own way, and thus what it has to do is to turn, not against an outer actuality, but against itself.

§ 1778

In other words, the activity in the second premise produces only a one-sided being-for-self, and its product therefore appears as something subjective and individual, and consequently the first presupposition is repeated in it. But this activity is in truth no less the positing of the implicit identity of the objective Notion and the immediate actuality. This latter is determined by the presupposition as having a phenomenal reality only, as being intrinsically worthless and simply and solely determinable by the objective Notion. When external actuality is altered by the activity of the objective Notion and its determination therewith sublated, by that very fact the merely phenomenal reality, the external determinability and worthlessness, are removed from that actuality and it is posited as being in and for itself.

§ 1779

In this process the general presupposition is sublated, namely the determination of the good as a merely subjective end limited in respect of content, the necessity of realising it by subjective activity, and this activity itself. In the result the mediation sublates itself; the result is an immediacy that is not the restoration of the presupposition, but rather its accomplished sublation. With this, the Idea of the Notion that is determined in and for itself is posited as being no longer merely in the active subject but as equally an immediate actuality; and conversely, this actuality is posited, as it is in cognition, as an objectivity possessing a true being. ®

§ 1780

The individuality of the subject with which the subject was burdened by its presupposition, has vanished along with the presupposition; hence the subject now exists as free, universal self-identity, for which the objectivity of the Notion is a given objectivity immediately to hand, no less truly than the subject knows itself as the Notion that is determined in and for itself. Accordingly in this result cognition is restored and united with the practical Idea; the actuality found as given is at the same time determined as the realised absolute end; but whereas in questing cognition this subjectivity appeared merely as an objective world without the subjectivity of the Notion, here it appears as an objective world whose inner ground and actual subsistence is the Notion. This is the absolute Idea.

The Absolute Idea - (next section)

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