18 Jan 2009

Simon Duffy. The Logic of Expression: Quality, Quantity and Intensity in Spinoza, Hegel and Deleuze, Chapter 1, §6 "Omnis determinatio est negatio"

[The following summarizes Simon Duffy's extraordinary book, The Logic of Expression: Quality, Quantity and Intensity in Spinoza, Hegel and Deleuze, Chapter 1, §6.
Duffy's work is remarkable, so I highly recommend this book. If it costs too much, perhaps encourage your library to obtain a copy.]

Simon Duffy. The Logic of Expression: Quality, Quantity and Intensity in Spinoza, Hegel and Deleuze,

Chapter 1 "Spinoza from the point of view of an idealist or a materialist dialectic",

§6 "Omnis determinatio est negatio"

Hegel explains that Spinoza's philosophy of substance has been often misunderstood. To conceive it correctly, we must go beyond Spinoza's own thinking and consider substance as a moment of God's determination as spirit in the movement of Hegel's dialectical logic. (15c-d)

Hegel considers sophisticated such substance metaphysics as Spinoza's, which are founded on substance's immediacy (15-16). So they succeed in accomplishing the first negation by which essence-logic negates being-logic (givenness) to produce essence. But they fail to accomplish the second negation which subsumes substance under the concept [for more on these negations, see the previous section of Duffy's text.] Substance is merely posited, but the concept is in-itself. (16a-b)

Although Hegel considers Spinoza's substance metaphysics to be the most advanced of its kind, it still does not break through to dialectics. (16b)

To understand why Hegel finds Spinoza's substance-metaphysics defective, we need to examine the place Hegel assigns Spinoza within his dialectical logic (16c).

According to Hegel, Spinoza's "absolute principle" that establishes the "absolute unity of substance" is
Determinateness is negation.
[For more detail, see § 1179 of Hegel's Science of Logic.] But negation for Spinoza is not absolute, says Hegel. For, it is not dialectical self-negating negation. Rather, negation is no more than determinateness or quality.

According to Hegel, Spinoza's extension and thought oppose each other, because one's determinateness negates the others'.

We saw in the previous section of Duffy's text that substance for Hegel results in a first negation when essence unites with being. Essence and being, then, are moments of substance. Hegel considers Spinoza's thought and extension similarly. They are moments of substance that are negations of each other. Thus thought and extension are determinations of substance, and together they are the one absolute substance. (16-17)

But Spinoza does not take the dialectic to its next rightful movement. The modes are determinations of the attributes and hence are the specific determinateness of substance. But modal determinateness is as far as Spinoza takes negation in his system. Hegel's second negation negates the negation of simple determination. It is absolute negation.
Because it
1) is negation, and
2) negates negation
it negates itself as negation, which resolves itself as positivity. So Spinoza's positivity seems somewhat naïve in comparison, because Hegel's positivity results after negation was fully taken into account and allowed to play-out. (17b-c)

Hegel sees Spinoza as
a) firstly posing the unity of absolute substance, then
b) secondly converting substance initially into the attribute determinations, and then into modal determinations.
But even though modes are the second instance of determinate negation, they do not negate negation itself. For, they are merely negations of each other. But they are not negations of negation itself. (17c)

Hence for Hegel, Spinoza does not progress the dialectical movement inherent in his first moments of substance. He does not move beyond essence-logic, which is only the first negation. (17d)

Hegel goes on further to say that because substance is an indivisible totality, all determinations are internal to it, and dissolve into it, leaving substance to be no more than a "mere positedness." But for this reason, the being of everything remains "indifferent and abstract," because the negations between modes are not absolute. So substance is not absolutely determined. In order for it to be determinate being, its must negate its other and subsume it. Only this way may determinate being attain reality or obtain identity. (18a-b)

Duffy, Simon. The Logic of Expression: Quality, Quantity and Intensity in Spinoza, Hegel and Deleuze. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2006.

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