Inspired by “The Net (49)”

Understanding Gaps to Reasoning on Edges

O.G. Rose
41 min readJun 19, 2023

A Broad Overview of Hegelian Moves of Thought

Photo by Fritz Bielmeier

Logic for Hegel works through logic as traditionally understood, which can be thought of as a series of exchanges (a point “High Root” made in “The Net (49)”): A leads to B, which leads to C, which leads to D, and so on. Javier made the point that “the logic of exchange” can be problematic when applied to relationships, everyday life, and the like, because quickly we can start feeling like “because I did x, they should do y,” or “x means y should happen.” Exchange can become a problematic notion, ripe to cause conflict. For Javier, this means we need to “make an exchange in terms of changings the terms of exchange,” which is to say, “if you love me, I will not think that if I do x, you owe me y” — love is hence an opportunity for exchange to be negated/sublated as exchange (some wordplays also came up in the conversation, thanks to Michelle, on how “exchange” is “ex-change,” meaning we “don’t have to change” because we “externalize change” onto others and suggest they are morally obligated to change; change becomes our “ex,” per se).

Similarly, Hegel works logic to the place where logic “changes the terms of logic” (from “understanding” to “reason,” from “one-sidedness” to “dialectical,” then “speculative”), which in turn changes how we relate to logic (just as “using exchange to change the terms of exchange” changes the nature of our relationship). But critically, if logic changes the terms of logic, then it’s “as if” there was no use or exercise of logic up to that point: if logic is A, and logic arrives at a place where it concludes it is B, then it is “as if” there has been no use of logic at all (there is a negation). But there is also a sublation, for A becomes B, and for logic as A to reach B, that means there is enough relation between A and B for A to lead to B, and so there must be a way in which A is “in” B. In this, we see why Hegel’s “sublation” is such an important concept, for it is a suggestion of something “new which contains the old” through an act of “negation” which also transforms. We see this happen when “exchange changes the terms of exchange”: a logic of exchange is used to arrive at a place where it seems like exchange was never used at all, which changes the quality of the relationship, and yet this new place and quality of relationship contains “the logic of exchange” in that it would not be possible without that logic which is left behind. The old is contained in the new thanks to an act of self-negation by the old to itself.

Moving forward, I want to take note again on how Hegel’s logic goes through exchange to change the terms of “exchange,” thus making it seem as if logic went through nothing — a strange but critical move in Hegel. Once logic makes it to this negation, Hegel then situates logic on that negation, nothingness, and “nihilation” (a Heideggerian term we will explore), which logic instantly translates into being — and Hegel then situates logic on that very translation as “becoming,” which then is immediately translated into a “(be)coming,” because otherwise the “becoming” would be too chaotic to make intelligible — on and on.

Logic in Hegel reasons to the place where what constitutes logic is changed, and so suddenly it’s “as if” logic was never used to “reach the place where what constituted logic was changed” — the negation of logic is itself negated, leaving a “new” form of logic that isn’t even “new,” because the previous form of logic is unveiled to have never even have been logic. This is the kind of “move” Hegel is constantly making in his work, which understandably leads to confusion. “Understanding” leads to a negation of “understanding” that also negates the negation of understanding, all of which unveils that we were actually “reasoning” the whole time, a realization (of thought about itself) which changes “the movement of reason” in a manner that changes how we experience the world and thus what we reason about, the very possibility of which invites us to “speculate” what the nature of the universe must be like (and ourselves in it) so that such a “movement of thought” might be possible — on and on. Thought negates thought to become a new thought (that’s not even “new”), which invites thought to think anew about what it must be as thought to be capable of such a negation/sublation, the act of which thinking about changes thought — on and on. And this very strange “thought-that-falls-back-on-thought-which-falls-back-on-thought…” is also according to which, through which, and thanks to which we experience Nature and make Nature meaningful to us, and the very way the world “appears” and “presents itself” to us is easily conditioned by how we think, how we think about thinking, how we think about the fact that we can think about thinking — on and on. All these “on and on”-moves Hegel explores and considers leads Hegel to wondering “what the universe must be like” so that these moves of thought might be possible, and that leads a consideration of how “gaps” might be “edges” — but that is a point we must work “understanding” to “reasoning” on.


Frozen Glory Photography

Traditionally, logic is a process which leads to a negation of immediacy and phenomena: when I say, “A cat is a cat,” I transform my immediate experience of a black barn cat into an abstract universal which I then make relate to itself. The phenomena is negated and in a way “left behind” precisely so that I can say something logical about it (that some may even say is “more deeply true” than the cat’s particular phenomenological manifestation — though Hegel disputes this). Again, traditional logic leads to a point of this kind of negation, what I will call here “the negation point,” and for Kant this is precisely what logic does and must do — logic never “reaches things in themselves” and is hence inevitably a process of “separating our experience of things from things.” But through training and work we can get very good at this process and hence become very logical — perhaps even getting to the point where we think “autonomous rationality” is all we need…(as critiqued throughout O.G. Rose). (Please note that I am discussing Kant here according to Hegel, and it is disputed if Hegel interpreted Kant correctly.)

Audio Summary

This Kantian understanding of logic can be thought of as “logic to negation,” but the Hegelian twist is to actually really start “logic on negation.” Of course, logic must work to “the negation point” so that logic might start on “the negation point” (which is to say “understanding” must work to “reason”), but “the point” where Hegel sees most logic ending he believes logic needs to incorporate and “sublate.” Logic for Hegel has been “one-sided” (to “the negation point”) and needs to become dialectical (considering also on “the negation point”), which for Hegel not only expands the horizon of logic, but then also at the same time opens the doors to “speculatively reason” about what the nature of reality must be so that we can “dialectically reason” (both “logic to negation” and “logic on negation”). For Kant, logic leads us to conclude that reality is inaccessible in itself, for this follows from logic being only “logic to negation”; but for Hegel the fact logic can be both to and on negation means reality might not just be inaccessible, that it is possible that thought actively and creatively participates in reality. Perhaps not, but this possibility (of “Nature/Notion” versus “Nature | Notion”) cannot be disregarded outright — it might be wrestled with and considered.

Again, Kant helps us master “the logic to the negation point,” while Hegel helps us master “the login on/to the negation/sublation point.” For Hegel, when logic doesn’t simply negate immediacy, but also makes central to its logical structure it’s very inability not to negate immediacy, then everything changes. While in Kant thought negates immediacy because it cannot access it, Hegel suggests that perhaps thought negates immediacy because it changes what’s there (and so doesn’t reach what “was” there). While in Kant we could say there is a locked safe that we can pick up and touch but never open (though that doesn’t mean we can’t gain “real knowledge” about the locked safe), in Hegel there is no “we and a safe” (there is no “subject/object divide”), but instead a we/world — we’re all part of the same Nature/Notion — and this means it is more like we are in a videogame that we can customize as we play. When I touch a tree in the videogame, the tree grows taller or changes into my favorite colors; when I run across a field, a path appears behind me to mark my progress; when I see a sunset that is a bright red, my skin gains a slightly redder hue. No, the videogame world is not entirely random, and though perhaps in a hundred years of playing I could make the tree change into a bird somehow, I cannot do this immediately or at a whim (there are “determinations” I must “negotiate with,” per se, as discussed in “Hegel’s Justification of Hegel”). I influence the world as the world influences me, but it is not as radically or “noncontingently” as is a dream. Rather, the world is “a dream-like earth,” but that means it is also “an earth-like dream.” Dreams suggest what thought would do without determination, only having to access and “play with” itself, while scientific empiricism and positivism can help us understand how the world behaves when it only must access and “play with” itself. We bring earth and dream together as “world” (Nature/Notion), and thus there is constant negotiation between the two. The negotiation can make it seem as if neither dream nor earth is there, as it can make it seem as if “only” earth is there, etc. — but the truth is a both-ness.

(Admittedly, the idea of Nature/Notion is very strange, but I would also note that modern ideas of “The Multiverse” or the quantum “Observer Effect” do not strike me as any less strange, and in fact there is arguably overlap. If we find the multiverse plausible but not Hegel, perhaps this suggests a subconscious bias for what we consider scientific against what sounds too metaphysical? Perhaps not, but my main point is that we seem to be at a point in thought where the strange must be taken seriously, and Hegel is indeed strange — but “the rational” and “normal” seem to have only led us to collective “Nash Equilibria,” “suboptimal results,” nihilism, and a “Meaning Crisis.” As discussed throughout O.G. Rose, we need “nonrationality,” and Hegel seems to provide a metaphysical and ontological “nonrationality” that could prove very useful indeed. Perhaps not, but Hegel gives us something to consider all the same.)

Anyway, if I am in the videogame and touch a tree to make it taller or to change “what it is” to me in the world, there is a sense in which I “never access” the tree before it was taller, but at the same time its erroneous to say, “I never access the tree at all.” Where there is change there is loss, but this is not a “total loss,” and it in fact brings with it a gain: in losing the ability to reach “the tree before it was taller,” I at the same time gain the ability to reach “the tree when it is taller.” And so I do reach the tree, just not as it was, and perhaps I even really reach the tree when it’s taller? The act of touching the tree might make it so I cannot access “the shorter tree,” but the (taller) tree that exists in the world with my touch could in fact be a tree I reach. Though I never access the present moment of “a thing as itself,” I can perhaps access the next moment of it: perhaps I never reach the tree “now,” but I perhaps can access the tree as it is resulting from this moment “now” when I try to reach it. It is perhaps thanks to what is impossible “now” that there are possibilities “later.”

Alternatively, perhaps the tree keeps continually changing with my touch, so what I reach is always gone “under my fingers,” but critically there is a thing I am reaching that is constantly changing under my touch. Perhaps we could say there is a “negativity” that I never reach “in a given way,” but it doesn’t follow that the “negativity” itself isn’t accessed. Similarly, people often change their behavior when someone new steps into a room — does this mean the new arrival “never reaches” the people there? Not at all, and yet it’s also true that we can “never access the experience of how people are when we are not around” (a point which brings to mind Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn attending their own funeral). We can never reach things as they “are” before we reach them, but we do reach them, and that holds true even if things are always changing as we reach them. Either way, we see here how logic, thought, and the like “negate” a thing, and yet that does not mean the thing is “inaccessible.”

Hegel suggests that logic today should start at “the negation point” (where we realize “negate” and “not access” aren’t similes), and if we realize this then “negation” can become “sublation” and grant us “Nature/Notion” versus only “Nature | Nature.” Critically, where reality is “Nature | Notion,” then Notion at best can collect impressions, fragments, facts, etc., of Nature, which is valuable, yes, but also “one-sided” and risks a feeling of alienation (between Nature and Notion). Yes, there is a terror in a connection between them (for who knows what we might create which we will be responsible for?), but there is arguably no possibility of value without risk. Furthermore, “Nature | Notion” seems like it must doom us to only ever entertain “spurious infinities,” adding one fragment of Nature to Notion, then another, then another…and yet never reaching Nature. We can never gain an “infinite relation” between Nature and Notion, and it is only in relation that a “true infinity” might be possible. Sure, Notion can relate to Notion, but then it can only gain more of itself spuriously. Rather, for a “true infinity” to be possible, a “true relation” must be possible, and that requires real, actual, and/or ontological distinction, say between “Nature and Notion.” Where there is such a distinction, to allude to Leibniz (as The Absolute Choice will discuss), it is possible for a “situation” between multiplicities which makes possible an “essential unity” from which intelligibility, creation, and more can be possible — but all that will be unpacked later on.


To return to earlier points in this paper, Hegel works logic, philosophy, thinking, and the like to a place where they realize “they are not what they think they are,” which makes it seem, up to that point, that no logic, philosophy, thinking, or the like has occurred at all — and yet there was a movement of thought. This is the tricky move: Hegel believes we must think through error and mistake to advance philosophically, because otherwise we could not make sense of our new discoveries or conclusions we reach. Mistake is a necessary road, because it is not mistake “at the time,” and it is only by reaching “the end of the road” that we can realize the mistake was a mistake. But the very notion we gain from realizing “that was a mistake” is necessary for us to then recognize the truth. We require the thoughts we gain in “working through mistakes” so that the truth is meaningful to us and recognized at itself.

To help clarify the point, let’s make an example of Emergentism, which is growing in popularity today and very important for us to consider. Generally, Emergentism critiques the separation between “parts and wholes” and argues that wholes cannot be reduced to their parts, nor can we say, “Parts are just parts.” Simply put, the dichotomy between “parts and wholes” has been negated/sublated into an inter-relational ontology where all “levels” of reality are equally real and equally interpenetrate one another (to make sense of one thing, we need all things, and all things need each single thing). Reality is more like a symphony orchestra than it is an apartment building.

Emergentism today can make it seem like humanity wasted hundreds of years of thought in seriously considering “the whole versus parts debate,” as we can seem to have been fools to take reductionism seriously. But this is where Hegel is important: without the centuries of reductionism or speaking of parts and wholes, then we could have never arrived at Emergentism and it be meaningful to us (we required the error which wasn’t an error at the time). I have mentioned the terms “parts and wholes” numerous times in this section, but if Emergentism is true than those words cannot mean what we think they mean, and yet nevertheless they make sense to those reading the previous sentences. I have used words meaning x precisely to say they cannot mean x, and that is all sensible to us precisely because “the words mean x.” In other words, the understanding of the error is necessary for the understanding of error, and without this understanding we cannot recognize an error to advance toward truth.

Hegel’s point is that we require error as a rung on a ladder toward truth, per se (to allude to Schopenhauer), not merely because we require “trial and error” (which is a scientific metaphor), but because error is what makes the truth meaningful to us when we encounter it. If we did not have mistaken notions of “wholes and parts,” then when we encountered Emergentism, we would not understand why it was a big deal, what it meant, and why it suggested a change in our cosmos. Because of “the mistake,” we can make sense of the truth, and in this way Emergentism is a negation/sublation of “wholes and parts”: it is something new that contains the old in that it has meaning thanks to the old. The “negativity of the old” is contained in the new to make it meaningful and alive.

All this in mind, we can see why Hegel would suggest that a fear of error will prove to be a fear of truth, and furthermore why Hegel emphasizes process, development, “conceptual meditation,” and the like. Furthermore, to allude to the work of Layman Pascal, if reality was not 99% versus 100%, it would not be possible for us to “err” in believing in “parts and wholes” in a way so that when we encountered Emergentism, it was meaningful to us. It is precisely because “certainty is impossible” that Notion can develop (which in turn develops Nature), for error is the work of preparing ourselves to understand the meaning of truth. We must erroneously speak of “parts and wholes” so that when we encounter Emergentism, we can understand it and be amazed.

“Emergentism” is indeed an example of a concept that we cannot understand without the failure of “parts and wholes”-thinking (and all the thinking which lead up to that and which manifest from it), and for Hegel it seems that “God” is the ultimate example of such a concept (which we must “fail to grasp”). Imagine if the word “Emergentism” showed up in human history around 2000 BC, and imagine that humanity retained and never forgot the word. Imagine we kept coming back to it, imagine we kept redefining it, and so on. It wouldn’t be until “now,” after centuries of “parts and wholes”-thinking, that we could properly/better understand the term “Emergentism” which was always with us. In this situation, we would have received the term far before we went through the process of “parts and wholes”-thinking needed to understand the term properly (though perhaps we undergo that “parts and wholes”-thinking precisely because we tried to understand what the term “Emergentism” meant, which seemingly showed up far too early, perhaps like the black obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey).

This seems for Hegel to be what has happened with “God”: we received a word at the start of history that we needed (the failure of) history to grasp (and grasp again, and grasp again…). Perhaps it is only because we received the word “God” too early though that we thought about and explored reality in a manner that would help us “realize through failure” the meaning of “God,” so we cannot say that receiving the word “God” too early was a mistake (“too early” is a contingent and even poetic phrase), but the point is that “God” is a term that represents our most profound understanding about ourselves and our cosmos that gains meaning through failure to know what we are talking about when we talk about God (as it must so that we indeed go through the process necessary for the term to have/gain meaning; similarly, without Judaism, Christ couldn’t make sense to us, and who knows what is sensible to us today that wouldn’t be without Christ). All of history is a long process of failing to understand “God,” which is to say history is a testament of our “fallenness” that is also the condition of our possible sublation (we are sinners, and so we can be healed). “God” is the X variable all of history has failed to say, but this very failure has been needed so that when we say X (and resay it, and resay it…) it is meaningful. And every failure makes it more-so thus.


As came up in “The Net (49),” a state of silence where there were never words is not the same as a state resulting from when words fail and/or are left behind (as a history that fails to say “God” experiences “God” differently than a history which “just has” “God” from the beginning — a history of “letting” is not the same as a history of “having,” as we will explain, suggesting the work of Thomas Winn). Both states of silence “lack words,” but the way the states “lack words” is different: to lose words is not the same as never having them. Thanks to Mr. Luber, this point brought us to Heidegger and the idea of “clearing,” and it was suggested that in Hegel a “Being which comes forth from a clearing” is not the same as a “Being which just always was there.” Aren’t both encounters with Being? Yes, but Hegel starts Science of Logic making it clear that “Pure Being” would annihilate us, and Notion necessarily moves from being to nothing to realizing the “always already” (be)coming. In this way, for Hegel, “Pure Being” is only possible from a place of “clearing” which follows from “dialectical and speculative reasoning,” and this “clearing” makes it so that the encounter doesn’t annihilate us. We only “glimpse” Being an “opening” of immediacy, but then that glimpse is gone. “Pure Being” is only possible in a context, which means “Pure Being” is not the case — and yet it is (seemingly, at least) for that moment.

I do think Hegel and Heidegger can be thought together, especially the later Heidegger, and as Heidegger will speak of “nihilation” (as Thomas Winn teaches on), so Hegel speaks of “negation,” and both these acts entail something like a “sublation” and/or “letting” which brings forth “a new quality of Being” — the question is perhaps if nihilation and/or negation are necessary for this “quality of being,” or if it was theoretically possible for us to “start with Pure Being” and stay with it. I’m not sure for Heidegger, but I don’t think Hegel believes this is possible (not that he wouldn’t perhaps be open to a counterarguments); rather, Hegel argues for a “(non)journey” of being to being to Being/being-which-speculates-“Being,” and that “movement of thought” requires movement, which automatically means we are not starting with any “pure state,” per se. Again, this can be debated, but Hegel suggests that logic, philosophy, subjectivity — us — cannot start where we want to go even if we are at where we want to be. The destination is where we are according to a changed quality which only a journey away and back can provide.

We cannot gain from distance what is only found in depth; we cannot go to where we are except within (“deep”). How can “where we are” change, though? For both Hegel and Heidegger, this is only possible through a logic of “negation,” “nihilation,” and/or “clearing,” for that is all we can do to “what is” without adding to it (and thus operating according to quantity and “distance”). Depth is found here, but what is “here?” That requires digging (what else is there to do?), and we can think of both “negation” and “nihilation” as acts of metaphysical and philosophical “digging.” To look where we “are,” we must either go up or go down, and it would seem only gods can fly (which in this metaphoric example would be to create ex nihilo); thus, as finite humans, our only option is to “dig” (which is to “nihilate” and “nihilo,” per se).

If the subject is in the business of “clearing” and “moving aside,” and if then a new quality of Being emerges, there would be notable reason to believe this Being was not a subjective creation, precisely because the subject was in the business of removing his or her self (the subject), not creating something. Had the subject been trying to “cause a new quality of Being to emerge,” then yes, there would be reason to conclude this new Being was “just” subjective and perhaps illusionary. But since the subject was in the business of arguably doing the exact opposite, though we cannot be certain a new quality of Being emerges (for certainty is impossible and would easily end progress in removing the possibility of error, as we discuss), there is “good reason to think” that the Begin which emerges is not reducible to the subject. Yes, perhaps it requires the subject (for the Begin requires “someone to clear” to make its emergence possible), but “require” and “reducible” are not similes.

The unique way that the act of “negation” and/or “nihilation” provides epistemic justification to believe that the new quality of Being which emerges isn’t reducible to the subject is one of the reasons why Heidegger’s and Hegel’s method is unique and valuable: Kant challenged philosophy with the impossibility of reaching “things-in-themselves” through thought, so Hegel and Heidegger suggest we let “thing-in-themselves” disclose themselves. If indeed something does “come forth” and emerge, then this provides a new point on which to base and structure logic.

We discussed earlier how logic eventually “negates” immediacy, and how Hegel bases logic on this “negation point.” Here, we see logic “negating” itself to make way for Being, an emergence which changes the quality of logic itself. There is thus a negation/sublation of logic which can occur when logic makes itself “the negation point,” which then begs the question: “What does it mean to be logical if Being emerges when logic negates/sublates itself?” Also: “What must the nature of the cosmos be like for all this to be possible?” Indeed, these two questions are ones we could spend a lifetime returning to — and should.

To review, for Hegel and Heidegger, Being can come forth from a “clearing,” from an act of “nihilation” and/or “negation,” and if it does that would suggest the Begin isn’t mere subjectivity or a product of subjectivity, for what subjectivity is doing is “nihilating” itself: if something “comes forth” from that “nihilation,” then it is more so likely that the subject was “in its way” versus produce it. Similarly, if we “negate” logic and thought and a new kind of thought and “reason” presents itself, there would be good reason to think that this logic is not in service of our biases, preferences, or the like — that it is not merely a project of subjectivity in service of ourselves. Furthermore, if Being comes forth, this would suggest there is something there in reality sustaining us, and so if we do create out of reality according to Nature/Notion, this is not a chaotic creation which verifies relativism. No, this suggests that God makes room for us to create “out of” God, that God does so through a history we need to fail in to ever-say the word “God” well.


A logic that never fails is not logical for Hegel, because logic must reach the place where it realizes that it always “negates” the immediacy it considers in its act of consideration: logic always changes, and so logic must change how it thinks about itself, at which point it’s “as if” logic never started or was used at all. A being that never “clears” itself aside is not being for Heidegger, because being must reach the place where it realizes that it is not Being and is always “nihilating” Being into beings: being always changes, and so being must change how it thinks about itself, at which point it’s “as if” being has never been considered by Western Philosophy at all. Logic that never “negates” can never be, funny enough; being that never “nihilates” itself can never consider Being. Logic without “negation” is like being without “nihilation”: both are meaningless, just as would be the phrase “Emergentism” without the “failed” history of intellectual consideration about “parts and wholes.” Truth is meaningless without error. Error is what we can leave behind so that the truth means “true.”

But how do we start if we start somewhere false? If it will eventually turn out that “parts and wholes” are not the case as traditionally understood, how do we start thinking “as if” they are (and genuinely believing it, before we know about Emergentism)? First, it means that thought does not tell us when we are wrong, but why doesn’t it? Is it because thought cannot be trusted? In one sense, yes, but perhaps thought is more like the artist who is creating as she or she goes. The writer who starts a novel doesn’t know everywhere he or she will end up, and yet does this mean we cannot trust the writer? The term “trust” seems inappropriate here: what the writer does is beyond such language (or at least is not readily captured by it). The artist knows what he or she is doing and yet doesn’t; the artist makes mistakes and yet all of those mistakes are necessary for the final product. The artist tinkers, and yet suddenly and all at once the artist isn’t tinkering but doing exactly what he or she intended all along. It’s mysterious, and then it’s concrete.

Thought and logic are more like “the thinking of a creator” than someone seeking simple “correspondence” between idea and phenomena. Yes, “correspondence” is a type of thought, as is “understanding,” and both play a critical role for the life of the mind. But not all thought is just these enterprises — the mind is in a far more dynamic and creative business, and it’s even possible that the mind is creating the earth into a world (Nature/Notion). The mind is more like a paintbrush than the magnifying glasses of a Sherlock Holmes; the earth is our canvas which we require, but a painting is not just its canvas.

All this is to say that we can think through falsity because thought is not just “of” something but creating itself as it is itself to get “at” something (which will be messy). I don’t simply think “of” a cat, but rather I am more so engaging in a mental act that is creating itself to itself to be “like” the cat. The thought is never “of” the cat, per se, only “like” it, and that “likeness” is a product of thought creating itself “in light of” the cat (the possible “correspondence” is far more indirect). Thought is self-sculpting itself while eying a model more than a photographer snapping a photo.

With “Thinking Here and Thinking There” by O.G. Rose in mind, we tend to draw a sharp divide between “thinking” and “dreaming,” and though I don’t deny the need for this distinction, perhaps the two mental processes are not as distinct as we think? If Nature/Notion is the case, then all thinking is more like “concrete dreaming” then we might realize, and indeed what do we see in dreams that is “absolutely impossible” in all circumstances? Especially once Virtual Reality technology is widespread and implemented, which is “in” reality, will the line between “dream” and “thinking” be so sharp? Perhaps a million years in the future we will be capable of altering matter itself in profound and seemingly infinite ways — if so, perhaps reality is just a dream that takes a long time to “unfold” itself? Perhaps reality is a dream (Notion) just “unfolding” according to time (Nature)?

When we dream, our mental acts are not confronted “against” hard phenomenal experience, but when we are awake our mental acts are much more so. When I dream, I might be confronted by a cat, but that cat in a moment could be a bird; when I’m awake, I might also be confronted by an identical-looking cat, but that cat won’t become a bird instantly. However, I would note that the mental act itself between these two experiences is “practically” the same, or at least how we experience that mental act is the same, which would suggest that the difference between “dreaming” and “thinking” is more contextual than it has something to do with the mental acts themselves. In fact, there might not be “mental acts” at all, just more so a “mental act” that sometimes uses more left brain than right brain, other times vice-versa, and so on. Sure, the brain does many different things, but essentially perhaps it is all the same? And what that essence is might be more “creative” and “unbound” than we typically “think” (confronted by determination).

Traditional logic defines and understands itself as sharply distinct from dreaming and imagination, and in fact we could understand it as precisely thinking which does everything its power to “separate itself” from dreaming and imagination. While so divided (and while assuming such a division is possible, which thought if unbound is precisely able to think because it is unbound), logic then generally defined itself according to Kantian “Nature | Notion,” devising its principles of “A/A-thinking” accordingly. But if logic is actually more like dreaming and imagination than it realizes, then this traditional conception of logic is useful but also limited, something which logic imposes on itself for “special cases” like science and empiricism (which, I stress, are useful and important “special cases”). All acts of the mind are more similar than we might “think,” as we are capable of thinking precisely because thinking is more imaginative than we might imagine…


On this point regarding the overlap between (logical) “thinking” and “dreaming,” we might begin to consider “the gap” in Hegel, which can be associated with Lacan’s “lack,” Ebert’s “limit,” and Gödel’s “incompleteness.” Indeed, understanding Hegel is greatly aided and advanced by these thinkers, and I don’t dispute any of the ways Hegel is enhanced by their incorporation. Still, there is something interesting in Hegel where “understanding” (logic, philosophy, and the like) reach the place where they understand that this “gap” is not a “gap” in the traditionally understood way: it is a constitutive feature which makes possible “creative unfolding” and the very construct of “Nature/Notion” itself. The term “gap” metaphorically suggests there is a ravine with two sides; we are on this side, and the other side is “over there,” out of reach. We cannot leap across the gap, and so we envision that we are “kept from something” — the emphasize falls back onto a sense of denial and “missing out.” But perhaps this is the wrong impression? Perhaps “understanding” in Hegel works to the place where it realizes (hence, negates/sublates) that “the gap” is actually a blessing, an edge of an expanding creation, cosmos, and/or Nature/Notion?

The division between “logic” and “dream” is precisely why thinking is capable of negating/sublating itself into “dialectical and speculative reason”: if all we could do was dream, then we couldn’t function on the earth and there would be no “concrete determination”; if all we could do was reason logically, then we couldn’t “understand” beyond our immediacy, let alone create something new from out of our immediacy. We would either be disembodied and chaotic (pure dream) or stuck and frozen (pure logic). “The gap” between logic and dream (which is what both metaphorically experience when logic considers itself and its inability to be dreamlike, as dream considers itself and its inability to render itself into the earth) is suddenly negated/sublated into something “definitional” and “defining,” without which there couldn’t be dialectics or speculation. Inability hence becomes enhancing; what we experience as “a gap” is actually the edges of what defines “logic” and “imagination” apart so that they might “meaningfully” interact and “become” what neither could become on their own — certainly not without radical limitation, ironically (logic would be stuck with immediacy, as dream would be stuck with abstraction, which means the very limitation of logic to be dream and dream to be logic is why neither is “stuck” in themselves).

Are there “gaps” in a fiction story like The Lord of the Rings? Yes and no: there is the gap between us and the pages of the book, as there is the gap between the words and what they signify (to suggest Derrida), the gap between my interpretation and what Tolkien intended, and there is the gap between where I am in the story while reading it and its conclusion. All of these are arguably very real “gaps,” but are they “gaps” like a ravine, say the Grand Canyon, where I’m standing on one side of it, unable to reach the other? That doesn’t seem right, and yet when we speak of “gaps” it’s hard for our minds not to drift to the image of being stuck on one side of some “great divide.” In one way the language of “gap” is right, and in another way it is incomplete and problematic. If there was no interpretative/intentional “gap” between us and Tolkien, there would be no Lord of the Rings; likewise, if there was no gap between us and other people, there would be no “others,” which means there would be no relationships, surprises, differing hermeneutics, etc. Perhaps this means we would be “like God” and unlimited, but being “like God” in this state might be very boring, stagnant, and perhaps even hellish? Hard to say.

When I read The Lord of the Rings, there is a gap and division between me and the ending, and yet if there wasn’t such the ending would be spoiled and the story would lose much of its power to immerse me, to emotionally move me, to inspire me, and more. I’m frankly glad as a reader that there is “gap” between me and the ending, as I am also glad that I don’t know while reading what Tolkien intended, for this allows me to interpret the story, which I would argue is partly the act of becoming emotionally invested in the story and coming to be invested in it. We often view “interpretation” as “blocking” our access of something, but I cannot imagine that we would care about anything at all without interpretation, which is partly the act of investing ourselves. And because we are invested in The Lord of the Rings, which is perhaps only possible because we can imagine the story in our mind while reading it (we likely wouldn’t be as emotionally invested in books or art in general without imagination), we care to think about it and be logical about it, mental acts which are relative to and structured by our imagination, which is activated precisely because of the “gaps” which emerge in my relation to the book. Are these “gaps” then really similar in character to a ravine like the Grand Canyon? I don’t think so (and please note that if there was no “gap” of the Grand Canyon, the world would be lacking one of its greatest marvels and never even know it).

What we see here is that all the gaps are constitutive: they are what make possible “situations” (think Leibniz) which otherwise would not be possible. When we think of “gap” as a Grand Canyon, this image doesn’t really lend itself in the direction of seeing the “gap” as constitutive (though, again, it is certainly an experience of beauty). Our inability to reach the other side of the Grand Canyon doesn’t enable us to do much, and in fact the image metaphorically is almost entirely on the side of “keeping us from.” But if “the gap” is instead an edge, suddenly thinks could change — and I would argue that basically Hegel has logic and “understanding” work and “move” to the place where they encounter the fundamental “gap” in being and “exchange” the terms of logic and that “gap” so that this “gap” suddenly becomes a creative and constitutive “edge” (according to “reason”). Hence, what is a “gap” for “understanding” (“one-sidedness”) is an “edge” according to “reason” (“dialectical and speculative reason”).

What we are not and cannot become is why we are and can become. We are full of edges. The universe is full of edges. We have “understood” them as “gaps,” perhaps leading to nihilism, but we are dealing with “limits of (be)coming” and should “reason” accordingly — but so “reasoning” requires logic to reach a place where it “exchanges” the very terms of logic (hence Hegel’s project). The “gaps” of “reading a book” are metaphorically more like “edges,” and a role of “understanding” is to reach the place where metaphysical and ontological “gaps” are encountered so that they might be negated/sublated into “edges” according to “reason.” We can then see ourselves as full of “edges” versus “gaps,” which is emotionally and psychologically very different: the emptiness of the universe suddenly becomes evidence of its life. Edges of the universe are suddenly found in us. Limits are (un)limited edges.

“Gaps” make possible Nature/Notion, for that metaphysical schema would be impossible without “edges,” for Nature/Notion is precisely defined by a creative “pushing/unfolding of edges” (of us, the universe, etc.) according to a “truly infinite relation” to that very edge, which is pushed and “moved” precisely according to that “truly infinite relation.” Hence, “gaps” which seems to suggest nihilism can be universal “gifts.”


Again, what Hegel suggests is that thought is more like “dreaming” than we often realize, and thought is always “moving” from A to B to gain intelligibility. We almost always think according to “likeness,” but that means I understand something by immediately considering it “like” something else. Even when I say, “That apple is red,” I understand the phenomenon according to colors which I learned about “outside” the phenomenon of the fruit I am now experiencing. “A” gains intelligibility thanks to “B,” and that means I am always at risk of making something “what it is not” in the act of thinking, which is necessarily a “movement,” which I must engage in to gain intelligibility at all. This is not inherently bad, but since thought must entail a movement, there is always the risk that A “moves into” B and that B be nothingness or something reductionist or deconstructive of A. At the same time, everything (meaningful) “is” an A/B, which is to say everything is defined by the very “movement” of thought which risks reducing and deconstructing its subject. We are always at risk, but for Hegel if we can always be thinking, never just “entertaining a thought,” we will be at less risk (though such regular and active thought is admittedly exhausting).

I can so “move” thought precisely because thinking is more like “dreaming” then we often want to admit, and as a “dream” brings me not just a single dream-subject but always an entire world, so thought does the same: it never brings us “a single thing” (like the color red without something being red), but a collection of “things” (shape, color, weight, etc.) as a “thing.” Likewise, though we will say, “I had a dream,” suggesting it was only a single thing we considered, a dream is actually always a collection and/or “world.” We never dream of say a cat floating in a void, but instead dream of a cat on a staircase near our grandmother’s house — dreams are always subjects with contexts. So it goes with thought in general: to think is always to think a many “as” a one, which means we are vulnerable to possibly mistaking a many as a one, but where this risk is not present, so neither will be thought.

A dream suggests the impossibility of “a single dream,” which is to say a dream is never “of” just one thing, and yet there’s no reason a dream couldn’t be such, for a dream is unbound by actuality and facticity. This suggests that thought itself is incapable of thinking “a single thing”: a thought must always be a “world” of thoughts, which is to say a network and collection of relations. We know it’s not possible for me to think of a bookcase (“right there”) and the world suddenly “just be” that bookcase: the context and “background world” don’t suddenly vanish or go away. This makes it possible for us to imagine that it’s possible for thought to be of “just one thing,” because if the actual world wasn’t “there,” we could imagine that my thought would only “bring forth” the bookcase. In other words, we can imagine that the background of the world is only there because it is there physically, but it is not “there” because my very thought of the bookcase needs that “background” and following relations. But this is not what we see in a dream: when thought is completely “unbound,” it still brings with it an entire “world,” which would suggest a “world” is needed so that we might understand “a given thing” in a dream. Considering drams, there is hence reason to believe that a thought with only a subject and not a world is impossible. All thoughts must also “world,” per se. A thought must be cosmic.

Dreams are evidence of A/B. We tend to think (unconsciously at least) that in the thought of a bookcase all I need is that bookcase, but a dream suggests that I can only think of “a thing” thanks to “a world which the thing is in and ‘comes forth’ in.” A thing is not its world, and so here we see evidence of A/B, and why exactly a thing needs a world might precisely be because things need a context of rules for operations, for being sensible, etc., and/or because there is no such thing as “a thing,” only “thing(s),” per se. The very fact that dreams always “world” when they are “unbound” suggests that this “worlding” is not only a matter physicality making thought consider such, but that there is something about thought itself which requires a world to be possible. A “world” is part of the structure of thought itself and what thought will generate to be possible.

The fact “a thing needs a world” suggests the inherent and escapable movement of thought itself in gaining intelligibility, for it seems that I can only make a bookcase intelligible thanks to my thought “moving” between it and the world in which the bookcase proves possible and realized. Intelligibility arises in a movement between subject and context, and it does so because it finds some “likeness” between the two that helps enable and enhance the intelligibility. If I didn’t believe there was something shared between the bookcase and the world (some “likeness”), then thought would not “move” between them to gain intelligibility, which is to suggest that the very “movement of thought,” which for Hegel thought is, is always structured by “likeness.” Where there was no meta-structure of “likeness,” there would be no thought (all thought suggests Genesis 1:27, per se), and the word “likeness” always suggests a “movement” (between what is being compared). Since thought requires “likeness” to be, it would seem that a subject of thought always needs a “world” to which that subject can be compared, “moved into,” and found “like” (furthermore, a whole world is needed so that the terms of “likeness” can be situated and defined). “Likeness” always “worlds,” per se, and thought is always “likeness.”

“Likeness” is thought which seems to free a thing from itself (A), for I consider a thing “outside itself” (B), and yet at the same time it always binds a thing (which suggests that all intelligibility is thanks to a “double move” of freeing and binding, similarity/difference — as described by Leibniz and in “The VORD” by O.G. Rose). The context of the bookcase helps me make conclusions about the bookcase: if it is in this world of mass, gravity, weight, given Natural Laws, etc., then it follows the same applies to this bookcase. I know it is “bound” to some degree, which is to say I can “define” it, and so thought does not have to wander down a path of infinite possibilities. The world “binds” the subject to a set of possibilities, and so my inquiry into the bookcase begins already “halfway done,” per se. The nature of dreams suggests that thought needs this binding to be possible, because when I dream I naturally generate a “world” which “binds” each thing in the dream. Yes, I can perhaps fly and “do anything” in a dream, but the realization I can “do anything” is gradual and a realization of “rules” that then applying to everything. Dreams are not chaotic and unpredictable, only surprising, and it proves possible for me to realize things that I didn’t think was possible, but these things must still be realized sequentially and then implemented in a “rule-based” manner. Dreams are not chaotic, only “seemingly” such when compared with “real life.”

Let us consider the phrase, “The brain is like a computer.” In this act, I “free” the biological entity from its biological realm and “link it up” with a mechanical, technological realm, and in this act I really do gain “understanding.” I’m not deluded, strangely, which suggests there is something “in” the computer that is also “in” the brain to make this comparison possible (which for Hegel might have something to do with Nature/Notion and how the very thought of a brain and computer together thus actually puts one another “in” one another, for to think of something shapes and change “the thing-in-itself” — which is precisely our power and the danger, for we really could “deconstruct” things and ourselves with them, as we really could “elevate” them). Anyway, when I say, “The brain is like a computer,” I free a brain from biology, but then in that very act bind it with technology. Thought in this way is like a given thing, for a thing finds itself in a world which frees the thing (in that thing can explore it, move around, etc.) while also binding the thing (Nature and Notion are isomorphic, please note). The world is a gift of enabling and limiting at the same time (suggesting the work of Alex Ebert in “Fre(Q) Theory”), as is a dream, but in a way that is arguably deeper than the world, for the thought which generates a dream generates the liberation and limit at the same time, suggesting thought itself is the source. I dream a world that I conform, but because I conform to a world in which I can fly, I can now fly (the conformity liberates; I choose the Determination into Necessity, as described in “Hegel’s Justification of Hegel” by O.G. Rose).

Thought and “likeness” always entail a “movement” and a simultaneous “double action” of binding and freeing, which for Hegel means logic is more A/B than A/A, which is perhaps why dreams always “world” (a network of relations) versus just present “a thing” (please note that if thought in itself requires a “world,” then “autonomous rationality” is indeed impossible, just as Hume warned). It is thought itself that worlds; it is not that we think of a world, but that “world-ing” is part of thought itself. This doesn’t mean there can’t also be a physical earth we interact with, but that perhaps we can interact with the earth precisely because thought is “like” it and thus can relate. Thought “worlds” and the earth can be “world-ed” (Nature/Notion), and so “likeness” is possible. We do not reach “thing-in-themselves,” but perhaps it is possible that thought contains what it needs to think “things-in-themselves” (like-wise) (the world can be like the earth-in-itself, because thought “worlds”). Also, “things-in-themselves” are always actually “things-in-an-act-of-worlding,” and thought can “world” — the disconnect is not sharp.

However, there is a danger in all this, for we can “world” ourselves into a falsity that causes self-effacement. Take again the example, “The brain is like a computer.” I need “likeness” to help make sense of the brain, because it is almost impossible to get at it “too directly,” but in this act of comparison that helps me “understand” the brain, I treat it like a computer, which the brain is not. And in this act, I risk training myself to start thinking about the brain as “just” a computer, which could be reductionist (and perhaps make me more afraid of something like ChatGPT then I ought to be). I needed thought to “move” between “computer” and “brain” according to “likeness” to understand the brain, but in this necessary move I also run the risk of reducing the human to a machine. In this, we see how thought is also like a dream in that, when I dream, I tend to find myself in an entire world that I entirely accept without thinking much about it (unless it’s a “lucid dream,” as we’ll discuss). When I dream, I just “always already” “accept” the terms of the dream, and I do not question them: in the act of experiencing and enjoying the dream, I assume an entire world and context that organizes me and my thinking. Similarly, if thinking is “unbound” like “dreaming,” and I begin to think that “I am like a computer,” then this will begin to constitute “the world” in which I operate and act — and so I will organize myself in this direction of self-effacement while believing “the world is on my side.” For indeed, the world will present and “reveal itself” as such (a point which brings to mind “Self-Delusion, the Toward-ness of Evidence, and the Paradox of Judgment” by O.G. Rose).

To dream is “always already” to be in a binding principle (“world”) that I can bring upon myself precisely because I am “unbound” (paradoxically). I must think something like, “The brain is like a computer,” to understand the brain (for I require a “movement” between A and B to “grasp” A), and yet this very necessary “movement” (freeing/binding) puts me at risk of assuming a “world” in which “brains are like a computer,” which I will then begin making the world “like,” as I precisely can do because thinking is “unbound” (and anything that is possible in action will occur over enough time). To think a thought is to risk stranding myself in a false cosmos, but the cosmos requires such movement to “mean” anything at all. If we consider “thinking” and “dreaming” as more similar than we often have, perhaps we’ll become more conscious of the danger and power of thought; perhaps we’ll think better.

To conclude this section, a lucid dream is when I gain power to change the “rules” of the world that I conform to, so it’s not that I’m entirely free of rules, but that I can change the rules that bind me (the rules change, then I act, not I act outside of rules entirely). With awareness of Nature/Notion and the reality that “thinking” and “dreaming” are more like one another, might “lucid reality” prove possible? Might reality be a place where we cannot do anything we want instantly, but that we might do anything we want relative to the time it takes to change “the rules” to the world? Might the only limit to creativity be patience? What do you think?


Bringing this work to a close, the following admittedly needs a lot more elaboration, and the hope is that the rest of The Absolute Choice will provide that elaboration. Still, I included this section here to help readers have a sense of the direction this book will venue in, so that when we arrive at our destinations, they will be more familiar and more clearly see the places we have been trying to reach.

When I realize the universe is full of “edges” versus “gaps,” then the very way I think of the universe changes, and so also can change the way the universe “unfolds.” This is key: though we often think in terms of “realization vs creation,” Hegel suggests realization is also creative (given Nature/Notion). We often ask if math is created or discovered, but Hegel suggests that discovering that “math is created” is a legitimate discovery that then makes it so we can create math in a way that makes it “part of” what is discovered (we can bring “quality” and “quantity” together, measurement and measurer, etc.). This is a change according to a relation with mathematics, as moving from “gap” to “edge” is a change in our relation to the universe (and ourselves), and this means we are potentially dealing with a “true infinity” versus a spurious one. We are finding infinity in what is present, not trying to add to what is present until it becomes infinite. The only hope for infinity is finding it here and now — all other means to infinity are spurious.

A “truly infinite relation” to “edges” is indeed infinite, for in Hegel this relation changes how Nature/Notion “creatively unfolds” (for it changes how we think and act) and since there is no theoretical limit to how the universe unfolds (as there is no “theoretical limit” to dreams), then indeed this relation is “infinite.” I can always relate again to the tree in front of me, and how I relate can always be different in quality. Perhaps it isn’t, but it can be, and thus there is a real and “true infinity” between me and the tree. So it goes between us and all “edges” in and of the universe (“creation”), but this “situation” is only so because of the reality of “gaps/edges,” the possibility of error, “(in)completeness,” and finitude as a whole. Thus, if we could not err, “true infinity” would not be possible. Life could not be like a dream.

To really “get” the “edges of the universe,” I myself must arguably be pushed to my “edge,” and this will no doubt require me to err and fail. ‘To know something falsely means that there is a disparity between knowledge and its Substance. But this very disparity is the process of distinguishing in general, which is an essential moment [in knowing].’¹ To fail means we have begun to “hit up again the way of things,” for we could not fail unless we “hit up against” what was the case. In our context, what we see here is how ‘[b]eing that is at rest, and begin that is in relation, come in conflict with each other,’ which is to say our “understanding of Nature | Notion” comes in conflict with our “reasoning about Nature/Notion,” and it is our work to negate/sublate “understanding” into “reason.”² Yes, in “understanding,” ‘the Notion displays itself in the form of thinghood and sensuous being; but it does not on that account lose its nature’ (A/B), only seem to, and the work of “reason” is to recall Nature/Notion.³

“True infinity” is why there is finitude, as finitude is why there is “true infinity,” for finitude is necessary for distinction which makes possible relation. “Gaps” are not what we “understand” them to be; they are the “edges” of “reason.” “Gaps” are a-head; they become “(be)coming.” But all this is easy to miss when we metaphorically think of “gaps” like a ravine, and since “lack” in Lacan is often associated with “gaps,” that metaphoric structure carries over into Lacan (which then can influence our reading of Hegel). Yes, there are “gaps” according to “understanding,” but what Lacan describe for “reason” is more like “edges.” These edges are sharp and will draw blood, but there is no life without blood. We must be able to bleed if we are to be able to breathe.

There is no limit to what we can dream within-in “the truly infinite relation” of (in)finitude that makes possible our dreams (in colors, shapes, etc.), and since “dreaming” and “thinking” are related, there is no limit to what we can “reason” either. Since the universe is Nature/Notion, which means what we “reason” impacts and influences what “unfolds,” this suggests there is no necessary limit to how Nature/Notion might “unfold” and thus what the universe might “(be)come.” The “gaps” we can interpret in favor of nihilism might actually be the “edges” of this very processes, “edges” that if didn’t exist would mean no “creative unfolding” was occurring.

When we “nihilate” according to Heidegger or “negate” according to Hegel, we are precisely making “clearings” for the possibility of encountering “edges,” and if some Being emerges from that “clearing” (or perhaps we could say “from that edging”), there would be “reason to think” we are indeed dealing with an “edge’ that cannot be reduced to our subjectivity and that marks a point of creation. As possible thanks to “negation” and “nihilation,” “clearings” are perhaps points where we can “witness” the very edge of Nature/Notion’s creating/creation occurring, a creating/creation which is only possible because subjects exist in the universe (which are the points from where Notion is possible to then negate/sublate Nature into Notion/Nature). And when we as subjects experience Nature/Notion’s creating/creation, we then have “reason to think/remember” that our thoughts, creations, and undertakings are not chaotic, relativistic, and ultimately “just subjective.” The “gaps” we understand as cause for despair are actually “edges” upon which we can find/create reason for hope (to allude to Layman Pascal, the “lack” of the 1% which we can despair over losing is why the other 99% is alive). And with this shift in thinking, the quality of our world can change forever, over and over anew.





¹Hegel, G.W.F. Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by A.V. Miller. Oxford University Press, 1977: 23.

²Hegel, G.W.F. Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by A.V. Miller. Oxford University Press, 1977: 149.

³Hegel, G.W.F. Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by A.V. Miller. Oxford University Press, 1977: 151.




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O.G. Rose

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