Re: [hegel] Re: the silent fourth
- Am 27.01.2011 18:06, John writes:
>Thanks for your comment and the quotations from Carlson (and Zizek). It
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>, Beat
> Greuter <greuterb@...> wrote:
> > Am 26.01.2011 00:21, John writes:
> > > --- In email@example.com <mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > "TheJack" <thejackjam@> wrote:
> > >
> > > > I think that the burden now lies in your hands (or someone else) to
> > > explain how you think "reflection", "reference", or any type
> > > determinations" can take place within the "unity of Form and Content"
> > > that is achieved when we arrive to the standpoint of Science.
> > > >
> > > > Otherwise we can begin taking this Unity seriously.
> > > >
> > > > Randall
> > >
> > > Dear Randall,
> > >
> > > That works for me.
> > >
> > > In regard to "the silent fourth", though, what Carlson said,
> > > Zizek, is that in the doctrines of Being and Essence
> _subjectivity_ is
> > > the silent fourth. So everywhere along the line in the first
> volume of
> > > the SL subjectivity is below the surface, so to speak, trying to get
> > > out. As early as Becoming you have, implicitly, subjectivity.
> > >
> > > But in the doctrine of the concept it is objectivity that is the
> > > silent fourth. The concept is trying to become objective.
> > >
> > > As for the reader, you and me, the main problem is just simply to
> > > read. So keep reading. Feel free to take it as seriously as you can.
> > >
> > > John
> > >
> > The main problem is not just to read but the interpretation of what you
> > read. Interpretation cannot be done from an isolated passage of a text
> > only but is to interrelate different passages and the whole. This at
> > least is one important reason for disagreement.
> > I agree with what you (and Carlson and Zizek) say about "the silent
> > fourth". But what is the consequence for our problem about external
> > reflection in the course of the Logic? In my opinion it is precisely
> > "the silent fourth" which keeps the ball running and therefore its part
> > has to be taken by the external reflection of the philosopher as
> long as
> > the subjective side of the Concept is not yet explicit (for-itself),
> > that is, as long as the Concept itself has not yet become subjective. I
> > wonder whether Carlson or Zizek make some remarks about this.
> > Regards,
> > Beat Greuter
> Carlson seems to be saying the same thing as you, but I believe there
> is more to "the silent fourth" than he indicates. He deals with it
> briefly on pages 57 and 520. On page 57 he writes:
is good to see that I am not fully on the wrong track. Mostly I agree
with what Carlson writes. But there are, as you say, still some subtle
points which have to be discussed.
> "Zizek suggests that there is always a 'fourth' in addition to theI only equated 'silent fourth' with 'external reflection because 'silent
> triad of Understanding, Dialectic, and Speculative Reason. He compares
> it to the dummy in a game of bridge--the silent spectator that
> actually controls the game--a 'Master Signifier' or vanishing mediator
> that makes sense of all the other signifiers."
> So far so good. But he then seems to be identifying this "silent
> fourth", as you do, with external reflection. This leads to several
> problems. He writes:
fourth' is the title of this discussion and I did not know exactly from
where it came. So, I thought that 'silent fourth' could be a help for
making clear the function of 'external reflection' in the Logic of
Being. However, after our discussion so far I think that we should be
more careful with this equation. Concisely, the 'external reflection' is
in some sense 'silent' but it is not a 'fourth'.
> "Hegel's remark equating the Understanding with 'external reflection'This is very important and has to be emphasized. If contigency would not
> vindicates Zizek's observation. The silent fourth is in charge of the
> game at this point. The Understanding's intervention is a _contingent_
> event. It is necessary if the Logic is to progress, but it is not
> necessary that Logic progress _for us_ unless an external
> reflection--not yet part of the logical system--prods it into action.
> Logic is, after all, still only in the primitive stage of being. We
> have not yet reached subjectivity, which moves of its own accord. This
> point is important in refuting the canard that Hegel is some sort of
> totalitarian. Here we see the implication that _contingency_ is a
> _necessity_ within the system. This unity of contigency and necessity
> will prove the key to the last part of the Doctrine of Essence."
be a moment of Hegel's Logic then it would not deal with the absolute.
We can make this clear with help of the already mentioned transition
from 'Becoming' to 'Dasein'. At the beginning 'Dasein' is defined as
'the unity of being and nothing in the form of being'. This is indeed in
some way a contingent step of external reflection since why could we not
define this new whole also as 'the unity of being and nothing in the
form of nothing' ('Nothing' also is a vanishing moment in 'Becoming').
With this there would be no further development. However, in the Logic
of Being 'contingency - necessity' as a relationship of reflection is
not yet thematized and therefore 'silent'. Hegel has no choice. He has
to presuppose concepts which are not yet explicit in the dialectical
process of meaning but which nevertheless are (silent, implicit)
'teammates'. This Hegel pays for his chosen procedure starting from the
Logic of Being. The Logic of Being also is the whole but from a
perspective which not yet includes the moments of reflection which
therefore are included only as external reflection.
But this does not mean that Hegel's Logic is arbitrary. It is deeply
necessity which includes its opposite. But these opposites or
relationships only are thematized in the Logic of the Essence.
> What he says here about the role of external reflection in the Logic,I agree with you. It is not a "fourth'. The external reflection is a
> similar to what you say in your recent post to Randall, is quite good
> and true. But I don't think external reflection should be identified
> with the "silent fourth".
> First, he identifies external reflection with the Understanding. If
> this is the case, then how can it be a "fourth" to
> Understanding-Dialectic-Speculative Reason?
moment of the dialectical process which in the Logic of Being is not yet
preserving since the subjective moment is missing. So, the concepts (the
categories) are only transitory. Only when the Concept has become
in-and-for-itself they are included and get the status of a moment
losing thereby their isolated and one-sided absoluteness.
> Second, external reflection is anything but "silent". If it doesIn the above mentioned sense you can call it 'silent'. 'Silent' does not
> become silent the whole progress comes to a halt.
mean that it is not active but only that its activity is still
'transcendental', that is, an active spectator comparable with this
helping tactful man behind the deaf Beethoven conducting his symphonies.
> Third, he briefly indicates in the quote above that, while Being andThis I think is a misunderstanding of Carlson and Zizek. Below you give
> Essence are to some extent externally determined, the Concept is not
> externally determined. It is self-determined. So how can there be a
> silent fourth in the doctrine of the concept, if the silent fourth is
> identified with external reflection?
the following quotation:
> Then on page 520 he flat out tells us what, exactly, the silent fourthThe 'silent force' is not 'subjectivity' or 'object'. The
> is in the two volumes of the SL. He writes:
> "In chapter 2, I followed Zizek in suggesting that a 'silent fourth'
> was at work throughout the SL. In the Objective Logic, this silent
> fourth was subjectivity itself. That is, Being required subjectivity
> to 'be'. Yet this could not be acknowledged officially as of chapter
> 2. In the Subjective Logic, the object is the silent fourth--the
> disturbing factor that prevents the SL from concluding. Notion must
> now raise this irrational Object to its own level in Idea."
non-availability of these is the reason why there must be a 'silent
force'. They are not themselves the 'silent force' which is the external
reflection taking their place when they have not yet become explicit.
> Now this is a very good description of the matter, as you indicateYes, this is true. Even in the section on 'Dasein in general' of the SL
> above. The problem is that nowhere in the SL does Hegel actually say
> this. You could read the SL all day long and you would never be
> informed about this by Hegel. Perhaps, on close study over a number of
> years, you could figure this out. Or, more likely, someone might
> inform you of this. Carlson has uncovered one of Hegel's unspoken
> intentions or motivations here.
Hegel does not bring to mind the significance of the external reflection
for the Logic and is quite ambivalent on this crucial point (as Randall
pointed on). So, Hegel writes there:
"It was necessary here to draw attention to the distinction referred to
[between external reflection for definition and the further negative
steps of determination]; 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."
For the Phenomenology he had another view on this. Before the actual
beginning he wrote there a lot about the procedure (Preface and
Introduction). Why not for the SL? Is it because it "must yield itself
in the subject matter" or as you say below :"It is like the novelist who
knows exactly where his story is going but, obviously, he doesn't
explain this to the reader. The reader has to just wait and see where
everything is going"?. But these are excuses. I fear that Hegel did not
want to bring into play again the external reflection after having
achieved 'Absolute (pure) Knowing' at the end of the PhdG. But this was
a big mistake since it belongs to Pure Knowing as air to life. So, Hegel
is complicit in this "canard that [he] is some sort of totalitarian"
(your above quotation from Carlson).
> So I think the Understanding speaks for external reflection in theI do not think that the case is so easy. In the Doctrine of the Concept
> Doctrine of Being--Carlson argues that things are reversed in the
> Doctrine of Essence where the Dialectic becomes the voice of external
> reflection motivating the progress. In the Doctrine of the Concept,
> though, the progress is self-motivated.
indeed the Concept has achieved a being-in-and-for-itself. But first
this unity is merely formal without any explicit content which has first
to be established by judgment and conclusion. And then for putting
forward the concept of the 'Object' further external reflections are
necessary since it is not merely a direct result of judgements and
conclusions but has afterwards its own negative 'determination'. The
difference between the Logic of Being and the Logic of the Concept is
mainly that the preceding concept is not lost in the subsequent one but
becomes a moment of the latter. But this does not mean that the external
reflection has become superfluous for putting forward the starting point
of the further development. Only when all moments of the concept are
united and mediated in the Absolute Idea as the unity of theoretical and
practical knowing (see also Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics) the external
reflection has become internal
> I believe the "silent fourth" is just Hegel's unspoken intentions andYes, this is true. Therefore we have to follow the path which leads to
> motivations--and there are MANY of them throughout his major works. It
> is like the novelist who knows exactly where his story is going but,
> obviously, he doesn't explain this to the reader. The reader has to
> just wait and see where everything is going.
> I've quoted from Adorno's lectures on metaphysics a good deal lately.
> Here's another quote:
> "Even the understanding of concepts includes a moment of negation, in
> that, to understand a philosophy, for example, one needs to know what
> its specific rhetoric was really directed against. If one seeks to
> understand a philosophy purely from within itself, just from what is
> written down, one usually does not get very far. One needs to develop
> a faculty for discerning the emphases and accents peculiar to that
> philosophy in order to uncover their relationships within the
> philosophical context, and thus to understand the philosophy itself."
> (page 51)
Hegel as well as the path which leads away from him.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org <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