Jean Hyppolite (1952)

Logic & Existence

Source: Logic & Existence from State University of New York Press, 1997. Final Chapter before Conclusion reproduced here.

The Organisation of the Logic:
Being, Essence, Concept

Hegelian Logic is the absolute genesis of sense, a sense which, to itself, is its own sense, which is not opposed to the being whose sense it is, but which is sense and being simultaneously. This genesis resembles an organic growth, a perpetual reproduction and self-amplification. There is no external purposiveness, but an immanent purposiveness whose image in nature is organic life. The contradiction of this growth is its immanent intentionality; how can it grow? Does not its beginning already contain implicitly all of what its end will be? Isn't the immediate being at the beginning already the absolute Idea of the end? An artist constantly reproduces the same faces. Across his paintings, we can follow something like an intention which becomes explicit and precise, and which nevertheless was unaware of itself in the first works. He does not, however, repeat himself. This reproduction is creation; it is simultaneously intuitive and discursive. The totality is always immanent, the beginning indicates the end, only the end allows us to comprehend retrospectively the beginning. There is no other way to conceive Hegelian Logic. It is always the whole that develops itself, that reproduces itself in a more profound and more explicit form.

The circle of Essence takes up that of Being, and the circle of the Concept that of Essence. "The Whole possesses nothing astonishing" (Phenomenology §32); what is astonishing is that it divides itself, that it expounds itself, but as totality it is never excluded from any one of its positions. Or rather, in the medium of the Logos, no one word would be able to imply this disappearance of the Whole. The Whole is there insofar as it is excluded, sublated; it is there because it is lacking; it is there as negation in the position and as internal negativity. The Whole that we would like to put outside is in fact inside, like the exterior which is only an interior; these words of representation, inside and outside, fit a nature that realises the absolute Idea in spatial indifference, but they are nothing but dialectical terms in the absolute form or in the element of the Logos. We happened to cite Bergson while speaking of Hegel. It is certainly difficult to imagine philosophical temperaments as different as theirs. The same creative idea is, however, present in the Hegelian Logic and in the Bergsonian dynamic schema. The idea, however, in Hegel, is truly an idea, sense, while, in Bergson, it is this side of or beyond sense. In the Hegelian Logos, genesis is comprehensive genesis; being comprehends itself and comprehends itself as far as the ontic limits of all comprehension. One has to see in Hegelian Logic this absolute medium of all comprehension, of all meaning, which is creation at the same time as it is comprehension, because it does not refer to anything other than itself (it contains this other), because it is not therefore the comprehension of something, but self-comprehension, and, by being self-comprehension, comprehension of everything, being and sense. What the Hegelian Logos alone excludes is a monadism which would limit reflection; a monadism is the existence of unsurpassable, individual structures. The Whole is indeed Singularity, but the authentic Singularity is only the Whole in the opening of its own development-the concrete universal-the understanding which is at the same time intuitive and discursive. If we do not enter into this absolute genesis, it is easy to refute it, as, for example, Léon Brunschvicg does in Modalité du Jugement: "Far from being the product of the dialectic, absolute spirit is on the contrary its condition and principle. Dialectical evolution owes its movement not to the point from which it starts, but to the end towards which it tends-and it is external at the same time as being parallel to being-it is a dualism."' Hegel's originality, however, lies in the rejection of this calling forth by the end. Dialectical evolution is attraction and instinct; it starts from immediate being and returns to immediate being. It is truth only as engendered truth. On the other hand, it is indeed also dualistic, but this dualism is not, as in Spinoza, the parallelism of Logos and Nature which never encounter one another. It is the dualism of mediation. Nature and Logos are simultaneously opposite and identical. This is why the Logos can think itself and the other, contradict itself in itself, and why Nature, which is the anti-Logos, can appear as Logos.

The Logos is the absolute truth as self-genesis. However, how can we speak of a truth of the form? The logic, as the science of the absolute form, is the truth for itself, and by means of being opposed to the other philosophical sciences, those of nature and spirit, it is pure truth: "For this reason, this form is of quite another nature than logical form is ordinarily taken to be. It is already on its own account truth, since this content is adequate to its form, or the reality to its concept; and it is the pure truth because the determinations of the content do not yet have the form of an absolute otherness or of absolute immediacy" (Science of Logic 592-93).

Truth is, as Kant said, the agreement of knowledge with its object, and this definition has the greatest, or rather the highest value. But in this case, what are we to think of Kantianism, according to which the knowledge of reason is incapable of grasping things in themselves, and actuality is alien to the concept?

If we remember this definition in connection with the fundamental assertion of transcendental idealism, that reason as knowing is incapable of apprehending things-in-themselves, that reality lies absolutely outside the concept, then it is at once evident that a reason such as this which is unable to put itself in agreement with its object, the things-in-themselves, and things-in-themselves that are not in agreement with the concept of reason, the concept that is not in agreement with reality, and a reality that does not agree with the concept, are untrue conceptions. If Kant had considered the idea of an intuitive understanding in the light of the above definition of truth, he would have treated that idea which expresses the required agreement, not as a figment of thought but rather as the truth. (Science of Logic 593)

In effect, the absolute form is not contentless. Its content is itself. It has its being within itself because it is the universal. It is intuitive thought. Kant, however, stated this principle of a priori synthesis (in which duality could be known in unity). Therefore he would have been able to see that his critique, in regard to formalism, was genuinely lacking in scope-the critique of a criterion which would be valuable for all knowledge. "It is alleged that it would be absurd to ask for the criterion of the truth of the content of knowledge; but according to the definition it is not the content that constitutes the truth, but the agreement of the content with the concept" (Science of Logic 593). To separate in this way the content as an alien being and seek the truth of such a content, while forgetting that truth is agreement, is to turn this content into an inconceivable content, into a soulless content, a senseless content. Now, if, on the basis of this separation, we consider the logic itself as contentless, thought as purely abstract and empty, in the usual sense of formalism, then it is just as vain to speak of agreement (since in order for there to be agreement there must be two), and therefore to speak of truth. The question of truth was really posed in a much more penetrating way by Kant with his notion of an a priori synthetic thought, that is, with his notion of a thought capable of being its content for itself: "Logic being the science of the absolute form, this formal science, in order to be true, must possess in its own self a content adequate to its form; and all the more, since the formal element of logic is the pure form, and therefore the truth of logic must be the pure truth itself" (Science of Logic 594).

What characterises the logical element is precisely this adequation between actuality and concept which is the complete development of the form. Logic is not concrete truth, that of the Idea in nature or in spirit, but the pure truth, the development of the concept in its actuality and of actuality in its concept, the life of the concept. When we consider the forms of logic, we note that, in their isolation, they are without truth, because, insofar as they are some forms, they have a content inadequate to the whole thinking movement, to conception itself. For example, the affirmative Judgment is considered in its form as true, since it is referred exclusively to the content. But this Judgment is dialectical in its form. It states that the singular is universal, that being is concept. It contradicts itself in itself. It lacks what the definition of truth requires, the agreement of the concept and the object. The absolute concept (the unique form), therefore, must rediscover itself in all of its moments, in the forms which, insofar as they are manifold, present themselves as content. Then each determination of the form is nothing but a magnitude vanishing into the totality of this truth which is an absolute life, an absolute self-consciousness: "The true is thus the Bacchanalian revel in which no member is not drunk; yet because each member collapses as soon as he drops out, the revel is just as much transparent and simple respose" (Phenomenology §47).

The science of logic therefore is the pure truth. Hegel's difficulty lies in explaining "absolute being-other or absolute immediacy," nature and spirit, insofar as they are also, in philosophy, concrete sciences, a philosophy of nature and a philosophy of spirit, what Hegel called at Jena Realphilosophie. These sciences are not the empirical sciences considered in the Phenomenology:

These concrete sciences do, of course, present themselves in a more real form of the idea than logic does; but this is not by turning back again to the reality abandoned by the consciousness which has risen above its mode as phenomenon to the level of science, nor by reverting to the use of forms such as the categories and concepts of reflection, whose finitude and untruth have been demonstrated in the logic. On the contrary, logic exhibits the elevation of the idea to that level from which its becomes the creator of nature and passes over to the form of a concrete immediacy whose concept, however, breaks up this shape again in order to realise itself as concrete spirit. (Science of Logic 592) a spirit which, in the highest degree, is precisely the Logos, philosophy. The logical element shows itself therefore indeed as the supreme mediation. It is there immediately as nature and as finite spirit, but as spirit it completes itself, it returns to itself.

The Logic is the genesis of the absolute Idea. This absolute Idea, which in the element of universality contains the whole life of thought, for Hegel, "alone is being, imperishable life, self-knowing truth, and is all truth" (Science of Logic 824).

It is the sole object and the sole form of philosophy: "Since it contains all deterrninateness within it, and its essential nature is to return to itself through its self-determination or particularisation, it has various shapes, and the business of philosophy is to recognise it in these" (Science of Logic 824).

Thus nature and spirit are distinct modes through which the Absolute Idea presents its Dasein-spatial indifference and temporal dispersion-just as art and religion are distinct modes through which it apprehends itself and endows the image of the self with that of a being. Philosophy, however, is the highest-the only authentic-mode of grasping the absolute Idea, because its modality is the highest, the concept, the only one in which truth exists as truth.

Philosophy comprehends, therefore, the figures of real finitude, nature, and the figures of ideal finitude, spirit. Philosophy conceives them as it conceives religion and art, but it conceives itself. This self-conception is "above everything else the Logic." The qualification, above everything else, means that the Logic can indeed be considered as a particular mode, "but whereas mode signifies a particular kind, a determinateness of form, the logical aspect, on the contrary, is the universal mode in which all particular modes are sublated and enfolded" (Science of Logic 825).

To comprehend nature and spirit in this way, for philosophy, is to see the creative source itself in the Logos; it is to see across the Logos. Language is the house of being as sense. The Logos is the primordial, originary voice which is indeed an exteriorisation, but an exteriorisation which, as such, disappears as soon as it appears. Hegel says that the only determination is then for this sense to hear itself, to comprehend itself. It is the pure thought in which difference (the one that will be set free in external nature and in finite spirit) is the alterity that leads thought to sublate itself.'

There are two opposite critiques made of Hegel concerning the relation of Logic to nature and spirit. Marx, for example, has accused him of always rediscovering the logical element in the philosophy of nature and history, instead of seeing in this element a reflection of concrete being, a fleshless shadow. Hegel's concrete philosophy would be impoverished and hardened by the idea which is always rediscovered and taken up instead of real content. Some indeed, however, have also said that the immense richness of Hegel's Logic comes from what he borrows from all the experiences of the concrete sciences, and that his Logic conceals a thoroughgoing empiricism. In fact, these two charges destroy one another. They can be justified in this or that particular case. Yet, on the whole, they misunderstand Hegel's concepts of the Logos and of experience, of the a priori and of the a posteriori. The Logic is opposed to experience as ontology is opposed to anthropology. Hegel does not want to do without experience but to reduce (in the modem sense of the term) anthropology and to show, at the very heart of the ontologic, that "philosophy must alienate itself." Thus philosophy alone is the element of truth and of all truth.

If the Logos is the complete and organic development of intellectual intuition, the method of the Logic appears as the universal self-consciousness that accompanies the whole movement: “the method is nothing but the structure set forth in its pure essentiality” (Phenomenology §48).

The ordinary sense of the word method, however, is no longer at work here and one has to dispel a false interpretation. The method, which is the universal of the Logic, does not separate the objective from the subjective. As absolute method, it is the opposite of instrumental knowledge or of external reflection, which would be merely subjective. Method is conceived through the Logic's notion of the beginning, which must be presuppositionless. The beginning can be only an immediacy Thus the Logic's three instincts, Being, Essence, Concept, are immediacies, but the genuine beginning of the Logic is the first immediacy, Being. This is not sensible immediacy, but the immediacy of pure thought "that we can, if you like, just as well call super-sensible or inner intuition." In finite knowledge, we do not stop repeating that one has to refer thought to being, that is, that it is necessary to show, to delimit the being which is there, but this indication and this delimitation are already a mediation. When we require a demonstration of being, we mean thereby that we want to determine being, to make it emerge from the abstraction of pure thought, from the mere self-relation. To demonstrate being is therefore to realise the concept, to determine it. In the Science of Logic, from the start we rediscover this very experience of knowledge which is the realisation or the determination of the concept. Being, considered as irreducible to pure thought, is the absolute self-relation which is also pure thought. Thought does not lack being; it lacks determination. And being, this mere self-relation, also lacks determination. In the form of being and nothingness, of being and the question of being, their opposition is reciprocal. What is required is the sublation of this pure self-relation.

For the method, the beginning is the universal, which is indeterminate. But this very simplicity of the beginning is its determination. Insofar as it is the consciousness of this indeterminate universality, the method knows that it is only a moment and that the concept is still not determined in itself and for itself. If the method, however, remains at the level of this subjective consciousness, it takes this beginning merely as the abstract from which something is lacking. It understands abstraction as the psychological process which, having at first put aside that from which it is abstracted, claims to be made complete through that from which it is abstracted. The method seeks, therefore, what one has to add to this beginning, as if thought, which is thought and being, was not to itself its own content, as if its progression were not immanent.

The immediacy of the beginning, because it is the beginning, is in itself its own negation and the instinct to sublate itself as beginning. The universal is not only the abstract, it is also the objectively universal, the concrete totality in itself but not for itself. Therefore, the being in itself that is not yet for itself, the Whole as immediacy and not yet as mediation is there. The beginning is therefore really the Absolute; it is the Absolute in itself and progress is the presentation of the Absolute, its becoming for-itself. Because, however, the Absolute is still in itself, it is not the Absolute, nor the posited concept, nor the Idea. The progressive presentation is not a surplus, not an excess, the Absolute already being there before its presentation. "Progression consists rather in the universal's self-determination, the universal's becoming for-itself, that is, the Subject" (Science of Logic 829).

Truth is truth only in its genesis. By positing immediacy as objective totality, we oppose the immediate to mediation. The beginning is immediacy, but its determination, its negation is there; its self-relation is not yet the unity that has become, the posited relation. The immediacy, that has not become, is nothing, but this nothing is already its mediation, its first position. By means of this nothing, it expounds itself and becomes. What is essential is that the absolute method finds and recognises the determination of the universal within itself. Finite knowledge takes up what it had left out by means of the process of abstraction, but the absolute method, not being external to its object, finds in it the determination which is immanent to it. Absolute method follows the object's movement and does not work from the outside. This is why the method is analytic: "It adheres to the absolute objectivity of the concept of which the method is the concept's certainty. The issue is not to stray and to think the thing itself from something else than that which thinks the thing. As Plato demanded of knowledge, the issue is to think the things themselves in themselves and for themselves, to consider them just as they are" (Science of Logic 830).

The method, however, is synthetic as well, since its object, determined in an immediate way as simple universal, shows itself as an other because of the determination of the immediacy that it possesses. This analytic (immanent) and synthetic (passage to the other) process is the dialectic. This is why the philosophic method is the dialectic.

We usually conceive the dialectic as ending up at a merely negative result and this result is understood in many senses. The dialectic would exhibit the non-existence of the object; thus the Eleatics deny change and movement through the dialectic. It would exhibit the emptiness of a knowledge, the emptiness or vanity of the dialectic itself. Thus Diogenes silently walks back and forth in order to oppose the dialectic that denies movement. Thereby he disdainfully claims to show the inanity of this language that proves too much, and opposes a silent response to it. Dialectic responds to dialectic; Socrates indulges in an ironic dialectic in order to oppose the unstable dialectic of the Sophists. He himself becomes the victim of this dialectic, of the anger raised against it; he is accused of disturbing the stable positions of ethics. Finally, dialectic would show the inanity of pure knowledge as a whole; hence the transcendental dialectic of the Critique of Pure Reason. Hegel notes, however, that, since it carries on an attack against the object or against types of knowledge, we do not see clearly enough that it attacks determinations as well. We see in Kant's transcendental dialectic especially the opposition of "either ... or . . . " which leaves each of the determinate hypotheses intact. These, however, are the determinations that are truly prey to the dialectic, and there is no stable object below them. The thing itself is dialectical in its determinations, or, if you like, the dialectical movement of the determinations constitutes the thing itself. Then we understand the positivity of the dialectic, "for every negative is the negative of that of which it is the result" (Science of Logic 834).

The first term is always the universal as immediate, but then it is determined, and this determination is the negation which it has in itself. This is why the first term passes into the second which is the negative; it is its other. Being is not itself; it is nothingness. This second term is the pivot of the dialectical movement; it is doubly negative. It is at first the other, the negation of the first; but, taken by itself, it re-establishes the first. Nothingness is always the nothingness of being; as other, it constantly re-establishes the other of which it is the other. In itself, it is the other of the other; this is why the dialectical point gets sharpened in it. It is infinite negation, the second negative, the negation of the negation or negativity. Then the first positivity reappears as the third term, as the emergence of the whole movement. But this positivity is one that has become, and, as such, it is a second positivity which is given as a new immediacy. The justification of the beginning is its new advancement, because a new immediacy and the beginning of a new cycle is there. Thus the conflict of being and nothingness exhausts itself in the instability of becoming, but what has become, the being there, is a new immediateness. Somehow, the process gets congealed. In the total movement, essence is the instability of the second dialectical moment. In essence, being is negated-no longer in the immediate form of being, as nothingness,--but in itself. Being appears; it is being and non-being, as essence and appearance. It appears in itself and is only this reflection. This negation of immediate being, however, negates itself. The concept which completes itself with the absolute Idea re-establishes the immediate being of the beginning. The absolute Idea is identical to nature. "The retrospective justification of the beginning and the progression towards new determinations are, essentially, only one movement" (Science of Logic 839).

Being, Essence, Concept constitute the three instincts of the Logos, the three circles which reproduce at different levels the same fundamental theme. The seed, the initial cell is being, nothingness, becoming. Being is determined only by nothingness. It is itself the nothingness of itself, as that will appear at the level of essence, because essence is the internal negation of the whole sphere of being. Nothingness was negation in the shape of being. Nothingness is an immediate just as being is; the transition from being to nothingness, likewise from nothingness to being, is only a passage, becoming, a foreshadowing of what will be genuine passage, mediation. The sphere of essence, which is the first negation of being-then the negation of itself-is the field of reflection, of diremption. Being opposes itself to itself; it negates itself as being and it posits itself as essence. But essence is appearance. Essence is posited in appearance, that is, in negated being, and there alone. The doubling of essence and appearance is completely appearance, so that essence is itself an ontological appearance. Reflection negates itself; being as conception of being, essence of being, is not distinct from being itself, the ontological possibility of actuality. This is why the third sphere, that of the concept, takes up the same theme in the element of mediation, in the element of self-comprehension. immediate being passes away and becomes; its conception falls outside of itself. Essence is the reflection of being, its appearance and its intelligibility. But this intelligibility, this conception, is simultaneously separated and inseparable from appearance. As reflection opposed to immediacy, essence is the non-resolved contradiction. This is why reflection re-establishes the first immediacy of being, just as this immediacy had been reflected into essence. h-immediacy itself is conceived. Real actuality not only is there as in the immediacy of being, nor comprehended only by means of its essence, as in essence and reflection, but is also itself its sense, and this Sense is its being. Being is reflected in itself, and, in this reflection, it is as sense. The subjective logic, or the logic of the concept, is the logic of sense, but this sense is not a subject opposed to the object. It is the being which is its self-consciousness, its sense, and this self-consciousness, in turn, is being itself, the absolute Idea scattered into nature and into history. In the Logos, being is thought. It does not ground its intelligibility behind itself, but in itself; it thinks itself just as much as it finds itself. The Logos's three moments are contained in this German word: Selbstbewusstsein-being, appearance, the self.

The logic of being corresponds to the transcendental aesthetic . It is the logic of the sensible insofar as the sensible is preserved in the Logos. "Philosophy provides the conceived intellection of what the actuality of sensible being is," and it can do this because sense is sensible, is there in speech "in order not to be as soon as it is there." The Logic of essence corresponds to the transcendental analytic; it is the understanding of being. But the logic of essence is not only the logic of the science of the phenomenal world. It is still the logic of this metaphysics which makes essence be the condition of existence. In fact, the categories are as much the categories of experience as of the Absolute. Finally, the logic of the concept corresponds to the transcendental dialectic, the Idea that Kant had considered only as regulative, wanting to recognise as metaphysics only the old dogmatism, the metaphysics of the intelligible world, and not explicitly comprehending that transcendental logic was in itself already speculative logic, that the logicity of being was replacing the being of logic. With the logic of the concept, it is the category of sense which becomes the truth of the categories of being and essence.

The logic of being is the logic of immediacy. It says this appearance and this disappearance of the sensible, which the Phenomenology's first chapter describes. The being of the sensible is its annihilation; it passes away However it returns in its annihilation. Being gets continued into nothingness and nothingness into being. Becoming is permanent. Immediacy does not conceive itself. Mediation is indeed there too, but there immediately as becoming. Being negates itself and preserves itself in its negation, but at the level of immediacy contradiction and identity are not there as contradiction and identity. Being becomes another being. This collapse of the sensible is the condition of its intelligibility, of its own recollection. We can say that the becoming of the sensible is in itself its essentialisation, but essentialisation is not there as such. This is why the determinations in this sphere of immediacy exclude themselves or identify themselves immediately. Being is there; it is no longer there; it becomes, and becoming is the unstable exchange of being and of nothingness. Being does not pass into itself. It does not relate to itself in its other; it does not reflect itself. Contradiction and identity are there immediately just as they exist in nature with movement.'

The opposition of being and nothingness, and then the first concrete synthesis, becoming, constitute the base of the whole logic. But the three terms are inseparable. We can still say that being divides itself into being and nothingness and shows itself then as becoming. Hegelian logic does not start from two alien terms that it would combine, but from mediation. Explicitly, the logic of being knows only the opposition of being and nothingness; implicitly, as what follows will reveal, this opposition is just as much that of being and the thought of being, of being and the question of being. Being is its own question to itself. But in its immediate form, for example, in nature, it is pure becoming which is the existing mediation. Because being passes away, it interiorises itself and comprehends itself. Forgetfulness and memory have an ontological signification. However, the sphere of being will have to be completely negated as the sphere of immediacy so that essence appears.

Unstable becoming re-establishes a positivity. Dasein is the being that has become. Mixture of being and nothingness, it is essentially finite, but its finitude presupposes infinity. Infinity is also there immediately; it is the bad infinite, the indefinite series of a something and its other. Quality and quantity are the two fundamental categories of this Dasein, and the logic of being is a descriptive logic and a logic of pure quantity. Quality is the immediate determination which is unified with being, while quantity marks a return to the first indetermination. Their synthesis, measure, is the transition from being to essence. It is the beginning of the self-relation in immediacy. Quantitative change, the indefinite of the quantum, "toujours à soi pareil qu'il s'accroisse ou se nie," is self-exteriority. Self-exteriority always leads back to intrinsic and qualitative determination. It is never anything but an oscillation around a measure. "Everything has its measure." This, Hegel says, is one of Greek philosophy's highest thoughts. In this logic of immediacy, which is the darkness or the truth of the sensible depending on how one considers it, the infinite presents itself in its immediate opposition to the finite. Indefinite progression, however, what is without end, is the immediate difference which is not reflected as identity, as self-relation. Measure is already essence in immediacy. It is the immediate return to self in exteriority.

To say that the Absolute is being is to say that it is in itself. It is the well-rounded sphere about which Parmenides speaks. But for whom is this in itself, determined as being, in itself? Being is in itself; it is solely self-relation. These judgments already sublate this immediate being. The very essence of the self-relation is a sublation of being. Being is not yet in-itself for itself. The first philosophies of nature are a naive expression of this thought of being, and Parmenides says this thought of being.

Essence is being which becomes in itself for itself. This being was in itself identical to itself in its opposite, nothingness. It was passing away but always was finding itself again, being in imperishable becoming. This return to self, however, is not accomplished at the level of immediate being. Being was not reflecting itself. We were not able to say that it was finding itself again, because this itself assumes a reflection as reflection, an absolute self of being.

The logic of essence presents this reflection. Being no longer passes indefinitely outside of itself; it passes into itself, it reflects itself. The logic of essence corresponds to knowledge, to the elaboration of the sensible. What is there, however, is merely a correspondence. Reflection is not the external reflection of being in a knowing subject; it is being's own internal reflection. The Logos, on the contrary, is what allows the knowledge and the ontological moment of consciousness to be comprehended. Being interiorises itself while essentialising itself. It interiorises itself just as, in knowledge, memory interiorises sensible intuition. The past is essence.

Essence is the negation-the first-of being, and of being in its totality such as it is presented in the prior sphere. The determinations of being will be reproduced at this level, but as reflected determinations. Immediate being, negated in its totality, becoming its own nothingness, is essence. It is the intelligibility of being, its in-itself for itself, but still in the element of the in-itself. It is appearance as well, for what is appearance other than negated-being? To speak of appearance, where we were speaking of being, is still to speak of being, because appearance really is in a certain sense. But it is also to negate the being in it, because one must say that appearance is not since it is merely appearance. These two aspects of the logic of essence-namely, immediate being negates itself and therefore posits itself behind itself fundamentally as essence, and immediate being, negating itself, has become appearance-are one and the same movement. And such is the contradiction of essence or of reflection: it is essence and appearance simultaneously It is negation of being as immediate and, in this negation, position of being as essence. The whole logic of essence is the logic of appearance; being has entirely become appearance and we can just as well say "this is only appearance," and "everything is in appearance."

The distinction between the essential and the inessential is, at the level of essence, only a reminiscence of immediacy, because there are not two beings. Moreover, this distinction is arbitrary. It depends on a third term, and is relative to an external reflection. Essence, however, is the internal reflection of being which appears in itself: "Appearance is the same thing as reflection." This reflection as such is identity, difference, contradiction. These essentialities are constitutive of reflection. Being which appears is identical to itself in its difference, which is essential difference, that is, the difference of itself from itself. It is different from itself in its identity; it contradicts itself. Essence, moreover, is the non-resolved contradiction, since it is simultaneously negation of being and negation of this negation, but still abstract negativity, reduced to pure dialectical conflict. The movement of the logic of essence is a double movement in one alone. It is the movement by which being negates itself, turns itself into appearance, and the movement by which, while negating itself, it posits itself, makes itself essence in appearance.

Essence is the recoil of being into its nothingness, the ground, and the emergence of the ground in appearance. This is why its three moments are: Reflection, which results in the ground; Phenomenon, which is being negated and grounded; Actuality, which is the unity of ground and phenomenon, of essence and appearance. Essence is the division of being in itself, the secret of being and the initiation into this secret, but this secret is its intelligibility, its conceivability. The secret of being is the very possibility of being, but this possibility, separated from being, is an ontological mirage which leads one to believe in a metaphysics, in a substance distinct from its accidents, in a cause distinct from its effects, in an ontological possibility distinct from ontic actuality. In order to be comprehended, in order to be posited, being alienates itself. Essence is the dialectical moment of this alienation of being. We could say that this is ontology's unhappy consciousness.

Immediate being plunges into essence as into its conditions of intelligibility, but these conditions are unified with the manifestation itself. Manifestation in its Totality is essence. Intelligibility exists entirely in the development of manifestation in the category of Actuality. In actuality, there is no absolute content (substance) whose form would be manifestation; it is the relevans si ipsum which is everything, and which is the mysterium magnum itself: "As this movement of exposition, a movement which carries itself along with it, as a way and manner which is its absolute identity-with-self, the absolute is manifestation not of an inner, nor of something other, but it is only as the absolute manifestation of itself for itself. As such it is actuality" (Science of Logic 536).

The Phenomenology's preface says: “Appearance is the arising and passing away that does not itself arise and pass away, but is in itself and constitutes the actuality and the movement of the life of truth” (Phenomenology §47).

Actuality is conceived necessity, and the analysis that Hegel provides of the relations of the possible, of the real and the necessary, is perhaps the most illuminating of all the dialectics of essence. Actuality does not have its ground in a possibility that would be beyond it. It is itself its own possibility. Certainly being is grounded, but it is grounded upon itself; it is because it is possible, but it is possible because it is. This transcendental chance, which Kant spoke of in The Critique of Judgment and which was the encounter of contingency and conditional necessity, is for Hegel absolute necessity, because actuality refers to nothing else, and yet it is grounded, it is conceived. The Logos is not the possibility of the existent, outside of the existent; it is the conception of the existent, and the existent as other is included in its own conception. The possible, which is only possible, is impossible; it contradicts itself. This is why it is possible because it is, just as it is because it is possible. Actuality as Totality is truly the dialectical synthesis of possibility and actuality. This is why it is comprehended necessity.

Comprehended necessity, however, is not necessity comprehending itself. It is known but does not recognise itself. Essence is indeed being-in-itself-and-for-itself, but it is still in itself. Its comprehension is not its own comprehension. Essence has reintroduced the immediacy of being; this is why it is no longer essence, but concept.

In essence, being-in-itself appears, but this appearance is its appearance, its position. It is not being which appears; it is itself which appears and therefore recognises itself. The movement of its self-position is what Hegel calls the concept, which we could translate by sense. The logic of the concept takes all the determinations of being and essence up to its level, but it takes them up in order to show how they constitute themselves, how they posit and engender themselves. This genesis of sense was implicit in the prior spheres; this genesis is the Logic, because the Logic is the constitution of being as sense, comprehension, not as reference to a thing comprehended distinct from the movement of comprehension, but this movement itself as intelligible genesis of the thing (and the thing itself is only this movement). The Logic is the absolute form which is its object for itself, like a poem whose object would be poetry and which would contain thereby intrinsically the particularity of every poem. This "to contain," however, has nothing spatial about it. Universal sense contains intrinsically every particular sense. This sense, however, was not yet for itself in the Logic's other parts. It was there immediately in the becoming of being; it was the ground behind the appearance as essence. It now knows itself as the sense of all the senses. Hegel calls this logic of concept or sense subjective logic, but what is at issue is the subject or self which is immanent to every object and not a subjectivity distinct from being. Its proof is the dialectic of being and sense that leads this end of Logic back to its beginning. Being is shown across essence as sense, but sense is being as well; or rather being already was referring to sense. Being is a lost sense; it is a forgotten sense, since sense is the interiority of memory taken back into being. In the field of knowledge, forgetfulness and memory correspond to this dialectical distinction of being and sense, insofar as one does not make memory congeal into an in-itself (this would be essence); one has to see in memory the movement of recollection, the comprehensive genesis that constitutes the past. Reminiscence does not refer to the first essence; rather, the essence is constituted through the originary act of reminiscence. Sense is the essence that comprehends itself by positing itself as essence. In relation to sense, essence is what being was in relation to essence. Being was essence in itself; essence is sense in itself. It is like a second being behind the first, but when we no longer abstract from its position, when we comprehend it as self-positing, as self-constituting, then it is no longer essence but sense.'

The concept is at first the medium of sense in general, the medium of every comprehensive genesis. The concept is the universal sense that always remains universal in every particular sense, sublating itself, as in the word, and this sublation is there. Its self-determination is the judgment that reproduces at the level of the concept the diremption of essence, the appearance of the particular in the universal, and of the universal in the particular. The determination received into the universal is sense, but the immediate relation is developed only through mediation, only through reason which makes the relations of the particular and the universal explicit. Henceforth, sense is developed as such, and this is why it is; its being of sense is object and objectivity. Mediation is the object itself and the object is mediation. This unity is what Hegel calls the absolute Idea, the sense which is, and the being which is sense. Sense is not only its own object, it is also the sublated object. The absolute Idea is, as sense, the Logos, as well as, as lost sense, immediacy, nature.

The logic of the concept corresponds to the major turn that transcendental logic represents in the history of philosophy. In a letter, Kant calls it his ontology and what is at issue indeed is in effect a new ontology since it replaces a world of essence, the being of Logic, with the logicity of being. By pushing the reduction of anthropology initiated by the transcendental to its limit, Hegel's speculative Logic is the deepening of this dimension of sense. Being is its own self-comprehension, its own sense, and the Logos is being positing itself as sense. It is, however, being which posits itself as sense, and this means that sense is not alien to being, is not outside of or beyond it. This is why sense also comprehends non-sense, the anti-Logos; it is in itself just as much as it is for itself, but its in-itself is for itself, and its for-itself is in itself. The dimension of sense is not only sense, it is also the absolute genesis of sense in general, and it is self-sufficient. immanence is complete.