What exactly is "Aufhebung"…? It's a philosophical concept related to dialectics Marx picked up from Hegel. Its meaning is complex, ambiguous and even seemingly contradictory — it alludes to both elevation and abolition.There is no real English equivalent and it's often translated as "sublation", a fancy word if I ever heard one.

… But that's all I managed to grasp about the whole thing.

We saw in a former chapter that the exchange of commodities implies contradictory and mutually exclusive conditions. The differentiation of commodities into commodities and money does not sweep away these inconsistencies, but develops a modus vivendi, a form in which they can exist side by side. This is generally the way in which real contradictions are reconciled. For instance, it is a contradiction to depict one body as constantly falling towards another, and as, at the same time, constantly flying away from it. The ellipse is a form of motion which, while allowing this contradiction to go on, at the same time reconciles it.

For Hegel, "Aufhebung" was a movement that negated the determinate idea yet this movement also carries within it that determination and, in turn, the previous determinations which comprised it. For example, quantum mechanics can be said to have negated and superseded classical/Newtonian mechanics, but, in turn, quantum mechanics also accounts for the phenomena that classical mechanics described in a better way (within the overall discourse of physics). More or less, the contradictions within the original system give way to a new system that accounts for both the original system and its contradictions.

Thanks user, capped for future reference.


Every single time, guaranteed. Anyone that *ever* tells you QM is somehow a dialectical advance on classical physics has no fucking idea what QM or classical physics are or how they relate to each other conceptually. By extension, no matter how much it seems they know what they're talking about concerning dialectical logic, once they mention something like this they show they have no idea.

Sublation is not an active term, it is a descriptive term. It just means it is a term in which two opposites are logically and intelligibly contained. A line, for example, sublates point and space, both of which are at face value completely opposed. Space is infinitely extended, and points are infinitely unextended, yet a line unites both.

I knew I would get this comment as "no, this person's wrong about dialectics" is probably the most common response in any discussion about dialectics, but I would say it could be described as a dialectical advance in that the specific contradictions that were mounting to classical mechanics (e.g. the light/wave dichotomy of light) had to be encapsulated within a new system. My reading of Hegel is influenced by Gadamer, though.

I disagree that it's purely descriptive. The word itself is often used by Hegel himself for transitions in dialectics, so, although it can be descriptive, it isn't always so.

I did want to check again in case I was mistaken or misremembering the "active" aspect of sublation, so here's "A Hegel Dictionary" on "sublation":

Again, "sublation" isn't intended to be merely inert and descriptive but active, giving rise to a whole.

I'll give you a pass on the QM stuff because the problem lies in knowing what the problem even is and why. Suffice to say, the problem isn't what you think. The unification of wave/particle phenomena was never the issue, the issue is the denial of what it logically entails: a medium to wave in, and particles traveling on the medium. Photons are a theoretical construct which are not empirically known, but constructed mathematically as they are out of coherence with assumptions.

On sublation, Hegel himself makes it clear in the Science of Logic, and he never deviates from it. To say that a thing sublates is merely to say that its logical progression leads to a structure of sublation. It is itself not an operative concept in any way, and by this I mean it does not function like Becoming, Existence, Other, Finite, or commodity—concepts that necessarily are operations of content movement.

I'll leave the QM argument alone then (I wouldn't agree, at least based on the current argument), and just argue about the "active" part of sublation:
This definition is a bit circular: "a thing sublates if its logical progression leads to a structure of sublation." Using it, I would have no idea what "sublation" or "sublate" means.

Regardless, Hegel does seem to have regarded sublation as being in some sense active. In this excerpt from Pinkard about Hegel:
"Integration" and the bringing together that Hegel describes does imply that "Aufhebung" refers to a process rather than one that is only descriptive.

Also, from Hegel's Ladder by H.S. Harris which is on the Phenomenology, from his chapter on the Phenomenology's Self-Consciousness (although he's in part referring back to the play of forces earlier in the Phenomenology):
"Sublation" is referring to a process that works the things sublated into a whole.

Similarly on force, but from The Science of Logic:
Sublation would not here be merely describing what is already sublated content but active as the positing of an external within the dialectic of force.

We can't really have an argument here because it's clear you are taking this in a completely different way than I am.

When Hegel says
I see no activity in sublation itself, rather, I see the obvious structural result that is sublation resultant from the movement. This is the case from its first strict conception in the Logic in Becoming. Once again, when sublation is used it merely denotes nothing else than that the logical concept is engaging this structure in its development. That which sublates is the containing concept, that which is sublated is that which is contained, and to say that things sublate themselves or another is merely that such a structure is developed.

It is for you and me of no consequential difference, but it's not something to be introduced without the development of the thing itself. To say that the Other sublates itself is meaningless abstract description. To show >that< it really shows sublation is done via the concept itself. This is what I mean by saying the term is not itself operative, for to merely say things sublate is to give an external form which gives no necessity.

I suspected we were using "active" differently in the last post. I thought the "descriptive" remark in your first post was in response to my description of "Aufhebung" as a movement.

Sublation would be referencing that very development and not only descriptive of the sublated content but also the development of such a conceptual structure. I would read the passage quoted from the Logic as Hegel describing how the force takes up the opposing force soliciting it in the positing of a stimulus or external, as sublation, and that content becomes a moment within it, as sublated content. This also agrees with Hegel's substitution of "Aufhebung" with "Integration."

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but is it correct to say that class struggles "sublates" the existence of social classes and the fact that they have antagonistic interests?

The issue of force is simply the concrete development towards sublation, not sublation itself. The other is sublated only as the other of the other, but this is after the fact of the development of the other for itself, not >through< sublation. I hope this makes it clear: sublation is not >operative< in any concept, for the activity of generating sublation is the concept's own development for itself and not >through< the operation of sublation.

The whole thing about integration doesn't surprise me, Hegel shifts concrete levels of terms all the time. Limit is a more concrete Becoming, for example. Existence is a more concrete Being, and integration is a real process of generating sublations, yet it is not >mere< sublation. My point is, and ALL the Hegel I've read directly confirms me in this, that Hegel is not fudging terms. Sublation is a descriptive term for a structure of what is developed, and only in leading to a structure of sublation can make intelligible that a concept is 'sublating' as its activity. But what does this mean? Merely that the concept does generate a sublation, and this is done of its own account and never because of the power of sublation.

No, because class struggle is not a positive object of their negative unity, but simply the description of their division in antagonism. A sublation is a unity in which that very antagonism is the condition of stability for what sublates. Capital as the business sublates capitalist and worker, for within it their antagonism is necessarily united.

Not sure that's the best example, I need to go to sleep. I'll write something better later.

Not A.W but this post inspired me to throw in a piece so might as well. But to deviate from Hegel himself I remember this sort of subject being discussed in one of Marx's Young Hegelian days essays, if the collection I had borrowed had anything to suggest in the chronology it might have been in the point of his writing career where he began to shift from purely philosophical critiques and into economy and philosophy.

But in his essay on alienation (the exact title I can't recall, but it was from the Karl Marx Reader by Jon Elster; I'll have to fetch it back from the library again to confirm) Marx discusses how revolving the the conflict between the proletariat and Bourgeoisie is ultimately self-annihilating. His position as I remember reading it was that to ultimate resolve the conflict and to 'defeat' the Bourgeoisie the Proletariat as a class would cease to exist.

Besides this off-point post I would like to say I am enjoying reading the thread, but I also need to sleep. I hope to come back to more quality point-counter point.

I'm having a hard time grasping this. Could you be a little more specific?

Aufhebung means subsumption. That's it.

No, it doesn't. Sublation and subsumption aren't the same thing.

The capitalist and the worker have opposite interests, yet they are united in that the success of the business is the condition of their mutual survival. The more they identify with the interest of capital as business that more successful their survival becomes.

These words are borne of specific philosophical context, they're never just 'merely' synonyms. There are very exact reasons for why one is used in place of the other, in that lacking a proper means of channeling or a common aperture through which their myriad differences can be reconciled and appreciated as unique instances, we will risk throwing away the understanding of the words origins. Same reason why sublation can't be sublimation can't be subsumption

Sublation implies negation and subsumption doesn't?

expands it better.

To make an expansion on that: Capitalists own means of production and the mass of monetary wealth to pay for consumption, workers lack them, but the workers have in their possession the only power to engage real production.

In an >absolute< mode, if capitalists and workers do not come together there is no economy. The means of production do not produce anything, the money the capitalists have can buy nothing, and workers can produce nothing themselves nor buy anything. The opposition dissolves itself, the capitalist becomes a mere rich person, and the worker is only a peasant.

The business unites both, and is the very thing that makes possible and necessitates their antagonism at a higher order. In the business the have-nots are united with what they personally lack to produce, hoarded money enters circulation as wages, labor power is consumed in creating products, and capital is made possible through the difference of total wages and gross revenue. The class struggle arises, as rightly notes, in that >no capitalist or worker< really sees themself identical with Capital itself. What is good for capitalists and what is good for workers is >not< necessarily good for capital itself. Too much capital concentration kills capital expansion, and too high wages makes long term business incapable of dealing with market adjustments of techniques and product innovations since business has to have considerable money reserves ready for such adjustments and surviving transitional slumps. This is not the only explanation, however, since we know that the >absolute< inner mechanism of markets that guarantees this struggle is market competition itself. Even if you are a wise businessman or union that understands the limits of profitability on your demands, it means nothing to others in the market who are capable of bringing their costs down and undercutting you. To keep up, you must find ways to cut costs, and unless you're a saint or a fool the first place to cut will not be your own slice of the pie. A structural interest arises to suppress wages on the side of the capitalist.

To really answer your question properly: class struggle is not and cannot be sublated in capital itself, it is an endless contradiction of the system which finds no cure within itself. Class struggle is >not< a mere economic struggle, but transcends into political struggle from the beginning. In capitalism the state is where the struggle is truly sublated with the eventual social structures that stabilize the struggle in a welfare state.