Archive for the ‘Hegel’ Category
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on November 29, 2008
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on November 12, 2007
In the post Hegel and Concepts – The Diamond-Net I drew an analogy between Hegel’s hierarchy of notions and the pure concepts of understanding – the categories of Kant.
It was pointed that in this analogy, because notion like change can’t be reduced to the notions of being and not being (“is X”, and “isn’t X”), we are inclined to add the notion of “change” to our network of pure concepts, beside “being” and “not being”. If we go further with this analogy, Science of Logic, through series of arguments, shows how lot of richer notions can’t be reduced to the simpler ones, and thus will have to be accepted into the hierarchy of “pure notions of understanding”.
However the analogy goes just that far.
1. While categories in Kant form a basic set, in Hegel the notions from Logic form a hierarchy. In it every richer notion while seen as basic and irreducible, is related to the notions lower in the hierarchy. It was pointed how for example “change” would contain “being X” and “not being X” as moments.
2. Categories in Kant are functions of the Mind, which serve to organize the content from the senses. Instead for Hegel, who doesn’t accept Cartesianism, those “pure” notions are abstractions from reality.
black and pink diamond-net synthesis
One further note here should be added. In Science of Logic, Hegel doesn’t want just to point that things like change, can’t be reduced to being and not being; and that change will have to stand on itself as a notion, of which being and not being will be moments. Also, he goes to argue that those poorer, or more abstract notions, like being and not being, can’t be self-subsistent. Not just that the higher notions like change must be taken as irreducible, with being and not-being as moments, but that being and not-being can only appear as moments of those higher notions. Some kind of explanation of this, I gave a year ago, in this post.
This has an interesting consequence. For Kant the categories together with the pure forms of intuitions – space and time, are seen as a requirement for any experience, and everything in our experience will be determined in an absolute way by the a priori laws which are inherent to those categories and pure forms of intuition. On another hand for Hegel, because the notions from the diamond-net are abstraction from reality, they will fail to “capture” everything about it. The only exception is the highest and richest of the notions, which is supposed to coincide with reality. As a consequence of this, Hegel’s notions in which time and space appear merely as abstractions, don’t get into kinds of trouble in which Kantian system falls in relation to Einsteinian relativity. On the contrary.
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on August 27, 2007
Today is Hegel’s birthday. To mark that here is a quote from the start of Encyclopedia:
The Content, of whatever kind it be, with which our consciousness is taken up, is what constitutes the qualitative character of our feelings, perceptions, fancies, and ideas; of our aims and duties; and of our thoughts and notions. From this point of view, feeling, perception, etc., are the forms assumed by these contents. The contents remain one and the same, whether they are felt, seen, represented, or willed, and whether they are merely felt, or felt with an admixture of thoughts, or merely and simply thought. In any one of these forms, or in the admixture of several, the contents confront consciousness, or are its object. But when they are thus objects of consciousness, the modes of the several forms ally themselves with the contents; and each form of them appears in consequence to give rise to a special object. Thus what is the same at bottom may look like a different sort of fact.
The several modes of feeling, perception, desire, and will, so far as we are aware of them, are in general called ideas (mental representations): and it may be roughly said that philosophy puts thoughts, categories, or, in more precise language, adequate notions, in the place of the generalised images we ordinarily call ideas. Mental impressions such as these may be regarded as the metaphors of thoughts and notions. But to have these figurate conceptions does not imply that we appreciate their intellectual significance, the thoughts and rational notions to which they correspond. Conversely, it is one thing to have thoughts and intelligent notions, and another to know what impressions, perceptions, and feelings correspond to them.
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on August 7, 2007
To go along with few negative words I put together in the post ‘Why Should Religious Philosophers Be Unbiased’ about “proofs of God’s existence”, here is a witty Hegel’s quote about putting lot of importance on these proofs (from the Encyclopedia)…
The (now somewhat antiquated) metaphysical proofs of God’s existence, for example, have been treated, as if a knowledge of them and a conviction of their truth were the only and essential means of producing a belief and conviction that there is a God. Such a doctrine would find its parallel, if we said that eating was impossible before we had acquired a knowledge of the chemical, botanical, and zoological characters of our food; and that we must delay digestion till we had finished the study of anatomy and physiology. Were it so, these sciences in their field, like philosophy in its, would gain greatly in point of utility; in fact, their utility would rise to the height of absolute and universal indispensableness. Or rather, instead of being indispensable, they would not exist at all.
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on February 7, 2007
In a previous post, I said that as long as we want to assume that explanations of sciences might hold, we are implicitly idealists – as the possibility of identity between reasons of why things are as they are as thought, and actual reasons why the things are as they are is assumed. Idealism is then that optimism that the world is reasonable place, which can be understood…
The aim of knowledge is to divest the objective world that stands opposed to us of its strangeness, and, as the phrase is, to find ourselves at home in it: which means no more than to trace the objective world back to the notion – to our innermost self. – Hegel’s Logic (Part One of the Encyclopedia of The Philosophical Sciences)
As such, the idealism is compatible with the need to understand, and in this form idealism shouldn’t be reduced to some kind of slogan that “the world is in our mind”, or that “things are in our mind”. It is not the “Mind” that is put as the basic principle there, but that possibility of connection between world and thought (or negating the dichotomy). I think that is what Hegel is trying to communicate in the following paragraph…
To speak of thought or objective thought as the heart and soul of the world, may seem to be ascribing consciousness to the things of nature. We feel a certain repugnance against making thought the inward function of things, especially as we speak of thought as marking the divergence of man from nature. It would be necessary, therefore, if we use the term thought at all, to speak of nature as the system of unconscious thought, or, to use Schelling’s expression, a petrified intelligence. And in order to prevent misconception, ‘thought-form’ or ‘thought-type’ should be substituted for the ambiguous term thought. – Hegel’s Logic (Part One of the Encyclopedia of The Philosophical Sciences)
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on October 31, 2006
From Hegel’s Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences
Nature shows us a countless number of individual forms and phenomena. Into this variety we feel a need of introducing unity: we compare, consequently, and try to find the universal of each single case. Individuals are born and perish: the species abides and recurs in them all: and its existence is only visible to reflection. Under the same head fall such laws as those regulating the motion of the heavenly bodies. To-day we see the stars here, and tomorrow there; and our mind finds something incongruous in this chaos — something in which it can put no faith, because it believes in order and in a simple, constant, and universal law. Inspired by this belief, the mind has directed its reflection towards the phenomena, and learnt their laws. In other words, it has established the movement of the heavenly bodies to be in accordance with a universal law from which every change of position may be known and predicted. The case is the same with the influences which make themselves felt in the infinite complexity of human conduct. There, too, man has the belief in the sway of a general principle. From all these examples it may be gathered how reflection is always seeking for something fixed and permanent, definite in itself and governing the particulars. This universal which cannot be apprehended by the senses counts as the true and essential…
In thus characterising the universal, we become aware of its antithesis to something else. This something else is the merely immediate, outward and individual, as opposed to the mediate, inward, and universal. The universal does not exist externally to the outward eye as a universal. The kind as kind cannot be perceived: the laws of the celestial motions are not written on the sky. The universal is neither seen nor heard, its existence is only for the mind.
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on October 29, 2006
Hegel is considered as one of the hardest philosophers to read, and it is not rare case for people to say that this is not because what Hegel said is hard to understand or because his writing was bad, but that actually what Hegel wrote was nonsense.
It is easy really to point to some quotes from his works taken out of the context, and say… Look, the person who said this, was surely talking nonsense. After all, would any sensible person say such thing as “Pure Being and pure nothing, are therefore, the same” or that “They are (i.e. being and nothing) in this unity (i.e. becoming) but only as vanishing, sublated moments. They sink from their initially imagined self-subsistence to the status of moments, which are still distinct but at the same time are sublated”? Those two are quotes taken from the first part of Hegel’s Science of Logic. How can one argue that two different things which every person knows are different, are in fact same? And what is that talk about “sublating”?
Here, I will give something that might not be named an example, but maybe better named an analogy of the dialectic method of Hegel.
The analogy would work with the notions of “Left” and “Right”.
Let’s analyze those notions as abstractions. When we think of Left as something immediate (as Hegel uses the term), it marks let’s say half of the space (or line which is in front of us, etc..), and Right as something immediate marks the other half of the space (or line, or whatever). But if we take now those half-spaces, or half-lines by themselves, or if we limit our thinking just to those abstractions (this is important), we can figure out that there is ideal symmetry between them. There is nothing that distinguishes them internally. The half-space that we named Left can be Right, and the half-space that we named Right can be also Left.
It is in this abstract symmetry where different notions become equal. (or more general produce a contradiction of some kind)
But for sure Left and Right as notions are not equal, they have different meaning. So, we are brought to a contradiction, they are different, but also they are equal. This is the important moment in the dialectical movement. Two different abstract notions are taken, and it is shown how in their abstract symmetry they are equal. However pointing to this contradiction is not an end in itself. Hegel is not defending contradictions, the next step he takes in this dialectical movement is to resolve the contradiction.
The resolution is based on really simple principle – if the distinction between two universals is not in them taken alone, then their difference is something outside of them.
So, let’s return to the notions of Right and Left. We might say that what is determined as Left and what is determined as Right depends on the position of the observer. But if we try to specify the observer by a point, it won’t make much difference. Still there is the symmetry between Right and Left. We need vertical observer. But even if we imagine observer as short vertical line on the edge between Left and Right, still there is perfect symmetry. Even if we name one of the sides of the observer-line as Top, and the other as Bottom, still there is perfect symmetry between Right and Left. It is when additionally to Top/Bottom we also have observer with Front/Back where the symmetry is broken.
So, we come to conclusion that the Left/Right distinction starts to make sense only in the whole new notion of Vertical-Observer- With-Bottom-and-Top -and-Front-and-Back-Sides- Who-Is-Existing-In-Space. OK, this is one silly named universal, but we can understand what Hegel means by “sublated” now. Hegel says as explanation for this term:
‘To sublate‘ has a twofold meaning in the language: on the one hand it means to preserve, to maintain, and equally it also means to cause to cease, to put an end to. Even ‘to preserve’ includes a negative elements, namely, that something is removed from its influences, in order to preserve it. Thus what is sublated is at the same time preserved; it has only lost its immediacy but is not on that account annihilated.
So, in this case Left and Right are sublated. “They sink from their initially imagined self-subsistence to the status of moments” of the new wealthier silly-named concept.