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Transforming Representations into Thoughts and Thoughts into Concepts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 June 2015

John W. Burbidge*
Affiliation:
University of Trent, john.burbidge@sympatico.ca
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Extract

In an attempt to make sense of the argument in Hegel's Science of Logic, I have suggested that, when we focus our attention on a concept, we find that our thought moves to other, related concepts. We can then turn our thoughts not only to those other concepts, but also to the movement itself: the transitions, ‘becomings’, or processes that lead from one to the other. Reflection can in its turn look back over these processes, along with their beginnings and endings, to consider them as synthetic wholes. Finally, thought can collapse those syntheses into simple unities that become new conceptual starting points. The whole dynamic described in the Logic is something that takes place in the realm of thought as a result of the activity of thinking.

One of the earliest and most penetrating reviews of my On Hegel's Logic (Burbidge 1991) by George di Giovanni (di Giovanni 1982) took exception to this approach because it committed the fallacy of psychologism. Rather than basing logic on the concepts as objective entities that have a life of their own, I was subordinating it to the subjective processes that occur in the minds of thinkers — and as subjective, logic was amenable to contingencies and distractions that would betray its strict objectivity.

The fallacy of psychologism was first identified by Gottlob Frege. Once I examined his arguments, I found it quite relevant to my study of Hegel. Initially, Frege draws a sharp contrast between ideas and concepts — at least that is how the English translators have rendered his German.

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Copyright
Copyright © The Hegel Society of Great Britain 2009

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References

Burbidge, J. W. (1981), On Hegel's Logic: Fragments of a Commentary. Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
Burbidge, J. W. (2006), ‘New Directions in Hegel's Philosophy of Nature’ in Deligiorgi, Katerina (ed.), Hegel: New Directions. Chesham: Acumen. 177–92.Google Scholar
di Giovanni, G. (1982), ‘Burbidge and Hegel on the Logic’, The Owl of Minerva 14:1: 16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Frege, G. (1960), The Foundations of Arithmetic, trans. Austin, J. L.. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
Frege, G. (1986), ‘Review of Husserl's Philosophie der Arithmetik ’ in Geach, P. and Black, M. (eds), Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Frege, G. (1997), ‘On Sense and Reference’ in The Frege Reader, ed. Beaney, Michael. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Hegel, G. W. F. (1969), Science of Logic, trans. Miller, A. V.. London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
Hegel, G. W. F. (1971), Philosophy of Mind, Part III of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences, trans. Wallace, W. and Miller, A. V.. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
Hegel, G. W. F. (1991), The Encyclopaedia Logic, trans. Geraets, T. F., Suchting, W. A. and Harris, H. S.. Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
Kant, I. (1953), Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Smith, N. Kemp. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar

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