Logic As Metaphysical
view knowledge experience individual notion nature system treatment
LOGIC AS METAPHYSICAL, to understand the peculiarities of this, the final conception of logic, we must take into account the ultimate view of knowledge as that in which thought and reality are united, and of philosophy generally as the attempt to develop the whole system of these abstract determinations of thought by which coherence and intelligibility are given to knowledge. In it there is carried out to the full extent Kant's idea of thought as the ultimate germ of intelligibility.
In the critical system, as we have seen, the fundamental idea was continuously disturbed by the intrusion of doctrines which possessed significance only when the problems were treated from a quite opposed point of view. Thus the abstract separation of conscious experience, regulated according to the conditions of the unity of thought, from a supposed realm of reality involved the consideration of the subject as one portion or item of a mechanical whole. In other words, the Kantian system proved itself unable to unite in a comprehensive fashion the two ideas of thought as the universal in experience and of thought as the activity or mode of realization of the individual subject. The central point of view, that which refers all in experience to the unity of thought, was continuously departed from, and as a natural consequence the various forms or modes of thought were treated, not in relation to their ultimate unity, but as isolated facts, to be dealt with by principles resting on a totally opposed doctrine. It is the essence of the Hegelian method to keep continuously in view the concrete unity and totality of thought, to treat each special aspect or determination as an integral portion of an organic whole, a portion which must prove itself unintelligible and contradictory- if regarded apart from its relations to the whole, and so to avoid these mechanical separations and abstractions which had proved fatal to the Kantian doctrine. In the development of a method which rests upon and endeavours to retain so comprehensive a point of view, there must of necessity be muds that is tentative and imperfect. Differences of opinion regarding the main stages in the development, regarding the particular content of any one stage, are quite compatible with adhesion to the general principle of the whole.2 But from this point of view only can justice be done to those forms of thought which have always been regarded as the special material of logical treatment ; from any other, the treatment must be partial, fragmentary, and, so to speak, external. Thus, notion, judgment, and syllogism are not, in this view, treated as merely subjective modes in which the individual consciousness apprehends and works up the material of experience, but as higher, more developed, and therefore richer forms of the determinations of thought in and through which intelligibility of experience is acquired. The whole system of these determinations of thought, the categories, is the matter of logic ; the realization of them in subjective experience, or the treatment of the successive phases of consciousness in which abstract thought comes to be recognized in and by the individual, is the matter of the philosophy of spirit, of which psychology is one portion. Doubtless the logical treatment may be led up to by tracing the modes in which the full consciousness of the determinations of thought as the essence of reality is attained, but such introduction is propmdentic merely, and within the logical system itself the starting-point must be the simplest, least definite of those categories whereby for spirit the realm of fact becomes intelligible.
The nature of the opposition between this view and that of the ordinary logic, which in the main rests upon the principle of individualist psychology, that the content of knowledge is derived ab extra, from an entirely foreign world of fact, will become more clear if there be considered specially the treatment which under the two methods is given to the notion. Notions, in ordinary logic, are regarded as products formed from the data supplied by presentative and representative experience, and the mode of formation as generally conceived is a continuous process of critical comparison, recognition of differences, similarities, and grouping of like facts. Not only then does the notion present itself as relatively poor and meagre in content, a kind of attenuated individual, not only are the only characteristics presented to the operation of thought mechanical and external, but the final product appears as a mere subjective abbreviation of what is given in experience. In the process, however, even as it is ordinarily conceived, there is more involved. than is apparent on the surface. The individuals subjected to the abstracting and generalizing activity of thought are qualified individuals, i.e., individuals viewed as determined in their own nature and in respect of thought by a whole network of relations, which when stated abstractly are really of the nature of categories. They are individuals only for a unifying intelligence which views them under diverse aspects, and these aspects are the blank forms of intelligibility, which it is the very function of logic to consider in system. Moreover, the purely formal acceptation of the notion as a mere mental hieroglyphic or sign stands in sharp contradiction to the view which as a rule accompanies it, and which, for the most part, receives explicit statement in a so-called applied logic or doctrine of method, that in the notion is contained the representation of the essence or truth of reality. It is impossible to retain with any consistency the merely arithmetical or numerical doctrine of the notion, as containing fewer marks than the individual, of the genus as characterized by a less number of attributes than the species, and so on. Underlying all genuine knowledge, all classification, and therefore all formation of notions, is the tendency towards the subordination of parts to a law which determines them. The generic attributes are not simply the points of agreement, but the determining characteristics, and the notion of a thing is the explicit recognition of its nature as a particular manifestation of a universal law.
-Thus even within the limits of the ordinary logic there are problems which force upon it the reconsideration of the view which regards the notion as merely a mechanically formed psychical fact. Knowledge, no doubt, is only realized subjectively, in and through psychical facts, but time treatment of it in its nature as knowledge, and the treatment of its psychical aspect, are tote you're distinct. The metaphysical doctrine which keeps consistently in view thought as the essence of knowledge in its own nature has therefore to contemplate the notion in strictest relation to thought, as one mode in which objectivity as such is apprehended, made intelligible, and, in a very special sense, as the mode in which the nature of thought is made explicit. Thus the notion can only appear as uniting and comprehending under a new aspect these intellectual determinations whereby things are related to one another in a cognizable system. The special characteristic of the Hegelian logic, the methodical principle of development of the determinations of thought, requires for its full elucidation a longer treatment than is cornpatil le with the scope of a general sketch. But it seems necessary to add a word respecting certain difficulties or objections which apply, not specially to the methodical principle of Hegel's but generally to the idea of a logic which is at the same tune metaphysic or a treatment of ultimate notions. These objections may be variously put, according to the special point of view assumed by the critic, but they are in the long run dependent en one mode of interpretation of the fundamental antithesis between being, or reality, and thought. For whether we say that it is confusion to identify thought-forms with relations of fact, that it is unphilosophical to assume that being of necessity conforms to thought, that thought is purely subjective and knowledge the system of forms in and through which the subjective is brought after its own nature to an adequate representation of objective fact, or point to phenomena of perception as showing that even adequate correspondence, not to speak of identity, between subjective and objective must be matter of discussion, or lay stress upon the procedure of science as negativing the preliminary assumption of the logico-metaphysical assumption, we but express in varied ways a fundamental interpretation of the opposition between reality and knowledge. We assume an initial distinction, the grounds and precise nature of which arc never made clear. For the antithesis between thought and reality is an antithesis in and by means of conscious experience, and is not to be comprehended save through conscious experience. If; indeed, we start with conscious experience as a mechanically- formed tertivait quid, something which arises out of the correlation of an unknown subject and an unknown object, we may certainly retain, as an ever-recurring and insoluble problem, the possibility of cognizing either factor per sr. lint the problem arises not from the antithesis but from our way of reading or interpreting it. Opposition between subjective thinking and the real world of fact, slow, tentative, and imperfect development in individual consciousness of knowledge which contains in essential relation the opposed elements, distinction therefore of time metaphysical or real categories which determine the nature of object as knowable from the ideal or logical categories which express more specifically the fashion in which the knowable object is reduced to the subjective form of cognition, are not only perfectly compatible with, but are strictly reasoned conclusions from, the ultimate doctrine that in thought alone is to be found the secret both of knowing and of being. To bring against this doctrine the continuous complaint that it assumes au identity which, if it can he proved at all, at least demands proof, is to misunderstand the very notion of identity which plays so important a part in the objection. Not even in the most judicious and thoughtful critics of metaphysical logic, in Lotze for example,' does one find a sufficiently careful distinction between a mere question of nomenclature (i.e., whether we shall restrict the title logic to the portion of general system which deals with notions, judgments, and syllogism, while reserving for metaphysics all the other inquiries) and the question of theoretical importance, whether there remains over and above the difference between the more immediate determinations of thought and its more complex or reflective modes an essential difference in knowledge between thought and reality. In less careful critics the oversight simply leads to the contention that we shall always repeat the problem of knowing and being as insoluble, and shall view knowledge as a mechanical, subjective product.
Many of these objections doubtless result from a very simple fact, more than once alluded to in this article. Particular distinctions, apparently the most elementary, frequently involve and are unintelligible apart from a developed, though net necessarily consistent or well grounded, conception of things in general. Thus the emphasis laid upon thought as essentially subjective, as being merely the system of operations whereby the individual brings into order and coherence in his own experience what is furnished ab extra through the natural connexion in which lie is placed to the objective world, seems at first sight the most simple and direct consequence of the actually given distinction between the individual as one natural unit and the sum of things comprehending him and all others. But, on analysing more closely the title for applying to philosophical problems a view which is that of practical life, and doubtless legitimate and necessary within that sphere, we readily become aware of a whole series of speculative assumptions implicit in that view, and possibly without any adequate justification. At all events, whether or not the view be ultimately defensible, and in the same form in which it is at first assumed, it is unphilosophical to start in the treatment of a difficult and important discussion from principles so ambiguous and undetermined. The practical difference between the individual agent and the external sphere within which his individual operations are realized and which is therefore treated by him, from his point of view, as external, throws no light per se on the nature of the ultimate relation between the individual thinker as such and the world within which his thought is exercised. The confusion between ultimate distinctions and practical points of view is productive of most pernicious consequences not only in logic specially but in philosophy at large.