Reason and Critique in Dialectics



Cognition searches for explanations and reasons for existing things and processes. If we merely compare something we will get identities. But Explanation needs the "Other". We explain "Something" through "Other". Something has its reason, its "ground" in Other - not in anyone´s Other, but in its Other. This leads to dialectics. Dialectics sees always the identity of identity (Something is identical with itself) and difference (to its Other). This distinguishes the classical logic from dialectical logic.

If we explain all things and processes, we realize all reasons/grounds. Must we accept all these reasons?

Sometimes Hegel emphasizes that he searches merely necessities. He wants actuality as "reasoned", i.e. rational (Encycl. §6). There is the reason to distinguish "actuality" from "reality". (In the last instance, in Hegel´s opinion the Absolute determines also the development of reality. )

If we recognize the relations of Something and its Other, we recognize the essence too. Relations are the permanence in the proceeding Some-things. Essence represents itself as relation. Notions are therefore relations, i.e. is the "commodity" a relation between peoples, not only a "sign" for a thing.

If Hegel says that "everything is relative" (Enc. § 111n), he doesn't mean that everything is indifferent. "In essence everything is relative". In this sense cognition is cognition of the essence, i.e. essential relations. These relations must reflect the inner contradictories. "Essence ... is essential only in so far as it has in itself its negative, relation-to-other, mediation." (§ 114)

All development is founded in these contradictions. But is the course of development absolutely pre-determined? Of course developing things and outer conditions imply and entail the course of development. The conditions determine what is possible and what is impossible. New realities must be possible. But there are many possibilities, because Something not only has one Other, but many Others. (If you won't say "possibilities", because Hegel refused this term, you can say: "contingencies" or so). We say: there is a "field of possibilities". Here the subject can choose some or one for their action. We have to see that social subjects create the possibilities themselves, they are not pre-given! (If we create not, they don't really exist!).

In Hegel´s theory he considers only one possibility for one actuality. But in a note (§121n) he remarks an essential difference between the Sophists and Socrates. The sophists say: Everything is relative, everything is well-founded, nothing has a special meaning... Socrates - and Hegel assists him - emphasizes that we must assert and enforce the good and the right... the notion of will.

This is the foundation of a new consideration which refers to self-determination (in the context of self-organization). This leads to a critical theory, not only a reasoning-theory. Our critique is not only a rational conclusion from the contradictories of society, but we can justify them through our will and feelings (which refer our opinions to good and right). In Marxism this opinion is not usual. Only the "Philosophy of Practice" has taken this view.

Now we can develop new views for future not only from analysis of the existing society and its rational critique, but also from our wishes and our will. Of course we need science of society to recognize, what is possible under which conditions - but we are free to dream and plan our futures in "Future-Workshops" and so on. In god future-workshops there is a god working between the analysis of real trends and the tendency of our wishes and goals. We don't forget the reality, but we create futures.

(Enc. is "Shorter Logic" -in German: Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften)



See also:

[Homepage (Annette Schlemm)] [(English) Contents]

- This page is a part of "Annettes Philosophenstübchen" © 1997/98 - -