Hegel’s Science of Logic

The Doctrine of the Notion
Section Two: Objectivity

§ 1530

In Book One of the Objective Logic, abstract being was exhibited as passing over into determinate being, but equally as withdrawing into essence. In Book Two, essence reveals itself as determining itself into ground, thereby entering into Existence and realising itself as substance, but again withdrawing into the Notion. Of the Notion, now, we have shown to begin with that it determines itself into objectivity. It is self-evident that this latter transition is identical in character with what formerly appeared in metaphysics as the inference from the notion, namely, the notion of God, to his existence, or as the so-called ontological proof of the existence of God. It is equally well known that Descartes' sublimest thought, that God is that whose notion includes within itself its being, after being degraded into the defective form of the formal syllogism, that is, into the form of the said proof, finally succumbed to the Critique of Reason and to the thought that existence cannot be extracted from the notion. Some points connected with this proof have already been elucidated. In Vol. 1, pp. 86 sqq., where being has vanished in its immediate opposite, non-being, and becoming has shown itself as the truth of both, attention was drawn to the confusion that arises when, in the case of a particular determinate being, what is fixed on is not the being of that determinate being but its determinate content; then, comparing this determinate content, for example a hundred dollars, with another determinate content, for example, with the context of my perception or the state of my finances, it is found that it makes a difference whether the former content is added to the latter or not – and it is imagined that what has been discussed is the difference between being and non-being, or even the difference between being and the Notion. Further, in the same Vol., p. 112 and Vol. II, p. 442 we elucidated a determination that occurs in the ontological proof, that of a sum-total of all realities. But the essential subject matter of that proof, the connection of the Notion and determinate being, is the concern of our consideration of the Notion just concluded, and the entire course through which the Notion determines itself into objectivity. The Notion, as absolutely self-identical negativity, is self-determining; we have remarked that the Notion, in determining itself into judgment in individuality, is already positing itself as something real, something that is; this still abstract reality completes itself in objectivity.

§ 1531

Now though it might seem that the transition from the Notion into objectivity is not the same thing as the transition from the Notion of God to his existence, it should be borne in mind on the one hand that the determinate content, God, makes no difference in the logical process, and the ontological proof is merely an application of this logical process to the said content. On the other hand however it is essential to bear in mind the remark made above that the subject only obtains determinateness and content in its predicate; until then, no matter what it may be for feeling, intuition and pictorial thinking, for rational cognition it is only a name; but in the predicate with its determinateness there begins, at the same time, realisation in general. The predicates, however, must be grasped as themselves still included within the Notion, hence as something subjective, which so far has not emerged into existence; to this extent we must admit on the one hand that the realisation of the Notion in the judgment is still not complete. On the other hand however the mere determination of an object by predicates, when that determination is not at the same time the realisation and objectifying of the Notion, also remains something so subjective that it is not even the genuine cognition and determination of the Notion of the object-subjective in the sense of abstract reflection and uncomprehended pictorial thinking. God, as the living God, and still more as absolute spirit, is known only in his activity; man was early instructed to recognise God in his works; only from these can proceed the determinations, which are called his properties, and in which, too, his being is contained. Thus the philosophical [begreifende] cognition of his activity, that is, of himself, grasps the Notion of God in his being and his being in his Notion. Being merely as such, or even determinate being, is such a meagre and restricted determination, that the difficulty of finding it in the Notion may well be the result of not having considered what being or determinate being itself is. Being as the wholly abstract, immediate relation to self, is nothing else than the abstract moment of the Notion, which moment is abstract universality. This universality also effects what one demands of being, namely, to be outside the Notion; for though this universality is moment of the Notion, it is equally the difference, or abstract judgment, of the Notion in which it opposes itself to itself.

The Notion, even as formal, already immediately contains being in a truer and richer form, in that, as self-related negativity, it is individuality.

§ 1532

But of course the difficulty of finding being in the Notion as such and equally in the Notion of God, becomes insuperable when the being is supposed to be that which obtains in the context of outer experience or in the form of sensuous perception, like the hundred dollars in my finances, something to be grasped with the hand, not with the mind, something visible essentially to the outer, not to the inner eye; in other words, when that being which things possess as sensuous, temporal and perishable, is given the name of reality or truth. A philosophising that in its view of being does not rise above sense, naturally stops short at merely abstract thought, too, in its view of the Notion; such thought stands opposed to being.

§ 1533

The custom of regarding the Notion merely as something one-sided, such as abstract thought is, will already hinder the acceptance of what was suggested above, namely, to regard the transition from the Notion of God to his being, as an application of the logical course of objectification of the Notion presented above. Yet if it is granted, as it commonly is, that the logical element as the formal element constitutes the form for the cognition of every determinate content, then the above relation must at least be conceded, unless in this opposition between Notion and objectivity, one stops short at the untrue Notion and an equally untrue reality, as something ultimate. But in the exposition of the pure Notion, it was further made clear that this is the absolute, divine Notion itself, so that in truth the relationship of our application would not obtain, and the logical process in question would in fact be the immediate exposition of God's self-determination to being. But on this point it is to be remarked that if the Notion is to be presented as the Notion of God, it is to be apprehended as it is when taken up into the Idea. This pure Notion passes through the finite forms of the judgment and syllogism because it is not yet posited as in its own nature explicitly one with objectivity but is grasped only in process of becoming it. Similarly this objectivity, too, is not yet the divine existence, is not yet the reality that is reflected in the divine Idea. Yet objectivity is just that much richer and higher than the being or existence of the ontological proof, as the pure Notion is richer and higher than that metaphysical void of the sum total of all reality. But I reserve for another occasion the more detailed elucidation of the manifold misunderstanding that has been brought by logical formalism into the ontological, as well as the other, so-called proofs of God's existence, as also the Kantian criticism of them, and by establishing their true significance, to restore the fundamental thoughts of these proofs to their worth and dignity.

§ 1534

As previously remarked, we have already met with several forms of immediacy, though in different determinations. In the sphere of being immediacy is being itself and determinate being; in the sphere of essence it is existence, and then actuality and substantiality; in the sphere of the Notion, besides immediacy as abstract universality, there is now objectivity. When the exactitude of philosophical distinctions of the Notion is not involved, these expressions may be used as synonymous; but the determinations mentioned have issued from the necessity of the Notion. Being is in general the first immediacy, and determinate being is the same plus the first determinateness. Existence, along with things, is the immediacy that issues from the ground-from the self-sublating mediation of the simple reflection of essence. But actuality and substantiality is the immediacy that has issued from the sublated difference of the still unessential Existence as Appearance and its essentiality. Finally, objectivity is the immediacy to which the Notion determines itself by the sublation of its abstraction and mediation. Philosophy has the right to select from the language of common life which is made for the world of pictorial thinking, such expressions as seem to approximate to the determinations of the Notion. There cannot be any question of demonstrating for a word selected from the language of common life that in common life, too, one associates with it the same Notion for which philosophy employs it; for common life has no Notions, but only pictorial thoughts and general ideas, and to recognise the Notion in what is else a mere general idea is philosophy itself. It must suffice therefore if pictorial thinking, in the use of its expressions that are employed for philosophical determinations, has before it some vague idea of their distinctive meaning; just as it may be the case that in these expressions one recognises nuances of pictorial thought that are more closely related to the corresponding Notions. One will be less ready, perhaps, to admit that something can be without existing; but at least, one will hardly use 'being' as copula of the judgment as interchangeable with the expression 'to exist' and say, 'this article exists dear, suitable, etc.', 'gold exists, a metal or metallic', instead of 'this article is dear, suitable, etc.', 'gold is a metal or metallic'.

§ 1535

And surely it is usual to distinguish between being and appearing, appearance and actuality, as well as to distinguish mere being from actuality, and still more all these expressions from objectivity. However, even should they be employed synonymously, philosophy will in any case be free to utilise such empty superfluity of language for its distinctions.

§ 1536

When treating of the apodeictic judgment — the consummation of the judgment — where the subject loses its determinateness as against the predicate, we referred to the twofold meaning of subjectivity originating therefrom, namely, the subjectivity of the Notion, and equally of the externality and contingency opposed to the Notion. A similar twofold meaning also appears for objectivity which stands opposed to the self-subsistent Notion, yet is also the being that is in-and-for-itself. In the former sense, the object stands opposed to the I = I which in subjective idealism is enunciated as the absolutely true; in that case it is the manifold world in its immediate existence with which the ego or the Notion only engages in never-ending struggle, in order, by the negation of the intrinsic nullity of this other, to give to the first certainty of self the actual truth of its equality with itself. In a less specific sense it denotes an object in general for any interest or activity of the subject.

§ 1537

But in the opposite sense, objectivity signifies that which is in and for itself, and free from limitation and opposition. Rational principles, perfect works of art, etc., are called objective in so far as they are free and above all contingency. Although rational, theoretical or ethical principles belong only to subjectivity, to consciousness, yet that element in the latter that is in and for itself is called objective; the cognition of truth is placed in cognising the object as object, free from anything added by subjective reflection, and right conduct in the obedience to objective laws that are not subjective in origin and admit no caprice and no treatment that might overthrow their necessity.

§ 1538

At the present standpoint of our exposition objectivity signifies, in the first instance, the absolute being of the Notion, that is, the Notion that has sublated the mediation posited in its self-determination and converted it into immediate relation-to-self. Consequently this immediacy is itself immediately and wholly pervaded by the Notion, just as the Notion's totality is immediately identical with its being. But since, further, the Notion has equally to restore the free being-for-self of its subjectivity, there arises a relationship between the Notion as end and objectivity. In this relationship the immediacy of the objectivity becomes the negative element over against the end, an element to be determined by the activity of the end; this immediacy thus acquires the other significance, that of being in and for itself null in so far as it stands opposed to the Notion.

§ 1539

First, then, objectivity is an immediacy whose moments, by virtue of the totality of all the moments, exist in a self-subsistent indifference as objects outside one another, and in their relationship possess the subjective unity of the Notion only as an inner or an outer unity. This is Mechanism.

§ 1540

But secondly, this unity reveals itself as the immanent law of the objects themselves, and thus their relationship becomes their peculiar specific difference founded on their law; it becomes a relation in which their determinate self-subsistence sublates itself. This is Chemism.

§ 1541

Thirdly, this essential unity of the objects is thereby posited as distinct from their self-subsistence; it is the subjective Notion, but posited as in and for itself related to objectivity, as end. This is Teleology.

§ 1542

Since the end is the Notion that is posited as in its own self relating itself to objectivity and as sublating by its own act its defect of being subjective, the purposiveness which is at first external becomes, through the realisation of the end, internal and the Idea.

Chapter 1 Mechanism

§ 1543

As objectivity is the totality of the Notion withdrawn into its unity, an immediate is thereby posited that is in and for itself this totality, and is also posited as such, although in it the negative unity of the Notion has not as yet detached itself from the immediacy of this totality; in other words, objectivity is not yet posited as judgment. In so far as it has the Notion immanent in it, it contains the difference of the Notion, but on account of the objective totality, the differentiated moments are complete and self-subsistent objects which consequently, even in their relation, stand to one another only as self-subsistent things and remain external to one another in every combination. This is what constitutes the character of mechanism, namely, that whatever relation obtains between the things combined, this relation is one extraneous to them that does not concern their nature at all, and even if it is accompanied by a semblance of unity it remains nothing more than composition, mixture, aggregation and the like. Spiritual mechanism also, like material, consists in this, that the things related in the spirit remain external to one another and to spirit itself. A mechanical style of thinking, a mechanical memory, habit, a mechanical way of acting, signify that the peculiar pervasion and presence of spirit is lacking in what spirit apprehends or does. Although its theoretical or practical mechanism cannot take place without its self-activity, without an impulse and consciousness, yet there is lacking in it the freedom of individuality, and because this freedom is not manifest in it such action appears as a merely external one.

A. The Mechanical Object

§ 1544

The object is, as we have seen, the syllogism, whose mediation has been sublated [ausgeglichen] and has therefore become an immediate identity. It is therefore in and for itself a universal — universality not in the sense of a community of properties, but a universality that pervades the particularity and in it is immediate individuality.

§ 1545

1. In the first place therefore the object does not differentiate itself into matter and form — a matter as the self-subsistent universal side of the object and a form as the particular and individual side; such an abstract difference of individuality and universality is excluded by the Notion of object; if it is regarded as matter it must be taken as in principle formed matter. Similarly, it may be defined as a thing with properties, as a whole consisting of parts, as a substance with accidents, or in terms of other relationships of reflection; but these relationships have been altogether superseded already in the Notion; the object therefore has neither properties nor accidents, for these are separable from the thing or the substance, whereas in the object the particularity is absolutely reflected into the totality. In the parts of a whole, there is indeed present that self-subsistence which belongs to the differences of the object, but these differences are themselves directly and essentially objects, totalities, that are not, like parts, determined as such in contrast to the whole.

§ 1546

The object is therefore in the first instance indeterminate, in so far as it has no determinate opposition in it; for it is the mediation that has collapsed into immediate identity. In so far as the Notion is essentially determinate, the object possesses determinateness as a manifoldness which though complete is otherwise indeterminate, that is, contains no relationships, and which constitutes a totality that at first is similarly no further determined; sides or parts that may be distinguished in it belong to an external reflection. This quite indeterminate difference therefore means only that there are a number of objects, each of which only contains its determinateness reflected into its universality and does not reflect itself outwards. Because this indeterminate determinateness is essential to the object, the latter is within itself a plurality of this kind, and must therefore be regarded as a composite or aggregate. It does not however consist of atoms, for these are not objects because they are not totalities. The Leibnizian monad would be more of an object since it is a total representation of the world, but confined within its intensive subjectivity it is supposed at least to be essentially one within itself. Nevertheless, the monad determined as an exclusive one is only a principle that reflection assumes. Yet the monad is an object, partly in that the ground of its manifold representations — of the developed, that is, the posited determinations of its merely implicit totality lies outside it, and partly also in that it is indifferent to the monad that it constitutes an object along with others; it is thus in fact not exclusive or determined for itself.

§ 1547

2. As the object, then, in its determined being is a totality and yet on account of its indeterminateness and immediacy is not the negative unity of that determined being, it is indifferent to the determinations as individual, as determined in and for themselves, just as these latter are themselves indifferent to one another. These, therefore, are not comprehensible from it nor from one another; its totality is the form of general reflectedness of its manifoldness into individuality in general which is in its own self indeterminate. The determinatenesses, therefore, that it contains, do indeed belong to it, but the form that constitutes their difference and combines them into a unity is an external, indifferent one; whether it be a mixture, or again an order, a certain arrangement of parts and sides, all these are combinations that are indifferent to what is so related.

§ 1548

Thus the object, like any determinate being in general, has the determinateness of its totality outside it in other objects, and these in turn have theirs outside them, and so on to infinity. The return-into-self of this progression to infinity must indeed likewise be assumed and represented as a totality, a world; but that world is nothing but the universality that is confined within itself by indeterminate individuality, that is, a universe.

§ 1549

The object, therefore, being in its determinateness equally indifferent to it, it is the object's own nature that points it outside and beyond itself to other objects for its determination; but to these others, their determinant function is similarly a matter of indifference. Consequently, a principle of self-determination is nowhere to be found; determinism — the standpoint occupied by cognition when it takes the object, just as we have found it here, to be the truth — assigns for each determination of the object that of another object; but this other is likewise indifferent both to its being determined and to its active determining. For this reason determinism itself is also indeterminate in the sense that it involves the progression to infinity; it can halt and be satisfied at any point at will, because the object it has reached in its progress, being a formal totality, is shut up within itself and indifferent to its being determined by another. Consequently, the explanation of the determination of an object and the progressive determining of the object made for the purpose of the explanation, is only an empty word, since in the other object to which it advances there resides no self-determination.

§ 1550

3. Now as the determinateness of an object lies in an other, no determinate difference is to be found between them; the determinateness is merely doubled, once in one object and again in the other, something utterly identical, so that the explanation or comprehension is tautological. This tautology is an external futile see-saw; since the determinateness obtains from the objects which are indifferent to it no peculiar distinctiveness and is therefore only identical, there is before us only one determinateness; and its being doubled expresses just this externality and nullity of a difference. But at the same time the objects are self-subsistent in regard to one another; therefore in the identity above-mentioned they remain absolutely external to one another. Here, then, we have the manifest contradiction between the complete mutual indifference of the objects and the identity of their determinateness, or the contradiction of their complete externality in the identity of their determinateness. This contradiction is, therefore, the negative unity of a number of objects which, in that unity, simply repel one another: this is the mechanical process.

B. The Mechanical Process

§ 1551

If objects are regarded merely as self-enclosed totalities, they cannot act on one another. In this determination they are the same thing as the monads, which for this very reason were thought of as exercising no influence whatever on one another. But the concept of a monad is, just for this reason, a defective reflection. For first it is a determinate conception of the monad's merely implicit totality; as a certain degree of the development and positedness of its representation of the world, it is determinate; now while it is a self-enclosed totality, it is also indifferent to this determinateness; therefore the determinateness is not its own, but one that is posited by another object. Secondly it is an immediate in general, in so far as it is supposed to be merely a mirroring entity; its relation to itself is therefore abstract universality; hence it is a determinate being open to others. To gain the freedom of substance it is not sufficient to represent it as a totality that is complete within itself and has nothing to receive from without. On the contrary, the mechanical [begrifflose], merely mirrored relation to itself is precisely a passivity towards another. Similarly determinateness, whether taken as the determinateness of something that is or of a mirroring entity, that is a degree of the monad's own spontaneous development, is something external; the degree that the development reaches has its limit in an other. To shift the reciprocity of substances on to a predetermined harmony means nothing more than to convert it into a presupposition, that is, to withdraw it from the Notion. The need to avoid the interaction of substances was based on the moment of absolute self-subsistence and originality which was made a fundamental assumption. But since the positedness, the degree of development, does not correspond to this in-itself, it has for that very reason its ground in an other.

§ 1552

When treating of the relationship of substantiality, we showed that it passes over into the causal relationship. But here what is, no longer has the determination of a substance, but of an object; the causal relationship has been superseded in the Notion; the originality of one substance in relation to the other has shown itself to be illusory, its action to be transition into the opposed substance. This relationship therefore has no objectivity. Hence in so far as the one object is posited in the form of subjective unity as active cause, this no longer counts as an original determination but as something mediated; the active object has this its determination only by means of another object. Mechanism, since it belongs to the sphere of the Notion, has that posited within it which proved to be the truth of the causal relationship, namely that the cause, which is supposed to be the original and self-subsistent factor is essentially effect, positedness, as well. In mechanism therefore the causality of the object is immediately a non-originality; it is indifferent to this its determination, therefore its being cause is for it something contingent. To this extent, one might indeed say that the causality of substances is only a subjective conception. But this causality as thus represented is precisely mechanism; for mechanism is this, that causality as identical determinateness of different substances and hence as the extinction of their self-subsistence in this identity, is a mere positedness; the objects are indifferent to this unity and maintain themselves in face of it. But, no less is this their indifferent self-subsistence also a mere positedness; they are therefore capable of mixing and aggregating and of becoming, as an aggregate, one object. Through this indifference both to their transition and to their self-subistence, substances are objects.

(a) The Formal Mechanical Process
(b) The Real Mechanical Process
(c) The Product of the Mechanical Process

C. Absolute Mechanism

(a) The Centre

§ 1567

In the first place then the empty manifoldness of objects is gathered into objective individuality, into the simple self-determining centre. Secondly, in so far as the object as an immediate totality retains its indifference to determinateness, the latter is present in it also as unessential or as a mutual externality of many objects. The prior, the essential determinateness, on the other hand, constitutes the real middle term between the many mechanically interacting bodies, by which they are united in and for themselves, and is their objective universality. Universality exhibited itself at first in the relationship of communication as present only through positing; but as objective universality it is the pervading immanent essence of the objects.

§ 1568

In the material world it is the central body that is the genus, but it is the individual universality of the single objects and their mechanical process. The relationship in which the unessential single bodies stand to one another is one of mutual thrust and pressure; this kind of relationship does not hold between the central body and the objects whose essence it is, for their externality no longer constitutes their basic determination. Their identity with the central body is, therefore, rather rest, namely, the being in their centre; this unity is their absolute Notion. It remains, however, merely an ought-to-be, since the externality of the objects which is still also posited does not correspond to that unity. Their consequent striving towards the centre is their absolute universality, not a universality posited by communication; it constitutes the true rest that is itself concrete and not posited from outside, into which the process of the non-self-subsistent bodies must return. That is why it is an empty abstraction to assume in mechanics that a body set in motion would continue to move in a straight line to infinity if external resistance did not rob it of its motion. Friction, or whatever other form resistance takes, is only the manifestation of centrality; for it is centrality that in an absolute manner brings the body back to itself; for the thing in contact with which the moving body meets friction has the power of resistance solely through its union with the centre. In the spiritual sphere the centre and unity with the centre assume higher forms; but the unity of the Notion and its reality which here, to begin with, is mechanical centrality, must there too constitute the basic determination.

§ 1569

Thus the central body has ceased to be a mere object, for in the latter the determinateness is an unessential element; for the central body no longer possesses the objective totality only implicitly but also explicitly. It can therefore be regarded as an individual. Its determinateness is essentially different from a mere order or arrangement and external connection of parts; as determinateness in and for itself it is an immanent form, a self-determining principle in which the objects inhere and by which they are bound together into a genuine One.

§ 1570

But this central individual is thus at first only a middle term which as yet has no true extremes; but as negative unity of the total Notion it sunders itself into such. Or in other words the previously non-self-subsistent, self-external objects are likewise by the regress of the Notion determined into individuals; the identity of the central body with itself which is still a striving, is infected with externality which, being taken up into the centra body's objective individuality, has this latter determination communicated to it. Through this centrality of their own, these individuals placed outside that first centre, are themselves centres for the non-self-subsistent objects. These second centres and the non-self-subsistent objects are brought into unity by the above absolute middle term.

§ 1571

But the relative individual centres themselves also constitute the middle term of a second syllogism, a middle term that on the one hand is subsumed under a higher extreme, namely the objective universality and power of the absolute centre, and on the other hand subsumes under itself the non-self-subsistent objects whose superficial or formal individualisation is supported by it. Again, these non-self-subsistent objects are the middle term of a third, the formal syllogism, in that they are the link between the absolute and the relative central individuality to the extent that the latter has in them its externality by virtue of which the relation-to-self is at the same time a striving towards an absolute centre. The formal objects have for their essence the identical gravity of their immediate central body in which they inhere as in their subject and the extreme of individuality; through the externality which they constitute, that body is subsumed under the absolute central body; they are, therefore, the formal middle term of particularity. But the absolute individual is the objectively universal middle term which brings into unity and holds fast the being-within-self or inwardness of the relative individual and its externality. Similarly, too, the government, the individual citizens and the needs or external life of the individuals, are three terms, each of which is the middle of the other two. The government is the absolute centre in which the extreme of the individuals is united with their external existence; similarly, the individuals are the middle term that activate that universal individual into external concrete existence and translate their moral essence into the extreme of actuality. The third syllogism is the formal syllogism, that of an illusory show, in which the individuals purport to be linked to this universal absolute individuality by their needs and external existence; a syllogism which, as merely subjective, passes over into the others and in them has its truth.

§ 1572

This totality, whose moments are themselves the complete relationships of the Notion, the syllogisms in which each of the three different objects runs through the determination of middle term and of extremes, constitutes free mechanism. In it the different objects have for their basic determination the objective universality, the pervasive gravity that maintains its identity in the particularisation. The relations of pressure, thrust, attraction and the like, as also aggregations or mixtures, belong to the relationship of externality which forms the basis of the third of this group of syllogisms. Order, which is the merely external determinateness of objects, has passed over into the determination that is immanent and objective; this is Law.

(b) Law

§ 1573

In law, the more specific difference between the ideal reality of objectivity and its external reality is made prominent. The object, as immediate totality of the Notion, does not yet possess externality as distinct from the Notion which is not yet posited for itself. The object, being withdrawn into itself through the process, there has arisen the opposition of simple centrality against an externality which is now determined as externality, that is, is posited as that which is not in and for itself. That identical or ideal aspect of individuality is, on account of the relation to externality, an ought-to-be; it is that unity of the Notion, absolutely determined and self-determining, to which that external reality does not correspond, and therefore gets no further than a striving towards it. But individuality is in and for itself the concrete principle of negative unity, and as such itself totality, a unity that sunders itself into the specific differences of the Notion and abides within its self-identical universality; it is thus the centre expanded within its pure ideality by difference.

§ 1574

This reality which corresponds to the Notion is the ideal reality that is distinct from the reality that was merely a striving; it is the difference, not as in the first instance a plurality of objects, but difference in its essential nature and taken up into pure universality. This real ideality is the soul of the previously developed objective totality, the absolutely determined identity of the system.

§ 1575

The objective being-in-and-for-self appears therefore more specifically in its totality as the negative unity of the centre, which divides itself into subjective individuality and external objectivity, maintains the former in the latter and determines it in an ideal difference. This self-determining unity that absolutely reduces external objectivity to ideality is the principle of self-movement the determinateness of this animating principle, which is the difference of the Notion itself, is law. Dead mechanism was the mechanical process considered above of objects that appeared immediately as self-subsistent but which for that very reason are, in truth, not self-subsistent and have their centre outside themselves; this process, which passes over into rest, exhibits either contingency and indeterminate dissimilarity or formal uniformity. This uniformity is indeed a rule, but not a law. Only free mechanism has a law, the spontaneous determination of pure individuality or of the explicated Notion; as difference, it is in its own self the imperishable source of self-kindling movement, and since in the ideality of its difference it relates itself to itself alone, it is free necessity.

(c) Transition of Mechanism

§ 1576

This soul, however, is still submerged in its body: the Notion of the objective totality, determinate now but inner, is free necessity — the law has not yet confronted its object; it is the concrete centrality as universality immediately expanded into its objectivity. This ideality, therefore, has not the objects themselves for its determinate difference; these are self-subsistent individuals of the totality, or also, if we look back to the formal stage, non-individual, external objects. Law is indeed immanent in them and constitutes their nature and power; but its difference is confined within its ideality, and the objects are not themselves differentiated into the ideal difference of the law. But it is solely in the ideal centrality and its laws that the object possesses its essential self-subsistence; it is therefore powerless to resist the judgment of the Notion and to maintain itself in abstract, indeterminate self-subsistence and aloofness.

§ 1577

By virtue of the ideal difference immanent in it, its existence is a determinateness posited by the Notion. Its lack of self-subsistence is in this way no longer merely a striving towards the centre, as against which, just because its relation to it is only a striving, it still has the appearance of a self-subsistent external object; on the contrary, it is a striving towards the object specifically opposed to it; and similarly the centre itself has in consequence fallen asunder and its negative unity passed has over into objectified opposition. Centrality is, therefore, now a relation of these reciprocally negative objectivities in a state of mutual tension. Thus free mechanism determines itself into chemism.

Chapter 2 Chemism

§ 1578

Chemism constitutes in objectivity as a whole, the moment of judgment, of the difference that has become objective, and of the process. Since it already begins with determinateness and positedness and the chemical object is at the same time an objective totality, its immediate course is simple and is completely determined by its presupposition.


§ 1579

The chemical object is distinguished from the mechanical by the fact that the latter is a totality indifferent to determinateness, whereas in the case of the chemical object the determinateness, and consequently the relation to other and the kind and manner of this relation, belong to its nature. This determinateness is at the same time essentially a particularisation, that is, it is taken up into universality; thus it is a principle — universal determinateness, the determinateness not only of the one individual object but also of the other. In the chemical object, therefore, we now have the distinction between its Notion as the inner totality of the two determinatenesses, and the determinateness that constitutes the nature of the individual object in its externality and concrete existence. Since in this way it is in itself or implicitly the whole Notion, it has in its own self the necessity and the urge to sublate its opposed, one sided — existence and to give itself an existence as that real whole that according to its Notion it is.

§ 1580

With regard to the expression chemism for the relation of the difference of objectivity as it has presented itself, it may be further remarked that the expression must not be understood here as though this relation only exhibited itself in that form of elemental nature to which the name chemism so called is strictly applied. Even the meteorological relation must be regarded as a process whose parts have the nature more of physical than chemical elements. In the animate world, the sex relation comes under this schema and it also constitutes the formal basis for the spiritual relations of love, friendship, and the like.

§ 1581

Examined more closely the chemical object, as a self-subsistent totality in general, is in the first instance an object that is reflected into itself and to that extent is distinct from its reflectedness outwards — an indifferent base, the individual not yet specified as different; the person, too, is such a base related at first only to itself. But the immanent determinateness which constitutes its difference, is first reflected into itself in such a manner that this retraction of the relation outwards is only formal abstract universality; thus the relation outwards is the determination of its immediacy and concrete existence. From this aspect, it does not in its own self return into the individual totality; and the negative unity has the two moments of its opposition in two particular objects. Accordingly, a chemical object is not comprehensible from itself alone, and the being of one is the being of the other. But secondly, the determinateness is absolutely reflected into itself and is the concrete moment of the individual Notion of the whole, which Notion is the universal essence, the real genus of the particular object. The chemical object, which is thus the contradiction of its immediate positedness and its immanent individual Notion, is a striving to sublate the determinateness of its existence and to give concrete existence to the objective totality of the Notion. Therefore, though it also lacks self-subsistence, it spontaneously tenses itself against this deficiency and initiates the process by its self-determining.


§ 1582

1. It begins with the presupposition that the objects in tension, tensed as they are against themselves, are in the first instance by that very fact just as much tensed against one another — a relationship that is called their affinity. Since each through its Notion stands in contradiction to the one-sidedness of its own existence and consequently strives to sublate it, there is immediately posited in this fact the striving to sublate the one-sidedness of the other object; and through this reciprocal adjustment and combination to posit a reality conformable to the Notion, which contains both moments.

§ 1583

As each of the objects is posited as self-contradictory and self-sublating in its own self, it is only by an external compulsion [Gewalt] that they are held apart from one another and from their reciprocal integration. Now the middle term whereby these extremes are concluded into a unity is first the implicit nature of both, the whole Notion that holds both within itself. Secondly, however, since in their concrete existence they stand confronting each other, their absolute unity is also a still formal element having an existence distinct from them — the element of communication in which they enter into external community with each other. Since the real difference belongs to the extremes, this middle term is only the abstract neutrality, the real possibility of those extremes; it is, as it were, the theoretical element of the concrete existence of chemical objects, of their process and its result. In the material world water fulfils the function of this medium; in the spiritual world, so far as the analogue of such a relation has a place there, the sign in general, and more precisely language, is to be regarded as fulfilling that function.

§ 1584

The relationship of the objects, as a mere communication in this element, is on the one hand a quiescent coming-together, but on the other hand it is no less a negative bearing of each to the other; for in communication the concrete Notion which is their nature is posited as a reality, with the result that the real differences of the objects are reduced to its unity. Their previous self-subsistent determinateness is thus sublated in the union that conforms to the Notion, which is one and the same in both, and thereby their opposition and tension are weakened, with the result that in this reciprocal integration the striving reaches its quiescent neutrality.

§ 1585

The process is in this way extinguished; the contradiction between the Notion and reality being resolved, the extremes of the syllogism have lost their opposition and have thus ceased to be extremes both against each other and against the middle term. The product is neutral, that is, a product in which the ingredients, which can no longer be called objects, have lost their tension and with it those properties which belonged to them as tensed, while the capability of their former self-subsistence and tension is preserved. For the negative unity of the neutral product proceeds from a presupposed difference; the determinateness of the chemical object is identical with its objectivity, it is original. Through the process just considered this difference is as yet only immediately sublated; the determinateness is, therefore, as yet not absolutely reflected into itself, and consequently the product of the process is only a formal unity.

§ 1586

2. Now in this product, the tension of the opposition and the negative unity, as activity of the process, are indeed extinct. But since this unity is essential to the Notion and has at the same time come into concrete existence, it is still present, though its place is outside the neutral object. The process does not spontaneously re-kindle itself, for it had the difference only for its presupposition and did not itself posit it. This self-subsistent negativity outside the object, the existence of the abstract individuality whose being-for-self has its reality in the indifferent object, is now tensed within itself against its abstraction, and is an inward restless activity that turns outwards to consume. It relates itself immediately to the object whose quiescent neutrality is the real possibility of its opposition; that object is now the middle term of the previously merely formal neutrality, now inwardly concrete and determinate.

§ 1587

The more precise immediate relation of the extreme of negative unity to the object is that the latter is determined by it and thereby disrupted. This disruption may in the first instance be regarded as the restoration of that opposition of the objects in tension with which chemism began. But this determination does not constitute the other extreme of the syllogism but belongs to the immediate relation of the differentiating principle to the middle term in which this principle gives itself its immediate reality; it is the determinateness that the middle term in the disjunctive syllogism also possesses besides being the universal nature of the object, and by virtue of which the object is both objective universality and also determinate particularity. The other extreme of the syllogism stands opposed to the external self-subsistent extreme of individuality; it is therefore the equally self-subsistent extreme of universality; hence the disruption suffered by the real neutrality of the middle term in this extreme is that it is split up into moments whose relationship is not that of difference, but of indifference. Accordingly these moments are the abstract indifferent base on the one side, and its energising principle on the other, which latter by its separation from the base attains likewise the form of indifferent objectivity.

§ 1588

This disjunctive syllogism is the totality of chemism in which the same objective whole is exhibited first as self-subsistent negative unity, then in the middle term as real unity, and finally as the chemical reality resolved into its abstract moments. In these latter the determinateness has not reached its reflection-into-self in an other as in the neutral product, but has in itself returned into its abstraction, and is an originally determinate element.

§ 1589

3. These elementary objects are accordingly liberated from chemical tension; in them, the original basis of that presupposition with which chemism began has been posited through the real process. Now further, the inner determinateness as such of these ,objects is essentially the contradiction of their simple indifferent subsistence and themselves as determinateness, and is the urge outwards that sunders itself and posits tension in its object and in another object in order to have something with which it can enter into a relation of difference and in which it can neutralise itself and give to its simple determinateness an existent reality. Consequently, on the one hand chemism has returned into its beginning in which objects in a state of reciprocal tension seek one another and then by a formal, external middle term, unite to form a neutral product. On the other hand, chemism by this return into its Notion sublates itself and has passed over into a higher sphere.


§ 1590

Even ordinary chemistry shows examples of chemical alterations in which a body, for example, imparts a higher oxidation to one part of its mass and thereby reduces another part to a lower degree of oxidation, in which lower degree alone it can enter into a neutral combination with another [chemically] different body brought into contact with it, a combination for which it would not have been receptive in that first immediate degree. What happens here is that the object does not relate itself to another in accordance with an immediate, one-sided determinateness, but that in accordance with the inner totality of an original relation it posits the presupposition which it requires for a real relation and thereby gives itself a middle term through which it unites its Notion with its reality; it is absolutely determined individuality, the concrete Notion as principle of the disjunction into extremes whose re-union is the activity of the same negative principle, which thereby returns to its first determination, but returns objectified.

§ 1591

Chemism itself is the first negation of indifferent objectivity and of the externality of determinateness; it is therefore still infected with the immediate self-subsistence of the object and with externality. Consequently it is not yet for itself that totality of self-determination that proceeds from it and in which rather it is sublated. The three syllogisms yielded by the foregoing exposition constitute its totality; the first has for middle term formal neutrality and for extremes the objects in tension; the second has for middle term the product of the first, real neutrality, and for extremes the sundering activity and its product, the indifferent element; while the third is the self-realising Notion, which posits for itself the presupposition by which the process of its realisation is conditioned — a syllogism that has the universal for its essence. On account, however, of the immediacy and externality attaching to chemical objectivity, these syllogisms still fall apart. The first process whose product is the neutrality of the objects in tension is extinguished in its product, and it is an externally applied differentiation that re-kindles it; conditioned by an immediate presupposition, it exhausts itself in it. Similarly, the separation of the [chemically] different extremes out of the neutral product, as also their decomposition into their abstract elements, must proceed from conditions and stimulations of activity externally brought into play. Also, although the two essential moments of the process, on the one side neutralisation, on the other separation and reduction, are combined in one and the same process, and the union of the extremes by weakening of the tension between them is also a sundering into such extremes, yet on account of the still underlying externality they constitute two different sides; the extremes that are separated in that same process are different objects or materials from those that unite in it; in so far as the former emerge again from the process as [chemically] different they must turn outwards; their new neutralisation is a different process from the neutralisation that took place in the first process.

§ 1592

But these various processes, which have proved themselves necessary, are so many stages by which externality and conditionedness are sublated and from which the Notion emerges as a totality determined in and for itself and not conditioned by externality. In the first process, the mutual externality of the different extremes that constitute the whole reality, or the distinction between the implicitly determinate Notion and its existent determinateness, is sublated; in the second, the externality of the real unity, the union as merely neutral, is sublated; more precisely, the formal activity in the first instance sublates itself in equally formal bases or indifferent determinatenesses, whose inner Notion is now the indrawn absolute activity as inwardly self-realising, that is, the activity that posits the determinate differences within itself and through this mediation constitutes itself as real unity — a mediation which is thus the Notion's own mediation, its self-determination, and in respect of its reflection thence into itself, an immanent presupposing. The third syllogism, which on the one hand is the restoration of the preceding processes, on the other hand sublates the last remaining moment of indifferent bases the wholly abstract external immediacy, which in this way becomes the Notion's own moment of self-mediation. The Notion which has thus sublated all the moments of its objective existence as external, and posited them within its simple unity, is thereby completely liberated from objective externality, to which it relates itself only as to an unessential reality. This objective free Notion is end. ®

Highlighted text is Lenin's underlining. The ® accesses Lenin's annotations; © accesses annotations by C L R James.

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