The Meaning of Hegel's Logic

VII: The Development of the Notion in Hegel's Logic

The Notion is an "adequate concept" (for example, Marx's definition of capitalism as the society of "generalised commodity production"), but it is not yet a whole concrete theory-and-practice of the thing, which is the outcome of a whole process of development of the notion in its interconnection with practice. The development of the Notion is this process, from for example, the discovery of the Periodic Table of Elements and the concept of the molecule to modern chemistry and the chemical industry.

We could think of the Notion as the main principle of understanding a thing, the basic principle of a science, the core of someone's personality, the key role of a social process or movement in history, etc.

The development of the Notion is the process whereby the defining "germ" of a theory (e.g. capitalism = "commodity society") becomes concrete; the initial Notion is tested out and as a result is qualified and further subordinate Notions included in it, and a whole "theory" is developed. The Notion is not overthrown in its development, but concretised.

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. [Shorter Logic § 161]

If we compare the movement from Being to the Notion (which is called Essence) with the development of the Notions characterising the separate branches of science, the development of the Notion is the process of the growing together of the sciences in a single body of knowledge, in which each of the Notions of the separate sciences are not overcome by the others, as they are in the history of the separate sciences, but absorb and merge with one another in deeper more comprehensive and concrete Notions. Of this movement of the Notion, towards the Absolute Idea, Hegel observes: "The absolute idea may... be compared to the old man who utters the same creed as the child, but for whom it is pregnant with the significance of a lifetime".

In the development of the Notion, with the unity (or dialectic) of life and cognition, analysis and synthesis, means and end, theory and practice, the Notion is continually enriched through the "in-flow" of Being, more and more closely approximating the concreteness of immediate representation with the concreteness of conceptual representation. Thus the movement of the Notion to the Absolute Idea is a return to Being at a higher level, the movement towards the identity of Being and Notion:

... the science exhibits itself as a circle returning upon itself, the end being wound back into the beginning, the simple ground, by the mediation; this circle is moreover a circle of circles, for each individual member as ensouled by the method is reflected into itself, so that in returning into the beginning it is at the same time the beginning of a new member. Links of this chain are the individual sciences ...

The Idea, namely, in positing itself as absolute unity of the pure Notion and its reality and thus contracting itself into the immediacy of being, is the totality in this form - nature. [The Science of Logic, The Absolute Idea]

Thus the movement of the logic may be likened to the movement of humanity from the animal condition of oneness with Nature through rupture from Nature and the development of civilisation and science, to conscious harmony with Nature based on the transcendence of social contradictions and comprehension of Nature's laws and conscious adaptation of humanity and Nature.

Hegel's Logic reads a bit like The Twelve Days of Christmas in the Doctrine of the Notion; as the Notion becomes more and more concrete, it includes all those moments that have gone before within it, and Hegel spells this out at each stage. Generally speaking, I have not adopted this method here, and the result is that Hegel's concepts are presented somewhat more abstractly, but more concisely.

The Notion: Subject - Object - Idea

Subjectivity, in Hegel's system is the first part of The Notion, followed by Objectivity and The Idea. Subjectivity is the domain of "logic", or Reason, which confronts its abstractness, the contradiction with Objectivity. The resolution of the contradiction between Subjectivity and Objectivity is The Idea.

Individual, Universal and Particular

The philosophical standpoint which stops at subjectivity is Subjectivism. In Subjectivity, the Notion exists "for itself", but is yet to overcome, comprehend and merge with the objective world which confronts it and become "in-and-for-itself". It is like the first year science student who has learnt the law of gravity and really believes that things fall at a speed proportional to elapsed time.

The Subjective Notion of capitalism is more or less laissez faire capitalism, the simple undeveloped "ideal" of the "free market".

Mechanism, Chemism and Teleology

Objectivity in Hegel's system is the second part of The Notion, the negative of Subjectivity. The Notion confronts itself in Objectivity, the independent existence outside the subject of the objects, processes and life in the world outside thought and subjectivity. Despite the fact that the Notion is the outcome of Being, in its simplicity it is at odds with the world, it is only a partial theoretical picture of the world. The Object is the form in which the Notion first finds its negative in theoretical form.

To stop at objectivity is the standpoint of "Objectivism", superstition, withholding critical appraisal and partisan intervention, abstaining from life.

The Objective Notion of capitalism is like the period off state intervention aimed at moderating the ills of the market.

The Idea
Life, Cognition and the Absolute Idea

The "Idea" is the unity of Subjectivity and Objectivity, the merging of Being and the Notion. In the development of a science for instance, there is always a vast gap between the initial theory which forms the basis of an adequate science and whole "Being" of the thing reflected in the multifarious branches of knowledge, and practical experience in the science. Once formulated, the Notion of the thing must undergo a process of development in which theory and practice inform one another in practice and the Notion becomes more "concrete" as the contradictions experienced in practice are successively overcome. This development is also characterised by the lack of correspondence between the separate branches of science which are united in practice. We could describe the "Idea" as "conscious practice".

It is like the development of industry from its minimal impact on the natural environment it appears to "master", eventually finding itself confronted by a Nature which "wreaks its revenge", and which leads to the Idea that we must act as agents of nature rather than as opponents of nature.

The "idea of capitalism" is the final stage of capitalism when the state emerges solely as the naked servant of class rule.

Subject: Abstract Notion - Judgment - Syllogism

The Subjective Notion is the outcome of the whole genesis we have described in the foregoing sections.

The abstract Notion is expressed in the form of Universal - Particular and Individual:

"Universality, Particularity and Individuality are, taken in the abstract, the same as identity, difference and ground. But the universal is the self-identical, with the express qualification, that it simultaneously contains the particular and the individual" [Shorter Logic § 164] and likewise with particular and individual ... "Individual and actual are the same thing: only the former has issued from the notion". [Shorter Logic § 164]

The Judgment makes explicit the contradiction in the identification of Universal and Particular: "The individual is the Universal". In the Syllogism, the logic of the Notion is worked out, so to speak, and:

"it is subjectivity itself, which, as dialectical, breaks through its own barriers and opens out into objectivity by means of the syllogism" [Shorter Logic § 193]

Object: Mechanism - Chemism - Teleology

Hegel outlines The Object as follows:

Objectivity contains the three forms of Mechanism, Chemism, and Teleology. The object of mechanical type is the immediate and undifferentiated object. No doubt it contains difference, but the different pieces stand, as it were, without affinity to each other, and their connection is only extraneous. In chemism, on the contrary, the object exhibits an essential tendency to differentiation, in such a way that the objects are what they are only by their relation to each other: this tendency to difference constitutes their quality. The third type of objectivity, the teleological relation, is the unity of mechanism and chemism. Design, like the mechanical object, is a self-contained totality, enriched however by the principle of differentiation which came to the fore in chemism, and thus referring itself to the object that stands over against it. Finally, it is the realisation of design which forms the transition to the Idea. [Shorter Logic § 194n]

Mechanical Object, Mechanical process - Absolute Mechanism

The first concept of Objectivity is Mechanism. Mechanism is the understanding of the object in terms of the system of things, relations, forces, etc by which it acts. In the history of science it corresponds to the philosophical position of mechanical materialism. This phase is later supplanted by the conception of Nature as composed not of things and forces but of processes.

Pressure and impact are examples of mechanical relations. Our knowledge is said to be mechanical or by rote, when the words have no meaning for us, but continue external to sense, conception, thought; and when, being similarly external to each other, they form a meaningless sequence. Conduct, piety, etc., are in the same way mechanical, when a man's behaviour is settled for him by ceremonial laws, by a spiritual adviser, etc.; in short, when his own mind and will are not in his actions, which in this way are extraneous to himself.[Shorter Logic, § 195]

Seeing the "mechanism" by which something happens is a necessary step towards understanding it, but leaves out of account the life processes of thing and its parts; in a sense, it answers the question "How?", but not the question "Why?".

But mechanism itself leads to the conception of processes, "mechanical processes", as a kind of summing up of mechanism, and provides the foundation for transition to the view of the world essentially composed of processes rather than things.

This exclusive application of the standards of mechanics to processes of a chemical and organic nature - in which processes the laws of mechanics are, indeed, also valid, but are pushed into the backgrounds by other, higher laws - constitutes the first specific but at the time inevitable limitation of classical French materialism. [Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach, etc., II]

This development from the concept of a world of things into the conception of a world composed of processes, from the conception of a "system" in terms of its various component parts into the deeper view of the system as a series of processes in which the various component parts pass out of existence and are replaced by different things - this is a continual process of successive deepening of theoretical knowledge:

The great basic thought that the world is not to be comprehended as a complex of ready-made things, but as a complex of processes, in which the things apparently stable no less than their mind images in our heads, the concepts, go through an uninterrupted change of coming into being and passing away, in which, in spite of all seeming accidentality and of all temporary retrogression, a progressive development asserts itself in the end - this great fundamental thought has, especially since the time of Hegel, so thoroughly permeated ordinary consciousness that in this generality it is now scarcely ever contradicted. [Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach, etc., IV]

Chemical Object, Chemical process - Absolute Chemism

Chemism refers to the development of mechanism in which the objects not only interact and influence one another, but pass into one another, neutralise one another and in general pass into things other than themselves. Hegel admits, in the section on Chemism in the Shorter Logic, that the elevation of Chemism to a qualitatively different stage over Mechanism is unusual, but, he says, justified. In general, the movement from understanding Nature as composed of processes rather than things, represents a qualitative step forward in the history of science. It is also necessary to maintain Hegel's triadic structure.

Chemism is a category of objectivity which, as a rule, is not particularly emphasised, and is generally put under the head of mechanism. The common name of mechanical relationship is applied to both, in contradistinction to the teleological. There is a reason for this in the common feature which belongs to mechanism and chemism. In them the notion exists, but only implicit and latent, and they are thus both marked off from teleology where the notion has real independent existence. This is true: and yet chemism and mechanism are very decidedly distinct. The object, in the form of mechanism, is primarily only an indifferent reference to self, while the chemical object is seen to be completely in reference to something else. No doubt even in mechanism, as it develops itself, there spring up references to something else: but the nexus of mechanical objects with one another is at first only an external nexus, so that the objects in connection with one another still retain the semblance of independence.

In nature, for example, the several celestial bodies, which form our solar system, compose a kinetic system, and thereby show that they are related to one another. Motion, however, as the unity of time and space, is a connection which is purely abstract and external. And it seems therefore as if these celestial bodies, which are thus externally connected with each other, would continue to be what they are, even apart from this reciprocal relation. The case is quite different with chemism. Objects chemically biased are what they are expressly by that bias alone. Hence they are the absolute impulse towards integration by and in one another. [Shorter Logic § 200]

Teleology (Means & End)

Teleology means purposive activity, activity directed towards an "End". Inorganic matter, it is said, is capable of mechanical and chemical, but not purposive activity. At this point in The Logic, we can see how Hegel has constructed a kind of schema by which inorganic Nature gives rise to purposive activity, Life and Cognition.

While this is a schema, it is remarkable that in constructing a system which represents the idealistic development of "The Absolute Idea", which is therefore to Hegel, also how Nature itself become "conscious of itself", Hegel has produced such an excellent description of the process of cognition. Indeed, the unconscious but purposive striving of people is the basis of real life and cognition.

The "moments" of Teleology are "Subjective End" (purpose or intention), Means (purposive activity as such, which is also objective) and "Realised End" - the contradiction between subjectivity and objectivity.

Means and Ends

The End is firstly the Subjective End which consciousness conceives as the desired change in the objective world of things and processes confronting it, and subsequently becomes the Realised End, the, usually unexpected, result of the Means.

The dialectic of Means and End is a subject of deep historical and political significance. Some say "The End justifies the Means", which is invariably the signal for the most opportunist and cynical political practices. It is also said that "Everything is in the process", but if the End is reduced to a nothing, then the process cannot negate what is. If the End is properly understood and is true, then there can be no contradiction between Means and End. This cannot arise immediately, because such an identity of Means and Ends presupposes the long drawn out process of cognition and the development of a theoretical and practical idea which enables the subject to concretely see how the End is existent within the objective world of things and processes confronting the subject.

The following extended quote from Lev Vygotsky Revolutionary Scientist, by Fred Newman and Lois Holzman, explains a useful tool and result metaphor for Hegel's dialectic of Means and End:

Not everything that is needed or wanted by humankind can be made by simply using the tools that have already been mass manufactured in modern society. Often we must create a tool which is specifically designed to create what we ultimately wish to produce. The tools of the hardware store and the tools of the tool- and die-maker are qualitatively different in a tool for result/tool-and-result sort of way. Hardware store tools, such as hammers, come to be identified and recognised as usable for a certain end, i.e. they become reified and identified with a certain function and, as such, insofar as the manufactured hammer as a social extension (a tool) of human activity comes to define its human user (as all tool use does), it does so in a predetermining sense. Marxists of all persuasions (and many others) accept that tool use impacts on categories of cognition. Tools for results are analogous to (as well as producers of) cognitive equipment (e.g. concepts, ideas, beliefs, attitudes, emotions, intentions, thought and language) that are complete (fully manufactured) and usable for a particular purpose.

The toolmaker's tool is different in a most important way. While purposeful, it is not categorically distinguishable from the result achieved by its use. Explicitly created for the purpose of helping to make a specific product, it has no reified prefabricated social identity independent of that activity. Indeed, empirically speaking, such tools are typically no more recognisable as tools than the product (often a quasi-tool or small part of a larger product) itself is recognisable as product. They are inseparable. It is the productive activity which defines both - the tool and the product (the result).

Unlike the hammer (the hardware store, manufactured, tool for result tool), this kind of tool - the toolmaker's tool-and-result - has no completed or generalised identity. Indeed, it typically has no name; it appears in no dictionary or grammar book. Such tools define their human users quite differently from the way hardware store tools, whether of the physical, symbolic or psychological variety, do. The inner cognitive, attitudinal, creative, linguistic tools developed from the toolmaker type of social tools are incomplete, unapplied, unnamed and, perhaps, unnameable. Expressed more positively, they are inseparable from results in that their essential character (their defining feature) is the activity of their development rather than their function. For their function is inseparable from the activity of their development. They are defined in and by the process of their production. This is not to say that such tools and results are without functions. It is, rather, to say that the attempt to define tools-and-results by their function (as is the case with tools for results) fundamentally distorts what they are (and, of course, in the process, what definition is). [Chapter 3, Practice - Vygotsky's tool-and-result methodology and psychology]

This quote not only explains the dialectic of means and end, but incidentally refers to the fact that this dialectic is reified and made into objects in the form of tools (or means in general, including concepts) which are passed on to future generations. We live in a world made up of the outcome of the means-and-end dialectic of previous generations. This dialectic was at work at the very earliest stages of the development of pre-humans, and formed the basis for the formation of thought and language, or conscious practice.

The Idea (Life and Cognition)

The outcome of the negation of the concept by objectivity comes in the form of the realised end, which is life and cognition. The unity of Life and Cognition is the Idea.

Life is the actuality of understanding, of the subject-object relation, of means and ends, at any given stage of social or personal development or in the development of any process or thing. We act at any given moment with whatever conceptual material is at hand and the outcome is both subjective and objective, both rational and real. It is said that theory is understanding what we are doing. Cognition (acquiring knowledge) is the "negative" of life, which is its precondition. Insofar as development take place here at all, it by is the merging of life and cognition, of cognising what we are doing and acting consciously.

The idea as a process runs through three stages in its development. The first form of the idea is Life: that is, the idea in the form of immediacy. The second form is that of mediation or differentiation; and this is the idea in the form of Knowledge, which appears under the double aspect of the Theoretical and Practical idea. The process of knowledge eventuates in the restoration of the unity enriched by difference. This gives the third form of the idea, the Absolute Idea: which last stage of the logical idea evinces itself to be at the same time the true first, and to have a being due to itself alone. [Shorter Logic, § 215n]

Life (The Living Individual & the Life Process, or the Personal & the Political)

Life is included within the domain of Logic by Hegel, as he explains:

The Idea of Life is concerned with a subject matter so concrete, and if you will, so real, that with it we may seem to have overstepped the domain of logic as it is commonly conceived. Certainly, if logic were to contain nothing but empty, dead forms of thought, there could be no mention in it at all of such a content as the Idea of Life. But if absolute truth is the subject matter of logic, and truth as such is essentially in cognition, then cognition at least would have to be discussed. So called pure logic is usually followed up with an applied logic - a logic dealing with concrete cognition, not to mention the mass of psychology and anthropology that it is often deemed necessary to interpolate into logic. But the anthropological and psychological side of cognition is concerned with its manifested aspect, in which the Notion on its own account has not yet come to have an objectivity the same as itself, that is, to have itself for object. [Science of Logic Life]

Life is dialectic of the Living Individual and the Life Process, the synthesis of which is Genus [or Kind] - society. We could call this the dialectic of the personal and the political. It is also the syllogism of the Individual and the Universal at the highest possible level.

Consciousness has no other existence other than in the heads of individuals; practice is always in the first place individual. But all knowledge and all practice is essentially social. The individual's existence is essentially social, her/his action is only actual to the extent that it is social. The relation of individual and social is quite concretely established by Vygotsky in his study of the development of thinking and speech in human individuals:

The earliest speech of the child is ... essentially social. ... At a certain age the social speech of the child is quite sharply divided into egocentric and communicative speech ... Egocentric speech emerges when the child transfers social, collaborative forms of behaviour to the sphere of inner-personal psychic functions ... Egocentric speech, splintered off from general social speech, in time leads to inner speech, which serves both autistic and logical thinking. ... the true direction of the development of thinking is not from the individual to the socialised, but from the social to the individual. [Thought and Language, Chapter 2]

Even in the development of the individual sciences, we see this growing together of the "two ends", the identity of Universe and the atomic nucleus in the "Big Bang" Theory, fractal mathematics, genetics.

Cognition (The True and The Good)

Cognition means acquiring knowledge of the objective world. But here we are dealing with the struggle to change the world; for dialectics cognition is the negative of Life, knowledge has no other meaning. The basis of the Idea is the Realised End, the objective (material) outcome of past cognition. The positing of the Realised End is Life, Cognition is its negative. The two premises of cognition are, in a sense, what is gained and what is not gained, in the realised end, what is and is not proved and what is and is not achieved, the True and the Good.

The two propositions of the "syllogism" of the True Hegel calls Analytic and Synthetic cognition.

The True - Analytic & Synthetic Cognition

Analytic cognition (analysis) Hegel explains as follows:

If we look now more closely at analytic cognition, we see that it starts from a presupposed, and therefore individual, concrete subject matter; this may be an object already complete in itself for ordinary thought, or it may be a problem, that is to say, given only in its circumstances and conditions, but not yet disengaged from them and presented on its own account in simple self-subsistence. Now the analysis of this subject matter cannot consist in its being merely resolved into the particular picture thoughts which it may contain; such a resolution and the apprehension of such picture thoughts is a business that would not belong to cognition, but would merely be a matter of a closer acquaintance, a determination within the sphere of picture-thinking. Since analysis is based on the Notion, its products are essentially Notion-determinations, and that too as determinations immediately contained in the subject matter.
We have seen from the nature of the Idea of cognition, that the activity of the subjective Notion must be regarded from one side merely as the explication of what is already in the object, because the object itself is nothing but the totality of the Notion. It is just as one-sided to represent analysis as though there were nothing in the subject matter that was not imported into it, as it is one-sided to suppose that the resulting determinations are merely extracted from it. The former view, as everyone knows, is enunciated by subjective idealism, which takes the activity of cognition in analysis to be merely a one-sided positing, beyond which the thing-in-itself remains concealed; the other view belongs to so-called realism which apprehends the subjective Notion as an empty Identity that receives the thought determinations into itself from outside. Analytic cognition, the transformation of the given material into logical determinations, has shown itself to be two things in one: a positing that no less immediately determines itself as a presupposing. Consequently, by virtue of the latter, the logical element may appear as something already complete in the object, just as by virtue of the former it may appear as the product of a merely subjective activity. But the two moments are not to be separated; the logical element in its abstract form into which analysis raises it, is of course only to be found in cognition, while conversely it is something not merely posited, but possessing being in itself. [Science of Logic, Analytic Cognition]

The "second term of the syllogism", synthetic cognition, Hegel explains as follows:

Analytic cognition is the first premise of the whole syllogism - the immediate relation of the Notion to the object; identity, therefore, is the determination which it recognises as its own, and analytic cognition is merely the apprehension of what is. Synthetic cognition aims at the comprehension of what is, that is, at grasping the multiplicity of determinations in their unity. It is therefore the second premise of the syllogism in which the diverse as such is related. Hence its aim is in general necessity. The different terms which are connected, are on the one hand connected in a relation; in this relation they are related and at the same time mutually indifferent and self-subsistent. [Science of Logic, Synthetic Cognition]

The merging of analytic and synthetic cognition negates the object and its negative is the urge to change, which is the Idea of the Good.

The Good

The Good is the Unity of Truth and Life and is both social and individual; the dialectic of Life and Cognition has led to an urge to realise itself. I cannot read this section other than in terms of revolutionary leadership:

The Notion, which is it own subject matter, being determined in and for itself, the subject is determined for itself as an individual. As subjective it again presupposes an implicit otherness; it is the urge to realise itself, the end that wills by means of itself to give itself objectivity and to realise itself in the objective world. [The Science of Logic, The Idea of the Good]

As the Idea contains within itself the moment of complete determinateness, the other Notion with which the Notion enters into relation in the Idea, possesses in its subjectivity also the moment of an object; consequently the Idea enter here into the shape of self-consciousness and in this one aspect coincides with the exposition of the same.
But what is still lacking in the practical Idea is the moment of consciousness proper itself; namely, that the moment of actuality in the Notion should have attained on its own account the determination of external being.
Another way of regarding this defect is that the practical Idea still lacks the moment of the theoretical Idea. That is to say, in the latter there stands on the side of the subjective Notion - the Notion that is in process of being intuited within itself by the Notion only the determination of universality; cognition knows itself only as apprehension, as the identity on its own account indeterminate of the Notion with itself; the filling, that is, the objectivity that is determined in and for itself, is for it a datum, and what truly is is the actuality there before it independently of subjective positing. For the practical Idea, on the contrary, this actuality, which at the same time confronts it as an insuperable limitation, ranks as something intrinsically worthless that must first receive its true determination and sole worth through the ends of the good. Hence it is only the will itself that stands in the way of attainment of its goal, for it separates itself from cognition, and external reality for the will does not receive the form of a true being; the Idea of the good can therefore find its integration only in the Idea of the true.
But it makes this transition through itself. In the syllogism of action, one premise is the immediate relation of the good end to actuality which it seizes on, and in the second premise directs it as an external means against the external actuality. [The Science of Logic, The Idea of the Good]

The individuality of the subject with which the subject was burdened by its presupposition, has vanished along with the presupposition; hence the subject now exists as free, universal self-identity, for which the objectivity of the Notion is a given objectivity immediately to hand, no less truly than the subject knows itself as the Notion that is determined in and for itself. Accordingly in this result cognition is restored and united with the practical Idea; the actuality found as given is at the same time determined as the realised absolute end; but whereas in questing cognition this subjectivity appeared merely as an objective world without the subjectivity of the Notion, here it appears as an objective world whose inner ground and actual subsistence is the Notion. This is the absolute Idea. [The Science of Logic, closing lines of The Idea of the Good]

The dialectic of the True and the Good passes over to the dialectic of the Practical Idea and the Theoretical Idea.

Absolute Idea - Unity of Practical and Theoretical Idea

Theoretical Idea

According to Hegel, The Theoretical Idea stands opposed to actuality. The concretisation of the theoretical idea to the Practical Idea means the raising of the theoretical negation of the object from the essential to the actual, so that the abstract notion has itself become actual - "confronts the actual as an actual".

Practical Idea

The Practical Idea is the penultimate stage of development of the Idea. The unity of the Theoretical Idea and the Practical Idea is the Absolute Idea. Thus for Hegel, in his characteristic "upside down" way, practice is the criterion of truth. In the Practical Idea, Cognition (knowledge) and Volition (will or intention) are synthesised; the subjective Notion is merged with Objectivity, Means is identical with Ends, and the conception of the object is concretised to the point of a practical plan to transform it in the objective world.

The "absolute Idea" is the "apex" of Hegel's system. It includes all the stages of the Logic leading up to it; it is the process of development with all its stages and transitions. Like "Absolute truth" it is an unattainable ideal, representing the whole of Nature which has developed to the point where it is conscious of itself, or the concept of Nature developed to such a degree of concreteness that it has "returned to itself" - an absolutely comprehensive, practical and concrete concept of the world. Hegel defines the Absolute Idea as the "unity of the Theoretical Idea and the Practical Idea". The Theoretical Idea is the completed Notion or concrete concept of the world or object; the Practical Idea is the activity expressing this concept (practice); the unity of the two means fully "conscious practice", people acting in true accord with their own nature.

The absolute Idea has turned out to be the identity of the theoretical and the practical Idea. Each of these by itself is still one-sided, possessing the Idea only as a sought for beyond and an unattained goal; each, therefore, is a synthesis of endeavour, and has, but equally has not, the Idea in it; each passes from one thought to the other without bringing the two together, and so remains fixed in their contradiction. The absolute Idea, as the rational Notion that in its reality meets only with itself, is by virtue of this immediacy of its objective identity, on the one hand the return to life; but it has no less sublated this form of its immediacy, and contains within itself the highest degree of opposition. The Notion is not merely soul but free subjective Notion that is for itself and therefore possesses personality - the practical, objective Notion determined in and for itself which, as person, is impenetrable atomic individuality, but explicitly universality and cognition, and in its other has its own objectivity for its object. All else is error, confusion, opinion, endeavour, caprice and transitoriness; the absolute Idea alone is being, imperishable life, self-knowing truth, and is all truth. [Science of Logic, opening paragraph of The Absolute Idea]

... the systematic exposition [of logic] is itself a realisation of the Idea but confined within the same sphere. Because the pure Idea of cognition is so far confined within subjectivity, it is the urge to sublate this, and pure truth as the last result becomes also the beginning of another sphere and science. It only remains here to indicate this transition.
The Idea, namely, in positing itself as absolute unity of the pure Notion and its reality and thus contracting itself into the immediacy of being, is the totality in this form - nature. [The Science of Logic, closing lines of The Absolute Idea]