[Marxism] Hegel : 'hopeless baggage'?

shaun may mnwps at hotmail.com
Fri Jan 10 18:17:47 MST 2014

Damn fine words, Charlie. Enable us to say in one word which would take us a host of sentences to explain. Concise. Once you know what the word means. For those who don't....I am not assuming everybody does... Sublation 

A central tenet in dialectical thinking corresponding to the German term Aufhebung and often translated as supersedence. Sublation refers to the dialectical character of negation in which all change simultaneously involves both abolition and preservation of aspects of the old in the emergence of the new.

All change simultaneously involves the preservation - in the new - of aspects of that which is abolished. Elements of the negated old enter – in subsumed form – into the formation and relationships of the new which results from the negation: ‘what is sublated is at the same time preserved, it has lost its immediacy only but it is not on that account annihilated’ (Hegel). Every negation is always a positing of new relations and qualities which involves, simultaneously, the abolition of the contradictions of a lower stage of development and the preservation of certain aspects of the relations of the lower stage in the higher. The higher stage of development stands as a resolution (synthesis) of the contradictions of the lower whilst absorbing these contradictions into itself in transcended form under new conditions and relations. The formal logical concept of negation is one in which that which is negated is reduced to nothing i.e. is absolutely annihilated without leaving any trace of its former existence.

The positive outcome of any sublation is always a transcendence of contradiction in which aspects of the latter survive as subsumed moments in the posited. They are abolished yet preserved in subsumed form under new conditions in the resulting higher totality.

In the exposition of Hegel’s ‘Logic’, all the lower categories and determinations become sublated into the higher ones so that at any given stage in the exposition each category is the totality which contains all the previously elaborated categories sublated within itself. For example, in social development, feudalism becomes sublated into capitalism. The social relations of feudalism are, in all essentials, abolished and yet vestiges (remnants, leftovers) remain e.g. in legal relations, etc. In particle physics, the disintegration of the neutron involves the production of a proton, electron and neutrino. The neutron is in the category of particles referred to as nucleons. It has no net electric charge. The disintegration of the neutron simultaneously involves the reproduction of a nucleon (the proton) and the resulting system of decay products is still without a net electric charge. Thus, in its abolition, aspects of the neutron’s nature are simultaneously preserved.

Negation of the old necessarily involves the positing of the new which contains aspects of the old subsumed within itself. The German word Aufheben has a two-fold meaning. It corresponds to the English phrase ‘to put aside’ which may mean to store away for future use or to have done with, to finish with.

A contradiction is superseded into a higher unity so that the latter contains the former absorbed and superseded into itself. The contradiction is not simply and absolutely abolished (annihilated) nor is the contradiction merely perpetuated in identical form in the higher unity. The contradiction is, as such, absorbed but not absolutely annihilated as in the formal logical conception. All development, therefore, is a continuous movement towards a higher, richer, more complex unity which necessarily involves transcendence but not absolute loss. Each stage of development gathers up into itself the infinitude of all those stages which preceded it and transmits this superseded infinitude, as it evolves, into a higher stage of development. Therefore, the higher forms of development contain the lower superseded within them and thus a progression to a richer, more complex stage is always continuously unfolding.
A category used in dialectical thought which refers to the relationship between what is posited and its negative which issues out of it in its development (negation). The concept of mediation refers to the nature of transition in which, in the course of the transition from one state or formation, etc to the next, the posited and its negative relate to each other and mutually determine and condition each other’s activity in the development of the whole. When a ‘something’ gives rise to its negative (or opposite) out of itself, it constitutes, in this process of origination, a relationship with this negative which is its negative just as much as this negative is also a positive and the posited ‘something’ its negative. This relationship is, as described, one of mediation. Opposites therefore determine each other and, in this mediative relationship, each is simultaneously self-determining through its reflexive relationship to the other. In affecting each other, each is simultaneously self-affecting so that its relation-to other is simultaneously relation-to-self and vice versa.

Thus Hegel says that ‘the sensible as somewhat becomes other: the reflection in itself of this somewhat, the thing, has many properties….The muchness of the sense-singular thus becomes a breadth, - a variety of relations, reflectional attributes and universalities’ (Philosophy of Mind, § 419). Each unity is a oneness of inner distinctions, variety and conflicts (opposition). This infinite and inexhaustible manifoldness of unfolding properties and inner relations within the changing ‘somewhat’ constitutes its mediative character. In reading Hegel, Lenin remarks that ‘everything is mediated, bound into One, connected by transitions’ which implies the ‘law-governed connection of the whole (process) of the world’ (Philosophical Notebooks, Volume 38, Collected Works, p 103).

Sorry Charlie, but I am in the proverbial 'dark' about 'post-Quinean'.

Take it easy  (favourite motto of Engels)
Doubt everything (favourite motto of Marx)
Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution? 
Groucho Marx
'Sir, if you were my husband, I would put poison in your coffee.'  Nancy Astor. 
'Madam, if you were my wife, I would drink it.' Winston Churchill.
Blenheim Palace, 1912



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