Re: [hegel] Re: the silent fourth
- Randall writes:
>So, it seems that you have an inadequate idea of Hegel's Science of
> > In your remarks you speak about the collapse of the distinction
> > into an indeterminate unity. But this is misleading. We could just
> > as easily say that the distinction between being and nothing
> > collapse into an indeterminate unity. But this collapse and the
> > achieved unity is highly mediated.
> It is not clear what your objection is here, Alan. I never claimed
> that "the collapse of the distinction into an indeterminate unity" was
> unmediated. Instead, I would only claim that the mediation has been
> sublated in this collapse.
> I should point to the relevant text here:
> [Hegel] SL: With What Must The Science Begin?
> "...in logic, the presupposition is that which has proved itself to be
> the result of that phenomenological consideration -- the Idea as pure
> knowledge...in the said result, this Idea has determined itself to be
> the certainty which has become truth, the certainty which, on the one
> hand, no longer has the object over against it but has internalised
> it, knows it as its own self -- and, on the other hand, has given up
> the knowledge of itself as of something confronting the object of
> which it is only the annihilation, has divested itself of this
> subjectivity and is at one with its self-alienation.(SL p.69)
> Above Hegel suggests...
> - The SL is mediated by the result of the PhG
> - In this result, the certainty of phenomenal consciousness has become
> - This certainty that has become Truth, no longer has the object over
> against it but has internalized the object.
> - This certainty knows the object as itself (i.e. it has become
> [at the same time...]
> - This certainty has "given up" the knowledge of itself as a subject
> that necessarily confronts an object.
> - It has "divested" itself from this opposition and is "at one with
> its self-alienation"
> This last part where Hegel talks about this "certainty" being "at one
> with its self-alienation" is very similar to the characterations we
> get in Hegel's famous "Substance is essentially Subject" sections of
> the Preface to the PhG (see para. 18).
> [Hegel] Preface: para 18
> "...the living Substance is being which is in truth Subject, or what
> is the same, is in truth actual only in so far as it is the movement
> of positing itself, or is the mediation of its self-othering with
> itself" (Hegel, PhG p. 10)
> We could also relate what was said about "certainty" being "at one
> with its self-alienation" with what Hegel says about "Infinity" in his
> chapter on the Understanding. Hegel defines difference as Infinity is
> "the self-same that repels itself from itself"
> Hegel coninues...
> [Hegel] With What Must The Science Begin?
> "Now starting from this, determination of pure knowledge, all that is
> needed to ensure that the beginning remains immanent in its scientific
> development is to consider, or rather, ridding oneself of all other
> reflections and opinions whatever, simply to take up, what is there
> before us.
> Pure knowing as concentrated into this unity has sublated all
> reference to an other and to mediation; it is without any distinction
> and as thus distinctionless, ceases itself to be knowledge; what is
> present is only simple immediacy.
> - After the thinking of "our thoughtful attention" has entered into
> the certainty of pure knowledge, all "we" need to do is avoid
> "re-introducing" our personal opinions and such (i.e. the opinions and
> criterions that we had successfully abstracted from upon entering into
> pure knowing), and simply take up what is before "us".
> - But what is before "us",is not an object opposed to the certainty of
> Pure Knowing. That opposition between subject and object has been
> "given up". What is before "us" is the immediacy of the pure
> self-relation that is Pure Knowing.
> - Pure knowing as concentrated into this unity has sublated all
> reference to an other and to mediation.
> - Pure knowing is without any distinction and as thus distinctionless,
> ceases itself to be knowledge; what is present is only simple immediacy.
> At this point "we" have been equalized into the inquiry because the
> "how" of our thinking is necessarily competely indeterminate, while at
> the same time the reference of our thinking (the "what") is nothing
> but the "how" of our completely indeterminate thinking.
> > It is a unity that involves the infinite movement of thought.
> > Becoming as the truth of this movement is more properly
> > characterized as an identity that maintains itself in difference
> > as being and nothing are not merely identical but exhibit the same
> > movement of thought.
> I don't disagree that the collapse into Pure Knowing involves Hegel's
> idea of an infinite movement of thought. I think that Hegel wants to
> suggest just this with the "self-alienation" terminology in my first
> quote above.
> But for just this reason I think that from the beginning of the SL
> "we" have been co-opted into the self-development of the Logic.
> So, "we" have an "immanent" perspective of the scientific development
> from the beginning, not an external perspective.
> Now, having said all of that, Hegel in his remarks in the SL allows
> "us" to reflect (in an external way) periodically on the develelopment
> of the logic.
> See below for his explantion:
> [Hegel] Determinate Being in General
> "The whole is likewise in the form, that is, in the determinateness of
> being, for being has likewise shown itself in becoming to be only a
> moment--a sublated, negatively determined being; but it is such for us
> in our reflection, it is not yet posited as such in its own self. But
> the determinateness as such of determinate being is the
> determinateness which is posited, and this is implied in the
> expression Dasein [there-being or being which is there]. The two are
> always to be clearly distinguished from each other; only that which is
> posited in a Notion belongs in the dialectical development of that
> Notion to its content; whereas the determinateness that is not yet
> posited in the Notion itself belongs to our reflection, whether it
> concerns the nature of the Notion itself or is an external comparison.
> To draw attention to a determinateness of the latter kind can only
> serve to elucidate or indicate in advance the course which will be
> exhibited in the development itself. That the whole, the unity of
> being and nothing, is in the one-sided determinateness of being is an
> external reflection; but in the negation, in something and other and
> so on, it will come to be posited. It was necessary here to draw
> attention to the distinction referred to; but to take account of all
> the Remarks which may be prompted by reflection would lead to the
> prolixity of anticipating what must yield itself in the subject
> matter. Such reflections may facilitate a general view and thereby an
> understanding of the development, but they also have the disadvantage
> of appearing as unjustified assertions, grounds and foundations for
> what is to follow. They should therefore not be taken for more than
> they are supposed to be and should be distinguished from what is a
> moment in the development of the subject matter itself. (Hegel, SL
> trans. Miller p. 110)
> Above Hegel suggests that...
> - There is a distinction to be made during the course of the
> development of the Logic between determinations that are a result of
> our own reflections, and determination that are "posited" in the
> dialectical determination of the Notion in itself.
> - The determinations derived from our reflections are only to be used
> "to elucidate or indicate in advance the course which will be
> exhibited in the development itself".
> For me the "re-introduction" of external perspective is confusing, and
> it even caused me to miss a transition in the development of the
Logic. As in the Phenomenology also in the Logic there is no autonomous
self-fulfilling concept during the development of the moments of the
concept. This can only happen the concept having become explicitly
in-and-for-itself, that is, at the end of the Logic where the mediated
identity of the theoretical and practical thought is achieved. Before
this the moments of the concept are not yet included and constitutive in
the whole and therefore remain always in some sort abstract and
dependent on external reflection. In the passage you cited Hegel does
vehemently insist on this for making clear the special characteristic of
the Logic of Being as soon as the process of determination begins:
"The whole is likewise in the form, that is, in the determinateness of
being, for being has likewise shown itself in becoming to be only a
moment--a sublated, negatively determined being; but it is such for us
in our reflection, it is not yet posited as such in its own self. But
the determinateness as such of determinate being is the determinateness
which is posited, and this is implied in the expression Dasein
[there-being or being which is there]. The two are always to be clearly
distinguished from each other;"
In the Logic of Being Hegel develops categories in which thought grasps
the immediately present subject matter. This immediately present subject
matter is the presupposed truth for this kind or perspective of thought.
But at the end of the Logic of Being this perspective as such has to be
abandoned since it cannot really grasp the subject matter and therefore
another perspective has to be developed. So, the (reading and writing)
philosopher has to lead the development of the yet abstract categories
of Being with help of his external reflection, otherwise there would be
no development at all. However, as soon as the general nature of a newly
found category within the Logic of Being is put forward the internal
strongly logical process of positing this category begins. What I say
here does not contradict the overall position of 'Pure (Absolute)
thought' achieved at the beginning of the Logic. 'Pure thought' itself
does evolve in the Logic as perspectives, otherwise there would be
indeed a fixed thinking beyond the Logic and therefore its original
emptiness would stay where "all cows are black"
> Hegel uses it not only "to elucidate or indicate in advance the[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> course", but he also uses it to signalize various historical
> equivalences which also serves to illustrate how the understanding can
> distort the development by isolating or abstracting from the movement
> of the dialectic.
> Again I should pause here.
> > Carlson is troubled by what he finds at the beginning of the Logic.
> He is
> > unable to discern a noticeable difference between being and nothing.
> And yet
> > he notes without such a difference we would be left with an abstract
> > conception of the indeterminate immediate. I am suggesting that it
> is the
> > nature of the absolute and of thought attuned to speculative thinking to
> > shift. To see being as nothing is to see being again. It is to recollect
> > being as nothing based on what being has exhibited about itself in our
> > attempt to think it. It is this difference between attention and
> > attention that accounts for the emergence of new thought content.
> This then
> > is the effort on our part that you disparage.
> > The problem with the opposition of consciousness is not so much that it
> > creates skeptical problems. And we do not resolve what is at issue
> merely by
> > noting that the opposition has collapsed. The problem with the
> opposition is
> > that it makes the subjective pole of the opposition the unessential
> > and the objective pole the essential moment. By doing this it
> precludes the
> > activity of thinking as being in any way relevant to the truth. Absolute
> > knowing and speculative thought in general frees thought from its own
> > inessentiality by exhibiting how thought content recollects
> thought's own
> > movement.
> > If there is any merit to this reading then what all other readings
> tend to
> > share is the view that on the one hand thinking and thought are one
> while on
> > the other hand missing the significance of this unity and taking a
> > scientific exposition is a performance for we who would observe and
> try to
> > make sense of this performance. The science then tends to be viewed
> as an
> > other to our own attentive observation. The unity is destroyed.
> > So when you refer to the pure self-relation of the absolute I wonder
> > you have in mind. As I understand this it points to another Hegelian
> > about the absolute always being with us. So while your reading is not
> > transcendental ¡© and neither is mind ¡© it does posit the absolute as
> > something apart from we who would attend to it. This leads to reducing
> > speculative thinking to a species of the understanding. This is easy
> > to do given that the only difference between ordinary and
> speculative reason
> > is one's point of view. What the skeptic sees as a self-refuting
> circle of
> > reasons the speculative philosopher sees as an infinite truth. Same
> > but different assessment of the significance of what is in view.
> Thus you
> > cannot avoid engaging the issue of perspective. It is the defining issue
> > that enables Hegel to distinguish between the ordinary and the
> > As I have mentioned before, any account of Hegel that takes him to have
> > defeated the skeptic represents a failure to see that Hegel is not
> > by the skeptical issues. He is not trying to overcome the opposition of
> > consciousness. He is trying to show how the gap between us and the
> > does not exist if we come to a proper understanding both of the
> absolute and
> > of the knowing subject. Winfield's account of how to avoid the skeptic
> > employs skeptical arguments to arrive at indeterminate self-constituting
> > determinacy as what is left to think. But the skeptic will not let
> > get off the mark. If Winfield wants to say that this empty unmotivated
> > determinacy is what we are to think the skeptic is quick to say that
> > Winfield is performing a slight of hand. To say that there is nothing to
> > think means that we have no right to think as that is what it means
> to say
> > that there is nothing to think. Having introduced nothing about what is
> > distinctive of the speculative approach to thinking Winfield has no
> > justification for moving from his first thought since this should be his
> > final thought as far as the skeptic is concerned. Only if thought is
> > the Sache can thought proceed to think its own thought.
- Hi John,
There is a sense that what Randall and I are speaking about is our own
private concern. Actually, we are speaking around a certain reading of Hegel
of which we both are familiar. Randall embraces this reading while I reject
it. We are thrashing out some of the issues of this reading that has its
source primarily in the writings of Winfield, Maker, and Houlgate. So I can
appreciate how much of this might not be all that helpful for others.
The discussion about skepticism though is a more widely recognized concern
as Pippin, Pinkard, Westfhal, and Forster to name some of the more prominent
English language interpreters read the Phenomenology as a skeptical account
about the failures of natural consciousness. In fact, as far as I can tell,
this is the majority view as to how to read the Phenomenology. The
skepticism is carried over as the preferred way to read "With What Must the
Science Begin" in the Logic.
You are right to point out that we have really not really gotten started
with a reading of the Logic. Last year, I wrote extensively on this site
about my reading of the beginning. At some point I will revisit those posts
and see if I want to change or add anything to what I have already said. But
somehow I have managed to deflect Randall from getting on with his way of
reading the text. If I remember, he wants to put a particular emphasis on
understanding what Hegel means by determinate negation. This is fine with
me. It sounds like a good way to focus the discussion.
As for your final comment about the coming together of form and content I
stand by what I have already said on this.
From: john <jgbardis@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2011 02:34:43 -0000
Subject: [hegel] Re: the silent fourth
Randall had been talking about form and content--and I didn't have a clue
why he brought that into it at this point.
But I guess what he meant was that the form of the SL is the manner of
thinking that is going on there, while the content is what is being thought
about, i.e., Being.
I believe Randall was suggesting that there ought to be some relation
between the two.
I also didn't understand where skepticism came into it. So I quess
skepticism is just the reason for starting with Being. If you start with,
say, Something, then the skeptic will complain. And, so then, I quess, at
every step of the way you can't be too overtly "creative" or, again, the
skeptic will complain.
So, then, Alan, I more or less understand what you are saying below about
the manner of thinking. But you don't relate this at all to starting with
Of course, as Hegel says, the starting place is _just_ a starting place. I
suppose it could be dictated more or less externally by skepticism. That's
as good a way to start as any.
As I said in my last post, I don't believe the form and content, the manner
of thinking and the matter thought, really come together until the Doctrine
of Essence. Everything up to that point is pretty much just an exercise in
futility--except for the fact that it establishes Essence. So instead of
just making the distinction, as Heidegger does, between being and be-ing (or
bying, or something like that, in other translations), and saying one is
just abstract generality and the other is the real deal--instead of that,
you actually go through all the mediation required to arrive at an immediate
Essence in contrast to being.
At any rate, that's as much as I've understood about all this--insofar as
I've understood any of it at all.
--- In email@example.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com> , Alan
Ponikvar <ponikvaraj@...> wrote:
>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> Hi Randall,
> I think we are both interested in the result that begins in the Logic as
> pure being. And we both acknowledge that it stands unrelated to that from
> which might be the mediated result. But this is to raise a problem. What
> gives either of us the right to ignore the mediation that provides pure
> being as the first thought? As I understand your approach, a meditation on
> what might avoid skeptical criticism is the proper mediation. We cannot
> begin with any determinate content has this would beg the question as to its
> right to be the first thought. So we begin with an empty thought. But, as I
> have mentioned already, this makes the Phenomenology irrelevant and it
> privileges the skeptic as the proper arbiter of all possible beginnings.
> In contrast, to a skeptically induced abstraction as the mediating entry
> into the Logic I propose an absolute entry related to a shift of perspective
> with respect to absolute knowing as achieved in the Phenomenology. What is
> interesting about these types of mediating moves is that they are immanent
> to absolute knowing, involving no more than a shift of focus upon what is in
> view while your approach is entirely external and unrelated to the thinking
> that has preceded.
> Another point of interest is that speculative transitions that shift from
> one to the other moment of an absolute content carry over as implicit
> thought what is left behind. In the present case, what is carried over is
> the education of the Phenomenology that teaches the reader that what he
> observes as the truth of each consciousness is posited in turn as the object
> of interest. What is carried over is the relevance of the absolute to what
> we are to think, or the activity of thought is an essential moment of
> thought content. The lesson is pay attention to what thought does as thought
> thinks itself.
> Finally, to answer my own question, an absolute mediation posits the
> recollected view as equally absolute. It can only be the comprehensive view
> of absolute knowing if it stands as an absolute or unconditioned view. As I
> mentioned in another post you can see this same move within the Logic with
> the move from being for self to the one.
> Thus the advantages of my view are:
> 1. It is immanent.
> 2. It speaks to the absolute sense of thought that acts to constitute
> 3. It explains how an absolute mediation still appears as a shear immediacy.
> 4. It avoids an external reflection guided by the skeptic.
> You mention the refer to the 'self-consumating' or as Miller puts it
> 'thoroughgoing' skepticism. But this needs to be interpreted. One might read
> it as you do as indicating the systematic completeness of the skeptical
> survey. I to read it as referencing Hegel's remark that we should not let
> the skeptical result be the end of the matter. We have to also see this very
> same result as positive. Now to your credit you speak to this when you say:
> "The positive result is "the liberation from the opposition of
> consciousness"." But that is equivalent to saying the positive result of
> each refutation of a mode of knowing is the liberation of the consciousness
> from the mistaken view that its mode is true knowing. In other words, it
> still really is a negative view. The question still remains: is the
> skepticism merely negative ¡© a liberation from the opposition of
> consciousness - or does it mean to offer an alternative way to think as it
> does within the Phenomenology by providing consciousness with a new object.
> What I am suggesting is that what is analogous to the new object for us is
> an appreciation of the essential role of the activity of thinking when
> thought is absolute in the Hegelian sense. That is, unlike those naturally
> guided, the absolute does not stand apart from our unessential thinking. It
> is not there as something indifferent to our attention. It is nothing more
> that what happens when thought attends to itself. So, it is this
> repositioning of the absolute and what happens to thought as a result that
> is what we are meant to learn.
> If the result is merely negative then when the reader turns to the Logic he
> still is burdened by what comes naturally as is demonstrated when one
> attempts to use skepticism to mediate our way to pure being. I have been
> listening to some of Winfield's class on the Phenomenology. He once again
> refers to what he calls the 'short argument' to the Logic. That is, he asks
> himself why his formal meditation on the failings of oppositional thinking
> are not sufficient. In fact, both he and Maker believe that the short
> argument really is sufficient. They do not see the relevance of coming to
> know knowledge as absolute as meaning anything more than a systematic
> But Forster in his book on the Phenomenology I believe does a good job of
> showing how a systematic skepticism does not defeat the skeptic. It begs the
> question of how do we show that what is systematic is nothing more than an
> elaborate solipsism that is unable to prove that there might not be other
> ways of knowing outside the systematic account that might accomplish true
> knowing. Moreover, Forster wants to know where is the justification for the
> original standpoint that has the reader free to observe and isolated from
> criticism as to this observational point of view. Does not the reader have
> to be accounted for?
> Finally, you note: "I think that the basic reason why you take my
> interpretation (also Winfield's) as "purely negative" is that you would
> ultimately like to "preserve" the opposition of consciousness."
> I am trying to the best of my ability to show that it is you and Winfield
> who preserve the opposition while I have moved on. In fact, I believe that
> until one recognizes that the opposition as commonly conceived is a canard
> one cannot really appreciate the point of the Phenomenology. There is no
> opposition between knowledge and the absolute but there is an opposition
> between how things first appear and how they subsequently appear in their
> truth. This is why Hegel chooses to give a presentation of appearing
> knowing. It is not because it is mere appearance apart from the truth. It is
> because appearing knowledge is the site for the shift of perspective ¡© the
> shift from viewing the knowing of each natural consciousness as a failure to
> viewing this as the truth with a positive result, the new object. This is
> Hegel's innovation: to not let the negative result be the last word but to
> recollect what appears speculatively which means to appreciate the absolute
> achievement in full view but which goes unnoticed when natural consciousness
> ¡© and most readers ¡© see matters in purely a negative light. Appearance is
> where the action is. It is not as ordinary knowing would have it as merely
> the inessential pole of the knowing relation.
> So, to overcome the opposition of consciousness really means to overcome an
> opposition that most readers do not even recognize: it is first to posit the
> opposition between speculative and ordinary thinking and then to show that
> this is a difference that ultimately is resolved. So first you get as Hegel
> tells us (PhS, 75) the absolute alone as the true ¡© this establishes the
> opposition between the speculative and ordinary ¡© and then you get the true
> alone ¡© the speculative achievements ¡© as in turn absolutely gathered as
> spiritual truths. The shift in the Phenomenology from consciousness to
> spirit also marks the conjunction of ordinary and speculative thinking in
> that spirit appears as conscious modes of knowing.
> The teaching then is that knowing in its two guises ¡© as ordinary and as
> speculative ¡© are mutually implicating moments of the ultimate absolute
> knowledge that is the terminus. We have not eliminated oppositional thinking
> in its ordinary sense. We have folded it in to speculative thinking such
> that what is first taken as an external opposition between knowledge and the
> absolute comes to be reconceived as the inner difference of absolute
> knowledge. It is this inner opposition that is overcome in the Hegelian
> sense by being preserved and one might say re-purposed.
> As re-purposed ordinary thinking or the understanding does not mark an
> external perspective as it does for consciousness. It merely marks
> unconditioned thinking that would be immediate, such as the first thought of
> the Logic. One might say that when the understanding appears in the Logic
> that it is not your father's understanding. It is not understanding as it
> functions in the ordinary opposition for which the absolute stands apart. It
> is understanding as it speaks to one view of the absolute, the abstract and
> one-sided view. The mediation that follows comes by attending to thought as
> absolute or thought as active as it attends to being.
> I better stop here.
> Regards, Alan