On Rupture, Closure and Dialectic

  • John W. Burbidge
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 149)


In a Remark to his discussion of Real Measure, Hegel writes:

It is said: There are no leaps in nature: and ordinary thinking, when it has to grasp a coming-to-be or a ceasing-to-be, fancies it has done so by representing it as a gradual emergence or disappearance. But we have seen that the alterations of being are in general not only the transition of one magnitude into another, but a transition from quality into quantity and vice versa, a becoming-other which is an interruption (Abbrechen) of gradualness and the production of something qualitatively different from the reality. Water in cooling does not become hard little by little, gradually reaching the consistency of ice after having passed through the consistency of paste, but is hard all at once. It can remain quite fluid even at freezing point if it is standing undisturbed, and then a slight shock will bring it into the solid state.1


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  1. 1.
    Hegel, Gesammelte Werke, (Hamburg: Meiner, 1968), ff. 21, 368: 1–12, compare in the first edition 11, 219: 10–22; Science of Logic, tr. Miller. (London and New York: George Allen Unwin, 1969), 370; tr. Johnston and Struthers (London New York, 1929), 1, 389. An exposition de texte of the whole chapter on Real Measure is a constituent of my Real Process: How Logic and Chemistry combine in Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, ( Toronto: Toronto Press, 1996 ).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    F. Engels, Dialectics of Nature, ( Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1954 ), 83.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    To my reading, Hegel uses the noun “absolute” in his mature works only when referring to Spinoza or Schelling. I suspect the use of the term stems from Kant; see note 5 below.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    With this twist Hegel “shows the incongruity of an outcome contrary to what was, or might have been, expected, recognizing this not in the form of sarcasm, but as the nondeliberate emergence of a meaning different from and often the direct opposite of the meaning intended.” This quotation comes from Joe Flay’s “Hegel’sScience of Logic: Ironies of the Understanding,” in Essays on Hegel’s Logic, ed. G. di Giovanni, (Albany: SUNY, 1990, 157). See also his “The Dialectic of Irony and the Irony of Dialectic,” The Owl of Minerva, XXV 2, Spring 1994, 209214.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    I. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason,B 381, 382. Too many people have overlooked Kant’s discussion of this term in the Critique B 380–382. It is particularly revealing about what Hegel means when he talks about absolute knowing, idea or spirit.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    This is the claim of S. Houlgate; see his “A Reply to John Burbidge,” Essays on Hegel’s Logic, ed. G. di Giovanni, ( Albany: SUNY, 1990 ), 183–189.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    The authoritative discussion of these texts is that of T.F. Geraets, “Les Trois lectures philosophiques de l’Encyclopédie ou la réalisation du concept de la philosophique chez Hegel,” Hegel-Studien, X, 1975, 231–254.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1997

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  • John W. Burbidge

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