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Dialectical Logic

  1. Aug 3, 2003 #1
    Dialectical Logic

    Contrary to formal logic, the law of dialectical logic is that everything is mediated therefore everything is itself and at the same time not itself. "A is non-A." A is negated. For Hegel, identity is the unity of different terms, and difference is the difference of united terms, namely, negation of negation. To claim for two different things are the same at one and the same moment is contradiction.

    "When the difference of reality is taken into account, it develops from difference into opposition, and from this into contradiction, so that in the end the sum total of all realities simply becomes absolute contradiction within itself." (Logic, p. 442)
    The law of dialectical logic is contradiction. This, however, is not destructive; on the contrary, the opposites constitute a whole. The whole is not only different from its contradictory moments, but also more than them. It is another, third thing in which opposites are in a systematic relation with each other. If only A is for B and B is for A there is systematicity in their unity.

    "... Notion is to be regarded in the first instance simply as the third to being and essence, to the immediate and to reflection." (Logic, 576)
    What in motion or change is, is both itself and other at the same time. Motion is therefore, contradiction. Since opposites constitute a unity they are related to each other systematically, that is, systematicity is result of contradiction. Hence, the concepts are in motion. Dialectics can begin only if there is contradiction, motion is always in contradiction. Everything is the result of prime mover and everything is in motion. Unity is the first step of constituting system, for that reason motion is the key to find the opposite of any concepts.

    I think the concepts of contradiction replace the concept of time, leaving it as a quantity, or magnitude of number of oscillation of a pendulum. Lenin writes: "Motion is the essence of space and time." ([1914-1916]. Philosophical Notebooks, p. 256). The Notion of time is contradiction.

    Secondly, again contrary to linear character of formal logic, dialectical logic is circular. Something is explained by Other, and Other is explained by Something.

    "Finite things, therefore, in their indifferent multiplicity are simply this, to be contradictory and disrupted within themselves and to return into their ground." (Logic, 443)
    On the other hand, the first category of being can be understood fully only at the end, but this end is relative to the precedent level. Dialectical logical system formation is an open-ended process. At every level it is necessary to return back such that precedent category is included and at time same time better explained.

    Thirdly, every concept is mediated by other concepts. Therefore, every proposition by itself lacks truth; truth is whole. Truth, dialectically, cannot be isolated within propositions. If true is whole, there is always the problem of beginning and end. Beginning cannot be a priori arbitrary proposition or principle by the same reason. To begin it is necessary to find the most abstract category of the subject-matter. That means from the start we assume almost nothing, the first category must be the most meagre of truth. We must start from the most abstract and indeterminate to those that are more concrete and complex. It is only for philosophy necessary to start from Being, because philosophy different from science can not presume. But for sciences it is always Something (Etwas). This Something must be analysed beginning from the Being of the subject matter. If I exemplify from Hegel, while his first category in Logic is Being, he starts with "sense-certainty" in Phenomenology of Mind. I think the most beautiful example can be given from Marx. His starting point is commodity, but he begins analysis from abstract labour.

    Fourthly, according to nominalism only concrete individual things exist and qualities, universals and relations are merely mind's own production. On the opposite pole, realism, pointing to the transitory character of individuals, claimed that universals were not only independent of the mind, but they exist in themselves. The concepts of force, mass, abstract labour may help us to understand the objectivity of universals. Kant, on the other hand, putting the universal side to the subject claimed that reason knows the individual in the universal by means of a priori Notions, but understanding reaches categories from individuals by means of perception. Hegel unites these two contradictory poles;

    "In speaking of some definite animal we say it is (an) animal. Now, the animal, qua animal, cannot be shown; nothing can be pointed out excepting some special animal. Animal, qua animal, does not exist: it is merely the universal nature of the individual animals, while each existing animal is a more concretely defined and particularised thing. But to be an animal - the law of kind which is the universal in this case - is the property of the particular animal, and constitutes its definite essence. Take away from the dog its animality, and it becomes impossible to say what it is. All things have a permanent inward nature, as well as an outward existence. They live and die, arise and pass away; but their essential and universal part is the kind; and this means much more than something common to them all." (Lesser Logic, §24n)
    In this way Hegel describes how we apply Notions to the things which have corresponding universal features. Therefore, in contrast to formal logic that treats Notion as abstract generality, for Hegel it has three moments; universality, particularity, individuality. A new syllogism!

    Lastly, there is a similarity between formal logic and dialectical logic, they both assume definable concepts whether by itself or through other. But for dialectical logic concepts are intellectual as well as empirical, social as well as historical. Experiment is just an abstraction made from production. There is only one category that completely units historical and social, and, conceptual and empirical, it is production:

    "If we are able to prove the correctness of our conception of a natural process by making it ourselves, bringing it into being out of its conditions and making it serve our own purposes into the bargain, then there is an end to the Kantian ungraspable "thing-in-itself"." (Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy, Part III.)
  2. jcsd
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