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  • Sublation [Aufhebung]


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    On 12/12/2016 at 6:15 AM, stimmung79 said:

    Can you please explain what you mean by "sublation"?

    Sublation [Aufhebung], as I understand it, is Hegel's term for the process by which a state is "raised up," or cancelled out into a new, higher state of being.  So in Hegel's system, history unfolds as an optimistic, progressive movement toward the revelation of absolute spirit in the world.  It's a kind of optimism that been co-opted (knowingly or not) by all sorts of groups in contemporary culture - from those of us who think science is progressively discovering more and more about the world and will ultimately explain everything[1] to people who think that humanity is just getting better and that the world is generally improving (the "up and to the right" thinkers, as they say in economics).  In other words, history is a progression from state to (higher) state without looking back - "without remainder."

    But Hegel adds a wrinkle to Aufhebung which not everyone acknowledges.  In the Science of Logic Hegel is very clear about it however:

    The German “aufheben” (“to sublate” in English) has a twofold meaning in the language: it equally means “to keep,” “to ‘preserve’,” and “to cause to cease,” “to put an end to.” Even “to preserve” already includes a negative note, namely that something, in order to be retained, is removed from its immediacy and hence from an existence which is open to external influences. – That which is sublated is thus something at the same time preserved, something that has lost its immediacy but has not come to nothing for that. – These two definitions of “to sublate” can be cited as two dictionary meanings of the word. But it must strike one as remarkable that a language has come to use one and the same word for two opposite meanings. For speculative thought it is gratifying to find words that have in themselves a speculative meaning.[2]

    So sublation is a speculative term for Hegel, which means that it "disputes itself."  Thus, when something is sublated it is not annulled or cancelled out; it remains as an element in the new state, which means that there can never be a clean break between states.  Hegel may arbitrarily posit a linear progression from A to B to C etc., but this can never be guaranteed because of the very mechanism of sublation he uses.

     

    Footnotes

    1. ^ I think this includes people who think we are free to pollute the planet as much as we want because, hey, by the time the Earth becomes uninhabitable we'll just build huge spaceships and go off to colonize other planets Battlestar-Galactica style!
    2. ^ G.W.F. Hegel, The Science of Logic, trans. George di Giovanni (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010), 81-82.
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    It says onthe Wikipedia site (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aufheben#Hegel), among other things, that

    Quote
    Quote

    In Hegel, the term Aufhebung has the apparently contradictory implications of both preserving and changing, and eventually advancement (the German verb aufheben means "to cancel", "to keep" and "to pick up"). The tension between these senses suits what Hegel is trying to talk about. In sublation, a term or concept is both preserved and changed through its dialectical interplay with another term or concept. Sublation is the motor by which the dialectic functions.

    Sublation can be seen at work at the most basic level of Hegel's system of logic. The two concepts Being and Nothing are each both preserved and changed through sublation in the concept Becoming. Similarly, determinateness, or quality, and magnitude, or quantity, are each both preserved and sublated in the concept measure.

    Hegel's philosophy of history stresses the importance of negative (the antithesis) in history—negative includes wars, etc., but not only. His conception of historical progress follows a dialectic spiral, in which the thesis is opposed by the antithesis, itself sublated by the synthesis. Hegel stated that Aufheben is uniquely exempt from the historical process in that it is supposed to be true for all time and never changes or develops further as in das absolute Wissen ("absolute knowledge"). The synthesis both abolishes and preserves the thesis and the antithesis, an apparent contradiction which leads to difficulties in interpreting this concept (and to translate Aufheben).[citation needed] In Hegel's logic, self-contradiction is legitimate and necessary.

    So in the end, no one knows what the hell Aufheben means xD

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    • 2 weeks later...
    On 12/30/2016 at 11:38 AM, Tegan Holmes said:

    So from what I get from this it means that history can always repeat itself?

     

    I think so.  I also think of it along the lines of Freudian repression...well, cultural repression (if there is such a thing?):  we get from "Stage A" to "Stage B" in, say, cultural evolution, and naturally we become inclined to think that our B is miles ahead of the old, outdated, misguided A and that we have somehow reached a new plateau which is categorically better than the first.  So as one tired old narrative has it, our scientific age has improved upon the beliefs and viewpoints of a past, obsolete age of superstition, religion, rabid flying monkeys, etc. etc.

    I think the speculative nature of sublation points to precisely the impossibility of this narrative.  First, you have to prove that complete (well, absolute) breaks are possible, which is difficult at the very least.  How does one prove that all the ideas of a previous age have been entirely left behind?  But the point is that what has been "repressed," expelled as waste, left behind, is responsible for the new age, which would never come to exist were it not for the previous state of things.

    So A is always lurking inside B; religious beliefs, superstitions, etc. are still very much with us (in fact, the vast, vast majority of people in the world are religious).  That example, I think, puts to rest any idea of ever entirely leaving the past behind, or at least puts to rest the idea that it can never come back.

    Frederick Beiser has a great book on Hegel where he talks about this in a very accessible way.  I'll see if I can find the passage I have in mind.

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    @Tegan Holmes I think history repeating itself is a part of it.  But with a difference, obviously, since nothing can repeat itself exactly the way it was.  That's what the author of @NotWithoutMyOntic's post is saying.

    Personally, I wonder if they aren't archetypal patterns in Jung's sense, if anyone knows what i mean...?

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    On 1/2/2017 at 7:34 PM, Gord Barentsen said:

    So A is always lurking inside B; religious beliefs, superstitions, etc. are still very much with us (in fact, the vast, vast majority of people in the world are religious).  That example, I think, puts to rest any idea of ever entirely leaving the past behind, or at least puts to rest the idea that it can never come back.

    Frederick Beiser has a great book on Hegel where he talks about this in a very accessible way.  I'll see if I can find the passage I have in mind.

    Ok I can't find this quote...and the one I found was in Hegel's discussion of art.  But I think it's implied in the quote from the Logic anyway - the speculative nature of sublation means that the past stage is suspended; it could come back, it could not.

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    • 1 year later...

    I wonder if anyone here (aside from @Graham Barnett) thinks that Trump's impending demise is part of the revelation of absolute Knowledge in history?

    WWW.SKYHINEWS.COM

    For those who slept through Philosophy 101, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a 19th century German philosopher who taught that the human mind cannot understand anything unless it can

     

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    • 3 weeks later...
    On 1/4/2019 at 12:14 PM, traumaturgist said:

    Why is there a cover image of Napoleon in this thread?

    From my old reading of Philosophy of History, Napoleon was seen as a world-historical figure and thus an integral part of the unfolding of absolute spirit.

    It was the closest thing I could think of related to ablation. 🤔

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    On 12/10/2018 at 12:27 PM, NotWithoutMyOntic said:

    I wonder if anyone here (aside from @Graham Barnett) thinks that Trump's impending demise is part of the revelation of absolute Knowledge in history?

    WWW.SKYHINEWS.COM

    For those who slept through Philosophy 101, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a 19th century German philosopher who taught that the human mind cannot understand anything unless it can

     

    sorry but this guy doesn't get hegel at all...even I know that he (hegel) never used thesis-antithesis-synthesis.  not to mention that trying to superimpose something so sophisticated on to Trump is heading for trouble.

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    I don't know which fares worse...this person's understanding of Hegel or his clumsy pro-Trump sentiments. 🤔

    I had to respond (it's up there).  For the record, Hegel did not use anything like "Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis" (which was Fichte not Hegel, as I recall); and to characterise his thinking as incapable of handling anything which wasn't divided into "polar opposites" reduces his thought to a caricature.

    I think maybe he slept through Philosophy 101...

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    • 1 year later...

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