Page:Our knowledge of the external world.djvu/55

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I think, essentially a product of logical confusion, but it seems in some way to stand for the conception of “qualities of Reality as a whole.” Mr Bradley has worked out a theory according to which, in all judgment, we are ascribing a predicate to Reality as a whole; and this theory is derived from Hegel. Now the traditional logic holds that every proposition ascribes a predicate to a subject, and from this it easily follows that there can be only one subject, the Absolute, for if there were two, the proposition that there were two would not ascribe a predicate to either. Thus Hegel’s doctrine, that philosophical propositions must be of the form, “the Absolute is such-and-such,” depends upon the traditional belief in the universality of the subject-predicate form. This belief, being traditional, scarcely self-conscious, and not supposed to be important, operates underground, and is assumed in arguments which, like the refutation of relations, appear at first sight such as to establish its truth. This is the most important respect in which Hegel uncritically assumes the traditional logic. Other less important respects—though important enough to be the source of such essentially Hegelian conceptions as the “concrete universal” and the “union of identity in difference”—will be found where he explicitly deals with formal logic.[1]

There is quite another direction in which a large

  1. See the translation by H. S. Macran, Hegel's Doctrine of Formal Logic, Oxford, 1912. Hegel’s argument in this portion of his “Logic” depends throughout upon confusing the “is” of predication, as in “Socrates is mortal,” with the “is” of identity, as in “Socrates is the philosopher who drank the hemlock.” Owing to this confusion, he thinks that “Socrates” and “mortal” must be identical. Seeing that they are different, he does not infer, as others would, that there is a mistake somewhere, but that they exhibit “identity in difference.” Again, Socrates is particular, “mortal” is universal. Therefore, he says, since Socrates is mortal, it follows that the particular is the universal—taking the “is” to be throughout expressive of identity. But to say “the particular is the universal” is self-contradictory. Again Hegel does not suspect a mistake but proceeds to synthesise particular and universal in the individual, or concrete universal. This is an example of how, for want of care at the start, vast and imposing systems of philosophy are built upon stupid and trivial confusions, which, but for the almost incredible fact that they are unintentional, one would be tempted to characterise as puns.