Notes on the logic from Hegel's 'Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences'

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, 1831.

Notes on the LOGIC from Hegel's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHICAL SCIENCES
Part I Introduction and Preliminary Notion

Editor's Note: Over the next three issues we will be publishing Raya Dunayevskaya's 1961 notes on Hegel's Smaller LOGIC as part of our continuing effort to stimulate theoretical discussion on the "dialectic proper." Written on Feb. 15, 1961, these notes on Hegel's Smaller LOGIC-the first part of his ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHICAL SCIENCES-comment on all sections of the work.

Dunayevskaya's notes contain an especially detailed commentary on the "Three Attitudes of Thought Toward Objectivity," a section of the Smaller LOGIC which does not appear in the SCIENCE OF LOGIC and a theme overlooked by many writers on Hegel. Here Hegel critiques not only Kantianism and Empiricism, but also romanticism and intuitionism. The text of the Smaller LOGIC used by Dunayevskaya is THE LOGIC OF HEGEL, translated by William Wallace (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894), which differs in some respects from later editions of Wallace's translation. All footnotes are by the editors. The original can be found in THE RAYA DUNAYEVSKAYA COLLECTION, 2834-2842.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
by Raya Dunayevskaya, founder of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S.
Chapter One: Introduction

This book is known as the Smaller LOGIC and since it is Hegel's own summation of the SCIENCE OF LOGIC and very much easier to read than the latter, I will be very brief in summarizing its contents, concentrating almost exclusively on the sections which are not restatements of what is in the larger LOGIC, but which are new.

The first thing that is new is both the easy style and the different subject matter taken up in the Introduction. The simplicity of the style is, of course, deceptive since it embodies as profound a theory as does the more involved style, and may lead one to think that he understands something, even though he doesn't see all of its implications.

For example, ¶2 defines philosophy as a "THINKING VIEW OF THINGS... a mode in which thinking becomes knowledge, rational and comprehensive knowledge." But if the reader would then think that philosophy is then no more than common sense, he would be a victim of the simple style. In actuality that very simple introduction consisting of 18 paragraphs is the ultimate in tracing through the development of philosophy from its first contact with religion through the Kantian revolution up to the Hegelian dialectic, and further, the whole relationship of thought to the objective world.

Thus, look at the priceless formulation about "the separatist tendency" to divorce idea and reality:

"This divorce between idea and reality is a favorite device of the analytic understanding in particular. Yet strangely in contrast with this separatist tendency, its own dreams, half-truths though they are, appear to the understanding something true and real; it prides itself on the imperative 'ought,' which it takes especial pleasure in prescribing on the field of politics. As if the world had waited on it to learn how it ought to be, and was not!" (¶6)

That same paragraph expresses the most profound relationship of materialism to idealism. If you will recall the chapter in MARXISM AND FREEDOM on the break in Lenin's thought which all hinged on a new relationship of the ideal to the real and vice-versa,(1) then this simple statement will be profoundly earth-shaking when you consider that it is an idealist who is saying it: "The idea is not so feeble as merely to have a right or an obligation to exist without actually existing."

Actuality, then, is Hegel's point of departure for thought as well as for the world and its institutions. So far as Hegel is concerned, his whole attitude to thought is the same as to experience, for in experience, says Hegel, "lies the unspeakably important truth that, in order to accept and believe any fact, we must be in contact with it" (¶7). The whole point is that philosophy sprang from the empirical sciences, and in fact, the empirical sciences themselves could not have progressed further if laws, general propositions, a theory had not resulted from them, and in turn pushed empirical facts forward.

You will be surprised to find that actually I "stole" from Hegel that sentence in MARXISM AND FREEDOM that created so much dispute among intellectuals, that there was nothing in thought, not even the thought of a genius, which had not previously been in the action of common man.(2) The way Hegel expressed it was by saying that while it is true that "there is nothing in thought which has not been in sense and experience," the reverse is equally true (¶8).

The reason he opposes philosophy to empiricism, then, is not because we could do without the empirical, but [because], in and of themselves, those sciences lack, (¶1) a Universal, are indeterminate and, therefore, not expressly (¶9) related to the Particular: "Both are external and accidental to each other, and it is the same with the particular facts which are brought into union: Each is external and accidental to the other." And (¶2) that the beginnings are not deduced, that is to say, you just begin somewhere without a NECESSITY for so doing being apparent. Of course, says Hegel, "To seek to know before we know is as absurd as the wise resolution of Scholasticus,(3) not to venture into the water until he has learned to swim" (¶10). But, for any forward movement one must then go from the empirical to the critical to the speculative philosophy.

Not only is Hegel empirical and historical ("In philosophy the latest birth of time is the result of all the systems that have preceded it, and must include their principles" (¶13). But he insists that you cannot talk of Truth (with a capital T) in generalities: "For the truth is concrete; that is, whilst it gives a bond of principle and unity, it also possesses an internal variety of development" (¶14). In fact Hegel never wearies of saying that the truths of philosophy are VALUELESS "apart from their interdependence and organic union, and must then be treated as baseless hypotheses or personal convictions."

Chapter Two: Preliminary Notion

You will note that this is something that Hegel would have opposed had someone asked him to state in a preliminary way what was his idea of Notion at the time he wrote the SCIENCE OF LOGIC and told you to wait to get to the end. In fact, Marx said the same thing in CAPITAL when he insisted you must begin with the concrete commodity before you go off into general absolute laws.(4)

In this ENCYCLOPEDIA, however, Hegel does give you a preview of what will follow. Some of it is in the form of extemporaneous remarks that he had made while delivering the written lectures (all of the paragraphs which are in a smaller type than the regular text were SPOKEN by Hegel and taken down by his "pupils"). He is showing the connection between thought and reality, not only in general, but in the specific so that you should understand how the Greek philosophers had become the antagonists of the old religion: "Philosophers were accordingly banished or put to death as revolutionists, who had subverted religion and the state, two things which were inseparable. Thought, in short, made itself a power in the real world..." (¶19). The reference, of course, is to the execution of Socrates.

Interestingly enough, Hegel is not only rooted in History, but even in the simple energy that goes into thinking: "Nor is it unimportant to study thought even as a subjective energy" (¶20). He then proceeds to trace the development of thought from Aristotle to Kant, the highest place, of course, being taken by Aristotle: "When Aristotle summons the mind to rise to the dignity of that action, the dignity he seeks is won by letting slip all our individual opinions and prejudices, and submitting to the sway of the fact" (¶23).

We get a good relationship of freedom to thought and the LOGIC in general into its various parts [when Hegel says]: "For freedom it is necessary that we should feel no presence of something else which is not ourselves" (¶24). He relates the LOGIC to the PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE and the PHILOSOPHY OF MIND, as a syllogism: "The syllogistic form is a universal form of all things. Everything that exists is a particular, a close unification of the universal and the singular."(5) "If for instance we take the syllogism (not as it was understood in the old formal logic, but at its real value), we shall find it gives expression to the law that every particular thing is a middle term which fuses together the extremes of the Universal and the singular."

While the LOGIC is what he called "the all-animating spirit of all the sciences," it is not the individual categories he is concerned with now, but the Absolute: "The Absolute is rather the ever-present, that present which, so long as we can think, we must, though without express consciousness of it, always carry with us and always use. Language is the main depository of these types of thought" (¶24).

He will not allow philosophy to be overawed by religion, though he is a very religious man, but he insists over and over again "the mind is not mere instinct: on the contrary, it essentially involves the tendency to reasoning and meditation." He has a most remarkable explanation of the Fall of Man and the fact that ever since his expulsion from Paradise he has had to work by the sweat of his brow: "Touching work, we remark that while it is the result of the disunion, it also is the victory over it." (Note how very much like Marx the rest of the paragraph sounds). "The beasts have nothing more to do but to pick up the materials required to satisfy their wants; man on the contrary can only satisfy his wants by transforming, and as it were originating the necessary means. Thus even in these outside things man is dealing with himself."(6)

The last paragraph of this chapter (¶25) deals with objective thought and decides that to really deal with it, a whole chapter is necessary, and, in fact the following three chapters are devoted to the three attitudes to objectivity.

To be continued next issue...

NOTES

1. See chapter 10 of MARXISM AND FREEDOM, "The Collapse of the Second International and the Break in Lenin's Thought."

2. The formulation appears in MARXISM AND FREEDOM, in the course of discussing the impact of the French Revolution on Hegel's thought: "There is nothing in thought-not even in the thought of a genius-that has not previously been in the activity of the common man" (p. 28).

3. Scholasticus was a fictional character created by the Stoic philosopher Hierocles (CE 117-138).

4. In the Preface to the 1872-75 French edition of CAPITAL, the last one he personally prepared for the printer, Marx termed the first chapter on commodities "rather arduous," adding that he "feared" the readers would skip too quickly ahead to the final chapters, where he took up the absolute general law of capitalist accumulation [MCIF, p. 104].

5. Just prior to this, in the same paragraph, Hegel writes, "If we consider Logic to be the system of the pure types of thought, we find that the other philosophical sciences, the Philosophy of Nature and the Philosophy of Mind, take the place, as it were, of an Applied Logic, and that Logic is the soul which animates them both."

6. Hegel stresses that the Biblical narrative of Adam and Eve being cast out from the Garden of Eden ends by declaring that human beings have become godlike, with knowledge of good and evil: "On his natural side man is finite and mortal, but in knowledge infinite" (¶24). In a 1970 lecture reprinted in Women's Liberation and the Dialectics of Revolution (1985), Dunayevskaya writes: "Hegel had moved the myth of Adam and Eve from the theology of sin to the sphere of knowledge" (p. 23).

---------------------------------------------------------

Part II ATTITUDES TO OBJECTIVITY
This month and next we continue Raya Dunayevskaya's 1961 lecture notes on Hegel's Smaller LOGIC. The first part, "Introduction and Preliminary Notion," appeared last month. Publishing the series is part of our continuing effort to stimulate theoretical discussion on the "dialectic proper."

Dated Feb. 15, 1961, these notes on Hegel's Smaller LOGIC-the first part of his ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL SCIENCES-comment on all sections of the work. Dunayevskaya's notes contain an especially detailed commentary on the "Three Attitudes of Thought Toward Objectivity," a section of the Smaller LOGIC which does not appear in the SCIENCE OF LOGIC and a theme overlooked by many writers on Hegel. Here Hegel critiques not only Kantianism and Empiricism, but also romanticism and intuitionism.

The text of the Smaller LOGIC used by Dunayevskaya is THE LOGIC OF HEGEL, trans. by William Wallace (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894), which differs in some respects from later editions of Wallace's translation. Parenthetical references are to the paragraph numbers found in all editions and translations of Hegel's text. All footnotes are by the editors. The original can be found in THE RAYA DUNAYEVSKAYA COLLECTION, 2834-2842.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
by Raya Dunayevskaya, founder of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S.
Chapter Three: First Attitude of Thought Towards the Objective World

Everything in pre-Kantian thought from faith and abstract understanding through scholasticism, dogmatism and metaphysics is dealt with in the brief chapter of twelve pages. It is remarkable how easy it sounds when you consider the range of subjects taken up. This is something, moreover, that he [Hegel] has not done in the larger LOGIC. All the attitudes to objectivity are something that appear only in the Smaller LOGIC.

Chapter Four: Second Attitude of Thought Towards the Objective World

This deals both with the empirical school and the critical philosophy.(1) He notes that we could not have come from metaphysics to real philosophy, or from the Dark Ages to the epoch of capitalism, without empirical studies and the shaking off of the bondage of mere faith. At the same time, the method of empiricists' analysis is devastatingly criticized. Somewhere later he is to say that it is equivalent to think that you can cut off an arm from a body and still think you are dealing with a living subject, when you analyze that disjointed arm.(2)

Here he states: "Empiricism labors under a delusion, if it supposes that, while analyzing the objects, it leaves them as they were; it really transforms the concrete into an abstract... The error lies in forgetting that this is only one-half of the process, and that the main point is the reunion of what has been divided" (paragraph 38). And finally in that same paragraph, he states:

"So long then as this sensible sphere is and continues to be for Empiricism a mere datum, we have a doctrine of bondage; for we become free, when we are confronted by no absolutely alien world, but by a fact which is our second self."

With the critical school, it is obvious that we have reached a revolution in thought and yet that it stopped being critical because of its divorce of thought from experience:

"This view has at least the merit of giving a correct expression to the nature of all consciousness. The tendency of all man's endeavors is to understand the world, to appropriate and subdue it to himself; and to this end the positive reality of the world must be as it were crushed and squashed, in other words, idealized" (paragraph 42).

He further accuses Kant of having degraded Reason "to a finite and conditioned thing, to identify it with a mere stepping beyond the finite and conditioned range of understanding. The real infinite, far from being a mere transcendence of the finite, always involves the absorption of the finite in its own fuller nature....Absolute idealism, however, though it is far in advance of the vulgarly-realistic mind, is by no means merely restricted to philosophy" (paragraph 45).

He, therefore, considers Kant's system to be "dualistic" so that "the fundamental defect makes itself visible in the inconsistency of unifying at one moment what a moment before had been explained to be independent and incapable of unification" (paragraph 60). And yet his greatest criticism of Kant is that his philosophy fails to unify, that is to say, that its form of unification was completely external and not out of the inherent unity: "Now it is not because they are subjective, that the categories are finite: they are finite by their very nature..." Note how in the end Hegel both separates and unites Kant and Fichte:

"After all it was only formally that the Kantian system established the principle that thought acted spontaneously in forming its constitution. Into details of the manner and the extent of this self-determination of thought, Kant never went. It was Fichte who first noticed the omission; and who, after he had called attention to the want of a deduction for the categories, endeavored really to supply something of the kind. With Fichte, the "Ego" is the starting-point in the philosophical development... Meanwhile, the nature of the impulse remains a stranger beyond our pale... What Kant calls the thing-by-itself, Fichte calls the impulse from without" (paragraph 60).

Chapter Five: Third Attitude of Thought Towards the Objective World

To me, this chapter on what Hegel calls "Immediate or Intuitive Knowledge" and which is nearly entirely devoted to Jacobi, is the most important and essentially totally new as distinguished from the manner in which Hegel deals with the other schools of thought in his larger LOGIC. The newness comes not from the fact that he does not criticize Jacobi (and Fichte and Schelling) as devastatingly in the larger LOGIC, but in the sense that he has made a category out of it by devoting a chapter and by making that chapter occur when, to the ordinary mind, it would have appeared that from Kant he should have gone to his own dialectical philosophy. Hegel is telling us that one doesn't necessarily go DIRECTLY to a higher stage, but may suddenly face a throwback to a former stage of philosophy, which thereby is utterly "reactionary." (That's his word, reactionary.)(3)

The first critique of Jacobi's philosophy is the analysis that even faith must be PROVED; otherwise there would be no way to distinguish in anyone's say-so whether it is something as grandiose as Christianity, or as backward as the worshiping of an ox. No words can substitute for Hegel's:

"The term FAITH brings with it the special advantage of reminding us of the faith of the Christian religion; it seems to include Christian faith, or perhaps even to coincide with it; and thus the Philosophy of Faith has a thoroughly pious and Christian look, on the strength of which it takes the liberty of uttering its arbitrary dicta with greater pretensions to authority. But we must not let ourselves be deceived by the semblance surreptitiously secured by means of a merely verbal similarity. The two things are radically distinct. Firstly, Christian faith comprises in it a certain authority of the church: but the faith of Jacobi's philosophy has no other authority than that of the philosopher who revealed it. And, secondly, Christian faith is objective, with a great deal of substance in the shape of a system of knowledge and doctrine: while the contents of the philosophic faith are so utterly indefinite, that, while its arms are open to receive the faith of the Christian, it equally includes a belief in the divinity of the Dalai Lama, the ox, or the monkey, thus, so far as it goes, narrowing Deity down to its simplest terms, to a Supreme Being. Faith itself, taken in the sense postulated by this system, is nothing but the sapless abstraction of immediate knowledge" (paragraph 63).

You may recall (those of you who were with us when we split from Johnson)(4) that we used this attitude as the thorough embodiment of Johnsonism [as seen in] the series of letters he issued on the fact that we must "break with the old" and stick only to the "new" without ever specifying what is old and what is new, either in a class context or even in an immediate historic frame.(5) This is what Hegel calls "exclusion of mediation" and he rises to his highest height in his critique of Jacobi when he states: "Its distinctive doctrine is that immediate knowledge alone, to the total exclusion of mediation, can possess a content which is true" (paragraph 65). He further expands this thought (paragraph 71):

"The one-sidedness of the intuitional school has certain characteristics attending upon it, which we shall proceed to point out in their main features, now that we have discussed the fundamental principle. The FIRST of those corollaries is as follows. Since the criterion of truth is found, not in the character of the content, but in the fact of consciousness, all alleged truth has no other basis than subjective knowledge and the assertion that we discover a certain fact in our consciousness. What we discover in our own consciousness is thus exaggerated into a fact of the consciousness of all, and even passed off for the very nature of the mind."

A few paragraphs later (paragraph 76) is where Hegel uses the term "reactionary"-"reactionary nature of the school of Jacobi. His doctrine is a return to the modern starting point of the metaphysic in the Cartesian Philosophy." You must remember that Hegel praises Descartes as the starting point of philosophy, and even shows a justification for any metaphysical points in it just because it had broken new ground.(6) But what he cannot forgive is that in his own period, after we had already reached Kantian philosophy, one should turn backward:

"The modern doctrine on the one hand makes no change in the Cartesian method of the usual scientific knowledge, and conducts on the same plan(7) the experimental and finite sciences that have sprung from it. But, on the other hand, when it comes to the science which has infinity for its scope, it throws aside the method, and thus, as it knows no other, it rejects all methods. It abandons itself to the control of a wild, capricious and fantastic dogmatism, to a moral priggishness and pride of feeling, or to an excessive opining and reasoning which is loudest against philosophy and philosophic themes. Philosophy of course tolerates no mere assertions, or conceits, or arbitrary fluctuations of inference to and fro" (paragraph 77).

Chapter Six: The Proximate Notion of Logic with its Subdivision

This is the last chapter before we get into the three major divisions of the LOGIC itself. In a word, it took Hegel six chapters, or 132 pages, to INTRODUCE the LOGIC which will occupy, in this abbreviated form, a little less than 200 pages. On the other hand, this Smaller LOGIC will be such easy sailing, especially for anyone who has grappled with the larger LOGIC, that you will almost think that you are reading a novel and, indeed, I will spend very little time on the summation because I believe you are getting ready to read it for yourself now.

To get back to the Proximate Notion, Hegel at once informs you that the three stages of logical doctrine-(1) Abstract or Mere Understanding; (2) Dialectical or Negative Reason; (3) Speculative or Positive Reason-apply in fact to every logical reality, every notion and truth whatever.

There are places where Hegel is quite humorous about the dialectic as it is degraded for winning debater's points: "Often too, Dialectic is nothing more than a subjective seesaw of arguments PRO and CON, where the absence of sterling thought is disguised by the subtlety which gives birth to such arguments" (paragraph 81). And yet it is precisely in this paragraph where he gives the simplest and profoundest definition of what dialectic is, thus: "Wherever there is movement, wherever there is life, wherever anything is carried into effect in the actual world, there Dialectic is at work."

Over and over again, Hegel lays stress on the necessity to PROVE what one claims, and the essence of proof is that something has developed of necessity in such and such a manner, that it has been through both a historic and a self-relationship which has moved it FROM what it was "in itself" (implicitly), THROUGH a "for itself-ness" (a process of mediation or development) to what it finally is "in and for itself" (explicitly). Or put it yet another way, from potentiality to actuality, or the realization of all that is inherent in it.

Finally, here is the simple way: Logic is sub-divided into three parts: I. The Doctrine of Being; II. The Doctrine of Essence; III. The Doctrine of Notion and Idea. That is, into the Theory of Thought: I. In its immediacy (the notion implicit and, as it were, in germ); II. In its reflection and mediation (the being-for-self and show of the notion); III. In its return into itself, and its being all to itself (the notion in and for itself... "For in philosophy, to prove means to show how the subject by and from itself makes itself what it is") (paragraph 83).

To be continued next issue

CORRECTION

We regret an error in a quotation from Hegel that appeared last issue, column 3, paragraph 3: "the tendency to reading and meditation," should read-"the tendency to reasoning and meditation." We thank one of our subscribers for catching this typo.

NOTES

Kantianism.

See paragraph 216 of the Smaller LOGIC.

See paragraph 76 of the Smaller LOGIC.

C.L.R. James

This refers to a series of letters written by James to his associates in early 1955, which helped lead to the breakup of the Johnson-Forest Tendency.

See paragraph 77 of the Smaller LOGIC: "The Cartesian philosophy, from these unproved postulates, which it assumes to be unprovable, proceeds to wider and wider details of knowledge, and thus gave rise to the sciences of modern times."

In the newer translation of the ENCYCLOPEDIA LOGIC by Geraets et al, "plan" is rendered as "method."

---------------------------------------------------------

Part III DOCTRINES OF BEING, ESSENCE, NOTION
This month we conclude Raya Dunayevskaya's 1961 lecture notes on Hegel's Smaller LOGIC. The first part, "Introduction and Preliminary Notion," appeared in April, and the second part, "Attitudes to Objectivity," appeared last month. Publishing the series is part of our continuing effort to stimulate theoretical discussion on the "dialectic proper."

Dated Feb. 15, 1961, these notes on Hegel's Smaller LOGIC"”the first part of his ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHICAL SCIENCES"”comment on all sections of the work. Dunayevskaya's notes contain an especially detailed commentary on the "Three Attitudes of Thought Toward Objectivity," a section of the Smaller LOGIC which does not appear in the SCIENCE OF LOGIC and is a theme overlooked by many writers on Hegel. There Hegel critiques not only Kantianism and Empiricism, but also romanticism and intuitionism.

The text of the Smaller LOGIC used by Dunayevskaya is THE LOGIC OF HEGEL, trans. by William Wallace (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894), which differs in some respects from later editions of Wallace's translation. Parenthetical references are to the paragraph numbers found in all editions and translations of Hegel's text. All footnotes are by the editors. The original can be found in THE RAYA DUNAYEVSKAYA COLLECTION, 2834-2842.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
by Raya Dunayevskaya, founder of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S.

Chapter Seven: First Subdivision of Logic"”The Doctrine of Being

I will not go into the separate categories of Quality, Quantity, Measure or the question of Being, Nothing and Becoming. Instead, all I will do here is point to the examples from the history of philosophy so that you get a feeling for yourself about the specificity of [Hegel's] thinking and realize that his abstractions are not abstractions at all. Two things, for example, from the section on Quality will speak for themselves:

"In the history of philosophy the different stages of the logical Idea assume the shape of successive systems, each of which is based on a particular definition of the Absolute. As the logical Idea is seen to unfold itself in a process from the abstract to the concrete, so in the history of philosophy the earliest systems are the most abstract, and thus at the same time have least in them. The relation too of the earlier to the later systems of philosophy is much like the relation of the earlier to the later stages of the logical Idea; in other words, the former are preserved in the latter, but in a subordinate and functional position. This is the true meaning of a much misunderstood phenomenon in the history of philosophy-the refutation of one system by another, of an earlier by a later (¶86)....Opinion, with its usual want of thought, believes that specific things are positive throughout, and retains them fast under the form of Being. Mere Being, however, is not the end of the matter" (¶91).

Remember that the sections in the smaller type are the ones that Hegel quotes orally and then you will get a view of his response to his audience when, say, they would look with blank faces when he would speak of something like "Being-for-self."(1) And now read the following:

"The Atomic philosophy (2) forms a vital stage in the historical growth of the Idea. The principle of that system may be described as Being-for-self in the shape of the Many. At present, students of nature who are anxious to avoid metaphysics, turn a favorable ear to Atomism. But it is not possible to escape metaphysics and cease to trace nature back to terms of thought, by throwing ourselves into the arms of Atomism. The atom in fact is itself a thought; and hence the theory which holds matter to consist of atoms is a metaphysical theory. Newton gave physics an express warning to beware of metaphysics, it is true; but to his honor, be it said, he did not by any means obey his own warning. The only mere physicists are theanimals: they alone do not think: while man is a thinking being and a born metaphysician."

(Read the rest for yourself"”it is too important to miss ¶98.)

Chapter Eight: Second Subdivision of Logic"”Doctrine of Essence

Here again I will not go into categories such as Identity, Difference, Contradiction, etc., all of which I dealt with when summarizing the Larger LOGIC and which you will find comparatively easy to read here. (3) What interests me are the so-called examples and once in a while the easy definitions like "The aim of philosophy is to banish indifference, and to learn the necessity of things" (¶119). So we go back to the historical basis which always throws an extra illumination on the generalization that follows:

"The Sophists came forward at a time when the Greeks had begun to grow dissatisfied with mere authority and tradition in the matter of morals and religion, and when they felt how needful it was to see that the sum of facts was due to the intervention and act of thought.....Sophistry has nothing to do with what is taught:-that may always be true. Sophistry lies in the formal circumstance of teaching it by grounds which are as available for attack as for defense" (¶121).

I want to recommend the studying in full of the final part of this section called "Actuality." It is not a question only of content or its profound insistence on the relationship of actuality to thought and vice-versa ("The idea is rather absolutely active, as well as actual") (¶142). It is a movement of and to freedom within every science, philosophy, and even class struggle, though Hegel, of course, never says that; nevertheless [one] must go through the actuality of necessity and the real world contradictions that are impossible to summarize in any briefer form than the 24 paragraphs Hegel does here (¶142-159).

You have heard me quote often the section on Necessity, which ends with: "So long as a man is otherwise conscious that he is free, his harmony of soul and peace of mind will not be disturbed by disagreeable events. It is their view of Necessity, therefore, which is at the root of the content and discontent of man, and which in that way determines their destiny itself" (¶147). Now you go to it and study those pages.

Chapter Nine: Third Subdivision of Logic"”The Doctrine of the Notion

This last section of the LOGIC is the philosophic framework which most applies to our age. From the very start where he says, "The Notion is the power of Substance in the fruition of its own being, and therefore, what is free," you know that on the one hand, from now on you are on your own and must constantly deepen his content through a materialistic, historical "translation." And, on the other hand, that you cannot do so unless you stand on his solid foundation: "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 plenitude of all that it contains" (¶160).

I would like you to read the letter I wrote to Olga [Domanski] on Universal, Particular and Individual (4) and then read Hegel on those categories, and you will see how little of his spirit I was able to transmit and how changeable are his own definitions. For example, he says, "Individual and Actual are the same thing....The Universal in its true and comprehensive meaning is one of those thoughts which demanded thousands of years before it entered into the consciousness of man" (¶163). Just ponder on this single phrase "thousands of years."

These categories"”Universal, Particular and Individual"”are first described in the [Doctrine of the] Notion as notion, then they enter Judgment, then Syllogism, and then throughout to the end, and in each case they are not the same, and you can really break your neck if you try to subsume them into a definitional form. They just will not be fenced in. Hegel, himself, has something to say on this fencing in of the syllogism, for example, which in "common logic" is supposed to conclude so-called elemental theory, which is then followed by a so-called doctrine of method, which is supposed to show you how to apply what you learned in Part I:

"It believes Thought to be a mere subjective and formal activity; and the objective fact which confronts Thought it holds to be permanent and self-subsistent, but this dualism is a half-truth... It would be truer to say that it is subjectivity itself, which, as dialectics, breaks through its own barrier and develops itself to objectivity by means of the syllogism" (¶192).

(I want to call to your attention that it is the last sentence in ¶212, which [C.L.R. James] so badly misused in justifying our return to Trotskyism. Note that the quotation itself speaks of error as a necessary dynamic, whereas James spoke of it as if it were the dynamic: "Error, or other-being, WHEN IT IS UPLIFTED AND ABSORBED, is itself a necessary dynamic element of truth: for truth can only be where it makes itself its own result." (The phrase underlined was underlined by me in order to stress that James had left it out.) (5)

The final section on the Absolute Idea is extremely abbreviated and by no means gives you all that went into the SCIENCE OF LOGIC, but it will serve if you read it very carefully; to introduce you to its study in the Larger LOGIC. I will quote only three thoughts from it:

"The Absolute Idea is, in the first place, the unity of the theoretical and practical idea, and thus at the same time, the unity of life with the idea of cognition....The defect of life lies in its being only the idea in itself or naturally: whereas cognition is in an equally one-sided way, the merely conscious idea or the idea for itself, The Unity... (¶236). It is certainly possible to indulge in a vast amount of senseless declamation about the idea absolute, but its true content is only the whole system, of which we have been hitherto examining the development" (¶237).

I love the expression that to get to philosophic thought one must be strong enough to ward off the incessant importance of one's own opinion:

"The philosophical method is analytical, as well as synthetic...to that end, however, there is required an effort to keep off the ever-incessant impertinence of our own fancies and opinions" (¶238).

The final sentence of the whole book in the Smaller LOGIC is what pleased Lenin so highly that he wrote as if the SCIENCE OF LOGIC ended [there] by stating that the "rest of the paragraph" wasn't significant. It is on that rest of the paragraph in the Larger LOGIC around which the whole reason for my 1953 Letters on the Absolute Idea rests. (6) The sentence Lenin liked because it held out a hand to materialism is: "We began with Being, abstract being: where we now are we also have the idea as Being: but this idea, which has Being is Nature." This is the oral remark which followed the written last sentence:

"But the idea is absolutely free; and its freedom means that it does not merely pass over into life, or as finite cognition allow life to show in it, but in its own absolute truth resolves to let the element of its particularity, or of the first characterization and other-being, the immediate idea, as its reflection, go forth freely itself from itself as Nature" (¶244).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOTES

1. Hegel defines "being-for-self" thusly: "We say that something is for itself in so far as it cancels its otherness, its relatedness to and community with Other, rejecting and abstracting from them. In it, Other only exists as having been transcended, or as its moment... Self-consciousness is Being-for-Self accomplished and posited; the aspect of relation to an Other, an external object, has been removed" [SLI, p. 171; SLM, p. 158].

2. "The Atomic philosophy" refers to the doctrine that existence can be explained in terms of aggregates of atoms, irreducible fixed particles or units. It reached its classic expression in ancient Greece in the philosophy of Democritus. Atomism has often been connected to philosophical materialism.

3. Dunayevskaya's notes on Hegel's SCIENCE OF LOGIC can be found in THE RAYA DUNAYEVSKAYA COLLECTION, 2815-2833. NEWS & LETTERS reprinted them in the January-February, March, April and May 1999 issues.

4. This refers to a letter to Olga Domanski, a colleague of Dunayevskaya's, of Feb. 27, 1961. It can be found in the SUPPLEMENT TO THE RAYA DUNAYEVSKAYA COLLECTION, 13842-43.

5. In 1947-48 James used the notion that "error is THE dynamic of truth" to justify the Johnson-Forest Tendency's decision to rejoin the Socialist Workers Party, despite its "erroneous" politics which the Johnson-Forest Tendency had long combated. See his NOTES ON DIALECTICS, pp. 92-93.

6. See the "Letters on Hegel's Absolutes of 1953" in THE PHILOSOPHIC MOMENT OF MARXIST-HUMANISM (Chicago: News and Letters, 1989) and "New Thoughts on the Dialectics of Organization and Philosophy" in PHILOSOPHY AND REVOLUTION: FROM HEGEL TO SARTRE AND FROM MARX TO MAO (New York: Columbia Unviersity Press, 1989), where Dunayevskaya critiques Lenin's interpretation of the closing sentences of the LOGIC.

Posted By

libcom
Jul 27 2005 22:31

Share

Attached files