The Sublation of Dialectics: Hegel and the Logic of Aufhebung
This dissertation is a study of the concept of Aufhebung, or sublation, as it arises in G. W. F. Hegel’s dialectical logic. Its chief contention is that this concept not be understood to function simply as a mere negation of negation, where that would mean an assimilatory determinate negation of a prior moment of abstract negation. Instead, it is argued that both abstract and determinate negation function at the level of sublation as such and that the concept should thereby be understood not only as a synthesis that combines a term with its antithesis, i.e., a unifying third term, but also as a fourth that treats these terms in their difference, holding them apart as oppositional. The quadruplicity of sublation here is discerned through analyses of the figure of servile self-consciousness in the Phenomenology of Spirit and the concepts of becoming and the Absolute in the Science of Logic and the Encyclopaedia Logic. This reinterpretation of Hegel’s theory of negation is contrasted with the critical responses of a few of his critics, especially Jacques Derrida and Georges Bataille, which are shown to fail both as critiques of Hegel and as philosophical alternatives to dialectics.