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The analysis of life sounds strange in the Science of Logic, that is focused on the process of self-determination of thought in its pure form. Even Hegel underlines this problem just at the beginning of the section on life:
The Idea of Life is concerned with a subject matter so concrete; and if you will so real, that with it we may seem to have overstepped the domain of logic as it is commonly conceived1.
Subjective logic necessary deals with Life because the subject matter of subjective logic is cognition (das Erkennen, that is das sich selbst Erfassen des Begriffs: Notion’s apprehension of itself2), and therefore it analyses “all the shapes of its presupposition […] which is itself Idea”3. This means that the subject matter of subjective logic is the process of development of all the forms in which the Notion comes to know itself, that is to say the process through which the Notion determines itself and then makes explicit its own logical structure. Life is one of these forms. Life is the Idea in its immediacy. Then the question is: in what sense is Life the Idea in its immediacy? Idea is “the objective or real Notion”4, is “the union of the subjective Notion and Objectivity”5, “the subject-object […] it is the formal or subjective Notion as it is the object as such”6. This is the result of the dialectic of Objectivity, where purposiveness turns out to realize what objectivity actually is. It is objectivity in its truth, namely the process of self-determination of the Notion in its concrete existence. In this process the Notion and reality get concretely united. This unity is the Idea, which has its first and immediate articulation in Life. In fact, purposiveness ends up in being this very unity, whose structure mirrors the structure of the concrete universal notion7. This unity is not concretely realized in subjective external purposiveness, but in internal purposiveness. As we know, the distinction between external and internal purposiveness is a Kantian distinction. Whereas the former one is analyzed in the teleology section, the latter is analyzed in the logical idea of life. In fact, the structure of internal purposiveness is the structure of life itself. Life is “the Notion that, distinguished from its objectivity and, as its own end, possesses its means in the objectivity and posits the latter as its
SdL, p. 761. Ibid. 3 Ibid. 4 Ivi, p. 755. 5 Ivi, p. 758. 6 Ivi, p. 758. 7 “It is the self-equal universal and this, as containing self-repellent negativity, is in the first instance universal, and therefore as yet indeterminate, activity; but because this is negative-relation-to-self it determines itself immediately, giving itself the moment of particularity, which, as likewise the totality of the form reflected into itself, is content as against the posited differences of the form. Equally immediately this negativity, through its relation-to-self, is absolute reflection of the form into itself and individuality” (Ibid).
What is meant to be grasped in life is the content of life not as a natural or spiritual existence.means. 737. Cf. at least in its immediate form. and life in spirit. life has a self-determining structure: something that gets developed according to an inner end is something self-determined. natural life. and in its distinguishing. Hegel returns to Kant’s insights on internal purposiveness and life in the analysis of the living individual too. is the difference between the logical idea of life. as a pure logical movement where subject and object become one on the basis of their own difference. the Idea”9. 769. and in this sense Life is Idea. Idea is the self-determination of the subjective Notion in its other. it is the subject-object identity that is the Idea itself. 760. Enz enz 204A. 766. Ivi. the Notion. Natural life has its condition (Bedingung) in inorganic nature. p. This is a crucial dynamic for Hegel’s logic as a whole in as much as the dialectic of each logical determination develops according to this very dynamic. p. namely Objectivity. 766. Self-determination is the structure of the Notion itself. As it is structured by internal purposiveness. but also the Hegelian system as a whole. yet is immanent in this means and is therein the realized end that is identical with itself”8. in other words. the purposiveness of the living being is to be grasped as inner”10. which has its means and subjective reality in the subjectivity that is subjugated to it. As such. He writes “Kant […] has opened up the Notion of Life. 10 SdL. In this way. This is why the Notion in living individual has the structure of the Idea: “the Notion is in it as determinate Notion. Life is the first immediate form of this process and so it is the first immediate form of Idea. The Notion is a subjectivity that in its difference from objectivity is. it is constituted as the Idea in and for itself”12. at the same time. pervading the externality and remaining identical with itself”11. when he notes that “since the Notion is immanent in it. . The natural life is nature in its highest stage passing over into subjectivity. or. identical with it and identical with itself in it. that is not presupposed by the logical idea of life. 12 P. anche Enz 55A. that is to say as that unity of opposites which is the truth of the determinations themselves. 11 SdL. The logical idea of life is Notion that gets its first concrete and true form of 8 9 Ivi. “the subject is its own end (Selbstzweck). In the Teleology section Hegel refers to Kant’s distinction between external and internal purposiveness and to the relation of the latter to Life and Idea. p. distinct from its externality. Another introductory problem regarding the role life plays with respect not only to the Science of Logic. but as the dynamic of living processes.
The three moments in question are sensibility. Ivi. not as abstract simplicity but as an infinite determinable receptivity. 763. However. the life of spirit “possesses a determination of its externality.realization in Objectivity. particularity and individuality. sensibility corresponds to universality and. 762. c) Genus process. p. 13 14 Ivi. Every kind of difference is immediately sublated in this immediate relation of the individual with itself. namely: a) Living individual. spirit is a sort of living individual. The living individual The first moment of life is living individual. irritability and reproduction. After these introductory issues I will now summarize the basis moments of the dialectic of life. in the first case through its presupposition which are other formation of nature. I will briefly try to explain the nature of each moment and I will try to clarify in which sense each one embodies one side of the Notion. living individual is meant to be a subjective totality indifferent with respect to objectivity. p. how life is the immediate form of Idea. whose life gets embodied in different shapes. 185 (p. as universality. which in its determinateness does not become something manifold and external. . namely the immediate form of the unity of Notion and objectivity. is a simple relation to itself of the living individual. at this first level. where the relation between living being and objectivity is analyzed. These three moments mirror the three moments of the dialectic of the Notion and this confirms. (1) Firstly. but is simply reflected into itself15. Every external determinateness is the simple impression on the individual and it is reduced to the individual’s self-feeling. As well as natural life. 768). namely is a process of realization of the Notion in Objectivity where it “has attained an externality that genuinely corresponds to it”13. which correspond respectively to universality. in the second case through the ends and the activity of spirit”14. b) Life process. which exists in the simple identity with itself. In its immediacy. This indifference is what is sublated in the development of the three moments constituting the individual itself. This is why the sensibility is inwardness (das Insichseyn). Spiritual life is not natural life. 15 WdL III.
186 (p. but to reproduce what one presently is: to maintain oneself in existence” (R. The individual is therefore “the opening up of the negativity that is locked up in the simple self-feeling (die Eröffnung der Negativität)»18. 768) 19 “Reproduction should be taken as the replacement of body parts or cells that permit the universal life to sustain itself” (Carlson. In reproduction the living organism embodies a relation to itself rooted in the relation to other (irritability). Reproduction “is not to produce offspring. The individual is not only determined by its external environment. Thanks to its irritability. In this turning point the logical structure of opposition turns out to be the self-determining dynamic of living individual. the individual develops the capability to live in that relation with the other that was suppressed in the living being’s mere sensibility. namely the process through which the living individual grows and replaces its parts and cells only in the relation to objectivity and in responding to the stimuli coming from the outside world. 153. A commentaly on hegel’s logic. the organism is simply and passively determined by objectivity. WdL III. but it is also the selfdetermination on the basis of the stimulations coming from external environment and moreover the acting on this very environment. (3) Thirdly. (2) Secondly. 18 WdL III.The negativity of the living individual as sensitive individual is still only “being within itself absolute negativity”16. it is the first abstract identity with itself that gets developed in the moment of difference and of the relation to other. Wallace. The structure of its realization is a negative unity with Ibid. Quite the contrary. The living individual posits its first determinateness because it opens up to the external world and it reacts against external stimulations: The self-determination of the living being is its judgement or its self-limitation [Verendlichung =rendersi finito]. 768). The relation of the living individual to itself becomes a relation to other. whereby it relates itself to the external as to a presupposed objectivity and in its reciprocal activity with it17. hegel refutation of regional egoism in true infinity and in the idea. but simply and abstractly self-related. The negativity at the base of sensibility allows the living organism neither to determine its other.N. 2005. p. in Hegel theory of the subject. Therefore. 567). p. Each external element is not acknowledged as such. nor to determine itself on the basis of the relation with this other. irritability corresponds to particularity. The reproduction Hegel is referring to is internal reproduction. p. and as particularity. p. reproduction corresponds to individuality19. since everything external is reduced to the simple self-feeling of the individual.). This negativity does not allow the organism to act on objectivity and on itself. this individual is not really other-related. 185 (p. 17 16 . Therefore the relation to the other becomes a self-relation through which the individual maintains itself.
The unity of the living individual and objectivity is the constitutive relation where objectivity is no longer something indifferent because it affects the way of being of the organism and changes its internal articulation. p 766. This negativity is essentially self-referential. irritability and reproduction show how the living individual determines itself on the basis of a negativity that is characterized by the same dynamic characterizing the negativity of the Notion as such. 769). The living process The key dynamic of living process is need. . the individual realizes its own vitality in a process of self-negation that is its going towards its other in order to be united with it and to realize itself in this unity. This dynamic relation between living being and objectivity gets a further determination in the second moment of life. is identical with itself and then realizes its own vitality: The unity of the Notion posits itself in its external objectivity as negative unity. that is to say through its own differentiation. Objectivity is concretely united with living being in the process of reproduction. […] in reproduction life is concrete and is vitality. This negativity articulates itself in two essential moments: 20 21 WdL III. 186 (p. as in its truth. that is the process of assimilation of objectivity through which the individual maintains itself. and on the other hand this relation to other (irritability) is at the same time a relation to itself (reproduction).objectivity. 22 SdL. In fact. this is reproduction. nor is it an other which stands in a relationship of mutual determination with the living organism. which as its own selfnegativity only has an objectivity in so far as the latter’s indifferent subsistence reveals itself as selfsublating”22. p. In need the living being develops its intrinsic selfreferential negativity (the negation of negation). the moments of sensibility. In reproduction “living being posits itself as an actual individuality. life for the first time has also the feeling and the power of resistance20. p. Objectivity is not like the other as such. because it is an individual that is completely at home with itself in its other. WdL III. a self-related being for self”21. In this sense the living organism maintains itself through its own changes. In the unity with this other living being is concretely identical with itself. the living process. On the one hand this negativity consists in a relation to itself (sensibility) that is at the same time a relation to other (irritability). 769). In their relation. This is what Hegel means when he writes: “the restlessness and mutability of the external side of the living being is the manifestation in it of the Notion. 186 (pp. in it.
p. Ibid. sich gleich zu setzen. namely the not-being of its other. In feeling what it misses the organism has in itself its not-being. In need the other is the presence of absence. It is not simply denied. to sublate it and to objectify itself (der Trieb. namely it is the not being of what it needs. Therefore the inner constitution of need is not only a first abstract negation. need is what guides individual’s selfdetermining process through which the organism turns the presence of the absence into a real presence. Need is also what moves the living individual toward its other in order to assimilate it. namely as what the individual is missing and therefore as what is other that the individual itself. In need the other is not simply in relation with the individual. p. 770). In this sense. jene ihm andre Welt für sich. It seems to be simply denied. The living being “relates itself to an other to it”23. need is embodied in the individual’s urge to get what he misses and make it its own. and this is shown by the pain felt by the organism itself. because it subsists as negated. 25 Ibid. need is the relation of individual to its other. or. The individual is not simply the not-being of what it needs. Hence. . “that the tension of unsatisfied want is painful is the clearest indication that the wanted object lies within the subject” (Mure. it is not lost in this negation. 23 24 WdL III. In need the objectivity is constitutively inherent in the living being. need is not only the presence of the absence.(1) Firstly. In this very self-negation the organism seems simply to lose itself. Need is also the second negation. namely it is a concrete negation. As Mure writes. 659). Yet. in its intrinsic negativity the living being is concretely at home with itself: it is not lost in this loss of itself but maintains itself therein and remain the identity of the self-similar Notion. A Study of Hegel’s Logic. sie aufzuheben und sich zu objektivieren)25. The feeling of the other as something missing is also a relation to itself of the living individual. need is not simply the relation of the individual to its other. In needing its other living being it is essentially this other by having it in itself as what he misses. It lies within it. and it is inherent in its radical otherness. that is its own negation. more explicitly. In this first articulation of need the negativity in action is simply the first negation. In the process raised by need. (2) Secondly. In this first moment of the need the self-referential character of the negation intrinsic in living being is already evident. 187 (p. 1950. as similar to itself. thus it is the urge to posit this other world as its own. that is a negation where living being realizes itself. the living being becomes concretely identical with its other in the appropriation of the object. They are one and the same thing. relates itself to what it misses. the living being “posits itself as denied”24. In fact. Actually.
This very contradiction gives rise to the urge of each organism to go towards and get united with another organism: only in this unity does the organism feel concretely itself because only in being one with its other does it realize itself as genus. 28 P. 874-875)). 30 ETW. 772. The genus The contradictory identity of living being and objectivity gets a further articulation in the last moment of the dialectic of life. life senses life”30. […] In love the separate does still remain. better said. and objectivity is what is absent in and different from the individual but at the same time is made present and identical with it. if the individual is what is present and identical with itself. 187 (p. The genus is the self-feeling of a living being in another living being. and thus it has an inherently contradictory structure. . namely as concrete universal. or. p. where Hegel writes: “In love. because it is “an objectivity that is identical with it. the principle of its realization: “in that process it posits itself as what it is in and for itself. as self-identity and the negative unity of the negative in its otherness. 26 27 WdL III. then the structure of the need at the basis of the living process is the contradictory structure of the speculative truth. The contradiction in question has the same structure that characterizes love in a manuscript of the Early Theological Writings. 29 P. The self-contradiction or the living process is the self-moving and self-determining principle of the organism itself. In this way. that is the genus process. Need is the presence of the absence that is in fact turned into something present. become also explicitly its own identity (Identität)» 27. In this process the organism faces an objectivity whose fixed and one-sided self-subsistence is completely sublated. It is a relation of identity with itself in its other. and as it is at the same time identical with itself it is absolute contradiction (absolute Widerspruch)26. This process has two sides. p. but as something united and no longer separate. namely identity of identity and non-identity. 188 (pp. and a relationship of the living being to itself as to another living being”29. 773. namely. 770). which is explicitly the negation of itself (wie es als Negation seiner für sich ist).304-305. life is present as a duplicate of itself and as a single and unified self. the unity of opposites: «the need and urge […] constitute the transition by which the individual. (WdL III. p.Its self-determination has the form of objective externality. which is posited as indifferent to it”28.
774. . in that it has sublated its particularity which constituted the living species. This gives rise to a sort of bad infinity where the living being manifests its own finitude and where the genus is only in itself. which as genus as implicit is now explicit. The genus is not something abstract and completely separated from existent living beings. that is their coming to be and passing over into other living beings. it is the process of mediation of living beings themselves. In the genus process the living being comes to life and passes over into a new organism. Therefore. - On the other hand this process can be viewed from the perspective of the genus. but this immediacy is necessarily sublated with the death of the individual itself. 31 WdL. that are the living beings. and has thereby given itself a reality that is itself simple universality”31. it is not simply immediately present in its particularizations. Rather. The genus is concretely determined in and for itself. p.- On the one hand this process can be viewed from the perspective of the living individual. the genus is no more simply in itself. The living individual is only a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the concrete realization of the genus as a concrete universality. In this way the relation between genus and living individuals is similar to the relation between finite and infinity in the Doctrine of Being. The genus is immediately present in the individual. In this way “the Idea. which has its concrete and infinite existence in the birth and death of finite organisms. it realizes itself only as their infinite process of sublation.