At the beginning of his Three Studies on Hegel, Adorno chastises Croce for asking the question, What is still alive in Hegel's philosophy and what isAt the beginning of his Three Studies on Hegel, Adorno chastises Croce for asking the question, What is still alive in Hegel's philosophy and what is dead? Adorno sees this question as arrogant, since it implies that the critic is in a position far above Hegel, a vantage point from which the great German Idealist can be summarily judged. The very idea of writing a review of a text like the Science of Logic -- complete with star ratings -- is the arrogance of Croce multiplied by a million. For that reason this "review" will just contain a few notes about my own experience of the text, which hopefully will prove useful to others. I cannot really review such a book.
First off, I found the Greater Logic to be an easier read than the Shorter Logic. Although the Greater Logic is considerably bulkier than the latter work, which is a lecture course appended with student notes, Hegel's exposition is more fluid and generous. The extra text is there because Hegel gives us more of his reasoning; compared with the Greater Logic, the Shorter Logic seems, at times, economical to the point of being aphoristic. Those who have read the Shorter Logic and found some passages mystifying may find clarification in the Greater Logic.
The Greater Logic also has many nuggets that readers of the Shorter do not get: Hegel's belaboring of the question as to where logic should begin; his explanation as to why the Logic must be circular; extended sections on his view of the infinite; the determinations of reflection section, wholly absent from the Shorter Logic; and more. Additionally, there are numerous passages in which Hegel, taking the space to make his reasoning more explicit, corrects some all-too-common misunderstandings and stereotypes of his philosophy. For example: note his apprehensions about the term "synthesis" in the section on becoming and his claim, in the final chapter of the book (picked up on by Žižek in For They Know Not What They Do), that triplicity is privileged as the shape of the notion -- but quadruplicity and duality may be regarded as equally adequate shapes!
I have friends who are interested in dialectics but suspicious of Hegel, the systematizer. They prefer Adorno, or maybe Derrida, to Hegel, whose system, they claim, knows no loss and arrests the movement of dialectic in the ominous figure of the motionless Absolute. A reading of the Greater Logic -- as well as other texts by Hegel, but I single this one out -- may disabuse these friends of these false beliefs. This is Hegel at his most dynamic: as soon as a category emerges, it begins to deconstruct itself. And although it may be that later categories sublate previous ones, any talk of the relentless progress of the dialectic must be qualified by noting that previous categories constantly re-emerge in Hegel's narrative.
The Greater Logic is a compelling read insofar as it mixes grand metaphysical vision with nitty-gritty treatment of specific metaphysical topics. Even when Hegel is discussing seemingly scholastic issues, one is never far from his central idea: that the universe is a whole, which he calls the absolute; that the absolute is not a stable supra-entity outside the particulars of the world but is nothing but those particulars, taken as a whole; that the absolute relates itself to itself and therefore has the structure of a subject; and that, as part of the absolute ourselves -- the part that can and does know -- our knowledge of the absolute is the absolute's knowledge of itself. Those who object to Hegel on the grounds that putting the movement of the categories in the absolute freezes them, puts them in a beyond, a giant thing, miss Hegel's radicality. These critics have separated what Hegel thinks together: the absolute IS nothing but its own movement, its own particularization; it is that movement, those particularizations, taken together, as one....more