Why are There Four Hegelian Judgments?

Hegel is the philosopher of threes. In the Encyclopedia system, there is logic-nature-spirit. Within logic, there is being-essence-notion, within notion, there is subject-object-idea, within subjectivity, there is notion-judgment-syllogism. Yet, as every one notices, when it comes to judgment, the structure is tetrachotomous. Here we find existence- reflection-necessity-notion. Why should there by four judgments when there are only three of everything else? Why must Shemp intrude upon the sublime perfection of Moe, Larry, and Curly? What need we d’Artagnan when Porthos, Athos, and Aramis seem the perfect threesome?

David Gray Carlson
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Hegel’s method is traditionally viewed as the passage from immediate Understanding to mediated Dialectical Reason to Speculative Reason, which holds the prior two positions in tension. Yet there is always a fourth. Method must work on something. This something is an irrational, non-methodical material without which the Heracleitan flux cannot flow. In the judgment chapter, this “silent fourth” finally speaks. In judgment, not only must the notion objectify itself in a notional way, it must judge its non-self–say what this is. The three notional moments, together with the non-notional self, comprise Hegel’s four judgments.

David Gray Carlson

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