Being, Nothing, Becoming – London, 26 April

19th Apr 2018

Being, Nothing, Becoming: 
The Opening Dialectic of Hegel’s Science of Logic

Workshop Seminar

26 April 2018
Penrhyn Road Campus, Kingston University

London JG 2011

Focusing exclusively on the opening of Hegel’s Science of Logic, this one-day workshop will be devoted to the dialectic of Being-Nothing-Becoming. We will begin with Hegel’s prefaces and introductions and follow the first chapter of the Doctrine of Being. The opening dialectic on Being, Nothing, and Becoming is arguably the hardest section for newcomers to grapple with because of its seeming simplicity. Hegel’s own argument for why a science of logic necessarily starts with the immediate and indeterminate category of pure Being is arguably more controversial than the immediate beginning of Sense-Certainty in the Phenomenology of Spirit

The workshop will focus exclusively on Hegel’s Science of Logic, the “Greater Logic,” as opposed to the “Lesser” Encyclopaedia Logic. In the Science of Logic Hegel expresses his arguments in greater detail and therefore serves as a richer resource for critical engagement. We propose to use the recent Cambridge University Press edition of Hegel’s Science of Logic, translated by George di Giovanni (2010) as it is now considered the standard English translation. That said, we will also occasionally refer to the original German text as well as the older A.V. Miller translation for comparison if occasion calls for it.

Attendees are expected to have read the text and engage in a discussion prompted by a series of questions. The workshop will be facilitated by Borna Radnik and Eric-John Russell (PhD Candidates at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy).

For a PDF of the readings or any other inquiries, please contact: K1543754@kingston.ac.uk.


11am – 2pm: First and Second Prefaces, Introduction, “With What Must the Beginning of Science be Made?” (Giovanni translation / pp. 7-57); 20-30 min. presentation on the sections to open up the discussion summary followed by workshop questions (not exhaustive):

  • How does Hegel’s endeavor to rethink logic relate to the alleged fall of metaphysics?
  • How does the immanent approach to the content of scientific procedure problematize what Hegel regards as the formalism of previous philosophy?
  • In what way does the method of determinate negation overcome the limits of the faculty of the Understanding [Verstand]?
  • In what way does the method of the Phenomenology of Spirit appear within the Science of Logic? In what way does it differ?
  • How might it be said that the Phenomenology of Spirit is both the presupposition and result of the Science of Logic?
  • Can Hegel’s conception of logic convincingly be said to permeate the totality of both social life and nature?
  • In what way might it be said that the concreteness of Geist subsists within the “pure essentialities” of the Science of Logic?
  • Within both prefaces and introductions to the Science of Logic, how does Hegel come to reconciliation with Kantian philosophy?
  • For Hegel, why can’t the subject matter of logic, i.e. conceptual thinking, be given in advance?
  • How does Hegel’s dialectical method differ and relate to what is described as “the speculative”?
  • How does Hegel incorporate elements of both ancient and modern philosophy into the Science of Logic?

2:45-5:45pm: “Being” (Giovanni translation / pp. 58-82); 20-30 min. presentation on the sections to open up the discussion summary followed by workshop questions (not exhaustive):

  • Why does Hegel begin with the concept of ‘pure being,’ rather than with the concept of ‘nothing’ or ‘becoming’?
  • What is ‘pure being’ according to Hegel?
  • How would you describe the relation between the category of ‘Being’ and the category of ‘Nothing’?
  • How do ‘Being’ and ‘Nothing’ “move”? Why?
  • In what sense are we to understand the category of ‘Becoming’? Is becoming temporal in the Logic?
  • Do you think the opening dialectic of The Science of Logic is simple, complex, or both?
  • Are you persuaded by Hegel’s claim that the Logic does not presuppose a method? Do you agree that the contradiction of ‘Being’ and ‘Nothing’ emerge through an immanent process from the content of thought itself or is Hegel forcing an external method to bear on the content?

The workshop is free to the public and will conclude by assessing the prospects of continuing with the Science of Logic in its entirety with those interested.