29 Dec 2008

Hegel's Critique of Spinoza in Science of Logic §§1287-1288, summarized

Hegel, Science of Logic

Volume Two: Subjective Logic

The Doctrine of the Notion

§ 1287

Hegel explained previously that Spinoza's philosophy develops no further than the standpoint of substance. The primary defect of Spinoza's system is that it cannot return to substance after first moving through attributes then finally to modes.

To refute such a system, we firstly do not considered it as completely false. For, like Spinoza, we must begin with the relation between substance and its essence. The only thing false about Spinoza's system is its claim to be the highest standpoint. So the true system is not opposed to Spinoza's; the true system builds from it and subsumes it.

§ 1288

Our refutations also cannot take an exterior position to Spinoza's system; because it could just refuse to recognize our assumptions. Thus to refute Spinoza, we must first presuppose the self-conscious subject's freedom and self-subsistence. One such exterior position would reject Spinoza's attributing Thought to Substance.

The nerve, therefore, of the external refutation consists solely in clinging stubbornly to the antitheses of these assumptions, for example, to the absolute self-subsistence of the thinking individual as against the form of thought posited in absolute substance as identical with extension. The genuine refutation must penetrate the opponent's stronghold and meet him on his own ground; no advantage is gained by attacking him somewhere else and defeating him where he is not. The only possible refutation of Spinozism must therefore consist, in the first place, in recognising its standpoint as essential and necessary and then going on to raise that standpoint to the higher one through its own immanent dialectic.

What dialectically arises from substance is its opposite, the Notion; hence to refute Spinozism we must begin with substance and follow a line of reasoning that leads to the Notion.

Substance's unity is only an inner necessity. It becomes determinate when qualified by its attribute Thought. In this way, Substance posits its identity. But for substance to obtain this qualitative identity, the attribute Thought must stand against Substance and hence negate it. Thought and Substance sublate into the Notion. In this way, Substance and Thought are moments of reflection in a dialectical movement, and hence each is united with its other, "and consequently in its other is posited as simply and solely identical with itself."

Hegel. Science of Logic. Transl. A.V. Miller. George Allen & Unwin, 1969.
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