Reflection and Higher-Order Things

It is in discussing reflection that Hegel implicitly introduces what might be called higher-order “things”.

In mathematics, multiple simultaneous dimensions give rise to “higher order” terms. Higher-order terms may evaluate to a constant value or a first-order function in particular cases, but when they do, they intrinsically provide rationale for the shape of the constant value or simple function that is not available by inspecting the constant value or simple function alone.

The multiple “dimensions” or analytically distinguishable iterations of self-reference in Hegelian reflection, I would suggest, can be similarly considered as giving rise to higher-order terms. A general slogan for Hegel’s Logic might be, higher-order terms have explanatory priority over simple ones. To explain a simple term, look for the higher-order term(s) that comprehend it.

No simple term or assertion is self-explanatory. But the self-referentiality of higher-order terms begins to capture some actual explanation, which is then internal to the term in question.