Hegel’s Science of Logic

Being for Self


§ 320

We have arrived at the general Notion of being-for-self. All that is now necessary to justify our use of the term for this Notion is to demonstrate that the said Notion corresponds to the general idea associated with the expression, being-for-self. And so indeed it seems; we say that something is for itself in so far as it transcends otherness, its connection and community with other, has repelled them and made abstraction from them. For it, the other has being only as sublated, as its moment; being-for-self consists in having so transcended limitation, its otherness, that it is, as this negation, the infinite return into itself. Consciousness, even as such, contains in principle the determination of being-for-self in that it represents to itself an object which it senses, or intuits, and so forth; that is, it has within it the content of the object, which in this manner has an 'ideal' being; in its very intuiting and, in general, in its entanglement with the negative of itself, with its other, consciousness is still only in the presence of its own self. Being-for-self is the polemical, negative attitude towards the limiting other, and through this negation of the latter is a reflectedness-into-self, although along with this return of consciousness into itself and the ideality of the object, the reality of the object is also still preserved, in that it is at the same time known as an external existence. Consciousness thus belongs to the sphere of Appearance, or is the dualism, on the one hand of knowing an alien object external to it, and on the other hand of being for its own self, having the object ideally [ideell] present in it; of being not only in the presence of the other, but therein being in the presence of its own self. Self-consciousness, on the other hand, is being-for-self as consummated and posited; the side of connection with an other, with an external object, is removed. Self-consciousness is thus the nearest example of the presence of infinity; granted, of an infinity which is still abstract, yet which, at the same time, is a very different concrete determination from being-for-self in general, the infinity of which has a determinateness which is still quite qualitative.

(a) Determinate Being and Being-for-self

§ 321

As already mentioned, being-for-self is infinity which has collapsed into simple being; it is determinate being in so far as the negative nature of infinity, which is the negation of negation, is from now on in the explicit form of the immediacy of being, as only negation in general, as simple qualitative determinateness. But being, which in such determinateness is determinate being, is also at once distinct from being-for-self, which is only being-for-self in so far as its determinateness is the infinite one above-mentioned; nevertheless, determinate being is at the same time also a moment of being-for-self; for this latter, of course, also contains being charged with negation. Thus the determinateness which in determinate being as such is an other, and a being-for-other, is bent back into the infinite unity of being-for-self, and the moment of determinate being is present in being-for-self as a being-for-one.

(b) Being-for-one

§ 322

This moment expresses the manner in which the finite is present in its unity with the infinite, or is an ideal being [Ideelles]. In being-for-self, negation is not present as a determinateness or limit, or consequently as a relation to a determinate being which is for it an other. Now though this moment has been designated as being-for-one, there is as yet nothing present for which it would be-no one, of which it would be the moment. There is, in fact, nothing of the kind as yet fixed in being-for-self; that for which something (and here there is no something) would be, whatever the other side as such might be, is likewise a moment, is itself only a being-for-one, not yet a one. Consequently, what we have before us is still an undistinguishedness of the two sides which may be suggested by being-for-one; there is only one being- orother, and because there is only one, this too is only a being-for-one; there is only the one ideality of that, for which or in which there is supposed to be a determination as moment, and of that which is supposed to be a moment in it. Being-for-one and being-for-self are, therefore, not genuinely opposed determinatenesses. If the difference is assumed for a moment and we speak of a being-for-self, then it is this itself which, as the sublatedness of otherness, relates itself to itself as the sublated other, and is therefore 'for one'; it is related in its other only to its own self. Ideal being [Ideelles] is necessarily 'for one', but it is not for an other; the one for which it is, is only itself. The ego, therefore, spirit as such, or God, are 'ideal' because they are infinite; but as being for themselves they are not 'ideally' different from that which is 'for one'. For if they were, they would be only immediate existences, or, more precisely, determinate being and a being-for-other, because that which would be for them would be, not themselves but an other, if they were supposed to lack the moment of being 'for one'. God is, therefore, for himself in so far as he himself is that which is for him.

To be 'for self' and to be 'for one' are therefore not different meanings of ideality, but are essential, inseparable moments of it.

Remark: The German Expression, 'What For a Thing' (Meaning 'What Kind of a Thing')

§ 323

The German expression for enquiring after the quality of anything — an expression which appears strange at first sight — 'What for a thing [was für ein Ding] something is, brings into prominence, in its reflection-into-self, the moment here considered. This expression is in its origin idealistic, since it does not ask what this thing A is for another thing B, not what this man is for another man; on the contrary, it asks what this thing, this man, is for a thing, for a man, so that this being-for-one has at the same time returned into this thing, into this man himself; in other words that which is, and that for which it is, are one and the same — an identity, such as ideality also must be considered to be.

§ 324

Ideality attaches in the first place to the sublated determinations as distinguished from that in which they are sublated, which by contrast can be taken as the real. But thus the ideal is again one of the moments, and the real the other; but the significance of ideality is that both determinations are equally only for one and count only for one, which one ideality is, without distinction, reality. In this sense self-consciousness, spirit, God, is ideal as an infinite relation purely to self. Ego is for ego, both are the same, the ego is twice named, but so that each of the two is only a 'for-one', is ideal; spirit is only for spirit, God only for God, and this unity alone is God, God as spirit. Self-consciousness, however, as consciousness, enters into the difference of itself and of an other — or of its ideality, in which it produces conceptions, and of its reality, inasmuch as its conception has a determinate content which still has the side of being known as the unsublated negative, as a real, determinate being. However, to call thought, spirit, God, only an ideal being, presupposes the standpoint from which finite being counts as the real, and the ideal being or being-for-one has only a one-sided meaning.

§ 325

In a previous Remark the principle of idealism was indicated and it was said that in any philosophy the precise question was, how far has the principle been carried through. As to the manner in which it is carried through, a further observation may be made in connection with the category we have reached. This carrying through of the principle depends primarily on whether the finite reality still retains an independent self-subsistence alongside the being-for-self, but also on whether in the infinite itself the moment of being-for-one, a relationship of the ideal to itself as ideal, is posited. Thus the Eleatic Being or Spinoza's substance is only the abstract negation of all determinateness, without ideality being posited in substance itself. With Spinoza, as will be mentioned later, infinity is only the absolute affirmation of a thing, hence only the unmoved unity; consequently, substance does not even reach the determination of being-for-self, much less that of subject and spirit. The idealism of the noble Malebranche is in itself more explicit. It contains the following fundamental thoughts: because God includes within himself all eternal truths, the ideas and perfections of all things, so that they are his and his alone, we see them only in him; God awakens in us our sensations of objects by an action in which there is nothing sensuous, whereby we imagine to ourselves that we obtain not only the idea of the object which represents its essential nature, but also the sensation of its existence. As then the eternal truths and Ideas (essentialities) of things are in God, are ideal, so also is their existence in God ideal, not an actual existence; though they are our objects, they are only for one. This moment of explicit and concrete idealism which is lacking in Spinozism is present here, in that absolute ideality is characterised as a knowing. Pure and profound as this idealism is, the above relations on the one hand still contain much that is indeterminate for thought and, on the other hand, their content is directly quite concrete (sin and salvation, etc., enter directly into them); the logical determination of infinity on which they would have to be based is not explicitly realised, and thus this lofty and rich idealism, though it is the product of a pure, speculative spirit, is still not the product of a pure, speculative thinking which alone can truly establish it.

§ 326

The Leibnizian idealism lies more within the bounds of the abstract Notion. The ideating being, the monad, of Leibniz is essentially ideal [Ideelles]. Ideation is a being-for-self in which the determinatenesses are not limits, and consequently not a determinate being, but only moments. Ideation is also, it is true, a more concrete determination, but here it has no further signification than that of ideality; for with Leibniz, even that which lacks consciousness is an ideating, percipient being. In this system, then, otherness is sublated; spirit and body, or the monads generally, are not others for one another, they do not limit one another and do not affect one another; all relationships generally which are based on a determinate being fall away. The diversity is only ideal and inner and in it the monad remains related only to itself; the alterations develop within the monad and are not relations of it to others. What is taken to be, in accordance with the real determination, a determinately existent relation of the monads to one another, is an independent, only simultaneous becoming, enclosed within the being-for-self of each of them. That there is a plurality of monads, that therefore they are also determined as others, does not concern the monads themselves; this is the reflection, external to them ' of a third. They are not in themselves others to one another; the being-for-self is kept pure, and is free from the accompaniment of any real being. But herein lies, too, the inadequacy of this system. The monads are such ideating, percipient beings only in themselves, or in God as the monad of monads, or even in the system. Otherness is equally present, whether in the ideation itself or in whatever shape the third assumes which considers them as others, as a plurality. The plurality of their determinate being is only excluded, and that only momentarily, the monads being posited as not-others only by abstraction. If it is a third which posits their otherness, it is also a third which sublates it; but this entire movement which gives them their ideality falls outside them. Should it be pointed out that this movement of thought itself falls, nevertheless, only within an ideating monad, the reply must be that the very content of such thinking is within itself external to itself. The transition from the oneness of absolute ideality (the monad of monads) to the category of the abstract (connectionless) plurality of determinate being, is immediate and uncomprehended (it is effected through the image of creation); and the transition from this plurality back to the oneness is equally abstract. Ideality, ideation generally, remains something formal, as also does ideation raised to the form of consciousness. just as consciousness is conceived as a one-sided form which is indifferent to its determination and content, in the above-mentioned fancy of Leibniz — namely, that the magnetic needle, if it possessed consciousness, would regard its direction to the north as freely determined by itself — so, too, ideality in the monads is a form remaining external to the plurality. Ideality is supposed to be immanent in them, their nature is supposed to be ideation; but their relationship is on the one hand their harmony, which does not fall within the sphere of their determinate being and is, consequently, pre-established; and on the other hand, this determinate being of theirs is not grasped as a being-for-other, or, further, as ideality, but is determined only as an abstract plurality; the ideality of the plurality and the further determination of it to harmony are not immanent in and proper to this plurality itself.

§ 327

Other idealisms, as for example those of Kant and Fichte, do not go beyond the ought or the infinite progress, and remain in the dualism of determinate being and being-for-self. True, in these systems, the thing-in-itself or the infinite shock or resistance principle [Anstoss] enters directly into the ego and becomes only something for it; but it proceeds from a free otherness which is perpetuated as a negative being-in-itself. The ego is therefore undoubtedly determined as ideal [das Ideelle], as being for itself, as infinite self-relation; but the moment of being-for-one is not completed to the point where the beyond, or the direction to the beyond, vanishes. ®

(c) The One

§ 328

Being-for-self is the simple unity of itself and its moment, being-for-one. There is before us only a single determination, the self-relation of the sublating. The moments of being-for-self have collapsed into the undifferentiatedness which is immediacy or being, but an immediacy based on the negating which is posited as its determination. Being-for-self is thus a being-for-self, and since in this immediacy its inner meaning vanishes, it is the wholly abstract limit of itself-the one.

§ 329

Attention may be drawn in advance to the difficulty involved in the following exposition of the development of the one and to its cause. The moments which constitute the Notion of the one as a being-for-self fall asunder in the development. They are: (1) negation in general, (2) two negations, (3) two that are therefore the same, (4) sheer opposites, (5) self-relation, identity as such, (6) relation which is negative and yet to its own self. The reason for the separation of these moments here is that the form of immediacy, of being enters into being-for-self as a being-for-self; through this immediacy each moment is posited as a distinct, affirmative determination, and yet they are no less inseparable. Hence of each determination the opposite must equally be asserted; it is this contradiction, together with the abstract nature of the moments, which constitutes the difficulty.

B. The One and the Many - next section

Hegel-by-HyperText Home Page @ marxists.org