Category Archives: Method
Logic has three different moments:
a) the abstract or intellectual moment
b) the dialectical or negative-reasonable moment
c) the speculative or positive-reasonable moment
I am not talking about three parts of logic, but indeed about moments. Every concept and everything that is true in general has these three sides to it. If we were to speak about the concept of “being”, then it would be possible to discover an abstract, a dialectic and a speculative side.
We can be brief about finite reason, the rational mind. The mind takes every concept as a fixed and in itself resting determination. The mind assesses the difference between this determination and others. In this way it achieves a limited and abstract determination that is conceived as something that exists for itself.
Such finite determinations, however, pass into their opposite, or rather they sublate themselves. That is the dialectical moment in the logical.
When we take the dialectical moment in a rational way, that is to say, as a definite determination, we end up in skepticism. We then see in the dialectical only the negation, as the only result of the thought process. The mind sets a fixed determination: “being” for example. The simple negation of that concept is dialectic in its skeptical form: non-being, nothing. In its most abstract form, this is the reurring negation of every claim to truth, the constant transition between a positive being and denying that positive being.
The true dialectical moment in all logic, however, is to surpass the isolated determination and also the isolated negation. The determination is maintained, but it is also expressed in relation to something else. Not from the outside, but as an immanent movement, so by itself transcending itself. After all, every determination of the mind has a certain one-sidedness and limitation. That one-sidedness and limitation are the definite negation of this isolated determination. But this negation is also exactly what is needed, to give this intellectual determination this content. Instead of opposing being and nothing unilaterally and abstractly, we now learn that the definite nature of the concept of being depends, for example, on pure denial, that is, of nothingness. It is, after all, being because it is not nothing. Being is, or better, means not being nothing. Just as nothing means non-being, that is, the negation of being. In order to be able to think specifically, that is to say concretely, we need the opposite. In that opposite however what was stated at first does not disappear, but it is also confirmed in it. Nothing as the denial of being only has meaning if what is being denied is assumed and remains valid.
The speculative or positive-reasonable moment expresses the unity of the determinations in their opposition. There is something enclosed in the movement between the positive and its opposite that can be confirmed. This affirmation is locked up in the transition from one to the other, is locked up in their contradiction itself. The movement from being to nothing, which is the reversal of the movement from nothing to being, can be expressed as a positive result. The dialectical relationship of both concepts is not the contradiction in which one or the other disappears, but is a certainty that encompasses both movements. Nothing is not empty or abstract, but concrete, because it is the denial of something, namely of being; being is also not empty and abstract, for it is the condition that is negative to its opposite, the nothing, as non-nothing.
The reasonable unity that is expressed in the speculative concept is a unity of these various mutually exclusive determinations. In the speculative concept, the movement of thought between the two contradictory determinations is presented as a definite determination. In this case, we move towards the concept if “becoming”. After all, “becoming” is the movement from being to nothing, and from nothing to being, thus from one determination to its opposite, resulting in a simple and fixed determination. With this concept the result of the dialectical movement is thus established, and something has been achieved that can now become the new starting point of a subsequent dialectical movement.
The result of our previous considerations and the principle that we constantly have to address here is the idea that reality is determined by the concept. This does not mean that reality is fully experienced by us in accordance with the concept. It is not claimed here that the “reality” can simply be understood as perfect in our experience. Continue reading
The Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences is Hegel’s summary of the whole of philosophy. It is quite meaningless to try and summarize Hegel system in a few notes. But it might be helpful to have a raw sketch of it. Continue reading
We have skipped the preface to the Philosophy of Right to get to the good stuff as soon as possible. I have assumed that readers of the PhR already have at least some idea of Hegel’s methods – dialectic, speculative thought, the difference between reasonable and rational thought etc. But of course many will be tempted to have a go at the interesting analyses of the PhR without this understanding. You might be totally bewildered by the way his analysis moves forward. Continue reading