Raya Dunayevskaya 1961

Rough Notes on Hegel's SCIENCE OF LOGIC

Editor's Note: The Logic was one of Hegel's most important works.  Completed by Raya Dunayevskaya (1910–87) on Jan. 26, 1961, these Notes comprise one of the few studies by a Marxist covering the whole of the Logic. Lenin had earlier written a serious commentary on Hegel's Logic in 1914–15, which Dunayevskaya relies heavily on in these Notes. However, at several crucial junctures she expresses reservations about Lenin's interpretation of Hegel. For the most developed view of her critique of Lenin's philosophic ambivalence, see the 1991 edition of her PHILOSOPHY AND REVOLUTION, FROM HEGEL TO SARTRE AND FROM MARX TO MAO.  All material in brackets as well as footnotes and page references have been supplied by the editors. "SLI and SLII" refers to the text of the SCIENCE OF LOGIC as translated by Johnston and Struthers, in two volumes (Macmillan, 1929); "SLM" refers to the more recent translation by A.V. Miller (Humanities Press, 1969). Dunayevskaya's text has been slightly shortened, indicated by the use of ellipses. The original can be found in The Raya Dunayevskaya Collection, 2806.

Volume I: Objective Logic
Book One: The Doctrine of Being

Between the title of Volume I and Book One, we are confronted with two Prefaces, one of which was written when Volume 1 was first published in 1812, and the second Preface is one of the last things Hegel did before his death in 1831. Thus, the second Preface not only encompasses the first volume, but also the second volume (which contains Books Two and Three), which was published in 1816, and all of his other works; in fact it followed the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL SCIENCES.(1)

The historic period of Hegel's life will be one point of departure. The other point of departure will be 1914 when Lenin read this work. I will refer to his PHILOSOPHIC NOTEBOOKS so that you in turn can study them simultaneously with the LOGIC. Finally, we must have also our own historic period in mind. 

Philosophically speaking, Lenin's period was summarized by himself dialectically as "the transformation into opposite"; our period has been characterized by ourselves as the Absolute Idea, or the unity of theory and practice, which must be further concretized as Freedom—the realization of Freedom in life most of all and in thought. That is to say, in Hegel's philosophy the Absolute Idea also stands for unity of theory and practice and its point of departure and return is likewise Freedom. But it is abstract. 

A better way, perhaps, to express it is to say that while in Hegel the unity of object and subject—the unity of the Universal and Individual—is in mind alone, in the Marxist-Humanist outlook, the individual is the social entity, or as Marx put it, there is no proof of freedom in society except through the individual who is free. I do not mean to burden these notes with too many random thoughts. On the contrary, I mean to follow Hegel in quite some detail, but history and dialectic method is Hegelianism and hence very brief references to the current situation will be made. 

One other item in regard to Lenin. Along with the PHILOSOPHIC NOTEBOOKS, we will consider the 4½ pages called "On Dialectics," which are on pp. 81–85 of his SELECTED WORKS, Vol. XI [see also COLLECTED WORKS, Vol. 38, pp. 355–63; hereafter "LCW 38"] but which are actually part of his PHILOSOPHIC NOTEBOOKS. I did not translate these because they had already been translated, but were put in quite undialectically by the Stalinists as if they and Lenin's MATERIALISM AND EMPIRIO-CRITICISM [1908] which follows it are by one and the same Lenin, whereas in fact the latter is quite mechanical and the exact proof of what Lenin had in mind when he wrote at the end of the NOTEBOOKS that none of the Marxists (in plural, that is, including himself, and the plural was the emphasis Lenin himself put in that word) had understood Marx's CAPITAL for the last half century. In fact, in this short essay, "On Dialectics," he criticizes not only everyone from Plekhanov to himself, but even Engels, although he excuses the latter, who, he says, has treated dialectics inadequately, by way of “EXAMPLES, 'a seed,' 'for example, primitive Communism.' The same is true of Engels. But with him it is 'in the interests of popularization...' and not as a LAW OF KNOWLEDGE (and as a law of the objective world)” [LCW 38, p. 359]. 

The Prefaces to the SCIENCE OF LOGIC

Hegel's very first sentence to the first Preface is a reference—"The complete transformation which philosophical thought has undergone in Germany during the last five and twenty years" [SLI, p. 33; SLM, p. 25]—to 1787 and Kant's work.(2) Hegel's dissatisfaction with even this great step is due to the fact that it has not lived up to the challenge of the time, i.e., the French Revolution, 1789, up to the Napoleonic Period: "There are no traces in LOGIC of the new spirit which has arisen both in Learning and in Life. It is, however (let us say it once and for all), quite vain to try to retain the forms of an earlier stage of development when the inner structure of spirit has become transformed; these earlier forms are like withered leaves which are pushed off by the new buds already being generated in the roots" [SLI, p. 35; SLM, p. 26]. 

The necessity for the new, the Hegelian departure, arises from the times and a new concept of philosophical method, not the dialectic in general, which [Kant] had reached for, but Hegelian Dialectic, the form of thought which was as one with the MOVEMENT of mind: "This movement is the Absolute Method of knowledge and at the same time the immanent soul of the Content of knowledge. It is, I maintain, along this path of self-construction alone that Philosophy can become objective and demonstrated science" [SLI, pp. 36–37; SLM, p. 28]. 

Actually, this is only the fourth page of his Preface...and already we have covered, or rather Hegel has covered, the two fundamental movements of his entire work—the logical-dialectical and the polemical. These, in turn, contain reality—historic reality of the period in which he lived and historic reality as evolution up to that time. And sure enough, Lenin at once noted the two essences of the dialectic: (1) The emphasis on movement, "the MOVEMENT of scientific cognition—that is the essence"; (2) "'the PATH of self-construction' = path (here lies the nub, in my opinion) of true cognition, knowledge, movement" [LCW 38, pp. 87–88]. 

The Preface to the Second Edition is once again full of "immanent activity" and "necessary development," which leads Lenin to say in the very first paragraph: "What is necessary is not lifeless bones, but full-blooded life" and he stresses "an important beginning" [LCW 38, p. 89]. And Hegel, indeed, in the very approach to philosophic categories in the second paragraph is going to remind us that "so natural to man is Logic—indeed, Logic itself is just man's peculiar nature. But if Nature in general is opposed, as physical, to what is mental, then it must be said that Logic is rather that something Super-natural which enters into all the natural BEHAVIOR of man—Feeling, Intuition, Desire, Need, Impulse—and thereby alone transforms it all to something human—to ideas and purposes" [SLI, p. 40; SLM, pp. 31–32]. 

For a man so full of profundities, he never forgets impulses, feelings, intuition, desires, needs; indeed, it is quite obvious that he refuses to make a distinction between physical and mental, and to this day, the so-called behavioral sciences, psychoanalysis included, cannot shine this great philosopher's shoes, much less his divine (yes, divine) concept of human ideas and purposes. 

Historical materialism, strange as that may sound as any attribute of Hegel, is nevertheless basic to Hegelian analysis and in this Preface he traces philosophy back in a manner in which it is quite clear that the elements of that total philosophy with which Marx is mainly associated were present in Hegelian philosophy. This sense of history is present also in his polemical critique of Kant: "In the still spaces of Thought which has come to itself and is purely self-existence, those interests are hushed which move the lives of peoples and of individuals" [SLI, p. 42; SLM, p. 34]. Lenin emphasized this expression as well as the one in which Hegel said, "When the Critical Philosophy understands the relation of these three Terms so as to make THOUGHTS intermediary between US and THINGS in such a sense that this intermediary rather excludes us from things than connects us with them. . ." [SLI, p. 44; SLM, p. 36]. At this point Lenin remarks: "In my view, the conclusion essentially is: (1) in Kant knowledge hedges off (separates) nature from man; in actuality, it unites them; (2) in Kant 'the empty abstraction' of the thing-in-itself is put in place of the living procession (SHESTVIYA), the movement of our ever deeper knowledge of things" [LCW 38, p. 91]. 

Hegel in this second Preface takes issue also with those who have criticized him since the PHENOMENOLOGY and this first book were published. The severest of all criticisms is for those who assume a category, which, first of all, has to be proved, which he calls an "uninstructed and barbarous procedure" [SLI, p. 49; SLM, p. 41]. 

It is good to have in mind here our opponent, for the whole of Russian Communist theory follows precisely this barbarous procedure of assuming that Socialism already exists and then blithely goes on. If, however, one thinks that it is sufficient merely to know that the Russians assume what is first to be proven to be able to get to the bottom of their usurpation of Marxist language, Marcuse's SOVIET MARXISM is there to prove the opposite. Despite all of his KNOWLEDGE of both Hegel and Marx and even Russian society, Marcuse still falls into the trap of apologetics on the basis that their professed theory discloses actual reality. The fundamental reason for the blindness is, of course, his complete isolation from the class struggle. But it is not the whole of the reason. The other part is the failure to create a category—state-capitalism in this case—for the new state of the world economy in general and Russia in particular. Without a category, an intellectual is just lost, since he has none of the proletarian instincts to carry him through on trodden paths, and therefore, falls into eclecticism. 

The Introduction to the SCIENCE OF LOGIC

Before Hegel begins Book One, we have, besides the two Prefaces, also an Introduction. In the Introduction, his reference to the PHENOMENOLOGY will set us, too, in the proper spirit of continuity: "In the PHENOMENOLOGY OF MIND I have set forth the movement of consciousness, from the first crude opposition between itself and the Object, up to absolute knowledge. This process goes through all the forms of the relation of thought to its object, and reaches the Concept of Science as its result" [SLI, p. 59; SLM, p. 48]. Having assumed absolute knowledge as the truth of all forms of consciousness, Hegel can now proceed to treat both knowledge and reality in the form of categories BECAUSE they do include historical reality, present reality, as well as the long road of thought about it. That is precisely why he is opposed to the other form in which thought is presented in the philosophies that have not met the challenge of the times. 

Thus, in criticizing [the idea] that the structure of Logic has undergone no change, despite all the revolutionary development, he says: "For when Spirit has worked on for two thousand years, it must have reached a better reflective consciousness of its own thought and its own unadulterated essence. A comparison of the form to which Spirit has risen in the worlds of Practice and Religion, and of Science in every department of knowledge Positive and Speculative, a comparison of these with the form which Logic has attained shows a glaring discrepancy" [SLI, p. 62; SLM, 51]. 

Therefore, the need for the transformation of the structure of Logic and its actual transformation are present here. Hegel does give Kant credit for having "freed Dialectic from the semblance of arbitrariness...and set it forth as a NECESSARY PROCEDURE OF REASON," but the actual exposition is not, says Hegel, "deserving of any great praise; but the general idea upon which he builds and which he has vindicated, is the OBJECTIVITY OF APPEARANCE and the NECESSITY OF CONTRADICTION" [SLI, p. 67; SLM, p. 56]. It is Hegel's contention that only when you get to consider Universals, not as abstractions, but as concrete totalities of the whole historic movement, does Logic deserve to become the universal philosophy: "It is only through a profounder acquaintance with other sciences that Logic discovers itself to be subjective thought as not a mere abstract Universal, but as a Universal which comprises in itself the full wealth of Particulars" [SLI, p.69; SLM, p. 58]. 

It is at this point that Lenin refers the reader to CAPITAL, repeating Hegel's description of Logic as "not a mere abstract Universal, but as a Universal which comprises in itself the full wealth of Particulars" and then goes into paeans of praise, "a beautiful formula," and again repeats the phrase, adding "Tres bien!" [LCW 38, p. 99]. From now on, it is CAPITAL which Lenin will have in mind throughout his reading of the two volumes (three books) of LOGIC. 

I would like to note also, although I will not elaborate upon this until much later, that the whole of the LOGIC, as well as each section of the LOGIC, as well as each separate thought in the LOGIC, will go through the following development, both as history, as reality, as thought: the movement will always be from U (Universal) through P (Particular) to I (Individual). Lenin takes it in the same form as U-P-I, but reverses the order more often precisely because he is thinking of the PROLETARIAN individual, who is also the social individual and the universal of socialism. Thus, when he concludes his PHILOSOPHIC NOTEBOOKS in those four pages of ["On] Dialectics" [which] I referred to, he says (the translator here used the word "singular," where the strict term is individual and "general" where the strict term is universal): "To begin with the simplest, most ordinary, commonest, etc., proposition, or any proposition one pleases; the leaves of a tree are green; John is a man; Fido is a dog, etc. Here already we have dialectics (as Hegel's genius recognized): the singular is the general. Consequently, opposites (the singular as opposed to the general) are identical; the singular exists only in the connection that leads to the general. The general exists only in the singular and through the singular" [LCW 38, p. 361]. 

In conclusion to his Introduction, Hegel returns once again to Kant, explaining that those who would just disregard him are the very ones who take his results and make the whole philosophy into a "pillow for intellectual sloth" [SLI, p. 73; SLM, p. 62]. (You will remember that that is the quotation I used in Chapter 9 in MARXISM AND FREEDOM, which deals with the Second International.)


1. This three-volume version of Hegel's philosophy, comprising the Smaller LOGIC, the PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE, and the PHILOSOPHY OF MIND (Spirit) was first published in 1817, and then reissued with changes in 1827 and 1830.

2. In 1787 Kant published the second edition of his CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON.

Book Two: The Doctrine of Essenc
Section One: Essence As Reflection Into Self
Chapter I: Show

The profundity of Hegel is seen in the fact that even where he thinks that something is relatively unessential and is, therefore, mere show, that even there the show is also objective. He considers [that] "show, then, is the PHENOMENON of skepticism...skepticism did not dare to affirm 'it is'; modern idealism did not dare to regard cognition as a knowledge of Thing-in-itself" [SLII, p. 22; SLM, p. 396].

Hegel hits out against all idealisms, of Leibniz, Kant, or Fichte. Hegel writes, "It is the immediacy of NOT-BEING, which constitutes Show; but this Not-Being is nothing else than the Negativity of Essence in itself" [SLII, p. 23; SLM, p. 397].

In fact, [in his comments] on the page before [Hegel] said this, when he criticized both skepticism and idealism, Lenin noted: "You include all the manifold riches of the world in SCHEIN [show] and you reject the objectivity of SCHEIN!!" [LCW 38, p. 131]. And again: "Show is Essence in one of its determinations. . Essence thus appears. Show is the phenomenon of Essence in itself" [LCW 38, p. 133]. Lenin further notes that in this section on the Reflection of Essence, Hegel again accuses Kant of subjectivism and insists on the objective validity of Show, "of the immediate given," and notes: "The term, 'GIVEN' is common with Hegel in general. The little philosophers dispute whether one should take as basis the Essence or the immediately given (Kant, Hume, Machists). Hegel substitutes AND for 'or' and explains the concrete content of this 'and'" [LCW 38, p. 134].

Chapter II: The Essentialities or Determinations of Reflection

We will deal here with the three developments in Essence: first, simple self-relation or Identity; secondly, Variety [Difference]; and thirdly, Contradiction. But before Hegel develops these three, he has an observation on so-called "Laws of Thought," which allegedly prove that A cannot be at one and the same time A and not be A. That is absolutely hilarious. "Category, according to its etymology and its Aristotelian definition, is that which is predicated or asserted of the existent. But a determinateness of Being is essentially a transition into the opposite; the negative of any determinateness is as necessary as the determinateness itself; and each immediate determinateness is immediately opposed by the other" [SLII, p. 36; SLM, p. 410].

When Hegel gets to Observation Two, which [Aristotle] called the Law of the Excluded Middle, he again hits out at the idea that something either is or is not A, that there is no third, insisting that there IS a third in the very thesis since A can be both +A and -A: "The something thus is itself the third term which was supposed to be excluded" [SLII, p. 66; SLM, p. 439]. At this point, Lenin remarked: "This is very profound. Every concrete thing, every concrete something stands in diverse and often contradictory relations to all others, ergo, it is itself and another" [LCW 38, p. 138].

As for the observation which follows on the law of Contradiction where Hegel defines Contradiction as the "root of all movement and life, and it is only insofar as it contains a Contradiction that anything moves and has impulse and activity" [SLII, p. 67; SLM, p. 439], Lenin copies out in toto this entire section, at the end of which he makes his famous generalization that the idea of movement and change was disclosed in 1813 by Hegel, that is, by philosophy, and was applied by Marx first in 1847 and by Darwin in 1859 [LCW 38, p. 141].

Indeed, Lenin can hardly stop himself from becoming a complete Hegelian and stressing over and over again how stupid it is to think that Hegel is abstract and abstruse, and how profound is the concept of Contradiction as the force of Movement and how different Thinking, Reason, Notion is to ordinary understanding: "Thinking reason (notion) sharpens the blunted difference of variety, the mere manifold of imagination, to the ESSENTIAL difference, to OPPOSITION. Only when the contradictions reach their peak does manifoldness become mobile (REGSAM) and lively in relation to the other,-acquire that negativity which is the INNER-PULSATION OF SELF-MOVEMENT AND LIFE." [Cf. LCW 38, p. 143; SLII, p. 69; SLM, p. 422]

Chapter III: Ground

The very first sentence – "Essence determines itself as Ground" [SLII, p. 71; SLM, p. 444] – lets us know that we are approaching the climax to Section One of Essence. As soon as Hegel, in the first observation on the Law of Ground, finishes his critique of Leibniz's Law of Sufficient Ground, he develops, in Absolute Ground, all the essentials of Form and Essence, Form and Matter, Form and Content where it becomes quite clear that these cannot be separated; that Form and Matter "presuppose one another" [SLII, p. 79; SLM, p. 452] and Content is the "unity" of Form and Matter [SLII, p. 82; SLM, p. 454]. And as we move from Absolute to Determined [Determinate] Ground and approach Complete Ground, it becomes quite clear that manifoldness or content-determinations could be used indiscriminately so that you could cite something as much FOR as AGAINST something, which is exactly what Socrates correctly argued against as Sophistry, because, of course, such conclusions do not exhaust the thing-in-itself in the sense of "grasp of the connection of things which contain them all" [SLII, p. 94; SLM, p. 466].

It is at this point that we reach the transition from Ground to Condition, which moves Lenin to say, "brilliant: all-world, all-sided LIVING connection of everything with everything else, and of the reflection of this connection – MATERIALISTISCH AUF DEN KOPF GESTELLTER HEGEL [Hegel materialistically turned on his head] – in the concept of man, which must be so polished, so broken-in, flexible, mobile, relative, mutually-tied-in, united in opposition, as to embrace the world. The continuation of the work of Hegel and Marx must consist in the dialectical working out of the history of human thought, science and technique." And at the same spot, Lenin rethinks Marx's CAPITAL, thus: "And a 'purely logical' working out? DAS FALLT ZUSAMMEN [It coincides]. It MUST coincide as does induction and deduction in CAPITAL" [LCW 38, p. 146].

We have now reached the third sub-section of Ground-Condition, which could be defined as History. In 1950, G. [Grace Lee] wrote quite a good letter on that sub-section, but C. L. R. James was no help whatsoever; indeed, he could never develop the strong point of Grace on philosophy. But we can gain something by quoting her letter at this point: "The essence of Hegel's argument is this: It is necessary to get rid of the concept of Ground as a SUBSTRATUM, but when you get rid of this concept of something BEHIND the immediate you have not by any means gotten rid of the fact that the immediate is the result of a MEDIATING process. It is the self-mediating, self-repelling, self-transcending relation of Ground which externalizes itself in the immediate existent. Hence the relentless phrasing and rephrasing of his thesis that 'The Fact Emerges Out of Ground.'"

The exact statement from Hegel reads: "When all the Conditions of a fact are present, it enters into Existence. The fact is before it EXISTS..." [SLII, p. 105; SLM, p. 477].

Now at this point, Lenin wrote: "Very good! What has the Absolute Idea and Idealism to find here? Remarkable, this 'derivation' of Existence" [LCW 38, p. 147]. We may be bold enough to answer the question, or better still, recognize that Lenin answered his own question when he reached the last part of Hegel precisely on the Absolute Idea, and therefore noted: (1) That one must read the WHOLE of the LOGIC to understand CAPITAL; (2) that man's cognition not only reflects the world, but "creates" it; (3) and noted in his conclusions that there was more sense in Idealism than in vulgar materialism, which made him so anxious to try to get the ENCYCLOPEDIA GRANAT to return his essay on Marx, so that he could expand the section on dialectics.

I want to return to the question of Condition as History, as well as to the expression that "The Fact IS before it EXISTS." The History that Hegel had in mind was, of course, the historic period in which he lived, following the French Revolution, which brought not the millennium, but new contradictions, i.e., philosophically speaking, Ground had been transformed into Condition and we did get a totality of Movement – the Fact-in-itself. The new contradictions will once again show that facts, facts, facts can also hide[:] "the unity of Form is submerged" [SLII, p. 104; SLM, p. 475].

And of course we know that our historic epoch, much more than Hegel's, demands more of reality than just a sound of "immediates." For example, scientifically with Einstein, we get to know that facts, too, are relative. So that once again we need self-transcendence and therefore, in the expression "the fact is before it exists," we recognize the process of emergence of something new, and in its emergence we therefore get the transition to Existence. In our terms, if we think of the actual historical development of the working class in Marx's CAPITAL, we have "Ground in Unity with its Condition."

Section Two: Appearance

Here again, the very first sentence is a leap forward: "Essence must appear" [SLII, p. 107; SLM, p. 479]. So we can no longer merely contrast Appearance to Essence, because, while there may be much Appearance that is only "show," it also contains Essence itself (which in turn will soon mean we are moving to a real crisis or Actuality).

The three sub-sections on Appearance are: (1) Existence, (2) Appearance and (3) Essential Relation.

(I might state that Sartre's Existentialism is nowhere near this important section of Hegel's LOGIC, for in Hegel "whatever exists has a Ground and is conditioned" [SLII, p. 109; SLM, p. 481], whereas in Sartre, both the Ground and the Condition are quite subordinate to the Ego's disgust with it all.)

The real tendency, as well as actuality, that we should have before us in studying this section on Appearance is Stalinism and its non-essential critique in Trotskyism. That is to say, if Essence – the present stage of capitalism or the present stage of the counter-revolutionary appearance of the labor bureaucracy-must appear, then Stalinism, which has appeared, is not just any old bureaucracy that has no connection with a new economic state of world development. On the contrary, the Appearance – Stalinism – and the Essence – state-capitalism – are one and the same, or the Form of a new Content. Trotskyism, on the other hand, by putting up a Chinese wall between what is mere Appearance to what is true Essence (and to him, the Essence is not capitalism, but the form of workers' state) has not been able to analyze either Stalinism or state-capitalism. I mean, either Stalinism as a mere perversion of the early Soviets, or Stalinism as the absolute opposite of that early workers' state.5

To get back to Hegel and Lenin's notes on Hegel, Lenin is quite impressed with Hegel's Analysis of the Law of Appearance, the World of Appearance and the World-in-Itself, and the Dissolution of Appearance, which are the sub-sections of Chapter II of this section.

Lenin keeps stressing at this point "the remarkably materialistic" analysis that flows from this objective analysis which will, of course, become the basis of Marx's analysis of the economic laws of capitalism. When Hegel writes "Law, then, is essential appearance" [SLII, p. 133; SLM, p. 504], Lenin concludes, "Ergo, Law and Essence of Concept are homogeneous (of one order) or, more correctly, uniform, expressing the deepening of man's knowledge of Appearance, the world, etc." [LCW 38, p. 152]. Finally, "The essence here is that both the World of Appearance and the World which is in and for itself are essentially MOMENTS of knowledge of nature by man, stages, changes or deepening (of knowledge). The movement of the world in itself ever further and further FROM the world of appearance-that is what is not yet visible in Hegel. NB. Do not the 'moments' of conception with Hegel have significance of 'moments' of transition?" [LCW 38, p. 153].

Chapter III: Essential Relation

"The truth of Appearance is Essential Relation" [SLII, p. 142; SLM, p. 512].

The relationship of the Whole and the Parts, you may recall from my various lectures on Hegel, has to me been a key, not merely to this section of Hegel, but to the entire philosophy of both Hegel and Marx. Thus, when I say that the whole is not only the sum total of the parts, but has a pull on the parts that are not yet there, even as the future has a pull on the present, it is obvious that we have moved from abstract philosophic conceptions to the actual world, and form the actual world back again to philosophy, but this time as enriched by the actual.

As Hegel puts it, "the Whole and the Parts therefore CONDITION each other" [SLII, p. 145; SLM, p. 515], "the Whole is equal to the Parts and the Parts to the Whole... But further, although the Whole is equal to the Parts, it is not equal TO THEM as Parts; the Whole is reflected unity" [SLII, p. 146; SLM, pp. 515-16]. "Thus, the relation of Whole and Parts has passed over into a relation of Force and its Manifestation" [SLII, p. 147; SLM, p. 517]. Indeed, we will move from that to the relation of Outer and Inner, which will become the transition to Substance and Actuality.

On the relationship of Outer and Inner, Lenin stresses what he calls "the unexpected slipping in of the CRITERIA of Hegel's Dialectic" – where Hegel notes that the relationship of Inner and Outer is apparent "in every natural, scientific, and, generally, intellectual development" [SLII, p. 157; SLM, p. 526] – and Lenin concludes, therefore, "that is where lies the SEED of the deep truth in the mystical balderdash of Hegelianism!" [LCW 38, p. 155].

Section Three: Actuality

The introductory note will stress that "Actuality is the UNITY OF ESSENCE AND EXISTENCE... This unity of Inner and Outer is ABSOLUTE ACTUALITY." He will divide Actuality into Possibility and Necessity as the "formal moments" of the Absolute, or its reflection. And finally, the unity of this Absolute and its reflection will become the Absolute Relation "or, rather, the Absolute as relation to itself, – SUBSTANCE" [SLII, p. 160; SLM, p. 529].

At this point in the Preliminary Note [on the Absolute], Lenin gets quite peeved at the idealist in Hegel and he divides the expression that "there is no becoming in the Absolute" [SLII, p. 162; SLM, p. 531] into two sentences by stating "and other nonsense about the Absolute" [LCW 38, p. 156]. But, as usual, it will not be long before Lenin is full of praise of Hegel and his section on Actuality.

To me, the most important part of Chapter I of Section Three, the Absolute, is the Observation [SLII, p. 167-72; SLM, pp. 536-40] on the philosophy of Spinoza: "DETERMINATENESS IS NEGATION – this is the absolute principle of Spinoza's philosophy, and this true and simple insight is the foundation of the absolute unity of Substance. But Spinoza does not pass on beyond negation as determinateness or quality to a recognition of it as absolute, that is, self-negating, negation" [SLII, p. 168; SLM, p. 536]. Hegel's conclusion is that though the dialectic is in it until Spinoza gets to Substance, it there stops: "Substance lacks the principle of Personality" [SLII, p. 168; SLM, p. 537]. And again later Hegel writes: "In a similar manner in the Oriental idea of EMANATION the Absolute is self-illuminating light" [SLII, p. 170; SLM, p. 538].

From now on, the polemical movement in the LOGIC will take a very subordinate place; the observations will do the same. Indeed, for the rest of the entire work, Hegel will have only two observations, as contrasted to the beginning of the SCIENCE OF LOGIC, where after but one single page on Being, he had no less than four observations (really five when you consider the one on Transcendence of Becoming) which took up no less than 23 pages.

In a word, the closer he approaches the Notion, especially the Absolute Idea, that is to say, the climax of his system as it has been comprehensively and profoundly developed both historically and polemically, the more he has absorbed all that is of value in the other systems of philosophy, rejected that which is not, and presented a truly objective worldview of history and philosophy, which contains the elements of a future society inherent in the present. (We will return to this point at the end.)

Of Chapter II on Actuality, the categories dealt with – Contingency, or formal Actuality, Possibility and Necessity – are all to pave the way to Chapter III, the Absolute Relation, which is the apex of the Doctrine of Essence and will bring us to the Notion.

Lenin begins to free himself of any residue of taking the empiric concrete as the Real or Actual. Near [Hegel's discussion of] the question of the relationship of Substantiality and Causality, Lenin writes: "On the one hand, we must deepen the knowledge of matter to the knowledge (to the concept) of substance, in order to find the causes of appearance. On the other hand, actual knowledge of causes is the deepening of knowledge from externality of appearance to substance. Two types of examples should explain this: (1) out of the history of natural science and (2) from the history of philosophy. More precisely: not 'examples' should be here – COMPARISON N'EST PAS RAISON [comparison is not proof], – but the QUINTESSENCE of the one and the other history – plus the history of technique" [LCW 38, p. 159].

A couple of pages later, Lenin will note that Hegel "FULLY leads up to History under Causality" and again, that the ordinary understanding of Causality fails to see that it is "only a small part of the universal connection" [LCW 38, p. 160] and that the small part is not subjective, but the objectively real connection. Indeed, Lenin very nearly makes fun, along with Hegel, of course, of Cause and Effect. Where Hegel wrote, "Effect therefore is necessary just because it is manifestation of Cause, or because it is that Necessity which is Cause" [SLII, p. 192; SLM, p. 559], Lenin noted that, of course, both Cause and Effect are "only Moments of the universal interdependence, of the universal concatenation of events, only links in the chain of the development of Matter" [LCW 38, p. 159]. And by the time he has finished with this chapter and met up with Hegel's definition of the next and final part of the Logic, the Notion, "the Realm of Subjectivity or of Freedom" [SLII, p. 205; SLM, p. 571], Lenin translates this without any self-consciousness over the word "Subjective," as follows: "NB-Freedom=subjectivity ("or") goal, consciousness, striving" [LCW 38, p. 164].

It is important to note that Herbert Marcuse in his REASON AND REVOLUTION also chooses this, not only as the climax, which it is, to the Doctrine of Essence, but more or less as the Essence of the whole of Hegelian philosophy. Thus, on p. 153, he states, "Without a grasp of the distinction between Reality and Actuality, Hegel's philosophy is meaningless in its decisive principles."


  1. "Machists" refers to the followers of Ernst Mach (1838-1916), Austrian physicist and philosopher who argued that all knowledge is a conceptual organization of the data of sensory experience.
  2. This letter of March 22, 1950 has not been located, but extracts of it appear in notes later prepared by Dunayevskaya. See SUPPLEMENT TO THE RAYA DUNAYEVSKAYA COLLECTION, 14670-72.
  3. Hegel writes in the same paragraph that "the immediacy of Being essentially is only a moment of Form" [SLII, p. 104; SLM, p. 476].
  4. A reference to Sartre's BEING AND NOTHINGNESS.
  5. Compare the discussion of form and essence in Dunayevskaya's 1949 "Notes on Chapter 1 of Marx's CAPITAL: Its Relation to Hegel's Logic," in Dunayevskaya, THE MARXIST-HUMANIST THEORY OF STATE-CAPITALISM, pp. 89-94.
  6. For Hegel, matter and substances do not simply possess various forces (such as weight or magnetism), they also are forces. This is in keeping with his overall view that we cannot adequately apprehend the world as substance only, but must eventually view it also as subject. Force is not yet subject, but it does convey motion and change, rather than simple inert substantiality.
    Hegel writes in his observation on "the immediate identity of inner and outer" that they are not so separate as common sense would believe, for "each immediately is not only its other but also the totality of the whole" [SLII, p. 157; SLM, p. 526].

Volume II:
Subjective Logic or the Doctrine of the Notion

With the Notion, we reach, at one and the same time, that which in philosophic terms is oldest, most written about, and purely intellectualistic; and, from a Marxist point of view, least written about, most "feared" as idealistic, unreal, "pure" thought – in a word, a closed ontology.

And yet it is the Doctrine of the Notion that develops the categories of Freedom and, therefore, should mean the objective and subjective means whereby a new society is born. It is true that CONSCIOUSLY for Hegel this was done only in thought, while in life contradictions persisted. But what was for Hegel consciously does not explain away the objective pull of the future on the present, and the present as history (the French Revolution for Hegel), and not just as the status quo of an existing state. Be that as it [may], let's follow Hegel himself.

Before we reach Section One, there is the Introductory "On the Notion in General." We will meet in Lenin constant references to Marx's CAPITAL from now on. Thus, in this early section, Lenin notes that Hegel is entirely right as against Kant on the question of thought NOT separating from truth, but going toward it, as it emerges from the Concrete and moves to the Abstract: "Abstraction of MATTER, of natural LAW, of VALUE, etc., in a word, ALL scientific (correct, serious, not absurd) abstractions reflect nature more deeply, truer, FULLER. From living observation to abstract thinking, and from this to practice – such is the dialectic road to knowledge of truth, the knowledge of objective reality. Kant degrades knowledge in order to make place for belief; Hegel elevates knowledge believing that knowledge is knowledge of God. The materialist elevates knowledge of matter, of nature, throwing God and the philosophic rabble defending him into the dung heap" [LCW 38, p. 171].

The section to which Lenin refers in Hegel is "It will always remain a matter for astonishment how the Kantian philosophy knew that relation of thought to sensuous existence, where it halted, for a merely relative relation of bare appearance, and fully acknowledged and asserted a higher unity of the two in the Idea in general, and, particularly, in the idea of an intuitive understanding; but yet stopped dead at this relative relation and at the assertion that the Notion is and remains utterly separated from reality; – so that it affirmed as true what it pronounced to be finite knowledge, and declared to be superfluous and improper figments of thought that which it recognized as truth, and of which it established the definite notion" [SLII, p. 226; SLM, p. 592].

It could also be said that Khrushchev's "peaceful coexistence" and Kant's indifferent coexistence of Absolute and the Particular or Reason and Understanding coincide also in the fact that Kant does see a dialectical relationship between the two, unlike Leibniz, who saw only harmony arising from it.

Section One: Subjectivity

Chapter I: Notion

The forms of the Notion are: Universal, Particular, Individual. These three forms of Notion are the categories which express development in this entire book, even as in the Doctrine of Essence it was the categories of Identity, Difference and Contradiction; and in Being, it was Quantity, Quality and Measure, with this difference: that the movement in the Doctrine of the Notion from Universal to Particular to Individual could characterize the movement of all three books of the SCIENCE OF LOGIC, thus, Being standing for Universal, Particular standing for Essence, and Individual standing for Notion.

It is this first meeting with U-P-I that makes Lenin say that it reminds him of Marx's first chapter in CAPITAL. Not only that; he begins immediately thereafter (that is, after dealing with chapter II – Judgment – and in the Approach to chapter III on Syllogism) to make the famous aphorism: (1) Relating to the relationship between Abstract and Concrete: "Just as the simple value form, the individual act of exchange of a given commodity with another already includes in undeveloped form all major contradictions of capitalism-so the simplest generalization, the first and simplest forming of notions (judgments, syllogisms, etc.) signifies the ever-greater knowledge of the objective world connections. Here it is necessary to seek the real sense, significance and role of Hegelian logic" [LCW 38, pp. 178-79]. (2) Where he rejects Plekhanov as a vulgar materialist, or at least having criticized Kant only as a vulgar materialist. (3) Includes himself when he says that all Marxists at the beginning of the twentieth century had done so. (4) And where he concludes that it is impossible to understand CAPITAL without understanding the whole of Hegel's LOGIC. (The friends should reread the whole chapter on Lenin in MARXISM AND FREEDOM.)

I have had to skip a great deal which at another time must be studied more carefully, both on the question of the Judgment – where Hegel lists four major forms and a total of twelve for a sub-section – and the syllogism, where we have three major sections, each containing four sub-sections. It is not only because I am hurrying to get to the sections which have not been dealt with in any great detail by Marxists, but because for OUR age this section on Subjectivity is not the subjectivity which has absorbed all objectivity and which we will first read in the Absolute Idea. One phrase from the last paragraph in Hegel's section on the Syllogism will, however, be of the Essence: "The Syllogism is Mediation – the complete Notion in its Positedness" [SLII, p. 342; SLM, p. 704]. The key word is Mediation. It is of the Essence in all thought, as well as in all struggles. Indeed, it could be said that mediation IS the conflict of forces. For example, all of Essence could be summed up in the word Mediation, or, if instead of Essence, you're thinking concretely of production in CAPITAL, then of course it is production relations. So that what U-P-I does in showing the GENERAL movement in LOGIC, mediation is the CONCRETE struggle and appears in ALL three books: in Being, it is Measure, which is, of course, the threshold of Essence; in Essence, it is Actuality, or more specifically, Causality which, as Reciprocity, brings us to the threshold of Notion; in Notion, it is Action, Practice, which supersedes Subjectivity of Purpose and THUS achieves unity of Theory and Practice.

Section Two: Objectivity

The three chapters in this section – I, Mechanism; II, Chemism; III, Teleology – are devastating analyses of Bukharin's HISTORICAL MATERIALISM over one hundred years before it was ever written...

For us, what is important is Lenin's profound understanding in 1914, AS AGAINST the period when HE gave the green light to vulgar materialism with his MATERIALISM AND EMPIRIO-CRITICISM, of the fact that the mechanical, chemical and even teleological – that is to say, subjectively purposeful – are no substitute for the SELF-DEVELOPING subject. Lenin notes here that Hegel laid the basis for historical materialism, quoting Hegel's statement "In his tools man possesses power over external nature, even although, according to his Ends, he frequently is subjected to it. But the End does not only remain outside the Mechanical process: it also preserves itself within it, and is its determination. The End, as the Notion which exists as free against the object and its process and is self-determining activity, equally is the truth which is in and for itself of Mechanism..." [SLII, p. 388; SLM, p. 747].

Lenin further defends Hegel for his seeming strain to "subsume" the purposeful activity of man under the category of logic because, as Lenin states it: "There is here a very deep content, purely materialistic. It is necessary to turn this around; the practical activity of man billions of times must bring the consciousness of man to the repetition of the various logical figures, in order that these should achieve the significance of an AXIOM" [LCW 38, p. 190].

I believe that Hegel here is criticizing what we will much later in history know as The Plan. Intellectual planning, or what Hegel would call "Self-Determination applied externally," is certainly no substitute for the self-developing subject, not even as idealistically expressed by Hegel in the Absolute Idea.

Section Three: The Idea

Lenin notes that the introductory section to this is very nearly the best description of the dialectic. It is in this section that we will go through chapter I on Life; chapter II on the Idea of Cognition, which will not only deal with Analytic and Synthetic Cognition, but will take up the question of Practice, Volition, the Idea of the True and the Idea of the Good; and finally, chapter III on the Absolute Idea.

It is the section in which Lenin will write, although he will not develop it, that "man's cognition not only reflects the world, but creates it" [LCW 38, p. 212]. He will also stress over and over and over again totality, Inter-dependence of Notions of ALL Notions, RELATIONSHIPS, Transitions, Unity of Opposites and various ways of defining dialectics from the single expression that it is the transformation of one into its opposite, to the more elaborate threefold definition of dialectic, as including Determination, Contradiction and Unity; and finally, the sixteen-point definition of dialectic, which passes through Objectivity, Development, Struggle and finally Negation of the Negation.

Lenin will also do a lot of "translations" of the word Idea, the word Absolute, which in some places he uses as no different than Objective, but in other places as the unity of Objective and Subjective. It is obvious that Lenin is very greatly moved by the fact that Practice occupies so very great a place in Hegel, but feels that, nevertheless, this practice is limited to the theory of knowledge. I do not believe so. (See my original letters on the Absolute Idea, May 12 and 20, 1953.)

Let's retrace our steps back to the beginning of this whole section on the Idea. Hegel argues against the expression "MERELY IDEAS: now if thoughts are merely subjective and contingent they certainly have no further value. . . And if conversely the Idea is not to be rated as true because, with respect to phenomena, it is transcendent, and no object can be assigned to it, in the sensuous world, to which it conforms, this is a strange lack of understanding, for so the Idea is denied objective validity because it lacks that which constitutes appearance, or the untrue being of the objective world" [SLII, p. 396; SLM, p. 756]. Hegel gives Kant credit for having rejected this "vulgar appeal" to experience, and recognized the objective validity of thought-only to never have thought and reality meet. Hegel breaks down the Determinations of Idea as, first, Universal; second, a relationship of Subjectivity to Objectivity, which is an impulse to transcend the separation; and finally, the self-identity of Identity and Process so that "in the Idea the Notion reaches Freedom..." [SLII, p. 399; SLM, p. 759].

On that same page, he states, in very materialistic terms indeed, that the "Idea has its reality in some kind of matter." Hegel will then take idea through Life through what he calls the Idea of the True and the Good as Cognition and Volition.

In the Idea of Cognition, Hegel will inform us that his PHENOMENOLOGY OF MIND is a science which stands between Nature and Mind, which in a way seems contradictory since it has served as the "introduction" to his LOGIC, and he will further summarize it when he comes to the PHILOSOPHY OF MIND.

He will hit out a great deal sharper at Jacobi than at Kant, although he gives Jacobi credit for showing that the Kantian method of demonstration is "simply bound within the circle of the rigid necessity of the finite, and that freedom (that is, the Notion, and whatever is true) lies beyond its sphere and scope" [SLII, p. 458; SLM, p. 816].

But he gets less and less interested in other philosophers, the more he reaches the question of Freedom, Liberation, Unity of Theory and Practice: "In this result then Cognition is reconstructed and united with the Practical Idea; the actuality which is found as given is at the same time determined as the realized absolute end, – not however (as in inquiring Cognition) merely as objective world without the subjectivity of the Notion, but as objective world whose inner ground and actual persistence is the Notion. This is THE ABSOLUTE IDEA" [SLII, p. 465; SLM, p. 823].

This is because, in reaching this final chapter, the Absolute Idea, he is through with all which we would politically describe as "taking over"; that is to say, capitalism will develop all technology so perfectly for us that all the proletariat will have to do will be to "take over." As we reject this concept politically, Hegel rejects it philosophically. He has now so absorbed all the other systems that, far from taking over, he is first going back to a TOTALLY NEW BEGINNING.

Here is what I mean: Take a philosopher like Spinoza. Despite his profound dialectical understanding that "every determination is a negation," he went to God taking over. This concept of Absolute, Absolute Substance, Hegel rejects, even as he rejects the Absolute Ego of Fichte and Schelling, and the Absolute of the General Good Will of Kant. Note how every single time, in no matter which section of the LOGIC you take, [when] Hegel reaches an absolute for that stage, he throws it aside to start out all over again. So that when he reaches the Notion, he is dealing with it as a new beginning AFTER he rejected Absolute Substance, and that even his Notion has the dialectic of further development; indeed Universal, Particular, Individual is the absolute Mediation, or the development of the LOGIC.

If, for example, we stop in the Absolute Idea at the Expression: "the self-determination in which alone the Idea is, is to hear itself speak" [SLII, p. 467; SLM, p. 825], we can see that the whole Logic (both logic and LOGIC) is a logic of self-determination and never more so than at the VERY POINT when you have reached an Absolute – say, growing internationalization of capital. You then go NOT to taking over, but breaking it down to the new beginning in the self-determination of nations; or when the state had reached the high stage of centralization, you most certainly do not go to taking over, but rather to the destruction of the state.

Hegel can reach these anticipations of the future because a very truly great step in philosophic cognition is made only when a new way of reaching freedom has become possible, as it had with the French Revolution. If at that point you do not cramp your thoughts, then you will first be amazed on how very close to reality-the reality of the present which includes the elements of the future-thought really is.

To me, that is why Hegel makes so much of the method. It is not because that is all we get from Hegel – method – but because the end and the means are absolutely inseparable. Thus, on p. 468, Hegel writes: "The method therefore is both soul and substance, and nothing is either conceived or known in its truth except in so far as it is completely subject to the method; it is the peculiar method of each individual fact because its activity is the Notion." It isn't true, for example, as Lenin stated, that Hegel ended this chapter at the point [SLII, p. 485; SLM, p. 843] where Notion and reality unite AS NATURE, which Lenin translated to mean as Practice. In this final paragraph, Hegel proceeds on to show the link back from Nature to Mind, and of course we know that those two transitions were in themselves two full books.(5)

Or as Hegel puts it: "The transition here therefore must rather be taken to mean that the Idea freely releases itself in absolute self-security and self-repose. By reason of this freedom the form of its determinateness also is utterly free – the externality of space and time which is absolutely for itself and without subjectivity" [SLII, p. 486; SLM, p. 843].

Marcuse thinks that it is this statement about the Idea releasing itself freely as Nature, "this statement of putting the transition forward as an actual process in reality that offers great difficulty in the understanding of Hegel's system." But he himself doesn't attempt to overcome these difficulties. On the contrary, he disregards them, accepting the idea that it is a closed ontology and the best we can do is take this method and use it as a critical theory.

One thing is clear to me, that when Hegel wrote that the "transcendence of the opposition between Notion and Reality, and that unity which is the truth, rests upon this subjectivity alone" [SLII, p. 477; SLM, p. 835], the subjectivity was certainly not to be that of the philosopher, despite all of Hegel's hopes that it would be, but that of a new, lower, deeper layer of "world spirit," or, to be specific, the proletariat and those freedom-fighters in backward Africa, who just will freedom so much that they make it come true. For what happens after [the revolution], however, that truth must arise not only from the movement from Practice, but also that FROM THEORY. The negation of the negation will not be a generality, not even the generality of a new society for the old, but the specific of self-liberation, which is the humanism of the human BEING, as well as his philosophy.


  1. Although the Doctrine of the Notion or Subjective Logic is, Hegel writes, "the third part of the whole" [SLII, p. 209; SLM, p. 575] it was originally published as volume two of the SCIENCE OF LOGIC in 1816. Parts One and Two, the Doctrine of Being and the Doctrine of Essence were first published four years earlier in volume one, entitled "The Objective Logic."
  2. Nikolai Bukharin, HISTORICAL MATERIALISM: A SYSTEM OF SOCIOLOGY (New York: International Publishers, 1925). This work was attacked for its "positivistic Aristotelianism" by Antonio Gramsci. See Gramsci, SELECTIONS FROM PRISON NOTEBOOKS (New York: International Publishers, 1971), p. 437.
  3. Dunayevskaya has here apparently shortened the phrase "self-determination is applied to them only externally" [SLII, p. 391; SLM, p. 750].
  4. These letters are included in THE PHILOSOPHIC MOMENT OF MARXIST-HUMANISM (Chicago: News and Letters, 1989).
    Marcuse, REASON AND REVOLUTION, p. 166.