John McTaggart A Commentary on Hegel’s Logic 1910
The Object       |     Objectivity

Chapter IX

232. The divisions of Objectivity are as follows:

I. Mechanism (Der Mechanismus.)

A. The Mechanical Object. (Das mechanische Objekt.)

B. The Mechanical Process. (Der mechanische Process.)

(a) The Formal Mechanical Process. (Der formale mechanische Process.)
(b) The Real Mechanical Process. (Der reale mechanische Process.)
(c) The Product of the Mechanical Process. (Das Produkt des mechanischen Processes.)

C. The Absolute Mechanism (Der absolute Mechanismus.)

(a) The Centre. (Das Centrum.)
(b) The Law. (Das Gesetz.)
(c) Transition from Mechanism. (Uebergang des Mechanismus.)

II. Chemism. (Der Chemismus.)

A. The Chemical Object. (Das chemische Objekt.)

B. The Chemical Process. (Der chemische Process.)

C. Transition from Chemistry. (Uebergang des Chemismus.)

III. Teleology . (Die Teleologie.)

A. The Subjective End. (Der subjective Zweck.)

B. The Means. (Das Mittel.)

C. The Realised End. (Der ausgefuhrtre Zweck.)

233. We saw reason in the last chapter to reject the view that Subjectivity meant the inner as opposed to the outer. It meant that which is contingent or capricious, as opposed to that which is universal and inevitable. It is thus natural that the next division should be called Objectivity. The contingent and capricious character of the classification, which had been present through the subdivisions of Notion and Judgment was recognised, at the beginning of Syllogism, in the First Figure, as a defect which proved the inadequacy of the category, and was finally transcended in the Syllogism of Necessity, the classification in which, according to Hegel, was no longer contingent and capricious, ‘but universal and necessary. It is natural, therefore, that the next division, which preserves this result, should be called Objectivity.

234. Hegel’s account of the transition to Objectivity is as follows. “The Syllogism is mediation, the complete Notion in its position (Gesetztsein). Its movement is the transcending of this mediation, in which nothing is in and for itself. but each is only as it is mediated by another. The result is therefore an Immediacy, which has arisen through transcending the mediation, a Being, that is just as much identical with the mediation and with the Notion, Which has restored itself out of and by means of (aus und in) its Otherbeing This Being is therefore a fact, which is in and for itself — Objectivity “ (G. L. iii. 170. Cp. also Enc. 193).

I cannot regard this as satisfactory. The line of the argument appears to be that at the end of Subjectivity the mediation is merged, that this produces immediacy, and that this forms the transition to Objectivity. But how has this mediation been merged? Surely it has not been completely merged. It is true that in the Disjunctive Syllogism it is an immediate fact that Z is either X, or W, or V, and that the connexions of X, W, and V with Z require no mediation. But, in any particular Individual, Z will be connected either with X, or with W, or with V, and not with all three. Mediation will therefore be necessary to determine with which of them it is connected, and a transition based on the absence of mediation is incorrect.

Moreover, when we consider the detail of Objectivity, we find that mediation is not dispensed with, but that there is mediation, though of a different sort from that in Subjectivity — the new sort of mediation being directed to the issue just mentioned, the connexion of Z with X, e.g., rather than with W or V.

235. I venture to suggest a line of argument which I believe to be valid in itself, and also to lead, as Hegel’s own does not, to the mediation which lie describes in the categories of Mechanism.

In the last chapter (Section 187) I sketched this transition in anticipation. In considering the transition from the last categories of Essence to Subjectivity, I pointed out that things are doubly connected — by similarity and by reciprocal causation. And it is obvious that a thing may be, and generally is, connected by the one tie to things very different from those to which it is connected by the other.” And I submitted that the dialectic “ first takes up the relation of similarity, and works it out through the course of Subjectivity. Then in Objectivity it proceeds to work out the relation of determination — not going back arbitrarily to pick it up, but led on to it again by dialectical necessity, since Subjectivity, when fully worked out, shows itself to have a defect which can only be remedied by the fuller development of the relation of determination.”

We have now reached the end of Subjectivity, and we have found that it does, in fact, possess such a defect. Our position at the end of Subjectivity was that the nature of the universe could be explained by judgments of the type “every Z is either X or W.” But such knowledge is necessarily incomplete. For of any given Individual which is Z, we know it is either X or W, but we do not know which it is. And yet it is certain that it is one of them, and that it is not the other. How is this to be determined? Subjectivity cannot do it[1]. We require a further determination of objects which their inner nature, as we are able at tills stage of the dialectic to understand it, cannot give us. What can remain? It can only be determination from outside. And thus we are naturally led back at the end of Subjectivity to the conception of the reciprocal connexion of Individuals by determination — that very conception which we had temporarily ignored while dealing with Subjectivity. Thus the argument takes the course that might be anticipated from the nature of the dialectic. When we left one element of Reciprocity behind, and, in the Thesis of the Doctrine of the ‘Notion, devoted ourselves to developing the other side only, we could predict that the incompleteness thus created would require us to develop the other element of Reciprocity in the Antithesis. And this is exactly what has happened. We are now on the point of beginning the Antithesis — namely Objectivity — and the course of the argument has led us back to the ignored element in Reciprocity.


236. (G. L. iii. 180. Enc. 195.) In the first place, Hegel says, the Individuals, nosy called Objects, are taken as merely externally connected by this reciprocal determination. And this is Mechanism, whose character, he tells us, is that “ whatever relation takes place between the connected things, that relation is alien (fremde) to them, does not belong to their nature, and, although it unites them. with the appearance of a One, remains nothing more than a collocation, mixture, or heap (Zusammensetzung, Vermischung Haufen) “ (G. L. iii. 180).

A. The Mechanical Object.

(G. L. iii. 181. Enc. 195.) The definition of this, as often happens in the dialectic, is identical with that of the larger division, of which it is the first subdivision. The other two subdivisions modify and correct the characteristic idea of Mechanism. But here it is given in its full extent. Each Object enters into external relations of reciprocal determination with all others outside it, but these external relations are not affected by, and do not affect, the internal nature of the Objects related. In the Encyclopaedia tile category of the Mechanical Object is known as Formal Mechanism, and this expresses the nature of the conception better than the title in the Greater Logic.

When we are dealing with any subject-matter accessible to our experience, so extreme a view m this can only be accepted as a methodological expedient. It may sometimes be convenient, for some temporary and limited purpose, to consider things as if their external relations had no influence on their inner nature, or their inner nature on their external relations. But experience teaches us, too plainly to be disregarded, that every external relation which holds of any of the things which we perceive does affect the inner nature of that thing, and that, on the other hand, the external relations which hold of things are largely determined by their inner nature.

Atoms, however, cannot be directly perceived, and in their case, therefore, empirical knowledge is powerless to cheek the errors of theory. And the theory of Atoms has sometimes got very near to the position of Formal Mechanism. It would not, indeed, assert that the inner nature of the atoms was entirely a matter of indifference to their outer relations. They could riot, for example, repel one another, except by some property of impenetrability. But it has been asserted that a change in their outer relations makes no change in their inner nature, and that their inner nature has no influence in deciding which, of various possible relations, should be the one into which they should actually enter.

Hegel says that this is the standpoint of Determinism (G. L. iii. 183). The expression does not, at first sight, seem very appropriate, since one of the chief characteristics of the category is that the inner nature of the Object is not determined by its outer relations. But it is the determination of the outer relations themselves to which Hegel refers here, and the significance of the name is negative. It denotes the fact that, so far as these reciprocal determinations are concerned, there is no self-determination on the part of the Object. If we ask why it is determined in this way rather than that, we can only attribute it to determination by another Object. In no case can the Object be self-determined in these reciprocal determinations, for its inner nature has nothing to do with them.

237. This category, Hegel tells us, breaks down because of the contradiction which arises between the indifference of the Objects to one another, and their Connexion with one another (G. L. iii. 184). He takes the reciprocal determination of two Objects as introducing an identical element in each of them. This is to be expected, for, as we saw in Chapter VII., he regards Cause and Effect as identical, and the reciprocal determination which we have here is, of course, reciprocal causation. But this error — if, as I have previously maintained, it is an error — does not affect the validity of his position that there is a contradiction between the indifference of the Objects and their connexion by reciprocal determination.

In the earlier stages of Essence there would have been no contradiction in such a case. For there the Surface, and the Substratum were conceived as having natures more or less independent of each other, though more or less connected. To determine the Surface would not necessarily involve the determination of the Substratum. Thus, if the inner nature of the thing were taken as Substratum, and its relations of reciprocal determination with other things were taken as Surface, the two might be as independent as this category requires.

But in the course of the Doctrine of Essence we learned that the inner nature of a thing cannot, be merely inner, but that it, and the whole of it, must be manifested by the external nature of the thing. And, conversely, no outer nature can be entirely outer. There can no more be anything in the Surface which has not its root in the Substratum, than there can be anything in the Substratum which does not manifest itself in the Surface.

And thus the category of the Mechanical Object contains a contradiction. It demands that the inner nature of the Object shall be indifferent to its external relations of reciprocal determination. But these external relations belong somehow, and in some respects, to the Object, or there would be no meaning in calling them the external relations of that Object. They are not its inner nature. They must, therefore, be its outer side, or part of its outer side. Thus the category of the Mechanical Object demands an outer side which does not affect the inner side. And this is just what was proved in the Doctrine of Essence to be impossible.

If then the outer relations and inner nature of the Object are not absolutely independent, how do they stand to one another? The prima facie assumption, since they at any rate profess to be different, is that they are two separate realities acting on one another. The arguments given above, indeed, suggest that the connexion is closer than this, but Hegel prefers to approach the truth gradually by stating and transcending, this view of the interaction of separate realities. This informs the second subdivision of Mechanism, and he entitles it

B. The Process.

(G. L. iii. 184. Enc. 196.) In the Encyclopaedia this category is called, “Differenter Mechanismus,” which Wallace translates with Affinity. The significance of this, name appears to be that one Object is no longer as suitable as another to enter into any particular relations. Since the inner nature has some influence, on the outer relations, only those Objects can enter into any particular relations whose inner nature possesses particular qualities.

238. Hegel divides this category into three subdivisions. This seems to me mistaken, for the first subdivision, so far as I can see, only repeats the conception of the Mechanical Object, while the third is only the transition to Absolute Mechanism. Thus the second subdivision gives the only conception peculiar to the triad, and might have been taken as the undivided category of Mechanical Process. (This course is taken by Hegel in the Encyclopaedia The first subdivision is called (G. L. iii. 186)

(a) The Formal Mechanical Process.

239. Of this Hegel (G. L. iii. 190) that the determination which the Object receives through it is merely external. It is this which makes me think it identical with the last category, the essential characteristic of which was the externality of the determinations. If this is so, the same arguments which carried us into Mechanical Process will carry us into its second subdivision,

(b) The Real Process

(G. L. iii. 190), where it is admitted that. the reciprocal determinations do affect the inner nature of the Object.

To this category, Hegel says (G. L. iii. 192), belongs the idea of Fate — a blind Fate, conceived as crushing and ignoring the Objects which are in its power. This conception of the sacrifice of the Object to the order of things outside it could not have arisen in the category of the Mechanical Object, since there the interior of any Object was quite untouched by external circumstances, and could not be sacrificed to them. And in the next category, that of Absolute Mechanism, the opposition of inner and outer is replaced by the perception of their unity, and with it there vanishes the idea of Fate as an alien and crushing power — to return again, on a higher level, in the category of Life, but to be again transcended in the category of Cognition. But, between the Mechanical Object and Absolute Mechanism, our present category is precisely the proper sphere of Fate. For outside and inside are connected just so much that the former may act on the latter, just so little that there is no harmony between them. Fate has the individual Objects in its power, “subjectos tanquam suos, viles tanquam alienos.”

If we carry this line of thought one step backwards we may say that if we looked at man under the category of the Mechanical Object, we should get a morality not unlike that of the Stoics. For morality is in the long run concerned only with the inner states of people, which are the only things which possess ultimate value[2]. If everyone was happy, virtuous, and otherwise good, all external relations would be quite indifferent to morality, which only cares for external matters in so far as they affect the goodness (in the widest sense) of conscious beings. And if the inner nature of man, as of all other Objects, were independent of his external relations, then, whatever his circumstances, it would be in the power of each man to be completely good. Such a view would, of course, tend to produce absolute indifference to the affairs of the external world.

But from such a view as this we are necessarily driven, if we do not refuse to look facts in the face, to the Fatalism which we have seen to be characteristic of the category of the Mechanical Process. It is all very well to say that a man has the power to be free, virtuous and happy under any circumstances. But the circumstances may include a badly trapped sewer which sends him out of the world, or a blow on the head which sends him into an asylum, or an education which leaves him with a complete ignorance of virtue, or a lively distaste for it. It is useless to try to escape from our circumstances, Such an “escape from Fate is itself the most unhappy of all Fates” as Hegel says elsewhere. For the attempt to escape generally deprives us of much of our power over our circumstances, while it by no means deprives them of their power over us.

240. Hegel does not state explicitly the arguments which lead from. this category to the next, but we can easily supply them, for they were really anticipated when we passed from the Mechanical Object to the Mechanical Process. There is no opposition between the inner and outer nature of an Object, because there is no difference between them. They are only the same thing seen from different points of view. The internal nature of each Object consists of qualities. And all these qualities are only in that Object because they are externally determined to be so. The general laws which we dealt with in Subjectivity can never by themselves assign any quality to any Object. They can only say that if one quality is there, another will, or will not, be there. They are only hypothetical. The actual existence of any quality in any Object is due to the relations of reciprocal determination with other Objects which form its outer nature.

Thus the internal qualities are only the expression of the outer relations. But the outer relations are just as much only an expression of the inner qualities. If A and B are related by reciprocal determination, then A’s qualities will be an expression of its relation to B, and B’s qualities of its relation to A. But again the relation of A to B which determines B’s qualities will be an expression of A’s qualities. For if A’s qualities had been different, it would have determined B differently. And likewise the relation of B to A which determines A’s qualities will be an expression of B’s qualities.[3]

And so, to come back to Fatalism, we see that it is really impossible for the inner nature of an Object to be crushed. If the inner nature of an Object is said to be XYZ, then either it has it, or it has it not. If it has it, it has it, and then the inner nature is not crushed, but exists in its fulness. But if it has it not, then XYZ is not the Object’s inner nature at all, and the Object is not in the least crushed or thwarted because it is not XYZ. Why should it be XYZ, if in point of fact it is not?

Of course this would not be a solution of the problem of Fate for self-conscious beings, but this is because the nature a self-conscious being cannot be adequately brought under our present category. In the case of any being with a power of conscious self-determination, the inner nature will include volitions of some sort, and if outside circumstances prevent those volitions from being realised, then we can intelligibly speak of the inner nature being thwarted. For the inner, nature in such a case is not merely a fact, but a fact part of which a demand, and a demand can be real and yet unsatisfied.

Thus Hegel says “Only self-consciousness has a true (eigentlich) fate; for self-consciousness is free, in the individuality of its I it is in and for itself, and can place itself against its objective universality, and treat as alien against it “ (G. L. iii. 193). This true fate is not transcended we reach a higher category.

We thus reach (G. L. iii. 193)

(c) The Product of the Mechanical Process,

which Hegel treats as identical with the first subdivision of Absolute Mechanism, to which we now proceed.

C. The Absolute Mechanism.

241. (G. L. iii. 194. Enc. 197.) This is divided in the Greater Logic into three subdivisions, the first of which is

(a) The Centre.

(G. L. iii. 194.) According to this category, every Object is the centre of a system composed of all the other Objects which influence it. As everything in the universe stands in reciprocal connexion with everything else, it follows that each of these systems embraces the whole of existence, and that they are distinguished from each other by the fact that each has a different Centre.

Since Hegel has connected the Mechanical Object with Determinism, and the Mechanical Process with Fatalism, we may say that in Absolute Mechanism. we return again to the conception of Freedom, which we reached at the end of Essence. For Freedom, according to that conception, only consists in acting according to one’s nature, and we now see that there is no power in the universe which could possibly make any Object do anything not in accordance with its Freedom, in the higher sense in which it is applicable to conscious beings, is riot reached till the “true fate” has been transcended, which Hegel speaks of above (G. L. iii. 193).

We have, then, the Central Object, the determining Objects, and the relations between them. The surrounding, Objects are called by Hegel the Relative-Central. Objects, while the relations themselves are, somewhat curiously, called the Formal Objects.

Each of these, Hegel points out, may be called the Universal. He apparently means by the Universal that term which is taken as uniting the other two. And any one of the three may occupy that position. The Central Object may be taken as uniting the other two, since those determining Objects could only have those relations with just that Central Object. (If there were a different Central Object they would determine it differently, and so be in different relations to it.) But again we may consider the determining Objects as the Universal. For that Central Object could only have those relations with just those determining Objects. And again the relations may be taken as Universal. For that Central Object could only be connected with those determining Objects by just those relations (G. L. iii. 196. Enc. 198).

242. It should be noticed that the example of the category given by Hegel in both Logics (G. L. iii. 197. Enc. 198) is misleading. He makes either the State or the Government take the place of the Central Object, while the citizens are the determining Objects. Now the State and the Government differ from the citizens, not only as one citizen does from another, but in a more fundamental way. And thus the example would suggest that there are some Objects which are by their nature fitted to be the Central Objects of systems, while others are fitted only for the humbler position of determining Objects. But this, as we have seen, would be a mistake. For every possible Object is equally subjected to the category of Mechanical Process, and we saw in the course of the deduction that ever Object to which the category of Mechanical Process was applicable, became the centre of a system of Absolute Mechanism.

Indeed, we may say that the example, in the form which it takes in the Encyclopaedia is not only misleading, but incorrect. Fur there lie speaks of the State as the Central Object. Now the State is not an Object distinct from the citizens, which can act and react on them, as each of them does on the rest. It is, as no one realised more fully than Hegel, a unity of which the individual citizens are the parts. It is, no doubt, for Hegel very close unity, and not a mere aggregate but still it is unity which only exists in the citizens, and not side by side with them. Arid thus the citizens cannot be determining Objects with the State as their Central Object.

The example as given in the Greater Logic cannot be called positively incorrect. For Hegel there speaks only of the Regierung, and not, as in the Encyclopaedia, of the State also. Now Hegel probably took Regierung to mean a separate class — the king, civil servants, etc. — and, if so, it would form a separate Object by the side of the citizens, which could enter into relations of Mechanism with them. But the example would still be misleading, as suggesting an intrinsic difference between those Objects which were fitted to be Central Objects, and those which were not.

243. We now enter on the course of argument which leads to Chemism by the gradual obliteration of the independence of the Object. This is not fully attained in the Greater Logic till the category of Chemical Process, between which and our present category three others intervene. Iii the Encyclopaedia, however, where Absolute Mechanism and Chemism are undivided categories, the whole movement is performed in a single stage. It will, I think, be better to state and criticise the argument in this simpler form, before tracing the more elaborate course of the Greater Logic.

The statement of the Encyclopaedia is as follows (199). The immediacy of existence, which the objects have in Absolute Mechanism, is implicitly negatived by the fact that their independence is derived from, and due to, their connexions with each other, and therefore to their own want of stability. Thus the object must be explicitly stated as in its existence having an Affinity (or a bias) towards its other — as not-indifferent.”

I conceive that Hegel’s meaning is this. The whole nature of each Object depends on the relation between it and other Objects. But each of these relations does not, of course, belong exclusively to the one Object, but is shared by it with another. The nature of a particular piece of wax consists, for example, partly in the fact that it has been melted by a particular fire. But this melting is Just as much part of the nature of the fire. The fact is shared between the wax arid the fire, and cannot be said to belong to one of them more than to the other. It belongs to both of them jointly.

Thus the only subject of which the relation can be predicated will be the system which is formed by these two Objects — Objects which are now said to be in Affinity with (different gegen) one another. This, then, will be the true unity determined by this relation. But two Objects cannot form a closed system, since all Objects in the universe are in reciprocal connexion. Our system of two Objects will have relations with others, and will be merged with them, in the same way in which the original Objects were merged in it, since the relations, which alone give individuality, are found to be common property, and so merge their terms, instead of keeping them distinct. The system in which all the Objects, and all their relations, are contained, becomes the only true Object, of which all the relations contained. in the system are adjectives. The individual Objects disappear, and we reach the category of Chemism.

I think that this is what Hegel means, and at any rate it is quite clear that, when he has reached Chemism, he regards the different Objects as having collapsed into one Object. But I cannot see that this is justified. The conclusion from the essentiality of the relations to the unreality of the terms could only be valid if things lost their reality and stability in so far as they were connected with others. But the reverse of this is true. We have seen, with gradually increasing clearness as the dialectic advanced, that it is to their relations with what is outside them that all things owe their independence and stability.

244. We now proceed to the argument of the Greater Logic, whose elaboration does riot introduce any really new factors, though it rather confuses the issue. At the end of his treatment of the category of the Centre, Hegel says “ the system, which is the merely external determination of the Objects, has now passed over into an immanent and objective determination this is the Law” (G. L. iii. 198).

(b) The Law.

(G. L. iii. 198.) Of this he says on the same page “This reality, which corresponds to the Notion, is an ideal reality, different from the former reality which only strove; the Difference, which was previously a plurality of Objects, is taken up into its essentiality, and into the pure universality.”

This, however, does not take us more than one step on the way to Chemism, for the Objects are still possessed of a separate existence. “The soul is still sunk in the body” (G. L. iii. 199). The Law, apparently, is recognised as more important than the Objects which it connects, but it has not removed their stability.

245. Now, however, Hegel proceeds to prove their instability by an argument similar to that employed in the Encyclopaedia. “The Object has its essential stability only in its ideal centrality, and in the law of the centrality; it has therefore no power to resist the judgment of the Notion, and to maintain itself in abstract undetermined stability and exclusion” (G L. iii. 200. The phrase “judgment of the Notion “ has clearly no reference to the particular division of Subjectivity which bore that name). We thus reach (G. L. iii. 199)

(c) Transition from Mechanism.

246. Here we have the Object in its Chemical form, no longer stable, but unstable by reason of its Affinity towards the related Object. Thus we pass to


(G. L. iii. 200. Enc. 200.) Chemism is not further divided in the Encyclopaedia, but in the Greater Logic it has three subdivisions, of which the first is

A. The Chemical Object.

(G. L. iii. 200), which appears to be exactly the same as Transition from Mechanism[4]. We have again Objects, still different from one another, but unstable by means of their Affinity.

247. Now, however, he proceeds to argue, as in the Encyclopaedia, that “ the Chemical Object is not comprehensible by itself, and that the Being of one is the Being of the other” (G. L. iii. 202). With this merging of the Objects into one, he reaches

B. The Chemical Process.

(G. L. iii. 202.) Here the full conception of Chemism is attained, and we have come to the same point which was reached in the Encyclopaedia by the simpler argument given above.

The Object produced by merging the other Objects into one is called the Neutral Object. This name, and the expression that the Object has “ sunk back to immediacy “ (Enc. 202) suggest that the Neutral Object is undifferentiated. And we can see that this would naturally be the case. For, in proportion as the related Objects lost their several reality, the relation between them would lose its reality. The relation of melting only exists between a fire and a piece of wax, if they are taken as different, though connected, Objects. If there were no fire and no wax there would be no relation of melting. Thus besides the separate Objects and their qualities, the relations also have gone, and nothing remains which could differentiate the Neutral Object.

248. The category now reached gives us, says Hegel, an oscillation between the Neutral Object on the one hand, and, on the other hand, two Extremes, distinct, but connected and in a state of tension. It is, I think, clear that Hegel is asserting a category of alternation and not an alternation of categories. It is not, according, to him, that we alternately regard existence as a Neutral Object and as a tension of Extremes, but that we hold throughout our treatment of the Chemical Process a position which asserts that the existent itself continually passes from one of these forms to the other.

The passage to Chemical Process — this appears to be Hegel’s meaning — gives us the Neutral Object. But the Neutral Object is undifferentiated, “it has sunk back to immediacy.” It has therefore no true unity. So it splits up into the Extremes, which are the old separate Objects. Bat the Extremes, being “biassed and strained” — that is, in connexion with each other, fall back into the Neutral Object, and the process goes on ad infinitum. This endless oscillation is apparently Hegel’s ground for rejecting the ‘category as inadequate. (The account of this in the Encyclopaedia is clearer than that in the Greater Logic, but the meaning of both is the same.)

249. To the validity of this argument there appears to me to be two objections.

In the first place, if such a Neutral Object were reached, it would not split up into Extremes, as Hegel makes it do, but would vanish altogether. Such a Neutral Object could have nothing outside it, for it is to be co-extensive with a mechanical system, and we have seen that every mechanical system is coextensive with the universe. And again the Neutral Object, being undifferentiated, could have nothing inside it. It would have no determination left, external or internal. In other words, it would have returned to Pure Being, which, as we learned at the beginning of the Logic, is equivalent to nothing. We should be back again where we started, and the dialectic process could never pass this point, but would always return back on itself in a circle which could never be transcended.

But even supposing that the Neutral Object did split up into its Extremes, and that the perpetual oscillation between it and them could be established, where is the contradiction in this that could take us on to the next category? The continual oscillation is, of course, what Hegel calls a False Infinite.

But a False Infinite, as we have seen, though always regarded by Hegel as something valueless and unsatisfactory, is not regarded by him as necessarily involving a contradiction. It is only certain False Infinites which he regards is doing so. Hegel gives no reason why this one should be counted among them, nor do I see what reason could be given. But, without some demonstration that this particular False Infinite is contradictory, we have no valid transition to the next category.

I submit, therefore, that the conception of Chemism is unsatisfactory, alike as regards the transition to lit, the conception itself, and the transition from it, and that it must be rejected. And, as I said above (Sect Ion 210, note), I believe a more attentive consideration of the category of Absolute Mechanism might very possibly yield a new category which would in its turn offer a valid transition to Teleology.

250. Hegel’s transition to the next category is made by arguing. that this oscillation shows the inadequacy of the forms -Neutral Object on the one hand, and Extremes on the other — which succeed one another in the Chemical Process, and that this inadequacy leaves the Notion which was (Imperfectly) shown in each of them, standing free from them (G. L. iii. 208. Enc. 203). I quote the account in the Encyclopaedia, which seems to me more clearly expressed than the corresponding passage in the Greater Logic, though I do not think there is any difference in meaning. Speaking of the processes from Neutral Object to Extremes, and from Extremes to Neutral Object, he says that each “goes its own way without hindrance from the other. But that want of inner connexion shows that they are finite, by their passage products which they are merged and lost. Conversely the process exhibits the nonentity of the pre-supposed immediacy of the not-indifferent Objects. By this negation of immediacy and of externalism in which the Notion as such was sunk, it is liberated and invested with independent being in the face of that externalism and immediacy.'’

This is Hegel’s argument, and its meaning does not seem to me doubtful. Its validity is riot so clear. It is not evident why the fact that each form gives place to another form, in unending oscillation, should enable us to assert that the Notion, which is the uniting principle of both, should be able to do without either. It is still less evident why we should be entitled to assert, as Hegel proceeds to do, that the Notion thus freed embodies itself in the form of the category of Teleology.

In this way Hegel passes to (G. L. iii. 206)

C. Transition from Chemism.

251. The question arises, with regard to the Notion, of which Hegel has just spoken (which we may conveniently distinguish as the Chemical Notion), whether there are more than one of such Notions in the universe, or whether there is only one. The answer will be of considerable importance, not only with reference to the present category, but throughout the divisions of Teleology and Life. Hegel’s language gives us no reason for one answer rather than another, but it seems to follow logically from his treatment of Chemism that there can be only one Chemical Notion. For it seems clear that there can be only one Chemical system. It is true that there were many systems of Absolute Mechanism, and that the transition to Chemism professed to show that each system of Absolute Mechanism must now be regarded as a Chemical system. But apparently they would have all to be regarded as the same Chemical system.

It must be remembered that each system of Absolute Mechanism contained all the Objects in the universe. The systems were only differentiated from one another by the fact that each system had a different Object fur its Centre. Now this possibility of differentiation disappears in the Chemical system. A Chemical system is made up of a Neutral Object and Extremes. Two Chemical systems could not be differentiated from each other by means of different Neutral Objects, for the Neutral Object is the result of merging all the Objects of the universe together, and therefore there could only be one in the universe. Moreover, if the Neutral Object is undifferentiated, there could be nothing to distinguish one Neutral Object from another. And Hegel appears to regard the Neutral Object as capable of splitting in to Extremes in one manner only, so that the Chemical systems could not be differentiated from one another by the possession of different Extremes. Thus we seem forced to the conclusion that there is only one Chemical system, and, therefore, only one Chemical Notion.

252. The category of Transition from Chemism, as a Synthesis, is naturally identical with the Thesis of the new triad. We pass at once, therefore, to this new triad, which is


(G. L. iii. 209. Enc. 204.) The Chemical Notion has now, Hegel tells us, become the Encl. The End is the element of unity in the categories of Teleology, and the correlative element of plurality is the Means.

Hegel departs considerably from the common usage in the meaning which he fives to the terms Teleology , End, and Means. What is generally meant by Teleology is what Hegel calls “ finite and outward design,” in which some independently existing object is used by some self-conscious being as a means for carrying out some plan which he has conceived. In “outward design “ the Means and the End can exist independently; for the End can exist in the mind of the designer, even if there are no available Means to carry it out, while the objects which are used as Means do not derive their entire existence from that use, but may have existed before the End was formed, and might still have existed, if the End had never been formed.

Hegel tells us that his use of these terms resembles Kant’s, of whose conception of Teleology the best example is to be found in organic life (G. L. iii. 213. Enc. 204). By the help of this, and of the indications given by Hegel in the discussion of the subdivisions of the category, we can, I think, see what Hegel means by a Teleological system. It is, on the one hand a system the intrinsic nature of whose parts is dependent oil their place in the system. Not only their external relations, but their whole nature, can only be explained, or even described, by reference to the system, and, through the system, to the other members of it. On the other hand the unity, the End, eau only be stated as the unity which does connect just those parts. It cannot have a separate description, as is the ease with the Ends of “ finite design.”

We can see that a living body offers the best possible example of this, though not quite an adequate one[5]. For the parts of an organism at any rate approximate to that degree of close connexion in which none of them have any nature at all ,which is not expressed in and dependent on their place in the system. And, on the other hand, if we ask what is the nature of the unity which holds together the parts of any organism, we can only say that it is the unity which does express itself in just those parts connected in that way. It is, it must be noted, this organic unity which is the End of the organism, in Hegel’s and Kant’s use of the word. The purpose of its creator or its parent, in creating or begetting it, or the purposes which the Spiritual being connected with it uses it to fulfil, are only Ends of finite design.

253. A similar unity to this may be found in a picture, in so far as it possesses aesthetic merit. For then the explanation and justification of each detail in the picture will be found in its place in the scheme of the picture as a whole, and, through that, in its relation to the other details. On the other hand, if we ask what the scheme of the picture is, what is the unity which makes it aesthetically meritorious, we can only say that. it is the unity which is expressed in just those parts, arranged in just that manner. It admits of no separate statement.

Here, again, we must distinguish this inner unity of the picture, which is its End in the Hegelian sense, from the purpose of the artist to represent a particular scene in his picture, and from the more fundamental purpose which led him to paint the picture — desire for fame, for money, or the like. These are only Ends of finite design, and they admit of statement in other terms than simply that they are the End of this picture.

In ordinary language the term Means may signify either the material in which an End is embodied and realised or the instruments by which that material is adapted. If I propose as an End to make a statue, both the marble and the chisel would be called Means to my End. But when Means is used as the correlative to End in the Hegelian sense, there is no question of instruments, and the Means are simply the plurality in which the unity of the End is embodied. That this is the case appears also from the two arguments by which Hegel demonstrates the inadequacy of the category of Means (see below, Sections 259, 260).

254. We can now see that Teleology is a Synthesis of the positions of Mechanism and Chemism. In Mechanism the unity of a system of Objects is one of themselves — the Central Object. The unity is not yet a distinct moment in the system, correlative to the plurality of Objects. In Chemism, on the other hand, the unity of the system is regarded as more fundamental than the plurality, for the result of the category is that the Chemical Notion is inadequately expressed by Us manifestations. In Teleology the two sides are ‘balanced. The unity is a moment in the system distinct from the moment of the plurality of the parts of the system, and as fundamental as that plurality. On the other hand the unity is no more fundamental than the plurality, for it has no separate nature, but is just the unity which does unite that particular plurality in that particular way.

The End may be called a Universal, and rightly, since it unites the system, and is common to every part of it. But it must be noticed that it is quite a different sort of Universal from that which we had in Subjectivity. There the Universal was a common quality. Here it is an organising principle.

The highest point of Subjectivity was the Ultimate Disjunctive Judgment which formed the Major Premise of the Disjunctive Syllogism. Let us take as an example, “all finite spirits must be angels, men, or brutes.” Then the fact that a certain existent Individual was a finite spirit and a man would not in any way determine whether any other finite spirits existed, or to which of the three possible varieties they belonged. But if there exists a living human stomach, then, in so far as a living being is an adequate example of Hegelian Teleology , its existence will determine the existence of other living human organs which are not stomachs. For the living stomach could only exist as a manifestation of the organic unity of a human body, and such a unity must also manifest itself in other organs which are not stomachs.

We have here, even more distinctly than at the end of Subjectivity, the idea of a self-differentiating unity, by which is to be understood, as I said above (Section 231), not a unity, from whose nature the nature of its differentiations can be deduced. by pure thought, but a unity which, not through some external accident, but from inner necessity, is only to be found in a particular in multiplicity. This multiplicity, however, is as ultimate and fundamental as the unity. It does not proceed from the unity, and is only dependent on it in the same way that the unity, in its turn, depends on the multiplicity — namely that the existence of each involves the existence of the other.

We saw, in treating of this conception in the last chapter, that, although the existence of the unity involves that of the differentiations, and conversely, yet it does not follow that, if we know the nature of’ the unify, we should be able to deduce from it what were the differentiations of that unity. To recur to our previous example — a complete knowledge of what is meant by a finite spirit will riot necessarily enable us to deduce that all finite spirits must be men, angels, or brutes. In dealing with the self-differentiating Notion of Teleology we may go further. We can be quite certain that we shall never be able to deduce the nature of the differentiations from our knowledge of the nature of the unity. For, as we have seen, the End in Teleology does not admit of being stated except as the unity which holds together just those differentiations in just that manner, And thus we cannot know the nature of the unity except in so far ass we know the nature of the differentiations.

255. Hegel’s use of the terms End and Means in this category seems to me very unfortunate. For, in ordinary language, the principal point in the significance of these terms is that the Means, as Means, exist only for the sake of the End, while the End exists for its own sake. The End has ultimate value, the Means only derivative value. Now it is an essential characteristic of Hegel’s category, that the plurality, which he calls the Means, is just as fundamental and important as the unity, which lie calls the End. But the contrary is almost irresistibly suggested by the associations called tip by the words, and even Hegel himself seems sometimes to forget in what a different sense from the common one he is professing to use them.

Again, we must remember that, with the Hegelian use of the words, there can be no such thing as an unrealised End, or an inadequate Means. An End only exists at all in so far as it is the unity which unites the Means — i.e. which is realised by them, and, conversely, the Means only exist in so far as they are unified by, and express, the End, and can therefore offer no resistance to its realisation.

And with this use of the words the conception of a realised End loses altogether that implication of value which it has when the words are used ‘in their ordinary significance In the latter case, to begin with, the assertion that an End is realised is not a tautology. An End adopted is not necessarily, realised, and the realisation brings in a fresh element. And that fresh element is the harmony between the purpose of a conscious being on the one hand, and the surrounding reality on the being other. This certainly involves pleasure, and, if pleasure be taken as a good, it also involves good. And thus, with “finite and outward “ Ends, their realisation takes us into the world of values, since, at the lowest, the realisation implies that some conscious being has got what he wanted.

But with Ends, in the Hegelian sense of the Word, it is quite different. In the first place, to say that an End is realised, is now, as was explained above, a mere tautology. And, in the second place, an End, in this sense, is only the inner unity of existence. It has no necessary relation to the purpose of any conscious being, and no implication of value.

256. The End, we have seen, is a unity as compared to the plurality of the Means. But the question still remains whether there is only one Teleological system and one End for the whole universe, or whether there are a plurality of End. Hegel does not make this clear.

Logically, it would seem, there ought only to be one End. For there is no doubt that it is the Chemical Notion which becomes the End, and we have seen above (Section 2.51) that there can be only one Chemical Notion.

And there seem very grave difficulties in the way of the assertion of a plurality of Ends, Have the separate Ends separate Means or not? If they have, then the universe — the whole of existence — is broken up into different systems unconnected with one another. For the principle of connexion, according to this lies wholly in the End, and two Ends could not be connected.

Such a view of the universe, at this point of the dialectic process, would be completely unjustifiable. It is scarcely possible that Hegel, could have supposed it justifiable. At any rate, if he had made so great and striking a change at this point he would certainly have mentioned it explicitly, arid as he gives no indication whatever of it, the hypothesis of a plurality of Ends, each with its distinct Means, must be rejected.

But it is equally impossible that a plurality of Ends should all have the same Means, For the things which are the Means will be related to one another in various ways, and these various relations will unite them all into a single system. Now, as we saw above. the unity which unites just those things in just that way, will be ail End to those Means. And they can have none other than this. It is the unity of the system in which they are, and they are not in more than one system, for the system means all the relations which exist between them[6].

Thus a plurality of Ends could neither have separate Means nor the same Means, and thus the plurality of Ends is untenable. No doubt minor systems might be discovered within the all-embracing system, and the unity of each of these might be taken as an End, but these systems would have relative Ends. The systems would be parts of the all-embracing system, and their Ends only Means to the one ultimate End.

On the other side, it must be admitted that the End is transformed into the Organism, and that Hegel unquestionably maintains a plurality of Organisms. But, in view of the arguments given above, it seems that we must say that there is only one End to the whole universe, and that the transition to the plurality of Organisms was unjustifiable.

A. The Subjective End.

257. (G. L. iii. 217. Enc. 207.) The full unity between Means and End is not attained till we reach the last division of Teleology. At first they are only regarded as of equal importance and as closely united. Each is still a separate entity with a separate nature of its own, though it could not exist except in conjunction with the other. This view dominates the two first subdivisions of Teleology. Whether Hegel could have avoided these, and could legitimately have proceeded direct from Chemism to the final form of Teleology is a question which it seems impossible to answer, on account of the difficulty of seeing precisely how he does pass from Chemism to Teleology as a whole.

The first subdivision of Teleology is called by Hegel the Subjective End. It regards the Means as possessing no definite quality of their own except that they are a plurality. One Object is as good as another in any position in the system of manifestations of the End. If the Object A fills the place X in the manifestation of the End, that does not imply any special fitness in A to manifest X. B, or any other Object, would have done quite as well. All that the Objects are wanted for is to provide a plurality.

258. The contradiction involved in this category is not hard to discover. For, while it asserts the Means to have separate natures, apart from that End which they carry out, it defines the Means so as to reduce this separate nature, and consequently the Means themselves, to nothing.

The interconnexions of the various Means with one another form the End, which the Means carry out. The End is the unity of the Means and it is clearly to the End that these interconnexions, which unite the Means to one another, must be referred. Now the present category asserts that one Means would always do as well as another in carrying out the End, and, consequently, that the intrinsic nature of the Means has no relation to the End. It follows that the intrinsic nature of the different Means has no relation to the connexions between them. These connexions, however, form the whole of the external nature of the Objects which are considered as Means, and we saw, when we were dealing with Absolute Mechanism, that the inner nature is completely expressed in its outer nature. To maintain that anything has a core of its own apart from and unaffected by its relations to outer things; would be to go back to the earlier categories of Essence, whose insufficiency has been demonstrated much. earlier in the dialectic. Therefore this intrinsic nature which the Means are asserted to possess can neither be their outer nature nor their inner nature — and what else is left for it to be? Clearly nothing. And thus the Means, having no nature, would be non-existent.

To suppose, then, that the Means have no intrinsic adaptation to the End, is to destroy the possibility of their having a nature at all, and so the possibility of their existing at all. If, therefore, they are still to retain any externality whatever to the End, that externality must be harmonious to the End. ‘the nature of each Means must consist in its fitness to carry out the End — its fitness to fill one particular place in the system of which the End is the unity. It thus ceases to be indifferent which Means are employed in manifesting the End in a particular way — that is, at a particular place iii the system. Only those Means can do so which are fitted for the task by their own nature. We thus approach more closely in one respect to the ordinary significance of the word Means, which includes some special capability in the Object to carry out the End. It, is thus appropriate that the next category should be called

B. The Means.

(G. L. 221. Enc. 208.) Here, as elsewhere, we must remember the special meaning or’ End and Means as Hegel uses them. Though the Means have a certain externality to the End, and a certain distinction from it, yet it is not held that they could exist apart from it. The position throughout Teleology is that the Means could not exist if they did not embody the End, nor the End if it were not embodied by the Means. And so it may be misleading to speak here of the Means as fitted to embody the Encl. The relation of the Means to the End is not a mere potentiality, as when, in the non-Hegelian sense of the terms, we say that a spade is a Means for digging. For Hegel the Means only exist as embodying the End, and when we speak of them as being fitted for it, we only mean that their intrinsic nature co-operates in the manifestation, and is no longer considered as indifferent to it.

259. This category, in its turn, is found to be inadequate. Of this Hegel gives two demonstrations, the first of which is to be found in the Greater Logic only, while the second occurs both there and in the Encyclopaedia They may be said to be based on the same general principle, but raise perfectly distinct points, and must be considered separately.

In the first (G. L. iii. 229) he says that if we accepted the position of this category we should be forced to insert, between the End and the Means, a second Means, and then, between the End and this second Means, a third Means, and so on ad infinitum, and that this involves a contradiction. Let us expand this argument.

If the End and the Means are to be taken as distinguishable entities, then it is clear that each of them must conform to all the conditions which are necessary to the existence of any entity. Now we have seen in the course of the dialectic that no entity of any sort can be a blank or undifferentiated unity. Therefore the End cannot be such a unity, but must be differentiated. This, indeed, has already been admitted, and the work of the Means is to differentiate it. But — and here the root of the inadequacy appears — if the End has an existence distinguishable from the Means, it must have a differentiation distinguishable from the Means. Now the element of differentiation in a differentiated unity cannot. be evolved from or produced by the element of unify. It must be correlative with it, and equally ultimate.

Within the End, therefore, and apart from the Means, there must be such an element of differentiation. But the definition of a Means, as we have seen, is Just the plurality, which differentiates a unity in this way, and this element of differentiation will therefore be a second Means, between the End and the first Means. And, now that it is a Means, it will, according to the present category, be a separate entity from the End. By the same reasoning as before, the End will require some differentiation independent of this new Means, and this differentiation will become a third Means, between the End and the second Means. And this process will go on ad infinitum.

Such an infinite process as this clearly a contradiction. By the hypothesis the End and the first Means are united. But we now find that their union must be mediated. It depends on the union between the End and the second Means. But this union again requires and so on. All mediated connexions must depend on some immediate connexion. But in this chain every connexion requires mediation, and there is no immediate connexion. Then there can be no mediated connexion either, and so no connexion at all. But, by the hypothesis, there is a connexion. And thus we reach a contradiction.

260. Hegel’s second argument (G. L. iii. 230. Enc. 211) is that the Realised End. will, according to the present category be nothing but a Means, that it will consequently require another Realised End beyond it, which in turn will be nothing but a Means, and so on ad This also requires some expansion.

When End and Means are taken in their common and un-Hegelian sense, there is a clear distinction between the Means and the Realised End. A block of marble and a chisel may be taken as Means to the End of making a statue, but no one could mistake either the block or the chisel for the statue which is their Realised End. But it is different when the terms have their Hegelian sense. For then the Means is not merely an Object which might be made to realise the End. It is an Object which does realise it, and which realises it necessarily and by its intrinsic nature. The Means therefore is an Object whose nature is such that it realises the End. (If we are speaking of a single Object, it is better, except for the sake of brevity, to say “ which participates in realising the End,” since of course an End can only be realised in a plurality of Means.)

Now what is the Realised End? Is it anything more than this? It can be nothing, more. The only form a Realised End can take is that of an Object whose nature is such that it manifests the End. And therefore, for Hegelian Teleology, there is no difference between the Means and the Realised End.

This conclusion we shall find. later on to be the truth. But it is inconsistent with the position of the present category, and the attempt to combine the two produces a contradiction. For the Realised End is the union of the End and Means, and, if these are taken as in any way distinguishable, it cannot be the same as either of them. Hence when we find that our Realised End is identical with the Means, we cannot regard it as really the Realised End. If it is one extreme of the relation it cannot be the union of both. We take it then, according to Hegel, simply as the Means, and look for another Realised End beyond it. (it may be added, though Hegel does not mention it, that it would have been equally correct to take it simply as the Realised End, and then to look for another Means to mediate between it and the End. The infinite series thus started would lead to a contradiction, in the manner indicated in Section 259.) But the new Realised End would also necessarily be identical with the Means, for the same reasons as before, and our search would have to be continued ad Such an infinite series would involve a contradiction, for there would be no term in which the End was realised, and therefore it would not be realised at all, while, by the hypothesis, it is realised.

261. The category which involves such contradictions must be transcended. And the way to transcend it is clear. The whole of the difficulty arose from the fact that End and Means were taken as separate entitles. It was this that forced us to insert, between Means and End, an infinite series of new Means.

And it was this which us the choice, either to insert another infinite series of Means between Means and Realised End, or else to prolong the series of Means infinitely forward, in the vain attempt to reach a Realised End which was different from a Means. We can get rid of the contradictions only by dropping our supposition that End and Means are in any way separate entities. We know from the first category of Teleology that they can only exist if they are connected. But now we are driven to the conclusion that they are two aspects of the same entity. Existence is a differentiated unity. The End is the aspect of unify, the Means the aspect of differentiation.; The relation of the aspect of unity to the aspect of differentiation, and the relation of the various differentiations to one another were considered above (Sections 252-254). With this we pass to the final subdivision, to which Hegel gives the name of

C. The Realised End.

(G. L. iii. 224. Enc. 209.) The appropriateness of this name lies in the fact that the Realised End is the unity of the End and Means, and that we have come to the conclusion that End and Means are not two realities connected with each other, but two aspects distinguish able within a single reality. And thus this category takes its name from the unity of the two sides — that is to say, from the Realised End. (The unity, of the two sides with one another, must, of course, be carefully distinguished from the unity of the differentiations, which is one of those two sides.)

Thus we learn that the universe is as much One as it is Many. It is a reality in which the aspect of unity — the End — which makes it One , is as fundamental, and no more fundamental, than the aspect of plurality — the Means — which makes it Many. This equipoise of unity and plurality may not be reached here for the first time in the dialectic, but our return to it when both unity and differentiation have been so fully developed, has a greater significance than its previous occurrence could have. And thus we reach the end of Objectivity.

The treatment of Objectivity in the Encyclopaedia only varies in the fact that Mechanical Process, Absolute Mechanism, and Chemism are not, as in the Greater Logic, further divided. The first two, at any rate, of these changes, seem to be improvements.


1. Hegel makes the ultimate Disjunctive Judgment the Major Premise of a Syllogism, the conclusion of which determines the Individual. “Every Z is either X or W, this Z is not W, therefore it is X.” In this case however, he has introduced a Minor Premise which is not a Universal Judgment, and has thus gone beyond Subjectivity which has transcended, and never re-introduced, Judgments other than Universal.

2. The view that nothing but the states of conscious beings possesses value as an end is not universal, but is maintained by almost all philosophers. The arguments in the text would have no validity for those who denied this view.

3. I venture to think that, if Hegel had worked this out further, it would have provided a more satisfactory transition to Teleology than is afforded by Chemism. But it would take us too far from Hegel’s text to attempt to develop this view.

4. This is not in accordance with the general method of the dialectic. Transition from Mechanism is a subdivision of the fifth degree, while the Chemical Object is a subdivision of the fourth degree. Thus they do not stand to one another as Synthesis and new Thesis, and it is only categories which do this which, according to the general method of the dialectic, are identical in content.

5. The failure of organisms to afford an adequate example of Teleological unity will be discussed in the next chapter (Section 266).

6. In Absolute Mechanism the same Objects formed many systems. But then each system took the whole from the point of view of one Object as Centre, and there were many of these points of view. Here, where the unity of the system is not found in one of its parts, but is a distinct element, this source of plurality has failed.