Re: [hegel] Re: New Hegel group?
- Am 03.03.2011 20:45, Stephen Theron writes:
> Thanks. I should think I basically agree, though not sure of always fully understanding you. I think it would be to be expected that the Absolute is euphoric if it is the natural and true but ever-present end and way in one.
> But in terms of pure thinking it would not have to be euphoric, so to say, sure. Do you accept that, as a way of taking Hegel I mean?
> But of course it is not an exact term. Still I do see the mystic as one having indeed truth criteria, but not always explicit or step by step. Both the mystic and the speculative thinker (well, I maybe want to say the former is included in the latter as a larger class: some speculatives don't get mystical) go beyond or overturn immediate perceptions and/or representations. Again, there are mystics who might never have followed a philosophical discipline, maybe can't even read, but I think personally they must be reasonable people to qualify.
For making more clear what I mean we should look at Hegel's most
important terms 'immediate' and 'mediated'. For him there is no
immediacy without mediation and no mediation without immediacy: the two
terms are only comprehensible within the dialectical process which is
inherent to the relationship between the two terms. This relation you
can call 'concept'. Every concept has an immediate identity and a
mediated non-identity. Consider i.e. Plato's 'Menon': Socrates wants to
find out the essence (the identity) of virtue in and for itself. Menon,
however, gives enumerations what virtue includes (justice, bravery etc.)
as an attempt of mediation. So, for Menon virtue can only be explained
in the context of its use. He seems to be a Wittgensteinian: you never
can know what 'game' means beyond the context of its use. Who is right,
Socrates or Menon? Perhaps, the identity is always something 'mystical'
and only its mediation can bring rationality. However, according to
Hegel the two belongs together. So, the dialectical process includes
both 'the mystical' and 'the rational'? But perhaps only the movement of
the concept as the mediating activity of immediacy and mediation is true
rationality with 'the mystical' as one of its moments.
> To: email@example.com
> From: greuterb@...
> Date: Thu, 3 Mar 2011 15:26:51 +0100
> Subject: Re: [hegel] Re: New Hegel group?
> Am 28.02.2011 14:00, Stephen writes:
>> I was interested and in full understanding with your letter here.
>> At the same time it jars on me to ever make of the mystical, as
>> distinct from the religious, a moment in a larger process. I do not
>> read even Wittgenstein in that way, for example, in his final remarks
>> in the "Tractatus". It would rather correspond to his "having done
>> with philosophy" as a whole. I am not professing unconditional
>> adherence to his views in saying this.
>> I would rather regard as mystical (and no less rational for that: on
>> the contrary) what Hegel has to say under Absolute Spirit as the
>> culmination of the Encyclopaedia, specifically, of the Philosophical
> The problem is that you separate the end from the way and therefore make
> the absolute euphoric or 'mystical'. As you say below in brackets: "the
> false of course for Hegel belonging as subordinate constituent of the
> True" where 'subordinate' may not be taken as hierarchical.
>> Is this now from your side a mere diagreement about a term or is more
>> at stake? For example, I regard Virginia Woolf as a complete mystic
>> and she was not in the least "religious". Nor was McTaggart. But I do
>> not see them as identifying merely with a moment, whether or not they
>> gave their energies to the encyclopaedic task, they did not, as did
>> Hegel. They may still have thought encyclopaedically (as, for example,
>> certain off the cuff remarks by John of the Cross in his writings show
>> that he, while mainly occupied with counselling nuns, yet carried the
>> Thomistic/Aristotelian enclopaedicity within him while, in reverse,
>> Yhomas or Augustine or Hegel, three encyclopaedists, are to me total
> As far as I can remember I took mystic in apostrophes. What I wanted to
> say is that Hegel is neither merely a rationalist who takes alien
> categories for assessing a subject matter nor merely a 'mystic' (or
> perhaps better: a narrative writer) who is involved in a subject matter
> without having explicit truth criteria for what he believes or assumes.
> To bring both together as moments in a thought process is what Hegel did.
> Beat Greuter
>> I suppose what I am saying is that the rational, common to all, is the
>> mystical or, to speak with Marx and Feuerbach, "man" (whatever that
>> is) is God. To identify two things is not, logically, to suppress the
>> one rather than the other, a feat made the more possible on Hegelian
>> accounts of individuality according to which we may legitimately say,
>> "This also is thou, neither is this thou". Incidentally, on this
>> philosophical account it begins to appear that the Catholic account of
>> the eucharistic presence and that which Hegel puts forward (as being
>> the Lutheran account) maybe turn out as only apparently opposed. This
>> fact, equally, does not invalidate a presentation of
>> transubstantiation in Aristotelian terms, whatever happens to this in
>> a philosophy where substance, rather than mysticism, is itself no more
>> than a finite (and hence ultimately false) moment (the false of course
>> for Hegel belonging as subordinate constituent of the True: this
>> though is maybe badly exp ressed).
>> Look forward to your views etc.
>> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:hegel%40yahoogroups.com>, Beat
>> Greuter<greuterb@...> wrote:
>>> Am 27.02.2011 22:53, Oliver Scholz writes:
>>>> Am 25.02.2011 15:00, schrieb Donatien dS:
>>>>> I've noticed a certain split here, reading through the messages. The
>>>>> above link
>>>>> is a new group. It needs members and moderators. I am very
>>>>> in Hegel's
>>>>> philosophy, but I am not at all interested in religion. If there are
>>>>> any others
>>>>> here with the same interest, please sign on. If not, I will
>> still try
>>>>> to garner
>>>>> members, but I will remain here as well.
>>>> Well, there's certainly a split -- I like to call it the Big
>>>> Entrenchment. Apparently it is mostly about "god" or about
>> religion. And
>>>> yet, although I'm a card carrying atheist myself (paraphrasing an
>>>> expression that Wil once used for Zizek), I have a couple of
>> issues with
>>>> this project. (Of course, everybody is free to do however he or she
>>>> pleases etc. etc. No argument about that.)
>>>> 1) I find it oddly amusing that I would find myself in agreement with
>>>> Stephen Theron. But he's absolutely right. Religion and theology are
>>>> important in understanding Hegel. IMO, this goes even beyond questions
>>>> of historical background or even of philology in general. In my
>>>> Hegel's statements about "god" should be taken at face value. What
>>>> means, however, is an entirely different matter. The question of what
>>>> this means, is, from my point of view, the critical issue within
>> the Big
>>>> Entrenchment. Taking it at face value, and not *above* nor *beyond*,
>>>> might imply a devaluation of that particular coin, even if it was good
>>>> money in Hegel's time. Still, systematically speaking, there is no
>>>> in Hegel's philosophy that could be dissected from his philosophy of
>>> "Still, systematically speaking, there is no part in Hegel's philosophy
>>> that could be dissected from his philosophy of religion."
>>> What the hell does this mean? That one cannot understand Hegel's
>>> philosophy without understanding Hegel's philosophy of religion? Or,
>>> that everything Hegel wrote is in a direct relationship to his
>>> philosophy of religion? Or, that all Hegel wrote is philosophy of
>>> religion? Or something else?
>>> In my humble opinion Hegel's philosophy of religion is a moment of his
>>> philosophy of spirit and is only comprehensible if one has grasped the
>>> concept of spirt in all its forms of mediation of consciousness with
>>> other. Religion is one form of this mediation and depends on or is the
>>> expression / result of other forms of mediation (i.e. subjective
>>> and proceeds into other forms. Taking Hegel's philosophy as the
>>> conception of spirit is also to integrate the non-rational moment in
>>> mediating activity of the concept, otherwise it would not be the
>>> absolute. Hegel is neither a rationalist who examines the forms of
>>> spirit from an abstract external alien point of view nor a 'mystic' who
>>> is absorbed in one moment of the spirit.
>>> Beat Greuter
>>>> 2) The name of the new group, "rational Hegel" suggests the
>>>> of a non-rational Hegel. The latter would be a contradictio in
>>>> I'm not that tolerant: an understanding of Hegel as even admitting a
>>>> non-rational rest within philosophy is a misunderstanding. Now, I tend
>>>> to agree -- I mean no offense at this point, but after all I do
>>>> myself partisan in the Big Entrenchment -- I tend to agree that the
>>>> "other side" is, shall we say, not at every point equally committed to
>>>> rationality. Unfortunately, in phrasing it that way, a big structural
>>>> flaw becomes apparent: it's for every side always the "other side"
>>>> is not rational. Unfortunately, again, there is no empirical court of
>>>> appeal. The "other side" might find itself entitled to join such a
>>>> group, and who's to judge who's rational and who's not? In other
>>>> "rational Hegel" means both too much and not enough.
>>>> 3) Of course, the name in connection with what you write, would
>>>> that "rational" is linked with "non-religious" or even "atheistic".
>>>> Although this might seem simple enough, it is not at all clear
>> what that
>>>> would mean. Hegel's conception of "god" is ... odd. It is so odd, in
>>>> fact, that it does not quite fit within the common sense
>>>> dichotomy. From a Hegelian perspective it becomes, in my
>>>> a quite non-trivial matter to clarify what "atheism" could mean. And
>>>> whether there actually is such a thing as a non-religious
>> possition is,
>>>> to me, an open debate, that largely depends on nomenclatura. Hegel's
>>>> philosophy -- in any interpretation whose claim on rationality I would
>>>> find at least half-way justified -- points to a deep connexion
>> between a
>>>> society, its 'culture of knowledge/reasoning', the consciousness of
>>>> individual members of a society and the religion (or dominant
>>>> of a society. To make, for clarity's sake, a somewhat bold and
>>>> all-too-simplified statement: there is no such thing as a
>>>> atheism. Atheism is a Christian phenomenon in the double sense that it
>>>> is a product of Christianity and that, in retrospect from a rational
>>>> atheistic point of view, there is an atheistic core in Christianity. A
>>>> theoretical non-Christian atheism would be a form of psychosis. The
>>>> garden variety atheism might -- charitably! -- be called metaphysical
>>>> atheism. It REEKS of post-reformatory Christianity. Less charitably, a
>>>> phrase coined by Lacan comes to mind: hysterics in search of a new
>>>> master. I'm confident that a careful structural hermeneutical and/or
>>>> psychoanalytical analysis of some prominent writings could demonstrate
>>>> that the respective folks are indeed strong believers in a
>>>> hyper-Protestant god (where the ban on speaking the name and the
>>>> bilderverbot is extended to a taboo on acknowledging its subjective
>>>> In short: Hegel's relevance for the 21st century and a true
>> atheism are
>>>> inseparable from a discussion of theological or quasi-theological
>>>> matters and from a transition to cultural critique in light of Hegel's
>>>> philosophy of religion. (Oh, it would be nice here, to extend that
>>>> latter point to 'a critique of practice'. But for this to have a
>>>> there would be requirements that our times do not meet.) Zizek
>>>> went farthest in this, but in my perception, there are others,
>> too. Now,
>>>> as far as theology is concerned, I have little hope that I,
>>>> could gain much by further struggling with neo-thomist or
>>>> neo-aristotelian theology. (I do make a point, however, of at least
>>>> glancing over most posts, in case I spot something that interests me).
>>>> I'd rather the split would involve more post-Rahner and post-Barth
>>>> theology, but, well, the point is that a "rational Hegel" could
>> not rule
>>>> out matters of theology. It would, in fact, be rather pointless.
>>>> 4) Or in other words: the split APPEARS only to be about "god" or
>>>> "religion". In my understanding, at least. In my perception it is a
>>>> cultural split (in the sense of 'culture of knowledge' or 'culture of
>>>> reasoning') -- or a split between fundamentally different
>>>> attitudes (I'm trying to be nice here) that could best be described in
>>>> terms of culture. Whether or not it is a matter of coincidence, or
>>>> whether it is the symptom of a cultural current, that this split
>>>> manifests itself on the god-issue is an open question for me. A split
>>>> between a Heidegger-Hegel or Derrida-Hegel on the one, and
>>>> Wittgenstein-Hegel, Butler-Hegel, Bataille-Hegel, Marx-Hegel on the
>>>> other side wouldn't make me any happier.
>>>> I also find that this new mailing list comes up at an odd time. I find
>>>> the recent debates rather interesting, and my only regret is that I
>>>> can't find the time to participate (which would involve re-reading of
>>>> key passages rather than just typing longish e-mails from the top
>> of my
>>>> head.) It would be nice to have more discussions that don't
>> involve the
>>>> Big Entrenchment, but the best way to get that is not letting a
>>>> discussion get involved in it.
>>>> -- Oliver
Yes, in 159. "This liberation is called I:... it is free Spirit; ... it is Love; ... it is Blessedness."
"identified all along the way", i agree. And of course "in some manner embodying the notional in everything". perhaps my distinction did not have much point. I just wanted to say that this hierarchy of descriptions was outside the categorial development of the dialectic.
What is circular here is merely the reversion of essence to being as mentioned. I don't especially connect the circle with the mystical. It means that there is no point of exterior entry for/to philosophy. It is closed in upon itself. That's why I have lately suggested, perhaps whimsically, that the Phenomenology is an "impossible" book ( this latter reflection is optional, not functional here). Nor is euphoria (Beat's intruded notion) functional for me here, except what is implied in Hegel's statement re Blessedness, which I stress is exterior to the dialectic (at this point at least). I am not really interested in this stuff about feelings in this connexion. The feeling is not separate or additional to the matter concerned.
On Necessity, at this stage it cannot be prejudged whether or not this has anything to do with a knowing hand. necessity is necessity. Being is here disclosed as having to be necessary.
No indeed, not actuality. Only intentionality cancels itself out, as not belonging here. That was my thought, at least. In non-idealist philosophy thought is represented as intentional (of something else (id quo, formal sign etc.). Here, insofar as what is intended, thinking, is what intends, thinking, the virtual metaphor of intention does not apply, is not needed. Thats is all I meant.
I don't just now "get" your response "There is no proper end etc." Maybe it is a point you could elaborate independently of my text? If I say God is the prototype I mean to imply an infinite possibility of development of this concept, beyond for example, any idea of God's mind being extrinsic to actuality. The reverse would have to be the case, viz. that actuality was a feeling towards the all-inclusiveness of God or of the Infinite. An Infinite that was less than some hypothesised God (or Infinite), for example, would for me be therefore less than infinite, i.e. finite.
I would see God, Subject, as dynamic but not as changing (which implies unrealised potentiality) and understand Hegel to hold this. If you can cite me a contradictory text I would be interested. Of course we all slip into speaking as if God changes: I think though that several of Hegel's positions exclude this, e.g. the one we discussed recently re all being accomplished. Time is a kind of figure of this immutability, not something absolute. I think this follows from the concept of God, of the Absolute, whatever problems it creates.
Right, atheism, to be professed, must mean a certain view of man, as in Sartre.
Er... what's bogart, humphrey apart (or not?)? Yes, calm, that's it, the ocean of peace (Gilson on God), again a metaphor.
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2011 15:21:33 +0000
Subject: [hegel] Re: Euphoria and Logic, was New Hegel group?
Sorry for the delay. Mardi Gras.
I had read your response to Beat a few times, and each time I am less sure what it is you are saying. At the end of this missive I have pasted sections 159 and 160 of the EL. I was to understand that these were what was referred to below.
[interpolated brackets are my own]
You write: "Concerning the latter one version [?] of the dialectic, significantly when upon the immediate threshold of the (doctrine of the) Notion, presents us with a hierarchy of concepts (notions) as distinct from a developing succession of (the) dialectical categories."
Response: Is that immediate threshold in the supplied extended Logic quote below (section 159)? Do you mean the section headings? Can you supply that citation one way or another?
Continuing: "... Now there are notions of the categories but the categories are not themselves notions, one might want to say, citing as witness that just the last category becomes the Notion. Not all who deal in notions deal in categories. This seems a pre-condition for there being significance to the dialectic's (and GWF's) final identification."
Response: The Notion is what endures throughout succession. It is what is identified all along the way as both the emerging truth, and its incessant 'itch' which seems not to be assuaged as each moment grows cold. Yes, disconnected 'categories' are probably no more notional than a disembodied hand is alive. But who "deals" in categories who is not in some manner not embodying the notional in the effort?
You write: "So in this version (EL159) of "the passage from necessity (as sublating all that is merely possible or desired) to freedom" (parenthesis added) identified as "Essence reverted to the simple immediacy of Being" (don't you catch the whiff of euphoria here already?, the reversion (circular) is at the same time the (linear) "passing over and identity (of Essence) with the other independent actuality (Being)" It is "independent" or "exclusive" precisely as Actuality ("this independent actuality"). It is precisely as containing all else that it excludes or "resists all invasion", as of something that first stands beside it."
Response: First of all, I see no mystic circle here, but the famous progressively infra-referential aspect of the in-and-for-itself. As thought, this may give one pause, but it is not of itself a cause for euphoria, except as an accomplishment of thought -- something which should pass away quickly for thought's sake. If it were otherwise, I would have to agree with Nietzsche that all profound philosophic feelings are a sign of excess and error, that stage beyond "metaphysical comfort" to an outright jubilant pseudo-homecoming, a false sense of totality and grounding out of the (true) infinite.
You write: "Ipso facto this "actual substance", as we had been conceiving it, is "subjected to (this) necessity... of passing into dependency." The subjection is in fact the (dialectical) process of becoming Subject and not substance. The necessity, that is, is not anything to which anything or anyone is here subjected, since it is rather one with infinite Subjectivity (the ultimate Subject) itself and its exigences."
Response: "Necessity is ... one with infinite Subjectivity (the ultimate Subject) itself and its exigences." Yes, but Necessity is not wrought of a 'knowing hand' of that "becoming Subject", as if as a Father's prodding, or, as many holy rollers say here, as a "Way". That "ultimate Subject" is virtual, always capable of a wrong turn, clueless but for the Notional that it has earned in and along that process.
You write: "Thinking this necessity, it seems clear, is in fact thinking itself (did we but know it!). "For thinking means that, in the other, one meets with oneself... It means a liberation" from not having met with oneself. On this, and this is not parenthetical, such liberation, i.e. thinking, is not abstraction, but "that which is actual (just thereby) having itself not as something else (exclusively) but as its own being and creation (note this equivalence!) in the other actuality" (parentheses added). Here intentionality simultaneously posits and cancels itself, rules itself out."
Response: Not sure what you have in mind with the intentionality idea. Intentionality is self-positing and end-directed, but why should it cancel itself out? Actuality does not cancel itself out, nor understanding. That is not my reading of sublation.
You write: The obvious prototype of this is "God" creator or, rather, Being as all-inclusive set (each being is that: this Hegel makes explicit to the Notion, as Parmenides' "being has no parts), no longer, as really identified (the Absolute Idea) merely analogical. This is the hidden meaning of having said that Being is God's "proper effect" (Aquinas) since being is, after all, no more (and no less) than the Beginning in the End (as it is/was the End in the Beginning), transferred return of "simple immediacy" as such."
Response: Oh, that. Hate those hidden meanings; really. And most 'prototypes' turn out to be a bit quirky, in my experience -- or more importantly in this case, in the prototype's 'experience'!
You write: "This now is the mystical, not thus far a part of some larger speculative frame or even as such "euphoric". However, thinking, we saw, "means a liberation..." and Hegel now presents here what is clearly intended as a progressive series making one identification. Such a characteristic might of course apply to the categories as well but there the identification is so to say latent or only fully revealed at the end of the "process". Here it is open or patent. Hegel tells us then, explicitly, what this liberation "is called" (apart from being called liberation). It is called I, free Spirit, Love, Blessedness, in progressive approximation to simple euphoria in other words. The corresponding modes of experience of liberation he lists as liberation "existing in an individual form" (I), "developed to its totality" (free Spirit), "feeling" (Love), "enjoyment" (Blessedness)."
Response: There is no proper end of the "process" of thinking, qua thinking, (as might be the case in Aristotle) except as an abstraction that has no actuality. Actuality cannot go away, despite its one-sidedness. If that is so, this 'end' is a perspectival insight into the breadth of Totality, as it were, and not an extrinsic (vis-�-vis actuality) mind of God. If 'God' is thus always intrinsic and involved in Actuality, it cannot be prescinded from your circle, ever. Prior to these passages, Hegel critiques Spinoza as not having also realized Substance to be The Subject and thus a dynamic and changing being. And that is why Being-as-such cannot be an adequate concept.
You write: "Note that liberation developed to its totality or free Spirit comes second out of the four, enjoyment in Blessedness (beatitudo, happiness) being the climax. Similarly, it is noted at the end of EG that actual philosophy is not simply the whole Notion in which it terminates and whence such philosophy is abstracted as being, all the same, its form and whole content in one. For in order to be this philosophy must itself have a window open upon Love and Blessedness as the Other, the sophia, in which it, the philo-sophia, is itself fulfilled. Sophia is blessedness or "pure play", as Hegel says of the Notion itself, that Notion which philosophy must seriously unravel, as we not only, teleologically, work or "study" to have leisure but where "school", the Greek word, actually means leisure, contemplation, play, liberation in blessedness eventually. This is the perfect zealousness as every child knows and as in religion God is descried "whose service is perfect freedom", the Gottesdienst Hegel applies to (identifies as?) philosophy as activity."
Response: No comment.
You write: "This enjoyment, this blessedness, is will fulfilled, ultimately, as potentiality actualised or raised to Actuality in its very concept. This after all is the classic understanding of happiness as really getting and securely having what you want, something deemed impossible in this phenomenal life. hence that proverb, itself phenomenal or of this life and its defective perspective, "Call no man happy until he is dead." I should say that this hope, this interpretation, is quite compatible with a profession of atheism or of preference for this term (which would leave the Hegelian conception of God as some Absolute and Infinite or other intact)."
Response: Not so much. I would say that it is as incompatible as it gets. In fact, "Call no man happy until he is dead" is as afterworldly as I can imagine, or as nihilistic! A "profession of Atheism" (meaning one's avowal) is an odd phrase. One is professing what one is not or what is not. I am not a pipe. There is no God. Ultimately, these mean nothing.
You write: "Meanwhile euphoria, not a moment but the very grasp of the whole, the Notion. The grasping though is only called happiness by association or transference. What is had is happiness as one's essential self, thus known as not-self, Reason in a word. Thus here again the form and the matter, the having and the had, coincide, the "until he is dead" coinciding dialectically with the dialectic as sublating the "life which is no life at all" (Teresa of Avila). There you have the mysticism, the euphoric moment, which is not a moment at all but the veritable conversion from the momentary as such, towards the Being which is No-thing, not this, not that. and yet "it is, it is" (Augustine, alias GWF). But this is the nerve of the scientific enterprise, as also of certainty, Hegel argues, as setting the beginning, which is not abstract but omnipresent (in this closed circle one never actually begins) and active, the Notion.
"The "truth, in its philosophical phase, is after all only in one of its forms" (EG552). "The eternal Idea in full fruition of its essence, eternally sets itself to work, engenders and enjoys itself as absolute Mind" (557, end of the Encyclopaedia, with "enjoys" as last word or verb, as giving the essence in the sense of the ultimate or absolute difference, or form (forma) of Mind as itself Difference, other-self, all in One (or "in all")."
Response: Well, who am I to be a killjoy? Don't bogart that euphoria, my friend. Laissez les bon temps rouler. Back on Earth, though, I am more interested in Knowledge. And while I, too, find a kind of reassuring gladness when I glean the Big Picture, I am always awakened by the 'return of the repressed', that is to say the Actual-Real in all of its rich and perennial intrusion into my desire for Calm.
You wrote: "I'm not fully satisfied with this."
Thus the Notion is the truth of Being and Essence, inasmuch as the shining or show of self-reflection is itself at the same time independent immediacy, and this being of a different actuality is immediately only a shining or show on itself.
The Notion has exhibited itself as the truth of Being and Essence as the ground to which the regress of both leads. Conversely it has been developed out of being as its ground. The former aspect of the advance may be regarded as a concentration of being into its depth, thereby disclosing its inner nature: the latter aspect as an issuing of the more perfect from the less perfect. When such development is viewed on the latter side only, it does prejudice to the method of philosophy. The special meaning which these superficial thoughts of more imperfect and more perfect have in this place is to indicate the distinction of being, as an immediate unity with itself, from the notion, as free mediation with itself. Since being has shown that it is an element in the notion, the latter has thus exhibited itself as the truth of being. As this its reflection in itself and as an absorption of the mediation, the notion is the pre-supposition of the immediate � a presupposition which is identical with the return to self; and in this identity lie freedom and the notion. If the partial element therefore be called the imperfect, then the notion, or the perfect, is certainly a development from the imperfect; since its very nature is thus to suspend its pre-supposition. At the same time it is the notion alone which, in the act of supposing itself, makes its presupposition; as has been made apparent in causality in general and especially in reciprocal action.
Thus in reference to Being and Essence the Notion is defined as Essence reverted to the simple immediacy of Being � the shining or show of Essence thereby having actuality, and its actuality being at the same time a free shining or show in itself. In this manner the notion has being as its simple self-relation, or as the immediacy of its immanent unity. Being is so poor a category that It is the least thing which can be shown to be found in the notion. The passage from necessity to freedom, or from actuality into the notion, is the very hardest, because it proposes that independent actuality shall be thought as having all its substantiality in the passing over and identity with the other independent actuality. The notion, too, is extremely hard, because it is itself just this very identity. But the actual substance as such, the cause, which in its exclusiveness resists all invasion, is ipso facto subjected to necessity or the destiny of passing into dependency: and it is this subjection rather where the chief hardness lies. To think necessity, on the contrary, rather tends to melt that hardness. For thinking means that, in the other, one meets with one's self. It means a liberation, which is not the flight of abstraction, but consists in that which is actual having itself not as something else, but as its own being and creation, in the other actuality with which it is bound up by the force of necessity. As existing in an individual form, this liberation is called I: as developed to its totality, it is free Spirit; as feeling, it is Love; and as enjoyment, it is Blessedness. The great vision of substance in Spinoza is only a potential liberation from finite exclusiveness and egotism: but the notion itself realises for its own both the power of necessity and actual freedom.
When, as now, the notion is called the truth of Being and Essence, we must expect to be asked, why do we not begin with the notion? The answer is that, where knowledge by thought is our aim, we cannot begin with the truth, because the truth, when it forms the beginning, must rest on mere assertion. The truth when it is thought must as such verify itself to thought. If the notion were put at the head of Logic, and defined, quite correctly in point of content, as the unity of Being and Essence, the following question would come up: What are we to think under the terms `Being' and `Essence', and how do they come to be embraced in the unity of the Notion? But if we answered these questions, then our beginning with the notion would merely be nominal. The real start would be made with Being, as we have here done: with this difference, that the characteristics of Being as well as those of Essence would have to be accepted uncritically from figurate conception, whereas we have observed Being and Essence in their own dialectical development and learnt how they lose themselves in the unity of the notion.
The Notion is the principle of freedom, the power of substance self-realised. It is a systematic whole, in which each of its constituent functions is the very total which the notion is, and is put as indissolubly one with it. Thus in its self-identity it has original and complete determinateness.
The position taken up by the notion is that of absolute idealism. Philosophy is a knowledge through notions because it sees that what on other grades of consciousness is taken to have Being, and to be naturally or immediately independent, is but a constituent stage in the Idea. In the logic of understanding, the notion is generally reckoned a mere form of thought, and treated as a general conception. It is to this inferior view of the notion that the assertion refers, so often urged on behalf of the heart and sentiment, that notions as such are something dead, empty, and abstract. The case is really quite the reverse.
The notion is, on the contrary, the principle of all life, and thus possesses at the same time a character of thorough concreteness. That it is so follows from the whole logical movement up to this point, and need not be here proved. The contrast between form and content, which is thus used to criticise the notion when it is alleged to be merely formal, has, like all the other contrasts upheld by reflection, been already left behind and overcome dialectically or through itself. The notion, in short, is what contains all the earlier categories of thought merged in it. It certainly is a form, but an infinite and creative form which includes, but at the same time releases from itself, the fullness of all content. And so too the notion may, if it be wished, be styled abstract, if the name concrete is restricted to the concrete facts of sense or of immediate perception. For the notion is not palpable to the touch, and when we are engaged with it, hearing and seeing must quite fail us. And yet, as it was before remarked, the notion is a true concrete; for the reason that it involves Being and Essence, and the total wealth of these two spheres with them, merged in the unity of thought.
If, as was said at an earlier point, the different stages of the logical idea are to be treated as a series of definitions of the Absolute, the definition which now results for us is that the Absolute is the Notion. That necessitates a higher estimate of the notion, however, than is found in formal conceptualist Logic, where the notion is a mere form of our subjective thought, with no original content of its own. But if Speculative Logic thus attaches a meaning to the term notion so very different from that usually given, it may be asked why the same word should be employed in two contrary acceptations, and an occasion thus given for confusion and misconception. The answer is that, great as the interval is between the speculative notion and the notion of Formal Logic, a closer examination shows that the deeper meaning is not so foreign to the general usages of language as it seems at first sight. We speak of the deduction of a content from the notion, e.g. of the specific provisions of the law of property from the notion of property; and so again we speak of tracing back these material details to the notion. We thus recognise that the notion is no mere form without a content of its own: for if it were, there would be in the one case nothing to deduce from such a form, and in the other case to trace a given body of fact back to the empty form of the notion would only rob the fact of its specific character, without making it understood.
The onward movement of the notion is no longer either a transition into, or a reflection on something else, but Development. For in the notion, the elements distinguished are without more ado at the same time declared to be identical with one another and with the whole, and the specific character of each is a free being of the whole notion.
Transition into something else is the dialectical process within the range of Being: reflection (bringing something else into light), in the range of Essence. The movement of the Notion is development: by which that only is explicit which is already implicitly present. In the world of nature it is organic life that corresponds to the grade of the notion. Thus e.g. the plant is developed from its germ. The germ virtually involves the whole plant, but does so only ideally or in thought: and it would therefore be a mistake to regard the development of the root, stem, leaves, and other different parts of the plant, as meaning that they were realiter present, but in a very minute form, in the germ. That is the so-called `box-within-box' hypothesis; a theory which commits the mistake of supposing an actual existence of what is at first found only as a postulate of the completed thought. The truth of the hypothesis on the other hand lies in its perceiving that in the process of development the notion keeps to itself and only gives rise to alteration of form, without making any addition in point of content. It is this nature of the notion � this manifestation of itself in its process as a development of its own self which is chiefly in view with those who speak of innate ideas, or who, like Plato, describe all learning merely as reminiscence. Of course that again does not mean that everything which is embodied in a mind, after that mind has been formed by instructions had been present in that mind beforehand, in its definitely expanded shape.
The movement of the notion is as it were to be looked upon merely as plan: the other which it sets up is in reality not an other. Or, as it is expressed in the teaching of Christianity: not merely has God created a World which confronts him as an other; he has also from all eternity begotten a Son in whom he, a Spirit, is at home with himself.
The doctrine of the notion is divided into three parts.
(1) The first is the doctrine of the Subjective or Formal Notion.
(2) The second is the doctrine of the notion invested with the character of immediacy, or of Objectivity.
(3) The third is the doctrine of the Idea, the subject-object, the unity of notion and objectivity, the absolute truth.
The Common Logic covers only the matters which come before us here as a portion of the third part of the whole system, together with the so-called Laws of Thought, which we have already met; and in the Applied Logic it adds a little about cognition. This is combined with psychological, metaphysical, and all sorts of empirical materials, which were introduced because, when all was done, those forms of thought could not be made to do all that was required of them. But with these additions the science lost its unity of aim. Then there was a further circumstance against the Common Logic. Those forms, which at least do belong to the proper domain of Logic, are supposed to be categories of conscious thought only, of thought too in the character of understanding, not of reason.
The preceding logical categories, those viz. of Being and Essence, are, it is true, no mere logical modes or entities: they are proved to be notions in their transition or their dialectical element, and in their return into themselves and totality. But they are only in a modified form notions (cf. �� 84 and 112), notions rudimentary, or, what is the same thing, notions for us. The antithetical term into which each category passes, or in which it shines, so producing correlation, is not characterised as a particular. The third, in which they return to unity, is not characterised as a subject or an individual: nor is there any explicit statement that the category is identical in its antithesis � in other words, its freedom is not expressly stated: and all this because the category is not universality. What generally passes current under the name of a notion is a mode of understanding, or even a mere general representation, and therefore, in short, a finite mode of thought (cf. � 62).
The Logic of the Notion is usually treated as a science of form only, and understood to deal with the form of notion, judgment, and syllogism as form, without in the least touching the question whether anything is true. The answer to that question is supposed to depend on the content only. If the logical forms of the notion were really dead and inert receptacles of conceptions and thoughts, careless of what they contained, knowledge about them would be an idle curiosity which the truth might dispense with. On the contrary they really are, as forms of the notion, the vital spirit of the actual world. That only is true of the actual which is true in virtue of these forms, through them and in them. As yet, however, the truth of these forms has never been considered or examined on their own account any more than their necessary interconnection.
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