The following treatment of Hegel’s four paragraphs 79-82 in the Encyclopaedia deals with the “three moments of every logical-real.”
In doing so, these remarks also explain why we on Hegel-System.de and Hegel.net represent Hegel’s system in the form of triangles.
- (The first Moment ) thereby corresponds to the triangle in the middle and the triangle at the bottom left.
- (The second Moment ) corresponds to the three small triangles and the triangle at the bottom right.
- (The third Moment ) corresponds to the “sublation” in the process that moves through the triangles and is “sublated” in the triangle at the top.
Compare also the article “Method Triangle”. The following commentary also explains how the triangle representation on hegel.net and hegel-system.de is to be understood and how one can deal with it.
Closer concept and subdivision of logic
The actual classification of Hegel’s logic is not dealt with until paragraph 83. So to what extent do paragraphs 79-82 give a “closer concept and subdivision of the Logic” (as Hegel’s title to this section suggests)?
In any case, these paragraphs do not mention directly the first subdivisions of Hegel’s logic “being,” “essence,” “concept” (which are mentioned systematically for the first time in paragraph 83), but rather discuss a kind of “superstructure” or method which precedes this division, but which one will then therefore also find again in the subdivision. More details below.
Please note that this “superstructure” is not to be confused with the Fichtian dialectic steps of Position, Negation and Synthesis, while there is certainly a historical relation between the two.
§ 79 - Subdivision
The logical has three sides according to form:
- the abstract or intelligible/understanding (“verständige”),
- the dialectical or negative-reasoning (“vernünftige”),
- the speculative or positive-reasoning (“vernünftige”).
Comment on/explanation of §79.
- Three sides: so this is not primarily about a sequence, but more about 3 perspectives (such as the three visible sides of, say, a tetrahedron (pyramid). But the picture is inadequate because the three sides in the picture are independent of each other and not really distinguished from each other. This aspect can be better grasped in the picture of the tetrahedron as follows: the three moments correspond to:
- the base side/ground plan of the tetrahedron,
- the three visible sides (or four sides in total) of the tetrahedron, and
- the space enclosed by them of these “three sides.”
- From one side/moment we infer the others, each of the three moments is contained in the other.
- On the naming used:
- Dialectic is taken by Hegel here only as the 2nd side, not as the whole. Marxists usually speak of dialectics also for the total process, for all 3 together. For them, the 2nd moment is naturally (as will become clear below at the latest) the most important.
- Hegelians mostly speak of speculative, speculation for the total process, for all 3 together.
- The first “side” is assigned to understanding (“Verstand”), the 3rd to reason (“Vernunft”). The 2nd side is only negatively assigned to reason: it shows the limitations of the understanding from the 1st side, but not yet the positive reasonable content.
The three sides as “moments of every logical-real.”
These three sides do not make up three parts of logic, but are moments of every logical-real, that is, of every concept or truth at all.
- Not parts, but moments: this is a terminological foreshadow of the logic of essence (‘not parts’) and logic of concept (‘moments’). What is meant here is ‘’more’’ than “just parts”: all moments are a necessary part of their overall context (the word supposedly comes in this usage from the physical “torque”). The emphasis on ‘’moments’’ means that the consideration here is in advance that of conceptual logic; from the perspective, this preconception is given in retrospect
- An example of 3 moments is the tetrahedron example given above.
- A practical example for “moments” are the organs of an animal/human being
- Since the three sides are thus moments of every concept, they correspond at conceptual level to the general, particular and individual (this parallel is often referred to in hegel-system.de) and concept, judgement, conclusion.
- “of every logical-real,” “of every true at all” - the three sides thus apply, contrary to the appearance that the title gives, not only to logic, but also to real philosophy (why this does not contradict itself becomes clear in the course of logic - see Object).
They can all be placed under the first moment, the intelligible/understanding, and thereby kept apart, but in this way they are not considered in their truth.
- The sentence is, of course, an anticipation, for the intelligible/understanding will be treated in more detail only in the following paragraph 80. It is here, at this stage, primarily a warning against misunderstandings, such as Hegel weaves so many (usually in vain) at the beginning into his explanations (the problem with this is that one can only fully understand these warnings in retrospect, when one no longer needs the warning).
- If the three sides are indeed three moments, then one can also treat the other two moments from each moment, each is a totality in itself. In this, however, completeness has not yet been achieved, even if the other two sides are treated from one perspective, because not all three perspectives have come into their own.
- If one takes the moments isolated and absolute, then…
- The first moment leads to dogmatism (in the case of the teacher) and to narrow-mindedness (in the case of the learner, the user), mechanism, etc.
- the 2nd moment leads to empiricism and scepticism
- the 3rd moment to mysticism
Excursus 1: The triangular representation on hegel-system.de and hegel.net are thus in themselves a formal, “intelligible/understanding” representation in which the three moments are only represented separately. In this respect, this triangular representation thus falls under the 1st moment. Therefore, the triangles only represent first determinations, not the whole truth (cf. also “Truth”).
Excursus 2: The above could become important in the dialogue with other positions, therefore briefly on the discussion with others: Both sides of reason are needed here: the negative one, to show what is wrong - otherwise you don’t need to change anything (and if possible as an implicit critique, so that it affects you directly. but in practice, a polemic or a paradox that makes the other person think and brings him or her to the implicit critique is often even more effective), on the other hand, the positive one, in order to also show to what extent the rational of what has been represented so far can be cancelled out and yet the existing contradictions/paradoxes can be solved (without the previous/simultaneous critique, there is otherwise also the danger that what is otherwise simply subsumed under the existing world view, the differences are not perceived, etc.).
The indication given here of the determinations of the logical, as well as the division, is here also only anticipated and historical. 8/168
- Historical is meant here in the sense of only given, not founded.
- Anticipated means: the justification is still to be supplied.
- Hegel actually discusses the subject of these paragraphs 79-82 later, in his chapter on method at the end of the Logic (see Absolute Idea).
on the three perspectives (more generally on the 3rd proposition), and their respective justification:
- the three moments are ‘’also’’ to be understood sequentially, as steps, but all three are in principle, ‘’as such’’, also contained in each of the other two moments.
- the first moment thus also corresponds to the beginning
- the second moment thus corresponds to progress, to development
- the third moment thus corresponds to the conclusion, the abolition
- in logic corresponds
- to the 1st moment the logic of being,
- to the second moment the logic of essence and
- to the 3rd moment the logic of concepts.
- (of course, at every point in the system, and thus also in logic, the 3 moments can be established in a 3-step, but the 3 large areas of logic stand, so to speak, under the respective “main theme” of the respective moment corresponding to them).
- It would be useful to examine the divisions of Hegel-system.de or the system poster according to:
- to what extent are they “inner particularities” (such as the organs of an animal)?
- to what extent are they “external peculiarities” (like e.g. the species of an animal)?
- to what extent can they be explained according to the scheme General-Particular-Individual (G-P-I, in German A-B-E)?
- to what extent can they be explained according to the scheme of paragraphs 79-82?
- to what extent are they only sequential?
- to what extent is the division necessary or merely “historical?”
80 - Abstract
α) Thought as understanding stops at the fixed determinateness and the distinctness of the same against others; such a limited abstract is regarded by it as existing and being for itself.
Literal analysis of the quotation
- The first page, the first moment, the 1st step is assigned by Hegel to ‘understanding’
- “stops”: the problem is not the starting point, but that no further progress is made.
- The principle here is that the separation brought about by the understanding is “fixed” as such. The mind stops, so to speak, at this level of separation.
- But in order to progress at all, one must at least start from the starting point. “Mind cannot be given”
- “fixed determinateness” - the thinking of the mind is concerned with drawing boundaries, with division.
- “distinctness of the same against others” - ditto.
- possible criticisms of the position of the understanding in the sentence:
- fixed: the fixed determinations could be shown to be dynamic and/or to merge into one another.
- difference of the same against others: the commonality could be too little considered
- That, on the other hand, a position to be criticised is limited and “abstract” is always true with Hegel, gives no particular indication of special defects here
- in the 1st paragraph of the addition, however, Hegel then explains separately how he sees the specifically abstract here in understanding!
- existing for itself: the relations to others and/or presuppositions might be too little considered
- being: reference to the standpoint of the logic of being
- is regarded by him as … : hint that this will still prove to be deceptive in the following investigation.
further thoughts on this 1st moment
- It would still be important here that the 1st moment must be concrete, with sharply drawn boundaries. Without such a “firmness,” there is also no going away, pushing away from it (in this sense, an error from which one can push away is better than something indeterminate, in which nothing concretely wrong can be found, but which also precisely for this reason does not contribute to further progress).
- Hegel’s Jena “Waste book” on this (Suhrkamp TWA vol.2, p. 550 above): The most harmful thing is ‘’to want to preserve oneself from error’’.
- In it, ‘’in itself’’ is already contained the further development. The 2nd moment is the ‘’concrete’’ negation of the 1st moment, thus determined by it, the 3rd moment its annulment. In nuce, “ansich,” the following is thus already contained in the 1st moment. From this perspective, one could therefore proclaim that the 1st step is the most important (similar to what one can proclaim of the other two moments in the following), it is the concentrate from which everything develops, in it everything (in itself) is already contained/arranged.
- On the other hand, as long as one is only at the starting point, this is not yet visible (following Christian terminology, Hegel also says: not yet ‘’revealed’’). Only in hindsight, in retrospect, does one know to what extent the later was in the starting point.
- We thus constantly rewrite (all) history. because the change in our present perspective also results in a change of perspective on the past.
- In terms of the history of science (Kuhn etc.), other starting points thus become important from our later perspective (in retrospect) or the relevance of the starting points or the aspects of the starting points that are important shift.
- Any given leaf (in the mathematical-topological sense, understood as the node/end point of the system, roughly corresponding to any page on http://hegel-system.de) place can be further expanded according to the two other pages. Accordingly, Hegel constantly expands his system, for instance from the early drafts to the later ones and from the basic system to the representations in the lectures. Hegel writes about this in paragraph 4 of the Nuremberg Encyclopaedia : “There are no absolute limits to a scope of knowledge, which is to constitute the special nature of a science; for every general or concrete object may be divided into its species or parts and each such species again considered as the object of a particular science.”
81 - Dialectical
β) The dialectical moment is the own cancelling out of such finite determinations and their passing into their opposite ones.
literal analysis of the quotation
- here the two-ness is contained in the word. In the dialectic, then, ‘’two’’ positions confront each other.
- it is reminiscent of dialogue: those who enter into dialogue have something to say to each other: there are differences, otherwise there would be no need to talk, but also common ground (a common basis), otherwise the dialogue would also be meaningless.
- finally, Hegel in particular will also have thought of the sophists:
- in the sense of argument
- in the sense of making things black and white
- but also in the sense of Socrates, who beat the dialectical sophists with their own weapons
- finite determinations: see para.80
- abolish: first of all, negation is certainly thought of here (with perspective on the ‘full’ abolition).
- own itself..:
- already insofar as another comes into conflict, it can only do so if it rubs against the boundary of the first (it always takes two to quarrel).
- but it turns out that in the boundary of the former its other was already implied.
- To pass over: means many different things in the course of logic and real philosophy. What they have in common would still have to be determined.
- their opposites: the “set” could be an indication that we oppose it in the analysis of essence.
- Relationship of passing over and setting aside: on the one hand, the passing over, the setting against, shows the inadequacy of the previous finite standpoint, hence negative reason: the standpoint of understanding is criticised. Secondly, however, the new standpoint is also criticised, it too has self-contradictions that demand further progress (this actually already in the direction of (“further considerations”)
- the dialectic, taken apart from the understanding for itself, constitutes, especially shown in scientific terms, scepticism; it contains mere negation as the result of the dialectic.
- Dialectic is usually regarded as an external art, which by arbitrariness produces a confusion in certain terms and a mere appearance of contradictions in them, so that not these determinations, but this appearance, is a nullity, and that which is intelligible, on the contrary, is the true. Often dialectics is nothing more than a subjective seesaw system of back-and-forth rsonnement, where the content is lacking and the nakedness is covered by such acumen as produces such rsonnement. - In its peculiar determination, dialectic is rather the own, true nature of the determinations of understanding, of things and of the finite in general. Reflection is first of all the going beyond the isolated determinateness and a relating of it, by which this is set in relation, incidentally preserved in its isolated validity. Dialectic, on the other hand, is this immanent going out, in which the one-sidedness and limitedness of the determinations of understanding presents itself as what it is, namely, as their negation. Everything finite is this, to annul itself. 8/172 The dialectic, therefore, constitutes the moving soul of scientific progress and is the principle by which alone immanent coherence and necessity come into the content of science, just as in it in general lies the true, not external elevation above the finite.
Further considerations on the 2nd moment
- Just as with the 1st moment, one can also rightly argue that the 2nd moment is the most important: without it, there would be no difference between the 1st and 3rd moments, they would simply be identical.
- (From this point of view, it is nowhere the case that in Hegel’s system the 1st and 3rd moment are there for themselves, but the 2nd is missing and is added later. Rather, where it is missing, the 1st and 3rd moments are also identical and, in a later expansion, the differentiation between the 1st and 3rd moments is also found with the 2nd moment (be it that the 1st moment is cancelled out via its differentiation in the 3rd moment, be it that an existing connection is now broken down “forwards” into its principles for itself and its particularities for itself).
- The latter can be found in the difference between the logic of essence in the Science of Logic (SoL) and the encyclopaedias on the one hand and the Logic for the Middle Class and other earlier versions of Hegel’s logic on the other: in these early works there is usually only the 3rd step in each case, which in the SoL is still preceded by the 1st and 2nd steps to supplement it.
- Hegel on this in his Jena “Waste book” (stw 602, p. 550 below): “The principle of a system of philosophy is its ‘’result’‘. […] But no one will be content with this end […], but the’‘movement’’ by which it is brought about, is considered the essential thing.”
- In arithmetic, the teacher does not only want to see the result, but rather the comprehension of the arithmetic path, which is actually the important thing.
- The 2nd moment is the “revelation,” the “expression” of the 1st moment, of what is “in itself” (positive and negative) in the 1st moment.
- The 2nd moment is the mediation between the 1st and 3rd moment.
- Progress comes in through the 2nd moment, not only insofar as it is the mediation to the 3rd moment, but also insofar as new material is taken up in it, new material is taken into account, which is then lifted in the 3rd moment.
- What the 3rd moment means as the cancellation of the first 2 moments changes when the 2nd moment changes.
- In Hegel’s system, this 2nd moment is particularly often further developed, differentiated, and thus our understanding of the 1st and 3rd moment also changes, even where these are not changed (because all 3 moments are at least implicitly related to each other).
- The overall context (as one of unity in difference) is thus represented in this 2nd moment as the ‘difference’ (and ‘movement’ towards ‘revelation’ and thus also overcoming the ‘contradictions’) in the overall context (the difference, which before was only ‘as such’ at the 1st moment, but not expressed ‘for itself,’ is expressed in the 2nd moment, comes into its own).
82 - The Speculative or Positive-Reasonable
γ) The speculative or positive-reasonable grasps the unity of determinations in their opposition, the affirmative contained in their dissolution and passing over.
- The dialectic has a positive result because it has a definite content, or because its result is truly not the empty, abstract nothing, but the negation of certain determinations, which are contained in the result precisely because this is not an immediate nothing, but a result.
- This rational thing, therefore, although a thought, is also abstract, and at the same time concrete, because it is not simple, formal unity, but unity of differentiated determinations. Philosophy, therefore, has nothing at all to do with mere abstractions or formal thoughts, but only with concrete thoughts.
- speculative logic contains the mere logic of understanding and can be made out of it at once; nothing is needed for this but to omit from it the dialectic and the rational; thus it becomes what ordinary logic is, a history of various compiled determinations of thought, which in their finiteness are regarded as something infinite.
further considerations on the 3rd moment
- The 3rd moment represents the unity of the diverse in such a way that in it the unity of the diverse is preserved in its context.
- Related to the two previous moments, these are ‘preserved’ in the 3rd moment.
Parallel passages in the Nuremberg Encyclopaedia
Logic is the science of pure understanding and pure reason, of the peculiar determinations and laws thereof.
Accordingly, the logical has three sides:
- the abstract or intelligible,
- the dialectical or negatively rational,
- the speculative or positively rational.
The intelligible stops at the concepts in their fixed definiteness and distinctness from others; the dialectical shows them in their passing over and dissolution; the speculative or the sensible grasps their unity in their opposition or the positive in its dissolution and passing over.
Understanding and reason are here usually taken in the subjective sense, insofar as, as thinking, they belong to a self-consciousness, and logic is thus a merely formal science, which first requires another content, an external substance, if anything really true is to come into being.
According to its content, logic considers understanding and reason in and for themselves and the absolute concepts as the in and for itself true ground of everything or the intelligible and reasonable, inasmuch as it is not merely a conscious apprehension.
Logic is therefore in itself speculative philosophy, for the speculative way of looking at things is nothing other than the looking at the essence of things, which is as much a pure concept proper to reason as nature and the law of things.