Hegel and the Concepts of Time

George Hegel was an early 19th century philosopher and one of the great systematic thinkers in Western philosophy. He developed his triadic method (Entwicklung) in which philosophy would not contradict experience.

In this triadic process, the second stage is the direct opposite, the annihilation, or at least the sublation, of the first. The third stage is the first returned to itself in a higher, truer, richer, and fuller form. The three stages are, therefore, styled:

  • in itself (An-sich)
  • out of itself (Anderssein)
  • in and for itself (An-und-für-sich).

These three stages are found succeeding one another throughout the whole realm of thought and being, from the most abstract logical process up to the most complicated concrete activity of organized mind in the succession of states or the production of systems of philosophy.

Hegel boldly claimed that his own system of philosophy represented an historical culmination of all previous philosophical thought. Hegel’s overall encyclopedic system is divided into the science of Logic, the philosophy of Nature, and the philosophy of Spirit. Of most enduring interest are his views on history, society, and the state, which fall within the realm of Objective Spirit.
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Hegel also wrote about his concept of time in The Phenomenology of Mind. He recognized the importance of time as an abstract, a negative unit being outside of itself. The conscious mind is always in the present, so there is no understanding of movement of time except through the examination of what is past and not longer viewable in a present state.

There is the present time in which reading takes place, the reader is drawn into a double expectation, waiting for what is to come, and (according to linear representational thinking), while presupposing that the outcome has already arrived (by virtue of teleological ruse). These two moments amount to what Malabou refers to as the immanent temporalization of the System. By configuring itself in both perspectives, Hegelian thought announces the arrival of a new time. How then can we explain the nature of this version of this new form of time becomes the central goal of Hegelian philosophy.
– David Tutt in To see (what is) coming: Hegel On Man and Time

Einstein would tie space and time together in his famous equation, but Hegel laid the foundation for the connection of space and time.

Time is once and for all a dialectical second. It is the negation of space and therefore forever space-related. Or, more purely, more conceptually, spoken: Time is the first mediation of outsideness.
– Eva Brann in Understanding Hegel’s Theory on Time

One Reply to “Hegel and the Concepts of Time”

  1. In Eva Brann’s article “Understanding Hegel’s Theory on Time”, she lays out Hegel’s notion of how time arises. Am I correct in understanding that Concept itself can be negated? I suppose Concept’s time-space-lessness (not the ‘seen’ but the idea) opposes itself while also driving the necessity in the other of space which in turn opposes itself as time, etc.. In this particular case, does Concept itself have an other (dare we think as externality)? Maybe she would tell us that the ‘other’ of negation is not an external other but an other driven from within the Concept (in this case) as its depleted mode (in a sense). So, therefore, space is not other except in thought (as was the case with the thought of Being and nothing as oppositional even though they are identical). But, how can ‘thought’ appear in Concept? Can Concept think itself? Wouldn’t that require time? Is this yet another case where thinking is merely assumed as was the case with Being as ‘pure knowing’ which is ‘pure indeterminateness and emptiness’ and ‘pure nothing’ which is ‘complete emptiness, the absence of all determination and content’ that already has the ‘thought’ of their opposition. …just curious

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