Hegel’s Science of Logic
The absolute Idea has turned out to be the identity of the theoretical and the practical Idea. Each of these by itself is still one-sided, possessing the Idea only as a sought for beyond and an unattained goal; each, therefore, is a synthesis of endeavour, and has, but equally has not, the Idea in it; each passes from one thought to the other without bringing the two together, and so remains fixed in their contradiction. The absolute Idea, as the rational Notion that in its reality meets only with itself, is by virtue of this immediacy of its objective identity, on the one hand the return to life; but it has no less sublated this form of its immediacy, and contains within itself the highest degree of opposition. The Notion is not merely soul but free subjective Notion that is for itself and therefore possesses personality — the practical, objective Notion determined in and for itself which, as person, is impenetrable atomic individuality, but explicitly universality and cognition, and in its other has its own objectivity for its object. All else is error, confusion, opinion, endeavour, caprice and transitoriness; the absolute Idea alone is being, imperishable life, self-knowing truth, and is all truth.
It is the sole subject matter and content of philosophy. Since it contains all determinations within it, and its essential nature is to return to itself through its self-determination or particularisation, it has various shapes, and the business of philosophy is to cognise it in these. Nature and spirit are in general different modes of presenting its existence, art and religion its different modes of apprehending itself and giving itself an adequate existence. Philosophy has the same content and the same end as art and religion; but it is the highest mode of apprehending the absolute idea, because its mode is the highest mode, the Notion.
Hence it embraces those shapes of real and ideal finitude as well as of infinitude and cognition of these particular modes is now the further business of the particular philosophical sciences.
The logical aspect of the absolute Idea may also be called a mode of it; but whereas mode signifies a particular kind, a determinateness of form, the logical aspect, on the contrary, is the universal mode in which all particular modes are sublated and enfolded. The logical Idea os the Idea itself in its pure essence, the Idea enclosed in simple identity within its Notion prior to its immediate reflection in a form-determinateness.
Hence logic exhibits the self-movement of the absolute Idea only as original word, which is an outwardising or utterance, but an utterance that in being has immediately vanished again as something outer; the Idea is, therefore, only in this self-determination of apprehending itself; it is in pure thought, in which difference is not yet otherness, but is and remains perfectly transparent to itself. Thus the logical Idea has itself as the infinite form for its content — form which constitutes the opposite to content to this extent that the content is the form-determination withdrawn into itself and sublated in the identity in such a manner that this concrete identity stands opposed to the identity explicated as form; the content has the shape of an other and a datum as against the form which as such stands simply in relation, and its determinateness is at the same time posited as an illusory being. More exactly, the determination is its own completed totality, the pure Notion. Now the determinateness of the Idea and the entire course followed by this determinateness has constituted the subject matter of the science of logic, from which course the absolute Idea itself has issued into an existence of its own; but the nature of this existence has shown itself to be this, that determinateness does not have the shape of content, but exists wholly as form, and that accordingly the Idea is the absolutely universal Idea. Therefore what remains to be considered here is not a content as such, but the universal aspect of its form — that is, the method.
Method may appear at first as the mere manner peculiar to the process of cognition, and as a matter of fact it has the nature of such. But the peculiar manner, as method, is not merely a modality of being determined in and for itself; it is a modality of cognition, and as such is posited as determined by the Notion and as form, in so far as the form is the soul of all objectivity and all otherwise determined content has its truth in the form alone.
If the content again is assumed as given to the method and of a peculiar nature of its own, then in such a determination method, as with the logical element in general, is a merely external form. Against this however we can appeal not only to the fundamental Notion of the science of logic; its entire course, in which all possible shapes of a given content and of objects came up for consideration, has demonstrated their transition and untruth; also that not merely was it impossible for a given object to be the foundation to which the absolute form stood in a merely external and contingent relationship but that, on the contrary, the absolute form has proved itself to be the absolute foundation and ultimate truth. From this course the method has emerged as the self-knowing Notion that has itself, as the absolute, both subjective and objective, for its subject matter, consequently as the pure correspondence of the Notion and its reality, as a concrete that is the Notion itself.
Accordingly, what is to be considered here as method is only the movement of the Notion itself, the nature of which movement has already been cognised; but first, there is now the added significance that the Notion is everything, and its movement is the universal absolute activity, the self-determining and self-realising movement. The method is therefore to be recognised as the unrestrictedly universal, internal and external mode; and as the absolutely infinite force, to which no object, presenting itself as something external, remote from and independent of reason, could offer resistance or be of a particular nature in opposition to it, or could not be penetrated by it. It is therefore soul and substance, and anything whatever is comprehended and known in its truth only when it is completely subjugated to the method; it is the method proper to every subject matter because its activity is the Notion. This is also the truer meaning if its universality; according to the universality of reflection it is regarded merely as the method for everything; but according to the universality of the Idea, it is both the manner peculiar to cognition, to the subjectively selfknowing Notion, and also the objective manner, or rather the substantiality, of things — that is of Notions, in so far as they appear primarily to representation and reflection as others. It is therefore not only the highest force, or rather the sole and absolute force of reason, but also its supreme and sole urge to find and cognise itself by means of itself in everything. Here, secondly, is indicated the difference of the method from the Notion as such, the particular aspect of the method. The Notion, when it was considered by itself, appeared in its immediacy; the reflection, or the Notion that considered it, fell within our knowing.
The method is this knowing itself, for which the Notion is not merely the subject matter, but knowing's own subjective act, the instrument and means of the cognising activity, distinguished from that activity, but only as the activity's own essentiality. In the cognition of enquiry, the method likewise occupies the position of an instrument, of a means standing on the subjective side by which this side relates itself to the object. In this syllogism the subject is one extreme and the object the other, and the former by means of its method unites with the latter, but in doing so it does not unite with itself. The extremes remain diverse because subject, method, and object are not posited as the one identical Notion; the syllogism is therefore still the formal syllogism; the premises in which the subject posits the form on its side as its method is an immediate determination, and therefore contains the determinations of form, as we have seen, of definition, division, and so forth, as facts found existing in the subject. In true cognition on the contrary, the method is not merely an aggregate of certain determinations, but the Notion that is determined in and for itself; and the Notion is the middle term only because it has equally the significance of the objective, and consequently in the conclusion the objective does not merely attain an external determinateness by means of the method, but is posited in its identity with the subjective Notion.
1. Thus what constitute the method are the determinations of the Notion itself and their relations, which we have now to consider in their significance as determinations of the method. In doing so we must first begin with the beginning. Of the beginning we have already spoken at the beginning of the Logic itself, and also above, when dealing with subjective cognition, and we have shown that, if it is not made arbitrarily and with a categorical unconsciousness, it may indeed seem to involve a number of difficulties but nevertheless is of an extremely simple nature. Because it is the beginning, its content is an immediate, but an immediate that has the significance and form of abstract universality. Be it otherwise a content of being, or of essence, or of the Notion, it is as an immediate something assumed, found already in existence, assertorical. But first of all it is not an immediate of sensuous intuition or of representation, but of thinking, which on account of its immediacy may also be called a supersensuous inner intuition.
The immediate of sensuous intuition is a manifold and an individual. But cognition is thinking by means of notions, and therefore its beginning also is only in the element of thought — it is a simple and a universal. This form has already been discussed under definition. At the beginning of finite cognition universality is likewise recognised as an essential determination, but it is taken as a determination of thought and of Notion only in opposition to being. In point of fact this first universality is an immediate one, and for that reason has equally the significance of being; for being is precisely this abstract relation-to-self. Being requires no further derivation, as though it belonged to the abstract product of definition only because it is taken from sensuous intuition or elsewhere, and in so far as it is pointed out to us. This pointing out and derivation is a matter of mediation, which is more than a mere beginning, and is a mediation of a kind that does not belong to a comprehension by means of thinking, but is the elevation of ordinary thinking, of the empirical and ratiocinative consciousness, to the standpoint of thought. According to the current opposition of thought or concept and being it is regarded as an important truth that no being belongs as yet to the former, taken on its own, and that the latter has a ground of its own that is independent of thought. But the simple determination of being is in itself so meagre that, if only for that reason, there is no need to make much fuss about it; the universal is immediately itself this immediate, since as abstract it also is merely the abstract relation-to-self, which is being. As a matter of fact, the demand that being should be exhibited for us to see has a further, inner meaning involving more than this abstract determination; what is meant by it is in general the demand for the realisation of the Notion, which realisation does not lie in the beginning itself, but is rather the goal and the task of the entire further development of cognition. Further, since the content of the beginning is supposed to be justified and authenticated as something true or correct by its being pointed out in inner or outer perception, it is no longer the form of universality as such that is meant, but its determinateness, of which we shall need to speak presently. The authentication of the determinate content with which the beginning is made seems to lie behind it; but in fact it is to be considered as an advance, that is, if it belongs to philosophical cognition.
Hence the beginning has for the method no other determinateness than that of being simple and universal; this is itself the determinateness by reason of which it is deficient. Universality is the pure simple Notion, and the method, as consciousness of the Notion, knows that universality is only a moment and that in it the Notion is not yet determined in and for itself. But with this consciousness that would carry the beginning further only for the sake of the method, the method would be a formal affair, something posited in external reflection. Since however it is the objective immanent form, the immediate of the beginning must be in its own self deficient and endowed with the urge to carry itself further. But in the absolute method the universal has the value not of a mere abstraction but of the objective universal, that is, the universal that is in itself the concrete totality, though that totality is not yet posited, is not yet for itself. Even the abstract universal as such, considered in its Notion, that is in its truth, is not merely the simple, but as abstract is already posited as infected with a negation. For this reason too there is nothing, whether in actuality or in thought, that is as simple and as abstract as is commonly imagined. A simple thing of this kind is a mere presumption that has its ground solely in the unconsciousness of what is actually present. Above, that with which the beginning is made was determined as the immediate; the immediacy of the universal is the same thing that is here expressed as the in-itself that is without a being-for-self. Hence it may indeed be said that every beginning must be made with the absolute, just as all advance is merely the exposition of it, in so far as its in-itself is the Notion. But because the absolute is at first only in itself it equally is not the absolute nor the posited Notion, and also not the Idea; for what characterises these is precisely the fact that in them the in-itself is only an abstract, one-sided moment. Hence the advance is not a kind of superfluity; this it would be if that with which the beginning is made were in truth already the absolute; the advance consists rather in the universal determining itself and being for itself the universal, that is, equally an individual and a subject. Only in its consummation is it the absolute.
It is to be recalled that the beginning, which is in itself a concrete totality, may as beginning also be free and its immediacy have the determination of an external existence; the germ of the living being and the subjective end in general have proved themselves to be such beginnings and therefore both are themselves urges.
The non-spiritual and inanimate, on the contrary, are the Notion only as real possibility; cause is the highest stage in which the concrete Notion, as a beginning in the sphere of necessity has an immediate existence; but it is not yet a subject that maintains itself as such even in its actual realisation. The sun, for example, and in general all inanimate things, are determinate concrete existences in which real possibility remains an inner totality and the moments of the totality are not posited in subjective form in them and, in so far as they realise themselves, attain an existence by means of other corporeal individuals.
2. The concrete totality which makes the beginning contains as such within itself the beginning of the advance and development. As concrete, it is differentiated within itself: but by reason of its first immediacy the first differentiated determinations are in the first instance merely a diversity.
The immediate, however, as self-related universality, as subject, is also the unity of these diverse determinations. This reflection is the first stage of the movement onwards — the emergence of real difference, judgment, the process of determining in general. The essential point is that the absolute method finds and cognises the determination of the universal within the latter itself. The procedure of the finite cognition of the understanding here is to take up again, equally externally, what it has left out in its creation of the universal by a process of abstraction.
The absolute method, on the contrary, does not behave like external reflection but takes the determinate element from its own subject matter, since it is itself that subject matter's immanent principle and soul. This is what Plato demanded of cognition, that it should consider things in and for themselves, that is, should consider them partly in their universality, but also that it should not stray away from them catching at circumstances, examples and comparisons, but should keep before it solely the things themselves and bring before consciousness what is immanent in them.
The method of absolute cognition is to this extent analytic. That it finds the further determination of its initial universal simply and solely in that universal, is the absolute objectivity of the Notion, of which objectivity the method is the certainty. But the method is no less synthetic, since its subject matter, determined immediately as a simple universal, by virtue of the determinateness which it possesses in its very immediacy and universality, exhibits itself as an other. This relation of differential elements which the subject matter thus is within itself, is however no longer the same thing as is meant by synthesis in finite cognition; the mere fact of the subject matter's no less analytic determination in general, that the relation is relation within the Notion, completely distinguishes it from the latter synthesis.
This no less synthetic than analytic moment of judgment, by which the universal of the beginning of its own accord determines itself as the other of itself, is to be named the dialectical moment. ®
Dialectic is one of those ancient sciences that have been most misunderstood in the metaphysics of the moderns, as well as by popular philosophy in general, ancient and modern alike. Diogenes Laertius says of Plato that, just as Thales was the founder of natural philosophy and Socrates of moral philosophy, so Plato was the founder of the third science pertaining to philosophy, namely, dialectic — a service which the ancient world esteemed his highest, but which often remains quite overlooked by those who have most to say about him. Dialectic has often been regarded as an art, as though it rested on a subjective talent and did not belong to the objectivity of the Notion. The shape it takes and the result it reaches in Kantian philosophy have already been pointed out in the specific examples of the Kantian view of it. It must be regarded as a step of infinite importance that dialectic is once more recognised as necessary to reason, although the result to be drawn from it must be the opposite of that arrived at by Kant.
Besides the fact that dialectic is generally regarded as contingent, it usually takes the following more precise form. It is shown that there belongs to some subject matter or other, for example the world, motion, point, and so on, some determination or other, for example (taking the objects in the order named), finite in space or time, presence in this place, absolute negation of space; but further, that with equal necessity the opposite determination also belongs to the subject matter, for example, infinity in space and time, non-presence in this place, relation to space and so spatiality. The older Eleatic school directed its dialectic chiefly against motion. Plato frequently against the general ideas and notions of his time, especially those of the Sophists, but also against the pure categories and the determinations of reflection; the more cultivated scepticism of a later period extended it not only to the immediate so-called facts of consciousness and maxims of common life, but also to all the notions of science.
Now the conclusion drawn from dialectic of this kind is in general the contradiction and nullity of the assertion made. But this conclusion can be drawn in either of two senses either in the objective sense, that the subject matter which in such a manner contradicts itself cancels itself out and is null and void — this was, for example, the conclusion of the Eleatics, according to which truth was denied, for example, to the world, to motion, to the point; or in the subjective sense, that cognition is defective.
One way of understanding the latter sense of the conclusion is that it is only this dialectic that imposes on us the trick of an illusion. This is the common view of so-called sound common sense which takes its stand on the evidence of the senses and on customary conceptions and judgments. Sometimes it takes this dialectic lightly, as when Diogenes the cynic exposes the hollowness of the dialectic of motion by silently walking up and down;; but often it flies into a passion, seeing it in perhaps a piece of sheer foolery, or, when morally important objects are concerned, an outrage that tries to unsettle what is essentially established and teaches how to supply wickedness with grounds. This is the view expressed in the Socratic dialectic against that of the Sophists, and this is the indignation which, turned in the opposite direction, cost even Socrates his life. The vulgar refutation that opposes to thinking, as did Diogenes, sensuous consciousness and imagines that in the latter it possesses the truth, must be left to itself; but in so far as dialectic abrogates moral determinations, we must have confidence in reason that it will know how to restore them again, but restore them in their truth and in the consciousness of their right, though also of their limitations. Or again, the conclusion of subjective nullity may mean that it does not affect dialectic itself, but rather the cognition against which it is directed and in the view of scepticism and likewise of the Kantian philosophy, cognition in general.
The fundamental prejudice in this matter is that dialectic has only a negative result, a point which will presently be more precisely defined. First of all as regards the above-mentioned form in which dialectic is usually presented, it is to be observed that according to that form the dialectic and its result affect the subject matter under consideration or else subjective cognition, and declare either the latter or the subject matter to be null and void, while on the other hand the determinations exhibited in the subject matter as in a third thing receive no attention and are presupposed as valid on their own account.
It is an infinite merit of the Kantian Philosophy to have drawn attention to this uncritical procedure and by so doing to have given the impetus to the restoration of logic and dialectic in the sense of the examination of the determinations of thought in and for themselves. The subject matter kept apart from thinking and the Notion, is an image or even a name; it is in the determinations of thought and the Notion that it is what it is. Therefore these determinations are in fact the sole thing that matters; they are the true subject matter and content of reason, and anything else that one understands by subject matter and content in distinction from them as value only through them and in them. It must not therefore be considered the fault of a subject matter or of cognition that these determinations, through their constitution and an external connection, show themselves dialectical. On that assumption, the subject matter or the cognition is represented as a subject into which the determinations in the form of predicates, properties, self-subsistent universals, are introduced in such a manner that, fixed and correct as they are by themselves, they are brought into dialectical relationships and contradiction only by extraneous and contingent connection in and by a third thing. This kind of external and fixed subject of imagination and understanding and these abstract determinations, far from meriting the status of ultimates, of secure and permanent substrates, are rather to be regarded as themselves immediate, as just that kind of presupposed and initial immediate that, as was shown above, must in its own essential nature [in and for itself] submit to dialectic, because it is to be taken as in itself the Notion.
Thus all the oppositions that are assumed as fixed, as for example finite and infinite, individual and universal, are not in contradiction through, say, an external connection; on the contrary, as an examination of their nature has shown, they are in and for themselves a transition; the synthesis and the subject in which they appear is the product of their Notion's own reflection. If a consideration that ignores the Notion stops short at their external relationship, isolates them and leaves them as fixed presuppositions, it is the Notion, on the contrary, that keeps them steadily in view, moves them as their soul and brings out their dialectic.
Now this is the very standpoint indicated above from which a universal first, considered in and for itself, shows itself to be the other of itself.
Taken quite generally, this determination can be taken to mean that what is at first immediate now appears as mediated, related to an other, or that the universal appears as a particular. Hence the second term that has thereby come into being is the negative of the first, and if we anticipate the subsequent progress, the first negative. The immediate, from this negative side, has been extinguished in the other, but the other is essentially not the empty negative, the nothing, that is taken to be the usual result of dialectic; rather is it the other of the first, the negative of the immediate; it is therefore determined as the mediated — contains in general the determination of the first within itself. Consequently the first is essentially preserved and retained even in the other. To hold fast to the positive in its negative, in the content of the presupposition, in the result, this is the most important feature in rational cognition; at the same time only the simplest reflection is needed to convince one of the absolute truth and necessity of this requirement and so far as examples of the proof of this are concerned, the whole of logic consists of such. ®
Accordingly, what we now have before us is the mediated, which to begin with, or, if it is likewise taken immediately, is also a simple determination; for as the first has been extinguished in it, only the second is present. Now since the first also is contained in the second, and the latter is the truth of the former, this unity can be expressed as a proposition in which the immediate is put as subject, and the mediated as its predicate; for example, the finite, is infinite, one is many, the individual is the universal. However, the inadequate form of such propositions is at once obvious. In treating of the judgment it has been shown that its form in general, and most of all the immediate form of the positive judgment, is incapable of holding within its grasp speculative determinations and truth. The direct supplement to it, the negative judgment, would at least have to be added as well. In the judgment the first, as subject, has the illusory show of a self-dependent subsistence, whereas it is sublated in its predicate as in its other; this negation is indeed contained in the content of the above propositions, but their positive form contradicts the content; consequently what is contained in them is not posited — which would be precisely the purpose of employing a proposition.
The second determination, the negative or mediated, is at the same time also the mediating determination. It may be taken in the first instance as a simple determination, but in its truth it is a relation or relationship; for it is the negative, but the negative of the positive, and includes the positive within itself. It is therefore the other, but not the other of something to which it is indifferent — in that case it would not be an other, nor a relation or relationship — rather it is the other in its own self, the other of an other; therefore it includes its own other within it and is consequently as contradiction, the posited dialectic of itself. Because the first or the immediate is implicitly the Notion, and consequently is also only implicitly the negative, the dialectical moment with it consists in positing in it the difference that it implicitly contains. The second, on the contrary, is itself the determinate moment, the difference or relationship; therefore with it the dialectical moment consists in positing the unity that is contained in it. ®
If then the negative, the determinate, relationship, judgment, and all the determinations falling under this second moment do not at once appear on their own account as contradiction and as dialectical, this is solely the fault of a thinking that does not bring its thoughts together. For the material, the opposed determinations in one relation, is already posited and at hand for thought. But formal thinking makes identity its law, and allows the contradictory content before it to sink into the sphere of ordinary conception, into space and time, in which the contradictories are held asunder in juxtaposition and temporal succession and so come before consciousness without reciprocal contact. ®
On this point, formal thinking lays down for its principle that contradiction is unthinkable; but as a matter of fact the thinking of contradiction is the essential moment of the Notion. Formal thinking does in fact think contradiction, only it at once looks away from it, and in saying that it is unthinkable it merely passes over from it into abstract negation.
Now the negativity just considered constitutes the turning point of the movement of the Notion. It is the simple point of the negative relation to self, the innermost source of all activity of all animate and spiritual self-movement, the dialectical soul that everything true possesses and through which alone it is true; for on this subjectivity alone rests the sublating of the opposition between the Notion and reality, and the unity that is truth. The second negative, the negative of the negative, at which we have arrived, is this sublating of the contradiction, but just as little as the contradiction is it an act of external reflection, but rather the innermost, most objective moment of life and spirit through which a subject, a person, a free being, exists. ®
The relation of the negative to itself is to be regarded as the second premise of the whole syllogism. If the terms analytic and synthetic are employed as opposites, the first premise may be regarded as the analytic moment, for in it the immediate stands in immediate relationship to its other and therefore passes over, or rather has passed over, into it — although this relation, as already remarked, is also synthetic, precisely because that into which it passes over is its other. The second premise here under consideration may be defined as synthetic, since it is the relation of the differentiated term as such to the term from which it is differentiated. Just as the first premise is the moment of universality and communication, so the second is determined by individuality, which in its relation to its other is primarily exclusive, for itself, and different. The negative appears as the mediating element, since it includes within it itself and the immediate whose negation it is. So far as these two determinations are taken in some relationship or other as externally related, the negative is only the formal mediating element; but as absolute negativity the negative moment of absolute mediation is the unity which is subjectivity and soul.
In this turning point of the method, the course of cognition at the same time returns into itself. As self-sublating contradiction this negativity is the restoration of the first immediacy, of simple universality; for the other of the other, the negative of the negative, is immediately the positive, the identical, the universal. If one insists on counting, this second immediate is, in the course of the method as a whole, the third term to the first immediate and the mediated. It is also, however, the third term to the first or formal negative and to absolute negativity or the second negative; now as the first negative is already the second term, the term reckoned as third can also be reckoned as fourth, and instead of a triplicity, the abstract form may be taken as a quadruplicity; in this way, the negative or the difference is counted as a duality. The third or fourth is in general the unity of the first and second moments, of the immediate and the mediated. ® That it is this unity, as also that the whole form of the method is a triplicity, is, it is true, merely the superficial external side of the mode of cognition; but to have demonstrated even this, and that too in a more specific application — for it is well known that the abstract number form itself was advanced at quite an early period, but, in the absence of the Notion, without result — must also be regarded as an infinite merit of the Kantian philosophy. ®
The syllogism, which is threefold, has always been recognised as the universal form of reason; but for one thing it counted generally for a quite external form that did not determine the nature of the content, and for another thing, since it progresses in the formal sense merely in the understanding's determination of identity, it lacks the essential dialectical moment of negativity; yet this moment enters into the triplicity of determinations because the third is the unity of the first two, and these, since they are different, can be in the unity only as sublated determinations. Formalism has, it is true, also taken possession of triplicity and adhered to its empty schema; the shallow ineptitude and barrenness of modern philosophic construction so-called, that consists in nothing but fastening this schema on to everything without Notion and immanent determination and employing it for an external arrangement, has made the said form tedious and given it a bad name. Yet the triteness of this use of it cannot detract from its inner worth and we must always value highly the discovery of the shape of the rational, even though it was at first uncomprehended. ®
Now more precisely the third is the immediate, but the immediate resulting from sublation of mediation, the simple resulting from sublation of difference, the positive resulting from sublation of the negative, the Notion that has realised itself by means of its otherness and by the sublation of this reality has become united with itself, and has restored its absolute reality, its simple relation to itself. This result is therefore the truth. It is equally immediacy and mediation; but such forms of judgment as: the third is immediacy and mediation, or it is the unity of them, are not capable of grasping it; for it is not a quiescent third, but, precisely as this unity, is self-mediating movement and activity. As that with which we began was the universal, so the result is the individual, the concrete, the subject; what the former is in itself the latter is now equally for itself, the universal is posited in the subject. The first two moments of the triplicity are abstract, untrue moments which for that very reason are dialectical, and through this their negativity make themselves into the subject. The Notion itself is for us, in the first instance, alike the universal that is in itself, and the negative that is for itself, and also the third, that which is both in and for itself, the universal that runs through all the moments of the syllogism, but the third is the conclusion, in which the Notion through its negativity is mediated with itself and thereby posited for itself as the universal and the identity of its moments.
Now this result, as the whole that has withdrawn into and is identical with itself, has given itself again the form of immediacy. Hence it is now itself the same thing as the starting-point had determined itself to be. As simple self-relation it is a universal, and in this universality, the negativity that constituted its dialectic and mediation has also collapsed into simple determinateness which can again be a beginning. It may seem at first sight that this cognition of the result is an analysis of it and therefore must again dissect these determinations and the process by which it has come into being and been examined. But if the treatment of the subject matter is actually carried out in this analytic manner, it belongs to that stage of the Idea considered above, to the cognition of enquiry, which merely states of its subject matter what is, but not the necessity of its concrete identity and the Notion of it. But though the method of truth which comprehends the subject matter is, as we have shown, itself analytic, for it remains entirely within the Notion, yet it is equally synthetic, for through the Notion the subject matter is determined dialectically and as an other. On the new foundation constituted by the result as the fresh subject matter, the method remains the same as with the previous subject matter. The difference is concerned solely with the relationship of the foundation as such; true, it is now likewise a foundation, but its immediacy is only a form, since it was a result as well; hence its determinateness as content is no longer something merely picked up, but something deduced and proved.
It is here that the content of cognition as such first enters into the circle of consideration, since, as deduced, it now belongs to the method. The method itself by means of this moment expands itself into a system. At first the beginning had to be, for the method, wholly indeterminate in respect of content; to this extent it appears as the merely formal soul, for and by which the beginning was determined simply and solely in regard to its form, namely, as the immediate and the universal. Through the movement we have indicated, the subject matter has obtained for itself a determinateness that is a content, because the negativity that has withdrawn into simplicity is the sublated form, and as simple determinateness stands over against its development, and first of all over against its very opposition to universality.
Now as this determinateness is the proximate truth of the indeterminate beginning, it condemns the latter as something imperfect, as well as the method itself that, in starting from that beginning, was merely formal. This can be expressed as the now specific demand that the beginning, since it is itself a determinate relatively to the determinateness of the result, shall be taken not as an immediate but as something mediated and deduced. This may appear as the demand for an infinite retrogression in proof and deduction; just as from the fresh beginning that has been obtained, a result likewise emerges from the method in its course, so that the advance equally rolls onwards to infinity.
It has been shown a number of times that the infinite progress as such belongs to reflection that is without the Notion; the absolute method, which has the Notion for its soul and content, cannot lead into that. At first sight, even such beginnings as being, essence, universality, seem to be of such a kind as to possess the complete universality and absence of content demanded for a wholly formal beginning, as it is supposed to be, and therefore, as absolutely first beginnings, demand and admit of no further regress. As they are pure relations to self, immediate and indeterminate, they do not of course possess within themselves the difference which in any other kind of beginning, is directly posited between the universality of its form and its content. But it is the very indeterminateness which the above logical beginnings have for their sole content that constitutes their determinateness; this consists, namely, in their negativity as sublated mediation; the particularity of this gives even their indeterminateness a particularity by which being, essence, and universality are distinguished from one another. The determinateness then which belongs to them if they are taken by themselves is their immediate determinateness, just as much as the determinateness of any other kind of content, and therefore requires a deduction; for the method it is a matter of indifference whether the determinateness be taken as determinateness of form or of content. That a content has been determined by the first of its results is not in fact for the method, the beginning of a new mode; the method remains neither more nor less formal than before. For since it is the absolute form, the Notion that knows itself and everything as Notion, there is no content that could stand over against it and determine it to be a one-sided external form.
Consequently, just as the absence of content in the above beginnings does not make them absolute beginnings, so too it is not the content as such that could lead the method into the infinite progress forwards or backwards. From one aspect, the determinateness which the method creates for itself in its result is the moment by means of which the method is self-mediation and converts the immediate beginning into something mediated. But conversely, it is through the determinateness that this mediation of the method runs its course; it returns through a content as through an apparent other of itself to its beginning in such a manner that not only does it restore that beginning — as a determinate beginning however — but the result is no less the sublated determinateness, and so too the restoration of the first immediacy in which it began. This it accomplishes as a system of totality. We have still to consider it in this determination.
We have shown that the determinateness which was a result is itself, by virtue of the form of simplicity into which it has withdrawn, a fresh beginning; as this beginning is distinguished from its predecessor precisely by that determinateness, cognition rolls onwards from content to content First of all, this advance is determined as beginning from simple determinatenesses the succeeding ones becoming ever richer and more concrete. For the result contains its beginning and its course has enriched it by a fresh determinateness. The universal constitutes the foundation; the advance is therefore not to be taken as a flowing from one other to the next other. In the absolute method the Notion maintains itself in its otherness. the universal in its particularisation, in judgment and reality; at each stage of its further determination it raises the entire mass of its preceding content, and by its dialectical advance it not only does not lose anything or leave anything behind, but carries along with it all it has gained, and inwardly enriches and consolidates itself. ®
This expansion may be regarded as the moment of content, and in the whole as the first premise; the universal is communicated to the wealth of content, immediately maintained in it. But the relationship has also its second, negative or dialectical side. The enrichment proceeds in the necessity of the Notion, it is held by it, and each determination is a reflection-into-self. Each new stage of forthgoing, that is, of further determination, is also a withdrawal inwards, and the greater extension is equally a higher intensity.
The richest is therefore the most concrete and most subjective and that which withdraws itself into the simplest depth is the mightiest and most all-embracing. ® The highest; most concentrated point is the pure personality which, solely through the absolute dialectic which is its nature, no less embraces and holds everything within itself, because it makes itself the supremely free — the simplicity which is the first immediacy and universality.
It is in this manner that each step of the advance in the process of further determination, while getting further away from the indeterminate beginning is also getting back nearer to it, and that therefore, what at first sight may appear to be different, the retrogressive grounding of the beginning, and the progressive further determining of it, coincide and are the same. The method, which thus winds itself into a circle, cannot anticipate in a development in time that the beginning is, as such, already something derived; it is sufficient for the beginning in its immediacy that it is simple universality. In being that, it has its complete condition; and there is no need to deprecate the fact that it may only be accepted provisionally and hypothetically. Whatever objections to it might be raised — say, the limitations of human knowledge, the need to examine critically the instrument of cognition before starting to deal with the subject matter — are themselves presuppositions, which as concrete determinations involve the demand for their mediation and proof. Since therefore they possess no formal advantage over the beginning with the subject matter against which they protest, but on the contrary themselves require deduction on account of their more concrete content, their claim to prior consideration must be treated as an empty presumption. They have an untrue content, for they convert what we know to be finite and untrue into something incontestable and absolute, namely, a limited cognition determined as form and instrument relatively to its content; this untrue cognition is itself also the form, the process of seeking grounds, that is retrogressive.. The method of truth, too, knows the beginning to be incomplete, because it is a beginning; but at the same time it knows this incompleteness to be a necessity, because truth only comes to be itself through negativity of immediacy.
The impatience at insists merely on getting beyond the determinate — whether called beginning, object, the finite, or in whatever other form it be taken — and finding itself immediately in the absolute, has before it as cognition nothing but the empty negative, the abstract infinite; in other words, a presumed absolute, that is presumed because it is not posited, not grasped; grasped it can only be through the mediation of cognition, of which the universal and immediate is a moment, but the truth itself resides only in the extended course of the process and in the conclusion. To meet the subjective needs of unfamiliarity and its impatience, a survey of the whole may of course be given in advance — by a division for reflection which, after the manner of finite cognition, specifies the particular of the universal as something already there and to be awaited in the course of the science. Yet this affords us nothing more than a picture for ordinary thinking; for the genuine transition from the universal to the particular and to the whole that is determined in and for itself, in which whole that first universal itself according to its true determination is again a moment, is alien to the above manner of division, and is alone the mediation of the science itself.
By virtue of the nature of the method just indicated, the science exhibits itself as a circle returning upon itself, the end being wound back into the beginning, the simple ground, by the mediation; this circle is moreover a circle of circles, for each individual member as ensouled by the method is reflected into itself, so that in returning into the beginning it is at the same time the beginning of a new member. Links of this chain are the individual sciences [of logic, nature and spirit], each of which has an antecedent and a successor — or, expressed more accurately, has only the antecedent and indicates its successor in its conclusion. ®
Thus then logic, too, in the absolute Idea, has withdrawn into that same simple unity which its beginning is; the pure immediacy of being in which at first every determination appears to be extinguished or removed by abstraction, is the Idea that has reached through mediation, that is, through the sublation of mediation, a likeness correspondent to itself. The method is the Pure Notion that relates itself only to itself; it is therefore the simple self-relation that is being. But now it is also fulfilled being, the Notion that comprehends itself, being as the concrete and so absolutely intensive totality. In conclusion, there remains only this to be said about this Idea, that in it, first, the science of logic has grasped its own Notion.
In the sphere of being, the beginning of its content, its Notion appears as a knowing in a subjective reflection external to that content. But in the Idea of absolute cognition the Notion has become the Idea's own content. The Idea is itself the pure Notion that has itself for subject matter and which, in running itself as subject matter through the totality of its determinations, develops itself into the whole of its reality, into the system of the science [of logic], and concludes by apprehending this process of comprehending itself, thereby superseding its standing as content and subject matter and cognising the Notion of the science.
Secondly, this Idea is still logical, it is enclosed within pure thought and is the science only of the divine Notion. True, the systematic exposition is itself a realisation of the Idea but confined within the same sphere. Because the pure Idea of cognition is so far confined within subjectivity, it is the urge to sublate this, and pure truth as the last result becomes also the beginning of another sphere and science. It only remains here to indicate this transition. ®
The Idea, namely, in positing itself as absolute unity of the pure Notion and its reality and thus contracting itself into the immediacy of being, is the totality in this form — nature. ®
But this determination has not issued from a process of becoming, nor is it a transition, as when above, the subjective Notion in its totality becomes objectivity, and the subjective end becomes life. On the contrary, the pure Idea in which the determinateness or reality of the Notion is itself raised into Notion, is an absolute liberation for which there is no longer any immediate determination that is not equally posited and itself Notion; in this freedom, therefore, no transition takes place; the simple being to which the Idea determines itself remains perfectly transparent to it and is the Notion that, in its determination, abides with itself. The passage is therefore to be understood here rather in this manner, that the Idea freely releases itself in its absolute self-assurance and inner poise. By reason of this freedom, the form of its determinateness is also utterly free — the externality of space and time existing absolutely on its own account without the moment of subjectivity. In so far as this externality presents itself only in the abstract immediacy of being and is apprehended from the standpoint of consciousness, it exists as mere objectivity and external life; but in the Idea it remains essentially and actually [in and for itself] the totality of the Notion, and science in the relationship to nature of divine cognition.
But in this next resolve of the pure Idea to determine itself as external Idea, it thereby only posits for itself the mediation out of which the Notion ascends as a free Existence that has withdrawn into itself from exteranlity, that completes its self-liberation in the science of spirit, and that finds the supreme Notion of itself in the science of logic as the self-comprehending pure Notion.
Highlighted text is Lenin's underlining. The ® accesses Lenin's annotations.
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