Outline of Hegel's Logic
Hegel's logic consists of three branches, namely, the Doctrine of Being, the Doctrine of Essence, and the Doctrine of Notion. These three branches are each subdivided, such that the Doctrine of Being consists of Quality, Quantity, and Measure; the Doctrine of Essence consists of Essence, Appearance, and Actuality; and the Doctrine of Notion consists of Subjective Notion, Objective Notion and the Idea, and these are each, further subdivided. For example, Quality in the Doctrine of Being consists of Being, Determinate Being, and Being-for-Itself, and Being further consists of Being, Nothing, and Becoming.
The starting point of the development of Hegel's logic is the dialectic of Being-Nothing-Becoming. After passing through these three stages, Being moves on to Determinate Being. This Determinate Being has three further stages, and after passing through them, the Determinate Being moves on to Being-for-Self. Being-for-Self has three additional stages, and when they are gone through, it moves on to Quantity. Quantity moves on to Measure by passing through its own three stages, and when Measure has passed through its three stages, the theory concerning Being comes to an end.
Next is the theory concerning Essence. Hegel's logic moves from Essence to Appearance, and from Appearance to Actuality. Then comes the theory concerning the Notion. Notion moves from subjective Notion to Objective Notion, and from Objective Notion to the Idea. Within the Idea, there are three stages, namely, Life, Cognition, and the Absolute Idea. The Absolute Idea is the final destination in the development within logic.
Then the world of logic or the world of Idea negate itself, in order to realize itself truly, and moves on to the realm of Nature. According to Hegel, Idea moves on to become external to itself, in other words, Nature is the self-alienation of Idea, the negative of Idea, and Idea in the form of otherness. There are three stages of Mechanics, Physics and Organics in the realm of Nature.
Furthermore, Idea, which externalizes itself by negating itself, returns to its original self by further negating the negation. Idea as having recovered itself through human being is Spirit. Spirit passes through the three stages of Subjective Spirit, Objective Spirit, and Absolute Spirit. The Absolute Spirit stands at the highest point in the development of Spirit. The Absolute Spirit develops itself by passing through the three stages of Art, Religion, and Philosophy. The above description of Hegel's system can be illustrated in the following diagram (Fig. 10-5).
3. The Dialectic of Being-Nothing-Becoming
Hegel's logic, starting with Being, deals with the process of reaching the Absolute Idea. In this section, I will examine the initial dialectic of Being-Nothing-Becoming in the Doctrine of Being, because this portion constitutes the core of Hegel's logic.
Hegel's logic starts with Being. 3 Being means simply that which exists, but this is the most abstract of all concepts, and is an entirely indeterminate, empty thought. Therefore, lie says it is negative, namely, Nothing. For Hegel, Being and Nothing are both empty concepts, and there is little distinction between the two. 4 Next, Hegel says that the unity of Being and Nothing is Becoming. Both Being and Nothing are empty abstractions, but Becoming, which is the unity of the two opposites, is the first concrete thought. 5 With this logic of Being-Nothing-Becoming as the basis, the logics of thesis-antithesis-synthesis, affirmation-negation-negation of negation, etc., which are usually regarded as Hegel's method, came to be established.
Fig. 10-5: Hegel's system 4. Determinate Being
Having examined Being-Nothing-Becoming, we move on to the examination of the Determinate Being.
Determinate Being is Being with a certain form, Being considered concretely. While Being means simply to that which exists, Determinate Being means that which is something. Moving from Being-Nothing-Becoming to Determinate Being, in short, means moving from the abstract to the concrete. Becoming is a contradiction containing Being and Nothing within itself, and through this contradiction, Becoming transcends itself to become Determinate Being.
In this way, Determinate Being is a definite Being, a qualified Being. This determinateness of Determinate Being was called Quality by Hegel. However, even though we may say determinate, what is considered here is simple determination.
The determination that makes Being a Determinate Being implies the affirmative content of something, and at the same time, it implies limitation. Therefore, the quality that makes something what it is, is reality, when seen from the affirmative aspect of something, and at the same time it is negation when seen from the aspect of not being other thing. Therefore, in Determinate Being, reality and negation, or affirmation and negation, are united. Next, Determinate Being proceeds to Being-for-Self. Being-for-Self refers to the Being that is not related to another thing, nor changes into another thing, but stays as itself in every way.
In the Doctrine of Being, starting from an analysis of what it is to exist, Hegel discussed the logic of change, or the logic of generation and disappearance. Next, the Doctrine of Being proceeds to the Doctrine of Essence. Here, the unchangeable aspect within things and the interconnectedness among all things are discussed. Next, it proceeds to the Doctrine of the Notion as the unity of the Doctrine of Being and the Doctrine of Essence. Here, the fact that things do not cease to be themselves while changing into other beings-that is, self-development-is discussed. The driving force of this development is the notion and life.
Why then can one say that God's thinking proceeded in the way of Being-Essence-Notion? One can understand this if he or she watches the process of his or her cognition as lie or she perceives things from externally to internally, lie says. In the case of perceiving a flower, for example, we first perceive the existence of the flower phenomenally.
Next, we perceive the essence of the flower. Then, the notion of the flower is formed, in which the existence of the flower and the essence of the flower are united.
As mentioned before, nature according to Hegel, is the Idea in the form of otherness, or the Idea as self-alienated.
Therefore, if Logic is made to be the thesis, then Philosophy of Nature becomes the antithesis. Next, nature regains consciousness and freedom through the human being and becomes Spirit. Accordingly, the Philosophy of Spirit becomes the synthesis.
The natural world, also, performs the dialectical development of thesis-antithesis-synthesis, that is, the three stages of Mechanics, Physics, and Organics. This does not mean, however, that nature itself develops, but rather, this is the process through which the Idea behind the natural world manifests itself. First, the concept of force appears; next, the concept of physical phenomena; and then, the concept of living beings, lie says.
Finally, the human being appears, and the Spirit develops itself through humankind. This development takes place in the three stages of Subjective Spirit, Objective Spirit, and Absolute Spirit. Subjective Spirit refers to the spirit of the individual; Objective Spirit refers to the socialized spirit, or the objectified spirit transcending the individual.
Objective Spirit has the three stages of Law, Morality, and Ethics. Law refers not to something systematized like the constitution of a state, but to elementary forms in human relationships, like a group of people. Next, man comes to respect the rights of others and to lead a moral life. However, there are still many subjective aspects (individual aspects) there. Thus, ethics appears as the norms that everyone should communally observe. The first stage in ethics is the family. In the family, the members are linked with one another through love, and there is freedom there.
However, in the stage of civil society, the interests of individuals conflict with one another, and freedom becomes restricted. Thus, the state, which integrates the family and civil society, appears. Hegel considered that the Idea would manifest itself fully through the state. The state in which the Idea is actualized is the rational state. Human freedom will be fully actualized in that state.
Finally, there appears the Absolute Spirit. The Absolute Spirit manifests itself through the three stages of art, religion, and philosophy. When it comes to the stage of philosophy, the Idea regains itself. The dialectical movement of the Idea returns to the origin in this way. Nature appears; the human being appears; the state appears; art, religion, and philosophy appear; and finally Idea returns to the perfect Idea (God). By accomplishing this return, the entire process of development comes to an end (Fig. 10-6).6
Fig. 10-6: The Returning Nature of Hegel's Dialectic