From: Encyclopedia Britannica

Metalogic: Semiotic

Originally, the word “semiotic” meant the medical theory of symptoms; however, an empiricist, John Locke, used the term in the 17th century for a science of signs and significations. The current usage was recommended especially by Rudolf Carnap—see his Introduction to Semantics (1942) and his reference there to Charles William Morris, who suggested a threefold distinction. According to this usage, semiotic is the general science of signs and languages, consisting of three parts: (1) pragmatics (in which reference is made to the user of the language), (2) semantics (in which one abstracts from the user and analyzes only the expressions and their meanings), and (3) syntax (in which one abstracts also from the meanings and studies only the relations between expressions).

Considerable effort since the 1970s has gone into the attempt to formalize some of the pragmatics of natural languages. The use of indexical expressions to incorporate reference to the speaker, his or her location, or the time of either the utterance or the events mentioned was of little importance to earlier logicians, who were primarily interested in universal truths or mathematics. With the increased interest in linguistics there has come an increased effort to formalize pragmatics.

At first Carnap exclusively emphasized syntax. But gradually he came to realize the importance of semantics, and the door was thus reopened to many difficult philosophical problems.

Certain aspects of metalogic have been instrumental in the development of the approach to philosophy commonly associated with the label of logical positivism. In his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922; originally published under another title, 1921), Ludwig Wittgenstein, a seminal thinker in the philosophy of language, presented an exposition of logical truths as sentences that are true in all possible worlds. One may say, for example, “It is raining or it is not raining,” and in every possible world one of the disjuncts is true. On the basis of this observation and certain broader developments in logic, Carnap tried to develop formal treatments of science and philosophy.

It has been thought that the success that metalogic had achieved in the mathematical disciplines could be carried over into physics and even into biology or psychology. In so doing, the logician gives a branch of science a formal language in which there are logically true sentences having universal logical ranges and factually true sentences having universal logical ranges and factually true ones having more restricted ranges. (Roughly speaking, the logical range of a sentence is the set of all possible worlds in which it is true.)

A formal solution of the problem of meaning has also been proposed for these disciplines. Given the formal language of a science, it is possible to define a notion of truth. Such a truth definition determines the truth condition for every sentence—i.e., the necessary and sufficient conditions for its truth. The meaning of a sentence is then identified with its truth condition because, as Carnap wrote:

To understand a sentence, to know what is asserted by it, is the same as to know under what conditions it would be true. . . . To know the truth condition of a sentence is (in most cases) much less than to know its truth-value, but it is the necessary starting point for finding outits truth-value.Influences in other directions

Metalogic has led to a great deal of work of a mathematical nature in axiomatic set theory, model theory, and recursion theory (in which functions that are computable in a finite number of steps are studied).

In a different direction, the devising of Turing computing machines, involving abstract designs for the explication of mechanical logical procedures, has led to the investigation of idealized computers, with ramifications in the theory of finite automata and mathematical linguistics.

Among philosophers of language, there is a widespread tendency to stress the philosophy of logic. The contrast, for example, between intensional concepts and extensional concepts; the role of meaning in natural languages as providing truth conditions; the relation between formal and natural logic (i.e., the logic of natural languages); and the relation of ontology, the study of the kinds of entities that exist, to the use of quantifiers—all these areas are receiving extensive consideration and discussion. There are also efforts to produce formal systems for empirical sciences such as physics, biology, and even psychology. Many scholars have doubted, however, whether these latter efforts have been fruitful.


Habermas’ theories

(Content based on a Wikipedia essay on the subject.)

The Theory of Communicative Action (German: Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns) is a two-volume 1981 book by Jürgen Habermas, in which the author continues his project of finding a way to ground “the social sciences in a theory of language”


The theory of communicative action is a critical project which reconstructs a concept of reason which is not grounded in instrumental or objectivistic terms, but rather in an emancipatory communicative act. This reconstruction proposes “human action and understanding can be fruitfully analysed as having a linguistic structure”,and each utterance relies upon the anticipation of freedom from unnecessary domination. These linguistic structures of communication can be used to establish a normative understanding of society….This conception of society is used “to make possible a conceptualization of the social-life context that is tailored to the paradoxes of modernity.”

This project started after the critical reception of Habermas’s book Knowledge and Human Interests (1968), after which Habermas chose to move away from contextual and historical analysis of social knowledge toward what would become the theory of communicative action.The theory of communicative action understands language as the foundational component of society and is an attempt to update Marxism by “drawing on Systems theory (Luhmann), developmental psychology (Piaget, Kohlberg), and social theory (Weber, Durkheim, Parsons, Mead, etc.)”.

Based on lectures initially developed in On the Pragmatics of Social Interaction Habermas was able to expand his theory to a large understanding of society.

Thomas A. McCarthy states that

The Theory of Communicative Action has three interrelated concerns: (1) to develop a concept of rationality that is no longer tied to, and limited by, the subjectivistic and individualistic premises of modern philosophy and social theory; (2) to construct a two-level concept of society that integrates the lifeworld and systems paradigms; and, finally, (3) to sketch out, against this background, a critical theory of modernity which analyzes and accounts for its pathologies in a way that suggests a redirection rather than an abandonment of the project of enlightenment.

Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 1

The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 1 sets out “to develop a concept of rationality that is no longer tied to, and limited by, the subjectivistic and individualistic premises of modern philosophy and social theory.” With this failure of the search for ultimate foundations by “first philosophy” or “the philosophy of consciousness”, an empirically tested theory of rationality must be a pragmatic theory based on science and social science. This implies that any universalist claims can only be validated by testing against counterexamples in historical (and geographical) contexts – not by using transcendental ontological assumptions. This leads him to look for the basis of a new theory of communicative action in the tradition of sociology. He starts by rereading Max Weber‘s description of rationality and arguing it has a limited view of human action. Habermas argues that Weber’s basic theoretical assumptions with regard to social action prejudiced his analysis in the direction of purposive rationality, which purportedly arises from the conditions of commodity production.Taking the definition of action as human behaviour with intention, or with subjective meaning attached, then Weber’s theory of action is based on a solitary acting subject and does not encompass the coordinating actions that are inherent to a social body.

According to Weber, rationalisation (to use this word in the sense it has in sociological theory) creates three spheres of value: the differentiated zones of science, art and law. For him, this fundamental disunity of reason constitutes the danger of modernity. This danger arises not simply from the creation of separate institutional entities but through the specialisation of cognitive, normative, and aesthetic knowledge that in turn permeates and fragments everyday consciousness. This disunity of reason implies that culture moves from a traditional base in a consensual collective endeavour to forms which are rationalised by commodification and led by individuals with interests which are separated from the purposes of the population as a whole.

This ‘purposive rational action‘ is steered by the “media” of the state, which substitute for oral language as the medium of the coordination of social action. An antagonism arises between these two principles of societal integration—language, which is oriented to understanding and collective well being, and “media”, which are systems of success-oriented action.

Following Weber, Habermas sees specialisation as the key historical development, which leads to the alienating effects of modernity, which ‘permeate and fragment everyday consciousness’.

Habermas points out that the “sociopsychological costs” of this limited version of rationality are ultimately borne by individuals, which is what György Lukács had in mind when he developed Marx’s concept of reification in his History and Class Consciousness (1923). They surface as widespread neurotic illnesses, addictions, psychosomatic disorders, and behavioural and emotional difficulties; or they find more conscious expression in criminal actions, protest groups and religious cults. Lukács thought that reification, although it runs deep, is constrained by the potential of rational argument to be self-reflexive and transcend its occupational use by oppressive agencies.Habermas agrees with this optimistic analysis, in contrast to Adorno and Horkheimer, and thinks that freedom and ideals of reconciliation are ingrained in the mechanisms of the linguistically mediated sociation of humanity.

Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 2

Habermas finds in the work of George Herbert Mead and Émile Durkheim concepts which can be used to free Weber’s theory of rationalisation from the aporias of the philosophy of consciousness. Mead’s most productive concept is his theoretical base of communication and Durkheim’s is his idea of social integration. Mead also stressed the social character of perception: our first encounters are social.

From these bases, Habermas develops his concept of communicative action: communicative action serves to transmit and renew cultural knowledge, in a process of achieving mutual understandings. It then coordinates action towards social integration and solidarity. Finally, communicative action is the process through which people form their identities.

Following Weber again, an increasing complexity arises from the structural and institutional differentiation of the lifeworld, which follows the closed logic of the systemic rationalisation of our communications. There is a transfer of action co-ordination from ‘language’ over to ‘steering media’, such as money and power, which bypass consensus-oriented communication with a ‘symbolic generalisation of rewards and punishments’. After this process the lifeworld “is no longer needed for the coordination of action”. This results in humans (‘lifeworld actors’) losing a sense of responsibility with a chain of negative social consequences. Lifeworld communications lose their purpose becoming irrelevant for the coordination of central life processes. This has the effect of ripping the heart out of social discourse, allowing complex differentiation to occur but at the cost of social pathologies.

“In the end, systemic mechanisms suppress forms of social integration even in those areas where a consensus dependent co-ordination of action cannot be replaced, that is, where the symbolic reproduction of the lifeworld is at stake. In these areas, the mediatization of the lifeworld assumes the form of colonisation”. Habermas argues that Horkheimer and Adorno, like Weber before them, confused system rationality with action rationality. This prevented them from dissecting the effects of the intrusion of steering media into a differentiated lifeworld, and the rationalisation of action orientations that follows. They could then only identify spontaneous communicative actions within areas of apparently ‘non-rational’ action, art and love on the one hand or the charisma of the leader on the other, as having any value.

According to Habermas, lifeworlds become colonised by steering media when four things happen:

1. Traditional forms of life are dismantled.

2. Social roles are sufficiently differentiated.

3. There are adequate rewards of leisure and money for the alienated labour.

4. Hopes and dreams become individuated by state canalization of welfare and culture.

These processes are institutionalised by developing global systems of jurisprudence. He here indicates the limits of an entirely juridified concept of legitimation and practically calls for more anarchistic ‘will formation’ by autonomous networks and groups.

“Counterinstitutions are intended to dedifferentiate some parts of the formally organised domains of action, remove them from the clutches of the steering media, and return these ‘liberated areas’ to the action co-ordinating medium of reaching understanding“.

Once we have extricated ourselves from Weber’s overly negative use of rationalisation, it is possible to look at the Enlightenment ideal of reason in a fresh light. Rationality is redefined as thinking that is ready to submit to criticism and systematic examination as an ongoing process. A broader definition is that rationality is a disposition expressed in behaviour for which good reasons can be given.

Habermas is now ready to make a preliminary definition of the process of communicative rationality: this is communication that is “oriented to achieving, sustaining and reviewing consensus – and indeed a consensus that rests on the intersubjective recognition of criticisable validity claims”. With this key definition he shifts the emphasis in our concept of rationality from the individual to the social. This shift is fundamental to the Theory of Communicative Action. It is based on an assumption that language is implicitly social and inherently rational.

Argument of some kind is central to the process of achieving a rational result. Contested validity claims are thematised and attempts are then made to vindicate or criticise them in a systematic and rigorous way. This may seem to favour verbal language, but allowance is also given for ‘practical discourses’ in which claims to normative rightness are made thematic and pragmatically tested. Non-verbal forms of cultural expression could often fall into this category.

Habermas proposes three integrated conditions from which argumentative speech can produce valid results:

The structure of the ideal speech situation (which means that the discourse is) immunised against repression and inequality in a special way… The structures of a ritualised competition for the better arguments… The structures that determine the construction of individual arguments and their interrelations“.

If we accept such principles of rational argumentation, Communicative Rationality is:

The processes by which different validity claims are brought to a satisfactory resolution.

The relations to the world that people take to forward validity claims for the expressions they deem important.


Excerpts from Kierkegaard

Excerpts from Kierkegaard

Fear and Trembling
Johannes DE SILENTIO, 1843
(alias Søren Kierkegaard)

tr. Walter Lowrie, 1941


He knew that it was God the Almighty who was trying him, he knew that it was the hardest sacrifice that could be required of him; but he knew also that no sacrifice was too hard when God required it-and he drew the knife…

What they leave out of Abraham’s history is dread; for to money I have no ethical obligation, but to the son the father has the highest and most sacred obligation.

I also know what else I would have done. The very instant I mounted the horse I would have said to myself, “Now all is lost. God requires Isaac, I sacrifice him, and with him my joy-yet God is love and continues to be that for me; for in the temporal world God and I cannot talk together, we have no language in common.” Perhaps one or another in our age will be foolish enough, or envious enough of the great, to want to make himself and me believe that if I really had done this, I would have done even a greater deed than Abraham; for my prodigious resignation was far more ideal and poetic than Abraham’s narrow-mindedness. And yet this is the greatest falsehood, for my prodigious resignation was the surrogate for faith…

what I encounter there is the paradox. I do not however mean in any sense to say that faith is something lowly, but on the contrary that it is the highest thing, and that it is dishonest of philosophy to give something else instead of it and to make light of faith. Philosophy cannot and should not give faith, but it should understand itself and know what it has to offer and take nothing away, and least of all should fool people out of something as if it were nothing. ..

s there such a thing as a teleological suspension of the ethical?

The ethical as such is the universal, and as the universal it applies to everyone, which may be expressed from another point of view by saying that it applies every instant. It reposes immanently in itself, it has nothing without itself which is its telos,  but is itself telos for everything outside it, and when this has been incorporated by the ethical it can go no further. Conceived immediately as physical and psychical, the particular individual is the individual who has his telos in the universal, and his ethical task is to express himself constantly in it, to abolish his particularity in order to become the universal. As soon as the individual would assert himself in his particularity over against the universal he sins, and only by recognizing this can he again reconcile himself with the universal. Whenever the individual after he has entered the universal feels an impulse to assert himself as the particular, he is in temptation (Anfechtung), and he can labor himself out of this only by penitently abandoning himself as the particular in the universal. If this be the highest thing that can be said of man and of his existence, then the ethical has the same character as man’s eternal blessedness, which to all eternity and at every instant is his telos, since it would be a contradiction to say that this might be abandoned (i.e. teleologically suspended), inasmuch as this is no sooner suspended than it is forfeited, whereas in other cases what is suspended is not forfeited but is preserved precisely in that higher thing which is its telos. …

Faith is precisely this paradox, that the individual as the particular is higher than the universal, is justified over against it, is not subordinate but superior-yet in such a way, be it observed, that it is the particular individual who, after he has been subordinated as the particular to the universal, now through the universal becomes the individual who as the particular is superior to the universal, for the fact that the individual as the particular stands in an absolute relation to the absolute. This position cannot be mediated, for all mediation comes about precisely by virtue of the universal; it is and remains to all eternity a paradox, inaccessible to thought. And yet faith is this paradox-or else (these are the logical deductions which I would beg the reader to have in mente at every point, though it would be too prolix for me to reiterate them on every occasion)-or else there never has been faith … precisely because it always has been. In other words, Abraham is lost….

Now the story of Abraham contains such a teleological suspension of the ethical…

He acts by virtue of the absurd, for it is precisely absurd that he as the particular is higher than the universal. This paradox cannot be mediated; for as soon as he begins to do this he has to admit that he was in temptation (Anfechtung), and if such was the case, he never gets to the point of sacrificing Isaac, or, if he has sacrificed Isaac, he must turn back repentantly to the universal. By virtue of the absurd he gets Isaac again. Abraham is therefore at no instant a tragic hero but something quite different, either a murderer or a believer. The middle term which saves the tragic hero, Abraham has not. Hence it is that I can understand the tragic hero but cannot understand Abraham, though in a certain crazy sense I admire him more than all other men.

Abraham’s relation to Isaac, ethically speaking, is quite simply expressed by saying that a father shall love his son more dearly than himself. Yet within its own compass the ethical has various gradations. Let us see whether in this story there is to be found any higher expression for the ethical such as would ethically explain his conduct, ethically justify him in suspending the ethical obligation toward his son, without in this search going beyond the teleology of the ethical….

Why then did Abraham do it? For God’s sake, and (in complete identity with this) for his own sake. He did it for God’s sake because God required this proof of his faith; for his own sake he did it in order that he might furnish the proof. The unity of these two points of view is perfectly expressed by the word which has always been used to characterize this situation: it is a trial, a temptation (Fristelse).47 A temptation-but what does that mean? What ordinarily tempts a man is that which would keep him from doing his duty, but in this case the temptation is itself the ethical … which would keep him from doing God’s will. But what then is duty? Duty is precisely the expression for God’s will.

Here is evident the necessity of a new category if one would understand Abraham. Such a relationship to the deity paganism did not know. The tragic hero does not enter into any private relationship with the deity, but for him the ethical is the divine, hence the paradox implied in his situation can be mediated in the universal.

Abraham cannot be mediated, and the same thing can be expressed also by saying that he cannot talk. So soon as I talk I express the universal, and if I do not do so, no one can understand me. Therefore if Abraham would express himself in terms of the universal, he must say that his situation is a temptation (Anfechtung), for he has no higher expression for that universal which stands above the universal which he transgresses.

Therefore, though Abraham arouses my admiration, he at the same time appalls me….”


Neutron stars

Opinion Space 22 January 2018

Colliding neutron stars prove equality before the law of gravity

The neutron star explosion confirmed the equivalence principle: gravitational waves and light travelled 130 million years and arrived at virtually the same time, writes Katie Mack

The scene: Pisa, Italy, late 16th century. Galileo Galilei enters the famous Leaning Tower. He climbs the steps, trailed by his students, carrying two metal balls of different weights. He steps out onto the top balcony, 50 metres above the ground, and holds the balls out over the tilted rail. He lets go. According to Aristotle’s theory of gravity, the heavier ball should fall faster. Galileo has set out to prove this wrong. The collected crowd watch as the two balls fall through the air – and hit the ground, simultaneously.

Galileo’s legendary experiment is considered one of the first demonstrations of the ‘equivalence principle’ – the idea that gravitational fields don’t discriminate. On Earth this means all falling objects will fall the same way. In the cosmos – combined with Einstein’s general relativity – it explains the near-simultaneous arrival of two signals from an explosion that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

The scene: a distant galaxy, 130 million years ago. Two neutron stars – mind-bendingly dense remnants of stars long dead – are locked in an orbit so tight that gravity warps them into teardrop shapes. Whirling around their common centre of mass, they stretch toward each other. Space itself is caught up in the motion, sending powerful ripples of distortion outward. The stars spiral in. At the instant of contact they create a spacetime tsunami, which spreads like a spherical shock front from a detonation. The stars merge, and within seconds the newly combined star collapses on itself, driving a jet of hard radiation with such incredible ferocity it punches through the stellar carcass and begins tearing across the galaxy.

The gravitational distortion from this event was detected by the LIGO and Virgo observatories, and the gamma-ray flash by the Fermi space telescope. The signals came within two seconds of each other.

The near-simultaneous detection of the signals is another confirmation of a principle as old as Galileo, yet it has huge implications for our theories of gravity, and possibly for dark matter and dark energy.

Gravitational waves, the kind of spacetime distortions created by the neutron star collision, were first predicted by Einstein in 1915 and first detected at LIGO 100 years later. Central to Einstein’s picture of gravity is the idea that everything with mass warps the ‘fabric’ of space, so every planet, star or galaxy creates a kind of dent. When massive objects orbit each other they create ripples in this fabric: gravitational waves. Einstein predicted these waves would travel at the speed of light. We already had evidence of this but the neutron star explosion was a direct confirmation, since the gravitational signal and the light travelled 130 million years and arrived at virtually the same time.

This simultaneous arrival wasn’t guaranteed, even if the speeds were the same. The space between us and that distant galaxy is warped with gravitational divots due to all the masses along the way, including the originating galaxy and our own. The equivalence principle states that gravitational waves and light should both follow the curve of space, diving in and out of these dents, being delayed a little by each diversion. In this case the delay might have been months or even years; but, whatever it was, it was exactly the same for both.

The implication? Lots of theories just died a spectacular death.

New theories of gravity that break the equivalence principle have been proposed to solve problems like dark matter and dark energy. Instead of invisible matter making galaxies rotate too quickly, or mysterious stuff making the universe expand faster, some alternatives conjecture that gravity acts differently than we thought. These theories often have light and gravity following different paths through space, to explain differences between what we see and what general relativity predicts without dark matter and dark energy.

Now we know that doesn’t work. It may be possible to find a new theory of gravity but, at least in regard to the equivalence principle, it has to act exactly the way Einstein proposed.

There are still things we don’t know. Exactly what delayed the gamma rays those two seconds is still up for debate. And whether Galileo really climbed the famous tower himself is lost to history. But both experiments were spectacular demonstrations of the radical universality of gravity, and each expands the edges of our understanding of the universe.

Some cuts and increases under the new U.S. tax code

Preliminary version


Here’s what taxes will look like for America’s highest-paying jobs

Julia La Roche


Yahoo FinanceDecember 21, 2017

Some of America’s best paying jobs can expect to see higher taxes under the new Republican tax plan.

According to analysis from the Tax Policy Center, most income groups should find reduced taxes on average. In 2018, 80% of taxpayers should receive a tax cut, averaging about $2,100, the analysis found. However, the tax cuts as a percentage of after-tax income would benefit the higher-income groups the most. What’s more, about 5% of taxpayers should expect to see their taxes increase by about $2,800 in 2018. That percentage of taxpayers with an increase is expected to rise to 9% in 2025 and 53% in 2027 compared with the current law, the analysis found.

To get a picture of what American taxpayers might see next year, David Luther, the content marketing editor at career insights website Zippia, crunched data for more than 800 professions to come up with some estimates.

Many surgeons, anesthesiologists, and dentists can expect to see a tax increase.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

For this undertaking, Luther used New Jersey exemptions as a baseline because it’s a population-dense state that has fairly high state taxes. He also made the assumption that the individual is unmarried and childless and a homeowner with a house valued at three-times the median wage for the occupation.

Yahoo Finance highlighted the 20 best-paying jobs in America according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of them will see their taxes go up under the proposed plan.

1. Anesthesiologists

Annual mean wage: $269,600
Current tax: $52,972.97
New tax: $58,623
Increase: +$5,650.28
Percentage: +10.6% increase

2. Surgeons

Annual mean wage: $252,910
Current tax: $43,973.66
New tax: $46,847
Increase: +$2,873.96
Percentage: 6.5% increase

3. Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Annual mean wage: $234,310
Current tax: $44,288.88
New tax: $47,309.29
Increase: +$3,020.40
Percentage: 6.8% increase

4. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons

Annual mean wage: $232,870
Current tax: $43,973.66
New tax: $46,847.62
Increase: +$2,873.96
Percentage: 6.5% increase

5. Orthodontists

Annual mean wage: $228,780
Current tax: $43,078.34
New tax: $45,549,49
Increase: + $2,471.15
Percentage: +5.7% increase

6. Physicians and surgeons, all other

Annual mean wage: $205,560
Current tax: $37,995.39
New tax: $38,743.24
Increase: +$747.85
Percentage: 1.9% increase

7. Internists, general

Annual mean wage: $201,840
Current tax: $37,181.06
New tax: $37,652.84
Increase: +$471.77
Percentage: 1.3% increase

8. Family and general practitioners

Annual mean wage: $200,810
Current tax: $36,955.59
New tax: $37,350.92
Increase: +$395.33
Percentage: 1% increase

9. Psychiatrists

Annual mean wage: $200,220
Current tax: $36,826.44
New tax: $37,177.99
Increase: +$351.54
Percentage: 0.9% increase

10. Chief executives

Annual mean wage: $194,350
Current tax: $35,541.48
New tax: $35,457.37
Cut: $84.10
Percentage: 0.1% decrease

11. Pediatricians, general

Annual mean wage: $184,240
Current tax: $33,328.36
New tax: $32,493.93
Cut: $834.43
Percentage: 2.5% decrease



Payroll taxes

United States (Wikipedia)

In the United States, payroll taxes are assessed by the federal government, some of the fifty states (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming do not have state income tax; New Hampshire and Tennessee only tax income from interest and dividends), the District of Columbia, and numerous cities. These taxes are imposed on employers and employees and on various compensation bases and are collected and paid to the taxing jurisdiction by the employers. Most jurisdictions imposing payroll taxes require reporting quarterly and annually in most cases, and electronic reporting is generally required for all but small employers.[15] The Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax is a federal payroll tax imposed on both employees and employers to fund Social Security and Medicare[16] —federal programs that provide benefits for retirees, the disabled, and children of deceased workers.
Income tax withholding

Main article: Tax withholding in the United States

Federal, state, and local withholding taxes are required in those jurisdictions imposing an income tax. Employers having contact with the jurisdiction must withhold the tax from wages paid to their employees in those jurisdictions.[17] Computation of the amount of tax to withhold is performed by the employer based on representations by the employee regarding his/her tax status on IRS Form W-4.[18]

Amounts of income tax so withheld must be paid to the taxing jurisdiction, and are available as refundable tax credits to the employees. Income taxes withheld from payroll are not final taxes, merely prepayments. Employees must still file income tax returns and self assess tax, claiming amounts withheld as payments.[19]

Social Security and Medicare taxes

Main article: Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax

Federal social insurance taxes are imposed on employers[20] and employees,[21] ordinarily consisting of a tax of 12.4% of wages up to an annual wage maximum ($118,500 in wages, for a maximum contribution of $14,694 in 2016) for Social Security and a tax of 2.9% (half imposed on employer and half withheld from the employee’s pay) of all wages for Medicare.[22] The Social Security tax is divided into 6.2% that is visible to employees (the “employee contribution”) and 6.2% that is visible only to employers (the “employers contribution”). For the years 2011 and 2012, the employee’s contribution had been temporarily reduced to 4.2%, while the employer’s portion remained at 6.2%,[23] but Congress allowed the rate to return to 6.2% for the individual in 2013.[24] To the extent an employee’s portion of the 6.2% tax exceeded the maximum by reason of multiple employers, the employee is entitled to a refundable tax credit upon filing an income tax return for the year.[25]

Unemployment taxes

Main article: Federal Unemployment Tax Act

Employers are subject to unemployment taxes by the federal[26] and all state governments. The tax is a percentage of taxable wages[27] with a cap. The tax rate and cap vary by jurisdiction and by employer’s industry and experience rating. For 2009, the typical maximum tax per employee was under $1,000.[28] Some states also impose unemployment, disability insurance, or similar taxes on employees.[29]

That’s it!

STOCKHOLM, Oct 9 (Reuters) – U.S. academic Richard Thaler, who helped popularize the idea of “nudging” people towards doing what was best for them, won the 2017 Nobel Economics Prize on Monday for his work on how human nature affects supposedly rational markets.

Influential in the field of behavioral economics, his research showed how traits such as lack of self-control and fear of losing what you already have prompt decisions that may not have the best outcome in the longer term.

“I think the most important impact (of my research) is the recognition that economic agents are human and economic models have to incorporate that,” Thaler, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, said in call broadcast at the Nobel news conference.

See the subtitle of this homepage: A gazdaság és annak emberi dimenziói

Reciprocity, or Action & Reaction

Hegel: Shorter Logic/Essence/Actuality/Reciprocity

§ 155

The characteristics which in Reciprocal Action are retained as distinct are [a] potentially the same. The one side is a cause, is primary, active, passive, etc., just as the other is. Similarly the presupposition of another side and the action upon it, the immediate primariness and the dependence produced by the alternation, are one and the same on both sides. The cause assumed to be first is on account of its immediacy passive, a dependent being, and an effect. The distinction of the causes spoken of as two is accordingly void: and properly speaking there is only one cause, which, while it suspends itself (as substance) in its effect, also rises in this operation only to independent existence as a cause.

§ 156

But this unity of the double cause is also [b] actual. All this alternation is properly the cause in act of constituting itself and in such constitution lies its being. The nullity of the distinctions is not only potential, or a reflection of ours (§155). Reciprocal action just means that each characteristic we impose is also to be suspended and inverted into its opposite, and that in this way the essential nullity of the ‘moments’ is explicitly stated. An effect is introduced into the primariness; in other words, the primariness is abolished: the action of a cause becomes reaction and so on.

Summary of Hegel’s Objective Logic (book 2.)

Hegel’s Second Book of the Objective Logic is summarised in the introductory part to his Subjective Logic

Subjective Logic
The Doctrine of the Notion

The Notion in General

§ 1279

What the nature of the Notion is, can no more be stated offhand than can the Notion of any other object. It might perhaps seem that, in order to state the Notion of an object, the logical element were presupposed and that therefore this could not in turn have something else for its presupposition, nor be deduced; just as in geometry logical propositions as applied to magnitude and employed in that science, are premised in the form of axioms, determinations of cognition that have not been and cannot be deduced. Now although it is true that the Notion is to be regarded, not merely as a subjective presupposition but as the absolute foundation, yet it can be so only in so far as it has made itself the foundation. Abstract immediacy is no doubt a first; yet in so far as it is abstract it is, on the contrary mediated, and therefore if it is to be grasped in its truth its foundation must first be sought. Hence this foundation, though indeed an immediate, must have made itself immediate through the sublation of mediation.

§ 1280

From this aspect the Notion is to be regarded in the first instance simply as the third to being and essence, to the immediate and to reflection. Being and essence are so far the moments of its becoming; but it is their foundation and truth as the identity in which they are submerged and contained. They are contained in it because it is their result, but no longer as being and essence. That determination they possess only in so far as they have not withdrawn into this their unity.

§  1281

Objective logic therefore, which treats of being and essence constitutes properly the genetic exposition of the Notion. More precisely, substance is already real essence, or essence in so far as it is united with being and has entered into actuality. Consequently, the Notion has substance for its immediate presupposition; what is implicit in substance is manifested in the Notion. Thus the dialectical movement of substance through causality and reciprocity is the immediate genesis of the Notion, the exposition of the process of its becoming. But the significance of its becoming, as of every becoming is that it is the reflection of the transient into its ground and that the at first apparent other into which the former has passed constitutes its truth. Accordingly the Notion is the truth of substance; and since substance has necessity for its specific mode of relationship, freedom reveals itself as the truth of necessity and as the mode of relationship proper to the Notion.

§  1282

The progressive determination of substance necessitated by its own nature, is the positing of what is in and for itself. Now the Notion is that absolute unity of being and reflection in which being is in and for itself only in so far as it is no less reflection or positedness, and positedness is no less being that is in and for itself. This abstract result is elucidated by the exposition of its concrete genesis; that exposition contains the nature of the Notion whose treatment it must have preceded. The chief moments of this exposition (which has been given in detail in the Second Book of the Objective Logic) can therefore only be briefly summarised here.

§ 1283

Substance is the absolute, the actuality that is in and for itself in itself as the simple identity of possibility and actuality, absolute essence containing all actuality and possibility within itself; and for itself, being this identity as absolute power or purely self-related negativity. The movement of substantiality posited by these moments consists in the following stages:

§ 1284

1. Substance, as absolute power or self-related negativity, differentiates itself into a relationship in which what were at first only simple moments are substances and original presuppositions. Their specific relationship is that of a passive substance, of the original immediacy of the simple inwardness or in-itself which, powerless to posit itself, is only an original positedness and of an active substance, the self-related negativity which as such has posited itself in the form of an other and relates itself to this other. This other is simply the passive substance which the active substance through its own originative power has presupposed for itself as condition. This presupposing is to be understood in the sense that the movement of substance itself is, in the first instance, under the form of one of the moments of its Notion, the in-itself, and the determinateness of one of the substances standing in relationship is also the determinateness of this relationship itself.

§ 1285

2. The other moment is being-for-self, which means that the power posits itself as self-related negativity, thereby sublating again what was presupposed. The active substance is the cause; it acts, that is, it now posits, whereas previously it only presupposed; so that (a) to the power is now added the illusory show of power, to the positedness the illusory show of positedness. What in the presupposition was original, becomes in causality, through the relation to an other, what it is in itself; the cause produces an effect, and that, too, in another substance; it is now power in relation to an other and thus appears as a cause, but is a cause only in virtue of this appearing. (b) The effect enters the passive substance, whereby it now also appears as a positedness, but is a passive substance only as such positedness.

§ 1286

3. But there is still more present in this than only this appearance, namely: (a) the cause acts on the passive substance and alters its determination; but this is positedness, there is nothing else in it to alter; the other determination, however, that it receives is causality; the passive substance therefore becomes cause, power and activity: (b) the effect is posited in it by the cause; but that which is posited by the cause is the cause itself which, in acting, is identical with itself; it is this that puts itself in the place of the passive substance. Similarly, with regard to the active substance, (a) the action is the translation of the cause into the effect, into the other of the cause, into positedness, and (b) the cause reveals itself in the effect as what it is; the effect is identical with the cause, is not an other-; thus the cause in acting reveals the posited being as that which the cause essentially is. Each side, therefore, in both its identical and negative relation to the other becomes the opposite of itself, so that the other, and therefore also each, remains identical with itself. But the identical and the negative relations are both one and the same; substance is self-identical only in its opposite and this constitutes the absolute identity of the substances posited as a duality. Active substance, through the act of positing itself as the opposite of itself, an act which is at the same time the sublating of its presupposed otherness, of passive substance, is manifested as cause or originative substantiality. Conversely, through being acted on, posited being is manifested as posited, the negative as negative, and therefore passive substance as self-related negativity, the cause meeting in this other simply and solely with its own self. Through this positing, then, the presupposed or implicit originativeness becomes explicit or for itself; yet this being that is in and for itself is such only in so far as this positing is equally a sublating of what was presupposed; in other words absolute substance has returned to itself and so become absolute, only out of and in its positedness. Hence this reciprocity is the appearance that again sublates itself, the revelation that the illusory being of causality in which the cause appears as cause, is illusory being. This infinite reflection-into-self, namely, that being is in and for itself only in so far as it is posited, is the consummation of substance. But this consummation is no longer substance itself but something higher, the Notion, the subject. The transition of the relation of substantiality takes place through its own immanent necessity and is nothing more than the manifestation of itself, that the Notion is its truth, and that freedom is the truth of necessity.

Hegel’s doctrine of notion

(Hegel’s introductionary remarks)


Part One of the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences: The Logic

Third Subdivision
IX. The Notion

§ 160

The Notion is the principle of freedom, the power of substance self-realised. It is a systematic whole, in which each of its constituent functions is the very total which the notion is, and is put as indissolubly one with it. Thus in its self-identity it has original and complete determinateness.

The position taken up by the notion is that of absolute idealism. Philosophy is a knowledge through notions because it sees that what on other grades of consciousness is taken to have Being, and to be naturally or immediately independent, is but a constituent stage in the Idea. In the logic of understanding, the notion is generally reckoned a mere form of thought, and treated as a general conception. It is to this inferior view of the notion that the assertion refers, so often urged on behalf of the heart and sentiment, that notions as such are something dead, empty, and abstract. The case is really quite the reverse.

The notion is, on the contrary, the principle of all life, and thus possesses at the same time a character of thorough concreteness. That it is so follows from the whole logical movement up to this point, and need not be here proved. The contrast between form and content, which is thus used to criticise the notion when it is alleged to be merely formal, has, like all the other contrasts upheld by reflection, been already left behind and overcome dialectically or through itself. The notion, in short, is what contains all the earlier categories of thought merged in it. It certainly is a form, but an infinite and creative form which includes, but at the same time releases from itself, the fullness of all content. And so too the notion may, if it be wished, be styled abstract, if the name concrete is restricted to the concrete facts of sense or of immediate perception. For the notion is not palpable to the touch, and when we are engaged with it, hearing and seeing must quite fail us. And yet, as it was before remarked, the notion is a true concrete; for the reason that it involves Being and Essence, and the total wealth of these two spheres with them, merged in the unity of thought.

If, as was said at an earlier point, the different stages of the logical idea are to be treated as a series of definitions of the Absolute, the definition which now results for us is that the Absolute is the Notion. That necessitates a higher estimate of the notion, however, than is found in formal conceptualist Logic, where the notion is a mere form of our subjective thought, with no original content of its own. But if Speculative Logic thus attaches a meaning to the term notion so very different from that usually given, it may be asked why the same word should be employed in two contrary acceptations, and an occasion thus given for confusion and misconception. The answer is that, great as the interval is between the speculative notion and the notion of Formal Logic, a closer examination shows that the deeper meaning is not so foreign to the general usages of language as it seems at first sight. We speak of the deduction of a content from the notion, e.g. of the specific provisions of the law of property from the notion of property; and so again we speak of tracing back these material details to the notion. We thus recognise that the notion is no mere form without a content of its own: for if it were, there would be in the one case nothing to deduce from such a form, and in the other case to trace a given body of fact back to the empty form of the notion would only rob the fact of its specific character, without making it understood.

§ 161

The onward movement of the notion is no longer either a transition into, or a reflection on something else, but Development. For in the notion, the elements distinguished are without more ado at the same time declared to be identical with one another and with the whole, and the specific character of each is a free being of the whole notion.

Transition into something else is the dialectical process within the range of Being: reflection (bringing something else into light), in the range of Essence. The movement of the Notion is development: by which that only is explicit which is already implicitly present. In the world of nature it is organic life that corresponds to the grade of the notion. Thus e.g. the plant is developed from its germ. The germ virtually involves the whole plant, but does so only ideally or in thought: and it would therefore be a mistake to regard the development of the root, stem, leaves, and other different parts of the plant, as meaning that they were realiter present, but in a very minute form, in the germ. That is the so-called ‘box-within-box’ hypothesis; a theory which commits the mistake of supposing an actual existence of what is at first found only as a postulate of the completed thought. The truth of the hypothesis on the other hand lies in its perceiving that in the process of development the notion keeps to itself and only gives rise to alteration of form, without making any addition in point of content. It is this nature of the notion — this manifestation of itself in its process as a development of its own self which is chiefly in view with those who speak of innate ideas, or who, like Plato, describe all learning merely as reminiscence. Of course that again does not mean that everything which is embodied in a mind, after that mind has been formed by instructions had been present in that mind beforehand, in its definitely expanded shape.

The movement of the notion is as it were to be looked upon merely as plan: the other which it sets up is in reality not an other. Or, as it is expressed in the teaching of Christianity: not merely has God created a World which confronts him as an other; he has also from all eternity begotten a Son in whom he, a Spirit, is at home with himself.

§ 162

The doctrine of the notion is divided into three parts.

(1) The first is the doctrine of the Subjective or Formal Notion.

(2) The second is the doctrine of the notion invested with the character of immediacy, or of Objectivity.

(3) The third is the doctrine of the Idea, the subject-object, the unity of notion and objectivity, the absolute truth.

Hegel on Cognition

[The below excerpt up to § 233 was left out from my previous blog:]

[a] Cognition proper

§ 226

The universal finitude of Cognition, which lies in the one judgment, the presupposition of the contrast (§ 224) — a presupposition in contradiction of which its own act lodges protest — specialises itself more precisely on the face of its own idea. The result of that specialisation is that its two elements receive the aspect of being diverse from each other, and, as they are at least complete, they take up the relation of ‘reflection’, not of ‘notion’, to one another. The assimilation of the matter, therefore, as a datum, presents itself in the light of a reception of it into categories which at the same time remain external to it, and which meet each other in the same style of diversity. Reason is active here, but it is reason in the shape of understanding. The truth which such Cognition can reach will therefore be only finite: the infinite truth (of the notion) is isolated and made transcendent, an inaccessible goal in a world of its own. Still in its external action cognition stands under the guidance of the notion, and notional principles form the secret clue to its movement.

The finitude of Cognition lies in the presupposition of a world already in existence, and in the consequent view of the knowing subject as a tabula rasa. The conception is one attributed to Aristotle; but no man is further than Aristotle from such an outside theory of Cognition. Such a style of Cognition does not recognise in itself the activity of the notion — an activity which it is implicitly, but not consciously. In its own estimation its procedure is passive. Really that procedure is active.

§ 227

Finite Cognition, when it presupposes what is distinguished from it to be something already existing and confronting it — to be the various facts of external nature or of consciousness — has, in the first place, (1) formal identity or the abstraction of universality for the form of its action. Its activity therefore consists in analysing the given concrete object, isolating its differences, and giving them the form of abstract universality. Or it leaves the concrete thing as a ground, and by setting aside the unessential-looking particulars, brings into relief a concrete universal, the Genus, or Force and Law. This is the Analytical Method.

People generally speak of the analytical and synthetic methods, as if it depended solely on our choice which we pursued. This is far from the case. It depends on the form of the objects of our investigation, which of the two methods that are derivable from the notion of finite cognition ought to be applied. In the first place, cognition is analytical. Analytical cognition deals with an object which is presented in detachment, and the aim of its action is to trace back to a universal the individual object before it. Thought in such circumstances means no more than an act of abstraction or of formal identity. That is the sense in which thought is understood by Locke and all empiricists. Cognition, it is often said, can never do more than separate the given concrete objects into their abstract elements, and then consider these elements in their isolation. It is, however, at once apparent that this turns things upside down, and that cognition, if its purpose be to take things as they are, thereby falls into contradiction with itself. Thus the chemist e.g. places a piece of flesh in his retort, tortures it in many ways, and then informs us that it consists of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, etc. True: but these abstract matters have ceased to be flesh. The same defect occurs in the reasoning of an empirical psychologist when he analyses an action into the various aspects which it presents, and then sticks to these aspects in their separation. The object which is subjected to analysis is treated as a sort of onion from which one coat is peeled off after another.

§ 228

This universality is [b] also a specific universality. In this case the line of activity follows the three ‘moments’ of the notion, which (as it has not its infinity in finite cognition) is the specific or definite notion of understanding. The reception of the object into the forms of this notion is the Synthetic Method.

The movement of the Synthetic method is the reverse of the Analytical method. The latter starts from the individual, and proceeds to the universal; in the former the starting-point is given by the universal (as a definition), from which we proceed by particularising (in division) to the individual (the theorem). The Synthetic method thus presents itself as the development — the ‘moments’ of the notion on the object.

Definition, Division and Theorem
§ 229

[a] When the object has been in the first instance brought by cognition into the form of the specific notion in general, so that in this way its genus and its universal character or speciality are explicitly stated, we have the Definition. The materials and the proof of Definition are procured by means of the Analytical method (§ 227). The specific character however is expected to be a ‘mark’ only: that is to say it is to be in behoof only of the purely subjective cognition which is external to the object.

Definition involves the three organic elements of the notion: the universal or proximate genus (genus proximum), the particular or specific character of the genus (qualitas specifica), and the individual, or object defined. The first question that definition suggests, is where it comes from. The general answer to this question is to say, that definitions originate by way of analysis. This will explain how it happens that people quarrel about the correctness of proposed definitions; for here everything depends on what perceptions we started from, and what points of view we had before our eyes in so doing. The richer the object to be defined is, that is, the more numerous are the aspects which it offers to our notice, the more various are the definitions we may frame of it. Thus there are quite a host of definitions of life, of the state, etc. Geometry, on the contrary, dealing with a theme so abstract as space, has an easy task in giving definitions. Again, in respect of the matter or contents of the objects defined, there is no constraining necessity present. We are expected to admit that space exists, that there are plants, animals, etc., nor is it the business of geometry, botany, etc., to demonstrate that the objects in question necessarily are. This very circumstance makes the synthetic method of cognition as little suitable for philosophy as the analytical: for philosophy has above all things to leave no doubt of the necessity of its objects. And yet several attempts have been made to introduce the synthetic method into philosophy. Thus Spinoza, in particular, begins with definitions. He says, for instance, that substance is the causa sui. His definitions are unquestionably a storehouse of the most speculative truth, but it takes the shape of dogmatic assertions. The same thing is also true of Schelling.

§ 230

[b] The statement of the second element of the notion, i.e. of the specific character of the universal as particularising, is given by Division in accordance with some external consideration.

Division we are told ought to be complete. That requires a principle or ground of division so constituted that the division based upon it embraces the whole extent of the region designated by the definition in general. But, in division, there is the further requirement that the principle of it must be borrowed from the nature of the object in question. If this condition be satisfied, the division is natural and not merely artificial, that is to say, arbitrary. Thus, in zoology, the ground of division adopted in the classification of the mammalia is mainly afforded by their teeth and claws. That is so far sensible, as the mammals themselves distinguish themselves from one another by these parts of their bodies back to which therefore the general type of their various classes is to be traced. In every case the genuine division must be controlled by the notion. To that extent a division, in the first instance, has three members: but as particularity exhibits itself as double, the division may go to the extent even of four members. In the sphere of mind trichotomy is predominant, a circumstance which Kant has the credit for bringing into notice

§ 231

[c] In the concrete individuality, where the mere unanalysed quality of the definition is regarded as a correlation of elements, the object is a synthetic nexus of distinct characteristics. It is a Theorem. Being different, these characteristics possess but a mediated identity. To supply the materials, which form the middle terms, is the office of Construction: and the process of mediation itself, from which cognition derives the necessity of that nexus, is the Demonstration.

As the difference between the analytical and synthetic methods is commonly stated, it seems entirely optional which of the two we employ. If we assume, to start with, the concrete thing which the synthetic method presents as a result, we can analyse from it as consequences the abstract propositions which formed the pre-suppositions and the material for the proof. Thus, algebraical definitions of curved lines are theorems in the method of geometry. Similarly even the Pythagorean theorem, if made the definition of a right-angled triangle, might yield to analysis those propositions which geometry had already demonstrated on is behoof. The optionalness of either method is due to both alike starting from an external presupposition. So far as the nature of the notion is concerned, analysis is prior, since it has to raise the given material with its empirical concreteness into the form of general abstractions, which may then be set in the front of the synthetic method as definitions.

That these methods, however indispensable and brilliantly successful in their own province, are unserviceable for philosophical cognition, is self-evident. They have presuppositions; and their style of cognition is that of understanding, proceeding under the canon of formal identity. In Spinoza, who was especially addicted to the use of the geometrical method, we are at once struck by its characteristic formalism. Yet his ideas were speculative in spirit; whereas the system of Wolf, who carried the method out to the height of pedantry, was even in subject-matter a metaphysic of the understanding.

The abuses which these methods with their formalism once led to in philosophy and science have in modern times been followed by the abuses of what is called ‘Construction’. Kant brought into vogue the phrase that mathematics ‘construes’ its notions. All that was meant by the phrase was that mathematics has not to do with notions, but with abstract qualities of sense-perceptions. The name ‘Construction (construing) of notions’ has since been given to a sketch or statement of sensible attributes which were picked up from perception, quite guiltless of any influence of the notion, and to the additional formalism of classifying scientific and philosophical objects in a tabular form on some presupposed rubric, but in other respects at the fancy and discretion of the observer. In the background of all this, certainly, there is a dim consciousness of the Idea, of the unity of the notion and objectivity — a consciousness too that the idea is concrete. But that play of what is styled ‘construing’ is far from presenting this unity adequately, a unity which is none other than the notion properly so called: a perception is as little the concreteness of reason and the idea.

Another point calls for notice. Geometry works with the sensuous but abstract perception of space; and in space it experiences no difficulty in isolating and defining certain simple analytical modes.

To geometry alone therefore belongs in its perfection the synthetic method of finite cognition. In its course, however (and this is the remarkable point), it finally stumbles upon what are termed irrational and incommensurable quantities; and in their case any attempt at further specification drives it beyond the principle of the understanding. This is only one of many instances in terminology, where the title ‘rational’ is perversely applied to the province of understanding, while we stigmatise as irrational that which shows a beginning and a trace of rationality. Other sciences, removed as they are from the simplicity of space or number, often and necessarily reach a point where understanding permits no further advance: but they get over the difficulty without trouble. They make a break in the strict sequence of their procedure, and assume whatever they require, though it be the reverse of what preceded, from some external quarter — opinion, perception, conception, or any other source. Its inobservancy as to the nature of its methods and their relativity to the subject-matter prevents this finite cognition from seeing that, when it proceeds by definitions and divisions, etc., it is really led on by the necessity of the laws of the notion. For the same reason it cannot see when it has reached its limit; nor, if it have transgressed that limit, does it perceive that it is in a sphere where the categories of understanding, which it still continues rudely to apply, have lost all authority.

§ 232

The necessity which finite cognition produces in the Demonstration is, in the first place, an external necessity, intended for the subjective intelligence alone. But in necessity as such, cognition itself has left behind its presupposition and starting-point, which consisted in accepting its content as given or found. Necessity qua necessity is implicitly the self-relating notion. The subjective idea has thus implicitly reached an original and objective determinateness — a something not-given, and for that reason immanent in the subject. It has passed over into the idea of Will.

The necessity which cognition reaches by means of the demonstration is the reverse of what formed its starting-point. In its starting-point cognition had a given and a contingent content; but now, at the close of its movement, it knows its content to be necessary. This necessity is reached by means of subjective agency. Similarly, subjectivity at starting was quite abstract, a bare tabula rasa. It now shows itself as a modifying and determining principle. In this way we pass from the idea of cognition to that of will. The passage, as will be apparent on a closer examination, means that the universal, to be truly apprehended, must be apprehended as subjectivity, as a notion self-moving, active, and form-imposing.

[b] Volition


The subjective idea as original and objective determinateness, and as a simple uniform content, is the Good. Its impulse towards self-realisation is in its behaviour the reverse of the idea of truth, and rather directed towards moulding the world it finds before it into a shape conformable to its purposed End. This Volition has, on the one hand, the certitude of the nothingness of the presupposed object; but, on the other, as finite, it at the same time presupposes the purposed End of the Good to be a mere subjective idea, and the object to be independent.

§ 234

This action of the Will is finite: and its finitude lies in the contradiction that in the inconsistent terms applied to the objective world the End of the Good is just as much not executed as executed, the end in question put as unessential as much as essential, as actual and at the same time as merely possible. This contradiction presents itself to imagination as an endless progress in the actualising of the Good; which is therefore set up and fixed as a mere ‘ought’, or goal of perfection. In point of form however this contradiction vanishes when the action supersedes the subjectivity of the purpose, and along with it the objectivity, with the contrast which makes both finite; abolishing subjectivity as a whole and not merely the one-sidedness of this form of it. (For another new subjectivity of the kind, that is, a new generation of the contrast, is not distinct from that which is supposed to be past and gone.) This return into itself is at the same time the content’s own ‘recollection’ that it is the Good and the implicit identity of the two sides — it is a ‘recollection’ of the presupposition of the theoretical attitude of mind (§ 224) that the objective world is its own truth and substantiality.

While Intelligence merely proposes to take the world as it is, Will takes steps to make the world what it ought to be. Will looks upon the immediate and given present not as solid being, but as mere semblance without reality. It is here that we meet those contradictions which are so bewildering from the standpoint of abstract morality. This position in its ‘practical’ bearings is the one taken by the philosophy of Kant, and even by that of Fichte. The Good, say these writers, has to be realised: we have to work in order to produce it: and Will is only the Good actualising itself. If the world then were as it ought to be, the action of Will would be at an end. The Will itself therefore requires that its End should not be realised. In these words, a correct expression is given to the finitude of Will. But finitude was not meant to be the ultimate point: and it is the process of Will itself which abolishes finitude and the contradiction it involves. The reconciliation is achieved when Will in its result returns to the presupposition made by cognition. In other words, it consists in the unity of the theoretical and practical idea. Will knows the end to be its own, and Intelligence apprehends the world as the notion actual. This is the right attitude of rational cognition. Nullity and transitoriness constitute only the superficial features and not the real essence of the world. That essence is the notion in posse and in esse: and thus the world is itself the idea. All unsatisfied endeavour ceases, when we recognise that the final purpose of the world is accomplished no less than ever accomplishing itself. Generally speaking, this is the man’s way of looking; while the young imagine that the world is utterly sunk in wickedness, and that the first thing needful is a thorough transformation. The religious mind, on the contrary, views the world as ruled by Divine Providence, and therefore correspondent with what it ought to be. But this harmony between the ‘is’ and the ‘ought to be’ is not torpid and rigidly stationary. Good, the final end of the world, has being, only while it constantly produces itself. And the world of spirit and the world of nature continue to have this distinction, that the latter moves only in a recurring cycle, while the former certainly also makes progress.

§ 235

Thus the truth of the Good is laid down as the unity of the theoretical and practical idea in the doctrine that the Good is radically and really achieved, that the objective world is in itself and for itself the Idea, just as it at the same time eternally lays itself down as End, and by action brings about its actuality. This life which has returned to itself from the bias and finitude of cognition, and which by the activity of the notion has become identical with it, is the Speculative or Absolute Idea.

(c) The Absolute Idea

§ 236

The Idea, as unity of the Subjective and Objective Idea, is the notion of the Idea — a notion whose object (Gegenstand) is the Idea as such, and for which the objective (Objekt) is Idea — an Object which embraces all characteristics in its unity. This unity is consequently the absolute and all truth, the Idea which thinks itself — and here at least as a thinking or Logical Idea.

The Absolute Idea is, in the first place, the unity of the theoretical and practical idea, and thus at the same time the unity of the idea of life with the idea of cognition.