What Is Meant by "Determined"

P 28: Journal of Speculative Philosophy 2(1868):190-91


[The following discussion, which is a continuation of the one in a former issue called "Nominalism and Realism," may serve a good purpose to clear up any confusion that may exist regarding some of the important technical expressions employed.--EDITOR.]


To the Editor of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy.

SIR:--Your remarks upon my inquiries concerning Being and Nothing are very kind and courteous. Considered as replies, they are less satisfactory than they might have been had I succeeded better in making my difficulties understood.

I suspect that there must be some misunderstanding between us of the meaning of the various terms cognate with "determined." Perhaps, therefore, I shall do well to state more fully than I did before, the manner in which I understand Hegel (in common with all other logicians) to use them. Possibly, the original signification of bestimmt was "settled by vote"; or it may have been "pitched to a key." Thus its origin was quite different from that of "determined"; yet I believe that as philosophical terms their equivalence is exact. In general, they mean "fixed to be this (or thus), in contradistinction to being this, that, or the other (or in some way or other)." 1 --When it is a concept or term, such as is expressed by a concrete noun or adjective which is said to be more determinate than another, the sense sometimes is that the logical extension of the former concept or term is a part and only a part of that of the latter; but more usually the sense is, that the logical comprehension of the latter is a part and only a part of that of the former.

In my former letter (page 151) I sufficiently expressed my own understanding of "determined" as applied to a concept or term such as is expressed by an abstract noun. Determinate is also used either in express application or with implicit reference to a second intention or term of second denomination. In such an acceptation, we may speak either of a singular as indeterminate, or of a conception of Being, in general, as determinate. Every singular is in one sense perfectly determinate, since there is no pair of contradictory characters of which it does not possess one. Yet if the extension of the term be limited, not by additions to its comprehension, but by a reflection upon the term itself--namely, that it shall denote but one--it is called an indeterminate singular. In this sense, "some one horse" is an indeterminate individual, while "Dexter" is a determinate individual. In a somewhat similar way, every universal conception of Being is quite indeterminate in the sense of not signifying any particular character. Yet, if the reflection is explicitly made (gesetzt) that every thing to which it applies has its particular characters, it is called by Hegel, determinate being. Hegel teaches that the whole series of categories or universal conceptions can be evolved from one--that is, from Seyn--by a certain process, the effect of which is to make actually thought that which was virtually latent in the thought. So that this reflection which constitutes Daseyn lies implicitly even in Seyn, and it is by explicitly evolving it from Seyn that Daseyn is evolved from Seyn. (Hegel's Werke, Bd. 3, S. 107.) The term "What is" has reference to pure Seyn only; the term "What is somehow" has reference to Daseyn.

This is my understanding of the term "determinate." It must differ from yours, or you would not say that animality, in general, is determined in respect to humanity: so when you say that were animality and humanity, in general, undetermined with respect to each other they would be identical, I take the example of "highness of pitch in general" and "loudness of sound in general," and I conclude again that we are taking the word "determine" in different senses. May I ask you to reperuse my 4th question? (p. 151.)

You have apparently understood me as applying the term "abstract" to any concept the result of abstraction. But, as I intimated (p. 145), I adopt that acceptation in which "whiteness" is said to be abstract and "white" concrete. For this use of the terms, I refer to the following authorities: Andrews and Stoddard's Latin Grammar, §26, 5; Scotus, Super Prædicamenta, qu. 8; Durandus à Sancto Porciano, In Sententias, lib. 1, dist. 34, qu. 1; Ockham, Summa Logices, pars 1, cap. 5; Chauvin, Lexicon Rationale, sub v. Abstractum; Mill, Logic, Bk. 1, cap. 2, §4; Trendelenburg, Elementa Logices Aristoteleae, 6th ed., p. 117, note; Überweg, Logik, §51 (where Wolff, also, is cited); Hoppe, Logik, §§256, 257. This misapprehension affects the relevancy of most of your remarks.

I think that I have not, as you suppose, greatly mistaken the sense in which Hegelians use the term Pure Being. At least, my definition seems to be in accord with the explanations of almost all, if not all, the commentators and expositors of Hegel. I would submit respectfully, that your own remarks upon p. 117 of Vol. I of this Journal contradict, almost in terms, what you say (p. 146) in reply to me. 2

Once or twice you use such expressions as "We do not profess to speak for Hegelians," "Hegelians may understand this as they please," &c. Have I been wrong, then, in supposing that the passage to which my queries related was a professed defence of Hegelian doctrine? 3

I am sorry to learn that I have done you injustice in saying that you profess to be self-contradictory. Yet I do not see in what sense you object to the remark. To say that a man is self-contradictory is, of course, but a way of saying that what he believes is self-contradictory. You believe that "finite things contradict themselves"; that is, as I understand it, that contradictions exist. Therefore, what you believe in, appears to be self-contradictory. Nor can I see how a person "escapes self-contradiction by not attempting to set up non-contradiction as the first principle of things"; that is, by not professing to be otherwise than self-contradictory. 4

I do not see that you notice query 3. 5

1. Wherein is the force of this "in contradistinction to" which our correspondent employs here? Determination--as we understand the Hegelian use of the term--implies all difference, property, mark, quality, attribute, or, in short, any distinction whatever that is thought as belonging to a subject. This would include its "being this, that, or the other." Thus "highness of pitch" and "loudness of sound, in general," are through their determinateness distinct.--EDITOR.

2. The passage here referred to is in Chapter III of the "Introduction to Philosophy," wherein there is no reference whatever to the Hegelian use of the term. It is a psychological investigation of the significance of the first predicate which is a determinate somewhat, and "Being" is used in the popular sense of "something" (i.e. a being), and its origin traced to the substantive-making activity of the Ego, which in its first exercise seizes itself as the fundamental basis of all. Just as, according to Kant, Time and Space, the forms of the mind, are made the basis of what the mind sees; so, too, Being as a universal predicate is the pure activity objectified. But the making it substantive, at the same time, determines it.--EDITOR.

3. Of course, our correspondent would not consider "a defence of Hegel" as identical with a championship of the Hegelians. It is the latter, only, that we object to, for the reason mentioned in the article on Janet, viz., that the term is used so vaguely as to include those who differ essentially from Hegel.--EDITOR.

4. We hasten to assure our correspondent that we do not "believe in the self-contradictory." We are sorry we were so unhappy in our expressions as to convey such a meaning. The Abiding or the Total Process is not self-contradictory, neither is it an abstract identity, but is (as we described it on p. 54, 2d col. of this volume) "self-identical through self-distinction." The self-determining is what we believe in, and it alone exists, while the fleeting show whose reality rests on contradiction is (and this is not Hegelian merely, but older than Plato) a mingling of Being and non-Being. One who sets up the principle of contradiction ignores one side of the process, and thus involves himself in that which he tries to avoid.--ED.

5. If any point is involved in question 3d that is not answered in the discussion of the other queries, we fail to seize it.--EDITOR.