4 Jan 2013

Pt2.Ch5.Sb6 Somers-Hall’s Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. ‘The Structure of Reflection’. summary

Corry Shores
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[Note: All boldface and underlining is my own. It is intended for skimming purposes. Bracketed comments are also my own explanations or interpretations. Also, proofreading is incomplete.]


Henry Somers-Hall


Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation.

Dialectics of Negation and Difference


Part 2: Responses to Representation

Chapter 5: Infinite Thought

Subdivision 6: The Structure of Reflection

Very Brief Summary:

Reflection incorporates being into itself, but they retain their determinacy.


Brief Summary:

Reflection is a movement without beginning or end. Reflection shows that being’s immediacy was really mediated, and so reflection is also [related to] seeming. Reflection moves through three stages: positing reflection, external reflection, and determining reflection. In positing reflection, the unity of being and reflection is apparent. In external reflection, their formal separation collapses into mutual externality. But as mutually external, they determine one another, and this is determining reflection. Here immediate being is reincorporated into reflection, as with positing reflection, but this time the terms are seen with their determinacy. The determinations are indifferent to one another but each represents the whole of the object, making its status essential.

[Note, the following summary is not adequately explanatory, and is no substitute for the original text.]


Previously we saw how for Hegel, essence constitutes seeming, but it does so through reflection as negativity. This is where the ideas of difference and contradiction emerge. They are determinations of reflection.


We now turn to the structure of reflection. But recall how essence was a negation of a negation. Essence is being’s mediation, its becoming determinate, which is a negation of its indeterminacy. But as the truth of being, it reflects the immediacy of being. So it negates the mediacy of being, which was a negation of its immediacy. [Essence is a reflection of being as seeming, as seemingly immediate].

We saw that the structure of essence was negativity-the negation of a negation. Furthermore, this structure actually turned out to be a process. "Essence is reflection, the movement of becoming and transition that remains internal to it" (SL, 399). [142]

Here in the doctrine of essence we see the concept of becoming, but we will contrast it with how it is in the doctrine of essence. So recall from the doctrine of being how being as indeterminate and immediate was unstable, as it could not be defined as there is nothing against which it can be defined from. If we try to think pure being without any determinations, we find that we are unable to differentiate it from pure nothingness. Pure being and pure nothingness vanish into each other, become one another, and out of that comes two separate becomings: [1] the coming to be and [2] the ceasing to be of being. So “Becoming in the sphere of being occurs between two terms.” (142) [Those two terms are being and nothingness, or maybe the coming to be and the ceasing to be of being]. [Reflection in terms of essence was the mediation of immediate being that reflects back on being to see that it is only seemingly immediate.]

When we look at the process of reflection, however, what we have is instead a movement from "nothing to nothing, and so back to itself' (SL, 400). Thus, reflection cannot be seen as a process of coming to be and ceasing to be, as there is no origin or destination between which the becoming can move. (142)

[So because being in becoming mediated really just reflects back upon its own immediacy, it really never changes to something totally other than itself, so there is no becoming.] “The movement of disappearing itself is therefore checked by negativity, as it cannot arrive at a state of having disappeared. As such, this movement persists and is, albeit as a movement constantly in tension. Equally, however, as a pure movement, we can say that reflection is not, as it lacks any stability.” (142d)

Note two facets of reflection. As merely the moment of transition, [it is not related to anything else] and so it appears just in its immediacy, thus we its transition without origin or destination. So it is both immediacy [being unrelated to anything else] but also dependent on something else [because it depends on being, what it is reflecting?] These are the characteristic of Schein. So reflection encompasses both moments of the object, its inner essence [as mediation?] and its outward showing [showing what is being reflected?] Because reflection has no beginning or end, we can think of it as persistence of motion. Or if we see it as becoming, we think of it as the constant motion of appearance. [All this shows us how we can assimilate opposite categories into the same dialectical structure, so]  “This structure is at the heart of the later collapse of the distinction between the thing-in-itself and the phenomenon, when both are shown to simply be aspects of the phenomenal itself. We can now see why this analysis should be important for Deleuze's treatment of the real, as the question of the possibility of considering virtuality and actuality as independent terms is in doubt, provided we can assimilate these two categories into the dialectical structure.” (143) Reflection moves through three stages: positing reflection, external reflection, and determining reflection.

The structure of reflection is a turning back on itself and thus has the structure of reflection. Because it returns to itself as the negation of a negation, that makes it self sufficient and thus immediate. Also, the movement of reflection posits an immediate being. But because it is posited, that makes it mediated by reflection. And also, because reflection is a movement, it presupposes some beginning. But in order for it to be a presupposition, reflection’s movement must return to itself. This also means the presupposition is mediated by reflection, and [the presupposition of reflection’s beginning to its movement presupposes that it itself must exist for otherwise there would not be the motion that presupposes it.] (143d) This would be the third moment of positing reflection. Here reflection posits its own presupposition. [Reflection turns back to its origin which turns to reflection.] For, the result of reflection is also its beginning and vice versa. But as this motion is circular, is it any more than a static tautology, A = A?

Without the other, the movement back into itself is in a sense barren, as reflection cannot return to i self without a moment to return from. If reflection is to be genuine negativity, and so not just to be itself, as a tautology, it must relate to a presupposition that is not simply posited by reflection itself or, rather, is posited by reflection as external to reflection. (144)

Schein and essence show themselves to be the same movement in positing reflection; for essence is reflection, which presupposes an illusory being. But it needs something external to it so not to be tautology. External reflection takes within itself immediacies determination [thereby making immediacy external]. Reflection then falls into two moments. (1) The pure positivity of immediacy. Reflection does not regard it to be determined by itself [as it is determined by its mediating movement] (2) Reflection. For it, all transition comes from its own movement, so it is external to immediacy. But reflection regards immediacy as a given that is also posited [by reflection], so reflection determines immediacy as immediate [because it posits it as such]. This makes positive immediacy negatively determined [by reflection]. In a second moment, the initial moment of positivity is negated so that the external moment can be seen as external to reflection [for otherwise it is internal to immediacy.] So reflection determines the initial moment as the negation of a negation. “Thus, the immediacy that was supposed to be external to reflection is now itself seen as negativity, or self-relating negation, which was the structure of essence. Now that the external is seen to be mediated by reflection, the two moments collapse back into one another.” (144)

Externality of the immanent being then collapses into an immanent relation between immediate being and reflection. The presupposition of immediate being is a positing that determines immediate being. The immediacy of positing reflection was not genuine immediate. But external reflection sees immediacy as outside of reflection. This makes it nonreflexive and immediate. We have overcome the externality of external reflection. So immediate being is the being of reflection, and reflection is the immanent essence of immediacy. Reflection as positing constitutes immediacy and as external reflection it constitutes immediacy as free-standing. Now we have determining reflection. It is “the unity of positing and external reflection” (SL, 4o6 in SH 145)


In positing reflection, the unity of being and reflection was apparent. Indeed, as we saw in the dialectic, their separation was purely a formal matter. This pure formalism proved to be unsustainable, however, and the two terms collapsed into externality toward one another, as we saw in external reflection. This separation of the two terms allowed them to become determinate in opposition to one another. Ultimately, however, external reflection proved unable to support the externality of these terms, as each could only be in relation to the other. While determining reflection appears simply to repeat the movement of positing reflection by reincorporating immediate being into reflection, this movement must take into account the discovery of external reflection, that these moments are not simply formal, but have a determinacy to them. The act of positing is a positing of both being and reflection, as these have been shown to be the same, yet each remains free-standing, as external reflection has shown that the terms differ in their identity. The positing therefore has a certain independence beyond the movement of reflection itself. As such, it represents essential determinations of the object (although, as we shall see, these 'determinations' are at first indeterminate). Since these determinations result from determining reflection, they mirror its structure in each holding a certain indifference to the others, while at the same time relating the object as a whole. Each determination takes from positing reflection the fact that it encompasses the | whole of the object and from external reflection that it is able to stand on its own. Determining reflection retains two features of its determinations from external reflection. On the one hand, these determinations retain their indifference to one another, and on the other hand, each still represents the whole of the object, leading to its status as essential. (145-146)


Somers-Hall, Henry (2012) Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. Dialectics of Negation and Difference. Albany: SUNY.

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