Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998 18:36:00 -0800

From: Lau Kam To <>

Subject: Re: Annette on dialectics of nature - supplement


  1. Is there any dialectic in nature? and
  2. Can science reflect this or need we philosophy to do that? R.Wahsner argued, that in science only "understanding" occurs - whereas in philosophy "reason" occurs. Hegel and Sartre refused dialectic in nature in order to emphasize the human dialectic. If there were dialectic in nature, the people would be "only" like nature.

I think Hegel embraces both of the above. " Everywhere that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of Dialectic....we find traces of its presence in each of the particular provinces and phases of the natural and spiritual world..." (Lesser Logic, Para. 81 Zusatz). As Julio has pointed out, Hegel regarded the universe as organic. This is a position Hegel adopted from Schelling with some modifications. The Absolute, as the totality of things, is an organic whole, a self-organizing dynamic, a causi sui and also a teleological system which goal is the attainment of self-consciousness through man.

Hegel does not deal with nature directly, he deals with it through the natural sciences of his days. Philosophy is a science of science and includes empirical sciences under its purview. In Hegel's view, empirical sciences are "understanding" and philosophy as "Reason" is to go beyond the individual laws and catergories of scientific discoveries and coordinate them, showing them their relationship to the Idea of Reason. So Wahsner's argument is in line with Hegel.

In Hegel's formulation, dialectic of nature does not necessary implies man is a machine dominated solely by physical laws or the self-consciousness of man is something a ghost in the machine. It is Hegel's intention to solve the antinomies of Kant caused by his mechanic view of nature and Hegel has criticised much the mysticism of Jacobi's religious intuition. In the Abolute, inorganic matters, organic, human beings, everything are related but each has its own specificity, there are different levels of complexity not reducible to one another.


[Lau Kam To wrote : "Dialectics is either comprehensive or you have internal contradiction within the dialectics itself" Why not the second? It would be amazing, if "dialectic" wouldn't be dialectically!]

Unity in opposites, identity in difference. Yes, why not.


[I am defending for a co-evolution concept.]

I don't much about evolution and cosmology. But as far as I learnt from some documentary series on television, the 'paradigms' of these fields are changing rapidly due to new findings in archeology, genetics, and from the Hubble space telescope (astronomers seems to have found galaxies older than the universe itself, in Andy's words "the material world is inexhaustible"!). I share Julio's interest to hear more from you about this.