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

Chapter IX: Origin and Nature of the Method of the Logic

The fundamental characteristic of the Method of the Logic is its necessary and essential identity with the content just described.

This Hegel continually emphasises; and, indeed, it is in virtue of this that the method can be, as Hegel claims, the only true philosophical method. For if the construction of a system is really not furnished by some means outside the system – an external agency due in the long run to the fact that our mind acts and works in some way apart from the process of the reality we know and seek to systematise – then clearly the system is determined by its own content and from within, i.e., is, in a legitimate sense of the term, “self-constructed."[1] But a self-constructed system of ultimate truth is not simply a philosophy, it is philosophy in its final shape, it is philosophy in the form which has attained the goal of all philosophy. On the method, therefore, depends the possibility of absolute Idealism as a system, just as on the character of the content depended Absolute Knowledge as a reality of experience.

[2] With the validity of the method Hegel’s system as a system stands or falls. We need not be surprised, therefore, at the stress he lays upon an accurate method,[3] or the confidence with which he regards his own.

He does not hesitate to declare[4] that though he might wish the method more completely worked out in detail, he is sure at the same time that it is the only true method to be followed.

It is not difficult to see what is meant by this identity of content with method. In the Phenomenology it was established that mind was the determining principle in experience as a whole, and in each part of it.

Experience, as it appears, is the unfolding of the actual life of Spirit in all its manifold forms. Now not merely in each form, and not merely, again, in the whole was mind present, but itself determined the process from stage to stage, itself made the transition from form to form, and was that transition as much as the forms into which it passed. But if so, then since the content of the “System of Experience” was constituted by mind, the connexion between its parts which made the system possible is similarly constituted. In other words, the Phenomenology is self-constructed and self-determined. It is one and the same mind which fashions the many expressions of experience into a single connected context, and which owns them as its experience. There is, therefore, no separation between the matter of the system and its mode of constitution.

But it is clear from this that the method of construction must likewise pervade each part of the system as a part; that is, it must be the moving principle of each mode of experience. In fact, since experience from beginning to end is essentially a process, the method of connecting its elements is the essential nature of that process itself. It is immanent in each and all, and not transcendent. Hence of the last stage in the life of experience this also holds. In Absolute Knowledge, therefore, the process active throughout it is the same as the activity throughout all experience, and its method of operation is the same. Thus, then, we see that in virtue of Logic being a determinate mode of experience falling within the scope of the Phenomenology, its content and its method by their very constitution are one and the same reality.

Indeed, it is more evident in the case of Logic that this must be so.

For there, as we have just found, the mind’s self (universality) appears simply as universal, in the form of Notion. The self in such knowledge is the object of knowledge. Nothing falls inside such a mode of experience but the essential nature of mind. Hence the act of knowing and the content known, being moments of one and the same self, in one and the same mode of experience, the method (which determines the process of knowing) and the content which is its object, are indissoluble.

But if we bear in mind this inner unity of content and method, it becomes perfectly clear what the general nature of the method must be.

We find that the method operates not merely in the Phenomenology and the Logic, but also throughout the Philosophy of Nature and Philosophy of Mind, as also throughout subdivisions of these, such as the Philosophy of Law. And it operates throughout all these diverse phenomena solely in virtue of one fact – that they are all determinations of mind.

This is the single principle common to them all, and is the foundation of their reality. But if the method is likewise found in each and all of these various sciences, it must be because it is the essential nature of mind to operate in this way. Thus we arrive inevitably at this result – that the method is simply the inner activity of mind, itself the only and the necessary form which its procedure can take. Mind is essentially a living activity; experience is nothing if not the explicit expression of that activity.

But activity must take a definite and a self-consistent form if it is to be the activity of the same reality. The method is neither more nor less than the simple rhythm of that process, the measure to which the life of mind beats time. The method, therefore, cannot be external to mind, cannot determine its procedure from without, for it is precisely how mind really works. Mind is not a single unit in the scheme of things; it is the whole of experience. It must therefore hold its varied content together, arrange it, determine it, etc. And the way it connects its elements together is just its method of procedure in experience.

And now we see again why Hegel should have laid such stress on his philosophical method. He professes in the method to have found the essential rhythm of the movement of mind. But if this is known, then the last obstacle in the way of the construction of an absolute system is removed. For if we know the ultimate principle of experience, and also the way experience is organised by this principle, then clearly the goal of philosophy is within sight of attainment. There can be no doubt about the absoluteness of such a system, nor any hesitation about its finality at least in substance, if not in detail. Such a system gets rid entirely of “subjectivity,” of the errors which inevitably arise from arbitrariness in method and procedure. It is complete in itself and self-contained, because self-determined. In it alone do we have what all science and all philosophy aim at, completely objective knowledge. This method is the only condition of the possibility of such knowledge. Thus the method is essential to Hegel’s fundamental contentions. That Reality is Subject, that mind is the foundation of all experience, the reality of Absolute Idealism, the existence of objective knowledge – all these positions are indissolubly bound up with the truth of the method. In fact we may say that the method and these principles mutually imply each other. If the method can be admitted to operate, then Reality is Subject, and objective knowledge is obtained; while, again, to attain to objective knowledge is ipso facto to employ this method, and to assert that Reality is Subject.

But while the fundamental character of the method above stated makes it quite evident in a general way what the method professes to be, and is of supreme importance for the interpretation of it, we are not thereby assisted in determining how the method actually goes to work, more especially in Logic. For light on this we again turn to the Phenomenology.

We saw that the Logic dealt with the determining notions of all concrete experience, and that consequently in Logic we covered the same area of reality as was systematically connected in the Phenomenology (viz., all Reality itself), but considered solely the ultimate nature, the essential content of the various modes of experience. The content of the Phenomenology, therefore, is essentially the content of Logic, and the process of experience is at bottom a logical process.[5] We are entitled to conclude, then, that what the method is in the Phenomenology it will also be in the Logic, and that its characteristic features as found in the former will have their counterpart, or, if we choose, their duplicate, in the latter. Now we saw that when the analysis of a given mode of experience brings to light the inner truth of that mode, a truth which is other than the actual truth possessed by that mode itself, the presence of this new truth to mind brings about and necessarily requires a change of attitude on the part of mind itself, a new mode of experience.[6] The alteration of the ray of truth implies an alteration in the reflecting medium.

Thus when consciousness, after exhausting the meaning of mere Sense, finds its truth in a universal element in sense, e.g., a Quality, it signifies its attainment of this new truth by a new mode of conscious experience-perception.

It passes from the one stage to the other by a change of conscious attitude, an Umkehrung des Bewusstseins. This procedure must have its counterpart in Logic. It will correspond, in fact, to the change from one notion to another in the Logic. Thus the transition, the Uebergang, from notion to notion is the logical expression for the Umkehrung des Bewusstseins in the Phenomenology. The latter is the form in which mind passes from stage to stage and, in passing, connects stage with stage of its concrete experience; the former is the manner in which the moments of ultimate truth are built into the structure of Absolute Knowledge.

Now since this Umkehrung is the nerve of the process in the Phenomenology, we shall find the clue to the meaning of the “transition” from notion to notion in Logic in the procedure of the method in the Phenomenology. We cannot, of course, find a point-for-point similarity between them; for the content of the Phenomenology is not as it stands that of Logic. Each proceeds on its own account, and is self-contained.

Still, it is at least precisely the same general method which operates in each;[7] and that method as found in the Phenomenology exhibits more palpably and clearly its modus operandi, simply because the content is there more concrete and tangible. We shall, therefore, allow the latter to throw as much light as possible on the “transition” in the Logic; and we shall feel the more justified in doing so when we reflect that it was undoubtedly the nature and the use of the method in the Phenomenology which originated the method in the form found in Logic.

The essential elements, then, in this “transition” to which we must call attention are (1) the idea of truth underlying Hegel’s procedure, (2) the kind of relation subsisting between the contents connected, and (3) the end attained by the transition.

Ordinary opinion and popular philosophy may not have any very precise conception of what it means by truth, but at least it considers that there is only one form and kind of truth, and that anything different from this is either not truth or is falsehood. This position may be taken up in different ways by different thinkers. Sometimes by truth is meant simply Scientific Truth. Morality in such a case is regarded as something occupying an entirely different sphere of experience; it is not concerned with truth, but with “instincts” or “impulses.” This may be said either by way of repudiating morality, or merely to exclude it from the area of truth. Similarly, again, Religion or Philosophy is on such a view excluded from “truth” – the former because it is “practical,” the latter because it deals with “ideas” only, not with “immediate facts.” Or, again, in scientific truth, only one phase of science is regarded as giving truth, namely, that in which the law or principle of the facts is stated. The mere facts are not truth, but “something given,” the “material” of truth.

Or further, in opposition to this, the view may be held that only the moral life gives “truth,” that science is at best systematised metaphor.

In any of these cases, and they are all examples of the same position, truth, strictly understood, is relegated to one area or attitude of experience; the rest of experience is simply excluded from it.

Now with all this Hegel’s conception of truth presents the most decided contrast. The root idea of the Phenomenology is that no one phase of experience is alone capable of containing truth. Every form of the life of mind has its own specific truth, which is only one of the rays which illuminate experience. None of these can exhaust the entire truth; for the full truth is the whole of experience, and each of them is only a moment of it. “The Truth,” as Hegel continually insists, “is the whole.” All forms of experience contribute to the expression of the truth, but truth cannot be exhaustively expressed by any one of them; only the full blaze of all experience can reveal the completeness of its glory. Not even does Absolute Knowledge profess to contain the entire truth.

Experience, therefore, according to Hegel, is too rich, and is in each phase too real, to be expressed by any one kind of truth. Truth is simply all experience. And it is not difficult to understand how, for Hegel, this should be so. Experience is constituted by the interrelation of subject and object; wherever we have this there we have an attitude of mind, and there consequently we have a form of truth, for “truth is agreement of mind with its object.” It is the one mind which stands related to diverse objects. Each relation is essential to it, and each contains its own truth. Hence only the manifold relations to its objects exhaust its life, and reveal its truth. The truth is the whole because only the whole exhausts the forms of activity of the one mind, which has experience.

Now with such a conception of truth there is only one way in which a comprehensive system of truth can be constructed. In the case of the ordinary view of truth above stated, system is obtained by determining the facts by a principle, and either rejecting what does not agree with it, or modifying the principle in such a way as to comprehend the facts.

But if, as in the present case, no phase of experience can be omitted, the only manner in which connexion is either possible or necessary is to show their inner relation simply as forms of experience. The truth of one does not cancel the truth of another; consequently to systematise them we must accept each at its worth, and weave them somehow into the seamless robe of the one Reality. The only alternative is to make a classification or a catalogue of the modes of experience. And, as we saw, Hegel accomplishes this systematisation by showing that the one mind present throughout experience connects its various attitudes in virtue of the fact that the explicit content of one is the implicit content of another (preceding) attitude. Mind passes necessarily to a new attitude in order to be fully aware of what was implied in the preceding. By this simple means, therefore, Hegel at once does justice to his conception of truth, and his demand for system. The Umkehrung des Bewusstseins is the nerve of the inner connexion of the content of the Phenomenology, and derives its meaning and importance from the idea of truth on which the “System of Experience” is based.

Hence the significance of “transition” in the Logic. It is the necessary condition of the realisation of a system which is to contain truth in the above sense. All its moments are to be truths, and itself is to be the whole organism of truth. It is to cover all experience, and is ipso facto the whole which is the truth; and it is to deal with the essential content, the inner notion of each mode, which because a form of experience is eo ipso true. The truth which is the whole is not something over and above the truths of experience; it is simply the latter in their unity. The only way to construct the system of such notions is to show their essential connexion as expressions of one and the same mind, which both is the specific notions as such, and itself is the movement from one to another.

And this is done when the notions “pass into” one another. The fact that we are dealing with ultimate notions, essential content, does not mean that these are complete in themselves, or that no connexion of them is possible. Though ultimate they are still realisations of that which is the ground reality of all of them, the self, and hence are necessarily related as forms of a single unity. Mind in each notion determines itself differently, but it is always the same self which is determined.

Such, then, being the purpose of “transition” from notion to notion, we next ask how exactly is the process brought about? what starts the movement? There is only one answer – the existence of opposition, discord, contradiction. All change, we may say, generally is due to disturbance of equilibrium within a given whole. We find this in a physical system where there is disparity between attraction and repulsion; or, again, in the conduct of life with its contrast of end and desire, attainment and actuality. It is so in all concrete human experience; in knowledge we see it where the consciousness of an ideal of explanation compels the scientist to accumulate his facts, to deepen his insight into their relations, to heal the gulf between discreteness and complete connectedness.

The very expression “search for truth” indicates a process which has its impulse in a felt contradiction. Now the Phenomenology showed how this contradiction appeared and was removed in the various stages of actual spiritual experience. The one mind which has experience only realises its complete life in the whole of experience. But in each mode in which it appears it is realising itself, for each is pro tanto experience.

Yet with nothing short of the whole of reality will it rest satisfied, only with the whole is it completely at home with itself. Hence the antithesis between the fulness of its completed life, and the insufficiency of any one special mode of it, both creates other modes in which it must realise itself and compels it to pass from a less sufficient to a more complete form of experience. This opposition, which operates perpetually through out concrete experience,[8] and is absolutely necessary to it (because it is the same self whose life is realised both as universal and as special or particular), is the motive force which initiates and maintains the process of experience, and produces the continual conversion of conscious attitude (Umkehrung) which appears throughout it.

And the process in Logic is similarly constituted. Here we deal with the ultimate content of the self; but it is one and the same self which determines itself in diverse ultimate (i.e., distinct and irreducible) forms.

It is only really itself when its entire content is exhaustively expressed, when its whole self in its universality is the self which it knows. Anything short of this will not be a notion adequate to its essential nature.

Hence the contrast between its complete essential reality and a determinate essential notion compels that one mind, which possesses both and realises itself in both, to leave its inadequate realisation and proceed to a more complete expression. This process is inevitable if the same mind must (and does) seek to express its self in its entirety, and at the same time in a special form. The one being as essential to its nature as the other, each in fact being its own essence, the opposition between these two forms of its self is inseparable from its very life; and with that opposition the process, the “transition,” which it creates and necessitates.

We must not regard the notions as entities somehow created by but external to the self; they are the self in its essential form. And since they all express its life, the contrast between the more adequate notion and the less adequate is really the contrast between the self more completely and less completely expressed. Hence the change from notion to notion.

But we must here guard against an error of interpretation. This “transition” is not brought about at each stage by opposing the full tide of the self to a single wave of its truth. This is at once unnecessary, and hardly possible. It is sufficient to produce the alteration, if greater completeness in any sense and to any degree is contrasted with less. It is absurd to suppose that the entire life of mind is explicitly opposed to each determinate notion. What we really have is some implicit totality along-side an explicit mode or phase of it. The mere determinateness of the notion itself involves this implication. We do not have before us explicitly the notion of “Becoming” when we are dealing with the determinate notion of “Being”; this would already assume the actual presence of what is to be shown to be a result after a process. If this, indeed, were the modus operandi, it would be little better than a mere pretence.

We only become aware of the notion which is more complete but implicit after making it explicit through this process. The fact that it is this notion and not another which is the result produced, shows that this was implied in the notion from which we started. The one mind knows both the explicit and implicit notion, for it knows in experience the totality determined by them both. But it, so to say, does not bring out the implicit notion till the explicit has been exhausted, does not feel the need of the more complete till the less complete has actually been found insufficient.

The self is of course aware of the concrete reality of which all notions are determinations; for, since Logic is the “after-thought” of experience itself, it presupposes the concrete life of mind described in the Phenomenology, where we have already made use of the notions systematised in the Logic. But since Logic is a kind of knowledge sui generis, the process of the Logic starts de novo. The self in the Logic does not simply gather notions miscellaneously and ask how these are to be put together to form a whole. On the contrary, it does not really know what is the notion which is more adequate until it has by analytical scrutiny brought out the meaning of that notion which is less complete.

When the latter is exhausted, then the more adequate comes to light, proceeds out of it; i.e., the one mind “passes over” from one realisation of its self to another.

So much, then, regarding the “transition” from notion to notion.

The foregoing now leads us to consider the kind of relation subsisting between the notions in this process. That relation is briefly what Hegel calls “negation,” “negativity.” The meaning of this important conception cannot, after what has been said, remain very obscure. We must again recall the fact, already emphasised, that the notions are the self in determinate ultimate form, and are concrete (in the sense explained).

They are not bare “ideas,” but the essential meaning of actual experience.

Now, since they are all necessary to experience, necessary to express the full meaning of mind, the self is unable to dispense with any.

Its process from one to other does not therefore mean that it abandons, or annihilates, the notion from which it passes; it must still in some way take the latter into the new notion, for this notion proceeded from and arose out of the other. The self, however, is now realised in a new and more complete expression of itself; it was for this reason that it made the transition from the other notion. And in this lies the meaning of the “negation” of one notion by another. “Negation” does not here mean simple exclusion, as, e.g., light excludes darkness, as A excludes not-A.

The negative is always determinate in itself, is not mere negation, but has a specific meaning of its own. It is negative of something. Hence what such a negative will be depends on what is negated. In the negation the “something” is still implied and contained.[9] The process from one to the other involves this; for the first notion, the transition itself, and the new notion are all continuous with one another; they are phases of the life of one and the same self, which must express itself in and through all of them. It was in this sense that negation was conceived in the Phenomenology, when, e.g., Morality “passed into” Religion, or Sense-consciousness into Perception. The latter did not exclude the former. To do so would have been to lose a part of experience. It would also render the later form itself meaningless; for Perception, e.g., without Sensation is impossible. Because Sensation is a mode of experience it cannot be destroyed; but because Perception realises more fully the relation of the self to external (sense) objects, mind leaves mere sense for Perception; it “negates” sense. The negation of sense is, therefore, not the destruction of it, but the preservation of it in another form, a form more conformable to the mind’s essential nature. Negation is not annihilation, but sublation (Aufhebung). So in the pure notions of Logic. When a notion “negates” another, it determines it still further. All negation is simply determination. It is the same self which must realise itself in all these notions, and all realisation is necessarily positive.

But if this is the essential character of the relation of one notion to another, why is this called “negation"? How can a notion be shown to be the “other” of another notion? In short, how is “otherness,” as distinct from simple difference, determined? For the answer we must refer again to the nature of the self which is the ground of the notions. The self, as we saw, embraced all experience, and is conscious of self in so doing.

Hence it contains in itself all diversity, and yet is conscious of that diversity as its own, as its self. It is at once the source of the plurality and opposition found in experience, and the unity of all opposites. This it must be to constitute one experience. The self is therefore necessarily both the identity and the diversity, the unity and the plurality, which together make experience what it is. But these are the very type and form of all opposition whatsoever, and they are the cardinal antithesis of reality, for they both constitute and give meaning to all the diversity it contains. And, moreover, opposition is the essential nature of the terms themselves. Identity only has significance, only is by being set against difference; and difference has no meaning except in opposition to an identity. Their very existence involves their antithesis; they are locked in ceaseless conflict to prevent each from committing suicide. Thus, then, we see that the deepest opposition in experience lies rooted in the concrete life of the self. Self-consciousness, which is the nature of mind, just consists in unity in diversity. To be conscious of self necessitates distinction, while to be conscious of self asserts an identity throughout the whole process.

And what is thus true of concrete experience is true of the notions in Logic. The notions are the self in its essential and ultimate form. A notion, therefore, is the unity of identity and diversity; it is one and the same, and yet has content, is different. This is involved in the “concreteness” of the notions already explained. They are not “abstract” or “formal” thoughts; they are constitutive of experience, because determinate moments of the self which moulds experience. Now it is in this opposition of elements, which lies in the very nature of every notion, that we are to find the source of the “negative,” the “other” of a given notion.

The “other” would not be an other unless it implied an identity of content between itself and that with which it stood in contrast;[10] and, again, it would not be an other if its content were absolutely identical with its opposite. Thus the notion in its diversity is the “other” of the notion in its identity (and conversely), because it is one and the same content which exists in these two forms. The notion qua identical is necessarily opposed to, is the “other” of the notion qua diverse. That it is the same notion throughout does not make this contrast either meaningless or impossible. It would be meaningless if identity were not as such distinct from diversity, and it would be impossible if there were not contrasted elements in each notion. On the other hand, again, it is because in each case we deal with one and the same notion that a given notion has only one “other” and that therefore there can only be one step from one notion to its negative. A notion qua identity can only be opposed to itself qua diversity. These are its only and its essential elements. A negative can, therefore, only be either of those, according to the element we start from. And this is in part the source of the “necessity” in the construction, to which we shall refer presently.

It must be noted that this process of determining negativity applies not merely to the content of any given notion, but also in the same way to the relation of all the notions in the Logic. We evolve notion from notion by the same principle by which we determine the constitutive elements of a given notion; for the Ego, which is the life of all the no tions, bears the same relation to the diverse content of the Logic as a whole which one notion holds to the elements it contains; it is the same self which is being determined from first to last. One notion, therefore, is the negative, the “other” of another notion in virtue of the same fundamental opposition which is operative in every notion. And, again, what the negative shall be depends entirely on the notion. The notions are all moments of the Ego, but they are not the same in content. The process from one to another, therefore, while determined in the same formal manner, cannot produce the same result. In one case, e.g., we have the antithesis of Quality and Quantity, in another of Essence and Appearance, or, again, of Mechanism and Chemism – all constituted by the same ultimate relationship, but all differing in content.[11] We must therefore determine the connexion of one notion with another by reference to the specific content of each notion.

From the foregoing we can easily understand the course pursued by the method. We begin with the notion simply as a notion; we take it in its mere self-identity, its bare universality. This is necessarily the first moment, because the notion is primarily a universal, a self-identity. But this first moment already implies the second. For to take the notion as mere universality is to determine it, and determination is only possible by reference to another moment. Determination because specific implies contrast, opposition, negation. We have therefore as our second moment the antithesis, the negative of the first, explicitly stated – diversity, particularity. This is found merely by making clear what was contained in the first; it is the result of analysis.[12] But, again, this moment necessitates a third. For now we have the two constitutive moments of the motion over against each other; each is negative of the other; the first is the other of the second just as much as the second is of the first.

The notion is split into a relation of negatives, of terms, each of which is negative to the other; it is in complete inner contradiction with its self.

But this tension of opposite elements does not lead to the disruption of the notion. The fact that these opposites exist in the same notion demands and emphasises the necessity for that unity in which they exist as opposites. Mere diversity of content and complete opposition of elements requires the reassertion of that unity which makes their opposition possible. Here negation itself calls for negation, and indeed implies its own negative – namely, the underlying unity. The third moment is therefore the reinstatement of the identity, the universal, the positive.

For, like the first negative, this third step (negation of the negative) is not bare negation, but determinate negation, negation of definite diversity, and this means assertion of positive unity. This last step, being due to the relation of one moment to the other, can be regarded as a synthesis, in contrast with the former analytic moment. But we cannot consider this contrast as absolute, for it is clear that in each case we have both analysis and synthesis. In the first we have synthesis, for the relation of the “other” to the immediate identity from which we start is essentially synthetic. In the second we have analysis, for its aim and result is to bring out the unity underlying the opposed elements. The method from first to last is at once synthetic and analytic; the difference between the moments is one of emphasis only. In the first negation we establish more directly by analysis of the original identity, a diversity implied in it. In the second we insist more particularly on the synthesis of the elements ostensibly opposed, and bring out their unity.

Such then, stated simply and shortly, is the actual procedure of the method from step to step in the Logic. If we bear in mind that these various moments arise from the nature of the self which moulds experience, and are due solely to the assertion and counter-assertion of the diverse constitutive elements in its single concrete reality, the process ceases to be the obscure enigma which it is so often considered. It is the same Ego which is operative from first to last, and this determines its every moment; for the moments of the method are the rhythmic systolation of self-consciousness. This determines the meaning and purpose of “negation,” which may be regarded as the nerve of the process.[13] Not merely in each notion, then, but from beginning to end of the Logic, precisely the same procedure determines the construction of the system. It operates in diverse content, for the notions are different at each stage; but it is always the same formal procedure, for it is the same self which realises itself in each notion. By this means, therefore, the main parts of Logic (Being, Essence, and Notion) are determined, no less than each category at the various stages of the process. The nature of the beginning as well as the end of the system are likewise discovered by the same law.

We cannot, however, state how in detail these stages are determined.

To do so would in fact require a reconstruction of the whole system. We can only point out the sources from which Hegel drew the various notions of the Logic. These are – (1) the Phenomenology; (2) Language, which he regarded as the embodiment of notions; (3) the different Sciences with which he had long been acquainted; (4) the History of Philosophy. [14] We cannot maintain that the Logic is constructed simply by repeating in abstracto the life of experience – this idea we have already dismissed; but, on the other hand, we must not suppose that Hegel’s Logic sprang bodily out of his own mind. This would, indeed, make Hegel either a superb conjurer or else the creator of the world – according as we regard the result. Hegel had experience behind and before him, and out of this by the severe struggle of reflexion he shaped his system.

The Phenomenology, as we saw, is the presupposition of the Logic, and unquestionably guided Hegel to some extent in the construction of it. Thus the beginning of the Logic may be said to give the ultimate notion underlying Sense-experience – that of mere immediacy (the beginning of the Phenomenology). The immediate determination of the Ego[15] is simply that it is; its primary notion is mere Being. In concrete experience, sense, the first mode of consciousness, is that which is merely felt; and mere feeling is immediacy pure and simple. So, again, the end of the Phenomenology is Absolute Knowledge, and in the Logic the last notion is just the notion of Logic itself, the notion of Absolute Knowledge, the Absolute Idea.[16] No doubt in such cases the notions of the Logic were directly suggested by the argument in the Phenomenology.

But such a parallelism cannot be pressed far, and certainly cannot be found in detail.

Language, again, enabled Hegel in no slight degree to discover the categories – so much so that in some cases the analysis seems not logical but etymological, and the interpretation of a notion the mere recording of its current or historical signification. For Hegel language embodied the thought of human experience. “Language has compressed within it what man has made his own, and what he has fashioned and expressed in speech contains, either embedded or elaborated, a category: so natural does Logic come to him, or rather it is his own very nature."[17] And Hegel regarded the uncorrupted Teutonic of his own mother tongue as peculiarly adapted to reveal those ultimate conceptions which he sought, while at the same time he renounced any affectation of purism, any supposition that the German language was the only authorised medium for the communication of absolute truth. He thus found the material of Logic, to a large extent, already to hand in the language and literature of his countrymen, and hence had to create neither the notions nor the terminology in which to express them. He had merely to re-discover their meaning and connect them systematically. Neither the substance nor the form of the Logic was, therefore, regarded by him as esoteric. “Philosophy,” as he says,[18] “requires no special terminology”; and again,[19] “the object-matter of Logic and its expression are the common stock of knowledge.” His Logic can thus be regarded in a sense as a systematic analysis of the abstract terms of ordinary speech.[20] To Science Hegel was also largely indebted in the construction of the Logic. The system does not deal with a peculiar order of ideas, but with current ideas in a peculiar way; nor is the system spun on the loom of Hegel’s mind without any acquaintance on his part with the facts to which the notions referred. It would certainly be absurd to attempt to substitute omniscience for the want of science, or to make up for ignorance of the actual world with its throbbing activity, by becoming a past master in the knowledge of a world with which we have no concern. Far from this being true, Hegel’s Logic is the outgrowth of a prolonged study of science and no slight familiarity with its facts and principles.

And, indeed, such or similar knowledge must be possessed before the student is able fully to appreciate the analysis of the notions dealt with by the science of Logic.[21] The notions because concrete must carry with them all the meaning attached to them by ordinary Science. His knowledge, therefore, of scientific conceptions furnished Hegel with precisely the formed material required for the Logic.

Finally, it is impossible to ignore the assistance derived from the History of Philosophy in the discovery and connexion of the categories.

Hegel had long held that there is in the last resort but one philosophy which lives throughout the whole of its history, that philosophy is a necessary spiritual expression of mankind and not a collection of casual opinions. If to this we add his other view that there is but one Reason, one Spirit operating in human history, moulding its direction by an inner necessity, we can see how easy it was for Hegel to regard the History of Philosophy as realising at various stages determinate notions of Reason, as dealing with specific determinations of the Absolute.[22] The principle of each so-called system is an ultimate notion, and therefore an element in Absolute Truth. And not merely so, but the relation of system to system in the course of the History of Philosophy points to the kind of connexion which subsists between notions. A succeeding system does not annihilate its predecessor, it lays emphasis on a new truth, corrects its “one-sidedness,” and more completely realises the whole truth. This is acknowledged by each system which aims at construction, and was in fact an obvious conclusion to draw from the history of systems, each of which professed to express truth. But such a relation between one thinker and another undoubtedly suggested not merely the kind of connexion which existed amongst categories, but the actual order of that connexion.

There was an inner necessity governing the history of philosophy, which compelled a certain system to appear after another. This inner necessity lay in the nature of Reason. Hence Hegel had already in concreto the order of the categories expressly determinated by the natural and, in a sense, unconscious process of Reason itself. All that he required was to lift the notions represented in the various systems into their simple abstraction and express their connexion in its ultimate form.

Thus, e.g., we have the course of early speculation embodied in the notions Being, Nothing, and Becoming; while in later thought, again, Substance, Causality, and Reciprocity represent the historical sequence of Spinozism, Kant, and Fichte. But again, as in the case of the relation of Logic to the Phenomenology, while the connexion between Logic and the History of Philosophy is direct and profound, a complete parallelism cannot be established between the course of the one and that of the other.[23] We come now to the last question concerning the method: what is the end of the process itself? The end is, in a word, Self-knowledge. The purpose of the Logic from first to last is to make explicit and systematic the ultimate content of the Absolute Self; and the goal to which it tends is simply. exhaustive knowledge of the Absolute. This determines the process at every step and gives it continuity; for it is the same self which is active in the method at each stage, which defines each notion and passes to its negative. And herein lies the inner necessity of the construction.

It is impossible for the knowledge to be complete unless the various moments of the self are passed in review. Self-knowledge requires that there shall not be, and cannot be, a leap from an inadequate notion to a completely adequate. The self does not correct the incompleteness of one notion by a fully complete notion, simply because it does not know the fully complete till it has passed through all the more or less complete. Hence the advance is not made by the Ego bringing all the riches of its life to shame the poverty of any single notion; it is by exhausting the content of one notion that the need is felt for passing to another. Every moment of the Ego must therefore be known before full self-knowledge is obtained, for every notion is a truth, and every truth is essential to its life. And this completeness is secured when, by inner necessity, the self finds each moment of advance in the immediately preceding. Completeness of knowledge, therefore, implies the compactness of a necessary connexion.

But this process is not merely one in which the self gradually exhausts its own content; its goal is the attainment of a notion in which self-knowledge is adequately and fully realised. This must be the final result, because the advance from one notion to another is determined by the fact that the notions express with different degrees of completeness the self which realises itself throughout the whole process. Each notion negates, and in negating contains the other, is more concrete than it; the self is, therefore, more fully realised in the later than the preceding notion.

But if so, the final notion must be at once complete self-knowledge and one determinate notion among others. Now this is only possible on one condition – the process must be that of Development, of Evolution.

We found in the Phenomenology that each stage led onwards towards the final truth of experience, whose mind was completely at home with itself – Absolute Knowledge. Each mode had its value and place determined by reference to this end, and each gathered into itself the truth of the preceding. So in the Logic. The last notion contains the truth of all the preceding, and is itself the absolute notion of complete self-knowledge.

This notion Hegel calls the Absolute Idea. But if this notion contains the whole of what precedes, if that is its specific content, then it is clear that the Absolute Idea is simply the notion of the Science of Logic, the notion of Absolute Self-knowledge. This notion, because the final notion, looks back to what has preceded for its content; while again, since every notion is an ultimate realisation of mind, none can be excluded from the idea of its self-knowledge. Hence the Absolute Idea is the Logic itself expressed as a single notion. And such is Hegel’s explicit interpretation of it.[24] If we recall the conclusion of the Phenomenology, we shall see that this result is inevitable. For if Logic is to state the ultimate content of all experience, then the ultimate truth of mind can only be the notion of Absolute Truth itself, i.e., the notion of Absolute Knowledge with which the Phenomenology concludes. But again, such a result is the consistent outcome of the whole Logic. That science aimed at complete self-knowledge.

But self-knowledge, when attained, is a determinate realisation of mind, is a determinate notion; the end is, therefore, attained in the notion of that end itself. The ideal of self-knowledge is realised only in the notion of that ideal, for all other notions are approximative, and only such a notion focusses in a unity all the scattered rays of truth. The complete tale of the notions can only be finished by the notion of the whole which has been passed in review.

But this result must not be misunderstood. We must bear in mind that throughout Logic we are dealing with a concrete reality-mind. We are evolving its content. Hence the self-knowledge attained is not an external knowledge of mind; it is the realisation of a concrete self. The end, therefore, is not bare knowledge, but the development of a spiritual reality. The Absolute Idea is the self-manifestation of Absolute Spirit; it is Supreme Personality explicitly determined. The Absolute Idea is Absolute Subject known in the form of its self (as notion). The course of the Logic is the progressive determination of itself by Absolute Subject; the Absolute Idea being the whole Logic, is the exhaustive statement of the Absolute. The Logic is thus at the same time Metaphysic. The process of the Logic does not merely lay bare in extenso the ultimate content of experience; it is also the ever-deepening penetration into the nature of the Absolute. So that with the end we have at once the greatest extent of reality and intensity of meaning, most comprehensive objectivity and deepest subjectivity. As Hegel puts it,[25] “das Reichste ist daher das Concreteste und Subjectiviste, und das sich in die einfachste Tiefe Zurhcknehmende das Mächtigste und Uebergreifendste. Die h’chste zugeschärfteste Spitze ist die reine Pers’nlichkeit die allein durch die absolute Dialektik... alles in sich befaszt und hält...” The logical expression for this Supreme Personality is the Absolute Idea, which is the “only object and content of philosophy,"[26] and of which Logic is “the self-movement.” Such, then, is the method of the Logic in its origin, its process, and its end. There is perhaps no single term which completely expresses all that it means. The term Dialectic describes one essential element in it – the process of negativity by which it operates. Dialectical the method unquestionably is, not in the sense of discovering and establishing contradictions, but in the sense of thinking and resolving them. Dialectic is the method of reason, and reason is negative, for it is infinite and, therefore, the negation of finitude.[27] And, again, contradiction lies in the very heart of the notion. “To think contradiction is the essential moment of a notion”;[28] while to resolve contradiction is the very condition of truth, and the very life of spirit.[29] Such a dialectic method is the only one possible for Absolute Idealism; for only mind, free self-conscious subject, can negate, and in negating remain positive and unite the contradictory elements. It is only by such a process that a person is subject, is free and self-conscious. Dialectic is the kernel of true individuality and the ground of Absolute Truth, for “upon it rests the possibility of removing the opposition between notion and reality, and establishing their unity which is truth."[30] But, on the other hand, “Dialectic” can hardly be said to exhaust the meaning of the method. For (1), e.g., the beginning is established by the method, and the beginning is not itself a negative; (2) the negative is only one aspect of the content; every notion is likewise positive; (3) the process as a whole is a development, and a development is at least as much positive as negative. Dialectic, in short, only lays emphasis on one feature in the method – the immanent reference of one content to another.

The process may also be quite accurately described as the Union of Analysis and Synthesis. These are in ordinary knowledge distinct forms of procedure, and together they exhaust all possible methods of knowing.

In speculative knowledge they are combined, for there we deal from first to last with the whole, with the individual concrete reality, which is essentially a unity of identity and difference. And here again we see that only when the self is the supreme principle of the system can such a method be applied; for mind is itself the concrete unity of identity and difference.

Again, we may regard it as a continuous application of the Syllogism.

For the process is essentially mediate; its whole purpose is to leave nothing standing as a mere immediate,[31] but relate each element to some other, and so mediate its truth with another. Only thus is complete systematic construction possible; but mediation is essentially syllogistic and inferential. And since by such a process the result attained is a conclusion, is deduced from a beginning, the method can also be called Deduction. The Triplicity, however, which is constitutive of the syllogism and characteristic of the method, cannot be absolutely insisted upon, for this is purely external; the process might well enough be regarded as a Quadruplicity.[32] Finally, it may simply be regarded as the realisation of the successive moments of Self-reflexion. We have first the self in its immediacy, the notion in itself; then its distinction from itself, the notion for itself; and lastly, the completely explicit and concrete notion, the notion in itself and for itself. These are the moments of every notion, and every notion is a realisation of the self-conscious Subject.

All these aspects of the method are equally important; and each throws a separate light on the character of the process.

Notes A. Contradiction.

The Principle of Contradiction is of so much importance in the method of Hegel’s system that it may not be unimportant to bring out its meaning by stating it in a slightly different manner from that found in the foregoing chapter.

Hegel’s own declaration on the subject is sufficiently explicit: “All things,” he says, when summing up the essential significance of the Principle of Contradiction (Log. ii. I, Kap. 2. c. Anmerk. 3), “are in themselves contradictory.” “Contradiction is the root of all living activity, the spring of all movement.” “everything concrete, every notion, every determination, is in its very nature a unity of different and distinguishable moments, which pass into contradictory by the difference being determinate and essential.” From such statements it is at any rate plain (1) that contradiction, here referred to, does not take place simply in the mind of the individual thinker, cannot be merely subjective; (2) that contradiction is not an accident in experience, and does not arise through caprice or misfortune, but is essential – it lies “in the nature of things”; (3) that the removal of contradiction is rather the process of realising the complete truth than the indication of falsehood, for contradiction is not so much an error as a mode of manifesting the truth.

Now most of the objections to Hegel’s view are based on the assumption that contradiction is a characteristic solely of the finite individual mind. In fact our finitude is revealed, it might be said, essentially in the experience of contradiction: we would not fall into contradiction and confusion unless we had a limited and therefore incomplete view of truth (i.e., of the whole), which, though inadequate, we are yet bound to assert to be true. Contradiction is thus considered on this view to fall inside the particular mind of each, to be “subjective.” From this follows the assertion that contradiction is a process of our thought, and not of things, not of the objective world; that contradiction is “logical” and not “real”; and finally, that there is a fundamental distinction between opposition in logic and opposition in reality. Whether the distinction between thought and reality arises from the restriction of contradiction to our finite intellectual procedure, or vice versa, we need not stay to inquire.

It is for our purpose sufficient to note the suggestive fact that the two positions are bound up together.

The source of such objections seems to lie partly in a confusion and partly in a prejudice. The prejudice is, that it is supposed impossible that the whole course of reality can be held responsible for a conflict between our human ideas or ideals. The confusion consists in identifying all the mental processes in which we are conscious of presentations, e.g., imagination, with the process of thought proper. As regards the first, we have merely to remark that it cannot well be taken seriously even by those who hold it. For in human experience it is a commonplace little understood that there is nothing higher than the highest. It is this alone which gives value to any aspect of experience, and only on this can distinctions of worth be founded. Now the highest, or at any rate one phase of the highest, is our Ideal of Truth, of knowledge. If Reality, or anything in heaven or earth, refuses to justify or openly rejects this ideal, two courses are open to us as rational beings. We must either unreservedly condemn what so asserts itself, or declare experience worthless and unmeaning. Needless to say we invariably take the former alternative.

But to do this is to hold our ideals to be not something subordinate to reality, but to be that to which reality itself must conform.

Therefore reality cannot be indifferent to a conflict which is necessary to the realisation of that ideal. From which it follows that if contradiction is in any way essential either to the attainment or expression of our ideals or conceptions, contradiction must be regarded as constitutive of concrete experience; and hence reality cannot escape but must itself contain contradiction.

As to the confusion spoken of, let us consider three possible cases where “ideas” are related, and where, therefore, contradiction may take place: (1) an idea which is purely imaginary may be related to one which has a reference to reality; (2) both ideas may refer to reality; (3) both ideas may be purely imaginary.

Now in regard to the first the relation is strictly one of exclusion: the content of the two ideas is “inconsistent,” is “contradictory.” In the second, contradiction may again take place; though both ideas independently refer to reality, yet their relation may not. In the third, properly speaking, there is no contradiction, be the relation what we please. I may assert that, in this imaginary world, an individual has no hands and yet lifts bodies with his hands. True, we say that this is contradictory, but when we say so we mean it is contradictory not as imagined but as having a possible reference to reality. Strictly, in the world of mere imagination anything may be related in any way to anything else; here contradiction has no significance. And the applicability or inapplicability of contradiction is precisely what distinguishes a work of art from a work of mere imagination. The former is a possible reconstruction or combination of elements of the real; and there we can speak of inconsistency.

In the latter there is no such reconstruction, and hence no contradiction.

Now it is because we can have imaginary ideas, and relate them in various ways (sometimes to reality, sometimes not), that contradiction is supposed to be purely subjective. Because we can use ideas which do not hold of reality, and because “our own” ideas may be themselves inconsistent, it is argued that contradiction is wholly subjective, and does not refer to reality. But this is to confuse the source from which our ideas are derived, with the implicit or explicit reference to reality of those ideas. Where we find such reference, there, as we have just seen, we can speak of contradiction; where there is no such reference there is no contradiction possible. In both cases the ideas may be derived from imagination, which is undoubtedly subjective. But such derivation is quite irrelevant to the use we make of them, to the reference in which we place them. To say, therefore, that because our (subjective) ideas may conflict with reality, contradiction only applies to our ideas, is to ignore the fact that it is not because they are our ideas, but because they are referred to reality that contradiction takes place; and that in so far as they are simply our ideas they do not contradict at all. Hence we conclude that it is in reference to reality that contradiction is to be found, and not in our mere ideas.

So much by way of answer to the supposed subjectivity of contradiction.

But, again, when it is maintained that contradiction infects our finite experience, this is taken as a condemnation of finite experience, the assumption apparently being that contradiction is an infirmity which cannot be attributed to anything but our own finitude. Now this is a perversion of the truth. And it is even admitted to be so. For in spite of such a position, it is still held that we do know the truth, and that this truth is valid of reality. If the truth we know is “objective,” and yet contains contradiction (for no partial truth is allowed to be completely true), then surely it should be admitted that contradiction is objective; and in fact this would be granted if the proper relation between finitude and contradiction were perceived. We are not finite because we fall into contradiction; on the contrary, we fall into contradiction because we are finite. Stated quite generally, finitude is not derived from the fact of contradiction; contradiction proceeds from the fact of finitude.

Now the former view is held by those who consider that contradiction holds of our finite experience only; the latter view is Hegel’s own position. It therefore admits all the truth contained on the other side, but does not admit the ground on which it is based. If we clearly understand then what Hegel means by making contradiction depend on finitude we shall at once see the full significance of his interpretation of the principle.

His position is in reality very simple. “Finite,” he says in the note above referred to, “means contradictory.” “In general, finite things are essentially (an sich selbst) contradictory; their nature is to fall to pieces within themselves (in sich), and to return back into their ground and source.” The characteristic which he here emphasises becomes clear if we reflect on what a finite thing claims to be. To be finite is to be limited; to have determinateness, to be of a definite specific nature; but that is not all. What is finite also means to insist on the self-sufficiency of the limited sphere within which it is enclosed; to maintain the substantiality and, indeed, the completeness of a single individuality. Its determinateness is not simply to shut it off from other finite things, but to shut it up within itself and make a solid whole of it. There is no point in its claiming to have a bound set to it, unless it means that within that bound it is self-contained, and has nothing to do with anything else. Its being determinate means that it does not trespass beyond a certain range, and that it does not need to do so: it is sufficient for itself. Both of these elements are essential to the meaning of finitude; but it is self-evident that they are contradictory. For to have a boundary, necessarily implies something else which is there to limit the finite; a boundary, in fact, is always between two things, is never for one thing alone. And not merely so, but the character of that which lies beyond the boundary determines the nature of the boundary itself. To be determinate is to be specific, to be limited in a certain manner, which depends on that which sets the limit to what is determined. In other words, the nature of that which lies beyond a finite thing pervades the nature of what is finite. It gets its specific meaning from the determinateness which characterises it, and this is derived from what it excludes. But if it thus lets in the content of what all the while by being finite it professes to exclude, the walls around its own finitude have fallen down, and with them have gone its self-containedness and self-sufficiency. But again by that very claim to a substantial completeness which it makes, and must make, it has likewise contradicted itself. For to be limited is for ever to point to an inherent instability and insufficiency in its own nature. To claim that because it shuts out, therefore it is completely shut in, is to hold that blindness is equivalent to self-illumination. To be finite is just not to be self-contained, but to be for ever transcending itself. To claim to be complete is for the finite to claim to be not finite at all but infinite.

In all this, therefore, the finite is essentially contradictory; its nature is just to be contradictory. But we see here what “contradictory” means.

It is not something indeterminate, but something definite. When the finite contains contradictory elements, the elements which contradict refer specifically to each other. The content of the one pervades the content of the other. The “limit” set to the finite gets its content from something beyond this finite thing, is implied in it, and is indeed what compels it to break up the restrictions which constitute it, to abandon them even while remaining within them. Its contradictory is in short its opposite, what is specifically opposed to it as it stands in its finitude, and which opposite is implied in it, is referred to by the constitution of its determinate nature, but is not actually explicitly contained within it.

Take, for example, any trivial finite object, say a metal hammer. As it stands it seems and in a sense is complete in itself, finished and self-contained, a solid fact in the world. But let us look at it more closely, taking its qualities to pieces, so to say. We ask for the meaning of the flat, smooth surface at one end of the long axis of the instrument. Its meaning is not found in the tool by itself, but in something else, namely, a resisting, i.e., opposing surface which must lie outside the hammer.

Nay more, the kind of resisting surface is also referred to or implied in the face of the hammer, namely, a surface of a certain degree of determinate resistance as well as superficial area. Thus the hammer is not used to beat the air or pound water; for this other instruments and surfaces are required. The surface of the face of the hammer, therefore, does not, as it seems at first sight, exist for the hammer itself but for something else, i.e., its opposite; its “being for itself,” which as a finite object it must have, lies in its “being” at the same time “for an other,” i.e., a specific definite other, not an other in general. And further, the bringing of these opposites together means also the denial of self-sufficiency, and, pro tanto, the breaking up of finitude – a result completely achieved when, e.g., the face of the hammer ceases to be of further “use.” Similarly of the other qualities of the object. So, generally, we must say that the apparent self-reference and self-completeness of this finite object is only found in going beyond itself, i.e., something which destroys the sufficiency of its finitude. And it is important to notice that this reference to opposite qualities, or qualities of opposing objects, is absolutely essential to the meaning of such a finite object. The qualities of the hammer are only found when the hammer is in action, and can only be interpreted by reference to its action. In Aristotle’s language its ton ti en einai lies in its actual or possible fulfilment of its function, and rather in the actual than in the potential. But when the instrument is in play, its qualities come out, and then we see the external reference essentially implied in the qualities of the object, in the manner above illustrated.

The same result will be found if we look at an organism, the highest type of natural finitude. Its organs are formed with reference to the world of nature around it. For example its digestive apparatus only has a meaning by reference to specific equally finite objects outside itself.

And again by using these objects it builds up its system, i.e., strengthens its finite individuality, but at the same time uses up its finite “energy,” and tends towards its own dissolution. In its process of living it is dying; in seeking to maintain its reference to self, it is bringing out only more completely its essential reference to its other.

Now that is what Hegel means by the contradiction of finitude; and by the finite holding its contradictory in itself. Contradictory means simple real opposite in the sense illustrated. It is not opposite in general, nor any kind of opposite. One thing is not opposed to anything we choose to name. To hold this, and say, e.g., that this tree is opposed to the pyramids, or the planet Neptune, is to confuse opposite with distinction or difference in general. All finite things are distinct, but all are not opposed. What an opposite is will depend on what the finite object is, and also in what relation the object in question stands or can stand.

The opposite which, e.g., a man has or implies, can be found by taking various aspects of his individuality. As a body in space he is opposite to any spatial body in general, qua spatial. As a spirit his opposite is Nature, Externality as such. His organs of sensation in general find their opposite in the objects so experienced (aisteton is opposed to aistetkon), and the specific organs of sensation find their specific opposites.

As a member of a state he finds his opposite in the universal will.

As a member of specific organisations in the state he finds his opposite in what he realises as a member of such organisms – a workman, a master, a servant. And so on. And these various opposites, it must be observed, are all implied in a given man as such, for they all pervade his very essence, constitute him what he is, which could only be different if his finitude were different.

In short (and that this is the root of the whole matter must have already become evident), the fundamental factor in contradiction or opposition is, as Hegel is continually asserting, the unity, the identity underlying the opposites. It is only those opposites which can be and must be united in a common ground, that imply one another. They refer to one another and “pass into” each other, because they share a common life. They are opposite solely in virtue of the one identity determining and containing them. Without identity, no contradiction. Thus the two statements, “the grass is green,” “the hill is not green,” do not contradict, simply because there is no single finite reality to which they both refer. Similarly, and in general, no qualities can conflict, unless there is a unity within which to stand opposed. The identity is in each case some finite reality, and there we will always find contradiction in some specific form, because, in the way just indicated, finitude necessarily contains opposites.

This then is the significance of Hegel’s doctrine of contradiction, of the unity and mutual implication of opposites. He does not mean that any finite thing is the opposite of anything else. It is the thing in a specific reference that has and implies an opposite. He means that a finite thing determined in a specific manner is the opposite of something else also determined, and so specifically implies its opposite. He does not hold that we can make contradictory statements about the same thing and yet assert both to be valid of it in the same sense and at the same time. He would allow, just as much as his critics, that to say “this road leads due north,” and at the same time “this same road leads due south”; or “this man is a German,” and “this same man is not a German,” would be palpable nonsense. Both do not hold good at the same time, and Hegel was quite aware of this obvious truth. What he contends for is, that this road as leading north does, because it is a determinate direction, imply, refer to, and contain its opposite-leading south; this man as of a determinate racial connexion does imply another form of racial connexion, otherwise he would not be a finite being of a specific race at all. The man, therefore, does contain these opposites. Which of them is emphasised at a specific time is a matter of detail in experience, and does not affect the general principle. When one is emphasised, then the other does not hold in that sense. But that the finite reality in question contains or implies opposites in Hegel’s sense, is seen in the very fact that these opposite predicates, e.g., German and not-German. can be stated of the same subject. And this is the point of Hegel’s denial of the Law of Excluded Middle in his ingenious analysis of the law in the note (Anmerk. 2) to the section on Contradiction (Log. Bk. ii., Absch. i, Kap. 2, C). We cannot, he maintains, hold that there is no third between b and not-b as predicates of A; for we are actually implying a third, namely, that A being either b or not-b is in a real sense both, just because it is capable of being either. Thus, in the illustrations above given, the man, qua human being, contains both German and not-German; road qua direction contains north and south.

It may, in this reference, be further remarked that the source of all forms of contradiction is found in the existence of real contrary opposites in Hegel’s sense. Thus the so-called contradictory opposites A and not-A are not a specific kind by themselves. They are the extreme form of concrete opposition, and because extreme, the opposition is indeterminate: not-A may be anything we please. Because in the extreme form the opposition is essentially indeterminate, Hegel rightly holds that no one really thinks or speaks according to the “Law of non-Contradiction.” Since, then, there is this continuity between all forms of opposition, the foundation of all being the real opposites inherent in finitude, we cannot draw a hard and fast line between so-called “logical negation” and “real negation,” logically opposite predicates, (X is red and not-red), and predicates “really opposite,” (X is hard and soft, young and old). This is sometimes[33] done to save Hegel’s position in the eyes of the “formal” logicians. The so-called “logical negation” likewise holds of the real. For we can say, and say with truth that, e.g., “the leaf is both red and not-red,” – namely, it may be, “glossy,” (not-red being indeterminate can mean, as we saw, anything you please). And if it holds of the real, the opposition has its basis in “real” opposition. “Logical” opposition is in fact “real” opposition simply expressed indeterminately.

We have taken certain forms of finitude in the above, to bring out Hegel’s meaning. His principle, however, applies universally to all finitude in all its forms. It would be easier to show what he means in the case of a given finite process. For the essence of process, e.g., growth, just lies in a finite object passing from one determination to another, to its opposite. Process in general just means a union of opposites, a passing from what is to what is not; or, expressed in more specific form, it is a passing, say, from activity to rest, or vice versa; from youth to old age, etc. Contradiction, opposition, therefore, as Hegel says, is the very nerve of the movement of finitude. Even Hegel’s opponents, e.g., Trendelenburg, [34] admit that movement is a denial of the law that opposites cannot be united, that a thing cannot be and not be. But Hegel’s principle is equally applicable to all finitude, no matter how it appears. In the same sense, therefore, as above, it applies to the notions of the Logic, which because distinct are finite, and lead to their own immediate opposite in the way indicated.

This union of opposites is precisely what Hegel means by “a synthetic unity,” in the Kantian sense. The synthetic unity is obtained a priori in the Logic, because the notions are a priori in his sense. But synthetic unity in general, identity of contraries, is the kernel of reality and the world’s process, and so far from our being “unable to think contradiction,” we can never, if we would think truly, think anything else.

B. Development.

The term Development is somewhat ambiguous, and as applied to an absolute method may seem even untenable. It may not, therefore, seem out of place to deal with one or two aspects of the conception.

In development we must have a single identity existing in and maintaining diversity of content. It must also reveal itself through that diversity by a process in which the underlying principle (the identity) is more completely realised at one stage than at another. Unless these various aspects are present we cannot be said to have development. Hence we exclude from this conception mere change, as also bare uniformity (continuity), or again unity in difference but without process.[35] It is irrelevant what the identity consists in, whether it be an organism, an idea, or a plan; if it expresses itself in this manner it ‘develops.’ Now there are two general ways in which development may take place, the difference consisting in the way in which the content is expressed.

The types of these two forms are found in the process of Inference, and in the Growth of a living organism. The inner unity of a given area of truth is gradually exhibited by showing how individual elements are necessarily connected with each other through their dependence on a single principle. The means of making this unity in diversity articulate is inference, and, the process being from less to more complete, it is development. In an organism again its diverse activity is held together by and is the expression of a single unity which aims at more and more complete realisation, and spreads out the diversity of its content in a temporal series of events (“stages of growth”). These two modes of development are quite distinct. The latter, we say, is in time, the former is out of time. No doubt the inference does take place in some one’s mind. But the point is, that in the one case the connexion of parts is only possible because of time, in the other the connexion, as a relation of whole to part, is independent of the temporal order, and is brought about simply because the principle is actually operative in all its fulness through the parts, and is not in process of being made actual in them. In both cases the principle (the unity) becomes explicit; therein consists the development.

But in the one its content is always complete[36] (for otherwise there could be no inference), in the other it comes to be so at a specific time.

The development which characterises the dialectic method belongs to the kind of which we have taken inference as the type. Hegel himself, as we have seen, considers the process of the method as the successive application of the syllogism. The end or unity to be made completely explicit is the unity pervading experience as a whole, i.e., Self-consciousness, Spirit. All the forms of experience are connected with each other because they are in our experience; but since they express this single unity in different ways, they realise it in its completeness in different degrees. Hence the development consists in connecting them with each other through their graded realisation of the principle pervading all.

Take the case of Logic, which is experience in its aspect of pure reason.

The supreme unity here is the notion of reason as such, as pure self-consciousness; this notion is called Absolute Idea. All the conceptions in the Logic are ways in which this Idea expresses itself; it is the determining principle throughout. But some more fully than others realise its nature; hence the connexion between the notions is exhibited as that of a gradual approximation to the Absolute Idea. This is the best, indeed, as Hegel says, the only proper way of connecting them together. For only such a method does justice to the two forms of connexion existing amongst the conceptions – that all belong to one active principle, and that all express that activity in different degrees. The varied content of reason has not all the same value; hence Logic is not a bare system, a mere orderly arrangement. And again, we do not become aware of the central truth which is evolved, simply at the end of the process, and so to say all at once. The whole content of reason can be, and complete insight must be, perfectly well known from first to last. There need be no unconsciousness regarding the development at all; as is invariably the case with development in time. It may be that the learner, or even the writer of the Logic, is not completely aware of all the stages in the process of attaining the end, that he is unconscious to some extent of what is coming next. But this is irrelevant to the character of the connexion itself. If we know all the notions, and are perfectly clear regarding the fundamental principle they reveal, we must still connect them in this manner.

We do not, as has been mentioned, take the notion which is the supreme end, and use this at every step to find out the next stage of advance. This is unnecessary. For each stage leads to what is immediately higher than itself; and the latter is sufficient to determine the advance at successive stages. It is, moreover, impossible to use the Absolute Idea at each stage, for the Absolute Idea being the most concrete, is in reality the whole content of reason itself, the whole of Logic, and is not something apart from the content.

Again, it is characteristic of this development that each stage contains the preceding but does not annihilate it or destroy its own essential significance. Here once more we find a feature similar to what is present in inference. Though we connect part with part through their common presence in a whole, and thereby destroy their individual isolation, this does not abolish their meaning altogether. That remains as an integral element in the significance of the whole. So in the dialectic method, one notion has less significance for the complete expression of the Absolute Idea than another; but the content of the latter is only found when we know the lower conceptions which it implies and in a real sense contains.

The lower in short does not exist solely for the higher; the higher though higher is not the sole truth, and has not the only right to be. All truth because true is necessary to express the full meaning – the Absolute Idea; and this holds in spite of differences in the degree of truth.

This brings out a difference between dialectical development and development in time. In the case of the latter an end is aimed at which when reached remains in sole possession of the field. The previous stage out of which it comes is not only transformed, it is abolished altogether; it has performed its function, exhausted its life in bringing about a higher stage of the individual. Thus an oak is not also and at the same time the acorn out of which it has come. The individuality of the organism as acorn passes away into its individuality as oak; the latter does not contain the former in any real sense whatsoever. The former, as we say, has been; its existence has passed from actuality into history; and the oak as an organism is the unity of its members, not the unity of the stages of its history. It is, in fact, because each of these stages are as such completely organic in themselves, and pass away with the production of a new stage, that we think of the history or temporal development of an organism at all. If all the stages existed at once, and existed always, and in the same individual, there would be no passing away, which is of the essence of time and of history. Development then in time is towards the realisation of an individual which exists at the expense of the forms of individuality out of which it has come. In dialectical development, on the other hand, the higher cannot exist, and cannot have its own complete meaning, unless the lower is maintained as well, and preserved at the same time as its own existence. Advance here is not by death but by preservation of life; one conception is “negated,” not to be lost in another, but to be found there in a truer form – truer because more definite and determinate. To put the contrast quite shortly: in development in time a lower stage exists for the sake of the higher; in dialectical development the lower exists by means of the higher.

This is true if we take development in time over a longer period than the history of one organism. The evolution of certain kinds of organisms is brought about by the elimination of the forms not possessed of the self-preserving variation, and the evolution is proved precisely by pointing to the history of the type, which is strewn with the relics of vanished forms and exhausted species.

Finally, another contrast between organic and dialectical development is seen in the way the development is brought about. In the former a new individual arises out of the relation of one individual to its environment.

Exhaust the content of this individual by interaction with its environment, and it passes to another stage of individual existence. The environment must be specific, that its individuality may be determinate.

The more intense its individuality, the more energy of resistance and assimilation it possesses, the more certainty is there of its leading to a higher form of organic life. Put shortly, to develop the individual in time strengthens its individuality. In dialectical development the process is quite different. We develop one notion not by making it finite, but by making it infinite. To discover what a notion is connected with, we take it for more than it is; to discover the determinateness (i.e., the limitation) of a given notion, we make it absolute. When we take a single notion which determines one place of experience and apply it to the whole, to the Absolute, when in short we make a finite conception absolute, then we discover all that it contains and what it does not contain, what it is and what it is not; itself in its “negative.” “Being” taken as the exhaustive expression of the Absolute gives us simply “Nothing”; “Substance” similarly treated becomes “Causality,” a relation between Substance in its own content. The reason of this lies in the fact that each is universal, but being still of a definite content it is not the whole, it is particular. We seek therefore to exhaust its universality by making it absolute, and this can and must be accomplished since we are conscious that it is, as against the whole, limited in content. And in the very act of exhausting its content, by finding how much of the fulness of the Absolute it really possesses, we bring out its limitations, we find its limit. This must be definite; the notion must specifically imply or suggest something else, some other specific notion which definitely limits it. And since the whole contains both, and we are at the point of view of the whole, they are necessarily connected as determinations of the whole, while the one is “higher than” the other because the lower in the very act of exhausting its content implies something richer than its own. Thus then in dialectical development we emphasise the universality of the elements considered; in temporal development individuality.

But while from these different points of view we can distinguish the two kinds of development, we have still to ask whether there is any connexion between them. The question referred to is not whether the dialectic process first “came into being in time”;[37] but rather whether in the process of time we can have dialectic, and conversely whether in the development of the truth time is necessary. On the one hand it seems impossible to have development at all without time, while on the other a dialectical development seems to destroy the significance of time. The very meaning of one element succeeding another implies the specific order we call time. Nor can we avoid the difficulty by distinguishing between precedence in thought and precedence in time. This would be the simplest method if the elements in question had the same value. But the point is, that in development the elements have different values arranged in a scale, which must always be determined in the same manner.

Development only takes place in one direction, so to say. We can show that the lower implies logically the higher, and the higher logically the lower. But development is only from lower to higher; there is no development from higher to lower. Now time likewise is only in one direction, and there is no doubt also that the development of truth, whether in the mind constructing the Logic, or in the one mind pervading philosophy throughout its history, does take time, and takes place in time. For when we have got the complete truth, development ceases, and as long as we have not, it continues; but these are terms implying time. On the one hand, it has to be noted, in the process of events in the world there is no repetition; there may be development, but it only takes place once in all its fulness of concrete detail. In the development of truth, however, we can always return upon our course after we have arrived at a result, and can repeat it, knowing and indeed affirming that the development of it has exactly the same significance that it had at first or will have at any future time when we repeat our argument. This means that while the development always takes place in the mind of the thinker in time, yet the course of the development is not dependent upon any given time. But strictly there is only one time order, that in which the events of the world occur. Therefore we conclude that in the sense that the value and certainty of the development of truth does not depend on this one time order, that development is not a temporal development. It takes place in time, but its validity is independent of it.[38] Moreover, when we trace the development of a principle or a truth, e.g., in the History of Philosophy, we are not in the position in which the mind of Europe was, whose history is thus traced. To get the development we must have the whole before us, the beginning and the various stages of the process. This is true likewise of development in the case of an organism. We cannot say it develops unless we know the stages through which it has passed, and in some degree the end at which these stages aim. To the organism which is absorbed in the temporal process, change is all that takes place; development is at best afterthought, or after-discovery. But to those who know the development, all the stages are present. This means, again, that to be conscious of development is to overcome the conditions of time, which are those of annihilation and obliviscence. Thus, then, we may show that the development in time is a dialectical development, but the truth of the connexion we establish does not depend on time. For if the ideal expressly sought and realised in dialectic development is not manifested, or is even contradicted in temporal experience, this will not render the less logically necessary and valid the connexion of its stages.

That there will be no such contradiction, must rest on the assumption of the identity of the reason in History with the reason in the Logic. While again the fact that the dialectical development of the process of history can be repeated in thought, i.e., as a process of truth, while the process of history happens but once, indicates that the truth of the dialectical development may both refer to a temporal process and take place in time, and yet be valid independently of it.

We may conclude, therefore, (1) that dialectic development does take place in time, for it takes place at least in the mind of the thinker, and is held by Hegel to take place in the mind at work in the History of Philosophy; (2) that its validity as a species of systematic connexion does not depend on, because it is not limited by, the actual temporal order of the world; for it goes back over and requires us to be conscious of the stages of the past, and therefore in it we are conscious of the whole process; and it can repeat its stages, which the world process cannot do. In either case, however, the conception of any development is confined to and implies finite reality, and cannot hold of infinite reality. [39] For to make it possible we must begin at a lower form and proceed to a higher; when we arrive at the end, or stand at the point of view of the whole, the meaning of development ceases to apply, for the process it involves has vanished.


1. Log. i. 39.

2. Knowledge might of course be absolute and yet not systematised.

3. Phän. pp. 36 ff.; Log. i. 37 ff.

4. Log. i. 39.

5. Phän. pp. 44 f.

6. Phän. pp. 68, 69.

7. Log. i. 7, 8, 40, 41.

8. It is not, of course, necessary that each individual should possess all the modes of experience completely; and, again, the fact that different stages of civilisation reveal diversity of grades of experience, experience being less complete and varied in the lower forms of civilisation, and so on – this and other similar facts do not affect the general nature of experience as thus conceived by Hegel; nor do they even affect the accuracy of his own systematisation of it.

9. Thus, e.g., the alteration of one’s course of life is not mere abandonment of the former ways; it takes a specific direction, a direction determined by reference to the old course. This must be so, since both past and present fall inside the experience of the same self.

10. To take a palpable example: a nation is not an “other” to the sea which girds the borders of its territory, but only to a spiritual corporation like itself – “another” nation.

11. Cf. Ency. § 240

12. Log. iii. pp 326 f., 332 f.

13. It is for this reason that it is named “Dialectic”; v. infra.

14. To a certain extent (4) is contained under (1), but it is too distinctive to be regarded as subordinate.

15. Or indeed, we may say, of anything and everything.

16. v. infra.

17. Log. i. 10 ff.

18. Log. i. 11.

19. Log. i. 12.

20. Log. i. 43.

21. Log. i. 42ff.

22. Gesch. d. Philos. i. Einleit.: “The succession of Systems of Philosophy in History is the same as the succession in the logical deduction of determinate notions of the Idea.”

23. Hegel’s statement (loc. cit.) does not necessarily imply a point-forpoint identity between the course of the Logic and that of the History of Philosophy.

24. Log. iii. 317 ff., 341; see Ency. § 243 (3rd ed.).

25. Log. iii. 339.

26. Log. iii. 318.

27. Log. i. 13, 42.

28. Log. iii. 332.

29. The contradictions here meant are those whose opposite poles are identity and diversity, unity and difference. These are undoubtedly the type and foundation of all contradiction; but that they are the only forms of contradiction is not so evident. v. Note A.

30. Log. iii. 332.

31. As Hegel roundly declares, “There is nothing in heaven, or nature, or mind, or anywhere, which is not at once and as much immediate as mediate. Immediacy and mediation are inseparable” (Log. i. 56). This applies to the beginning of the Logic as well as to every step. Cf. Log. i. 57 ff.

32. Log. iii. 334.

33. As e.g., by A. Bullinger in Hegel’s Lehre vom Widerspruch. I may say that the view of Hegel’s doctrine above stated is in the main the same as that expressed in this masterly little essay.

34. Vide Log. Untersuch, ii. 154.

35. The mere presence of purpose is not sufficient for development. We must have in the object concerned internal qualitative change in relation to the purpose. For example, shooting a bullet at a target is not developing the bullet. The development takes place, if anywhere, in the marksman.

36. We cannot infer, at least in the highest types of inference, unless all the elements are fully known; and we, in any case, only infer from what is known.

37. This is the question discussed by Mr. McTaggart in his Studies in the Hegelian Dialectic, chap. v. I cannot admit that this form of the question is legitimate, for it necessarily regards time as something equally valid and ultimate with truth itself, a position which, as Mr.

McTaggart allows, is certainly not held by Hegel. Mr. McTaggart’s argument refutes itself when at the close of it he demands a “higher synthesis” of imperfection (the time process) and perfection (the dialectic), for this implicitly denies that the time process is ultimate, as he assumed at the outset of his argument. But should his form of the question be regarded as legitimate, then certainly his arguments against the dialectic beginning in time are irresistible.

38. Whether we can hold that there is only one time order is another question, the solution of which would hardly perhaps affect the point here discussed.

39. Vide infra, Chap. xii.