Kant’s Doctrine of Pure Logic: Concepts

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Kant first begins his exposition of logic with a division of the definition of logic. Logic is divided into a General Logic and Special Logic. General logic is, for Kant, a discipline as certain as mathematics, whose contents were more or less established and completed by Aristotle, and whose modern iterations consist in nothing more than (sometimes illicit) embellishments. [KrV B VIII] This completeness and certainty of logic is entirely due to its limitation of its subject matter to the laws of thought alone, thus possessing a comparably narrow scope in comparison with any of the other sciences. Differences in the nature of the objects of thought produce differences in our ways of thinking about them, and this is how Special Logic arises. A special logic would consist, not in the complete articulation of the laws of thought as regards an object in general, but only those laws which are used in the thinking of a certain domain of objects. For example, there could be special logics of biology or of archaeology, which would detail the laws of thinking which pertain to life and history generally. Kant then proceeds to divide General Logic into Pure and Applied Logics. An applied logic would be a logic of the empirical conditions under which thought is exercised, and would be distinct from the laws of thinking an object in general. It would contain studies of doubt, conviction, memory, imagination, distraction and the influences of the senses on thinking, and so on.

Pure logic is distinct from applied and special logic because, unlike either of them, it is wholly universal and it is a priori. (1.) As a species of general logic, it abstracts from all differences in objects, and deals only with the form, and not the matter of thought. (2.) As a uniquely pure logic, it admits absolutely no empirical (psychological) principles, and everything contained in it must be certain a priori. Pure or formal logic, being concerned with the laws of thought common to all thinking independently of particular objects, must thus operate in ignorance of those laws governing specifically synthetic a priori thinking (judging). This is to say that pure logic is ignorant of, and incapable of addressing, the problem of the Kritik der reinen Vernunft.

Pure logic is further divided by Kant into an Elementarlehre and a Methodenlehre (a stoicheiology and a methodology). The Methodenlehre of pure logic is the practical or technical part of logic, and is an art rather than a proper science. Its topic is the distinctness, clarity, exactness and systematic arrangement of our thought; one could say it concerns the Aufbau rules for the architecture we construct in thought, while the Elementarlehre yields the materials first put to use in this architecture. The Elementarlehre, in contrast to the Methodenlehre, is the dogmatic or theoretical part of pure logic. The Elementarlehre is then divided into an Analytic and a Dialectic [Logik, Einleitung II 3]

The analytic of pure logic, straightforwardly enough, divides formal thinking into pure elements and displays these elements as the first principles put to use in the logical criticism of all knowledge. Since pure logic thinks in independence of any particular object, and since, (according to Kant) truth can only be a correspondence of thought with its object [KrV A58/B82, A58/B83; A157/B196; A191/B236; A237/B296], it follows that pure logic cannot make use of the principles it yields to carry out a criticism of the truth of our thinking, but must rather concern itself with mere formal validity of thought. Kant puts this another way by saying that pure logic supplies only the negative criterion, the sine qua non of truth. If this is the case, then logic is incapable of being used as an organon of thought (i.e., used to amplify our knowledge beyond what is given by the nature of the understanding, or the objects of  alone), but must always be put to use for only the criticism of the validity of thought; i.e., as a canon used for the criticism of thought, setting the boundaries which thought may not with any right go beyond. A way of pointing out by way of example what was said above which somewhat pre-empts the following discussion, is to say that judgments which are formally self-contradictory can never be true of any object; but from this alone it does not follow that wholly coherent and systematically self-consistent judgments, on account of this self-consistency alone, could be known to apply to an object on this basis. These judgments, for all their coherence to one another, may yet have no object to which they correspond—and the criticisms of the validity of thought supplied by pure logic in its employment as the canon of all thinking in general, could never yield such an object: this must be first given in experience.

Kant then moves on to discuss the Dialectic of pure logic. Any use of logic to extend our knowledge is usage of logic as an organon; this application is always illegitimate (as was proven above) and is therefore called by Kant dialectical logic. The Dialectic of pure logic is therefore an analysis of illusion (an analysis not of Erscheinung but of mere Schein). These distinctions mirror prior, traditional distinctions, and have their origin in Aristotle’s separation of logic into analytics (Ἀναλυτικὰ) and topics (Τοπικά). It should be noted that for Aristotle the analytics separates thought into term, proposition and the figures of syllogism, and that this doctrine of analytics, while somewhat reflected in Kant’s doctrine, is still distinguished by Kant’s calling these parts concept, judgment and inference. On the other hand, Aristotle’s topics are a study of dialectical (rhetorical) syllogisms, and deal, therefore, with merely probable premises (and therefore the Topics are not properly to be entitled scientific).  Kant probably got this distinction from Meier where it can be found here detailed exactly as explained above: “Die Vernunftlehre handelt entweder von einer völlig gewissen gelehrten Erkenntnis und dem Vortrage derselben, oder von der wahrscheinlichen gelehrten Erkenntnis und den Vortrage derselben (§1.). Jene ist die Vernunftlehre der ganz gewissen gelehrten Erkenntnis (analytica), und diese die Vernunftlehre der wahrscheinlichen gelehrten Erkenntnis (dialectica, logica probabilium). Wir handeln die erste Vernunftlehre ab.” [G.F. Meier, Auszug aus die Vernunftlehre, Einleitung §6]

In Kant’s analytic of the Elementarlehre of pure logic, three elements, and three corresponding faculties (sometimes subsumed under the general name of ‘the Understanding’) are elucidated. These are: ConceivingJudgdingand Inferring, which correspond to the faculties of UnderstandingJudgment, and Reason. [KrV A133n/B173n; A130-1/B169; cf. A75n/B100n] Kant believes that all the laws of pure logic are knowable completely a priori. [Logik, Einleitung I] This means not that such laws are totally independent of any experience whatsover, but only of any particular experience we might happen to have. Kant is not a Platonist when it comes to logic, and does not believe that the laws of logic are (temporally) before experience, as he makes abundantly clear about the nature of the a priori in general in the introduction to the Kritik: “Daß alle unsere Erkenntnis mit der Erfahrung anfange, daran ist gar kein Zweifel; denn wodurch sollte das Erkentnisvermögen sonst zur Ausübung erweckt werden, geschähe es nicht durch Gegenstände…” [KrV B1] We discover the laws of thought only by means of an observation of the natural usage of the understanding; it’s own acts of concept formation, judging and inferring. Logic, according to Kant, is a priori in that by abstracting from or ignoring all the particular differences which distinguish the objects of thought, its laws must thus therefore be universally applicable as well as necessary, no matter the nature or origin of the object which happens to be thought. When Kant is being cautious, he does not make the (absurd) claim that pure or formal logic thinks thought without an object; rather, he is arguing that logic ignores differences in objects. In the Aesthetic, the varying matter of sense was abstracted from, and this abstraction led to the discovery of the universal and necessary condition (form) of all sensible appearances. This condition, namely, space and time taken jointly, was taken to be necessary in a twofold sense not clearly separated by Kant in the Kritik. The condition of sensibility (space and time), was taken not only necessary as regards the very possibility of an appearing in general of a cognizable object in experience (external necessity), but also, as space and time, exhibited in themselves a kind of internal necessity such that they were understood as structurally self-coördinated in such a way as to be transparently knowable through and through; to be knowable a priori. This double necessity alone justifies their title as the forms of sensibility and not just another part of the matter or content of intuition as such. Kant believes, therefore, that by a similar act of abstracting from the alterable content of thought, another discovery is possible; this time of the universal and necessary forms of intelligibility. These forms of thought can only become transparent to us through our observation of the understanding in its natural application, but in independence from any particular (thinkable) content. Such laws as are provided by this process of observation have to be ‘necessary’ in just the same twofold way as the the forms of sensibility showed themselves to be in the Aesthetic, viz., (1) necessary in themselves, having internal necessity; and (2) necessary as conditions of all thinking, exhibiting external necessity.

We turn now to Kant’s doctrine of concepts. A concept is defined by Kant as a universal (or general) representation, rather than a singular representation (which would be an intuition). As an ‘allgemeiner Begriff‘, a concept contains what is common, ‘gemein‘, to many different objects. Conceiving always involves a unifying representation of a plurality of objects; intuiting by contrast always involves the immediate singular object of sense. Concepts have both form and matter. [Logik §5] The matter of a concept is the object(s) with which it deals in thinking, while the form of a concept is strictly its universality. Put another way, the matter of thought is what we think by means of concepts, while the form of thought is how we think. Kant’s usage in discussing the parts of thought is somewhat unfortunate, as he calls whatever is determined in thinking and conceiving the matter of the same. This is because, for Kant, thought has both a content and an object, and these must be kept entirely separate. This separation is due to the nature of truth, which is the correspondence of thought with, specifically, its object and therefore not its content. So, while Kant calls both of these the ‘matter’ of thought, they are distinct. For example the concept of a manticore surely has a determinate content, namely, ‘a creature with the head of a man, the body of a red lion, and the tail of a scorpion’, but being a completely a product of arbitrary fancy, has thus no corresponding object.

Kant defines a concept in Latin as a repraesentatio per notas communes; ‘eine Vorstellung durch gemeine Merkmale.’ [Logik §1] The content of concepts is composed of ‘Teilvorstellungen’ or ‘Partialvorstellungen’. All concepts, Kant argues,  (with the obvious exception of those that are wholly simple) are made up of other concepts, ‘Teilbegriffe’. Kant wants to claim that the content of a concept is composed of ‘Partialvorstellungen’ because he believes that the content of our concepts must finally be contained in, or referred back to, individual representations (=intuitions). [Logik, Einleitung VIII; §7] Ultimately, since by their very nature concepts cannot possibly exhaust the multitude of our representations in their contents, every concept can at most be a Teilbegriff (a ‘part-concept’). [Logik §7] Likewise, all (complex) concepts are composed of ‘Merkmale’ (notas), that is to say, ‘marks’. From a certain standpoint, the matter of concepts is contained in intuitings of individual objects (Partialvorstellungen), and from another perspective this same matter is composed of Merkmale (marks, tokens, attributes) which serve as criteria such that the individual objects given in intuition are capable of being (re)cognized (erkannt). [Logik, Einleitung VIII] This division in the nature of the matter of concepts could be referred to as the internal and external usages of Merkmale. For example, our concept of the ‘yellowness’of gold is present as a partial representation in all our intuitings of the object ‘gold’ and also serves as the ‘token’ (Merkmal) whereby we re-identify ‘gold’ in experience. Understood as consisting in a unity of Partial- or Teilvorstellungen (‘partial representations’), the matter of every concept can be split into an Inhalt or an intentional content, that about which the concept as thinking is directed; and into an Umfang (Sphaera) or a denotational, extensive content, the individual things of which the concept serves as the criterion.

In sum of what has been said so far, the form of concepts is universality (generality), while the matter can be separated into the content and the object(s) of thought. The content itself is then divided into its composition from partial representaitons on the one hand, and ‘marks’ or ‘tokens’ on the other, which thus separate the content of the matter into an Inhalt (content proper) and Umfang (extent). This division of the content is Kant’s way of capturing what he thinks of as the intensive, as well as extensive referential capacities of concepts. Kant takes it that concepts are universal (according to their form) specifically because of their ability to be put to use in the (re)cognition of objects. But all this has gone beyond the exposition of a merely pure or formal logic, and shows that Kant’s theory of the form of concepts essentially depends on his account of the faculty of judgment. [KrV A69/B94]

We now continue on to the ways that various concepts are differentiated among themselves, with the note that these analyses only properly belong to the exposition of a transcendental, not pure logic. The matter of a concept may be given either a posteriori (empirical matter), that is, given to sense (e.g. the contents ‘shiny’, ‘bitter’, or ‘cold’) or, it may be given entirely a priori (pure matter) from the nature of the understanding as such; finally, the matter can be produced arbitrarily: these concepts are entitled factitious concepts. These varying types of concepts are explained by Kant as being separated by the epistemic status of their sources. In general, concepts (conceptual contents) are either given (conceptus dati) or made (conceptus factitii). Now, of given contents, these can be provided either from nature itself in experience, or from the nature of the understanding; the former of these kind of given concepts are called Erfahrungsbegriffe, concepts of experience, the latter intellectual concepts or Notionen. Factitious concepts are arbitrary products of imagination, and have their origin in a subjective combination of elements by an individual mind; e.g. the concept of a substance existing in space which yet does not occupy any space. Even in the case of some given concepts, which, upon examination empirical, there may nevertheless contain Merkmale which are given a priori. For example, the concept of ‘body’ is in the last analysis empirical; yet, this concept presupposes a priori the concept of substance. IT is to be noted that one sort of factitious concept Kant acknowledges can be completely a priori: mathematical concepts. [A729/B757; Logik §102] The intentional objects which from the content of mathematical concepts consist in arbitrarily delimited homogeneous spaces (or quanta). By containing (or entailing) absolutely no sensible matter, these concepts deal, in the strict sense, with the forms of objects  in general, rather than proper objects. [Logik §§4-5; A727/B755ff] All of the above distinctions between given and factitious concepts concern only how the matter of concepts differentiates them according to their epistemic origins. We have seen how, for Kant, even in the case of an entirely factitious concept, the matter, or more properly the elements of which the matter is composed, is never made. In the most arbitrary example of a concept, what is at most present in its matter that is attributable to us is merely the special combination of those particular elements. By implication, then, in the case of given concepts, not even the combination of the elements present in their matter involves any active contribution on the part of the subject.

From this discussion of the fixed matters of given concepts, we now turn to the way concepts are distinguished according to their form. As it turns out, Kant believes that all concepts share a common form, i.e., universality, which he believes is always made and never given. [Logik §4] For a concept to be a concep, a universal (general) representation, entails its use as a criterion or discriminating characteristic of an object capable of being given in a possible intuition. When Kant connects the facticity of concepts with their discursivity (that is, with their general application to a plurality of objects and so mediateness) what he is saying amounts to the following: to be a discursive representation is to be employed in the (re)identification and so (re)cognition of objects in experience. Thus all thinking (which is to say all judging) is essentially discursive in nature. [A19/B33] But all of the above mentioned doctrine of distinguishing concepts according to their origins is something with which pure logic, by its very nature, excludes from consideration. Pure logic is not concerned with discrepancies in the multitudinous ways that concepts come to be in our understanding; it thinks only the pure laws according to which all thought as a rule must conform, and these alone.

In review, Kant’s assertion that the form of concepts as such is universality is based on the way concepts can refer (must refer) to a plurality of objects. [Logik §5] As regards the form of concepts, they are produced by the three logical acts of the understanding: comparison, reflection, and abstraction. [Logik §6] Kant gives an example of an ordinary person observing a spruce, a lime and a willow. She first compares them, and observes that they differ from one another as regards their trunk, branches and leaves. Then she reflects on those things that they possess in common, namely, a trunk, branches, and leaves. Finally, she abstracts from all those traits with which she was first occupied in comparison, and obtains the idea of a ‘tree’. In this account of what underlies or is necessarily involved in every act of conceiving, to conceive is to think abstractly of a common element discovered among the various objects of experience. For Kant, the acts of comparison, reflection and abstraction serve as the conditions of the production of any concept whatsoever, and are his explanation of what makes the referential capacities of concepts possible. This theory, it may be added, shares many features with that of Locke, who also explained the power of words to name many distinct ideas at once by a faculty of abstraction. [Essay Concerning Human Understanding. II, xi, §9; but cf. also §§4-8 on comparison and compounding]

Though Kant explains the production of universal concepts in terms of abstraction, he is quick to qualify the power of abstraction; it can at be at most the negative condition in the making of concepts: it is a negation of the commonalities and differences first brought into our awareness by means of the acts of comparison and reflection, which Kant thus identifies with the positive conditions of produciton. [Logik §6; A3] A concept is understood by Kant as the predicate of a possible judgment, just as an intuition is an object of a possible sensation. It is of extreme importance that we note diligently that pure logic does not deal with merely the analytic judgment but the overall form of concepts simpliciter. An analytic judgment performs an analysis on a concepts and shows what is already contained in them, and nothing more; the form of concepts is something else entirely. For Kant, the act of making of a concept (conceiving) is always just as much an act of judging; on the other hand, all judging is itself already an act of conceiving, a thinking in accordance with concepts. Conceiving and judging should be understood, in Kant’s doctrine, to be mutually dependent and inseparable. We see this when Kant says that all the activities of the understanding can be reduced to judgment in the Kritik: “Wir können aber alle Handlungen des Verstandes auf Urteile zurückführen, so daß der Verstand überhaupt als ein Vermögen zu urteilen vorgestellt werden kann.” [A69/B94] Pure logic is a consideration of the details of concepts from a merely subjective standpoint; it concerns itself only with how concepts can refer to multiple objects. It cannot cover them from an objective standpoint (on account of its purity), wherein alone the ability of concepts to not merely refer to, but further to determine objects through Merkmale. This further, essential or determining character of concepts falls entirely outside the view of pure logic, and could only be given explanation in a Transcendental Logic. This is because a transcendental logic would not ignore all the differences in the matter of thought, but would discriminate among concepts according to their (epistemic) origins.


These notes are deeply indebted to H.J. Paton’s wonderful commentary Kant’s Metaphysic of Experience, and at several points amount to little more than a paraphrase on some of the chapters on logic contained therein (especially the citations).

The Arguments of Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetic

Expositions

  1. space/time is not an empirical concept, since it is already given in every experience
  2. space/time is a necessary idea (Vorstellung) and is the condition for the possibility of appearances
    (3. the axioms of time are grounded on the necessary, a priori idea of time)
  3. space/time is not discursive (=intuitive) or a universal concept of the relation of things as such
  4. space/time is represented as a given infinite magnitude

Kant first proves the objective character of space by showing it to be the condition of the ordering of what is given in appearance. We can imagine a space without objects, but not objects without space; hence, space is the condition of their possibility, space is form of appearances. We are capable of knowing what all the parts (limitations) of space must be, a priori. But this can only be if we are already in possession of a capacity which enables us to so much as be in cognitive relation to it. This capacity is and only can be pure intuition (pure intuiting), which is pure means of the elimination of objects from its content, or by means of isolation or abstraction of features from the same. This pure intuiting has for its content alone the totality of relations of the parts of space; i.e., the form of appearances as its sole content.


  1. If space and time are knowable essentially or primarily through pure intuition (or, less happily, as pure intuition), then, considered transcendentally, we must be able to know what all their parts must be a priori.
  2. The content of pure intuition alone can make the synthetic a priori judgments found in the sciences of geometry, arithmetic and in the axioms of temporal succession, objectively valid. But this proves that space and time really are the forms of appearance.
  3. Something is either a characteristic (Merkmal) of a thing extractible from it in experience (empirical), or it is a mere condition of a thing and so not a characteristic subsisting in a thing. Now, empirical knowledge of characteristics can never be admitted as having no possible exceptions. Stated positively, empirical characteristics are always known as particular and contigent. But from (1.) and (2.) above, we do indeed possess knowledge of the forms of appearances independently of experience or a priori. There are two irreducible factors in experience, and two alone: the subject and the object, or, the mind and the world. Now, whatever knowledge we may be said to have of the world in independence from the workings of the mind can be entitled merely empirical; yet, as was proven above, the content of pure intuition is the forms of appearance, which we must possess a priori. If this is the case, then space an time can only be the forms of sensibility, i.e., spring from a subjective origin, from our minds.

Stephen Houlgate’s Sense Certainty Study Questions

  • Why does the now prove to be universal in the first experience of sense-certainty?

The now proves itself to be a universal in the first experience of sense-certainty by its act of passing-away, of becoming other than itself. In the passage of time, the now preserves itself as the in itself for sense. The object remains (the) now though the content of the previous point, the preceding now has ceased to be. In showing itself to exist continuously (through the dissolution of its particular moments) not by transcending the instances of itself but by existing just in and through this continuous sequence of its elements, the now that has emerged is disclosed as a universal: that which is capable of being this or that, then or now. It equally shows itself to be a wholly abstract universal, in that it is capable of having no content independent of its expression in the plurality of nows and so is indeterminate or totally simple.

  • How does pointing out the now change its character?

The pointing-out of the now, the act of identifying it or reconstructing it in imagination (memory) alters its character. For the very condition of this re-presentation or re-identification is that the now no longer is but is not or has been (ist gewesen) and so has acquired for itself a kind of past. But equally, this pointing out the now that thus has been occurs now and so is a return of the now to itself; in the language of the Logic, it is a negation of the first negation which, though this is far from explicit here, is already an exercise of recollection (Er-innerung). This negation of the negation, of the merely simple abstract universal that the now of continuity was revealed to be in the passsage of time is not a straightforward return ot the first determination of the immediate, the this (as now). The now that has returned into itself is the unity of the this and not-this. In cointaining this negation (presence and pastness) the now is complex; it is a unity of essentially different moments, or the movement of the return of these moments into themselves. But precisely as the this has been exhibited as a  complex, absolute plurality or determinate unity, it has just as much become simple, in that the recollected this occurs qua recollected here and now and so remains essentially an immediacy.

Introduction to the Dialectic of Perception

A. Consciousness.
The Side of the In Itself, or Truth
Theoretical Knowing

b. Mediated Knowledge of Pure Essence or the Thing (Mediation)

  1. Development of the simple concept of the Thing from thingness (Dingheit)
    1. Immediate, mediated Being
      • The object as universal expresses its containing the negative within itself as differentiated, determinate property (properties)
      • By being expressed in the simplicity of the universal each property is independent and indifferent to any of the other properties.
      • Simple, self-identitcal universality (mediated being) is, likewise, distinct and free from the properties that it has.
      • As a pure relating of itself to itself this universality is the medium in which the determinacies are, and in which they are infused without ever coming into contact with one another.
    2. This interpenetrated, abstract universal medium in which the properties (determinacies) are suspended is thus a pure essence (Wesen) or could simply be called thingness.
      1. Thingness is just what the this has shown itself to be; that is, just as much not a this or a simple togetherness of a manifold; but equally, the plurality of determinacies of this universal medium are themselves as determinacies universal.
      2. Each of the determinacies interpenetrate the same point, the same here and now, and yet are indifferent to one another. (For example, salt is white, and also saline, and also cubical, and also has such and such a weight, etc.) Each property seems to be merely contingently conjoined to the other by the also. So the also looks like it is the pure universal, the medium or thingness that binds the determinacies together.
      3. This is a characterization of merely positive (positing) universality. If each of the manifold determinacies were really merely indifferent, independent relations of self to self, it could not so much as be the case that they could even be determinately that which they are. For this is possible only if the properties differentiate and so relate themselves to one another in relationships of opposition, incongruity and exclusion. So the exposition of universality given thus far is incomplete or deficient.
      4. Yet, if the properties are whatever they are only through a moment of differentiation, they equally can only retain their status as properties by being unified in the medium. But all the properties exclude one another, not, as previously, only by being merely indifferent to the presence of the other, but rather as specifically negating all others. This differentiation or negation must happen outside the medium, unless the medium is more than a merely indifferent unity; it must be a unity that negates or excludes from itself an other and so is a one.
      5. one is a relation of self to self that excludes an other. By means of the positive also and negative one, the unity of the universal medium is guaranteed, just as the plurality of properties, by determinately ruling out their opposites constituted a determinate plurality. Thingness has unfolded itself as the completion of the truth of perception: the Thing.
        Determinateness reveals itself to have negatition in it and so is universality through its unity with negation. As one determinateness is freed from any unity with an other (an other for it) and so is in and for itself.

For the medium to be one it cannot contain mutually opposed determinacies. For the properties to be many, they must themselves be mutually opposed to one another.

The Dialectic of Sense Certainty

A. Consciousness.
The Side of the In Itself, or Truth
Theoretical Knowing

a. Immediate Knowledge of Pure Being (Immediacy)

  1. The immediate is in itself, is the essence.
    Consciousness is contingent and inessential.

    1. Pure Being or the immediate severs itself into two moments:
      • This subject = I
      • This object = this
    2. This qua object now duplicates itself
      • This time = now
      • This space = here
    3. Each of these immediacies, these ‘thises’ will now show themselves as a vanishing of themselves; as containing an alterable content and so as existing as a simple unity. For example, any now can become another now than the one that is now. Likewise, every here contains in itself reference to a here that is not here. But for something to contain its own otherness or negativity in itself just is what it means for that something to be universal. So the immediate object (if this were not less than even the determination of objectivity) is rejected as being the essence of the immediate knowledge of the immediate (pure Being) which is the very shape of sense certainty. We will now see whether or not the immediate knower of sense,  the locus of its certainty cannot yield itself as the essence of immediate knowing.
  2. The subject is in itself, is the essence.
    The object is contingent and inessential.

    1. This I is made to be the essence of sense certainty. Whatever is, is immediately certain and indeed is only in its being intuited by me, as the origin of that certainty. But the I dissolves itself in being susceptible to utterance by any I. Any I is determinable as this particular I and so this I can only ever turn out to be universal.
  3. The immediate relation of the subject to the object is the essence.
    Whatever is not in this relation is contingent and inessential.

    1. The pointing out of the immediate, sensuous individual that is meant or intended is made essential.
    2. Yet, the very pointing out of the now or of the here is already a disclosure of a plurality of relations: of now…now… now… such that each immediacy as pointed out is at once the disappearance of itself into another. The very pointing is itself incapable of pointing out that which is meant by me, by this I.
    3. The this, reflected into itself, is transposed from a sensuously immediate individual that is meant (whose very possibility is exposed as false by the preceding dialectic), to a sensuously immediate universal, or the object of perception.

Expressed speculatively, the truth of the above is that the this is just as immediately not this. The content of this truth is to be described in the dialectic of perception that follows; but what can be said here is that being (Sein) is therefore universal in containing its own mediation, or in essentially being unified with the negative. The this is revealed to be the disclosure of itself as a simple togetherness of a plurality.

PhG Einleitung, §80 (My Translation)

The end to knowledge, however, is just as necessary [to knowledge] as the sequence of development. The end exists where knowledge no longer has any need to go beyond itself, where it finds itself, and the concept conforms to the object and the object to the concept. The progression towards this end is thus unrelenting, and cannot find satisfaction at any earlier station than this. That which is restricted by a natural life cannot of itself go beyond its immediate existence; rather, it will be driven out of it by an other. This becoming ripped out [of itself] is its death. Consciousness, however, is for itself its own concept, and thereby immediately the passing out of the restricted [Beschränkte]. Because this restriction belongs to consciousness, it is therefore a passage out of itself. With the singular, a beyond is simultaneously posited, such that were this merely as it is in spatial intuition it is posited as adjacent to that which is restricted.

Consciousness, in order to corrupt its restricted satisfaction, suffers this violence it brings onto itself. By feeling this violence, the fear of truth may well wish to retreat from it, and exert itself in trying to keep for itself that which is threatened with loss [dessen Verlust droht]. It can find no rest, though it desires to linger in thoughtless apathy. Thought shrivels this thoughtlessness, and its unrest destroys apathy. Perhaps the fear of truth may secure itself as sentimentality which assures itself that everything is good in its own way. This assurance suffers just as much the violence of reason, which finds something precisely not good, in so far as it is the way [it is]. Or the fear of truth may disguise itself from itself and others with the pretext [Schein] as if the zeal for truth made it for it so difficult, even impossible, for it to find any truth other than the vanity to always be smarter than any thoughts one could have, either from oneself or from another. This vanity, in order to thwart any truth, always understands [such truth] as a return into itself, and gloats over its own understanding [Verstand], which dissolves all thoughts, and instead of any content knows only how to find the stale I. This understanding is a satisfaction that must relinquish itself, because satisfaction flees from the universal and seeks only to be for itself.

Reading 2 / §§ 17 – 33 (Recapitulations)

Substance is subject, or must become subject. The true or absolute is not expressible as a mere proposition(like, e.g., substance is subject), but only as a temporally unfolded history of such propositions. The absolute is itself an account which takes its own account-giving into account, and so is a result of itself. As a result, in another sense, of the progress of world-history, the concept of the absolute is by nature unavailable to intuition, religious consciousness and inspiration: which is to say, unavailable to or as the immediate. Rather, it is a labor and a working-out of itself. It is neither accessible as an already posited given of certainty, nor is it attainable by any less than its summation in a systematic totality. This totality is subject in that it is a self-moving, self-determining process. It has a nature more like the immanently unfolding shape of an organism, except in this case it is not the progression of acorn to oak, but consciousness to science. Stated more explicitly, the whole object of a rationally reconstructed history of humanity’s intersubjective acts of freedom during the course of that history up to the present. Nothing less can be our theme.

Descartes and Locke identified philosophic activity with differential reflection, and this movement culminated in Kant’s prioritization of understanding over reason in their conflicts in the Critique of Pure Reason. Reflection, relation, and mediation are feared by inuitionists and everyday thinkers alike, who believe that the infusion of strict delineations of thought into the endless manifold (ἄπειρον) will destroy it. Such advocates of intuition believe that the “concrete” is most at hand when the differentiating and, to their view, “abstract” categories and classifications of thought are held as far away from it as possible. Hegel is going to argue for just the opposite view, inasmuch he believes that negativity, just as falsity, is an essential moment of the resulting whole of truth. Understanding, as reflection, is defended by Hegel against what is paradoxically going to turn to be the most abstract and universal immediacy of the given that common sense and intuition take as their essence.

The goal of systematically articulated philosophy is a demonstration of the identity of thought and being. This idea, in its first utterance, is false, in so far as it is yet to be enunciated in a dynamic and shifting conceptual horizon process. In other words, this process must be surrendered to in order for the development to take place. This development moves us beyond the determinate thoughts that the understanding first wrenched from the hands of intuition and its endless and abstract whole. It involves an internal destabilization of a principle on its own grounds, or the method of Pyrrhonian skepticism (διαλεκτική). Unlike skeptics,  who, after refuting a given abstract determinacy of thought produced by reflection retreat into an indolent satisfaction (ἀταραξία), Hegel proposes a further, yet unseen step to get beyond this merely negative result.

The negative, destroying power of skepticism leaves a wound, a void that is shaped by that of which it is the absence.This negative is thus raised into being a new and positive result, from which the process is capable of resuming. Hegel refers to this third step as speculation, or speculative reason, after Kant’s title for the kind of reason he contrasted with practical reason as attempting to formulate an infinite totality (and thus forever bound up in illusion by its own dialectic of self-contradiction). Hegel takes up Kant’s thought of a reason that entangles itself in a contradictory dialectic, but nonetheless flatly rejects the idea that this conflict is an indication of the failure and impotence of reason. Rather, for Hegel, the dialectic shows up the frailty and contradictory nature of phenomena, of the world, from which, as a negative result, speculative reason can thus move on.

The unification of the principles that the true is expressible only as system, and that substance must be represented as subject can be summed up in the core belief of modern Christianity: the absolute is spirit. Spirit is reason poured out into human time (history). It is important to stress that Hegel has a radically temporal notion of reason, and that part of the difficulty of Hegel’s style is an effect of its attempt to express fluid movement and immanent self-development in language, which naturally lends itself to substance metaphysics.Kant has an atemporal rationality, hence his eternally fixed forms of thought (categories) and intuition (space and time).

Spirit is the real [wirklich] in Hegel’s pragmatic, effectual sense, as well as the true by means of its fulfilling the function of reality by its own act of self-knowledge. Spirit is God, in the sense that God has undergone death and total annihilation in the person of Christ, and even so returned to life, and so overcame both death and immediate existence, or mere life. This image is the core of speculative philosophy, which expresses its content in the form of thought. Spirit goes beyond the simple opposition of consciousness, the doubled in itself (or, the in itself, and its passage into being an in itself for consciousness) because spirit is by nature for itself. Expressed otherwise, spirit is in and for itself. But while we may make the assurance in advance that this, indeed, is spirit’s truth, we must recall what was said above about the nature of philosophic principles. Spirit cannot be merely asserted as being in and for itself; it must actually realize this as a process of its own becoming, and so become really for itself.

This acquisition of spirit’s ability to be for itself can be looked at in another way, as the demand on the part of the individual to be shown the truth of philosophy from within himself (ἀνάμνησις). Philosophy, which takes absolute subject-object identity as its starting principle, and consciousness, which takes the total division and separate indifference of subject and object as its, are, for each other, each an “inverted posture”. In so far as the false natural take on things remains an unassimilated beyond standing outside philosophy, philosophy itself must necessarily remain incomplete. On the other hand, we have already been shown that natural consciousness’ immediate certainty in the form of sensation to be without the concept, without truth. So philosophy must shape natural consciousness to the point where it coincides with philosophy–must show it to be already spirit.

This education of consciousness is equally philosophy’s first step in making a complete demonstration of its own truth. Such an education would, in modern times, be carried out in an opposite manner to that of the ancients. Instead of elevating consciousness from its submersion in sense and into thoughts, education now sets as its goal the destruction of these thoughts in their fixity. This does not mean to return thought to muddled ambiguity and an opaque in-betweenness. Rather, it means that determinate, finite thoughts always dependent on their negative differentiation and relation to other thoughts must be transcended. Thought must think itself, must be self-related, and so infinite. Reflective understanding, bottoming out in skepticism and total doubt, must be made to drop the bottom out of this very bottoming out–to invert itself, or to negate the negation. In doing this, representations and long-fossilized fixed ideas are capable of having a life breathed into them. This life is proper to the self-expressing evolutionary whole of which such thoughts are the appearance: the eternal self-dissolution of the finite is the moving image of infinity. By this speculative vitalization of thought that dialectic false believed it had killed, representations and simple, familiar ideas are bent into what they really are–concepts, or spiritual circles.