Hegel’s Science of Logic


Chapter 1: Existence

§ 1040

Just as the proposition of ground states that whatever is has a ground, or is something posited or mediated, so too we must formulate a proposition of Existence, and in these terms: whatever is, exists. The truth of being is to be, not a first immediate, but essence that has emerged into immediacy.

§ 1041

But when further it was also said, 'Whatever exists has a ground and is conditioned', then equally it must also be said that it has no ground and is unconditioned. For Existence is the immediacy that has emerged from the sublating of the mediation by which ground and condition are related, and in emerging it sublates this emergence itself.

§ 1042

In so far as the proofs of the existence of God may be mentioned here, we may begin by recalling that besides immediate being and Existence (the being that proceeds from essence), there is yet a third being that proceeds from the Notion, namely, objectivity.

Proof is, in general, mediated cognition. The various kinds of being demand or imply their own kind of mediation, so that the nature of proof too, will differ in respect of each. The ontological proof proposes to start from the Notion; it makes the sum total of all realities its basis and then proceeds to subsume existence, too, under reality. It is therefore the mediation that is syllogism and that does not as yet come up for consideration here. We have already considered above Kant's objections to this proof and have remarked that Kant understands by Existence, the determinate being whereby something enters into the context of the totality of experience, that is, into the determination of an otherness and into relation to an other. Thus something, as existent, is mediated by an other, and existence in general is the side of its mediation. Now what Kant calls a concept, namely, something taken as only simply self-related, or conception as such, does not contain its mediation; in abstract self-identity, opposition is left out. The ontological proof would now have to demonstrate that the absolute concept, namely the concept of God, attains to a determinate being, to a mediation, or how simple essence mediates itself with mediation. This is effected by the stated subsumption of existence under its universal, namely, reality, which is assumed as the middle term between God in his concept, on the one hand, and existence on the other. This mediation, in so far as it has the form of a syllogism, is, as we have said, not under discussion here. But the preceding exposition has shown what is the true nature of this mediation of essence with Existence. The nature of proof itself will be considered in the doctrine of cognition. Here we have only to indicate what is relevant to the nature of mediation in general.

§ 1043

The proofs of the existence of God adduce a ground for this existence. It is not supposed to be an objective ground of God's existence; for this existence is in and for itself. Thus it is merely a ground for cognition. It thereby declares itself to be a ground that vanishes in the object which at first appears to be grounded by it. Now the ground that is derived from the contingency of the world implies the regress of the contingency into absolute essence; for the contingent is that which is in itself groundless and self-sublating. In this way, therefore, absolute essence does in fact proceed from the groundless; the ground sublates itself and with this there also vanishes the illusion of the relation that was given to God, to be that which is grounded in an other. This mediation is therefore true mediation. But this nature of its mediation is unknown to that ratiocinative [beweisende] reflection; on the one hand, it takes itself to be something merely subjective and by so doing removes its mediation from God himself, but, on the other hand, it does not for that reason recognise the mediating movement, that it is and how it is in essence itself. Its true relationship consists in this, that it is both of these things in one: mediation as such but, of course, at the same time a subjective, external, that is, self-external, mediation, which sublates itself again within itself. But in the above proof, existence is given the false relationship of appearing only as mediated or posited.

§ 1044

Thus, on the other side, Existence also cannot be considered merely as an immediate. Taken in the determination of an immediacy, the comprehension of God's existence has been declared to be unprovable and knowledge of it to be only an immediate consciousness, a belief in it. Knowing is supposed to have reached this conclusion, that it knows nothing, that is to say, that it surrenders again its mediating movement and the determinations that crop up in it. This is also evident from the foregoing; only we must add that reflection, in ending with the sublating of itself, does not therefore have for result nothing (for in that case the positive knowledge of essence as an immediate relation to it would be separate from that result and a spontaneous emergence, an act starting only from itself); on the contrary, this end itself, this falling to the ground of the mediation, is at the same time the ground from which the immediate proceeds. Language, as was remarked above, combines the meaning of this downfall [Untergang] and of ground; the essence of God, it is said, is the abyss [Abgrund] for finite reason. This it is, indeed, in so far as finite reason surrenders its finitude and sinks its mediating movement therein; but this abyss, the negative ground, is also the positive ground of the emergence of simply affirmative being [Seienden], of essence which is in its own self immediate; mediation is an essential movement. Mediation through ground sublates itself, but does not leave the ground behind as a substrate; in that case, what proceeded from the ground would be something posited, having its essence elsewhere, namely in the ground; but on the contrary, this ground, as an abyss, is the vanished mediation; and conversely, it is only the vanished mediation that is at the same time ground, and only through this negation the self-equal and immediate.

§ 1045

Existence, then, is not to be taken here as a predicate or as a determination of essence, the proposition of which would run: essence exists, or has existence; on the contrary, essence has passed over into Existence; Existence is essence's absolute emptying of itself or self-alienation, nor has it remained behind on the further side of it. The proposition should therefore run: essence is Existence; it is not distinct from its Existence. Essence has passed over into Existence in so far as essence as ground no longer distinguishes itself from itself as the grounded, or in so far as this ground has sublated itself. But this negation is equally essentially its position, or absolutely positive continuity with itself; Existence is the reflection of the ground into itself, its identity-with-self achieved in its negation, and therefore the mediation that has posited itself as identical with itself and thereby is an immediacy.

§ 1046

Now because Existence is essentially mediation-with-self, the determinations of the mediation are present in it, but in such a manner that they are also reflected into themselves and their subsistence is essential and immediate. As the immediacy that posits itself through sublation, existence is negative unity and a being-within-self; it therefore determines itself immediately as an Existent and as thing.


§ 1047

Existence as an existent is posited in the form of the negative unity which it essentially is. But this negative unity is at first only an immediate determination, hence the one of something in general. But the existent something is distinct from the something that has simply affirmative being [dem seienden Etwas]. The former is essentially that immediacy which has arisen through the reflection of mediation into itself. The existent something is thus a thing.

§ 1048

The thing is distinct from its Existence just as something can be distinguished from its being. The thing and the existent are immediately one and the same. But because Existence is not the first immediacy of being but has within itself the moment of mediation, its further determination as thing and the distinguishing of both, is not a transition but really an analysis; and Existence as such contains this distinction itself in the moment of its mediation; the distinction of thing-in-itself and of external Existence.

(a) Thing-in-itself and Existence

§ 1049

1. The thing-in-itself is the existent as the essential immediate which has resulted from the sublated mediation. Thus mediation is equally essential to the thing; but this difference in this first or immediate Existence falls apart into indifferent determinations. The one side, namely the mediation of the thing, is its non-reflected immediacy, and therefore its being as such which, because it is at the same time determined as mediation, is a determinate being which is other to itself and within itself manifold and external. But it is not only determinate being; it stands in relation to the sublated mediation and is an essential immediacy; consequently it is determinate being as an unessential, as a positedness. (If the thing is distinguished from its Existence it is the possible, the thing of ordinary conception or figment of thought which, as such, is at the same time supposed not to exist. However, the determination of possibility and the opposition of the thing to its Existence come later.) the thing-in-itself and its mediated being are both contained in Existence and both are themselves existences; ®; the thing-in-itself exists and is the essential Existence of the thing, but the mediated being is its unessential existence.

§ 1050

The thing-in-itself as the simple reflectedness of Existence within itself is not the ground of the unessential determinate being: it is the unmoved, indeterminate unity precisely because it has the determination of being sublated mediation and therefore of being only the substrate of the determinate being. For this reason reflection, too, as determinate being that mediates itself through other, falls outside the thing-in-itself.

§ 1051

This is not supposed to contain within it any specific manifoldness; and it therefore only obtains this when brought into relationship with external reflection; but it remains indifferent to the, latter. (The thing-in-itself has colour only in relation to the eye, smell in relation to the nose, and so on). Its diversity consists of the ways in which it is regarded by an other, specific relations which this other forms with the thing-in-itself and which are not the latter's own determinations.

§ 1052

2. Now this other is reflection which, determined as external, is first, external to itself and determinate manifoldness. Secondly, it is external to the essential existent and relates itself to it as to its absolute presupposition. But these two moments of external reflection, its own manifoldness and its relation to the thing-in-itself which is other to it, are one and the same. For this Existence is only external in so far as it relates itself to essential identity as to an other. Diversity, therefore, does not have an independent subsistence of its own on the further side of the thing-in-itself, but is only as illusory being over against it, in its necessary relation to it as reflex refracting itself on it. Diversity is therefore present as the relation of an other to the thing-in-itself; but this other is not anything subsisting on its own account but is only as relation to the thing-in-itself; but at the same time it is only as the repelling from this; it is thus the unsupported counter-thrust of itself within itself.

§ 1053

Now since the thing-in-itself is the essential identity of Existence, this essenceless reflection does not attach to it but collapses within itself externally to it. It falls to the ground and thus itself becomes essential identity or thing-in-itself. This can also be considered in the following manner: essenceless Existence has in the thing-in-itself its reflection-into-self; it is related to it in the first instance as to its other; but as the other over against that which is in itself, it is the sublating of its own self and the becoming of being-in-self. The thing-in-itself is therefore identical with external existence.

§ 1054

In the thing-in-itself this is displayed in the following manner. The thing-in-itself is self-related, essential Existence; it is identity-with-self only in so far as it contains within itself the negativity of reflection-into-itself; consequently that which appeared as an Existence external to it is a moment within it. It is, therefore, also a self-repelling thing-in-itself which therefore is related to itself as to an other. Hence there are now a plurality of things-in-themselves standing in the relation of external reflection to one another. This unessential Existence is their relation to one another as to others; but further, it is essential to these others themselves-or, in other words, this unessential Existence in collapsing within itself is a thing-in-itself, but an other than the first thing-in-itself; for the former is an immediate essentiality, the latter, however, the essentiality that has emerged from unessential Existence. But this other thing-in-itself is only an other in general; for as a self-identical thing it has no further determinateness over against the first; it is the reflection of unessential Existence into itself like the first. The determinateness of the various things-in-themselves over against one another falls therefore into external reflection.

§ 1055

3. This external reflection is now a relating of the things-in-themselves to one another, their reciprocal mediation as others. The things-in-themselves are thus the extremes of a syllogism whose middle term constitutes their external Existence, the Existence through which they are others for one another and distinct from one another. This their difference falls only in their relation; they send, as it were, determinations only from their surface into the relation and remain themselves, as absolutely reflected into themselves, indifferent towards the relation. Now this relationship constitutes the totality of Existence. The thing-in-itself stands in relation to a reflection external to it in which it possesses a multiplicity of determinations; this is the repelling of itself from itself into another thing-in-itself; this repelling is the counter-thrust of itself internally, since each is only an other, as a reflecting of itself out of the other; it has its positedness not in its own self but in the other, is determined only by the determinateness of the other; this other is equally determined only by the determinateness of the first. But the two things-in-themselves, since thus they do not contain the difference within themselves but each has it only in the other, are not distinguished from one another; the thing-in-itself, since it is supposed to be related to the other extreme as to another thing-in-itself, is related to it as something that is not distinguished from it, and the external reflection, which should constitute the mediating connection between the extremes, is only a relating of the thing-'n-itself to itself, or essentially its reflection into itself; it is therefore only an implicit determinateness, or the determinateness of the thing-in-itself. The thing-in-itself, therefore, has the determinateness, not in a relation (external to it) to another thing-in-itself, and of this other to it; the determinateness is not merely a surface of the thing-in-itself but is the essential mediation of itself with itself as with an other. The two things-inthemselves which are supposed to constitute the extremes of the relation, since they are supposed not to possess in themselves any determinateness over against one another, intact collapse into one; there is only one thing-in-itself, which in external reflection is related to itself, and it is its own self-relation as to an other that constitutes its determinateness.

This determinateness of the thing-in-itself is the property of the thing.

(b) Property

§ 1056

Quality is the immediate determinateness of something, the negative itself through which being is something. Thus the property of the thing is the negativity of reflection through which Existence in general is an existent and, as simple self-identity, a thing-in-itself. But the negativity of reflection, the sublated mediation, is essentially itself a mediation and a relation, though not to an other in general like quality as the non-reflected determinateness, but relation to itself as to an other; or, a mediation which immediately is no less identity-with-self. The abstract thing-in-itself is itself this relationship in which it returns into itself out of the other; it is thereby determinate in its own self; but its determinateness is a constitution which, as such, is itself a determination, and in its relationship to the other does not pass over into otherness and is free from alteration.

§ 1057

A thing has properties; they are, first, the determinate relations of the thing to another thing; property exists only as a mode of relationship between them and is therefore the external reflection and the side of the thing's positedness. But, secondly, the thing in this positedness is in itself; it maintains itself in the relation to the other and is, therefore, admittedly only a surface with which Existence is exposed to the becoming and alteration of being; but the property is not lost in this.

§ 1058

A thing has the property of effecting this or that in another thing and of expressing itself in a peculiar manner in its relation to it. It demonstrates this property only under the condition that the other thing has a corresponding constitution, but at the same time the property is peculiar to the first thing and is its self-identical substrate [Grundlage]; it is for this reason that this reflected quality is called property. In this the thing passes over into an externality in which, however, the property is preserved. Through its properties the thing becomes cause, and cause is this, that it preserves itself as effect. Here, however, the thing is so far only the quiescent thing of many properties and is not yet determined as actual cause; it is so far only the implicit reflection of its determinations, not yet itself the reflection which posits them.

§ 1059

The thing-in-itself is, therefore, as we have seen not merely thing-in-itself in such a manner that its properties are the positedness of an external reflection; on the contrary, they are its own determinations through which it enters into relationships in a determinate manner; it is not a substrate devoid of determinations and lying beyond its external Existence, but is present in its properties as ground, that is, it is identity-with-self in its positedness; but it is, at the same time, conditioned ground, that is, its positedness is equally a self-external reflection; it is reflected into itself and is in itself only in so far as it is external. Through Existence, the thing-in-itself enters into external relationships and Existence consists in this externality; it is the immediacy of being and so the thing is subject to alteration; but Existence is also the reflected immediacy of the ground, and the thing is therefore in itself in its alteration. But this mention of the ground-relation is not to be taken here as meaning that the thing is determined simply as ground of its properties; thinghood itself is, as such, the ground-determination, the property is not distinct from its ground, nor does it constitute merely the positedness, but is the ground that has passed over into its externality and is therefore truly ground reflected into itself. Property itself, as such, is ground, implicitly a positedness, or, it constitutes the form of its identity with itself; its determinateness is the self-external reflection of the ground; and the whole is ground that in its repelling and determining, in its external immediacy, is self-related ground.

The thing-in-itself exists, therefore, essentially, and htat it does exist means, conversely, that Existence is, as an external immediacy, at the same time being-in-self.

Remark: The Thing-in-itself of Transcendental Idealism

(c) The Reciprocal Action of Things

§ 1064

The thing-in-itself essentially exists; the external immediacy and determinateness belongs to its in-itself or to its reflection-into-self. By virtue of this, the thing-in-itself is a thing which has properties, and hence there are a number of things which are distinguished from one another not in respect of something alien to them but through themselves.

§ 1065

These many different things stand in essential reciprocal action their properties; the property is this reciprocal relation itself and apart from it the thing is nothing; the reciprocal determination, the middle terms of the things-in-themselves, which, as extremes, are supposed to remain indifferent to this their relation, is itself the self-identical reflection and the thing-in-itself which these extremes are supposed to be. Thinghood is thus reduced to the form of indeterminate identity-with-self which has its essentiality only in its property. If, therefore, one is speaking of a thing or things in general without any determinate property, then their difference is merely indifferent, quantitative. What is considered as one thing can equally be made into or considered as several things; the separation or union of them is external. A book is a thing and each of its leaves is also a thing, and so too is each bit of its pages, and so on to infinity. The determinateness through which one thing is this thing only, lies solely in its properties. Through them it distinguishes itself from other things, because property is negative reflection and a distinguishing; the thing therefore contains the difference of itself from other things solely in its property. This is the difference reflected into itself, through which the thing, in its positedness, that is, in its relation to another, is at the same time indifferent to the other and to its relation to it. All that remains therefore to the thing without its properties is abstract being-in-self or initselfness, an unessential compass and external holding together. The true in-itself is the in-itself in its positedness: and this is property. With this, thinghood has passed over into property.

§ 1066

The thing in its relationship to property should be an implicit extreme, and property should constitute the middle term between the related things. But it is in this relation that the things encounter one another as the self-repelling reflection in which they are distinguished and related. This their difference and relation is one reflection and one continuity of them. Accordingly the things themselves fall only within this continuity which is property; and as extremes which would have a continuing Existence apart from this property, they vanish.

§ 1067

Consequently property, which was supposed to constitute the relation of the self-subsistent extremes, is the self-subsistent itself. The things, on the other hand, are the unessential. They are an essential only as the reflection that is self-differentiating and self-relating; but this is property. This, therefore, is not that which is sublated in the thing, nor is it the thing's mere moment; on the contrary, the thing is, in truth, only that unessential compass which, though a negative unity, is only like the one of something, namely an immediate one. Previously the thing was determined as an unessential compass in so far as it was made such by external abstraction which strips it of its property; but now this abstraction has happened through the transition of the thing-in-itself into property itself, but with inversion of the values: whereas in the former act of abstraction the abstract thing without its property was still vaguely conceived of as the essential, but the property as an external determination, here the thing as such spontaneously determines itself into an indifferent external form of the property. Hence property is now freed from the indeterminate and impotent connection which is the one of the thing: it is that which constitutes the thing's subsistence, a self-subsistent matter. Since this is a simple continuity with itself it possesses form, in the first instance, only as diversity; consequently there are various self-subsistent matters of this kind and the thing consists of them.

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