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RE: [hegel] Re: Primer on the meaning of Phenomenal Knowledge, The Notion, and notions

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  • Alan Ponikvar
    Hi Beat, In my view, Hegel’s dialectical or speculative reason is quite different from conventional reason or reason as an instrument of the understanding.
    Message 1 of 93 , Dec 16, 2009
      Hi Beat,

      In my view, Hegel’s dialectical or speculative reason is quite different
      from conventional reason or reason as an instrument of the understanding.
      The conventional sense of reason is dual. It can either mean the ground, as
      in answer to the question: “Why did you do that?” It can also mean
      inference, as in answer to the question: “How did you come to that
      conclusion?”I believe that both of these senses of conventional reason come
      under stress when we come to the limits of reason. It is what happens to
      reason at its limits that brings into being dialectical reason as a reason
      that does not so much ground or explain ‘positives’ as it explicates and
      exhibits what happens when reason deals in ‘negatives’ or deals with what I
      take to be the inner difference of the absolute. The fact of the matter or
      Sache is inverted at these limits just as being inverts into nothing at the
      beginning of the Logic and the negative replaces the positive as the
      preferred thought item of interest throughout the Logic. What I think is
      crucial for a proper understanding of Hegelian reason is to understand how
      it arises as a complement to conventional reason at the point where
      conventional reason breaks down. This point – the limit point – is the point
      where reason attempts to be a self-explication.

      So, let me consider each point you raise in turn.

      1. You state that “[Hegel] does not conceive a contrasting sense of
      these categories in and for philosophical thinking.” But he does. Take
      essence. The conventional sense conceives of any essence as an abstract
      universal. Hegel conceives of essence as a self-constituting identity. The
      conventional sense of essence sees it as functioning as a positive one over
      many. The dialectical sense of essence sees it as a negative return to self.
      There is no commonality with respect to these two views. Throughout Hegel’s
      philosophy the distinction between the conventional and dialectical sense of
      thought items is referred to by employing the distinction between the
      abstract and the concrete. The abstract always refers to the conventional
      sense while the concrete refers to the dialectical sense of whatever is
      being considered.
      2. You then go on to say: “What he does is a critical observation of
      the employment (adoption) of the categories by the understanding with
      respect to their particular background presuppositions with the result that
      for thinking the absolute and its moments - the object of philosophy, the
      presuppositionless - a systematic sequence of these categories (as the
      result of the critical observation of what the understanding does) has to be
      implemented. This systematic sequence Hegel calls reason (Vernunft).”
      There are several points to consider here:
      a. To engage in a “critical observation” is to think within the
      context of the opposition of consciousness. Formally, we would begin with
      the object of our investigation – the categories as understood by the
      understanding – as a given; we would not be engaged in a presuppositionless
      inquiry into thinking.
      b. What would justify our interest in critically considering these
      categories “with respect to their particular background presuppositions “?
      The skeptic would wish to remind us here – as Hegel mentions in the
      Introduction to the Phenomenology – that a critical inquiry must presuppose
      some critical standard. It is this standard that would require
      justification. Now one might object and say that a Hegelian critique is
      imminent. But this does not help all that much. For the skeptic would still
      want to know what justifies imminence as a method of critique.
      c. The ‘background presupposition’ of pure being as employed by the
      understanding is that it is achieved by means of abstraction. But Hegel does
      not raise this criticism when he introduces pure being as the first thought
      of the Logic. And what would raising this criticism mean? Does the
      understanding have to withdraw being because it has not justified this
      background activity of abstraction?
      d. Your refer to the systematic sequence as what “Hegel calls reason.”
      I think this is a view shared by most commentators on Hegel, and I should
      say that this view drives me crazy. As I understand this view, the only
      problem with the concepts as employed by the understanding is that they have
      not been conceived in light of their systematic placement. As concepts, as
      you state above, they are fine as they are. The only problem is that they
      are sometimes misunderstood and used inappropriately due to an unfamiliarity
      with how the sequence relates them to neighboring concepts. Once properly
      situated these mistakes can be avoided. On my view, this is to miss almost
      entirely the focal interest that drives Hegel’s philosophy: how reason as it
      alters at the limits of reason is an expression of the absolute. Or, how the
      pure difference of the absolute finds expression in the realm of finitude at
      this divide within reason. Reason circles through a systematic sequence
      because it remains fixed at this limit point or divide within reason itself.
      This paradoxical state of affairs is in large part responsible for the
      strangeness of Hegel’s account. So, to be fair, I would say to call reason
      the sequence is at best one-sided, the other side being the significance of
      this sequence.
      e. What typically results from the path-like view is that to be able
      to follow the sequence is really the sum and substance of what is
      distinctive about Hegel’s philosophy. This is to make reason into a mere
      clerical task of putting things in their proper place. (That the thought of
      this task is complex does not eliminate the fact that once achieved there is
      no point in returning to this task. H. S. Harris mentions that Hegel was
      aware of this problem and used it critically against Fichte.) We are to take
      up the unfinished business of Kantian philosophy and derive the concepts one
      after another. When we come to a new derivation we simply pull out of our
      bag of concepts whatever seems most appropriate at this point in the
      sequence. So what about the absolute on this reading? No big deal. The
      absolute is brought down from its metaphysical perch and becomes simply the
      final moment of the sequence. Besides this proper sequencing there is really
      nothing to think about with respect to the concepts placed in this sequence.
      As placed, it then becomes possible to make critical comments – Hegel’s
      remarks - about the common employment of these concepts. But these comments,
      though interesting, play no role in the systematic exposition. They are just
      indications of the superiority of Hegelian to non-Hegelian conceptions. And
      they tend to mislead as much as enlighten. They focus on what is easiest to
      explain: the deficiencies of common concepts, as if this were what the
      account means to be about.

      I think that there are some unfortunate consequences of focusing on the
      path. Even though Hegel tells us that the process is itself a moment of the
      truth there is a tendency to see each moment in turn as merely deficient. In
      fact, since the Phenomenology is the path followed by failed attempts to
      know it seems quite reasonable to see such a path as a diversion from the
      truth rather than as constitutive of the truth. But getting back to reason,
      the most distinctive difference between conventional and dialectical reason
      is that the former is path-like – premises leading to conclusions – while
      the latter is always a specific manifestation of the absolute and thus is
      where one “tarries with the negative” and does not at that point get involve
      in an advance. The irony is that thought stays put for Hegel at the
      transition points, because it is at these points that one is with the
      There is this strange impatience to get on with it. So you find commentaries
      where the author will say something like the following: “Then SOMEHOW the
      next shape (in the Phenomenology) or concept (in the system) is taken up.”
      The moment of joy for most Hegelians is the moment where something is shown
      to be deficient or false. The moment of trepidation is the moment when a
      transition to a new beginning occurs. It is as if the showing of a
      deficiency is reason enough to move on. The how of this movement is an
      embarrassment best played down. Little do these commentators know that what
      causes them grief are the very moments in the account when the absolute
      makes an appearance.

      Regards, Alan

      From: hegel@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hegel@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Beat
      Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 5:42 AM
      To: hegel@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [hegel] Re: Primer on the meaning of Phenomenal Knowledge, The
      Notion, and notions

      Dear Alan,

      You write:

      > Hi Beat,
      > I think that the members of this site have differ views about Hegel makes
      > for interesting discussion. The only point I want to stress about
      > reason is
      > actually related to a broader point about the various concepts Hegel uses.
      > He almost always chooses concepts that already have an employment by the
      > understanding. I believe he wants to play off the contrasting senses - his
      > sense and the conventional sense. In the case of reason the conventional
      > sense is simply about how we attempt to make correct inferences in our
      > daily
      > lives. The problem for reason is that this conventional inferential sense
      > breaks down when employed philosophically, or at least that is what Hegel
      > wants to show. So I think I will have to agree with you when you say that
      > reason of what merely is becomes irrational. It is just that this has no
      > bearing on the inferential use of reason in our day to day activities,
      > or in
      > those activities that have the potential to change the world.
      > Regards, Alan

      I am not sure if I do understand you correctly. In my opinion Hegel
      proceeds from the conventional inferential use of the catergories of
      understanding (Verstand) in our day to day as well as scientific
      thinking and activities. He does not conceive a contrasting sense of
      these categories in and for philosophical thinking. What he does is a
      critical observation of the employment (adoption) of the categories by
      the understanding with respect to their particular background
      presuppositions with the result that for thinking the absolute and its
      moments - the object of philosophy, the presuppositionless - a
      systematic sequence of these categories (as the result of the critical
      observation of what the understanding does) has to be implemented. This
      systematic sequence Hegel calls reason (Vernunft).

      Beat Greuter

      > From: hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > [mailto:hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>] On
      > Behalf Of Beat
      > Greuter
      > Sent: Sunday, December 13, 2009 10:05 AM
      > To: hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > Subject: Re: [hegel] Re: Primer on the meaning of Phenomenal
      > Knowledge, The
      > Notion, and notions
      > Dear Alan,
      > I do not think that we differ much in our view. The only thing I would
      > deny is that for Hegel there is reason (Vernunft) of what merely is or
      > exist. The existence as such of course is a moment of reason (logic of
      > essence). However, for Hegel what does exist in a certain time and
      > location can have become most irrational, and the concept in its
      > differentiation is not fully determined and therefore has always a
      > moment of contingency in it. Hegel is not a rationalist and you are
      > fully right that philosophy only can grasp what has become actual and
      > cannot itself explain and change the world with arbitrary categories of
      > the understanding. I wrote earlier that the subjective spirit is the one
      > who actualize spirit. Hegel says it quite clear that philosophy always
      > comes too late: "die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden
      > Dämmerung ihren Flug".
      > Regards,
      > Beat Greuter
      > You write:
      > >
      > >
      > > Hi eat,
      > >
      > > I think it is true that people often remark how their destiny is not in
      > > their own hands and that it is a matter of fate as to how things
      > turn out.
      > > But I think Hegel's cunning of reason is more radical than this
      > thought of
      > > the uncertainty of action though it relates to it. It is the recognition
      > > that fate is one's own unintended doing. So Oedipus does not just
      > kill his
      > > father and marry his mother. He does so, as Zizek points out, because
      > > of all
      > > he does to avoid such a fate in the knowledge that this fate is to
      > be his
      > > end. Without this foreknowledge his destiny would have been different.
      > > In a
      > > similar way, only a phenomenological observer in the Phenomenology who
      > > seeks
      > > to avoid the problems of knowledge unwittingly serves as an agent
      > for the
      > > destiny of these problems. Or so at least is my view of the fate of this
      > > observer.
      > >
      > > There is certainly the split between objective and subjective reason in
      > > Hegel. But as these two varieties of reason play themselves out they
      > > really
      > > are manifestations of reason first in the guise of the understanding
      > > only to
      > > suffer at its own hands the fate of reason as speculative. So, I would
      > > contend that the essential distinction in Hegel in not the apparent one
      > > between the subject and object - since in the Reason chapter of the
      > > Phenomenology both objective and subjective reason are enacted by the
      > > understanding - but the distinction between two views of how to
      > arrive at
      > > truth: intentionally or inadvertently.
      > >
      > > So I would disagree on one point. I do believe that there is a reason of
      > > what is. It is reason as practiced by the understanding and exhibited
      > > as the
      > > modes of knowing in the Phenomenology. This worldly employment of
      > > reason is
      > > not eliminated by anything Hegel does in his speculative philosophy.
      > Going
      > > back to my original point that has prompted his discussion, I
      > believe this
      > > is because Hegel does not mean to change the world because the world
      > > is and
      > > always willed ruled by the understanding as it employs reason to its own
      > > uses. It is the task of the philosopher to be alert to emergent new
      > truths
      > > that arise behind the back of those pursing worldly ends. But how such
      > > truths are utilized is not for philosophy to decide. It is for the
      > > understanding alone to decide.
      > >
      > > Regards, Alan
      > >
      > > From: hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > [mailto:hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>] On
      > > Behalf Of Beat
      > > Greuter
      > > Sent: Friday, December 11, 2009 9:07 AM
      > > To: hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > Subject: Re: [hegel] Re: Primer on the meaning of Phenomenal
      > > Knowledge, The
      > > Notion, and notions
      > >
      > >
      > > Dear Alan,
      > >
      > > You write:
      > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Hi Beat,
      > > >
      > > > You have focused on my maximum point of uncertainty: how to relate
      > > Hegel's
      > > > thinking to the world. This is important because I think the
      > > challenge for
      > > > Hegel is not so much is his account true, but is it relevant. That
      > > is, an
      > > > understandable reaction to Hegel's peculiar way of expressing himself
      > > > is to
      > > > ask what this has to do with the world as we know it. I agree that the
      > > > world
      > > > we live in is an expression of our thought. But I think the issue with
      > > > Marx
      > > > is does this mean that philosophical thought finds expression in the
      > > world
      > > > as a result of the intentional acts of individuals or does it mean
      > that
      > > > philosophical thought does its work recollectively, noticing new
      > > > constellations that are already in place awaiting the insight that
      > > > will mark
      > > > this. In paragraph 11 of the Preface to the Phenomenology Hegel talks
      > > > about
      > > > how spirit does its work slowly and unnoticed and then "The gradual
      > > > crumbling that left unaltered the face of the whole is cut short by a
      > > > sunburst which, in one flash, illuminates the feature of the new
      > world."
      > > > This flash is the insight that is able to see what is there to see but
      > > > which
      > > > has as of yet gone unnoticed.
      > > >
      > >
      > > Of course, for Hegel there are intentional acts of individuals which
      > > find expression in the world. However, the changes and following
      > > actualization of the renewed whole is the result of the actions and
      > > thought of many and can neither be predicted nor be enforced without
      > > many side effects not anticipated. Otherwise, where would be our
      > > freedom? The cunning of reason is the expression for acting in
      > > uncertainty and of the certainty that there is no ulterior rational
      > > entity.
      > >
      > > > Of course, this leaves it to us to understand this work of spirit in
      > > > actuality that seems to happen without our knowing anything about it
      > > until
      > > > the 'one flash'. I am reading Amos Funkenstein' "Theology and the
      > > > Scientific
      > > > Imagination" in which he mentions the conceptual shifts that occurred
      > > > in the
      > > > seventeenth century world view. He remarks that he can see where these
      > > > came
      > > > about but does not pretend to be able to explain how this
      > happened. As I
      > > > read your remarks, the lack of a causal explanation of the world
      > fits in
      > > > with this view. So I guess it all comes down to how one is to
      > understand
      > > > your phrase: "the world cannot resist our thought." Hegel's view
      > > that the
      > > > actual is rational would speak to this. The world as we would like it
      > > > to be
      > > > - the world fitting in with our interests - is something that does not
      > > > seem
      > > > to interest Hegel all that much. But the world as the expression of a
      > > > rationality in the Hegelian sense - the non-intentional rationality of
      > > > what
      > > > is - is something we can recollect.
      > > >
      > > > At least, that is how it seems to me.
      > > >
      > > > Regards, Alan
      > > >
      > >
      > > It is not the lack of causal explanations. There are many. But it is the
      > > inadequacy of this category for handling most human and social
      > > phenomena. They are not a problem of explanation but of comprehension.
      > >
      > > You seem to make an improper opposition between the rationality in
      > > itself and the rationality for itself or between objective and
      > > subjective spirit. Both are related to each other. Without this relation
      > > with its two moments there would be no rationality at all. There is no
      > > subjective spirit without objective facts which also exercises
      > > constraint (see for instance Emile Durkheim). But there is also no
      > > objective spirit without subjective spirit actualizing it. The fragile
      > > balance between the two was Hegel's main concern in his political
      > > thinking after the revolution of Enlightenment with its rational claim
      > > of general individual rights.
      > >
      > > For Hegel there is no rationality - intentional or non-intentional - of
      > > what merely is. The rationality lies in the concept which is the concept
      > > of freedom. For him history is the actualization of this concept. So,
      > > the rational presupposition of freedom is as important as the
      > > declaration of freedom as a claim of thought, of rationality.
      > >
      > > Regards,
      > > Beat Greuter
      > >
      > > > From: hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > > [mailto:hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>] On
      > > > Behalf Of Beat
      > > > Greuter
      > > > Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 3:49 PM
      > > > To: hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
      > > > Subject: Re: [hegel] Re: Primer on the meaning of Phenomenal
      > > > Knowledge, The
      > > > Notion, and notions
      > > >
      > > > Dear Alan,
      > > >
      > > > You write:
      > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > Hi Beat,
      > > > >
      > > > > I think this notion that reality is conceptual "all the way down" as
      > > > John
      > > > > McDowell puts it originates with the thought of Wilfred Sellars who
      > > > > was the
      > > > > mentor for most of the analytical philosophers who have taken an
      > > > > interest in
      > > > > Hegel. This lends itself quite nicely to what has been called the
      > > > > 'nonmetaphysical' reading of Hegel which sees his philosophy as
      > > > > primarily an
      > > > > exercise in conceptual clarification. The problem I have with this
      > > > reading
      > > > > is that these thinkers then want to take these clarified concepts as
      > > > norms
      > > > > or correctives to be applied to our worldly knowledge. I see
      > > Pippin and
      > > > > Winfield as taking this tack even though in many respects their
      > views
      > > > > differ
      > > > > from one another. I tend to think that Hegel was of the camp that
      > > > > wanted to
      > > > > leave the world pretty much as it is. In this respect, I think
      > Marx's
      > > > > frustration about philosophers (wanting to understand rather than
      > > > > change the
      > > > > world) is on the mark even if I would side with the philosophers.
      > > But of
      > > > > course I may be wrong about this view of Hegel and the world.
      > > > >
      > > >
      > > > I do not think that the analytical philosophers having found Hegel
      > > > interesting for their own unsolved problems have in general a
      > > > 'nonmetaphysical' reading of Hegel (if they have a reading at all). Of
      > > > course, it depends what 'metaphysical' does mean for you. For Hegel
      > > > metaphysics after Kant is a critical epistemology which Kant started
      > > > with but could not implement it because of his dualistic intellectual
      > > > edifice and his unknowable thing in itself. Analytical philosophy
      > itself
      > > > has passed through this path again (Russell, Wiener Kreis,
      > Wittgenstein,
      > > > Austin, Armstrong, Strawson, Goodman, Davidson, McDowell). Looking at
      > > > this path with a metaphysical eye we can observe that first the
      > fact was
      > > > outside in the world independent of thought (Russell, Wiener Kreis).
      > > > After this fact and thought became identical (Strawson). On the third
      > > > level fact and thought are kept separated by thought as the being in
      > > > itself and the being for itself: the thinking on our experiences
      > > > (McDowell). In Hegel's Logic you can follow the same (dialectical)
      > path:
      > > > being - essence - concept. It is the path of our thinking. This
      > path is
      > > > deeply metaphysical in the sense of a critical sight on our world
      > > > relationship, on our being which is never merely separated from our
      > > > thinking otherwise we could not think and act at all.
      > > >
      > > > Having this in mind I am surprised that for you "Hegel was of the camp
      > > > that wanted to leave the world pretty much as it is". For Hegel the
      > > > world cannot resist our thought because thought made it. However, for
      > > > him there is no causal explanation of the world as a whole with
      > which we
      > > > could justify our action for change. With such causal explanation we
      > > > absolutize both, the being and thinking, without considering their
      > > > mutual relationship in the development of the concept. Considering
      > this
      > > > does not mean an uncritical accordance with the given but a critical
      > > > comprenhension which neither presupposes a critical position
      > beyond the
      > > > world nor an uncritical one within it.
      > > >
      > > > Regards,
      > > > Beat Greuter

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Alan Ponikvar
      Hi John, I have been meaning to take a look at Adorno. These quotes are interesting. I also think that indifference is important for Hegel. It characterizes
      Message 93 of 93 , Dec 18, 2009
        Hi John,

        I have been meaning to take a look at Adorno. These quotes are interesting.
        I also think that 'indifference' is important for Hegel. It characterizes
        the opposition of consciousness where Hegel says right from the start that
        for consciousness being is whether it is known or not. But I also suspect
        that indifference characterizes what I view to be the inner difference of
        the absolute. But to show this would require too much for now. My only
        hesitation about what Adorno expresses here is his casual use of
        multiplicity. I believe it is important to be aware of when Hegel is really
        speaking of a multiplicity and when he is speaking of a duality as he is
        with being and nothing. In fact, I believe that Hegel sees as one of his
        systematic tasks to reduce his own multiplicities to dualities. So, for
        instance, at the end of the Phenomenology we have to comprehend not merely
        how the array of shapes culminate in absolute knowing but need to do so in
        light of the opposition between the consciousness and self-consciousness of

        Regards, Alan

        From: hegel@yahoogroups.com [mailto:hegel@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of john
        Sent: Friday, December 18, 2009 10:22 AM
        To: hegel@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [hegel] Re: The reduction is unavoidable

        --- In hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com> , "Alan
        Ponikvar" <ponikvaraj@...> wrote:
        > Hi John,
        > I think it is always useful in reading Hegel to imagine a narrative that
        > will make sense of what is happening. But to say things end rather badly
        > really depends on one's point of view. An advocate for quantity would be
        > overjoyed to learn of the demise of quality. But that as we know would be
        > hasty response given what is to come next.
        > I tend to think that the reduction or suspension of the distinction
        > the indeterminate and determinate is not a distinction that can be reduced
        > to a case of a qualitative contrast between negatively opposed items. I
        > think what we get instead is the thought of becoming inverting and being
        > reconceived as determinate being. That is, rather than there being a
        > contrastive difference there is what I would view to be an indifferent
        > difference as indicated by the abrupt inversion. On my view, this
        > indifferent difference relates to the inner difference of the absolute -
        > something that is not an explicit theme here.
        > So here is how I relate this to the beginning of the Logic:
        > 1. First there is being which comes on the scene as a dumb presence or
        > as a product of abstraction.
        > 2. The emergence of nothing introduces an item that comes on the scene
        > by means of an inversion from a predicate to a subject term. Nothing is
        > itself a product of abstraction.
        > 3. There is a contrastive relationship between being and nothing that
        > engages thought in a movement.
        > 4. This movement as experienced by thought is brought to a halt with
        > the 'reflective' insight into becoming that means to comprehend this
        > movement taken as a whole.
        > 5. This insight draws a distinction between the movement as experienced
        > by thought and the stable insight itself. This involves the difference
        > between focusing on each moment in turn and focusing on the movement taken
        > in its totality.
        > 6. Thus the movement and the insight are about the same activity of
        > thought only seen from two distinct points of view - one as experienced,
        > other as apprehended through insight.
        > 7. It is this difference that is indifferent. It is this difference
        > that is not addressed or that remains unresolved and in play. This is the
        > inner difference of the infinite absolute as expressed in the domain of
        > finitude.
        > 8. This difference between thought in motion and at rest becomes as it
        > were a pivot point. Becoming is that point in that it recollects the
        > movement of becoming and brings it to a halt as a single thought and then
        > this effect of the single thought's bringing movement to a halt is
        > This bringing thought to a halt - this effect of this first insight - is
        > posited as determinate being.
        > 9. This inner difference of the absolute then relates to the intrinsic
        > difference of thought between its content and its activity or what I like
        > think of as the difference between the word and deed of thought as
        > So as you can see I am still fixated on this nub of thought at the
        > beginning.
        > Regards, Alan

        Dear Alan,

        Perhaps you'll be interested in what Adorno has to say about the
        being-nothing-becoming transition. He writes:

        "In Hegel's Logic, when he deals with Becoming, the synthesis of the first
        triad, he waits until Being and Nothingness have been equated as wholly
        empty and indefinite before he pays attention to the difference indicated by
        the fact that the two concepts' literal linguistic meanings are absolutely

        "He accentuates his early doctrine that nothing but the nonidentical can
        meaningfully--i.e., more than tautologically--predicate identity at all: it
        is not until their synthesis identifies them with each other that the
        moments will be nonidentical.

        "This is where the claim of their identity obtains that restlessness, that
        inward shudder, which Hegel calls Becoming...

        "Only in the accomplished synthesis, in the union of contradictory moments,
        will their difference be manifested. Without the step that Being is the same
        as Nothingness, each of them would--to use one of Hegel's favorite terms--be
        'indifferent' to the other; only when they are to be the same do they become

        "There is no question that Hegel, as opposed to Kant, restricted the
        priority of the synthesis: to Kant, multiplicity [That Being and Nothingness
        are different] and unity [That Being and Nothingness are the same] were
        already categories side by side; Hegel, following the model of late Platonic
        dialogues, recognized them as two moments of which neither is without the

        "Just the same, like Kant and the entire philosophical tradition including
        Plato, Hegel is a partisan of unity. An abstract denial of unity would not
        befit thinking either. The illusion of taking direct hold of the Many would
        be a mimetic regression, as much a recoil into mythology, into the horror of
        the diffuse, as the thinking of the One, the imitation of blind nature by
        repressing it, ends at the opposite pole in mythical dominion...

        The tendency of synthesizing acts is reversible by reflection upon what they
        do to the Many. Unity alone transcends unity. It is unity that grants the
        right to live to affinity, which was pushed back by the advancing unity and
        yet hibernated in it, secularized to the point of unrecognizability.

        "As Plato knew only to well, the syntheses of the subject are indirect
        conceptual imitations of what that synthesis seeks on its own."

        [Negative Dialectics, pages 157f]

        Well, that quote went on too long. You can skip the last four 'paragraphs'
        if you like.

        I like how he calls Becoming "that inward shudder". The "shudder" is, by the
        way, something of a technical term in Adorno's Aesthetics.

        And I like how he refers to "indifference" as "one of Hegel's favorite
        terms"--a somewhat amusing aside which is quite characteristic of Adorno's
        lectures but rare in his books.

        Of course the being-nothing-becoming transition is fairly unique. What
        Adorno says about it might be somewhat applicable to most of the other
        transitions in the Being section as well--but not in the Essence and Notion


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