Re: [hegel] Re: the silent fourth
- Am 29.01.2011 00:55, Randall writes:
> Hello Beat,
> > Hi Randall,
> > The unity of form and content in pure thought is not merely a
> > unity but includes the difference within being as its first
> > absolute, otherwise being would not be an absolute at all and
> > no development would be possible without taking the content
> > from outside.
> Above you are saying that 'Being' from the the very beginning includes
> "difference within" it, but this of course conflicts with what Hegel
> actually says about Being in the opening paragraph to Chapter 1.
> [Hegel] Chapter 1: Being
> "Being, pure being, without any further determination. In its
> indeterminate immediacy it is equal only to itself. It is also not
> unequal relatively to an other; it has no diversity within itself nor
> any with a reference outwards. It would not be held fast in its purity
> if it contained any determination or content which could be
> distinguished in it or by which it could be distinguished from an
> other. It is pure indeterminateness and emptiness." (SL p. 82)
Perhaps I did express my thought too vaguely. Of course, 'Being' as such
at the beginning of the Logic is - as you and Hegel say - the
'indeterminate immediacy' and therefore no 'other' or even mediation is
in it. But 'Being' as such is only the first definition of the Absolute
of pure or absolute thought as the unity of form and content. So,
'Being' is the first pure thought and as such has certainly to be
indeterminate, simple immediacy. But there is a second definition of the
Absolute of pure thought - 'Nothing' as the absolute-negative of
'Being'. So, pure or absolute thought has a movement to something other
- the absolute-negative - and is therefore not merely a unity. As
Absolutes without inner mediation the two ('Being' and 'Nothing') are in
an absolute opposition and therefore are the same since both have the
other not in itself and therefore both are indeterminate, simple
immediacy. But pure or absoute thought has a further definition of the
Absolute - 'Becoming' - and here a first mediation begins with 'Being'
and 'Nothing' becoming moments in a further Absolute ('Becoming') though
merely in a vanishing way and as such not yet allowing to put forward
So, when I wrote "pure thought is not merely a unity but includes the
difference within being as its first absolute" then this refers to 'pure
or absolute thought as the unity of form and content' and not to 'Being'
as such though I can see that my formulation could wrongly suggest this.
However, you always are fixated on this 'absolute thought as unity of
form and content' and with this you do not see the movement of absolute
thought which is certainly not merely a unity of form and content but is
the mediation of the two within itself shown as movement of the Concept,
of the Absolute, within the Logic. It seems that for you this unity is
an absolute where all cows are black (Hegel's blame on Schelling in the
Preface of the PhdG).
[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