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Re: [hegel] Re: the silent fourth

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  • Beat Greuter
    Hello Randall, I am somewhat disappointed. I only wanted to give an answer to your quotation of and comment on Hegel s text in the SL trans. Miller p. 110. ...
    Message 1 of 130 , Jan 13, 2011
      Hello Randall,

      I am somewhat disappointed. I only wanted to give an answer to your
      quotation of and comment on Hegel's text in the SL trans. Miller p. 110.
      There you wrote:

      > For me the "re-introduction" of external perspective is confusing, and
      > it even caused me to miss a transition in the development of the
      > something.

      If this " "re-introduction" of external perspective is confusing" for
      you then you have to show how it fits in or does not fit in with your
      idea on Hegel's Logic. You have to bring arguments and perhaps you have
      to change your idea in case you cannot harmonize this "re-introduction"
      with your idea. In my reply I only have shown how Hegel's
      "re-introduction" could be harmonized with the method and procedure of
      his Logic. My offer may not be fully correct or perhaps could not even
      really achieve the haromization. But then your comment should show this
      what in my opinion it does not since all your additional quotation would
      have first to be referred to Hegel's " "re-introduction" of external

      In my opinion Hegel's crucial proposition in your cited text in the SL
      trans. Miller p. 110 is the following:

      "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."

      So, the external reflection gives "the nature [the essence] of the
      Concept" of the 'Dasein' in general. The reflection on the essence of
      the Concept is therefore, I guess, a most important moment in the
      procedure of the Logic, or don't you think so? It is not merely an
      "external comparison" or something taken from the outside, it is an
      inherent moment, otherwise I do not know what a proposition on the
      essence of a Concept within a Logic should be.

      So, you have to integrate this external reflection in the internal
      procedure of the Logic. And this does fit very well with Hegel's general
      characterization of the procedure of his Logic: that it is the course of
      the Concept from the most abstract to the most concrete. This, however,
      does not mean that it is the whole, the most concrete, which does
      determine the course since only the developed moments of the Concept do
      constitute stepwise the whole. But it does mean that a more or less
      still abstract moment of the Concept cannot yet be self-supporting (as
      later for instance 'life') but has to be put forward also by external
      reflection. This reflection is also not merely formal and outside the
      Logic but is a procedural moment of the development of the concept as
      unity of form and content of Being as such.

      Later in the Logic of the Essence 'reflection' itself becomes
      thematically and will be integrated in the self-supporting of the
      concept. But even then external reflection does not cease fully. Only in
      the Logic of the Concept the Concept becomes more and more
      in-and-for-itself with the result that external reflection will become

      Beat Greuter

      Am 13.01.2011 15:33, Randall writes:

      > Hello Beat,
      > [Beat]
      > > So, it seems that you have an inadequate idea of Hegel's Science of
      > > Logic.
      > Well, it wouldn't be honest for me to claim that I have a completly
      > adequate idea of Hegel's SL. I don't.
      > But your specific objections have little or nothing to do with the
      > inadequacies of my idea of Hegel's SL. Instead, your objections are a
      > result of your own peculiar interpretation of the SL.
      > 1. Firstly, you seem to espouse some brand of Hegelian "Holism", where
      > the method of advance in the Logic's of Being and Essence,
      > "presuppose" the whole of the Absolute Idea.
      > This is an easy mistake to make because Hegel's opening remarkes in
      > the Introduction can invite such confusion:
      > --------
      > [Hegel] SL Introduction
      > --------
      > "Logic on the contrary, cannot presuppose any of these forms of
      > reflection and laws of thinking, for these constitute part of its own
      > content and have first to be established within the science. But not
      > only the account of scientific method, but even the Notion itself of
      > the science as such belongs to its content, and in fact constitutes
      > its final result; what logic is cannot be stated beforehand, rather
      > does this knowledge of what it is first emerge as the final outcome
      > and consummation of the whole exposition. Similarly, it is essentially
      > within the science that the subject matter of logic, namely, thinking
      > or more specifically comprehensive thinking is considered; the Notion
      > of logic has its genesis in the course of exposition and cannot
      > therefore be premised." (Hegel, SL p. 43)
      > ---------
      > Hegel begins his opening remarks by contrasting the Science of Logic
      > with "all other sciences"...
      > - Like the Science of Logic, investigations carried out by "all other
      > sciences" involve a "thinking" in some respect or another. However, in
      > contrast to Logic, this "thinking" that constitutes their method is
      > not a "thinking of thinking", instead, the thinking employed in "all
      > other sciences" is a thinking about a given object.
      > -Because the thinking employed by "all other sciences" does not
      > address itself, the character of their thinking (i.e. their method)
      > must already be given at the outset of the science, and thus the
      > validity of the thinking that they employ, remains unscrutinized, and
      > taken for granted throughout the entirety of their investigation.
      > - In contrast, the Science of Logic (if it is not to undermine itself
      > before it begins), must begin *absolutely* with no prior
      > determinations regarding "how we are to think" or "what we are to
      > think" at the start of the science.
      > - In the Science of Logic, any determinations concerning "how we
      > think" (i.e. the Form), must emerge during the course of the
      > investigation, the determinations that emerge will constitute "what we
      > think" (i.e. the Content).
      > - In the Logic, "How we think" and "what we think" are
      > indistinguishable. With the form of its thinking (i.e. "how it
      > thinks") completely indeterminate, Logic at the same time has itself
      > (i.e. "what it thinks") as the referent of its thinking.
      > So, to summerize Hegel is suggesting that the Science of Logic,
      > contrary to "all other sciences", must have an "absolute beginning".
      > This "absolute beginning" is constituted by the unity of Form and
      > Content mentioned above.
      > If we take this "absolute beginning" seriously, then in the beginning
      > of the SL, the form (i.e. "How we are to think") and the content (i.e.
      > "what we are to think") is completely indeterminate.
      > What remains is a pure abstract self-relation that has no distinction
      > between reference (i.e. How we think") and referent (i.e. "what we
      > think"), no reference outward, and nothing determinate to refer to
      > inwardly.
      > Because it has no antecedently given form or content, the Logic must
      > generate its own subject matter and ordering along the way. If an
      > external source were to supply it with determinations along the way,
      > this unity of form and content would disrupted.
      > As a consequence, the logic can only proceed immanently, as a
      > self-development.
      > If it were somehow possible to "reflect" inside this pure
      > self-relation that makes up the unity of form and content, and
      > "analyse" what we have, we would find literally nothing.
      > There are no prior or antecedently given categories or first
      > principles to refer to.
      > But with this collaspe into Nothing, we have at same time revealed the
      > mode of the Logic's "synthetic" advance, the "Determinate Negation":
      > ------------
      > [Hegel] SL Introduction
      > ------------
      > "All that is necessary to achieve scientific progress --- and it is
      > essential to strive to gain this quite simple insight --- is the
      > recognition of the logical principle that the negative is just as much
      > positive..."(SL p. 54)
      > [and]
      > "That which enables the Notion to advance itself is the already
      > mentioned negative which it possesses within itself; it is this which
      > constitutes the genuine dialectical element" (SL p. 55)
      > -----------
      > Because of the requirements outlined above [i.e.(1) the absolute
      > beginning, (2)the unity of form and content, (3) proceeds immanently,
      > and (4)the advance is by determinate negation], what the Logic is,
      > will only be evident as a *result* of the development of the Science
      > of Logic itself.
      > Hegel suggests...
      > "what logic is cannot be stated beforehand, rather does this knowledge
      > of what it is first emerge as the final outcome and consummation of
      > the whole exposition."
      > So, here we have arrived to the focal point of our disagreement.
      > More textual evidence...
      > -----------
      > [Hegel] SL With What Must The Science Begin?
      > ----------
      > "It must be admitted that it is an important consideration --- one
      > which will be found in more detail in the logic itself --- that the
      > advance is a retreat into the ground, to what is primary and true, on
      > which depends and, in fact, from which originates, that with which the
      > beginning is made." (SL p. 71)
      > ------------
      > Hegel suggests above and in the surrounding pages...
      > - The advance, and the content of the logic are what they are only as
      > results of the development leading to and constituting them.
      > - the preceding development in the Logic that leads to "the
      > consumation of the whole", is nothing more than the succession of
      > stages by which logical thought both constitutes, and orders itself.
      > -Each advance is a move towards the ground that determines and
      > contains the prior stages as what they are: elements in the
      > self-constitution of logical thought.
      > -The "consummation of the whole" is the ground as the totality of
      > logic, which only arises as a result of the completed development.
      > But as we will see below, from here Beat, you want to claim that "the
      > final outcome and consummation of the whole" is something presupposed
      > at the beginning of the Logic.
      > Moreover, you want to suggest that this omnipresent "whole" guides the
      > development of the logic at the outset.
      > This is a brand of Holism, not Hegel's System.
      > Your presupposition of the whole results in a forfeiture not only of
      > Hegel's demand for an "Absolute Beginning" of the SL, but it also
      > disrupts the "element" of the Logic (i.e. the unity of form and content).
      > This leads you to deny that the Logic is a "self-development" prior to
      > the end of the Logic.
      > But of course there is no way for you to make the end of the Logic
      > "self-determining", because you have given the logic various
      > determinacies through external reflection along the way.
      > But now let's have a closer look at your objections:
      > [Beat]
      > > 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.
      > Because the Science of Logic has an "absolute beginning ", and becasue
      > its "element" is the unity of form and content, its truth can only be
      > a result.
      > Q1: But does this mean that the Logic prior to its end is dependent on
      > "external reflection"?
      > Firstly,remember any "external reflection" would disrupt the unity of
      > form and content that constitutes the element of the Logic.
      > Secondly, it leaves the thinking of the person doing the reflection
      > completely unaccounted for, and so reintroduces the transcendental
      > dilemma.
      > Thirdly,it would externally condition the logic, stripping Hegel of
      > the necessitly behind one of his most brilliant innovations, "the
      > determinate negation" (which in turn would at the same time strip the
      > dialectic of its necessity).
      > Q2: Is the "result" presupposed at the start of the Logic?
      > Firstly, [again] this would forfeit the "Absolute Beginning"
      > [and]
      > Secondly, [again] this would disrupt the unity of form and content in
      > the Logic.
      > Thirdly, it would also leave the necessitly of the "determinate
      > negation" unaccounted for.
      > Let me pause here...
      > Randall
      > _._,_.___
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    • Alan Ponikvar
      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
      Message 130 of 130 , Jan 31, 2011
        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.

        Regards, Alan

        From: john <jgbardis@...>
        Reply-To: <hegel@yahoogroups.com>
        Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2011 02:34:43 -0000
        To: <hegel@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: [hegel] Re: the silent fourth

        Dear Alan,

        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 hegel@yahoogroups.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com> , Alan
        Ponikvar <ponikvaraj@...> wrote:
        > 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
        > itself.
        > 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
        > skepticism.
        > 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

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