On Hegel’s Logic: Fragments of a Commentary

Written with graduate students in mind, or anyone struggling to make sense of Hegel’s cryptic prose, On Hegel’s Logic throws light on many basic features of his conceptual thinking, and shows that Hegel’s Logic could also be used as a philosophy of contemporary symbolic logic.

How can Hegel’s Logic be called necessary? Relying on Hegel’s psychology, Burbidge suggests that the movement of thought is an intellectual activity that has been purified of contingent and relative associations. Using this principle, he reworks in close textual detail some of the arguments in the larger Science of Logic, in particular the first sections of “The Doctrine of Being,” of “The Doctrine of Essence” and of “The Doctrine of the Concept.”

The detail of the commentary leads to several conclusions. First, Hegel’s theory of the subjective concept can provide a philosophy of contemporary symbolic logic. Second, Hegel’s logic is necessary not only in the sense that it reports the universal transitions of thought, or in the sense that reflection shows the conditions of its operation, but also because the disjunction of these two types of necessity is itself necessary and complete. Third, because logic is the distilled essence of human experience, it articulates the metaphysical principles of the world as absolute knowledge. Fourth, although intrinsically necessary, logic is pure self-knowledge and thus grounds genuine freedom in an indeterminate future.

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