Thought, in Hegel’s philosophy, is dialectical. Its essence is motion.
In comprehending Hegel’s dialectic, we comprehend the necessary motionality of Thought itself: Thought as movement. This motion is none other than Hegel’s fantastic historicization of the Truth.
In his The Philosophy of History Hegel refers to “the Ideal necessity of transition. This is the soul—the essential consideration—of the philosophical compherension of History” (78, emphasis mine). Transition signifies movement. Thought is itself a movement of itself through its concepts. In describing Geist (Mind or Spirit), “Geist is essentially the result of its own activity: its activity is the transcending of immediate, simple, unreflected existence —- the negation of that existence, and the returning into itself” (PH, 78). Geist is a movement (is itself an activity) that moves itself (it is the result of its own activity) through its concepts (it transcends and returns to its concept of itself).
This description of the activity of Geist can serve as an introduction to the dialectic. The dialectic is that mode of thought which, in thinking a concept, finds its own opposition (the opposition of its thought), and then transcends these two to return to itself -— though remade. The philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer explicates the dialectic in this way:
It is an immanent progression from one logical determination to another which, it is claimed, does not begin with any hypothetical assumption but rather which, in following the self-movement of the concepts, presents the immanent consequences of thought in its progressive unfolding of itself (Hegel's Dialectic, 5).
The dialectic is an immanent progression. As progression it is movement, as immanent it is coherent. It has no beginnning, which means there is no granting of an epistemic privelege. For Immanuel Kant and Johann Fichte, the Transcendental Ego was the beginning of Thought. Hegel does not trace Thought down to an original Ego (the I), but merely traces it as it moves through itself, beginning only somewhere. Finally, it presents its own consequences, it presents itself. The conceptual consequence of Thought is itself. Thought finds itself as the ultimate expression of its own activity. Movement, then, underscores not only its method, but also its result and telos. It is in the nature of Dialectical Thought to continue, to keep thinking. Where dialectic stops, that is where it is no longer itself, where there is no longer Thought.