Truth and Reality in Marx and Hegel: A Reassessment

By Czeslaw Prokopczyk | Go to book overview

4
The Hegelian Doctrine of Truth

For Hegel truth is a noble (hohes) word and a still nobler cause (Sache). In one of the rare personal remarks in his writings, Hegel confessed that the scientific investigation (Erkenntnis) of truth had been the primary goal of his philosophical endeavors.1 Hegel's assurances are eminently credible. When he sails high on the waters of rhetorical exaltation, the word truth is usually brought in as the highest pitch of Hegel's rhetoric. The concept of truth appears very often and in crucial contexts on the more substantial level as well. But the exposition of Hegel's conception of truth is by no means a simple matter.

Faced with the problem of how to begin the presentation of his philosophical system, Hegel used to compare his way of presentation to a circle;2 the end result of the system was thus not only presupposed in advance, but served as the starting point as well. However one labels this end result of the Hegelian system, whether the Absolute Spirit, the Concrete Universal, God, or something else, it is for Hegel always interchangeable with Truth and is always the Truth. Being thus presupposed, the Truth accompanies the system from its beginning as something assumed to be known. However, according to one of Hegel's favorite sayings, what is bekannt is not yet erkannt only because it is bekannt.3 Accordingly, Truth is simultaneously the goal (Zweck) to be achieved through and by the system, and Truth becomes actual (wirkliche) only through and due to the detailed development (Ausführung) of the system. This circular character of Hegel's system, often viewed as one of the

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