Hegel’s Science of Logic

Highlighted text is Lenin's underlining. The ® accesses Lenin's annotations.

Subjective Logic

The Doctrine of the Notion


§ 1277

This part of the logic which contains the Doctrine of the Notion and constitutes the third part of the whole, is also issued under the particular title System of Subjective Logic, for the convenience of those friends of this science who are accustomed to take a greater interest in the matters here treated and included in the scope of logic commonly so called, than in the further logical topics treated in the first two parts. For these earlier parts I could claim the indulgence of fair-minded critics on account of the scant preliminary studies in this field which could have afforded me a support, material, and a guiding thread. In the case of the present part, I may claim their indulgence rather for the opposite reason; for the logic of the Notion, a completely ready-made and solidified, one may say, ossified material is already to hand, and the problem is to render this material fluid and to re-kindle the spontaneity of the Notion in such dead matter. If the building of a new city in a waste land is attended with difficulties, yet there is no shortage of materials; but the abundance of materials presents all the more obstacles of another kind when the task is to remodel an ancient city, solidly built, and maintained in continuous possession and occupation. Among other things one must resolve to make no use at all of much material that has hitherto been highly esteemed. ®

§ 1278

But above all, the grandeur of the subject matter may be advanced as an excuse for the imperfect execution. For what subject matter can cognition have that is more sublime than truth itself! Yet the doubt whether it is not just this subject matter that requires an excuse may occur to us if we recall the sense in which Pilate put the question, What is truth? In the words of the poet: 'With the courtier's mien that purblind yet smiling condemns the cause of the earnest soul.' Pilate's question bears the meaning — which may be regarded as an element in good manners — together with a reminder of it, that the aim of attaining truth is, as everyone knows, something given up and long since set aside, and that the unattainableness of truth is recognised even among professional philosophers and logicians. But if the question that religion raises as to the value of things, insights, and actions — a question which in its import has a like meaning — is once more vindicating its claims in our days, then philosophy must surely hope that it will no longer be thought so strange if it, too, in its immediate domain once more asserts its true aim, and, after having lapsed into the manner and method of other sciences and their renunciation of the claim to truth, strives to rise again to that aim. In respect of this attempt, it is not, strictly speaking, permissible to offer any apology; but in respect of the execution, I may plead in excuse that my official duties and other personal circumstances allowed me but scattered hours of labour at a science that demands and deserves undistracted and undivided exertion.

Nuremberg, July 21, 1816

The Notion in General

§ 1279

What the nature of the Notion is, can no more be stated offhand than can the Notion of any other object. It might perhaps seem that, in order to state the Notion of an object, the logical element were presupposed and that therefore this could not in turn have something else for its presupposition, nor be deduced; just as in geometry logical propositions as applied to magnitude and employed in that science, are premised in the form of axioms, determinations of cognition that have not been and cannot be deduced. Now although it is true that the Notion is to be regarded, not merely as a subjective presupposition but as the absolute foundation, yet it can be so only in so far as it has made itself the foundation. Abstract immediacy is no doubt a first; yet in so far as it is abstract it is, on the contrary mediated, and therefore if it is to be grasped in its truth its foundation must first be sought. Hence this foundation, though indeed an immediate, must have made itself immediate through the sublation of mediation.

§ 1280

From this aspect the Notion is to be regarded in the first instance simply as the third to being and essence, to the immediate and to reflection. Being and essence are so far the moments of its becoming; but it is their foundation and truth as the identity in which they are submerged and contained. They are contained in it because it is their result, but no longer as being and essence. That determination they possess only in so far as they have not withdrawn into this their unity.

§ 1281

Objective logic therefore, which treats of being and essence constitutes properly the genetic exposition of the Notion. More precisely, substance is already real essence, or essence in so far as it is united with being and has entered into actuality. Consequently, the Notion has substance for its immediate presupposition; what is implicit in substance is manifested in the Notion. Thus the dialectical movement of substance through causality and reciprocity is the immediate genesis of the Notion, the exposition of the process of its becoming. But the significance of its becoming, as of every becoming is that it is the reflection of the transient into its ground and that the at first apparent other into which the former has passed constitutes its truth. Accordingly the Notion is the truth of substance; and since substance has necessity for its specific mode of relationship, freedom reveals itself as the truth of necessity and as the mode of relationship proper to the Notion.

§ 1282

The progressive determination of substance necessitated by its own nature, is the positing of what is in and for itself. Now the Notion is that absolute unity of being and reflection in which being is in and for itself only in so far as it is no less reflection or positedness, and positedness is no less being that is in and for itself. This abstract result is elucidated by the exposition of its concrete genesis; that exposition contains the nature of the Notion whose treatment it must have preceded. The chief moments of this exposition (which has been given in detail in the Second Book of the Objective Logic) can therefore only be briefly summarised here.

§ 1283

Substance is the absolute, the actuality that is in and for itself in itself as the simple identity of possibility and actuality, absolute essence containing all actuality and possibility within itself; and for itself, being this identity as absolute power or purely self-related negativity. The movement of substantiality posited by these moments consists in the following stages:

§ 1284

1. Substance, as absolute power or self-related negativity, differentiates itself into a relationship in which what were at first only simple moments are substances and original presuppositions. Their specific relationship is that of a passive substance, of the original immediacy of the simple inwardness or in-itself which, powerless to posit itself, is only an original positedness and of an active substance, the self-related negativity which as such has posited itself in the form of an other and relates itself to this other. This other is simply the passive substance which the active substance through its own originative power has presupposed for itself as condition. This presupposing is to be understood in the sense that the movement of substance itself is, in the first instance, under the form of one of the moments of its Notion, the in-itself, and the determinateness of one of the substances standing in relationship is also the determinateness of this relationship itself.

§ 1285

2. The other moment is being-for-self, which means that the power posits itself as self-related negativity, thereby sublating again what was presupposed. The active substance is the cause; it acts, that is, it now posits, whereas previously it only presupposed; so that (a) to the power is now added the illusory show of power, to the positedness the illusory show of positedness. What in the presupposition was original, becomes in causality, through the relation to an other, what it is in itself; the cause produces an effect, and that, too, in another substance; it is now power in relation to an other and thus appears as a cause, but is a cause only in virtue of this appearing. (b) The effect enters the passive substance, whereby it now also appears as a positedness, but is a passive substance only as such positedness.

§ 1286

3. But there is still more present in this than only this appearance, namely: (a) the cause acts on the passive substance and alters its determination; but this is positedness, there is nothing else in it to alter; the other determination, however, that it receives is causality; the passive substance therefore becomes cause, power and activity: (b) the effect is posited in it by the cause; but that which is posited by the cause is the cause itself which, in acting, is identical with itself; it is this that puts itself in the place of the passive substance. Similarly, with regard to the active substance, (a) the action is the translation of the cause into the effect, into the other of the cause, into positedness, and (b) the cause reveals itself in the effect as what it is; the effect is identical with the cause, is not an other-; thus the cause in acting reveals the posited being as that which the cause essentially is. Each side, therefore, in both its identical and negative relation to the other becomes the opposite of itself, so that the other, and therefore also each, remains identical with itself. But the identical and the negative relations are both one and the same; substance is self-identical only in its opposite and this constitutes the absolute identity of the substances posited as a duality. Active substance, through the act of positing itself as the opposite of itself, an act which is at the same time the sublating of its presupposed otherness, of passive substance, is manifested as cause or originative substantiality. Conversely, through being acted on, posited being is manifested as posited, the negative as negative, and therefore passive substance as self-related negativity, the cause meeting in this other simply and solely with its own self. Through this positing, then, the presupposed or implicit originativeness becomes explicit or for itself; yet this being that is in and for itself is such only in so far as this positing is equally a sublating of what was presupposed; in other words absolute substance has returned to itself and so become absolute, only out of and in its positedness. Hence this reciprocity is the appearance that again sublates itself, the revelation that the illusory being of causality in which the cause appears as cause, is illusory being. This infinite reflection-into-self, namely, that being is in and for itself only in so far as it is posited, is the consummation of substance. But this consummation is no longer substance itself but something higher, the Notion, the subject. The transition of the relation of substantiality takes place through its own immanent necessity and is nothing more than the manifestation of itself, that the Notion is its truth, and that freedom is the truth of necessity.

§ 1287

I have already mentioned in the Second Book of the Objective Logic that the philosophy which adopts the standpoint of substance and stops there is the system of Spinoza. I also indicated there the defect of that system alike as to form and to matter. But the refutation of the system is another matter. With respect to the refutation of a philosophical system I have elsewhere also made the general observation that one must get rid of the erroneous idea of regarding the system as out and out false, as if the true system by contrast were only opposed to the false. The context itself in which Spinoza's system here finds mention provides the true standpoint of the system and the question whether it is true or false. The relation of substance resulted from the nature of essence; this relation and its exposition as a developed totality in a system is, therefore, a necessary standpoint assumed by the absolute. Such a standpoint, therefore, is not to be regarded as an opinion, a subjective, arbitrary way of thinking of an individual, as an aberration of speculation; on the contrary, speculative thinking in the course of its progress finds itself necessarily occupying that standpoint and to that extent the system is perfectly true; but it is not the highest standpoint. Yet this does not mean that the system can be regarded as false, as requiring and being capable of refutation; on the contrary, the only thing about it to be considered false is its claim to be the highest standpoint. Consequently, the true system cannot have the relation to it of being merely opposed to it; for if this were so, the system, as this opposite, would itself be one-sided. On the contrary, the true system as the higher, must contain the subordinate system within itself.

§ 1288

Further, the refutation must not come from outside, that is, it must not proceed from assumptions lying outside the system in question and inconsistent with it. The system need only refuse to recognise those assumptions; the defect is a defect only for him who starts from the requirements and demands based on those assumptions. ®

Thus it has been said that for anyone who does not presuppose as an established fact the freedom and self-subsistence of the self-conscious subject there cannot be any refutation of Spinozism. Besides, a standpoint so lofty and so intrinsically rich as the relation of substance, far from ignoring those assumptions even contains them: one of the attributes of Spinoza's substance is thinking. On the contrary, Spinozism knows how to resolve and assimilate the determinations in which these assumptions conflict with it, so that they appear in the system, but in the modifications appropriate to it. The nerve, therefore, of the external refutation consists solely in clinging stubbornly to the antitheses of these assumptions, for example, to the absolute self-subsistence of the thinking individual as against the form of thought posited in absolute substance as identical with extension. The genuine refutation must penetrate the opponent's stronghold and meet him on his own ground; no advantage is gained by attacking him somewhere else and defeating him where he is not. The only possible refutation of Spinozism must therefore consist, in the first place, in recognising its standpoint as essential and necessary and then going on to raise that standpoint to the higher one through its own immanent dialectic. The relationship of substance considered simply and solely in its own intrinsic nature leads on to its opposite, to the Notion. The exposition of substance (contained in the last book) which leads on to the Notion is, therefore, the sole and genuine refutation of Spinozism. It is the unveiling of substance, and this is the genesis of the Notion, the chief moments of which have been brought together above. The unity of substance is its relation of necessity; but this unity is only an inner necessity; in positing itself through the moment of absolute negativity it becomes a manifested or posited identity, and thereby the freedom which is the identity of the Notion. The Notion, the totality resulting from the reciprocal relation, is the unity of the two substances standing in that relation; but in this unity they are now free, for they no longer possess their identity as something blind, that is to say, as something merely inner; on the contrary, the substances now have essentially the status of an illusory being, of being moments of reflection, whereby each is no less immediately united with its other or its positedness and each contains its positedness within itself, and consequently in its other is posited as simply and solely identical with itself.

§ 1289

With the Notion, therefore, we have entered the realm of freedom. Freedom belongs to the Notion because that identity which, as absolutely determined, constitutes the necessity of substance, is now also sublated or is a positedness, and this positedness as self-related is simply that identity. The mutual opacity of the substances standing in the causal relationship has vanished and become a self-transparent clarity, for the originality of their self-subsistence has passed into a positedness; the original substance is original in that it is only the cause of itself, and this is substance raised to the freedom of the Notion.

§ 1290

This at once provides us with a more precise determination of mediately the Notion. Because being that is in and for itself is immediately a positedness, the Notion in its simple self-relation is an absolute determinateness which, however, as purely self-related is no less immediately a simple identity. But this self-relation of the determinateness as the union of itself with itself is equally the negation of the determinateness, and the Notion as this equality with itself is the universal. But this identity has equally the determination of negativity; it is the negation or determinateness which is self-related; thus the Notion is the individual. Each of them, the universal and the individual, is the totality, each contains within itself the determination of the other and therefore these totalities are one and one only, just as this unity is the differentiation of itself into the free illusion of this duality — of a duality which, in the difference of the individual and the universal, appears as a complete opposition, yet an opposition which is so entirely illusory that in thinking and enunciating the one, the other also is immediately thought and enunciated.

§ 1291

The foregoing is to be regarded as the Notion of the Notion. It may seem to differ from what is elsewhere understood by 'notion' and in that case we might be asked to indicate how that which we have here found to be the Notion is contained in other conceptions or explanations. On the one hand, however, there can be no question of a confirmation based on the authority of the ordinary understanding of the term; in the science of the Notion its content and character can be guaranteed solely by the immanent deduction which contains its genesis and which already lies behind us. On the other hand, the Notion as here deduced must, of course, be recognisable in principle in what is elsewhere presented as the concept of the Notion. But it is not so easy to discover what others have said about the nature of the Notion. For in the main they do not concern themselves at all with the question, presupposing that everyone who uses the word automatically knows what it means. Latterly, one could have felt all the more relieved from any need to trouble about the Notion since, just as it was the fashion for a while to say everything bad about the imagination, and then the memory, so in philosophy it became the habit some time ago, a habit which in some measure still exists, to heap every kind of slander on the Notion, on what is supreme in thought, while the incomprehensible and non-comprehension are, on the contrary, regarded as the pinnacle of science and morality. I will confine myself here to a remark which may help one to grasp the notions here developed and may make it easier to find one’s bearings in them. The Notion, when it has developed into a concrete existence that is itself free, is none other than the I or pure self-consciousness. True, I have notions, that is to say, determinate notions; but the I is the pure Notion itself which, as Notion, has come into existence. When, therefore, reference is made to the fundamental determinations which constitute the nature of the I, we may presuppose that the reference is to something familiar, that is, a commonplace of our ordinary thinking. But the I is, first, this pure self-related unity, and it is so not immediately but only as making abstraction from all determinateness and content and withdrawing into the freedom of unrestricted equality with itself. As such it is universality; a unity that is unity with itself only through its negative attitude, which appears as a process of abstraction, and that consequently contains all determinedness dissolved in it. Secondly, the I as self-related negativity is no less immediately individuality or is absolutely determined, opposing itself to all that is other and excluding it — individual personality. This absolute universality which is also immediately an absolute individualisation, and an absolutely determined being, which is a pure positedness and is this absolutely determined being it only through its unity with the positedness, this constitutes the nature of the I — as well as of the Notion; neither the one nor the other can be truly comprehended unless the two indicated moments are grasped at the same time both in their abstraction and also in their perfect unity.

§ 1292

When one speaks in the ordinary way of the understanding possessed by the I, one understands thereby a faculty or property which stands in the same relation to the I as the property of a thing does to the thing itself, that is, to an indeterminate substrate that is not the genuine ground and the determinant of its property. According to this conception I possess notions and the Notion, just as I also possess a coat, complexion, and other external properties. ®

§ 1293

Now Kant went beyond this external relation of the understanding, as the faculty of notions and of the Notion itself, to the I. It is one of the profoundest and truest insights to be found in the Critique of Pure Reason that the unity which constitutes the nature of the Notion is recognised as the original synthetic unity of apperception, as unity of the I think, or of self-consciousness. This proposition constitutes the so-called transcendental deduction of the categories; but this has always been regarded as one of the most difficult parts of the Kantian philosophy, doubtless for no other reason than that it demands that we should go beyond the mere representation of the relation in which the I stands to the understanding, or notions stand to a thing and its properties and accidents, and advance to the thought of that relation. An object, says Kant, is that in the notion of which the manifold of a given intuition is unified. But all unifying of representations demands a unity of consciousness in the synthesis of them. Consequently it is this unity of consciousness which alone constitutes the connection of the representations with the object and therewith their objective validity and on which rests even the possibility of the understanding. Kant distinguishes this unity from the subjective unity of consciousness, the unity of representation whereby I am conscious of a manifold as either simultaneous or successive, this being dependent on empirical conditions. On the other hand, the principles of the objective determination of notions are, he says, to be derived solely from the principle of the transcendental unity of apperception. Through the categories which are these objective determinations, the manifold of given representations is so determined as to be brought into the unity of consciousness. According to this exposition, the unity of the notion is that whereby something is not a mere mode of feeling, an intuition, or even a mere representation, but is an object, and this objective unity is the unity of the ego with itself. In point of fact, the comprehension of an object consists in nothing else than that the ego makes it its own, pervades it and brings it into its own form, that is, into the universality that is immediately a determinateness, or a determinateness that is immediately universality. As intuited or even in ordinary conception, the object is still something external and alien. When it is comprehended, the being-in-and-for-self which it possesses in intuition and pictorial thought is transformed into a positedness; the I in thinking it pervades it. ®

§ 1294

But it is only as it is in thought that the object is truly in and for itself; in intuition or ordinary conception it is only an Appearance. Thought sublates the immediacy with which the object at first confronts us and thus converts the object into a positedness; but this its positedness is its being-in-and-for-self, or its objectivity. The object therefore has its objectivity in the Notion and this is the unity of self-consciousness into which it has been received; consequently its objectivity, or the Notion, is itself none other than the nature of self-consciousness, has no other moments or determinations than the I itself.

§ 1295

Thus we are justified by a cardinal principle of the Kantian philosophy in referring to the nature of the I in order to learn what the Notion is. But conversely, it is necessary for this purpose to have grasped the Notion of the I as stated above. If we cling to the mere representation of the I as it floats before our ordinary consciousness, then the I is only the simple thing, also called soul, in which the Notion inheres as a possession or property. This representation which makes no attempt to comprehend either the I or the Notion cannot serve to facilitate or bring nearer the comprehension of the Notion.

§ 1296

The Kantian exposition cited above contains two other features which concern the Notion and necessitate some further observations In the first place, the stage of the understanding is supposed to be preceded by the stages of feeling and intuition, and it is an essential proposition of the Kantian transcendental philosophy that without intuitions notions are empty and are valid solely as relations of the manifold given by intuition. Secondly, the Notion has been declared to be the objective element of knowledge, and as such, the truth. But on the other hand, the Notion is taken as something merely subjective from which we cannot extract reality, by which is to be understood objectivity, since reality is contrasted with subjectivity; and, in general, the Notion and the logical element are declared to be something merely formal which, since it abstracts from the content, does not contain truth.

§ 1297

Now, in the first place, as regards the relation of the understanding or the Notion to the stages presupposed by it, the form of these stages is determined by the particular science under consideration. In our science, that of pure logic, these stages are being and essence. In psychology the antecedent stages are feeling and intuition, and then ideation generally. In the phenomenology of spirit, which is the doctrine of consciousness, the ascent to the understanding is through the stages of sensuous consciousness and then perception. Kant presupposes only feeling and intuition. How incomplete to begin with this scale of stages is is revealed by the fact that he himself adds as an appendix to the transcendental logic or doctrine of the understanding a treatise on the concepts of reflection a sphere lying between intuition and the understanding or being and the Notion.

§ 1298

About these stages themselves it must be remarked, first of all, that the forms of intuition, ideation and the like belong to the self-conscious spirit which, as such, does not fall to be considered in the science of logic. It is true that the pure determinations of being, essence and the Notion constitute the ground plan and the inner simple framework of the forms of the spirit; spirit as intuiting and also as sensuous consciousness is in the form of immediate being; and, similarly, spirit as ideating and as perceiving has risen from being to the stage of essence or reflection. But these concrete forms as little concern the science of logic as do the concrete forms assumed by the logical categories in nature, which would be space and time, then space and time self-filled with a content as inorganic nature, and lastly, organic nature. ®

§ 1299

Similarly here, too, the Notion is to be regarded not as the act of the self-conscious understanding, not as the subjective understanding, but as the Notion in its own absolute character which constitutes a stage of nature as well as of spirit. Life, or organic nature, is the stage of nature at which the Notion emerges, but as blind, as unaware of itself and unthinking; the Notion that is self-conscious and thinks pertains solely to spirit. But the logical form of the Notion is independent of its non-spiritual, and also of its spiritual, shapes. The necessary premonition on this point has already been given in the Introduction. It is a point that must not wait to be established within logic itself but must be cleared up before that science is begun. ®

§ 1300

Now whatever may be the forms of the stages which precede the Notion, we come secondly to the relation in which the Notion is thought to these forms. The conception of this relation both in ordinary psychology and in the Kantian transcendental philosophy is that the empirical material, the manifold of intuition and representation, first exists on its own account, and that then the understanding approaches it, brings unity into it and by abstraction raises it to the form of universality. The understanding is in this way an intrinsically empty form which, on the one hand, obtains a reality through the said given content and, on the other hand, abstracts from that content, that is to say, lets it drop as something useless, but useless only for the Notion. In both these actions the Notion is not the independent factor, not the essential and true element of the prior given material; on the contrary, it is the material that is regarded as the absolute reality, which cannot be extracted from the Notion.

§ 1301

Now it must certainly be admitted that the Notion as such is not yet complete, but must rise to the Idea which alone is the unity of the Notion and reality; and this must be shown in the sequel to be the spontaneous outcome of the nature of the Notion itself. For the reality which the Notion gives itself must not be received by it as something external but must, in accordance with the requirement of the science, be derived from the Notion itself. But the truth is that it is not the material given by intuition and representation that ought to be vindicated as the real in contrast to the Notion. People often say, 'It is only a notion,' contrasting the notion not only with the Idea but with sensuous, spatial and temporal, palpable reality as something more excellent than the Notion; and then the abstract is held to be of less account than the concrete because it lacks so much of this kind of material. In this view, to abstract means to select from the concrete object for our subjective purposes this or that mark without thereby detracting from the worth and status of the many other properties and features left out of account; on the contrary, these as real retain their validity completely unimpaired, only they are left yonder, on the other side; thus it is only the inability of the understanding to assimilate such wealth that compels it to content itself with the impoverished abstraction. Now to regard the given material of intuition and the manifold of representation as the real in contrast to what is thought, to the Notion, is a view, the abandonment of which is not only a condition of philosophising but is already presupposed by religion; for how can there be any need for religion, how can religion have any meaning, if the fleeting and superficial phenomena of the world of sensuous particulars are still regarded as the truth? But philosophy gives a reasoned insight into the true state of the case with regard to the reality of sensuous being; it assumes the stages of feeling and intuition as precedent to the understanding in so far as they are conditions of its genesis, but only in the sense that it is conditioned by their reality. Abstract thinking, therefore, is not to be regarded as a mere setting aside of the sensuous material, the reality of which is not thereby impaired; rather is it the sublating and reduction of that material as mere phenomenal appearance to the essential, which is manifested only in the Notion. ®

§ 1302

Of course, if what is taken up into the Notion from the concrete phenomenon is to serve only as a mark or sign, it certainly may be any mere random sensuous particular determination of the object, selected from the others on the basis of any random external interest and of a similar kind and nature as the rest.

§ 1303

A capital misunderstanding which prevails on this point is that the natural principle or the beginning which forms the starting point in the natural evolution or in the history of the developing individual, is regarded as the truth, and the first in the Notion. Now in the order of nature, intuition or being are undoubtedly first, or are the condition for the Notion, but they are not on that account the absolutely unconditioned; on the contrary, their reality is sublated in the Notion and with it, too, the illusory show they possessed of being the conditioning reality. When it is a question, not of truth but merely of history, as in pictorial and phenomenal thinking, we need not of course go beyond merely narrating that we start with feelings and intuitions and that from the manifold of these the understanding extracts a universality or an abstraction and naturally requires for this purpose the said substrate of feelings and intuitions which, in this process of abstraction, remains for representation in the same complete reality with which it first presented itself. But philosophy is not meant to be a narration of happenings but a cognition of what is true in them, and further, on the basis of this cognition, to comprehend that which, in the narrative, appears as a mere happening.

§ 1304

If the superficial conception of what the Notion is, leaves all manifoldness outside the Notion and attributes to the latter only the form of abstract universality or the empty identity of reflection, we can at once appeal to the fact that quite apart from the view here propounded, the statement or definition of a notion expressly includes not only the genus, which itself is, properly speaking, more than a purely abstract universality, but also the specific determinateness. If one would but reflect attentively on the meaning of this fact, one would see that differentiation must be regarded as an equally essential moment of the Notion. Kant has introduced this consideration by the extremely important thought that there are synthetic judgements a priori. This original synthesis of apperception is one of the most profound principles for speculative development; it contains the beginning of a true apprehension of the nature of the Notion and is completely opposed to that empty identity or abstract universality which is not within itself a synthesis. The further development, however, does not fulfil the promise of the beginning. The very expression synthesis easily recalls the conception of an external unity and a mere combination of entities that are intrinsically separate. Then, again, the Kantian philosophy has not got beyond the psychological reflex of the Notion and has reverted once more to the assertion that the Notion is permanently conditioned by a manifold of intuition. It has declared intellectual cognition and experience to be a phenomenal content, not because the categories themselves are only finite but, on the ground of a psychological idealism, because they are merely determinations originating in self-consciousness. It is in keeping with this standpoint, too, that the Notion without the manifold of intuition is again declared to be empty and devoid of content despite the fact that it is a synthesis a priori; as such, it surely does contain determinateness and difference within itself. Moreover, since the determinateness is that of the Notion and therefore absolute determinateness, individuality, the Notion is the ground and source of all finite determinateness and manifoldness.

§ 1305

The merely formal position that the Notion holds as understanding is fully confirmed in the Kantian exposition of what reason is. In reason, the highest stage of thought, one ought to have expected the Notion to lose the conditionedness in which it still appears at the stage of understanding and to attain to perfect truth. But this expectation is disappointed. For Kant defines the relation of reason to the categories as merely dialectical and, indeed, takes the result of this dialectic to be the infinite nothing — just that and nothing more.

§ 1306

Consequently, the infinite unity of reason, too, is still deprived of the synthesis, and with it the beginning referred to above of a speculative, truly infinite Notion; reason becomes the familiar, wholly formal, merely regulative unity of the systematic employment of the understanding. It is declared to be an abuse when logic, which is supposed to be merely a canon of judgment, is regarded as an organon for the production of objective insights. The notions of reason in which we could not but have an intimation of a higher power and a profounder significance, no longer possess a constitutive character as do the categories, they are mere Ideas; certainly, we are quite at liberty to use them, but by these intelligible entities in which all truth should be completely revealed, we are to understand nothing more than hypotheses, and to ascribe absolute truth to them would be the height of caprice and foolhardiness, for they do not occur in any experience. Would one ever have thought that philosophy would deny truth to intelligible entities because they lack the spatial and temporal material of the sensuous world?

§ 1307

Directly connected with this is the question of the point of view from which the Notion and the character of logic generally are to be considered, a question on which the Kantian philosophy holds the same view as is commonly taken: that is to say, in what relation do the Notion and the science of the Notion stand to truth itself. We have already quoted from the Kantian deduction of the categories that according to it the object, as that in which the manifold of intuition is unified, is this unity solely through the unity of self-consciousness. Here, therefore, the objectivity of thought is specifically enunciated, an identity of Notion and thing, which is truth. In the same way, it is also commonly admitted that when thinking appropriates a given object, this thereby suffers an alteration and is changed from something sensuous to something thought; and yet that not only is the essential nature of the object not affected by this alteration but that it is only in its Notion that it is in its truth, whereas in the immediacy in which it is given it is only appearance and a contingency; that the cognition that truly comprehends the object is the cognition of it as it is in and for itself, and that the Notion is its very objectivity. ®

§ 1308

But, on the other hand, it is equally maintained that we cannot after all, know things as they truly are in themselves and that truth is inaccessible to the cognitive powers of reason; that the aforesaid truth which consists in the unity of the object and the Notion is, after all, only Appearance, and this time, again on the ground that the content is only the manifold of intuition. On this point we have already remarked that, on the contrary, it is precisely in the Notion that this manifoldness, in so far as it pertains to intuition in contrast to the Notion, is sublated and that through the Notion the object is reduced to its non-contingent essential nature. The latter enters into the sphere of Appearance and for that very reason the Appearance is not devoid of essential being, but is a manifestation of essence. But the completely liberated manifestation of essence is the Notion ®

§ 1309

These propositions of which we here remind the reader are not dogmatic assertions, for the reason that they are results that have issued from the entire immanent development of essence. The present standpoint to which this development has led is that the form of the absolute which is higher than being and essence is the Notion. Regarded from this aspect, the Notion has subjugated being and essence, which from other starting points include also feeling and intuition and representation, and which appeared as its antecedent conditions, and has proved itself to be their unconditioned ground. There now remains the second aspect, to the treatment of which this Third Book of the Logic is devoted, namely the exposition of how the Notion builds up in and from itself the reality that has vanished in it. It has therefore been freely admitted that the cognition that stops short at the Notion purely as such, is still incomplete and has only as yet arrived at abstract truth. But its incompleteness does not lie in its lack of that presumptive reality given in feeling and intuition but rather in the fact that the Notion has not yet given itself a reality of its own, a reality produced from its own resources. The demonstrated absoluteness of the Notion relatively to the material of experience and, more exactly, to the categories and concepts of reflection, consists in this, that this material as it appears apart from and prior to the Notion has no truth; this it has solely in its ideality or its identity with the Notion. The derivation of the real from it if we want to call it derivation, consists in the first place essentially in this, that the Notion in its formal abstraction reveals itself as incomplete and through its own immanent dialectic passes over into reality; but it does not fall back again onto a ready-made reality confronting it and take refuge in something which has shown itself to be the unessential element of Appearance because, having looked around for something better, it has failed to find it; on the contrary, it produces the reality from its own resources. It will always stand out as a marvel how the Kantian philosophy recognised the relation of thought to sensuous reality, beyond which it did not advance, as only a relative relation of mere Appearance, and perfectly well recognised and enunciated a higher unity of both in the Idea in general and, for example, in the Idea of an intuitive understanding, and yet stopped short at this relative relation and the assertion that the Notion is and remains utterly separate from reality thus asserting as truth what it declared to be finite cognition, and denouncing as an unjustified extravagance and a figment of thought what it recognised as truth and of which it established the specific notion.

§ 1310

Since it is primarily logic and not science generally with whose relation to truth we are here concerned, it must further be conceded that logic as the formal science cannot and should not contain that reality which is the content of the further parts of philosophy, namely, the philosophical sciences of nature and of spirit. 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 Appearance 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 it becomes the creator of nature and passes over to the form of a concrete immediacy whose Notion, however, breaks up this shape again in order to realise itself as concrete spirit. As contrasted with these concrete sciences (although these have and retain as their inner formative principle that same logical element, or the Notion, which had served is their archetype), logic is of course a formal science; but it is the science of the absolute form which is within itself a totality and contains the pure Idea of truth itself. This absolute form has in its own self its content or reality; the Notion, not being a trivial, empty identity, possesses in its moment of negativity or of absolute determining, the differentiated determinations; the content is simply and solely these determinations of the absolute form and nothing else a content posited by the absolute form itself and consequently also adequate to it. 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 Notion; 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. When Kant, in connection with logic comes to discuss the old and famous question: what is truth? he first of all presents to the reader as a triviality the explanation of the term as the agreement of cognition with its object a definition of great, indeed of supreme, value. If we remember this definition in connection with the fundamental assertion of transcendental idealism, that reason as cognitive is incapable of apprehending things-in-themselves, that reality lies absolutely outside the Notion, 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 Notion of reason, the Notion that is not in agreement with reality, and a reality that does not agree with the Notion, 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.

§ 1311

'What we require to know' Kant goes on to say, 'is a universal and sure criterion of any cognition whatever; it would be such a criterion as would be valid for all cognitions without distinction of their objects; but since with such a criterion abstraction would be made from all content of the cognition (relation to its object) and truth concerns precisely this content, it would be quite impossible and absurd to ask for a mark of the truth of this content of cognitions.' Here, the usual conception of the formal function of logic is expressed very definitely and the argument adduced has a very convincing air. But first of all it is to be observed that it usually happens with such formal ratiocination that it forgets in its discourse the very point on which it has based its argument and of which it is speaking. It is alleged that it would be absurd to ask for the criterion of the truth of the content of cognition; but according to the definition it is not the content that constitutes the truth, but the agreement of the content with the Notion. A content such as is here spoken of, without the Notion, is something notionless, and hence without essential being; certainly we cannot ask for the criterion of the truth of such a content, but for the very opposite reason; not, that is, because the content, as something notionless, is not the required agreement, but simply because it cannot be anything more than a mere truthless opinion. Let us leave on one side the content which causes the confusion here the confusion into which formalism falls whenever it sets out to explain something and which makes it say the opposite of what it intends and let us stop at the abstract view that logic is only formal and, in fact, abstracts from all content; we then have a one-sided cognition which is not to contain any object, an empty, blank form which therefore is no more an agreement for an agreement essentially requires two terms then it is truth. In the a priori synthesis of the Notion, Kant possessed a higher principle in which a duality in a unity could be cognised, a cognition, therefore, of what is required for truth; but the material of sense, the manifold of intuition, was too strong for him and he was unable to get away from it to a consideration of the Notion and the categories in and for themselves and to a speculative method of philosophising.

§ 1312

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. Consequently this formal science must be regarded as possessing richer determinations and a richer content and as being infinitely more potent in its influence on the concrete than is usually supposed. The laws of logic by themselves (not counting the heterogeneous accretions of applied logic and the rest of the psychological and anthropological material) are commonly restricted, apart from the law of contradiction, to some meagre propositions concerning the conversion of judgements and the forms of syllogisms. Even here the forms which come up for treatment as well as their further modifications are only, as it were, historically taken up; they are not subjected to criticism to determine whether they are in and for themselves true. Thus, for example, the form of the positive judgement is accepted as something perfectly correct in itself, the question whether such a judgement is true depending solely on the content. Whether this form is in its own self a form of truth, whether the proposition it enunciates, the individual is a universal, is not inherently dialectical, is a question that no one thinks of investigating. It is straightway assumed that this judgement is, on its own account, capable of containing truth and that the proposition enunciated by any positive judgement is true, although it is directly evident that it lacks what is required by the definition of truth, namely, the agreement of the Notion and its object; if the predicate, which here is the universal, is taken as the Notion, and the subject, which is the individual, is taken as the object, then the one does not agree with the other. But if the abstract universal which is the predicate falls short of constituting a Notion, for a Notion certainly implies something more, and if, too, a subject of this kind is not yet much more than a grammatical one, how should the judgement possibly contain truth seeing that either its Notion and object do not agree, or it lacks both Notion and object? On the contrary, then, what is impossible and absurd is to attempt to grasp the truth in such forms as the positive judgement and the judgement generally. Just as the Kantian philosophy did not consider the categories in and for themselves but declared them to be finite determinations incapable of containing truth, on the wrong ground that they are subjective forms of self-consciousness, still less did that philosophy subject to criticism the forms of the Notion which are the content of ordinary logic; on the contrary, it has adopted a portion of them, namely, the functions of judgement, for the determination of the categories and accepted them as valid presuppositions. Even if we are to see in logical forms nothing more than formal functions of thought, they would for that very reason be worthy of investigation to ascertain how far, on their own account, they correspond to the truth. A logic that does not perform this task can at most claim the value of a descriptive natural history of the phenomena of thinking just as they occur. It is an infinite merit of Aristotle, one that must fill us with the highest admiration for the powers of that genius, that he was the first to undertake this description. It is necessary however to go further and to ascertain both the systematic connection of these forms and their value. ®


§ 1313

The foregoing consideration of the Notion shows it to be the unity of being and essence. Essence is the first negation of being, which has thereby become illusory being; the Notion is the second negation or the negation of this negation, and is therefore being once more, but being that has been restored as the infinite mediation and negativity of being within itself. Consequently, being and essence in the Notion no longer have the same determination that they had as being and essence, nor are they merely in a unity such that each has an illusory being in the other. Therefore the Notion does not differentiate itself into these determinations. It is the truth of the relationship of substance in which being and essence achieve the fulfilment of their self-subsistence and their determination through each other. The truth of substantiality proved to be the substantial identity which is no less a positedness and only as such is substantial identity. The positedness is a determinate being and differentiation; consequently, in the Notion, being-in-and-for-itself has attained a true and adequate reality, for the positedness is itself being-in-and-for-itself. This positedness constitutes the difference of the Notion within itself; because the positedness is immediately being-in-and-for-itself, the different moments of the Notion are themselves the whole Notion, universal in their determinateness and identical with their negation.

§ 1314

This, now, is the very Notion of the Notion. But it is as yet only its Notion; or, this Notion is itself only the Notion. Because it is equally being-in-and-for-self and also a positedness, or the absolute substance that manifests the necessity of distinct substances as an identity, this identity must itself posit what it is. The moments of the movement of the relationship of substantiality through which the Notion has come to be and the reality thereby exhibited are still only in transition into the Notion; this reality does not yet possess the determination of being the Notion's own, self-evolved determination; it fell in the sphere of necessity; but the Notion's own determination can only be the result of its free determining, a determinate being in which the Notion is identical with itself, its moments also being Notions and posited by the Notion itself.

§ 1315

At first, therefore, the Notion is only in itself or implicitly the truth; because it is only something inner, it is equally only outer.

It is at first simply an immediate and in this guise its moments have the form of immediate, fixed determinations. It appears as the determinate Notion, as the sphere of the mere understanding. Because this form of immediacy is still inadequate to the nature of the Notion, for this is free, being in relation only with itself, it is an external form in which the Notion cannot count as a being-in-and-for-self, but only as something posited or subjective. The Notion in the guise of immediacy constitutes the point of view for which the Notion is a subjective thinking, a reflection external to the subject matter. This stage, therefore, constitutes subjectivity, or the formal Notion. Its externality is manifested in the fixed being of its determinations each of which appears independently as an isolated, qualitative something which is only externally related to its other. But the identity of the Notion, which is precisely their inner or subjective essence, sets them dialectically in movement, with the result that their separatedness vanishes and with it the separation of the Notion from the object, and there emerges as their truth the totality which is the objective Notion.

§ 1316

Secondly, the Notion in its objectivity is the subject matter in and for itself. Through its necessary, progressive determination the formal Notion makes itself its subject matter and in this way is rid of the relation of subjectivity and externality to the object. Or, conversely, objectivity is the real Notion that has emerged from its inwardness and passed over into determinate being. In this identity with the object, the Notion thus has a free determinate being of its own. But this freedom is still only an immediate, not yet a negative, freedom. As one with the object, the Notion is submerged in it; its distinct moments are objective existences in which it is itself again only the inner. As the soul [Seele] of objective reality it must give itself the form of subjectivity which, as formal Notion, belonged to it immediately; thus, in the form of the free Notion, a form which in objectivity it still lacked, it opposes itself to that objectivity and in so doing makes the identity with it which, as objective Notion it possesses in and for itself, also a posited identity.

§ 1317

In this consummation in which it has the form of freedom even in its objectivity, the adequate Notion is the Idea. Reason, which is the sphere of the Idea, is the self-revealed truth in which the Notion possesses the realisation that is wholly adequate to it, and is free, inasmuch as it cognises this its objective world in its subjectivity and its subjectivity in its objective world.

Subjectivity - next section

Hegel-by-HyperText Home Page @ marxists.org