J. B. Baillie. The Origin and Significance of Hegel’s Logic 1901

Chapter VIII: Origin and Nature of the Content of the Logic

The foregoing statement of the nature of Absolute Knowledge and of the relation of the Phenomenology to the Logic will enable us without much difficulty to determine more specifically the nature of the content of Logic itself. It is the content which we must determine first of all, because, though the method is the life and soul of the Logic, the content is its substance and is logically prior to it.

We see, to begin with, what is meant when Logic is regarded as the content of Reason. Reason is the last general stage in the evolution of the experience of mind. It is here that mind begins to realise its highest life and purpose, which is to be at home with itself in its object. It is because of this, indeed, that reason has been considered both by common thought and by philosophy to be the highest type of mind, that the supreme goal of the world’s life is a “rational soul,” a mind which with an objective environment is still within itself. Now wherever such a complete harmony is found in experience, there we have the life of Reason manifested in the history of consciousness. But if it is realised anywhere, surely it is obtained when mind has for its object the very notions by which it grasps (begreifen, Begriff) the meaning of an object at all. If in such forms of experience as the Moral Life, Law, Institutions, or, again, Religion or Scientific Inquiry, mind finds itself bound up in indissoluble union with its object, takes its object to its heart and gives it its own, then indeed must it be in the highest sense at home with itself when it has to deal solely and alone with the means by which that union can even be effected. In Logic, however, this is precisely the object considered.

The fundamental conceptions by which any and all experience, i.e., relation between mind and object, can be constituted are the only subject-matter of the science. Such a science, therefore, is clearly a part of the life of Reason, and indeed the highest form of that life attainable by mind. This aspect of the nature of Logic, however, must be guarded from misunderstanding. In the first place, Logic is but one expression of Reason among the vast variety of its forms which are revealed in experience.

In ordinary thought reason means, perhaps, primarily the purely formal activity of the mind, the activity found especially in ratiocination; reason is identified with reasoning. It is true that a further analysis corrects this limited interpretation of reason; for common opinion would also allow that a mind with “sound instincts” but without the capacity for consecutive thought was “endowed with” reason, was a “reasonable mind.” Still its main conception is that reason means reflexion; the larger conception is regarded sometimes as different in kind from the other, or at least as not connected with it. Now for Hegel Reason has not this limited signification; he does not restrict Reason to the sphere of mere “Logic,” to reflective activity only. It covers a much wider area of experience; is present, in fact, wherever mind is to any extent conscious of itself in its object. Hegel thus considers as forms of Reason spheres of experience which common thought does not, at least explicitly, identify with reason, e.g., the Family, the State, Religious Life. In such cases, if any explanation were offered at all, common thought would probably regard these forms of experience as due to “impulses,” “instincts,” or “feelings.” And yet, in spite of the apparent difference, Hegel’s view is essentially at one with common thought; for if it were asked why such types of experience were not found, say, among brutes, the answer would doubtless be that they were due to that which distinguished man from brute, namely, reason. Reason would thus be acknowledged to be, as Hegel claims, the determining reality in all these modes of experience. It is, then, only as one form (the highest form) of the life of Reason, and not as its sole expression, that Hegel regards Logic as the construction of Reason.

Again, we must not look upon Reason as a “function” of mind, Logic being one of its products. This indeed is the common view, but not at all Hegel’s. And the difference is plain. A “function” is a determining component of what has an independent value, or, again, is more or less isolated activity of what can exist without it. In both cases the relation between the function and that which has the function is regarded as external. How far ordinary opinion would really admit this implication of its view is not easy to determine. For Hegel, however, Reason is mind itself, the realisation of its essential nature. Mind does not have Reason; it is Reason. No doubt Reason is not all that mind is, for mind appears also, e.g., as sense-consciousness, and Reason is not sense. But on Hegel’s view (1) sense is likewise a mode, a realisation, and not a function of mind, and (2) in the form of Reason mind is most completely realised. In short, Hegel’s position is directly opposed to any mechanical interpretation of mind, either as an agent with certain “faculties,” or as an instrument with certain “functions,” the agent or instrument being something apart from, or over and above, what it does. The very meaning of mind is to manifest what it is, and to be what it manifests.

From this we see that Logic is not, properly speaking, the “product” of Reason. This conception is open to precisely the same objections as that just mentioned. Rather Logic is Reason made completely explicit; they are the same concrete fact looked at now as merely existing activity, now as systematically complete activity. The relation of Reason to Logic is perhaps adequately described as that of dunams to energeia; they are continuous with one another, form a single whole.

The recognition of this essential identity of mind with Reason, and of Logic with both, is of supreme importance for the comprehension and appreciation of Hegel’s system. It is one of the fundamental points in his whole theory, and is in itself a philosophical position of the greatest value. Few, if any, have seen so clearly as Hegel the living unity of spiritual facts with spiritual activity, of thought with the objective result of its activity, of science with the mind which manifests itself in science.

To him ideas no less than emotions take to themselves hands and feet and move about the world. And thus the Logic is not the mere excrescence or by-product of the activity of mind, but the kingdom of truth, where the Spirit at work in experience reveals, and in revealing exhausts, the substance and meaning of its inmost life.

The general determination of the content of Logic as that of Reason does not, however, carry us very far towards the understanding of it. It follows from what has just been stated that Logic is further, as Hegel puts it, “the crown of the life of mind.” For the goal of experience is for mind to be in its activity completely self-conscious, at one with itself in its object. Now if in Reason mind has attained that stage in which its experience is essentially a harmony of content, then certainly in Logic that harmony is most complete and absolute. For there mind has for object the very ground conceptions in virtue of which experience is even possible at all. These notions are the pulse-beats of its entire activity; they constitute its essential nature, and express the vital energy of its own being. To know them, therefore, is to make its own self its object.

The conceptions do not “belong to” mind; they are mind, they are the foci of its activity, determinate realisations of its self. For they are universals and they are unities. Now the principle of universality in experience is just the self, mind, which is present throughout all aspects and forms of experience, and present, therefore, throughout each form by itself. The fact that a single self does extend its presence over every area of experience is the very ground of the fact of universality in experience, the condition of its possibility. But for the fact that it is one and the same self which pervades the flux and multiplicity of experience, there would be nothing but a ceaseless procession of disconnected phenomena, not the experience of a mind; there would, indeed, not even be a succession, a process, there would be neither details nor phenomena, for all these only have significance by reference to something permanent, something general, something to which they can appear as phenomena. The self, then, is the principle of universality in experience, for it is, par excellence, the universal, the all-containing ground of an experience in any sense whatever. Now the conceptions which form the content of Logic being universals, are precisely the expressions for the appearance of a single self in experience. A given conception is just the self as it is present in and throughout some one area of experience. They could not be universals unless the self were continuously present in experience; and their universality simply means that they are definite realisations of the self. In short, the conceptions as universals are specifications of that which in experience is the fundamental universal – the self for which experience exists at all.

Again, and in the same way, the self is the ground of unity in experience; for the elements which make up experience are determined as parts of a single experience. A single experience means the experience of a single self; the self being one, the experience is one. Not that we can separate in reality the unity of the self from the unity in experience; they are an indissoluble reality. The unity of the self is only logically prior to, and distinguishable from, the unity of experience. A single self is the condition of a single experience; and there is no other kind of experience except that of a single self. Now, the notions are unities, for they are the very means by which diversity is not mere diversity but is brought under a common, i.e., unifying, principle, possesses a single quality or character. A notion is the ground of order; it is the identical content in different phenomena. They must, therefore, be determinations of that principle which is the unity of all experience, and the basis of all unity in it, namely, the single self which constitutes it. The notions are specific unities, because they are forms of this ultimate single unity; and, again, because they are unities, the self must be found realised in them.

Thus, then, we see how it is that in Logic we have the most complete form of the self-consciousness of mind, “the crown of the life of mind.” In the content of Logic mind is knowing its essential self, its constitutive and ultimate moments. And it is knowing these not as something alien to itself, but as what actually possesses its own distinctive nature – universality and unity. As Hegel puts it, in Logic mind “knows itself in the form of its self”; these notions are its specific realisations, i.e., its specified self, and they are in the form of self, i.e., are universals, unities, identities. Further than this mind cannot possibly be developed, and with the Logic, therefore, its experience as a process of and towards self-consciousness must close.

And here we discover, from another point of view, why Logic should be called ultimate science, absolute knowledge, and so on. That it is knowledge is of course obvious after what has already been said. It is clearly both possible and necessary to deal with notions per se, have them as a specific object of knowledge; for it is one thing to use a notion to explain facts of experience, it is quite another to examine the meaning of that notion itself.[1] And the one kind of knowledge is just as valuable, qua knowledge, as the other. Knowing what a notion is, and knowing what it does or can explain, are both important forms of knowledge.

That, again, knowledge of the notions is “absolute” knowledge is evident when we observe that the object which the mind knows is relative to nothing but the mind itself. In all other knowledge notions are present; for only by notions (universals) is there knowledge at all. But in Logic we have only notions before us. The object is not in any sense independent of the mind, which knows it; mind does not refer to what lies beyond the circuit of its own inner life. But if knowledge deals solely with the self which knows, it is entirely self-constituted, self-determined, and self-contained. To be completely self-sufficient, however, is precisely what is meant by being absolute. And such knowledge is likewise ultimate or final, for the reason that it deals simply with what is ultimate in experience, the inner content of the self.

This characterisation of Logic as ultimate and absolute knowledge is no mere serious bombast on Hegel’s part. It is rather a bare statement of fact, regarding the nature of the Logic as a science. The statement, indeed, might be true of any other “Logic.” For surely the last object we can possibly know is just knowledge itself; the last kind of knowledge is the knowledge of what knowledge in general means. But this is precisely what any Logic which is in earnest with itself tries to furnish.

Every Logic, therefore, gives absolute knowledge in Hegel’s sense; for in all such cases the mind is unrestricted, independent both in its object-matter and in its procedure – and that means the knowledge furnished is absolute. If we would keep clearly in mind that “absolute” does not necessarily characterise the range of truth attained by the Logic, but refers to the kind of knowledge contained in it; that the term is due not to any claim on Hegel’s part to have once for all exhausted the whole range of truth, but simply to the peculiar nature of the relation between the subject knowing and the content known in the Logic, we shall see that Hegel’s conception of Logic as absolute knowledge is both intelligible and accurate. The objections to, and even contempt for, it can only have arisen through ignorance of its precise significance. It is mere confusion to identify absolute knowledge with omniscience; the latter refers to the extent of knowledge only, the former to a specific kind of knowledge.

So that, even if omniscience were a form of or involved absolute knowledge, absolute knowledge does not necessarily involve omniscience.

But in the next place, how is the diversity of the content of the Logic to be obtained? This has already in part been indicated. The content of Logic is the inner self of mind. But it does not follow because one mind is present throughout experience that there is only one form of experience.

The Ego does not exhibit itself as the continuous reappearance of a single naked identity. The mind reveals itself in many ways, lest one pure notion should corrupt its life. But, again, the plurality of content in the experience of mind does not involve that the self is merely the point of reference for the various forms of experience, that to which they all “belong,” but which itself remains apart from them. The Ego dominates the reality of each; it is not a formal unity, regulating experience from without, it is the active unity constituting every moment of it. It does not direct the course of experience, it identifies itself with its life; for indeed the life of experience is in one view precisely the life of the Ego itself.

But if, then, the unity of the self does not preclude diversity of content, and if the Ego is identified with the content of experience, then we see at once how the diversity of the content of Logic is derived. In Logic mind is most completely self-conscious. But its self embraces the whole of reality, the totality of experience; for it constitutes every form and phase of it. Since the experience of the self is manifold, the universal principles by which it makes experience possible must be likewise manifold.

The content of the Logic, therefore, is rich with all the variety which reality as a whole contains. The fact that in the Logic the Ego is conscious solely of itself, and in one form only (that of the notion), does not render meaningless or eliminate the diversity of the world. On the contrary, mind could not be conscious of its self in Logic unless it exhibited the infinite diversity which make up the fulness of its life. The self which is the universal in experience appears in a plurality of universal forms; they determine the definite modes of its experience. But these universals are simply the notions which make up the Logic. Logic, therefore, necessarily contains diversity because the self has manifold universal ways of realising itself.[2] Connected with this diversity in its content is another important aspect of its nature which calls for attention. It is a fundamental peculiarity of the notions in the Logic that they are at once conceptions pure and simple, and unities of diverse elements. Experience is essentially a unity of subject and object; subject and object are its ultimate elements, experience itself is the concrete indissoluble unity of these elements.

Now a notion is the ground of the unity of subject and object in any given form of experience. Notions are simply the ultimate conditions of the possibility of this unity, and so of experience. Without them subject and object are for ever divided by the whole diameter of being. In concrete experience, however, we must distinguish subject from object; we can separate the one from the other. For while it is true that any experience is impossible without them, it is also true that the subject is not aware of all objects at the same time; the subject can take up all the attitudes found in experience, but not all at once. Hence we must not confound the general unity of subject and object with the particular unity of these elements; the former is always and absolutely necessary for experience; in the case of the latter we can separate subject from object.[3] But with the notions such a separation is impossible in any sense. In the notions the distinction between subject and object collapses in the unity which is the basis of their connexion. And the reason is obvious. For the separation, logical or real, between subject and object cannot hold good of that which is their unity; the conditions of the possibility of actual experience cannot contain the separation of the elements which compose that experience itself. To put it otherwise: experience is the single concrete reality, the unity in experience is the ground of distinction of elements within it; the forms of this unity, therefore, cannot be affected by the distinction to which the unity itself gives rise.

Hence, then, we see how it is that in the notions of Logic the opposition which characterises the modes of actual experience disappears, and we have content which can be described as neither objective nor subjective, but both at once. In Logic we deal simply with the ultimate principles of unity in all experience, which can contain no opposition in themselves because they are the very means of removing all opposition whatsoever.

Thus because we take the principles as principles, the universals (conceptions) as universals, Logic deals with “pure” notions (reine Begriffe); and because their content shows no opposition, is undifferentiated, they are self-contained, “simple” (eingache Begriffe).

But, on the other hand, we must not lose sight of the significance they possess in virtue of their being unities. The fact that they are notions pure and simple does not lift them out of the reach of experience. If this were so they would not be unities constitutive of it, and we should be again inside the opposition which they themselves overcome. But if they are unities of the ultimate diverse elements (subject and object), then they have precisely the nature of experience as such when contrasted with its elements. Starting as we must from experience itself, the subject as such or the object as such has only real significance by reference to the other; by itself it is “abstract.” But experience is the unity of both, it is the whole reality; in contrast with them it is “concrete.” The notions are also the unity of both; they therefore are essentially “concrete,” not abstract. To be an ultimate unity is, in fact, to be concrete.[4] And now we see at once what is meant by the “concreteness” of the notions, and by “reality” as attributed to the content of the Logic. When a notion is described as the “unity of thought and being,” we must carefully note that “thought” and “being” are here regarded as the abstract elements of experience. “Thought” in ordinary philosophical parlance is considered the sphere of the subject, of subjectivity, “being” as that of the object, of objectivity; both being taken per se. They, therefore, are essentially synonymous with subject and object as employed above. A notion is the identity of “thought” as one abstract element, with “being” as the other. A notion, therefore, is not a thought as the subjective element in experience, any more than it is a “being” “outside” thought. It is the principle by which this opposition is ultimately constituted into a unity. For related they must be, otherwise they could not even be thought of as opposed; an opposition presupposes a ground. But they are not merely related, they are united in experience. The proof of this and the nature of this unity were furnished in the Phenomenology. But that which unites them cannot be itself either per se; and it can only be both at once.

Thus for Hegel, while a “thought” may be “abstract,” a notion is always “concrete."[5] And, again, the notions have “reality.” They do not lie outside experience, they are immanent in it, are constitutive of it. But if so they have at least as much title to be regarded as “real” as any other element of experience. They have, indeed, more claim to be so considered, for they form the ground-plan of experience itself, they are the essential content of concrete experience. And only in this sense are the notions real. The term “reality” is admittedly ambiguous, and hence the difficulty of understanding what is meant by notions being real. “Notions,” it is said, “cannot be seen and handled, they are not visible to sense, as, e.g., rocks and trees are, the reality of which no one doubts. Or, again, they are not forces which, though not seen, at least act; notions are merely the devitalised shades of living individuality.” It is true that the notions are not “perceived,” and also true, as Hegel himself admits, that they are devoid of all sensuous content;[6] but this does not necessarily destroy their “reality.” “Reality” can have three general meanings: (1) sense reality, (2) ideal reality, e.g., when we speak of a Law of Nature, or a Natural Law, or, again, the Constitution of a State, as real, (3) individual reality, e.g., a given human being. Now a notion is confessedly not real in the first sense; and it is obviously not real in the last. It is impossible for a universal to exist as the dust of sense, and equally impossible for us to mistake the beckonings of a spirit from the vasty deeps for the warm embraces of a living person. But it must be admitted that notions are real in the second sense. Even if we regard them merely as “principles” in the ordinary signification of the term, i.e., as ideally constructed determining forms, they would be considered real; for every principle which determines experience is taken to be a “real principle.” But it is not merely to be decided by appealing to current terminology; for since experience is a living reality, an active process, the conditions by which experience itself is carried out must surely possess the vitality of experience itself. By themselves, no doubt, they are not experience, not a substitute for it; as a matter of fact we never find them by themselves.

But since these notions constitute the essential meaning of experience, and since the process of experience (as presented in the Phenomenology) is, we saw, “at bottom a logical process,” experience in itself exists in and through these conceptions. Shall we then say that the organism is real but not its pulse-beat, that the music is real but not the plan of its harmony? And finally, the ultimate reality, as was shown, is Subject, is a Self. But the self is a universal, and reveals itself in universal modes; and when it knows these modes as universal (i.e., in the form of its self), it appears as Logic. Can we then maintain that the self is ultimate reality, and not also the very forms which constitute its life? That they are the content of the Ultimate Subject means that they are not pale passive shadows of a living reality, but the active determining laws of its procedure. By them the mind realises itself through experience.

The notions are the conditions of its actuality (Wirklichkeit). We cannot create the world of sense out of the ultimate conditions of there being a world at all, nor can we by any arrangement of notions pure and simple furnish individual beings. But the notions have their own unique reality, the reality of that which orders sense and determines the process of individuality.

We may still maintain with truth that the notions are abstracted from experience, and therefore are not reality. But we must distinguish abstraction which is ultimately false from abstraction which is still ultimate truth. Where we have one element of experience cut loose from the concrete life of experience (e.g., where subject is taken per se apart from object), there, says Hegel, we have false abstraction; we restrict the content considered to one aspect, and cut it out of its actual connexion with the whole, which alone is true, for the “truth is the whole."[7] But where the content dealt with is considered as determining and determined by the whole, as explicitly involving the system of experience to which it belongs, that content though abstract is a true abstract, for it is concrete as experience itself. Thus the notions because not taken as subjective nor as objective, but as constitutive of experience as a whole, are ultimate truths of experience, and not mere abstractions. If we say they are still cut off from, e.g., sense, we have to observe (1) that abstraction in some form is the only condition of knowledge at all. We cannot talk about the universe in general or as a whole, we must deal with it in its various constituents, in detail. This is the very condition of human reflexion. Even to consider the universe as a whole is itself an abstraction, for thereby we explicitly eliminate the part as such. (2) If, again, we insist that abstraction in any sense cannot be reality, then it is clear that by reality here will be meant individuality, and that in this sense there is nothing real but experience as a whole, in its completeness.

There is no doubt truth in this view, but if this is the only reality to be spoken of, then reality entirely eludes the grasp of any knowledge at all. We never can by any act or process of knowledge lay hold on such a reality; for we may know the universe step by step, and part by part, or we may deal with the whole as such (in Philosophy), where we have before us solely its general fundamental content, not the completed individuality which alone is the Absolute. These are the only two kinds of knowledge, and neither, therefore, gives us the fulness of the life of the one Absolute. Either, therefore, we must proclaim knowledge to be a mere by-play in the system of the universe, or else allow that, because the universe is real in its parts as well as in the whole – real in the echo as well as in the thunderbolt – knowledge which takes it point by point does give us reality. But to allow this is to grant that reality has more than one meaning. (3) We must emphasise the distinction between the abstraction which eliminates all reality from the abstraction which is simply a form or sphere of its content. The Logic deals with abstractions only in the latter sense.

We have, perhaps, said sufficient in explanation of the reality attributed by Hegel to the notions – one of the most difficult and most vulnerable points in the system, and also one of the chief objectives of attack by its opponents. We shall recur to it again in our final chapter.

Meantime we see that the reality possessed by the notions opens up in another way the possibility of diversity in the content of Logic, already mentioned. The notions are the determining principles of all modes of experience; their reality, therefore, is as diverse as the modes which they determine. Because the notions are synthetic unities in experience, they are concrete, real; because they are present throughout all experience, they are diverse.

From the foregoing it is not difficult to settle the disputed question regarding the “reference to experience” implied throughout the Logic.

The ordinary view put forward, partly as interpretation of its content and procedure, partly as objection to its ostensible pretensions and purpose, is that the Logic is constructed by a necessary but covert and implicit reference to the facts of actual experience, that it claims to move in a purer medium than ordinary facts, but it is only possible by a continual recurrence to this world it seems to ignore. So far as there is any truth in this view, it is too general to be of any value either as interpretation or as criticism. For if it means that at every step Logic is really inside experience, and deals with its content, then, indeed, this is self-evident; Hegel himself professes explicitly to be dealing with nothing else. But if it means, as it ostensibly does, that at each step the writer of the Logic “in his own mind” appeals to the detailed facts of experience in order to find out how to proceed, that he looks to actual experience to give him the cue to discover the notions, then unquestionably this is a complete misconception of the Logic. For the very nature of the notions makes it necessary that when dealing with them we should already and thereby be dealing with experience. Experience does not lie outside them, they lie inside experience, they are its essence. It is truer to say, then, that experience implies the Logic, than that the Logic implies experience. In Logic we do not need to appeal to experience, because we are already in it. The Logic, therefore, is constructed by reference solely to the determinateness of each notion itself. This is all, indeed, that is required to make construction possible, and only by so doing can we obtain that peculiar necessity characteristic of Logic as a science. Such a construction will not be “in the air” if we simply grant at the outset that the notions are not mere thoughts, but the essence of experience – a position which was established in the Phenomenology.

Only one question regarding the content of the Logic remains to be considered – what is that mind whose essential content is expressed in the Logic? The Phenomenology established that the ultimate ground of experience was mind, was subject, not substance. The subject here meant is Ultimate Subject, the Absolute as Subject. Now in Religion, we saw, the point of view of the Absolute is adopted by the individual (finite[8]) mind; it identifies itself with the Absolute, regards the Absolute as mind which reveals itself to finite minds. But absolute knowledge simply carries one step further this confession of oneness and identification. It is the self-consciousness of the Subject as such, not as for us, but as it is in itself. Such knowledge, therefore, is not a knowledge by us about the Absolute; nor again is it simply a “possession” of the Absolute. It is actually Absolute Mind conscious of its own self as it essentially is. The Logic can be nothing short of this, if it is to realise the two ends of the Phenomenology – the attainment of the ideal of knowledge (the identity of truth with certainty, of mind with object), and the exposition of the highest Reality for mind, the Reality found in Religion. And the two aims are one because that Reality is mind, and the ideal of knowledge is pure self-knowledge. But if Religion is a valid experience, then Logic can attain this result, for it simply makes explicit the implications of the religious consciousness. Logic, then, is the self-consciousness of the Absolute Subject. Absolute Knowledge would not be absolute unless it were the actual expression of Absolute Reality, and this again could not be Absolute Subject unless it knew itself in the form of self, in Absolute Knowledge. Hence it comes about that to attain the ideal of knowledge, to furnish truly objective knowledge, and to know the Absolute as it knows itself, all mean precisely the same thing.[9] No doubt the Logic is the thought and work of the individual (finite) thinker, of Hegel personally, and of those who undertake the same task. But since, when the highest truth is attained, the mind is one with its object, all limitation of knowledge to finite consciousness is explicitly removed, there seems, according to Hegel’s view, no meaning in the assertion that knowledge still belongs solely to the finite minds by whom it is constructed. That truth is known to finite minds does not make the truth itself finite. For if so, at least the truth that it is finite cannot itself be finite in that sense, for this truth implies that we know what is not finite; i.e., we do actually admit that knowledge of finitude need not be finite knowledge. And, indeed, it is difficult to understand how the truth, e.g., that “God is” can mean anything different to God from what it does to us. The fact, therefore, that Hegel constructed the Logic does not lessen its claim to be the actual self-consciousness of Absolute Mind, provided we accept this with the reservations already stated.[10] So far as the part played by the individual mind in such knowledge is concerned, his function, says Hegel, is merely to “look on” (zusehen).[11] But now, if the above is an accurate statement of what the Logic deals with, it is clear that Hegel’s Logic is not Logic as understood by his predecessors and contemporaries. Formerly Logic was concerned with “thoughts” only, while to Metaphysic was allotted the discussion of the nature of “being”; and this distinction of provinces Hegel himself, as we saw, held in the earlier stages of his development. But if the content of Logic is to be at once thought and being, subject and object, it is clear that the distinction of these spheres of interest in philosophy falls away and Logic is at the same time a Metaphysic.[12] And such an identification Hegel explicitly makes. It covers the area of Logic in the old sense, and also the various branches of former Metaphysic – Ontology, Cosmology, Pneumatology (Psychology), and Theology. The content of these philosophical disciplines forms, in fact, the greater part of Hegel’s Logic, namely, the first and second parts entitled “Objective Logic.” The content of Logic as hitherto understood is dealt with in the course of the “Subjective Logic,"[13] which forms the third and last part of the Logic. It is not, therefore, the objects dealt with by these several philosophical sciences which distinguishes Hegel’s Logic from preceding systems, but the way their object-matter is conceived. Formerly the “world,” “soul,” “God” were treated as substances given and ready to hand, which had certain commonly accepted “attributes,” “forces,” etc.

which had to be connected and explained. Hegel, however, considers the notions employed simply as notions, does not take any substrata of fact for granted,[14] but examines the meaning and connexion of the very conceptions, “substance,” “attribute,” “force,” etc., without limitation to any specific subject-matter such as “world” or “soul.” When, therefore, the notions are thus taken in their nakedness as notions, it is clear that the discussion of them holds more clearly of Logic in the old sense than of Metaphysic in the old sense, for Logic is traditionally regarded as concerned with notions. And, indeed, if “Metaphysic” is regarded as dealing with ultimate reality, and ultimate reality is reason, is notion, the identification of Metaphysic with Logic is a simple and natural change of terminology. Hegel, too, had already the authority of Kant for the change; he regards Kant’s Transcendental Logic as corresponding, at least in part, to his own “Objective Logic,"[15] and considers his Logic to be in the direct line of succession from Kant and his followers.[16] Thus, then, whereas in preceding philosophy, and also in Hegel’s earlier thought, Logic either preceded or was subordinate to Metaphysic, now Metaphysic is absorbed into Logic and identified with it.

But Logic is more than Metaphysic in the ordinary sense of that term. In virtue of its intimate relation to religion, out of which, indeed, it may be said to originate, the Logic may be regarded as the philosophical exposition of the object of the religious consciousness. But if so, the Logic can be considered as at once Theology and Revelation; and Hegel states almost in so many words that it is both. The Logic, he declares, contains “die Darstellung Gottes wie er in seinem ewigen Wesen vor der Erschaffung der Natur und eines endlichen Geistes ist."[17] Such an exposition is what a genuine theology at least attempts to furnish. And, again, throughout the Logic, he continually indicates the theological reference of the science by his recognition of the notions as determinations, as “predicates” of the Absolute. This will be found from beginning to end of the Logic.[18] That the Logic may be accurately described as Revelation seems equally evident from Hegel’s own words. In general, indeed, this can be readily admitted when we consider what is really meant by Logic being the self-exposition of the Absolute Subject. Revelation means simply the making evident or outward of the inner life and truth of Absolute Spirit; and this is what the Logic actually professes to do. Hegel’s own statements on the point, however, are unambiguous. “The true form of mind,” he says, “is just to be what is revealed or manifest” (das Offenbare); this is its very notion.[19] But mind in Logic is manifest to itself in the form of self. Hegel, indeed, goes further than this general identification of Logic with the idea of Revelation; he declares especially that “Revealed Religion” is itself “Speculative Knowledge.” “God,” he says,[20] “is only attainable in pure speculative knowledge; He is found solely in that knowledge, and is that knowledge itself. For He is Spirit (der Geist); and this speculative knowledge is the knowledge given in and possessed by Revealed Religion. The former knows Him as thought (or in His pure essentiality), and knows that this thought has both being and existence. This existence, again, it knows as the negativity of its self, consequently as self, as a particular and as a universal self. But this is simply what Revealed Religion knows."[21] All this makes sufficiently clear that Logic is Revelation in the essential meaning of that term. But it is evident also that “revelation” is not here used in the restricted and ordinary sense of the word. Hegel’s interpretation no doubt contains, and has deliberately in view, the current acceptation of the term; but it contains more and goes deeper. This alone, indeed, would justify what otherwise seems rather like philosophical quixotism.

This intimate connexion of Hegel’s Logic with Theology again confirms what was said above regarding the influence of Religion as a supreme determining factor in Hegel’s development. We pointed this out at the start of his career; and here in his final system we find not merely Religion one of the highest modes of experience, but the very highest is, in a sense, a Revelation. This is no mere accident in Hegel’s philosophy.

It stamps an original insight of Hegel’s mind with the character of a logical necessity.

Such, then, is the general content of Hegel’s final Logic, as this originated out of the position attained in, and established by, the Phenomenology of Mind. If we gather the foregoing into a single sentence we shall see at a glance how the conception of the Logic as the organism of truth came into existence. Given that Reality is simply the totality of experience, that the truth of experience is its essence, and that its essence is Reason; given, again, that Reason is mind’s essential nature, that knowing itself in the form of self is true self-knowledge, and that self-knowledge consists in knowing its constitutive Notions; and given, finally, that the one Absolute Mind, which is Reality, is in nature and substance the same as individual mind – given these general positions, and the Logic as the systematic exposition of the ultimate experiencecontent of Absolute Subject takes shape and form before us. The soul of this organism lies in the Method by which its members are fitly joined together. The origin and nature of this we must now proceed shortly to state.

Notes A. The origin of the Subdivisions of the Logic.

The origin of the threefold division of the Logic into the Logic of Being, of Essence, and of Notion is not difficult to find. We have seen that Logic has to furnish the fundamental conceptions underlying the various forms of experience, the various ways in which subject and object are united. None of these can be ignored, and all have their value. Now from the Phenomenology[22] it appeared that there are three specifically distinct forms in which the object can stand related to the subject: it may stand over against the self as something opposed to the self (Consciousness of Objects); it may be the Ego itself (Self-consciousness); and it may be both identified with the self and objective to it (Reason). Or, to put it otherwise, in the first, mind is absorbed in the external object as it immediately is, without definite consciousness of distinction. In the second, the self turns back upon itself, the mere immediacy ceases or is transcended, experience divides itself into a conscious duality. In the last, the experience is that of the self become immediate to itself, its content which is subject and inward is become objective, mind is absorbed in its object, and that object is its self, The first is the phase of mere perceptive consciousness (Wahrnehmung), the second is that of consciousness of distinction, of judgment (division, Ur-teil), the third that of comprehension (Begreifen), of reasoning consciousness, or, more specifically, of Inference. These three moments of knowledge are not imaginary; they are actual forms of experience; and “science” itself in the narrower sense of the term proceeds by these three stages. In knowing an object we first “see” it, “get an idea” of it. Then starting from that as our immediate basis, we proceed to reflect about it, to turn from it into ourselves, i.e., become conscious of our own selves with reference to it. This is the stage at which we seek to “explain” the phenomenon: we construct hypotheses and assumptions regarding it, which, as we say, are our own, exist in our own minds; and in the end we select from among them after passing through the doubt and perplex it of “probable explanations.” All this clearly can only be possible if we are self-conscious, can within ourselves create a distinction of ourselves from the whole “objective world,” and be conscious of ourselves apart from it.

No such process of “explanation,” of devising hypothesis, etc., could take place in a being limited to the stage of mere consciousness. While, finally, having “found” our explanation we proceed to “infer” from one characteristic in the object to some other, or from one state of the object to another at some future time or in the present. But this means that we regard the thoughts or principles by which we “explain” the object, and which have originated from ourselves after going through the second stage, as actually constitutive of the object itself, as existing not simply “within” us (at the stage of self-consciousness) but “without” us. And that we find our inference “correct,” i.e., “verified by experience,” guarantees the objectivity of the principle, and at once brings to light as well as justifies the ground on which all rational knowledge depends – the union of self and object in a single rational system which is controlling both. It is because subject and object together share the life of the same Reason that “inference” regarding the “objective world” is possible at all. To infer that one thing will follow upon another in the world is to assume that the world is the embodiment of a reasonable plan, which has come for the time being into our conscious possession, and which we thus use to connect one part with another.

Now all these three moments are necessary to complete knowledge, and the last contains the two preceding, in the sense in which Hegel understands this expression, i.e., not as abolished, but as maintained in their essential significance. Hence in that science (Logic) which is to comprehend the ultimate conceptions on which all knowledge is based, must be contained those which are fundamental and determinative in each of those grades of knowledge. To discover what these are we have but to reflect on what constitutes the content of knowledge in each case.

When objects are “perceived,” and our experience of them merely immediate, the essential characteristic is simply that they are; they “are there before us,” they “are so and so,” whether qualified in a certain way, or limiting one another, or in a process of change, or with a certain size, etc. The constitutive conceptions stated quite abstractly are thus those of mere immediacy, of Being in general. All those conceptions, then, which are determinative of immediate knowledge, are formulated and systematised in the first part of the Logic, which is called therefore the Logic of Being. These are Being, Nothing, Becoming, Quality, Quantity, Existence, Number, Measure, and the like. In all these the same fundamental characteristic is to be found. They are conceptions of what simply is, of what comes first to hand, of what is immediately presented before the distinction of appearance from inner reality takes place in knowledge.

This latter distinction arises when mind separates a permanent core of substance in the object from what the object is just “as it comes,” is aware of a continuous unity connecting changes or discrete phases. Such a separation is discovered and produced by leaving the mere immediate reality, or (to put it otherwise) looking beyond what is simply presented, and holding this in suspense while we relate it to the enduring reality which supports it. But when we thus turn away from the merely immediate we can only fall back upon ourselves. In other words, we reflect upon the object, and this reflexion is made possible because we can make a distinction within ourselves, because we are self-conscious. Selfconsciousness involves distinguishing a momentary content of self from a permanent unity underlying it, and it is this which renders possible the distinction of permanent from apparent in the object. Reflexion, then, starts from the distinction of these phases of the object, and qua reflexion it remains within, is concerned solely with, their separation. It arises out of various questions[23] and appears in many forms. Thus when we have Consequences we ask for and find Grounds, with Differences we must have an Identity, with Accidents we have Substance, with Effects we have Cause, etc. They are brought out by “reasoning,” by doubt, by Raisonnement of every description. But in each and all the same general characteristic is present, namely, a distinction of essential nature from outward appearance. Those ultimate conceptions then, underlying this process of reflexion, are grouped under the general head of the Logic of Relexion or the Logic of Essence (the second part of Logic), and whatever complementary conceptions arise out of the distinction on which this process is based, will find their place in this section. Such are Essence and Appearance, Identity and Difference, Thing and Qualities, Content and Form, Actual and Possible, Necessary and Contingent, etc.

While, finally, when mind does not simply apprehend the object in its immediacy, nor hold in distinction the phases of its content in mutually implicative yet contrasted antithesis (which, though it cannot aban don, it does not overcome); but grasps its content in such a way that its inner principle determines its particular appearance, its immediate reality is permeated by its mediating ground – then mind fully comprehends the object, distinction is known to be transient, and mind is fully at home in its object. The stage of grasping or comprehending the object is that of Begreifen, of constitutive Notions (Begriffe), notions which are moments in the life of mind and determinative of the object, in which therefore mind and object, immediacy and mediations, insight and reflexion, are indissolubly one with each other. All the forms in which this stage of knowledge is realised find in this third section of the Logic their ultimate notions, and this section is therefore called the Logic of the Notion. Such forms are those of “Conception” as such, of the process of Syllogism and Inference, of the principles determining the processes of “Nature,” Mechanical, Chemical, Purpose, of the supreme Ideas which determine Reality as a whole, etc. In all these the same fundamental features are present.

Such then is the way in which the various subdivisions of the Logic were determined or discovered by Hegel. He describes the first two parts as the “Objective Logic,” and the last as the “Subjective Logic.” But he distinctly warns us to place no great stress on this form of characterisation. He adopts such expressions because they are “usual” in treatises dealing with the subject, but he declares they are “the most indefinite and for that reason the most ambiguous expressions."[24] And when we bear in mind what the conclusion of the Phenomenology means we can see the point of his remark. He includes “Essence” under “Objective Logic,” because though “Essence denotes what is inward, yet it is better to restrict the character of Subject expressly to the Notion."[25] Here again we see the terminology is largely adopted for convenience, as well as precision. He points out, too, that his “Objective Logic” covers the ground for the most part of Kant’s “Transcendental Logic,” but differs from the latter in function and character – a difference due to Hegel’s general principle, and indicated in his criticism of Kant.[26] Further, [27] his “Objective Logic” takes the place of the old “Metaphysic,” more especially of the Ontology, but also of the Psychology, Cosmology, and Theology so far as they sought to illumitate such ideas as “Soul” “World,” and “God” by conceptions of reason. But Hegel’s Logic takes these realities in their pure conceptual form apart from their popular representation. For that reason his Logic is the proper criticism of such ideas.

In the above explanation of the origin of the divisions of the Logic we must not suppose that since only the last division deals with the “Logic of the Notion” the other two should have no place in a science of ultimate conceptions. This would be a confusion. The Logic from first to last, as we have seen, contains nothing but notions. Hegel, indeed, did mark the distinction between the divisions by naming[28] the first the discussion of the “Categories,” the second that of the “Principles of Reflexion” (Reflexionsbestimmungen), and the third that of the “Notions”; but we saw that this was merely a matter of terminology. We have in the Logic solely “pure notions.” The fact that in the first two the conceptions are the ultimate conceptions at work in the incomplete forms of knowledge, does not render their presence in the Logic less important or invalid. For incomplete forms of knowledge are still knowledge, and the Logic is to contain the fundamental notions underlying all knowledge complete as well as incomplete. And all such conceptions must be Notions just because they are conceptions specifically for Absolute Knowledge, or Logic, in which, as we have seen, the distinction between subject and object has been removed, and which therefore belongs solely to reason, whose characteristic it is to be at once subjective and objective. We may state the matter shortly by saying that, whereas the difference between Perception, Reflexion, and Reason is a difference in completeness of realisation of the essential aim of knowledge as a historical fact in experience, the categories or notions underlying such forms of knowledge express in different degrees the content of pure or absolute Truth. How such notions are actually related we have already tried to show.

B. The changes of content in the various forms of the Logic after 1807.

Hegel’s Logic appears in a slightly different form in the Propaedeutik, in the larger Logic, and in the various editions of the Encyclopaedia.

The divergences are mainly of two kinds: the order or arrangement of the conceptions, and the number of them. The differences in regard to the former are on the whole much slighter than in the case of the latter.

After the larger Logic (1812-16) there is in fact no change of any significance in the order in which the notions are expounded. This is what we might expect when we bear in mind that the Logic of the Encyclopaedia is nothing more than an abridged version of the complete Logic, confessedly adapted for the students attending Hegel’s Lectures at the University.

The most striking differences in both arrangement and completeness of the content of the Logic are to be found in the Propaedeutik. But these differences must, as we have already remarked, be interpreted in the light of the purpose of the Propaedeutik, and do not necessarily indicate any change at all in Hegel’s views of the subject. This is the more certain when we bear in mind (1) that Logic appears in different forms in the Propaedeutik itself. Logic was taught in two classes at the Gymnasium, the “middle” and the “higher,” and was expounded differently to each. (2) Hegel taught Logic in this way at the Gymnasium from 1808-11, while during at least a part of this time he must have been writing his larger Logic, the first part of which (the Logic of Being and of Essence) appeared in 1812. Yet the complete exposition of the larger Logic was apparently not allowed to affect the peculiar character of the Logic taught to his pupils. All through the Propaedeutik, further, it is clear that he is more concerned to make the various conceptions clear and precise in themselves than to show their inherent connexion with each other. This being his purpose, the order in which they were presented and the completeness in the exposition were of slight significance compared with the importance of enabling the pupils to understand the meaning of familiar notions – such as “being,” “something,” “existence,” “negation,” etc. And from this point of view the Propaedeutik is extremely instructive.

If we take in detail some of the differences of the Logic of the Propaedeutik from the larger Logic, we shall note more particularly that “alteration"[29] (Veränderung) stands in the place of “Infinitude,” and that “finitude” as such does not appear. Again, “Number” is not mentioned in dealing with “Amount"[30] (Quantum), and “Measure” (Maasz) is not subdivided. Under “Actuality"[31] (Wirklichkeit) only Substance, Cause, and Reciprocity are dealt with. In analysing the notions of Purpose, Mechanism, and Chemism, the last two are in one place[32] discussed after Purpose, and in another form[33] of the Logic of the Notion are not mentioned at all. It is remarked as noteworthy by Rosenkranz in his Introduction[34] to the Propaedeutik that, in analysing the “Ideas” in the Logic of the short Encyclopaedia given in the Propaedeutik,[35] Hegel, while mentioning the “Idea of Knowledge,” “passes over in silence the Idea of Conduct (die praktische Idee).” But this Idea, the Idea of the Good, or of Conduct (Handeln), is explicitly mentioned in the Logic as given to the “Middle class,"[36] and also in the Logic of the Notion given to the “Upper class."[37] The internal divergences in the forms in which the Logic appears in the Propaedeutik, and their difference from the more complete Logic, indicate the limited purpose of the analysis in the case of the former, and are merely significant of the freedom with which Hegel treated his subject.

In a similar manner must be interpreted the main divisions of Logic given in the Propaedeutik. In one place[38] he says that “thoughts consist of three kinds: (1) Categories, (2) principles of Reflexion (Reflexionsbestimmungen), and (3) Notions (Begriffe)”; the first two making the “Objective Logic” and covering the ground of “Metaphysic” in the old sense; the last the “Subjective Logic” or Logic in the narrower sense. But again[39] he says that “Objective Logic is the science of the notion (Begriff) ‘an sich,’ or of the Categories,” while Subjective Logic is “the science of the notion as such or as notion of something.” Elsewhere[40] he further says, “Logic falls into three parts: (1) Ontological Logic, (2) Subjective Logic, (3) Analysis of the Ideas (Ideenlehre).” These different ways of stating the nature of Logic are really different in nothing more than terminology, but they indicate the absence of any restraint in his expressions, and especially his desire to fit in Logic, as he understood it, with traditional and current Philosophical discussion.

In this way, too, we should interpret his statement[41] that “Logic is the science of pure understanding and pure reason.... The object-matter of Logic (das Logische) has three aspects: (1) the Abstract or aspect of understanding, (2) the Dialectical or the aspect of negative reason, (3) the Speculative or that of positive reason.” This does not mean that there are three different kinds of notions, nor does it mean that understanding and reason are separate sources of truth. He means simply that there are distinguishable moments in each notion, and that they correspond to certain distinct functions of the mind ordinarily accepted, which are commonly understood and were previously taken by himself to be separate from each other. In this statement, in fact, we find an expression for the position he took up after the Second Period in his development, and see by what principle he overcame the difficulties in his previous views, and reconciled his former with his final position.

In the Logic of 1812-16 we again find a similar reference to the terms Understanding and Reason.[42] The “determinate notion” is there described as the “sphere of mere understanding”; while “reason” is the “sphere of the Idea.” Yet as we have seen, the Logic as such is the content of Reason. There are no notions of understanding per se in Logic as finally interpreted by Hegel.

The changes of content in the Logic throughout the various editions of the Encyclopaedia seem to have been the outcome of his successive Lectures on the subject. Hegel throughout his career as a teacher was continually struggling to express the same ideas in new form, and in any case to get rid of stereotyped formulae. This accounts for the abundance of illustration, especially in the third edition of the Encyclopaedia. The alterations in his exposition of the Logic mainly consist in elaboration or illustration, and do not contain in arrangement or general content of the Logic any difference from the larger Logic of 1812.

The general conclusion which we draw from these changes in the substance of the Logic in its successive forms is that we have no claim to regard Hegel’s Logic as a finished and unalterable body of truth, the validity of which, as a whole, stands or falls with the validity of each part of it, for the light of reason does not come by verbal inspiration; that the various alterations do not affect the value of the principle and method, but are the result of them; and that no stress can be laid on the seeming finality which is characteristic of the system.


1. We only have knowledge, and we always do have it, when we have a union of an immediate element with a process of mediation, or, to use the ambiguous Kantian expression, where we have something “given” on which we are to exercise reflexion. Now both factors are required and are found in the System of Logic. The notions are the mind’s own self; and since it is self-conscious, the notions are directly present to it, they are that of which it is conscious, its immediate, its “given,” “its facts.” That they are immediate, simply means that the self is conscious of them, it is their character as objects of knowledge. That they are in content universal, is irrelevant to their being immediate.

Because again the self is conscious of them, and in that sense conscious of its (complete) self as distinct from each particular notion, it can relate them to itself and to one another – mediate them. It can do so simply because it is self-conscious, unity in difference in a conscious form, and must maintain the unity through and in distinction.

And finally, because in both factors the self is in its truest form (universality), the system of knowledge produced by the union of immediacy and mediation is the highest form of necessary knowledge. This is the Logic.

2. Any other interpretation of experience would be either Scepticism, Solipsism, or Identit tssystem.

3. For example, when mind is absorbed in Sense-Perception, it is not taking up the attitude of Reasoned Knowledge or of the Moral Life.

We can, therefore, separate the subject of all experience from the object which it has or would have in a particular experience.

4. This conception of the notions as ultimate unities is essentially in agreement with Kant’s “ā priori synthetic notions.” That they are “unities” means that they are “synthetic,” and being “ultimate” they are ā priori. Cf. Logik, iii. 28.

5. The importance of all this is of course seen most clearly in the use made of it for the “ontological proof” of the existence of God.

6. Propaedeutik, §§ 1, 2, 4, 5; Logik, i. 44. “Das System der Logik ist das Reich der Schatten, die Welt der einfachen Wesenheiten, von aller sinnlichen Concretion befreit.”

7. Phän. d. Geist. Vorrede, 15.

8. Only a finite mind can be religious.

9. Cf. Phän. pp. 551 f.; also above, chap. vi.

10. See above on Absolute Knowledge.

11. Cf. Phän. p. 66.

12. Logik, i. 26 f., 35, 51, 52, 55; Propaedeutik (WW. xviii. 93, 94).

13. For the explanation of “objective” and “subjective” Logic v. Note A.

14. Logik, i. 52.

15. Logik, i. 49.

16. Cf. Logik, i. 30, 35, 49-52.

17. Log. I. 33.

18. v. e.g., Log. I. 69 ff.; iii. 317 ff.

19. Cf. Phän. pp. 550 ff.

20. Phän. p. 552.

21. ibid. p. 552. This apparently unqualified identification of Logic and Religion must of course be interpreted in the light of the essential distinction of Logic from Religion indicated above (pp. 186 ff.).

22. Cf. also Phänomenologie in Propaedeutik, WW. xviii. pp. 79.81.

23. It may be said, in fact, that reflective knowledge begins with the shaping of a question. For a question presupposes conscious distinction of self from objects. With the question arises the distinction of truth and falsehood; and the existence of a question is contemporane ous with the existence of judgment. Hence it is that the judgment, the distinction of truth and falsehood, the existence of a question, all imply one another. For they all have their source in the distinction of self from objects.

24. Log. I. WW. iii. pp. 48, 52.

25. ibid. p. 49.

26. v. Chap. iv. pp. 100 ff.

27. WW. iii. pp. 51, 52.

28. In the Propaedeutik, p. 93.

29. Propaedeutik, p. 96 (WW. xviii.).

30. ibid. p. 98.

31. ibid. p. 105.

32. Propaedeutik, p. 140.

33. ibid. p. 164.

34. WW. xviii. p. xix.

35. ibid. pp. 166 ff.

36. ibid. p. 120.

37. ibid p. 142.

38. ibid. p. 93.

39. ibid. p. 123.

40. WW. p. 149.

41. Propaed. p. 148.

42. WW. v. 31, 32.