Thought and Reality In Hegel’s System. Gustavus Watts Cunningham 1910
The conclusions of the two preceding chapters have led us to a further problem which we shall here be forced to face. If it be true that thought does in point of fact express the nature of things, then it would seem to follow that the science of thought is the science of things, that ontology and epistemology coincide. In this connection two questions arise: Does Hegel identify the two? And if so, what does he mean by the identification and what justification is there for it? It is to the task of answering these questions that we now address ourselves.
To the first of the above questions there can, I think, be only one answer. Hegel does identify logic and metaphysics. In the first place, we have his own explicit statement on the point. Since thoughts are “Objective Thoughts,” he says, “Logic therefore coincides with metaphysics, the science of things set and held in thoughts – thoughts accredited able to express the essential reality of things.” Besides such an explicit statement, one might offer as evidence the whole logical bias of the Hegelian philosophy which is unquestionably towards this identification.
Since the categories “really are, as forms of the Notion, the vital spirit of the actual world,” and since things or objects which do not agree with them are accidental, arbitrary, and untrue phenomena; since the universal aspect of the object is not something subjective attributed to it only when it is an object of thought, but rather belongs to and expresses its essential nature, it follows that the science which has to do with these universals is ipso facto the science of reality. This science, of course, is logic. Logic, therefore, is metaphysics. For this identification of logic and metaphysics Hegel has been very severely criticized. And this brings us to our second question: What does Hegel mean by the identification, and can it in any way be defended? Perhaps we can best answer this question by attempting to answer the objections to which the identification in question has given rise. One of the most recent and perhaps the clearest and most convincing of Hegel’s critics on this point is Professor Seth Pringle-Pattison; consequently we shall devote ourselves to a consideration of his objections.
If we succeed in answering satisfactorily his criticism, we shall have succeeded in answering all.
But before passing to this criticism some preliminary work is necessary.
We must first attempt to define the exact position of the Logic with reference to the other parts of Hegel’s system. This will clear the way for the following discussion But in order not to anticipate that discussion our attention will here be confined exclusively to the problem of the position of the Logic in the system; the problem of the ontological significance of the Logic will occupy us when we come to take up Professor Pringle-Pattison’s criticism. What then, we first ask, is the position of the Logic in the system, and in what relation does it stand to the other parts of the Encyclopedia? The best point of departure in attempting to answer this question is acquaintance with the specific problem that Hegel has before him in the Logic. In order to determine the nature of this problem, however, a consideration of the question concerning the presupposition of the Logic is necessary. For it would seem that one could hardly appreciate the significance of the dialectical development of the categories by plunging at once into the ‘bacchic whirl.’ A preliminary discussion of what the Logic presupposes, if, indeed, it is not absolutely necessary to an adequate appreciation of its real problem and aim, is at least desirable.
But this problem of the presupposition of the Logic need not detain us long. There can be no doubt, it would seem that in the author’s mind the Logic presupposes the result of the Phenomenology. To justify this contention it is necessary simply to let the author speak for himself. “In the Phenomenology of Spirit,” he says in the larger Logic, “I have exhibited consciousness in its progress from its first immediate opposition of itself and its object, on to absolute knowledge. This course traverses all the forms of the relation of consciousness to its object, and has as its result the conception of our science. This conception needs no justification here – apart from the fact that it comes out as the final result in the Logic itself – it needs no justification here, because it got its justification there. And it is capable of no other justification than just this production of it by consciousness, all whose own peculiar forms are resolved into this conception as their truth...This conception of the pure science and the deduction of it are presupposed in the present treatise, in so far as the Phenomenology of Spirit is nothing else but such a deduction of it “ Again, later in the same work, we read: “It has been remarked in the introduction that the Phenomenology of Spirit is the science of consciousness, the exhibition of the fact that consciousness has the conception of our science, that is, of pure knowledge as its result. To this extent, then, the Logic has the science of the phenomenal Spirit as its presupposition; for that science contains and displays the necessity, and hence the proof of the truth of the standpoint of pure knowledge, as well as the way in which that standpoint is reached.” In addition to these explicit statements of the Logic, I may be permitted to quote one other passage from the preface to the Phenomenology itself. Having traced in a sentence or two the development of the Phenomenology from the standpoint of sensuous consciousness to that of absolute knowledge, where we have completely mediated being, Hegel continues: “Just here the Phenomenology comes to an end. In it the way has been prepared for the element of knowledge wherein the moments of Spirit have unfolded themselves in the form of simplicity which knows its object as itself. These moments no longer stand opposed to each other as being and knowing, but remain in the simplicity of knowledge; they are the true in the form of the true, and their difference is only difference of content. Their development, which in this element is organized into a whole, is Logic or Speculative Philosophy.” Comment on such plain passages as these seems superfluous: Hegel’s meaning in them is unmistakable.
The science of Logic assumes the conclusion of the Phenomenology as its starting point and its procedure and result are to be judged only in the light of this assumption.
Without further discussion of this point, then, we pass to the main problem before us. What is the aim of the Logic in the light of its presupposition? The passage quoted last in the preceding paragraph gives us a basis for an answer to this question. In this passage Hegel tells us what the purpose of the Logic is, viewed from the standpoint of absolute knowledge. The passage, translated into simpler language, amounts to this. At the conclusion of the Phenomenology we reached the true definition of knowledge; the categories no longer appear as merely subjective ideas, or concepts, opposed to objects to which they are quasi-mechanically related, but they show themselves to be capable of expressing the essential nature of objects, and so are genuinely universal and objective. To organize these categories into a systematic whole and to set forth in a scientific manner their interconnection is the business of the Logic. In other words, the Phenomenology exhibits the essentially objective and universal nature of that thought which is the subject-matter of the Logic; the problem of the Logic being to work out the connection among the categories in abstraction from their essential relation to sensuous experience. In the Phenomenology thought has been observed and its nature determined in its relation to the objects of time and place, but in the Logic temporal and spatial relations are entirely ignored and we move in the ether of pure thought: the concrete categories of the Phenomenology are, in the Logic, to be considered for their own sake and their inter-relations determined apart from their experiential basis. In a sense it may be said that the Phenomenology assumes that thought is always concrete, its procedure consisting in an exhibition of the necessity of this assumption: the Logic, likewise, takes this for granted but as a fact established by the Phenomenology and then proceeds to investigate specifically thought as it is in and for itself. “To raise to knowledge....
those forms of thought which act instinctively in common consciousness and obtain there only an obscure and incomplete reality, to seize them by thought, and thought alone, in their most simple, abstract, and universal existence, to trace and comprehend them in their relations and in their unity – such is the task of the Hegelian Logic.” We must guard the statement above that the purpose of the Logic is to deal with thought in abstraction from its empirical nature. Such a statement might be misconstrued to mean that the Logic deals only with abstract thought. And such an opinion would certainly not be without justification, even on the basis of Hegel’s own assertions. When we consider his statements concerning the science of logic, all that we have hitherto said about the concreteness of logical thought seems to have been said falsely. For example, Hegel tells us in one place that the realm of logic is “a kingdom of shadows, the world of simple essences, freed from all sensuous concretion.” Elsewhere he says that the content of logic is “the presentation of God as He is in His eternal essence before the creation of Nature or of a finite mind.” In yet another passage we are informed that logic “has to do not with perceptions, nor, like geometry, with abstract representations of the senses, but with pure abstractions.”  But such deliverances as these are balanced by numerous counter-assertions concerning the concreteness of the science of logic.
For example, we meet such a passage as this: “Bare abstractions or formal thoughts are no business of philosophy, which has to deal only with concrete thoughts.” Or this: “Logic has nothing to do with an act of thought about something that lies outside of the thought as the ground or basis of it, or with forms that furnish mere signs or marks of the truth. On the contrary, the necessary forms and peculiar determinations of thought are the content and the highest truth itself.” Furthermore, we are explicitly informed that das begreifende Denken rather than simply das Denken is the subject matter of logic; and, as I have tried to show in the preceding chapters, this is to say that the thought of the science of logic is concrete.
The question naturally arises, Do not these two sets of passages contradict each other? Is not a ‘pure’ abstraction equivalent to a ‘bare’ abstraction, and when Hegel asserts that the science of logic has to do with pure abstractions does he not virtually deny the validity of his claims for its concreteness? A consideration of this essential point will give us a clearer idea of the Logic, both as to its aim and problem and as to its relation to the Phenomenology of Spirit.
The answer to the puzzle before us will be found in an appreciation of the ambiguity which attaches to the terms ‘abstract’ and ‘concrete.’ Abstract may mean not concrete in the sense of not sensuous. For example, it is sometimes said that the phenomena of the mind are abstract, because they cannot be touched seen, heard, etc., but are objects of thought only; objects of the world of sense-perception would, in this meaning of the terms, be concrete. This is the signification of the terms as common sense uses them. In this sense, Hegel’s logic is unquestionably abstract, as he himself explicitly states; and when he speaks of the abstractness of the logic he is thinking of this meaning of the terms. The content of the Logic may be called abstract, he says, “if the name concrete is restricted to the concrete facts of sense or of immediate perception.”  “If content means no more than what is palpable and obvious to the senses, all philosophy and logic in particular must be at once acknowledged to be void of content, that is to say, of content perceptible to the senses.” Of course, all sciences which have to do with objects not perceptible to the senses are, from this point of view, abstract But there is another meaning of the terms abstract and concrete. An object may be abstract in the sense of being unreal, or taken apart from its relations; while the concrete object is the object seen in its deepest and truest significance. The categories of mathematics, for example, may be said to be more abstract than the categories of ethical science; and the ideals that seriously influence our lives for weal or woe are more concrete than the air-castles which we build in our day-dreams. The abstract in this signification, Hegel strongly insists, is not the realm of philosophy: it is just the aim of philosophy to get rid of all abstraction and to see the world as concrete. From these considerations Hegel’s answer to the charge of inconsistency in his statements concerning the science of logic is plain. ‘Pure’ abstraction is not equivalent to ‘bare’ abstraction; the former is characteristic of all thought, the latter only of formal thought. In that its subject matter is thought and not the immediately given of sense-perception, logic may be said to busy itself with abstractions, to move in a realm of shades; but in this way every mental science is abstract, and might be metaphorically described as a ‘kingdom of shadows.’ In that its subject matter is the Notion, however, that is to say, concrete thought, the Logic is not only not abstract, but is the most concrete of the sciences. 
“The Notion is not palpable to the touch, and when we are engaged with it, we must be dead to hearing and seeing. And yet . . the Notion is the only true concrete; for no other reason than because it involves Being and Essence, and the total wealth of these two spheres with them, merged in the unity of thought.” We shall have to return to this point later.
And all this shows us again the essential difference, as well as the fundamental similarity, between the Logic and the Phenomenology. They both deal with consciousness; they are both expositions of the essential nature of thought. But whereas the Phenomenology is interested in consciousness primarily as a subject-object relation and endeavors to work out the significance of this relation, the Logic is interested primarily in disclosing the organic nature of thought and so confines its attention to the thought activity in and for itself. The one is an interpretation of thought in its relation to its object: the other is an interpretation of the categories as they are in themselves, temporarily held in isolation from their empirical setting. Hegel has stated this distinction in the preface to the first edition of the larger Logic: “In this manner” – dialectically – “I have tried to present consciousness in the Phenomenology of Spirit.
Consciousness is Spirit in the form of concrete knowledge, knowledge shut in in the form of externality; but the motion of the form of this object, as the development of all natural and spiritual life, rests only upon the nature of the pure essences that constitute the content of the Logic. As phenomenal Spirit, which in its own manner frees itself from its immediacy and external concretion, consciousness develops into pure knowledge which appropriates as its subject matter those pure essences as they are in and for themselves ... Thus is given the relation of the science that I have called the Phenomenology of Spirit to the Logic.” To sum up briefly, our conclusion so far is this. The Logic has as its presupposition the whole development of the Phenomenology of Spirit.
The Phenomenology, as we have already seen, asserts the inseparability of thought and reality and attempts to define for us the true nature of thought. The Logic presupposes this conclusion, taking for granted that thought is really as it is here defined; and in the light of this presupposition its aim is to give a more detailed account of the nature of thought, to work out the organic unity which exists among the several categories of thought. Such, then, being the relation between the Logic and the Phenomenology, we pass on to ask concerning the relation between the Logic and the other parts of the Encyclopaedia. This is a much debated problem in connection with Hegel’s philosophy, and upon its solution depends the integrity of the system as a system. In accordance with our determination not to anticipate the following discussion, we shall here confine ourselves to the formal aspect of the problem: as little as possible will be said concerning the real ontological significance of the Logic. The question now before us is: As regards the systematic arrangement of the Encyclopaedia, what is the relation of the Logic to the Philosophy of Nature and the Philosophy of Mind? If at this juncture we turn to Hegel for light on the problem, we are sadly disappointed; very little light is vouchsafed us. His statements on the point are few, and those few are couched in such metaphorical terms it is almost impossible to attach a definite meaning to them. But one fact seems indisputable, the fact, namely, that Hegel believed necessary and actually tried to make some kind of transition from one part of the Encyclopaedia to another. Let us see what he has to say about this transition.
In the second edition of his Hegelianism and Personality Professor Pringle-Pattison has summarized Hegel’s account of the transition as follows: “The Absolute Idea, Hegel says in the larger ‘Logic,’ is ‘still logical, still confined to the element of pure thoughts.... But inasmuch as the pure idea of knowledge is thus, so far, shut up in a species of subjectivity, it is impelled to remove this limitation; and thus the pure truth, the last result of the Logic, becomes also the beginning of another sphere and science.’ The Idea, he recalls to us, has been defined as ‘the absolute unity of the pure notion and its reality’ – ‘the pure notion which is related only to itself’; but if this is so, the two sides of this relation are one, and they collapse, as it were, ‘into the immediacy of Being.’ ‘The Idea as the totality in this form is Nature. This determining of itself, however, is not a process of becoming or a transition’ such as we have from stage to stage in the Logic. ‘The passing over is rather to be understood thus – that the Idea freely lets itself go, being absolutely sure of itself and at rest in itself. On account of this freedom, the form of its determination is likewise absolutely free – namely, the externality of space and time existing absolutely for itself without subjectivity. A few lines lower he speaks of the ‘resolve (Entschluss) of the pure Idea to determine itself as external Idea.’ Turning to the Encyclopaedia we find at the end of the smaller Logic, a more concise but substantially similar statement. ‘The Idea which exists for itself, looked at from the point of view of this unity with itself, is Perception; and the Idea as it exists for perception is nature ... The absolute freedom of the Idea consists in this, that in the absolute truth of itself (i.e., according to Hegel’s usage, when it has attained the full perfection of the form which belongs to it), it resolves to let the element of its particularity – the immediate idea, as its own reflection – go forth freely from itself as Nature.’ And in the lecture-note which follows we read, as in the larger Logic – ‘We have now returned to the notion of the Idea with which we began. This return to the beginning is also an advance. That with which we began was Being, abstract Being, and now we have the Idea as Being; but this existent Idea is Nature.’” Such is Hegel’s account of the transition from the Logic to the Philosophy of Nature. Confining our attention for the present to the aspect of the problem before us, let us ask concerning the significance and justification of this attempted transition. There seems to be no doubt that Hegel believed the transition necessary and that he did attempt to make it. The question is, Why, and with what success? One or two preliminary considerations will lead us to an answer.
In the first place, I think we must agree with Haldane that the transition in question is logical only, not temporal. If what we have been arguing is true, namely, that the Notion is genuinely objective and universal, this conclusion is forced upon us: the Absolute Idea would then include in itself the fullness of Nature. And Hegel teaches us that the transition is only logical. For he insists that the Idea cannot be thought of as existing anterior to or independent of Nature; and that, when it passes into Nature, it does not come into possession of a content which before was alien to it. On the contrary, we are informed that the Idea is nothing but completed Being, the abstract immediacy of Being made concrete. And so such an account of the relation between the Idea and its manifestations as the following from Falckenberg may be dismissed at once as at best misleading; indeed, if it means what it says, it is ridiculously false: “The absolute or the logical Idea exists first as a system of antemundane concepts, then it descends into the unconscious sphere of nature, awakens to self-consciousness in man, realizes its content in social institutions, in order, finally, in art, religion, and science to return to itself enriched and completed, i.e., to attain a higher absoluteness than that of the beginning.” As Hegel conceives the matter, the Idea does indeed enrich itself by passing through these various stages of its existence, or, rather, by exhibiting these differentiations of itself, but it does so only by showing that these differentiations are essential aspects of itself and by disclosing itself as inherent in them from the first.
The Idea is prior, not in point of time, but solely in the logical sense.
In the second place, as Vera suggests, the true significance of the problem involved in this transition, as well as the correct solution of the problem, can be had only in the light of Hegel’s philosophy as a whole.
In a very important sense the Phenomenology of Spirit is the presupposition of the entire Encyclopedia. As has already been pointed out, the aim of the Phenomenology is simply to show what are the implications of knowledge, and to prove, against Kant, that in knowledge as thus developed we have the expression of ultimate reality. Now, as I think we must conceive the matter, the Encyclopedia simply attempts a more detailed investigation and a more elaborate exposition of this position.
We might put it thus. In the Phenomenology we begin with all the reality we know anything about, namely, experience, and we proceed to develop its implications as regards its nature as a subject-object relation.
The Logic abstracts from this concrete whole and examines one aspect of it, which here we might call the subject-aspect; while the Philosophy of Nature and the Philosophy of Mind deal with other aspects of the same whole, that is, they might be said to define reality in its object-significance. For it must not be forgotten that, when we arrive at the category of absolute knowledge in the Phenomenology, we have reached, not a new kind of experience, but only a more concrete point of view in our common everyday experience; and this point of view is taken by the other parts of the Encyclopaedia as well as by the Logic.
Though Haym unfortunately failed to appreciate the full significance of his words, still he is essentially right whehe says that the Phenomenology “is really the whole system.... The later expression of the system in its articulated totality is only a more detailed exposition and completion that which is contained in the Phenomenology.” And it seems to me that this fact about the Encyclopaedia is not to be forgotten or overlooked, if we are truly to appreciate the relation of its several parts to each other.
If the preceding considerations are substantially true, then we are forced to conclude (a) that the Logic, Philosophy of Nature and Philosophy of Mind are only three points of view from which one organic whole is observed and interpreted. The first investigates the more strictly cognitive side of experience; the second has to do with its crass objective, its sensuous aspect; while the third undertakes to interpret its spiritual values. As Kuno Fischer points out, each in a sense has the same content: the difference among them lies rather in the form which that content assumes. Each has a unique sphere and claim of its own, but neither is the whole of reality nor can it be ontologically separated from the others. Thought does indeed, according to Hegel, include its object, whether that object be crass matter or the other so-called functions of the mind; but it includes by subsuming, by taking up and preserving in itself. So other sciences besides that of pure thought have their raison d’etre. But because thought does thus include its object, we must say (b) that in a sense the Logic comprehends the other two parts of the Encyclopaedia. And so Haym’s criticism loses its force and becomes a simple statement of fact: “So muss die Logik die ganze Philosophie sein, so muss mit ihr das System schliessen.” This last point will come up for direct discussion later in the present chapter.
But it will be objected that on this score we are forced to deny the necessity of the transition from the Logic as Hegel has attempted it. And I have purposely courted the objection in order to emphasize my agreement with it. If what has been said above is true – and its validity is attested to by our entire discussion of Hegel’s doctrine of the nature of thought – then we must give up the idea of a dialectical transition from one to another part of the Encyclopaedia. Such a transition is impossible were it necessary, but it is not necessary. Its necessity has been obviated by the result of the Phenomenology; for this work has shown that in the dialectic of the categories the object cannot be entirely absent, even though, for methodological purposes its presence be as far as possible neglected. A dialectical transition here would in fact be inconsistent with the spirit of Hegel’s philosophy; it would seem to indicate that the Idea is a mere abstraction which demands a content to make it real, an abstract universal to be particularized. Hegel himself at times seems to feel this difficulty, although, so far as I am aware, he never explicitly expresses himself on the point. For example, his very frank recognition that the transition which he attempts from the Logic to the Philosophy of Nature is different from the transition of the subjective notion into objectivity, or of subjective purpose into life, one would think is not entirely without significance. Again elsewhere he seems to show that he fears the transition because he takes pains to warn us against misconceiving its real import. And in the larger Logic, at the beginning of the discussion of the Absolute Idea, there occurs a passage which is suggestive in this connection: “Since it [i.e., the Idea] contains all determination within itself, and its essence is to return to itself through its self-determination or particularity, it possesses different forms; and it is the business of philosophy to trace it in these forms” – such as nature, art, and religion. But whether Hegel had any such feeling as I have attributed to him or whether he did not, the fact remains that he felt called upon to make the leap from the Logic to the Philosophy of Nature. He explicitly asserts that “the last result of the Logic becomes also the beginning of another sphere and science,” which science is, of course, the Philosophy of Nature. If now, as we have argued, this transition is not only not necessary, but, what is more important, is really inconsistent with the logical bias of the system, then the question why the author deemed it necessary becomes a very pressing one. As a matter of fact he does attempt the transition: what is to be said about the fact? The answer to this question is, in my opinion, not far to seek. Hegel was very much in earnest about this transition, and he was in earnest about it for the reason that with it stands or falls his system as a system.
This, it seems to me, is the secret of his anxiety concerning the matter.
Like Kant, he was bound down to his system; he could not get beyond the machinery of his dialectic. The Logic, Philosophy of Nature, and Philosophy of Mind had to form a triad of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, else the formal coherence and symmetry of the system would have been lost. The scheme of the system demands a continuous linear development from one phase of it to another – an absolutely necessary development.
If the dialectic is the absolute and universal method, why is there not a dialectical passage from the Logic to nature? There simply must be – and there was. Such procedure is due to the fact that Hegel did not always raise the spirit of his system above the letter. The Method, the unerring and absolute method of the dialectic, had to be looked out for and its claims catered to regardless of consequences; and only too frequently was the method seen in a false light and its claims misinterpreted.
If at all times Hegel could have identified his method with his doctrine of begreifendes Denken, the relation of the various parts of the Encyclopaedia to each other would have been differently conceived and the position of the Logic in the system would have been more clearly and intelligibly set forth.
Some commentators seem disposed to justify this leap from the Logic.
Noel, for example, goes so far as to maintain that there is a connection between the Logic and what follows in the system analogous to the connection among the several sections of the Logic. “There must be,” he says, “a dialectical passage from the Logic to Nature. The logical Idea must negate itself and pass into its contrary.” But there seems to be no very good reason why the logical Idea should, just at this point, negate itself and pass into Nature. Indeed, Noel’s position seems to overlook Hegel’s own explicit statement, quoted above, to the effect that the transition here in question is different from that which obtains among the categories of the Logic. In this respect Mr. McTaggart is, perhaps, truer to Hegel. It is true that he asserts, “Granted pure thought, we are compelled by the necessity of the dialectic to grant the existence of some sensuous intuition also.” But he recognizes Hegel’s statement that the transition to the Philosophy of Nature has its own peculiar characteristics.
The fundamentals of Mr. McTaggart’s position seem to be: that the transition is both analytic and synthetic; that it really represents the phases of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis; and that Spirit, as the truth and goal of the movement, is present even from the beginning. In so far as this position insists that in the Idea both Nature and Spirit are involved, one is not inclined to call it in question. But does this insistence make the transition from the Absolute Idea to Nature dialectically necessary? Merely by observing the Idea as the highest of the logical categories, are we forced to posit nature as its counterpart? If so, are we thereby made aware of the implicit appearance of Spirit, even before it looms on the horizon? Even if we grant, with Noel, that logic contains in germ philosophy in its entirety, and with Mr. McTaggart that, if there were a transition at the end of the Logic, it would necessarily be both analytic and synthetic, still the essential point here has not been touched.
Is the transition a dialectical necessity? If so, why is it so? I confess myself unable to see any dialectical advance from the end of the Logic to the beginning of the Philosophy of Nature, or even from the Idea to a matter of sensuous intuition. Is it any less reasonable to say that the first category of the Logic should alienate itself in its other than that the last category should do so? Is not the category of Being as likely to go forth into its opposite as is the Absolute Idea? Certainly so, if as Mr. McTaggart seems to suggest, the fact that the Absolute Idea is ‘pure thought’ is the impetus of the movement; for Being is just as much ‘pure thought’ as is the Absolute Idea. In fact, it would seem to be more reasonable to return to the beginning of the Logic and take the sensuous ‘alienation’ of Being as the point of departure for the Naturphilosophie: at any rate, in this event we should have the privilege of proceeding on lines analogous to those followed in the development of the Logic, namely, from the less to the more determinate. But whether we put ourselves at the first category or at the ‘last result’ of the Logic, hoping thereby to discover a beginning for our new ‘sphere and science,’ we find ourselves baffled. In no event do we find that mysterious secret power that would drive us on to Nature. And we fail for the somewhat obvious reason that we are already at Nature and do not need to be driven to it. This so-called transition can be defended only on the basis of the Phenomenology: there it has received the only justification which it needs and of which it is capable.
But – and this is the important point – the conclusion of the Phenomenology destroys at once the necessity and the possibility of such a transition; and from this point of view the dialectical passage becomes nothing more than a misguided zeal for schematization. One must feel that neither Noel nor Mr. McTaggart has succeeded in making the leap plausible: if they had succeeded, one is inclined to say that the real significance of the Hegelian Logic would have been greatly diminished, if not completely destroyed.
It might be argued in support of this transition from the Logic that Hegel is simply recognizing here, explicitly, the presupposition that has been implicit in the entire development of the categories. For what is a dialectical transition? Does it not consist simply in making explicit a presupposition? And do we not at the end of the Logic recognize what has been a presupposition all through, namely, the spiritual union of thought and its object? Thus the circle is completed, the end is one with the beginning. And with this the necessity of a more concrete treatment is apparent – a treatment that shall take into full account the presupposition thus disclosed. And so we are brought at once into the realm of Nature and of Spirit.
This, it must be confessed, is all that Hegel could consistently have meant by the transition in question. It could signify nothing more than a change in point of view, if the lesson of the Phenomenology is to hold here. One is inclined to think that this is really the essence of the transition.
But the question inevitably arises why the presupposition is peculiarly forced upon us in the Absolute Idea. Is not the recognition of the presupposition as explicit in the first categories of the Logic as it is in the last? Does not Hegel make constant appeal to it throughout the whole dialectical advance? Why, then, should the presupposition be forced to the fore in the Absolute Idea as it is not in any of the other categories? It might be answered, Because at the Absolute Idea we have a definition of reality itself. Even so, how was this definition arrived at apart from the phenomena of Nature and Spirit? The fact is that it was not; for the result of the Phenomenology is recognized at every stage of the dialectical development of the categories, and this necessitates the inclusion by the Idea of these phenomena of Nature and Spirit. So far as I can see, the objective aspect of existence is no more clearly and necessarily evident in any one of the categories than it is in all; we are not forced to take account of it in the Idea in a manner different from that in which it forces itself upon us in the categories of Being and Essence. If, when Hegel reached the end of the Logic, he had contented himself with asserting what the above argument would have him assert, namely, that the time had come for us to turn to a detailed consideration of those phenomena that had not been explicitly taken into account by the Logic, if he had simply told us that at the Idea the Logic reached its conclusion and that he here proposed to change his point of view, we could have understood him: the necessity of the change and the partially abstract nature of the Logic, had already been sufficiently explained to us in the Phenomenology. But when he goes on to urge that the Absolute Idea must, by a dialectical necessity, alienate itself in its Other, we begin to wonder where the categories of Being came from and how we ever succeeded in getting from this abstract view of the world to the standpoint of the Idea. We had thought all along that in the Idea we were at last in touch with reality; but when this mysterious alienation begins to take place, the earth trembles under us and we wonder if we have been deceived.
At this juncture the Phenomenology comes to our relief, when we remember that its conclusion has made the transition both unnecessary and impossible. The argument before us does indeed state what Hegel must have meant, if he remained true to the principles of his doctrine; but it hardly explains what he seems actually to have attempted.
It would seem, then, that this would-be transition from the Logic must be given up. And, furthermore, we must agree with Professor Pringle-Pattison that to admit so much involves a surrender of Hegel’s system as he left it. He is systematic to a fault. Within the Logic itself the author’s mania for system often clouds, if it does not completely hide, the issue; the omnipotent Dialectic Method, rather than the organic development of thought, is only too frequently the object of interest.
And, unfortunately, even the data of nature and history are sometimes forced into this formal scheme whether they will or no. What under other circumstances might have been a very simple change in point of view is, as we have just seen, made incomprehensible and misleading by the same absurd reverence for the triadic movement of the ‘absolute method.’ No doubt one may easily be too severely critical of this aspect of Hegel’s philosophy, both because it is so exasperating and because it is calculated to conceal the real import of the system. Our zeal to remove these barriers to a true appreciation of the system, and to gain an unprejudiced hearing for the author, might blind us to the fact that these impedimenta find their partial explanation at least in the circumstances under which Hegel wrote. Historically speaking this transition from the Logic may claim for itself some sort of justification. Perhaps it was important for Hegel’s influence that he set forth his system intact; and to do this seemed to necessitate this transition. For if the dialectic had with unerring precision led from the poor and abstract category of Being up to the fullness of the Absolute Idea, and that, too, apart from a direct consideration of Nature and of Spirit, then it was incumbent upon the dialectic to lead in some way to a consideration of these important aspects of experience; and how could this be more happily accomplished than by the assertion of at least a quasi-dialectical connection between the Idea and these its manifestations? This ground of justification for Hegel’s procedure here should not be overlooked, and, of course, should be given the weight that is due it. But, after all, though we may be inclined to excuse Hegel for his formality, we have no special reason for being grateful to hi him for it; his system will be appreciated fully only when we throw aside this formality and penetrate to the fundamentals of the system. And the fundamentals of the system can best be disclosed when the fruitlessness and inconsistency of this attempted transition from the Logic are revealed.
So with no great degree of reluctance we surrender the formal arrangement of Hegel’s system. But we can ill afford to miss its spirit and the results that follow from it. One of the most marked of these results is the position that epistemology is in a sense ontology, that logic and metaphysics cannot be separated from each other. This brings us back to our original question, the intervening discussion having been necessary to clear the way for an answer. So we ask once again concerning the real meaning and justification of this Hegelian position, that a theory of knowledge cannot be separated from a theory of reality. In accordance with our plan of discussion, we shall attempt to answer this question by examining a criticism to which the contention has been subjected.
The criticism which we shall here examine is to be found in the fourth lecture of Professor Pringle-Pattison’s Hegelianism and Personality.
The criticism, we seem compelled to say, is based upon a misapprehension of Hegel’s real meaning and actual procedure. The remaining part of this chapter will first attempt to justify this assertion, and then conclude with a statement of what Hegel, in consistency with his own principles, must have meant by the identification in question.
The criticism is based upon the attempted transition from the Logic to the Philosophy of Nature, one phase of which we have already considered.
Put in a few words, the criticism seems to be that in this transition Hegel deliberately attempted to deduce nature from the logical Idea, and that, by a copious use of metaphors, he deluded himself into thinking that he had successfully bridged the gulf which separates formal thought from actual existence. To quote: “The concrete existence of the categories (in Nature and Spirit) is to be deduced from their essence or thought-nature; it is to be shown that they cannot not be. When we have mounted to the Absolute Idea, it is contended, we cannot help going further. The nisus of thought itself projects thought out of the sphere of thought altogether into that of actual existence. In fact, strive against the idea as we may, it seems indubitable that there is here once more repeated in Hegel the extraordinary but apparently fascinating attempt to construct the world out of abstract thought or mere universals. The whole form and structure of the system, and the express declarations of its author at points of critical importance, combine to force this conviction upon us. The language used can only be interpreted to mean that thought out of its own abstract nature gives birth to the reality of things.” All of which amounts to saying that Hegel has taken abstract thought, ontologized it, and then has turned about and attempted to deduce concrete reality from this hypostatized abstraction It must be admitted at once that such an accusation is not prima facie without some justification. If we turn once more to the passages above quoted bearing on the transition from the Logic, our first inclination is to accept Professor Pringle-Pattison’s interpretation of them. Other passages, especially those referring to the absoluteness and finality of the system, seem to bear out the same contention. And when in the Encyclopaedia we run across passages which baldly assert that everything is a judgment or a syllogism, we wonder whether Plato’s conception of archetypal Ideas is more removed from concrete experience. And yet such an attempt to deduce nature from abstract thought would be a rather remarkable undertaking on Hegel’s part: it would be inconsistent with the entire spirit of his philosophy, the fundamental assumption of which is, as Haldane suggests, that you cannot deduce the ‘that.’ Is it possible to interpret these passages so as to make Hegel consistent with the fundaments of his system? If so, it would seem that such an interpretation should certainly be adopted.
I think it is possible to make Hegel consistent in this regard, and this I have tried to do in the preceding pages of this chapter. I fully agree with Professor Pringle-Pattison that the attempted transition from one to another part of Encyclopedia must be given up; and I also agree that with this transition we surrender the system as a system. But I cannot agree with the reasons which the critic advances in support of his conclusions.
It was just because his system depended upon it that Hegel made the resolute leap, and not for the purpose of getting from abstract thought to concrete existence. The ‘ugly broad ditch’ between thought and reality seems to me only a shadow; and, unless indeed we are to credit Hegel with momentary forgetfulness of the foundation of his system, I cannot think that it was more to him. Now it would seem that this interpretation, namely, that the transition from the Logic was attempted for purely schematic purposes, has the advantage over such an interpretation as Professor Pringle-Pattison’s, which makes of the transition an attempt to deduce existential reality from abstract universals; and the advantage of the former interpretation lies in the fact that it does make Hegel consistent with the basic principles of his theory. We may venture to put the matter in the form of a disjunction. Either Hegel tried to deduce nature from the logical categories or he did not. If he did attempt it, then he contradicts himself; for such an attempt would presuppose that the logical categories are merely abstract thoughts existing in the heads of individuals and possessing no vital significance in relation to the essence of concrete objects. But this is the very conception of thought which we have seen Hegel object to in the systems of his predecessors and in contradistinction to which he emphasizes his own doctrine. And that doctrine is that thought has transcended the opposition between itself and its and is really the expression of the essence of the object.
“Pure science presupposes liberation from the opposition of consciousness.
It contains thought in so far as it is just as much the object in itself, or the object in itself in so far as it is just as much pure thought.” But, on the other hand, if Hegel did not attempt to deduce nature from thought, it would seem that his statements about a transition from the Logic must be explained away. Now the latter horn of this dilemma is comparatively easily disposed of, as has already been pointed out in the preceding part of the present chapter; the so-called transition is only a change in point of view, the author’s insistence upon the necessity of the transition being made for the sake of his system. But if we follow Professor Pringle-Pattison in accepting the former, the most significant aspect of Hegel’s philosophy will, to say the least, become questionable and he himself will stand accused of the most glaring of inconsistencies.
There seems to be no doubt, then, of the conclusion to be reached here.
But leaving aside speculation as to what may or may not have been the immediate purpose of Hegel in this transition, let us try to see what is logically involved in it. Whether or not Hegel has here made a deliberate attempt to deduce nature from thought, such an attempt is certainly not logically imposed upon him.
This contention is based upon what has already been said about the presupposition of the Encyclopedia. In the Encyclopedia we are dealing with one whole, namely, reality: the three parts of the Encyclopedia represent different points of view from which this totality is observed.
This conclusion follows necessarily, if our view concerning the significance of the Phenomenology in the system be correct. For the very outcome of the Phenomenology, we remember, has been the disclosure of the impossibility of dividing reality into water-tight compartments which are so separated from each other that each may be dealt with entirely independently of the others. Reality, this discussion has taught us, is rather one indissoluble whole whose parts can be separated from each other only by abstraction. The Encyclopedia, therefore, presupposing as it unquestionably does the result of the Phenomenology, must have for its object the one reality, and its several parts must be simply different points of view from which this unitary reality is observed and investigated. Now as a corollary of this, it follows that the transition from the Logic is as Kuno Fischer suggests, logically nothing more than a change in point of view. If the Encyclopedia presents reality to us from three different standpoints each of which involves the others, – and let us not forget that this is the lesson of the Phenomenology – then a transition within the Encyclopedia cannot be anything but a change in point of view. So all that Hegel really was called upon to do in order to get from the Logic to the Philosophy of Nature was simply to announce that he intended to investigate his problems from a new viewpoint: the transition, if one will call it so, had already been made in the Phenomenology of Spirit as we have abundantly seen.
Now it would seem that the accusation that Hegel seriously tried to deduce existence from thought when he made the transition from the Logic to the Philosophy of Nature fails to give the above considerations the weight that is due them. Unless one drops them out of mind entirely, it is difficult, not to say impossible, to catch the significance of the following as a criticism of Hegel: “Most assuredly the Notion contains the category of Being; so does the Ego, that is to say, the idea of the ego, and the Idea of God, both of which are simply the Notion under another name....
But when we ask for real bread, why put us off with a logical stone like this? It is not the category ‘Being,’ of which we are in quest, but that reality of which all categories are only descriptions, and which itself can only be experienced, immediately known or lived. To such reality or factual existence there is no logical bridge; and thoughts or categories have meaning only if we assume, as somehow given, a real world to which they refer.” Surely such a criticism could have been written only in forgetfulness of what Hegel has said about the presupposition of the Logic and the mediated aspect of the category of Being.
Being is, indeed, a logical category; but it is more than a mere abstract category, a blank universal, that has only a psychological existence in the consciousness of the thinker who happens to possess it. It is a concrete thought that expresses one very general, but withal very essential, characteristic of that which really is. In Hegel’s usage, Being, or any other category of thought, is not a mere idea or concept; on the contrary, it is a universal which ipso facto includes within its very nature the particularity of existence. And this brings us face to face with what seems to be the fundamental error in Professor Pringle-Pattison’s charge. I refer to his neglect of the meaning which Hegel attaches to the Notion. This is the bed-rock upon which Hegel bases his contention that logic and ontology are essentially one. It is only the Notion that “sinks itself in the facts”; it is only the Notion that is “accredited able to express the essential reality of things”; and only the Notion is the subject-matter of the science of logic.
The Notion, thus, is the tie that binds epistemology and metaphysics together. For if thought comprehends reality and is capable of expressing it, if there is no ‘residuum’ which lies outside of thought and which in its nature is inexpressible in terms of thought, then the science of thought is in a very important sense the science of things. Now just this conclusion the critic objects to; and his objection seems to rest upon a misinterpretation of the premise.
Let us notice some of Professor Pringle-Pattison’s statements. After quoting several passages from Hegel to the effect that Nature is the logical Idea in its otherness, is the Spirit in alienation from itself, and so forth, he continues: “Now I maintain that the whole problem of reality as such is wrapped up in these metaphorical phrases – otherness, petrifaction, materiature, concretion – and that by evading the question, Hegel virtually declines to take account of anything but logical abstractions.
He offers us, in a word, a logic in place of a metaphysic; and it may be unhesitatingly asserted that such a proposal, if taken literally, is not only untenable, it is absurd.” Nothing, we are further informed, is in very truth a logical category. “A living dog is better than a dead lion, and even an atom is more than a category. It at least exists as a reality, whereas a category is an abstract ghost, which may have a meaning for intelligent beings, but which, divorced from such real beings and their experience, is the very type of a non-ens.” A little later he says: “Existence is one thing, knowledge is another. But the logical bias of the Hegelian philosophy tends to make this essential distinction disappear, and to reduce things to mere types or ‘concretions’ of abstract formulae.” “The result of Hegel’s procedure would really be to sweep ‘existential reality’ off the board altogether, under the persuasion, apparently, that a full statement of all the thought-relations that constitute our knowledge of the thing is equivalent to the existent thing itself. On the contrary, it may be confidently asserted that there is no more identity of Knowing and Being with an infinity of such relations than there was with one.” If I understand the import of these passages – and their meaning seems unmistakable – there is involved in them an assumption which I dare think is unwarranted. The assumption is that Hegel has actually attempted to reduce sensuous experience to the universals of formal thought, and has tried to make such universals really be the existent things. If it be true that Hegel has attempted this, then it should be admitted without argument that he has attempted that which is both impossible and absurd. It may, perhaps, be rather difficult to say just in what respect an atom is more than a category, just what other reality it possesses besides its meaning for intelligent beings; but there can not be any question that a living dog is better than a dead lion – an object is indisputably more than a mere meeting-point of abstract relations. But does Hegel deny this? Is it quite fair to him to assert that the logical bias of his philosophy is “to reduce things to mere types or ‘concretions’ of abstract formulae"? Does he really try to force the particularity of existence into the abstract universality of bare cognition? I have already maintained that such an assumption is groundless and even contrary to the real spirit of Hegel’s system; and the preceding chapters attempt to set forth the reasons upon which such a contention rests. If I have there failed to accomplish this, it would hardly be worth while for me to undertake it here. Suffice it to reiterate that, when Hegel insists that knowledge or thought and reality are conterminous, he is simply upholding the theory that experience and reality are one: he means by thought, the Notion, not abstract and formal cognition, but organized experience. If such a criticism as the one with which we are here dealing is to be established, it must first be shown that Hegel does not hold such a doctrine of the nature of thought as has here been attributed to him; and this must be shown regardless of innumerable utterances to the contrary, and in spite of the pages of the Phenomenology of Spirit.
In the last analysis, one seems safe in saying, the real difference between Hegel and his critic turns upon the question whether thought is an adequate expression of the real. Both have the same conception of reality, namely, that it consists in the individual; and both agree as to the true definition of the individual, namely, that it is identity in difference. But in answer to the question whether thought is capable of expressing the individual, author and critic part company. The former, as we have seen, answers in the affirmative; while the latter, though he shows a puzzling inconsistency, finally gives a negative answer. So we face the question, Is thought adequate to express the real as thus defined? Or is it the very nature of the individual to transcend thought? In order to answer this question we must first come to some understanding concerning the real nature of thought. And two conceptions of its essential nature are possible. One doctrine of thought is that which Mr. McTaggart attributes to Hegel and which has been defined by Lotze thus: “Thought is everywhere but a mediating activity moving hither and thither, bringing into connection the original intuitions of external and internal perception, which are predetermined by fundamental ideas and laws the origin of which cannot be shown; it develops special and properly logical forms, peculiar to itself, only in the effort to apply the idea of truth (which it finds in us) to the scattered multiplicity of perceptions, and of the consequences developed from them.” According to this conception of thought, thought is a mediating activity among other mental processes which bear to it an external relation. The other possible conception of thought is that which has been attributed to Hegel in the present study, the nature of which Hegel expresses thus: “If we identify the Idea with thought, thought must not be taken in the sense of a method or form, but in the sense of the self-developing totality of its laws and peculiar terms. These laws are the work of thought itself, and not a fact which it finds and must submit to.” Or thus: “In all human perception thought is present; so too thought is the universal in all the acts of conception and recollection; in short, in every mental activity, in willing, wishing, and the like. All these faculties are only further specializations of thought. When it is presented in this light, thought has a different part to play from what it has if we speak of a faculty of thought, one among a crowd of other faculties, such as perception, conception, and will, with which it stands on the same level.” Now whichever of these doctrines of thought we accept as true to the facts of experience, our answer to the above question is fixed. If, on the one hand, Lotze’s account be the true description of actual concrete thought, then it is certain beyond any dispute that Being can not be “resolved into it without leaving any residuum.” Thought which is merely a process of mediation among brute facts of experience cannot possibly be more than a formal method of dealing with data given independently of it; and these data would certainly have to be accounted a part of Being. Such thought might prove a valuable instrument for dealing with reality – though I am not sure that I can see why it should, or, indeed, how it could, do so – but it could at most only compare and relate phenomena: reality would be, and would forever remain, beyond it. But, if, on the other hand, Hegel’s account of thought is the true one, then it would seem that we might as dogmatically assert that thought does comprehend and exhaust the real. Either this, or we commit ourselves to the doctrine of the thing-in-itself which Kant has taught us, by his failure to make it comprehensible, to fear. For if thought is conterminous only with experience, then it is also conterminous with the real; otherwise, of course, reality would be trans-experiential. Just how, in Hegel’s opinion, such thought is capable of expressing the individuality of reality, I have tried to indicate in the preceding chapter on the process of thought: his doctrine is that thought is adequate to express the individual, because its categories are just such self-particularizing universals – universals obtained, not by abstraction from the particulars, but by the interpretation of them.
It seems to me that, in the above criticism of Hegel, Professor Pringle- Pattison confuses these two doctrines of thought, or rather, that he overlooks Hegel’s own doctrine and tacitly attributes to him that of Lotze, and so criticizes him for that of which he is not guilty. For if we take Hegel’s more concrete doctrine of the nature of thought into account, the criticism misses the mark. Perhaps I have dwelt long enough on this point; but it is a very vital one in connection with Hegel’s system. I submit that it is only this confusion which gives Professor Pringle- Pattison’s criticism significance, and that the criticism falls of its own accord when the confusion is cleared away.
Just here emerges a consideration which we may pause to emphasize before we pass on to the concluding remarks of this chapter. And that consideration is that the point at which to attack Hegel’s identification of logic and metaphysics is his doctrine concerning the nature of that thought which is the subject-matter of the science of logic. With the validity of this doctrine stands or falls his contention that epistemology and ontology are essentially one. For if the categories express the nature of ultimate reality, then the science of the categories, namely, logic, is the science of the real. And in order to prove that Hegel has no right to claim that thought expresses fully the real, one must show that his doctrine of thought is false. And this, it would seem, would involve a careful investigation of experience, since Hegel claims to have rooted his doctrine in experience through the procedure of the Phenomenology. So far as I am aware, such an enterprise has been undertaken by none of Hegel’s critics. The answer to the question as to what Hegel really did mean by his assertion that logic and metaphysics are fundamentally one is involved in what has already been said. It remains only to set it forth and to emphasize it. In the first place, it seems that we are forced to say that Hegel does not mean to reduce thought and being to an abstract identity.
We have already insisted upon this point, but it will be well to emphasize it again since it is so generally taken for granted that the contrary is true. Critics generally seem to think that, when Hegel asserts that thought exhausts reality, he is asserting that thought about an object actually is the object itself and that experience is no richer than the poverty of abstract cognition. Identity of thought and being means for them undifferentiated identity; upon their interpretation the particular loses itself in the universal, becomes vaporized, as it were, into a mere meeting-point of abstract relations. But such abstract identity between thought and its object Hegel simply could not teach and at the same time remain true to his system: it is in direct contradiction of his fundamental presuppositions, indeed it contradicts the very thesis he was trying to establish.
He began by assuming a duality within and basic to experience, namely, the subject-object relation; and certainly he did not wish to destroy the very foundation on which he was building. He never denied the existence of the concrete object, nor did he make any attempt to reduce the object to blank universality. He did indeed reduce the object to terms of the subject; he urged that ultimate reality must be construed as Subject and not as Substance. But he did not destroy the duality within experience. The object was never annihilated as an object, only explained; its alienation disappeared, but its self-identity was never lost. This idea that Hegel tried to reduce factual existence to abstract relations should be dismissed from our minds once for all, unless we prefer to believe that he forgot or set about to contradict the very doctrine which he was endeavoring to establish. Whatever one may see in the leap from the Logic to the Philosophy of Nature, one must grant that Hegel could not have seriously entertained the idea that abstract cognition and existential reality are identical; the inconsistency involved is too patent. In the second place, what Hegel really does mean by his position that logic and metaphysic coincide seems to be this, namely, the assertion of the complete intelligibility or mediated character of reality. Instead of being merely subjective ideas, the categories of the Logic are principles of ultimate reality; and ultimate reality is simply what these principles show it to be. It is only by these instruments that experience gets its organization; and organized experience and reality coincide. The science of the categories is, thus, the science of the real; but being is not deduced, it is only thoroughly rationalized and explained. Of course, we must remember that these categories are not merely conceptions of the Understanding, as Hegel calls it, or of what we call cognition: the categories of feeling and will are just as important as the categories of cognition. And we must also remember that the categories of the Reason are not merely universals bearing an external and mechanical relation to the particulars; they are universals which exist only in and through the particulars subsumed under them, and in which the particulars find their only reality. Such an identification of logic and ontology, Hegel maintains, is logically involved in the system of Kant: the reason why Kant failed to realize the fact was that he gave his categories an ‘essentially subjective significance.’ That is to say, had Kant only realized that the realm of possible experience is the real and only real, then the categories, which he recognized as principles of the deepest import in experience, would have been regarded as principles of reality, would have attained to truly objective significance; and so the science of these principles would have become the science of the real, the Critique of Pure Reason would have been a metaphysic as well as a treatise on epistemology. Now Hegel argues that thought must be genuinely objective, else we have on our hands a dualism which cannot be transcended.
And thought being really objective, logic is inevitably metaphysic.
This leads us in conclusion to remark, in anticipation of a discussion that will follow in the next chapter, that doubtless Hegel would hardly find free from difficulties the epistemology of those who are inclined to criticize him for making logic and metaphysics coincident. He might ask concerning the logical consequences of their position; and more than likely he would intimate that the inevitable answer is the Ding-an-sich of the Kantian philosophy. For what reality is it that lies beyond thought, but a reality that is unknowable in terms of thought? And how can that reality which is unknowable in terms of thought be known at all? And what significance can be attached to an unknowable reality? Is it logically possible to separate knowledge and reality? Hegel would urge that knowledge, which is incapable of expressing the nature of the ultimately real, is impotent. “Only in so far as reflection has reference to the Absolute is it Reason, and its activity that of real knowledge.”  He would furthermore insist that what exists apart from knowledge is an abstraction. “The object as it is without thought and the Notion is a mere idea, a name: the forms of thought and the Notion make of it what it is.” To such strictures it would seem that the critics could reply only by admitting that the real does somehow fall within the system of knowledge; for, ultimately, there can be no bits or nuclei of reality that remain opaque to thought. As Professor Bosanquet has remarked: “If the object-matter of reality lay genuinely outside the system of thought, not only our analysis, but thought itself, would be unable to lay hold of reality.” And such an empty conception of thought and such a hopeless conception of reality would combine to land us in a rather barren and forlorn subjectivism.
The conclusions of our discussion are as follows. Hegel does argue that logic and metaphysic coincide. But the coincidence is not an abstract identity. Against such a conclusion the lesson of the Phenomenology warns us. The coincidence between the two consists in the fact that the thought, which is the subject matter of logic, is the principle of organization of reality itself; logic, thus, is necessarily a science of reality.
The attempted transition from the Logic to the other parts of the Encyclopaedia must be explained as the result of Hegel’s anxiety to keep his system intact. It cannot be construed as an attempt on Hegel’s part to deduce factual existence from one aspect of conscious experience; for such an attempt would have contradicted the doctrine which Hegel most persistently presupposes, the doctrine, namely, that thought is concrete, not abstract.