May 25

I think it will be very useful to look at the way Hegel organized
the various types of objects that we observe in Nature, viz. the
mechanical, chemical and biological, according to what he called
the Concept (Begriff). The Concept, for Hegel, is basically a
dynamic or organic unity of the different moments or parts that
make up the Concept and its content. We will start with his
application of this idea to the mechanical object.

Mechanical Objects

Mechanical objects do not have an internal relationship of parts.
Thus you can divide a rock and it becomes two rocks, but the
basic nature of the rock does not change. What lacks internal
relation like this, is said to have merely an external relation to
what is other than itself. Thus rocks are related to other rocks by
the external force of gravity, or other causal factors. Objects that
lack internal relatedness possess merely external relatedness.
Planets relate to each other externally, as in the solar system,
explicable by the laws of gravity and motion. Newtonian gravity
depends upon mass, but the internal composition of that mass
does not play any role in determining their attraction to other
planets. Thus gravity acts in a purely external way to unite the
planets into the solar system.

In mechanistic objects, the unifying Concept (in this case,
gravitational force) exists only implicitly, and therefore only
explicitly or externally to the object. Mechanics views a system
as having separable, independent parts that are fully
understandable outside their connection within the system of
which they are parts. When the parts of a system retain the same
identity when isolated from the system as when connected within
it, it is called a mechanical system. This is the particular logical
character or nature that is implied when we refer to a system as
being mechanical.

Chemical Objects

Now, those entities that show an intrinsic affinity toward other
entities leads to the next type of object – the chemical object.
Chemical objects have parts that are internally related. They are
not the same when isolated from each other as when they are
connected or united with each other. Thus, for example, a salt
crystal cannot maintain its identity when divided at its most
fundamental molecular level since sodium and chloride atoms
when divided would form two distinct substances – sodium and
chlorine. External relations are formed due to the intrinsic
properties of the individual parts of a chemical reaction. Thus an
acid is intrinsically related to an alkali, which combine to form a
neutral salt. Their unity, the neutral salt, is a completely different
substance compared to the distinct parts in their isolation.

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