Trisokkas, Ioannis (2008), ‘Truth, Judgment and Speculative Logic’, Bulletin of the Hegel Society Britain 57/58, 154-172
Review Article: Truth, Judgment and Speculative Logic
Chong-Fuk Lau, Hegels Urteilskritik: Systematische Untersuchungen zum Grundproblem der spekulativen Logik (München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2004), pp. 319. ISBN 3-7705-3898-6
I. Introduction Chong-Fuk Lau’s long book Hegel’s Critique of Judgment: Systematic Investigations into the Fundamental Problem of Speculative Logic1 is one of the most interesting and lucidly written products of current German Hegelian scholarship. It was initially written as a doctoral dissertation at Heidelberg University (accepted in 2002) under the supervision of the late Rüdiger Bubner and published two years later (2004) by Wilhelm Fink Verlag as part of the important series jena-sophia, edited by Christoph Jamme and Klaus Vieweg. Besides its very informative — although rather excessive in number and length – footnotes, the book also offers comprehensive and insightful comparisons of Hegel’s thought with the philosophies of Aristotle, Kant and Frege. It also manages, especially in the footnotes, to give the reader a valuable sense of the central positions of Germany’s major post-war Hegel scholars, such as Dieter Henrich, Klaus Düsing, Rüdiger Bubner, Klaus Hartmann, Hans-Friedrich Fulda and Michael Theunissen, citations from and comments on whose work appear on almost every page of the book; on the other hand, important current English-speaking Hegel scholars, such as Robert Pippin, Stephen Houlgate, Robert Stern, John Burbidge, Richard Winfield and Kenneth Westphal, are either only very briefly mentioned or not mentioned at all.2 The book aims firstly to offer a detailed analysis of the systematic relation between (a) the speculative notion of truth, (b) the theory of the speculative proposition and (c) the ontological and logical structure of the judgment, and secondly to employ this analysis for the elucidation of Hegel’s Science of Logic. To achieve this twofold aim Lau proceeds in three steps that correspond to the three main parts of his book. In the first part, ‘Conditions of the System and Critique of Judgment’, he defines the speculative notion of truth and relates it to the notion of the presentation of truth. The upshot of this first part is that the relation between those two notions creates a problem, which Lau, following Lorenz Bruno Puntel,3 sees as the ‘fundamental problem of speculative logic’ and which arises from the problematic ontological and logical structure of the judgment. The latter appears on the scene because it constitutes the core of the notion of presentation. In the second part, ‘Speculation and
Speculative Proposition’, Lau tries to establish a direct connection between (a) Hegel’s theory of the speculative proposition (especially as it is expounded in the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit) and (b) the ontological and logical structure of the judgment. Finally, in the third part, ‘Logic and Ontology’, Lau seeks to use and expand the results of his analysis of the theory of the  speculative proposition so as to explain and/or elucidate the central ontological and logical aspects of Hegel’s Science of Logic. Although in the course of the book Lau quite often offers detailed and insightful analyses of philosophers other than Hegel and of works by Hegel other than the Science of Logic, in the present essay I will concentrate on that thread of his argument (which, as the subtitle suggests, is intended to be conceived as the main argument or thesis of the book) that aims at resulting in an explicit and successful explanation and/or elucidation of the project of the Science of Logic alone. With this restriction in mind, I will now formulate the essence of what I take to be Lau’s main argument and then proceed to flesh it out and finally evaluate it: Given the speculative notion of truth and its inherent relation to the notion of the presentation of truth, the judgment proves to be (a) intrinsically related to the speculative notion of truth, but (b) unsuitable to express it. The first is the case because the presentation of truth cannot be made without the use of judgment; the second because the judgment has a logical and ontological structure (or ‘essence’), manifested in the everyday or ‘natural’ understanding of the world (natürliches Weltverstehen), that prevents it from ever expressing the speculative truth. This paradox (Lau calls it a Janusköpfigkeit) is resolved through the speculative proposition, which denotes nothing other than the immanent self-critique of judgment (and not, as Düsing and others maintain, a new kind of judgment): The judgment, when embedded in a speculative framework, exhibits a specific movement that destroys its logical and ontological structure and thereby forces it to be transformed into a new judgment (that is, into a new judgment-token, not into a new judgmenttype). This process continues up to the point where a whole system of perfectly interconnected judgments is established, something that signals the actualisation of speculative truth. Lau’s distinctive claim is that this is exactly what happens in the Science of Logic, from which claim it follows that the judgment (and, of course, its self-critique) is the moving force (das Movens) of the dialectical development of the logical categories. II. Truth Lau begins his investigations by correctly specifying the main concern of Hegel’s speculative logic as the definition and acquisition of truth (35). In order to achieve this aim Hegel had to confront both the influential Thomistic
Intellectual contents can be compared only with other intellectual contents. such a decision would require that we are able to compare the intellectual content with the external things. since they are synonymous to ‘content-for-us’. the determinations they assign to the objects – ‘objective’ determinations – are not determinations of the objects as they are in themselves. therefore. uses the terms ‘content’. Thus. this determination of truth affects only the form of judgment not its content. it does not also enable us to positively identify those judgments whose content designates something true (45). since external things appear always as intellectual contents (43-44). namely that the intellect (or. can reveal (through its various structures) the most abstract universal features of the content of things. but only determinations of them as they are for us. in Hegel’s terms. the universal rules of the understanding (e. Hegel. For Kant. on the other. for it cannot help us decide whether a particular intellectual content (a judgment) is true or false (to wit.g. attacks them both by reconciling (or sublating) them in a new notion of truth. of course. Truth. it has only a negative function. i. and transcendental logic. Because it says nothing about the content of things.e. while at the same time acknowledging the deficiency of the traditional formulation of the correspondence theory. but only when this content is taken as the content of their appearances. if one follows Kant on this issue. the judgment. but this is impossible. tried to reduce the negative ramifications of this determination of truth by (a) distinguishing between formal or universal logic. he assigns a very peculiar meaning to them. it fails to function as a criterion of truth). and then (b) defining the latter’s project as the provision of the a priori universal conditions for the possibility of knowledge of objects. precisely because these ‘conditions’ belong to or emerge solely from the ego. he shows through the Phenomenology of Spirit that the fundamental premise of the Thomistic formulation of the correspondence theory. on the one hand. ‘knowledge-for-us’ and ‘objectivity-for-us’. Thus. the speculative one.correspondence theory of truth and the Kantian reaction to it. can be determined only with respect to its formal aspect. ‘concept’ or ‘thought’)
. ‘knowledge’ and ‘objectivity’. Yet. Being dissatisfied with the Kantian conclusion. those whose form fails to satisfy the universal rules of the understanding.4 When Kant. This is achieved in two steps: Firstly. Kant. Kant complained that this definition of truth has no philosophical significance whatsoever. to which the intellectual contents as judgments must conform (45). Lau argues. Kant  continues. the law of non-contradiction). for Kant. The former professed that truth takes place whenever the content of the intellect corresponds to things or states of affairs that are external to the intellect. one should abandon the project of saying something true about the content of things. and so it helps us only with the exclusion of some false judgments from the domain of truth.
e. Kant was. The only way to escape this impasse is to respect the fact that the original unity of concept and reality is a relation and. Kant’s objection does not hold. on the other hand. as the absolute negativity of the concept. basic elements: (a) an element which exemplifies the concept’s being the other of itself and (b) an element which exemplifies its embracing its other. and. The reality which the concept fails to correspond to is its reality. for in that case the terms would collapse into each other with the result that instead of a relation we would have two self-subsistent existences: a reality-less concept and a concept-less reality. to wit. Thus. Hegel discovered this structure in the operation of absolute negativity. vice versa. considered in isolation from the second. but since these are originally united. in Hegel’s terms. a state of affairs developed from within the horizon of that
. This process and its result constitute the formal character of the speculative notion of truth. In the first case. negates) (50-52). accept that the difference of the relata must also be explicated. 52). Logically. for reality (the content of things) exhibits itself in its truth only when the concept has fully embraced its other (p. ‘reality’ or ‘being’) are originally divided. secondly. To say that the concept does not correspond to reality cannot now possibly mean that they have nothing to do with one another. Hegel succeeds in reconciling the correspondence theory with the Kantian critique: Truth indeed requires the correspondence between concept and reality. such a conclusion would revive the two positions Hegel wants to sublate. right to stress that there is no truth outside the concept. In this way. this original unity cannot possibly be exemplified as a simple identity. But. Consequently. the noncorrespondence that the first case designates has a totally different meaning from the one it had in the Thomistic-Kantian framework (53). Hegel’s reconciliatory project requires a single structure that would manage to satisfy both of these demands. it does correspond to it (for the relata reunite after having shown themselves to be different). can have absolutely no justification. into its negation) which it then embraces (and. the unity and difference of concept and reality. that they are self-subsistent existences which have only an indifferent relation. in the second case. the concept’s being-the-other-of-itself must be a purely internal phenomenon. therefore. consists of two. This is so because they are originally united. truth. then. theoretically distinct. the concept which reality fails to correspond to is its concept (53). the concept does not correspond to reality (for the relata show themselves to be different). 69-70). independently of how it is framed. however. Clearly. in a sense. through which the correspondence of concept and reality becomes processual in nature: The concept  corresponds to reality by turning itself into its other (i. This allows for the positing of a starting-point in which concept and reality are originally united (50-51. therefore.and the thing (or. Clearly.
The concept’s being-the-other-of-itself is a deficient state of affairs because it falls short of that state of affairs which denotes the concept’s embracing-its-other. for the difference of concept and reality must necessarily first appear as that state of affairs which is the concept’s being-the-other-of-itself. more and more of that state of affairs which represents the full correspondence of concept and reality is revealed (enthüllt ist). those two fundamental elements must be present in it. Although this picture requires some qualifications and refinements. since the Science of Logic is meant to provide a manifestation of the speculative truth. Thus. to wit. And since the full correspondence of concept and reality is exemplified therein by the absolute idea (54). But. the speculative notion of truth consists of two fundamental and irreducible elements: (a) the concept’s-being-the-other-of-itself which exemplifies the partial correspondence of concept and reality and (b) the concept’s-embracing-its-other which exemplifies the full correspondence (or correspondence proper) of concept and reality. Realisation of the second element requires passing through the first. Of course. the concept’s-being-the-other-of-itself must necessarily denote a partial correspondence of concept and reality (58).  Now. III. Such a state of affairs Hegel calls ‘system’ or ‘whole’ or ‘absolute idea’. for Lau. at the same time. the character of the dissolution of partialness (or ‘untruth’) and the revelation of
. Judgment The preceding discussion has led Lau to the conclusion that Hegel’s Logic represents a process whereby (a) the partialness of each logical category is dissolved or ‘washed away’ (aufgelöst ist) and (b) through this dissolution. Lau takes it that the core of the Logic’s formal structure has now been determined. According to Lau. because the concept ’s being-the-other-ofitself denotes the partial correspondence of concept and reality only if it falls short of their full correspondence. such a deficient state of affairs could arise in this instance only in terms of a comparison between the two basic elements of the speculative notion of truth. a state of affairs in which the concept is the other of itself. each and every foregoing logical category or constellation of categories must necessarily exemplify the partial correspondence of concept and reality. The whole process culminates in that state of affairs which requires no other content for its determination than the content and perfect interconnection of all the categories that lead up to it. Since (a) the latter exemplifies the (full) correspondence of concept and reality and (b) the former cannot possibly exemplify the (absolute) non-correspondence of concept and reality. realisation of the first element requires the presence of the second.original unity of concept and reality (55).
the reason being that. speculative truth is not only expressed by. The point we have now reached is the single most important moment in Lau’s book. speculative truth becomes what it is. Here is how Lau puts it:
 It is in the judgment where thought develops and presents itself. Indeed. but also exists in language (considered here in its essence. first. but each and every logical category or constellation of categories dissolves untruth (or is a manifestation of critique) and reveals (or discloses) truth (64). in being expressed in language. and. rather. the speculative notion of truth is processual in character.6 It is not as if truth has a certain structure which the judgment comes to express only afterwards. Thomas Aquinas. when the subject-matter is the truth. (84)
In short. Or. Now. What underlies this argument is Lau’s conviction that. for his whole argument depends upon it – and it is the point where the reader should consider carefully whether or not she/he agrees with the move he now makes. For Lau’s Hegel. Lau ascribes an even stronger belief to Hegel. its sublation in a state of identity. the form of judgment is always already presupposed. This claim affects the above argument because the
. Lau maintains that Hegel holds the view (which he shares with Plato. of the dialectical movement of the logical categories. i.”5 Rather. As already pointed out. its core. what Chomsky would call ‘the universal grammar’). for. difference. as if “shot from a pistol. according to Lau. Kant and Frege) that no presentation or expression of truth can take place without the employment of judgment. for Hegel. essence and concept on this matter). in the sense that there has to be an active expression (Ausdruck) of a movement from an event of difference to one of speculative unity (or identity). In fact. For one cannot avoid using the form of judgment whenever one wants to refer to a certain entity in the world or to determine a certain thought. Aristotle. must become explicit in the unity of the concept. the latter is constitutive of speculative truth as well. speculative truth acquires its structure through the judgment. Clearly. for the latter is the minimal locus of the expressed truth (56). this processual character of truth excludes the possibility of it existing immediately.truth is not uniform throughout the Logic (Lau points out the important differences between the logics of being. the latter takes the position that the judgment is constitutive of the dynamic structure of speculative truth. truth must be presented (dargestellt).e. second. without language there can be no speculative truth. to put it differently. the presentation of truth is constitutive of speculative truth and since the presentation of truth cannot be made without the use of judgment.
because the unexpressed subjectmatter [die nicht ausgesprochene Sache] is really an irrational thing. but rather as what constitutes [ausmacht] reason as such. (85)
If. is the existence of reason. it is the word which is the highest. and hence the judgment. on the other. second he claims that the presentation of truth cannot be made without the employment of judgment. What does not allow itself to be expressed [ was  sich nicht aussprechen läßt] withdraws from the rational. Language. first he asserts the inherent relation between the presentation of truth and the speculative truth. and. and fourth he affirms that language is constitutive of the speculative truth. For the presentation of truth develops itself necessarily in language. it seems that.presentation (Darstellung) of truth. are linguistic phenomena. third he makes it explicit that the presentation of truth and the judgment are linguistic phenomena. in which one can think and understand. they reveal or disclose truth. which constitutes its core. and hence the judgment. the problem of language plays […] a crucial role. because he proposes a notion of truth that is indistinguishable from its presentation. they dissolve partialness or untruth. the rational exists only as language’. are taken by Lau to be linguistic phenomena:
For Hegel. in fact. in the sense that the latter cannot exist without the former. in a human language. (b) that the presentation of truth. then.) he supports this claim by reference to Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy:
‘And when the word and the subject-matter [die Sache] are opposed to one another. of the rational or of the dialectical movement of the logical categories. one accepts (a) that the essence of language is constitutive of speculative truth. Recall that the speculative notion of truth has the following two fundamental characteristics: (1) It consists of logical categories which perform two functions: on the one hand. in terms of the actual order of the basic premises of Lau’s argument.e. i. now. the rational [die Vernünftigkeit] and language [die Sprachlichkeit] are at the end of the day identical.’ (100) And a few pages further (p. and (c) that the judgment is the minimal locus of an expressed (or presented) truth. Here is how he formulates this fourth premise: ‘For Hegel.7 In this relation language shows itself not only as something that belongs to reason. then it necessarily follows that the previous description of the structure of speculative truth can be translated in terms of judgment.
 The required explanation unfolds in three stages: In the first stage Lau attempts to fulfill the first task by employing elements from the prelude to the immanent analysis of the category of judgment in the Logic (147-168). In this section we will
. completeness). Speculative Proposition A necessary consequence of Lau’s argument is that the inherent correlation between the logical category and the judgment must now be followed by the fulfilment of three tasks: It should namely be explained (a) in what sense the judgment has a structure of partialness (i. 269-287). not in terms of the actual development of the logical categories. express the absolute. for Lau’s problem can be resolved only if the judgment. can actually exercise those two externally projected abilities. Let us. it must be essentially characterised by both (a) an ability to dissolve untruth and disclose truth and (b) an ability to relate to and culminate in the absolute. This does not mean that logical categories could not be employed in the formulation of the required explanation. In other words. turn our attention to this notion. reconstructing the linear logical movement from pure being to the absolute idea will not do the trick. How they can actually be exercised in the Logic (in simple terms. considered in its own terms.8 In the second stage he refers to the theory of the speculative proposition (as developed in the Preface to the Phenomenology)9 with the aim of fulfilling the third task and providing a sketch of the way in which the second task could be approached (168-192. a deficient structure. Lau’s problem is to explain or illuminate how exactly the judgment’s structure of partialness.(2) It also consists of the whole or system or absolute which is the state of affairs that (i) completes the movement of the logical categories and (ii) functions as their criterion of truth (or. In his opinion.e. then. (b) how exactly it manages to dissolve partialness (or untruth) and disclose truth and (c) how exactly this process allows it to culminate in and. if you like.e. In the third stage he combines (a) information relevant to the notion of judgment found in various writings by Hegel with (b) the theory of the speculative proposition so as to give a more detailed account of how the second challenge is to be met (pp. but in such case they should prove to be relevant to the judgment’s own peculiar structure and movement. 193-269). i. therefore. how exactly the deficient structure of judgment can actually come to express the absolute) Lau sees as the fundamental problem (das Grundproblem) of speculative logic. Hegel’s theory of t he speculative proposition is intended to elucidate and provide a specific solution to this particular problem. An explanation of this kind has to be given in terms of the judgment. IV. Since the judgment is constitutive of these two elements. a deficient structure). is shown to exemplify (or ‘reflect’) that movement.
According to Lau. not by establishing a new kind of philosophical judgment (as Düsing. how subject and predicate will come to correspond perfectly with one another. it achieves this. the theory of the speculative proposition (der speculative Satz) is meant to provide a metatheoretical resolution of exactly this paradox and thereby enable the expression of the dialectical development of the logical categories and its culmination in the absolute (168-169). strictly speaking no longer subject and predicate. The concrete result of this collapse is a new kind of relation in which subject and predicate prove to be fully identical and. However. being an essential element of the judgment. it must be shown how the partial unity of subject and predicate is transformed into a full unity. not just the one assigned to it by the predicate. through which movement what sustains  the partial correspondence of subject and predicate (identified by Lau with the logic and ontology of the ratiocinative thinking – räsonierendes Denken – and the natural understanding of the world – natürliches Weltverstehen) collapses (175. this shows that in the locus of judgment the subject is only partially united or identical with the predicate. but the latter has many instantiations.e. For scholarly and philosophical reasons (176-183). argues). This paradox confronts speculative logic with the huge problem of how to achieve the presentation of speculative truth. the individual which the subject refers to has many qualities. To begin with. 171). whose scopes are always only partially united. The judgment is what it is only if it exemplifies those two fundamental partial identities. in this case. for example. since the scope of the latter is clearly wider. for Hegel. But since the judgment is constitutive of speculative truth. cannot be removed. On the other hand. in the next we will deal with the third stage. 185ff. the subject. It is thus a unity of subject and predicate. for the scopes (Umfänge) of the relata do not fully overlap.
. only one of which is the individual designated by the subject. This is manifested in two different ways: On the one hand. But this unity is partial. it is once more shown that the only identity the judgment can express is a partial one. the result will no longer be accommodated in the locus of the judgment. one can be sure that.10 but by showing how the judgment itself. The latter takes the form of an immanent movement from the subject to the predicate and back again. which is the most complex and difficult to comprehend. therefore. therefore. which refers to a universal quality. in this sense. which refers to an individual.follow the first and second stages of his explanation. when embedded in a speculative framework. for without the relata being only partially identical there can be no judgment. There is a unity because the copula. the structure of the judgment is deficient because the subject-predicate relation that constitutes it exemplifies only a partial unity or identity between the relata (p. the scope of the subject is wider than the scope of the predicate and. relates to the predicate. i.). destroys its own structure through self-critique.
let us complete Lau’s overall argument by providing his response to the th ird task specified earlier: How does the speculative proposition enable the judgment to relate to and culminate in the absolute? The relation to the absolute arises in that specific moment when the judgment is transformed into a statement of identity.e. cannot accommodate all the determinations of the absolute. through the speculative proposition. i. 185-186). that is. however. organic unity (56. the speculative proposition is a structure that denotes both the movement of self-critique and the result of this movement. Lau sees each speculative proposition. Before we attempt to do that. In other words. In that state of affairs all judgments will bind together (through speculative propositions) in a perfect.The collapse of the partial identity of the relata through the self-critique of judgment. exists in the first place because the judgment. a new judgment-token). Considered specifically as a statement of identity. Now. in the Logic by the appearance of statements of identity (e. therefore. In other words. the statement of identity. dissolves partialness and discloses truth. For a new judgment will emerge from the movement of the selfcritique of judgment only if what that identity denotes somehow falls short of the whole or system (otherwise there would be no need for a further judgment). ‘being is nothing’. Lau maintains that Hegel sees this structural discrepancy between what the judgment expresses and the absolute as a contradiction. Of course this general picture needs to be filled in with quite a lot of details if it is to meet anyone’s approval. they are no judgments at all (173-174. the complete identity of concept and (its) reality or the absolute (275). These.11 Firstly. is ‘verified’. It corresponds to it because the
. contrary to what many Hegelians think. I: 83). given the constitutive affinity between the judgment and the logical category. therefore. are not special judgments. this argument entails that what enables the movement from one category to another in the Logic is the fundamental discrepancy between a speculative proposition and its ‘intentional correlate’ or the absolute. and. the self-critique of a specific judgment. as it were.e. it is the state of affairs that enables the emergence of a new judgment (i. the movement from one judgment to another will continue until the absolute is fully exemplified. This discrepancy. Thus. Hegel 1986:Vol. but rather exemplifications of that state of affairs in which the partial identity of subject and predicate collapses. even in its dynamic existence as a speculative proposition. 284). which once more exemplifies a partial identity between the relata (188-192).e. Secondly. as aiming at the satisfaction of an “intentional correlate” (intentionales Korrelat). a state of affairs in which the concept corresponds and does not correspond to (its) reality (57-58. 189). clearly. it concludes the dialectic between the subject and predicate of a specific judgment and. though. i. the speculative proposition has two functions. ‘being and nothing are the same’ or.g. simply.
which is always motivated by contradiction. For a judgment – a structure that contains contradiction – is untrue and causes (zwingt) the move to the next one. which expresses a new category:
Every individual judgment. 275). for Lau. which. 287). even though Hegel criticises Kant for deducing the categories from the table of judgments. the latter shows itself as the moving force (das Movens) of the dialectic of the categories (6. Every individual determination of the concept in the judgment is at the same time an expression (Ausdruck) of its difference from the truth. And since the contradictions emerge due to the specific (deficient) structure of judgment. albeit now in a negative fashion. every individual sentence in the Logic is therefore a contradiction that resolves itself. it does not correspond to it because the speculative proposition does not express the whole truth. the occurrence of contradiction in a certain category arises from the expression (or presentation) of this same category through the judgment. but in its turn entangles itself in another. This realised truth of the concept that has freed
. as constitutive moments of its self-identity. This movement of the concept. All in all. is once more burdened with a (new) contradiction. What is distinctive in Lau’s position is his claim that this contradiction not only is expressed by the judgment. ‘as a guiding thread (Leitfaden) for the development and presentation of the categories in the Logic’ (275). Lau adds to this argument that a certain contradiction is resolved only if there is a movement to another judgment. and. so that those differences which have not yet been transparent are now gradually conceived as internal differentiations of the concept. This discrepancy denotes a contradiction and its resolution can be achieved fully only at the end of the logical system. the dialectic of the categories in Hegel’s Logic is a necessary consequence of the discrepancy between the category the concept each time exemplifies and its fully realised truth. in which it realises itself and corresponds fully to itself. 275-276). as the absolute idea. in fact. which indeed resolves that contradiction. of course. but also occurs because of this expression (193. But. In this process of discovery and resolution of contradictions […] vague and confused determinations of the concept become transparent. Consequently. he still uses the judgment. peculiarly. more complex one. Lau argues that it is only because the inevitably appearing contradictions must be resolved that there is a movement from one category to another (276). continues up to the point where the concept unfolds into a monistic-holistic system. In other words. In this way.speculative  proposition is a disclosed truth. so that this determination must resolve itself by […] passing over into an other. the movement of the judgment develops itself further and further. which is the whole system of the categories in their interconnection (24.
On the one hand. (285-286)
The first and second stages of Lau’s argument have now been presented. What kind of resolution this would then be remains to be seen. p. and the absolute. he seems to develop his argument based on two different notions of partial identity. even though Lau does not explicitly acknowledge it. Firstly. taken as a statement of identity. we should bring forth certain oddities one encounters in Lau’s general account of the speculative proposition. 190). 190-192). there is the partial identity of the speculative proposition. what remains is the fulfilment of the second task. however. For if the speculative proposition indeed resolves the contradiction in a judgment. I have presented him as saying that while the first partial identity is indeed dissolved through the speculative proposition (see esp. Secondly. This understanding would fit in with his talk of (a) resolution of individual contradictions through speculative propositions and (b) resolution of all contradictions through the system. Finally. as far as I can see. before we proceed to the next section. enabling thereby the move to another judgment. according to his own argument. But such identity is exactly what he ascribes to the absolute (recall that the judgment had been assigned a structure of partialness in the first place because the scopes of the relata were not fully identical). cf. the dissolution of the second requires the culmination of the dialectical development of the categories in the absolute (see esp. require the full identity of the scopes of subject and predicate. which demands a more detailed account of what is involved in that event in which judgment dissolves partialness (or untruth) and discloses truth.
. there is the issue of the emergence of a new judgment. p. by Lau’s own definition of contradiction there should be no need for another judgment. when Lau refers to the resolution of a contradiction in a certain judgment through the speculative proposition. Yet maybe this will be clarified as soon as we discover in what sense the speculative proposition resolves a contradiction before the full identity of the absolute is exemplified. 173). he should not identify this with the emergence of the full identity of the scopes of that judgment’s relata (since this is not supposed to be attained until the end of the logical movement.itself from all contradictions is called […] absolute idea. there is the partial identity of subject and predicate in the judgment. Thus. the resolution of an individual contradiction would. However. and the movement toward it dialectic. on the other hand.
In ontological terms. 202-203. Lau conceives this movement as a forceful critique of the logic and ontology of the so-called ‘natural understanding of the world’ or ‘ratiocinative thinking’ (5. 234). shows clearly that it cannot be sustained (217-224. reference to its universal qualities. 223. especially in the first chapter of the Phenomenology. a totally selfcontradictory notion. 221). because it is only through the latter that it can be individuated. the referent of the subject (the individual) would remain indeterminate. 168-169). 232). paradoxically. I: 122-139). distinguished from other individuals (210. 16.e. 228).
. 229). 210. Determination and Contradiction In the preceding section the speculative proposition has been identified with the immanent self-critique of judgment (considered both as a process and as a result) and its content has been determined as the movement from subject to predicate and back again. Due to these specific features of the relata. i. a relation namely in which the subject is logically-ontologically prior to the predicate and. 216. this ontological picture gives rise to the claim that an immediate individual can be determined without relating to any universal quality. 186. this view translates to the more concrete claim that while universal qualities cannot exist without inhering in individuals. and in the dialectic of ‘something’ in the Logic (Hegel 1986:Vol.V. 235. ‘Sense Certainty’ (Hegel 1970: 82-92). Hegel’s laborious analysis of this theoretical standpoint. 234). the natural world-understanding takes the position that the subject refers to a substance and the predicate to an accident (194. the substance. requires its inherent relation to and dependence upon the notion of universal quality if it is to be sustained. the natural world-understanding is committed to the belief that the judgment exemplifies only an external relation between subject and predicate. to continue claiming that there exist substances despite the fact that they cannot be determined is to assert the existence of the thing-in-itself. the determination of an individual requires. In ontological terms. therefore. In this way. In logical terms. Since the subject refers to an essential individual and the predicate to an inessential universal quality. therefore. this understanding holds the view that the fundamental basis of reality  (the ‘really real’) consists of immediate individuals whose status is superior to their universal qualities. The very notion of the individual. The essence of the thing. the logicalontological priority or ‘substantiality’ of the subject has been transferred to the predicate. In logical terms. since without the latter’s referent (the universal quality). 236). its existence and determinate character is not affected by its relation to the latter (173. a content-less content (208. the latter can exist without having universal qualities (195. Substantiality. lies now in its properties or universal characteristics (174.
the subject that has become substance again signals a change in perspective (Perspektivenwechsel). It is the movement through which (a) the immediacy and logicalontological priority of the subject is destroyed. as seen. for Hegel. (And. for the latter have been shown to be indispensable for the determination of individuality. but rather by the pure development of an active principle. this can be achieved only if the substantiality of the predicate is in turn denied (or ‘negated’). specific thing? Lau claims that. because its approach is too macroscopic. only one of which addresses the question we raised in the previous section.). 218). the speculative proposition has a specific onto-logical content. this reading of the Logic as a ‘giant’ speculative proposition contributes nothing to the aforementioned problem. the underlying substrate to which the universal qualities relate only externally. is that the first stage of the movement of the speculative proposition corresponds to (or ‘reflects’) the logic of being. Rather. the selfdetermination of the single concept. As far as I can see. the second to the logic of essence. (b) the predicate shows itself as a multiplicity of universal qualities (or simply determinations) and (c) this multiplicity of universal qualities becomes the self-determination of a single element. 236). the structure of Lau’s argument demands that an explanation should be
. ‘Perception’ (Hegel 1970:93-107). there arises the problem of how to avoid a state of affairs in which the determinations or universal qualities have only an indifferent relation to one another (an auch-relation. facilitating thereby a return to the subject and its substantiality. shows. But the restoration of substance in the subject is not a relapse to the immediate individual. What is it that makes them be determinations of one thing and not of another? What is it that unites them and turns them into a single. Thus. for Lau. which I will not develop here. the concept. as the second chapter of the Phenomenology. whereby the ‘really real’ is now constituted. The irrelevant answer. This is the movement that exemplifies an original unity’s becoming determinate through its own differentiation and maintaining itself by negating this differentiation (6. for. and the third to the logic of the concept (235-236. but it does not explain how it is that each logical category or constellation of categories in the logic of being has the structure of the whole speculative proposition. see too 192. 174. But how does this ‘content’ fit in with the Science of Logic? Lau gives two answers here. To say that the first stage of the speculative proposition ‘reflects’ the logic of being might illuminate the general character of the development of the logical categories in that logical sphere. namely how exactly the speculative proposition illuminates (a) the dissolution of partialness and disclosure of truth within a single logical category (or judgment) and (b) the emergence of a new logical category (or judgment). 230ff. 194. the ‘substantialisation’ of the predicate cannot be the end of the story.Nevertheless. not by substrata which  carry properties externally.
It achieves the latter by disclosing the common ground. the logical content in question has been crystallised as the higher category that grounds a constellation of contradictory categories. In this way. shows that it must relate to another judgment.given of how it is that each logical category exemplifies the whole speculative proposition (see 185. of a logical category and (b) the fixed opposition of a pair of inter-determining categories. if it is to have a determinate content. At this stage of the argument. It has thus been shown how the speculative proposition. It is exactly when the latter becomes explicit that the speculative  proposition crystallises itself as a statement of identity and thereby fulfils its third stage. According to Lau. and despite the fact that Lau does not explicitly state this. expressive of a logical category that is opposite or contradictory to the one initially posited. remains unanswered: How is it that this disclosure of the common ground formally enables the move to another judgment. 280). the higher category. but compare with 190-191). The crucial question. It achieves the former by destroying (a) the immediacy. In this way. a constellation of judgments arises. by its very nature. from which the inter-determining categories emerge as meaningful entities. namely the discrepancy between the logical content and the absolute or system or the whole. Lau responds to this crucial question by employing the same notion as before. for the latter. i.e. dissolves partialness and reveals truth. This gives rise to a higher category (or ‘higher perspective’).) The relevant answer goes as follows: Each judgment constitutive of a logical category is initially an expression of the immediate existence of the absolute or concept in that logical category (215). self-subsistence. that is. the statement of identity that completes the immanent movement of an individual speculative proposition. though. Here is what Lau says:
. where a multiplicity of predicates is manifested. the immanent self-critique of judgment. however. such relation is accommodated in the second stage of the speculative proposition. however. the movement of the speculative proposition completes itself by establishing the unity of the oppositional judgments through a process whereby their opposition emerges from and dissolves itself into a common ground. facilitating thereby a process that culminates in ‘a holistic unity. The immanent dialectic developed within it. in which all differences are enclosed as integrated’? (256) As far as I can see. But the immanent dialectic operative within each of those constellations shows that as soon as the relation of opposition is established. whose relation is one of opposition. however. the self-subsistence of each of the relata cannot be thought outside of the relation itself. cannot be expressed by a judgment. the return of substantiality to the subject from the predicate. which. cannot incorporate oppositional or contradictory determinations (236.
Only in the fully-fledged truth is contradiction missing. i. However. It is because of this state of affairs that there emerges a continuous difference between a certain developmental stage and the full realisation of the concept. which is indeed resolved in the higher category. that it is this statement of identity that expresses a content that is only partially true (cf.)]. the statement of identity that expresses the completion of the self-critique of judgment (I. which negates (aufhebt) the natural (verständig) reading of the judgment and thereby forces (zwingt) thought to conceive it anew. To put it differently: A contradiction is present when there exists a discrepancy between what something actually is and what something. the fixity of some inter-determining categories). 190-191).If one recalls that the Hegelian truth is nothing else than the correspondence of the concept with itself. for Hegel. each logical category entails also another contradiction (i. each logical category entails a contradiction because the content its constitutive judgment expresses falls short of the full truth of the concept.e. (284)
And here is how this relates to the judgment and the question we raised above:
Given the structure of the judgment […] being and ought cannot correspond to each other fully. one-sided. in all other stages of the development of the concept it always pops up. given its truth. […] That which Hegel designates as contradiction shows itself as the difference between the concept that is still on the way to the truth and this same concept in its truth. then it becomes apparent that. the one that is required for its local determination. pp.e. it must be the case. for Lau.T. (285)
Thus. so to speak.e. In the judgment the concept must become.e. ought to be. insofar as it does not find itself therein  fully. […] The decisive point here is that the concept. a new logical category or constellation of
. Thus. expressed by the speculative proposition and finally exemplified as a statement of identity. must go through all those stages that do not yet (noch nicht) correspond to its realised form or truth. being on its way to its full realisation. to pass over to a new judgment. Because of this structural one-sidedness there emerges in every judgment a discrepancy between what is said and what is intended. for any individual judgment may express only one determinate side of the concept. as we have seen. This ‘contradiction’ next forces (zwingt) thought (das Denken) to pass over (übergehen) into a new judgment (i. This discrepancy gives rise to the ‘counterthrust’ (‘Gegenstoß’) one sees in the speculative proposition [i. contradiction must be understood as the negative correlate of truth.
takes it that Hegel begins the Logic by wondering how he is going to express the absolute/whole. the way Lau sets up the problematic of speculative logic seems to commit him to a slightly more sophisticated version of that mistaken picture of the Logic put forth by Schelling. However. Thus. Both of them conceive each logical category in the Logic as what is not yet (noch nicht) the absolute/whole and the movement from one category to another as being motivated by the lack of full correspondence with the absolute/whole. This. Lau sees the absolute or the whole as being present in each logical category and playing a functional role in the movement from one category to another. just because he bases his whole inquiry on what Hegel says in the Preface to the Phenomenology. this is the only answer I could find to the aforementioned problem. uses the same conception to justify his idea of a constitutive affinity between the logical category and the judgment. The difference between them is only that while Schelling uses this conception to ground what he believes to be the introduction of  external factors in the movement of the categories (and in this way destroy Hegel’s aspiration to a purely immanent project). plays no functional role in the movement from one category to another. Like Schelling.categories). Firstly. His account is extremely informative and engaging. packed with descriptive richness and critical acuity and he does manage to build a link between the theory of the speculative proposition and the Logic. but also to define or discover it in the first place. Conclusion Hegel’s theory of judgment has received relatively little attention from Hegel scholars or continental philosophers in general. however. Nevertheless. one could also raise against Lau. namely that for Hegel the absolute. therefore. this is a mistaken view of the Logic’s project because it deliberately ignores the fact that the Logic aspires not only to express the truth. Despite having read Lau’s book again and again. assumes that at the beginning of the Logic it is known that the truth is the absolute/whole and the only problem the philosopher has is how to express it.12 Lau is therefore to be commended for systematising Hegel’s various comments on and analyses of the notion of judgment in such a lucid and bold manner.13 Lau. the same objection one could raise against Schelling. if my presentation and analysis of his main argument is correct. I believe that some serious flaws can be detected in it.14 Lau. VI. who does not in principle doubt the immanent character of Hegel’s project. emerges from the dialectic of the categories and. I would strongly recommend his book to anyone interested in Hegel’s Science of Logic and/or his philosophy of language. In my opinion. The question Hegel asks is not
. both as a result and as a process.
But the second sentence does not logically follow from the first. All Hegel wants to say with his remarks on language is that a certain level of language (its ‘universal grammar’ or essence. the logical categories. the following claim is fallacious:
What does not allow itself to be expressed withdraws from the rational. because the latter is constitutive of the essence of language. speculative logic shows how being determines itself independently of whether this self-determination is expressed or not (and the fact that it is expressed through it does not affect the validity of this claim). But the opposite does not hold. Lau’s view that language is constitutive of the rational or the dialectical development of the categories. language would not be what it is. could not possibly be the ‘moving force’ of the dialectic . in the sense that without language the rational could not exist. put simply. language is not the condition of reason considered as an ontological principle. goes against the realist character of its programme. in the sense that without the rational. one would have to accept that without language what there is in truth would not have the structure it actually has. is the existence of reason. Unfortunately. pace Lau. the deficiency of a certain judgment emerges independently of its relation to the absolute. the judgment. i.e.17 For if one accepts Lau’s suggestion. Thus. In other words. as Lau conceives it. because what it actually says is that the rational must be expressed in language in order to be what it is. which is absurd. given the nature of the text of the Lectures (a compilation of Hegel’s lecture
. This is so because (a) according to him the structure of the judgment (considered specifically in its appearance as a statement of identity) is deficient because it falls short of the absolute and (b) in fact. and the absolute or whole plays no functional role in the movement of the categories. but it seems to me that besides the previously cited passage from the Lectures on the History of Philosophy no other passage from the ones he mentions actually supports it. It is true that Lau devotes more than thirty pages of his book trying to establish that there is indeed textual support for his claim (85-117). if I am right. determinations of what there is in truth.e.16 Secondly. then. Language. more importantly. to use Lau’s terminology) does not oppose the expression of the rational. finds no textual support in Hegel’s Science of Logic and. i. (114)
The first sentence is true. for the logical categories would still be what they are. Rather. even if no language expressed what there is in truth. because for Hegel it is one of the fundamental features of the rational that it can be expressed in language. one can explain how and why a category is deficient without even mentioning its ‘falling short of the absolute’.‘How can one express the absolute?’ but rather ‘What is truth and what is there in truth?’15 Yet.
each speculative proposition is deficient as long as it falls short of the whole/absolute. indeterminate being’ in the Logic). i. Finally. is extremely problematic because while Lau himself introduced the notion of presentation in order to denote simply the movement from an original unity to a speculative unity. why should local determination not be enough for a judgment to express what it intends to express? Lau. in the formal framework in which he develops his argument. On the other hand. Does the statement of identity dissolve that deficiency? Lau implies that it does. he never explains. but. Thirdly.notes and notes from his students) and the uniqueness of the passage. for us. and in relation to the previous point. the question remains. he explains this in terms of a discrepancy between the scopes of subject and predicate in that judgment. ‘pure. he then suddenly and with no warrant started using that notion as if it denoted the linguistic expression of this movement. there is no need for another judgment? In other words. though. and this discrepancy will ‘force’  ‘thought’ to move to another judgment. Sure.e. the statement of identity) and the absolute. although Lau continuously maintains that the speculative proposition as a statement of identity gives rise to a new judgment or logical category. but how is this supposed to tell us how exactly the new judgment will emerge immanently from the individual speculative proposition?18
. how this actually takes place.e. not the linguistic expression of this development. On the one hand. Now. The ‘presentation of truth’ denotes first and foremost the development of a primordial. that the ‘presentation of truth’ is constitutive of truth. This argument. there is a problem regarding Lau’s account of the deficient structure of the judgment. Yet. of course. who do not accept this arbitrary association. one is not permitted to ground such a crucial point upon it. It is correct to say. The difficulty here is to understand the exact relation between the statement of identity and the deficient structure of the judgment out of which it emerges. therefore. a unity that would incorporate difference. avoids this question because he associates the deficiency of each judgment with the absolute. immediate state of affairs (‘sense-certainty’ in the Phenomenology. he explains it in terms of a discrepancy between what has resulted from the self-critique of a certain judgment (i. does this not mean that there is no deficiency left with respect to that judgment and that therefore. if only in terms of local determination. Lau offers also a philosophical justification for his claim: Language is constitutive of the rational because (a) the presentation (Darstellung) of the rational is constitutive of it and (b) language is constitutive of the presentation of the rational. but this does not entail that language is constitutive of this notion.
firstly.: Suhrkamp: ‛Und wenn Wort und Sache einander entgegengesetzt wird. secondly. I. it must by the standards of the Logic dramatically fail to express the speculative truth. to what defines it and makes it what it is.: Suhrkamp. but to its essence. Hegel (1970). not to just one of the determinations of the subject. ‘Syllogistik und Dialektik in Hegels spekulativen Logik’. esp. denn die nicht ausgesprochene Sache ist eigentlich ein unvernünftiges Ding. Das Problem der Subjektivität in Hegels Logik. 9 G. W. W. F. M. Düsing (1986). Hegels Wissenschaft der Logik. F. Puntel (1973). Frankfurt a. 8 Hegel 1986: Vol. E. the Logic explicitly denies that the definition could function as the locus of truth. However. Given these problems. in A. W. Methode und Struktur. According to Düsing. Moreover. Berlin: Akademie Verlag: ‛Anders stünde es mit vorpropositionalen Sachverhalten. Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie. W. But Lau refers quite extensively to Brandom. if that is the meaning of the speculative proposition. Kritik der reinen Vernunft.M. 1970. 5 G. Lau argues. in two volumes. Henrich (ed. Hegel: Wissenschaft der Logik. W. Bonn: Bouvier. 198ff. Michel eds. F. here vol. Moldenhauer and K. Vol. 11-81. Untersuchungen zur Einheit der systematischen Philosophie G.. kurz Ursachverhalten […]. Frankfurt a. Koch and F. and Quine. Düsing is forced to claim that Hegel
. Klassiker Auslegen.Ioannis D. an element which is superfluous in the judgment. Düsing’s understanding of the speculative proposition entails that that there is a special form of sentence in which speculative truth could be accommodated.). Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. Düsing (1995). Phänomenologie des Geistes. E. through which the absolute identity of the relata would be expressed. but Hegel is very clear that no sentence could ever express the speculative truth. 6 Compare this with A. F. The predicate would in this case refer. Formation und Rekonstruktion. and K. Frankfurt a. Koch (2002). sondern eine Logik der Ursachverhalte […] ist. the notion of the speculative proposition. thirdly.’ that is. I: 65. daß sie keine Logik der Aussagen und Prädikate. F. since in this case the subject would become a ‘sheer opinion. denotes a special philosophical judgment. Schick eds. G. II: 301-310. All translations are mine. Kant (1998). and. ‘Dasein und Fürsichsein (Die Logik der Qualität)’. Michel eds.. F.. Hegel (1986). Hamburg: Felix Meiner. as described in the Preface. Moldenhauer and K.: Suhrkamp. 4 I. in D. 57-64. Trisokkas Department of Philosophy University of Warwick
All references in the text are to Lau’s book. Strawson. Darstellung. This is because.M. ist das Wort das Höhere. A490 / B518. B.’ an ‘indeterminate substrate. Bonn: Bouvier. M. Wissenschaft der Logik. das Vernünftige existiert nur als Sprache. 3 L. Systematische und entwicklungsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum Prinzip des Idealismus und zur Dialektik. M. 7 The reference is to G. 34. 10 See K.’ (28) Lau is diametrically opposed to this position. 20ff. Viele der notorischen Seltsamkeiten der Wissenschaft der Logik rühren daher. F. Hegels.’ (527). such speculative proposition would fail to accommodate the difference and non-identity of the relata. Hegel (1986).M. Michel eds. Moldenhauer and K. as Düsing himself acknowledges. with no difference and non-identity the processual structure of the absolute would be turned into something static. E.
I:20: ‛Die Denkformen sind zunächst in der Sprache des Menschen herausgesetzt und niedergelegt. of course.. enthält eingehüllter. was intended to serve as the introduction to the whole system (including the discipline of speculative logic). the disclosure of such relative imperfection is not what drives thought on from one category to another in the first place. for (a) Hegel had already expressed his criticism of the sentence as a locus of truth in his Frankfurt and Jena writings and (b) the Preface to the Phenomenology. as Lau correctly points out. I would also like to thank Sebastian Stein and Chris Bassett for helpful discussions. S. the determinations of the concept or of what there is in truth) are born in or by language. constituted by (a) the movement of self-critique and (b) its result. Sämmtliche Werke. formulated the theory of the speculative proposition in his Phenomenology years and
abandoned it by the time he developed the Logic. White (1983).’ (48) 15 Compare my position to E. Schelling (1856-1861). was er zu dem Seinigen macht. the world would have no logical structure. The Opening of Hegel’s Logic: From Being to Infinity (West Lafayette. Schelling ed. despite the fact that they were published long before he published his book. Indiana: Purdue University Press: ‘Although earlier categories prove to be imperfect in comparison with later categories. 11 Note that the speculative proposition is now a complex structure. G. so often and so variously misrepresented.M. W. hat sich die Sprache eingedrängt. and what (at first sight) seem arbitrary connexions and transitions are seen to be in place). was ihm zu einem Innerlichen. It is here worth emphasizing that Lau does not cite these two works in his bibliography. esp. 10 Stuttgart: Cotta. Atlantic Highlands: Humanities: ‘The essential feature of Hegelian dialectics is not the triadic arrangement of opposites so much as the holism from which the triadic structure results. ‘Schelling’s Critique of Hegel’s Science of Logic’. 43-66. E. es kann in unseren Tagen nicht oft genug daran erinnert werden. 131-135. Hegel is not saying here that the ‘thought-determinations’ (i. und was er zur Sprache macht und in ihr äußert.’ (xii) See also Harris (1993) The Spirit of Hegel. Absolute Knowledge: Hegel and the Problem of Metaphysics Athens. 12 For a notable exception see Werner Salomon’s magnificent study (1982) Urteil und Selbstverhältnis: Kommentierende Untersuchung zur Lehre vom Urteil in Hegels ‘Wissenschaft der Logik’ Frankfurt a.e. daß das. Humans appropriate the logical structure of the world through language. What he says is that with respect to human beings. Houlgate (2006). Harris (1983). many difficulties and obscurities melt away. Houlgate (1999). Fischer Verlag. the ‘thought-determinations’ appear first in (their) language. Part I. esp. the collapse of the partial identity of the relata.
. Thought does not compare a specific category with the absolute Idea. But. The Review of Metaphysics 53: 99-128 and A. 13 See F. in which the notion of the speculative proposition is developed. Vol. For the definitive refutation of Schelling’s understanding of the Logic see S. However. wodurch sich der Mensch vom Tiere unterscheidet. An Interpretation of the Logic of Hegel (Lanham: University Press of America: ‘The general principle of the dialectic. judge that category to be deficient. 17 Cf. and the former permeates their life and thinking through the latter. In alles. J.’ (142) 16 This is exactly what Houlgate does with the dialectic of the categories in the logic of being in Houlgate 2006. this does not mean that if there was no language. F.: R. 18 I am grateful to Professor Stephen Houlgate for detailed comments on this article. oder vielmehr: dasselbige ist seine eigentümliche Natur selbst. and then move on to a new category that better approximates to the Idea. so sehr natürlich ist ihm das Logische. Ohio: Ohio University Press. Hegel 1986:Vol. das Denken ist.’ Note that this passage does not support Lau’s position. zur Vorstellung überhaupt wird. and when this is clearly and firmly grasped. is the fundamental holism which grounds it and of which it is the expression. 14 Cf. K. Düsing must be mistaken here. 126-164. vermischter oder herausgearbeitet eine Kategorie.