Monday, December 05, 2011

Logic, Dialectic, and Mind: the three phenomenological categories of Hegel in plain English

I've been confused by these terms up until fairly recently, at least that of Mind. Hegel saw logic, Dialectic meaning, and Mind as being the three phases or 'moments' of knowledge, meaning three aspects of knowledge that within them contain all the potential meaning in the world.

Logic refers to the rules of thought taken in themselves, with no particular reference to the external world. Dialectic refers not to the Dialectical Method in the Marxist sense, although it's derived from it, but to knowledge gained from exploring empirical reality. Practical and scientific knowledge is Dialectical knowledge because it emerges from Dialogue with or interaction with the world itself. What Mind is, though is not so simple.

According to Hegel, the stage of "Mind" or Geist, "Spirit", is what comes from Logic being applied to knowledge gained from dialectical interaction, and is a higher form of knowledge. But how can this be, and what exactly does it have to do with the word signifying 'Mind'?

I've come up with the answer that Mind can be thought of as generated from the application of logic to general experience, including that which is scientifically gained. Surely, if you're figuring out scientifically something there's logic involved, but if you strictly look at it from an empirical perspective pure logical analysis should play a smaller part. Meaning in pure empiricism is supposed to come from an evaluation of the facts. Applying rationalism, the belief that Reason taken on its own can find the truth, is thought to be a grave error in evaluating empirical data because of its inherent bias.

However, using empirical facts alone produces problems. Noam Chomsky argues that if people exclusively used the inductive method, where every fact used to make a hypotheses is experimentally verified, we wouldn't have modern science. Instead, we'd still be waiting for the facts to correlate. Rationalism is biased because we're all trapped in our own heads, with cultural, historical, and personal facets of conditioning influencing what we think is Reasonable, but totally Empirical deductions can be indeterminate. The solution, or a solution to how we can get valid knowledge that goes beyond from pure empirical observation is that objective facts have an inner logic to them that allows their meaning to be manipulated after they've been gathered in order to produce new knowledge that can then be experimentally verified. This would be an application of the techniques of logic to data, and would be an instance of Hegel's category of Mind.

What sets it apart from Rationalism is that the deductions and manipulations don't occur before the observations but after it, and are contextualized within the observations instead of directly bringing in information from elsewhere. The inner meaning, the inner logic can be manipulated to produce inferences that go well beyond the bare facts themselves appear to say, and they can do it in many directions.

Mind, Logic making sense of Empirical or Dialectical knowledge but not determining it, can then lead to higher, quicker, associations that can spur progress through the amount of theoretical speculations they can generate.

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