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It is justified in doing so, I would like to add, insofar as these concepts are used with regard to empirical representations. This task is actually achieved in the Logic. For an overview of the various meanings ascribed to the classical law of contradiction, see Wolff, Der Begriff des Widerspruchs, 13— Since the concept, in its turn, is the absolute principle of pure thought, it can be considered to constitute the subject of both the actual history of thought and the Science of Logic. It is only posited as such, however, in the Doctrine of the Concept cf.

This is not to say, however, that such concepts are suited to define the basic principles of thought as such. Yet the logical principle that allows empirical thought to compare its various representations contains more, Hegel claims, than it actually states: Thus, the form of the proposition in which identity is expressed contains more than simple, abstract identity; it contains this pure movement of reflection in which the other appears only as semblance. Whereas such a proposition, on the one hand, refers thought to possible predicates that might be attributed to a rose, on the other hand, it suggests that none of them has any significance.

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Hegel seems to hold, moreover, that the principle of identity relies on a particular conception of the essential as such: it presupposes that the essence of something is opposed to its transient determinations. However, external reflection itself is not aware of the difference between essence and appearance on which the principle of identity relies. This also obtains of the classical principle of non-contradiction—or Satz vom Widerspruch—which Hegel equally treats under the heading of the concept of iden- tity.

The somewhat rudimentary version of the principle of non-contradiction he puts forward states that A cannot simultaneously be A and not-A. Hegel would maintain against Kant, however, that transcendental reflection remains dependent upon the premises of external reflection broadly conceived in that it does not grasp the unity of contrary de- terminations.

In line with Kant, but without mentioning him, Hegel seems to hold that both classical principles contain a concept of identity that can be employed to distinguish the essence of something—that which remains self-identical—from its actual, transient appearance. As long as philosophy continues to oppose essence and appearance, it will not be able to comprehend living beings, modes of human culture, or modes of thought as exhibiting the effort to actualize their essence from within, that is, to overcome the opposition between the inner and the outer. For Hegel, the principles of identity and non-contradiction presuppose the concept of difference.

Since neither principle actually expresses the unity of identity and difference, however, he maintains that they are unsuited for philoso- phy. The Concept of Opposition In his account of the concept of difference Hegel distinguishes between distinctness Verschiedenheit and opposition Gegensatz. Thus, the principle of non-contradiction implicitly refers to the speculative conception of identity that it cannot actually af- firm, namely, the conception of identity as that which posits and resolves the opposition of its contrary determinations.

When I reflect on such non-arbitrary differences as that between light and darkness or virtue and vice, by contrast, I necessarily presuppose the concept of opposition cf. Hegel notably considers the way in which this concept operates in the realms of arithmetic and empirical knowledge. He suggests that this perspective prevents thought from com- prehending light as the result of its struggle against darkness and darkness as the result of its struggle against light.

Without realizing the true bearing of its in- sight, external reflection here holds, for instance, that the same amount of money can be determined as possession or debt, but that the amount of money itself is neither positive nor negative. How- ever, both sections are concerned with determinations of the relation between the positive and the negative. The Remark devoted to arithmetic discusses various ways in which the positive and the negative can be treated within this discipline. Kant here introduces a concept of the negative that is completely relational: something, whether it is a mechanical force or a conceptual determination, is not positive or negative in itself, but owes its positivity or negativity exclusively to its relation to its counterpart.

This view of real oppositions allows Kant—turning against Leibniz— to understand how two contrary forces can be equally real and nevertheless annul one another. However, external reflec- tion achieves this insight only with regard to a most abstract form of thought. It is not in the position to raise this insight into the principle of philosophical thought itself.

Had it done so, it would have been obliged to conceive of the very relation between noumenon and phenomenon as grounded in a unity that posits and resolves the opposition between its contrary moments. If philosophy is to achieve insight into this dynamic, according to Hegel, it will have to take its bearings from the concept of contradiction.

The Concept of Contradiction Hegel introduces the concept of contradiction by reconsidering the concept of opposition from a speculative point of view. This means that he now completely disregards the role of oppositions in arithmetic and empirical science. The con- trary determinations of the concept of opposition present themselves, we have seen, as the positive and the negative. Unlike the concept of identity, the concept of opposition affirms that its contrary determinations owe their meaning to one another.

Or, as Hegel puts it, the concept of the positive contains the negative within itself, and the same is true of the concept of the negative. In this respect, each moment can be considered to constitute the unity of its contrary determinations. Yet external reflection, we have seen, tends to disregard the mutual dependence of the positive and the negative. Due to the force of external reflection, even the positive and the negative tend to present themselves as independent concepts: the positive posits itself as that which is not the negative and vice versa.

In this re- spect, both contrary determinations attempt to affirm their independence of their counterpart, thus excluding the latter from themselves: As this whole, each is mediated with itself by its other and contains it. But further, it is mediated with itself by the non-being of its other; thus it is a unity existing on its own and excluding the other from itself. By doing so they reduce themselves to abstract, one-sided moments. As such, it also defines the conceptual oppositions that are treated in the Doctrine of Essence as a whole.

For this independence consists in containing the contrary determination within itself. It is thus the contradiction. Inconspicuously abandoning his reflections on the concept of opposition, Hegel here suggests that any determination of reflection contains a contradiction. This allows him to make the transition to the concept of contradiction itself.

In order to clarify the passage just quoted I will use the relation between the positive and the negative, to which Hegel returns in the next paragraph, as an example. On the one hand, we have seen, the positive consists in the unity of its contrary moments, for it has no meaning whatsoever apart from the negative. On the other hand, it tends to posit itself as independent of its contrary.

Put more concretely, this means that the way in which the positive has actually emerged in the history of thought—as an independent concept—is at odds with what it is in itself, namely, the unity of its contrary moments. If we regard the positive and the negative from the perspective of external reflection, we merely see an opposition between fixed concepts.

Seen from a speculative point of view, by contrast, the positive turns out to suffer from the contradiction between what it is in itself the unity of its contrary mo- ments and what it has actually become a determination opposed to its contrary , and the same is true of the negative. By no means does Hegel claim, I would con- tend, that the positive and the negative—or any other opposites—contradict one another. But the Logic is not concerned with the attribution of concepts to things. For insofar as they actually posit themselves as independent of their contrary, they contradict their ultimate principle, that is, their unity or mutual dependence.

This is, in my view, also the gist of the following passage: The contrary determinations [Entgegengesetzten] contain the contradiction insofar as they are, in the same respect, negatively related to one another. Hegel would argue, however, that these philosophers relied on 48 a conceptual paradigm the nature of which cannot be adequately grasped by focus- ing on their actual work.

Because he seeks to comprehend the pure concepts that emerged from this paradigm, throughout the Logic he largely abstracts from the way individual philosophers contributed to the constitution of self-contradictory pure concepts. As we have seen, Hegel conceives of the concept of opposition, which contains the positive and the negative as its contrary moments, as a particular determina- tion of reflection.

As such, it presupposes a particular conception of the very relation between essence and appearance. Just as the positive and the negative, essence and appearance constitute a unity, but they tend to present themselves as independent of their contrary. For Hegel, by contrast, the true essence of the concept essence itself consists in the unity of essence and appearance: It is of the greatest importance to understand and retain this nature of the reflective determinations, namely, that their truth consists only in their relation to one another, that therefore each in its very concept contains the other.

The Doctrine of Essence is precisely concerned with those determinations of pure thought that remain, at least to some extent, opposed to one another. Thus, the concept of contradiction plays a twofold part in the Doctrine of Es- sence. That which appears manifests the essential, and the essential is insofar as it appears. Actually, this also obtains of the concept of opposition and its contrary moments cf.

Since Hegel does not dwell on the role of these concepts in his own account of the deter- minations of reflection, I will focus on the concept of contradiction. This latter meaning of the concept of contra- diction is relevant to speculative philosophy alone. Clearly, Hegel considers the method that might resolve such conceptual oppositions to involve the concept of contradiction. His actual remarks on this concept, however, have given rise to quite a few misunderstandings. The Principle of Self-Contradiction Hegel begins his remarks on the concept of contradiction by going along with the language of dogmatic metaphysics, which he considers to have applied the principles of traditional logic to things as such.

In line with this metaphysics, Hegel presents the concept of contradiction in the form of a proposition. Yet this prin- ciple has nothing to do with the classical principle of non-contradiction, which was already discussed in the section devoted to the concept of identity. Unlike this classical principle, it is neither concerned with the relation between subject and predicate, nor with that between things and their properties.

Even though the edition of the Gesammelte Werke does not actually use quotation marks, the whole sentence so sollte. This is in agreement with the method of speculative science in general see section 9. As we have seen, Hegel dismisses not only the propositional form in which the determinations of reflec- tion are traditionally rendered, but also the subject—all things—to which they are traditionally assigned. On his view, the understanding is perfectly justified in avoiding contradictions as long as it is involved in the production of empirical knowledge.

For only the speculative principle of self-contradiction allows thought to comprehend a particular content, whatever its nature, as a process, more precisely, as the at- tempt to resolve the contradiction between its essential principle and its actual determination: The contradiction. Beiser [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ], — Insofar as consciousness relates to its object as to an individual thing with properties, it is unknowingly torn between contradictory claims.

The pursuit of empirical knowledge is by no means impeded, I hold, by the implicit contradictions on which this knowledge is based. According to the second example, a living being is at once its inner principle and the negation of this principle. This example is echoed in the following passage from the Lectures on the History of Philosophy: The germ does not manifest anything. It has the urge to develop; it cannot bear to be merely in itself. Its urge consists in the contradiction that it is merely in itself and should not be so.

Aristotelian logic

The urge pushes [the germ] into existence. Much is brought forth; but everything that is brought forth is already contained in the germ, albeit not developed, but enveloped and ideal. It is only against this background, it seems to me, that the following remark begins to make sense: Speculative thought consists solely in holding on to the contradiction, and thus to itself. Unlike representational thought, it does not let itself be dominated by the contradiction, it does not allow the latter to dissolve its determinations into other ones or into nothing.

Martine Pécharman

Her approach differs from mine in that she takes the contradiction Hegel attributes to organic forms of nature as the paradigm case of what I have called the principle of self-contradiction. Introduction: Reason in History, trans. Even when Hegel refers to the contradiction inherent 58 in things, however, he always has in mind the asymmetrical contradiction between that which something is in itself the unity of its essence and appearance and its actual, one-sided determination its appearance.

Once again, this approach— proper to speculative science—has nothing to do with the classical principle of non-contradiction, that is, with the impossibility of attributing, at the same time and in the same respect, contrary predicates to a single subject or thing. By raising the principle of self-contradiction into the basic principle of his method, in sum, Hegel can comprehend any particular mode of thought as torn apart by the contradiction between, on the one hand, the unity of its contrary deter- minations which it is in itself, and, on the other, the one-sided content to which it has been reduced within the actual history of thought.

Now, both the Phenomenology and the Logic use similar terms to characterize the concept of negativity. And this despite the fact that Kant himself merely used the antinomies to argue, in a skeptical vein, that thesis and antithesis necessarily annul one another. Given the limits of this article a few remarks must suffice to answer this question. Once Hegel has taken this step, he can comprehend contrary determinations such as indivisibility and divisibility— or any other pair of contrary pure concepts—as complementary moments of a single conceptual perspective.

Unlike Kant, Hegel sometimes refers to such conflicts as contradictions. Throughout the Doctrine of Essence, Hegel seeks to exhibit the unity of contrary determinations by highlighting their mutual dependence. As such, it establishes the unity of infinity and finitude by incorporating the concept of finitude. The concept of finitude, in its turn, establishes this very unity by reducing itself to a moment of the concept of infinity. For Hegel, however, this apparent opposition hides the in-depth contradiction between that which the concept of infinity truly is the unity of its contrary determinations and its actual appear- ance infinity as opposed to finitude.

Unlike the conflicts between the contrary metaphysical propositions exhibited by the antinomies, the conflicts exhibited in the Logic pertain to the asymmetrical contradiction between a one-sided conceptual determination and its true principle. Unlike symmetrical conflicts, this asymmetri- cal self-contradiction does not resolve into nothing, but necessarily yields the unity of contrary conceptual determinations implicit in each of them. Kant, it might be argued, employed the classical distinction between essence and appearance to separate the realm of noumena from the realm of phenomena.

This allowed him to block the route toward purely rational knowledge of things in themselves. Hegel, for his part, applies the distinction between essence and ap- pearance neither to the various faculties of the subject nor to the world at large, but employs it to comprehend the totality of pure concepts themselves. Contrary to Kant, Hegel seeks to resolve the clash between these claims by arguing that both of them presuppose a conception of infinity too abstract to be suited for philosophical purposes.

See on this my On Hegel, ch. Thus, Hegel regards each pure concept as the effort to overcome the internal contradiction between what it is in itself the unity of its contrary determinations which it, qua concept, contains within itself and the way it has actually appeared in the history of thought as a one-sided determination implicitly or explicitly opposed to its contrary.

It is this perspec- tive, I would like to suggest, that allows Hegel to reconstruct the totality of pure concepts that have emerged in the history of science and philosophy. In his view, only the speculative principle of self- contradiction allows philosophy truly to resolve such conflicts as divide any mode of thought against itself. This latter negativity, Hegel notes toward the end of the Logic, constitutes the innermost source of all activity, of all animate and spiritual movement, the dia- lectical soul that everything true possesses and through which alone it is true.

In his view, the final chapter of the Logic relies on these determina- tions to prove the necessary nature of this method. Thus, the abstract concept of identity Hegel discusses in the context of the Doctrine of Essence cannot be identified with the concept of unity that allows him to highlight the unity of contrary conceptual determinations. As I see it, all concepts treated in the Logic contain the concept as such—that is, the unity of contrary determinations—as their ultimate principle and, hence, express particular aspects of this principle. For this reason, Hegel more frequently uses the concept of negativity to refer to the principle of speculative science.

In this form it does not allow thought to grasp the unity of contrary determinations, but merely to annul contradictory claims about empirical objects or the world at large. That is why the Doctrine of Essence treats the concept of contradiction on a par with the other finite determi- nations of reflection. Since the role of this principle emerges relatively clearly in his account of the concepts of identity and distinctness, I will focus on this section. For when external reflection grants that the principle of identity is one- sided, it implicitly assumes the unity of identity and distinctness as the criterion of its criticism.

Yet instead of actually positing this unity, external reflection main- tains that identity and distinctness are absolutely distinct. In order to expose the con- tradiction which these determinations contain within themselves, Hegel, I argued above, often abstracts from the perspective of external reflection and, moreover, from its predominance in the history of thought. This means that the concept of identity, such as it has emerged in the history of thought, for instance, simultaneously presupposes the unity of identity and difference and actually excludes its contrary from itself.

First, the context of the Doctrine of Essence does not yet allow him to elaborate on his speculative method in any systematic way. When he, at the end of the Logic, actually does address his method, he confines himself to a very abstract description. See on this P. Horst- mann, —60, at Such references obscure the fact that his speculative principle of 79 self-contradiction is exclusively concerned with the asymmetrical conflict between the content a concept contains and the limited content it has actually posited.

Finally, throughout the Logic, Hegel often adopts a mode of reasoning remi- niscent of ancient skepticism. This element of his method aims to show that a particular position presupposes its contrary and, if pushed to its limits, is over- turned into the latter. As I see it, Hegel employs this classical way of exhibiting contradictions in order to fight external reflection by means of its proper weapons. It is completely in agreement with the method outlined in the Phenomenology that Hegel should speak the language of the mode of thought he aims to criticize.

This negative element of speculative dialectics, the arguments of which are often far from convincing, is clearly intended to annul the initial dogmas of external reflection. In a Kantian vein, he here suggests that each principle claims absolute truth and nevertheless is opposed to a contrary principle. Hegel here collapses the distinction between such concepts as are treated as contents and such concepts as are used—in this case by the understanding—to reflect on them. As such, it constitutes the negative moment of the process in which the opposition between contrary determinations is posited and resolved.

Precisely because this contradiction is asym- metrical, its resolution does not consist in the annulment of its contrary moments, but in a concept that has actually posited the unity it always already contained. As I noted above, the actual text of the Logic often conceals the principle of self-contradiction behind a tangle of dialectical arguments. Introducing Kant. Christopher Kul-Want. Cam J Hamoline. The Coming of the Procreant Holy Spirit. Consciousness in the Physical World.

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