Becoming, Nothing, and Being

I decided to split my original blog on Being-Nothing-Becoming into two since it was really long, there were also significant revisions in rearticulation in both sections and I focused each on particular comments I wanted to make of them.

The dialectic of Being is very visible when it comes to being given an example of dialectics online, many cite this rather short and dense dialectic to give a typical thesis-antithesis-synthesis example, but nothing could be further from the truth. The true order of the dialectic is not {Being-Nothing}-Becoming, but rather it is the inverse order. Becoming is intelligibly prior to Being and Nothing in their abstract forms, and it is the latter concepts that sublate Becoming as a unity of Existence (Determinate Being). In order to make intelligible how it is possible that Being and Nothing can become each other, we must consider them as they arise from Becoming rather than consider Becoming’s arising from them.

Sublation equally means “to keep,” “to ‘preserve’,” and “to cause to cease,” “to put an end to.” Something is sublated only insofar as it has entered into unity with its opposite. – Hegel, Science of Logic

[Comment:] Now, where did this new concept, sublation, come from? The answer is simple: from the content we have developed. Sublation is a concept describing the relation which the structure of Becoming has towards Being and nothing; it unites, cancels, and preserves them all at once.

Becoming and the redevelopment of Being/Nothing

The true beginning of the investigation of the Logic is Becoming, for in Becoming we now have the first proper concept in which the difference of Being and Nothing can be made in conceptual definition. Because Being and Nothing have already shown themselves to comprise Becoming in their vanishing into each other, Becoming can shed light on our indeterminate Being/Nothing and finally allow us to begin determining them. Now that we have Becoming, a definition of Being and Nothing by considering this movement as moments of Becoming can be carried out. The movement of Being and Nothing into each other itself sheds light on the form and content of Being and Nothing themselves, i.e. that they are themselves becomings.

In Becoming we immediately can discern two parts, Hegel calls them moments, that comprise the definition of the concept of Becoming: Being vanishes to Nothing, it is Ceasing to Be (Being); Nothing vanishes to Being, it is Coming to be (Nothing). Both Ceasing/Coming to be are sublations, immediate unities of Being and Nothing on their own, hence they self-sublate and are in internal unity with their opposite, e.g. Being is its vanishing from Being to Nothing (hence it is truly Ceasing to be), it includes its opposite explicitly and negates itself into it from within itself. [Ceasing to be] in itself becomes [Coming to be] and vice versa immediately, thus we have Ceasing to be (Being) and Coming to be (Nothing) transitioning in themselves simultaneously and immediately.

They have already been each other, and thus paralyze each other in their restlessness; this paralysis is the paralysis of Becoming as a whole being both of its moments at once. The moment they become the other they immediately are themselves again. This is to say: Being, in becoming Nothing, is merely itself again. In Becoming [Ceasing to be] and [Coming to be] do not happen such that we have one first, then the second and back again, but instead we have both together at the same moment as distinct moments which are also indistinct as both moments are Becoming itself in themselves. This is to say: Each moment of Becoming is already the totality of Becoming itself.

Being and Nothing are now differentiated by this simple definition as being inverse moments in Becoming. There is a problem, now clear, in that their difference has been collapsed by their definition. Being and Nothing, defined now as Ceasing/Coming to be which comprise Becoming, show another new problem: they presuppose a further determinate difference of Being and Nothing. If Being and Nothing are merely Coming/Ceasing to be, then we see that we in fact have not made a true separation of Being and Nothing yet. Being is defined as its mere vanishing to Nothing, and Nothing the mere vanishing to Being. We have lost Being and Nothing as distinct concepts, content and form forces the incessant vanishing of Coming/Ceasing to be into each other and erases their distinction in regard to each other. What is the Nothing that Being vanishes into, and what is the Being that Nothing vanishes into? So far we have merely defined one vanishing in the process of vanishing into yet another vanishing, however, this cannot do, for vanishing must vanish into the components that vanish.

[Comment:] As an external reflection, it is also a curious contradiction if vanishing is ceaseless and thus enduring. It would be like a restlessness which is at rest in restlessness. Becoming, in being what it is, would itself be, thus unending vanishing is the opposite of itself. The paralysis of Becoming is itself a tell of what Becoming in truth is.

Through Becoming we determined (defined) Being and Nothing as moments, but now Becoming’s own moments are pointing us to Being and Nothing which are beyond Becoming as that which Becoming’s moments vanish into. As moments of Becoming, Ceasing/Coming to be vanish. Into what? Being and Nothing. Becoming, because it is vanishing, vanishes itself into the background of Being and Nothing and leaves them in immediate unity once again, but just because Becoming has vanished into the background does not mean it no longer plays a role, far from it. But, you may wonder, how does this release us from falling back into Becoming when Being and Nothing were just Ceasing/Coming to be?

Here, a marvelous conceptual move has occurred: Becoming, the vanishing of Being and Nothing, themselves determined in it only as inverse vanishings into each other, vanishes itself. There are a few ways that Hegel gives us to comprehend this.

There is a possibility to err in this crucial movement, however, and what follows is why. Ceasing/Coming to be assume Being and Nothing to be distinct and separate in order to be vanishing into each other, but Being and Nothing in Becoming are nothing but vanishings into each other ceaselessly, but since Ceasing/Coming to be have vanished the distinction between Being and Nothing which they vanish into, now we see that this vanishes Being and Nothing themselves, and Ceasing/Coming to be vanish along with them. If Being and Nothing, which Ceasing/Coming to Be depend on to be at all, have vanished in general,  then the result of Becoming is a vanishing of the vanishing, and thus seems to just cancel everything by contradiction, return us to Nothing, and lead us back to Becoming again. If there is an advance, the result cannot be Nothing, but how do we make sense of Becoming’s vanishing in this seeming contradiction? One must not be surprised that Hegel’s contradiction is not here intended to function as formal contradiction and abstract negation. It’s actually functioning like mathematical negative multiplication.

The answer from the text is, if I may say, cheeky. It’s a literal consideration relying on key terms and phrases. Ceasing to be and Coming to be vanish, and in their vanishing Becoming vanishes. That is to say, their function is to vanish vanishing, to negate the negative, and thus they are the positive. Ceasing/Coming to be are Being and Nothing, for it is Being/Nothing which vanish Becoming. This is the immanent tell of the transition. If we wanted to make a reflective comprehension of the transition we would need nothing more than to note the function of vanishing, i.e. vanishings role is to vanish into stable elements, not to endure, thus Becoming must play out is function and becomes Being and Nothing. Notice that the becoming of Becoming, of vanishing vanishing, is stable resting elements of thought. Notice how this sublation functions along the lines of Being to Nothing’s speculation: the thought and its thinking are two sides of the same coin. Becoming’s thought is the frozen thought of its thinking, it is the being of Becoming, what Becoming is when it simply becomes in its absolute form.

[Comment:]Notice too that this self-relating of Becoming in order to advance beyond itself is precisely following Hegel’s logic: we must exhaust all possible relations of thought from analysis, reflexive self-operation, and of implicit functionWhenever we run into a conceptual wall we must exhaust all the possibilities of thinking a thought by using all possible relations and operations thinking is capable of making with said thoughts. If it is possible and intelligible, then we must do it.

The vanishings complete and vanish themselves away into what they have become. It is the truth of Becoming that it become and vanish itself into Being and Nothing. The vanishing of Being and Nothing has vanished, they are now a stable unity of distinct yet immediately united concepts. Being and Nothing are not fully separate distinctions, but instead keep the truth of Becoming: they are unseparated and thus one and the same in this unseparation, yet both are and thus are distinct in their unity. To add, one could say they are the frozen image of Becoming. How? Being and Nothing both come and cease to be in relation to each other at the same moment and are mirrors of each other. Becoming appears in their mutual relation but never can appear as a being itself, it has always already vanished. The being of one is the non-being of the other, and it comes to be as the other ceases to be and vice versa. The result of Becoming is a unity of Being/Nothing, and thus this unity is. We now have a higher level of Being—Existence.

At last we have a Being whose being is the immediate unity of Being with a non-being (Nothing), i.e. a Being whose being is in virtue of its non-being. This new Being is the vanishedness of Becoming, for the vanishing has vanished itself into the background—this, however, is not a disappearance of Becoming, far from it. Think closely on what Becoming is, the vanishing transition between Being and Nothing, and you shall see an interesting truth: the transitioning differences and identities of all things are Becomings. At the edge of conception where this new Being/Nothing resulting from Becoming are is Becoming itself, the moment where we find that a Being has immanent contact with its Nothing, its negation. Thus, Existence sublates Being, Nothing, and Becoming.

Becoming’s inner movement’s vanishing has revealed a strange yet undeniable truth following from the logical movements that have developed thus far: Being and Nothing are one and the same, they are inseparable,  and they truly are different. Both Being and Nothing are ( they are the same);  both have Being. Now we can see Being is a being with a non-being, a Being with negation, and this negation is nothing other than another Being itself in its own right (they are different). Being is an immediate unity of beings which negate each other in virtue of being two beings which are not each other (they are inseparable). The entire development from Being/Nothing to the moments of Becoming have not been falsehoods or misunderstandings at all; on the contrary, they have further revealed the pieces to the baffling puzzle we started with and now allow us to further make sense of just how all of these aspects of Being and Nothing can be true. What vanishes in Becoming is also an incomplete concept of Being and Nothing as radically incommensurable concepts that cannot define themselves, and the resultant vanishedness makes way to the first real concept of Being as Existence.

As Hegel explains in the text, the absolute basic form of determination (definition) is negation, of Being which is negated. What negates Being? Nothing. But what is Nothing? A Being itself, but a being that is the non-being of the first Being. This unity of Being and Nothing is basic Determinate Being, or, general Existence. This is the first concept in which we can finally begin to think about  definable Being(s), however, there is at this point no difference between the determinateness of Being, and Being itself. Determinateness is, and Being is determinate. The contradiction of form/content forces thought’s movement onwards.

The form of the path of relations which Becoming has traversed, its dialectical development, is unique to itself. If one attempts to impose the form of relations which pure Being develops on its way to Existence one shall be terribly mistaken for Existence has its own peculiar form of development, one which is not unlike a hall of mirrors reflecting its content and form as multiple determinations of determinateness itself.


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