What Are Different Dialectical Approaches?
By David M. Boje, Ph.D.
May 16 2016
I take a Hegelian approach to Dialectical Storytelling.
Hegel broke free of Kant’s Transcendental Dialectic, by making Spirit (Reason) a substantive actualization in the World. Hegel made space and time, have being in the world, rather than treating them as a Kantian a priori. Hegel’s master-slave dialectic has a deep and profound influence on Marx, though Marx tried to rid the dialectical ontology of Spirit. Adorno’s Negative Dialectics turns Hegelian dialectics into just the empirical. Heidegger’s (1962) Being and Time, is influenced by Hegel, and in fact, the last section of Heidegger’s unfinished ontological project is all about Hegel’s dialectic, and attempts to refute and succeed his concepts of temporality. Žižek (2010, Less Than Nothing) book attempts successfully, by my read, to resurrect much that has been forgotten about Hegel, and even resituates Hegel as appropriate to contemporary Situation, and even does an application to Barad’s (2007) quantum mechanics, and accuses Barad of not being dialectical in her conception of agential realism and the intra-activity of materiality with discourse.
Below I provide some notes on this line of inquiry.
Kant (1781) developed the Transcendental Dialectic, which Hegel did disagree with. There are 422 mentions of Dialectic in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
“It is in reality a problem of that ideal reason which goes beyond the sphere of a possible experience, and wants to form an opinion of that which surrounds and limits experience, and will therefore have to be considered in our transcendental Dialectic” (Kant p. 186).
Kant distinguishes between immanent and transcendent experience:
“All principles the application of which is entirely confined within the limits of possible experience, we [p. 296] shall call immanent; those, on the contrary, which tend to transgress those limits, transcendent” (Kant, p. 240).
Kant (p. 246) asserted that we can learn by making transcendental judgments (learning by inductive experience) but this can be a deception, a transcendental illusion, and one the Transcendental Dialectic must guard against.
“Transcendental Dialectic must, therefore, be content to lay bare the illusion of transcendental judgments and guarding against its deceptions--but it will never succeed in removing the transcendental illusion (like the logical), and putting an end to it altogether” (Kant, pp. 241-2).
The conclusion of Reason, can also be deduced “by means of an intervening judgment” (Kant, p. 246).
The sources of Transcendental Dialectic, for Kant are deeply hidden in the human reason:
“The task that is now before us in the transcendental Dialectic which has to be developed from sources deeply hidden in the human reason, is this: to discover the correctness or otherwise the falsehood of the principle that the series of conditions (in the synthesis of phenomena, or of objective thought in general) extends to the unconditioned, and what consequences result therefrom with regard to the empirical use of the understanding --- to find” (Kant, p. 250).
Kant treats space and time as an aesthetic Transcendental, that precedes (a priori) sensemaking, and is actually Transcendental Dialectic to it.
Kant (p. 18), asks, “What then are space and time?” He declares them to bi a priori to experience and its intuition.
“Space is not an empirical concept which has been derived from external experience. For in order that certain sensations should be referred to something outside-- myself, i.e. to something in a different part of space from that where I am …”
“Therefore the representation of space cannot be borrowed through experience from relations of external phenomena, but, on the contrary, this external experience becomes possible only by means of the representation of space” (p. 19)
“Space is a necessary representation a priori, forming the very foundation of all external intuitions” (p. 19).
“On this necessity of an a priori representation of space rests the apodictic certainty of all geometrical principles, and the possibility of their construction a priori. For if the intuition of space were a concept gained a posteriori, borrowed from general external experience, the first principles of mathematical definition would be nothing but perceptions” (p. 19).
“Space is not a discursive or so-called general” (p. 19).
What about Time?
“Time is not an empirical concept deduced from any experience, for neither coexistence nor succession would enter into our perception, if the representation of time were not given a priori” (p. 24).
“Time has one dimension only ; different times are not simultaneous, but successive, while different spaces are never successive, but simultaneous” (p. 25).
“Time is not a discursive, or what is called a general concept, but a pure form of sensuous intuition. Different times are parts only of one and the same time” (p. 25)
For Hegel, Kant’s Transcendental Dialectic posed too sharp a divide between the a priori of space and time worked out in netherworld, before and above, experience of our sensemaking (induction) and our deductive Reason.
“Of course, the triadic form must not be regarded as scientific when it is reduced to a lifeless schema, a mere shadow, and when scientific organization is degraded into a table of terms. Kant rediscovered this triadic form by instinct, but in his work it was still lifeless and uncomprehended; since then it has, however, been raised to its absolute significance, and with it the true form in its true content has been presented, so that the Notion of Science has emerged.” (Hegel, 1807: 50).
“The inner, essential nature of things is readily conceived as a mere void, a region in which nothing positive can be known. (Kant’s thing-in-itself.) Even subjective fancies are better than notions so wholly void of content” (Hegel, 1807: 146).
For Hegel (1807: 102, 108), space is not in a priori, as with Kant, but rather is part of the dialectic of this Here and the other Heres:
“When I say ‘this Here’, ‘this Now’, or a ‘single item’, I am saying all Thises, Heres, Nows, all single items. Similarly, when I say ‘I’, this singular ‘I’, I say in general all ‘Is’; everyone is what I say, everyone is ‘I’, this singular ‘I’. When Science is faced with the demand—as if it were an acid test it could not pass—that it should deduce, construct, find a priori, or however it is put, something called ‘this thing’ or ‘this one man’, it is reasonable that the demand should say which ‘this thing’, or which ‘this particular man’ is meant; but it is impossible to say this” (Hegel, 1807: # 102).
“The Here pointed out, to which I hold fast, is similarly a this Here which, in fact, is not this Here, but a Before and Behind, an Above and Below, a Right and Left. The Above is itself similarly this manifold otherness of above, below, etc. The Here, which was supposed to have been pointed out, vanishes in other Heres, but these likewise vanish. What is pointed out, held fast, and abides, is a negative This, which is negative only when the Heres are taken as they should be, but, in being so taken, they supersede themselves; what abides is a simple complex of many Heres” (Hegel, 1807: # 108).
Now is also part of a plurality of Nows:
“However, this first, thus reflected into itself, is not exactly the same as it was to begin with, viz. something immediate; on the contrary, it is something that is reflected into itself, or a simple entity which, in its otherness, remains what it is: a Now which is an absolute plurality of Nows. And this is the true, the genuine Now, the Now as a simple day which contains within it many Nows—hours. A Now of this sort, an hour, similarly is many minutes, and this Now is likewise many Nows, and so on. The pointing-out of the Now is thus itself the movement which expresses what the Now is in truth, viz. a result, or a plurality of Nows all taken together; and the pointing-out is the experience of learning that Now is a universal” (Hegel, 1807: # 107)
For Hegel, matter (living Substance) was also in a dialectical relation in a movement of positing itself, or mediation of self-othering with itself, a simple negativity, doubling up opposition of immediate simplicity and indifferent diversity, all the while self-restoring sameness.
“Further, the living Substance is being which is in truth Subject, or, what is the same, is in truth actual only in so far as it is the movement of positing itself, or is the mediation of its self-othering with itself. This Substance is, as Subject, pure, simple negativity, and is for this very reason the bifurcation of the simple; it is the doubling which sets up opposition, and then again the negation of this indifferent diversity and of its antithesis [the immediate simplicity]. Only this self-restoring sameness, or this reflection in otherness within itself—not an original or immediate unity as such—is the True” (Hegel, 1807: # 18).
Marx was deeply influenced by Hegel, and though Marx rejected the Spirit of Reason, there is much in Marx that is Hegelian.
Marx’s Das Kapital, Vol. I.
“My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of “the Idea,” he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of “the Idea.” With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought. The mystifying side of Hegelian dialectic I criticised nearly thirty years ago, at a time when it was still the fashion. But just as I was working at the first volume of “Das Kapital,” it was the good pleasure of the peevish, arrogant, mediocre Επιγονοι [Epigones – Büchner, Dühring and others] who now talk large in cultured Germany, to treat Hegel in same way as the brave Moses Mendelssohn in Lessing’s time treated Spinoza, i.e., as a “dead dog.” I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker, and even here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to him. The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general” (Marx, p. 14, Afterword to the Second German Edition, 1873).
Demiurgos means - Platonic subordinate deity who fashions the sensible world in the light of eternal ideas, or a Gnostic subordinate deity who is the creator of the material world.
“But it by no means states the converse, that iron is directly exchangeable for gold. In order, therefore, that a commodity may in practice act effectively as exchange-value, it must quit its bodily shape, must transform itself from mere imaginary into real gold, although to the commodity such transubstantiation may be more difficult than to the Hegelian “concept,” the transition from “necessity” to “freedom,” or to a lobster the casting of his shell, or to Saint Jerome the putting off of the old Adam” (Marx, Chapter 3, p. 71).
That there is storytelling involved, we find in Chap 5 (p. 118) in footnote 25:
“Hic Rhodus, hic saltus!” – Latin, usually translated: “Rhodes is here, here is where you jump!” Originates from the traditional Latin translation of the punch line from Aesop’s fable The Boastful Athlete which has been the subject of some mistranslations. In Greek, the maxim reads: “ιδού η ρόδος, ιδού και το πήδημα” The story is that an athlete boasts that when in Rhodes, he performed a stupendous jump, and that there were witnesses who could back up his story. A bystander then remarked, ‘Alright! Let’s say this is Rhodes, demonstrate the jump here and now.’ The fable shows that people must be known by their deeds, not by their own claims for themselves. In the context in which Hegel used it in the Philosophy of Right, this could be taken to mean that the philosophy of right must have to do with the actuality of modern society, not the theories and ideals that societies create for themselves, nor, as Hegel goes on to say, to “teach the world what it ought to be.” The epigram is given by Hegel first in Greek, then in Latin (in the form “Hic Rhodus, hic saltus”), and he then says: “With little change, the above saying would read (in German): “Hier ist die Rose, hier tanze”: “Here is the rose, dance here” This is taken to be an allusion to the ‘rose in the cross’ of the Rosicrucians (who claimed to possess esoteric knowledge with which they could transform social life), implying that the material for understanding and changing society is given in society itself, not in some other-worldly theory, punning first on the Greek (Rhodos = Rhodes, rhodon = rose), then on the Latin (saltus = jump [noun], salta = dance [imperative]).
“But by the alienation of all my labour-time and the whole of my work, I should be converting the substance itself, in other words, my general activity and reality, my person, into the property of another.” (Hegel, “Philosophie des Rechts.” Berlin, 1840, p. 104, § 67.)” (Chap 6, p. 124 Footnote 3).
Marx’s (1857-71, in German 1839-41) Grundrisse, makes many uses of Hegel’s dialectic concepts. These excerpts are from Gundrisse:
“Market value equates itself with real value by means of its constant oscillations, never by means of an equation with real value as if the latter were a third party, but rather by means of constant non-equation of itself (as Hegel would say, not by way of abstract identity, but by constant negation of the negation, i.e. of itself as negation of real value)” (p. 76).
Footnote 221, p. 227 Sein für andres is a basic concept of Hegel's logic, described in the Science of Logic (p. 119 of the translation by A. V. Miller, London, 1969) as 'a negation of the simple relation of being to itself which is supposed to be determinate being'. However, it is paired, not with Sein für sich, but with Sein in sich (being in itself, described as 'something returned into itself out of the being for other'). In any case, it is difficult to detect any relation between Marx's use of Sein für andres and Hegel's use. The situation is different with the concept of Sein für sich, since Hegel described being for self in the Lesser Logic (p. 179 of the translation by W. Wallace, Oxford, 1892) in the following way: 'Being for self is a self-subsistent, the One', and added 'The readiest instance of being for self is found in the "I".' This comes close to Marx's 'each individual... as an end in himself'.
p. 663. “As soon as he has to produce, man possesses the resolve to use a part of the available natural objects directly as means of labour, and, as Hegel correctly said it, subsumes them under his activity without further process of mediation.  The place where all capital, circulating as well as fixed, not only originally but continually comes from is the appropriation of alien labour.”
“14. Cf. Hegel, Science of Logic, p. 746: 'The relation of the activity of the end through the means to the external object is... an immediate relation of the middle term to the other extreme. It is immediate because the middle term has an external object in it and the other extreme is another such object.'”
“Reason is just as cunning as she is powerful. Her cunning consists principally in her mediating activity, which, by causing objects to act and re-act on each other in accordance with their own nature, in this way, without any direct interference in the process, carries out reason’s intentions.” (Hegel: “Enzyklopädie, Erster Theil, Die Logik,” Berlin, 1840, p. 382.)(as cited Marx, Chapter 37, p. 138, Footnote 2).
“The possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a capitalist in such cases only where the minimum sum advanced for production greatly exceeds the maximum of the middle ages. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel (in his “Logic”), that merely quantitative differences beyond a certain point pass into qualitative changes” (Marx, p. 216, Ch 11).
“… converting surplus-value into capital, he, on the contrary, by the purchase of those commodities and that labour, consumes or expends it as revenue. In the face of the habitual mode of life of the old feudal nobility, which, as Hegel rightly says, “consists in consuming what is in hand,” and more especially displays itself in the luxury of personal retainers, it was extremely important for bourgeois economy to promulgate the doctrine that accumulation of capital is the first duty of every citizen, and to preach without ceasing, that a man cannot accumulate, if he eats up all his revenue, instead of spending a good part of it in the acquisition of additional productive labourers, who bring in more than they cost” (Marx, Chapter 24, p. 415).
“John St. Mill, on the contrary, accepts on the one hand Ricardo’s theory of profit, and annexes on the other hand Senior’s “remuneration of abstinence.” He is as much at home in absurd contradictions, as he feels at sea in the Hegelian contradiction, the source of all dialectic. It has never occurred to the vulgar economist to make the simple reflexion, that every human action may be viewed, as “abstinence” from its opposite. (Marx, Chapter 24, p. 229, footnote 28).
Adorno’s Negative Dialectics, rejected Hegel’s dialectics, preferring to succeed it with an empirical approach. However, elsewhere, the writing on Culture Industry, is a little closer to Hegelian dialectics.
Few have noticed the dialectic in Heidegger hermeneutics. However, much of Heidegger follows Hegel’s refutation of Kantian Transcendental Dialectics. The last part of Heidegger’s (1962) Being and Time, attempts to challenge Hegel’s concept of temporalization, as not going far enough in its rejection of Kantian a priori. There are 148 references to Hegel in that text.
Heidegger starts (1962: #1) question of Being, with reference dialectics Logic from Plato and Aristotle “down to Hegel.”
(Heidegger, # 3) “And when Hegel at last defines 'Being' as the 'indeterminate immediate' and makes this definition basic for all the further category[c]al explications of his 'logic', he keeps looking in the same direction as ancient ontology, except that he no longer pays heed to Aristotle's problem of the unity of Being as over against the multiplicity of 'categories' applicable to things. So if it is said that 'Being' is the most universal concept, this cannot mean that it is the one which is clearest or that it needs no further discussion. It is rather the darkest of all.”
(# 22) “Greek ontology and its history -which, in their numerous filiations and distortions, determine the conceptual character of philosophy even today-prove that when Dasein understands either itself or Being in general, it does so in terms of the 'world', and that the ontology which has thus arisen has deteriorated [verfallt] to a tradition in which it gets reduced to something self-evident - merely material for reworking, as it was for Hegel.”
# 171) “Primordial and genuine truth lies in pure beholding. This thesis has remained the foundation of western philosophy ever since. The Hegelian dialectic found in it its motivating conception, and is possible only on the basis of it.”
What about time?
(#405) “In Hegel's Interpretation of time both possibilities are brought to the point where, in a certain manner, they cancel each other out. Hegel tries to define the connection between 'time' and 'spirit' in such a manner as to make intelligible why the spirit, as history, 'falls into time'. We seem to be in accord with Hegel in the results of the Interpretation we have given for Dasein's temporality and for the way world-time belongs to it. But because our analysis differs in principle from his in its approach, and because its orientation is precisely the opposite of his in that it aims at fundamental ontology, a short presentation of Hegel's way of taking the relationship between time and spirit may serve to make plain our existential-ontological Interpretation of Dasein's temporality, of world-time, and of the source of the ordinary conception of time, and may settle this in a provisional manner.”
(#406) “Our chapter will be divided as follows: Dasein's temporality, and our concern with time (Section 79); the time with which we concern ourselves, and within-time-ness (Section 8o); within-time-ness and the genesis of the ordinary conception of time (Section 81) ; a comparison of the existential-ontological connection of temporality, Dasein, and world-time, with Hegel's way of taking the relation between time and spirit (Section 82) ; the existential-temporal analytic of Dasein and the question of fundamental ontology as to the meaning of Being in general (Section 83).”
(# 428) “And Hegel has made an explicit attempt to set forth the way in which time as ordinarily understood is connected with spirit. In Kant, on the other hand, while time is indeed 'subjective', it stands 'beside' the 'I think' and is not bound up with it.xvi The grounds which Hegel has explicitly provided for the connection between time and spirit are well suited to elucidate indirectly the foregoing Interpretation of Dasein as temporality and our exhibition of temporality as the source of world-time.”
(#428) “History, which is essentially the history of spirit, runs its course 'in time'. Thus 'the development of history falls into time' .xvii l Hegel is not satisfied, however, with averring that the within-time-ness of spirit is a Fact, but seeks to understand how it is possible for spirit to fall into time, which is 'the non-sensuous sensuous'.xvtu”
(#428) “We shall make no claim to give even a relatively full treatment of the allied problems in Hegel, especially since 'criticizing' him will not help us. Because Hegel's conception of time presents the most radical way in which the ordinary understanding of time has been given form conceptually, and one which has received too little attention, a comparison of this conception with the idea of temporality which we have expounded is one that especially suggests itself.”
(# 429) “Though Hegel puts space and time together, this does not happen simply because he has arranged them superficially one after the other: space, 'and time also'. 'Philosophy combats such an "also".' The transition from space to time does not signify that these are treated in adjoining paragraphs ; rather 'it is space itself that makes the transition'.1 Space 'is' time ; that is, time is the 'truth' of space.xx If space is thought dialectically in that which it is, then according to Hegel this Being of space unveils itself as time. How must space be thought?”
1 ' ••. sondern "der Raum selbst geht uber".'
(# 430) : space is rather, as Hegel says, 'punctuality' ["Punktualitat"] . xxu This is the basis for the sentence in which Hegel thinks of space in its truth-that is, as time : 'Negativity, which relates itself as point to space, and which develops in space its determinations as line and surface, is, however, just as muchfor itself in the sphere of Being-outside-of-itself,…”
Žižek’s (2012) Chapter 14 is titled, The Ontology of Quantum Physics. It explores some parallels in Bard’s (2007) and makes several dialectic extensions.
(p. 909) “Hegel will appear to be deducing or generating all knowledge from the self-relating truth-process only if we conceive his system as a closed circle of necessary deductions; the moment we fully take into account the radical retroactivity of the dialectical process, "deduction" itself becomes a retroactive ordering of a contingent process.”
(p. 909) “with Hegel) that ordinary objects like chairs, computers, etc., simply do not exist: for example, a chair is not actually, for itself, a chair-all we have is a collection of "simples" (more elementary objects "arranged chairwise"); so, although a chair functions as a chair, it is composed of a multitude of parts (wood, nails, fabric ... ) which are, in themselves, totally indifferent to this arrangement; there is, stricto sensu, no "whole" of which the nail is here a part. Only with organisms do we have a Whole. Here, the unity is minimally "for itself"; parts really interact.”
(p. 910) “How does a cell form the membrane which separates its inside from its outside? The true problem is thus not how an organism adapts to its environment, but how it is that there is something, a distinct entity, which must adapt itself in the first place. And it is here, at this crucial point, that today's biological language starts to resemble, quite uncannily, the language of Hegel.”
(p. 913) “No wonder that, in his Great Logic, in the section on "Quantum;' Hegel spends dozens of pages discussing differential calculus, rejecting precisely the notion, usually attributed to him, that the mathematical infinite "is called the relative infinite, while the ordinary metaphysical infinite-by which is understood the abstract, spurious infinite-is called absolute":
in point of fact it is this metaphysical infinite which is merely relative, because the negation which it expresses is opposed to a limit only in such a manner that this limit persists outside it and is not sublated by it; the mathematical infinite, on the contrary, has within itself truly sublated the finite limit because the beyond of the latter is united with it." (G. W. F. Hegel, Hegel's Science of Logic, trans. A. V. Miller, Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press International 1989, p. 249)
Here is an analysis of Hegel’s space in time conception, that seems to answer Heidegger’s (1962) challenge to Hegel. And without that challenge, Hegel’s Spirit seems dangerously closed to Heidegger’s Da-sein.
(# 914) “And since, for Hegel, time is the sublation (negation ofthe negation) of space, we can also say that teleiosis is the inscription of time into space in the sense of space-time, oftime as another (fourth) dimension of space: teleiosis supplements the three dimensions which determine the spatial position of an object with the virtual and temporal dimension of its spatial movement. A purely spatial definition which immobilizes its object produces a non-actual abstraction, not a full reality; the unfinished (ontologically incomplete) character of reality which compels us to include the virtuality of teleiosis in the definition of an object is thus not its limitation, but a positive condition of its actual existence. The same holds also for large historical objects: the definition of a nation should include its past and future, its memories and illusions.”
(P. 921) “Perhaps, then, insofar as retroactivity is a crucial feature of the Hegelian dialectics, and insofar as retroactivity is only thinkable in an "open" ontology of not yet fully constituted reality, the reference to Hegel can be of some help in bringing out the ontological consequences of quantum physics.”
(p. 925). “Here, however, we should repeat the move from Kant to Hegel: Heidegger never confounds the ontological disclosure of entities with their ontic production-for him, the idea of humans as the Being-There of the disclosure of Being does not mean that entities exist only for humans, not independently of them. If all of humanity were to be wiped out, entities would still be there as they were prior to the emergence of man, they would just not ex-sist in the full ontological sense of appearing within a horizon of Being. But what if we transpose ontological difference (the difference between entities and "nothingness" of the ontological horizon of their disclosure) into the Thing-in-itself, and (re)conceive it as the ontological incompleteness of reality (as quantum physics implies)? What if we posit that "Things-in-themselves" emerge against the background of the Void or Nothingness, the way this Void is conceived in quantum physics, as not just a negative void, but the portent of all possible reality? This is the only truly consistent "transcendental materialism" which is possible after the Kantian transcendental idealism. For a true dialectician, the ultimate mystery is not "Why is there something rather than nothing?" but "Why is there nothing rather than something?”: how is it that, the more we analyze reality, the more we find a void?”
(p. 925) “In a properly Hegelian way, then, it is our very epistemological limitation which locates us in the Real: what appears as the limitation of our knowledge is the feature of reality itself, its "non-All””
(p 928) “Perhaps contemporary cosmology needs such a
"Hegelian" conceptual systematization of the underlying matrix that generates the multitude of actually existing theories. Does this take us back to the ancient Oriental wisdom according to which all things are just ephemeral fragments which emerge out of the primordial Void and will inevitably return back to it? Not at all: the key difference is that, in the case of Oriental wisdom, the primordial Void stands for eternal peace, which serves as the neutral abyss or ground of the struggle between the opposite poles, while from the Hegelian standpoint, the Void names the extreme tension, antagonism, or impossibility which generates the multiplicity of determinate entities. There is multiplicity because the One is in itself barred, out-of-joint with regard to itself. This brings us on to another consequence of this weird ontology often thwarted (or barred) One: the two aspects of a parallax gap (wave and particle, say) are never symmetrical, for the primordial gap is between (curtailed) something and nothing, and the complementarity between the two aspects of the gap function so that we have first the gap between nothing (void) and something, and only then, in a (logically) second time, a second "something" that fills in the Void, so that we get a parallax gap between two somethings.”
(p. 930) “One cannot but notice the similarity of Bohr's reasoning here to the very first paragraphs of the "Introduction" to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, where he describes the absurd consequences of the standard representationalist approach according to which knowledge is "the instrument by which to take possession of the Absolute, or the means through which to get a sight of it".
(p. 931) “Although Hegel's context is totally different from that of Bohr (if nothing else, Hegel was writing about the philosophical knowledge of the Absolute, while Bohr was struggling with the epistemological implications of measuring atomic particles), the underlying line of argumentation is strictly homologous: they both reject a position which first posits a gap between the knowing subject and the object-to-be-known, and then deals with the (self-created) problem of how to bridge this gap. In other words, they both combine false modesty (we are just finite subjects confronting an opaque transcendent reality) with the arrogance of invoking a meta-language (the subject can somehow step outside of its own limitations to compare its limited perspective with reality in itself). And the solution of both is basically the same: to include the subject in the "self-movement" of the object-to-be-known. The Hegelian name for this inclusion is reflexivity. How does this work in quantum physics?”
(p. 931, footnote 320 “Reflexivity, like reflection, still holds the world at a distance" (Meeting the Universe Halfway, p. 87). But this notion simply misses the core of Hegelian reflexivity, which is the inclusion of the act of reflection in the object itself: for Hegel, the distance between the object and its reflection is not external (i.e., the object is in itself, the reflection is how it appears to the observing subject), but is inscribed into the object itself as its innermost constituent the object becomes what it is through its reflection. The exteriority implied by the notion of reflexivity is precisely what Barad calls an "exteriority within:'”
(p. 938) “our thesis is that a proto-version of the differential short-circuit ignored by Barad can be found at work in the quantum field. To establish this, we must first repeat the fundamental Hegelian reversal: the problem is not "how can we pass from the classical universe to the universe of quantum waves?" but exactly the opposite-"why and how does the quantum
universe itself immanently require the collapse of the wave function, its 'decoherence' into the classical universe?"”
(p. 947) “Or, to risk an anachronistic Hegelian formulation: it is thanks to this split in the vacuum itself that the "substance is always already subject:' Here it is crucial to distinguish between the subject and the agent: the agent is a particular entity embedded in the context of a phenomenon, the entity whose contours are constituted through a particular agential cut and in contrast to the object which emerges through the same cut; the subject, on the contrary, is a void which is not determined by its context but disentangled from it, or, rather, is the very gesture of such a disentanglement. In other words, the opposition of agent and object is the result of the agential cut; but when the "object" is the vacuum itself, it is supplemented by the pure difference which "is" subject.” … The shift from specific to pure difference is thus the same as the shift from agent to subject. And, insofar as the subject is for Hegel not only the name for a cut, but also the name for the emergence of appearance, is not so-called de-coherence, the collapse of the wave function which makes ordinary reality appear, also the name for a cut, a break, in the entanglement of quantum fluctuations? Why does Barad not make this point? “
This next connection between quantum physics and Hegel is directly relatable to what is considered cutting edge in Dialectical Storytelling Method:
(p. 951) “The ultimate "Hegelian" banality concerns the fact, emphasized by Lebrun, that, whatever the radical contingency of the process, Hegel holds out the promise that, at the end, we can always tell a story about the process. What the critics of Hegel usually question is the happy ending: the assurance that every negativity will be sublated in a higher unity. This questioning, however, relies on a false presupposition: the idea that the story Hegel is telling is the archideological story of the primordial Fall, the story of how One divides into Two, of how original innocence is disturbed by division or alienation, and so on. Then, of course, the reproach is that once the original unity is lost it can never be regained. But is this really the story Hegel is telling? Let us approach this key question through a detour.”
(p. 952) “Fredric Jameson has pointed out that the original topic of a narrative, the narrative "as such;' is the narrative of a Fall, of how things went wrong, of how the old harmony was destroyed (in the case of Hamlet, how the evil uncle overthrew the good father-king). This narrative is the elementary form of ideology, and as such the key step in the critique of ideology should be to invert it-which brings us back to Hegel: the story he is telling in his account of a dialectical process is not the story of how an original organic unity alienates itself from itself, but the story of how this organic unity never existed in the first place, of how its status is by definition that of a retroactive fantasy-the Fall itself generates the mirage of what it is the Fall from.”