Hegel’s Preface – Part V

Science – The triadic form – schema

Kant rediscovered the triadic form. The questions now are if we are going to view it as a schema and is it going to make philosophy scientific? There is nothing which says we need a triadic form. Sometimes, there may only be two forms (this is where a lot of people go wrong with Hegel).

Sometimes there might be a manifold of forms, while other times a thesis and an antithesis might be enough. This is a really big question for Hegel: how do we connect metaphysics with the sensible and experienced world? There is no intrinsic necessity in this triangle.

The big concern here is about formalism. That is, the boring, generalized schema. We need to be cautious when we are using analogy, as we might be schematising, without actually knowing the content. For example:

Understanding is electricity
Understanding is brain states

Here, we are not getting to grips with the things in themselves. We are generalizing with analogy. We need real content. Our need for the organization of things, may serve to hinder our understanding of them. We need actual concepts, not just ways of organizing them. There is always the risk of people getting two emotionally attached to their systems, whereby they are reluctant to change their view if it goes against their core principles. We should not approach the phenomenology in a schematistic way. However, it is important to note that Hegel is not against formalism/schemas, but simply these things without content.

Philosophy, Picture thinking, Argumentation

Picture thinking refers to when we have a determinate way of thinking about things. It is highly sensual, thinking in terms of images, the visual, audio, emotional dispositions, etc. It’s a kind of material thinking, whereby people have a determinant way of thinking because they are invested in their own way of sensual thinking, their own way of looking at the world. Argumentation meanwhile, cannot commit itself to content e.g. its all contingent, everything can be doubted, etc. Here, we never explore things critically and still get the result of generalization. Science meanwhile, combines the good in both and separates they’re negative aspects. One reason why philosophy annoys people is that it is constantly negating things. This in result, leads to a mostly negative insight i.e. it only knows that things are not the case, leading to everything becoming empty, worthless and futile. Negation is not merely negative however, it creates something new, something affirmative through its negation.

Calling predicates into question

We can learn things through accidents rather than predicates. I can find out I have liver cancer from having yellow skin for example.

Subjects and Predicates

The general form refers to the subject-predicate model. The subject has agency, which bleeds through the predicate. We should note there is a difference between subject and predicate, the subject becomes other to itself through the predicate. To say man is human, does not tell us what a man is. Human might as well be the subject of the sentence, and man the predicate. If we are to say ‘man is an animal with two legs’, the subject no longer becomes an empty name but gains identity through the predicate ‘animal with two legs’. The predicate then, is the essential quality which gives us information on the subject. The predicate then, becomes a new kind of subject by being an extension of what the subject is through the process of mediation.

Philosophy is nonsesnse

A common complaint in philosophy is that it is unintelligible. Often, the people claiming this are people who have a good education. Yet we cannot generalise the content in philosophy, we need to go over the texts, original texts, source material, etc. To truly come to grips with its content. We should not judge however, that non-speculative thinking should be gotten rid of. Common sense, intuition, picture thinking, etc. Are all useful and in some cases needed. It’s just that speculative philosophy is useful in situations when it is good to know either all or as much of the content as possible. It is more interested in the process of which we come to know the content, which play a part in its entirety, rather than the content itself. Speculative philosophy exists within language, yet Hegel thinks we must think through how we are using language. There may be languages which don’t have subjects or predicates, but we are using subjects and predicates to state the absence of subjects and predicates.


We have a habit of calling people in history geniuses. People who are spontaneously talented and good at what they do. However, the people who are called geniuses are often not, and belong to a much wider process and those who are geniuses seldom have any lasting effect on history.