35. Hegel as a forerunner of structuralism? (1)  07/01/2001

   I described Hegel as a forerunner of today's structural linguistics in my post dated 12/03/1999, but without indicating enough sources.
   Before him and still these days in many cases, when people discuss the meaning of language, its meaning is separately attached to each element of language, i.e. a word, say, "dog" or sentence, "There is a dog."

Usually three items come onstage in such a discussion:
a) object (or referent) – a dog itself
b) its concept or image, which may be individual or universal.
c) a speaker (or his/her will, sentiment, etc.), who may be a real person or an ideal one with perfectly mastered language.

   And people search the meaning of "dog" (or "There is a dog."), which must be something pointed out, denoted, designated, referred to, stood for, represented, symbolized, expressed, or connoted , etc. by a speaker among those three items. 
   Having come to a dead-lock, researchers ascribe the meaning to the context of sentences, or circumstances in which language is used. If having discovered something meant, they attach it to a word, "dog" or sentence, "There is a dog."

   But structural linguists after Saussure have showed us that language is a system of difference: its elements have distinctive oppositions to each other; and that an element is given a meaning through its difference by the totality of language, which is the ensemble of differences (or a negative unity a la Hegel).

   How did the young Hegel treat this intriguing theme? He first supposes, so to speak, a private sign the meaning of which depends on those who use it; its meaning does not have a autonomous semantic system.
   " . . . the meaning of a sign is just in the relation to the subject [who uses it]. It depends on his arbitrariness and what he thinks with a sign can be understood only by him. A sign itself does not have its absolute meaning, that is, the subject is not sublated in it."

   He then insists on:
   "This mute mark [sign] must absolutely sublate its indifference of subsistence . . . Meaning must be autonomous, contraposed to those who use it and to a thing for which a mark has a meaning." (*2)
   A mark that has acquired such autonomy Hegel calls a "name."


(*1) " . . . die Bedeutung des Zeichens ist nur in Beziehung auf das Subjekt; es hängt von seiner Willkür ab und ist nur durch das Subjekt selbst begreiflich, was dieses sich dabei denkt. Es hat nicht seine absolute Bedeutung in ihm selbst, d. h. das Subjekt ist in ihm nicht aufgehoben. (Jenaer Systementwürfe I, Felix Meiner Verlag, S. 200)

(*2) "Diese stumme Bezeichnung muß die Indifferenz des Bestehens . . . absolut aufheben. Die Bedeutung muß für sich sein, entgegengesetzt dem, das bedeutet, und dem, für welches es die Bedeutung hat; " (ebenda, S. 200)

36. Hegel as a forerunner of structuralism? (2)  07/04/2001

   The young Hegel argues--preposterously a bit on first sight:
   "In a name an empirical being or the concrete, diverse, active, existent is sublated and it is made up to thoroughly simple ideality. The first act, by which Adam established his dominance over animals, was that he gave them a name, that is, negated them as the existent and made them to the ideal for itself [i.e., to a name--Taki]. . . . A name is in itself, and subsisting without a thing and the subject." (*1)

   In his assertion of the autonomy of a "name" his unique viewpoint of the relation between a name and a thing attracts our attention.
   As to a mark:
   " . . . a marked [object] had its mark outside itself; the marked was not posited as the sublated, nor a mark holds a meaning, but in the subject . . . " (*2)
   Our linguistic view usually presupposes the ontological separation of things and language; "the marked has its mark outside itself" a la Hegel. However, after entering into agreement with each other, we all can give a certain meaning to an element of language or combine the latter to a thing, an event marked.  

   We, moderns, are apt to reduce everything that has intersubjectively and socially been formed to an agreement or a contract among us, who are supposed to be individual or atomistic. Our common understanding of the meaning of language is its good example.

   Hegel, on the contrary, sees continuity between a "name" and an "empirical being" as cited above; consequently, "a name . . . [i.e.,] the ideality of an existing thing, or its direct non-existence." (*3)

We may be able to grasp that 'continuity' in today's philosophical terminology after W. Hiromatsu:
   An Empirical being always shows itself as something more, and
 this 'something more' is its ideal moment. Its real, material moment is rather often negligible in our daily life or from a practical view: for example, a hotel clerk does not care ordinarily if you pay with hundred-dollar bills, traveler's checks, or a credit card when they all stand for the same amount of money.
   Signs and languages were made, or generated in the meta-movement of things to be used especially with their ideal moment. (*4) 

   (By the way, we should not identify Hegel's ideality with Hiromatsu's straightforwardly. To put it simply, the latter is the product of intersubjective and con-jugate work of mankind, while the former is the result and, as the movement is circular, the cause of the meta-movement of the world.)


(*1) "Im Namen ist sein empirisches Sein, daß es ein Konkretes, in sich Mannigfaltiges, Lebendes und Seiendes ist, aufgehoben, es zu einem schlechthin in sich einfachen Ideellen gemacht. Der erste Akt, wodurch Adam seine Herrschaft über die Tiere konstituiert hat, ist, daß er ihnen Namen gab, d. h. sie als Seiende vernichtete und sie zu für sich Ideellen machte. . . . Der Namen aber ist an sich, bleibend, ohne das Ding und das Subjekt." (Jenaer Systementwürfe I, Felix Meiner Verlag, S. 201)

(*2) " . . . das Bezeichnete hatte sein Zeichen außer ihm; es war nicht gesetzt als ein Aufgehobenes, ebenso hat das Zeichen nicht an ihm selbst eine Bedeutung, sondern nur in dem Subjekte, . . . " (ebenda, S. 201)

(*3) " . . . ein Namen . . . die Idealität eines existierenden Dings, das unmittelbare Nichtexistieren desselben." (ebenda, S. 202)

The change from a mark to a name is mediated by memory, which "makes what we called sensory intuition into something recollected or something thought." (ebenda, S. 200 f.)

(*4) S. my post dated 01/07/2000 JST.

37. Hegel as a forerunner of structuralism? (3)  07/10/2001

   "A name," now, "exists as language, which is the existing concept of consciousness." (*1) But language is not an aggregation of names; the young Hegel, of course, held holism in all respects. He first thought of an animal's voice:

   "An empty voice of an animal has a meaning that is determined in it infinitely. A purely sounding voice, a vocal [of a human being, however,--Taki] distinguishes itself by means of vocal organs indicating the division of a vocal in its difference. [That is,] This pure sound is discontinued by muteness, . . . by which every sound gets a meaning, because a difference of a mere sound . . . is just determined by the preceding and following ones. The sounding, divided language is the voice of consciousness, in which every sound has a meaning; that is, in a sound exists a name, the ideality of a thing, or its direct non-existence." (*2)  

   His explanation above of the emergence of language from the articulated sounding voice is rather superficial, or pointless at least philosophically for us – then the difference between an animal's voice and human language would merely be whether there is clear articulation in a physically sounding voice or not. And in the first place, is it right philosophically or semantically to trace the descent of language back to an animal's or animalistic voice?

   Hegel, however, had an original way of looking at language a hundred years before F. Saussure: "A difference of a mere sound . . . is just determined by the preceding and following ones." And this idea led to his later insistence of relationism:
   "For example, 'now' has its being only through its relation to 'ago' and 'later.' Similarly 'red' exists only when it is contraposed to 'yellow' and 'blue." (*3)


(*1) "Der Namen existiert als Sprache. Sie ist der existierende Begriff des Bewußtseins, . . . " (Jenaer Systementwürfe I, Felix Meiner Verlag, S. 201)

(*2) "Die leere Stimme des Tiers erhält eine unendlich in sich bestimmte Bedeutung. Das rein Tönende der Stimme, das Vokale, unterscheidet selbst sich, indem das Organ der Stimme seine Gegliederung als eine solche in ihrem Unterschiede zeigt. Dieses rein Tönende wird durch die Stummen unterbrochen, . . . wodurch vorzüglich jeder Ton für sich eine Bedeutung hat, da die Unterschiede des bloßen Tönens . . . sich erst durch den vorherigen und folgenden Ton bestimmen. Die als tönend gegliederte Sprache ist Stimme des Bewußtseins, darin daß jeder Ton Bedeutung hat, d. h. daß in ihm ein Namen existiert, die Idealität eines existierenden Dings, das unmittelbare Nichtexistieren desselben." (ebenda, S. 201 f.)

(*3) "So hat z. B. 'Jetzt' nur Sein in Beziehung auf ein Vorher und ein Nachher. Ebenso ist das Rot nur vorhanden, insofern demselben Gelb und Blau entgegensteht." (Enzyklopädie, Abschn. 42, Zusatz 1)  

38. Hegel as a forerunner of structuralism? (4)  07/18/2001

   Hegel further goes on with his comment on language in the so called first Jena system draft--this time philosophically:

   "Being infinite in its simplicity, [language—in the text] as the infinity of consciousness in itself divides and articulates itself and becomes the diversity of names. Language also recovers from absolute diversity; . . . language is the relation [italics--Taki] of names or the ideality of their multifariousness again . . . [that is,--Taki] the generated universality . . . " (*1)

   We stated before what he did above: language (e.g., English) itself exists ideally as a "ground," while its elements (words, rules of their usage) come into real existence as "figures"; and language is indeed the sum of its elements, but it is, as the totality, the ensemble of the relations among them. (*2)

   Even so, some people would say, "One necessary moment of language, that is, its referential function or the correspondence between things and language should not be ignored, for we do talk of something in language."
   The young Hegel considered that function as one of the stages in the movement of consciousness:

   Although "in the universal element [or foundation--Taki] of language names [are—in the text] ideal in themselves as regards their form, they express the concrete, the determinate; but the elemental [or foundational] unity, in which they are, posits them also as that determinate, that is, the different from each other; it posits their relations and themselves as the absolutely particular, that is, as something that sublates itself in its determination." (*3)

   Though the quotations above are intricate a good bit to interpret, we can guess at their gist: as seen from a Hegelian view, the language's function of referring to an individual is, to be sure, necessary, but should be sublated at the same time, at least in philosophy. "In essence language exists for itself and is an ideally posited nature." Accordingly, "language is universal, acknowledged in itself, resounding in the same way in everyone's consciousness." (*4)

   Here we recall a process in "Sense-Certainty, or This and Meaning," the first chapter of "The Phenomenology of Spirit." In that process the seemingly most concrete and individual "this" or "here" turns universal through being written down (i.e., use of a "name"). The turning is not strange for us, since Hegelian consciousness itself—language is its "existing concept" (*5)—is universal from the first.

   We admit that everything, every fact is charged with meaning: nothing is naked, nor appears as it is; and that this meaning is ideal and universal; so our world is in fact put under a universal and intersubjective spell. We feel interest in Hegelian idealism because his inquiry into consciousness and language suggests the semantic or semiological structure of the spelled world in its own way.  


(*1) "So unendlich die Sprache in ihrer Einfachheit, unterbricht [sie – im Text] sich als Unendlichkeit des Bewußtseins in sich selbst, gliedert, artikuliert sich und wird eine Mannigfaltigkeit von Namen. Ebenso nimmt sie sich aus der absoluten Mannigfaltigkeit zurück; . . . sie [die Sprache--Taki] ist die Beziehung der Namen oder wieder die Idealität ihrer Vielheit selbst, . . . das gewordene Allgemeine, . . . " (Jenaer Systementwürfe I, Felix Meiner Verlag, S. 202)

(*2) S. my posts dated 12/03/1999 , 12/09/1999 JST.

(*3) " . . . im allgemeinen Elemente der Sprache an sich ideell [sind – im Text] die Namen nur der Form nach, sie drücken das Konkrete, Bestimmte aus; aber die Einheit des Elementes, in welchem sie sind, setzt sie zugleich als diese Bestimmte, d. h. Differente gegeneinander, ihre Beziehung oder sie selbst als absolut Besondere, das heißt ebenso in ihrer Bestimmtheit sich Aufhebende.  (Jenaer Systementwürfe I, Felix Meiner Verlag, S. 202)

(*4) "die Sprache ist ihrem Wesen nach für sich selbst vorhanden, ideell gesetzte Natur, . . . " (ebenda, S. 226)
   "sie [
language--Taki] ist ein Allgemeines, an sich Anerkanntes, im Bewußtsein aller auf dieselbe Weise Widerhallendes;" (ebenda, S. 226)

(*5) "Sie [Language--Taki] ist der existierende Begriff des Bewußtseins, . . . " (ebenda, S. 201)

Comments and suggestions are always welcomed.

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