Reason & The World
(plan for talk, 9:30am - 11am 18th February 2000)

Spirit and Laws of Nature (0 min)

"Thought regards this development of the idea and of the peculiar activity of the reason of the idea as only subjective, but is on its side unable to make any addition. To consider anything rationally is not to bring reason to it from the outside, and work it up in this way, but to count it as itself reasonable. Here [in the Philosophy of Right] it is spirit in its freedom, the summit of self-conscious reason, which gives itself actuality, and produces itself as the existing world. The business of science is simply to bring the specific work of the reason, which is in the thing, to consciousness." [Philosophy of Right s 31]

but this goes so far as:

"In the course of this work of the world mind, states, nations, and individuals arise animated by their particular determinate principle which has its interpretation and actuality in their constitutions and in the whole range of their life and condition. While their consciousness is limited to these and they are absorbed in their mundane interests, they are all the time the unconscious tools and organs of the world mind at work within them." [Philosophy of Right s 348]

Hegel and Social Relations (4 min)

Two Part Harmony (8 min)

Being, Essence and Notion (13 min)

In Being the principle does not yet exist; Essence is the genesis of a principle / movement, to search for its proper form, its struggle for actuality; the Notion is about the about the internal life of a movement and how it grows, expands and matures as a force in and for itself.

Pure Being (15 min)

"all that is needed to ensure that the beginning remains immanent in its scientific development is to consider, or rather, ridding oneself of all other reflections and opinions whatever, simply to take up, what is there before us. Pure knowing as concentrated into this unity has sublated all reference to an other and to mediation; it is without any distinction and as thus distinctionless, ceases itself to be knowledge; what is present is only simple immediacy. Simple immediacy is itself an expression of reflection and contains a reference to its distinction from what is mediated. This simple immediacy, therefore, in its true expression is pure being ... that which forms the starting point of the development remains at the base of all that follows and does not vanish from it. this progress ... must be determined by the nature of the subject matter itself and its content." [With What must Science Begin?, Science of Logic]
"The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity." [German Ideology]

Eleven Classic Forms of the Dialectic

1. The dialectic of Otherness (Being & Nothing) (18 min)

"But this mere Being, as it is mere abstraction, is therefore the absolutely negative: which, in a similarly immediate aspect, is just Nothing." [Shorter Logic, s 87]
Simone De Beauvoir: "Otherness is a fundamental category of human thought. Thus it is that no group ever sets itself up as the One without at once setting up the Other over against itself. If three travellers chance to occupy the same compartment, that is enough to make vaguely hostile 'others' out of all the rest of the passengers on the train. In small-town eyes all persons not belonging to the village are 'strangers' and suspect; to the native of a country all who inhabit other countries are 'foreigners'; Jews are 'different' for the anti-Semite, Negroes are 'inferior' for American racists, aborigines are 'natives' for colonists, proletarians are the 'lower class' for the privileged."

2. The dialectic of Quantity and Quality (23 min)

"The truth of Being and of Nothing is accordingly the unity of the two: and this unity is Becoming".

3. The dialectic of discussion (identity, difference, opposition, contradiction, ground) (26 min)

Essence - the genesis of a principle or movement which begins with the dialectic of discussion, the taking on of successive forms, each revealing a new content, and as it becomes a cause in the world, its growing actualisation.

4. The dialectic of Form and Content (Appearance) (30 min)

"The essential point to keep in mind about the opposition of Form and Content is that the content is not formless, but has the form in its own self, quite as much as the form is external to it. There is thus a doubling of form. At one time it is reflected into itself; and then is identical with the content. At another time it is not reflected into itself, and then it is external existence, which does not at all affect the content. We are here in presence, implicitly, of the absolute correlation of content and form: viz., their reciprocal revulsion, so that content is nothing but the revulsion of form into content, and form nothing but the revulsion of content into form. This mutual revulsion is one of the most important laws of thought."

Twelve Days of Christmas

5. The dialectic of Cause and Effect (Reciprocity, Actuality) (35 min)

"in historical research the question may be raised in a first form, whether the character and manners of a nation are the cause of its constitution and its laws, or if they are not rather the effect. Then, as the second step, the character and manners on one side and the Constitution and laws on the other are conceived on the principle of reciprocity: and in that case the cause in the same connection as it is a cause will at the same time be an effect, and vice versa."

6. The Unity of Opposites (The Concrete Notion) (40 min)

"The highest maturity, the highest stage, which anything can attain is that in which its downfall begins."

7. Individual, Universal and Particular (The Subjective Notion, Judgment & Syllogism) (50 min)

Hegel's critique of Formal Logic is a critique of formal conceptions of the Internal dynamics of an organisation.

Individual = member, particular = branch, universal = leadership/annual conference, or
Individual = specific action-decision, particular = policy, universal = principles/aims.

The Notion is contained each, U, I & P. Formal logic separates them.

Judgment: decision-making, Hegel argues against the conception of the numbers-game, the compromise, the conception of application of policies to individual cases, arguing all along for the need for the unity of the notion in every decision, and how it is achieve through mediation

Syllogism: is about mediation of all the combinations of I, U & P. For example, critique of the syllogism of Induction (U - I - P), Hegel explains that it doesn't matter if this swan and after that swan is white, unless whiteness is the notion of a swan you cannot prove that all swans are white, series of individual judgments do not add up to a Notion.

8. Reductionism (Mechanism, Expansion) (65 min)

Reductionism: the reduction of another principle to that of another, which amounts to exclusive of another notion. As when a movement rejects the truth of all other theories and posits their own theory-of-everything.

EG: Evelyn Reed: "Uncovering their own hidden history is just as essential and urgent a part of women's work as winning concessions and reforms in daily activities. Women will no longer accept the formula that theory and history are man's work while practical activities are chores for women. They will pursue their own intellectual course and will not cease their explorations until they find what they are looking for - truth about women's evolution" [1975]

9. Generalisation (Chemism) (70 min)

EG, instead of Feminism versus Socialism, we see socialist feminism.

10. The dialectic of Means and Ends (Teleology) (75 min)

as opposed to "means justifies the end" and "the movement is everything", means and ends have to be reconceptualised so that they are identical, a movement re-inventing itself.

11. Totalisation (The Absolute Idea) (80 min)

The Idea is defined as the unity of Life and Cognition. Life is the unity of the Living Individual and the Life Process (or Species), and Cognition is the unity of Analysis and Synthesis, and the Logic concludes with the Absolute Idea, the unity of the Theoretical and Practical Idea, sometimes obscure, observations on knowledge and scientific method. It is a summing up of all that has gone before.

Two Part Harmony (85 min)

The Logic takes the form of a critique of formal logic, or ordinary Understanding, which subjects to criticism one concept after another, showing its inner contradictions and limitations and how it spills over into the next.

In the Philosophy of Right we will see how Hegel advocates that an ethical life is a life led in accord with Reason as it manifests itself in the affairs of the world, just as science is to conduct one's thoughts in accord with the Logic.

But the question is: has Hegel discovered the laws according to which people must live, or has he discovered the laws according to which people do live, but in abstract form?

If we limit our critique of Hegel to his deification, his Spirit, then we are in danger of missing what is truly challenging and revolutionary in what he to tell us and in fact just giving God a new name to suit the spirit of the times, the Zeit Geist.