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From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya: Marxist-Humanist Archives
April 2000


Part I Introduction and Preliminary Notion

Editor's Note: Over the next three issues we will be publishing Raya Dunayevskaya's 1961 notes on Hegel's Smaller LOGIC as part of our continuing effort to stimulate theoretical discussion on the "dialectic proper." Written on Feb. 15, 1961, these notes on Hegel's Smaller LOGIC-the first part of his ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHICAL SCIENCES-comment on all sections of the work. Dunayevskaya's notes contain an especially detailed commentary on the "Three Attitudes of Thought Toward Objectivity," a section of the Smaller LOGIC which does not appear in the SCIENCE OF LOGIC and a theme overlooked by many writers on Hegel. Here Hegel critiques not only Kantianism and Empiricism, but also romanticism and intuitionism. The text of the Smaller LOGIC used by Dunayevskaya is THE LOGIC OF HEGEL, translated by William Wallace (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894), which differs in some respects from later editions of Wallace's translation. All footnotes are by the editors. The original can be found in THE RAYA DUNAYEVSKAYA COLLECTION, 2834-2842.

by Raya Dunayevskaya, founder of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S.

Chapter One: Introduction

This book is known as the Smaller LOGIC and since it is Hegel's own summation of the SCIENCE OF LOGIC and very much easier to read than the latter, I will be very brief in summarizing its contents, concentrating almost exclusively on the sections which are not restatements of what is in the larger LOGIC, but which are new.

The first thing that is new is both the easy style and the different subject matter taken up in the Introduction. The simplicity of the style is, of course, deceptive since it embodies as profound a theory as does the more involved style, and may lead one to think that he understands something, even though he doesn't see all of its implications.

For example, 2 defines philosophy as a "THINKING VIEW OF THINGS... a mode in which thinking becomes knowledge, rational and comprehensive knowledge." But if the reader would then think that philosophy is then no more than common sense, he would be a victim of the simple style. In actuality that very simple introduction consisting of 18 paragraphs is the ultimate in tracing through the development of philosophy from its first contact with religion through the Kantian revolution up to the Hegelian dialectic, and further, the whole relationship of thought to the objective world.

Thus, look at the priceless formulation about "the separatist tendency" to divorce idea and reality:

"This divorce between idea and reality is a favorite device of the analytic understanding in particular. Yet strangely in contrast with this separatist tendency, its own dreams, half-truths though they are, appear to the understanding something true and real; it prides itself on the imperative 'ought,' which it takes especial pleasure in prescribing on the field of politics. As if the world had waited on it to learn how it ought to be, and was not!" (6)

That same paragraph expresses the most profound relationship of materialism to idealism. If you will recall the chapter in MARXISM AND FREEDOM on the break in Lenin's thought which all hinged on a new relationship of the ideal to the real and vice-versa,(1) then this simple statement will be profoundly earth-shaking when you consider that it is an idealist who is saying it: "The idea is not so feeble as merely to have a right or an obligation to exist without actually existing."

Actuality, then, is Hegel's point of departure for thought as well as for the world and its institutions. So far as Hegel is concerned, his whole attitude to thought is the same as to experience, for in experience, says Hegel, "lies the unspeakably important truth that, in order to accept and believe any fact, we must be in contact with it" (7). The whole point is that philosophy sprang from the empirical sciences, and in fact, the empirical sciences themselves could not have progressed further if laws, general propositions, a theory had not resulted from them, and in turn pushed empirical facts forward.

You will be surprised to find that actually I "stole" from Hegel that sentence in MARXISM AND FREEDOM that created so much dispute among intellectuals, that there was nothing in thought, not even the thought of a genius, which had not previously been in the action of common man.(2) The way Hegel expressed it was by saying that while it is true that "there is nothing in thought which has not been in sense and experience," the reverse is equally true (8).

The reason he opposes philosophy to empiricism, then, is not because we could do without the empirical, but [because], in and of themselves, those sciences lack, (1) a Universal, are indeterminate and, therefore, not expressly (9) related to the Particular: "Both are external and accidental to each other, and it is the same with the particular facts which are brought into union: Each is external and accidental to the other." And (2) that the beginnings are not deduced, that is to say, you just begin somewhere without a NECESSITY for so doing being apparent. Of course, says Hegel, "To seek to know before we know is as absurd as the wise resolution of Scholasticus,(3) not to venture into the water until he has learned to swim" (10). But, for any forward movement one must then go from the empirical to the critical to the speculative philosophy.

Not only is Hegel empirical and historical ("In philosophy the latest birth of time is the result of all the systems that have preceded it, and must include their principles" (13). But he insists that you cannot talk of Truth (with a capital T) in generalities: "For the truth is concrete; that is, whilst it gives a bond of principle and unity, it also possesses an internal variety of development" (14). In fact Hegel never wearies of saying that the truths of philosophy are VALUELESS "apart from their interdependence and organic union, and must then be treated as baseless hypotheses or personal convictions."

Chapter Two: Preliminary Notion

You will note that this is something that Hegel would have opposed had someone asked him to state in a preliminary way what was his idea of Notion at the time he wrote the SCIENCE OF LOGIC and told you to wait to get to the end. In fact, Marx said the same thing in CAPITAL when he insisted you must begin with the concrete commodity before you go off into general absolute laws.(4)

In this ENCYCLOPEDIA, however, Hegel does give you a preview of what will follow. Some of it is in the form of extemporaneous remarks that he had made while delivering the written lectures (all of the paragraphs which are in a smaller type than the regular text were SPOKEN by Hegel and taken down by his "pupils"). He is showing the connection between thought and reality, not only in general, but in the specific so that you should understand how the Greek philosophers had become the antagonists of the old religion: "Philosophers were accordingly banished or put to death as revolutionists, who had subverted religion and the state, two things which were inseparable. Thought, in short, made itself a power in the real world..." (19). The reference, of course, is to the execution of Socrates.

Interestingly enough, Hegel is not only rooted in History, but even in the simple energy that goes into thinking: "Nor is it unimportant to study thought even as a subjective energy" (20). He then proceeds to trace the development of thought from Aristotle to Kant, the highest place, of course, being taken by Aristotle: "When Aristotle summons the mind to rise to the dignity of that action, the dignity he seeks is won by letting slip all our individual opinions and prejudices, and submitting to the sway of the fact" (23).

We get a good relationship of freedom to thought and the LOGIC in general into its various parts [when Hegel says]: "For freedom it is necessary that we should feel no presence of something else which is not ourselves" (24). He relates the LOGIC to the PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE and the PHILOSOPHY OF MIND, as a syllogism: "The syllogistic form is a universal form of all things. Everything that exists is a particular, a close unification of the universal and the singular."(5) "If for instance we take the syllogism (not as it was understood in the old formal logic, but at its real value), we shall find it gives expression to the law that every particular thing is a middle term which fuses together the extremes of the Universal and the singular."

While the LOGIC is what he called "the all-animating spirit of all the sciences," it is not the individual categories he is concerned with now, but the Absolute: "The Absolute is rather the ever-present, that present which, so long as we can think, we must, though without express consciousness of it, always carry with us and always use. Language is the main depository of these types of thought" (24).

He will not allow philosophy to be overawed by religion, though he is a very religious man, but he insists over and over again "the mind is not mere instinct: on the contrary, it essentially involves the tendency to reasoning and meditation." He has a most remarkable explanation of the Fall of Man and the fact that ever since his expulsion from Paradise he has had to work by the sweat of his brow: "Touching work, we remark that while it is the result of the disunion, it also is the victory over it." (Note how very much like Marx the rest of the paragraph sounds). "The beasts have nothing more to do but to pick up the materials required to satisfy their wants; man on the contrary can only satisfy his wants by transforming, and as it were originating the necessary means. Thus even in these outside things man is dealing with himself."(6)

The last paragraph of this chapter (25) deals with objective thought and decides that to really deal with it, a whole chapter is necessary, and, in fact the following three chapters are devoted to the three attitudes to objectivity.

To be continued next issue...


1. See chapter 10 of MARXISM AND FREEDOM, "The Collapse of the Second International and the Break in Lenin's Thought."

2. The formulation appears in MARXISM AND FREEDOM, in the course of discussing the impact of the French Revolution on Hegel's thought: "There is nothing in thought-not even in the thought of a genius-that has not previously been in the activity of the common man" (p. 28).

3. Scholasticus was a fictional character created by the Stoic philosopher Hierocles (CE 117-138).

4. In the Preface to the 1872-75 French edition of CAPITAL, the last one he personally prepared for the printer, Marx termed the first chapter on commodities "rather arduous," adding that he "feared" the readers would skip too quickly ahead to the final chapters, where he took up the absolute general law of capitalist accumulation [MCIF, p. 104].

5. Just prior to this, in the same paragraph, Hegel writes, "If we consider Logic to be the system of the pure types of thought, we find that the other philosophical sciences, the Philosophy of Nature and the Philosophy of Mind, take the place, as it were, of an Applied Logic, and that Logic is the soul which animates them both."

6. Hegel stresses that the Biblical narrative of Adam and Eve being cast out from the Garden of Eden ends by declaring that human beings have become godlike, with knowledge of good and evil: "On his natural side man is finite and mortal, but in knowledge infinite" (24). In a 1970 lecture reprinted in Women's Liberation and the Dialectics of Revolution (1985), Dunayevskaya writes: "Hegel had moved the myth of Adam and Eve from the theology of sin to the sphere of knowledge" (p. 23).