George Noël: Hegel’s Logic. Paris, 1897

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 1915

Source: Lenin Collected Works, 4th Edition, Moscow, 1976, Volume 38, pp. 319-324
Publisher: Progress Publishers
First Published: 1930 in Lenin Miscellany XII. Published according to the manuscript.


PARIS, 1897

[Bibliothèque de Genève, Ca l219]

Printed in installments in Revue de Mé-taphysique et de Morale; edited by Xavier Léon.
The author is an idealist and a shallow

one. A re-writing of Hegel, a defence of

Hegel against “modern philosophers,” a com-

parison with Kant, etc. Nothing of interest.

Nothing profound. Not a word about ma-

erialist dialectics: the author evidently

has no notion of it.
Note the translations of He-

gel’s terms:Être [Being] —EssenceNo-tion (Mesure, etc. [Measure]).

Devenir (das Gewordene) [Becoming].

L’être déterminé (Dasein) [Determinate Being, Existent Being].

Être pour un autre (Sein-für-anderes) [Being-for-other].

Quelque chose (Etwas) [Something]. Limite (Grenze) [Limit].

Borne (Schranke) [Boundary]. Devoir Être (Sollen) [Ought].

Être pour soi (Für-sich-Sein) [Being- for-itself].

Existence hors de soi (Auβer-sich-Sein) [Being outside itself].

La connaissance (das Erkennen) [Cog- nition].

Actualité (Wirklichkeit) [Actuality]. Apparence (Schein) [Semblance].

Être posé (Das Gesetztsein) [Posited Be- ing].

Position (Setzende Reflexion) [Positing reflection].

Fondement ou raison d’étre (Grund) [Ground].

L’universel (das Allgemeine) [The Uni- versal].

Particulier (das Besondere) [The Par- ticular].

Jugement (das Urteil) [Judgment]. Raisonnement on Syllogisme (Schluβ)

[Reasoning or Syllogism (Conclu-

Note also the amusing attempts of the

author to justify Hegel as it were[1] against accusations of “realism” (read: material- ism). According to Hegel “philosophy as a whole is a syllogism. And in this syllo- gism, logic is the universal, nature the par- ticular, and spirit the individual” (p. 123). The author “analyses” (= rehashes) the last sentences of the Logic on the transition

from the Idea to Nature. It transpires that through nature (in nature) the understand- ing cognises the Idea = uniformity, ab- stractions, etc.... Help! Almost material- ism!!....

“To treat nature by itself, abstracted

from mind, is that not to return implicitly

to the most naïve realism?” (p. 129)
“True, by interposing a philosophy of

nature between Logic and the philosophy

of mind, Hegel adopts the standpoint of

realism, but in doing so he is not guilty

of any inconsistency.... Hegel’s realism

is only provisional. It is a point of view

that has to be superseded.” (129)
“That realism has its relative truth is

indisputable. A point of view so natural

and universal is not an aberration of the

human mind.... In order to supersede real-

ism, it” (dialectics) “will have to give it

first its full development and only thus

will it demonstrate the necessity of ideal-

ism. Hence Hegel will put time and space

as the most general determinations of na-
ture and not as forms of the mind. On

this point he seems to disagree with Kant,

but this is only in appearance and in
words....” ...“That is why he” (Hegel) “speaks of

sensuous qualities as if they were really

inherent in the body. It is surprising that

on this account Herr Wundt accuses him

of ignorance. Does the learned philosopher

believe that Hegel had never read Des-

cartes, Locke or even Kant? If he is a real-

ist, it is due neither to ignorance nor in-

consistency, but only tentatively and as a
NBHegel = a


method of approach.” (130)NB
Comparing Hegel with Spinoza, the author

says: “In short, Hegel and Spinoza agree

in submitting nature to logic” (p. 140),

but in Hegel logic is not mathematical

logic but the logic of contradictions, of

the transition “from pure abstraction to

reality” (etc.). Of Spinoza it is said “with

him” (Spinoza) “we are at the antipodes of

idealism” (138); for “the world of spirits” (in

Spinoza) “exists side by side with the world

of bodies; it does not stand above it....”

...“The idea of evolution so characteris-

tic of Hegelianism has no meaning for

Spinoza....” (138)

Hegel develops the dialectics of Plato

(“he recognises with Plato the necessary

coexistence of opposites” 140)—Leibnitz is

close to Hegel. (141)

Noël defends Hegel against the charge

of pantheism ... (here, he says, is the basis

of this charge):

“Absolute spirit, the final point of
his” (Hegel’s) “dialectics, is it basically

other than the idealised and deified spirit

of man himself? Does his God exist any-

where but in nature and humanity?” (142)

Noël’s “defence” consists in stress-

ing (chewing over) the fact that

Hegel is an idealist.
Is Hegel not a “dogmatist”? (Chapter VI:

“The Dogmatism of Hegel”). Yes, in the

sense of non-scepticism, in the sense of
Hegel not

a “sceptic”

the ancients (p. 147). But according

to Kant that = cognisability of “Things-in-

themselves.” Hegel (just like Fichte) denies


Agnostic realism” according to

Kant (p. 148 i.f.).

...“Kant defines dogmatism from the
point of view of agnosticism. A dogmatist

is one who claims to determine the Thing-

in-itself, to know the unknowable. More-

over, dogmatism can take two forms....”

(149) Either it is mysticism, or

an agnostic

...“it can also naïvely raise sensuous

reality to absolute reality, identify

the phenomenon with the noumenon.


It is then empirical dogmatism, that

of the common mass and of the savant

who is alien to philosophy. The ma-

terialists fall into this second error;


ists = “dog-


the first was that of Plato, Descartes

and their disciples....”

In Hegel, it is stated, there is not a

trace of dogmatism, for “he will certainly

not be accused of not recognising the rel-

ativity of things with respect to thought,

since his whole system rests on this prin-

ciple. Nor will he be accused of applying

the categories undiscerningly and uncritical-

ly. Is not his logic precisely a critique of the

categories, a critique incontestably more

profound than the Kantian critique?” (150) ...“There is no doubt that by the very

rejection of noumena he” (Hegel) “puts

reality in the phenomenon,[2] but this real- ity in the phenomenon as such is only an immediate reality, consequently rela-

tive and intrinsically incomplete. It is
true reality only implicitly and on condi-

tion of its further development....” (151)

...“Moreover, between the intelligible and

the sensuous there is no absolute opposi-

tion, no hiatus, no unbridgeable gulf. The
sensuous is the intelligible in anticipation;

the intelligible is the sensuous under-

stood....” (152)
not bad!
(Even you, a shallow idealist, have de-

rived some benefit from Hegel!)

...“Sensuous being contains the abso-

lute implicitly and it is through a contin-

uous gradation that we raise ourselves from

the one to the other.” (153)

...“Thus, whatever may have been said

about it, Kant’s philosophy retains the fun-

damental vice of mystical dogmatism. We
find in it the two characteristic features

of this doctrine: absolute opposition be-

tween the sensuous and the supersensuous,

and an immediate transition from the one

to the other.” (156)
In Chapter VII: “Hegel and Modern

Thought,” Noël takes the positivism of

Auguste Comte and, analysing it, calls it
positivism =


“an agnostic system.” (166)

(Idem 169: “positivist agnosticism”)

In criticising positivism as agnosticism,

the author sometimes castigates it not at

all badly for its half-heartedness,—saying,

for example, that the question of the

source of laws or of the “permanence” of

facts (“des faits permanents,”[3] 170) cannot

be evaded:

...“Depending on whether one regards

them” (les faits permanents) “as uncognis-

able or cognisable, one is brought back

either to agnosticism or to dogmatic philos-

ophy....” (170 i.f.)

The neo-criticism of M. Renouvier is

described as eclecticism, something midway

between “positivist phenomenalism and

Kantianism proper.” (175)
Chattering about morality, freedom,

etc., Noël, the vulgariser of Hegel, has

not the slightest word to say about

freedom as the understanding of neces-

French translations of Hegel: Véra: Logic, The Philos-ophy of Mind, The Philosophy of Religion, The Philosophyof Nature;

Ch. Bénard: Aesthetics and Poetics

Works on Hegelianism:

E. Beaussire: Antécédents de l’hégélianisme. P. Janet: La dialectique dans Hégel et dans Platon. 1860. Mariano: La Philosophie contemporaine en Italie.

Véra: Introduction à la Philosophie de Hégel.

  1. These three words are in English in the original.—Ed.
  2. Noumena and phenomena—terms used by Kant in his theory of knowledge. Noumenon means a thing-in-itself, while phenomenon means a thing as it appears to us. According to Kant, phenomena are formed as a result of the action on man of something unknown (a thing-in-itself). Noumena are supposed to lie beyond phenomena, and their essence to be unknowable.
  3. of permanent facts”—Ed.