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"Aufheben"/Sublation: A One-Word Lesson in Dialectics
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Michael R Caplan
Sep 20, 2021
This was a first attempt to articulate something that occurred to me recently. It was triggered by a comment in a book on Hegel, but I don't believe I've ever seen it spelled out quite this way. What I'm trying to get at is that within the very notion of sublation as Hegel conceives it is contained an actual sublation, an actual dialectical movement of thinking. By understanding how the term works, you can understand what the idea is. If "sublation" in general means "raising a phenomenon to a higher level" and can potentially transform any phenomenon divided by inner conflict, an analysis of the very notion of sublation reveals that its third term, "elevation", in fact refers to the sublation of the first two opposed terms, "negation" and "preservation"! That is, the notion of sublation itself, just like any proposed sublation of any phenomenon whatsoever, is comprised of two moments: a moment of opposition (in the notion of "sublation", this is when "negation" and "preservation" are conceived as mutually negating) and a moment of sublation, which represents the achievement of the new conceptual level (again, in the notion of "sublation" itself, this is the moment of "elevation", which both negates and preserves the opposition between negation and preservation). The negation of the opposition between the two sides of the notion of Aufhebung itself ("negate" vs, "preserve") and their sublation in a new ("elevated") conceptual level is the same as in the case of any apparent opposition in any phenomenon. The "elevated" position allows us to conceive of the phenomenon as an internally differentiated whole, which means at once negating the initial opposition on its own level while preserving it on the higher, sublated level. (And, as I said above, thereby forming a new position destined to find itself "opposed" to another and thus requiring further "sublation".)
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