Hegel’s Science of Logic

# Actuality

### A. CONTINGENCY, OR FORMAL ACTUALITY, POSSIBILITY, AND NECESSITY

§ 1192

1. Actuality is formal in so far as, being primary actuality, it is only immediate, unreflected actuality, and hence is only in this form-determination but not as the totality of form. As such it is nothing more than a being or Existence in general. But because it is essentially not a mere immediate Existence but exists as form-unity of being-within-self or inwardness and outwardness, it immediately contains the in-itself or possibility. What is actual is possible.

§ 1193

2. This possibility is actuality reflected into itself. But even this first reflectedness is likewise formal and therefore in general only the determination of identity-with-self or of the in-itself generally.

§ 1194

But because the determination is here the totality of form, this in-itself is determined as sublated or as essentially only in relation to actuality, as the negative of actuality, posited as negative. Possibility therefore contains two moments: first, the positive moment that it is a reflectedness-into-self; but since it is reduced in the absolute form to a moment, the reflectedness-into-self no longer counts as essence, but has, secondly, the negative meaning that possibility lacks something, that it points to an other, to actuality in which it completes itself.

§ 1195

According to the first, the merely positive side, therefore, possibility is the mere form determination of identity-with-self or the form of essentiality. As such it is the relationless, indeterminate receptacle for everything whatever. In the sense of this formal possibility everything is possible that is not self-contradictory; hence the realm of possibility is a boundless multiplicity. But each of these manifold entities is determinate within itself and as against another and contains negation; in general, indifferent diversity passes over into opposition; but opposition is contradiction. Therefore everything is just as much something contradictory and therefore impossible.

§ 1196

This merely formal predication of something — it is possible — is therefore equally as superficial and empty as the law of contradiction and any content that is admitted into it. A is possible means only that A is A. In so far as nothing is done to develop the content, this has the form of simplicity; not until it is resolved into its determinations does difference emerge in it. So long as one -,ticks to this simple form, the content remains something identical with itself and therefore something possible. But to say this is equally to say nothing, just as in the formal law of identity.

§ 1197

The possible, however, contains more than the bare law of identity. The possible is the reflected reflectedness-into-self, or the identical simply as moment of the totality, and hence is also determined as being not in itself; it has therefore the second determination of being only a possible and the ought-to-be of the totality of form. Possibility without this ought-to-be is essentiality as such; but the absolute form contains this, that essence itself is only a moment, and without being lacks its truth. Possibility is this mere essentiality so posited that it is only a moment and is inadequate to the absolute form. It is the in-itself determined as only a posited, or equally as not being in itself. Possibility is therefore in its own self contradiction, or it is impossibility.

§ 1198

This is expressed first of all in this way, that possibility as form determination posited as sublated possesses a content in general. This, as possible, is an in-itself, which is at the same time a sublated in-itself or an otherness. Because, therefore, it is only a possible content, another and its opposite is equally possible. A is A; equally, -A is -A. These two statements each express the possibility of its content determination. But as these identical statements they are mutually indifferent; it is not posited in the one that the other too is added to it. Possibility is the comparing relation of both; in its determination as a reflection of the totality, possibility implies that the opposite too is possible. It is therefore the relating ground, that because A = A, therefore also -A = -A; in the possible A the possible not -A is also contained and it is this very relation which determines both as possible.

§ 1199

But this relation, in which the one possible also contains its other, is the contradiction that sublates itself. Now, according to its determination it is the reflected, and as we have seen, the self-sublating reflected; it is therefore also the immediate and thus becomes actuality.

§ 1200

3. This actuality is not the primary but the reflected actuality, posited as unity of itself and possibility. The actual as such is possible; it is in immediate positive identity with possibility; but this has determined itself as only possibility; thus the actual too, is determined as only a possible. And immediately because possibility is immediately contained in actuality, it is contained in actuality as sublated, as only possibility. Conversely, actuality which is in unity with possibility is only sublated immediacy; or because formal actuality is only immediate, primary actuality, it is only a moment, only sublated actuality, or only possibility.

§ 1201

Here at the same time is more precisely expressed, how far possibility is actuality. For possibility is not yet all actuality; no question has yet arisen of real and absolute actuality; it is at first only that possibility which first presented itself, namely, formal possibility which has determined itself as being only possibility, and is thus formal actuality which is only being or Existence in general. Everything possible has therefore in general a being or an Existence.

§ 1202

This unity of possibility and actuality is contingency. The contingent is an actual that at the same time is determined as merely possible, whose other or opposite equally is. This actuality is therefore mere being or Existence, but posited in its truth as having the value of a positedness or of possibility. Conversely, possibility as reflection-into-self or the in-itself is posited as positedness; what is possible is an actual in this sense of actuality; it has only as much worth as contingent actuality; it is itself a contingent.

§ 1203

The contingent therefore presents two sides. First, in so far as it has possibility immediately in it — or what is the same thing, in so far as possibility is sublated in it — it is neither positedness nor is it mediated, but is immediate actuality; it has no ground. Because this immediate actuality also belongs to the possible, the latter no less than the actual is determined as contingent and likewise as groundless.

§ 1204

But secondly, the contingent is the actual as a merely possible or as a positedness; thus the possible, too, as the formal in-itself is only a positedness. Hence neither is in and for itself but has its true reflection-into-self in an other, or it has a ground.

The contingent, then, has no ground because it is contingent; and, equally, it has a ground because it is contingent.

§ 1205

It is the posited, unmediated conversion of inner and outer, or of reflectedness-into-self and being, into each other — posited, because possibility and actuality each has this determination within it and because they are moments of the absolute form. Thus actuality in its immediate unity with possibility is only Existence and is determined as something groundless that is only a posited or only a possible; or, as reflected and determinate over against possibility, it is separated from possibility, from reflectedness-into-self, and so equally immediately also only a possible. Similarly, possibility as a simple in-itself is an immediate, only a simple affirmative being, or opposed to actuality, it is equally an in-itself that lacks actuality, only a possible; but for that very reason it is again only an Existence as such that is not reflected into itself.

§ 1206

This absolute unrest of the becoming of these two determinations is contingency. But just because each immediately turns into its opposite, equally in this other it simply unites with itself, and this identity of both, of one in the other, is necessity.

§ 1207

The necessary is an actual; as such it is something immediate, groundless; but equally it has its actuality through an other or in its ground, but at the same time is the positedness of this ground and the reflection of it into itself; the possibility of the necessary is a sublated possibility. The contingent, therefore, is necessary because the actual is determined as a possible, hence its immediacy is sublated and repelled into the ground or the in-itself, and the grounded, and also because this its possibility, the ground-relation, is simply sublated and posited as being. The necessary is, and this that simply is, is itself the necessary. At the same time it is in itself; this reflection-into-self is an other than that immediacy of being, and the necessity of what simply is [des Seienden] is an other. Thus what simply is, is not itself the necessary; but this in-itself is itself only a positedness; it is sublated and itself immediate. Thus actuality in that which is distinguished from it, namely possibility, is identical with itself. As this identity it is necessity.

### B. RELATIVE NECESSITY, OR REAL ACTUALITY, POSSIBILITY, AND NECESSITY

§ 1208

1. The necessity which has resulted is formal because its moments are formal; that is, they are simple determinations which are a totality only as an immediate unity or as an immediate conversion of the one into the other and thus do not have the form [Gestalt] of self-subsistence. Hence in this formal necessity the unity is at first simple and indifferent to its differences. As immediate unity of the form-determinations this necessity is actuality; but one which has a content, because its unity is now determined as indifferent to the distinction between the form determinations, namely between itself and possibility. This content as an indifferent identity also contains the form as indifferent, that is, as merely diverse determinations, and is a manifold content in general. This actuality is real actuality.

§ 1209

Real actuality as such is in the first instance the thing of many properties, the existent world; but it is not the Existence that resolves itself into Appearance, but, as actuality, it is at the same time the in-itself and reflection-into-self; it preserves itself in the manifoldness of mere Existence; its externality is an inner relationship to itself alone. What is actual can act; something manifests its actuality through what which it produces. Its relationship to another something is the manifestation of itself: neither a transition — the relation between something and an other in the sphere of being — nor an appearing — where the thing is only in relation to others and, though a self-subsistent, has its reflection-into-self, its determinate essentiality, in another self-subsistent.

§ 1210

Now real actuality likewise has possibility immediately present within it. It contains the moment of the in-itself; but, as first of all only immediate unity, it is in one of the determinations of the form, and is thus distinguished as a simply affirmative being from the in-itself or possibility.

§ 1211

2. This possibility as the in-itself of real actuality is itself real Possibility, and first of all, the in-itself as pregnant with content. Formal possibility is reflection-into-self only as abstract identity, which merely means that something is not internally self-contradictory. But if one brings into account the determinations, circumstances and conditions of something in order to ascertain its possibility, one is no longer at the stage of formal possibility, but is considering its real possibility.

§ 1212

This real possibility is itself an immediate Existence, but no longer because possibility as such, as a formal moment, is immediately its opposite, a non-reflected actuality; but, because it is real possibility, it straightway contains this determination within itself. The real possibility of something is therefore the existing multiplicity of circumstances which are connected with it.

§ 1213

This existing multiplicity is, therefore, both possibility and actuality, yet their identity is, at first, only the content, which is indifferent to these form-determinations; they therefore constitute the form, determined as against their identity. Or, immediate, real actuality, because it is immediate, is determined as against its possibility; as this determinate and therefore reflected possibility, it is real possibility. Now this is the posited whole of form, it is true, but of the form in its determinateness, namely, of actuality as formal or immediate, and equally of possibility as an abstract in-itself. This actuality which constitutes the possibility of something is therefore not its own possibility, but the in-itself of another actual; it is itself the actuality which ought to be sublated, possibility as possibility only. Thus real possibility constitutes the totality of conditions, a dispersed actuality which is not reflected into itself but is determined as being the in-itself, but the in-itself of an other, and as meant to return back into itself.

§ 1214

What is really possible is, according to its in-itself, something formally identical which, having a simple content-determination, is not self-contradictory; but, as self-identical, it must also not be self-contradictory in its developed and distinct circumstances and in everything with which it stands connected. But secondly, because it is manifold within itself and has manifold connections with an other, and because variety in its own self passes over into opposition, it is contradictory. If a possibility is in question and its contradiction is to be demonstrated, one need only fasten on to the multiplicity which it contains as content or as its conditioned Existence, and from this its contradiction is easily discovered. But this is not a contradiction arising from comparison; on the contrary, manifold Existence is in its own self this, to sublate itself and to fall to the ground, and for this reason essentially contains within itself the determination of being merely a possible. When all the conditions of something are completely present, it enters into actuality; the completeness of the conditions is the totality as in the content, and the something itself is this content determined as being equally actual as possible. In the sphere of conditioned ground, the conditions have outside them the form — that is, the ground or the reflection which is for itself — which connects them into moments of the something in question and which produces Existence in them. Here, on the other hand, immediate actuality is not determined by a presupposing reflection to be condition, but it is posited that this actuality itself is possibility.

§ 1215

Now in self-sublating real possibility, what is sublated is a duality, for it is itself the duality of actuality and possibility. 1. Actuality is formal, or is an Existence which appeared as selfsubsistent and immediate, and through its sublating becomes reflected being, the moment of an other, and thus becomes possessed of an in-itself. 2. This Existence was also determined as possibility or as an in-itself, but of an other. Therefore, when real possibility sublates itself, this in-itself is also sublated and passes over into actuality. Thus this movement of self-sublating real possibility produces the same moments which are already in being, but now each grows only out of the other; consequently, in this negation it also is not a transition, but a going-together-with-itself. Under formal possibility, because something was possible, then-not itself-but its other was also possible. Real possibility no longer has over against it such an other, for it is real in so far as it is itself also actuality. Consequently, when its immediate Existence, the circle of conditions, sublates itself, it makes itself into that in-itself which it already is, namely the in-itself of an other. And since, conversely, its moment of in-itself is thereby at the same time sublated, it becomes actuality, that is, that moment which it likewise already is. Thus what vanishes is this, that actuality was determined as the possibility or in-itself of an other, and conversely, possibility as an actuality which is not that whose possibility it is.

§ 1216

3. The negation of real possibility is thus its identity-with self; in that in its sublating it is thus within itself the recoil of this sublating, it is real necessity.

§ 1217

What is necessary cannot be otherwise; but what is simply possible can; for possibility is the in-itself that is only positedness and therefore essentially otherness. Formal possibility is this identity as transition into a sheer other; but real possibility, because it contains the other moment, actuality, is already itself necessity. Therefore what is really possible can no longer be otherwise; under the particular conditions and circumstances something else cannot follow.

§ 1218

Real possibility and necessity are therefore only seemingly different; this is an identity which does not have to become but is already presupposed and lies at their base. Real necessity is therefore a relation pregnant with content; for the content is that simplicity identity that is indifferent to the differences of form.

§ 1219

But this necessity is at the same time relative. For it has a presupposition from which it begins, it has its starting point in the contingent. For the real actual as such is the determinate actual, and has first of all its determinateness as immediate being in the fact that it is a multiplicity of existing circumstances; but this immediate being as determinateness is also the negative of itself, is an in-itself or possibility, and thus it is real possibility. As this unity of the two moments it is the totality of form, but the totality which is still external to itself; it is unity of possibility and actuality in such a manner that (1) manifold Existence is immediately or positively possibility — a possible, a self-identical in general, because it is an actual; (2) in so far as this possibility of Existence is posited, it is determined as only possibility, as immediate conversion of actuality into its opposite — or as contingency. Consequently this possibility which immediate actuality possesses in so far as it is condition, is only the in-itself as the possibility of an other. By virtue of the fact that, as was shown, this otherness sublates itself and this positedness is itself posited, real possibility does, it is true, become necessity; but the latter thus begins from that unity of the possible and the actual which is not yet reflected into itself — this presupposing and the self-returning movement are still separate — or necessity has not yet spontaneously determined itself into contingency.

§ 1220

The relativity of real necessity exhibits itself in the content in such a manner that it is at first only the identity which is indifferent to form, therefore is distinct from it and a determinate content in general.

The really necessary is therefore any limited actuality, which, on account of this limitation, is also only a contingent in some other respect.

§ 1221

Thus in point of fact real necessity is in itself also contingency. This is manifest at first in this manner: though the really necessary is a necessary as regards form, as regards content it is limited, and through this has its contingency. But contingency is also contained in the form of real necessity; for, as we have seen, real possibility is only in itself or in principle the necessary, but it is posited as the otherness of actuality and possibility towards each other. Real necessity therefore contains contingency; it is the return-into-self from that restless otherness of actuality and possibility towards each other, but not from itself to itself.

Here, therefore, the unity of necessity and contingency is present in itself or in principle; this unity is to be called absolute actuality.

### C. ABSOLUTE NECESSITY

§ 1222

Real necessity is determinate necessity; formal necessity does not as yet possess any content and determinateness. The determinateness of necessity consists in its containing its negation, contingency, within itself. This is what it has shown itself to be.

§ 1223

But this determinateness in its first simplicity is actuality; determinate necessity is therefore immediately actual necessity. This actuality, which is itself as such necessary, for it contains necessity as its in-itself, is absolute actuality — actuality which can no longer be otherwise, for its in-itself is not possibility but necessity itself.

§ 1224

But because this actuality is posited as being absolute, that is, as being itself the unity of itself and possibility, it is only an empty determination, or, it is contingency. This emptiness of its determination makes it a mere possibility, something which can equally be otherwise and can be determined as a possible. But this possibility is itself absolute; for it is precisely the possibility of being determined equally as possibility or as actuality. Since it is this indifference towards itself it is posited as an empty, contingent determination.

§ 1225

Thus real necessity notionally implicitly contains contingency, but contingency also becomes in it; but this becoming, as externality, is itself only the in-itself of such necessity because it is only an immediate determinedness. But the becoming is not only this, it is also necessity's own becoming — or the presupposition which necessity had is its own positing. For, as real necessity, it is the sublatedness of actuality in possibility, and conversely; because it is the simple conversion of one of these moments into the other, it is also their positive unity, since each, as we saw, unites only with itself in the other. But as such it is actuality; an actuality, however, which only is as this simple coincidence of the form with itself. Its negative positing of those moments is thereby itself the presupposing or positing of itself as sublated, or of immediacy.

§ 1226

But it is in this very act that this actuality is determined as a negative; it is a union with itself out of the actuality which was real possibility; thus this new actuality develops only out of its in-itself, out of the negation of itself. It is thus at the same time immediately determined as possibility, as mediated by its negation. But this possibility is, therefore, immediately nothing but this mediating, in which the in-itself, namely, the possibility itself and immediacy, both in the same manner, are positedness. It is thus the necessity which is equally the sublating of this positedness or the positing of immediacy and the in-itself, and in this same act is a determining of this sublating as positedness. It is therefore necessity itself which determines itself as contingency — in its being repels itself from itself and in this very repulsion has only returned into itself, and in this return, as its being, has repelled itself from itself.

§ 1227

Thus form in its realisation has penetrated all its differences and made itself transparent and is, as absolute necessity, only this simple self-identity of being in its negation, or in essence. The distinction of content and form itself has also vanished; for that unity of possibility in actuality, and conversely, is the form which in its determinateness or in positedness is indifferent towards itself, is the fact filled with content, in which the form of necessity ran its external course. But as such, it is this reflected identity of the two determinations as indifferent towards it, and hence the form-determination of the in-itself as against the positedness, and this possibility constitutes the limitedness of the content real necessity had. But the resolution of this difference is absolute necessity whose content is this difference which in this necessity penetrates itself.

§ 1228

Absolute necessity is, therefore, the truth into which actuality possibility as such, and formal and and possibility as such, and formal and real necessity withdraw. It is, as we have found, that being which in its negation, in essence, is self-related and is being. It is as much simple immediacy or pure being as simple reflection-into-self or pure essence; it is this, that these two are one and the same. That which is simply necessary only is because it is; it has neither condition nor ground. But equally it is pure essence; its being is simple reflection-into-self; it is, because it is. As reflection, it has a ground and condition, but it has only itself for ground and condition. It is the in-itself, but its in-itself is its immediacy, its possibility is its actuality. It is, therefore, because it is; as the union of being with itself it is essence; but because this simple is equally immediate simplicity, it is being.

§ 1229

Absolute necessity is thus the reflection or form of the absolute: the unity of being and essence, simple immediacy that is absolute negativity. Consequently, on the one hand, its differences do not have the shape of the determinations of reflection, but of a simply affirmative [seiende] multiplicity, a differentiated actuality which has the shape of others, self-subsistent relatively to one another. On the other hand, since its relation is absolute identity, it is the absolute conversion of its actuality into its possibility and of its possibility into actuality. Absolute necessity is therefore blind. On the one hand, the different sides, which are determined as actuality and possibility have the shape of reflection-into-self as being; both are, therefore, free actualities, neither of which is reflected in the other, nor will let any trace of its relation to the other show in it; grounded in itself, each is the necessary in its own self. Necessity as essence is concealed in this being; contact between these actualities appears therefore as an empty externally; the actuality of the one in the other is only possibility, contingency. For being is posited as absolutely necessary, as self-mediation, which is absolute negation of mediation by an other, or as being which is identical only with being; an other that has actuality in being, is therefore determined simply as something merely possible, as empty positedness.

§ 1230

But this contingency is rather absolute necessity; it is the essence of those free, inherently necessary actualities. This essence is light-shy, because there is in these actualities no reflective movement, no reflex, because they are grounded purely in themselves alone, are shaped for themselves, and manifest themselves only to themselves, because they are only being. But their essence will break forth in them and reveal what it is and what they are. The simplicity of their being and their self-support is absolute negativity; it is the freedom of their reflectionless [scheinlos] immediacy. This negative breaks forth in them because being, through this its essence, is self-contradiction, and that, too, against this being in the form of being, therefore as the negation of those actualities, which is absolutely different from their being, as their nothing, as an equally free otherness over against them as is their being. Yet it could not but be recognised in them. In their self-based shape they are indifferent towards form, are a content, hence distinct actualities and a determinate content. This content is the mark impressed upon them by necessity — which in its determination is absolute return-into-self — when it let them go free as absolutely actual; to this mark necessity appeals as witness to its claim, and, smitten by it, the actualities perish. This manifestation of that which the determinateness is in truth — negative self-relation — is a blind destruction in otherness; the illusory showing or reflection which breaks forth is, in that which simply affirmatively is, a becoming or transition of being into nothing. But conversely, being is equally essence; and becoming is reflection or an illusory showing. Thus the outwardness is its inwardness, their relation is absolute identity; and the transition of the actual into the possible, of being into nothing, is a union-with-self; contingency is absolute necessity, it is itself the presupposing of that first, absolute actuality.

§ 1231

This identity of being with itself in its negation is now substance. It is this unity as in its negation, or as in contingency; as such it is substance as relation to itself. The blind transition of necessity is rather the absolute's own exposition, the movement of the absolute within itself which, in its alienation, rather reveals itself.

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