Reading into the first chapter of Book 1, Being, itis quickly seen that the transitions of the Logicbroadly repeat those of the first chapters ofthe Phenomenology, now, however, as between the categoriesthemselves rather than between conceptions of therespective objects of conscious experience. Thus,being is the thought determination with which the workcommences because it at first seems to be the mostimmediate, fundamental determination that characterisesany possible thought content at all. (In contrast, being inthe Phenomenology’s Sense-certainty chapterwas described as the known truth of the purported immediatesensory given—the category that it was discovered toinstantiate.) Whatever thought is about, that topic must in somesense exist. Like those purported simple sensorygivens with which the Phenomenology starts, thecategory being looks to have no internal structure orconstituents, but again in a parallel to the Phenomenology,it is the effort of thought to make this category explicit that bothundermines it and brings about new ones. Being seems tobe both immediate and simple, but it will show itself to be,in fact, only something in opposition to something else,nothing. The point seems to be that while the categoriesbeing and nothing seem both absolutelydistinct and opposed, on reflection (and following Leibniz’sprinciple of the identity of indiscernibles) they appear identical asno criterion can be invoked which differentiates them. The only wayout of this paradox is to posit a third category within which they cancoexist as negated (Aufgehoben) moments. Thiscategory is becoming, which saves thinking fromparalysis because it accommodates bothconcepts. Becoming contains being andnothing in the sense that when somethingbecomes it passes, as it were, from nothingness tobeing. But these contents cannot be understood apartfrom their contributions to the overarching category: this is what itis to be negated (aufgehoben) within the new category.
On the one hand we can clearly see in the phrase “its owntime” the suggestion of an historical or culturalconditionedness and variability which applies even to the highest formof human cognition, philosophy itself. The contents of philosophicalknowledge, we might suspect, will come from the historically changingcontents of its cultural context. On the other, there is the hint ofsuch contents being raised to some higher level,presumably higher than other levels of cognitive functioning such asthose based in everyday perceptual experience, for example, or thosecharacteristic of other areas of culture such as art andreligion. This higher level takes the form of conceptually articulatedthought, a type of cognition commonly taken as capableof having purportedly eternal contents (think of Plato and Frege,for example). In line with such a conception, Hegel sometimes referredto the task of philosophy as that of recognising theconcept (Der Begriff) in the mere representations(Vorstellungen) of everyday life.
Alm, D., 2007, “Noncognitivism and Validity,” Theoria, 73: 121–147
By the end of this chapter our protagonist consciousness (and byimplication, we the audience to this drama) has learnt that the natureof consciousness cannot be as originally thought: rather than beingimmediate and singular, its contents must have some implicit universal(conceptual) aspect to them. The general truth that waslearned about the apparent qualitative simples in Sense-certainty(that they were instances of generals) is now explicitly taken asthe truth of the object of Perception(Wahrnehmung—in German this term having theconnotations of taking (nehmen) to be true(wahr)). In contrast to the purported single object ofSense-certainty the object of Perception is taken asinstantiating general properties: it is “a thing with manyproperties” (Phen: §112). But this can be conceived in avariety of ways: first, as a simple bundle of indifferentqualities (a picture associated with Plato), or as an underlyingsubstrate in which these qualities somehow inhere (a pictureassociated with Aristotle). Predictably, problems will be revealed inthese various different ways of thinking of the nature of thoseeveryday objects of our experience.