Essence and Reflection According to Hegel

151 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2003

See all articles by David Gray Carlson

David Gray Carlson

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law


What is the essence of a matter? Unreflective procedure assumes that essence is what remains when all contingencies or "appearance" is stripped away. But for Hegel, it's appearances all the way down. Everything is an onion, so that when appearances are stripped away, there's nothing at the center at all. From this Hegel surmises that the essence of a thing is that it must disappear. This theory of essence is developed in Hegel's monumental Science of Logic. "Essence and Reflection According to Hegel" is the fourth in a series of articles that, by means of a pictographic system, records every single step that Hegel makes in the Science of Logic. The article takes the reader through the three chapters of "Reflection" - illusory being, the essentialities (i.e., identity and difference), and ground. The article ends with "existence" - Hegel's word for the world of "things" which have "properties."

Suggested Citation

Carlson, David Gray, Essence and Reflection According to Hegel. Cardozo Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 77. Available at SSRN: or

David Gray Carlson (Contact Author)

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

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